Chain Reaction

OK. ths story was written as a request from the three mousketeers who asked for an Academy story and how Hutch and Starsky met. Of course, there was trouble around every corner, even in the early days, and it always seems to target Curly boy.

I always find it difficult to write about them in their early years, but...here goes.

Disclaimer - I don't own them and I don't make money from them...you know how it goes by now!

Chapter 1

‘Gentlemen, the Colt Python Magnum is a double action handgun chambered for a powerful .357 Magnum cartridge. Pythons have a reputation for superior accuracy, smooth trigger pull and a tight cylinder lock-up which is why Bay City Police Department choose to use them. We do not play fast and loose with our officers’ lives. It features precision adjustable sights, a smooth trigger, solid construction, and is heavy enough for you to be reminded again and again that this is a lethal weapon. Any questions?’ Sergeant Ball puffed out his chest importantly and looked around the group of a dozen police cadets as if challenging them to ask him anything.

‘Sir, will we always have to use the Colt?’ The voice came from a tall, slim, curly haired cadet with piercing blue eyes that held a trace of amusement. While all the other cadets were taking in Ball’s show of confidence and expertise with the weapon, Cadet David Michael Starsky had seen it all before. He tried to keep the edge of indifference out of his voice and show the proper respect for the man he considered to be a show off, but it was tough. As an ex soldier Starsky had fired everything from SA70s and anti tank guns through to small, lightweight Berettas and the Colt had never been one of his favourite weapons.

‘Did you have something else in mind?’ Ball asked coldly. In the three weeks since the new intake had been at the Academy, he’d seen how the brunet and one or two of the others could handle themselves and he saw the young man with the indigo blue eyes as something of a threat to his superiority. Ball was a man who preferred raw recruits who he could impress with his made up stories of daring and Starsky, Hutchinson and that oddball Colby all had the air of men who’d seen it all for real. They weren’t impressed by his fantasies at all.

‘No, I just wondered’ the slim man said quietly. He didn’t want to stand out. He wanted to fit in with the crowd and just be a decent cop. His experiences in the Army had been such that he’d suffered at the hands of the Vietnamese, had been rescued from a POW camp and had finally ascended meteorically to the rank of Major. At 23 that was young, but his experiences withstanding the torture the VC had meted out and his excellent marksmanship record had led him to become an expert in the field of coercion and mind altering techniques and he’d lectured on those subjects. Yet it hadn’t left him swell headed and he had no problem in going straight from being one of the commanders back to being a minion. When his time had come to make the decision to leave the Army or to make it his career, he’d gone with the former option and had swapped khaki for the black uniform of a cop. Everyone had to start somewhere.

Ball stared at him, bracing himself for some sort of argument or fight. He longed to bring the three cadets down a peg or two, even though they’d not caused any trouble, but Starsky, Hutchinson and Colby had never given him the opportunity. In particular the brunet’s few years in the service had drilled into him the need for the chain of command and also the need to remain tight lipped, even when he didn’t agree with his senior officer. His loud mouth had been the start of his problems in ‘Nam and after his release from the POW camp, he’d made a conscious decision to curb his hot temper. Now Starsky stared straight ahead as he stood with his legs a regulation foot apart and his hands clasped neatly in the small of his back. Ball waited for another moment, hoping for some clever retort, but none came and his anger rose.

‘You must have had some reason to ask. Are you going to enlighten the class?’ the Sergeant bawled.

‘No Sir. I was just wondering’ Starsky said quietly. He’d dealt with loud-mouthed drill Sergeants before and he could tell that this man was what he liked to call “all mouth and no balls”. The kind of cop who couldn’t cut it in the real world, so liked to deal in hypotheticals at the training facility.

‘Nope, sorry. There was something there’ Ball said loudly, determined to make an example of the curly haired cadet. ‘The Colt Python is the finest handgun in the world son. It can shoot the dick off a gnat at 100 paces, which most of your fancy automatics would find impossible to do. Watch and learn.’

Ball turned and placed the ear defenders over his ears and jammed on the safety glasses. He positioned himself so that he faced the paper tracing of a human outline head on, brought up his gun and fired six shots into the target. Calmly, he replaced the gun on the table in front of him and pressed the button on the tracking device to bring the target to him. Six clean holes dotted the central target area, three of them in or very close to the bull. Ball unclipped the large sheet of paper and showed it to the cadets, most of who looked suitably impressed. Starsky made a good pretence of looking at the target and made the right noises, but Ball wasn’t mollified.

‘Do you still say the Python is faulty?’ he asked.

‘I didn’t say it was faulty Sir. There’s nothing wrong with the weapon. It’s just big and um… clumsy. I just prefer smaller weapons, like the Smith and Wesson range.’

‘What’s up cadet? Is this too big for ya? Too much of a man’s gun?’ Ball taunted.

‘No I didn’t…’

‘Why don’t you come up here and show us just what a mess you can make of this’ Ball crowed. ‘Don’t be shy cadet, c’mon. We all need to fire this thing today, you may as well be first.’

With a slight shake of his head, Starsky stepped forward and watched in open-mouthed disbelief as Ball clipped on a new paper tracing and hit the button. He sent the target twice as far back as when the Sergeant himself had fired and now the bull on the target’s chest was no more than a pinprick in the distance. Ball grinned at him.

‘Not all the flakes you chase down are gonna be so close’ the Sergeant grinned. ‘It don’t matter if ya miss. We all have to learn sometime.’

The brunet could feel the anger rising inside him. In the past three weeks he’d tried so hard to keep a lid on it, swallowing down retorts and balling his hands into fists as Ball had made an example of him and his two friends time and again. Both his friends, Ken Hutchinson and John Colby had asked him how he managed to keep his cool, and the brunet had snorted and told them it was tough. Now, with Ball’s words ringing in his ears, the temper finally bubbled over.

Starsky stepped forward, placed the safety glasses and the ear defenders on his head and expertly checked the weapon, inserting six bullets with practiced ease before slipping the chamber back into place, rolling it showily then positioning himself.

Unlike Ball, he preferred to stand side on to the target, sighting down his left arm at the tiny bullseye in the distance. He stopped for a moment, feeling the warm hunk of metal heavy in his hand. In his head, helicopters buzzed overhead, machine guns rattled off their staccato beat and the damp, cloying heat of the Vietnamese jungle hugged him. He felt the familiar tide of panic rise in his chest and he took a deep cleansing breath, reassuring himself he was in Bay City and not being hunted by the VC. He closed his eyes, breathed out and at the point where the breath was gone from his body and his heart calmed, he opened his eyes and fired off the six shots in rapid succession. Calmly, he put the gun back down on the table, removed the earphones and glasses and took a regulation three steps back.

Behind him, there was a ripple of applause from the cadets and he relaxed. Ball, however, shut the other men up quickly and stepped forward to push the button on the electric track to bring the target back up to him. He sneered at the brunet.

‘Nice show son. But it’s one thing to do the fancy handwork. It’s another thing to hit a moving perp who’s intent on shootin’ back.’ The target slid into range and there was a collective cheer from his back as the Sergeant looked at the six bullet holes. They were grouped so closely round the bull that they appeared as one large ragged hole and Ball sniffed, unable to think of anything to say.

‘Good enough’ he mumbled.

‘The rage flowed away from Starsky like rain washing down a storm drain. Now that he’d held the weapon and shot, the tension left his body and he almost felt sorry for the drill Sergeant. He cursed himself under his breath. He’d never wanted to draw attention to himself like that; he’d never wanted to loose his temper and he’d never wanted to make an enemy of the Sergeant. All he wanted was to learn to be the best cop he could. But the look in Ball’s eyes told him he’d made an enemy and he tried to salvage something of the situation.

‘Beginner’s luck?’ he asked as he went back to stand in his place in the group.

‘Whatever’ Ball grunted. ‘Lunch time. Dismissed. Back at 2:00 o’clock prompt.’

As the cadets started to disperse, the three friends regrouped. Ken Hutchinson, John Colby and Dave Starsky were older than the rest of the cadets. They were what BCPD liked to term "mature entries" and were 23, 24 and 23 respectively. John Colby had come to the Academy from a background he liked to keep quiet. Neither of his two friends knew much about him, other than he was from Seattle and had previously been employed as a security guard. However much they pushed, he never told them who he’d worked for or what he’d guarded, and to be honest, they didn’t really care. He was a friend and they enjoyed his company and the slight air of mystery that surrounded him.

Ken (call me Hutch) Hutchinson was much more open about his background. The 6’2” athletic man with the flaxen blond hair was from Duluth, Minnesota and had previously been a medical student. He’d explained very briefly that while his father was a surgeon who had his own practice and was forever travelling round the country, his mother also pursued her own lifestyle leaving him for the most part alone and independent. Hutch had mentioned also very briefly that he’d needed to get out of Duluth to get away from his father’s aspirations for him. He hinted at some major trauma having taken place the previous year which had caused him to make his decision to leave his home town and had been open with his two friends about his failed marriage to Vanessa. (See “The legend Trilogy Part 2 – Ken” by this author.)

For his own part, Starsky kept his description of his time in the Army to the bare minimum. He hated bragging and when asked about it, mumbled something about being a jobbing soldier and left it at that. Hutch, who was very perceptive had seen the hunted look and the hurt in his new friend’s indigo eyes and knew not to push. If Starsky was hiding something, his buddy will tell him if and when he was ready.

But mostly, the three older men found a level of friendship and camaraderie because of their age and their extra life experiences. Even though they were only maybe 3 years older than the other cadets, they had all been through enough in their short lives to have found a measure of respect and comfort in each other. But even then, Colby was always something of an outsider. Hutch and Starsky had hit it off the minute they saw each other. Both had been the victims of physical abuse, either from kidnappers or the enemy and that made them somehow closer; as though they shared a common bond while Colby was always that little bit more reserved.

Now, the three headed for the canteen together, lagging behind a little from the other fresh faced cadets.

‘That was impressive’ Hutch said as they walked along. ‘Ya learn that in the Army?’

‘Well yeah. I always kinda liked shootin.’ But it’s no big deal’ Starsky snorted, trying to brush off his show of expertise.

‘Ball thought it was a big deal’ Colby said with a snicker. ‘You should’ve seen the look on his face when that target came back. He was pissed as hell!’

‘I know. An’ I never meant to do that. He just has this way of getting’ right up my nose.’

Hutch grinned. ‘Well I know ya don’t mean to buddy, but I think the feelin’s mutual. He seems to have a healthy growin’ loathin’ for all three of us, though God knows why. We’ve done nothin’ to upset him. But ya did seem to um… upset him some. You should watch your step.’

‘Uh huh. Ya know, I get sick of watchin’ my step. One of these days, I’m gonna not bother who’s toes I step on.’

‘Well you an’ me both buddy. But my Granddaddy used to say “Be careful who’s toes ya tread on on the way up, coz they could be fixed to the feet ya have to kiss when you’re comin’ back down”.

Starsky looked at the blond and snorted. ‘Is that a down home Minnesota home truth?’

‘Nah, just the down home Hutchinson variety. For the most part I think it holds true.’

‘Yeah? Well I don’t aim to be meeting Sergeant Ball any time soon after I leave here. I’d be glad if I never saw him again. I had enough of his type in the Army.’

Colby snickered. ‘Tell ya what. We’ll take you mind off things hot shot. What about we hit the town tomorrow night? It’s our first Saturday off an’ I’m in the mood for a little dancing action.’

‘Name the place buddy. After being cooped up on this base for three weeks I’d dance with a geriatric chimp’ Hutch said with feeling.

‘There’s a decent disco on Channing. I’ve been before. It’s not too expensive and the chicks are cool. Wanna try there?’ Starsky asked.

Colby nodded. ‘Sounds good. Ya fancy yourself as a chick magnet, do ya?’

Starsky grinned. ‘After three weeks with you lot I’d be happy for a porno mag. an’ my left hand! Eight o’clock tomorrow?’

Chapter 2

‘Are we all set?’ Colby asked as he knocked on the door of the dorm room Hutch and Starsky shared. He appraised his two friends, both of whom had obviously put a lot of effort into looking good. Hutch’s fair, golden skin and flaxen blond hair was set off perfectly by his dark brown shirt and cream pants while Starsky had opted for deep blue jeans and a white shirt open to mid chest to reveal a hint of his darkly furred chest beneath.

‘You bet. The chicks don’t stand a chance’ Starsky muttered as the three set off for town. The walk from the Academy to the centre of town took them alongside a park surrounded by high walls and then through a residential area before the outskirts of the city centre. The disco they were aiming for was right on the edge of the city limits and as they rounded the corner, they could see the neon sign and also hear the steady beat of the music from the open doorway.

Once inside the dark, softly lit room, they headed for the bar, ordered three beers, and then stood with their elbows leaning on the bar top as they surveyed the scenery and the local talent. It was much the same as every other disco the three had frequented. Tables and booths were arranged around a central dance floor which was lit from above by a multi coloured disco Ball, sending sparkles of jewel light across the polished floor. Girls danced in small groups around their handbags arranged on the floor, others sat in the booths with or without their boyfriends and above all, the heady, pounding beat of the music filled the air.

‘We should split up’ Colby yelled above the sound of the music. ‘More chance to score if we don’t look like a pack of wolves.’

Hutch nodded, his eyes already on a girl at the back of the room who was looking his way and giggling behind her hand to her friend. Starsky snorted. ‘I think Romeo here’s found what he’s lookin’ for. Go for it Blondie. She’s all yours.’ The brunet was speaking to an empty space however, as his flaxen haired friend was already threading his way through the dancers on the floor as though drawn towards the girl by an invisible wire. Colby laughed out loud.

‘Would ya look at that?’

‘It’s always the shy quiet types ya gotta watch’ Starsky grinned.

‘I can see that. An’ I can also see that’ Colby whistled as a tall, leggy blond shimmied past him, paused to smile at him and walked on by. ‘Did ya see the assets on that one?’

‘Oh yeah! Toss ya for her buddy’ the brunet snickered.

Colby grinned at him ‘Don’t bother with the coin, I’m already gone.’

Starsky smiled at his friend and took a deep chug of beer. Left on his own for the moment, he surveyed the scenery. He could see Hutch in the background, sitting close to his chosen girl. He was deep in conversation and was obviously an interesting raconteur as the girl seemed to be hanging on his every word and laughing. Colby, on the other hand, seemed to employ the more direct approach and was dancing with the tall blond, his hand slowly moving southwards to cup one pert buttock with his hand. Starsky snorted. He had Colby nailed – he’d always be the one to get a girl into the sack before anyone else.

As the night wore on, Starsky himself danced with quite a few of the girls at the disco, although none of them really attracted him too much. He was attractive to the opposite sex with his dark, brooding good looks and his piercing blue eyes, but although he danced well and he could make the girls laugh, he wasn’t really the sort of guy who wanted a quick wham bam thank you ma’am. After three weeks solid on the base he wouldn’t have said no to a quick one night stand, but none of the local talent really attracted him like that but as he watched the girls, one woman watched him. She was slightly older than the rest of the crowd in the disco, but looked after herself well and looked good. She smiled to herself as she saw the curly headed man looking around and she quickly formulated her plan.

Starsky watched his two friends with their chosen women, oblivious to the woman watching him and he felt happy for them, and at the same time more alone than he’d felt for a long time. His time in the Army had left the brunet with a longing to settle down. After he’d come back from ‘Nam, he’d taken a long time to recover and he’d had a relationship with one of the nurses on the base. It had lasted almost a year and it had been good. She was vivacious, caring, smart and beautiful but at the end of it, they gone their separate ways as friends. It had taken Starsky a while to get over her and when he’d finally left the Army base, he left his friends behind too. Although they came to see him and they had nights out, Starsky felt as though he’d cut himself off from everything he’d known and everything that was comfortable and with a sad smile, he replaced the sixth glass of beer down on the bar, turned a little unsteadily and headed outside.

At eleven o’clock, the street was quiet and he looked left and right for a taxi cab. He’d managed to tell both Colby and Hutch that he was going and he was pretty sure they heard him, although Colby’s tongue was wedged down his girl’s throat and Hutch was deep into conversation with his girl about potted plants of all things. Starsky started to walk quietly up the street, his hands wedged deep in his pockets. He hated feeling this way. He felt he should have been happy that he had a new start in life and a new direction to go in. After being almost tortured to death in ‘Nam, he felt he should take every opportunity life presented him with and hold on to it. But instead, he felt almost empty. He wanted so badly to make a good job of being a cop; he felt he could be one of the best. Just as long as he didn’t goof up. And yet Ball had him dangling, frightened to do or say anything for fear of being thrown out of the Academy. Starsky sighed and almost walked past the woman bent over the motor car’s engine.

As he trudged past, his head down, he heard a muted cough and he stopped, looking around to see a petite dark haired woman, wearing a short, dark blue skirt and a pale blue, peasant style blouse, her head under the raised hood of the car. She looked up as Starsky stopped and smiled ruefully at him.

‘Ya need a hand?’ Starsky asked her.

‘Do I ever’ she smiled. ‘I was praying for a knight in shining armour to come and give me a hand.’

‘I aint no knight, but I know sumthin about cars. Want me to take a look?’ he said.

‘Would you? You know women – we can drive them, but we haven’t a clue when they break down’ she dimpled at him coyly looking up from beneath her eyelashes.

‘What happened?’ Starsky asked as he joined her under the hood. He started checking the points, the fan belt and the carburettor.

‘I don’t now. I got in and it just wouldn’t start’ she said lamely.

The brunet grunted. ‘Can’t find anythin’ wrong here. Get in an’ try startin’ it up huh?’

She slunk away on her stiletto heels and got into the car, her skirt riding up as she did so to give him a quick view of her white panties. A moment later, he heard the keys in the ignition and the engine roared to life. He listened for a moment, and then put the hood down, leaning gently on it till the catch clicked. ‘Seems ok now’ he smiled at her.

She nodded and poked her head out of the window. ‘I’m so sorry to have bothered you. I feel like a complete idiot, it seems fine now.’

Starsky walked round to her side of the car and bent down, his hands resting on the roof as he looked in through the window. ‘It’s no problem. I was passin’ anyway.’

‘But you’ve got your hands all oily! And it’s on your shirt too. Damn, that’ll be hard to get out. Um…. Tell you what, can I at least give you a lift home. Where were you going?’

The curly haired man shook his head. ‘It’s no big deal. I’m headin’ back to the police Academy.’

‘Oooh, are you a cop?’ she asked. ‘I love a man in uniform, almost as much as I love a man out of one’ she said huskily. ‘I’m going that way too. Wanna hop in?’

‘Ok, so long as I’m not taking you out of your way.’

‘Not at all. I um… I live on the campus’ she said as she turned the car round and headed back out of town. As she drove, they talked quietly about the city, the disco and how long Starsky had been a cadet. By the time she turned into the Academy compound, the brunet felt like he’d known her for ever and as she pulled up outside one of the visitor’s cabins opposite his dorm, he leaned over and kissed her gently.

‘Thanks for the lift’ he said. ‘I don’t think we introduced ourselves. I’m Starsky, Dave Starsky.’

‘Well hi Dave. My name’s Carly. Would you um….. Well, I have the keys to the cabin, and it looks like there aren’t any lights on in the dorms. Would you um…. Well, we could have a night cap maybe?’

Starsky appraised the woman. She was obviously a little older than the girls at the disco and he put her age at maybe 30 or so. But she kept herself in great shape and with her long legs, slim waist and firm breasts, she looked good enough to eat. His body responded and he felt a jolt of electricity through the centre of his body as Little Davy stood to attention.

‘Sure,’ he said quietly. ‘It’s still early. Ya sure you won’t get into any trouble?’

‘No, we’ll be fine’ Carly muttered as she looked cautiously round before she inserted the key into the lock and opened the door.

Once inside, the woman put the keys and her purse down on the table by the door and put her arms round Starsky’s neck, kissing him deeply so that her tongue explored his mouth gently. The brunet broke away from her breathlessly.

‘I though you wanted somethin’ to eat’ he asked as he looked down into her hungry eyes.

‘I do, he’s right here’ Carly smiled seductively at him as she pulled him into the bedroom. The room was dark and she didn’t put on the light as she sat the cadet down on the bed. She stood in front of him and started to pull her blouse off over her head. Starsky watched, his eyes glowing in the dark and never leaving her as she undressed slowly and seductively for him, his private dancer performing a private striptease. As she stepped out of her panties and stood naked and pale in the moonlight before him, he reached for her and pulled her to him, burying his face into the soft flesh of her belly. Slowly Starsky started to kiss his way round her navel and then down, following the pale line of hairs down to the more wiry forest above her secret places.

Carly stood still, her breath catching in her throat as she wove her fingers into Starsky’s hair, pulling his face lower and shuddering as she parted her legs and felt his tongue begin to explore. There was something erotic about her being butt naked while the brunet was still fully clothed, his arms around her. She pushed the centre of her body at him and with a growl, Starsky pulled her down until she was lying on the bed, her legs still dangling over the side. The young cop stood and unzipped his jeans, the urgency of the pull in his loins stopping him from pulling them off completely.

As Carly looked up at him with hunger in her eyes, Starsky positioned himself between her legs, bent his knees and knelt over her, pushing himself into her warm tunnel in one smooth motion. Beneath him, Carly moaned and brought her knees up, pulling him in deeper as she kissed and sucked at his neck and shoulders.

Starsky started to push in and out of her as Carly thrashed beneath him, moaning and crying his name aloud. It was as though she hadn’t had sex for months or years and now she was going to milk the lithe brunet of everything he could offer. As he picked up his pace, she clawed at his back and chest, urging him on and exhorting him to go deeper and deeper. Starsky didn’t need to be told twice and within minutes had set a furious pace, his hips working as the sweat beaded on his brow. With a final shudder he felt his balls tighten and draw upwards and he groaned as he shot his load deep inside her. Carly moaned and her own body shuddered in response as she shouted out incoherently before sagging limply back against the covers on the bed.

At that moment, the door to the bedroom burst open and Starsky felt rough hands on his shoulders, dragging him off the woman and slamming him against the bedroom wall. As his teeth rattled in his head and the stars in front of his eyes settled, he looked up into angry eyes above him.

‘Thought you could fuck my wife did ya, you cocky little bastard?’

Chapter 3

‘You’re married?’ the accusation was heavy in the brunet’s voice as Starsky clawed his way up the wall to get back to his feet.

Carly looked from her young lover to her husband and Sergeant Ball’s eye flitted between the two.

‘Yeah, she’s married, as if ya didn’t know’ Ball ground out. ‘Thought ya could score one against the old man did ya hot shot? Wasn’t enough for ya that ya can do your fancy shootin’ on the range, ya decide you’re gonna humiliate me more? Huh? Is that it?’

‘No, you don’t understand. I never knew…she didn’t say… Carly tell him’ Starsky stammered, his eyes still on the woman on the bed. Carly had grabbed the sheet and was tucking it around her, covering her nakedness.

‘Don’t listen to him Henry. He seduced me. My car broke down and he told me he’d fix it so long as he could spend the night with me’ Carly blustered, refusing the meet Starsky’s eyes.

‘What? What the….. Carly….Sarge, that’s not how it happened’ the brunet spluttered as the woman on the bed looked away.

Ball crossed the room in two strides, picking Starsky up bodily by the collar of his shirt and flinging him back against the wall. The portly police Sergeant leaned into the cadet’s hard, muscular body, his face inches from Starsky’s as he eyes blazed at the young cop.

‘I’d shut that pie hole now if I were you. First ya fuck my wife an’ then ya call her a liar. What are ya? Some kinda masochist? Do you enjoy pain mister? Coz that’s just where you’re headin’ Ball snapped and as though to emphasise the point, he punched Starsky in the stomach. The brunet had no time to prepare for the blow and it caught him unawares, driving the air from his lungs in a prolonged wheeze. The brunet doubled over, but was immediately straightened out by the older man.

‘I had no idea’ Starsky managed to gasp, saliva stringing from his gasping mouth as he fought for breath.

‘No? You’re all the same. You pretty boys with your pretty hair an’ your nice tight asses. Ya see a girl an’ ya can’t keep your dick in your pants can ya?’

‘But she hit on me’ the curly haired cop said defensively, wishing a moment later that he’d kept his mouth shut as Ball’s ham like fist connected with his jaw. Starsky’s head was snapped sideways and it wasn’t the only thing that snapped. The famous Starsky temper that the brunet had sworn would be kept under tight wraps flared into life. The younger man wasn’t stupid enough to physically retaliate against his Sergeant. His time in the Army had drilled that much sense into him. You do not assault a senior officer. But he couldn’t resist a verbal attack and as Ball wound up for another punch, Starsky’s indigo eyes blazed at him.

‘Ya know you’re right’ the brunet said coldly. ‘I decided I ought to fuck her coz she deserved a good time. After all, you aint gonna be able to do it. With that belly you won’t have see your dick in years huh?’

Starsky grinned cheekily at the older man and ducked as the fist flew again. He didn’t however duck fast enough and the blow caught him on the opposite cheek, high up under his eye. The brunet felt the skin tear and the blood start to flow and he glared back at his Sergeant as Carly gave a cry and shuffled off the bed. She ran towards Ball and took his fist in her hand, kissing at his skinned knuckles even as she looked into Starskys eyes. The young cop’s face was bruised across both cheek and bleeding from a split lip and the cut below his left eye. Other bruises were already beginning to colour his olive toned skin across his ribs and in the centre of his abdomen, and yet Carly chose to massage her husband’s hand rather than comfort the man she’d seduced a scant hour ago.

‘Don’t hit him any more’ she pleaded. ‘Look how you’ve hurt your hands Henry. Don’t hurt yourself any more huh? Just come on home to bed and I can kiss it all better.’

Ball breathed heavily, his own temper backing down marginally as he continued to stare contemptuously at the injured brunet. ‘You’re lucky my wife is so forgiving’ he grunted.

‘Yeah, she’s all heart’ Starsky said with feeling.

‘An’ ya should be grateful for that’ Ball continued, the sarcasm of the remark lost on him. ‘I think you should apologise to the lady and get your sorry ass back to your dorm. I’ll deal with you in the mornin’ Cadet Starsky.’

Starsky turned the full force of his piercing indigo gaze onto the woman, who looked away and had the grace to blush. ‘I’m sorry about tonight Mrs. Ball’ he said, pleased that the apology worked on two levels. Zipping himself up, the brunet shouldered past the married couple and with an arm wrapped protectively around his stomach, he headed across the square to the dorm room he and Hutch shared.

As he softly pushed the door open and walked in, the lump in the bed that was Hutch rolled over and looked at him blearily.

‘Where’d ya get to Starsk?

‘I met someone’ the brunet mumbled as he headed for the bathroom. ‘Go back to sleep Blondie. See ya in the morning.’

Hutch gave a grunt, pulled the blankets up round his ears and snuggled his head into the pillow as Starsky turned the light on in the small bathroom and closed the door. The room contained only a toilet and wash hand basin, but it was good enough for the two men. The showers were at the end of the block and all the male cadets shared the communal facility. Right now, the cold water from the basin was all the brunet needed and for the next half hour he applied cold compresses to the swelling on the side of his face. The other bruises across his body were beginning to develop and he knew he would have no chance to hide them, so as he applied yet more cold water to the bruise on his cheek, he started to think of what he would do next, now that he’d blown all chances of remaining at the Academy.

Starsky had no second thoughts on that score. What he’d done was inexcusable, even though he had the mitigation that he had no idea who Carly was. But Fuck! It was bad enough that Ball hated him. Now, to have had sex with his Sergeant’s wife was …. Well he didn’t have the words for it. But he knew deep down that by the end of the next day, he’d be packing his bags and moving out. Fatalistically, he got himself undressed and ready for bed and eased his sore and bruised body between the sheets. Starsky was exhausted and he ached, but as he listened to he muffled snores from the next bed, he came to realise that more than missing being a cop, he’d miss the companionship of John Colby, and most of all the blond, slightly clumsy, Ken Hutchinson. They’d built up such a friendship in the past three weeks that Starsky almost couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t known Hutch. He felt comfortable with him; more at ease than he’d done with almost any other person save for perhaps Tom Trafford back at the 8th Battalion. But there again, he’d spent almost three years serving with Traff and the soldier had been the one to free him from the POW camp. Friendships like that weren’t two a penny and to have two such good friends in one lifetime was more than good luck. Now however, it seemed that with one careless act, he’d thrown that second friendship away. Hutch would go on to become a great cop, of that Starsky had no doubt. But what the future held for him, he had no idea. And when Starsky didn’t have a plan he became restless and lost. With those dark thoughts in his head, he drifted into a dark and restless sleep, only waking when Hutch prodded him on his shoulder and told him it was time to get up.

On the other side of the campus, Ball was also having a sleepless night. He knew his marriage to Carly was a sham. They hadn’t had any sort of relationship for over a year now and he was lucky if his wife let him kiss her, let alone have sex with her. When he’d first met her, she was from a seedy area of the city and he’d seen something vulnerable and easily manipulated in her. The relationship was mutually beneficial. For Carly, being married to a cop meant an increase in her social standing and a way to drag herself out of the gutter. For Ball, it felt good to have a beautiful girl on his arm. He basked in the reflected glory, enjoying the attention she got and seeing the looks in the other cop’s eyes that said “how the hell did the fat guy get the gorgeous girl?” But after only six months of marriage, Carly became fed up with her ugly husband. Ball was inherently lazy and wanted a servant more than a wife. His bedroom habits too left a lot to be desired and Henry Ball’s idea of wooing his wife extended only to a few grunts as he humped her, followed by a kiss and then sleep. Their relationship went downhill quickly and of late, Ball knew Carly had been cheating on him. For the most part, he didn’t mind. He wouldn’t grant her a divorce, she was too decorative to get rid of and when she’d satisfied herself with some guy in the city, that meant she didn’t make too many demands on him, which was more comfortable.

Ball knew the other Sergeants on the Academy campus wondered how he had got, and kept the woman, and now to think that that young whippersnapper Starsky had had her was too much to bear. He couldn’t get rid of the cadet, because to do so he would have to admit that his wife had been unfaithful, and he couldn’t contemplate that. But if he couldn’t get rid of Starsky that way, he could at least make life so difficult and painful for the handsome cadet that Starsky might just quit and leave on his own. Ball smiled to himself as he got into the bed in the spare room where he habitually slept these days. That was it. He’d make Starsky’s life a misery to the point where he’d just give up and quit, and he’d have a lot of fun in doing it. With the plan firmly there in his head, Ball closed his eyes, and within minutes was snoring loudly and dreaming of beautiful Hawaiian women pandering to his every whim.

Early next morning, with Hutch’s prodding, Starsky awoke and groaned softly as he turned over in bed and set off the pains coursing through his body again. As his face came into view, Hutch hissed in surprise, his handsome golden face creased into concern for his friend.

‘Starsk, what the hell happened to you?’ he asked as he perched on the edge of the brunet’s bed.


‘Your face buddy. You look like you’ve just survived ten rounds with Mohammed Ali. What happened?’

Starsky levered himself up in his bed and in doing so, the sheets fell away to reveal two enormous bruises across his chest and stomach. He stifled a groan and kneaded the discoloured flesh gently.

‘Nuthin’ he mumbled. ‘S nuthin.’

‘It don’t look like nothin.’ What happened?’ Hutch repeated.

‘Just let me go get a shower an’ a cup of coffee, I’ll be fine’ Starsky grunted as he made to get out of bed. He grunted, he room spinning out of control, then lurched to the bathroom and lost the contents of his stomach down the pan. Wiping his hand over his mouth, he rinsed with cold water, and then leaned on the lintel of the door.

‘Are ya fit to train today?’ Hutch asked quietly. His Med school training was kicking in and he rose and softly started to examine his buddy’s chest. His fingers probed at the bruise on Starsky’s chest, eliciting a yelp from the brunet. He jerked away angrily.

‘Did that hurt?’ Hutch asked unnecessarily

‘Yeah, it hurts, 'specially when my buddy is diggin’ his fingers in. Just leave it huh? I’ve had worse.’

The blond stepped back. ‘I think it’s cracked. You should report to the MO. You’re not fit to train today Pal.’

‘And that’s your professional opinion Dr Hutchinson?’

‘Hey, I was only tryin’ to help.’

Starsky sighed. ‘I know. M’sorry. I fell down some steps at the disco last night, ok?’

‘No’ Hutch said flatly.

‘No? Why?’

‘Coz there were no steps at the disco last night. What happened buddy? The truth?’

‘Little green men came from Mars and invited me to play in their spaceship. Just leave it huh? Let’s go an’ shower.’ The curly haired man gathered his towel and soap and without a backwards glance, he limped out of the room and along the covered walkway to the shower block.

Several of the other cadets noticed the extensive bruising over the brunet’s body as they used the communal facilities. None of them would have made very good cops if they’d missed the blue and black marks marring the athletic body. But from the look on Starsky’s face, which was closed and pinched, and the steely look in the indigo eyes, none of them wanted to get close enough to the cadet to ask what had gone on. Colby and Hutch managed to grab a quick conversation while their buddy was getting dressed and both were mortified that maybe Starsky had been attacked while they’d been busy with their respective girls. Try as they might, however, as they walked to the canteen to get breakfast neither of them could get the brunet to say more than he’d been in a fight and they gave each other wondering looks as Sergeant Ball appeared at the door of the canteen and asked for Starsky to follow him back to his office. Reluctantly, the brunet followed his Sergeant out looking like a dead man walking as Hutch and Colby gave each other wondering looks.

Chapter 4

Starsky braced himself as he walked, or rather limped into the office. Ball sat behind his desk like a toad, fat and formless and gloating at the obvious discomfort of the cadet. The brunet pulled himself upright and marched smartly into the room and stood to attention in front of the desk, his face an impassive mask as he awaited his fate. His body hurt and he could feel every punch of the Sergeant’s fists as if he were beating him afresh this morning. He kept his mouth shut and vowed he would do nothing to give the man any added fuel to kick him out with.

Starsky was sure this was it. He was going to be dismissed. He deserved it, after all. He’d had sex with the man’s wife and after Carly’s performance when Ball had walked in on them, he didn’t think the woman would have explained to her husband that she’s seduced the young cadet. No, it was Starsky’s mistake through and through and he realised with grim certainty that he’d blown any chance of being a cop. He stared straight ahead as Ball appraised the cuts and bruises on his face and the slight hitch when he breathed too deeply.

‘You made a big mistake last night Cadet. At the time I was too angry to say anything, but fortunately for you, my temper has cooled this morning. What do you have to say for yourself?’

‘Sir, sorry sir’ the brunet responded immediately, and he meant it. He’d never wanted to hurt the man, even though Ball had seemed to have it in for him from the word go.

‘We aint in the Army now Cadet. A simple “sorry” would have done’ Ball snapped.

Starsky stared straight ahead. Shit, he couldn’t even apologise correctly! ‘Sorry Sir’ he said again, a little less forcefully.

‘So, what do you think I should do with a police cadet who can’t keep his dick to himself?’

The brunet remained quiet. It was one thing to be dismissed; it was something else entirely to suggest it himself and so he said nothing.

‘What’s up Cadet? Cat got your tongue? I asked you a question.’

‘I don’t know Sir.’

‘Ordinarily, it would mean instant dismissal. It’s a disciplinary offence of course. But I like ya. I like that true grit spirit ya got there, so I’m gonna give you a choice. You can either see if ya can stick it out here, or ya can sign that’ Ball pushed a piece of paper and a pen towards the curly haired cadet. Starsky’s eyes lowered and he read, with surprise, the words on the printed form

Application for release from Police Academy

I David Michael Starsky do hereby tender my resignation from Bay City Police Department Academy……

He looked up sharply. ‘No Sir!’

‘Believe me boy, I’m giving you the easy option here. All ya have to do is sign the goddamned paper and you can walk out. Your dirty little secret will be safe with me. Or ya can stay, but I aint gonna make it easy for ya. I can be a nasty little bugger when the spirit moves me an’ if ya stay, I promise I’m gonna make your life a livin’ hell. So what’s it to be?’

Starsky stood tall and came smartly to attention ignoring the pull of the bruises in his stomach and chest. ‘Permission to talk freely Sir?’


‘I had no idea she was your wife, Sir, an’ I aint gonna walk away from the only job I’ve ever truly wanted to do just coz of one mistake. I’m gonna make plenty of ‘em, I know I am, but….’

Ball grinned coldly at him. ‘You just made your first one already son. Now get outa my office. You missed breakfast already, let’s see if ya can miss lunch and dinner too huh?’

Starsky turned smartly and walked out of the office. He felt dizzy with relief that he still had his cadetship and at the same time he wondered just what Ball had in mind for him. Just what mischief could the Sergeant get up to on a small campus like this?

As he got outside the office, he could see his friends all making for the classroom on the far side of the square. This brunet’s stomach rumbled. He’d not had time to eat anything and neither had he had a drink, but he ignored his thirst and trotted over to join Hutch as they filed into the classroom.

‘What did Ball want?’ the blond hissed as they took their seats arranged in a horseshoe around a central empty area.

‘Um, nuthin’ Starsky said, his eyes refusing to meet Hutch’s. In the few weeks he’d know the blond, Starsky found that Hutch’s eyes, the windows to the blond’s soul were so piercing they seemed to drill into him. They were the sort of eyes he could hide nothing from and now he was worried that he would give something away. He’d got the measure of Ball and thought he understood the Sergeant’s dilemma – either dismiss Starsky and have to face the ignominy of explaining that his own wife had been unfaithful, or keep the brunet around and make his life hell, and just to be fair, he’d given Starsky the choice. Well, he’d made his choice and now he was in for the long haul. He sat quietly next to Hutch and Colby as Ball and the other drill instructor Hammond walked into the room. All the cadets stood and saluted and then sat down again as the two Sergeants scanned the room.

‘Today’s first class is on first aid’ Hammond began. ‘In the line of your business, you’re going to come into contact with a lot of injuries, some minor, some more serious. Remember, this is a dangerous profession and you or your partner’s life may depend on your knowledge of simple first aid.’

‘We’re gonna have a practical session first and then after that a little pop quiz to end with’ Ball continued. ‘…and just to make it interesting, for each wrong answer you’ll drop and give me 10 push ups. Got that?’ There was a general nodding of heads around the room and the quiz began. They went through recovery positions, and what to do for shock and how to reduce bleeding and for a while everyone concentrated on the lessons. At the end of the practical, Ball called for them all to take their seats for the quiz.

Starsky was at the end of the horseshoe and he listened to the questions and answers mentally ticking off those he knew. They were simple questions to begin with – what’s the average resting pulse rate? What colour is venous blood? If an artery is cut, what happens? He knew the answers to them all and he felt reasonably confident as Ball turned to him.

‘Cadet Starsky, how many bones are there in the human body?’

The brunet stared at him, his mind a blank. The only answer he could think of was “a lot” and he knew that wouldn’t cut it. His mouth dried and he shook his head. ‘Dunno Sir’ he said quietly. Ball grinned

‘Oh dear! The cadet doesn’t know! Anyone got the answer to help him along?’

At his side, Hutch put up his hand reluctantly. ‘206 Sir’ he said apologetically. As an ex medical student, the answer came to him easily

‘Correct. Cadet Starsky, drop and give me 10’ Ball said with obvious relish. He watched as the curly haired cadet got off his chair and onto the floor. As he stretched his legs out behind him and placed his hands at shoulder height, the pull on his cracked rib was enormous and the first effort to raise his body off the floor failed as the knife like pain ran from his chest through to his back. Biting down on his bottom lip, he tried again and this time managed to accomplish all ten push ups without a break, although he’d broken out into a sweat and was panting as he got to his feet and retook his seat. Sergeant Hammond watched the brunet’s efforts curiously. Starsky had always been one of the fittest of the cadets and this wasn’t like him. He noticed the cuts and bruises on his Cadet’s face and vowed to ask the young man about it when he got a moment.

Ball however seemed to be enjoying the brunet’s discomfort and had started a second round of questions. Again, each of the cadets got a relatively easy question which they managed to answer. Until it was once again Starsky’s turn.

‘Cadet, explain the mechanisms of a bruise’

Again, the brunet looked blank. ‘Um, ya get hit an’ they turn black?’ he offered.

‘Ohh, and wrong again! And another ten from ya please’ Ball grinned with relish.

Starsky got off the chair and got down onto the floor again, feeling small; a failure; belittled in front of the entire class. He lay on the floor and positioned his hands and as he started to push himself up, he felt something heavy on his back. While he’d been preparing himself, Ball had walked over and now the Sergeant’s big foot was pressing down into the middle of his back. He grunted as he tried to raise himself up against the added weight and then screamed once as the ends of his cracked rib grated together and his arms gave out.

Immediately, Hammond crossed the room and knelt by the side of the sweating cadet as Ball walked away unconcerned.

‘Starsky, are you ok?’ Hammond asked

‘’M’fine’ the brunet grunted.

‘Son, you’re far from fine. Let me look at you. Are you sick?’

‘No, I’m fine Sir, honest’ Starsky said, trying to get up. He winced again and breathed deeply as his hand went automatically to wrap around his chest. Hammond looked worried and stood up.

‘Ok cadets. Lunchtime. Dismissed. Um…Cadet Starsky can you hang back?’

As the rest of his classmates filed out to the canteen, Starsky, Ball and Hammond remained behind and as Hammond started to question the brunet, Ball stood a little behind his colleague, looking daggers at Starsky.

‘You gonna tell me what’s happened?’ Hammond asked.

‘It’s been brought to my attention that there was some fighting last night’ Ball said calmly. ‘Cadet Starsky was at the centre of it.’

Hammond looked curiously at his cadet. ‘Is that right?’ he asked.

Starsky stared straight ahead, refusing to look at either Sergeant as Ball stepped up to him and with his night stick poked Starsky in the stomach, targeting the bruise he’d inflicted the previous night. The curly haired cadet grunted, bent over slightly, and then pulled himself upright again. Hammond laid a hand on his shoulder.

‘I asked a question Cadet, were you in a fight last night?’

Again, Starsky stared straight ahead and Hammond sighed. ‘Take off your shirt, let me take a look’

Without looking at either man, Starsky did as he was told and reluctantly pulled his shirt and tee shirt off over his head, standing naked from the waist up as Hammond whistled softly at the bruises and swellings that marred the olive toned stomach and chest. ‘David, why didn’t you tell us? Or at least why didn’t you report yourself sick this morning?’

‘I said I’m fine Sir’ the young cadet grunted. ‘I didn’t want to make a fuss.’

‘How do you feel? Can you go on today?’

‘Yeah, I’m good.’

Hammond sighed. ‘OK, get yourself dressed, and then go and get some lunch. And Cadet…. See me this evening. I have no alternative but to put you on report.’

As the Sergeant walked out of the classroom, Ball grinned at Starsky. ‘Nice. Very nice. Let’s see how long you can keep this up huh? This is just the start. That piece of paper is always ready for you to sign. Any time. Just let me know when you’ve had enough.’

Starsky glared at the Sergeant, biting back the words he so desperately wanted to spit out at the fat man. ‘Won’t happen….Sir.’

‘No? Well maybe we should just let hunger and thirst argue with ya for a while. While your friends are having lunch, I want you to run twice round the perimeter of the compound. That’s two miles. Its 12:30 now. You have half an hour before you need to be back for afternoon classes. I wouldn’t hang around if I were you. Bein’ late for class is an automatic demerit.’

As Starsky set off at an easy lope through the heat of the midday sun, Ball snickered to himself. He’d break the cocky young guy soon, he was sure of that.

Chapter 5

Throughout the rest of that first day, Starsky battled on with his personal war against Ball. After completing the two mile run at lunchtime, he got back just in time to shower and get back to class for the afternoon session. Once again, Ball targeted every difficult question at the brunet and although this time there were no push ups to punish wrong answers, the curly haired cadet continued to feel ever more useless and stupid. Several times during the afternoon both Colby and Hutch tried to help him out, whispering answers under their breath and for their help he was grateful, but Ball soon wised up to the help that his two friends were giving him, and that too required some punishment.

As Hutch hissed another answer in Starsky’s direction, the Sergeant overheard and at the end of the afternoon class, he once again singled Starsky out, asking him to stay behind after the others had gone. Hutch had been watching his friend get steadily more tired as the day went on. He’d seen the damage Starsky had taken the night before and although he didn’t know the reason for it, the blond knew his friend couldn’t take much more of the punishment Ball was handing out. The brunet’s face was grey with exhaustion and now and again the curly haired man would wince and bite down a low groan as another pain blossomed.

‘Um… Sergeant, I think S Starsky needs a … a rest Sir’ the blond mumbled as he stood by his friend’s side.

‘And what would you know about it wise guy?’ Ball snapped.

‘Well um…. He’s um, he’s injured Sir and um…’

‘And whose fault is it that he’s injured? His own! There’s an old saying in the force Hutchinson, if ya can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. Right now, Starsky is doin’ his time and he’s chosen to do it. I aint forcin’ him.’

‘Yes, but Sir, he’s…’

Starsky put his hand out as Hutch tried again to reason with the Sergeant. ‘It’s fine Hutch. Just leave it huh? Don’t push it.’

‘But you’re hurtin’ buddy. Ya need a doctor.’

‘I said I’m fine. Me an’ the Sergeant here just need to have a few words. I’m ok, honest. Just go get your supper.’

The blond looked from his friend to the Sergeant and back. His golden face showed that he wasn’t convinced by Starsky’s lie, but he knew better than to argue and so with a final pat of reassurance, he walked quickly after Colby, leaving Starsky and Ball alone.

‘Aww, aint that cute. Ya got a friend! You’ll need all the friends ya can get before long. So, how’re ya feelin’ Cadet? The paper’s here. Gonna sign yet?’ The Sergeant pulled the form out of his pocket and unfolded it, holding it and a pen out to the curly haired cadet. Starsky swayed slightly on his feet. He hadn’t eaten or drunk anything all day and had taken nothing to ease the pains from his bruises and cracked rib. Coupled with the lack of nourishment, he’d also over exerted himself on the push ups and the two mile run and had gotten very little sleep the night before. But his resolve was still as strong and he straightened himself until he was standing to attention, looking ahead and not at the form. He could be just as stubborn as Ball.

‘No Sir, I won’t sign’ he muttered.

Ball walked closer, until his face was inches from Starsky’s. ‘I can keep this up for weeks Cadet. I’m not gonna force ya to go, but before long you’re gonna beg me to sign that form.’

For the first time, the brunet let down his guard and looked directly into Ball’s pale, grey eyes. ‘Sir, I didn’t let the Viet Cong break me, so I aint gonna let some old cop in a Sergeant’s uniform do it. I can play at this as long as you can.’

Ball took a step back. He hadn’t read Starsky’s psych report and had no idea that the brunet had been a POW. It took him by surprise, but it didn’t ease his attitude. ‘Wanna bet?’ he grinned. ‘Another two laps of the perimeter and then bed. Oh, and Starsky, this time, you’ll be wearing this’ he pushed a backpack at the curly haired man and as Starsky caught it he realised it was packed with sand and weighed probably forty pounds.

Trying not to groan, he shouldered into the pack, and without a backwards glance at his antagonist, he set off on his run. What Starsky had failed to mention was that while his body seemed to have a reasonably high tolerance for pain, the one thing it didn’t seem to be able to do was go without water. Several times in the past, when he’d been dehydrated, he’d suffered migraines and now, as he started to jog along the perimeter path of the campus, he could feel the familiar tightening band of iron around his head, the pulse in his temples starting to pound in time with the footfalls on the gravel path.

By the time he’d made it half way round and the dorms were coming into view, he was staggering from side to side on the path. Starsky’s head felt as though it would explode and two or three times he’d had to stop to be sick along the way. Ball had been following him on a bicycle, keeping a little way back and even the Sergeant couldn’t help but be impressed by the cadet’s mental drive and determination. Most men would have called it a day long ago, but despite his obvious distress, the brunet was carrying on and had started his second lap spurred on by his own bloody mindedness. The Sergeant cycled slowly along behind and as Starsky turned for the home stretch, he pedalled off and back to his house, both impressed by the brunet’s endurance and at the same time a little afraid of it. Maybe getting rid of him wouldn’t be as easy as he thought.

The sick cadet barely made it back to the dorm room. His head was now so painful that he couldn’t think past getting inside and sitting down. The pains pounded at him concentrating themselves over his left temple and arching down to his shoulder and into his jaw. He’d had some bad migraine attacks in his life, but this one was a doozy and as he pushed open the door and Hutch looked up, Starsky staggered towards his bed and collapsed down onto it without even relieving himself of his backpack.

The blond was there in a second, easing the heavy pack off his friend’s shoulders and loosening Starsky’s collar as he looked with a professional eye at the bruised and grey face.

‘My God, what’s he doin’ to ya?’ the blond asked softly. ‘What the hell have you done at him to make him treat ya like this?’

Starsky could hardly focus on the blond’s voice. His throat was dry as a bone and his tongue stuck to his lips as he tried to speak. ‘Guess he just loves me’ he gasped as another surge of pain made him clasp his head in pain. He gritted his teeth until the pain subsided slightly but stayed bent over, his head in his hands.

‘He’s torturin’ ya buddy, that’s what he’s doin’ Hutch said as he held a glass of water for the brunet to drink.

Starsky gave a funny wry grin and shook his head slightly. ‘Believe me, this aint torture.’

‘Well it’s almost! What can I do for ya?’ Hutch asked, wondering what had gone on in his new friend’s past that made him so sure.

‘Dunno….just need t’rest…..migraine.’

‘Here’ let me help ya get undressed.’ The blond started to unbutton his buddy’s shirt and take the belt off from round his waistband. Starsky sat still. He hadn’t the energy to help, or even to disguise his pain from the flaxen haired man. The room shimmied and swayed around him, the periphery of his vision a deep blood red. His stomach was on fire and his chest burned with a bone deep pain, but his head was the real problem. The fury of the pains in his head made him feel weak and sick and as Hutch tried to ease him down onto the bed he groaned.

‘No…. can’t’

‘Can’t what?’

‘Lie down…. Hurts too much. Gotta sit up….. shit! M’tired.’

Hutch got up and went into the bathroom, returning a moment later with a washcloth soaked in cold water. The blond sat himself down on the small bunk bed and hitched himself back until he was propped up against the wall and then patted the bed at the side of him. ‘Here. Lean on me’ he said, holding his arms out. Starsky looked slightly doubtful.

‘I mean it, c’mon buddy. Ya said you couldn’t lie down, so let me help ya out. You can prop yourself up on my shoulder an’ when you feel a bit better, you can lie down properly.’

Starsky smiled wanly, his head too painful to argue further. He managed to haul himself up until he was sitting next to Hutch on the bed and very gently, he rested his pounding temple on his friend’s shoulder. The blond felt the brunet’s body relax against him as he placed the cool cloth on Starsky’s sweat slick forehead.

‘Ya gonna tell me why he’s treatin’ ya like this?’ Hutch asked softly.

‘Mmm? Ball?... s’fine.’

Hutch snickered. ‘This is fine huh? You come back from a night out with cracks and bruises. He runs you into the ground, an’ you say it’s fine?’


‘Yeah buddy?’

‘Don’t shout….. hurts’ the brunet whispered wearily.

‘Sorry. I’m just concerned for ya.’

‘You are? Starsky mumbled. ‘S’nice.’

‘Course I am. You’re my buddy.’

‘Buddy…. mmm, like that.’

‘Just go to sleep buddy. I’m here. Right here.’

Hutch felt Starsky relax fully against him. For a while, the muscular body shuddered and tensed as the pains took him and shook him, but after maybe an hour, Starsky started to relax properly and another fifteen minutes later, his breathing had quieted and Hutch knew he was asleep. Gently, he managed to manoeuvre around until he was sitting upright with the brunet’s head cradled in his lap. Hesitantly, for fear the action may be misconstrued, he reached out and ran his fingers through the riot of chocolate curls. His buddy moved, snuggling his head deeper into his lap and moaned quietly. Hutch removed his hand, and the brunet twitched more and so he replaced it again carding his fingers soothingly through the curls.

By midnight, Hutch had been asleep for about an hour when he was shaken awake by the brunet thrashing from side to side on the bed. The startled blond opened his eyes, for a moment trying to remember where he was. He had a crick in his neck from sitting up against the wall and he hissed softly as he focused on the man next to him.

Starsky was caught up in some sort of nightmare and had managed to get himself tangled up in the sheets on the bed. His arms were moving fitfully and he was mumbling under his breath, his body radiating heat and slick with sweat. As Hutch listened he could make out words.

He was forced face down onto the bunk with his ankles trapped into stocks attached to the foot of the bed, across the top of the metalwork. Next they tied a rope tightly at his elbows so that the circulation was in danger of being cut off and with the rope then pulled up to run through a hook in the ceiling they hoisted the brunet off the bunk bodily. Starsky grunted, sweat beading on his body and dripping onto the stained mattress below as his body weight hung from his tightly bound arms. There was no way he could ease any of his weight from ankles and his elbows. His breathing became constricted and he was in danger of hyperventilating. He screamed out in agony and the scream added pressure onto his already overstretched rib cage.

'SsStarsky, David Michael. Corporal 231-51-3155. United States Army.’

Carefully Hutch reached out and shook the terrified man on the bed

‘Starsk….Starsky, wake up buddy. Starsk!’

Slowly, the thrashing ceased and indigo eyes flashed open. Starsky groaned and clutched at his chest as he panted on the bed.

‘Oh God…’ he moaned.

‘Hey, you ok buddy? That was some nightmare you were havin’ Hutch said, his voice full of concern.

‘Mmm? Yeah… nightmare. I was back….. don’t matter, m’ok’ the brunet levered himself up into a sitting position. ‘What time is it?’ he asked.

‘About midnight. How’re ya feelin’? How’s your head?’

‘Better. Not gone, but better, thanks. Ya been here all the time?’ Starsky asked.

Hutch sat up and echoed his buudy's groan. ‘Yeah, my back is testament to that.’

The brunet grinned. ‘Thanks Pal. Um I think I’m ok now.’


Starsky sighed, wishing he could rid himself of his nightmares for good. ‘Yeah, I’m good. You should get some sleep.’

‘Uh huh.’

‘And Hutch?’


‘Don’t tell anyone we slept together huh?’

The blond grinned back. I was just wondering if you’d respect me in the morning!’

Chapter 6

The next morning, Hutch woke early, rolled over onto is back and stared at the ceiling. It had taken him a while to get back to sleep after he’d woken his room mate from his nightmare. Starsky had mumbled what sounded like his name, rank and serial number and then had cried out so pitifully that Hutch was left wondering just what had gone on in the curly haired guy’s past to elicit such a response. He knew that most guys his age, who entered the Army through the draft ended up serving in ‘Nam and thanked his lucky stars that as a Med student he hadn’t had to do that. But the nightmare Starsky had had wasn’t just about merely serving in ‘Nam, There was more to it than that. Hutch had never taken a psych course, but it didn’t need a shrink to tell him that Starsky was hurting deeply and that some trauma had resurfaced as a result of what was happening to him now. He recalled those words his friend had used earlier. “This aint torture, believe me” and his blood ran cold. Starsky was young, surely too young to have survived that sort of treatment…..

There was something about the chocolate curled cadet that Hutch found appealing. Starsky was so much his own man. He came across as confident, self reliant and capable, and yet a centimetre below the surface was the other Dave Starsky – the vulnerable, damaged individual that was kept a closely guarded secret. It was that secret Dave that Hutch had had a glimpse of recently and yearned to get to know. Not for any sappy, “touchy feely” reason as he liked to call it, but because he genuinely liked his room mate and had the distinct impression that there was some sort of connection between them. Hutch had never found it particularly easy to make friends and yet Starsky and he had taken to each other like ducks to water. The one thing Hutch did know for certain was that if he was in a tight situation, the one man he would want watching his back was Dave Starsky, no doubt about that.

Hutch’s thoughts were cut short by stirrings in the bed opposite and as he looked over he saw semi circles of indigo blue appearing beneath impossibly long luxuriant eyelashes. Hutch grinned to himself, thinking about all the times his sister Karen had yearned for thick black lashes like those and all the money she’d thrown away on mascara to make her own blond lashes stand out more. Starsky’s eyelashes were so natural and should have belonged to a film actress rather than a cop!

‘Good mornin’ he said with a smile as his room mate rolled over onto his back and stretched carefully

‘Shit, is it mornin’ already?’ the brunet asked.

‘Uh huh. Stupid o’clock in the mornin’ to be precise. You ok buddy?’

Starsky turned his head on the pillow and smiled shyly at Hutch. ‘Yeah, better thanks. M’sorry. About last night.’

‘Hey, don’t apologise, you were hurtin’ like hell.’

‘I know, but you shouldn’t have to deal with me throwin’ up everywhere’ Starsky said, the embarrassment clear in his voice. There it was again – the vulnerability and neediness of the guy covered a moment later by a veneer of bravery

‘I just can’t believe how Ball is doin’ this. Just what did you do to piss him off so much?’ Hutch asked, hoping for some answers. He hated that the small Sergeant seemed to pick on Starsky for seemingly no reason at all. But if he was hoping for answers, there were none coming his way. Instead, the brunet swung his legs out of the bed with a barely stifled groan, wrapped his arm round his ribs and stood up. The bruises were blacker than ever this morning and Hutch winced as he saw the swelling across his buddy’s chest.

‘I’m fine Hutch. Don’t worry, I can handle it.’ Starsky padded into the bathroom and grabbed his towel and a bar of soap.

The blond snorted and pointed at the bruises. ‘If that’s handlin’ it buddy, I’d hate to see ya when ya lose a fight. Where are ya goin’?’

‘To the showers. If the bruises make you ask questions, I don’t want to let the others see ‘em. Gonna get in there early to avoid embarrassment.’

With that brief explanation, Starsky closed the door behind him and walked the short distance to the shower block. The cool morning air felt good on his skin and helped to revive him. The small parade square was empty and he turned to enter the shower rooms, glad that he could be alone for a while.

The white tiled room was deserted when he got there, which was fine as far as he was concerned. He felt bad that he couldn’t tell Hutch what was going on. Not that he wanted any help with the situation with Ball. In a way, Starsky thought he deserved to be punished, although he’d had no way to know that Carly had been married, and certainly not married to Henry Ball. But he felt that he’d fucked up royally and any punishment Ball meted out, he’d take without complaint. The pain made him feel as though he was paying for his shortcomings.

Starsky knew he wasn’t as smart as Hutch, or as easy with his colleagues as Colby. He’d work on it, but in the meantime, he was gonna have to pay for his mistake. What he felt he lost in clever thinking and easy relationships, he made up for in loyalty and, he felt, stoicism. Whatever Ball did, he’d take, because in a way, he thought Ball had a retributional right to hurt him and the more he hurt, the more he felt purged of his guilt. The one thing he knew for sure was that whatever the Sergeant did, he wouldn’t tell anyone what had caused the treatment.

There was also the question of stubbornness too. Ball was forcing him to quit – to do something he really didn’t want to do, and what the brunet lost in other respects he made up for in sheer bloody mindedness. The harder Ball pushed, the harder Starsky would dig in his heels and remain at the Academy. David Starsky didn’t accept failure from others because he didn’t accept failure from himself, and quitting the Academy was the worst sort of failure in his indigo eyes.

As Starsky stepped out from under the hot water having soaped himself and scrubbed carefully at his injured body, he grabbed his towel, briskly rubbed the water droplets from his curls and then wrapped the towel round his slim hips.

As he turned to get his clothes, he was surprised to see he was not alone in the shower cubicles. He stopped in his tracks as Sergeant Ball pushed himself up from the wall and walked casually over to the cadet, noting the blue/black bruises and swellings across chest and abdomen with a certain satisfaction.

‘Well well, what an early riser. What’s the matter cadet? Couldn’t sleep? Maybe I should just give ya some more exercise huh?’

Starsky stood still, eyeing the Sergeant suspiciously, feeling vulnerable in nothing but his towel. He had no idea what to expect and his eyebrows arched in surprise as Ball fished in his back pocket and brought out the paper form and a pen.

‘You’ve had 24 hours of the “Ball” treatment. That’s just a taster cadet. Have you changed your mind? Are ya gonna sign yet? It’d be easier for the both of us if you did.’

The brunet looked contemptuously at his Sergeant and then fixed his eyes on a spot on the wall above his head.

‘No Sir, I won’t sign, an’ you aint gettin’ rid of me that easy.’

Ball advanced on the recruit, his parade stick drawn and pointing at Starsky.

‘No? Ya still haven’t seen sense? Well let me explain more huh?’ Suddenly the Sergeant drove the point of the stick into the centre of the bruise on Starsky’s chest and the brunet crumpled as he felt the rib move. With a great effort he remained silent and straightened himself, Ball’s face now inches from his own. With satisfaction Ball saw the sweat beading on Starsky’s forehead and he jabbed again, eliciting a grunt from his younger victim.

‘Still say no, do ya? It’s only a signature. Just one measly mark on the paper an’ all this’ll stop.’

‘All what?’ Hutch’s voice came as a shock. ‘What’s goin’ on?’ the blond asked as he took in the sight. Ball was leaning bodily on his parade stick, the point of it dimpling the skin on Starsky’s chest. The brunet’s face was creased in pain, but he made no sound. Indigo eyes bored into him with relief and more embarrassment.

Ball turned around unconcernedly. ‘Hutchinson...nice of you to drop in to see how your friend’s doin’ That’s what I was askin’ him about. He looked a bit tired today an’ I was worried about him.’

Behind Ball, Hutch saw Starsky give an almost imperceptible shake of his head. The meaning was clear – Don’t go there Pal

‘Um, yeah….me too. I told him he should go to see the MO or maybe the nurse? He wouldn’t listen to me, but maybe you could order him Sir’ Hutch said smoothly.

Ball’s face fell for a second before he managed to recover from being cornered so easily by the blond. ‘See Starsky, what have I been tellin’ ya son? You should listen to your friend here. Now I want no more arguments, otherwise I’ll march you over to the Infirmary myself. Do I need to order you to go?’

‘No Sir’ Starsky said, ignoring the complete seed change in Ball’s attitude. As he gathered his things and passed the stunned blond, he hissed a quiet “thank you” and walked out of the shower room with the Sergeant in attendance.

Ball was angry that he’d been so easily backed into a corner and now more than a little concerned that the reason for Starsky’s injuries would become apparent. As they knocked on the MO’s door and waited, Ball was tempted to say something, to warn the brunet to behave himself, but he had little chance as the brusque “come in” sounded almost immediately.

The curly haired cadet and the small, balding Sergeant made an incongruous pair as they entered the white tiled and clinical room. The MO looked up from his desk in the corner and immediately came to his feet. Starsky hadn’t had time to get dressed and was still clad only in short white towel. The apparel left nothing of his injuries to the imagination and he’d no sooner come to a halt in front of the doctor than the medic was checking out the bruises, palpating them gently with probing fingers as the brunet twitched and hissed at the added pain.

‘When did this happen?’ the MO asked as he busied himself with stethoscope and tendon hammer.

‘Couple of days ago Sir’ the brunet gasped as the probing fingers dug a little too deeply into his ribs. The medic stood up and looked into the brunet’s face.

‘And would you care to explain to me how you seem to have cracked two ribs Cadet?’

Ball stiffened, waiting for Starsky’s response, his mind working overtime in case he needed to refute what Starsky would say. There was silence in the small room for a second.

‘I’d prefer not to Sir’ the brunet said quietly.

‘Your preferences don’t enter into it Cadet. Explain to me how these injuries came into being, along with those cuts on your face.’

Ball glared at Starsky and the cadet fixed his indigo eyes on his Sergeant. The cerulean blue pierced into the Sergeant’s soul as Starsky grunted.

‘I was fighting Sir. Sergeant Hammond has me on report.’

‘In that case I have no sympathy’ the medic said, but at the same time he gave the brunet a questioning look and then looked at Ball. The small Sergeant refused to meet the Doctor’s eyes and took a step back. The medic paused for a moment and then got back to business.

‘Ok Cadet, well if that is the explanation….. I’ll strap up your ribs and give you something for the pain. You look pale too. Is there anything else?’

‘I um…. Had a migraine attack last night Sir. Nuthin I couldn’t handle but…’

‘And yet I seem to recall you running around the perimeter of the campus at some ungodly hour. Tell me Cadet Starsky, are you some sort of masochist?’ But the comment was pointed more at Ball than the brunet and before Starsky could open his mouth to reply, the Sergeant launched himself into an explanation.

‘I’m glad you said something Sir. I’ve been trying to tell the Cadet to take it easier, but he just won’t listen to me. Maybe he’ll take it from someone more senior Sir’ the little man said ingratiatingly.

The medic looked at him with distaste. He’d never liked Ball, thinking of him as a slimy little individual and in the past there had been accusations of bullying, but nothing he’d been able to put his finger on and nothing resulting in injuries as serious as those in the young brunt’s body. Remaining as professional as he could he turned his attention back to his patient.

‘Do you feel fit to continue today?’

‘Yes Sir. No problem.’

‘Well. I’ll give you your due, you’re tough. Most men would have curled up into a ball and refused to move with two broken ribs. Here, take these now and come back and see me in a week when I can take the strapping off. Anything else?’

Starsky looked from Ball to the medical officer and back. He was enjoying his Sergeant’s discomfort, but didn’t want to push it. He hurt too much for that. Instead he pulled himself back to attention.

‘No Sir, everything is fine’ he said softly.

Chapter 7

With his ribs taped and with the pain meds kicking in, Starsky started to feel better and a little more confident about himself. As he walked from the MO’s office, he felt absurdly proud of himself that he hadn’t disclosed his secret of how he got his injuries, and he hoped that it may go some way to showing Ball that he could be trusted. The remnants of his migraine disappeared as the morning wore on and once the nagging pain in his temples had dissipated, Starsky was better able to concentrate on the lessons of the morning.

The first lecture of the day was on hostage negotiation and was more a case of what not to do rather than a list of pre requisites. For the most part, the lecturer went through various scenarios each of which culminated on “and then wait for the professionals to come”. There was very little interaction during the talk with the cadets and Starsky found it restful just to sit and listen rather than have to prove himself every step of the way.

After coffee came another couple of hours on the shooting range and even there, Ball had the good sense to leave the brunet alone. There was nothing the Sergeant could teach the ex soldier about firing weapons and Ball didn’t want to give the curly haired cadet another chance to shine. So Starsky stayed in the background and took his turn on the range quietly, determined not to bring attention to himself but at the same time, unwilling to do anything other than his best, his target returning with all six shots in the gold again. Ball said nothing, skirting around the brunet’s success and concentrating instead on what the other cadets were doing. Hutch and Colby were also excellent marksmen. The blond professed to never having held a gun in his life, but still managed to make a neat grouping of four holes near the centre of the target and Colby also shot as though he was born to it. By the end of the morning all three were pretty happy with their performance and went off to lunch laughing and joking.

As they sat down at the lunch table, Hutch and Colby once again tried to convince the brunet to tell them what had gone on to make Ball so mean towards him, but the curly haired cop remained tight lipped, turning the conversation back towards his two friends.

‘Why so interested in me anyway?’ he asked as he took another bite of the hamburger drenched in chilli sauce.

‘Coz no-one else has the same effect on Ball as you do.’ Hutch mumbled through his salad.

‘That’s coz I’m an annoyin’ bastard’ the brunet grinned

‘Well yeah, but it still don’t explain why he’s so hell bent on makin’ your life a misery. What did ya do, shoot his pet dog or somethin’ Colby asked.

‘Yeah, that’s me. Pet murderer extraordinaire. Anyhow, how come you’re so useful with a Colt? Done much shootin’ before?’ Starsky asked, diverting the questioning from himself to the dark haired recruit opposite.

Colby’s eyes slid sideways ‘Just lucky I guess’ he mumbled evasively.

Hutch watched the two friends and snorted. ‘Great! The two of you ought to get a chat show on TV. It’d be the most boring show on the box. What is it with you guys? Ya both got gruesome pasts or somethin’ to hide? We all have skeletons in our closets ya know.’

Both Colby and Starsky ignored the question. The one thing the brunet wanted to talk about less than Ball was his tour of Vietnam. Having only recently come to terms with his memories himself, he knew damn well he didn’t want to share them with anyone else. To do so would first put any would-be friends off for life and second would make them pity him. And pity for David Starsky was like a death sentence – not something he would invite under any circumstances.

Across from their table, Sergeant Ball looked up from his lunch and frowned at the three older cadets. What were they talking about? Was it him? Was the curly haired one laughing at him behind his back? Well, he’d had a morning’s reprieve. This afternoon, Ball resolved to get back with the plan. He felt he was getting close – getting under the brunet’s skin. The small Sergeant felt that if he could only push home his advantage, he’d force Starsky to resign and have the annoying brunet out of his hair for good. He just needed to keep up the pressure, but at the same time, he needed to keep it as subtle as possible. It wouldn’t do to call attention to what he was doing. Slow and easy, that’s’ how he needed to play it. Keep on upping the ante, and sooner or later, even the strongest guy would crack, even that one curly haired cadet. With a wry smile, Ball finished his plate of stew, put the dirty plate on the trolley by the side of the room and left, Hutch’s laugh ringing in his ears as he left the canteen.

After lunch, the three made their way back to the classroom. Starsky had made no mention of his injuries to the other cadets, not even to Colby. Only Hutch and Ball knew the full extent of them and while Hutch was sworn to secrecy, Ball had other reasons for keeping them quiet. Although the brunet’s face was cut and bruised, the others had only been told that he’d been fighting. In a perverse sort of way, it added to his kudos with the group – he was a rebel figure and some of the younger guys looked up to him. They did it not just because of his rebellious nature, but also because he seemed to have a way with him; a way of not looking down at them – of treating the younger guys as equals. And they reciprocated by following him. Sergeant Hammond had noted that all three of the older recruits had leadership qualities, but both Hutch and Starsky seemed to have a natural ability to engender trust in others – a fine quality in a good cop and one to be fostered.

As the twelve recruits sat back in their horseshoe round the central space chatting quietly, Ball walked into the room and immediately there was quiet.

‘This afternoon we’ll be looking at how to deal with suspects who are combative. Many times, you’ll be out on patrol and will come to arrest someone who is drunk, or high on drugs or is just as ornery as hell and won’t come quietly. In those circumstances, although BCPD does not condone acts of cruelty, you may need to exert some force to arrest your collar, for his, or more importantly your own safety.’

There was a general ripple of comment around the room and Ball took in all the cadets with a sweep around the horseshoe of attentive faces.

‘Chemical agents might not be effective on mentally disturbed individuals or those under the influence of drugs or alcohol’ Ball continued ‘Some individuals become more combative when sprayed with Mace, individuals with preexisting respiratory conditions may suffer serious medical problems and sprays may cause discomfort or harm to innocent bystanders. You may have heard of Tazers or non lethal projectiles. BCPD doesn’t use these deterrants as they are both proved to be either ineffective to certain indiviuals or can, in fact, cause life threatening injuries of their own. So, what are your suggestions for how to deal with a suspect who’s fighting back?’ the Sergeant looked around the room.

‘Hit ‘em’ one of the younger recruits shouted out.

‘And immediately face a law suit for assault’ Ball grinned.

‘Shoot into the air?’ Hutch offered.

‘That might stop them for a second or two, but it wastes bullets and it won’t subdue them for ever’ Ball responded. ‘I’m thinking about something that’s gonna give you control over your suspect for as long as you need. Anyone any other suggestions? Cadet Starsky, what about you?’

The brunet looked up. He thought he knew the answer. They used similar techniques in the Army to subdue fighters or as punishments, but he didn’t feel he wanted to answer, feeling that it would probably lead somewhere painful, Ball wouldn’t single him out unless he could make an example of him. But stil…

‘Subversary holds Sir’ he said quietly.

‘Joint locks, yeah. Good, and as you came up with the answer, perhaps you’d like to come up here and help me demonstrate?’ Ball asked with undisguised glee.

‘Wouldn’t be my first choice, no’ the curly haired cadet muttered under his breath as he got up slowly and made his way to the centre of the horseshoe. The Sergeant stood beside him, looking up slightly at the tall brunet.

‘The good think about these holds is that they’re just as effective, no matter how big your opponent is’ he explained. ‘The theory holds that by using the stimulus of pain in just the right amount, law enforcement officers can alter resistive behavior without causing injury to subjects. The most common forms of joint locks are armlocks. An armlock is a single or double joint lock that hyperextends, hyperflexes or hyperrotates the elbow joint, that is, takes it outside it’s normal range of movement’ Ball continued as Starsky watched him warily.

Suddenly, the small Sergeant grabbed a hold of the brunet’s left arm at the wrist, with surprising speed, he rotated the arm, his other hand in the crook of Starsky’s elbow and as the cadet grunted in pain, Ball folded Starsky’s arm almost double so that his wrist landed between his shoulder blades and forced the brunet to lean forwards, sweat beading on his forehead. The added pressure to his chest set off his ribs aching again and Starsky’s vision turned red as he fought for breath. Ball put his mouth close to Starsky’s ear.

‘Plead with me to let you up an’ I will boy.’

‘Never’ Starsky grunted from tightly closed teeth. He felt his arm forced a little further up his back, his shoulder joint screaming for release.

‘Make it easy on yourself an’ just ask me to stop. Tell the others how you’re a coward an’ ya can’t take it.’

‘Go fuck yourself Sir’ the cadet managed to grunt.

‘You’re hurtin’ him Sir. We get the picture’ Hutch said from the sidelines. ‘It’s effective, we get that’ the blond added desperately.

The powerplay between Sergeant and cadet lasted a moment longer before Ball gave a final joint creaking push and let go, looking satisfied as Starsky sank to his knees on the floor, massaging his shoulder.

‘Even with the toughest flakes, that will work every time. ‘But to keep a subject down we have a couple more tricks up our sleeves. The first is pressure points. Like any device or physical maneuver, pressure points - the controlled application of pressure to a specific area - should not be considered the final word on subject control. But pressure points have been used for thousands of years in the martial arts and are again a great way to subdue a larger opponent. Pressure points are very common and located all over the body but the one I’ve found most useful is the one that causes the gag reflex.’ Ball grabbed Starsky by his arm and helped him to his feet. The brunet wondered if he should just fight back and have done with it, but decided against that, and waited for the next maneuver.

‘Okay, the gag reflex point is located on the middle of the lower, anterior neck, just above the sternal notch – the dip below the Adam’s apple in a man. Now I know some of you will be hesitant, thinking that this area is weak and that you are going to damage the throat by pushing here, but let me assure you that while pressing here will feel uncomfortable, you are not going to damage the neck at this location. That is because underneath the point are rings of thick cartilage. In order for this to work, though, you have to press quickly. If you press slowly, then the person can resist because the gag reflex, which is part of the breathing system.’ Ball made a jabbing motion with his middle finger straight at Starsky’s neck. The brunet felt immediately as though he were going to throw up onto the Sergeant’s shoes and the small man grinned, continuing his explanation.

‘If you have done this correctly you will see the person back up quickly. How far he backs up is in direct proportion to how hard and how fast you push. It is possible to have him launch himself into the wall behind him with all his muscles, but we wouldn’t want to do that to cadet Starsky, would we? In order to get even more effect, this time I’m going to run my fingers on the bone edge of the top part of his sternal notch hard so that I’m rubbing bone as I press the gag reflex. The bone part is the level 1 pressure point stimulation and the sharp pain will take away any resistance he may have had from your finger or thumb entering this area. Done correctly you should see an enhanced effect.’

Ball completed the maneuver again and despite preparing himself, Starsky shot back, falling against the wall as the back of his head hit the brickwork. He fell to the floor, clutching at his neck as he tried to suck in air. He felt like his throat had collapsed in on itself and stars appeared in the periphery of his vision as he heard himself making gurgling attempts at breath. Meanwhile, Ball had turned back to the class.

‘Of course, these are advanced techniques and I wouldn’t want you to be using them just yet. This was just an example of what we can do when we have to. Ok gentlemen, I think that’s enough for the afternoon. Have some coffee, relax and I’ll see you in class first thing in the morning.’

Ball walked slowly to the door pausing to bend down by the brunet as he made to leave. The Sergeant put his finger under the cadet’s chin and raised it up so that he cold see the watering indigo blue eyes.

‘Wanna sign the paper yet?’ he asked softly.

Starsky’s throat didn’t work properly to allow him a verbal answer, but his shook his head violently as his defiant eyes fixed on his Sergeant’s. The look said it all. “I won’t sign until hell freezes over and there aint nothing you can do to make me.”

Chapter 8

‘Good morning campers’ Hutch’s voice sounded loud in the early morning and Starsky snorted to himself.

‘Mornin’ yourself’ he mumbled trying to snuggle down inside his blankets and snatch an extra few minutes.

‘How’re ya feelin’ this mornin’?’


‘Ya feel better?’

‘Better’n what?’

‘Than ya did last night mushbrain. After Ball finished with ya again, you looked like you were gonna throw up all night.’

The brunet snorted quietly. ‘Yeah, he has that effect on me. I’m fine.’

‘Just checkin.’’

Indigo eyes peeked over the top of the blanket and fixed the blond with a piercing gaze. ‘Hutch?’

‘Uh huh?’


‘For what?’ Hutch asked, stunned.

‘Ya know….just… Well I don’t go in for soapy scenes, but its kinda nice havin’ ya watch out for me.’

‘Hey, what’re friends for apart from watchin’ out for each other….oh an’ getting’ each other up so that the evil Sergeant doesn’t have any more excuses for hurtin’ ‘em.’

‘What time is it?’ Starsky asked.

‘Time we should be up an’ at breakfast. C’mon Starsk, race ya to the bathrooms.’

The curly head disappeared beneath the sheets again and Hutch heard a muffled curse. ‘Only place I’m racin’ anyone to is back to sleep.’

The blond grinned, got out of bed and flipped the sheets back, stepping back as Starsky batted at him with his hand.

‘C’mon. Ya don’t want to give Ball any more excuses.’

‘Don’t seem to matter what I do, he finds some way.’

‘Well, let’s make a concerted effort huh?’ Hutch said, pulling his black pants on and toppling back onto the bed in a heap.

‘A what?’

‘Concerted effort. If we both keep ya at the back of the group an’ out from under his nose, he can’t single you out, can he?’

Starsky shrugged his shoulders as he swung his legs out of the bed. ‘Sounds like a plan. We can but try.’

Once breakfast was over and they’d stacked the dishes at the back of the room, Starsky, Hutch, Colby and the others all made their way back to the classroom. They’d spent almost 2 months together now and had bonded well as a group, although the younger men still regarded the three older guys with a little reserve. As they got into the classroom, Ball was waiting for them, the chairs, pushed to the back of the room.

‘The first PT session this morning is going to be a test of strength. Strength training is like a competition and I’m pitting each one of you against the next today.’

The group looked at each other. Ball had never done anything like this with them before, but they’d had sleep and food and the group were up for the challenge. The Sergeant watched all the anxious faces looking his way with satisfaction.

‘OK, men. One of the best ways to test stamina is a technique known as the stress position. When I tell you, I want you all to go and stand with your backs against the wall. From there I want you to squat down with your backs against the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Once you’ve got yourself into position, I want you to hold out your arms in front of you at shoulder height and stay like that as long as you can. Is that clear?’

There was a host of nods from around the room and at the command, each man found a section of wall. As Ball told them to, they all got into the requisite position and there was silence in the room.

Starsky had had experience of this technique before in his Army training and elsewhere. It was a standard procedure, but in the 8th Battalion it was mostly used as a punishment technique and not as Ball sold it – as strength training. The brunet noted with a smirk that the Sergeant wasn’t about to try a taste of his own medicine and instead of squatting down against the wall with his class, he strode about, adjusting postures and generally watching how the men fared. At first, for the initial minute or so, the brunet knew the body remained quiet comfortable but as the minutes ticked by, first a slow burn would start in legs and shoulders. The burn turned to pain at around four minutes and by five minutes limbs shook and sweat beaded on foreheads and trickled down backs. From that time on, it was purely a matter of how strong an individual’s will was as to how long they could last. Mind over matter they called it and it was a standing joke that “if you didn’t mind it didn’t matter”.

Most of the younger guys managed about 5 minutes, some a little less. For each of them that collapsed down onto the ground, Ball gave a brief “well done” and continued on his rounds. At six minutes Colby, Hutch, Starsky and one other cadet were still in position. All four showed signs of stress now, twitches showing around their lips and arms beginning to dip against their will. At six and a half minutes the last of the younger cadets gave up, leaving just the three older, stronger men left. Ball regarded all three men, now sweat soaked and breathing heavily, but still with eyes opened and fixed on a point in the distance. At seven and a half minutes, Hutch gave a final groan and dropped his hands, falling to his knees as he rubbed the circulation back into them. And now only Colby and Starsky remained. They were positioned opposite each other and had their eyes fixed on each other as their bodies trembled and they fought the burning build up of lactic acid in their muscles. Another tortuous minute passed before with a last gasp, Colby toppled sideways and propped himself up on his arms as he stared at Starsky. The brunet had his eyes closed now, his arms visibly shaking as he fought with every ounce of his will to stay upright, but he was no longer in Bay City.

The sun beat down on his naked body, the bamboo rough against the bones of his back. He was crouched, arms out in front of him, a weight clasped in each hand as General Mai stood in front of his taunting him; threatening him that if he let the weights drop, his friend John would suffer the consequences. The burn had long since left his biceps, to be replaced by a heaviness he was fighting hard to ignore. But slowly and surely his hands were dropping and the VC standing behind his buddy, tied to a bamboo cross was ready with the flogger for the moment his hands touched his knees. Starsky gave a sob of rage, his face showing every second of pain as he employed his iron will to keep his arms raised. ‘SsStarsky, David Michael…. Lieutenant…serial numb….’

Hutch rushed to his buddy’s side, clicking his fingers in front of Starsky’s face.

‘Starsky…. Hey Starsk, snap out of it huh? Just relax buddy. It’s over…. It's over. Ya can put your arms down. Just relax.’

Slowly clarity came back into the indigo eyes and Starsky turned his head to look at Hutch.


‘You can relax buddy. Where were ya? Where did ya just go?’

‘Hutch? I…. dunno….well I…. Doesn’t matter’ the brunet mumbled as he sat back against the wall and stretched his legs out with a hiss. The one thing he didn’t need to be telling anyone was that he’d suffered another flashback. The psych tests for the entry into the Academy had been bad enough to get through. The MO had ased him countless questions about his time in ‘Nam and his treatment out there and he answered all of them carefully. He’d managed to pass the tests, but the police selection committee ad still written to his commanding officer at the 8th battalion for more information, just in case – it wouldn’t do to employ an unbalanced and crazy cop! He rubbed at his arms and slowly his breathing calmed and he came to his senses.

‘Where were ya Pal?’ Hutch asked again.

‘Nam. I was back in ‘Nam. For God’s sake don’t tell no-one huh? Please Hutch, they’d have me thrown out for bein’ crazy’ the brunet muttered

‘Aww shit Starsk, course I wouldn’t tell. Are you ok now? Wanna take a break?’

‘No… m’fine. I’ve lived with the flashbacks for a couple of years. They just creep up on me sometimes. I can handle ‘em. It’s only when I’m doin’ somethin’ that reminds me of the camp and…..’

Ball stood over the two men. ‘Had enough of a rest?’ he asked and stood a moment later, ignoring the shaken brunet. ‘OK men, time for coffee and back in a quarter of an hour huh?’ The Sergeant watched as Hutch hauled Starsky to his feet and the two men headed out and across the square to the canteen and he grinned. He had the curly haired cadet on the run now, he was sure of it. He only needed to add just a little more pressure and Cadet 351 Starsky would be begging to sign the release papers and resign his Cadetship with BCPD. With a sigh of contentment, he followed the men to the coffee area and sat a little apart as Colby and Hutch brought their buddy a cup of coffee and sat with their heads together.

As the cadets stood to leave, having finished their drinks, once again Ball called Starsky over, ostensibly to ask hi if he was alright to continue. Hutch lingered a while, watching as the small Sergeant put his arm round the brunet’s shoulders and drew him to the side of the room and after checking that everything seemed to be ok, he left.

‘Have you had enough yet? That was a nice little display you put on in there’ Ball sneered as Starsky watched him cautiously.

‘I’m fine’ the brunet grunted.

‘That’s not what I asked. Have you had enough? Are you ready to sign yet? Just one little signature and it’ll all be over. Just one mark on the paper and you won’t have to suffer the final embarrassment.’

Starsky drew himself up straight and stared hard at the Sergeant, ignoring the pen and paper that were held out to him.

‘Sir. I made one mistake. I had no idea that Carly was your wife and she never said a word. She seduced me although I admit I didn’t stop her. I’m not responsible for what your wife does or doesn’t do. I am responsible for my career. And I aint gonna let one incident ruin my chances, no matter what you do to me. I told you, your secret is safe. I won’t tell anyone, but I won’t sign that goddamned piece of paper either.’

Ball smiled grimly. ‘That was a stupid decision to make Cadet. I hope it won’t be your last.’

Ball walked out of the canteen while Starsky obediently followed him and as they got back to the training room, he stood by the door as the Sergeant took centre stage.

‘The second session this morning carries on nicely from the strength training. I’m going to pair you up, evenly I hope and we’re going to try some sparring. Out on the streets, you’ll come across occasions when you’ll have no weapon and yet still you’ll be expected to engage with a suspect hand to hand. This might give you some taste of what that will involve.’

The Sergeant proceeded to pair the cadets off, leaving Colby and Starsky to the end. ‘You were both the last men standing on the last session. Let’s see what you make of each other with the sparring. Who’s gonna be the last one standing this time?’ Ball asked as though laying down the gauntlet for one of his cadets to pick up.

The two men eyed each other in a less than friendly manner. Ball had picked the two men with the shadiest backgrounds. Starsky; ex soldier and ex POW who’d spent six months in ‘Nam fighting for his life. Against Colby; self professed hard man who had acted as security guard for some one he preferred not to name. Even height, even weight. But while Colby was fit and healthy, Starsky’s previous injuries were hidden beneath bandages and his black shirt. Only Hutch knew their extent. Hutch….and Ball. Colby was unaware of his opponent’s handicap and by the look in the Cadet’s eyes, it may not have worried him particularly anyway.

Sergeant Ball stepped away from the two men and went on to explain the rules of the sparring session. Open handed blows were allowed, but no fists and no kicking. Wrestling holds were preferred and the winner was the one who could pin his opponent to the ground fro more than ten seconds. As he blew his whistle, the session commenced. From the corner of his eyes, Hutch, who’d been partnered with a smaller blond named Spalding, watched as Starsky and Colby circled each other warily.

It was obvious from the start that Colby has done this before. He was strong and fit and had muscles beneath his shirt that rivalled Starsky’s. Neither man was overtly big, but both were well proportioned and strong. It was Colby who got in the first blow – an open handed slap landing on the side of Starsky’s face. A moment later the brunet landed a slap of his own, full force, catching Colby across his shoulder. They danced around each other like boxers in a ring, hands up to shield their faces, dodging and dancing and eyeing each other as they became lost in the fight. Although Colby got in some telling blows, Starsky wouldn't be beaten and as they got more and more into it, one by one the other cadets stopped to watch until there was just Starsky and Colby fighting in the middle of the room.

Open handed blows had now given way to fists and despite Hutch trying to intervene, Ball seemed intent on allowing the fight to continue. As the blond watched, Colby jabbed again at Starsky’s chest, his fist ploughing with full force into the brunet’s ribs. Starsky grunted and doubled over but was met by an upper cut from Colby’s other fist. Dazed and now with his ribs sending knifing pains through his body, Starsky slowed, no longer fighting back so much as defending himself as best he could.

Hutch could see his friend was in difficulties and tried once again to stop the proceedings.

‘Sir, I think it’s getting out of hand’ he yelled at Ball. ‘Sir, the Cadets are….’

At that moment. Colby took a step back, pivoted on his left leg and drove his right leg full force into Starsky’s side. The brunet let out a blood curdling scream and dropped to the floor like a stone. Immediately, Colby was upon him, straddling the brunet’s body and pinning him to the ground as Ball leaned over the two fighters.

‘Six….seven….eight…..nine…..ten’ the Sergeant counted. ‘Colby wins.’

With a grin, the cadet staggered to his feet as silence reigned through the room. Colby bent down to pull his opponent to his feet and the grin on his face faded. Starsky remained where he’d fallen, his face ashen and blood frothing from the corner of his mouth.

Chapter 9

‘David? David can you hear me? Can you open your eyes for me?’

For a moment Starsky wondered where he was. Most of his mind was back in Vietnam and he was almost surprised when he managed to crack his eyes open sufficiently to see the Medical Officer looking down at him. The brunet blinked and groaned as he tried to sit up.

‘No, don’t try to move. You’ve taken quiet a beating young man. I want you to lie still for a few minutes while I get things ready. Do you feel breathless?’

Starsky nodded curtly. Breathless was an understatement. He felt like he’d just completed a marathon and now there was an elephant sitting on his chest, stopping him from breathing. Opening his eyes again, the curly haired cadet realised he wasn’t in the training room any more and he looked around in fear until his eyes fell on Hutch at his side. The big blond smiled down at him.

‘How’re ya doin’ buddy?’ he asked.

‘You….tell me’ Starsky croaked.

‘You’ll be fine, honest. That broken rib punctured a lung and um…. It needs to be dealt with pretty damned quick an’ the Doc…..Well the doc’s gonna have to help ya to breathe better’ Hutch explained.

The brunet furrowed his brow in concentration. Things seemed to be happening far too fast for him to comprehend and he needed someone to explain to him nice and slowly what was going on. In the background, he saw Sergeant Ball hovering and he grimaced and closed his eyes again.

‘I tried to stop him Sir, but they just kept on fighting. I couldn’t pull them away’ the small man was whining. The MO took no notice other than to tell Ball to clear out and that he needed room to work and as the Sergeant crossed to the bed on which Starsky lay, he took a hold of the brunet’s hand and leaned down to his ear,

‘Don’t think it stops here. One wrong word and your career is toast’ he hissed quietly. Standing, Ball patted the brunet on his shoulder. ‘You should take more care of yourself son’ he said loudly. ‘I’ll be back later to see how you are.’ With a final glare at the injured cadet, he turned away and left.

Busily Dr Gibson, the MO rolled a metal trolley draped in green sheets over to the bed and looked down at his patient.

‘David, I need to make you more comfortable. I know it’s tough to breathe at the moment so I need to put this tube into your side to help you. I’ll numb it first, but I can’t pretend it won’t feel uncomfortable. Will you let me do that?’

Starsky nodded feeling too dizzy and breathless to do much else. He was beginning to feel frightened by his inability to breathe properly and he wanted something….anything to help him.

‘Your friend here says he’ll stay and help. Is that ok?’

The brunet looked up at Hutch’s face, his eyes locking onto the blond’s. Somehow, having the big flaxen haired cadet in the room made him feel more comfortable and he nodded again, reaching for Hutch’s hand. It never crossed his mind to find anything odd in seeking out the blond’s touch. It was as natural as breathing….or as natural as breathing would be if he could just get some air into his lungs.

The doctor saw his patient’s increasing fight for breath and got to work, directing Hutch to sit in front of Starsky on the bed so that the brunet could put his arms round Hutch’s shoulders, raising his ribcage up a little. Starsky leaned into his friend, his forehead resting on Hutch’s shoulder as he sucked in what little air he could. He trembled with the effort and could feel his vision begin to fade so that it was red tinged at the edges.

Behind him and to the side, Gibson swabbed the black and blue skin with alcohol and then infiltrated the area with Lidocaine, waiting no more than a few moments before taking up his scalpel.

Hutch took a tighter grip of Starsky’s arms and smiled reassuringly into the pain filled indigo eyes. ‘This is it buddy. Just hold on for two minutes an’ you’ll be home and dry.’

Starsky answered with a squeeze and then gasped as he felt the doctor make the incision in his side and push the clear plastic tube into his chest. The sensation was at once odd and at the same time comforting as there was an audible hiss of escaping air and suddenly Starsky could breathe again unhindered. He relaxed perceptibly against Hutch, his panting calming to be replaced by deep easy breaths as Gibson inserted a couple of stitches to keep the drain in place and taped a dressing over the wound.

‘Feel better?’ the MO asked.

‘Much’ Starsky managed to grunt as Hutch let him slowly down. He led on his side, a pillow propped behind him as the blond grinned at him.

‘What some guys won’t do for some attention huh?’

‘Did I win?’ Starsky asked quietly.


‘The fight, with Colby. Did I win?’

Hutch looked at him for a moment and then snickered. ‘Buddy, would you be in bed with a tube in your side if you’d won?’

‘Guess not.’

‘Are you gonna try to sleep now? I’m gonna go and have a few words with the doctor and he asked me to ask you if there’s anyone you want me to call?’

Starsky thought for a moment. His Mom was back in New York and he didn’t want her worrying about him. She’d spent too long doing that when he was away with Uncle Sam. Rosey and Al were his closest relatives, living right there in Bay City, but calling Rosey was almost as bad as calling his Mom. Sooner or later Rachel Starsky would get to know what had gone on from her sister. But there was someone.

‘Yeah. John Blaine. He’s like a…. a friend. I could use a visit from him. He’s a cop. They’ll have his address.’ Starsky yawned, being hardly able to keep his eyes open. He closed them, telling himself it was just for a little while, and drifted into a pain free and deep sleep.

Hutch looked down at the curly haired man and smiled. Starsky was such a complex character – part hard man, part little boy. The blond dearly hoped he’d get to know him better over the coming months.

‘Sure thing buddy’ Hutch murmured


Henry Ball made his way slowly back across the square to his house on the outskirts of the barracks. He’d tried so damned hard to get rid of that stubborn, opinionated, cocky young cadet, and yet the more he tried; the more he forced the young man to hurt, the more Starsky seemed to come back for more.

The weird thing was, the more Ball pushed, making the brunet jump through his hoops, the more the others seemed to like him and the more Ball became the big bad wolf. He’d hoped that after the first day, he’d maybe take the curly haired man to one side, have a final quiet word with him and then have him sign the papers. That’d be fine. Starsky would be gone, Carly would be back under control and none of the other Sergeants on the Academy site would know that Ball’s wife had played fast and loose with a cadet.

That hurt. That hurt more than anything else. Carly had been a real catch when he’d first met her and even Ball himself was unsure why a vivacious and pretty young thing like Carly had ever hooked up with him.

Ball had never been tall, or particularly slim. At no more than 5’10”and 187lbs, he was no pin up. Added to that was his shock of gingerish hair and his florid complexion and the young Henry had had more than his fair share to deal with. He’d been the victim of bullies at school and had found it tough to make friends. Throughout his school days he was known as the geek of the class. Ball’s friends were books and he read voraciously so that for the most part, he was top of his class in all but Physical education. At that, he was lower than average. The booklearning, however, did nothing to improve his popularity and his only use to the more popular guys in class was when they forced him to complete their homework for them.

Henry Ball had been lonely, there were no two ways about it.

At college, he’d gone through much the same ordeal. At college, he did have one friend. Jeremy Nevison was tall, good looking, popular and smart. Jeremy was the sort who could walk into a room and have the crowd turn to look at him, and yet he’d seen something in Henry Ball that he’d liked. Under his influence, Ball had bloomed. He started going out, and even had a girlfriend for a short time. He basked in the reflected glory of being Jeremy’s friend. And then the unthinkable happened. Jeremy got a girl and what started as a friendship became something more serious and within 6 months Jeremy was married and Ball was once again left on his own. Far from wishing his old friend health and wealth and happiness, however, Henry Ball retreated into himself, becoming bitter and miserable.

Ball graduated college and went straight on to the Academy, graduating top of his class in all the theoretical subjects, and a little lower than average in the practicals. Out on the streets, he was a poor performer. He wasn’t a coward exactly, but if there was trouble, it was a standing joke on his precinct that Officer Ball would be on the other side of town. Finally, his Captain took him to one side and told him that he’d make a fine tutor, but that he was a failure as a regular cop, and so Ball got a job at the Academy.

There, he bloomed again. His bookishness meant he could get the better of most of the cadets that came his way and because they were mostly fresh faced young lads straight from school, he could shine above them in shooting practice and PT too.

With his newfound confidence came a girl. Carly Edmondson had appeared on the Academy Campus one day as a cleaner. From the wrong side of town, she had the idea that by getting in with the cops as they graduated, they may leave her alone if she was forced to once again take up more nefarious activities. And then she met Henry Ball.

He wasn’t the most handsome and he certainly wasn’t the wittiest, but Henry Ball was captivated by her prettiness and Carly knew she was onto a winner. Here was a man who earned a steady wage, had a car, rented a nice house and was utterly smitten with her. Carly saw him as a perfect husband. Ball was someone who wanted her fro how she looked rather than whether she loved him. What she hadn’t counted on was Ball’s feelings.

Once he’d wooed and married Carly, Ball convinced himself that she loved him and she’d wanted to be his wife for no other reason than to be with him for ever. While the other Sergeants on the Academy campus had snickered at the couple behind their backs, Ball had been cocooned in his own little make believe world that he’d managed to secure the catch of the century. With Carly at his side, he could almost convince himself that he was handsome and worthy of a woman like her.

Until she’d started to play around. She’d done this a few times now. Ball was not the most adventurous in bed and the young woman was bored with his wham, bam, thank you ma’am approach to love making. When he’d heaved his bloated body off her after two minutes of puffing and panting and getting redder in the face, she wait until he was asleep, ease herself out of the bed and make her way into town to the discos to see who she could pick up for excitement and hot sex.

Unfortunately, her plans had backfired this last time with the curly headed, handsome cadet. She wanted Starsky out of the way as much s her husband did. Starsky represented danger; danger to her that Ball would get rid of her for making a fool of him; danger that she’d loose the lifestyle she’d become accustomed to and danger that she’d have to find a job and do some work if Ball sent her away.

As Sergeant Ball pushed open the door to his house, Carly was waiting in the living room for him.

‘Well? Is he gone?’ she asked.

‘No, he isn’t. I tried. He’s sick, but I’m concerned the MO will start to push him for information.’

‘But he said he wouldn’t tell didn’t he? And he’s got that stupid pride that’ll stop him. Do something Henry. Make him go away.’ Carly came to sit by her husband, winding her fingers through the short ginger hair.

Angrily Ball batted the hand away. ‘If you’d keep you panties on, woman, this would never have happened at all’ he snapped.

‘Yeah, and if you were half a man, I wouldn’t need to look for excitement elsewhere would I?’

Ball rounded on her, grabbing Carly by the throat and bringing the woman up to his face. ‘Ya think I don’t know your dirty little tricks? Ya think I don’t know what you do?’ his hand squeezed harder and she gave a little gurgling moan, grabbing at Balls hands with hers.

‘I’m sorry Henry’ she gasped. ‘Truly I’m sorry. I… I love you. I promise I won’t do that again…. Honest.’

Slowly, the Sergeant relaxed his grasp of his wife’s neck and the women dropped to her knees, clutching at her throat and coughing as she sucked in breaths.

‘I’ll think of something’ Ball said tiredly. ‘I just need to make it quick.’

Chapter 10

When Starsky woke again, it was to find his long time friend Blaine sitting patiently by the side of his bed. The older cop smiled as he opened his eyes, and gently he stroked a stray curl away from the brunet’s brow as he had done once before when a frightened sick boy of 14 had tried to find his way back home from Bay City to New York.

‘Hey Pipsqueak. What’s all this about?’ Blaine asked softly.

‘John….glad you’re here’ Starsky mumbled, still fighting the pain meds the doctor had given him.

‘What happened?’

The brunet shrugged his shoulders, winced and then snorted. ‘Guess I can’t spar as well as I thought I could.’

‘Not with broken ribs you can’t. No. But that’s not what I meant. What started all this?’

Piercing indigo blue eyes glared defiantly at him. ‘All what?’

‘Jeez David. Don’t you ever take a break? I didn’t teach ya to box just so as you could go round getting’ beaten up. Hutch tells me…..’

‘Hutch don’t know nuthin.’

‘He knows there’s something going on between you and Ball. So are ya gonna tell me, or do I have to go to the Sergeant?’

No sooner were the words out of his mouth, than Sergeant Ball appeared at the door of the small Infirmary. The small man’s face fell when he saw Starsky’s visitor and he stalked stiff backed over to the bed. Blaine stood up and faced the Sergeant.

‘Bouncer. How’s things?’ he asked.

‘Fine. And you John? How are you?’

‘I’m good.’

Ball gave a funny, disquieted look at the big cop. ‘I didn’t know you knew Cadet Starsky.’

‘David and I go back a few years. We’re old friends’ Blaine explained. ‘I didn’t know you were his Sergeant. I thought you’d have packed it in years ago. You always hated being a cop.’

‘I found my niche’ Ball said importantly. ‘I was just coming to see how the Cadet was doing. Just checking up on him.’

‘M’fine’ Starsky mumbled. ‘Everythin’s fine.’

‘It is? Well maybe I should just stay here with you for a while if John’s going….’

‘I wasn’t going anywhere’ Blaine said easily, sitting down more comfortably onto the chair. ‘David’s fine, I can see to him. Doc Gibson said I could have till 8:00pm with him. That’s another three quarters of an hour. Why don’t you go an’ get your supper?’

Ball glared at the older cop, glared even harder at Starsky, cocked a warning eyebrow at the cadet and without another word, turned and left. Starsky watched him go, more than a little pleased with himself that he hadn’t told anyone why the Sergeant hated him so. And yet Ball still didn’t trust him. He yawned again and regarded Blaine through sleep befuddled eyes.

‘Bouncer?’ he asked with an amused grin. ‘Why’d ya call him Bouncer?’

Blaine also grinned at the memory. ‘We were at the Academy together and he was um…well let’s just say he didn’t do too well at physical fitness. With that reputation an’ a name like Ball….Bouncing…..Bouncer….. It just kinda stuck like it was kinda ironic.’

Starsky wriggled in the bed, trying to find a comfortable spot. Lying on his side was good for the drain in his side, but the arm he was forced to lie on was getting pins and needles. He rubbed his hands over his eyes and turned his head into the pillow, the pain on his face too evident. He didn’t want John to see how bad it was getting because he enjoyed the older man’s company, but John was perceptive and the brunet’s visitor could see that Starsky was tiring.

‘Hey, I’m gonna go an’ let you sleep, ok? Gonna go and catch up with the doctor and maybe I can come by tomorrow an’ see you again?’

The curly haired cadet smiled shyly. ‘Yeah, I’d like that. John…. Don’t tell Rosey huh? She’ll only tell Ma and then Ma will get on the first plane outa JFK. I just can’t handle that right now.’

‘Sure thing Pipsqueak. Your secret is safe with me. Get some sleep huh? How’s the pain?’

Another wave of discomfort hit and despite his best intentions, Starsky moaned softly and bit his bottom lip. ‘Could be better’ he admitted.

‘I knew it! Why don’t ya just tell someone Davey, instead of trying to deal with everything yourself?’

The brunet grinned tightly. ‘Cos I hate takin’ the easy way out.’

‘Try to relax, I’ll be back tomorrow an’ I’ll send in the Doc with somethin’ to help you sleep.’

Starsky snuggled his head into the pillow. He did feel tired and more sore than he cared to admit, but at the same time, somehow more at peace. He had John to look out for him, and more than that, he had Hutch. The big blond cadet with the slightly klutzy ways was a born comforter and not since Thomas Trafford, Starsky’s closest friend in the Army had he felt so at ease with another guy.

A minute or so later, Doc Gibson came bustling in with a needle which he inserted with practiced ease into the muscle on Starsky’s upper arm. The brunet felt the cold of the drug suffuse his body and as the feeling spread, it cancelled out the pains in his muscles. As his eyelids slid closed and he drifted off into his dream world, there was a small smile playing over the handsome, somewhat bruised face as it lay almost extinguished against the white pillowcase.

Some time around midnight, the brunet’s eyes opened and he was dreamily awake. Unsure at first what had wakened him, Starsky at first thought that maybe Doc Gibson had come back to look in on him and give him some more of the good stuff. The doctor had been careful to tell him to rest and that he’d check on him periodically during the night, although no-one actually slept in the Infirmary, other than the occasional patient.

The moon was full and it sent a bright cold, silvery white light through the curtainless window of the small room, casting dark, impenetrable shadows across the room. Shafts of moonlight lit up the foot of the bed, making the white sheets on the bed take on a ghostly brightness and Starsky snuggled down deeper into the bed and pulled the sheet up round his ears and prepared to go back to sleep. Obviously, the doctor wasn’t there and he’d heard a cat, or an urban fox foraging outside.

Carly watched the young cadet awaken and pulled back into the darkest of the shadows in the room. She watched as Starsky raised his head stiffly, looked around and then led down again and she watched more closely as the sheets over the brunet’s chest started to rise and fall evenly, showing that Starsky was once more asleep. As soon as she could hear his breathing become more regular and deep, she crept out of the shadows and over to the bed.

This was her bete noir. This was her one stupid mistake, and this man was a threat to her lifestyle and her marriage. Very slowly, Carly reached out and took a hold of the sheet, pulling it gently down from Starsky’s shoulders so that she could see the brown fuzz on his chest. It was so unlike her husband’s bald, pale skin that for a moment she wanted to run her nails through it and feel it springy and harsh against her skin. She thought about her night with the young cadet and how he’d made her feel more alive than she had done in months, and then she thought about her comfortable lifestyle, her money and her freedom when Ball wasn’t around.

Hardening her heart, Carly silently crossed to the other bed in the room and grabbed the soft pillow from it. She hefted it in her hand, getting the feel for it as she eyed the sleeping brunet and then, before she could think about her actions any more, she launched herself at the other bed, pillow out in front of her as she wedged it over Starsky’s face, leaning into it with her full weight.

Below her, Starsky was galvanised into action, his sleep rudely interrupted by an inability to breath. For a split second he thought that something may have gone wrong with the drain in his side. He tried to suck in air through his open moth, but there was something soft and warm blocking the way. Still half asleep and uncoordinated with panic, the brunet tried to push the covering away from his face, shouting into the cloying depths of the feather filled case, although no sound other than a quiet moan escaped him.

A combination of the large amounts of morphine, the sleeping medicine, the injuries and the lack of sleep had taken their toll on his strength and the drain in his side stopped him from moving feely and yet the brunet fought as hard as he could, his legs and arms flailing as Carly held on with grim determination. Ordinarily, the woman would have been no match for the brunet. He would have made minced meat of her within a couple of seconds, but with the drugs and the state of his body, Starsky didn’t really stand a chance.

Carly pushed the pillow down with a snarl written over her pretty face. Starsky had caused all the problems and now he was going to pay. It was all his fault and in her head, the small woman exonerated herself of all responsibility and blame as she pushed the pillow more tightly over her victim’s face.

Starsky’s struggles were showing signs of slowing now. His arms and legs still spasmed, but the brunet could feel the tight burning in his chest that signalled that his lungs were fresh out of oxygen. Desperate for fresh clean air to enter his body and renew his strength, Starsky fought until every fibre in his body burned with the need to breathe and then fought some more, now aware that he was fighting for his life and still Carly hung on, pressing the pillow more firmly against his face.

If he could have seen, Starsky knew his vision would be going. He felt dizzy now and his arms and legs felt heavy and unresponsive, as though moving were too great an effort. Slowly, his mind told him that the time had come to give up and a curious feeling of calmness settled over him. What was the point in making it more difficult for himself? What was the point in struggling any more? Life was tough. He’d survived ‘Nam by the skin of his teeth and it had taken him 4 months to recover from General Mai’s treatment. He’d survived his childhood in Brooklyn and later in Bay City. He’d survived school and girls and God knows what else, but now? What was there to struggle for any more? Why should he bother? But as he started to prepare himself for the final free wheel down to oblivion one reason for carrying on floated into his head.

A blond head, a golden face, a broad, almost shy grin, and a set of piercing crystal blue eyes looked back at him and he heard a soft Midwest accented voice asking ‘Hey, are you ok Buddy?’

The vision of Ken Hutchinson was so strong that it jolted Starsky out of his complacency and he managed one final titanic struggle to get himself free of the smothering cover when to his amazement he heard another voice. It was a man’s voice and he’d heard it before, but the voice sounded angry and suddenly the pillow was taken away from his face and he sucked in the sweetest, most beautiful lungful of air he’d ever experience. It was better than a fine wine; better than a sea breeze on a summer night; better than the ice cold wind from the snowy covering of a mountaintop.

Starsky heard the voice yelling for help and a moment later more feet entering the room and more voices shouting. He didn’t open his eyes. All his concentration was taken up with getting enough sir into his oxygen starved body to be able to function properly, but as his tortured heart eased down it’s laboured pumping, he managed to open his eyes weakly and look around him.

Doctor Gibson was by his side, one hand on his wrist as he checked his patient’s pulse and another hand putting an oxygen mask over Starsky’s nose and mouth.

‘David, can you hear me? Are you ok?’ he asked above the commotion in the room.

‘Yeah….’m fine’ the brunet whispered.

‘Hmm, let me be the judge of that. just lie back and try to take some deep breaths’ the doctor looked over his shoulder to the others in the room who were still shouting and arguing ‘….and for Gods sake take that outside’ he snapped angrily. ‘She’s done enough damage as it is.’

Chapter 11

‘You mean he’s really sick?’ Colby asked as he and Hutch sat over a late night cup of coffee.

‘Oh come on! Don’t tell me you thought he was fakin’ it John. You were really goin’ for it there. It was like you were a different person!’ Hutch snapped at his friend. He’d been shaken enough when he’d seen the injuries Starsky had tried to hide from him, but he’d been more than worried for the brunet when he’d witnessed the titanic struggle for breath in the Infirmary.

‘Ball told us to go for it. Starsk wasn’t complainin.’

‘He didn’t have the fuckin’ breath to complain ya moron’ Hutch yelled, slamming his cup down on the table and spilling the brown liquid over the white Formica top.

‘All he needed to have done was told me, an’ I’d have gone easy on him or stopped completely’ Colby said defensively.

‘And when did you ever see Curly give up? You knew he was hurtin’ and you wouldn’t stop’ Hutch said accusingly.

‘I’m sorry Hutch, an’ I’ll go over there an’ apologise to Starsk too when he’s feelin’ better. I never meant to….. I didn’t stop coz…. coz that was always part of the trainin’ as a guard. Once ya start, ya don’t stop till… aww shit, damn, bugger! I should go tell him now.’

‘You should let him sleep, ya can tell him in the mornin’ Hutch’s anger dissipated as he saw the genuine remorse on his friend’s face. Colby looked up, thankful that he had some understanding and then his face creased into a scowl.

‘What the hell’s happening?’ Colby said, getting up from the table and walking over to the door just in time to see Mrs Ball being marched by two Sergeants from the Infirmary to the Commandant’s office. Hutch joined him at the door and then, his heart in his mouth, he sprinted across the small grassy square and burst into the Infirmary, seeing Gibson still ministering to the brunet.

‘What happened? Is he…is he ok?’ Hutch stammered as he walked to the bedside and looked down at his friend.

‘He will be. There was an incident in here. It’s being dealt with, but I think David could use a friendly face right now.’

Starsky opened his eyes and looked up at Hutch over the top of the clear plastic mask. ‘’Utch?’

‘Yeah buddy. I’m right here. How’re ya doin?’

‘T’riffic. Some crazy woman tried to kill me. How’s your day been?’

The blond cadet gave the doctor a sharp, questioning look. ‘Tried to kill…. What the hell is going’ on here Sir?’

‘Nothing good. But it’s being dealt with, I promise.’

‘And this has something to do with Sergeant Ball?’ Hutch asked. By his side, Starsky hissed and reached for the flaxen haired cadet’s hand.

‘Hutch shudup huh? It’s nuthin. Just leave it…..please?’ the brunet gasped through the mask.

‘No, I won’t just leave it. It’s gone on long enough. He was torturin’ you buddy, an’ I wouldn’t be much of a friend if I just stood back an’ let it happen.’

‘Let what happen?’ Gibson interjected. ‘You mean your injuries weren’t accidental? None of them?’

Starsky glared at the two men while Hutch and Gibson looked down at the cadet on the bed. The brunet dropped his eyes feeling like a deer caught in a car’s headlights. He was trapped; trapped in this bed while his friend and the doctor ran scenarios in their heads and Carly Ball was somewhere else telling the Commandant God knows what.

‘Wait here’ Gibson said tersely as he headed for the door with Hutch in tow.’

Starsky snorted softly. If Carly Ball and his Sergeant were going to be talking about him, he was damned well going to be there. Carefully, he took off the oxygen mask and flipped back the sheets, swinging his legs out of the bed with a hiss. The drain in his back pulled miserably and felt odd as he stood up, and the remains of the drugs in his bloodstream made him dizzy and the room spun, but Starsky managed to grab hold of the vacuum canister attached to the drain and stagger to the door of the Infirmary, pausing to get his breath before he stumbled along the side of the square to the Commandant’s office, using the walls of the various buildings for support.

As he got towards the brightly lit office, he could hears shrieking and yelling from within and it was patently obvious that Carly was still in full flow and as he got himself to the doorway, he saw Mrs Ball, the Commandant, Doc Gibson and Hutch all crowded into the office.

‘He attacked me. He needs locking up for ever. He’s an animal. He stalked me for a week and finally cornered my in the city. He’d sabotaged my car and then made a pretence of trying to fix it and the he….he….he assaulted me. He bundled me back into the car and forced me to drive him back here and then he raped me. You have to do something….. He’s dangerous’ Carly was yelling. Her shoulders shook and she put her hands up to her face in a truly wonderful show of the being helpless victim.

‘Starsky would never do that’ Hutch shouted from the back of the room. ‘And that doesn’t explain Sergeant Ball’s….’

‘Sergeant Ball’s what cadet?’

There was silence suddenly in the small office as the occupants turned en mass to see the small Sergeant standing in the doorway. He’d pushed Starsky out of the way once he’d seen what this was all about and terror had clutched at his throat.

Roughly, Ball pushed his way through the small crowd to stand next to his wife. Without waiting to find out what she’d said, he took a hold of her shoulders and shook her viciously, determined to put forward his point of view.

‘You stupid little tramp. You fuckin’ stupid little bitch! I said I’d handle this. I said I’d…’

Carly stared at her husband wildly. She hadn’t said anything about what her husband had been doing to Starsky and she tried desperately to shut the man up before he did himself some damage, but Ball had lost it completely and he was still yelling at Carly and the Commandant.

‘It was all her fault. If the little whore hadn’t gone and fucked that cadet, I wouldn’t have had to try to get him to leave. She drove me to it. It isn’t my fault… it’s not’ Ball tailed off, seeing the Commandant’s open mouthed look of horror.

Commandant Russell held up his hand. ‘Run that by me again, Ball.’

The small Sergeant stopped in his tracks, aware now that all eyes were on him and that Carly had gone very, very quiet. ‘Huh?’

‘Your wife was explaining how Cadet Starsky had stalked her, attacked her and raped her and yet all you seem concerned about is that she fucked him. Which is it Ball? Did the cadet attack your wife?’

At the doorway, Starsky leaned heavily on the wooden lintel, tight lipped and holding his breath as he heard his future discussed as though it were a trial. He was still panting and wheezing and his legs felt like rubber, but he was determined to see this play out to the bitter end.

Ball licked his lips, wondering what would be the best way to play this. He realised the mistake he’d made by jumping straight in there and now his mind was working overtime trying to back himself out of the corner. ‘Yeah he…well Cadet Starsky was um…he and Carly… I…’ The Sergeant stumbled over his words as the Commandant continued to fix him with a steely stare.

‘Did the Cadet and Mrs Ball have sex?’ he asked, cutting to the point.

‘Yes’ Ball and Carly replied together.

‘And when were you going to report this Sergeant?’

‘Well I was um…. I didn’t want to um….’

‘There’s no “um” to it Sergeant. The accusation is that one of our cadets raped your wife, and yet you saw fit not to report that fact. Why was that?’

‘I um…. I don’t um….’ Ball stammered.

‘Sergeant, did Cadet Starsky rape your wife, or did he not? And be careful before you speak, there would have to be a full investigation.’

Ball looked at his wife and then at the floor, weighing up the odds. If he was to make the accusation, the whole sordid business of his wife’s infidelities would surely come out and he’d be the laughing stock of the Academy. But if he didn’t make the accusation, he’d have a helluva lot of explaining to do about his treatment of the cadet. Which was easiest? Which would be the easiest to explain away?

‘Or perhaps we should just ask the cadet’ Commandant Russell said, spying the ailing young man at the back of the room.

All eyes turned to Starsky and he felt the room spin as he held onto the door for support. Hutch rushed to his side and helped him to stand and at a nod from Russell, he helped the brunet limp into the room. Starsky stood shoulder to shoulder with Ball. Clad only in a pair of navy blue scrub pants, it was evident to see the injuries inflicted over the past few days. Bruises sowed livid against the olive toned skin and poked out from the margins of the bandages surrounding the cadet’s chest.

Starsky felt as though the whole world was staring at him and he could feel the waves of hatred flowing from Ball’s indignant body. He stood his ground, however, tried to straighten up into something like standing to attention, and with Hutch at his side he looked the Commandant in the eye.

‘So Sergeant Ball. Are you trying to tell me that Mrs Ball inflicted these injuries as a result of her assault?’ Russell asked.

‘No Sir, I don’t know how he got them.’

‘Cadet Starsky. How did you come to be injured like this?’ the Commandant asked.

Starsky considered. Although he’d been treated badly by the Sergeant, he’d made a promise to keep the secret. Carly had seen to it that everyone knew something had gone on between her and the brunet, but still, in David Starsky’s eyes a promise was a promise.

Ball stared at Starsky, interpreting the hesitation in replying as something else entirely. In his agitated state, the small Sergeant could imagine Starsky spilling all the beans and Ball being made out to be the laughing stock of the campus. Of anything that could possibly happen to the small Sergeant, being laughed at was just about the worst in his eyes. He’d had enough of it through school, college and his police training and now, here at the Academy as a trainer, he’d found a modicum of respect. That was something he wouldn’t - couldn’t give up and as he watched the reflection in the cadet’s piercing indigo eyes, something snapped inside his head. With a bellow of frustration and rage, he launched himself at the curly haired cadet and knocked him to the ground.

Starsky fell backwards with a yelp of surprise, the ground suddenly hard on the back of his head. He put his hands up to protect himself as he saw Ball’s fist aiming at his face and it connected once with his chin. The brunet gave a grunt of pain as his head snapped sideways and then as all hell broke loose around him, the world faded into shades of grey before winking out completely.


Consciousness came back to him more slowly this time and Starsky was aware of a pillow beneath his head and sheets across his chest. He wrinkled his nose at the unfamiliar antiseptic smells assailing him and realised that this didn’t smell too much like the Academy Infirmary. With a careful breath, he cracked open one eye and looked up at he ceiling. It was white tiled, with those polystyrene tiles beloved by hospitals the world over, and it had an interesting brown stain in its middle. Idly, Starsky wondered how on earth a stain could get onto a ceiling tile before a more familiar, comforting sight insinuated itself into his line of vision.

‘Hey there sleepy head. How’re ya doin’ buddy?’

It seemed to be the only thing Hutch had said to him of late, but a wash of gratitude flowed over the young cadet as he smiled contentedly.

‘Where?’ he asked, too tired to force more than the single word out.

‘Mercy Hospital Pal. You’re in the hospital, but you’re gonna be ok….. you’ll be fine.’

Starsky creased his forehead, reality kicking in with unwanted force. ‘They kick me out?’


‘Of the Academy.’ Starsky looked thoroughly miserable at the prospect and Hutch smiled down at him.

‘No, mushbrain, they didn’t kick you out. They just brought you here to get ya out of the way while things were sorted.’


Another voice joined the duo and Starsky turned his head to see John Blaine sitting by the side of his bed. ‘Ball and Carly. That’s what he means by sorted. How’re ya doin’ Pipsqueak?’

‘Feel like I’m missin’ somethin’.’ Starsky grunted. ‘Explain.’

‘Ball didn’t seem to like what you were gonna say, so he attacked you and Hutch here dragged him off. He was beside himself, yelling that you were gonna make him a laughing stock and he’d given you the chance to get out, but you were too stubborn’ Blaine paused and snorted. ‘Guess he got that right! Anyhow, the Commandant cleared the room. Hutch and Doc Gibson brought you back to the Infirmary and then got ya into the hospital here while Russell took Bouncer and Mrs Ball away. He’s a good guy, that Russell. I never met him before, but he telephoned me and told me what had gone on.’

‘And what did go on? What did Ball say?’ Hutch asked.

‘Well it seems Ball had backed himself so far into a corner that finally he had to come clean and tell Russell that’s the accusations of rape were made up. Apparently he told the Commandant that he’d tried to reason with Davey here, and that he was “encouraging him to find alternative career paths”.’

The blond cadet snorted. ‘Yeah, sounds about right, except the encouragement amounted to torture. You saw what he’d done to Starsky.’

‘Uh huh. And so did Russell. Ball and his wife are packing their bags at this very minute with orders to get off the campus by midday.’

‘Where’s he gonna go?’ Starsky asked

‘Who knows, an’ who cares? There aint no place for behaviour like that at the Academy’ Blaine said softly. ‘Why didn’t ya tell someone Davey?’

Starsky shrugged his shoulders, winced and groaned softly. ‘I told him I wouldn’t’ he explained simply.

‘Even after everything he did at you?’ Hutch asked incredulously.

‘And you never breathed a word?’ Blaine asked.

‘He kept givin’ me a piece of paper to sign, asking for release from the Academy, and I wouldn’t do it. Guess he got fed up of askin’ and tried different methods, but no, I wouldn’t go back on a promise.’

Hutch grinned at him. ‘I can’t make my mind up whether you’re crazy or just a masochist.’

‘I have no idea what you’re talkin’ about’ Starsky said huffily. ‘But Hutch?’


‘I’m glad you were there. It was kinda nice havin’ ya watch my back.’

‘Yeah, for me too’ the blond said softly. ‘Like it was natural almost. Like we may need to do it for real some day.’

‘I’d like that.’

‘What?’ Hutch asked. ‘Starsk? Starsky?’

But the trauma of the day had finally taken its toll and Starsky had fallen asleep with a smile on his face. As Blaine took his leave of the two cadets, Hutch settled himself back onto the hard chair and, putting his hand over his friend’s protectively, he allowed himself to relax, secure in the knowledge that he and Starsky were meant to be together. As he closed his eyes, he started to dream of maybe the two of them out on the streets of Bay City, running down flakes and solving crimes side by side. The dynamic duo. Batman and Robin. Starsky and Hutch.




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