Shinning Link

 My eternal thanks to Brook who helped so much with the concept and the structure of this story, to all those wonderful people out there who I've met through writing and to Nelleke and Angie who are my driving force and are always ready with a review.

Set immediately after Hutchinson, Murder 1.

Chapter 1



‘What?’ the curly haired detective looked quizzically at the blond partner of six years, sitting next to him in the candy apple red Torino.

‘You said Hutch’.

‘Yeah, I know. I need a hutch’.

‘Well what d’ya think I am buddy, a mirage?’ Detective First Class Ken Hutchinson was used to holding crazy conversations with his partner. He’d been doing it for so long that it came as second nature to go along with the confusing chains of thought that flowed loosely through the dark curly head.

‘No, not Hutch. I need a hutch. For Louise. Dobey says Rosey can have her, but she needs somethin’ a bit more permanent than a cardboard shoebox to live in. We need to call at a pet store on the way back’. Starsky was referring to his guinea pig. The one he’d paid $250 dollars for on the understanding it was a pedigree chinchilla only to be enlightened on its true lineage by his Captain.

‘OK. Go get a condo for the rat, but will ya drop me back at my apartment first?’ Hutch asked, running his fingers across the creases in his brow and trying to rid himself of the headache that had lingered for the past week.

Starsky looked sideways at his partner, the humour dissipating. ‘Is it catching up with ya buddy?’ he asked, concern in his indigo blue eyes.

‘Well it wasn’t the best homecoming I’ve ever experienced and not under the best circumstances’ the blond grunted, closing his eyes as if trying to shut out the memory of the few people around the graveside, eyeing him and whispering behind raised hands. He was the black sheep of the Hutchinson family and the errant son who’d refused to follow in his father’s footsteps to become an eminent surgeon and make big bucks. To the parochial part of Duluth to which the Hutchinsons belonged that was almost as big a crime as the murder the same son had lately been acquitted of, and the smart set’s tongues wagged continuously.

Hutch’s mind went back over the previous week, his heart hammering in his chest at the injustice and, when he examined his feelings closely, the sadness of it all. He’d met Vanessa back in Duluth just after he’d told his Dad that he couldn’t stick with Medical school any more. His father had taken it badly and had thrown his only son out of the house, leaving him homeless and, for the first time in his life, with no-one to please but himself. Hutch had been almost relieved that he was finally out from behind the shadow of the man who had controlled his life for so long. The beatings as a child for not doing as well as expected in school, the terrified mother always in the background and her gentle hand on his head late at night, admonishing him for crying and telling him to be quiet or his father would be angry again. Just to be free of that oppression was more than enough to weigh against the fact that he had no-where to live, no direction in his life and no money. Oh sure, he had the inheritance he’d been granted on his 21st birthday, but a large part of Ken Hutchinson’s mind rebelled against using the money he associated with the tyrannical patriarchal figure.

So Van had met him at a vulnerable time in his life. He was flattered that this stunningly beautiful woman would have any feelings for what he considered an ordinary looking mid west boy, and she had played on that to some extent, and had taken advantage of him, spending the money he earned from the small jobs he took, seeing his friends and taking over his apartment. She saw what she thought was a spoiled little rich kid from the right side of town, and her ticket out of Duluth and into LA society. What she didn’t see until she was married to him, was a man who refused to compromise on his life and grasped every day as if it was his last, staring down adversity with a steely resolve. Hutch had finally broken free from his father’s overbearing ways and was his own man. When he saw the recruitment advert for the police and had gone to the Academy and met up with a vet. from ‘Nam he knew he’d found his destiny.

David Starsky was from the wrong side of a town Hutch had never seen and had a wit and charm that two years in Vietnam, four months as the guest of the Viet Cong and a long spell in the Army hospital recovering from his stay could never erase. He was a hellion whose rugged good looks, athletic physique and self deprecating quality endeared him to just about everyone except Sergeant O’Malley, their instructor. O’Malley had give Starsky hell throughout their training and Hutch came to admire the curly haired guy who even after 250 punishment push ups could still joke about O’Malley’s moustache and beer belly.

The strength that Starsky’s friendship gave Hutch finally meant that he could come to terms with Vanessa’s attempts to manipulate him, seeing how they had taken their toll on their marriage, which had been a sham almost from the start, and he had had a show down with her. She had walked out on him, realising he was no longer the weak directionless young man she had once known and had ended their marriage acrimoniously.

When she’d arrived back unexpectedly in Bay City the previous week after 4years, 6 months and 12 days she’d called him and met him again at the Pits. He’d asked her then why she wanted to see him “you come round the corner saying I love you tender guy?” and she’d gotten angry, trying to slap his face, then raking her fingernails down his hand. He’d had no idea why she was really there until a 70 carat diamond worth over $1 million was found in his car. From then on, things went distinctly down hill. Her body was found shot dead in his apartment with his own Colt, his blood was found under her fingernails and the tumour she’d said she was going into the hospital to have investigated was just so much baloney.

Simonetti and Dryden, the two IA officers assigned to the murder had put two and two together and made a very big five, obtaining an arrest warrant for one Kenneth Hutchinson on the charge of Murder 1. The fact that Hutch hadn’t killed his ex-wife never crossed the two officer’s minds. Simonetti’s glee at arresting a fellow officer shut out any attempts at reason and when Starsky had been sent to arrest his partner, Simonetti had sent Dryden along to check all went according to plan.

Cuffing the bow tie wearing officer to the table, Starsky and his accomplice made a swift get away and had finally cleared Hutch’s name, meaning he could set abut the funeral plans for his late ex-wife. Although he had definitely fallen out of love with Van, Hutch knew she had no other family and a sense of responsibility to the woman had overtaken him.

The funeral had been the final verse in the tragic song of Hutch and Vanessa and he was glad there would be no more choruses to it. Now all he wanted was to go home, get a shower and a cool beer and go to bed, shutting out the world for just a few hours. He absently fingered the healing crescent shaped wounds on his left hand, left from her fingernails, his final reminder of the late Mrs Hutchinson and tried to keep his emotions under control. It had been a bad week and one he knew he couldn’t have gotten through without his friend. Of course, his partner had been with him throughout and had come to the funeral with him, knowing how hard it was going to be for the blond.

Starsky had known Vanessa for about two years, the first two years he’d worked with Hutch. He’d seen her as a money grabbing scheming little witch even then, but had held his counsel, not wanting to sour the blossoming professional relationship he was working on with Hutch. When the split had finally happened, he’d been supportive of his partner, but genuinely happy that Van was no longer on the scene. The change he saw in the blond after her departure was remarkable. As he stood by the flaxen haired cop’s side at the grave, he mentally closed that chapter in the Starsky and Hutch book. But the haunted look in his friend’s eyes tore at his heart as he shared Hutch’s grief and resentment that once again she’d given him a hefty dose of trauma and heartache.

And now here they were, driving back towards Bay City with Starsky trying hard to lighten the atmosphere in the car in the only way he knew how; by playing the wide eyed, slightly ditsy little boy to Hutch’s more cerebral persona. Hutch smiled at him, appreciative of the attempt, but just needing time on his own. The ice blue eyes said sorry partner, but just leave me be and Starsky read them perfectly, turning the car onto the wide avenue leading to Venice Place. As they drew up outside the apartment, the brunette turned off the engine and turned in his seat.

‘S’over partner. She’s gone an’ you just have to get on with life’.

Hutch sighed. ‘I know. I wasn’t even in love with her at the end. It’s just going back home. It brings everything back, ya know? All the twin set and pearls brigade watchin’ and sniggerin’ behind their hands. And Mom never even said hello coz Dad was there’.

The curly haired cop put his hand out and patted his partner’s knee. He knew that deep down one of the most important things to Hutch had been to make his dad proud and make him understand that while he wasn’t a famous surgeon he was still damned good at what he did. He was a decorated cop, one of Bay City’s finest, but all his Pop saw was the absence of letters after his name. And in Richard Hutchinson’s eyes that was like a death sentence.

‘Hey, your Dad knows deep down that you’ve done good. He’s just too proud a man to admit it. An’ I saw your Mom keep lookin’ at ya. She still loves ya Blintz. They both do’.

The blond snorted, putting his hand on the door handle of the car. ‘Yeah, right. Just a funny way of showing it huh?’ He opened the door and got out, retrieved his bag from the back and bent down to look through the open window.

‘Early shift tomorrow. See you at yours at 7:30?’

Starsky nodded. ‘Ok, ya need anything, ya know where I am’. He knew that to say anything else would sound soapy and schmaltzy but he also knew that Hutch would hear the implication. Don’t go getting blind drunk and trying to drown your sorrows, partner. Call me first and we can talk.

He saw the flaxen head nod and drew away from the curb, glancing in his rear view mirror and seeing his partner make his way into his apartment block. He drove through the streets, quiet at that time of morning and tried to brighten his mood. The past week had been tough on Starsky too and he felt the need for loud music, cold beer and the Hug’s humour. He hated seeing his partner hurt in any way. That’s why he’d detested Vanessa so much. He wasn’t sorry she’d gone, but he was more than sorry that his friend had had to deal first with being accused of her murder and second having to deal with all the aftermath. He’d always hated accompanying Hutch back home. His father was downright anti-Semitic and his Mom was always treading on eggshells trying hard not to offend. His sighed. His head hurt almost as much as Hutch’s had.

Starsky pulled the Torino up outside the Pits and headed into the dimly lit, welcoming interior. It was quiet at this time of day and the owner, Mr Huggy ‘Bear’ Brown was taking the opportunity to restock his bar and polish down the countertop. He looked up as the new customer walked in and the brunette swore he could almost see the dollar signs light up in the big brown eyes.

‘Hey Starsky my man. How’s it hangin’ there? What can I get for my favourite cop on the block?’

Starsky smiled and relaxed just a little. ‘Just a cold beer and a friendly voice Hug’ he said, dropping himself down onto one of the wooden chairs. Huggy cast him a knowing look and came round from the bar to sit by him.

‘Gemma, two beers and a hamburger with everything for my friend here’ he shouted to the empty air behind the bar.

A dark brown head popped up and called a quick affirmative as it made up the requisite order. The dark haired cop looked up appreciatively as the new barmaid walked over carrying the order and set it down on the table.

She was about 5’5” and no more that 110lbs. she had long dark brown hair that almost matched his own and sparkling hazel eyes. She was dressed in figure hugging hot pants and a shot white blouse tied at the waist so that a goodly portion of tanned midriff peeked out. She stood up and appraised the cop as he stared back at her. Winking at her, she giggled and walked away, accentuating the wiggle in her hips just a little.

Huggy chuckled. ‘I take it you approve of my newest member of staff?’

Starsky growled low in his throat, all thoughts of beer and food temporarily forgotten as he followed the wiggling hips back to the bar. Shaking himself out of his testosterone induced reverie he looked back at the smiling black man.

‘I don’t know where ya get ‘em Hug, but I think I want me a piece of that one!’

Chapter 2

Uncharacteristically, Hutch was not pounding on Starsky’s door at 7:30am the next morning. That, in itself was an event that merited a circle being put around the date on the calendar. The fact that it took ten rings on the phone before the sleepy voice on the other end answered had the brunette more than a little worried.

‘Hutch, you ok pal?’ he asked trying to keep the worry out of his voice.

There was a moment’s pause, then a voice thick with sleep and ….something else? answered. ‘Starsk? What time is it?’

‘7:30. time to get up and catch the bad guys’ the brunette responded; now more than a little concerned. He heard a stifled moan, then the rustle of bed sheets.

‘Be there id a binute’ he heard Hutch mumble and then a thud and a yelp.

‘Blondie? Hey, earth to the Blond Blintz! Ya there?’

Again the sound of the receiver being picked up and the mumbled reply. ‘Headache. Be there in five’.

But Starsky wasn’t convinced. ‘Stay put buddy, I’ll come over to yours’ he said, putting the phone down and shouldering into his holster, then his old familiar brown leather jacket. Checking he had everything, he let himself out of the apartment and turned the car in Hutch’s direction wondering what he’d find when he got there. He’d never known Hutch late for work or for anything, come to that. The blond was one of the most punctual men Starsky had ever come across and it had always been a source of amazement to Hutch that anyone as normally tidy as Starsky could be so compulsively late.

It took no longer than 15 minutes to get to Venice Place and Starsky pulled up outside the front entrance and trotted up the stairs, letting himself into the living room by way of the key his partner always left on the lintel. It was dark inside and the curtains were still drawn across the windows, which for the usually active blond was another sign to worry about. Obviously no eight minute mile for the Blintz this morning! Starsky went through to the bedroom area and saw his partner slumped back against the pillows on the bed looking flushed, dishevelled and distinctly sorry for himself.

‘Well, don’t you look a picture?’ he said, seeing the little boy lost look in his partner’s eyes.

‘Don’t’ Hutch muttered, snuffling and reaching for his handkerchief. ‘Have sub sympathy, I’b dying here’ another sneeze ricocheted round the room and a deep groan forced itself out from the blonde’s lips. He slunk lower in the bed and pulled the sheet up round him, the picture of manly suffering.

Starsky grinned at his friend, relived it was nothing worse than a head cold. ‘Ya know what you’ve got, don’t ya. That’s a heavy case of what Ma calls “Man ‘Flu”. You need tea, sympathy and a good dose of work to take your mind off it’.

‘Work? I can’t work like this! I’ve got a fever, a ruddy dose and a headache. Gonna go back to….Achooo…groan sleep. Sleep it off! Be fit id a few days’ Hutch huddled down again and cast bleary eyes at his friend. The brunette, for his part, leaned against the wall, arms and ankles crossed as he chuckled. Just like Hutch! Shoot him and he carries on through the pain, give him a head cold and he needs at least 6 weeks of intensive care! He did have some sympathy for his partner though. The strain of the past week had been enormous and if the blond hadn’t gone down with something, Starsky would have been very surprised. That it was only the sniffles was an added bonus. He raised his hands.

‘OK, I’ll let Dobey know to book the funeral home. Get the collections goin’ round. Start lookin’ for a new partner…’ he was stopped by a box of tissues being aimed at his head. He ducked, retrieved them from the floor and handed them back to the ailing man in the bed. Pausing to make his friend a dose of honey whiskey and lemon in hot water and adding 2 aspirins, he left the suffering cop in his sickbed and took the stairs two at a time back down to the street.

He was feeling more than pleased with himself this morning. Last night he’d headed back to the Pits for another look at that tasty new waitress. As it happened, she’d been waiting for another look at him too and they’d spent the best part of the evening talking, much to Huggy’s annoyance. The Bear let it be known that he employed his waitresses to actually wait on tables rather than just to be eye candy for the punters, but it pleased the barman that one of his close friends was having a good time for once. So many times, either Hutch or Starsky met with women who were manipulative or wanted to get back at them for something, Vanessa being one of the women in question. It was good just to see Starsky having such a good time with an ordinary, down to earth girl like Gemma.

For his part, Starsky found it refreshing to have a woman to talk to who was as erudite as Gemma was. Huggy’s usual staff couldn’t string more than a couple of words together to make a coherent sentence, but this girl could converse about almost anything and their talk that night had cannoned between classical music, politics, the way the US had treated native Americans and whether pizzas should always be served with anchovies. Starsky’s taste was eclectic. Although he always liked to play the dumb cop routine, he was widely read and although he didn’t have a college education like his partner, he was clued up on world affairs.

Their talk had, of course, turned to more earthy subjects too and Starsky had decided at the end of the evening that he would really like to see Gemma again, so had asked her if she wanted to meet him the next night, which was her night off. She’d said yes and so after work today he was going to call round and take her to his favourite Italian Restaurant and then to the movies.

He’d stood by the table at the end of the evening and had bent down and given her a small, but lingering kiss.

‘I’ve really enjoyed our conversation’ he said, holding her hand longer than he really needed to.

‘Mm. Me too. We could maybe…talk some more?’ she giggled at him. He was kinda old fashioned and she liked it. This wasn’t one of those men who just wanted to get her into bed for a quick “wham bam thank you ma’am”, although that she may well look forward to as well!

‘Well, there’s talk, and then there’s talk’ he said, wiggling his eyebrows and she giggled again.

‘I think that sort of talk may be possibly even more tiring! Good conversation always makes me tired’.

‘Well, I wouldn’t want to tire you out too quickly. Exhaustion can be dangerous ya know’ he replied seriously.

‘Oh I could maybe build up my tolerance’ she giggled. ‘I get the feeling talking with you could become quite dangerous!’

‘You’d better believe it’ he growled, then kissed her once again. ‘Tomorrow night?’

She nodded and he strutted out of the bar.

At the end of one of the longest and most boring days he could recollect in all his policing career, the brunette packed everything away tidily in his desk, patted the pig a fond goodnight and set off home. The only bright spot to the day had been Dobey proudly showing him a new toy he’d bought for Rosey. It was a key finder and when he whistled at it, the fob played “The Yellow Rose of Texas” in a high pitched kind of way. The big black man was delighted with his gift and had been whistling and humming the tune for most of the day.

Stopping off at his partner’s apartment he made sure the blond had everything he needed – tissues, aspirin, books to read and with orders to take it easy, he left Hutch to his germs and went back home.

Starsky looked forward to the evening. He showered and shaved carefully, adding just a hint of Santos de Cartier aftershave. Never one to overdress on a date, he chose clean pale blue jeans and a black short sleeved shirt, adding his blue cotton jacket over the top. His blue Adidas completed the ensemble and within half an hour he was ready and heading out of the door again on his way back to the Pits. He’d asked Gemma if he could pick her up at home, but she’d said she was having trouble with her flat mate and she’d see him at work. So, at 8:00pm he was standing by the bar when she walked in. Coming straight over to him, Gemma planted a big kiss on his cheek and he reciprocated then held her back so that he could see.

She was wearing figure hugging black pants and a pale pink blouse which accentuated her curves and set off the red highlights in her hair. She wore no make up, but at her neck was a simple gold chain and a solitaire clear stone that twinkled in the light. She smiled at him.

‘Hey good looking, how are you tonight?’ she asked.

He feigned ignorance and turned around to look behind him. Seeing no-one, he pointed at himself and smiled back at her. ‘Well, ya must be talking t’me coz there aint no-one else here. I’m good. You?’

‘Better now I’m here’ she said with feeling. ‘Bad day’.

‘With your flatmate?’

She shook her head. ‘No, family, but enough of me. You said we were going to go to an Italian?’

‘The best one in town Shweetheart’ he said, taking her arm and showing her out to his car.

They had a romantic meal for two at the restaurant then back to the movies to catch a “Dirty Harry” film. Throughout it, Starsky tried hard to refrain from pointing out all the mistakes that had been made and how he and Hutch wouldn’t have done it that way. There was a guy in the film that bore an uncanny resemblance to his blond partner and it made the curly haired cop stop and wonder how Hutch was feeling, but only for a moment. After that it was back to holding his girl in his arms and watching the film.

As the credits rolled, he asked her if she wanted a coffee back at his apartment and to his surprise she said yes. Her flatmate was still making things awkward at her place, so she wouldn’t mind staying out that bit longer. He drove home with his arm around her and as they stopped outside his pad she’d admired the area.

Once inside, he made the coffee and they snuggled together on his settee for a while. He looked quickly at his watch and she caught the movement.

‘Do you want me to leave?’ she asked, all big hazel eyes and full pout.

‘No. God no. It’s just there’s a black and white movie on the TV that I haven’t seen for a while’.

Gemma looked around the room. ‘OK. I like black and white movies, but where’s the TV?’ she asked. ‘D’you have one of those cabinets that hides it away?’

He had the decency to blush a little. ‘No’.

She pointed at a door in the corner questioningly and he shook his head. ‘That’s the bathroom’.

Pointing at the only other area in the apartment she got a nod of ascent. ‘But that’s the….’

‘Bedroom, yeah’ he said a little shyly.

‘Oh….’ She got up and held out her hand. Starsky took it and followed her into the room and watched as she lay down on one side of his bed, patting the other side for him to join her. Without switching on the TV he lay down next to her, propping himself up on one elbow.

‘I bet you use that line with all the girls’ she said in a quiet dreamy voice.

‘Nah, Only the ones with beautiful green eyes’ he said huskily.

‘They’re hazel’ she muttered as his hands started to unbutton the front of her blouse.

‘That’s ok. It’s not your eyes I’m interested in’ he growled as he bent to kiss her neck.

Chapter 3

‘You’ll get me out of here and you’ll get me out of here NOW. Do you hear me? Do you think I’m paying your sorry little legal ass as much as I do just so that I can languish in some disreputable police cell for the rest of my days?’ Wheeler was red in the face, flecks of spittle nestling in the straggly grey beard. The man to whom he directed the tirade had backed away a little in his chair, as if the words themselves could hurt him in some way.

‘But Mr Wheeler, I can get you a bail hearing but not until tomorrow morning at the earliest. The courts don’t sit so late in the evening. It’ll just be one more evening Sir, then I can get you out’. Abraham had been Wheeler’s lawyer now for the past 20 years and never a day had gone past without the little man fearing his employer in some way. Wheeler’s temper was legendary and more than one employee had, over the years, mysteriously disappeared. Abraham had so far protected himself by delivering all of Wheeler’s expectations. He did not wish to end his days at the bottom of the docks wearing concrete overshoes.

Wheeler was not happy at the revelation that he’d have to spend another night as the guest of the BCPD. He was used to life’s luxuries and the Metro was not famed for it gastronomic accomplishments, nor the quality of its mattresses and bedding.

‘I suggest you telephone Judge Wahlberg now and explain the situation’ he replied icily. ‘George and I had dinner at the golf club only last week. Encourage him enough’ he made a rubbing motion between his thumb and fingers’ and I’m sure he’ll see reason’.

The little Jewish lawyer looked doubtful, but backed out of the interview room with assurances he’d do everything in his power to get Wheeler out of there tonight. The diamond merchant sat back on the hard wooden chair and started planning his next move.


‘Can you believe that? $1million bail and he’s out!’ Hutch was incensed. He’d gotten ready to go back to work that morning after an uncomfortable night plagued by fever dreams of diamonds as big as houses and the vision of Vanessa which morphed into Gillian and then again into some sort of Medusa with long snakes for hair. He’d woken at 5:00am drenched in sweat and with the bed sheets pulled tightly round his body, anchoring him in place. He’d managed to force himself out on his morning run and turned his ankle, then found the milk in his fridge had turned to cheese while he’d been away and the cornflakes were soggy even before he’d found milk to put on them.

His day had started bad and was obviously destined to get worse. He was sat, at this point, on his partner’s settee with a pack of frozen peas draped around his swollen ankle as Starsky made him tea and toast.

‘When did he get bail?’ the brunette asked as he passed a cup and plate to his patient.

‘Dunno. Some time last night. I got a phone call from Dobey first thing this morning. He thought I’d want to know. How the fuck does one weasley little shit like Wheeler get preferential treatment like that, huh?’

‘Money, that’s how, an’ lots of it. It’s who ya know that counts in Wheelers world. He’s probably got half the judges in the city in his pocket. Ya know, plays golf with one, poker with another. Face it partner. Even with the best evidence in the world, someone like him is gonna walk’.

Hutch’s shoulders slumped and he looked the picture of defeat. ‘I know, but it stinks! We bust our guts tryin’ to bring him in. He orders the killing of my wife in my own living room with my own gun, an’ I’m the one that gets the APB and the warrant out on me!’

‘Ex-wife, buddy’ Starsky said softly, tenting his eyebrows at his friend.

‘Ok, ex-wife. The sentiment’s the same. Guys like Wheeler buy their way through life an’ the rest of us just follow behind picking up the pieces’.

‘Well the saving grace is that vision I’ll keep with me forever of Huggy sitting up in that coffin. That ‘n’ the fact that it’s gotten ya so riled up you’ve forgotten your cold’ Starsky grinned at the memory. ‘Hutch, ya gotta learn that some guys – the rich ones – will always twist the system. Once ya got that, the rest’s easy’.

The blond snorted. ‘David Starsky, famous philosopher! Who’s rattled your cage buddy? You’re full of it this morning’.

‘Found a girl’.

‘Yeah? Was she lost?’

‘No. Oh God no. She was a vision of beauty in a sea of beer and smoke’.

Hutch rolled his eyes and looked heavenwards. ‘My God! A philosopher and a poet. It must be love!’ he put his hand over his heart as he said it, earning himself a cuff round the ear from his partner.

‘She’s beautiful. Long dark brown hair, legs that go all the way up and eyes…..you could drown in ‘em’ the brunette sighed as Hutch smiled, amused.

‘Great, you’ve got a girl that’s got hair, legs an’ eyes. Nice one buddy. Has she got a name?’


‘Gemma what?

‘Dunno, we haven’t got that far yet’ Starsky admitted, wondering why he’d never asked.

‘That’s not like you pal. You’ve usually got their vital statistics, their bank account number and their blood type by the second date. Vital for when you take ‘em to…..How many times have you seen her?’

‘Twice. First time was at the Pits when we got back from Duluth and the second time was last night. Gonna go for the hat trick tonight!’ he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

‘Wow, it must be love. You’ve seen her twice and you haven’t….’

‘Didn’t say I hadn’t. Just said I didn’t know her last name, that’s all. We’ll get to that some more tonight maybe’.

Hutch hooked his foot down from the coffee table and peeked under the frozen peas, deciding that the swelling was as good as it was going to get. He jammed his shoe back on, wincing a little and stood up. ‘OK Casanova, ya ready for another day at the pointy end then?’ he asked as Starsky collected his jacket and car keys and headed off to the car.

The rest of the day was taken up with getting back up to speed with what they’d both missed while they’d been away. Dobey had been secretly delighted when he’d given Hutch his shield and weapon back after Wheeler had been arrested. He’d never believed for one minute that the blond would have shot a woman in cold blood, let alone his ex wife. But with Simonetti and Dryden barking at his heels he’d had to put on the show of suspending the flaxen haired cop, and now, that same cop was playing catch up.

For most of the day, the two detectives sat at their desks, drinking endless cups of the vicious black brew that was laughingly called coffee by the BCPD and going through files that had piled up while they’d been otherwise engaged. By lunchtime, Starsky had gotten cramp in his leg from sitting too long and a raging need for a beef burrito with extra onions. Hutch was on his second box of tissues and both men needed a break.

Creeping out of the squad room so that Dobey wouldn’t notice their absence, they hot footed it down to the sidewalk and around the corner to the fast food stand. Jimmy, the vendor looked up as his two regulars hove into view.

‘Business has been bad. You’ve been gone a couple of days’ he joked as he made up the requisite burrito. He handed it to the brunette. ‘There we go. One Starsky special’. He turned to Hutch. ‘Are we on a fasting day, or can I interest you in one of my specials too’

The blond looked disparagingly at the array of meat on the stand. Secretly he would have loved to have dived head first into the lot of them. His cold had given him a raging appetite, but it would have completely ruined his image to cave in and order a burrito of his own. He knew his partner would never let him live it down, so he smiled at Jimmy and bravely ordered a bottle of mineral water. As he followed his curly haired friend back to the Metro, his stomach growled at the wonderful aroma of fried onions and his mood blackened further.

They were just about to turn the corner when Starsky stiffened mid chew and looked across the road. Hutch followed his gaze and saw a young woman standing on the far corner of the sidewalk, looking expectantly down the road, as if waiting for someone. Starsky dug the blond in the ribs and said excitedly

‘Hey, that’s Gemma, C’mon I want ya to meet her’ He started to try to cross the busy road, but traffic was heavy. Trying to get her attention, he lifted his burrito and waved it through the air. ‘Gemma! Hey, Gemma honey’ he shouted.

Hutch thought he saw the girl look around and see his partner, but then she turned and without a backwards glance, she walked swiftly away. Starsky looked crestfallen. ‘Oh…..I wanted you to meet her. I thought she saw me’ he said in a little boy voice.

Hutch looked at his partner than at the rapidly retreating back of the woman, something nudging at the back of his mind. She’d obviously heard Starsky shouting. Why did she back away? Angrily he shoved the thoughts away. C’mon Hutchinson. Just because you have the worst luck in the world with women, that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. Out loud he said ‘She probably didn’t hear ya Starsk. Either that or she wondered what a madman waving a threatening burrito at her was gonna do!’

It seemed to appease the smaller man, and together the two made their way back to another afternoon of drudgery and paperwork.

By the end of the day, Starsky had decided that, much as he loved his friend, he couldn’t cope any longer with the sighs, sniffles and black mood. At 5:00pm he slammed his file shut, leaned forwards and did the same to Hutch’s and led his partner out of the door and back to the car. Once home, he made sure the blond had everything he needed to get rid of the last vestiges of his cold, then took himself off home to get ready for another night with the wonderful Gemma.

Going home, he took a little more time getting ready. They weren’t going out tonight, he’d invited her around to his apartment for a quiet night, and so once he’d tidied his already clean and tidy pad, he took a long hot shower, letting the water play over his tense muscles. The day had been long and he’d hated the mood his partner had been in. While it didn’t take a counsellor to know why Hutch was feeling low and depressed, Starsky was surprised just how hard Van’s death had hit him. He’d never realised up until that point that a woman, even one who had hurt Hutch so badly, could still have such a hold over him. Starsky had had Terry and he’d fallen apart when she’d died, but it was under completely different circumstances to Van’s death. He and Terry were very much in love and Terry had been brutally ripped from his life by a gunman’s bullet aimed not only at killing her, but at killing him, piece by tiny piece.

But now he had found Gemma and he felt happy with his love life once again after so many months. At first after Terry died, he’d refused to see anyone else. He felt that to do so would be to diminish her memory in some way. After a few months of celibacy and mourning, Hutch had finally persuaded him to go out on a foursome with him and Abby and from then on, he’d had one or two flings. Nothing serious and certainly nothing on the scale of Terry. Up until now.

He got out of the shower and wrapped a clean blue towel round his lean hips, taking a good hard look at himself in the mirror. Starsky never actually understood why women liked him. Sure he played the Romeo when he and his partner were out, but it always came as a surprise that the opposite sex found him attractive. At just shy of 6’ he was average height. He stood sideways and looked at his physique. There was some definition there. He didn’t have the muscles a professional body builder would have, but his stomach was flat and solid, his chest muscles could be glimpsed tHrough the forest of black curly hair and his biceps were clearly defined. A few scars marred the olive tanned body. A bullet scar high up on his left chest marked an argument with a .22 in an Italian Restaurant, matching another on his right calf caused by a similar instrument caught while trying to flee a barn which was about to go up in flames.

Higher up, he studied his face. His featured were rugged and what he considered average. Terry had always said he as the most handsome man she’d ever met, but all Starsky saw were the blemishes. He had a small mole on his left cheek and he felt his eyes were too close together, although he did quite like their colour. Terry had said they were indigo blue and he liked the description. His hair though! She’d loved his hair, saying she liked the way his curls wound round her fingers. He hated it. As a child he’d been taunted at school and called a sissy because he had curly hair. He’d tried all ways to straighten it as a boy, but had finally come to realise it was just one more thing that made up David Starsky. He lived with it, and it seemed to please the women.

He grinned at his reflection, turned away and proceeded to dress, tonight in his tightest dark blue jeans and his denim blue shirt. As he took a final look in the mirror, finger combing his hair into some sort of order, the doorbell rang, and he prepared for a night of love.


Chapter 4

He leaned forward and kissed her then invited her in. As she walked through his door, Starsky marvelled again at what a beautiful woman she was. Tonight she’d dressed to match him in figure hugging blue jeans, held in at the waist by a white plaited leather belt. A white tee shirt, cut low at the neck and a dark blue scarf wrapped around her throat completed the look. She carried a large purse slung over her shoulder and looked dark and sultry and as she walked past him she seemed to float on a cushion of Eau de Lancôme perfume.

She walked slowly into his apartment and stopped looking over her shoulder at him coyly. Indicating the settee, he sat down beside her and she snuggled into his side. He rested his chin on her head and her hair smelled of chamomile soap. He breathed deeply. Something about her reminded him of Terry, but he pushed those thoughts deep down.

‘You are beautiful’ he whispered into her hair.

She looked up at him. ‘You’re pretty damned fine yourself Mr Starsky’ she said, smiling into his eyes. Her fingers toyed with a curl on his forehead and she tugged it playfully. ‘Do you have any music?’ she asked.

Starsky got up and went to his record player, thumbing through the selection of LPs he had there. ‘Well, there’s Pink Floyd?’

She wrinkled her nose. ‘Too noisy’.

‘Diana Ross?’


‘Scot Joplin?...I know, too ragtime?’

Gemma nodded, chuckling.

The brunette picked up an LP with a simple white cover and a well thumbed inner sleeve. ‘I’ve got the perfect mood maker. No-one does it like Mozart!’ He set the player spinning and put the disk on the turntable, carefully setting the stylus down on the black vinyl record. Quietly, the strains of the orchestra began and for a moment, he closed his eyes to appreciate it. He opened them again when he heard a tiny giggle from the settee. Turning he looked at her questioningly.

‘You never fail to surprise me Dave’ she said, shaking her head. ‘I expect something soppy like the Stylistics or Barry White, and you give me Mozart’.

‘Don’t ya like it?’ he asked, worried in case he’d imposed something on her that was completely inappropriate.

‘Like it? Its perfect’ she said, pulling her feet up under her on the settee and resting her head against the backrest. Gemma closed her eyes and began to sway slightly to the smooth waves of the music.

Starsky walked up behind her and kissed the exposed line of her throat past the solitaire necklace she wore there, then nibbled lightly on her ear, sending a little shiver down her back. She sighed and patted the settee next to her. C’mon and sit down here’ she said breathlessly.

Starsky came to sit by her side and once again she snuggled into him, running her hand over the denim shirt and insinuating her fingers between the fasteners. Very slowly she undid the top one. ‘Oo, press studs. How convenient’ she purred as another popped open at her touch. She coiled her fingers through the forest of hairs on his chest, running her finger nails lightly over his skin and popping the studs one after the other until they were all open, exposing his chest and flat stomach. He leaned back, enjoying her ministrations and sighed as she started to undo the buckle of his jeans belt. He put his hand on top of hers.

‘Maybe somewhere more comfortable?’ he asked huskily as he pushed himself up off the settee and led her to the bedroom. They lay down on the bed and the curly haired cop started to reciprocate by unfastening the buttons on her blouse. She pushed his hands away playfully.

‘Hey, it’s my turn, stud. Just lay back and enjoy yourself for a while. We have games that’ll last all night’

‘Yeah? What sort of games?’ he asked with interest.

She giggled. ‘Lie back and let me take these off and you can find out’ she continued to unfasten the belt then the button at the waistband of his jeans, pulling at them playfully. He looked back at her with eyes dark with desire as she pushed her hands under the denim of his jeans, cupping his hips and pushing further to get her hands right inside his jeans. Slowly he raised his hips and with a little effort, she managed to pull them down to his knees, so that he wiggled out of them, leaving them to puddle in a heap on the floor.

Starsky lay back, looking up trustingly at the woman perched above him. He reached up and pushed the blouse off her shoulders and she shrugged out of it, flinging it to land with his jeans on the floor.

‘Have you played games before, or are you a vanilla type of guy?’ she asked coyly.

He focussed on her. ‘Vanilla? Sounds like ice cream. Depends what sort of games you had in mind’ he replied his voice husky with heat and desire as he focussed on her lips.

‘Trust games’ she said, unwinding the scarf from her throat. ‘Games where you put your trust in me and I repay it with a climax beyond your wildest dreams’ she said.

Starsky swallowed hard, his breath racing. What was he doing here? He hardly knew this woman and yet she’d gotten him into bed on their second date and was now speaking of trust games and climaxes. Should he trust himself to her? She was beautiful and surely he could overpower her if things got a little heavy?

‘Suppose I’ll have to wait and see’ he said as he saw her fold her scarf into quarters.

‘OK’ she said, ‘Your trust starts here’ and she bent forwards and held the scarf over the unfocussed indigo eyes. Gently she lifted his head and tied the scarf behind his head, careful not to tangle his curls in its folds, then let him rest back on the pillow. Blindfolded, his head quested from side to side, wondering what she was going to do next. His heart rate hiked up a notch as the darkness left him feeling helpless and unbalanced. He licked lips that had suddenly gone dry, but within a moment he was relaxing again as he felt her hands once more stroking up and down his chest, accompanied by warm kisses dotted across the muscles of his flat stomach. The muscles clenched involuntarily as her tongue rimmed his belly button, then dipped lower, pushing the band of his black boxers out of the way.

The tongue stopped just short of the wiry hairs and he almost whimpered in frustration as he felt her get off the bed. He lay shivering slightly although his bedroom was warm. The anticipation of the games was almost more than he could bear and if this first one was anything to go by, her was sure now he’d enjoy the rest.

The blindfolded cop felt Gemma come back into the room and heard something being put down on the bed beside him. He felt her lean forward towards him and then something soft and fragrant was placed against his lips. Slowly he opened them and the object was pushed inside. Hesitantly he took a bite and was rewarded with a sweet strawberry. He smiled and chewed.

‘Hm. Strawberry’ he said with satisfaction.

She laughed. ‘That was an easy one’ she said as he felt her reach for something else. Again there was a pressure against his lips and this time he opened his mouth without hesitation and sucked at the soft object. He paused, savouring the flavour.

‘Peach?’ he asked, licking the juice from his lips and smiling.

‘Very good. You’re too good at this’ she murmured in his ear. ‘A little more difficult now. A liquid’.

Starsky felt the straw and sucked slowly, rewarded with a cool liquid. Gemma took the straw away quickly. ‘Not too much. Wouldn’t want you to choke’ she said gently.

He swallowed the liquid down, feeling a small burst of fire as it passed his throat, followed by a rich sweetness. ‘Wine’ he decided.


‘Hm, I’m gonna go with red’ he said after a moment. He reached for the blindfold, but she pushed his hands away.

‘Hey, no cheating!’ she admonished. Swiftly he felt her pull something towards her and within a moment she’d wrapped something flexible and strong around his wrists, binding them together.

The brunette experienced a moment of panic. ‘Hey Gemma, no’ he struggled on the bed, but she straddled his hips, keeping him down and put her hands either side of his face.

‘Ssh, its OK. Trust games, remember. Do you trust me honey?’

Starsky stopped struggling, his bound wrists held in front of him as he relaxed a fraction, enjoying her touch as she gently stroked his hair, trailing her fingers slowly down his forehead and along the bridge of his nose.

‘There you are, easy now honey. That’s it. Are you going to be brave now? Or shall we finish?’ she asked softly.

Getting his breath back under control, Starsky relaxed back against the bed, allowing himself to go on a little more with these games. His stomach contracted in eagerness of what she’d do next. There was a powerful feeling of fear mixed with anticipation and the combination made him feel dizzy. He’d never experienced anything like this before and he was almost terrified that, deep down he liked it. Being here, bound, with this siren above him was so different from being bound to a chair waiting for some flake to beat seven shades of crap out of him. That was just plain scary. This was scary on a whole different level and the darker part of his mind wanted to learn more.

‘And the final one’ she teased as she leaned forward again. The tied detective felt something warm and perfumed press against his lips and as he opened his mouth a little to suck she murmured in his ear ‘No biting now’. Starsky did as he was told and licked and sucked at her nipple, feeling it harden with desire as Gemma made little mewling noises above him before pulling away.

Gemma noticed his body relax beneath her and put her tray of food to one side. Setting her bag down beside her she pulled out some different objects and arranged them around her. Picking up the piece of velvet, she started to rub it lightly down the bound cop’s sides, watching as the goose flesh rose and the brunette let out a shaky breath. Moments later she’d taken a sheet of rough sandpaper and followed the velvet, alternating rough and smooth until, in his blindfold world, one sensation ran into the next.

Once Starsky was panting with anticipation beneath her she once again changed tools and picked up a long peacock feather, running it first through the fur on his chest, then with the line of hair running in a line down the centre of his belly. The sensation made him laugh and she reached behind her and tickled the soles of his bare feet until he was laughing uncontrollably, still unable to move because she was sitting across his hips.

Finally she took a last object from the bag and Starsky thought he heard her strike a match. His whole body tensed and waited in anticipation. Suddenly there was a burning pain low down on his belly and it took his breath away. Within moments it was joined by another as Gemma let another drop of hot wax fall from the candle onto the flesh below her. Over and over she dropped the candle wax onto Starsky’s olive skin until he was groaning with a weird mixture of pleasure and pain. Gauging when he had had almost enough, she blew out the candle and slowly leaned forward, rasping the rapidly hardening wax away and dappling the slightly reddened flesh beneath with tiny kisses.

Starsky was in a different world. Pain and pleasure had flowed into one luscious being and the centre of his body had hardened beneath the woman into a dark red marble rod. He thrust his hips up against her, almost delirious with passion and aching for some sort of release. And still she refused to touch him there. She moved off him and kissed down his belly, then round his hips and down the insides of his thighs until he was crying out incoherently and pulling frantically at the bonds round his wrists.

He managed to grab her as she leaned forward to kiss his chest, wrapping his bound arms around her neck and pulling her to him, plunging his tongue into her mouth again and again, until finally she released his wrists.

Quickly he took of the blindfold, seeing that she too was naked now. He pushed her down onto the pillows and lay on top of her, pushing his body against hers until he’d managed to get between her legs. As he claimed her mouth again with his, he thrust into her, pulling back and thrusting again, taking up an almost frantic rhythm until almost together they reached their climax with a long shuddering cry.

Absolutely spent, Starsky eased himself off the woman and lay panting by her side as she nestled lovingly into his side.

‘My God Gemma, where’d ya learn to do that?’ he panted when he’d gotten enough breath back to form a coherent sentence.

‘I thought you’d enjoy it’ she mumbled, heavy and satisfied after their lovemaking. ‘A lot of men who take charge during the day like to surrender at night’.

The brunette sighed as his heart rate came back to somewhere near normal. ‘Surrender? Yeah, I could surrender to you anytime’ he mumbled.

She stiffened next to him, then relaxed. ‘You shouldn’t trust everyone Dave. Sometimes games can be dangerous’ she said as she saw his eyes close and he drifted off into a satisfied sleep.

Chapter 5

The next morning, Starsky woke slowly, remembering the night before. He turned over on his side to cuddle the beautiful woman, but she was gone. Hesitantly he got up and padded naked into his living room, looking around for her, but her clothes and her bag had disappeared too and he was just about to slip his jeans on and go outside to look for her when he saw the note pinned to the inside of his front door.

My darling Dave

I never like to wake up with the man I tied and tested! If you would like to meet again, my apartment is free tonight at 8:00. No need to ring, I’ll be waiting for sweet surrender.

Apartment C 1369 Chandler


Starsky took the note and re-read it, smelling her perfume on the paper, his mind going back over the previous evening. After the first wonderful climax, she’d driven him on and on so that finally he’d slumped into an exhausted and satisfied sleep with his arm around her. He looked absently at his wrists and thought wryly that he’s have to wear a long sleeved shirt today to hide the red marks which circled them from her plaited leather belt. Going into the bathroom he looked in the mirror and saw the myriad of small red marks on his torso and arms from the candle wax. OK, make that long sleeves and buttoned to the neck!

The brunette couldn’t believe how turned on he’d gotten from letting a mere slip of a woman dominate him I that manner. God, it had even hurt! And yet the more she did to him, the more he wanted. Sick. You’re one very sick dude, Davey boy. He showered and got dressed never considering for one minute that he wouldn’t turn up at her apartment that night. She was like a drug and he needed another fix, just to keep himself going. He shook his head. Get a grip. She’s a girl, nothing more! The small wounds hurt a little and reminded him more and more of their adventurous evening and as he pulled his shirt on over his skin, he hissed at the pressure his clothes put on the burns and welts.

He was interrupted in his reverie by the telephone ringing. Thinking it may be Gemma he rushed to the phone and picked it up before the third ring.


‘Yes darling’ the smooth tones of his partner came back down the line at him holding a slight amusement. He relaxed. Cool it Davey. Wait for tonight huh?

‘Hey Blondie. What ya want?’ he tried to get his emotions back under control but the testosterone coursing through his body made it difficult to think past his jeans at that moment. The next sentence, however, acted like a cold shower and instantly Starsky was all professionalism and back in the cops mindset.

‘Dryden’s dead’ Hutch said tightly. ‘Dobey wants us down there right now’.

‘OK, I’ll meet you at the Metro’. He put the phone down, all thoughts of women sex and bondage removed from his head as he thought about his partner’s news. He’d hated Dryden. No, scratch that. He didn’t hate the guy, he hated what he stood for. Both he and Hutch had so many arguments with the IA that anyone who belonged to internal affairs was anathema in his eyes. But no-one deserved to die: to have their life cut short. Even the wicked twinkle in the black man’s eyes as he relished the thought of arresting Hutch for Van’s murder couldn’t equate with deserving to die.

Starsky got into the car and drove down to HQ, parking in his usual spot right outside the front steps. As he walked into the squad room he was met by a bunch of IA officers facing some of the detectives across the room. It looked like a stand off and there had been raucous noise before he’d walked in. Now there was silence and every eye was turned on the curly haired detective. He stood at the door, unsure what was going on, and not really wanting to know. Anything that had this usually easy going group of guys so worked up had to be bad. As he was considering his options, Dobeys’ head poked around the door further down the hallway, calling him in. He backed out of the tension filled room and went instead into the relative calm of his Captains office, throwing himself down on his customary perch on the armchair, his blond partner already having claimed the seat.

‘What the hell’s going on Cap?’ he asked, suddenly realising Simonetti was with them in the room. The dead Dryden’s IA partner was casting evil glances at the brunette and he realised that if looks could kill, he’d be dead seven times over by now.

‘You’ve heard Dryden’s dead?’ his Captain said slowly, seeing both his officers nod.

‘Seems whoever killed him had dark curly hair. Forensics found some on the body. Give me your weapon, Starsky, we’ll need to check when it was last fired’ Simonetti leared.

The brunette looked around angrily from one man to the other in the little room.

‘I don’t believe this. First Hutch ‘n’ then me? Come on Cap, this has to be some kind of sick joke’.

Simonetti was on his feet in an instant, heading for the curly haired cop. ’It aint no joke “Curly”’ he ground out. ‘My partner’s dead and you made no bones about the fact you hated Dryden and you had enough motive. We tried to do our job and bust the man we thought was responsible for a woman’s death….’

‘Yeah, and as usual with you IA freaks, you got it screwed up. What is it with you guys? You see one clue and decide the whole case on that? Get with the programme Simonetti. Go back to the Academy and re-take evidence 101 and you might, with a lot of practice, get somethin’ right for once’. The red faced brunette ducked, but not fast enough as Simonetti’s fist connected with his jaw, snapping his head back and causing him to stagger backwards. Hutch caught his partner as he was about to fall and stood him upright, then hung on to his arms as Starsky tried to respond with a left hook of his own.

‘STARSKY sit down. And you’ Dobey thundered at the IA man ‘You ever raise a hand to one of my men again and so help me I’ll bust your sorry ass down to traffic as fast as you can blink. Got that? We’re all sorry about Dryden’ he glared at the two detectives as if defying them to make a comment. ‘But slugging it out between ourselves isn’t going to solve this’.

Starsky shrugged his arm away from his partner’s grasp, reached into his holster and handed his Captain his gun, emptying the clip onto the desk and checking the weapon was empty. As he did so, the sleeve of his jacket rode up and showed his wrist. Quick as a flash Simonetti had hold of the brunette’s arm, forcing his sleeve higher and exposing the red welt.

‘Ok, a curly brown hair and now this? Where d’ya get this Starsky? Someone struggling with ya, were they?’ the IA man was once again hot on the trail of completely the wrong guy, but he had the bit between his teeth. Dobey looked questioningly at his officer and Starsky would have blushed if his face hadn’t already been red with anger.

Hutch’s eyes held questions too, but the blond knew now was not the time and simply remained quiet, knowing his partner hadn’t killed Dryden, but wondering how he’d gotten the injury. If he didn’t know better, he’d say it looked like someone had tied his partner up. He stowed the question away for later and concentrated on the here and now.

Dobey had called for a patrolman to come and take the weapon and it had duly been sent to the ballistics lab for a check. All four men waited in the small room, the atmosphere so thick it could have been cut with a knife. The wait took a little over 10 minutes, during which there was an uncomfortable silence as Simonetti calmed down and Hutch and his partner communicated silently between themselves.

So if it wasn’t us partner, just who the fuck has done the job on Dryden?

I don’t know, but someone sure as hell wants us out of the way.

Finally the door opened and the same officer came back in, depositing the gun in a sealed plastic bag with a computer print out. Dobey opened the printout and read it, then showed it to Simonetti.

‘Seems like your weapon was last discharged more than a week ago, before the Vanessa enquiry and most likely when you were on the shooting range’ Dobey said, turning to Simonetti. ‘Looks like you may owe Starsky an apology’ he grunted. Starsky stared the IA man down, defying him to say anything.

Simonetti smiled a cold, hard smile. ‘It didn’t have to be his weapon, did it?’

Hutch put a restraining hand on his partner’s arm. ‘Easy tiger’ he murmured, feeling the arm tense under his touch.

Dobey was rounding on the IA man. ‘Simonetti will you cool it? Starsky had nothing to do with this. We’ve sent the hair off for analysis, then we might get somewhere. Death occurred at about 4:00am. Hutch, I want you and Starsky to go home and lay low till we get this investigation off the ground’.

‘Suspended again?’ Hutch growled, still smarting from the last round with the IA

‘No, not suspended. Just call it compassionate leave. What you do with your time is your own business, but for the next few hours I want you somewhere where I can reach you, OK?’

The two detectives got up and Starsky reached for his gun, but Dobey pulled it away from him with a wordless look.

‘Oh terrific. I’m not suspended, but I can’t have my gun back, even though it wasn’t fired. You want my badge as well Cap, coz from where I’m standing it looks like you don’t’ trust me at all’ the brunette was leaning over his Captain’s desk, his face mere inches from his bosses.

Dobey returned the stare without flinching. ‘Hutchinson, get him out of here now, before either one of you says something that we’ll regret’.

The black man watched as Hutch took hold of Starsky’s shoulders, but the brunette was lost in his anger and batted the arm away. With a final backward look at the satisfied expression on Simonetti’s face, he turned on his heel and flung the door open, his blond partner hot on his heels.

In the office, the IA man was running his fingers through his fuzzy hair. ‘Thank you Captain Dobey. Those men are….’

‘Those are two of my best men, Simonetti and you’ll do well to remember it. Now get out, before I say something I’m gonna regret’ he out his head down and didn’t look up as the man made his way out of the office.


In another part of town a small group of people were having a different sort of conversation. Wheeler was now happily reunited with his plush house, his servants and his fine foods and wine. The few nights he’d spent in police cells were a thing of the past and once again Abraham was waiting by his side.

There were several people in the room, and Wheeler looked from one to the other, expectantly.

‘Have you made contact?’

A sigh. ‘Yes’.

‘Is Dryden dead?’

‘Yes Sir, shot with a single .22 bullet through the head. From a Smith and Wesson model 59. It was clean’.

‘Good, with everyone suspecting him, my way will be clear to get the gem back. Did you get the hairs?’

‘Yes. We planted them on the body before we left. Detective Starsky is as good as convicted’.

‘Do we have to do it this way?’

‘Is there another. Its perfect. He doesn’t suspect and he’ll be the prime witness. If I know Captain Dobey, Starsky is at home now kicking his heels on suspension. They won’t care if he doesn’t turn in for work and he’s our perfect alibi’.

Another sigh. ‘Ok then, we go ahead with the plan’.

‘Good. Now what do we do about the diamond?’

A small cough. ‘We…erm….we’re unsure of it’s location Sir’.

‘Really!’ the single word dripped ice and venom

‘But I’m sure we’ll find it’ the voice sounded unsure of itself, but Wheeler was continuing.

‘I’m sure you will, and I’m sure he’ll be very co-operative after a little treatment from the three of you’ his beard wiggled as he chuckled to himself. ‘Especially with your unusual talents’.

Chapter 6

The two detectives got out of the Metro as fast as they could, Starsky leading the way as his blond partner followed him down to the car. Hutch could see by the set of his partner’s shoulders that he was madder than hell. The brunette flung the car door open and got in, slamming it behind him and sitting panting in the front seat. He reached out to put the keys in the ignition and was about to turn on the engine when Hutch put a hand out and stopped him, grabbing the keys from his grasp.

‘Not like this partner’ he warned, seeing the fire still in the stormy indigo eyes and the set of the jaw, the muscles clenching and unclenching as Starsky bit back the string of expletives he wanted to yell. He blinked and looked at the man sitting next to him.


‘You’re not driving like this. In your present temper you’re likely to get us both killed. Now either you calm down right now, or I’ll drive’.

Starsky’s hands balled into fists, then relaxed again as he took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He looked into his partner’s ice blue eyes, seeking just a little control there, and finding it.

‘Can you believe it?’ he muttered. First you, then me. Either this is someone’s idea of a sick joke, or there’s someone out there who wants us both out of the way. Whichever it is, I’m sick and tired of being made to be a scapegoat’. He banged his fists down on the steering wheel, then let them fall uselessly to his lap.

‘Look. Lets go home, work this through, then we may get some answers. We’re not gonna get anywhere just sitting beating the car up are we?’ Hutch said, as ever the voice of reason. Seeing his partner had calmed down some, he handed the keys back to the brunette’s waiting hand and sat back as the car pulled out into the traffic with only a small squeal of the tyres against the blacktop. They drove in silence for a while, each going over in their minds what had happened during the last 12 hours. Hutch wondering who would want to implicate Starsky in the murder and Starsky wondering how long it would be till the next time he could see Gemma. They pulled up outside his apartment and went in, Starsky feeling strange in his own home as he thought about what he’d gotten up to the night before.

Hutch went into the kitchen and took out two cold beers from his friend’s fridge, popping off the tops and handed one to the brunette, who followed Hutch back into the living room and sat down. Unthinking, and trying to make himself more comfortable, Starsky unbuttoned the cuffs of his shirt and rolled the sleeves up, then stopped, seeing Hutch take in the welts around his wrists, still standing out livid against his tanned skin. The flaxen eyebrows raised.

‘So, what’s with the bracelets, buddy?’ he asked, trying to keep any hint of accusation out of his voice.

Starsky blushed and pulled the sleeves back down again, but the damage had been done. ‘Gemma and I had a good night’ he said simply, hoping the small explanation would shut his partner up.

Hutch took a pull from the beer, waiting to see if there were any additions to the explanation. When the expectancy in his eyes was met with a frosty silence, he pushed on. ‘It’s probably none of my business, but just what exactly d’ya call a good night? Looks to me like….’

‘You’re right. It’s none of your business’ Starsky cut him off, suddenly embarrassed to discuss the previous evening with his best friend. He couldn’t talk to Hutch about the pleasure it gave him to be tied up, hurt and, yes, used, because he couldn’t understand it himself. Even with all that had gone on that day, his mind still kept trying to rationalise what had gone on and why he enjoyed it so much, but no amount of thought or discussion could make him see any sense in it. He’d always abhorred violence in the bedroom. He’d even busted Janos Martini for filming sado-masochistic scenes with his girlfriend, but this was different. This was something he’d willingly consented to, and far from being sordid and kinky, it felt liberating to have someone else make all the decisions for him. It was as though he was absolved of any responsibility and he found that both refreshing and liberating.

Hutch saw the conflict in his partner’s eyes and knew he’d overstepped the mark. Quietly he leaned forward and patted his friend’s knee. ‘Hey buddy, whatever you and your gorgeous girl do is private. I shouldn’t have asked. Sorry’

Ice blue eyes met embarrassed indigo ones. ‘S’ok, its just its all kinda new an’ I’m still getting it straight in my head. She…erm….she seduced me! She tied me up and…’ he pulled up his shirt and displayed the burn marks across his chest and stomach.

‘Jeez Starsk’ Hutch leaned forward examining his friends skin. ‘She did that? Didn’t it hurt?’

The brunette gave a lop sided smile. ‘Yeah, and then again no. I can’t describe it. Sure there was some pain, but then with the other things she was doing all the pain turned to a kind of pleasure like I’ve never felt before. I’ve never had a woman do that before. It was …’

‘Amazing?’ the flaxen haired cop asked, raising his eyebrows.

‘More than amazing pal, there aren’t words to describe it. But how’d you know?’

It was Hutch’s turn to blush. ‘When we were first married Van was into….unusual bedroom antics. I liked some of ‘em, but some just left me cold’.

Starsky nodded and let out the breath he didn’t realise he’d been holding. He’d wondered if he would ever share this with his partner, and if he did, how the blond would take it. Somehow, to know that Hutch had once had a taste of the darker side of sex made him feel a little more at peace with himself. But his friend had one final warning.

‘Just take it easy buddy. Sometimes it can hurt more ’n’ ya think and pleasure turns to too much pain. Ya gotta be careful’.

The smaller man chuckled, ‘Oh I have the feeling Gemma knows exactly what she’s doing’ he said.

‘Well if ya can drag your mind away from the bedroom! Back to business then. Who do we know who wants to kill Dryden?’

Starsky shook his head. ‘I could probably give ya a list as long as my arm, and yeah, my name would be pretty near the top because of the way he was with you. But I know I didn’t do it, and you know I didn’t do it. So we’re left with two options. Either it’s someone else who Dryden pissed off enough for them to pop him off, or….’

‘Or putting two and two together we’re left with someone wanting to get at you and Dryden was just unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time’ Hutch reasoned.

His partner nodded and considered. ‘There’s a third idea. How about someone hates my guts enough that they’re trying to frame me for the murder. Think about it, it figures. It’s no secret that I hated Dryden and its common knowledge that I was less than happy when he and Simonetti got the warrant for your arrest. And someone went to enough trouble to get one of my hairs to plant on his body’.

‘Yeah, it’s a possibility, but who do we know who’d want you out of the frame so badly huh?

The two detectives sat quietly, each thinking unsettling thoughts about the who’s what’s and where’s of this little conundrum. Finally coming up with zip, and not being allowed to go back to the Metro to make his own line of enquiry, Starsky briefed his partner on what he needed to know.

‘So you’re going back now? Its nearly 5:45 buddy. Leave it till the morning’.

‘Its your ass pal. Its not me that’s gonna have the murder warrant out on his this time’ Hutch reminded him. ‘It’ll give me a head start if I can go back and get something done tonight. If any suspects or addresses come to light tonight, we can go see ‘em first thing in the morning’.

Starsky shrugged. ‘Yeah, my ass huh? When you put it like that….Ok, well I’ll see you first thing in the morning pal, hopefully in one piece!’

‘You seeing Gemma again?’


‘Be careful buddy’.


After Hutch had gone, Starsky started to get himself ready for the evening. He was looking forward to another night with this unusual woman who’d gotten inside his head so completely, but a small part of him was almost scared of what she might have planned for him. He looked again at the fading red welts around his wrists and shrugged.

In the bathroom he showered carefully, the hot water stinging at some of the small burns on his chest, but he felt they were good pains, a reminder of a night of wonderful passion and one he wanted to repeat tonight. He wondered if Gemma was also getting ready in anticipation of the evening and hoped she’d enjoyed herself as much as he had.

Dressing carefully, he pulled on his palest blue jeans. They had washed to an almost white shade and were soft as velvet. They also hugged his body in all the right places and Starsky always felt good when he wore them. He added a black tee shirt that hung loosely from his shoulders, giving him something of a predatory quality. He was a big cat on the prowl for a mate, wild and feral. He grinned wolfishly at his reflection in the mirror, dragged a comb through his hair and went into the living room. He reached instinctively for his holster and cursed when he saw it empty, remembering his gun lying on the desk in Dobey’s room. He shrugged. he was going out on a date. Why would he want his gun? Pulling on his black leather jacket and turning up the collar, he checked his apartment was in order, turned off the light and closed the door behind him.


Across town, Gemma too was making preparations. She loved meeting Dave. He was direct and refreshing as though he had nothing to hide. He seemed to her to be a guy who wore his heart on his sleeve and despite herself she’d fallen for his boyish charms in a big way. She paused, giggling to herself. Not such boyish charms. David Starsky was most definitely all man and memory of the feel of him below her last night sent a shiver of anticipation up her spine, his muscles playing under his skin and the delicious tiny flinches as she’d dripped the wax onto his naked chest and stomach. His bravery made her dizzy and she hoped it wouldn’t be tested too greatly tonight. There were times when even someone like Dave must know when to quit. He had been unlike any other man she’d ever been with and when she’d suggested the trust games, he’d looked at her so intensely from those wonderful navy blue eyes that her heart had melted and she almost couldn’t bring herself to hide them away behind the blindfold.

She took a steadying breath as she straightened her hot pants and smoothed her blouse down, checked her lipstick in the mirror and opened the door to her new lover.

Chapter 7

‘Well good evening, handsome’ Gemma said opening the door and stepping aside to let Starsky in. He kissed her on the cheek, then took hold of her in his arms and planted a passionate kiss on her lips.

‘Ya keep saying “handsome”. One day I’m gonna start believing you’ he grinned as he walked in and looked around.

It was an expensive looking apartment with expensive looking furnishings and the address was on the right side of town. On the drive over, Starsky had wondered just how a jobbing waitress could afford to live in a place like this, but it was just idle curiosity. Maybe as he got to know her better she could tell him all her deep dark secrets, but tonight was a night for pleasure, and perhaps a little of that pain thing again. He suppressed an excited shudder and sat down where she indicated.

‘Have you had a good day?’ she asked as she passed him a chilled glass of white wine.

He snorted his derision. ‘Not what you’d call one of the best. In fact it sucked! But I had you to look forward to and I’m here now. I’m not gonna let my life get in the way of an evening with a beautiful woman’ he put his arm out and she came to sit next to him, nestling into his side and resting her head against his shoulder. She breathed in the mixture of fragrances. Sandalwood soap was there, along with….medicated shampoo?...and layered across the top, the delicious aroma of the Santos de Cartier aftershave again. She knew it was expensive and in her mind she laughed at this cop with his big fancy red car and rich man’s aftershave. Coupled with the almost threadbare jeans and the worn brown leather jacket she’d seen him in, it created a confusing set of messages. A man who set work and play distinctly apart, but enjoyed both. She looked up into his dark blue eyes and he could see laughter in hers.

‘What’s so amusing?’ he asked. ‘Oh God. I’ve got cress in my teeth, that’s it isn’t it?’ he looked crestfallen and started to scrub at his front teeth with his finger and she giggled.

‘No, your teeth look perfect to me. I was just thinking that for a cop you wear expensive aftershave’ she murmured as he playfully nibbled the lobe of her ear.

‘Gotta impress the ladies somehow’ he said. ‘Being a cop don’t usually do it. Now firemen! That’s a different thing altogether. They get all the ladies. It must be all the dirt they get to play in’.

‘But Firemen don’t have your handcuffs, and you can play dirty if you like’ she finished with a twinkle in her eye, her voice low and sultry.

Starsky felt the same flutter low in his belly at the mention of the bedroom games she may have lined up for later. It was a mixture of apprehension and excitement. A heady combination and once again he wondered at himself for seeking out the experience.

‘Never met a girl who wanted to play with ‘em before’ he admitted huskily as he stared into her eyes.

She playfully pulled at a tuft of hair on his chest that was sticking out of the top of his half unbuttoned shirt. ‘I’ve never met a man who enjoyed playing with them quite so much as you seem to’. She flicked another button of his shirt open and trailed her nails through the forest of fur she found, sending tingles down his spine. He groaned and closed his eyes, enjoying the sensations she was causing to play through his body.

‘Did you have a good day?’ he asked dreamily as her fingers continued to wander. ‘You’ve never mentioned your family. Do you have family?’ he asked, suddenly worried in case she didn’t and he’d offended her.

He felt her stiffen slightly, then her fingers continued their manipulations. ‘I have family, but they’re….unusual. Daddy’s quite rich, hence the apartment, but he likes to get his own way and sometimes we don’t see eye to eye’ she finished.

‘What does he do?’ the brunette asked, eyes still half closed.

Gemma bent lower, dotting little wet kisses down his exposed chest and lower onto his belly, dipping her fingers below the waistband of his jeans. Suddenly it no longer mattered what her Dad did, or whether she had family. All Starsky’s thoughts were centred on this wonderful woman and what she was doing to his body. Her fingers snapped the button on his jeans and she bent and deftly lowered the zipper with her teeth. He groaned again and pulled her to him, kissing her deeply.

‘I think I love you’ he mumbled as she ran her fingers through his hair. He took hold of her silky tresses and wrapped them round his hand, feeling the strands warm and tactile in his palm. He let it go, and her hair cascaded down her back in a torrent and he cupped the back of her head, drawing her to him again for another passionate kiss.

She drew back from him and deftly he started to draw her blouse over her head, but she stopped him, gently taking his hands and folding his arms behind him, until she had him pinned against the back of the settee.

‘Love slaves aren’t allowed to undress their mistresses’ she admonished, seeing his eyes cloudy with desire. They widened a little at the phrase.

‘Is that what I am to you? A love slave? He asked softly, suddenly wanting and needing to belong to this girl with the hazel eyes. Visions of black leather and dungeons floated across his imagination and he fought to control his breathing

‘She nodded. ‘a love slave….sex slave….whatever you call it, tonight you belong to me Dave Starsky, and you’ll do whatever I say’.

Breath heaving in his chest he considered for the briefest moment, then smiled. ‘Whatever you say Ma’am’ he grinned as she let his arms go. The absence of pressure made him feel suddenly empty and he wanted it back. He had an uncontrollable urge to be restrained by her, needing to feel again the freedom to relinquish all responsibility and just “be”.

She took his hand and led him to her bedroom. There was a big, four poster bed set in the middle of the room. The walls were painted in cool shades of lavender and purple, and the floor was covered with a dove grey carpet so thick that her high heels sunk into the pile at every step. On one wall a gilt and white fireplace stood with logs set in the hearth, even though the temperatures were in the seventies outside. Two armchairs sat either side of the fire place and a door to one side led into a bathroom, which seemed very large as Starsky glimpsed it through the open door.

Gemma stopped in the middle of the room and kissed him full on the lips, pushing his shirt off his shoulders and letting it fall to the floor. It was soon joined by his jeans, which, though tight, seemed to present no problem for the woman’s nimble fingers and hands. She pushed him towards the bed and he perched on the end, shivering suddenly as he saw, dangling from the bedposts, dark red silken ropes. His heart hammered in his chest as she pushed him back, joining him on the bed as she started to kiss from his ankle up the inside of his leg to within an inch of his rapidly hardening body. Not touching it, she resumed her kisses down the other leg, finishing once again at his other ankle.

Starsky had so wanted her to touch him. To take him in her hands and grant him just a little relief, but if it was anything like last night, she’d wait until the last possible minute to touch him there, like an exquisite torture of a whole different kind. As she travelled north again, Little Davey bounded to attention crying out for some relief, but she once again bypassed it, dotting kisses up to his chest. Gently she took one of his nipples in her mouth and licked, her tongue darting rapidly over the hardened nub as Starsky panted below her, now lying on his hands to stop himself from rolling her over and claiming her as his own. He knew she’d eventually bring them both to a shattering climax, but the anticipation was getting almost painful as Little Davey became a rock hard pole jutting out from his body and throbbing for attention.

There was no blindfold tonight and the brunette watched fascinated now as she prepared the ropes that adorned the bedposts, arranging them and lengthening them so that they reached to each of his limbs. He saw her glance at her watch and it struck him as an odd thing to do in the middle of a session of love making, but put the thought quickly to one side as she grasped his left wrist and pushed it through the dark red rope loop, pulling the braid tight. Repeating the action with his right wrist, Starsky’s arms were now pulled above his head and out slightly to the sides, leaving them stretched, but not uncomfortably so. Unable to resist, he pulled experimentally at his bonds, but there was no play in the rope and the loops just tightened on themselves as he struggled. Giving up the struggle he lay quietly as he watched her crawl to the bottom of the bed and repeat the process with each of his ankles. Within moments he was spread eagled on the bed, his head resting comfortably on the pillow as she came back up the bed to join him, still fully dressed. It made the bound detective both uneasy and aroused to be almost naked and tied while the object of his affection was still free and fully dressed.

He saw her reach for a bottle of something and pour a little onto her hands, rubbing them together and warming the oil. She started to massage his chest with long slow strokes, up from his belly and out to his sides as he purred with contentment below her. Her hands started to dip lower with each stroke until finally she took hold of him in her oily warm hands and started to move up and down his shaft, getting into a slow and steady rhythm which drove him wild.

Almost against his will his hips started to buck at her touch and she stopped a moment, turning sparkling hazel eyes on him.

‘I didn’t say you could move, did I?’ she asked in a low sultry voice. She reached down and pinched the sensitive skin at the base of his manhood, hearing the brief hiss of pain it elicited, before replacing her hand and rubbing the offended area better again, She bent and kissed it and little Davey raised up again in appreciation.

He saw her look at her watch again and glanced at the clock on the wall. Nearly 11:00pm. Slowly she got off the bed and he followed her with hungry eyes. She walked to the head of the bed and kissed him tenderly, whispering in his ear

‘Don’t forget I will love you always’.

Starsky wondered what sort of game she was going to play next. His shoulders were getting achy from the position they were tied in and it seemed such an odd thing to him that she should just stop suddenly and whisper that in his ear. He saw her walk away from the bed and started to panic as her hand went to the door handle.

At the stroke of 11:00, there was a brief knock on the apartment door and she opened it as Starsky started to struggle on the bed. Being tied up was one thing, group sex or a bunch of people seeing him like this was something he didn’t even want to think about just at that moment. He panicked and struggled even more when three men walked in and he heard Gemma say in a tremulous voice to the man with the straggly grey beard

‘Hello Daddy, he’s in there’.

Chapter 8

Had he heard her right? Had she just called Wheeler Daddy? Suddenly things started to add up and make a lot more sense. The fancy address, the luxury apartment and furnishings, hell, even the name Gemma reminded him of diamonds and rubies. And then there was that sparkler round her neck that he’d taken to be a little trinket. Obviously it was the real McCoy – a little something Daddy had picked up for her. He struggled wildly to pull his hands free from the dark red ropes, but the knots were slip knots and the more he pulled the tighter they got until he was in serious danger of cutting off the circulation to his hands completely.

He looked at Wheeler and the two goons standing on either side of him and then turned his gaze on Gemma.

‘Honey, untie me, please. Gemma, please, you don’t understand’ he pleaded, his voice steely and level.

Wheeler smiled down at him. ‘Oh but she does detective. I see you have fallen under the spell of my little girls’ wicked ways. She always got top marks in the Girl Scouts for the knots she tied’ he chuckled at his own joke.

Starsky ignored the bearded man, concentrating on the girl. He thought they’d had a connection and he worked on that now as he struggled once more with his bonds.

‘Gemma. Honey, you don’t want anything to do with this. Just untie me an’ I’ll get us both out of here’ he panted, his eyes darting now from one man to the other as both goons came towards the bed. He still wore his boxers, thankfully, but he was as near naked as dammit and he felt vulnerable. Whatever these men wanted, the brunette had a pretty fair idea that it wouldn’t be good and that he’d end up with a shit load of trouble and probably pain.

Gemma looked desperately at the bound cop, emotions washing over her in a tide. When Wheeler had suggested that they needed to get Starsky out of the way of BCPD so that he could get them the diamond, he’d shown her a picture and something had stirred deep inside her. She saw a more than handsome man with piercing blue eyes and a wicked, yet refreshingly boyish smile and she’d fallen under his spell almost at once. When she’d hooked him into the bedroom, she’d thought all her Christmases had come at once and her fantasy of tying and dominating a man like him had finally come true and been better than all her wildest dreams. She’d known what her father had wanted right from the start and she’d gone along with his plans because she thought she could distance herself from the detective. Now she realised just how wrong she’d been and her heart was in her mouth as she saw Svenson and Hulme descend on her man. She finally admitted to herself that she loved him.

She turned away as Starsky watched her. ‘Daddy we don’t have to do it this way’ she said, tugging at his sleeve. He looked down at her, the little girl he could refuse nothing to and smiled into her worried eyes.

‘Don’t worry, my darling. If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll comply with what I want and everyone will be safe’.

‘But I don’t think he will’ she insisted, her mind going back to the previous night. As she’d dripped the hot wax onto his chest, he’d let out small hisses of pain, but had steadfastly refused to cry out and he’d impressed her. The only other man she’d tried it with had been a quivering, whimpering wreck within minutes and no fun at all.

‘Then he’s going to find this a very painful experience’ Wheeler leered as Svenson took out a long metal object from his jacket. Starsky eyed it, realising too late what it was. He looked back at Wheeler and then frantically past him at Gemma. She closed her eyes as if to shut out the whole scenario, Wheeler came to stand by the edge of the bed and looked down at the man spread eagled below him.

‘Where is the diamond?’ he asked slowly.

Starsky glared back at him, defiance shining from his indigo eyes. ‘What ya want that for? Gonna ruin your retirement if ya don’t have it?’ he asked, regretting his outburst almost immediately.

Carefully, Svenson placed the cattle prod against Starsky’s most sensitive area and clicked the trigger. The effect was immediate and savage. There was no hope of the brunette biting back the scream that was ripped from his throat; the pain was just too intense. He saw stars and at the same time, seemed to see the world through a red veil as his muscles contracted throughout his body and his back arched off the mattress. The white haired tormentor took the prod away and the body on the bed subsided, a low pitiful groan issuing from the brunette’s panting mouth. Slowly he opened his eyes and glared once again at Wheeler, ignoring his tormentor completely.

Wheeler was watching Starsky’s responses with interest, but his daughter had closed her eyes and stuffed her fingers in her ears to try to shut out the agonised scream. She sneaked a cautious look at the man on the bed, then closed her eyes again.

‘I’ll ask you once again, Detective. Where is the diamond? I know the police must still have it. I suspect it will be the star witness at the trial, but I would rather like to have it before I’m formally acquitted’ he smiled gently.

‘Fuck you Wheeler’ the curly hared cop ground out, immediately screaming again as another vicious pain ripped through his guts, feeling as though a snake of fire was consuming him from the inside out. Svenson grinned as he held the cattle prod against its sensitive target again, leaving it there until his boss nodded. Again the white haired Viking removed the implement and again Starsky’s body sagged back against the mattress. His body was covered in a fine patina of sweat and his eyes were closed. He groaned again and Svenson leaned forward and slapped his face hard, once in either direction. Slowly the cloudy indigo eyes opened and focussed as the brunette’s laboured breathing eased a little. He felt wet at his wrists and knew the skin had been broken and that his wrists were bleeding. He suspected his ankles were in a similar condition. During the electric treatment he’d pulled involuntarily at the bonds and now they were so tight that he could barely feel his hands any more. His shoulders ached fiercely and something made the words of his partner come back into his memory.

Just take it easy buddy. Sometimes it can hurt more ’n’ ya think and pleasure turns to too much pain. Ya gotta be careful’.Well there’s more than a little truth there partner, his pain clouded mind told him.

Wheeler was speaking again and Starsky forced himself to listen, but just keeping his trembling body under control was proving difficult enough.

‘Detective, I don’t understand. The diamond is nothing to you. It won’t affect that pitiful police pension of yours. It won’t help pay for the rehabilitation you are undoubtedly going to need if you carry on in this manner. Just tell me. WHERE IS THE DIAMOND!’ his quiet voice was suddenly thundering in the brunette’s ears and Starsky shook his head from side to side trying to rid himself of it. God Hutch, where are ya buddy. I need you now, pal. Just try and find me huh? An’ I’ll try and keep this up till ya get here. But deep down he knew Hutch wouldn’t be looking for him until at least 8:00am tomorrow and that was plenty of time for Wheeler and his men to make spaghetti of him.

‘Diamond no… good to you’ he rasped, his voice rough from the pain and the screams. ‘Police… trace it back to you and…Ungh!’

Svenson ground his fist into the brunette’s belly, the knuckles bruising flesh and the soft tissues below, feeling as though the hand would finally worm its way out of his back. The pain was intense and although Starsky tried to ride it and breathe through it, he couldn’t find the quiet place in his mind that he needed to retreat to. Everywhere was a red blaze of agony and once again he screamed, ashamed at himself for allowing this mountain of a man to reduce him to animalistic noises. But truth to tell, in such a short space of time, the curly haired cop had been forced to the end of his human responses. As the pressure finally let up, he gave a final groan and blessedly darkness claimed him.

Wheeler perched on the edge of the bed and lit a cigarette, the smoke curling up around the corners of his mouth as he contemplated the sweat soaked body on the bed. Gently and almost lovingly he brushed one of the wet curls from the brunette’s brow and used his handkerchief to wipe the trickles that flowed down the side of the pain lined face. He watched as the breathing evened out and gazed at the blossoming bruise on the flat muscular belly where Svenson had used his fist. He shook his head, looking for all the world like a father chastising his errant son. Wheeler lifted his head and looked at Svenson and Hulme.

‘Get him upright’ he said softly, grinding his cigarette out on the cop’s belly eliciting a groan even though Starsky was still unconscious, his muscles clenching reflexively against the painful stimulus.

The two goons struggled to untie the dark red ropes around the insentient cop’s wrists and ankles. The cord had bitten deeply into the flesh and as they prised it free, fresh blood started to flow. Despite the fact that the brunette was still unconscious, he moaned as they levered his body upright and to the end of the bed. As Hulme tied the suffering detective’s wrists together, Svenson threw the end of a rope over the frame of the four poster bed and passed it through the wrist bonds, hauling the cop up until his arms were stretched painfully above him and his toes brushed the dove grey carpet. At the change of position, Starsky groaned again and slowly opened his eyes, recognition and memory of his predicament finally coming back to him. He forced his head up and stared into Wheeler’s eyes.

‘You still here?’ he wisecracked through dry lips.

Hulme knelt behind him on the bed, a wicked cane in his hands. At the sound of Starsky’s voice, he drew back his hand and everyone in the room heard the thick cane whistle through the air, landing with a sharp crack against the skin of the brunette’s lower back, leaving a red, bloody weal. Starsky hissed and jerked reflexively at the end of the rope, sweat beading once again on his body. He groaned again and lifted pain filled eyes, seeing Gemma cowering in the corner of the room. She looked back at him and he read sorrow and helplessness in her eyes. This had all gone much differently than she’d thought.

When Wheeler had outlined what he was going to do, a small part of the girls mind had pictured a scene like in a cheap porno film, where the handsome man is whipped a little then everything is all OK and passionate sex follows. The scene now playing out in front of her was so far removed from the sanitised vision she’d had. She had felt a connection with Starsky and to see him hanging by his wrists, his muscles corded along his arms and in so much pain was more than she could bear. She walked swiftly over to her father and leaned against him.

‘He isn’t going to tell you Daddy. Please let him go’ she implored. But Wheeler, even though he usually refused his daughter nothing, was on the hunt for his pension ticket and nothing was going to take him off his pre-planned course. Shrugging her away he spoke to Hulme

‘Get her out of here’ he said. ‘Take her home and stay with her’. He looked at the weary body of the cop. ‘We should be finished soon’.

Hulme reluctantly passed the cane to Svenson and took hold of Gemma’s arm pulling her with him towards the door. She turned, seeing for the last time the body hanging by its wrists, curls now black and dripping sweat down onto the thick carpet. Starsky’s head was hanging forward, his chin resting on his chest and he was the picture of human suffering.

‘Daddy, please don’t hurt him any more’ she tried one past time as the white haired man shoved her out of the door. As it closed she heard another agonised scream from the room.

Warning - things get a little 'adult' and painful from now on. if this offends, read no further.

Chapter 9

The sounds of the beating had dimmed a little in his ears now, but the sting and agonising after burn of the cane was still as prominent as ever. As he saw Gemma being taken forcibly from the room, he thought he’d seen a look of compassion in her eyes. She’d seemed genuinely at odds with the current situation and that made the brunette feel a little less betrayed. As he’d lain tied to the bed, looking up at the three men who’d been invited into the room, he’d felt embarrassment at his predicament and also stupid for not heeding his partner’s messages to be careful, and now look at the mess he’d gotten himself into.

Starsky waited for the next whistling sound as the wicked stick flew through the air and he braced himself for the excruciating impact. He’d lost count of the number of times the cane had struck at his back like a rattle snake, but he knew without doubt that each one held a terrifying, lancing white flash followed by a blossom of red burning which seemed to envelop his whole body.

Svenson too had lost count of the number of blows he’d struck, but from his viewpoint behind his sagging victim, he could see endless black and blue linear bruises extending from the buttocks up to the shoulder blades. Where the cane had met with bone instead of softer flesh and muscle, the skin had broken and trickles of blood coursed down the bare muscular back mixing in equal quantities with the sweat.

Starsky’s body hung limply from his torn and bleeding wrists. He could feel the blood droplets flowing down his forearms and the tiny sensation itched, but he was too exhausted to do anything other than concentrate on breathing and hang in there until someone came to rescue him.

Wheeler had long since stopped asking about the diamond. For now the bearded man just sat back, smoking his cigarette and watching his skilled torturer doing what he did best – inflicting enormous amounts of pain without too many permanent injuries. At the end of each cigarette, he would blow onto the ashes at the end of the stub so that they glowed a cheery red, then reach over and stub the butt out on the nearest piece of the cop’s flesh, weaving another pain into the tapestry of agony layering itself over Starsky’s body.

The brunette’s head was hanging between his raised arms as he heard the familiar whistle, then felt the blow, arching his back as he rode out another agonising pain and his breath whistled through his teeth. Some of the blows missed their mark now and were merely painful rather than excruciating as the white haired Viking at his back tired slightly from his exertions. As another blow landed, Starsky threw his head back and screamed another silent scream, his lips pulled back in a grimace of agony that showed his white teeth. His throat clamped shut and for a moment he could neither breath in nor out as the sensations flooded his already overloaded nervous system, the pain peaked and started to abate. His clenching muscles relaxed and he let out a low, pitiful moan, his head falling forward again as he fought to stay conscious.

From the periphery of his vision, Starsky saw Wheeler get up from his perch on the arm of one of the easy chairs and walk over to him. Grabbing a handful of the sweat soaked curls he pulled the brunette cop’s head brutally back and stared into the pain filled stormy eyes.

‘Some time soon, you’ll have had enough of this’ he said reasonably as Starsky tried to focus on the man in front of him. ‘And then you’re going to tell me where the diamond is’.

The suffering detective’s lips were working at trying to form a word and Wheeler bent his ear to the brunette’s mouth.

‘Drink’ Starsky croaked painfully through clenched teeth.

‘Ah, of course, we must keep your throat lubricated for when you decide to reveal the whereabouts’ Wheeler said and signalled for a cup of water. Svenson left his place on the bed and headed off into the kitchen, bringing back a glass of water. Still holding on to the brunette’s hair, Wheeler tipped a little of the cool fluid into Starsky’s parched lips and he reflexively swallowed some down, thankful for the respite and the sensation of the cool liquid beauty flowing down his sore throat.

After another drink, Wheeler let the tortured man’s head down and placed the glass on the table close by. Starsky’s head sagged forward, the muscles in his arms and shoulders corded as the full weight of his body hung from them, little strength remaining in his legs to support him.

With a titanic effort he held his head up and stared, still defiant at the old man. ‘Never tell….’ He started and braced himself as he saw the fist coming towards his stomach. Although Wheeler looked puny, he packed a decent punch and Starsky’s breath whistled through his clenched teeth as the blow drove the wind from his already overworked lungs. Wheezing, his body swayed at the end of the ropes and he groaned again. Once more Wheeler took hold a handful of hair and jerked the lolling head back.

‘You will tell me. One way or the other, you will tell me. You can have the painful way – you’ve experienced some of that already. Or we can try the more civilised way, where you tell me now where it is, then we leave you alone with, perhaps, my daughter as the reward?’

Starsky gathered his strength and resolve. The diamond really didn’t mean that much to him. To the untrained eye it was a pretty trinket and one that could be admired. But to the diamond dealer, it was so much more. Part of the brunette’s mind riled against giving anything away to this evil little weasel of a man and the other part realised that on a fundamental level, giving in to pain and torture wasn’t something that David Starsky would ever do.

Sure, he’d enjoyed the pain play he’d experienced with Gemma, and he’d enjoyed the sensation of being bound and unable to join in with their love making on anything but an arbitrary level. But this? This was as different as chalk and cheese. Now he was hanging by his wrists while a mad man and a monster beat seven shades of crap out of him, all for the sake of some piece of compressed carbon. There was no way he would give in and no way he would tell Wheeler where the gem was, even though he knew exactly where is rested at that very minute.

Wheeler saw the steely resolve in the indigo eyes and turned away slightly dismayed. He didn’t want to kill the cop. He’d never really held with the thought of killing anyone, but he wanted and needed that diamond, and now that he’d come this far, he realised he’d take this as far as necessary to get what he wanted. He looked at Svenson. The white haired man was also sweating with exertion, but there was a light of enjoyment in the cold blue eyes. Svenson was a man who enjoyed his work, perhaps a little too much. But today Wheeler needed him and nodded at him.

‘He seems to like the pain. Give him some more. But lets vary it shall we. He’s getting blood spots on the carpet and blood is the very devil to get out of wool, you know’.

Svenson smiled a wolfish smile and delved into the gym bag that Gemma had carried with her to Starsky’s apartment the night before. His smile broadened when he saw how seriously the girl took her BDSM play and how fortunate he was to have so many toys to choose from. He reached into the bag and brought out an innocuous looking little black leather pouch. It resembled nothing more that a child’s Dorothy bag, with draw strings around its perimeter and Svenson held it up admiringly. From the base of the pouch, several small D rings dangled and he straightened them carefully.

He knelt in front of the bound detective and ripped away the boxers that by now were wet with blood from the wounds on the brunette’s back. Starsky’s flesh recoiled at the touch of rough male hands on his scrotum as Svenson encased it in the black leather pouch, pulling the draw strings tight and making the cop flinch.

He licked his dry lips, unable to keep quiet at the invasion. ‘You’re a… s sick bastard, you know that’ he tried to kick out at the white haired man, but Svenson was ready, taking out two more ropes from the gym bag and securing Starsky’s ankles to the legs of the bed, making further movement impossible.

Although not painful, Starsky was aware of the black leather bag engulfing his balls and closed his eyes, suddenly knowing what was coming next.

Svenson went back to the gym bag and withdrew a small tin box, taking off the lid and emptying the contents onto the carpet. A dozen or more fishing weights fell out, each with a short length of fine chain and a hook attached to them. Slowly, Svenson sorted through them and picked up the biggest and heaviest. With careful hands, he reached over to the leather pouch and attached the weight to one of the D rings, letting the weight fall to the length of its chain. It swung between the detectives legs, but the effect was startling.

Starsky felt as though his body was being ripped into two from the weight of the metal and from the strings attaching the bag, which seemed to have tightened up another notch. He groaned, then screamed as Svenson lifted the weight, and let it drop again, setting it swinging. Sweat beaded on the brunette’s entire body at the agony of it. If only the weight would hang still, maybe he could deal with the pain, but each time he moved, or Svenson flicked it, it set off lancing pains through his lower body as though his guts were being ripped out.

Seeing the effect one weight had, Svenson hurriedly picked up another and hung it with its partner, letting that one too, drop, both weights now swinging. Starsky’s world sparkled as he fought to control the trembling that had set up in his limbs. It was a vicious circle. Each time he trembled and moved, the weights pulled and swung, making the pain redouble, which caused him to tremble further. He sucked in his breath through teeth clenched so tightly shut that he was in danger of cracking them. Then, just as he thought the pain may be backing down to tolerable levels, he realised that once again, Svenson had taken up the cane, this time bringing it down full force across the front of his thighs, once, twice and three times.

Starsky thought his world would explode. The red blaze of pain from the welts on his legs added to the nagging, smarting pains in his back and was compounded now by the jagged pains in his nether regions as the weights danced at the ends of their chains. With a final exhausted and agonised scream, his body shook violently once more, then blessedly the world turned dark and his body sagged limply against the ropes.

Immediately Svenson stopped and Wheeler tottered over to the white haired man, cuffing his roughly over the head.

‘What’s the use of having him unconscious? We can’t question him when he’s like that, can we? Now we’re going to have to wait an eternity until he’s come round and we can start again. For God’s sake, Svenson, what were you thinking? Take that damned thing off of him and come and sit down. You look bushed’.

Svenson, untied to pouch from Starsky’s sweat soaked and still trembling body, and couldn’t resist one final punch in the man’s stomach as he came to sit back down by his employer. Both men stared at their handiwork.

Small spots of blood lay in a ring on the pale carpet around where Starsky’s body hung, his knees now bent and his full weight on his arms as residual tremors coursed through his tortured body.

Wheeler lit another cigarette and sighed. ‘I think we’re going to have to revert to plan B’ he said thoughtfully. ‘He’s a tough one, but I think Zuckermann and O’Connor may be the answer.

Chapter 10

Two men sat waiting in the inconspicuous Dodge pickup truck. They’d happily conversed about the big game the night before and the new advert for haemorrhoid cream they’d seen which they felt was absolutely hilarious. Now they were drinking their third cup of strong black coffee as they sat watching and waiting.

‘So we got the blindfold ready? O’Connor asked. He was sitting in the front driver’s seat of the pickup and had rested his coffee cup on the steering wheel, looking out expectantly through the windshield. At 5’5” tall he was under average height, but what he lost in stature he made up for in circumference. He was everyone’s idea of “Mr five by five”. His neck had long ago ceased to exist as the hours working out at the gym had made it blend seamlessly into his shoulders and the hands that held the coffee cup were like huge hams.

His partner, sitting with his feet up in the back seat was much taller at well over 6’, but he too was well built with not an ounce of fat on his lean frame. Zuckermann was a cold hearted monster of a man whose ice grey eyes stared out of a face that was both impassive and evil. On occasions even his employer had been a little afraid of the hit man, but this job would be perfect for his singular skills.

Wheeler had sent these two because when they picked up the “insurance”, he wanted no mistakes. The diamond dealer had had it in mind that the curly haired cop his daughter was seeing would be too tough to break by sheer physical force, although he did enjoy a challenge and looked forward to the experience. He did, however, know that the same cop had had a six year partnership with one Detective First Class Kenneth Hutchinson and that that friendship and closeness could well be the stumbling block in the brunette’s resolve.

And now the two were sitting outside the Laundromat where the same Kenneth Hutchinson was finishing his weekly laundry. From their spy point, they could see the flaxen head bobbing down to pick out the dry clean clothing from the dryer to stuff into a blue gym bag, then turn, checking he’d gotten everything. They’d been watching him for some time trying to decide the best method of overpowering their prey. Mr Wheeler had said that he wasn’t to see who his attackers were. There were to be no names used and no way of tracing his attackers once they’d let him go. After all, it was bad enough that they would have to waste one cop. To kill two was way more than Wheeler wanted to be involved in. If he could have gotten away with Starsky never finding out who he was, that would have been wonderful, but as it was, he’d have to finish with the curly haired cop and dump the body. If Hutchinson didn’t know who’d taken him, he’d escape with his life.

So as the two men saw Hutch leave the Laundromat to make his way back to his battered LTD, they saw their chance. It was early morning and there were very few people around. The Laundromat was empty and this was the perfect opportunity to take the blond. The truck doors opened quietly and Zuckermann got out, winding the black cloth around his hand as O’Connor got the old police issue handcuffs out of the glove compartment and stowed them in his jeans pocket. They checked the road was clear and crossed it just as the blond exited the laundry, blue bag over his shoulder. Hutch walked slowly back to his car, his mind still on the investigation he’d started the night before.

He’d hated seeing his partner so angry at his imposed leave of absence. Not suspension Dobey had said, but both detectives knew it was suspension by any other name and both felt the unfairness of it keenly. Hutch had gone back to the Metro the previous evening and had been there till late, going over files and tracking down leads, but he hadn’t been able to find much and he’d rung his partner’s apartment to tell him, but had had no answer, remembering belatedly that he’d had a hot date with his siren again. Absently he thought the woman must be something special to take his friend’s mind off the current’ situation and a part of him was glad that Starsky had found some happiness.

He turned the corner of the block and headed down the quiet side street back to his car, seeing out of the corner of his eye two guys walking towards him. It seemed unusual for them to be out so early at morning, Hutch assuming that only mad cops got up at 7:30 to do their washing, but he mentally shrugged and continued walking. It wasn’t until they’d caught up with him and started walking alongside that he started to look up at them, but by then it was too late. As Zuckermann pulled the blindfold down over Hutch’s eyes, O’Connor used his height and bulk to overpower the unsuspecting cop, bearing him to the ground with a thud. The breath was knocked from Hutch’s body but it didn’t stop him from kicking out at his assailants and trying to get his hand to his gun. O’Connor saw the movement and stamped on the blonde’s right hand, grinding it under his heel so that Hutch hissed in pain and tried to clutch the hurt appendage to his chest. As Zuckermann joined his colleague on the ground, sitting on Hutch’s torso to immobilise him, O’Connor took his handcuffs from the pocket of his jeans and snapped them over Hutch’s broad wrists against the small of his back. The flaxen haired cop tried again to struggle to his feet, but the two assailants had full control over him now. As O’Connor watched in satisfaction, Zuckermann drew back one of his enormous fists and brought it crashing against the blindfolded detective’s left cheek, snapping the blond head back and plunging Hutch into immediate blackness. The big body went limp and as Zuckermann massaged his knuckles, O’Connor picked the cop up effortlessly and strode back to the pickup, dumping Hutch into the back with a satisfying thud and pulling the tarpaulin over to hide the body and secure the cop.

The whole operation had taken less then five minutes and was carried out in almost complete silence, the only sounds being the slap of flesh on flesh and the metal rasp as the handcuffs snapped shut, immobilising the big blond. The two men got calmly back into the truck. Neither of them had broken sweat and neither showed any apparent sign of exertion. They smiled at each other, knowing Wheeler would reward them for the job well done. Now they just needed to take their victim back to the designated place and make the call.

Hutch came to in the back of the pickup with the mother and father of all headaches. The motion of the vehicle had finally bumped him awake and at first he thought it must be night as he seemed to be in impenetrable darkness. He tried to move his arms and the realisation of his situation hit. He felt the blindfold tight around his eyes and the pain of the cuffs round his wrists and wondered just what the hell was going on. Somehow he had the feeling that this was all connected with Wheeler, but he didn’t know how and he hoped his partner was safe and out of the way. He tried to slow the frantic hammering of his heart in his chest so that he could think clearly. He needed to keep his wits about him if he was going to get out of this in one piece. If he could get away from his attackers maybe he could phone Starsky and the brunette could come up with a plan to get his the hell out of there.

After another five or ten minutes the truck stopped and Hutch held his breath as he heard voices and felt the cool air on his bare arms as the tarpaulin was jerked away from him. Blindly his head quested from side to side trying to establish where he was and what was going to happen next. He heard birdsong and smelled new mown grass, so he was definitely out of the city, but he couldn’t gauge how far because he had no idea how long he’d been unconscious. He felt strong hands round his arms levering him up, so strong in fact that the fingers bruised the tops of his arms. He ground his teeth and remained limp and compliant as the two men pulled him over the lip of the truck and allowed him to get his feet under him before pushing him forward.

At first he felt gravel under his feet, but that quickly changed to a paved area and then he was pushed over the threshold and into an interior of some sort. He thought it must be a house and he felt carpet under his feet now as he was pushed roughly into a room and slammed down into a hard chair. Roughly rope or cord was passed around his ankles and they were secured to the front legs of the chair. It was heavy and wooden and the legs were well spaced making it impossible to rock or move. Another rope was passed around his chest securing him and pinning his arms to his sides and also to the wooden back of the chair. There he remained, tightly tied and blind as the two men sat back to admire their handiwork.

O’Connor crossed the small room to the telephone and Hutch heard the unmistakable sound of a number being dialled, then there was a wait until the connecting number answered. Zuckermann walked round behind Hutch and took out two earplugs, jamming them into the blonde’s ears. The action didn’t hurt but it took the big blond by surprise and he yelled at his kidnappers.

‘What the fuck are you doing? Let me go or so help me I’ll kill the both of you. You’re making a mistake. I’m a cop and when they come looking for me, you’ll…’

His tirade was cut short by the feeling of something sharp, cold and metallic being pressed against his throat. He swallowed and the tip of the wickedly sharp knife punctured the taut tanned skin, a ruby droplet beading, then trickling down the stretched neck. A voice hissed in his ear loud enough to penetrate the earplug.

‘Shut it pig, if ya want to keep your head on your shoulders’.

Hutch closed his mouth and waited. Across the room, O’Connor was talking quietly into the telephone.

‘Mr Wheeler? Yes we’ve got him. No, he didn’t see us and he can’t hear us now, but he’s in the room. Yes we’ll make him squeal for you’. He put the telephone down, receiver towards the bound cop and walked over to Hutch, licking his lips in anticipation.

Across town, another bound cop was staring with unfocussed pain filled eyes at Wheeler and Svenson. His arms had no feeling in them any more and Starsky’s hands had turned blue from lack of circulation. Around him on the floor were little pools of blood trickling from the myriad of wounds across the brunettes bruised and mangled back. Burns showed livid on his chest and stomach where Wheeler had stubbed out his many cigarettes and the three cane marks across his thighs stood out red, blue and black, the flesh proud and raw. Since the pouch had been removed, Starsky had blessedly remained unconscious, but now Svenson reached up and ground his knuckle into the brunette’s sternum, eliciting a deep moan. Slowly the eyes had opened and now they were looking, still defiantly at Wheeler.

Wheeler for his part was smiling back at his victim. He was impressed at just how much the curly haired cop had been able to take, but he knew now that mere physical pain would never get him the answer he needed. Hence the “insurance”. So now he stood in front of the brunette, telephone receiver in hand.

‘Detective Starsky, I’m impressed at the amount of pain you seem to be able to endure’ he smiled.

Starsky stared back, gathering his wits to him and fighting with the pain wracking his body. ‘I aim….t’please’ he mumbled, his voice raw and his head beginning to hang forward again. He was exhausted and just wanted this whole experience to finish one way or the other.

Wheeler chuckled. ‘That you do. But now, I think we’ve both had enough of this haven’t we?’ he grabbed a handful of hair with his free hand, forcing Starsky’s head up again. The brunette groaned but stared back unflinchingly. Wheeler continued.

‘Now that we know you seem to like the pain, we have another treat for you. If you won’t spare yourself further discomfort, maybe you’ll tell us where the diamond is to stop us hurting your partner’.

Chapter 11

At the mention of Hutch’s name, the indigo eyes snapped open and the hanging head raised to stare at his captor.

‘What the fuck….you talkin’ ‘bout Wheeler….You don’t…have him’ he grunted as Wheeler said something into the telephone then jammed it against the hanging man’s ear.

Starsky flinched from the device as though this was some new instrument of torture Wheeler had just invented to hurt him some more. At the other end of the phone Starsky heard a hissed command, then his partner’s familiar voice telling whoever it was to back off. It sounded as though it was across a room and definitely not near the phone, but Starsky was immediately filled with a need to let his partner know he was there, to somehow communicate that they were in this together, even though they were separated. God, he had no idea where they were holding his flaxen haired partner. It could be in the next room, the next street or the next town.

‘HUTCH’ he yelled down the phone hoping his partner could at least hear his voice. How the hell had they taken him? He should have been at the Metro hunting for clues, or quizzing their various snitches. Or should he? Starsky was suddenly acutely aware that he had no idea what time it was or even whether only one day had passed since this whole painful affair had started.

The telephone was yanked from his ear and Wheeler slapped him across the face, snapping his head sideways and adding another small pain to the maelstrom of agony already surrounding his body.

‘Did I say you could talk to him?’ he asked rhetorically.

Starsky glared back at his tormentor, his pain momentarily forgotten as he realised Hutch was now captive too. Various scenarios of the brunette beating, shooting or otherwise killing Wheeler flowed through the curly head and gave him strength to carry on. If nothing else, he needed to ensure they wouldn’t hurt Hutch any more. He knew Hutch was almost as tough as he was. If they could make him scream like that God knows what they were doing to him, but he needed it to stop now. In his weakened state he knew he couldn’t cope with having his partner hurt in the same manner he was. His body flinched from the heartrending sound as he heard another scream was ripped from his partner’s throat coming through the airwaves and down the telephone which was still grasped in Wheeler’s hand.

‘Leave him alone’ he growled at the diamond merchant, frantically pulling at the ropes that bound him to the foot of the bed. ‘You’re a sick bastard, Wheeler. What the hell do you want?’

Wheeler smiled his irritating smile. ‘I would have thought that was obvious by now Detective. I want the diamond and as you’ve seen, I’ll go to any lengths to get it’.

The brunette heard the menace in the words and saw the resolve in Wheelers cloudy green eyes and realised that while Wheeler may not be a professional hit man, he had the resolve and the drive to carry out his threats. Suddenly Starsky was tired beyond belief. He’d withstood torture before – he’s been a “guest” of the Viet Cong for four long months and he knew his limitations: what he could cope with, what hurt the most and how he could take himself away to a quiet corner of his mind and retreat from the hell of his surroundings. But he also knew that Wheeler had discovered his Achilles heel – Hutch. In fact, not just Hutch but anyone who was maltreated because of him.

The phone was still connected to wherever they were keeping the blond and Wheeler muttered something else into the mouthpiece, then pushed the handset against the brunette’s ear once more. The exhausted cop braced himself as he heard his partner’s voice arguing with his captors. That’s it Hutch buddy. Give ‘em hell before they beat the crap out of ya. He couldn’t make out what his friend was yelling, but suddenly he heard a pause, then STARSKYYYYYY before the shout ended in a scream, tailing off into a pitiful whimper.


Hutch had heard the man dial a number on the phone and had heard a hissed conversation with the person on the other end. He couldn’t tell what was being said, and because his captor whispered, he couldn’t tell what his voice was like either, but he had a vague idea that he was being used as a pawn in someone’s sick little game and he also knew that he’d refuse to play along.

The knife that had been at his throat had been taken away and he swallowed again carefully, ignoring the ticklish trickle of blood that inched its way down his neck. He tried to dislodge the blindfold that wound tightly round his head, but the knot was secure and he was rewarded for his efforts by a cuff across the back of the head. The blow was not particularly painful, but because he couldn’t see it, it took him by surprise and he jumped. As he heard a hissed ‘Yes boss’ from the direction of the telephone he felt a steely hand on his neck, at the juncture of his neck and shoulder. It was the part of his body that he knew could either tickle or be painful and he braced himself.

Whoever had his hands on him knew what they were doing. The fingers that closed around his muscle felt like two pieces of iron and slowly they started to tighten on the bundle of nerves that lay just under the surface. The pressure increased slowly and inexorably and soon sweat started to bead on the blonde’s forehead, sending trickles into his eyes. He screwed them up against the salty fluid and against the pain that was rapidly building in his body. He’d never appreciated just how damned painful that spot could be until now and his lips clamped closed as he fought not to make a sound. But the fight was an unequal one and Zuckermann’s steel fingers pressed down harder and harder until Hutch could bear it no longer and he let out a shriek of agony. As soon as he’d made the sound, the muscled tormentor removed his hands from the tanned neck and stood back as Hutch’s head lolled forward and he fought to get his breathing and heart rate under control.

He waited a moment for them to ask him a question, but nothing happened. Why weren’t they asking him something? Just what the hell was this all about? And why did they have the telephone? Unless they wanted someone to hear him! Oh my God that was it! Hutch knew what they were about now. If he understood, they had his partner at the other end of the phone and they were using him as leverage. He was about to open his mouth to shout when O’Connor nodded at Zuckermann again and the big meaty hands came back, this time finding the point where Hutch’s hip joined the top of his leg; another popular acupressure point and another which could tickle or be excruciating. The flaxen haired cop braced himself, now more sure than ever that he should remain quiet for his partner’s sake if nothing else. But as the pressure mounted and the pain became incredible not even his steely resolve could hold back the agonised scream that was ripped from him. Bewildered and ashamed at himself for allowing the sound past his lips, he ended in a torrent of abuse directed at his kidnappers. Zuckermann cuffed the blond across the face with his fist, causing Hutch to blink in surprise and pain and then spit saliva mixed with his blood onto the floor at his antagonist’s feet. Zuckermann cursed and pulled back his fist again and Hutch felt the movement although he couldn’t see it.

Knowing he had mere moments to let his partner know he was alive and kicking he yelled as loud as his voice would allow STARSKYYYY before Zuckermann’s ham fist landed a crushing blow to his midriff. The blow had sufficient force to knock the heavy wooden chair backwards and it, with it’s bound cargo plunged to the floor, the blow and the fall knocking the wind out pf the flaxen haired cop’s lungs. Hutch screamed again, an agonised and forlorn sound and then whimpered at the shock of the blow and knowledge that the sound would hurt his partner as much as the blow had hurt him.


Starsky froze at the sound of his name, knowing that in the one word, his partner had communicated to him that although he was hurting he was still OK. But then there had been the agonised scream and the whimper. Whatever they were doing must be bad to reduce his normally strong, brave friend to that. Fear clawed at his heart and his resolve diminished. There was no way he could allow them to hurt Hutch just for a diamond.

‘Stop…for Gods sake stop’ he groaned, and the phone was taken from his ear as Wheeler spoke into it.

‘Are you going to co-operate?’ Wheeler asked.

Starsky lifted his heavy head and nodded once. ‘Just don’t…. hurt him again…..I’ll do what you want’, the head hung forward again and Wheeler put the phone down.

‘I knew you’d see sense. So long as you get me the diamond, he doesn’t hurt any more. Deal? Where is it?’

Wearily the brunette nodded his head ‘Police exhibit…..storeroom’

Wheeler motioned to Svenson who produced a knife. Swiftly, the white haired man cut the bonds around Starsky’s ankles, then reached up and cut the rope holding the swaying body upright. The exhausted cop dropped to his knees, falling forward so that he was supported by his hands, his head hanging down. Shakily he looked up at Wheeler.

‘You’re a cold hearted calculating bastard’ he spat.

He saw Svenson’s foot, but was unable to get away fast enough to avoid the connection. He grunted as the booted foot made contact with his stomach, hard enough to lift him from the ground. He rolled onto his side, bringing his knees up in an effort to ease the pressure on his lungs as he fought to get back the breath that had been kicked from his body and looked up into Svenson’s face.

‘You address him as Mr Wheeler or Sir’ he smiled complacently.

Starsky glared back. ‘You’re a cold hearted calculating bastard Mr Wheeler, Sir’ he ground out as he braced himself for the next kick.

Chapter 12

Hulme dragged Gemma from the room by her arm, trying hard not to hurt his boss’ daughter, but still needing to get the girl out of there. He wanted to please his boss and secretly he was quite happy to have the attractive young woman to himself. He knew she had a penchant for the darker side of sex and had wanted on occasions to join her in her fantasies, but it wasn’t done for the hired hand to bed the boss’ daughter. Maybe this was the chance he’s been looking for – the hero who rescued her from the nasty torture scene and brought her back to the safety of her home. He looked at her now with hungry eyes, seeing the tear stained face and the distraught look in her eyes. He couldn’t believe that this was the same cold hearted vixen who had eaten boyfriends up and spat them out for enjoyment. What had that cop done to her to turn her normally hard heart? He shook his head.

Gemma was still struggling as he took her down to the car.

‘Leave me alone’ she yelled as she tried to prize her arm away from his fingers. ‘You’re hurting. My Father won’t be pleased when I tell him you hurt me’.

Hulme licked his lips. ‘I thought you liked hurt. Or is it that you like hurting men, but they can’t touch you? Is that your fantasy Gemma?’ he asked as he pushed her into the car.

She stared at him with hate in her eyes. ‘That’s none of your damned business and I wouldn’t contemplate doing anything with a member of Daddy’s staff, and its Miss Wheeler to you’ she replied haughtily, folding her arms and staring straight ahead through the windshield.

Hulme looked at her sideways wondering if he dare try anything on with the girl. Maybe she was one of those women who enjoyed the fight? The reprimand stung and angered him. What right did she have to insist he call her Miss Wheeler? He’d wait till he got her to her home then try again.

They drove in silence for a while as she gazed out of the car window, arms still folded protectively in front of her, sniffling occasionally. She’d hated what she’d seen done to the man she’d slept with and for the first time in her life she hated her Daddy for not only allowing it to happen but for planning it in the first place. She’d known that the diamond meant a lot: that its value would mean that they could both retire and assume the life they’d both dreamed of. Financial security would be guaranteed with the sale of the gem and its lure had been seductive. But the price she’d had to pay in watching the evil Svenson torturing the curly haired cop was something she hadn’t taken into account. His screams would remain with her to the end of her days and the image of the beaten and bloody body was engraved in her memory. Over and over in her head she played his pleading like a broken record. Gemma honey you don’t want any part of this. Just let me go and I’ll get us both out of here. Coupled with the look in his eyes – a look of betrayal that she hoped she’d never see again, the whole package left her feeling physically sick.

The car drove her home slowly and she blinked as she suddenly realised they were at the gates to her father’s house. As Hulme stopped the car and walked round to open her door, she ignored him completely, getting out of the car and walking inside, going straight to her room and slamming the door behind her. She flung herself down on the bed, face first and let the tears fall unchecked. What had she gotten herself into and how could she get herself and Starsky out of the mire? Her eyes closed as exhaustion overtook her, but her dreams were full of the dark curly hair, the indigo eyes and the raw screams she’d experienced during the day.


Starsky had tried to duck away from Svenson’s final kick, but had still caught almost the full force on his side. His ribs hurt like the devil, but he thought that nothing had actually broken, the kick being more in temper that to secure a significant injury. He’d rolled onto his side, grasping at his ribs as Wheeler had hit the big man across the face like a naughty schoolboy.

‘I made a deal with him. Who gave you permission to kick him?’ the old man said.

Svenson hung his head, a small kid being told off by his teacher. ‘Sorry Mr Wheeler’ he mumbled. ‘He was disrespecting you’.

Wheeler reached up and ruffled the white hair, then pulled a handful of it, lowering the head until he could look Svenson in the eyes. ‘I don’t pay you to think. I pay you for these’ he punched the muscles in the man’s arms. ‘Don’t get ideas above your station Svenson, or you may go the way of some of your colleagues’.

Starsky thought he saw a moment of fear flash across the white haired giant’s face, but another wave of pain took him and shook him and the moment vanished. Painfully he pushed himself up onto his knees and stayed there a moment, gasping for breath and riding the crest of the pain. He felt a hand on his arm and looked up to see Wheeler reaching to help him to his feet and he struggled to stand, swaying as a wave of nausea threatened to part him from his supper. Wheeler smiled at him, as if he’d just invited him to tea rather than supervised his maltreatment.

‘Go and get dressed’ he said kindly. ‘Then you can take me to the diamond’

Starsky looked around for his jeans and tee shirt, seeing them dumped in the corner where he’d left them seemingly months ago. He staggered over to them and bit back a yelp as his back muscles screamed at him protesting the movement. His back felt as though it was on fire, the centre of his body so sore he could hardly walk without flashing pains radiating up from the between his legs and if the welts on his back looked anything like the three stripes on his thighs, he knew he was a mess.

Starsky stepped into his jeans, hissing at the pain as he pulled them up and over his bruised and bleeding buttocks. He wished that he didn’t have such a penchant for tight jeans and made a mental note to get himself a pair of baggy trousers when he’d gotten himself out of this. He shouldered into his tee shirt and groaned again as the smooth material rubbed against the raw and abraded skin of his back. As he stood, small specks of blood started to seep through the absorbent cotton material and he squared his shoulders trying to ignore the pain as he turned back to Wheeler.

A wave of dizziness took him and he fell back against the wall, bracing himself as the room spun around him. As he braced himself against the pale lavender wall, his bleeding wrists left bloody smears. Wheeler held his arm.

‘Easy son. Here, take these’ the older man held out two tablets in the palm of his hand. Starsky looked questioningly at him.

‘Ya trying to poison me too?’ he asked roughly.

Wheeler sighed. ‘I know you don’t have a lot of reason to trust me, but these are just aspirin. You look like you need them’ he proffered the pills again and the brunette took them, dry swallowing them down.

‘Course I need ‘em’ he muttered. ‘You’ve just had Man Mountain there play piñata with my back for the past few hours’.

Wheeler smiled affectionately at Svenson. ‘Yes, he does enjoy his work. Now, to business’.

‘No. Before business. You let my partner go, now’ Starsky turned his full gaze on the diamond merchant. ‘I’ve said I’ll get you the diamond, but I need to know Hutch is safe. You lay one more finger on him and I’ll kill the both of you’ he said calmly, squaring up to Svenson as the white haired man took a step forward.

Wheeler put his arm across Svenson’s chest, holding the big man back. ‘I’ll allow you one phone call to see that he’s OK. The minute you get the diamond, he goes free. But remember one thing. He doesn’t know who’s got him. The minute he does, I can’t let him go. Understand?’

The curly haired cop nodded once understanding too that because he did know who’d taken him, his fate was now sealed. He waited as Wheeler dialled a number. The phone was answered and he heard him say ‘put him on’. There was a delay then Starsky heard his partner arguing with his captors before finally Wheeler handed him the phone.

‘You have one minute’.

The brunette took the receiver.



Starsky let out a sigh of relief. At least his partner was still able to speak, although he sounded as though he had cotton stuffed in his mouth. Probably been punched, he thought.

‘You ok buddy?’

‘Oh just peachy. Me ‘n’ the boys are just having a little party here’.

‘They playin’ nice?’

Starsky heard a soft snort. ‘Well it aint Three Card Brag and Twister’.

‘I know partner. I gotta go an’ play a different game now, then ya can go home’.

He heard Hutch pause. ‘You play nice too Gordo. Be careful. D’ya know who these goons are?’

The brunette swallowed. Yeah, that was the $64million question, but one he wouldn’t answer, otherwise his partner was going to suffer.

‘Just some guys who want to play games’ he said carefully, wondering if he dare get a message to the blond without Wheeler knowing. ‘You know how long it’s been since we played out with the guys. Four years six months and two days’.

There was another pause. ‘Aint that twelve days buddy?’

The telephone was snatched from his grip. ‘What’s with the dates?’ Wheeler growled, his eyes dark with annoyance.

Starsky looked innocently back. ‘So we don’t have a great social life’ he said calmly, secretly relieved that Hutch had understood his clue. At least if Wheeler was true to his word, Hutch would have somewhere to begin to look for him. He saw the doubtful look on the old man’s face, but Wheeler let it go. He suspected something had gone on between the two, but couldn’t say what it was. He pushed Starsky away from the phone, replacing it on the cradle.

‘So are we gong to get the gem now?’ he asked impatiently.

‘Look, Wheeler. It’s in the police exhibit store. Ya can drive down there with me, but if ya go in, you’ll be questioned for sure. You’re the one with the $1million bail tag. Why would someone with that price go back to the precinct huh? I’m gonna have to go in there alone’ Starsky explained.

A black look shadowed Wheeler’s face and he paused to consider. He took Svenson to one side, discussing something with the white haired man then turned back to the cop.

‘Drop you trousers’ he commanded.

The brunette looked up sharply, seeing there was no discussion to be had. He saw Svenson go back to Gemma’s gym bag and pick out the dreaded black leather pouch along with something that looked suspiciously like a battery pack. Trying hard to ignore the rough hands once more on his intimate parts, he saw Svenson attach what looked like an electrode to a wire and tape it to the base of his penis, then the pouch was drawn closed. He closed his eyes and steadied his breathing.

‘You can pull your jeans up now Detective’ Wheeler said.

Svenson taped a small microphone to his chest so that they’d be able to hear what Starsky was saying. The wire was partially hidden in the dark fur there and absently Starsky thought the tape would hurt like hell when he pulled it off – if he ever got chance.

Wheeler was speaking. ’Have you ever heard of remote control?’

Seeing the look in the curly haired cop’s eyes, Wheeler nodded at Svenson who flipped a small switch on a tiny control panel. Instantly Starsk dropped to his knees, fire encircling Little Davey and coursing through his guts and down his legs. The pain lasted a few seconds, then stopped as suddenly as it started. Starsky looked up at Wheeler, panting.

‘Remote control’ Wheeler explained. ‘As you’re going to have to go in there alone, you will be given a time limit. If I feel or hear that you are being…erm…tardy, Svenson here will remind you. If you aren’t out in the given amount of time, your partner dies. Is that clear?’

Starsky nodded once, his hand still between his legs, as he felt the last vestiges of the electrical current roiling around his body.

Chapter 13

Starsky lead the way down from the apartment to the car he’d parked outside Gemma’s apartment before this whole sorry business started. Just the sight of the familiar Torino acted like a tonic to the tired cop and he eased himself behind the driver’s wheel, biting back the groan as his bruised back and butt hit the leather upholstery sending shooting pains throughout his exhausted body. He could hardly bear to lean back against the seat and as he tried hard to ignore the pains, he felt wet, knowing his back was still bleeding and glad he had his jacket on to hide the fact. Svenson got into the back of the car and Wheeler sat at Starsky’s side as he felt the cold hard metal of a gun barrel pressed against his neck.

‘What’s with the gun Wheeler. Ya got me so wired up I can’t blink without ya knowin’ about it’ he said angrily, his temper just about at its limit now. He’d been beaten, electrocuted and humiliated and if he could get the chance he was going to make sure these suckers paid. He knew he’d seen too much and that the odds of the diamond merchant letting him go were slim to zero, but if he played it right, at least his partner would get out in one piece, and that thought gave the brunette a measure of comfort.

‘Call it insurance against any fancy driving’ Wheeler smiled. ‘I’ve heard about the famous Starsky driving style. I just don’t want to experience it first hand’.

Starsky grinned despite himself. ‘I’m honoured my fame is so wide spread’ he muttered as he set the key in the ignition. The engine roared to life and with a satisfying squeal of tyres he set the big powerful car in motion, eliciting a jab in the neck with the gun. He was beyond angry now and recklessly he reached up and batted it out of the way.

‘Didn’t your Momma ever tell you not to play with those things? he ground out as Svenson looked at his boss, unsure how to take the question. Wheeler smiled and shook his head, indicating Svenson should relax. He knew he had the brunette over a barrel now. If Starsky put a foot wrong, Hutch would suffer, it was so simple.

With Svenson’s eyes boring into the back of his head, Starsky drove quickly down to the Metro, parking his car in its around the corner from the front door so that it didn’t attract attention. He turned off the engine and waited, staring through the windshield and refusing to look at Wheeler, his hands balled into fists on his lap.

‘So, what now?’ he asked, still looking ahead.

The old man looked at his watch. ‘Its 05:35. You will go into the building, retrieve the gem and return to the car by 06:00. Any question of you alerting anyone, or being unreasonably slow will result it…’ he nodded at the white haired hit man who grinned and licked hungry lips. Eagerly he flipped the switch on the battery pack and Starsky’s body jumped off the seat, his hands flying between his legs, to try to alleviate the shocks coursing through the centre of his body. He yelped and squeezed his eyes closed, his muscles clenched throughout his body as he rode the red crest of the added pain. The shock had caused his back to arch and he felt new trickles of blood as he panted and groaned. The shock finally dissipated and he stared behind him at his tormentor.

‘I’m gonna fuckin’ kill the both of ya’ he ground out as he tried to relax his spasming muscles.

‘Somehow, I don’t think you’ll get the chance’ Wheeler answered with a satisfied smile on his face. ‘That was just a small reminder, set on the lowest level. Svenson will hike it up to level two and if I hear anything untoward, like the sound of you trying to remove the device….’

Starsky grunted. ‘Yeah, I know. Toasted nuts’. He heaved himself out of the car and straightened painfully. As he headed into the building he hoped no-one would be around to see him. The news of his suspension must have gotten around the metro by now and this would not be a good time to start explanations. He pushed the door open and was enveloped in the familiar smell of the place. It was a mixture of floor polish, disinfectant and school dinners and it always had something of a calming effect on the curly haired detective. The bright lights and the heat of the place wrapped themselves around him in a safe cocoon of the achingly familiar. He took a brief look up the corridor. At this early morning hour there were few people around. The drunks from the night before would all be locked up in the cells sleeping off their hangovers and any worse offenders would be sweating in the interview rooms with the arresting officers. Any of the cops who’d had an easy night would probably be in the canteen now waiting out the wee small hours until the change of shifts. The quiet suited him perfectly and he trotted down the corridor, checking left and right as he went.

At the stairs, he went up two floors, taking the steps two at a time, although bending his legs aggravated the stripes Svenson had layered across them and as he looked down he saw a few blood spots seeping through the denim material. Fortunately the jeans were one of his darker pairs and the ruby droplets weren’t quite so obvious as if he’d worn his favourite pale, threadbare ones.

He paused at the door to the exhibit store room, knowing there would be an officer on duty and he’d have to have some plausible explanation or way of getting the man out of the vicinity so that he could search the room and get his hands on the diamond. His hand went out to the door handle, but then paussed he had a quick thought.

He snook a quick look around the edge of the door, seeing who was on duty that night. The big familiar bulk of Williams was leaning on the small counter top in the anteroom and fortunately, at that time of morning, he was not at his most alert and didn’t notice the door cracking open. Quietly, the brunette closed the door again and went into an adjoining, open office, picking up the phone. Desperately he looked around for an internal telephone list, trying to remember the number of the storeroom. A crackle in his ear stopped him in his tracks and a voice said ’15 minutes left, Detective. I suggest you hurry’.

‘Well shut the fuck up and let me do the job huh?’ he hissed at the microphone taped to his chest.

There was a second’s silence then ‘Ungh….Ok I get the message’ he panted as another surge of electricity shot through the most sensitive portions of his anatomy. He stood unsteadily, the hours of torture and the repeated shocks taking their toll on him. He got his breath back under control and saw the list he needed. Urgently he ran his finger down the numbers finally finding the one he wanted. He punched the numbers into the telephone, drumming his fingers as the ring tome sounded.

‘C’mon, c’mon…..Hey, Williams. Hi buddy, this is Gee on the front desk. Yeah, great, just great. Ah….can ya come down here pal, there’s a guy says he needs to speak to ya…..No, didn’t give his name…..just come down and see him will ya?’

Williams sounded put out, but said he was on his way and the brunette heard the phone go down. Edging to the door, he watched as Williams lumbered off down the corridor and out of sight. Quickly Starsky darted into the now abandoned room and through the small door into the store room proper, wondering where to start looking. He knew Williams needed to have some sort of system, but what it was he could only guess at. He prowled up and down the rows of racking, pulling at plastic bags and thumbing through labels to no avail. As he got to the end of the last row with no success at finding the gem, he saw in the corner a heavy gauge safe, realising that with a diamond of such value, it was going to be in there if anywhere.

Now he was out of options. He had no idea what the combination to the safe was and complacent as Williams was, he was hardly likely to have written it down somewhere. Shrugging his shoulders, he backed out of the room and retraced his steps back down the stairs and out into the street, getting onto the car as Wheeler looked at him expectantly.

‘Do you have it?’ the old man asked

Starsky winced as he sat down. ‘It’s locked in the safe and I can’t get it’ he said, looking Wheeler in the eyes. From the corner of his eye, he saw Svenson reach for the battery pack again and braced himself, but Wheeler held up his hand, obviously believing the curly haired cop.

‘So how do we get it?’ he asked calmly. Wheeler knew that if the blond detective’s life was at stake, Starsky would come up a solution. The diamond merchant could see the wheels of the exhausted cops mind working over time as he tried to come up with a scenario. Eventually Starsky shrugged his shoulders.

‘Its gonna get dirty from here on in. You’re gonna have to let me have a gun’ he said trying to get the details straight in his head as he was speaking.

Wheeler looks sceptical. ‘Do you take me for a fool, detective? I’m hardly going to arm you so that you can shoot me’ he said carefully.

Starsky sighed. ‘D’ya want the diamond?’

‘Of course I do. What do you have in mind?’ Wheeler asked.

‘Well, I’m already suspended, and I’m guessing you’re not gonna let me go at the end of this, so the best I can achieve is to save my partner. I’ve got a deal for ya. Give me a weapon and I’ll get the gem for ya, no questions asked. In return, I want your promise that you let Hutch go as soon as you have the diamond’.

‘And if I refuse?’ the diamond merchant asked, amused at the detective’s impudence.

‘I know I’m a dead man. I’m already suspended from the force so I’ve nothing to loose. I’ll get you the diamond. If you don’t agree to the deal, you don’t get the diamond. It’s as simple as that’.

Wheeler looked at the steely resolve in the man’s eyes, admiring the courage of the curly haired detective. He spat on the flat of his hand and held it out for Starsky to shake. As the wary cop took it, he looked into the stormy blue eyes.

‘We’ve dealt’ he said, in the time honoured way of gem merchants. The deal was binding and Wheeler took it seriously. He nodded to Svenson, who’d remained silent throughout the proceedings, and the white haired man reluctantly offered his weapon to the detective.

Starsky took it, checking the chambers of the police issue Colt and unhappily, got out of the car.

Chapter 14

Starsky steeled himself for what he had to do. There had, on occasions been times when he’d broken police code before, but he’d always been under cover and it had been in the line of duty. The time he’d been deep under as Snake, the biker, he’d gotten himself so far into the character that he’d almost lost himself in the black world of cocaine and the bikers churches (1). But this was different. Now he was just plain Dave Starsky and, if he was honest with himself, the thought of intentionally breaking the law scared the crap out of him. He weighed the Colt in his hands; feelingly the achingly familiar feel of the gun, knowing it was the same Python model his friend used daily. Somehow that made this all the sicker. Using a gun like Hutch’s to break the law to save the blonde’s life seemed obscene and his mind rebelled against it. His mouth went dry and he felt every one of the pains that had been inflicted on his body afresh. Only the thought of Hutch laying dead in a dingy room somewhere hardened his resolve.

The brunette started to stow the weapon down the back of the waistband of his jeans, his usual place when he wasn’t wearing his holster but the lancing flashes of pain as the hard metal hit the newly minted welts striping his back was just too much. He pulled it away sharply and wiped the smear of blood from the barrel before pushing it carefully down the front of his jeans after checking the safety was on. Wouldn’t want to shoot the family jewels off now would we Davey boy? Not when Svenson can have such a good time with them. He felt the foreign pouch still wrapped around his genitals and the reminder sent a shiver down his spine.

Bracing himself for what he knew he had to do, he took the steps back up to the front door of his workplace and went inside. The corridor was still quiet and fortunately no-one saw him to challenge him on his way back up to the second floor. He peeped around the corner of the stairwell and saw the coast was clear, trotting along until he was back at the same room he’d used earlier to telephone from. From his vantage point he could see that Williams was back at his station.

The troubled detective felt his heart hammering in his chest as he drew the gun from his waistband. He checked the chambers again seeing that all six had their cargo of deadly metal and kept the safety on. If at all possible he didn’t want to have to use the weapon at all and the safety would prevent any unnecessary accidents from taking place. Taking a deep breath to steady his nerves and to try to alleviate the sick, cold feeling he had in the pit of his stomach, he walked out of the room and into the exhibit store.

At the movement at the door, Williams looked up, a smile on his face as he saw Starsky standing outlined against the bright lights of the corridor. The brunette had the gun held behind him and stood nonchalantly leaning against the side of the door.

‘How’s it doing Williams?’ he asked casually.

The big cop smiled back, then a troubled look crossed his plain features.

‘Hi Starsky. I’m good. Ah….what can I do for you?’ he paused uncomfortably. ‘Someone told me you’d had a run in with the IA’ he looked almost apologetic, not mentioning that he also heard the rumour that this hot headed cop in front of him was also accused of murdering one of the IA men.

‘Oh, you know me an’ Hutch. We’re always having some sort of quarrel with IA. What’s new?’ Starsky eased himself into conversation mode. If he get the big fellow at his ease, this would be easier for all concerned. A voice cracked in his ear.

‘Stop the cackle and get me the goods. Svenson’s finger is itching’ Wheeler’s voice came over the airwaves. Starsky ignored it and continued, knowing the old man could hear everything that was going on anyway.

Williams was looking uncomfortable. He may not be a detective, but he knew that if Starsky was on unofficial suspension, as most people said he was, there was no reason on earth for the amiable detective to be here, in his storeroom at almost 6:00 in the morning.

‘So what can I do for you?’ he asked.

Starsky swallowed hard. This was it, the moment of truth and he hated every fibre of his being for doing it. As the big man behind the little counter looked surprised, the brunette drew the gun and pointed it at Williams. A look of fear flashed across the big man’s face, but he held his ground, raising his hands slowly into view.

God, don’t try to be a hero Williams. Just back away and do as I say.

‘OK, what are you doing? We can talk about it, whatever it is’ Williams said in textbook measured tones. Starsky could almost hear the police manual. When faced with a man pointing a gun, don’t panic but try to engage him in non threatening conversation. Speak slowly and quietly, trying to get his confidence. The brunette almost chuckled at the words parroting through his head. If it hadn’t been for the white face and trembling hands opposite him, he might even have found the situation funny. As it was he’d never had to threaten an innocent man with a loaded Colt before and the adrenalin was flowing full force through his veins now, making him jumpy and nervous. He licked his dry lips.

‘Just back away Williams’ he said in measured, hopefully non threatening tones himself. He didn’t want to scare or hurt the cop and he didn’t want to give him the heart attack he seemed to be well on the way to. ‘Please, just do as I say, and if I get out of this in one piece, I’ll explain everything later. Just walk back into the main room and get me the keys to the safe huh?’

Starsky willed the man to do as he was told. To do anything else; to put up a fight would mean Starsky would have to use force, or the gun, and his whole being rebelled against either course of action. He felt a tingling in his groin and hoped that Svenson would at least hold off another shock for a few more minutes. After that, he’d probably take the battery pack and electrocute himself because he felt that if he pulled this off he’d deserve every sort of punishment going. If it hadn’t been for his captive blond partner, he’d have allowed the white haired psychopath to fry his balls now and have done with it. Instead he cast about and saw a pen and notepad on the desk.

Carefully he walked forward as Williams backed up further until his back was pressed against the back wall. Transferring the weapon to his right hand and still keeping it trained on the uniformed cop, he took the pen and wrote hurriedly.

Can’t explain. PLEASE do as I say

Hutch in danger. Show this to Dobey.

He pushed the pad back to Williams who’s terrified eyes scanned the print and he nodded briefly, a quizzical look in his eyes. Starsky shook his head quietly, pulling his shirt to one side so that Williams could clearly see the wire and microphone then motioned with the gun.

The two men walked slowly into the back room and Williams fumbled a key from a bunch around his waist with nervous fingers. Although he’d seen the note and the wire, he wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. He so wanted to believe the brunette. He’d liked Starsky and his partner since he’s transferred to the Metro four months ago, but he didn’t know him well enough to trust having a Colt pointed at him. And if Starsky was pissed off at IA, who could say what he’d do?

Starsky jumped as another crackle in his ear heralded Wheeler’s voice. ‘What’s taking so long? Its gone quiet. You’re not deviating from our agreement are you? Do we need another little bit of encouragement?’

The brunette panicked Oh no no no, not now. Please not now. But his silent pleas went unanswered and he braced himself as another painful shock travelled through his genitals and radiated out through his body. He bent over, protectively, but somehow managed to keep the gun pointed at Williams who was looking scared and alarmed. Starsky’s body seemed to be trembling and he’d doubled over in pain, sweat beading on his brow. He heard the low groan and although scared for his own safety, he became concerned for the detective.

‘Hey man, you ok? Williams asked softly.

The pains were dissipating and slowly the brunette straightened, residual tremors coursing through his body. He leaned against the wall panting. ‘Will be…..thanks for…. Just open the safe huh?’

Williams looked from the pained face to the gun muzzle, winking at him like an eye and fumbled with the keys, inserting a long mortise key into the lock of the sturdy safe. He turned it. The tumblers in the mechanism sounded loud in the brunette’s ears, each one seeming to accuse him of this theft. He steadied his breath as Williams stood to one side. On the middle shelf, sitting on its velvet pouch with a white exhibit label around it was the diamond, gleaming malevolently in the dim interior of the metal cupboard. Starsky reached in and took it, taking a brief moment to gaze at the object which had caused all this trouble. For all he knew it could be just a lump of ordinary glass. To his untrained eye it was a pretty trinket, but nothing more and he wondered at its value. How could anyone pay over a $1million for this? He shook his head and stood, realising Williams was still standing stiffly at his side, the barrel of the gun scant inches from his belly.

The curly haired detective’s own belly gave a lurch, the nausea renewing itself as he realised for the first time in his life he’d caused this much angst to an innocent party. He almost felt like handing the gun over and turning himself in, but Hutch’s face floated across his memory and he hardened his nerve. He flicked the gun at Williams for him to move ahead and as soon as the big cop’s back was turned, Starsky flipped the gun in his hand round and brought the butt down with some force on the side of William’s head. The bulky body fell to the ground pole axed and Starsky felt a wash of adrenalin course though his veins. That was the final stroke in his master plan. Hoping that Williams would wake up with nothing more than a headache and knowing that when he did he could show the note to Dobey, he stepped over the unconscious body and slipped quietly out into the corridor.

Starsky made his way down the stairs, thinking he was home and dry, but as he turned the corner at the bottom of the steps, he bumped headfirst into his captain. He stopped, heart hammering in his chest as he stared into the familiar brown eyes. Dobey looked at him questioningly.

‘I thought I told you to go home and wait’ he thundered as Starsky tried to avoid the intensity of those eyes.

‘Sorry Cap. You know me….can’t keep away’. He sidled away from the big black man, but Dobey wasn’t so easily brushed off.

‘What exactly are you doing here?’ he asked. He looked at his watch. ‘I didn’t think you knew this hour of the day existed’.

Starsky forced a grin onto his face. ‘Hutch left something last night. He’s catchin’ some kip, he was working late. I thought I’d get it for him, seeing as he’s trying to get me off of a murder rap’.

‘And what’s so hellfire important that you have to come skulking round here at six in the morning?’ his Captain growled.

After the very briefest of pauses, the brunette took the gun from his waistband and waved it at his Captain. ‘He forgot his piece’ he said and trotted quickly away.

(1) See Shawne 'tll Dawn Story "No Regrets"

Chapter 15

By the time Gemma had woken, the sun was beginning to come up again and was casting long beams through the partly closed drapes. She’d cried herself to sleep in the early hours of the morning thinking about Starsky and the mess she’d gotten him into. She’d never intended anything like this to happen to him. When her daddy had suggested she might like him as a play thing and shown her the photograph of him looking steadily into the camera and smiling his lop sided smile, she’d been happy to go along with the plan. She could fulfil her fantasies with a ruggedly handsome cop and her Daddy could get the diamond. But in the brief time she’d know Dave, she’d fallen under the spell of the curly haired muscular detective. Her dreams that night had been full of his agonised screams and visions of his pain wracked body and now she woke, feeling neither refreshed nor happy, wanting only to have the whole mess ended. She hoped she could meet with him again, but she didn’t think her father’s plans included letting Starsky live.

As she sat up on the bed blinking in the bright light and rubbing her hand over her tired eyes she felt another presence in the room and looked over her shoulder seeing the predatory bulk of Hulme gazing hungrily at her. She reflexively clutched the bedclothes to her chest although she was still fully dressed, staring angrily at him.

‘Get out’ she yelled at him, anger flaring in her hazel eyes at the indignity of having the hired help watch her sleep but he continued to sit and watch her.

‘I thought you’d be missing a man by now’ he said with a half smile on his face.

Gemma stared at him in contempt, trying to get her brain into gear and understand the implication of his words. ‘What do you mean, missing a man?’

‘Well, you are kind of notorious. You know. The sort that can’t get enough of the bedroom side of life’.

She blushed, hardly able to believe the audacity of the man but held her gaze steady. ‘And even if I was “missing a man”, do you really think I’d stoop as low as you to fulfil my needs?’ she asked, venom dripping from every word.

Hulme ignored the jibe, stood and walked towards her, anger in his eyes. He’d admired his boss’ daughter from afar for over two years now. She was the sort who dressed in skimpy clothing, never hiding her natural assets and slunk sexily around the joint, inflaming his desires. He’d seen the young men come and go from her company and he’d envied each one of them. There was something about her demeanour; the way she instantly took control of a situation that set him on fire and the man in him longed to take her and break her. He licked his lips like a predator eyeing its victim and sizing them up.

Gemma saw the look in his eyes and shrank back against the head of the bed. He was an ordinary looking man and not her type at all. She enjoyed dominating men, but she hated the thought of being dominated in turn – unless it was by one dark curly haired cop. Somehow that might just work. But the sight of Hulme stalking her bedroom floor towards her sent a shiver of repulsion through her.

‘Stay away from me’ she ordered in a voice that sounded surprisingly calm. She looked desperately around the room for some sort of weapon she could use to defend herself, but as Hulme got ever closer her eyes went back to him. She felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. She wanted to move; to get off the bed and run, but her body was paralysed, her muscles refusing to move.

He was at the bed now, kneeling on the edge and crawling towards her. She could almost feel his breath on her neck as she cringed away from his touch. Hulme held out his hand toward her and she batted it away angrily.

‘Don’t you dare touch me’ she said in a low, angry voice. ‘if my father finds out what you’re doing he’s going to make sure you never touch another woman as long as you live’.

Hulme’s hand stroked her hair as she closed her eyes trembling. ‘Let yourself go, little lady. You never know, you might enjoy it’ he leaned forward to kiss her, his lips wet with anticipation.

Gemma galvanised herself into action. She leapt from the bed, somehow finding the strength to push him out of the way, she ran to the far side of the room, frantically scrabbling in the top drawer of her dressing table for the small Lady Derringer she kept there. Her custom made weapon was made from highly polished stainless steel with ivory grips. Overall it measured just over 4 inches and fired 32 Magnum bullets. Although small it had reasonable stopping power and in the past it had been a source of reassurance in the uncertain world her father moved in. Her hand closed on it now and she withdrew it from its hiding place, pointing it at Hulme as he followed her.

‘Don’t come any closer’ she said, her voice now quivering.

Hulme stopped and laughed. ‘You don’t want to do that, Gemma, you know you want to try just a little piece of me’ he licked his lips and blew her a kiss.

Gemma’s finger twitched on the trigger and she closed her eyes waiting for the report from the weapon. None came. Instead the sound of the hammer striking an empty chamber seemed to mock her and she squeezed the trigger again and again with the same results. The gun was empty. In desperation she threw the weapon at him. He ducked out of its way and it gave her the second she needed to bolt from the room, slamming the door behind her.

Gemma ran from her bedroom and down the stairs, stumbling in her haste and almost falling from top to bottom. Grabbing hold of the banister, she righted herself and continued her headlong flight, eyes darting to left and right as she heard Hulme rip open the bedroom door to follow her. Desperately she headed for the kitchen, pulling chairs and tables into the way of her pursuer and hearing his gasped expletives as he banged his shins and tripped over the various items of furniture.

Hulme was beyond anger now as he saw his quarry running from him. The pursuit added fire to his loins and he saw Gemma now as a justifiable target. After all, he’d worked for her father as a loyal employee for two years. In his fevered imagination he saw Wheeler pleased that he was dating his daughter. He pushed his way through the detritus she’d pushed in his way and fought his way to the kitchen.

It was a big room and Gemma had run to the far end of it. From where she stood she had a clear view of the man as he plunged into the kitchen, his eyes darting around until he found her. Hulme saw that she was cornered, having nowhere to go save past him and he slowed to a predatory walk, his eyes never leaving her face.

The scared look he saw there fueled his desire and he reached for her again, taking hold of her shoulders and pulling her to him in an embrace. He pushed his lips against hers, his tongue roughly pushing apart her teeth and ravishing her mouth. She struggled against him, beating her hand against his chest in a futile effort to stop him. As he pulled back from the kiss, a look of absolute disbelief flashed across his eyes.

Slowly he looked down at his chest seeing the bright bloom of red starting to stain the front of his shirt. He laughed as his hands clawed at the kitchen knife that Gemma had sunk into his chest up to its handle and looked accusingly at her. His hands reached for her again and she backed away, her hands at her face as she partially covered her eyes against the horrific sight as the big man’s body fell forward onto the floor with a gurgle and a groan. Without stopping to check whether he was alive or dead, Gemma ran past the heap on the floor and out into hallway, seeking the telephone.

Her mind was made up. She’d seen what her Daddy had done to Starsky and she’d now experienced the sort of psychopath he employed first hand. She’d never liked Hulme or Svenson and the past hour had deepened her convictions. They say that blood is thicker than water but she wished she could drain away the blood that ran through her veins. She no longer wanted to bear the name Wheeler and as she reached shakily for the phone she wondered who she should call. Suddenly a name came to her. Hutch. She’d call Hutch and tell him everything – the way her Daddy had had her take one of Starsky’s hairs to frame him for Dryden’s death, the way he’d set her up with the job at the Pits so that she could target him.

She picked the receiver up.

‘Bay City Police Department’ she said as she was asked for the number. A moment later a woman’s voice answered.

‘BCPD How may I help you?’

‘I want to speak to Detective Sergeant Hutchinson’ she said and waited.

A moment later the woman’s voice said ‘I’m sorry caller. Detective Hutchinson isn’t due in till later. May I give him a message?’

Gemma put the phone down, wondering what to do next.

Chapter 16

Hutch was wondering what was going to happen. Since he’s spoken with Starsky on the telephone earlier the goons who’d taken him had left him alone, for which he was truly thankful. The acupressure points that had been used were stiff and sore and although he still wore the blindfold, he knew there would be big black bruises to display later. He ignored the pain gnawing at him and thought instead of his partner.

In his enforced darkness, and with no chatter to distract him, he went over the clues he had. Starsky had mentioned 4years, 6 months and 12 days. That was the time Van and he had been separated and his mind worked the information over. The only conclusion that he could come up with was that, as Wheeler had had Van murdered, then he must also be implicated in his kidnap and Starsky’s telephone call. He hoped his friend was ok, but he’d heard pain in Starsky’s voice and the ‘little game’ he was going to have to play? They’d known and worked with each other far too long for either of them to hide anything from the other. Starsky was hurting and Hutch wanted to know how badly. Wheeler had already proved himself to be heartless and cold, the only thing that seemed to matter to him was the diamond, and Hutch knew that that was safely in police storage.

Slowly the cogs turned in his head….police storage…..Starsky knew the diamond was there. Had Wheeler somehow got Starsky and made him tell where the gem was? He was pretty sure his partner wouldn’t have voluntarily told the old man, so that’s where Hutch came in. Oh buddy, ya didn’t tell ‘em to save me! No, Starsk, no. But Hutch knew that while his partner would never tell to save his own hide, he’d cave in if he knew Hutch’s life as at stake. His mind carried on its meanderings. Surely Wheeler would have tried to get the information out of the brunette first. How much did they hurt you Gordo? Are you ok? If Starsky did give Wheeler the diamond, he’d already seen too much. Wheeler would have to have him killed to protect his anonymity. Please God let me out of here. Need to get to Starsk. Hold on buddy, I’m trying to get to ya. His heart rate hiked up a notch and he started struggling against his bonds, trying to break free. His captors looked on in amusement, but still kept quiet. Mr Wheeler hadn’t wanted them to speak, so they wouldn’t. Whatever Wheeler wanted, he got; silence, death, diamonds.

‘Hey you. I know you’re there. I can hear you whispering. Ya too chicken to let me see you?’ Hutch shouted into the darkness.

O’Connor got up. smiling grimly at Zuckermann and calmly backhanded the blond with his fist, watching as the blond flinched in surprise at the blow and his head snapped sideways. He listened to the barely suppressed yelp then went back to his place.

Hutch licked at the trickle of blood flowing from his lip, fighting to get his breathing back under control. Nice one Hutchie. Keep that up you’ll never be any use to Starsky. He bit back a retort and stopped struggling, hoping for some chance of escape to present itself.


Starsky got back into the car and handed the diamond over to Wheeler, who took it like a kid waiting for a candy bar. Excitedly the diamond merchant took it and held it to the light, watching the flashes of rainbow light emanating from the gem, reflecting around the inside of the Torino. He chuckled to himself and Starsky was vaguely reminded of a book he’d recently read. The Lord of the Rings had a creature called Gollum who coveted a golden ring, calling it “his precious”. In the brunette’s weary eyes Wheeler’s face morphed into what he imagined Gollum would look like

Now that the mission was over, the pains in the detective’s body returned full force and he couldn’t bite back the groan as his damaged back and burned genitals argued with each other for which could give his the most pain. He rested his head against the steering wheel, the picture of defeat. He was not proud of what he’d done, but he knew there was one last thing he had to take care of before inevitably Wheeler had him killed.

Wearily he raised his head and looked at the old man still caressing the damned diamond.

‘I’ve kept my end of the deal. What about my partner?’ Starsky asked through gritted teeth.

Wheeler looked up as if seeing the cop for the first time. ‘Hm? Oh yes. Detective Hutchinson. Well he has seen and heard nothing. I made sure of that so he cannot trace this back to me. I’ll give the order to let him go’.

‘As I mentioned once before, Wheeler, I may be short on luck, but not on brains. I want to make sure he’s OK’ Starsky ground out.

The gem merchant saw the resolve in the cloudy, troubled indigo eyes. He put the diamond in his inside pocket. ‘Drive over to this address’ he handed Starsky a scribbled piece of paper. ‘I’ll make the call and you can see him go for yourself’.

Starsky resignedly started the engine and drove, knowing that eventually he was driving himself to his death. The address Wheeler had given him was on the opposite side of town, near the docks and he had the feeling that’s where he would end up. He drove smoothly across town, all the time his mind trying to work out some method of escape. Finding himself too tired to concentrate, he decided to make sure his partner was ok first, then think about himself afterwards.

A half an hour later he pulled up outside a block of apartments which were the same as the others in that part of town. It was a grey block, featureless from the outside, with mean grey windows and a grey door leading into them. It looked a cheerless place and sent a shiver down the brunette’s spine.

Wheeler got out of the car and made his way across the road to a phone booth on the corner. As they waited, Svenson once more had the gun pointed at the exhausted cop’s head and Starsky was too tired to think up a suitable wisecrack. His head, his back and every other part of his body hurt and he longed for pain meds, a shower and a cold beer. Sleep would be nice too, but above all he wanted to make sure Hutch was OK.

Wheeler came back to the car and directed Starsky to drive around the corner and park at the entrance to the underground parking lot. His Torino was too conspicuous and Hutch would know immediately that he was around if he saw it. Doing as he was told, Wheeler directed Svenson to take Starsky at gunpoint to the corner and let him watch.


Inside the apartment, Hutch heard the telephone ring and one of his captors answered. Another hissed conversation took place and then suddenly there was the cold metal of a gun pushed against his neck. Bracing himself for the impact of the bullet, he was surprised when, instead, he felt the bindings holding him to the chair slacken.

Experimentally he moved his hands and found they were free although the sensation had long since gone from them, he’d been tied so long. There was a long silence in the room and he couldn’t understand what was going on. Finally he reached up hesitantly and took the blindfold off, blinking in the light and expecting hands to slap him down at any moment.

There was nothing. No impact of a bullet, no harsh hands to hit him or replace the blindfold. In fact there was no-one in the room at all, although he could see the door swinging open.

Hurriedly he reached down and struggled with the bindings round his ankles. His fingers were awkward and sore and he struggled with the knots. They were tight and the ropes had dug into the flesh, but eventually he managed to undo them, staggering to his feet. He felt disorientated and dizzy and couldn’t shake the feeling that this was some sort of trap. Tentatively he looked round and went to the door. He looked down the empty corridor, but saw only endless doors, the hallway having a dirty disinfectant smell to it. Realising he was definitely not in the best part of town, Hutch staggered out of the room that had been his prison for the past hours and searched for the elevator or some steps. Glancing out of a window, he saw that he must be at least six storeys up.

Ignoring the pounding headache and the pains from his shoulder and hip, he found the stairs and ran down them as fast as he could, gaining the outside and freedom. Still, there was no sign of his captors and the questions rained down thick and fast. Where had they gone? Why had they released him? What was happening with his partner? That was foremost in his mind as he looked up and down the street. Seeing no-one, but eyeing the phone booth at the opposite corner, his long legs pounded over and he reached the booth, grasping the receiver. He rattled the cradle until the operator’s voice came on the line


‘Yes caller. What number do you require?'

'Connect me with a Captain Dobey at Bay City Police department. Collect’. There was a pause as he continued to look around, then there was a click on the line.

‘Dobey’ the familiar gruff voice sounded down the line

‘Captain? Its Hutch. Can you send a black and white to collect me. I’m at the corner of’ he squinted at the street names on the plaques on the street corners and gave the address.

‘Hutchinson, what’s happened? Are you alright?’

Hutch cut him short. ‘It’s a long story Cap. I’m ok, kind of, but I think Starsky’s in a whole shit load of trouble. I’ll fill you in when I get back’ he listened to the confirmation and within 2 minutes a black and white drove around the corner and picked him up.

From a distance, his brunette partner peered around the corner, watching him emerge from the building and go to the phone booth. Starsky fought the impulse to shout to his partner, knowing that to do so would sign his death warrant too.

As he saw the black and white pick the blond up from the corner, Starsky’s hands were balled into fists. Deep down he knew it could well be the last time he saw his friend and he sent a silent goodbye, resting his forehead against the cool brick of the wall before turning and, with Svenson’s gun grinding into his torn and bleeding back, he walked wearily back to the car.

Chapter 17

The minute Starsky had turned, the gun at his back, he realised it was now or never. As he felt the gun grind into the small of his back, he tried the old trick of bending over double as if in pain. Svenson stopped in his tracks, almost tripping over the groaning brunette and for a moment was at a loss what to do. It was the split second Starsky had been waiting for and quick as flash he turned on his heel, plunging his head explosively into the white haired man’s stomach. Svenson doubled up, the wind whistling through his teeth and Starsky, still on his knees, turned sideways and rammed his elbow full force between the gunman’s legs. He heard a satisfying wheeze and yelp of pain and saw the startled and teary look in the pale blue eyes. Thinking that the blow would fell the big man, Starsky started to stand in order to deliver the final blow that he hoped would knock his captor out. But as he began to rise, Svenson’s huge hand lunged forward, delivering a blow of his own to Starsky’s cheek. It sent the detective to the ground, stars dancing before his eyes and as he opened them, he stared down the barrel of the enormous Viking’s Colt. Starsky froze in mid movement, seeing the predatory look in the eyes and realising his last chance had just vanished.

‘You’ll pay for that’ Svenson said, almost as if he welcomed the blow as an excuse to rough up the cop on the floor. ‘Get up on your knees’.

With his heart hammering in his chest, Starsky slowly complied, kneeling up and resting back on his heels.

‘Hands behind your head’ his captor ordered.

Slowly and without a word, Starsky gripped his hands behind his head. Classic execution position he thought grimly and braced himself waiting for the shot. He’d known this would happen sooner or later. He’d seen and heard too much and now the time had come. He consoled himself with the thought that at least it would be quick; even the white haired man couldn’t mess up the shot from this range. He took one last look around at his world and closed his eyes. He’d gone out with a fight and now he was, if not ready, at peace with himself. Starsky closed his eyes and waited, mouth dry, breath catching in his throat.

He felt the impact, but it wasn’t the one he expected. Instead of the fiery trail of a bullet blasting through his scull, he felt the sharp impact as the butt of Svenson’s gun came down on the back of his head and his last thought as he blacked out was well that’s a surprise!

Rapidly, the man stowed his weapon and effortlessly lifted the limp and battered form of the cop onto his shoulders, plodding his way back to the car. As he opened the door and deposited the unconscious body on the rear seat, Wheeler gave him a questioning look.

‘He tried to get away’ Svenson explained seeing the anger in his boss’ eyes. Instead of the rebuke, or the blow he’d expected, Wheeler nodded smiling just a little sadly.

‘It’ll make his end easier’ he murmured as Svenson started up the car.


Hutch rushed up to Dobey’s office once the black and white had deposited him back at the Metro, his long legs taking the steps up to the second floor three at a time. As he pounded along the corridor he saw one of the uniformed officers coming out of the Captains office. He nodded a welcome then opened the door. Dobey was sitting behind his desk and a look of relief passed over his face as he saw the blond detective.

‘Where’ve you been?’ he asked gruffly, noting the dishevelled appearance and slight limp in the walk. Hutch sat down and as quickly as possible started to fill Dobey in on what had gone on.

‘…..so I think Wheeler’s got Starsky and I think he framed him for Dryden’s murder’ he finished, seeing the confirmation in the big brown eyes.

Dobey handed him a scrap of paper and Hutch saw his partner’s neat writing.

Can’t explain. PLEASE do as I say

Hutch in danger. Show this to Dobey.

‘William's Captain found his body down in the exhibit store and this on the counter there’ he explained.

‘Is Williams OK?’ Hutch asked as he stared at the print on the scrap.

‘Yeah. Starsky hit him on the head, but he’s gonna be ok. So… he knew you were in trouble. Where is he?’

Hutch rubbed his lip with his fingers. ‘As I see it, he knows too much. If I’m right and it is Wheeler, he’s gonna want Starsky out of the way permanently. We need to find him and……’

The sentence was cut short by the telephone buzzing. Dobey’s big hand reached out and punched the buttons

‘Dobey’……a pause. ‘Send her up’. He put the phone down.

‘I think we just got our clue’ he told the expectant blond. ‘Gemma Wheeler is on her way up. Said she wanted to speak to Hutch’.

The flaxen haired cop went to the door and waited seeing the dark woman walk hesitantly along the corridor towards him. As she saw him she quickened her pace and he ushered her into the room.

‘You’re Hutch?’

He nodded.

‘I’m sorry I don’t know your full name. Dave always just called you Hutch. I’m Gemma Wheeler and my father has got Dave. I…I think he’s going to kill him’ she blurted out, looking from one man to the other.

‘Do you know where he is?’ Hutch asked, urgency in his voice.

She paused looking panicked. ‘I don’t know….Oh God they’re gonna kill him and I don’t know where they are. I…I thought you could help. Please…..please help’ she sank down onto the chair, her head in her hands, sobbing. ‘I love him so much……and they hurt him….I tried to stop them, but they wouldn’t listen…..he was hurting so bad’.

Hutch knelt in front of the distraught woman and gently took her hands from her face.

‘Gemma, honey. Listen to me. We can still help him. You can still help him. I need you to think. Does your Dad have any place where he might take Star….Dave? Somewhere quiet maybe…..out of town?’

She thought, heaving big shaky breaths as she sought to get her sobbing under control. ‘I don’t know….erm…..he has a…..has a warehouse down at the docks. Maybe there….I dunno. Please just find him’ her eyes pleaded with the flaxen haired cop.

Hutch could see what Starsk had loved about her, and she obviously loved him, that was plain to see.

‘Can you come with us? Can you point it out maybe?’ he asked gently, but urgently. She nodded and stood ready to follow him out of the room. As he paused at the door he saw Dobey shouldering into his jacket and checking his gun.

‘You’ll be needing backup’ he gruffed as he followed the two out.

They all piled into Dobey’s car and with the mars light flashing and sirens blaring, they set off across town towards the docks. Gemma huddled in the back seat, her arms wrapped protectively around herself. Finally she seemed to come to a decision and leaned forward tapping Hutch on the shoulder. He turned and saw the look of terror in her eyes.

‘I…I think I killed a man’ she said hesitantly. ‘He was one of my Daddy’s men and he took me back to Daddy’s house while they……while they had Dave. He was hitting on me and he tried to….you know…. I fought back, but he kept coming at me and I couldn’t stop him. His hands were everywhere and he wouldn’t stop. He followed me into the kitchen and I had a knife. It was a big kitchen knife and he…..I killed him with it’ she whispered the last line then dissolved into more tears.

Hutch reached for the car mic. and asked for an ambulance to go to the address she gave him.

‘Am I gonna go to prison?’ she asked tremulously.

Hutch smiled. ‘If he was attacking you, you’ve used reasonable force. But there may be a court hearing. Lets just find my partner ….find Dave first, then we can sort out the rest of the mess later huh?’

Gemma settled back against the seat, her eyes closed as the car drew ever closer to the docks.

The sun was bright in the sky by the time they reached the dock gates and Dobey killed the lights and siren. ‘If they’re there we don’t want to advertise our presence, do we?’ he said as the dock keeper let them in. As they started to trawl the long dusty concrete roadways that looped around the docklands, Gemma leaned forward, resting on the seat backs of the front seats with her arms as she tried to remember which warehouse they should be looking for.

‘I’ve only been here once’ she explained. ‘Daddy didn’t really let me get involved in the import/export side of things. Said I should concentrate on the pretty part of the job’ she gave a weak smile and continued to scan the buildings from side to side.

The car drove slowly along past various big, dilapidated buildings, some with signs outside, some with painted names on their doors, but the further from the dock entrance they went, the more run down the buildings became. They were almost out of options when the girl stiffened and pointed.

‘It’s that one’, she said. ‘I’m almost sure of it….yes! I remember the yellow on the door. That’s it!’

Dobey stopped the car and turned off the engine, turning in his seat to look at the girl.

‘We’re going to go in there and check the place out. I need you to stay here and keep out of sight. You did the right thing coming to us and now you need to keep yourself safe’ he said as she stared at him, wide eyed. She nodded and quietly Hutch and Dobey got out of the car and made their way over to the warehouse.

It wasn’t one of the bigger ones but it was in good condition and stood out from the rest of the heaps on the block. The yellow painted sliding door was ajar as they got to it, and the blond poked his head around it, searching for signs of life.

Although the warehouse itself was quiet, Hutch could feel a cool breeze blowing through the building and as he looked further he could see a similar tall door at the far end of the building standing open, and beyond a stretch of water, the sunlight sparkling on the crests of the small waves. Cautiously he signalled Dobey to follow and the two cops edged their way into the dim interior. Guns drawn they slowly walked through the warehouse, hugging the shadows next to the walls keeping out of sight, but still they saw no signs of life. There were pallets of stock piled in neat, orderly rows and stacker trucks parked carefully at the ends of the rows. This was well planned and carefully orchestrated operation and reflected the wealth of the owner. Dobey looked forward to taking Wheeler down.

They were close to the far side of the warehouse now and Hutch could smell the tang of the sea air blowing through the open door. The sunlight cast a beam of bright light through the open door, catching dust particles and making them sparkle like the diamonds Wheeler so coveted. As Hutch carefully sneaked a look around the edge of the open door, the sight that met him made his blood run cold.

Chapter 18

In the bright sunlight a group of three men clustered around an untidy looking, tightly tied package on the ground. Wheeler, O’Connor and Zuckermann had their backs to Hutch and Dobey as they casually discussed their next step. They stood on the side of the wharf as O’Connor flicked his cigarette butt into the sparkling water of the docks. From Hutch’s position at the door of the warehouse, he could see that the package at their feet was in the shape of a curly haired body.

Starsky was conscious again now and sat on the ground. His feet were tied together and his knees drawn up. His wrists were drawn below the bridge his knees made and tied there, and a long heavy chain was wrapped around his arms and chest, pinning him tight. His head was resting on his knees and although he was fully clothed in his jeans, tee shirt and jacket, he looked exhausted, his hair dishevelled and dirty, blood from the blow to his head clearly glistening down his face and neck. Added to the chain was a metal weight almost like an anchor, which tailed off and perched perilously close to the dock side.

Hutch ducked his head back inside the warehouse and quickly explained to Dobey what he’d seen. The two men put their heads together. Hutch had seen that both O’Connor and Zuckermann were armed and it was a safe bet to assume Wheeler would be too. That meant three against two, but the two also needed to watch that their bullets didn’t hit the bound detective on the ground.

‘Do you want to call for more backup?’ Dobey asked, checking his gun once again.

Hutch shook his head. ‘It’d take too long. They look like they’ve trussed him up ready to push him into the water. We gotta move now’.

They paused, considering their options. ‘Can we call ‘em away somehow?’ Hutch asked, more of himself than anything.

‘What about turning on the sirens again?’ Dobey suggested.

‘No, if they hear ‘em, they’ll just throw him in and leg it’

‘I got it!’ Dobey said, fumbling in his pocket. ‘You were sick when I brought this into the office. I’d bought it for Rosey, but I kinda liked it, so she never got it. You didn’t see it’. He held a small key fob on the palm of his hand. ‘When you whistle it plays a tune. If we set it down just inside the door and set it off, one of ‘em might come see what the noise is. We can pick him off and even the odds’.

Hutch shrugged. ‘It’s worth a try. Do it’.

Dobey placed the small fob on the ground at the entrance to the warehouse, whistled softly and retreated as the strains of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” floated across the docks.

The small group of men stopped in their conversation, looking where the noise was coming from. ‘Go see what that ridiculous noise is’ Wheeler said angrily, waving at Zuckermann. The short man reluctantly peeled off from the group, aiming a swift kick at Starsky as he passed. The brunette was beyond caring now and hardly seemed to feel the blow. His mind had shut out the impossible situation and he was longing for an end to it all, his only regret being that he would die alone amongst men who hated him. Grimly he wondered what it would be like to drown, how it would feel to take a breath and have his lungs fill with salty water rather than clean air. He shivered even though it was a hot day. He didn’t want to die.

Zuckermann traced the silly sounds of the song back to the warehouse, his head down as he concentrated on locating the source. As he rounded the corner to the warehouse, Hutch brought down his gun with as much force as he could muster onto the back of the hit man’s neck. With a grunt, the man fell slowly to the floor, his eyes rolling up into his head as the two cops caught hold of him under the arms and dragged his body into the dim of the building.

‘One down, two to go’ Hutch panted as he glanced round the corner of the door again. O’Connor was still talking to Wheeler and neither had noticed that Zuckermann hadn’t returned immediately.

‘I think that’s as much luck as we get’ Dobey grunted as both cops drew their weapons and stood at the entrance to the door. ‘We go on three then?’

Hutch nodded, preparing himself. Whatever happened he knew he had to get to his partner and save him. The sight of Starsky trussed up with chain and ready for a watery grave was almost more than he could bear and he needed to be able to tell the hurting brunette that he was there for him, and now was not the day to die.

With a deep breath, both men catapulted out of the building, guns at the ready, doing a passable imitation of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid exiting the barn.

‘Police, freeze’ Dobey yelled as he saw the two men look up, startled.

In a flash, O’Connor had levelled his gun at Hutch and pulled the trigger, the bullet hitting the blond high on the right shoulder and spinning him round, when Dobey’s Colt spat out its bullet and a third, lashless eye appeared on the big man’s head. Slowly, O’Connor’s body toppled to the floor as the bullet entered the brain and life ceased. Hutch lay on the ground, yards from his partner, stunned and unable to move. Starsky’s head had come up and he was looking around, a dazed look in his eyes. As he saw the blond body fall at the side of him, he tried ineffectually to move over to give his partner some comfort, but his bonds were too tight and he had no energy left to fight. His head dropped to his chest again in exhaustion.

With Dobey left covering Wheeler the fight seemed to be over and the big black man started walking steadily towards the diamond merchant, gun pointed at the old man as he looked at the carnage around him. As Dobey got level with his two men, he took a moment to see if Hutch was ok. The blond was semi conscious, his left hand wrapped tightly round his right arm as he tried to stem the bleeding and ease the pain. Starsky’s eyes had cleared somewhat and as he saw his Captain he managed to look up and rally.

‘Go Cap, see to that weasel, I’ll be ok with Blondie’ he rasped, his voice husky with exhaustion. Dobey nodded and moved on, closing on Wheeler.

At that moment there was a shout from the warehouse and Starsky’s head whipped round as he recognised the voice. Gemma had remained where she’d been told, in the car, but she’d heard the gunfire and her heart had leaped into her mouth. Frantically she struggled out of the car and raced through the dimly lit building, jumping over the body of Zuckermann as she made her way out onto the dockside. She stopped as she saw Hutch on the ground and Starsky chained at his side. Running, her eyes full of tears, she flung herself down next to the brunette, putting her arms around him and kissing him frantically.

‘I thought they’d killed you’ she cried, running her fingers through his blood matted hair and looking into his eyes. ‘Oh Dave, thank God you’re ok. Did they hurt you badly? Let me look at you’.

He smiled at her. ‘M’ok honey’ he gasped as she kissed him again. ‘Go see if Hutch is ok, huh?’

She shuffled away, pulling the blond gently onto his back. His eyes fluttered open and he focussed on her.

‘Is it bad?’ she asked, looking at the blood on his sleeve.

‘No, s’ok. Just a little nick. It’s fine’ he mumbled as he lay looking at the sky.

Gemma went back to Starsky, her hands working frantically at the ropes around his wrists and ankles. As she freed his hands, he started to shrug out of the chains around his chest.

Dobey had his back to the group, his weapon still trained on Wheeler as he started to get his cuffs from his jacket pocket.

‘James Wheeler. I’m arresting you for the murder of one Eric Dryden. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you at government expense, but lets face it, you can probably buy the whole justice system, can’t you?’ he said, tightening the cuffs around the old man’s wrists. There was a defeated look now in Wheeler’s eyes as he realised this was it. Even Abraham wouldn’t be able to buy his way out of this one and he was looking at the rest of his life in San Quentin.

As Hutch lay on the ground, Gemma helped Starsky to remove the rest of his bindings. He’d been pinned in the same position for almost two hours and his limbs were stiff and sore. His wrists and ankles, which had already been mangled by the long hours of torture, were bleeding afresh now and she reached for them, kissing them gently.

‘I love you so much’ she said. ‘I’m so sorry about everything. It was never meant to be like this. Please forgive me. I hated them for hurting you. I tried to stop them, but they wouldn’t listen and then….’

Starsky put a blood stained finger to her lips. ‘Ssh. S’ok. Its all over now. The bad guys are gone, and we’re all ok. I love you too’ he whispered as he kissed her tenderly. He smiled down at her, and she put her arm round his waist to help him walk over to his partner.

No-one saw the movement from the warehouse. No-one suspected that there would be more trouble. Everything seemed so peaceful after the frenzied activity of the last quarter of an hour. As Gemma took hold of her man, Zuckermann crawled out from the warehouse, gun in hand, aiming it at the limping brunette. At the last moment Gemma saw the hit man take aim, and as she saw the gun move, she threw herself in front of Starsky shouting ‘Noooooo’.

There was a loud explosion and a puff of smoke from the muzzle of the gun, and the brunette felt the girls body stiffen, then fall. He tried to catch her, his hands clumsy and sore as he saw the blond at his feet twist, level his own gun at Zuckermann and pull the trigger.

The hit man flew backwards, propelled by the velocity of the bullet and Hutch staggered to his feet, running over to check that he was dead. He bent, feeling for a pulse in the man’s neck and watching the blood flow from the wound over the hit man’s heart. Slowly he stood and looked back at his partner.

Starsky had sunk to his knees and was cradling the lifeless body of the girl in his arms, gently caressing her face and running his fingers through her dark hair. He rocked her back and forth, tears running unchecked down his face. As Hutch limped back to him, kneeling next to the distraught man, Starsky looked up with pain filled eyes.

‘She took the bullet meant for me’ he sobbed. ‘It should have been me…..should have been me. Why’d she have to do it? Why did she have to die? I loved her so much’. He looked beseechingly into his partner’s eyes. ‘Why‘d she do it huh?’

Hutch put his arm round the brunette’s shoulders, a lump hard in his throat. ‘Coz she loved ya’ he murmured.

Chapter 19

The ambulances came quickly to the warehouse, sirens blazing and lights flashing. The noise and commotion seemed at odds with the quiet of the dockside warehouse now that the gunfire had stopped. Even the gulls had come back, swooping down as if for a better look at the bodies lying broken on the ground. The two medics got out and set about their business. They checked Zuckerman’s and O’Connor’s bodies first, but it didn’t need a medic to say that they were passed help and they pronounced them both dead. Looking around they started to assess the walking wounded.

They were left with the sight of the big black man holding a gun on Wheeler, who was trying to get to his daughter’s side. Dobey had seen the way the brunette reacted when Gemma had been shot, and had kept the diamond dealer away, knowing that to let him anywhere near Starsky or indeed Hutch at that moment would be to sign the man’s death warrant. Wheeler was dry eyed as he struggled with the Captain, seemingly more interested in knowing where the diamond was that in mourning his daughter. Dobey took him to the nearest black and white and got him ensconced in the back seat to be driven away. The Captain looked back at his two men, torn with decisions about what to do. Should he let someone else do the paperwork on the arrest, while he helped Hutch and his partner? Or should he let the inevitable happen, knowing that the two detectives were close enough to look after each other. Finally deciding that getting Wheeler locked up would suit all their interests, he got into the car beside the old man and drove off.

The medics had gone to Hutch’s side, helping him back up from the side of the wall where he’d crumpled after shooting Zuckermann. His arm was red and wet with blood, but he could still move it and he’d already decided that nothing was broken. They helped him back to the ambulance and perched him on the tailgate of the open back as they tended to him, wiping away the blood and poking at the wound, making the blond wince and jerk his arm away angrily. They apologised but Hutch couldn’t take his eyes from his partner who had remained where he was on the ground. Starsky looked so small and broken as he stayed in the middle of the mêlée, kneeling with his arms still around the body of his woman.

‘I think you should be fine with a dressing’ the paramedic was saying as he wrapped a clean white dressing around the wound. ‘It’s only a flesh wound, but I bet it hurts like hell’.

Hutch nodded and smiled at the man absently as he watched the brunette, wondering what he could do to help the man. Starsky’s eyes were closed as if he was trying to blot out the world and the sight of his lover’s dead body. Suddenly the sun seemed too bright and the summers’ day too warm, the very weather mocking the tragedy of the situation. As Hutch watched he saw another technician come towards the hurting, kneeling cop and kneel by his side. Gently the man put his hand on Starsky’s shoulder.

‘We..erm…we need to take the body now’ he said softly.

But Starsky was locked in a world of his own and he continued to rock the girl in his arms, his lips brushing the dark lustrous hair as he murmured into her ear. He didn’t seem to hear the man and ignored the touch on his arm. The man tried again.

‘Sir, we need to take the body now’ desperately trying to get through to him, knowing he was in pain.

Hutch pushed himself up from the tailgate of the ambulance and walked slowly over to his partner, unable to bear the tragic sight any longer. He kneeled down next to him and tried to prize the hands from round Gemma’s shoulders.

‘Starsk, they need to take her away now’ he said gently but firmly.

Cloudy indigo eyes looked up at him as if seeing him for the first time. ‘No’ the brunette whispered.

‘C’mon buddy. Just let go now, this isn’t helping. You can’t bring her back. She loved you and she died protecting you. You’ve gotta let her go. For Gemma? Just let her go Starsk’.

Slowly Starsky looked up at his partner and then at the technician, heaving a shaky breath. ‘Ok, but you don’t touch her. I’ll do it. Where d’ya want her to be?’ he asked.

The man pointed at a waiting coroner’s wagon, understanding the deep hurt this man was feeling. The brunette nodded and stood himself, bending down to tenderly pick up Gemma’s body. He walked with his precious cargo slowly over to the vehicle and gently he laid her limp form on the gurney in the back of the wagon. He saw the black stiff plastic bag and recoiled looking around him desperately. ‘Don’t ….don’t put her in a bag’ he pleaded. ‘Just let me cover her… with a cloth or somethin’ Just not a body bag’.

The man nodded gently and handed Starsky a white shroud. The brunette took it and unfolded it carefully. He draped it gently over his girlfriend’s legs and pulled it up her chest. Slowly he bent down and dotted one last tender kiss on her lips, trailing his hand gently down her cheek before whispering ‘I love you Gemma Wheeler’ and covering her face with the cloth. He staggered down from the back of the wagon and walked away directionless, his head hanging. Hutch followed.

‘Starsk, ya need to let the medics check you out buddy. I can tell you’re hurt’.

‘I can’t. I’m ok. Just let me be Hutch. Just take me home huh? I need to be home….to be somewhere other than here’ he waved his hand vaguely at the dock and warehouse. He trudged toward the warehouse and through it to the other side. Around the corner stood his Torino, Svenson having driven his unconscious body here earlier and the blond followed waving away the medic who was looking expectantly his way. Walking to the passenger side he got in. No-one could see the wounds the smaller man carried, most being hidden under his clothes, but Hutch could see by the way he carried himself that there were injuries he didn’t know about. Wearily and painfully Starsky eased himself into the car and closed his eyes as Hutch eased himself into the drivers seat and set off back to his own apartment. There was no way he’d leave his partner alone tonight.

No-one spoke on the drive home. Starsky didn’t open his eyes, just sat stock still, his head resting against the cold window of his car, staring sightlessly at the passing traffic. There were no backhanded jibes about the blonde’s driving; no talk of being too careful, just silence so thick that it could have been cut with a knife. As the car pulled up and stopped he barely registered it and Hutch had to guide him out of the car and up the steps to his apartment at Venice Place. Starsky went into the room automatically and stood, hands at his side as if waiting to be told what to do next. Hutch’s heart broke, and he gently steered the smaller man to the bathroom.

‘Why don’t you go take a good hot shower, buddy? Then you can sleep’. Without a word Starsky walked into the room and closed the door.

The blond watched as his friend disappeared into the bathroom, his heart still breaking for the smaller man. He’d had such horrendous experiences, heartbreaking experiences with his girlfriends. First Terry and now Gemma, it was almost too much to bear. He got a cold beer from his fridge and swallowed two aspirin for the ache in his arm, sitting down to wait.

After almost a half an hour, the brunette still hadn’t emerged from the bathroom and Hutch was getting a little jumpy. He went to the bathroom door, but could still hear the water running. It must be cold by now. He knocked on the door.

‘Starsk. You ok?’ he shouted through he closed door, but there was no answer.

He cracked the door open and the sight took his breath away. Starsky was standing under the now cold water, his back to the door. For the first time, Hutch could see the terrible bruises and welts, some still staining the running water red with blood. They extended from the brunette’s shoulders down past his butt to the tops of his legs and Hutch wondered just how his partner had remained standing let alone “steel” a diamond or sit in the car on the way home. The brunette was leaning his head against the tile of the shower and didn’t seem to have heard his partner come in, water dripping from his sodden curls and eyelashes. Gently, Hutch reached up and tapped his friend on the shoulder then turned off the water. Starsky jumped and turned, seeing Hutch as if for the first time.

‘Jeez, Starsk. Why didn’t you tell me about your back? Where else did they get ya?’ Hutch demanded, seeing the unfocussed eyes. His partner turned and looked down staring at the multiple cigarette burns marking his chest and stomach.

‘Didn’t seem important’ Starsky replied in a monotone. ‘S’ok. Doesn’t hurt…..nothing hurts any more’ he smiled sadly.

Hutch held out a towel. ‘Oh God Starsk! You’re a mess. C’mon buddy, get outa there and come and sit down, you’re freezing. Let me see your back huh?’

Mechanically the brunette took the towel and wrapped it round his hips, obediently following his partner into the living room, leaving drips of water and blood in his wake and sitting upright on the settee. He didn’t flinch as Hutch examined his still bleeding back; didn’t even seem to notice what was going on.

‘You need stitches in some of those. We gotta get you to the hospital. ….Starsk!’ Hutch tried to get through the numbing fog that seemed to be clouding Starsky’s mind.

Slowly the indigo eyes turned to him. ‘Don’t want to go to the hospital Hutch. Don’t want to go anywhere. Doesn’t matter any more. Nothing matters any more, she’s dead’.

Hutch pulled his partner to him and rocked him, staining his shirt with Starsky’s blood. ‘I know, buddy, I know you’re hurting. But Gemma wouldn’t want this. She wouldn’t want you to give up, would she? I’m gonna call Huggy’s friend. Ya know, the doctor? Will you let me at least do that?’

Hutch took his friend’s silence to be a yes and made the call before coming back to sit with his partner. Starsky hadn’t moved and was visibly shivering now as the cool air got to his bare, damp skin. Gently Hutch draped another towel around his shoulders and forced a brandy into his hand.

‘Drink. You need it’ he said, nudging the glass to the cold, blue tinged lips.

‘Do ya wanna talk about it? What did they do to you, and for how long?’

Starsky sipped at the harsh liquor, then rested the glass against his forehead as he closed his eyes. ‘Dunno……few hours maybe. They beat me’ he said as if that simple explanation would be sufficient for his partner to understand the battle field of his back.

‘And these?’ Hutch pointed at the raw red burns dappling his chest and stomach.

Starsky looked down as if seeing the wounds for the first time. ‘I couldn’t stop ‘em’ he whispered and closed his eyes again. For the next quarter of an hour Hutch tried to get his partner to talk about his ordeal, hoping it would somehow ease the man’s suffering, but it seemed as though a shutter had come down in the tortured mind and Starsky remained silent.

Chapter 20

Within half an hour, Huggy’s doctor friend, Ethan arrived, knocking and poking his friendly face around the door.

‘Knock, knock’ he called as he let himself in, seeing the two men sitting together on the settee. He saw the brunette’s still trembling body wrapped in fluffy white towels that were now streaked in blood, and knew that once again they’d gotten themselves into trouble. It didn’t surprise him that Hutch had asked for him to call He’d know both detectives for a long time now and understood that sometimes hospitals were the wrong place to get patched up. Both men had had far too many dealings with those establishments and neither relished the antiseptic atmosphere nor the over zealous doctors, asking too many questions. Ethan understood that sometime, they needed quiet to begin the healing process.

He saw Hutch shake his head and he moved into the kitchen as the blond followed.

‘So, what’s he gotten himself into this time? Or do I not want to know?’ Ethan asked.

‘Got himself mixed up with some pretty heavy turkeys over at the docks. They had a bit of fun with his back and he also has some burns….look like they’re from cigarettes’ Hutch ground out, angry at the damage that had been inflicted on the brunette. ‘And Ethan, his girlfriend was killed. Be gentle huh?’

The medic nodded, understanding not to ask too many questions. ‘Will he let me treat him, or at least look at him?’ he asked looking back at the curly haired cop who hadn’t looked up or acknowledged his presence in any way.

‘I sure to God hope so’ Hutch said with feeling. ‘When you see the state he’s in, he’s gonna need something. Where d’ya wanna start? Lets get him onto the bed’.

He walked back to the living room and bent down next to his friend, lifting Starsky’s chin to look into the stormy eyes. ‘Starsk? Ethan is here. He’s gonna take a look at ya. Remember? You said I could call him?’ There was no response and so with a sigh, gently Hutch pulled the brunette to his feet and ushered him into the bedroom. Ethan had found a clean sheet and had laid it on the bed.

‘C’mon buddy, lie down here’ Hutch encouraged, patting the mattress and made Starsky lie on his stomach on the bed. The injured cop lay down unquestioning, his arms outstretched in front of him, but still without a word. Ethan softly took the towel from around the bleeding man’s shoulders and whistled when he saw the wounds.

‘Well they did a real job on you pal. You seriously pissed someone off’. He saw the blank look in the blue eyes and understood the cop was hurting as much inside as out. Usually, no matter how damaged he was, the brunette could find a wisecrack to ease the tension, but not this time. Ethan started work, setting out his equipment alongside the body on the bed.

The medic brushed a curl from the brunette’s forehead. ‘Dave, I’m gonna clean your back now. It’ll be cold and it might sting. Will ya let me do that? Huh? I’ll be as quick as I can, I promise’. There was again no answer, so he got to work, Hutch holding the outstretched hands as Starsky still held his arms above his head. As Ethan took hold of a the bottle of Milton and poured some of the murderous fluid onto a clean gauze pad, Hutch’s mouth twisted in a grimace of sympathy for his friend, knowing just how much it would hurt, but Starsky never flinched, even when Ethan scrubbed a little too heavily at the torn and battered flesh. It was as though the man that was David Starsky had left the body and the medic was working on an empty shell. Even when he inserted the stitches there was no real response. Starsky just lay with his eyes fixed on Hutch’s, unblinking, but not connecting, until the job was done. Finally laying a large gauze pad over almost the whole of the brunette’s back and covering the wounds, Ethan motioned for Hutch to go outside with him. The blond followed.

‘I’ve done as much as I can for his back. The burns on his front will heal fine on their own. But it’s what’s in his head that needs mending more ’n’ anything. Man, he’s hurtin’ and he needs help’, the medic declared, shaking his head.

‘I know’ Hutch said, sadly. ‘He’s been through a lot. I’ll do what I can for him. Don’t worry….and Ethan? Thanks’. He watched as he got into his car and drove off, then turned and made his way back into his apartment.

Starsky was still lying where he’d left him on the bed. He hadn’t moved a muscle and the inactivity worried the blond. He’d seen his partner angry, upset, drunk and in pain, but he’d never seen him just….be, as if he was waiting for orders because he couldn’t think for himself any more. He nudged the cold bare shoulder gently. ‘Hey Starsk, c’mon and get warm huh? Just come and sit down in the living room’.

Without looking up, the brunette got stiffly to his knees and shuffled off the bed, following his partner into the other room and sitting down again on the settee. Hutch hated seeing his usually hot headed partner so…compliant. All the fight had gone from him and it scared the flaxen haired cop. This wasn’t Starsky; it was just an empty shell. Feeling as though he needed to do something - anything he went into the bathroom to collect his clothes, angrily pushing the blood stained tee shirt and jeans into the washer and wondering at the small black leather pouch, battery pack and electrode. Shaking his head, he made a note to ask later. He finished his chores and sat beside the brunette.

There was a long silence and Hutch thought Starsky would never speak. His eyes were closed and he still trembled, his skin cold and bluish although the room was quite warm. Hutch sat by his side and waited, and eventually he heard the merest hint of a whisper.

‘I loved her’

His heart skipped a beat. ‘I know ya did buddy. And she loved you too’ the blond said softly. There was another long silence.

A sigh ‘I can’t do this any more’ Starsky turned sad eyes on his friend.

‘What? What can’t you do?’

‘I can’t give my love to anyone any more…. hurts too much. They all go away’ he murmured, his eyes staring into the distance.

The lump in Hutch’s throat hardened. What could he do to help his partner? What could he say to make this better; to ease the pain? What would Starsky do for him? When Van had died it had been different. He’d fallen out of love with her a long time ago and Starsky had treated him for the shock of seeing her murdered body, but he hadn’t had to comfort him to the same extent. The time for comforting, where Van and he were concerned, was long gone. So what was the solution? What would a good friend say or do?

He was at a loss. His arm and head ached with a vengeance and he longed for a shower and bed himself, but no power on earth would make him leave his partner in this state.

He closed his eyes, fighting down the panic and inadequacy he felt and a memory came unbidden to him - Starsky’s kitchen, a game of Monopoly and a drunken conversation about a soccer team. The thought crystallised and he stood, walking into the bedroom. He picked up one item from his dresser and rooted through his drawer for the other He came out a moment later carrying the two things.

Hutch sat down by the brunette’s side and handed him the soft cream teddy bear Terry had given him. Starsky looked at the stuffed toy, recognising it immediately and took it with a sad smile, burying his face into the warm fur, then hugging it to his chest. His gaze went back to Hutch.

The blond opened the crumpled, well thumbed piece of paper in his other hand and read it, his voice trembling.

To Hutch I leave Ollie and Dave.

Don’t let either of them change.

He put the paper down. ‘You’re David Starsky. You have such an enormous capacity for love that I can’t begin to understand why you would want to give it up. I know it hurts now buddy and it’ll keep on hurting for a while yet. But then you’ll have your memories and the hurt will fade. You can’t have the memories without the hurt. What you had with Gemma…it was only short, but it was special. You can’t really mean you wouldn’t want the chance of that sort of happiness again. I won’t let you – I can’t let you – I made a promise to another brunette a while ago.

The injured man’s eyes stung as he blinked back the tears. Very slowly his body crumpled against the big blond and he twisted his fingers into the collar of his partner’s shirt, sandwiching the bear between them. Slowly the tears started to flow and his body shook with big wracking sobs for what seemed an eternity. But slowly they dried and as the damaged body collapsed into an exhausted sleep against him, Hutch knew his partner had made the first step on the journey back to healing. He had no doubt eventually Starsky would find love again, but it would take time.

Over the next two days, however, Hutch wondered if his preliminary assessment was correct, and whether he was the right person to help his partner. That night he’d stayed with Starsky’s fingers grasping at him for an age and had then virtually carried the brunette to the bed, easing him in and watching as the blank eyes slowly closed and Starsky slept.

Several times during that night Starsky had woken in pain, once crying out Gemma’s name into the darkness. Hutch was immediately there with the pain meds Ethan had left, but the mourning cop refused to take them, so that by morning, he was pale, sweating and trembling. Finally Hutch had lost his temper and forced the pills on his friend, feeling both relieved at the sleep they brought with them, and angry at himself for making his friend do something against his will.

For the rest of that day, and the next, Starsky lay on his stomach on Hutch’s bed, never moving, not speaking and only communicating with his partner in monosyllables to say if he was hot, cold, tired or thirsty. By the end of the second day Hutch was at his wits end and exhausted.

On the morning of the third day, Dobey telephoned and as they spoke about Starsky’s lack of progress and the worry Hutch had for his partner, and idea started to materialise. Later in that day, there was a knock on the door.

The brunette had had another silent, non responsive day. Hutch had taken the gauze pad off his back, now that the wounds no longer bled and had covered Starsky lightly with a cotton sheet, but there was no reaction, no connection, no Starsky wisecrack. It panicked the blonde to realise just how deeply his partner’s pain ran and he hoped his idea would work.

He opened the door and the three visitors entered quietly. Dobey ushered his daughter Rosey into the room as she pulled her small trolley carrying the guinea pig in its new house.

Hutch bent down to talk to the little girl. He and Starsky had known her all her life and were even her God parents. Both men loved the little live wire dearly and she, in return, doted on them.

‘Hiya Rosey, how are you?’ Hutch asked as he helped her out of her jacket. She threw her arms round Hutch’s neck.

‘Hi Uncle Ken, I’m good. I brought Louise, like you said. Is Uncle Dave sick?’ her little round face creased in concentration.

‘Yeah, he’s sick. Some bad men hurt him and he’s real sad’ Hutch explained, seeing her struggling to take it in. ‘They’re gone now. Your Daddy took care of that, but St…Uncle Dave is very sad because his girlfriend died and they hurt him too. We wondered. Do you think you can cheer him up?’

She nodded, clearly proud of her mission and without pausing went to the bedroom door, reaching up to the handle. Dobey and Hutch watched as she went into the dimly lit room and crossed confidently to the bed.

She walked around the bed until she could see Starsky’s face, but his eyes were closed. She gently put out a podgy little hand and brushed it through his hair.

‘Uncle Dave, are you asleep?’ she whispered.

The unfamiliar voice seemed to penetrate the fog clouding the brunette’s mind and slowly his eyes opened and he looked at the little girl.

She smiled at him. ‘Uncle Ken said you were sad’ she said in the direct way kids have of coming to the point.

Starsky’s eyes opened a little wider and he managed the shadow of a nod. Rosey climbed up onto the bed and put her arm round his neck, resting her face in his curls. She always liked his hair because she said it tickled her nose when she kissed him and it always smelled warm and comforting. She pulled away and looked at the healing wounds on his back, gently tracing one with her little finger.

‘Uncle Ken said some bad men hurt you. Does it hurt a lot?’ she asked.

The question seemed to spark something in the injured cop’s mind and he turned slightly in the bed so that he could see the little girl better.

‘Yeah, it hurts’ he mumbled as he reached out to run his fingers through her black hair.

‘I had to go to the doctors and he bandaged my knee when Cal pushed me out of the tree house. That hurt, but the doctor said a cuddle would make it alright. Do you want a cuddle Uncle Dave? Daddy says I give the best cuddles’.

Stiffly Starsky lifted his arm and she insinuated herself beneath it, wrapping her small arms around his neck as she planted a kiss on his cheek. The brunette smiled into her eyes, seeing only love and childlike innocence. No hurt, no pain and no evil. It seemed so long since he’d just been able to enjoy the simple pleasures and he sighed, relaxing against the little body as Rosey continued to prattle about her school, her brother and her new pet. It was so normal, so comforting and so…..ordinary.

Outside the room, Dobey and Hutch shared a beer as they waited for Rosey. She’d been gone a long time and they were on their second bottle when slowly the door to the bedroom opened. Hutch turned to see the little girl holding the big man’s hand as she guided the brunette into the living room. He looked pale and he walked stiffly and slowly, but a small light seemed to have rekindled in his eyes and Rosey was excitedly pointing at the trolley on the ground.

‘Look Uncle Dave, I brought her to see you. It’s Louise’.

His face cracked into a shadow of a smile and he bent slowly down, the little girl at his side to better see the guinea pig.

‘Ya got a hutch’ he said, his voice raspy and dry.

Hutch looked up. ‘Yeah Starsk? You wanted me?’

A ghost of a grin flashed across the handsome face. ‘No, not Hutch. She’s got a hutch….for Louise. Will ya listen just once in a while Blintz? In your terms, she’s gotten a condo for the rat!’

As the brunette and the little girl kneeled by Louise’ cage, Hutch wallowed in the pleasure of hearing the rebuke from his brunette, for the first time in such a long time, there was a spark of fire back inside that curly head. This was it. With relief he realised this was the first step on getting his partner back again.