Asking Too Much

Chapter 1

A hand reached out and trailed disconsolately over the picture of a tall blond guy with the beginnings of a blond moustache. The picture showed the blond smiling, laughing up out of the image and mocking him. Hutch. It had been four and a half months now since Starsky had seen his partner. 18 weeks, 126 days, over 3000 hours 181440 minutes. Too damned long. Starsky missed Hutch like Laurel would miss Hardy. It wasn’t right to be separated. They were partners and being apart left the brunet feeling edgy, moody and distinctly off kilter. He looked at the picture again and smiled back at it. How’re ya doin’ partner? Are they treatin’ ya ok? Do you miss me as much as I miss you? Putting the photo back, he stretched, hitched a breath and cradled the bruised, cracked rib he’d sustained three days ago. The drunk he’d been chasing didn’t want to be caught. Starsky had been pissed as hell and had launched himself in a flying tackle and had taken the gun wielding maniac down, but not before the perp had got in two good jabs at his ribs. He kneaded them tenderly. Wouldn’t have happened if Hutch had been there!

Cursing under his breath for feeling maudlin and deciding he really needed to get a life, David Starsky shouldered into his holster, checked his Smith and Wesson model 59 and inserted it into the soft leather keeper, made sure both gun and holster were invisible beneath his cream windbreaker jacket, snagged his keys and closed his front door, trotting down the steps and out to his beloved Torino. At least some things never changed, and if Hutch wasn’t there, at least his other constant partner, his set of wheels wouldn’t leave him. He paused for a moment and patted the roof top of the car affectionately, snorted at his own behavior and got in. Gunning the engine, he jammed his sunshades on his nose against the early morning glare of the sun and turned the car in the direction of the Metro.

In the long weeks since Hutch had taken the undercover assignment, Starsky had tried to come to terms with working on his own. He knew that pretty soon he’d be joining the flaxen haired cop, but that brought him no solace at all. He’d become grouchy, moody and those who were usually happy to be around him had taken to keeping their distance. Starsky was not the most pleasant person to be around while he worried for his partner. He itched to be in there, in the thick of things, by Hutch’s side. He understood why there had to be this gap – so that Hutch could consolidate his identity and get settled into the pattern of his new “job”, but it was difficult. Riding in the Torino without Hutch at his side was like eating an icecream with the wrapper still on – he just went through the motions. But maybe today……

Late last night, he’d had a phone call. The very fact that it was 11:15 had set his nerves jangling and he reached for the receiver with some trepidation. News at that time of night was rarely good and his first thought was that Hutch had been injured….or worse. But it was Dobey on the other end of the phone. The big black man had told him curtly to be down in his office at 8:30 the next morning. Things were moving and they’d had a signal from Hutch to say that the time was ripe for Starsky to get involved. The brunet had gone back to bed with a myriad of thoughts flowing through his head, the foremost one being that although he wouldn’t be able to acknowledge Hutch, at least he’d be able to see him again. That, in itself, made him feel a little easier. At least they could begin to watch each other’s backs again.

Starsky pulled up in his customary place outside the large stone faced building, slammed the door of the car and bounded up the steps three at a time, walking purposefully down the corridor, up the next flight of stairs and along to Dobey’s office. As was his usual pattern of behavior, he didn’t knock, instead walking straight into the crowded office and the quite hum of intense conversation. Dobey looked up as he burst in, checked his watch and snorted to himself. The only thing that would get Starsky to work on time, or even early was the thought of getting back to his partner. The brunet looked around the room, snagged the small brown leather chair with his foot and pulled it to him before sitting down and folding his hands loosely across his lap.

Also in the room were a couple of Narcotics guys, Jiminez and O’Rourke, Mia Van Haagen, a biochemist who Starsky had only met only once before and Ivan Simmonetti, on detached duty from IA. The brunet nodded a curt greeting to them all with the exception of Simmonetti. He hated the man, and the feeling was mutual, and when Dobey had first told Starsky and Hutch that the IA man wanted to get back into active work again and would be joining them on the operation, they’d both registered protests which were noted and duly ignored.

‘Now we’re all here’ Dobey started ‘We got news last night from Hutchinson that Madame Lilly is making her move. She’s building her empire up slowly and is ready now to take on competitors. He let slip Billy Shapiro’s name and she’s interested. Starsky, this is your cue to get in there’.

‘Where and when?’ the brunet asked.

‘The “when” is tomorrow evening. The “where” will be at Le Quatre Seasons, the new French restaurant in town’.

‘Fine. What do we know about her? Anything new?’

‘She’s one tough cookie. So far three of the smaller dealers have disappeared, we have no idea what happened. We know her bank balances have tripled and so far she’s met with two smallish shipments. There’s a bigger one due in soon’.

Jiminez handed the brunet a set of glossy black and white pictures. He thumbed through them, his heart giving a small lurch. Each one showed his partner, dressed uncharacteristically in tight blue jeans, an open necked shirt and loafers. A black revolver could clearly be seen wedged into the waistband at the back of his jeans. Hutch’s moustache had grown thicker and made the handsome golden face look older some way. Added to that was the slightly longer hairstyle and the obvious loss of weight and the total showed a man living on his nerves, looking exhausted and frazzled. All the pictures showed Hutch with other men on Lilly’s protection team and al showed Hutch armed and ready to fight. In a couple, the blond sported bruises on his face or arms and in one he was wearing his left arm in a sling. Damn! Hutch was tough, but just how much of this could he take?

They’d talked about who would take which role in Operation Wildfire, which had been planned for months and despite Starsky telling his smooth blond partner that the role of “heavy” did not sit well with Hutch, the flaxen haired cop as adamant that this time, he’d go into the situation first. Starsky had argued for two hours straight, but at the end of that time, Hutch took off the next day to become Cal Gibbons, ex wrestler and the new heavy to Madame Lilly’s empire.

The curly haired cop dragged his attention back to Jiminez, laying the photos down on his lap.

‘Everything’s going according to plan. Lilly has settled into Bay City. She’s spent the last three months making moves on the smaller suppliers and so far she’s either enlisted them willingly or they’ve been persuaded. Those who haven’t fallen in line have been found either in the bay, or are probably under the piles of the new freeway that’s being built’.


‘She’s anything but cute’ Jiminez warned. ‘She’s one hard nosed bitch and you need to be careful Starsky’.

‘Ya mean Billy Shapiro needs to be careful’ the brunet grinned, speaking of his alter ego.

Jiminez didn’t smile. ‘I’m serious. Be careful. Hutch has started mentioning Shapiro’s name, we’re sure of that, and the word is, she’s anxious to meet’.

‘And that’s where I come in’.

‘Uh huh. You have a date set for tomorrow evening, so before you go in, there are some things you need to know, and some stuff you need to get ready. First off’ the Narcs man handed the brunet a wad of bills. ‘Go get yourself some decent threads’.

Starsky looked down at his faded blue jeans and his windbreaker. ‘Not what Shapiro would wear?’ he asked with a grin. He felt easier now that finally he was on the move.

‘Not exactly, no. Go get yourself a set of suits, shirts, shoes, the lot. You’re a sharp, established dealer. You have a reputation for being cool, arrogant. We hired you a black Bentley convertible to use and you have this bank account’. Again Jiminez handed him a paper with a number written on it. ‘It has a half a million in there. There’s more if you need it’.

‘What’s the second number?’

‘That’s the telephone number to get in touch with the safe house. Hutch has the same number. I want you to memorise it, then destroy the paper. If either of you need it, phone this number and someone will be there to pick you up, no questions asked. To be used in an emergency only’.

The cop studied it, memorizing it - 555 4522. His heart gave a lurch as he thought about Hutch also memorizing it and hoping against hope that he wouldn’t have to use it. Hutch hadn’t told him about it. But there again, once the decision had been made for the blond to go in, he hadn’t had chance to speak to him about anything. The Nordic cop was one of the best at getting into character for undercover work. Starsky himself wasn’t far behind. They could turn their hand to most things and over the course of their career they’d played roles from dance teacher to biker to stand in on a movie set. But none of those roles had meant as much as this. The Narcs boys and homicide had spent nine months setting up the operation to trap, arrest and put behind bars Madame Lilly Matteu. She was young, ambitious, successful and ruthless and if they pulled this off, the single most lucrative drugs pipeline between Colombia and LA would be effectively blocked.

‘Gotcha’ Starsky confirmed as he tore the telephone number from the paper and handed that portion back to Jiminez. ‘So, I meet her at the restaurant tomorrow night. Then what?’

‘She’ll have the manpower to take you back to her HQ if she likes you. You’d better make damned sure she likes you’.

The curly haired cop grinned easily. ‘Hey, what’s not to like?’

Jiminez snorted. ‘You can’t play you. You’re gonna be Mr cold and calculating, got it? And for Gods sake, whatever happens, when you see Hutch, you can’t speak to him, is that clear? One wrong word and nine months of planning goes out the window’.

‘I know, I know, I aint stupid. I done this before. Trust me’.

‘We trust you, we just don’t trust Lilly. She’s a wild card. Unpredictable. She’ll eat you up an’ spit you out. She has three deaths to her name so far, Don’t make it four huh?’

‘It wouldn’t be my first choice, no’.

‘Any more questions?’

‘Yeah, anyone got any food? I’m starvin’.


Billy Shapiro parked his black Bentley Continental right outside Le Quatre Seasons, threw the keys contemptuously to the parking valet and walked with a swagger into the restaurant. He looked devastating. Back suit, sharply cut by Armani to accentuate his slim hips and muscular chest contrasting, strongly with the simple linen shirt and plain sky blue tie. For once, Starsky had foregone his comfortable blue Adidas sneakers in favor of Grenson slip ons with a high black polish and a hit of gold detail on the instep. A sky blue handkerchief poked out of his breast pocket complimenting the outfit.

Those who knew Starsky would never have recognised him as the powerful, self assured drugs dealer now walking into the restaurant and the clothes made him feel the part exactly.

At the door there was a small lectern holding a large leather bound appointments diary and hovering by it was a man wearing a black tail coat.

‘Oui Monsieur. Vous avez un reservation?’

Starsky glared at him and nodded.


‘Matteu or Shapiro. Take your pick’.

‘Ah oui Monsieur. Madame Matteu has taken one of our private rooms’ he pointed with an outstretched hand. ‘Please follow the hallway. Second door on your left’.

Starsky nodded once, not even looking at the minion bind the desk. He walked slowly and purposefully down the corridor as directed, round the corner and as he stopped outside the door he was suddenly pushed full force into the wall. The breath was driven from his body by the force and rough hands pulled his arms until they were splayed on the wall by the sides of his head. He winced and bit back a groan as the same rough hands patted him down, grinding into his damaged rib as the pistol drilled its way into his spine, but finally the search ended and he was let up.

Starsky turned slowly and stared into Hutch’s crystal blue eyes without flinching. As the door to the private room opened he summoned all the contempt he could muster.

‘Take your fuckin’ hands off me, or next time I’ll break your fingers one at a time’ he growled.

Hutch stopped as the brunet turned to face him, their eyes locking, silently communicating.

‘Gimme your piece’ the blond grunted.

‘Ya gonna make me?’

‘Oh yeah’. Hutch pushed his partner back against the wall, his hand patting down the black suited body until his fingers closed on the brand new Beretta. He withdrew it from the soft chamois leather holster, his hand lingering fractionally longer than was necessary. They both needed the contact, but it had to be brief. Starsky’s face remained cold although there was friendship and warmth in his eyes.

Good to see ya again Blondie

Watch your back Starsk.

The brunet gave an imperceptible nod, turned, and walked into the cosy room.

Hutch followed him in, gun still pointing at his partner’s back as Starsky walked forward hand outstretched to the petite blond woman sitting in the chair by the fire.

Chapter 2

Hutch put his big comforting hand into the centre of his partner’s back and pushed Starsky forward into the large cosy room none too gently, closing the door and standing with his back to it. The brunet’s new Beretta was snugly nestled into his waistband and his own Glock pistol was held loosely in his right hand, arms folded and back straight. As Starsky/Shapiro looked back at him seeing the epitome of the “heavy” the brunet’s face held what others would class as contempt and what Hutch read as a message. S’ok, we’re back together again. Piece of cake huh?

Starsky turned his back on Hutch and looked slowly around the room. It was large and square and multi functional. At the end the furthest away from the door, there was a super sized bed, dressed in pale shell pink satin and heaped with cushions and pillows. It was a four poster and the curtains that hung from the rails were white muslin held back with matching shell pink ties.

The pink theme was carried through the décor in the darker tones of the thick pile carpet stretching across the room, into which a large pale ash desk sank up to its castors. The pale wood housed a table lamp, desk diary and pen set, all tidily arranged along with a small rose vase and single deep pink rose. Across from the desk was an ornate white alabaster fire place arranged with logs even though it was the height of summer and the air conditioning could be heard whirring in the background. Right in front of the fireplace four easy chairs were arranged, two each side of a marble topped coffee table holding a cigarette box, an ornamental lighter and a tray with a cut glass decanter and two tumblers.

Sitting in an easy chair facing the door, Madame Lilly sat prim and cross legged, appraising her visitor.

Standing no more than 5’2” tall, she was paper slim, her small rather pointed face looking out from beneath white blond hair, piled into a loose chignon at the back of her head. Lilly believed in understatement and wore plain but perfectly cut black slacks, a white satin long sleeved blouse open low at the neck and Gucci sandals. A single white diamond hung from a rose gold chain around her neck and mirrored the single emerald cut stone on the third finger of her right hand. The nails of her fingers and toes were perfectly polished in deep pink and finished her ensemble perfectly. She smiled with a smile that did not light up her face and indicated a seat opposite her.

‘Mr Shapiro, I presume. Please, sit down. Make yourself comfortable’.

Starsky walked forward, his usual strut exaggerated as he looked around with feigned indifference. His dark suit stood out starkly amidst the pale decorations of the room and he knew the cut of the jacket and his understated gold jewellery accentuated his dark hair. He’d dressed to impress and the woman was definitely taking notice. He walked slowly to the chair and sat down, crossing his legs easily and resting back, the ankle of his left leg resting easily on his right knee. One hand rested on the arm of the chair, the other he flung expansively back until it was resting on the low chair back. Only once he was completely comfortable did he bother to look at the woman.

‘Nice place’.

‘Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home’ Lilly said. ‘It’s just something I bought on a whim. The restaurant is good for entertaining and I like to live, as it were, above the shop’.

‘Gives a good cover story huh? Look can we get rid of the goons?’ Starsky looked behind him at Hutch and the three other guards, all ranged along the back row. The four men stared straight ahead, unblinking.

She threw a dazzling smile his way. ‘I think they’re decorative, they stay. As for this place, do I look like I need a cover?’ Lilly bent over the table to chink the glass together and poured Starsky two fingers of Scotch. As she bent, she gave her visitor a clear view down her blouse revealing two pert but unsupported breasts. Starsky stared for a moment, took the glass from her hand and raised his eyebrows slightly.

‘No, everything seems fine to me’.

The petite woman sat back down, curling her legs up beneath her so that she nestled into the chair like a cat who’d got the cream. She took a tiny sip of whisky and appraised the man opposite. ‘I’ve heard a lot about you Mr Shapiro’.

‘All of it good I hope’. Starsky took a chug of the fiery amber fluid and held the glass lightly in his right hand. With his left, he pulled back his cuff and looked at the gold Rolex Oyster round his wrist. ‘Shall we cut to the chase? I’m a busy man. Why d’ya want to see me?’

‘I like a man who gets down to business. No idle chat, no wasting time. Ok Mr Shapiro……or may I call you Billy?’

‘Mr Shapiro will be fine, Miss Matteu’ Starsky said coldly. He had a bored look on his face, enjoying the look of challenge he saw in her eyes. It was the woman who usually did the playing, but now she’d met her match and despite the seriousness of the situation, Starsky was beginning to enjoy himself. Behind him, Hutch winced inwardly. For Gods sake be careful Gordo.

‘Very well. I’ve heard from my associates that you have several contacts who could be quite useful to me back east. You seem to have quite the little enterprise going for you’.

He raised his eyebrows lazily. ‘Ten million US per year. Not enormous, but it keeps me ticking along. I have everything I need. Cars, yacht…….women’ he said, the edge of challenge in his voice.

She nodded. The dollar signs almost flashing in her eyes. ‘I was wondering. While you’re staying in Bay City would you like to use my guest house? It’s so much more comfortable than some of the hotels we have here. I’d be honoured if you’d be my guest’.

He looked at her quizzically. ‘Why?’

‘Why not? Call it a goodwill gesture, one business associate to another’.

Starsky leaned forward and put his glass down on the table, his indigo eyes narrowing as he looked back at her, his gaze never wavering. ‘That’s bullshit!’ he grinned coldly. ‘If we’re both businessmen of the world, we both know ya don’t get sumthin for nuthin. Don’t insult my intelligence lady. Spit it out. Wha’d’ya want?’

She sat back, contemplating him. There was something about the raw animal passion of the man that drew her to him. She was good at her business. Some called her cold hearted and calculating, the more plain speakers called her a bitch. But she appreciated hard nosed deals and the aura of power surrounding Billy Shapiro turned her on like a caplet of amyl nitrate. She wanted his business and, she admitted, she wanted him. She wanted him to crawl to her, to beg her, to romance her and ultimately to give her exactly what she wanted.

‘I admire single mindedness Mr Shapiro, so I’ll come to the point. I have a fair organisation here. Not quite on the scale of yours, but it’s a living. I have contacts up and down the west coast from Seattle to San Diego and they’ve proved more than useful. But I’m sure you’ll appreciate that there’s only so far I can go with them before I need to……shall we say expand. And that’s where you come in’.

‘You aint tellin’ me anythin’ to keep my attention’.

‘Well, I think I can cut us a deal which will be mutually beneficial. I know you have a lot of contacts back east. Your operation has been going a lot longer than mine and I’m sure you’d like to expand too. Some of your contacts are already here, and I know you’d appreciate the wisdom of keeping them sweet. It’s such a cut throat world we live in’ she paused, holding up the glass as she licked her lips.

‘I’m not here for games lady. I can handle my own contacts. I don’t need some woman tellin’ me how to run my deals’. Starsky started to get up to leave but she put her feet down to the ground and held out a hand.

‘I didn’t mean to insult you. I was trying to offer you a solid business proposition. I share my information with you and you share yours with me. With more and more stuff coming in from Colombia and New Mexico I thought you might like a slice of the action down here too’.

‘And in return? Seems to me lady, like you’re gettin’ the best outa this deal. You’re the one who’s gonna be feedin’ off my name an’ my reputation. No deal!’

‘Not even for a 50/50 split?’

‘You’re crazy! What the hell sort of incentive’d make me give up half my client base to you? Ya want easy money, the city’s cryin’ out for hookers. I’m sure you’d succeed. I’m outa here’. Starsky got up and started to walk towards the door seeing the way blocked by Hutch and three other heavies, all fingering their weapons ready for action.

‘No-one leaves till the boss says’ one of the black guards muttered, his hand on Starsky’s shoulder.

The brunet brushed it away angrily and turned and stared at the woman contemptuously. ‘Ya gonna call off your gorillas?’

She nodded at the four men by the door and they parted. ‘I’m not that easy to brush off Mr Shapiro. I don’t take no for an answer. Not at first. Why don’t you reconsider? Take some time huh? The guest house is still yours if you want it’.

‘I got a place’.

‘Call me tomorrow then’ she pressed. ‘Think about it over night’. She ran her hand over the front of her blouse, her nipple rising and poking up through the soft satin. ‘I could make it worth your while. I think we’d work well together. Call me tomorrow. I’ll be waiting. Boys, why don’t you show Mr Shapiro to the door?’

Starsky stared at her hard. He admired someone so hard nosed that even with the insults he’d thrown at her was still up for cutting a deal. Turning away with exaggerated slowness, he walked out into the hallway, wishing he could have a couple of minutes alone with his partner.

Hutch had watched the whole interplay between the brunet and his woman boss. He’d seen just how ruthless and calculating she could be and he winced inwardly as he listened to Starsky pushing her further than he’d heard anyone push before. It felt so odd and out pf place to hear the usually easy going brunet playing the hard man. It was so out of character that for a few minutes during the short interview, Hutch almost forgot that this was his partner of seven years speaking. Starsky was so into the role that the blond felt utterly convinced for minutes at a time that he really was Billy Shapiro, big time coke dealer from Rochester, New York. He waited for the explosion as he heard some of the things Starsky had said to Lilly. She was not noted for her patience. But even when the brunet was playing a role, he could still get under someone’s skin, the animal magnetism and charm of the man winning over even the hardest of characters.

The group of five walked down the hallway, Starsky in the middle of the four guards. He desperately wanted to speak to Hutch. His partner was so near, and yet so far away. In all their years working together they’d never been separated for so long at a stretch and sappy as he admitted it was, he wanted just a few words now that the adrenaline was wearing off.

Starsky reached into his jacket pocket, pulling out his black alligator wallet and purposely dropped it on the floor. Halting the small cavalcade, he bent down to pick it up, causing hutch, who was at his rear to bump into him. his credit cards and money scattered over the carpet and the blond bent down to help him scrape them together.

‘Nice goin’ Hutch mumbled quietly. ‘Good t’see ya’.

The blond’s hand brushed his as Starsky grunted out loud ‘Hey, hands off Blondie. Keep your digits where I can see ‘em huh?’ As he looked round into Hutch’s face he winked before standing up and walking unconcernedly out into the restaurant.

Chapter 3

Starsky nodded to the doorman of the hotel, flipping the keys of the Bentley to the parking valet as he passed without a second look. The young man on duty caught them deftly and eyed the smooth black auto with approval. One of the better aspects of his job – getting to drive the beautiful cars that came his way. The doorman winked at the cop and Starsky winked back. Although he was the sharp suited dealer, he’d won over the uniformed man on the door with a few “in” jokes and the occasional packet of cigarettes. It paid to be cautious and who better to tell him of what was going on at street level than the man who stood the door for 8 hours per day. Tonight Starsky slipped him a packet of 20, patted the man on the shoulder and headed inside. He was tired, the rush of adrenaline from his first meeting with Madame Lilly leaving him feeling light headed and dizzy. But at least he’d managed to see Hutch and he and his partner had had some interaction, albeit brief and a little painful. The brunet rubbed his sore ribs and snorted. The look in Hutch’s eyes when he realised Starsky had been hurt said it all! The care, the concern – they were all still there in bucketfuls and just seeing the compassion in those crystal blue eyes had been like balm to his overwrought imagination. The blond looked thinner, and tired, but he was at least still in one piece.

One of the perks of his undercover persona was that Billy Shapiro knew how to live. The real Billy was being held by the FBI somewhere in the wilds of Indiana at a special holding facility until Lilly’s operation could be busted wide open and Starsky was enjoying his alter ego to the full. As the biggest drug dealer in New York, he enjoyed the finest of everything and now Starsky took the private blue carpeted elevator up to the penthouse suite of the Bay City Hilton, leaning relaxed against the wall with his arms crossed until the doors swished open into his personal heaven.

The suite consisted of a huge bedroom containing a king sized water bed swathed in crisp white linen and dark blue blankets. The bathroom was large enough to hold a ball in it, luxuriously appointed with marble and gold and there was even a small sitting room with three piece suite, desk and chair and the largest screen television that Starsky had ever seen. Kicking off his fancy shoes, he padded over to the bar and poured himself a shot of tequila, downing it in one before replenishing his glass and sitting down by the side of the telephone.

His long fingers danced over the buttons, calling the number he’d memorised by heart. He waited for the clicks and whirs on the line signifying that this, and every call he made, were to be taped before finally a familiar voice came on the line.

‘How’s it hangin’ dude?’ Carlos Jiminez had a fondness for Motown music and anything “black”, including trying to emulate the speech. He was Puerto Rican and the mix didn’t quite allow him to pull it off, but Starsky recognised “dude” as probably the closest thing Jiminez got to friendly, so he went with it.

‘We met’.

‘And you dealt?’

‘Not yet. Gonna play her out a while first. She a tough cookie, she needs handlin’ gently’ the brunet said, rubbing at his feet to return the circulation. The only thing he hated about Billy Shapiro was that the dealer didn’t wear sneakers. His feet ached viciously.

‘What the hell? This aint no game dude! You were supposed to agree to her terms tonight. What the hell are ya playin’ at?’

‘I’m playin’ my part, an’ I know what I’m doin’. What up Carlos, don’t ya trust me all of a sudden?’

‘I trust you’re a fuckin’ idiot sometimes’.

Starsky gripped the phone tighter and his voice lowered taking on a deadly serious edge. ‘My partner has been in there for four months asshole. I might look like I play fast an’ loose, but not with Hutch’s life. If this thing is gonna go down we need to start trusting each other some. I was in the same room as her tonight. I can read her an’ she needs to be played ok?’

‘We need this deal closing fast’

‘And you’ll get it. I left her with a flat refusal tonight. Now she’s gonna be like any woman. What she can’t have, she wants more than ever. I make contact again tomorrow an’ I have her eatin’ out the palm of my hand’

‘You’d better’.

‘Hey, would I lie? Just have the money ready for me tomorrow huh? Corner of Chandler and 5th. I’ll do the rest’. Starsky put the phone down and drank down the rest of his tequila. Its had been a difficult first night, but now he’d seen Hutch again and he was pretty sure he had a handle on Lilly, he felt reasonably confident that he had things taped. Draining his glass, he got up, padded into the enormous bathroom for a shower and got into the huge bed. Within minutes, Starsky was sound asleep, a small smile playing on his lips.


The tall blond guard stood to attention next to his black friend in Lilly’s room as the woman stalked imperiously towards them. The black man shrank back visibly as she approached but Hutch stood his ground, staring straight ahead as she looked up into his face.

After Starsky had left that night, she’d ordered him and Bo to follow the brunet, making sure they knew where he was holed up. Hutch knew damned well which hotel they’d be using, the set up had been planned to the nth degree months ago and so, with the big black man in the truck with him, he’d done everything in his power to look like he was tailing the Bentley while using his years of experience to actually lose him. It was harder than he thought, but Hutch thought he’d pulled it off pretty well and judging by the cursing Bo did on the way back to the restaurant he was terrified of what the diminutive woman would do.

Lilly looked at her two men, letting her stony gaze fall first on Bo and then on Hutch. She seemed to come to a decision and coldly, she looked the black man in the eye. ‘If you fuck up on me again, you’re gonna be eating your balls for breakfast’ she told him, poking her pink painted nail into his biceps, The goon probably couldn’t even feel the sensation through his muscles, but he shook visibly, knowing she wasn’t just using a metaphor. More than one of the guards had been found dead in the Bay and he was hoping to live to see his next birthday.

‘I’m sorry Miss Lilly’ he muttered looking like a puppy dog who’d been kicked into the middle of next week.

‘Get out’ she dismissed him and without a backwards glance at Hutch, he turned and left the room. The blond stood his ground, his eyes remaining fixed on a painting hung on the far wall. Lilly walked around behind him, trailing her hand across his back and feeling his muscles bunch beneath her touch.

‘Tell me how you managed to lose him at this late hour with hardly any traffic on the roads’ she asked softly, her breath warm on his arm.

‘Well, um….it was um. There was a game on and the um, the….c crowds were ah….’ Hutch’s explanation was cut short as long fingers insinuated themselves between the buttons of his denim shirt, pulling the poppers open one at a time. He stood stock still as Lilly continued to invade his shirt, pulling it free of the waistband of his tight jeans. ‘We um….we…’

‘Continue. I asked you a question’ she said sultrily, her fingers now working at the button on his jeans. Hutch took a deep breath, trying to focus his mind on his cover story. This was definitely not the way he expected tonight to play out. He’d braced himself for maybe being worked over by one of the other goons. Lilly didn’t tolerate fools gladly and he’d certainly not done what she’d ordered. But her fingers were working lower and with a sigh he decided to make the best of it.

Hutch’s hand went automatically to the woman’s arm, but she batted him away, impatiently. ‘I asked a question. How come you lost him?’ she asked, the fabric of his jeans now parted and beginning to work it’s way down his legs. Hutch swallowed, his voice suddenly husky and uncertain, his stammer, which he usually kept under tight control now making it’s reappearance.

‘B ball game. The c crowd were um…..the g game was over and we ahhhhh’ her hands had found the centre of his body and she grinned as she held his burgeoning erection in her hand. She gave his package a playful tug and Hutch’s knees started to buckle. Using his cock as a lever, she pulled the blond towards the bed and with the family jewels still firmly held in her hand, he had no choice but to follow. Shuffling out of his jeans and leaving his shirt in a puddle on the ground, he following meekly as she perched on the edge of the bed. She looked up at him towering over her, taking in the hard, flat stomach, the golden tanned skin and the flaxen hair haloed in the backlighting from the single lamp behind him.

Slowly, she let go and peeled off her blouse and pants, never taking her eyes from his as she lay down on the bed. She patted the mattress next to her.

‘Make yourself comfy’

Hutch looked uncertain, as though she’d knife him as soon as he got down. She saw the indecision in his eyes and smiled.

‘It was the other dickhead I was mad at, not you. C’mon, I won’t bite. I like a little blond once in a while’ she looked at his body and grinned again. ‘But there’s a little blond and then there’s you!’

Hutch had the decency to blush. It was a long standing joke in the showers at the Metro that he was nothing if not well hung, but to have the woman blatantly point it out seemed too much to contemplate. He had the urge to cover himself but he resisted, instead cocking his eyebrows at her.

‘I don’t get it’.


‘Why me? Why now?’

‘I’ve been watching how you handle yourself. You’re not like the others. There’s something about you. You’re not just brawn, I think there’s brains there too. And I like what I see. More to the point, when I like what I see, I usually get it!’

Hutch looked at her petite figure, her haired gently mussed against the pillows on the bed. Who was he to argue with his boss? He sighed.

‘I’m not that easy’.

‘No? That says differently’ she pointed to the centre of his body, his erection pointing straight out like a ramrod.


‘So come over here now and I can show you my appreciation’.

Hutch snorted. ‘Whatever you say ma’am, but will you still respect me in the morning?’ He climbed onto the bed, but as he started his exploration of her body she slid out from beneath him. Springing up she straddled his body and grasped his arms pinning them above his head. He could have got the better of her at any time, even though she was surprisingly strong, but Hutch lay and stared up into her beautiful lavender eyes. She smiled down at him, a tigress ready to ravish his body and bent to kiss along the line of his neck.

Lilly bit down onto Hutch’s neck, above his jugular, kissing and sucking it like a vampire would search for food. Relinquishing her hold, she continued lower, licking and biting at the line of flesh down his neck and onto his chest leaving red passion bruises behind her. Hutch answered with kisses of his own, arching his back as she took a nipple between her teeth and worried it gently.

Letting go his arms, she sank lower, rimming his navel with her tongue before dipping lower to lick along his length.

Hutch moaned, balling his fists into the sheets on her bed. This was so not what he’d expected and his body, which had gone without any sort of female company for four months was now on sensory overload. As she took him into her mouth his hips thrust upwards answering her and seeking more access.

Deftly, she rose and repositioned herself, looking straight into his eyes as she sensually lowered herself on to his waiting cock. Hutch’s self control fizzled out and with a rough shout, he abandoned himself to the sensation of being sheathed inside her. Above him, she rode him like a horse, rocking her hips in time to his rhythm and milking him for her own pleasure. Twice she slowed to a near stop, allowing him a brief respite to prolong their sex before setting up an even more frantic rhythm again until he couldn’t contain himself any more. He’d never had a woman so powerful and who could take him so fully. In the past he’d always been scared of hurting his women and had held back for fear of damaging them. But with Lilly, there was no such fear. She accommodated the whole of him and he found a wonderful freedom in allowing himself to let go. With a final thrust he cried out in his petite mort and sagged back, utterly spent against the pillow as she collapsed on top of him, her own body satiated.

For long minutes they both lay still, gathering themselves and basking in the post coital glow. Eventually Hutch raised his head and looked down at the woman still balanced on his smooth chest. She looked back at him but with eyes as cold as the Arctic.

‘Nice fuck Gibbons. Now, get dressed and get out of my site. And tomorrow, find Shapiro and bring him back to me. We have a deal to cut’.

Chapter 4

The next day, Starsky dressed carefully again, a navy blue suit and palest blue silk mix shirt this time set off by a crimson tie. He looked himself up and down in the mirror, straightening his cuffs and making sure the gold cufflinks shone brilliantly. Not a vain man, the brunet still liked to look good and never before had he worn a suit on so many consecutive days. It made him feel different, somehow more confident and he was reminded of a line from a book his Mom had made him read as a kid. Atticus in “To Kill a Mockingbird” had once said that to understand a man you should walk a mile in his shoes. Well he didn’t care much for the Grensons, but the Armani and Gucci suits made him feel a million dollars and every inch the powerful drug dealer known as Billy Shapiro.

Checking himself one last time and applying a little Santos de Cartier aftershave as a final embellishment, he made his quiet way down in the elevator to the ground floor of the Hilton, had a few friendly words with Gary, the daytime doorman and asked for his car to be brought around to the front. Two minutes later he got into the gleaming black Bentley turned on the quiet engine and set off with a rubber burning start. He loved the car dearly but even the burr walnut interior, the smooth gears and the quiet purr of the 4 liter engine couldn’t take the place of his Torino and he sighed as he nursed the car through the early morning traffic towards the west side of the city and to his meeting with Jiminez. As he looked in the rear view mirror he saw, four cars back the familiar dark blue car Hutch had been driving. He chuckled grimly to himself. Lilly was nothing if not cautious. S’ok Blondie. I’ll make it easy for ya an’ stick to the speed limit huh?

Jiminez! Now there was the fly in his ointment. Jiminez and his new sidekick Simonetti. Starsky had a long history with the IA cop who’d recently asked to be put back out onto the streets. He’d thought Simonetti was one of a kind, but he seemed to have found a soul mate in Jiminez, and neither of the cops seemed to be able to trust Starsky further than they’d be able to throw him. Sure both the brunet and his blond partner had some “creative” methods of solving their cases, but they got results, and in the process they had earned the respect of a lot of the lower lives in the City. But those methods were not to Simonetti and Jiminez’ taste and several times, the Puerto Rican had openly criticized Hutch’s part in the undercover assignment and had expressed his concern over whether Starsky could pull it off. On each occasion, they’d been given a quiet but thorough tongue lashing by Dobey and told to go on their merry way, leaving Starsky feeling vindicated and a little easier. He knew his methods were unconventional, but they worked. It counted for a lot to be able to rely on some of the snitches. It was those flakes with a foot in both camps who could give the detectives the leads they needed or pointers on who did what, where and why.

Checking that Hutch was still tailing him, he turned down a side street, giving plenty of signal time as he made the maneuver. This was critical and he didn’t want to have his partner lose him now, not when he was going to meet Jiminez. He drove the car halfway down the street, parked up by the sidewalk and got out, looking casually around him as he did so. With an easy grace, he straightened his tie and cuffs, put on his sunshades and walked back up the street and ducked down an alley to the prearranged location. He grinned to himself when he saw Jiminez siddle out of a doorway to his left and follow him as he walked towards the undercover cop. The Puerto Rican was dressed in shabby jeans, a dirty white tee shirt and and a navy blue jacket and looked distinctly uncomfortable in the threads that were so different from his usual dapper appearance. Behind him, Starsky could hear a car come to a smooth stop and without turning around, he knew that his shadows had arrived.

Taking that as his cue, he crooked a finger at Jiminez, signaling the cop to walk slowly towards him. Jiminez started to walk and Starsky stood still, hands on his hips, every inch the self possessed, confident dealer.

He waited for a split second till the Puerto Rican was close enough. ‘Right there punk. You got sumthin for me?’ he asked in a voice that was not loud, but would carry sufficiently for his purposes.

‘Uh huh. Boss said to deliver to you and you alone’ Jiminez played his part perfectly, his eyes shifting around as though casing the alley.

‘Do I look like I want conversation? Hand it over’. Behind him a heard a piece of paper or some sort of trash crumple under a quiet foot and without turning round knew he had the company he’d been expecting. Jiminez looked over his shoulder in mock fear.

The brunet took that as his cue and quick as a snake striking, he lunged forward and took a hold of Jiminez by the collar, slamming him against the rough stone wall of the alley. He leaned his body into the slim frame. ‘What’re ya waitin’ for punk? I asked you a question.

Jiminez had his face mashed against the concrete, his profile facing down the alley away from the approaching goons. ‘Easy. Don’t enjoy this too much Starsky’ he muttered. Out loud, he let out a nervous laugh. ‘Its here. It’s right here, Inside pocket’.

Starsky leaned his face close to his captive’s ‘Gotta be thorough. Wouldn’t want ‘em to suspect anythin’ would we?’ he said softly and with a grin. ‘Hands where I can see ‘em’ he said out loud and patted Jiminez’ jacket down, reaching inside for a white envelop containing his money. He took it and stowed it in his own inside pocket of his jacket before taking delight in cuffing Jiminez around the head with an open hand. He snorted at the surprised yelp. ‘An’ be more respectful next time punk. Now fuck off’.

The big Puerto Rican yelped again, took one look over his shoulder and disappeared up the alley at a fast lope just as Starsky heard the sound of a gun cocking behind him. Slowly, as though he hadn’t a care in the world, he turned and stared coldly at the three men who surrounded him. Hutch, Bo and another guy were in a semi circle around him and he looked from one to the other with contempt, hands held loosely by his sides and head slightly on one side, as though weighing up options.

‘Guys. Ya got nuthin better to do than to follow me around the city huh?’

‘Madame Lilly wants a word’ Bo said firmly.

‘Yeah? She must have heard my reputation if she has to send three of ya to get me. I’m flattered, or I would be if she’d sent real men an’ not Larry, Curly an’ Mo’ as he said the last he poked Hutch in the stomach almost playfully. Their eyes locked briefly and Starsky read the concern and something else in the crystal blues. For Gods sake don’t push too far babe.

Bo indicated Starsky to walk back up the alley to their blue car parked blocking the entrance. As they got level with it, the black guard took hold of the cop’s arm and spun him around so that he landed face first doubled over the hood. The breath whistled through Starsky’s teeth with a quiet “whoof” as he felt rough hands patting him down. They seemed to take great joy in being more than thorough over his sore and bruised ribs and by the time they’d finished, Starsky knew he’d have a streak of damp fabric down the back of his shirt from the sweat inducing search. He remained quiet throughout and finally Bo divested him of the white envelope with the money, his Beretta and the Bentley’s keys. The latter he threw to the third guard while he steered Starsky to the back door of the blue car.

‘Get your hands off me’ the brunet growled.

‘Shuddup an’ get in’ Hutch pushed him. Starsky watched as the third man walked towards the Bentley.

‘Hey, bozo. Drive nice with my car ya hear? I won’t be happy if ya scratch my paintwork’ he shouted after him.

Hutch pushed him again. ‘I said shudup an’ get in’.

‘An’ I said take your filthy hands off of me’ Starsky retorted, smacking Hutch’s arm out of the way and getting into the back seat. He watched thankfully as Hutch got in beside him. Bo got into the front driver’s seat, started the engine and pulled slowly away.

The remainder of the drive was done in silence. It wouldn’t do for the dealer to be seen conversing with the hired help, but it felt good to be sitting by his partner again. Surreptitiously Hutch took a sideways glance at the brunet and could hardly repress the chuckle. In the past four months he’d become so absorbed in becoming Cal Gibbons that it was only at the dead of night when he’d had time to wonder what Starsky was doing or how he was. Now he took in the sharp designer suit, the silk shirt and tie and the steely look in the brunet’s eye. He’ always admired the way his partner could absorb himself into a character, but this was his finest performance yet and a million miles away from a New Yorker with a penchant for jeans, sneakers and beef burritos.

Hutch had had a tough time. Going in as a hired heavy he’d had to prove himself from the start and he’d thanked his lucky stars for the time spent on the high school wrestling team as Bo and the others tested him to his limits. He’d had his injuries, but he’d also had his compensations, last night being no exception. It was obvious he was the brightest of Lilly’s bunch and she seemed to appreciate brawn that had brains with it too. On several occasions she’d come on to the blond, culminating in last night’s performance. Hutch was in no doubt that she wanted him purely for his body, but abstinence was not something he was used to and he’d got as much relief from the encounter as she obviously had. It was almost perfect, lust and sex with no ties. What every man dreamed of.

The car drew up outside Le Quatre Seasons and Hutch nodded his head for Starsky to get out and follow Bo into the restaurants deserted interior. It opened to the public only at night and now there were just two waiters and the chef going over the night’s specials by the bar. None of them looked up as the three men walked purposefully through to the back room. Bo knocked on the door and at the quiet “come in” opened it for Starsky to walk through. He did slowly, standing just inside the door, arms relaxed at his sides and a small smile on his face.

‘I told you I’d be back. Did ya have to send the dogs for me?’ he asked quietly.

Lilly sat by her desk, pen in hand as she looked at the handsome dealer.

‘I missed you’.

‘I’m flattered’.

‘Please, sit down’ she said softly, rising and walking to the chairs by the fireplace. The white negligee floated around her as she walked and the feather trim skimmed the floor. Her eyes never left the dealer’s face. Starsky walked further into the room, dropping down gracefully into the chair opposite her. He looked back at Hutch and Bo. ‘Do we need the audience?’

She flicked a nod at the two men and they left, only Starsky seeing the fleeting look of concern on Hutch’s face. It had been so much easer when Starsky hadn’t been involved. He’d only needed to think about himself then. Now he worried for the brunet, knowing just how many risks the smaller man would be willing to take to get the job done. The door closed, Lilly turned her attention to her visitor. She’d been thinking about the handsome sable haired man all night. In fact while she’d been riding Gibbons to oblivion, she’d been imagining what Shapiro would feel like beneath her, and she resolved to find out soon.

‘Tea?’ she asked.




‘I was curious to know what your answer would be’ she said, sitting back and crossing her legs neatly.

‘I told you my answer. I’m not the sort to change my mind readily.

‘How would you feel about a 60/40 split? Would that change your mind?’ Lilly rose from her chair and came to sit by Starsky, resting her hand lightly on his blue suited leg.

‘Sounds better’. He said calmly. He ignored the hand and she redoubled her efforts.

‘The guest house is still free. Perhaps you’d reconsider that offer at the very least. It’s so much more……comfortable. Better furnishing, bigger beds……and closer to my restaurant’.

‘My hotel’s fine’.

‘Oh but I insist’ she said huskily, her fingers trailing northwards towards his crotch. Her eyes were hooded and dark and invited sex and secrets, willing Shapiro to come back to the bed with her now.

He sighed ‘If you insist. Maybe for a couple of weeks huh? Have your goon deliver my car back to me, give me my gun back and we can talk’ he said, his voice amazingly level considering her fingers had now reached almost to the bulge in the front of his pants. His eyes however, never flickered.

‘And the deal?’

‘You make it sound more interesting. 60/40 and I skim off the best shit for my own. The rest you can do what you want with’.

Lilly leaned forward, putting her hand up to Starsky’s face and pulling him gently round until he faced her. Her eyes searched his as her other hand started to work at the buckle on his expensive leather belt.

‘I knew you’d come around’ she whispered. ‘Maybe we should celebrate. Consolidate our assets?’

‘And what did you have in mind?’

She smiled at him, he tongue flicking out to run across her slightly parted lips. Lavender eyes glinted. ‘I think we should get to know each other a little better’ she whispered. ‘Now it looks like we’ll be business partners it wouldn’t hurt to…..’

Starsky looked long and hard into her eyes, reading the lust there and he snorted to himself. He sneered at her callously, roughly pushed her hand away and stood. ‘I never mix business and pleasure. Leads to too many complications’ he said as he walked to the door. ‘Send the address to my hotel room. You know where I’m staying. I’ll move in this afternoon’ He pulled open the door and stepped into the hallway, leaning his head back against the wall to regain his composure.

Inside the room, Lilly sucked in a breath. She was unaccustomed to being rejected. Most men saw her as a stepping stone to success if nothing else. But this Shapiro guy? ‘Damn’ she whispered, walking unsteadily to the desk to pour a whisky. Well, there would always be nights at the guest house.

Chapter 5

That afternoon, Starsky drove the Bentley up to the front gate of a long drive and waited till the driver of blue car in front pressed buttons and the electric ironwork swung back, allowing them admission. Lilly’s guest house was not the humble little residence she’s outlined to the brunet. As he swung the car along the crescent shaped drive and drew to a halt with a swish of tires over blinding white gravel he looked up at the imposing façade of the two storey house. It was a white stucco place with symmetrical windows facing onto the drive and a central mahogany front door. It looked like the sort of mansion owned by a cotton trader and its grace and favor frontage oozed appeal. Starsky got out of the car slowly and walked up the three front steps as the blue car pulled up a little way off. Hutch got out and walked back to the house, his fingers on his lips as Starsky turned to greet him. He shook his head miming bugs and unlocked the front door. Together they walked into the grey and white marble hallway.

The blond grinned at his partner and walked off into the large kitchen, switching on the radio and the tap, sending the water gushing noisily into the sink. He turned.

‘How’re ya doin’ buddy?’ he said softly.

‘Better for seein’ your ugly mug’ the brunet responded, taking a step forward and enveloping Hutch in a bear hug embrace. Hutch returned the greeting and then held the smaller man at arms length.

‘Lookin’ sharp’ he observed.

‘And you aint up to your usual sartorial elegance’.

Hutch snorted and looked down at the tight pale blue jeans and the skin tight black tee shirt. The pounds he’d lost over the past months accentuated a flat stomach and broad shoulders and made him look somehow older but no less handsome. ‘Nah, Got these outa your closet pal’.

‘Uh huh? Well they’d look better on me, but there again, most things look better on me’.

‘God, I missed ya!’

‘I bet. No-one to level the wisecracks at huh?’ Starsky’s eyes sparkled with friendship. It felt good to be able to get the banter back after the months without. On the very few occasions Hutch had managed to get away, he reported direct to Dobey and had had to high tail it back to Lilly without time for the two of them to catch up. Both guys had missed the other keenly and even though the situation was dangerous, it felt so good to be able to talk, touch and offer the friendly insults they thrived on.

Hutch looked uncomfortable, his eyes showing concerned. ‘Starsk, when I frisked you yesterday. You were hurt’.

‘Its nuthin’.

‘Didn’t look like it’.

‘Jeez Hutch! I had an argument with some drunk. He objected to me takin’ him down to the tank ok? Tapped me on the ribs’.

‘Bruised or cracked?’

‘Bruised…..cracked. God I missed ya’. Starsky looked around. ‘So, this is Lilly’s hide out huh?’

‘Yup. This is where she does most of her wheelin’ an’ deelin’. I’ve seen some of the toughest guys I know come out of here after a night with that vixen lookin’ like they’ve been chewed up and spat out’.

‘She can’t be that bad. Seems like a pussy cat. She was comin’ on pretty strong this mornin’, but I turned her down flat. She was goin’ crazy’. The brunet chuckled.

Hutch’s mind went back to the previous night. ‘Oh yeah she can be pretty special in that department’ he muttered, the meaning hanging heavy in the air. Starsky raised his eyebrows.

‘Ya didn’t!’

A huge grin split the blond’s face in two ‘Gotta get me a bit of fun. All work and no play……’ His face turned serious. ‘Be careful buddy. I know ya want to push, but not too hard. She’s one tough lady. Dangerous. She has the connections and she has the heavies. Hey, we should um…..turn off the water huh?’

Starsky nodded. ‘I’ll be careful. An’ besides, I got you to back me up. How much trouble can I get into?’

Hutch batted him playfully on the head. ‘Plenty, you know that! C’mon lets get ya unpacked. The big boss lady said I had to make sure you didn’t need anything’.


‘Within reason Mr Shapiro Sir’ Hutch said with a grin and turned the water off, leaving the radio playing in the background.

They looked around the guest house together, talking little now that there was no distractions to fend off the listening devices which were undoubtedly planted around the place. Starsky’s directions to the blond were cold and monosyllabic although his face expressed warmth. Hutch understood perfectly and played the slightly subservient although ultimately tough guy to the hilt.

The place consisted of two reception rooms and a large hallway leading onto the kitchen downstairs and three large bedroom each with their own bathroom upstairs. Starsky opted for one decorated in deep blue. It faced out over the front of the house and from there he had a good defensive view of any visitors he might get. They’d just finished exploring and the brunet was starting to unpack when the telephone rang in the hallway. The curly haired man walked out and picked it up returning a moment later as he crooked a finger at Hutch.

‘Hey, Blondie. Your boss wants ya’ he said coldly. Hutch rolled his eyes silently and hurried out to the phone. Starsky heard a muffled conversation and Hutch mumbling yeah a few times before he put the phone down and came back in to the bedroom, a worried look in his eyes. Starsky V’s his eyebrows in question and the blond picked up a pen and wrote swiftly on the pad on the dresser.

Got to go. One of the smaller dealers didn’t pay.

Lilly’s ordered us to persuade him.

Hate this shit.

Out loud he coughed once as though attracting Starsky’s attention. ‘Is there anything else? I have other places to be’.

Starsky wrote his own addendum to the sheet of paper and angled it so that Hutch could read it.

Be careful buddy. See ya.

‘Fine by me. Close the door on your way out. An’ if you see your boss, tell her thanks for the house huh?’ Starsky flipped a wave as Hutch nodded and left. From the window on the first floor, the brunet watched his partner get into the blue car with a heavy heart. He hated this. They should be working together instead of flying off in opposite directions. He sighed, turned back to the opulent room and started to hang up the suits in the closet.


Hutch drove out of the gates with a heavy heart. He’d participated in one of these “encouragement” sessions once before and although he hadn’t personally laid a finger on the guy he’d been forced to watch as Lilly’s three other goons had worked him over pretty badly. So badly, in fact that he’d spent five days in intensive care and had lost his hearing as a result. Now he wondered which unlucky sod was the next victim, and would he be able to slide into the background in the same way? He sighed. Seeing Starsky that afternoon, albeit for just a few short minutes had made his day seem lighter some way. He recognised that it was sappy, but being apart from his partner felt like his right arm had been cut off. It wasn’t natural. He’d once asked the brunet what he would think of a male/male relationship where the partners were with each other for 75 percent of the time. Would they be gay? Starsky hadn’t answered outright and instead had asked who he was talking about. Hutch had explained their circumstances and yes, they did spend at least 75 percent of their time together, but they were in no way lovers. Just the very best of friends and a well oiled law machine when they worked together.

The blond pulled the blue car up outside the disused factory over on the south side of the city. It was the usual place for meetings like this and as he got out, he saw Bo’s black pick up truck parked by the doorway. Hutch walked over to the large back door and pushed it open looking around cautiously before going inside and closing it behind him. Inside, the place had a small wood paneled entrance hall. To the right were a set of offices and to the left a door which gave out onto the saw mill. Old sawdust littered the abandoned floor and the machinery that had proved to be someone’s fortune maker for years now stood idle and rusting. Saw horses, table and band saws stood in serried ranks across the floor and at the back of the large open plan room Hutch could see Bo, Ramp and Mel all in a group around a smaller man.

With a heavy heart, Hutch walked over to join the group, his heart giving a lurch as he realised the fun had already started. He immediately recognised Rats McGuiness as the man in the middle of the group. Not only did he know him from Lilly’s operation, but in the past he and his partner had pumped Rats for information on drugs shipments and the little man had been more than co-operative. Hutch’s concern that he could be recognised, however was short lived as he saw that Rats had been bound hand and foot and was blindfolded. The little dealer had his head thrust back as though he were trying peer beneath the strip of material across his eyes and as the flaxen haired cop got closer he could hear the man’s nervous pleadings.

‘Guys, guys, ya got me wrong. I didn’t do nuthin. I didn’t do nuthin at all’.

‘Shuddup punk. Boss lady says ya haven’t paid up for this months shit’. Bo kicked out at the bound man and as his toe connected, Rats squeaked and lost his balance. He fell heavily to the round and stayed there, frozen in terror.

‘I can get it. I’m sorry, I can get the money. My woman’s been sick an’ I….’

Bo kicked out again. ‘Do we sound like we’re interested? Ya got the money now?’

Rats licked his lips nervously. Um….no. But I can get it for ya. Just let me go an’ I can pump some of my customers. It’s been a tough month ya know. Money’s tight’.

‘Maybe we should give him a chance’ Hutch said from the back of the crowd. Rats turned his head to the voice and with a lurch of his heart Hutch wondered if he’d recognised who it belonged to. He clamped his mouth shut and prayed.

‘Yeah, yeah, gimme a chance’ Rats agreed readily, struggling to get to his knees. ‘I can get it, I swear. Just gimme a break huh?’

‘Ya had your chance, You were late last month and the boss lady gave you a chance then’.

‘I know, I know, but ya know how things are’ the little man wheedled.

Bo ignored the pleadings and with a sickening feeling in his stomach, Hutch saw the three other goons space themselves out around the dealer. Bo led the attack with a gut wrenching kick to the little man’s back and from there, Ramp and Mel joined in until they were lost in a frenzy of boots and fists, the sound of flesh connecting heavily with flesh loud in the echoing building.

Every fibre in Hutch’s body rebelled against the treatment meted out to the small man. This went against every scrap of training and every part of his moral make up and he fought with his conscience. Did he blow his cover and save the little man now, did he turn his back and walk away and still the three goons would wonder about him, or did he grit his teeth and join in? Shit! He didn’t join the force for this.

In the background, Rats’ cries were getting weaker and at an invisible signal from Bo, the kicking and blows stopped, leaving the dealer bleeding in a heap on the ground. He’d gone quiet and was breathing heavily and noisily through his broken nose, great sobbing breaths rending the air.

Hutch let out the breath he’d been holding. Obviously, the decision had been taken from him. He watched as Bo stretched down his long black arm and turned the little man over roughly. Rats collapsed onto his back, whimpering and in the background, Mel fiddled with one of the machines and hit the start button. Bo and Ramp took hold of an arm and leg each and picked Rats up, carrying him over to the band saw that Mel had started. The sound of the machinery and the loud whirring penetrated the dealer’s pain and his head quested from side to side as Bo dumped his body on the table and he and Ramp tied him securely to the flat table.

‘Please….’ He mumbled indistinctly through his broken mouth. ‘I can get the money, I know I can….please?’

Bo ignored the pleadings and grinned down at him, a cold leer on his face. ‘Too late punk. The boss lady don’t like defaulters. Bye’. He flicked a switch, setting the blade moving towards the bound man’s body as Rats started to cry out and struggle on the table, tearing at the bonds holding him still.

Hutch closed his eyes against the horror of it and heard Bo, Ramp and Mel began to walk away. He followed, his heart heavy as the terrified screams filled the air in the old factory. At the door of the building he made his decision.

‘Shit, dropped the car keys’ he said loudly, patting himself down dramatically. ‘Catch ya back at the restaurant’ he said as Bo and the others got into the pick up truck. Bo gave him an odd, almost pitying look, set the engine in motion and drove away as Hutch turned back into the factory and bolted into the saw shop. Rat’s screams were still rending the air, but he was getting weaker and Hutch ran over to the saw, the blade now mere inches from the little man’s head. With a trembling hand, the blond flicked the switch to the off position, watching in satisfaction as the circular saw blade started to slow. It stopped with only a half inch or so to spare and Rats gave a final whimper.

‘Who’s there?’ he whispered, no energy left to summon his voice.

Hutch bent down over him, wincing at the terrible bruises and cuts over his body and face. But at least he hadn’t been sawed painfully and slowly in half. He’d survive.

‘No-one ya need to know about. Shuddup, get yourself home an’ lay low’ he hissed urgently, leaving the small man still tied and now in a dead faint.

Chapter 6

Starsky slept well that night, not least because he’d seen Hutch and verified that if not in the very best of humors, the blond was at least alive and functioning and, he had to admit, looking damned good. Satisfied that Hutch was ok, the brunet decided that if he was supposed to be Billy Shapiro and used to the good life, then at least he should use the facilities he’d been more or less forced to use. So, shortly after Hutch had been called away, he’d gone downstairs, opened the fridge door and spotted ribeye steaks there. Those he grilled and partnered with a baked potato and then he discovered the wine cellar. Choosing a nice claret to accompany his meal, he settled down to watch the huge TV screen for the night. About 9:30 Lilly telephoned and he grinned to himself as he answered.


‘Billy? Its Lilly. How are you finding the guest house? Do you have everything you need?’ she asked, her voice low and sultry.

‘Yeah, it’ll do’.



‘Is there anything I can get for you? Anything extra? Anything you’re missing?’ she asked

Starsky could almost hear the silent like me coming at him down the phone and Little Davey sprung immediately to attention. She was a beautiful woman and under normal circumstances he’d have not needed asking twice, but he was kind of enjoying being the tease for once and so he quelled his raging libido and straightened his face.

‘No, I’m good’.

‘Coz if there was anything…….any little thing you want, I could bring it over. Or maybe…..would you like to come to the restaurant for a meal? I have a good selection of wines and um……I don’t like to drink alone’.

‘I said I’m fine. Was there anything else you wanted me for? I was about to turn in’.

‘Oh! Well. Um, have a good night’ she said, the startled exclamation evident in her voice. Lilly was not a lady used to rejection and as Starsky put the phone down he couldn’t help punching the air in satisfaction. God he was good! She’d be eating out of his hand by tomorrow night. Maybe tomorrow night, Sunday, he’d invite her over for a meal, candlelight, soft music and then he could take what he wanted, just like the cold hearted bastard he was meant to be portraying.

As he turned in to bed, a glass of vintage champagne in his right hand, his left dipped below the sheets. Little Davey might not be getting much attention from Lilly just yet, but hormones were hormones and he still needed some consideration. He lay back on the fluffy pillows, his dark curls a stark contrast to the snowy white bed linen. His fingers closed around his core and he relaxed, imagination running riot as he thought about the next day.

Late the next morning, Starsky set off from the guest house, the Bentley pulling out quietly from the guest house drive and onto the quiet coats road. He wanted to try to get back to the Metro to bring Dobey up to date with what was happening, and he drove cautiously, thinking about the situation he found himself in. When he’d joined BCPD as a flatfoot nine years ago, he didn’t think he’d be posing as the biggest drug dealer in America, living the lifestyle and driving the huge car. He’d taken the top down that morning and now the wind ruffled his sable curls as he drove one hand on the wheel and the other elbow resting comfortably on the sill of the door. Dressed today in navy blue blazer, white shirt and cream coloured slacks, he felt marginally more like himself. He wondered how Hutch was, knowing the blond had been worried about being called away the day before.

Looking in the rear view mirror as he turned the corner from the coast and towards the city, he caught sight of a black pick up truck about 100 yards behind him. Out of an abundance of caution, he slowed slightly, watching as the pick up turned off the coast road also. Starsky sat straighter behind the wheel and put both hands on the leather, driving in a more focused manner. If he wasn’t being tailed all well and good. If he was, he’d be ready. He pushed the gas pedal hearing the throaty roar from the huge engine and the car surged forward. Whatever he thought about his own beloved Torino, this Bentley could knock spots off it for acceleration and he soon opened up a distance between them, but as he went up the ramp and onto the freeway, he saw the pick up speed up to join him. Damn! He didn’t need this now. He needed to report back.

Determined to lose them, he floored the pedal and shot off through the traffic the needle nudging 60, 70 and on towards the 80 mph mark. Behind him, he could see the black truck struggling to keep up and now that he thought the had the upper hand, the brunet started to enjoy himself. It wasn’t every day he got to drive at speed, the wind in his hair in a low long convertible. He nursed the car through the traffic, passing smaller family saloons as though they were at a standstill, but still the pick up hung on behind him and now another car hove into view.

Starsky had just passed another on ramp when he was spotted by the local cops. The black and white shot out onto the freeway, siren blaring and lights flashing menacingly. The brunet looked in the rear view mirror and cursed. No, no, no, no, not now. Please not now. Unless……

He pushed the gas pedal further, pushing the needle upwards to 90 now and the insistent blaring of the siren got louder as the cop car gave chase. At the back, he could just about make out the black pick up truck struggling along. They could still see him - good. Slowly he eased off the gas pedal, allowing the cop car to gain on him and as it came up alongside, he waved laconically at the uniform and pulled over to the side of the road. As he came to a stop and the cop got out, he saw the pick up pull over 200 yards behind him.

The young uniformed officer, a guy Starsky had never seen before swaggered over to the Bentley and stood a respectful distance from the car, mirrored sunshades on his nose and his baton at his side.

‘Out of the car Sir’ he said clearly to the brunet.

Starsky looked straight ahead, knowing of his cover wasn’t to be blow he needed to make this look good. ‘What for?’

‘You seemed to be having some problems getting the back tires off the runway. You were speeding wise guy! Get out of the car and assume the position’.

Cockily the brunet got out of the car and walked to the front, placing his hands gently on the hood. Behind him, the cop kicked his legs further apart as he started patting his collar down.

‘Easy tiger’ Starsky said as the hands searched up the inside of his leg. ‘There aint nuthin up there to interest ya’. He tried to stand up, but the cop pushed him back down roughly and with an angry shout he turned quickly and caught the cop’s hand in his own. ‘I said careful’ he said, his eyes glittering a challenge at the young guy.

The young cop’s temper snapped and he slammed Starsky back against the car, fumbling along his belt for his cuffs and as he leaned his body into the brunet’s. Taking each wrist in turn and pulling them roughly behind the brunet's back he snapped on the bracelets, leaving the curly haired man leaning heavily on his auto. Secured, he continued his search of his arrest and as his fingers dipped into Starsky’s left pocket, they closed around the small plastic packet and pulled it out, holding the container of white powder up to he light.

‘Well lookee here! Not just a speeder huh?’

‘Ok, ya got me. Ya gonna take me in?’ Starsky asked, glancing back down the road to the truck.

‘Sure am. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right….’

‘To an attorney, yeah, I know the score. Just one thing. If you’re partner’s gonna drive my car back, make sure he knows what he’s doin’ huh?’ With that, Starsky levered himself up from the Bentley and walked confidently to the black and white. Getting into the back seat, he grinned to himself. This couldn’t be better. His street cred with Lilly would go up a notch and if he played his cards right, he’d still be able to get in touch with Dobey.

He said nothing on the way back to the 6th precinct but as he was unloaded from the squad car, he looked around him. There was no pick up truck in sight and now that he was confident he wasn’t being tailed any more, he dropped his guard. He smiled at the young cop.

‘Hey kid, this aint what ya think. I’m a cop too. Names Starsky. Sergeant David Starsky of the 8th precinct’ he said.

‘Uh huh. An’ I’m Gerald Ford. Inside Bozo’ the young man nodded to the door.

‘I mean it’ Starsky growled. Just let me make a call to my captain huh?’

‘You’ll get your one phone call. Better make it good. Possession of coke’ll get ya 2 years’.

‘Listen, kid,’

‘I’m aint no kid of yours. I said shudup and get in there’ the cop took hold of Starsky’s arm and slammed him against the door to the building. The blow caught Starsky’s cracked ribs and he grunted in pain, sucked in a breath and followed the cop docilely inside. Wouldn’t do to be on a dangerous undercover assignment and yet be damaged by the heat!

Once inside, he was shown to a small interview room. The cuffs remained in place and the uniform left as Starsky sat uncomfortably on the chair and waited. He looked around, the room looking no different to any of the eight rooms at his own precinct. White, utilitarian furniture, white sound proofed walls and a large two way mirror or one wall. He sighed, wondering how long they’d let him sweat before someone came to formally charge him. He wriggled his shoulders, a dull ache from the unnatural position starting between his shoulder blades.

Starsky jumped slightly, half an hour later as the door to the small room opened with a jerk. He opened his eyes from his doze and looked up into the big brown eyes of Jiminez. The Puerto Rican scowled at him and he returned the gaze with a deep groan.

'Well aint that a pretty sight?'

'Shit. It had to be you two huh? How’d’ya find me here?’ Starsky was none too happy to see one half of the two thorns in his side. Outside the door he saw Simonetti lurking, an eager leer on his face.

‘One of us has to get with the plan. We were following ya’.

‘And the pick up? Did ya see that?’

‘Pick up? Which……’

‘Oh shit! The pick up driven by Lilly’s goons. Thank God I got arrested. If not you’d have blown my cover for good’.

‘It aint us that’s gonna do that. You’re the one who’s not takin’ this seriously. Such a cosy little meetin’ with Hutchinson yesterday. What if you’d been overheard?

Shuddup an' get me out of these' Starsky growled rattling the cuffs at the cop.

'What the hell were you thinking? This is a joke to you?'

No! Getting arrested is not my idea of a laugh! You however are guaranteed to have me splitting my sides'.

'You're an asshole Starsky'.

'And you're a dickhead, but I don't go round advertisin’ the fact'.

'Do you realise ya put the whole operation in jeopardy?'

'No, I didn't. But you – You have no fuckin’ idea. You and him’ he nodded at Simonetti. You’re bloody useless. Ya call that episode in the alley actin'? My God my kid brother could have done better in kindergarten'.

'I was cautious' Jiminez said defensively.

'No, you were a coward. I've seen girls run away slower than you did'.

Jiminez balled his fists, closing on the brunet who stood his ground, hands still secured behind his back. Indigo eyes blazed at him. 'That’s your style is it? Ya can only deck me when I'm cuffed?'

‘I wish Starsky, I wish!. Turn around’.

Jiminez unlocked the cuffs from the brunet’s wrists and Starsky stood rubbing the feeling back into them. ‘Where’s Dobey?’

‘He’s back at the Metro. Told us to find out what’s goin’ on. So? Spill’.

‘There’s a shipment comin’ in. No idea when yet, but I’ve made the deal with her and she’s offerin’ to let the east coast contacts take 60/40. I’m gonna make my move on her tomorrow an’ then on Monday I should have more for ya. We meet at the pier down the coast, right? Monday afternoon’.

This shipment. How big is it?’ Simonetti asked.

‘Big enough for Lilly and her goons to be getting’ jumpy. I gotta be careful, which means I need to get outa here. Not too quick, but fast enough for it to look like I got good bail contacts. Tell Dobey it should go down some time this week’.

‘And Hutchinson?’

Starsky grinned cheekily. ‘If I get the chance I’ll tell him you were concerned for his safety’.

Jiminez snorted. ‘It’s you that’ll get him into trouble if anyone does’ he started to say as Starsky backed him up against the wall of the interview room. The brunet had a handful of the Puerto Rican’s collar in his fists as he glared into Jiminez’ eyes.

‘You listen to me mother fucker an’ you listen good. Me an’ Hutch’ll take care of ourselves. Just keep your sorry ass out of our way an’ be ready when the time comes. I’m not gonna put my life or my partner’s life on the line to have some two bit, half hearted screw up queer our pitch, got it? Have ya?’ he growled.

Jiminez pulled the smaller man’s hands from his neck, brushing himself down with exaggerated carefulness and sneered at Starsky.

‘You see to yourself and your pretty partner, we’ll do the man’s stuff. Now get outa here’ he said with a voice that was not quite as steady as he would have liked. Starsky stood back, breathing heavily. He pointed a warning finger at Jiminez, straightened his blazer and without a backwards glance headed out of the small room and off up the corridor.

Chapter 7

Bo walked cautiously into the restaurant and crossed the room, knocking on the door at the back as his heart hammered in his chest. Lilly had told him to follow Mr. Shapiro and he’d lost him, although Mel had gone back to the 6th precinct headquarters to do a little snooping. What was he gonna tell the boss lady? She was only petite, but her reputation was fearsome and he’d lost one of his best friends when they’d failed to please her and he valued his life too much to admit defeat. He heard the soft “come in” and was about to enter when Mel came scooting into the hallway to stand by is side. The smaller man grinned at him and winked.

‘I got some interestin’ news’ he hissed.

‘Can it. Wait till after we tell Madame Lilly about Shapiro huh?’

‘Yeah, but Bo….’

‘I said put a lid on it, she’s waitin’ he put his hand on the door handle and slowly pushed it open. Lilly waited inside, dressed today in cream pants and a dark maroon satin blouse. She looked up expectantly as Bo walked in with Mel hot on his heels.


‘We um…Shapiro was um…He got unlucky and the heat picked him up’ Bo said in a rush, waiting for the outburst.

‘When? Where?’

‘We followed him like ya said. Seemed like he was just goin for a drive. We kept our distance but he um….’

‘He saw you?’ she asked, her lavender eyes glinting dangerously.

Bo shuffled his feet in the expensive carpet and took a deep breath. ‘Yeah he um…..I think so. He started pulling away and the local cops pulled him over. I think they found some samples on him too’

‘Shit!’ Lilly stood suddenly and advanced on the two guards who absurdly cowered back from her diminutive frame. Mel coughed.

‘I followed him though, back to the station. He’s out aleady. I waited outside the police HQ for about three, maybe three and a half hours an’ I saw him come out, large as life. Must’a got bail’.

Lilly stopped and considered, her perfectly manicured finger running along her lower lip. She smiled to herself. ‘Well he’s certainly well connected. A new guy in a new town caught with smack and coke, speeding and he still gets out in less than half a day! I’m impressed’.

‘He looked real cool when he left’ Mel pressed home the advantage, relieved at the change in Lilly’s attitude. Her approval and admiration for Shapiro seemed to cancel out the fact that they’d more or less screwed up big time.

Madame Lilly considered carefully. She smiled to herself and turned back to her desk, picking up the telephone. She dialed the number to the guest house and waited for the receiver to pick up. A minute later, Starsky’s voice answered.


‘Billy? It’s Lilly. I hear you had some trouble today’.

‘News travels fast’.

‘I have my intelligence’ she said cryptically. ‘Are you ok?’

‘Sure. I can handle the heat, no problem’ Starsky heard the concern in her voice.

‘I was wondering if um……to ease the tensions of the day, would you like to come to the restaurant tonight? My treat?’

The brunet grinned to himself. Oh yeah, he had her alright. She was putty in his hands. He paused a moment giving her the impression he was considering then finally agreed.

‘Not really. I was kinda hoping for a night in’.

‘Well then, maybe I could bring the food over there? We could be more comfortable then’.

He sighed dramatically. ‘Sure. What time?’

‘Shall we say 8 for 8:30?’

‘Guess so. No earlier. I have things to do’. He put the phone down and heaved a sigh. The idea of the night with Lilly was the perfect counterfoil to having spent the early afternoon with Jiminez and Simonetti. Those jerks, he knew would never forgive him if the slightest thing went wrong, but he knew his game. While not over confident, he knew his craft and he and Hutch had spent more time in undercover situations than virtually any other cops in Bay City. He poured himself a whisky from the abundant bar, added two cubes of ice and loosened his tie. Tonight was his enjoyment. Tomorrow he’d be back to business.

At 7:50 exactly, he heard the key in the front door rattle and voices sounding in the hallway. Lilly’s voice telling someone else to leave the food in the kitchen and then go. He shrugged and opened the bedroom door. Tonight he’d dressed in a white linen suit setting it off with a black satin shirt which he left carefully unbuttoned almost to the waist. Hating the shiny shoes he was forced to wear so much, he opted instead for bare feet and now he padded silently down the marble stairs steps and turned into the kitchen just as he heard a clatter and the most unladylike cursing. Pushing open the door he saw Lilly standing amidst a mess of steak, sauce, vegetables and pudding which had sprayed the floor, the cabinets and her soft blue dress. She looked up as he walked in, a scowl on her face.

‘The floor was slippery. I tripped and….well’ she looked around for a cloth, snagged a pot towel from the door and dabbed ineffectually at the silk dress, muttering under her breath. Silently, Starsky crossed the kitchen and took the cloth from her, putting it down on the worktop. She looked up and he was curious to see a tear in the corner of her eye.

‘It’s ruined’ she said.

‘You could get it cleaned’ he offered.

‘I guess. But it was my favorite. And what am I going to do in the meantime?’ she asked. ‘And the food, it’s ruined’.

The brunet looked at the kitchen floor and smiled. ‘Yeah, I like fillet mignon, not steak a la tiles. Look, don’t worry. There’s cheese in the fridge and a new loaf. We can have that, no problem’.

‘And what am I gonna do with the dress?’ she asked.

‘Go upstairs, take a shower and make yourself comfortable. Then you’ll feel better’ he said gently. She smiled up at him.

‘You look good when you smile Billy Shapiro’.

‘You look great with red wine sauce in your hair’ he responded and turned away to busy himself with the cheese.

Lilly disappeared and he could hear her in the bathroom rummaging in the cupboards he presumed for shampoo, soap and the like. Fifteen minutes later she reappeared at the door of the living room as Starsky lit the candles in the candelabra. He turned to see that she’d taken him at his word and then some and as she walked in he realised she was wearing one of his dress shirts. It hung off her body and just barley covered her assets. Her breasts were very firm and her nipples were already erect and visible beneath the thin material of the shirt. She stood at the door and smiled at him.

‘I needed to find something to wear. I hope you don’t mind’ she said softly. Starsky stood up and looked at her.

‘I think I approve’.

‘You do? Good’.

‘You want wine?’

‘Uh huh. White please’.

Starsky handed her a glass of champagne. ‘Don’t throw it over yourself huh?’

Lilly smiled and took the glass, taking a sip through the bubbles. She sat down on the sofa, drawing her legs beneath her until she was catlike and comfortable. She regarded the handsome sable haired man carefully. He exuded sex, the white pants of the suit fitting his slim hips perfectly and the deep V of his open fronted shirt revealed just enough of the tanned skin and brown fur on his chest to tantalize. Shapiro was a man who had natural sex appeal. He didn’t need to try. He didn’t need the sharp suits and gold jewelry to make him attractive. He simply was.

‘So is this purely pleasure, or are we mixing in some business?’ he asked as he took a glass of bourbon and sat beside her on the sofa. Gently he started to ply his fingers lightly up and down her bare leg. Her skin was smooth and fragrant, Lilly of the Valley soap redolent in the air around her.

‘Whatever you want. I thought after your day, you may need some distraction’.

‘Like I said. I can handle the heat. If ya have the right connections, ya can handle just about anything’.

‘Anything?’ she asked, a hint of a challenge in her voice.

He grinned wolfishly. ‘Oh yeah’.

‘So you’re happy with 60/40?’

Starsky shrugged. ‘Short odds, but beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll take it if that’s all that’s on offer. So long as there are……’ he fixed her with a blinding indigo gaze ‘fringe benefits’.

‘There may well be. The next big shipment is due soon. Want in for that one?’ she leaned into his body and rested her head on his shoulder as his fingers worked their way higher up her leg.

‘How soon?’

‘Is Friday soon enough for you?’

‘This Friday? When, where?’ he asked, concentrating his attentions on her hip. She wriggled to give him better access.

‘The docks south of San Pedro, midday’

Starsky’s hands worked around her hip and ducked beneath the shirt. She wriggled some more and sighed, the glass in her hand in danger of spilling its contents.

‘Careful with that’ he said. ‘You should put it on the coffee table before you spill it’.

Lilly shuffled off the sofa and placed the drink down, turning on her knees and crawling catlike back to the seated man. She insinuated herself between his legs and leaned forward so that she could lean her head against his body as her hands explored his chest and shoulders. She purred like a cat as he ran his fingers through her blond locks and she nestled her cheek against his hand, sighing deeply.

‘How big’s the shipment?’ he asked quietly.

‘Mmm? Shipment? Oh….um, three million, give or take’ she responded huskily, her mind now intent on the lithe muscular body in her grasp. Her hands wandered down his chest beneath his shirt, finding the hard dark nipples buried in the brown hairs. She knelt up and kissed each one in turn, running her tongue around the dark areole before trailing further south towards his navel. As her tongue worked its magic on his front, her hands ran small circles around his back and sides, the nails delightfully scratchy and soft all at the same time.

‘Three mill huh? At San Pedro?’

She stopped, a mouthful of his flesh playfully caught between her teeth. She relinquished it reluctantly. ‘South of San Pedro. The industrial docks. Lets not talk business any more. I want you’.

‘And what you want…..’

‘I always get’ she finished, deftly unbuttoning the waistband to his suit. Starsky leaned back, allowing her access. He’d never before just sat back and given a woman the right to pleasure him. He was the sort of lover who needed to take charge, to make sure that his partner got as much, if not more from the experience than he ever would, but now, with Bay City’s biggest dealer on her knees at his feet, he let his head rest back on the back of the sofa, arms stretched wide and balanced there also as Lilly worked the zip of his pants lower. He closed his eyes and waited.

She took him forcefully in her hand, making him jump reflexively, griping him and pumping his shaft hard three or four times before he felt himself circled by warm moistness. Her tongue was talented and within minutes, his fingers were once again knitted into her hair as he caressed the back of her head, keeping her lips and mouth firmly in place.

‘Oh God yeah’ he murmured as he felt her flick his sensitive tip with her tongue once more and he thrust upwards into her mouth, hearing her moan low in her throat. The vibrations sent him over the edge and his hips bucked again as his hands clamped down on her, holding her steady.

‘Take a deep breath’ he commanded as he felt himself slip over the back of her tongue and into her throat. The sensation was incredible, tight, warm and moist and he felt the familiar tightness in the centre of his body. Wanting to make this last, he pulled out suddenly, lunged forward and took hold of her, spinning her round until she was on all fours and he was positioned behind her.

Without any preamble, he pushed himself into her, groaning as he felt his core sheathed inside her, warm and moist. He set up a steady rhythm, steadily gaining speed until he slammed into her full force, feeling himself building towards his climax. Beneath him, Lilly moaned, her fingers clawing into the deep pile carpet until she felt the man behind her climax with a rough shout. Her climax echoed his own and her body shuddered as the sensations overwhelmed her. Finally she collapsed onto the floor beneath him as Starsky struggled to regain his composure.

He sank to his belly, lying alongside the woman, stroking lines up her back as she shivered in the warmth of the post sexual frenzy. She turned her head lazily towards him and smiled.

‘I think I’m in love Billy’.

Starsky smiled back at her. Now the tension had gone from him he could get himself back into Shapiro mode. He hardened his face.

‘When you’re done, get dressed huh? I’m going out’.

He stood and zipped himself up, running a hand through his curls to put them back in place. From the floor, she looked up disbelieving. ‘That’s it? You’re just leaving?’

He sneered at her. ‘What did ya expect honey? Candies and flowers? This is business aint it?’

‘Um, yeah, but…..’ she sat up, pulling the shirt around her and feeling more stupid by the second. ‘Where are ya goin’?’

‘Like I said, out. I feel the need for some music an’ some dancin’. There’s a new disco opened in town. Maybe I’ll get lucky. Let yourself out’.

Without a backwards glance, Starsky headed for the door, grinning to himself as he heard the mumbled curse behind him. As he closed the front door, he heard the telephone ringing.

Chapter 8

‘And you’re sure?’ Madame Lilly said into the phone. ‘No question?’

‘No ma’am. I followed him to the station and I saw him come out a while later with a pig I know. A guy called Jiminez. They seemed tight, an’ it seemed strange to me that he was out so quick. So I did a little snooping. Seems Billy Shapiro went missing three months ago. His contacts say he aint been around for a while. The guy we got here aint Shapiro Ma’am. He’s a cop called David Starsky’.

Lilly cursed under her breath. ‘A cop? Damn. You did good Mel. Make me even more pleased and see to him huh? Clean. I don’t’ want anything of this to come back to us. I want him gone, got that?’

‘Yes Ma’am’.

‘And Mel?’


‘Make sure there’s nothing left’.

‘Yes Ma’am! Right away’

The woman put the telephone down softly and looked around. Only minutes earlier she’d been cursing Shapiro’s name for leaving her after their hot night of passion. Now she cursed Starsky’s name for the double cross. Well, he wouldn’t get away with it, she’d see to that. No-one got the better of Lilly Matteu and lived to see the next dawn.

Hutch heard Mel on the telephone as he drained the last of the coffee from his cup and prepared to bed down for the night. Since he’d been “working” for Lilly, he’d lived over the shop so to speak and had shared a small room with Mel at the back of the restaurant. It was cozy in the room, but they had everything they’d needed. A bunk each with clean linen, wash facilities in the room and a bathroom right next door. Food was the left-overs from Le Quatre Seasons and so he’d eaten pretty well in the four months, but his loss of weight came from living on his nerves. He couldn’t relax. He was constantly looking over his shoulder and watching his back. He’d already made a bit of an enemy of Bo who found him clever and too competent a shot to put down like he did Mel. Ramp and Mel were simpletons; definitely the muscle of the outfit and until Hutch had come along, Bo had run the security outfit. When the blond appeared on the scene he found his place usurped, especially where Lilly was concerned and he watched jealously as Hutch found his way into her room occasionally.

The flaxen haired cop put down his cup, stripped off his shirt and was about to get into bed when he heard Mel say “Yes Ma’am, right away” and put the phone down. The burly redhead smiled as he turned.

‘Get dressed again Cal. We got us a job to do tonight’ he said excitedly.

‘Damn, I’m all in’ Hutch said softly. The jobs usually meant beating up on some flake who hadn’t paid their due to Lilly and he was not in the mood tonight for another round of trying to stay in the background and work out a way to help the unlucky sucker on the receiving end. ‘Does it have to be tonight?’

‘Uh huh, we’re gonna have us a little fun’.

‘Who is it this time?’

‘It’s a surprise. We’re gonna really enjoy this’ Mel said as he led the way out of the door. He roused Bo and Ramp from their room and without another question, they took the two cars, the blue and the pick up, their weapons and a few other tools of their trade and set off into the night. Hutch drove the blue car, his head in a spin. He hated not knowing what was going on and he hated not being able to do anything about it. But Mel was tight lipped and told him only to drive down to the ‘Angels’ a new disco that had opened in town and not to take too long getting there.

The blond drove swiftly, but within the speed limit and arrived at the nightspot ten minutes later, the black pick up drawing up behind them. As they all got out of the vehicles Hutch asked again who their intended target was and as another car drew up, Mel pointed with a grin.


Hutch followed the gesture and his heart gave a lurch. Getting out of the big black shiny Bentley was a white suited, black shirted figure with a cacophony of chocolate curls.

‘Shapiro? Why?’ he stuttered.

‘Aint Shapiro. He’s a fuckin’ cop’ Mel explained.

‘No, he can’t be. Lilly would’a…..You sure?’ Hutch’s mind went into overdrive. Shit! How the hell was he going to get his partner out of this? He considered just drawing his gun and busting Mel, Bo and Ramp right there. But this whole operation had taken 9 months to set up and to blow it now would mean not only a waste of 9 months time, but also millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money down the pan. No, he needed to think of something else, some way to get Starsky out of the way while still preserving the case.

The curly haired cop had just given the keys to his car to the parking valet and was turning towards the entrance when Bo made his move. Hutch watched in horror as the big black man walked swiftly over to his partner and stood close by the smaller man’s back. Only Hutch could see the gunmetal grey muzzle of the Glock pistol grinding into Starsky’s back, but the cop suddenly stopped, his body stiffening as he seemed to listen to Bo. Starsky’s hands came from out of his pockets and he nodded slightly, turning and walking in front of Bo towards the blue car. Hutch searched Starsky’s face for any sign of pain, finding instead only confusion and a little defiance. As the curly haired cop stopped by the blue car he looked around, a cold sneer on his face as he continued to play Billy Shapiro as though his life depended on it.

‘Shit fellas. Can’t a guy enjoy a night on the town without you gorillas followin’?’ he grunted.

‘Shuddup an’ get in’ Bo spat and pushed Starsky forward so that he cannoned into the car, bracing himself against it, arms outstretched.

‘Lilly aint gonna be happy when she hears about this’. Starsky tried again.

‘Don’t you believe it. She’s the one who told us to pick you up’ Bo continued with a leer on his face. The big black guy was enjoying himself and Hutch felt the aura of danger in the air.

‘Lilly did? Why?’

‘Cos some things aren’t how they seem, are they pig?’

‘Hey, watch your language’ Starsky snapped. ‘You kiss your Mother with a mouth like that? Who are you callin’ a pig?’

‘David Starsky, that’s who. Name ring any bells?’

A split second of fear showed in the troubled indigo eyes before Starsky decided to try to brazen it out. At the side of him, Hutch’s heart sank. Fuck! They knew. His cover had been blown, but by who?

‘You got me so wrong punk. An’ when I see Lilly an’ straighten all this out, they’re gonna find you face down in the bay. No-one treats Billy Shapiro like this’.

‘It’s as well he’s in upstate Indiana then aint it’ Bo said with a final grin. ‘Enough talk. Get in the car now. Cal, drive back to the restaurant. Mel, sit in the back with him huh? If he moves, shoot him’.

Mel nodded and bundled Starsky into the back of the car, producing a pair of handcuffs which he used to secure the brunet to the passenger grab above the door. He drew his gun and kept it pointed at Starsky’s side s the brunet looked ahead. Hutch slid into the front seat, his mind a whirl as he started the engine and drove off, the black pick up hot on his heels. He cast a surreptitious look in the rear view mirror and his partner’s eyes shone back at him, calm, trusting. They’d handle this. They’d find a way out. Because they were together. Hutch hoped Starsky’s complete trust in him wouldn’t be shaken, but right at that moment, he had no idea how he was going to protect the assignment and Starsky at the same time. Something had to give.

‘Where are we goin’?’ Starsky asked, his eyes searching out Hutch’s in the mirror.

‘To see the boss lady’ Hutch replied as coldly as he could.

‘What’s goin’ down?’ And what are we gonna do about it partner?

‘You. You’re goin down’ Unless ya can find a way to stop it.

‘Me huh? Ya think ya can take me?’ I’ll be ready if you get to make a move.

‘No problem. No use fightin’ it. Better to go easy’ Just go with me on this huh? Don’t make it harder.

‘I don’t do nuthin easy’ Starsky grunted, looking in the mirror. You ought to know that Pal. If there’s a chance, I’ll take it.

‘No? Well maybe there’s a time to start’ Starsk, don’t do anythin’ stupid huh? Just go with me on this.

‘Enough talk. You’re gonna need all your breath for when Madam Lilly’s done with ya’ Mel interrupted and dug Starsky in the ribs. ‘Boss lady don’t take kindly to cops swimmin’ in her soup’.

Hutch winced as he heard Starsky’s soft hiss. Mel’s elbow had caught him on his damaged rib and now, with his free hand, he massaged the spot tenderly. Minutes later, Hutch drew up outside the restaurant and as Bo and Ramp pulled up behind and got out of the car, they pulled Starsky roughly from the back of the blue auto and hauled him into the back door of the restaurant and through to Lilly’s rooms. She was waiting, sitting calmly on one of the chairs by the fire, a large whisky in her hand. She looked up as Bo pushed Starsky roughly into the room. He staggered, straightened and stared at her contemptuously.

‘Mind tellin’ me why you sent your goons to pick me up?’ he yelled.

Lilly stood and came to face him. ‘I don’t suffer fools gladly, and I don’t like to be made a fool of’ she said icily.

‘And? If this is about me cuttin’ and runnin’ after the sex darlin’ I was never one to be faithful, ya know. It don’t mean nuthin’.

‘Don’t flatter yourself’ she spat.

‘Then what?’

‘What indeed, Detective Starsky’.

The brunet V’d his eyebrows. ‘What is it with this detective thing? Ya got a secret yearnin’ for some groin action with a cop?’

Lilly drew back her hand and slapped him hard across his face. ‘Don’t insult my intelligence! I admit I was drawn in by your act, but you’re not Billy Shapiro. You’re David Starsky, Detective Sergeant, First Class of the 8th precinct, and don’t try to deny it’.

Behind him, Hutch’s stomach somersaulted inside him. How had they found out? Who’d leaked the information? Shit! How was he gonna get his partner out of this one, and himself for that matter, because if they’d found out about Starsky, sooner or later they were gonna start investigating with the brunet’s partner was.

Lilly looked at Bo who took hold of Starsky’s arms, pulling them behind his back tightly. Starsky stared at her, defiance shining in his eyes now he knew he needn’t pretend any more.

‘Ok ya got me. Lilly Matteu, I’m arresting you for……’ Mel landed a blow in his stomach and he doubled, wheezing and sucking in a deep lungful of breath. He looked up through tearing eyes. ‘supply and possession of cocaine, heroin and….’ Mel struck again, lower and again the brunet doubled over, this time depositing the contents of his stomach on the deep pink carpet.

At the side of the Lilly tutted. ‘Not here boys, out back. Don’t make a mess on the carpet! And when you’ve finished having fun, make sure his cop friends don’t find the body’. She turned, looked at the panting cop one more time, then picked up her glass and walked out of the door and into the restaurant. Behind her Bo grinned evilly.

‘Time for some fun boys’.

Chapter 9

Bo looked around and spotted Hutch standing back from the group. The blond was still frantically trying to find a way to get them out of the situation and his eyes seemed unfocussed and far away.

‘Yo, Cal. Take a hold huh? He has some good shit on him. Be a shame to waste it. Here’.

Reluctantly Hutch walked up behind his partner and took a hold of Starsky’s arms, leaning his body into the brunet’s. He could feel the uncertainty in Starsky’s taut stance and the slight tremble in his muscles and as he held him steady, he heard Starsky mutter as Bo took a hold of his wrist and took off the beautiful gold Rolex. Bo looked at the timepiece, then threw it down on the bed before going to rip the gold chain from round the brunet’s neck. Starsky said nothing, but Hutch could feel the lithe body tensed and waiting for what was surely to come. As Bo started issuing orders to Mel and Ramp he took his opportunity.

‘Starsk, just go with it. Take a couple of blows then go limp huh? I can still figure out a way’ he whispered into the sable curls. He felt Starsky tighten his arms in reply but them Bo was standing in front of him again, a baseball bat he’d gotten from somewhere held loosely in his hands. Behind him, Mel was holding a length of chain and Ramp had another bat. Hutch heard a murmured “shit” from his partner.

‘Guys, Boss lady said to take it outside’ Hutch said pretending to struggle with the body held in his arms. ‘We should um…..’

‘Yeah, she did, but it’s cold out there an’ so much more comfortable in here’ Bo grinned, staring right at Starsky. The brunet stared back.

‘What’re ya waiting for?’ the curly haired cop taunted. ‘Ya wanna piece of me? Well come an’ get it’. Hutch felt Starsky brace himself as Bo launched the attack, baseball bat lunging at his stomach. The point of the bat caught the brunet in the same place Mel had struck earlier and the blond allowed his partner to bend double, feeling the titanic struggle to regain his breath.

Straightening he took a swift look as Bo came at him again and as the big black man got within range, Starsky kicked out at Bo’s knee, connecting with the kneecap and bending it backwards. The goon let out a howl of pain and rage and redoubled his efforts, coming at the restrained man again with his bat raised. He brought it crashing down, narrowly missing Starsky’s arm and instead brushing his hip, his aim spoiled by anger and blind rage. He bellowed again and Mel caught the cop across his body with the wicked chain, the end stinging around Starsky’s stomach and even biting into Hutch’s side. Both men yelped and Hutch cursed Mel.

‘Watch it! Watch who ya get with that think huh?’

Mel grinned. ‘Hold him tighter. The more he squirms the more I miss!’

In Hutch’s arms, Starsky’s anger was all consuming. He’d never been one to back down from a fight and now, with his blood pounding in his ears he seemed almost to have forgotten the situation and that his partner’s arms were around him. He kicked out again as Ramp came at his with the other bat and the battle yell turned into a blood curdling scream as Ramp brought the cylinder of wood down on the brunet’s shoulder. Sickeningly, Hutch felt his partner’s collarbone break and Starsky’s left arm went dead immediately.

Hutch could feel the cop in his grasp getting weaker, the last telling blow having sapped a lot of his strength and still Bo, Mel and Ramp came at him. He buried his face in the curls and breathed his message into them.

‘Starsk, for fucks sake don’t do this. Just pretend huh? Please Starsk, just go with me’.

But the brunet wasn’t finished. He faced off as once again Bo brought the bat down, this time on his left arm at the elbow and now he was jerking in Hutch’s grip like a marionette, his breath coming in ragged sobs as he continued to yell and curse and kick out.

Behind him, Hutch was beside himself. Damn the brunet’s hot temper. He couldn’t get through to his partner, he knew that now. Starsky was lost in his own world of fighting and pain and despite the cruel blows and the terrible injuries he’d sustained; he was never one to blindly give up, even if Hutch told him to.

Unable to witness the terrible beating any longer, the blond decided to take the law into his own hands. He let go of the thrashing body, allowing the brunet to slip to the floor. Fishing in his waistband for his gun, he reversed it, holding onto the muzzle and as he gazed for a long second into the indigo eyes beneath him, he hardened his heart, swung the pistol back and whipped it across Starsky’s right temple. The skin tore and started to bleed immediately, but the blow pole-axed the smaller man and with a final short sigh, the fight left the injured body and Starsky collapsed unconscious to the floor.

Hutch panted as he looked down at the damage meted out to his partner. Blood flowed from the wound he’d just inflicted on the brunet’s temple and also from the corner of his mouth. A bruise had started to swell the right eye closed and another cut showed red and livid from the corner of his left eye down across his cheek towards his lip. Coupled with the broken collarbone he knew about and the possible broken arm, Hutch realised Starsky would need hospital treatment at the very least. God knows what damage had been done internally by the blows to his stomach. But how to get him the treatment he needed?

Bo stood by his side and aimed anther kick at the unconscious cop, the toe of his big boot landing with a dull, sickening thud on Starsky’s right leg, echoing the crushing blow the brunet had landed on Bo’s knee. There was a soft clicking sound and the leg lay at an odd angle, bending the wrong direction where it shouldn’t have bent. His body rolled with the blow and Bo grinned, pulling out his gun. Carefully he aimed it at Starsky’s head.

‘That’s for breakin’ my fuckin’ knee’ the black man grunted as he pulled back the pin and cocked his gun.

Thinking a mile a minute, Hutch put up his hand and rested it on Bo’s. ‘Hey Bro. Boss lady said she didn’t want no mess on the carpet. He’s already bleedin’. Think how bad it’ll be to clean up if ya shoot him here’.

Bo grinned. ‘What d’ya got in mind Cal?

‘Well, I say we take him to the beach. Finish it there. No cleanin’, no mess’ Hutch said carefully, hoping that by the time they got there, there would be sufficient people around to make shooting Starsky impossible.

‘The beach huh? Ok, well, makes sense an’ times getting’ away from us. Let’s go’ he made to grab hold of the brunet’s arm, but Hutch was faster and picked his partner up bodily in his arms, trying to ignore the low moan that escaped the bruised and cut lips despite the fact that he was unconscious. He walked out of the room, down the small corridor and out to the car where he fumbled with the back door. As he got his hand on the handle, Bo opened the trunk.

‘What’re ya doin’? Don’t put him in there, too much blood on the seats. Here, dump him in here and hurry up’.

The blond staggered to the back of the trunk with his precious burden as Bo walked over to his pick up. As Hutch deposited Starsky’s limp body into the trunk of his blue car, to his horror, indigo eyes flashed open registering confusion and pain.

‘Hu’sh?’ Starsky mumbled, his relatively uninjured right hand weakly reaching for his partners arm.

‘Oh Jeez, not now. No, not now Starsk. Go back t’sleep huh?’ Hutch mumbled.

‘Utch…..help’ Starsky mumbled, confused, dazed and in pain.

‘No, please….just sleep’ Hutch pleaded and with his heart in his mouth, he pushed the hand down and closed the trunk lid down, shutting out the pitiful sight. Starsky’s pristine white suit was rumpled and covered with spills of blood showing bright ruby red against the pale linen. The blond swallowed down a sob and got into the front seat, turned on the ignition and drove off, his eyes scanning left and right. Maybe there’d be a black and white. If he could speed past it, maybe they’d get stopped. Or the road would be closed and they couldn’t get to the beach. Or pigs might fly. He cursed loud and hard in his head. Why? Why did this have to happen? And how had they found out? 12 months of planning. 9 months of the operation. 4 months of his life wasted with these flakes and for what? To watch three no good low life goons beating the crap out of his partner and now he had the stark choice. Either blow their cover and put both their lives in danger, or grit his teeth and watch and hope he could still save his partner’s life somehow. Because Hutch knew that there was no way on Gods green earth that he’d allow Starsky to die just for the sake of the job.

The drive to the beach took no more than 20 minutes. At 5:30 in the morning the roads were quiet and Mel sat at his side, yawning and scratching at his belly.

‘He’s sure one stupid sonofabitch’ Mel said suddenly, recalling how Starsky had fought to the bitter end. ‘I don’t wanna look when Bo takes him out. Bo always likes to make it last’ he said as though fondly reminiscing.

‘What d’ya mean?’

‘He likes the thorough approach, our Bo. Starts with a bullet through each kneecap, then the elbows, a couple through the hips and then he might finish it with a bullet to the brain. When they’re screamin’ too much for him to think’.

‘Yeah, that’s a man who enjoys his job’, Hutch agreed vowing he’d kill the huge black man at the first opportunity. He felt physically sick as he thought about what the next few minutes had in store and knew there and then that while there was no escape, if he could get to Starsky first, at least he could maybe make it look like he’d shot him himself.

Hoping his partner was unconscious Hutch got out and went around to the trunk. If Starsky was dead to the world he could take him up to the dunes, lay him down and put a bullet into the sand next to his head, making it sound like he’d finished the job. So long as one of the other’s didn’t check on him, he could telephone in to the secret number they’d been given for the cops to come pick Starsky up, and they’d get out of this in almost one piece.

But opening the trunk again, the black pick up pulled up behind them, and Hutch once again saw his partner move and the eyes flickered open, unfocussed and confused. He bent into the trunk as though trying to pick the body up and managed to run his hand though the sweat soaked, blood matted curls.

‘Starsk, please, just go with me on this. Whatever happens, just don’t do nothing stupid huh? Ya hear me Starsk?’

The brunet’s eyes came into sharper focus and he concentrated on the words. ‘Utch….hurts’ he mumbled.

‘Did ya hear me Starsk?’ Hutch hissed, aware that Bo was getting out of the truck.

‘Hmm? Yeah…..nuthin stu……stupid’.


Smashed lips broke into something like a painful grin and brought a spasm of coughing from the brunet. Hutch reluctantly withdrew his hand, severing the contact.

He took his gun from his waistband and checked it dramatically as the black goon came to stand by his car. He reached into the trunk and took a hold of Starsky by his broken left arm. The brunet screamed and tried to jerk away violently but Bo held tight and hauled him out of the trunk. Hutch set his face into a snarl and took a hold of his partner

‘Hands off. This one’s mine’ he said over the top of Starsky’s head at Bo.

The black man grinned and let go. ‘Sure thing Bro. Want a helpin’ hand?’

‘No, I can handle it. Just stay here an’ keep a lookout huh? All of ya. Won’t be more’n a couple of minutes’ Hutch grasped Starsky round his middle and started to pull him up to the dunes a little way off. The brunet had no energy left to walk and instead his feet dragged along the ground making twin furrows in the soft sand. As they got further away, the flaxen haired cop looked around, praying for an early morning jogger or dog walker to come and disturb them. But the beach was deserted and as he looked back he saw Bo coming towards him, obviously intent on missing none of the fun.

‘I can’t do this’ he muttered. ‘Please don’t make me do this’. At his side he heard a pained snicker.


‘Yeah buddy?’

‘Do what…ya have to……trust ya’.

They crested a rise and Hutch let Starsky down gently until the brunet was on his knees, his damaged right leg out straight at the side of him. Starsky swayed, his concentration all focused on keeping upright. He looked at Hutch as the blond looked behind him at the fast approaching figure of Bo. The black man had his own gun in his hand and Hutch knew he had to act now.

Bo arrived at the side of Hutch and cocked his gun immediately.

‘What’re ya doin’? I thought I said he was mine’ Hutch hissed at him.

‘Too good an opportunity to miss’ the black goon responded. ‘Always did want to waste another cop. Look, his knees on display already’ he aimed his gun at Starsky’s outstretched right leg, going for his favorite target.

Hutch looked behind him, desperate to try to find an excuse for Bo not to do this.

‘We don’t have time for your fun’ he muttered, ‘there’s a car comin’.

Bo looked around and grinned. ‘It’ll have to be the head then. Blowin’ his brains out’ll be cool too’.

Hutch raised his own gun. Maybe if he could shoot first, aiming for as little damage as possible, he might still save his partner’s life. Maybe he could take Bo right there and then - but what of the others? Maybe he could shoot and miss? Maybe pigs would fly. But if he didn’t make it look good enough, he knew damned well that Bo would take great delight in finishing it. Trying to think of a spot on the human body that he could shoot and amke look good while not killing Starsky, Hutch fingered his gun.

Desperately, the blond took a final look at the injured brunet. Starsky managed to stare back, their eyes locked in silent communication.

I can’t do this Starsk.

Ya have to.

Please God don’t make me.

The indigo eyes focused on the figure of the flake by Hutch’s side, and then turned back to his blond partner

‘Do it...now’ he whispered, closing his eyes swiftly.

Hutch swallowed hard and calmed himself readying himself for the shot that could save Starsky’s life, or end it. At his side Bo snickered and pulled back the pin on his own gun. Hutch aimed carefully beating Bo to the shot and with a final sickening lurch of his stomach fired once seeing the immediate ruby bloom on the front of Starsky’s white jacket above his heart. The impact of the shot knocked the brunet violently backwards and as he hit the ground it was evident he was out completely.

As Bo looked back to the road, Hutch tried to get to his partner, the gray look on Starsky’s face and the rapidly expanding blood stain telling him he’d seriously wounded him. But Bo was yelling at him now and he had no time. As he took a final look, Mel shouted to them that there was a car coming and they should get out of there. Hutch turned and fell to his knees, heaving the contents of his stomach onto the sand as Bo pulled him up. He wiped the back of his hand over his mouth, struggled to his feet and ran, Bo’s hold on his shoulder propelling him forward and as he got to the car, his breath was coming in ragged sobs. The car drove past them the driver not even looking in their direction, but by that time it was too late to go back.

‘Drive’ Mel yelled at him as he pushed his foot onto the gas pedal.

Hutch drove away from his partner’s body at speed, not knowing whether the bullet he’d used to try to save the brunet’s life had in fact killed him. His mind in turmoil he drove automatically away from the dunes and back towards civilization.

And on the dunes, the brunet’s blood seeped into the sand and the breeze playfully ruffled his hair as the first peach coloured strands of brightness tinged the morning sky.

Chapter 10

Hutch drove quickly from the dunes, his eyes scanning the vicinity searching and finally finding a blue telephone booth mounted on a pole by the side of the road. His heart hammered in his chest, each second ticking away the possibility of Starsky remaining alive - if in fact he hadn’t already killed him. As the black pick up truck sailed past, he pulled up and stopped, leaping out from the car as Mel looked at him curiously.

‘Where’re ya goin’?’ he asked through the open window. Hutch looked back at him.

‘Boss lady wanted to know when it had gone down. Gonna phone an’ tell her’ Hutch said, running back up the road to the booth. He fished in his back pocket for a couple of dimes. He fumbled through his loose change with hands that still shook violently with shock and adrenaline, picking out two coins and pocketing the rest. He smiled encouragingly at Mel who was hanging out of the window and dropped the first dime into the slot, punching in the numbers he’d memorised, literally hopping from one foot to the next as he heard the dialling tone on the other end.

‘C’mon, c’mon’ he muttered, hammering at the dumb booth with his left hand. Didn’t they know his partner was dying out on the dunes? Didn’t they know that he’d been forced to fire on the man he loved more dearly than life itself? He snickered at the irony of the situation; being forced to send a bullet into Starsky’s body trying to make out he’d killed him in order to try to save his life. Sometimes life could be dumb and sometimes just so damned complicated that it sent his head into a spin. And for what? To catch some drug dealer who’d have a good enough lawyer to get them out in a year? The phone at the other end picked up and he heard O’Rourke’s voice.


‘No Hutchinson. Listen up, I don’t have much time. Starsky’s injured – bad. On the dunes, um….. t two miles south of …..of….fuck!’ Hutch ran his hands through his hair, his brain refusing to function in his anxiety ‘M Mariners point, got that? He needs help fast or he’ll d die’.

‘Mariners Point got it. You ok Hutchinson? You sound like crap. Don’t blow your cover man, keep cool. Ya did good. I’ll take care of this’.

‘Fine, just g get to him an’ fast’. Hutch put the phone down, breathing heavily. He sent a silent prayer up to any God who happened to be listening. Please don’t let him be dead. Please God don’t let me have killed him, otherwise I may as well die too. Don’t blow your cover! Easier said than done when ever fibre of his being wanted to go back and gather the broke brunet body into his arms and yell his apologies to the heavens.

Hutch gritted his teeth and tried to aim for composure on his face. He was meant to be a heavy. He wasn’t supposed to have feelings for the men he wasted along his way.

Dialling Lilly’s number, he managed to grind out ‘It’s done. He’s dead’ without the words sticking in his throat. But the woman was not easily impressed.

‘Did you check?’ she pressed.

Hutch felt like yelling at her; telling her that she was the worst woman in the world and that he’d kill her as soon as look at her. Instead, he harnessed his anger, stowing it down deep to use later.

‘No, I didn’t get time. There was a car coming’ the “you callous bitch” hung on the air between them. She said nothing more and Hutch heard the phone go down. With a heavy heart and fighting the almost irresistible urge to turn and make his way back to his partner, Hutch walked slowly back to the car. He needed to trust their back up and trust that Starsky would be well cared for so long as O’Rourke, Jiminez and the others cold get to him in time. If indeed he hadn’t killed him already! Oh shit, Starsky, what have I done to ya?


Starsky managed to force his eyes open and stared up at a milky blue sky and a pale sun lingering over the horizon. The sand felt cool and damp beneath him, but that seemed to be the least of his worries. His last memory was of Hutch staring at him with fear and self-loathing on his face. He knew what Hutch was doing – saving his life before one of Lilly’s other goons got to him and he understood also how the blond must be feeling. When Hutch had levelled his gun at him, he’d so wanted to take his partner in his arms and tell him that it was ok, he understood and he wanted Hutch to do what he had to do. But with Bo standing by the side of them there was no time and instead he’d just managed the final words – do it now.

He felt himself as a light and insubstantial being, floating above the earth a little way. There was very little pain and Starsky realised that that was very odd and a little disturbing. From the beating he’d sustained he knew he had some pretty serious injuries and yet those injuries didn’t seem to be bothering him too much. There was no pain at all in his shoulder and for moment the brunet had actually forgtten he'd been shot.

Hutch. Oh God, Hutch where are ya buddy?

When he’d been surrounded by Bo, Mel and Ramp outside the Angels disco, he’d somehow been comforted to have Hutch at his back. When they were hurting him, their bats and fists slamming into him, he could take a little comfort from having the big blond holding him and he tried to absorb as much strength as he could from the solid arms around him. And then he’d heard Hutch’s pained voice telling him to roll with it and pretend to pass out. But that had never been the brunet’s style. Starsky would always go out fighting and his temper had got the better of him until he’d done his best to fight back with his feet, the only weapon that was at his disposal.

Starsky tried to raise his head and at once experienced the knife edged pain ripping through his left shoulder and arm. With his right hand he explored the area his fingers coming away red and sticky. The bullet had hit between his heart and shoulder blade and there was a pleasant warm numbness to the area which he recognised as shock. Letting his head fall back he let out a quiet whimper. Shit, not good Davey. Not good at all. He tried again to raise his head and the pains took his breath away as he decided instead to roll over onto his stomach. If Bo and the others were to come back and find him……

Painfully and using his good right arm as a lever, the brunet managed to heave himself backwards a couple of feet, his shattered right knee dragging uselessly behind him. He screamed and continued to scream with each movement as he went about his slow and agonising progress up the face of the dune. The screaming showed him he was still alive, each sound reminding him of who he was and what he was struggling for, but with each movement he became weaker and weaker until his flailing arm moved him only inches at a time and his breath was singing in his throat. Finally he collapsed back, a long run of blood stained sand the only reminder of where he’d started out from. With a last agonised groan, he let his head sink back onto the cool strand and closed his eyes.

Bo….Mel….Hutch. Would anyone find him? And would he still be alive? He could feel the life draining from him with every beat of his heart and as he lay exhausted on the sand his last conscious thought was of his partner, golden hair haloed against the sun like an avenging angel. Come get me Hutch…..help me….someone.


‘Two miles south of Mariners Point on the dunes’ O’Rourke reported back to Dobey as the big man wiped a white handkerchief over his face. ‘And he said Starsky was in a bad way. That area is 15 minutes away if we push it’.

‘And you’re gonna push it mister. Take Jiminez and go, now! I’ll have an ambulance from the hospital meet you there by the pier. Find him huh? And quick’.

Jiminez and O’Rourke nodded and ran for their car, slamming the mars light onto the roof and starting the sirens wailing. O’Rourke drove, pedal to the metal like a dervish. As they got out of the city and started down the coast road, the sun coming up over the dunes Jiminez snickered to himself.

‘What?’ O’Rourke asked, stunned that the Puerto Rican could find anything even vaguely amusing in the current situation.

‘Just thinkin’. He was an accident waiting to happen’ Jiminez said, his head propped on his hand as he looked out of the window at the waves lapping the shore across the beach from the road.


‘Starsky. He was a liability right from the start. Why the hell Dobey chose those two clowns is anyone’s guess. They might have got him wrapped round their little finger, but I saw right through ‘em right from the start’.

‘You have no idea what you’re talkin’ about man’ O’Rourke grunted, anger rising inside him. For the past four months he’d listened to Jiminez sniping at the blond and his partner, backed up and fuelled by Ivan Simonetti, who seemed to have a personal grudge against the two detectives.

‘Don’t tell me they brainwashed you too? Jiminez looked sideways at the man driving the car.

‘No, they didn’t brainwash me. I just watched two real good detectives goin’ about their job. They knew what they were letting themselves in for; how dangerous this was going to be. And yet they argued not about doin’ it, but how they were gonna be able to watch each other’s backs’.

‘Aww, aint that sweet’ Jiminez sneered.

‘It’s somethin’ I don’t think you’d know anythin’ about’.

The Puerto Rican looked sideways, anger on his face. ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’

‘Means I get the impression you’d sooner watch your own back than any partners. You could learn a lot from watchin’ Starsky and Hutch’ O’Rourke pulled the car up on the side of the road. In the far distance he could just see Mariners Point pier and as he got out, he scanned the dunes. ‘Shit it’s like lookin’ for a needle in a haystack’ he said, seeing the pale golden sand stretch for miles in either direction.

Jiminez got out of the car also and looked around at the road. He squinted his eyes against the rising sun, shielding them with his hand as he looked up the road. Ignoring the disagreement he’d just had with the Narcotics guy, he started to trot comfortably off the road, his eyes fastened on something further up. O’Rourke watched him go, curious and set off at a dead run as he saw the big man pause and squat down then signal for him to join him.

O’Rourke knelt down in the sand at the side of the road by Jiminez and looked at the tire tracks etched into the sand. The morning breeze hadn’t had time to erase them yet and Jiminez studied them then stood slowly. ‘Car stopped here no more than 3 or 4 hours ago. It’s a long shot, but maybe this is the place to start?’

‘I’m fresh out of ideas, lets go’ O’Rourke said and started walking purposeful over the crest of the small dune, seeing a larger one in front. A tiny patch of red glistening on the sand made him catch his breath and he broke into a jog, his feet sinking ankle deep into the soft sand. As he got closer he could see marks in the sand and as he crested the rise, he yelled back at Jiminez who was lagging behind.

‘It’s Starsky, he’s here. Get back to the car and radio the location to the meat wagon. GO’.

He saw Jiminez nod and turn back and with the utmost caution, O’Rourke slid down the other side of the dune, coming to a stop by the side of the bleeding cop. He knelt down and gently pushed a hand against the brunet’s neck, searching for the carotid pulse. It was there, weak and thready and running a mile a minute and at the gentle pressure, the indigo eyes flashed open.

O’Rourke was staggered. Starsky’s face was almost covered in blood from a wound on his temple, cuts across his cheek and from the broken smashed lips. More blood encrusted the curly haired cop’s left shoulder and continued to seep from the horrendous wound there. Starsky lay with his head held to the left, his left clavicle seeming markedly shorter than his right. O’Rourke recognised the signs of a broken collar bone immediately.

‘Starsky….Dave, can ya hear me?’ he said softly, his fingers cupping the side of the blood soaked face.

Starsky’s eyes opened again, closed, then reopened, focusing on the cop above him, although there was no recognition in them. ‘Utch?’ the voice was rasping and incredibly weak and the Irishman had to bend close to hear.

‘No, It’s me, Pat. Dave? Can ya hear me?’

The brunet swilled his tongue around his torn lips, crying out as he tried to raise his head. ‘Utch…..noooo. Not…..’ the sticky right hand lifted and grasped O’Rourke’s arm with surprising strength. Pat caught it and held on.

‘Sssh, Dave, don’t try an’ talk. The ambulance’ll be here soon. Just lie back buddy’.

‘Noo…..don’t und’stand. Utch…….danger…..’

‘I know. I’ll fix that, honest I will buddy’.

‘Not his fault’ Starsky’s head rolled from side to side, his eyes closed as he became lost in his pain and confusion. ‘Not…..fault…..’Utch……Ut’shh’

O’Rourke looked back the way he’d come and was relieved to see Jiminez coming back over the dunes and in the distance the sparkling flashing blue lights of the ambulance. He carded his fingers through the cop’s hair, trying to sooth the feverish mumblings as best he could.

‘Don’t talk Dave. Save your strength, they’re coming now. Soon be here’ he crooned. ‘Sssh’.

Starsky made one last titanic effort and forced his eyes open again. ‘Pat?’

‘Yeah buddy, right here’.

‘Heist…..going down….on f…..’ the light left the dull indigo eyes finally and Starsky’s head rested back on the sand with a sigh just as the paramedics panted down the dune and immediately knelt down by the side of the injured cop.

Chapter 11

‘He’s in surgery now’ O’Rourke said wearily as Captain Dobey walked into the small green painted waiting room and sat down by the side of the big Irishman.

‘You did well to find him so quickly’ the Captain said.

‘Jiminez spotted the tire tracks. He’s the one you should by thanking. If it hadn’t been for him, I think we’d still be searching and Dave would be de…… he wouldn’t be here now’ Pat said, refusing to use the word in case it came true and Starsky dies on the operating table.

‘How was he when you found him? Did he say anything?’

‘Nothing really. He was in and out, in a lot of pain. He kept tellin’ me “not Hutch, not his fault” and then he tried to tell me about the heist. I think it’s goin’ down soon, but he never got chance to finish’.

‘What’s that supposed to mean, “not Hutch’s fault”?’ Dobey asked, running his hand wearily over his eyes.

‘Just what I was afraid of Cap’n’ Jiminez interjected. ‘I told ya this was way too much for them. They’re both wild cards. Looks like the blond dickhead put his partner in danger. Now look where it’s got him’.

Dobey moved surprisingly quickly considering his bulk and covered the space between the sofa and the big Puerto Rican in two steps. He grabbed a hold of Jiminez’ collar, a bunch of material in each hand and pulled the tall man down to his level, glaring into the brown eyes above him.

‘Don’t you ever….EVER badmouth one of my men to me. Those two guys are the best I got, the best in this here state, and you could learn a helluva lot from them. I know ya helped find Starsky, an’ for that I’m grateful, but you say one more word against either of them, and so help me I’ll knock you into the middle of next week, got that? Whatever went down, ya can bet your bottom dollar Hutch would have given his life if he could have stopped his partner from going through this. So shudup, just shudup ok?’

Dobey let the big cop go and turned back to O’Rourke, panting slightly with exertion. ‘Did they say anything?’

‘No, just that it was touch and go. They worked a real number on him. He was pretty damaged Cap’n. Whoever shot him, they did a real job. A couple of inches lower and we wouldn’t be here now’.

‘How long’s he been in there?’ Dobey asked.

Jiminez looked at his watch. ‘Couple’ve hours. No-ones been out yet. I guess no news is good news’.

Dobey sat down again, casting glaring looks at Jiminez, who leaned on the wall opposite, his face a stony mask. The hospital was not the one the cops usually used. It, like everything else in Operation Wildfire had been chosen specifically. The small facility was a private hospital used predominantly by Army, police and FBI agents and was used to giving full security cover to it’s patients, but even so, Lilly Matteu had such a reputation that once he was stable – if that time came – Starsky would be moved to a safe house who’s location was known only to the immediate members of the operation.

There was silence in the little room for some time, all the men alone with their own thoughts as the clock on the wall ticked off the interminable minutes. Finally Dobey shook himself from his reverie.

‘You say Starsky tried to tell you about the delivery?’

‘Yeah. He was very weak an’ I couldn’t really make out what he was talking about, but he mentioned heist and…..he might have been trying to say Friday, but hell Cap’n he was so out of it, I’m not sure what he was sayin’.

‘Well it’s pretty obvious his cover was blown’ Dobey looked down at his hands, formulating the plan in his head. ‘I don’t think we have a lot of option here gentlemen. Lilly must have ordered him killed so she knows that he knows something. It also occurs to me that whoever did this to him was disturbed. Her guys are thorough. They’d never have left him alive if they’d had the time. So if they can’t prove he’s dead, they’re gonna come after him’.

At that moment a voice shouted down the small corridor. ‘Starsky……relatives for David Starsky?’

They jumped up and Dobey took charge. ‘I’m his Captain, he doesn’t have family around here. how is he?’

The doctor looked exhausted, his operating greens still showing blood from his fight to save Starsky’s life, and his mask hanging forlornly round his neck.

‘I think he’ll make it. It was touch and go for a while, but we have him stabilised. He’s lost a lot of blood, but we’re replacing that and the surgery to repair the bullet wound and the ruptured spleen have gone well. If there are no complications you can move him maybe tomorrow’.

‘Can we see him?’ Dobey asked.

‘No, we’ve induced a coma, to give his body some time to start to heal. He’s gonna be out of it for a while. You can stay, but there’s really no point. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my patient’. The doctor turned and left and the three men in the room let out a collective breath.

‘Thank God’ O’Rourke muttered, sitting down heavily on the chair. ‘I really thought he was a gonner for a while. Jeez, he’s a tough one!’

‘Uh huh. that he is. So now we need to protect him all the more’.

‘Well we have the safe house. No-one knows about that’ Jiminez said slowly.

‘He did. What if they pumped him for information first?’ Dobey grunted.

‘So what are ya saying Cap’n?’

‘We take him out of the equation. We give her what she wants to hear’.

‘You mean?...’

Dobey sighed. ‘Yeah, set up the interview and leak the information to the press. Starsky is now officially dead’.

O’Rourke cleared his throat. ‘Just one thing Cap’n. What about Hutch? He’s gonna find out his partner’s dead through some TV broadcast?’

The captain ran his hand down the sides of his face. ‘Can’t be helped. At least this way, when Starsky comes out of the OR we have a chance to keep him safe’.

‘And if he doesn’t make it, Hutch’ll know anyway’ Jiminez said coldly.

‘I’m gonna forget ya said that’ Dobey yelled at him. ‘Starsky’s gonna be fine. He’s young and strong and he’s gonna be just fine!’


Hutch walked out into the restaurant to find BO, Mel and Ramp already sitting at a table in one of the booths at the back of the establishment. They all had glasses of beer and as the blond sat down the bartender brought one for him too. It was early and the place had no customers as yet and so they could talk in relative ease, the only distraction being the television in the corner of the bar.

In the eight hours since the morning on the sands, Hutch had felt like a little piece of him was dying with each tick of the clock. He couldn’t concentrate on anything or anyone and the only vision in his head was his partner’s body being blown backwards by his own bullet and the huge red bloom spreading swiftly across the beautiful white linen jacket.

Starsky had looked so sharp outside the disco, the white suit and black shirt fitting him perfectly. No wonder women found him attractive and irresistible. With the shock of slightly unruly curls, the slight five o’clock shadow of bristles that had a habit of appearing by 2 in the afternoon and the deep blue within blue indigo eyes, he was a knock out. And his almost feline grace leant a predatory, slightly dangerous air to him that was guaranteed to melt any woman’s heart. Shame the same qualities hadn’t worked on Bo and his cronies. Hutch sighed and sat quietly while the other three men talked about the ball game due to take place that night and other inconsequential stuff. Above their conversation the newscaster on the television started a new topic.

And breaking news this hour. Detective Sergeant David Starsky of the Metropolitan police was today found dead on the beach south of Mariner’s Point. Detective Starsky was unmarried and leaves a mother living in New York State and a younger brother who’s whereabouts is currently unknown. All day, colleagues have been paying tribute to the brave cop who had been taking part in a covert operation. The funeral will take place after the inquest.

And in other news…….

Hutch’s heart stopped, his worst fears now put into words. Starsky was dead. He’d been found, but Hutch hadn’t been able to save him. He was dead and it was Hutch’s fault. The room spun around him as he made a mad grab for the table. Why not just shoot all these bastards now and have done with it? What was the point of going on? Was it the beating or his own bullet that had killed him?

Starsky! Oh my God, Starsk, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I should’a stopped them, should’a put a bullet through Bo instead. Should’a……

Hutch looked up, suddenly aware of a figure at the side of him. Lilly smiled down at him and rested her hand on his arm. His skin crawled from her touch and he fought with the urge to knock her away, put his hands round her throat and throttle her. Starsky was dead. What did it matter if they killed him now? Nothing mattered any more, nothing at all. He’d killed his partner and now he needed to make contact with Dobey and turn himself in. he was no better than Bo and the others. He was a fucking murderer and deserved to die himself. And if the Judge wouldn’t order it, Hutch knew deep down he’d die from sadness anyway.

‘You did good Cal’ Lilly said softly. ‘Bo said you took him out with one bullet. Neat. I like neat work’.

Hutch pushed himself up from the table bile rising in his throat. ‘Goin’ for a shower’ he said indistinctly. Any excuse to get himself away from the others. He wanted…..no, he needed to be alone. He needed to be able to use a phone to get to Dobey, but all the phones at the restaurant were tapped, he knew that.

‘Use mine’ the woman said and pointed to her door.

‘M’fine. I got my stuff in….’

‘I’m not used to taking no for an answer’ she said, her voice hard and slightly shrill. Lilly still hadn’t got over Shapiro/Starsky’s treatment of her the previous night and now that she saw the handsome blond, she felt in the need for celebration. Hutch looked at her, weighing up the possibility of refusing her and walking out. Out of the room; out of the restaurant; out of the assignment. He lavender eyes held an invitation that he so wanted to refuse and then at the back of his mind he heard his partner’s voice from way back at the start of all this when he’d expressed his doubts about the organisation of the operation.

We nail this bitch and think of all the teenagers lives we save Hutch. All the countless lives that won’t be ruined by years on coke and weed and shit. She’s the biggest name we have here, an’ we got the opportunity to take her down. Don’t that count for sumthin?

‘I um….I think I might be coming down with somethin’. The flu maybe’ he stammered.

Lilly looked at him carefully. Cal always looked so tanned and muscular and healthy, but this evening he did look a little green around the gills, his usually clear sparkling crystal blue eyes dull and listless. She put a hand on his forehead, feeling residual tremors running through his body. ‘You need someone to take care of you’ she said huskily as she took his hand and pulled him to his feet.

No, what I need is to turn myself in, lady. I just killed my partner.

Lilly lead Hutch into her room and closed the door behind her. She walked over to Hutch and put her hands on his shoulders, reaching for the buttons on his shirt. Hutch braced himself. It was like he had the hands of death on his body, prying and pulling at him. He felt sick, sweat beading on his brow and running down the ridge of his spine. He found it hard to breathe and tried to make a conscious effort to slow his heart rate, but the more he tried, the more he felt as though he were suffocating and as she reached up to caress his face, he batted her had away and stood back.

‘I’m..I’m sorry. F feel bad. Um…I need to go get some meds from the pharmacy. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel better’ he mumbled, running his hand over his brow. He really did feel sick, although it was guilt rather than flu symptoms that threatened to lay him low. As he looked around desperately, his eye fell on the gold Rolex, still laying on the bed where Bo had thrown it earlier in the day. His world collapsed in on itself and with a low moan, Hutch ran from the room, leaving a surprised and shocked Lilly in his wake. She ran to the door and caught a hold of his arm and without thinking, Hutch took hold of her shoulder and slammed her into the wall, leaning his body into hers.

Far from being intimidated by the action, Lilly seemed excited and her lips parted slightly as she looked up at the big blond. Hutch’s eyes were ice fire as his fingers crushed her shoulder bruisingly.

‘I said I had to go out’ he grunted, wrestling himself from her grip.

‘I know I….I just wanted to see if there was anything I could get for you’ she said in a small voice.

‘Yeah, space. Now lemme go’ Hutch said, feeling her hands drop from his body. Without a backwards look, he ran from the room and out into the corridor, using the back door to escape into the cool night air.

It felt almost cleansing to be out of the restaurants and Hutch got into the blue car and switched on the ignition without really knowing what he was going to do, or how he was going to do it. It was a mark of the shock Lilly felt at his behaviour that this was the first time in over 4 months that he’d been allowed out without one of the others with him and the freedom felt strange. All he knew was he needed to get to a phone to talk to Dobey and to do that, he needed to be somewhere that Lilly didn’t have spies.

He set the car in motion and drove, his mind calmer now that he was away from Bo, Mel and Ramp and as he drove he felt something wet land on his chest, he wiped at it with his hand and realised belatedly that it was a tear. Raising his fingers to his cheeks, he felt more of them and realised he’d been crying without ever noticing. Angrily he pounded at the steering wheel, all his feelings of powerlessness, guilt and pain taken out on that one dumb object as huge wracking sobs filled the interior of the car. Starsky was dead. He’d killed his best friend and now all he wanted to do was to die himself.

Chapter 12

The dark blue car pulled up outside the all night pharmacy on the other side of town, well away from Madame Lilly’s domain. The tears had long since stopped and now Hutch felt nothing. The shock had left him numb, a walking, talking automaton and as he pushed open the door into the neon lit cool of the store, he looked around him and nodded. This would do. This was fine. At this time of night the store was deserted and he walked over to the counter, well aware that he looked pale and his eyes were swollen and red rimmed, but healthy people didn’t frequent pharmacies at night anyways. A pretty young assistant appeared from out back and smiled up at him. Usually at this time, she spent her time measuring out doses of Methadone for the local junkies. To have a handsome, albeit slightly dishevelled blond in her store made up for missing out on a night out with her friends. She smiled at Hutch.

‘Can I help?’

‘Yeah. I’m Detective Sergeant Hutchinson of the Metropolitan police. Do you have a phone out back I could use?’ he asked

She looked him up and down. He was handsome alright, and reasonably well dressed, but he had an air of someone lost and the description of “cop” just didn’t sit well with him.

‘Do you have some form of ID. A badge maybe?’ she asked him doubtfully.

‘No, I don’t have my badge with me. I’ve been….’ He realised it was pointless trying to explain. ‘Look do me a favour huh? Call this number and ask to be put through to a Captain Dobey. D.O.B.E.Y’ he spelled it out for her. ‘Tell him Hutch wants to speak to him. He’ll verify who I am’.

The girl looked disbelieving, but she took the number and disappeared into the back room. From there, Hutch could hear her punching numbers into the phone and then a hushed one sided conversation. Finally after what felt like hours, she poked her head around the door and beckoned him to come in. He smiled encouragingly and did as he was asked and she handed the phone to him.

‘Sorry. Can’t be too careful’ she said apologetically.

‘No problem. Could um….could I take this alone?’ he asked.

‘Oh….sure. I’ll be right outside’ she said, pulled the door closed and left. The blond heaved a deep breath and picked up the phone.

‘Cap’n, it’s….’

‘He’s ok Hutch’ Dobey cut in immediately. The TV announcement had been necessary to protect the injured brunet, but the big black man knew that if Hutch was to see it, it would destroy the flaxen haired cop and he desperately wanted to let Hutch know that Starsky was going to make it. Somehow, despite the blond being deep undercover, he’d been expecting the call.

The world dropped out from under Hutch’s feet. ’What?’

‘Starsky’s ok, He’s gonna make it’.

‘But he…..I shot him. He was so badly beaten and then I shot him. And the TV...You’re not….’ Hutch’s mind couldn’t take in the information, his whole being having been braced for telling Dobey that it was all his fault and that he’d murdered his own partner in cold blood.

‘He’s had surgery. He’s not out of the woods completely, but he’s ok for the moment. What d’ya mean you shot him?’ Dobey’s voice was soft and gentle but at the same time probing.

‘I….his cover was blown and Lilly told us to take him out. One of her goons saw him talking with Jiminez at the station. They beat him an’ then we were supposed to finish him. They’re worse than evil Cap’n. If I hadn’t have…..they would’a killed him for sure. I thought I’d killed him’ the blond finished in a small voice.

‘No son, you didn't kill him. I think you probably saved his life’ Dobey said, hearing the sound of defeat in his officer’s voice. ‘Hutch, are you ok?’

The blond snorted softly. ‘Great! I shot my partner. I heard on the news he was dead an’ now you tell me ya think he’s gonna make it. How’m I supposed to feel? I want to see him’.

‘You can’t. We need you to stay put’.

‘No, you don’t understand. I need to see him Cap’n. I have to see him’. There was an urgency in the voice that pulled at Dobey’s heart, but he swallowed the feelings down.

‘We need you to stay put Hutchinson. Not much longer. We think it’s nearly time for the big one. Starsky managed to say something to O’Rourke about the heist going down soon. We need you there’.

‘I can’t. I can’t do this any more. It’s too much. You’re asking too much Captain’.

‘Hutch, I know how you must be feeling right now, but…’

‘No you don’t! No-one can know how I’m feelin’. I’ve just been forced to shoot my best friend. Have you ever done that? No! So don’t tell me you know how I’m feelin’ the blond yelled down the phone. ‘Don’t give me that bullshit about how you know how much I’m hurtin’. Some things are just too much an’ this is one of ‘em’.

‘Hutch! Listen to me. I know it’s been real tough on you. We all know that. But if you cut and run now, all this will have been in vain. D’ya think Starsky would want you to do that? Do you want to face him when he wakes up and we tell him he got shot for nothin’? Coz I sure wouldn’t’.

‘He wouldn’t want me to…..’

‘He wouldn’t want you to stop now. Just a few more days, that’s all we’re asking. Maybe till the weekend. It’s gotta go down some time this week’.

‘I just want to see him Cap’ Hutch said in a small defeated voice.

‘They’re keeping him unconscious so that he'll heal. He wouldn’t know you’re there’ Dobey explained gently. He heard a deep sigh from the other end of the phone.

‘Fine. But Cap’n promise me one thing’.


‘Be with him when he wakes up’.

‘Sure. Now go, and Hutch?’


‘Be careful huh?’

The blond put the telephone down and rested his head against the wall, suddenly feeling weary beyond words. If he’d had the opportunity he felt like he could sleep for a week knowing now that Starsky was alive and stood a pretty good chance of making it. But those few hours, when he’d thought he’d killed his best friend were the worst of his life and he couldn’t forget them readily. He pushed himself off from the wall and smiled at the assistant as he walked out from behind the counter.

‘Thanks honey’ he said as he made his way out of the store and back to his car.

The drive back to Le Quatre Seasons seemed to take no time at all. Hutch thought he should have felt some sort of relief now that he knew Starsky’s fate, but instead there was just a gnawing emptiness and a rage that simmered below the surface. It was the rage that was keeping him going; keeping him functioning. And it was the rage that was stowed deep down inside, ready for when the time came to take down Lilly and her goons once and for all.

Hutch walked back into the restaurant with the intention of going straight to his room and to sleep. But as he pushed open the door he heard noises coming from Bo’s room and as he tried to get to his own, Bo’s door opened and the big black guy beckoned him in.

‘Nah, I’m tired guys. Gimme a break huh?’ he mumbled wearily.

‘Hey, ya gotta come celebrate Cal. We got ourselves some beers an’ some pizza. Hutch’s mind lurched back to all he times he’d shared beer and pizza with his partner and a small feeling of yearning started to grow in his chest.

‘Fine, what’s the occasion?’ he asked as he walked into the large bedroom.

‘Well you should know. You’re the hero of the hour. We’re celebratin’ wastin’ the pig! C’mon Cal. Tell us how he squealed when he went down; when ya shot him. He did real good guys. Cold an’ calculatin’ That’s our Cal. The pig didn’t stand a chance. Just knelt there all meek an’ mild while Cal here aimed for his heart’.

‘Shudup Bo’ Hutch said, low and intense.

‘Aww, don’t get all shy on us! You’re a fuckin’ hero man’.

‘I said just shudup an’ leave it huh?’ Hutch’s hands were balled into fists as he tried to keep his temper under control.

‘But ya did so good. Never even looked back. Now that’s the mark of a true hard man’ Bo said proudly. ‘He’s…..’

The black man never got to finish his sentence. All the pent up emotion of the last hours, the sight of Starsky bleeding from his own bullet and the final revelation that the brunet had survived was too much for the blond to contain. With a yell, he launched himself at Bo as Mel and Ramp stood back, arms folded and ready for some home grown entertainment.

Hutch caught Bo unawares and sent him bodily to the ground, fists flailing as the black man tried to cover his head with his hands. Recovering quickly, Bo slithered out from underneath Hutch’s big golden body and from his sheath at the back of his waistband, pulled his knife. The wicked seven inch blade shone dully in the lamplight of the room and Hutch watched it warily, hunched low and ready to be on the defensive. Belatedly he realised how stupid his move had been and cast a swift glance at Mel. The ginger haired guy was watching, tongue hanging out as he enjoyed the fun, but as his bunk room buddy looked at him, he nodded and produced his own knife, which he reversed and flipped across the room to Hutch. The blond caught it by the deer horn handle and held it up, blade laying along his forearm.

Hutch wasn’t particularly used to fighting with a knife. His Colt Python had usually settled any arguments for him and now he circled Bo cautiously, waiting for the big guy to make the first move. When it came it was swift and unexpected and the blond was barely able to jerk back in time form the flashing blade. Bo lunged at Hutch again and the flaxen haired cop made a grab for Bo’s knife hand so that they were both holding each other’s wrists. The fight was one of strength and while Hutch was no weakling, Bo hadn’t spent the day mourning the perceived loss of a friend. The black man was ultimately quicker and stronger and with horror, Hutch let go the knife hand and Bo brought it down with a lightening blow, laying the cop’s arm bare to the bone just above his elbow.

A roar went up from the other two men as Hutch crouched, his right hand cradling his injured arm as blood began to seep through his fingers. Above him, Bo stood, knife ready, panting and fighting the blood lust that had overtaken him. Had it not been for Lilly hearing the shouts from the room, and walking in at that precise moment, Starsky might not have been the only one fighting for his life in a hospital bed.

The petite woman pushed the door open and yelled at Bo to drop the knife just as he was about to bring it down for another telling blow. The black man stopped instantly, a look of anger in his eyes. He backed off from the kneeling blond, panting with exertion as Lilly rushed over to Hutch and knelt by his side.

‘Cal? Are you ok? Let me see that’ she said softly, trying to pull Hutch’s hand from the gaping wound on his arm. She looked up at Bo.

‘Get doc Wilding now, and after that, get out of my sight. GO’ she snapped as the three others exited the room swiftly. Almost tenderly, she put a hand under the blond’s chin and lifted his head so that she could see into his eyes.

‘Why did they do this Cal?’ she asked.


‘You should know better than to try to take on Bo. He loves his knife’ she chuckled as she tried to explore the wound.

‘Yeah. Just leave it. M’fine’ Hutch started to say

‘You don’t look fine. You look like shit, and that needs stitching for sure. Cal?...Cal?’ Lilly put her hand under Hutch’s head as the blond slipped sideways with a low groan and fell to the floor. The emotions, the pains and the anger of the last day had taken a final toll on the cop and his body had finally decided that enough was enough. With a small sigh, Hutch collapsed sideways and was unconscious before he hit the floor.

Chapter 13 – 2 days later – Safe House, somewhere in Bay City

Starsky awoke, slowly coming back to consciousness to a wonderful warm feeling of gentle hands on his body. For long moments he lay and savoured the feelings of cool cloths across his chest and belly. The cloths smelled of sandalwood soap and were warm and sensuous and it was only when they began to dip even lower towards his hips and the core of his body that he thought he really ought to open his eyes and attempt to re-enter the world of the living. As he felt the centre of his body cocooned in the soft, fragrant cloth he let out a small sigh.

‘Angel?’ he asked softly, his voice husky and weak. The hands stopped their ministrations and as he forced his eyes open a girls face appeared above him reinforcing the idea that he wasn’t where he thought he should be.

The blond nurse smiled down at him and rested her hand on his forehead. ‘Not an angel. Just Maureen. Hey there. Nice to see the colour of those eyes finally’ she said, staggered at the depth of the blue irises.

‘M’dead……s’heaven’ Starsky mumbled. His tongue felt too big for his mouth and he recognised the dryness at the back of his throat. Oxygen. Now that he thought about it, he could feel the annoying presence of nasal cannula resting on his top lip. Damned oxygen! Did it to him every time. He tried to lick his dry lips and the nurse was immediately there with an ice chip, running it gently over his lips before she placed it on his tongue.

‘Ssh’ she admonished. ‘Don’t try to talk. I’ll go and get the doctor’.

He looked at her appreciatively, ‘Get him in an hour’ the brunet gave a shadow of a grin which ended in a cough which ripped through his chest. He groaned, clutching with his right hand at his injuries. The young nurse eased him back onto the pillow.

‘Don’t start getting frisky mister’ she chuckled. ‘Let that be a lesson to you……but…… maybe in a week or so?’ she winked at him as he settled his head back on the fluffy white pillow and closed his eyes. Sleep overtook him and within seconds he was once again dead to the world, his brief conversation having sapped what little strength he had.

The next time he awoke, a few hours later, he felt more rested and his eyes felt less like they were going to fall out of his head. Starsky had had dreams, some of which were scary and all of which were painful and it was one of these nightmares that had shaken him awake now. He opened his eyes with a start, assessing his situation. The oxygen tubes were still there and now, as he mentally explored his body, he could feel other invasive devices. Drips in the back of his left hand….no, make that both hands – damn that wasn’t good. Another tube made its presence felt lower down his body. It didn’t hurt, but a catheter always made him feel even more of an invalid and he detested the things. He’d have to work on the nurse to get that thing taken out pretty quickly. He couldn’t move his left arm which felt like it as tied down to something, but he’d worry about that later. As he tried to lift his head to look down the bed, he became aware of a presence in the room and as he turned his head on the pillow he looked straight into the big caring brown eyes he knew so well.

‘Cap’n’ he muttered gazing into Dobey’s face and drinking in the welcome smile and the concern on the honest brown face. The nightmares he’d had had all included Hutch, some with a gun in his hand, some with the blond dying or bleeding on the ground and he desperately wanted to see his friends and particularly his partner again.

‘Ut’sh?’ he made it sound like a question.

‘Easy Dave. Hutch isn’t here right now. He asked me to wait with ya though. How much do you remember?’

Starsky closed his eyes and thought hard, the memories setting up a deep thud of pain in his body. Hutch asked Dobey to wait. Yeah, that was so like his partner! He concentrated hard. ‘Lilly……found out who I was……creeps got ….. better of me’.

‘Yeah, they did a number on you ok’.

‘Cap’n, heist……is Friday’.

‘Friday? Where? What time?’ Dobey asked

Starsky coughed weakly. ‘Damn…..don’t know. Need t’see Hutch. It wasn’t his fault….not….his fault’ he mumbled, his eyes once again clouding with exhaustion.

‘Hutch is still on the assignment, but he’s fine. He knows you’re ok. Starsky? Who shot you?’ Dobey asked, not wanting to understand what he thought the injured cop was trying to tell him.

The troubled eyes flashed open again and Starsky’s head rolled on the pillow as though he were trying to shake himself rid of his memories. ‘Didn’t have no choice….Bo would’ve if he hadn’t’.

‘Hutch did this? Hutch shot you?’ Dobey asked incredulously

‘Yeah’ the word was no more than a sigh ‘Ut’sh….need t’see him…..Hutch……Utch’ the brunet’s eyes closed and he started to murmur the name over and again becoming more agitated by the moment as he called for his absent partner. The Captain pushed the nurse call button and within seconds, the pretty nurse from earlier and the doctor who’d been assigned to the case came into the small room. As the doctor shone his penlight into Starsky’s eyes and held his wrist to check his pulse, Maureen was soothing her patient, whispering nonsense words quietly as she rested her hand on the brunet’s forehead, running her fingers through his hair. Slowly the cop quietened down some and as the doctor injected sedative into the port on the drip feed he looked around angrily.

‘I thought I told you he wasn’t to be upset’.

‘I…I didn’t. I just asked him what he remembered’ Dobey blustered feeling guiltier by the minute. Doctor Roberts had a fearsome reputation although he was an excellent doctor. The Captain was more than shocked by the revelation that the blond had been forced to shoot his partner and now, the state Hutch had been in when he’d made the phone call two day earlier made even more sense. He felt bad for the big wheaten haired cop, worse now that he knew what Hutch had been through, but he reminded himself that it would only be another couple of days before the whole operation was over. And now that Starsky had regained consciousness, if Hutch did mange to get through again, he’d have the good news for him.

‘I’ve given him something to help him sleep. He won’t wake for a couple of hours. I’ll be back when he does. He needs answers before he can start to heal’.

‘Yeah, thanks Doc’ Dobey said as he looked at the body on the bed. ‘I have to get back out there, but I’m leaving two men here to guard him. He got up heavily and went out into the corridor where Simmonetti, O’Rourke and Jiminez were waiting.

‘News?’ the Irishman asked. His beard was dark on his face marking the fact he’d taken no more than a few minutes at a time away from the brunet’s bedside in the past two days.

‘He’s been awake for a couple of minutes. He doesn’t remember too much, and he’s weak’ Dobey reported.

‘Did he tell you who shot him?’ O’Rourke pressed further.

Dobey lifted pain filled eyes and nodded. ‘We have to finish this soon. It’s costing too much. Get Hutch outa there by the end of the week’.

‘Uh huh. We will, but who did it Cap? Who pulled the trigger?’

The rotund black man sighed and rubbed his eyes wearily with his hand. ‘Hutch did it’ he said, leaving the three other men in shocked silence.

Later that day, with Dobey gone back to his office and O’Rourke back out staking out the warehouse, Simmonetti and Jiminez waited outside Starsky’s room as the doctor walked in. The brunet was once more awake and had surprised the doctor with his recuperative powers. He knew Starsky needed answers and he was about to give them.

The two cops followed the broad back of the doctor into the room and stood at the back as the medic sat down on the chair by the bed. Starsky’s eyes followed the action and finally settled on Doc Roberts. He was a medium height, portly man with a gingerish beard and a shock of golden blond hair which refused to lie flat, giving him a lion-like quality. Piercing blue eyes fixed the detective and the doctor smiled.

‘You’ll be needing to know what we had to do to fix you up’ he said without preamble. ‘Let me tell you, you gave us quite a scare detective and it was touch and go for a while’.

Starsky sighed. He’d been here before and listened to much the same speech and it didn’t impress him. ‘Just gimme the facts Doc and spare the drama huh?’ His voice was still rasping and weak, but his eyes held some of their old fire now and Roberts smiled at him, immediately liking his patient.

‘Ok, the facts. When your friends got you to the hospital you’d lost a quarter of your blood volume. Over the course of the past three days you’ve received seven pints of blood. You were shot in your left upper chest and the bullet was either aimed very carefully or you were extremely lucky. It missed virtually every major blood vessel, although it has still done some quite severe damage’.

‘They have a habit of it’ the brunet mumbled.

‘Don’t they just? The bullet wound was compounded by your broken collar bone and broken left elbow. We’ve set them both, hence your left arm is strapped to your chest for the time being to give the injuries some support. We’ve stitched the major lacerations on your face, notably the wound on your right temple and down your left cheek. Your eye will be fine, although I want you to keep the patch on for several more days yet’.

It wasn’t till that moment that Starsky realised he had no depth perception and that his right eye wasn’t working. He swallowed down hard, vague memories of the beating resurfacing and making his heart beat wildly in his chest. Roberts saw his patient getting weaker and pressed on quickly.

‘I’m afraid we had to perform a splenectomy. Your spleen was ruptured during your maltreatment and was beyond repair. You’re abdomen will continue to be painful for a while and you have a drain there at the moment. You’ll feel more comfortable when that’s removed. And finally, your right leg was damaged and you dislocated your right kneecap, but we’ve surgically cleaned the area and it’s currently strapped up. You shouldn’t have too many problems with it later on, but for the moment we need you to rest it. Are there any questions for me? I know this is a lot to take in’.

Starsky shook his head. He felt tired, washed out, and the list of injuries left him reeling. He knew he’d been hurt fairly badly, but having the doctor catalogue them all left him feeling faintly nauseous and had set up a deep throb of pain within his body. ‘No, m’fine doc. Thanks…… guess I owe ya one’.

Roberts recognised the signs of fatigue. Starsky’s voice was getting weaker and he stood up swiftly. ‘Rest Mr Starsky, that’s what you need. Complete rest. You know where I am if you need me’ he smiled and exited the room, leaving the brunet alone with Jiminez and Simmonetti. As the two detectives watched, the curly haired cop’s eyes slid shut and once again, he as asleep.

The next time he awoke the room was bathed in a warm amber light and he assumed it was late evening or some time during the night. He could hear muttered voices in his room and for a moment couldn’t remember where he was. Only when he’d opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling for a few seconds did his memory return and he looked sideways, seeing Jiminez and Simmonetti deep in conversation and with their backs to him.

‘Guys’ he mumbled but they didn’t hear him and he tuned into Jiminez and Simonetti’s conversation.

‘I can’t believe Hutch would have shot him’ Jiminez said wonderingly. ‘What sort of guy would shoot is partner?’

‘Well he shot his wife dead’ Simmonetti’s voice responded. ‘They all tell a different tale, but I tell ya. Me an’ the guy I used to partner – we investigated it an’ it was all a cover up. That Hutchinson’s a wild card alright. Wouldn’t trust him to piss on me if I was on fire!’

‘Didn’t know he’d been married’.

‘Yeah. An’ she was a looker too, till he….. Well she wasn’t pretty at the end. He….’

‘Didn’t kill Van’ Starsky muttered angrily, stopping the two men’s conversation in their tracks. They looked around guiltily and Simmonetti stood up and walked over to the bed.

‘How’re you doing?’ he asked coldly.

‘Be better if you weren’t here’ Starsky snapped weakly.

‘You’d be better if you had a safer partner. At least then you wouldn’t be here at all’.

The brunet sighed. ‘How’d ya figure that Einstein?’

‘Well a normal partner wouldn’t have shot his best friend’ Simmonetti grunted.

‘Shudup. Ya don’t know shit!’ Starsky’s voice rose, as did the pain levels in his body. Behind Simmonetti, Jiminez was trying to keep the peace.

‘Hey, guys, guys. Enough already. Cool it Starsky, Ivan didn’t mean nothing. Let me go get the nurse’. Jiminez raced for the door and down the corridor.

‘Yeah, I did, an’ he knows it. He knows what a good for nothing cowardly piece o’ shit Hutchinson is. Any normal guy would’a tried to save his partner’s life rather than try an’ kill him’ Simmonetti grinned down at the injured cop, pressing home his advantage now that he and his arch enemy were alone.

Starsky struggled to sit up, determined he was going to have a piece of the former IA cop, no matter what shape he was in. With his right hand he flung the sheet, groaning as he tried to put his legs over the side of the bed. The drips, the drains and the monitor leads all anchored him to the bed and in desperation he started to claw at them, just as Maureen raced back into the room.

‘What the hell?’ she exclaimed, running to her patient and taking hold of his shoulders. The exertion had been too much for the sable haired cop and as she took a hold of him, his head rested on her shoulder, Starsky’s body trembling in her grasp. She eased him back onto the bed, where he lay panting, eyes closed as his head rolled on the pillow. She could feel the heat radiating from his body as he started moaning Hutch’s name again. Maureen looked up angrily.

‘What just happened?’

Simonnetti licked his lips nervously. ‘He’s crazy! He was trying to attack me! He needs some sort of sedation. Can’t ya give him something – at the very least he needs restraining – for his own safety. Here’. the cop came forward and before Maureen could stop him, he’d taken a hold of Starsky’s right arm, snicked one half of his cuffs on and secured the other half to the head of the bed.

The brunet seemed not to notice. He was lost in his delirium now and Maureen tried hard to calm him, soothing his forehead and running a cold cloth down his cheek. But nothing could quiet the fevered moans and cries and finally she knew she had no other choice. Taking the syringe that Doc Roberts had left just in case, she inserted it into the port of the drip and depressed the plunger, sending the sedative into the brunet’s bloodstream.

Indigo eyes flashed open. ‘Utch….Ut’sh…..help me…..Ut’sh….nooooo, please…..’. Slowly the sedative started to take effect as Jiminez glared angrily at Simmonetti and Maureen continued to sit by the injured cop.

Chapter 14

Hutch levered himself off the narrow bunk bed and padded over to the washstand, wincing as he took his arm out of the sling and started to flex it. The doctor, a man Lilly found who’d been struck off for malpractice, but was happy to continue practicing in the shady underworld, had fixed him up competently, if a little painfully. Being struck off meant no access to Lidocane, and so the twelve stitches inserted into the wound on his arm had been competent, but had stung like fury. Now, three days later, his arm was healing well, but remained stiff and sore. He looked at his reflection in the mirror and smiled grimly at the black shadows under each eye and the slightly unkempt look of his hair. He’d had no time to look after himself in these last four months, but today was going to put an end to all that. Today, he was going to have to try to get out to warm Dobey. The heist was taking place tonight.

Walking out into the restaurant for breakfast, he skirted the table where Bo and Ramp were sitting, got himself a coffee and sat down next to Mel. Since the fight, relations between the four men had been strained to say the least and despite Lilly having given them all a pep talk, they were still not up to civilised conversation, especially not first thing in the morning.

Last night had been another heavy one for Hutch. After Lilly had seen him get hurt, she seemed to have taken even more of a liking to the big blond and had invited him to her bed twice. The first time, he’d managed to refuse, blaming the pain in his arm for his lack of enthusiasm. Last night, however she’d not taken no for an answer and once again, she’d used Hutch purely for her own pleasure, sending him away the minutes she’d come down from her climax. Last night, Hutch had had no pleasure in the proceedings at all. Last night all the blond wanted was to get out of her bed, out of her sight and back to his partner.

But last night also, Lilly had got the four men together and had sworn them to secrecy. She’d told them that on the next day – Friday, late in the afternoon, a large shipment of Mexican Brown would be coming into pier 16 and that they would all be required to get down there and stand point, while the shipment was unloaded and stowed away. When they’d asked her how large the shipment was, Hutch had been absolutely staggered at her answer. 300 kilos of the drug were due to be offloaded. Millions of dollars worth of Heroin, right there, destined for the dealers and pushers on the streets of Bay City.

He stared into his coffee cup now, his thoughts dark and uncomfortable. Since he’d had the phone call with Dobey, he felt slightly better about his partner, although he was still no wiser as to how the brunet was recovering. He needed to find out and didn’t know if he could last 'till tomorrow when this would all be over and he could finally be reunited with Starsky. He looked up as Madame Lilly came into the room and looked around.

‘I need one of you to deliver this’ she said, waving an envelope vaguely in the air. ‘Address across town. Do you think any of you idiots would be up to it?

Hutch seized his chance and stood up. ‘I’ll do it’.

The woman turned her lavender eyes on him and beamed. ‘Thanks Cal. I can always count on you!’ she handed him the envelope. 1725 West Chesterfield. They’re expecting it’ she said. ‘And Cal. Don’t waste any time huh?’

Hutch forced a smile onto his face and nodded. ‘Sure thing. In and out like a duck mating. Be right back’. He headed for the door and out to the car, getting in with a lighter heart. At least this way, he had the perfect opportunity to contact Dobey and let him know about the bust tomorrow. For the first time he started to sing as he drove, enjoying the freedom of being on his own for a while, safe in the knowledge that Starsky was still alive and he’d be with him by this time tomorrow.

With the sun streaming down on the car and the lunchtime traffic being heavy, the blond didn’t notice the dark green Pontiac three cars back. The one that seemed to keep up with him, making the same turns and corners that he did. Until the last one, when he ducked down a side street and disappeared. The driver of the Pontiac hit the steering wheel in frustration and cursed.

‘We lost him’.

‘Don’t matter, just head across town. We can surprise him when he gets there. No problem. He wouldn’t dare not turn up’.

‘Fine, just don’t tell Lilly we lost him huh?’

Down the quiet side street, he pulled over to the side of the road, still singing as he got out and trotted over to the telephone booth on the grass verge. Fishing a dime out of his back pocket, he dropped it into the slot and punched numbers, waiting till he heard the click of the pickup at the other end of the line.


‘Yeah, this is Dobey. That you Hutchinson?’

‘Uh huh. How’s Starsky?’

‘He’s gonna make it. He’s weak, but he’s getting’ there. Simmonetti and Jiminez are guarding him. He’s at the house’.

‘Ya got those two goons with him? Oh jeez Cap!’

‘Shudup Hutchinson. He’s safe. Leave it there. Have you got something for me?’

‘Yeah, the bust is going down at Pier 16 this evening, late. Be there. I can’t stay, don’t have a lot of time’.

‘Keep cool Hutch, we’ll be there. Stay put and take care. Where are ya goin’ now?’

The blond cast another look at the address on the white envelope. 1725 West Chesterfield’ he read. ‘Gotta drop a message off then I’m goin’ back to the Restaurant. She wants us all back by 15 hundred’.

‘Ok, well. So as you know everything is in place, I’m gonna ring Le Quatre Seasons at 15:30 this afternoon and ask to speak to Cal Gibbons. When you pick up, I’ll know everything is cool. From then on, just go with the flow. You’ve done good Hutchinson, Real good. We’re on the home straight now’.

‘Yeah, an’ it can’t come soon enough Cap’n. I want out, soon. Hear from ya this afternoon’. Hutch put the phone down and trotted back to the car feeling better by the moment. Less than 24 hours of this and he’d be back home, in his own apartment with his plants and a cold beer. With a happy smile he got back in the car, switched on the engine and pulled out into the road.

Fifteen minutes later, he pulled up outside the seedy guesthouse at 1725 West Chesterfield. Looking up at the grimy windows, the, grey curtains at the windows and the peeling dark green paint on the door, Hutch didn’t understand which one of Lilly’s normally classy contacts would be lurking here. With an abundance of caution, he pulled the Glock pistol out of the glove compartment of the car, checked the magazine and stowed it down the waistband at the back of his jeans. He got slowly out of his car and left the door open as he made his way up the steps to the frnt of the building.

The green painted door stood open, swinging slightly on its hinges and for some reason the hairs on the back of the blond’s neck started to stand up, his cop senses, finely honed over the years taking over. Taking the Glock from its hiding place, he held its reassuring weight in his hand and pushed open the door as he walked inside. The corridor was bare boarded, the paintwork inside even worse than that on the door. Now convinced that there was something not right about this, he continued up the corridor, coming to a stop at the door at the end. Gently he reached out and pushed as it swung inwards with a creek. The interior was in darkness, the old dirty curtains pulled tight across the window. The only furniture in the room was a large heavy wooden chair standing alone in the middle.

Now convinced that this was not the address Lilly had in mind, Hutch took the envelope out of his jacket pocket and held it up to the light. 1725 West Winchester. Well this was definitely the right address, but what the hell? Suddenly he heard a small noise behind him and spun around. A large black haired man barred the way to the exit, seeming to fill the doorway with his bulk. Hutch licked his lips nervously and held out the envelope. Was this a test or something? Hutch had no idea, but instead of the fight he’d expected, the giant of a man nodded soundlessly, turned on his heel ad left, leaving the blond wondering what it had all been about.


Across the city, Starsky woke from his sleep to see O’Rourke sitting at the back of his room. In the three days since he first woke up, he’d managed to get rid of the troublesome catheter, one of the drips and the oxygen cannula. The only think that still really annoyed him was that his right hand remained cuffed to the bed, Simmonetti having convinced the doctor that Starsky was likely to be a danger to himself and maybe others.

‘Hey’ he greeted the Irishmen weakly ‘Your turn for nursemaid huh?.

‘Yeah. Can I get you anythin’ man?’

Starsky stared at the ceiling for a moment. ‘A gun for those two flakes’.

‘Join the line man. I never met two more annoyin’ turkeys’ O'Rourke grinned.

‘Yeah’ Starsky sighed and tried to move around in the bed, but his strapped up left side and the cuffed right wrist prevented the movements and he groaned softly. ‘Pat, d’ya think you could do sumthin about this?’ he waggled the metal bracelet and it clanged against the metalwork of the bed.

‘Ya promise not to try the Houdini thing again?’

‘Do I look like I could escape from a paper sack right now? C’mon man. Aint goin’ nowhere. You're the only one tha'll see sense’.

O’Rourke grinned and took a key from his vest pocket inserting it into the lock on the cuffs. A moment later Starsky was free and rotating his wrist luxuriously in the air. Pat took it and started to rub the circulation back into it with a chuckle.

‘You really know how to piss Simmonetti off, even when you’re looped on meds!’

‘Hey, what can I say? It’s my goal in life to make his existence a misery’ the brunet grinned. His face turned serious. ‘Have ya heard from Hutch? Is he ok? He looked rough when I saw him an’ this…..this whole thing's been tough on him’.

‘Dobey had a call this morning. He managed to get away for a while. Said he had a delivery to make so he’d managed to get to a phone booth. He’s fine. The bust goes down tonight and then he’ll be back with ya. You miss him, don’t ya?’

‘More’n I can say’ Starsky agreed. ‘He looked so lost when we were on the dunes. He didn’t want to……’ the brunet sighed. ‘It’s a mess Pat. This whole thing is a screw up. I won’t rest easy till it’s all done and Hutch is back safe’.

‘Well try to rest easy anyhow. Dobey said he sounded good and he knows you’re feelin’ better. He’ll be fine. He’s a big boy, he can take care of himself. There’s only a few hours left. What can go wrong?’

Chapter 15

Hutch sat with Mel in the car at the end of Pier 16. Whatever the nonesense with the visit to West Chesterfield had been about, there was now no sigh of huge men dressed in black, and idly, Hutch wondered if it was just another one of Lilly's tests. Trusting soul that she was, Hutch felt he could suspect her of doing almost anything to ensure her operation went smoothly and he shuddered at the prespect. Taking his mind away from dark thoughts, he concentrated on the heist. He’d had the phone call from Dobey that afternoon, as promised, asking for Cal Gibbons and he had taken it, being vague and non-committal in the extreme. It wouldn’t do to blow his over at the last possible opportunity. After that he felt more confident and had prepared with the others for the evenings job.

At five o’clock, the four heavies had all got themselves ready and headed out to the cars, with Lilly’s instructions ringing in their ears. Make the bust, get the stuff under wraps and get out. All they were expected to do was babysit the exchange. She would follow on and would do the rest. Hutch had checked his gun carefully and had added an extra few clips to the three already in his pocket. He didn’t expect the goons to go down without a fight and he knew he needed to be ready.

And now he was in position at the end of the pier, waiting for the shipment to appear. A small type of tug boat had appeared at the mouth of the harbour a few minutes ago and as it chugged its way up to the mooring, Hutch could just make out two men in the small wheelhouse. Looking around at the docks, he also spied three police marksmen carefully concealed behind some air conditioning stacks on the roof of another of the warehouses and two more in a vessel moored further up the pier. Dobey had worked his magic and Hutch felt confident that the bust was as good as scuppered.

As the boat pulled in closer and one of the sailors threw a mooring line to Bo, Hutch and Mel got slowly out of the car. The blond cop knew that they couldn’t officially arrest anyone until the exchange had formally taken place and so now he watched carefully as the two sailors jumped ashore and started an earnest conversation with Bo and Ramp. Within minutes, the two men had nodded, shaken hands and had stepped on board the craft, signalling for Hutch and Mel to join them.

As Hutch walked slowly behind the ginger haired man down the wooden boardwalk, the blond could almost feel the crackle of electricity in the air - barely suppressed excitement as Mel got his first good look at the bricks of brown resin wrapped in greased paper and plastic ,lining the bows of the ship. The bricks were three deep and arranged along the gunwales ready for unloading and their coverings caught the evening sun and gleamed like blocks of molten bronze. The goon giggled to himself and looked back at Hutch, his eyes widening to the size of soup plates as he saw in the distance a black suited marksman running up behind him. Mel turned to try to shout a warning to Bo, Ramp and the two sailors as Hutch drew his gun and held it two handed pointing skywards.

‘Police freeze’ he shouted and fired a warning shot heavenwards.

The two men on the boat ignored him, as did every flake he’d ever shouted it at. Whoever had written the police text book on the matter had obviously never had to use the technique for real. Instead, the shout had the opposite effect and now there was a welter of activity both on the boat and also on dry land as marksmen appeared from everywhere. As the two sailors took their chances with the murky, oil tainted water and jumped overboard, Mel ran back past Hutch, his arms in the air as he tried to dash past the marksman. The man knelt and levelled his Lee Enfield rifle at the ginger hared man who cowered down on the ground, covering his head with his hands. Hutch heard him whimper and tell the cop he’d come quite and not to shoot. Ahead, the flaxen haired cop could see Ramp diving for cover in the boat, hotly pursued by another marksman, while a third stalked Bo.

Hutch ran the length of the pier, yelling back at the rifle toting cop. ’Leave him Mike, that one’s mine’. Bo turned and grinned at the blond as Mike turned back to check on his partner in the boat, leaving Hutch and Bo facing off down the pier.

‘Well who’d have thought? Good ole Cal Gibbons is a pig!’ Nice work Mr Po – lice – man’ he taunted. ‘We gonna finish it here Cal? Mano a mano as it were?’

‘The names Hutchinson, an’ yeah, we’re gonna finish it here. Right here, right now punk. Coz I have a few scores to settle, like what you did to my partner’ Hutch grunted.

‘Partner? Which….no! Surely not. Oh I get it now. Shapiro…..Starsky. He was your partner? Oh man, that must’a broke you up. That took balls man, shootin’ him like that. Are you a crazy shot, or did ya mean to kill him?’

The last comment finally broke Hutch’s steely reserves of patience, and with a yell, he launched himself at Bo, his momentum from the flying tackle sending both men off the edge of the pier and into the water. Hutch surfaced first and cast around him in a circle looking for Bo to appear. A moment later he felt a yank on his ankle and a strong hand pulled him under the water. He managed to take a desperate gasp of air before he was under and staring at Bo’s fist travelling towards him like a pile driver.

The hand connected, but fortunately was cushioned by the water and so the blow was lessened. It snapped the blond’s head back sufficiently though and the momentum spun Bo round so that his back was towards the cop. Hutch shook his head to clear it and seized the opportunity to lunged forwards, locking his arms around Bo’s throat, squeezing hard as the big man’s hands started to claw at his arms.

Silvery air bubbles streamed from Hutch’s nose as he held on, fighting to stop himself from taking a breath. His lungs burned with the need to breathe and yet still Bo fought on although his struggles were getting weaker. With a final effort, Bo kicked out one last time and then the goon’s body finally hung limp in Hutch’s arms and with powerful desperate kicks of his long legs, the cop finned for the surface, his head breaking the surface of the water as his mouth opened to suck air greedily into his lungs. He looked around, seeing one of the marksmen hanging over the side of the boat, holding out a hand to him and with Bo’s unconscious body tucked under one arm, the flaxen haired cop struck out for the side, handing Bo up to the waiting men before allowing himself to be pulled bodily into the boat himself. He lay on the bottom gasping and limp like a fish in its death throes as around him men were still mopping up the last of the operation. It had gone down in textbook fashion and as he looked up, Hutch could see Dobey walking across the gangplank towards him.

He forced himself to sit up and gratefully accepted the towel that one of the officers handed to him. As Dobey squatted down on the quayside above him as he started to towel at his face and hair.

‘Nice to see you again Hutchinson’ the black man said softly. ‘You did good, real good’.

‘How’s Starsky?’ Hutch asked, his question muffled by the towel.

‘Wanting to see you’.

‘Feeling’s mutual. Where’s Lilly?’

Dobey looked around. ‘Wasn’t she here?’

‘No, I thought you guys had waited till she’d arrived. Shit! We didn’t get her?’ the blond V’d his eyebrows in annoyance.

‘I thought she was on the boat. Hutch? Hutch, where are you goin?’ Dobey yelled as the blond staggered to his feet in a spray of salt water droplets, vaulted onto the dock wall and ran for the nearest black and white.

‘I’m gonna put the bitch away if it’s the last thing I do’ he yelled over his shoulder as he got into the car and started to drive away.

‘Where are ya goin’?’

‘Restaurant…..she’ll head back there’ Hutch answered through the open window

‘We’ll meet you there’ Dobey yelled back as he got himself together.

Hutch sat in the puddle on the seat, his clothes still dripping wet as he drove. In his head he went over everything he’d love to say to the woman who’d caused him so much heartache over the past months. But truth to tell, now that all of her operation had been blown out of the water, all he really wanted to do was to get back to his partner, go home and sleep for a month. He drove mechanically through the downtown traffic and the deepening gloom and as he drew up in the alleyway at the back of Le Quatre Seasons he had the satisfaction of seeing her car there, engine running as if for a swift getaway.

The blond got out of his car and made his way into the back entrance of the restaurant, through to Lilly’s quarters. He flung open the door, before he realised that his pistol was now feeding the fish at the bottom of the bay. Damn, why did he have to be so impetuous now?

Cautiously he walked into the room, his senses on high alert as he looked left and right. He didn’t see her immediately, but Lilly saw him and in a whirlwind of movement she launched herself at him, her own gun outstretched and aimed directly at Hutch. She loosed off a shot and the cop rolled himself behind one of her easy chairs, but from there she had him pinned. Another shot rang out, sending up splinters of wood and stuffing from the well padded furniture and as he stood and dived for the safety of the bathroom, she shot again.

Hutch felt the hot metal rip into his shoulder, sending him catapulting against the door lintel and within a second Lilly was on top of him, beating at him with her fists and shrieking at him.

‘You’re a cop! You thought you could take me down. Well you can’t, you can’t. Was its good for you? Did you enjoy watching me with your pretty curly partner? Feel jealous did you?’ she asked, pounding at his wounded shoulder with her fists.

‘Lilly, listen to me’ he tried to calm her, gritting his teeth against the pain, but again she brought the gun up, this time aiming it right between his eyes as she stared down at him, full of hate’.

‘We would have been good together, you and me. I always did like you more than the others. I’d have been willing to share’ she said softly. ‘I would have shared with you Cal’ the gun wavered and Hutch stared dry mouthed down the barrel as her finger twitched against the trigger. He closed his eyes.

‘Don’t do this Lilly. Don’t add murder to your rap sheet. It’s not worth it’ he muttered, opening his eyes to fix her with a crystalline gaze.

‘You don’t know shit’ she cried, tears now running down her cheeks. ‘I can’t live behind bars, it’d kill me. I’m gonna have to kill you, then I’m next’. The gun levelled once again at him and Hutch’s heart stopped beating as he saw her index finger start to squeeze.

The shot rang out, making him scream and his body twitch beneath the woman and Hutch closed his eyes one last time, the pains from his wounds blending into one gigantic blaze of agony. The room seemed to dip sideways and then there was only blackness.

Lilly looked down at the flaxen haired cop in sorrow and shock. Her hands came up, one to clutch at her chest and one that gently brushed the stray golden hairs from Hutch's forehead before she slumped down, her own body covering his. In the doorway, Dobey stood with a smoking gun looking at the hole he’d just blown in Lilly Matteu’s chest.

Chapter 16

The lights of the room seemed very bright through his closed eyelids and Hutch wished someone would switch them out. His mouth felt dry and he had that chemical fuzziness in his body that comes from anaesthetic topped up with morphine. He twitched his body experimentally and felt the pressure of bandages across his chest and the sting and pull of a needle and drip feed in his left arm. But mostly he felt incredibly tired. There were voices close to him and in a fevered moment he thought he could hear Starsky’s voice. But that was impossible wasn’t it? He’d shot his partner and almost killed him. Starsky was at the safe house and he was in Lilly’s restaurant right?

With a tired sigh, he tried to dip back into his dreamless sleep, but the pains in his body refused to let him.

For a time, the blond hugged the pains to him. He’d inflicted pains on his partner, so it seemed only right that he should endure some too. But pretty soon, the pains that had niggled at him and then burned with a bright ferocity around his shoulder started to eat at him so that he could no longer remain quiet. Sweat beaded on his brow and he could feel it prickling over the bridge of his nose and on his cheeks and eventually he could no longer contain the low moan.

Immediately, he felt a pressure by his side and a hand on his arm. And then he heard it – the quiet watered down Brooklyn accent he’d come to know and love.

‘Hutch? Hutch wake up buddy. C’mon open those baby blues huh? Need to see those eyes bud.’

OK. What Starsky wanted, Starsky usually got, but Hutch couldn’t for the life of him think why the brunet would want to be anywhere near him after what had happened. With an effort, Hutch forced his eyes open and looked up, but instead of seeing those dark indigo eyes seeking out his own, he saw only a white painted ceiling surrounded by drip feed bags and monitors. It wasn’t until he looked to his side that he saw his partner, still in bed, but propped on his side and looking directly at him. The beds had been pushed close together so that Starsky was within touching distance and now his friend's hand rested on his left arm.

‘Ssstarssssk’ he whispered, struggling to form the word in his drugged state.

‘Yeah, it’s me buddy. Right here. Aint goin’ nowhere’ the brunet assured him. Although it still hurt the curly haired cop to move too much himself, he was in markedly better shape than his partner currently was. Hutch had been unconscious for almost 24 hours since he’d been brought into the small safe house, the bullet having been removed from his shoulder in almost a mirror image wound to the brunet’s own.

Hutch furrowed his brows and concentrated on what he wanted to say. ‘Sstarsk….m’sorry’.

‘Sorry? What for?’

The blond fought against the pains ricocheting around his body, trying to stop himself from crying out. ‘I hurt ya’ he said simply before a gasp was wrung from him. Immediately Starsky rang the bell for the doctor and moments later Doctor Roberts rushed in, bending over his second patient to check him out. Without another word, he injected more pain meds into the drip and smiled down at the blond.

‘That should make you feel more comfortable. Try to get some rest, you’ll feel better tomorrow’. He looked at Starsky and smiled again ‘And you need to rest too. Enough chat, otherwise I’ll move your bed back to the corner’.

Starsky flipped a wave with his unbandaged right hand and grinned. ‘Yes sir’ he deadpanned and rested back on his pillows till Roberts left. Once they were alone, he shuffled over in bed until he was closer to his partner and once again took a hold of Hutch’s hand. The blond stirred.

‘You still there?’

‘Yeah, like I said, aint goin’ nowhere. Sleep Blondie, I’ll be here when ya wake up’.

With a huge effort Hutch opened his eyes and gazed at his friend ‘You forgive me?’ he whispered.

‘Aww Jeez Hutch. Nothing to forgive pal. If you hadn’t done what you did, I’d be dead now’.

Talking was becoming harder, but Hutch had one final thing to say before he rested. ‘Gonna quit’ he managed to gasp before the morphine overtook him. Starsky looked dumbstruck and lay back on his pillows. God he hoped he’d misheard.

Over the next two days as Hutch and Starsky both started to regain their strength the brunet tried on a couple of occasions to broach the subject of quitting again, but each time Hutch either changed the subject, or flatly refused to discuss it. Their relationship was as easy as ever, but now Hutch refused to be drawn on any subject that even remotely touched on the future. Finally though, when both were well enough to get out of bed, they tottered down to the small sitting room on the ground floor and sat looking out of the window at the beach and the ocean yards from the door of the safe house.

There was silence for a few minutes but finally the smaller man broke it, unable to wait any longer.

‘Hutch we gotta talk’.

The blond snorted. ‘Ya never do anythin’ but buddy’.

‘You know what I mean. We need to talk about us’.

‘Not now Starsk’.

‘Yes now. You’ve danced around it for days since that bitch shot ya. But now we need to talk about it. I need to talk about it’.

‘I don’t. I made my mind up’ Hutch said, wishing he had the strength to get up and walk out of the room.

‘And you didn’t think to discuss it with me?’ there was an edge of anger in the brunet’s voice and Hutch looked away, not wanting to see the hurt in the indigo eyes.

‘Nothing to discuss buddy’.

‘Nothing to…….you’re gonna quit an’ it has nuthin to do with me? Shit buddy, does eight years of bein’ partners mean nuthin to ya?’

Hutch put his head in his hands and Starsky had to strain to hear the whispered reply. ‘It means everything to me. That’s why I have to quit’.

‘Why? Tell me why? Coz some flake beat up on me? Coz some evil bitch shot you? Why? Explain it to me’ Starsky voice sounded loud in the small room and there was an angry red flush to his handsome features.

‘All of that yeah. But mostly coz I nearly killed you. Fuck! For almost a day I thought I had killed you and there was nothing I could do about it’ Hutch lifted his head and the brunet was stunned to see tears rolling down the golden face. ‘That’s too much to ask of anyone Starsk. I love you man. I love you like a brother and having to do that…..having to even think about it is too much. I died inside that day, even if you didn’t. The only thing that kept me going was revenge, and that’s no way for a cop to function. I can’t do this any more. I can’t stand by with the notion that you may get hurt, or ... or worse. I can’t and I won’t. Please Starsk...please don't make me’.

The blond put his head back in his hands, weary now that he’d finally said what he’d wanted to say for some time. He sank back in his chair and closed his eyes, unaware that Starsky was shuffling painfully off his chair and limping over to him. He felt a body perching on the arm of his chair and looked up.

‘Hutch, you’re the best cop I know. You’re also the best human being I know and the best friend I ever had. There is no way I could ever think of carrying on without you. An' no way in hell that I'd ever want anythin' to hurt ya. But you're a damned good cop - the best there is, next to me of course' he paused but ther was no rejoinder from his partner and with a sigh, Starsky continued, knowing the time for jokes and light heartedness had long since past. Hutch was deadly serious about leaving and for the brunet, the light had gone out in his world. He sighed. 'Fine. You quit, I quit, but I don’t think you really want to do that, do ya buddy? Ya really want to condemn us to robbing banks in Bolivia?’


‘Robbin’ banks in Bolivia. Can’t think of anythin’ else we could do. We’d be like Butch and Sundance, but I’d kinda want to keep the cash for a while. I aint got no savings’ he grinned.

The blond looked at him disbelieving. ‘Robbing banks in Bolivia? That’s the best you can come up with?’ he asked.

‘Well it’s kinda short notice’.

‘An' you said "Condemn us" huh? You’re determined to stick with me, whatever?’ Hutch asked with a note of wonder in his voice.

‘Why wouldn’t I? Besides, better the devil ya know…. Took me ages to break you in buddy, couldn’t face trainin’ another partner’.

‘This isn’t a joke Starsk. I mean this. Its hard for me to think about, but I’m not sure I can do this with you any more’ Hutch said seriously.

‘Well I’m damned sure I can’t do it without you, so we either both stay or both go. No other choice’ Starsky said with feeling.

‘I don’t want you to go’ Hutch said softly, his hand resting on the brunet’s knee.

‘So ya wanna rob banks?’


‘So what’re ya sayin’?’ Starsky asked, feeling like he was poised on a knife edge.

Hutch sighed as deeply as his wounds would allow. ‘I dunno Starsk. Every fibre in my body rebels against the thought of goin’ through that again, but weighed against losing you……’

‘So don’t lose me. We get well, we get out there and we show everyone the dynamic duo are back. And like always we watch each other’s backs. Me and thee time again’. Starsky looked pleased with himself that he’d backed his partner into a corner and he hobbled back to his chair, sitting down with a groan and a self satisfied look on his face.

‘You’re impossible, you know that’ Hutch snorted.

‘That’s what Mom always said.'

‘Uh huh. And she should know’.

‘She also said I talked sense most of the time’.

‘She did? Wow! And I always thought she was so sane’.

‘Comments like that will not get you invited to New York for Thanksgiving’.

‘So we go to Duluth….no, scratch that. We have thanksgiving right here, just the two of us. Turkey, candles, wine...’.

Starsky snorted. ‘Oh my God! Sounds like you’re proposin’!' he laughed.

And as he looked away, Hutch nodded. ‘Proposin'? Maybe I was. Proposin' that we spend the rest of our workin' lives together, kinda like a marriage huh?’ he whispered to himself, rested his head back against the chair and closed his eyes, drifting into the first relaxed sleep he’d had for months.