Family Business


Disclaimer This story was written purely for entertainment and is not for profit. It is not meant to trespass in any way on the holders to the rights of Starsky and Hutch.

Warning: “Family Business” is truly a dark tale and contains some scenes of incest, male rape and foul language that may be offensive to some readers. If this is not your cup of tea, then please refrain from sipping. I truly do not want to offend anyone and it is never my intentions to do so. Please consider yourself warned.

Aloha Everyone . . . It is summer and school has finally come to a close. I thank all of you for your kind emails regarding my return to fan fiction and for your sweet sentiments and continued friendships during my self-imposed hiatus. I also wanted to thank you all for the lovely Torino Awards that I received. I was truly honored and humbled at the same time. I have truly missed all of you and I have decided to use these next few weeks to explore a disturbing topic that has been on my mind for some time now. Please take the time to read the warning above. I don’t want to upset anyone okay? I will not be offended at all if you choose not to read this one. Mahalo again, for always being such bright lights in an often times dreary world. You guys truly rock. . . . and now I bring you . . . “Family Business.”

Aloha Pumehana . . . Shawne ‘til dawn


Chapter One

The warm rivulet of blood that ran down his forearms and slowly pooled into the crook of his aching shoulders, was the catalyst that brought the dark haired man to the surface of awareness, pulling him up from the black abyss he’d fallen in.

Fallen? More like shoved . . .’ the brunet thought dazedly; slowly attempting to lower his arms, his reflective sarcasm caused a slow grin to pull at the corner of his mouth, before it quickly disappeared into a grimace as he felt his body suddenly scream in agony. White hot tendrils of fire blazed a trail from his numb fingers to his stinging, bloody wrists tied taunt with rawhide strips that had once been soaked with water and was now nearly dried, brutally pinching his skin and cutting off the circulation to his swollen hands above. Fiery pain raced down his stretched forearms, glistening with sweat, to his taunt shoulders and across the pulled muscles in his upper back.

The dark haired cop gasped softly, gritting his teeth tightly to keep from crying out as every throbbing muscle in his arms, and upper torso, clamored at once for attention. The unforgiving pain stole his breath away and the curly haired brunet groaned as he slowly lifted his heavy head, only now realizing that it had been hanging down between his outstretched shoulders and arms. His strained neck protested the forced movement, as Starsky wearily lifted long dark lashes, spiked now with perspiration. Dark blue eyes, glazed and unfocused, squinted slightly as he looked past his secured hands that held him up, to the thick chain that attached itself to his bindings and ran through a metal loop that was screwed to the wooden rafters above him.

The weary cop dropped his head once more, trying to shake off the residual grogginess, breathing heavily as he attempted to drag his feet back under him, trying to gain purchase to alleviate some of the weight off of his arms and shoulders, easing the relentless pain that tore at his straining muscles. Starsky slowly lifted his head once more to look around, his detective mind trying to piece together what had happened, as he took in his surroundings. He knew he had been hanging for some time now, the punishing pain in his upper body confirmed that, but it was hard to tell how much time had elapsed since he had first gotten into this mess.

It was dark and stifling hot wherever he was; the humidity alone made drops of perspiration run down between his shoulder blades and along the sides of his neck. His head pounded and pulsed and his left temple stung terribly as sweat ran down the side of his face. He was locked up in some kind of a wooden shack or barn; the sweltering sun forced bright light between the wooden slats and Starsky squinted, turning his head away from the glare.

The brunet looked again to the rafters, determined blue eyes locked on the chains above him. Starsky tried to steady himself from swaying, but since the balls of his bare feet were barely touching the dirt floor it made it very difficult to accomplish. Taking in a deep breath the dark haired detective held it, dreading what he was about to do, realizing he would pay for it in the end, but knowing he could think of nothing else until he tried this. With all of his strength, the brunet yanked at the chain, using his weight to jerk against his bonds, hoping beyond hope to loosen the screw from the beam above, twisting his already bleeding wrists, only to mangle them further in the process, swearing angrily as he realized he only succeeded in tightening the leather thongs, the rawhide slicing cruelly into his already torn and abraded flesh.

Groaning softly, Starsky finally gave up his futile attempts at escape and lowered his head once more to ease the merciless pounding in his skull. His body ached even more from his thrashing and he could feel the blood running freely from his ravaged wrists. Breathing heavily, overheated and trembling with exhaustion and pain, the brunet ceased his struggles. Dark lashes hid the frustration and anxiety he felt, as he fought off the waves of dizziness and nausea that assaulted his senses. His head felt like it was going to explode and he fleetingly wondered if he was suffering from a concussion. Unbidden, sky blue eyes, soft with affection and laughter filled his mind’s eye, and the brunet sighed wearily.

Hutch. I need you now buddy . . . hurry up!’

He hoped Hutch was on his way to rescue him from this nightmare. ‘Hell, if it wasn’t for Hutch’s bright idea, I wouldn’t even be in this mess,’ the dark haired detective thought morosely. Hanging and hurting, with nothing else to do, Starsky let his thoughts wander back to the time before this whole nightmare began . . .


“Country roads . . . take me home . . . to the place . . . I be-long . . .” Starsky sang loudly, nodding his head to the beat of the song, drumming the rhythm of the music upon the steering wheel as he drove along, unintentionally drowning out the melodically mellow voice of John Denver that came through the radio as his own voice rang out slightly off-key, ‘West Virginia . . . mountain momma . . . take me home . . . country roads . . . take me home . . . country roads!” The curly haired detective grinned, pleased with his solo performance and the crescendo in his voice at the finale.

‘Too bad Hutch couldn’t hear that,’ the brunet thought smugly, his bright smile fading as he took in the never ending stretch of road, flanked on each side by never ending fields of corn and pastureland. The dark haired cop sighed, wishing for the hundredth time that he had Hutch beside him. He felt bored and restless with only grass and cattle and corn to look at for the last two hours, and listening to country music was not his thing, but since it was the only radio station that came in clearly, he wasn’t about to complain. Reaching across the bench seat of his Torino, Starsky snagged the folded paper and read the address and directions to the farm scrawled in Hutch’s familiar handwriting with a phone number scribbled on the bottom.

“Just in case you get lost buddy,” Hutch had said, handing him the note at the airport two days ago. “It’ll be nice to just relax up at the farm . . . get some fishing in and some fresh air . . . you’ll see Starsk. I’ll have everything ready by the time you get up there,” Hutch chuckled at the brunet’s skeptical look, his pale blue eyes softening with fondness for his partner, “Hey . . . trust me okay?”

Starsky smiled at the memory and refolded the paper, slipping it into his wallet that was on the seat beside him and looked once again to the road. ‘Yeah . . . well you would think there would be some kind of payphone out here Blondie,’ the brunet thought sourly, his dark blue eyes peered out from behind his shades, scanning the terrain for any road signs or telephone booths. ‘One day, when I retire from the force, I’m gonna make some type of mobile phone so that people who are lost like me, can get help right away!’ the curly haired man thought irritably, ‘I should have never let you talk me into this Hutchinson! Fishin’ and fresh air . . .’ the detective grumbled under his breath.

Starsky sighed as he thought about his fair-haired partner. He knew Hutch had been worried about him. It had been a rough month for the both of them. Finding John’s body in the cheap, seedy room of the St. Francis Hotel and finding out that his childhood mentor had been secretly hiding his homosexual tendencies had rocked the brunet’s world. He’d known John Blaine practically his whole life and it was mainly because of John that he’d chosen to become a police officer himself. To find out that Blaine had led a double life saddened the brunet, not only because he was close to John and his wife Maggie; but because he knew John was ashamed of being gay and that he had felt the need to hide that part of his life from his family and friends.

The dark haired detective sighed again and looked out his window at the sea of endless green. ‘No wonder Hutch left this place and came out California . . . there’s no action here!’ he grouched silently to himself. Yet, if the truth were known, Starsky was thankful for this bit of respite from the busy city and its dreary dirtiness. He was tired . . . tired of worrying about Hutch and him surviving on the streets, tired of hospital rooms and recovering from injuries, tired of seeing people hurting, the bums, drug addicts and prostitutes on the streets, tired of watching his back from the bad guys, especially when he had to watch both his back and Hutch’s from the “good” guys too.

It blew Starsky away when he found out that Alex Corday, a fellow officer of the law and someone that they should have supposedly been able to trust since he was a fellow “good” guy, was the one who was really responsible for taking John’s life. Needless to say, it had really shaken the brunet to the core. Dealing with his mentor’s death and funeral had been hard enough, but to realize that John had led a double life and that his life was taken by someone who was supposed to be trusted . . . and then helping John’s wife, Maggie, deal with the aftermath of everything, when he himself was having challenges dealing with it . . . well . . . it had definitely been a rough month.

Going over to tell Maggie about John’s death, explaining how her husband had been with a man and how they found him in the dirty hotel room, robbed and murdered, was one of the most difficult things Starsky had ever had to do; and he could still hear Maggie’s soft, sorrow-filled voice as he remembered her begging him to understand that her husband had been good man . . .

“I’m sorry David,” Maggie whispered as she turned from the shelf, “I know you’re not lying. I guess I’ve known about it for a long time. I knew, but there are some things better left unsaid.”

Starsky watched sadly as Maggie stood in front of him, tear filled eyes beseeching, “David . . . John was a good man. No matter what you find out, John was a good man!” It broke his heart to hear Maggie’s soft words, to hear her silently begging him to understand and not judge her husband, but to love and accept all that he was unconditionally . . .

The dark haired detective sighed once again as his thoughts took him back to his childhood days, remembering how John became an almost surrogate father for him as he was growing up. Growing up had been difficult, especially with the suppressed anger he felt as a boy towards his mother, for sending him out alone to California after his father had been gunned down in the streets. It took Johnny Blaine to breach the walls of his heart and to make him understand that his mother made that difficult decision out of love.

Soon afterwards, the Blaine’s had become his extended family and John had become his idol and mentor. It was John who taught him things from plastic model-making to football. Whenever he or Ross, his childhood neighbor and friend, had disagreements or were in trouble, it was always John who came to the rescue. John was an integral part of not only his childhood, but of him reaching manhood and becoming a cop. How could he ever think that Johnny Blaine was anything but a good man?

It was shortly after the Blaine case had been solved and closed that Hutch got word of his parent’s intention to sell his grandfather’s farm in Minnesota. Starsky knew the decision had been a difficult one for his blond friend to stomach, for Hutch had had so many fond memories created on that farm with his grandfather whom he dearly loved.

They had a week of off -time coming to them and the tall blond had enticed his dark haired partner to spend the week with him up at the farm before the property was sold. If it weren’t for the fact that Starsky had promised to help Maggie pack up and move her belongings from the Blaine’s large home to a smaller apartment she’d bought, the brunet would have ridden the plane over to Minnesota with Hutch the other day.

“Just drive your red tomato on up after you help Maggie move out,” Hutch had cajoled, “It’ll be a nice, peaceful drive for you and then we can both ride home together after the weekend is over? It would be a great road trip . . . what do you say buddy?”

‘Hmph! Should’ve known that “nice” and “peaceful” meant boring!’ Starsky complained silently as he drove, remembering his partner’s words. “You always know what to say to get me to do the things I don’t wanna do Hutchinson!” Starsky said to no one, a grin lighting up his face as he thought of his blond counterpart batting his pale lashes coquettishly, finally resorting to begging, softly saying, “Pleeeease Starsk,” when the brunet took too long to answer.

The dark haired detective chuckled softly, glanced at the review mirror and saw that he was alone on the narrow strip of road that trailed endlessly behind him. He flicked his cobalt blue eyes to the front and saw the endless strip of deserted road ahead of him, the cornfields had now turned to forestland on the left side of the road that stretched as far as the eye could see, ‘Damn . . . where the hell am I?’ the brunet wondered, reaching over for the map.

The sudden loud hiss of steam that came from his bursting radiator made the brunet swear under his breath. The perpetual summer heat had been plaguing his car for the past few months now, pissing his blond friend off whenever they had to walk to work in the sweltering heat of the day. He had taken his car in several times to Merle for adjustments and had thought the problem had been fixed, but this cross-country drive might have pushed his baby over the edge once again.


Pulling over to the side of the road, Starsky got out of the car and lifted the hot, shiny hood, carefully avoiding the billowing clouds of angry steam. “Shit!” the brunet swore again, pissed with himself, for not bringing any coolant or water for his car. Starsky sighed in exasperation; he had thought the problem had been fixed. He would need to get help, but looking up and down the empty strip of road and wishing and praying wasn’t going to bring a tow truck to him. “So much for peaceful and nice . . .” the curly haired cop bitched softly to himself, his sable curls almost plastered against his head as sweat dripped down the sides of his face. ‘Well it’s a good thing Hutch ain’t here,” Starsky thought silently, remembering Hutch’s last blowout that mirrored the Torino’s . . .

“Look Starsk,” Hutch said irritably as they stood in the middle of the busy street next to the stalled red car whose engine hissed and steamed, “I think it’s about time you made a choice between this pile of junk and me!”

“Don’t make me choose,” Starsky glared at his partner, sweat running down the sides of his face.

“Walking in this heat ain’t exactly my idea of a good time!” Hutch snapped.

“My temperature gauge went up about 10 degrees,” Starsky said, trying to make his irate partner understand.

“Well mine’s going up about 20!” Hutch shouted, ice blue eyes freezing the overheated brunet on the spot.

“Well if I keep drivin’, I might blow my engine,” Starsky futilely pointed out, swallowing as he saw the look his blond partner gave him.

“You do this again, you might blow a partner!”

Starsky gave an exasperated sigh. Yes, it was good thing Hutch wasn’t here. He’d be pissed as hell, that’s for sure, if he’d had to walk in this heat, and walking was the only option at the moment. For a minute or two the brunet pondered over his dilemma, hating to leave his car out in the middle of nowhere, but making up his mind; Starsky leaned into the car and shoved his wallet into his back pocket and his gun into his holster, rolling up the windows and locking the doors of the Torino. Sighing with frustration, the dark haired detective resolved that he would walk to the nearest town if he had to. Rolling up the sleeves of his light blue denim shirt and walking a few yards along the road, the Californian cop took one last look over his shoulder at his beloved automobile parked in the distance and he shook his head disgustedly as he snorted, “Peaceful and nice huh Blondie? Right!”


The sudden creaking of the door made the brunet lift his weary head once more, bringing him back to the here and now. Breathing heavily, his heart beating erratically, Starsky watched as the door to the shack was slowly opened.

Chapter Two

Starsky eyed the young man, who hesitantly smiled, as he walked into the dingy shed. The dark haired cop gritted his teeth as he attempted to straighten up, pushing down the sudden lancing pain in his arms and shoulders and the dizziness that wanted to overtake him.

He must have been about fifteen or sixteen at the most, tall and lanky with dirty, greasy straw-colored hair that hung about his narrow, pinched features. The boy was wearing a stained orange shirt under a bibbed overall, and he looked strangely familiar, though as of yet, Starsky couldn’t pinpoint exactly where they had met. Yet, it was his eyes that held the brunet’s attention . . . dark gray eyes that sunk into the hollows of his sockets, eyes that were haunted and shadowed . . . tortured eyes that had seen too much, in too short a life.

The tall boy smiled, his teeth were yellowed and crooked, twisting his face into a grimace of some sort. As he neared the bound man, Starsky suddenly remembered where he had seen him before . . .


He had walked for nearly an hour without seeing anyone or anything except a forest of trees that lined the highway. The heat and humidity were oppressive and Starsky squinted as a drop of perspiration fell from the tip of his lash, into his eye. The weary cop blinked against the sting of sweat and heaved a heavy sigh. After 30 or so hours of driving, he was tired and all of this walking was wearing him out. He was thirsty and he kept licking his parched lips as he forged ahead, suddenly stopping as he spied it . . . a spiral of smoke that floated out over the trees somewhere in the forest. The dark haired detective kept his eye on the smoky wisps as he searched for a road of some kind that would lead to the house in the woods. He finally found the narrow dirt pathway, almost hidden by the large trees that surrounded it, strewn over with small rocks and pebbles and little tufts of grass that somehow managed to grow in the middle of the desolate trail.

He could feel the excitement building as he neared the dilapidated wooden structure . . . a type of log house that sat forlorn and alone amid the trees, and Starsky could see a smaller shed to the left, a few yards away from the house. Wiping the sweat as best he could from his face, Starsky climbed up the few steps that led to the wooden door of the cabin. “Hello? Anyone home?” the brunet called out.

The dark haired detective put on his patented winning smile as he heard the click of the door being opened from the inside. A tall boy with stringy straw colored hair eyed him suspiciously from just inside of the doorframe. The boy looked filthy and the smell coming from his unwashed hair and body wafted out towards the cop who took a small step back, “Hi, my car busted its radiator a mile or so back on the highway . . . I saw your chimney smoke and I was hoping I could use your phone to call a tow company and my friend . . . it seems I got lost.

“Where ya headin’ mistah?” the boy said softly, opening the door a bit wider, the suspicious look on his face relaxing somewhat, “Sorry ‘bout lookin’ the way ah do, been workin’ wit’ mah pa out back . . . we ain’t hardly git no visitahs ‘round here . . .”

Starsky smiled at the youth’s unfamiliar dialect, “It’s okay . . . no need to apologize for that . . . I was supposed to meet my friend out on his farm in Duluth . . .”

“Duluth?” the tall lad interjected, “ Yer fah off mistah . . . this hea ain’t Duluth . . . it’s a town called Makinen . . . ya mustah takin’ a wrong turn ‘bout 60 miles back or so,” the boy said, a grin spreading across his face, “Where ya from mistah?”

“California, Bay City . . .” Starsky said, “Been driving for a while . . . my car overheated . . . I . . . um . . . I need to call a tow truck and my friend . . .” the detective gently reminded the boy, “Do you have a phone I can borrow?”

The tall youth bit his lip with indecision, his brows drawing together in a frown, “Ah guess so . . . wouldn’t hurt none, but mah pa don’t take kindly to no furners goin’ through his b’longings so’s ya have’ta make it quick.” The dirty lad opened the door and stepped aside inviting the “foreigner” in.

“Thanks,” Starsky smiled, “I’ll make it quick . . . I promise,” The brunet followed the boy over to the dusty phone sitting on the end of a dustier countertop near the entranceway to a filthy kitchen.

“Here ya go mistah . . . bes’ make it quick.” The boy said nervously, his gray, sad eyes darting about the room.

“Yeah . . . thanks . . . hey you got a phone book or something? Need to call that tow truck . . .” Starsky said, turning his back to the kitchen, reaching into his back pocket for his wallet, casually flipping it open to pull out the piece of paper Hutch had given him as he turned the phone around and lifted the receiver off the hook. The brunet quickly dialed the number scrawled on the bottom of the page, impatiently listening to it ring, as his dark blue eyes took in the dingy filth of the living room and the rest of the hovel the young boy called “home”.


Starsky felt his face break into a huge smile. It was so good to hear his partner’s voice once again and the brunet could immediately feel the tension of the last hour slowly ebbing from his body.

“Hey Blondie . . . long time no hear!” The brunet said laughing.

“Starsk? Where are you?” Hutch said anxiously, “Thought you’d be here hours ago.”

Starsky smiled sheepishly, “I would’ve, but I guess I had too much “nice” and “peaceful” . . . wasn’t payin’ much attention, so I took a wrong turn about 60 miles back . . . completely missed Duluth . . . I’m in a place called Ma . . .” The sudden explosion of white hot pain slammed into the back of his skull, stealing his words as the phone fell from his hand and he crumpled to the floor. Someone came over and brutally kicked him along the side of his head.

The dark haired cop could feel a warm puddle forming under his temple as he struggled to stay conscious, dark, blurry images swam before his dazed eyes and he could vaguely hear his partner’s frantic calling of his name through the phone’s receiver that lay beside him on the filthy tattered carpet.

Starsky gasped in pain as he tried to roll over, feeling the darkness coming, swallowing down the bile that rose from his stomach to his throat as he desperately tried to make his lips form the words that he tried to speak, “Hu . . . tch,” he whispered softly, before he was swallowed up whole by the black abyss.


“Howdy mistah, ‘bout time ya gots up. Ah was beginnin’ ta think yer playin’ ‘possum.”

The boy’s drawl brought the brunet’s attention to the forefront and his dark blue eyes narrowed with anger, “Wha’ . . . what’s . . . goin’ on? Why am I trussed up like this? Whatta ya want . . .with me?” Starsky said, watching warily as the lad just remained silent and came closer, unintentionally flinching as the boy reached out a hand to grab his chin, turning the cop’s face to the side.

“Tsk-tsk,” the boy clicked his tongue to the roof of his mouth, as he eyed the deep gash along the brunet’s temple, “Got ya a good one . . .seen fellahs git addled with less . . . but ya seem jus’ fine and dandy. Almost had me worried though . . . ya been out so long.”

Breathing heavily, Starsky jerked his head from the boy’s grasp and blinked the perspiration from his eyes, “Yeah . . . well . . . you pack . . . a good punch kid,”

The young man smiled sadly and his gray eyes grew dark with some knowledge that made the detective tense even more, “T’wern’t me that hit’chya . . . mah pa did . . . snuck up behind’ya and hit’chya with his shovel. Damn near took yer head off too.” The boy whispered nervously.

“Yeah? Mind tellin’ me why?” Starsky asked irritably, gasping softly as the pain in the side and back of his skull flared up and pulsed with each rapid beat of his heart.

Both men turned to look towards the door as it creaked open once more. Starsky watched as a big burly man walked through the dilapidated frame, his overall bib hung down over his belly, exposing his wide girth and a chest full of wiry black hair. The large man drew his dirty, hole-ridden hat from his balding head with one hand and tugged at his long, black beard with his other. “He awake boy?” the low gruff voice carried from across the small expanse of the room.

“Yas sir,” the tall lad immediately said, snapping to his full height as his father made his way over, “He jus’ woke up pa.”

“Well now . . . Ah‘spect yer wonderin’ why yer here,” the large man said amiably, as he made his way over and stood in front of the chained detective. “Jebbediah Woods’ mah name . . . Jebb for short. This hea’s my son, Lee Roy . . . Roy for short,” the big man guffawed as he looked up at his tall son, coughing up some spittle as he laughed at his own cleverness.

Jebb wiped the spit from his mouth and smeared it on the leg of his overall, sticking his meaty hand into the deep pocket there and drawing out the cop’s leather wallet, “And y’be . . . David Starsky,” the hillbilly said, reading the license in the wallet, “and a pohleece man too.” Starsky watched as Jebb’s large fingers thumped against his badge, surprised that the backwoodsman could read at all. “Ah saw this hea piece’a tin a’shinin’ from yer wallet when y’were makin’ yer phone call . . . knew right off y’were a law man. Had t’hit ya ‘fore ya called all yer pohleece friends over.”

The burly man nodded to his son, who quickly dragged over a wooden barrel for his old man to sit on. Jebb sat heavily, fishing out a battered corn pipe from his pocket, taking the time to puff gently on its end as he lit it up, his eyes never straying from the bound man. “Ya aftah us boy?” the mountain man finally asked, his gruff voice soft and suspicious as he blew out a puff of smoke, his keen gray eyes narrowing as he read every nuance on the brunet’s face.

Starsky bit back a groan as he flexed his shoulder to ease the strain, “Wha’?” he gasped, dark blue eyes were filled with pain and confusion, his pounding head and aching joints made it hard to follow the hillbilly’s strange speech, “I’m here to visit . . . my friend up in Duluth . . . took a . . . took a wrong turn and . . . and got lost when my car broke down . . . I’m not after anyone . . . I think you . . . I think you made a mistake . .. cut me down and . . . let me go . . . I . . . ” His ears rang from the force of the blow as Jebb’s meaty fist suddenly connected with the side of his jaw. He was probably already suffering from a concussion thanks to that shovel, but the sharp crack to his jaw nearly pushed him over the edge into the welcoming darkness once again.

“Shut yer tater trap boy, ya bes’ learn yer place,” Jebb drawled calmly, “T’ain’t nobody, kin or not, that tells Jebb what he can or cain’t do . . . y’hear me boy?” The backwoodsman lifted the cop’s bowed head with a thick, dirty finger that he shoved under the brunet’s chin.

Cobalt blue eyes, though dazed and glassy, still sparkled with defiance, and the hillbilly chuckled and licked his lips, his own gray eyes smoldered with something that made the brunet’s skin crawl, “Well now . . . yer eyes are a purty shade of blue . . . and ya gots a head full of soft, dark curls . . . and long spiky ‘lashes . . . almos’ like a gurl’s.” Jebb rubbed his own bald head as he looked the detective over, “Why . . . yer as purty as a speckled pup . . . ain’t he Roy?” The burly man reached out to touch the cop’s sable curls only to have his captive jerk his head out of his reach.

“What? Ya think yer sumpin’ special? Too good for ole Jebb? Ya come hea . . .dressed for a shindig, all highfalutin’ and uppity . . . Ah think ah have’ta teach ya some mannahs boy . . . yer gonna learn how’ta be pohlite ‘fore ah’m through wit’ ya,” the burly man promised, as a sneering smile spread across the hillbilly’s face, exposing a mouthful of teeth that were rotted or missing. The stench that came from his gaping mouth overwhelmed the hurting cop who turned his head away in order to breathe, swallowing convulsively to keep down the bile that wanted to spew out.

“Yeah? Well somebody . . . should teach you about hygiene,” Starsky gasped, “Obviously you, nor the kid, ever learned . . . about bathin’ or brushin’ your teeth.”

“Uungh,” the brunet grunted softly as a resounding blow twisted his head back, brutally connecting against his mouth, as blood began to run freely from his now, split lip. Starsky shook his head to clear the black dots that danced across his vision, which only succeeded in increasing the pounding tempo in his head. Breathing rapid, short breaths, the detective lifted his head to glare at the disgusting man as Jebb looked at his cut and bleeding knuckles.

“You’re . . . you’re pretty quick . . . for an ape,” the cop said cockily, panting heavily through a bout of dizziness as he pushed back the nausea that climbed up his throat. There was no way in hell that he was going to lose it and puke in front of these sadistic hicks.

The hillbilly stuck out his tongue and gave one long, smooth lap along the ridges of his bleeding knuckles, his dark gray eyes watching his captive the whole time, smiling lewdly when the brunet couldn’t control the imperceptible shiver that wracked his hurting body. Smacking his lips loudly, Jebbediah said softly, “Ah tol’ ya boy . . . y’bes’ shut that pie hole of yer’s or ah’ma gonna have to shut it fer ya!” The burly backwoodsman reached out and grabbed a handful of dark, damp curls, yanking the cop’s head back to stare into his rebellious, stormy blue orbs, “Y’hea me boy?”

“I hear you,” Starsky said, “But mostly . . . I smell ya.” Angry blue locked onto murky gray until Jeb finally released the cop, shoving him roughly in the process, making the bound man sway from his tied hands and arms, smiling knowingly at the pain it caused the brunet.

“You got spunk . . . I like a boy with spunk. Now, let’s see what we gots hea. . .” Jebb continued as he hunkered down once more over the barrel, looking through the detective’s wallet. The stained, meaty fingers leafed through the small pictures in its plastic sleeves, taking them out one by one.

“This hea yer mama boy?” Jebb asked, looking greedily at the picture of Rachel Starsky. “She be a fine woman . . . bet yer daddy loved to fuck her dry huh?” the hillbilly leered, smiling when he saw the tic flare in the jaw of the bound man. “She looks like ya . . . so purty . . . with all of them dark curls,” Jebb dug out the picture and threw it to the ground.

“An’ looky hea . . . this shure is a purty little filly,” the burly man flicked the picture of Terry Roberts over to his son, “That yer gurl, boy?” Jebb said to the detective, whose stormy blue eyes shot out daggers at the two hillbillies. “Ah bet she was good in bed too. Milked ya real tight ‘twixt them creamy thighs of hers . . . huh boy?”

Jebbediah snorted when the cop remained silent, knowing he was egging the brunet on, flipping to another picture of Hutch carrying his dark haired partner. It had been a good natured joke . . . two men trying to demonstrate their physical prowness and a picture had been snapped when Hutch hoisted his partner up into his arms, declaring himself the winner. That picture never failed to bring back fond memories of a day filled with laughter and comraderie whenever Starsky looked at it, and the thought of this scum rummaging through his things pissed the dark haired detective off.

“Well, well . . . yer wallet’s jus’ full o’ purty people ain’t it? He’s all golden like the sun, a totin’ ya up with his hand ‘twixt yer legs. Makes me kinda wondah if ya like to hop the fence now and then . . . if’n ya knows what ah mean?” Jebb eyed the detective leeringly, wagging his bushy eyebrows up and down as he licked his thick lips again, sending shivers down the shackled man’s spine.

“Lee Roy?” Jebbediah snapped, never taking his dark gray eyes off of the cop, “Take these hea pictures and burn ‘em. Cain’t chance havin’ someone find ‘em now, can we?”

“Yas sir,” Roy said quickly, scurrying around in the dirt as he retrieved the pictures his daddy had carelessly tossed about. Breathing heavily, Starsky watched in anger as Roy struck a match and lit each picture up one by one.

“Dun’t that make ya angrier than a hornet’s nest boy?” Jebb taunted, grinning at the tic he saw in the brunet’s jaw, moving in closer to the bound man so that Starsky nearly heaved at the foul smell of the hillbilly’s sour breath, “Now mistah fancy pohleece man, yer gonna open that sassy hole of yer’s and tell me some thangs that I wanna know . . . an’ yer gonna start tawlkin’right now . . .y’hea me?”

Chapter Three

“Starsk? Starsky!” Hutch shouted anxiously, a feeling of dread pierced his heart when he heard the clatter of the phone dropping and his partner’s soft, pain-filled whisper as the brunet struggled to call out his name.

“Hu . . .tch.”

There was a pause, a sudden, gaping, silent emptiness that made the blond hold his breath while pressing the receiver he was holding even tighter against his ear in hopes of hearing something . . . anything! But all he heard was the barely perceptible shuffling of footsteps approaching the receiver just before the ominous, “Click” was heard, as the phone on the other end was deliberately hung up.

“Starsk? Dammit! Answer me . . .” Hutch shouted, knowing it was too late, but still needing desperately to connect with his partner who he knew was hurt. ‘What the hell was happening?’ “Damn,” Hutch swore, slamming the phone down, only to pick it up once more, hastily dialing the number he’d known his whole life, his fingers moving quickly as his mind raced and his heart pounded, listening impatiently to the rings on the other end until it was suddenly picked up.

“Dad?” Hutch began when he heard his father’s voice, “Yeah, I’m up at the farm.” He listened impatiently as his father rambled on, “Yes, I know . . . I should have called when I got in, but I’ve been busy tidying up the place and storing provisions . . . yes I know dad, everything will be fine. Yes, yes, I promise we’ll be out by the end of the week and we won’t wreck the place.” Hutch said, trying to keep his irritation with his father from leaking into his voice, especially because he needed to ask a favor.

“Um . . . listen Dad, my friend hasn’t arrived here yet . . . it seems he took a wrong turn and he’s about 60 miles or so away from the farm. He just called and said he’s in a town that begins with an ‘M’, but he wasn’t too sure of the name exactly. I need to go pick him up. He’s had some trouble with his car, and I was wondering if you knew of any other towns around here, about 60 miles or so out from the farm that begin with the letter M? Yeah, we got cut off . . . accidentally. I guess Starsky didn’t have another quarter on him. I know dad . . . I’m sorry . . . I wouldn’t be asking, but I don’t have a map on me . . .yeah, yeah, I’ll hold . . .”

Hutch bit his lip in trepidation, glancing at his watch in frustration as he listened to his dad shuffling around for his map. “Yeah dad, I’m here,” Hutch said, as his father got back on the line, “Okay . . . so there’s three? Okay hold on . . . lemme get a pencil,” Hutch said, as he quickly snagged the writing implement and a piece of paper from the old desk where he sat and began to scribble the information down.

“Okay let me repeat that . . . there’s Macon, Makinen and a town called Mckinley? Right. And all of them are about 60 or so miles from Grandpa’s farm? Okay thanks dad . . . um don’t worry about the place. We’ll leave it as good as we found it . . . yeah and I appreciate you letting us stay for the week . . . this place has a lot of memories for me . . . I kinda hate to see it go. Yeah well, thanks again dad. I really appreciate it.” Hutch said softly, hesitating slightly before finally hanging up on his end.

The blond stood for a second, his pale lashes hiding the hurt he felt. His father’s stiff, formal voice never failed to bring a hint of sadness to the sensitive blond. Hutch snorted softly, ‘You’d think by now I’d be used to being treated like a stranger from my own father,’ he thought silently, although in the back of his mind, he realized that he had made no effort to connect with his family either; and he was honest enough to admit that if Starsky had made it to the farm like they had planned, it was in all likelihood that Hutch wouldn’t even have attempted to call his parents at all. If the situation hadn’t been so dire, if his Starsky-sense wasn’t screaming out a red alert that his partner was in imminent danger, and if he wasn’t so pressed for time, Hutch would have gone down to the local grocery store to purchase a map for himself, just to save him the pain and trouble of having to speak with his cold and aloof father.

Hutch shrugged off the hurt, pushing it deep down into his heart, placing it under lock and key where it usually belonged, as he quickly took out his grandfather’s old phone book to look up the sheriff’s offices for these particular towns. If anyone could help him quickly, it would be the local police in these different areas and Hutch would move mountain and earth to find his partner . . .

‘Hang on buddy,’ Hutch thought determinedly, ‘I’m coming . . .’


“Ya still with me boy?” Jebb said, grinning as he lifted the weary detective’s head by the roots of his curly, dark hair, “Don’ think I cain’t tell a lie from the truth . . . now tell me again . . . y’come hea alone or do y’have yer pohleece buddies outside somewhere, hidin’ in mah woods? Ya’ll watchin’ and spyin’ on mah family boy? Pokin’ yer noses in mah family business again? Tell me mistah law man . . . y’aftah my ‘shine . . . ain’t ya?” the large hillbilly said, squinting suspiciously.

Starsky gasped, taking in short, ragged breaths to clear the ringing in his ears, his abdomen aching from the beatings he’d been taking. Remaining stubbornly silent had only angered the dirty backwoodsman, who took great joy in breaking down the obstinance and belligerence out of the brunet, but finally getting the cop to talk only aggravated the hillbilly more, for he was sure the detective was lying to him.

Starsky gritted teeth as he bit back the pain that pummeled his bruised and battered body, “Look . . . for the last time . . . I . . . I don’ know what the hell . . . your talkin’ about. No one is coming . . . no one is after you . . . but they will be though . . . if you don’t let me go.”

“Yeah? Y’tellin’ me what t’do again boy?” Jebb asked softly, cocking his bald head to one side, “Well now . . . ya seem to fergit that ah don’ take kindly to furner’s bossin’ me ‘round,” the fat, offensive mountain man said as he yanked the handful of curls he still held tightly in his fist, shaking the wounded cop’s head for good measure before he thrust it away, watching with a grin as it slumped back down and hung between the cop’s straining arms.

Jebb backed up a few paces and picked up the two by four he had carelessly thrown down a while back. “Ya need t’be reminded so’s ya don’ fergit again,” Jebb grinned. Taking the thick piece of wood, Jebb raised it and held it like a bat, swinging with all his might, making sure it connected against the cop’s left side, feeling satisfied when he simultaneously heard the brunet finally cry out in pain and the sickening sound of wood crunching against bone. Laughing, Jebbediah Woods hobbled over to the wooden barrel he had Roy drag over so that he could sit for a while and rest . . . working the cop over was plumb tiring.

He watched for a minute, enjoying the soft gasps of pain that came from the bound man, as he attempted to surf through the waves of stabbing agony that pierced his side, silently suffering once more, refusing to give Jebb the satisfaction of hearing him scream. ‘That boy sure has spunk,’ the big man thought, but he was used to breaking willfulness, in fact, he got off on it. Jebb turned to look at his own son who sat quietly in darkening hovel, “Lee Roy?” the older man crooned softly.

“Yas sir?” Lee Roy hopped to attention, unfurling his long length from where he sat huddled in the corner of the shed, as his pa carried on the interrogation, wincing each time his pa took a swing at the shackled man with the piece of lumber, trying to tune out the gasps and grunts of pain coming from the cop, afraid to say anything that might make his pa notice his presence as memories of his own beatings were still fresh in his mind, even though his bruises had already begun to fade. The tall youth hurried over to where the curly haired man hung from the rafters, his sunken gray eyes looked sad and remorseful as they raked over the hurting detective who gasped with pain, dark lashes pressed against his pale, sweat-drenched cheeks.

Roy could feel his heart beating with fear. His pa was crazy sometimes . . . always thinking someone was after them, moving his family out from Tennessee when the county police began to crack down on moonshine producers who illegally sold their jugs by the gallons to the local eateries and bars in the surrounding areas. “Damn, fuckin’ pohleece,” his pa had cussed at that time, kicking the dilapidated furniture in his rage, “always nosin’ around in things that ain’t their damn concern . . . this hea’s mah family business . . . who the hell are they t’tell us what we can or cain’t do!”

They had moved shortly thereafter, up here to Minnesota of all places, hoping to start up their business up once more after the dust had settled. For the most part, they lived quietly, their humble home obscured and hidden by the surrounding trees; going into town for supplies and such, but never staying too long.

Roy looked guiltily at the bound man whose head hung low once again. He should’ve never answered the door. Seeing this stranger coming up their dirt road had filled the boy’s heart with trepidation and fear; and in a way, he felt responsible for the mess this man was in. ‘If I had jus’ kept quiet, or if I had jus’ warned the man and turned him away . . . he would never be hea hangin’ from the rafters all bruised up and hurtin,’ the tall boy thought, his dark eyes raking ruefully over the shackled man.

“Bring me those shears ovah thea on the shelf boy,” Jebb said softly, his eyes never leaving the heaving, glistening body of his captive, “Our guest looks like he’s hot. Ah guess ah’m obliged to help him out . . . bein’ that ah’m the host ‘n’all,” the burly man grinned.

Roy looked once more at the cop who hung from his bleeding wrists, his heart going out to the wounded man as he eyed the top of his bruised ribcage peeking out from between the open vee of his denim shirt now stained with sweat and blood; his dark, gray eyes continued to rove over the sable curls, finally settling on the bleeding gash on the side of the cop’s head.

“Now boy!” Jebb snapped, his brows drawing together in a menacing frown, “Stop yer dawdling, or y’can take his place.”

“Yas sir,” Lee Roy said quickly, his lithe young body moving hastily to the dirty shelf where his pa stored his tools, snatching the sharp shears by the blades, and hurrying over to his father who continued to eye the law-man. “Here pa,” Roy whispered, brushing his matted bangs from his eyes with his free hand, his body flinching as his father snatched the shears from his outstretched hand.

“Nex’ time ah tell ya t’git . . . y’bes’ move yer hinny, y’hea me boy?” Jebb snarled, his angry, flint-colored eyes flicking over to his son, who nodded vigorously and stepped back into the shadows, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible as he slowly crouched down once more in the corner of the shed, which had darkened considerably since the sun had begun to set.

Jebb got off his haunches and ambled over to the brunet who hung motionless, his heaving chest and labored breathing, the only indication of life. The hillbilly walked slowly behind the bound man, using his sharp shears to cut through the back of the denim shirt up and almost through the collar, exposing the strained muscles of the cop’s shoulders and upper back.

The burly redneck moved to the front of the dark haired man, his feral gray eyes eerily gleaming in the dim, waning light that leaked through the slats of the wooden shed. Jebb smiled and took his time unbuttoning the front of the shirt which now hung limply over the detective’s broad shoulders, almost leering as the cop’s hairy chest came into few. The hillbilly snatched the denim in his large hands and viciously yanked it off, causing the dark haired man to gasp softly as he raised his weary head that had hung once more between his outstretched arms.

Starsky bit back the groan that wanted to escape each time that he took in a labored breath, gritting his teeth together to keep the unwanted sounds from slipping through his bruised and bleeding lips. It took effort to hold his head up, when all it wanted to do was to sag back down, and he raised his hooded lids at half-mast to glare at his tormentor, his dark blue eyes narrowing on the large, burly shape that blurred in and out of focus, the offensive smell coming from the hillbilly making him want to gag as he once again forced down the bile that rose up this throat, the muscles in his parched throat working as he tried to speak.

“You . . . could’ve had the shirt . . . if you . . . if you just said, ‘please’ . . . thought you . . . you knew all about manners.” Starsky said between breaths, glaring hostilely at Jebb, his swollen lip curling in contempt as he sneered at the hillbilly, knowing he was asking for more trouble, but wanting to get a few more digs in before completely blacking out.

Jebb snorted, rubbing his nose with the back of his hand as some snot blew out. The burly man laughed, “Yer a fighter, that’s fer shure . . . an’ ah shure like what ah’m seein’ now boy. . .” Jebbediah grinned, stepping even closer to the bound man, his eyes fastened on the muscular chest and firm abdomen sprinkled with fine dark hair. He whistled lewdly through the gaps of his rotted, yellow teeth, “Yer a fine piece o’ work boy, betch’ya lots of gurls love t’look at them stomach muscles of yers and they must jus’ love t’do this . . .” The burly redneck reached out and touched the bound man, his large dirty hand roaming over the cop’s glistening abdomen, his beefy finger tracing the indentations of Starsky’s abs, making the detective strain against his bonds, his stomach shrinking away from Jebb’s gruesome touch, as he tried to distance himself from the foul man.

Jebbediah chuckled, licking the drool that seeped from the corner of his mouth, “Whatsamattah boy? Ain’t no man evah teched ya befoa? Don’ tell ole Jebb that that nice lookin’ blond man in dem pictures ain’t nevah done this t’ya,” The backwoodsman quickly reached out to pinch and twist one of the brunet’s nipples between his filthy fingers, causing Starsky to gasp in pain. “Don’ tell me he ain’t nevah done that t’ya befoa. Ah seen that picture . . . how his hand was snuggl’d all cozy like in yer crotch area.

The bound man jerked away, breathing heavily, his stormy dark eyes throwing daggers at the hillbilly, “Lay your filthy paws on me again . . . and I swear . . . I’ll kill ya . . . you son of a bitch!” Starsky snapped, yanking against his chains, a feral snarl curling his lips, looking like a wild animal trapped in a snare.

Jebb stopped his advances, hesitantly withdrawing his hand, feeling the cold finger of fear crawl up his spine. He was thankful that the man before him was chained up tightly the way he was, his dark gray eyes crawled up to the metal loop, making sure it was securely screwed into the rafters despite the jerks and yanks it took from the thrashing cop. The hillbilly’s look of concern morphed into a mask of smug righteousness when he knew he was safe from the brunet’s retaliation. Jebb could feel admiration bloom under his skin for the defiant and angry cop, “Yas siree, y’be a fighter . . . but ah’ma gonna enjoy breakin’ ya boy . . .” the burly man growled, taking off the leather belt he wore through the loops that went around his wide girth, holding his loose overalls up, “Gonna have mah way wit ya and teach ya a lessin’ ya’ll ne’er fergit . . .”

“Pa?” Roy interjected quietly, swallowing the fear that rose in his throat when Jebb turned to stare at him, “Ah’m sorry pa for inneruptin’ and all, but ah think we bettah get his car ‘fore someone finds it parked there on the highway.” the tall boy said, nodding in the bound man’s direction, “If the sheriff’s office finds it, their gonna know fer shure that somethin’s wrong . . . him being a cop an’ all.”

Jebb stared at his son, his anger slowly dissipating as he gave thought to Roy’s words. “Yer right son,” he finally said, “Y’ain’t usually the sharpest tool in the shed, but this time yer right,” The hillbilly turned back to the dark haired man and eyed him for a few seconds before he whispered softly, his voice carrying loudly in the stillness of the dirty shed, “Git ‘im ready Lee Roy . . . when I gets back, we’re goin’ snipe huntin’!”

Chapter 4


The cool wash of the rag running over his hot face and chest felt deliciously good and Starsky slowly attempted to raise his head once more, not even realizing he had passed out. He remembered watching as father and son walked out of the shed together to look for his car, feeling his battered form growing weary as the adrenalin that kept him up and fighting slowly left his body, replacing it with the exhaustion and pain he was trying to keep at bay.

“Please mistah, y’needs t’wake up now,”

Starsky could hear the quiet urgency in the whispered voice and felt the gentle shake to his aching shoulder. The cool brushes of moisture helped to bring the brunet out of the welcoming arms of darkness that he’d collapsed into, and he struggled to raise the heavy line of lashes that framed his dazed blue eyes.

“Hey mistah,” Lee Roy said softly as his dirty face came into focus, “I brung ya some water . . . knew ya would be thirsty.” The tall lad brought the ladle of cool water to the detective’s parched lips, gently lifting it as the brunet gulped its contents down, “Easy mistah, don’ guzzle it down too fast, its crik water, yer belly might not be used’ta it.” Roy looked away as he brought the empty ladle down, guilt and remorse tearing away at his conscience as his gazed roamed over the hurting man’s battered and bruised torso.

“Where’s . . . your dad?” Starsky asked, his voice sounded gravelly and strained, “Thought you . . . went with him.”

“Mah pa took a short cut down yonder through them woods to the highway, ah ‘spect it’ll take ‘im about a half an hour or so to get back hea wit y’car.” Roy said softly, his gray eyes became the color of steel as he quickly struck a match and lit up the lantern that was hanging on a hook screwed into a wooden beam. Starsky watched as he carefully set the kerosene lamp on the barrel facing the detective.

“Listen to me Lee Roy,” Starsky rasped, his dark blue eyes squinting until it got used to the sudden glare from the lantern, “Cut me down . . .”

“Ah cain’t mistah,” Roy interjected miserably, “He’s gonna git me if’n ah do that. Y’ain’t the only one he’s done that too . . . he’s jus’ goes crazy sometimes . . . there ain’t no talkin’ sense t’him when he gits like that . . .”

Starsky bit back a groan as he twisted his mangled wrists, “Roy, cut me down . . . that’s all you gotta do . . . I can help you . . . I’m a cop . . . my partner . . . I know he’s looking for me . . . as we speak. If you help me, you won’t be considered . . . an accessory . . . to kidnapping and assault.”

The tall hillbilly boy bit his lip with indecision, and then shook his head slowly. “Ah cain’t do that mistah. Ah’m sorry . . . ah know it’s mah fault this is happenin’ to ya . . . ah should’a nevah let ya in . . . should’a lied and tol’ ya we had no phone. My pa . . . when he gets in those moods of his, there ain’t no talkin’ t’him . . . ah git so ‘fraid . . .” Roy twisted his hands together, then raised his left index finger to chew on the dirty nail growing there.

“Roy . . . listen to me,” Starsky gasped, wincing as he twisted his wrists in desperation, “I’ll help ya get outta here . . . ya don’t have’ta feel afraid. My partner Hutch, he and I will protect you. If you cut me down now . . . we’ll still have time . . . to hide and get away from him . . . make it to town and call for help . . . we’ll call the sheriff’s department and . . .”

“There’s gonna be a full moon t’night . . .” the boy said softly, his gray eyes grew distant as it looked to the chain that held the man’s wrists stretched to the ceiling, “Ah’m not ‘pose t’tell ya this, but when the hunt begins, stick to the crik and follow her down ‘bout two miles or so ‘til ya gits to the Johnson’s farm.”

“The hunt?” Starsky repeated, one dark brow rose slightly, “Jus’ what is . . . a snipe hunt?” the detective asked softly, remembering Jebb mentioning that just before he left the shed.

Lee Roy sighed heavily and lowered his eyes to his dirty bare feet. “It’s a hunt of some sorts. Deep’n the South, and back in mah hometown, whenever there was a newcomer to town or when a kid came of age, the folks would send them out into the woods, all by their lonesome, with a gunny sack and a lantern to hunt snipe.”

“What is snipe?” Starsky asked; his head ached terribly, pounding out a painful beat, which made it hard to follow the boy’s ramblings.

The tall boy snorted softly, the trembling smile gracing his lips failed to reach his sad, gray eyes, “Nobody really knows what a snipe is. Some say it’s a bird, others say it’s a wild cat, but mah pa . . . he says a snipe is an animal turned human, and whenever he gets th’chance, he hunts ‘em. Says nuthin’ is bettah than huntin’ human snipe.” Roy turned to look at the detective who stared back at him, comprehension sinking in as he swallowed down his fear.

“You gotta . . . you gotta be kidding. He’s gonna hunt me? You . . . you people hunt humans?” Starsky asked, a look of incredulous horror masking his face, “How long has this been goin’ on?”

Roy shrugged his lanky shoulders, “Don’ rightly know . . . fer as long as ah can r’membah.” the boy said softly, lowering his eyes to the dirt floor of the shed, clearing his throat almost apologetically as he whispered, “Mah pa . . . he’s good at huntin’ . . . he nevah misses. In Tennessee, he’d hunt snipe . . . well, human snipe at least once, sometimes twice a year.”

“But . . . the bodies . . . what does he do with them?” Starsky asked, a shiver of fear racing through his system as he saw the boys expression become haunted and distant.

“Mah pa . . . he’s a wily one. He always knows what kinda snipe t’go aftah. Usually he’d hunt strangers or loners that wanna just pass through town, people who don’t look like they have anyone who cares about ‘em. In all my born years, ain’t no one come a’lookin’ fer the snipes mah pa hunted. He’d bury ‘em deep in th’woods. Used’ta laugh when he came home from those hunts . . . used’ta brag an’tell me the snipes were a’restin’ in Jebbediah’s Woods . . . then he’d come home an’ . . .” Roy paused, shivered slightly, and then sighed softly again, “He’s always so excited aftah a hunt, always making jokes ‘bout his name . . . says that’s why God made our last name Woods . . . ‘cawse He knows we bury thangs in the woods.”

Starsky watched the boy’s expression and caught the small hesitation the boy made, “What else does he do? Does he ever . . .”

“Sometimes,” Lee Roy continued on, almost like he had never heard the detective say anything, “He’d keep a tuft of hair or a piece of jewelry or a shirt fer a trophy, but most times, they’d jus’ disappear completely . . . like they nevah even existed . . . ya know?” Roy looked up again at the tall brunet who hung by his arms, shaking his head with shame and remorse, “Ah bettah start to git thangs ready fer the hunt. Mah pa will be angry as a grizzly, if’n ah don’ do what needs t’be done.”

“Roy wait,” Starsky called out to the retreating lad, “Listen to me . . . it’s not too late . . .”

The tall boy turned at the door to look sadly back at the detective, “Ah’m sorry mistah . . . ah jus’ cain’t . . . and yer wrong y’know . . .” Roy said softly, a soft sad sigh escaping his lips before he said quietly, “It is too late . . . fer you.”

The dark haired detective lowered his head once more as he heard the soft click of the door, instantly relieving the strain in his neck muscles from turning to look at the door. “Hutch,” the brunet whispered miserably, “Hurry up pal . . . ole Jebbediah’s gonna have me for his snipe stew if you don’t figure this out in time . . .”

Starsky listened quietly, trying to hear any other sounds going on outside his make-shift prison, but all he heard was his labored breathing. “Fuck!” Starsky swore softly, feeling the quick heat of rage that fueled his spirit, growing angry with himself at the helplessness he felt while he dangled from the rafters, his feet barely brushing the floor. His thoughts drifted back to the way Jebb eyed him, to the lewd comments he’d made and the way he touched him with his dirty hands. “Sick son of a bitch!” the cop growled, feeling his heart accelerating as the heat of anger flared within him.

With all the strength he had remaining, Starsky began to struggle against his bonds once more; pushing down the weariness, fear and pain, but allowing the anger and hostility he felt within him to fuel his efforts. It would be no surprise to him if Jebbediah Woods was a man who had an incestuous relationship with his son. The boy had that look about him . . . the haunted look of a hopeless soul who’d been living through hell and it spurned the brunet to try harder to break free of his bonds. The dark haired detective grunted as he twisted and thrashed against his chains, but the sudden sound of a vehicle pulling up aborted his efforts.

There was no mistaking the hum and purr of his prized possession. The burly backwoodsman had found the Torino and had driven her up here with the keys he’d taken. A sinking feeling flooded Starsky’s being and the brunet could feel the fight drain from his spirit. Jebbediah Woods had come home.

Chapter 5

The burly man got out from the old truck he drove, slamming its rusty door behind him as he ambled in the dark towards the bed of the vehicle and looked up at his son who sat beside their captive. He drew in a deep breath, listening to sounds of crickets chirping and in the distance, the resonant croaking of frogs. He loved this neck of the woods and he shivered, as he felt the excitement that a hunt always brought on.

“Well, let’s git goin’ ‘fore the moon sets,” Jebb grinned, reaching out a thick arm to drag the shirtless, bound man to the lip of the bed, tossing him carelessly to the ground, chuckling as he heard the soft grunt that came from the brunet when he landed hard on his left side. The hillbilly chuckled. He knew that had to hurt, and with the cop bound and unable to see, there was no way he could have broken his fall.

“Let ‘im see where we are boy,” Jebb drawled slowly, nodding towards the bound man, who lay curled in pain on the forest floor.

Lee Roy nodded and jumped down from the back of the truck; he knelt beside the detective and slowly sat him up, biting his lip with remorse as he heard the painful gasps and short, rapid breaths coming from behind the thick burlap. The tall boy quickly removed the gunny sack that was tied around the cop’s head, “Sorry mistah, ah know yer ribs are hurtin’ ya mighty fierce.”

The boy’s gray eyes connected to angry blue, which quickly looked around, trying to take in his surroundings. Lee Roy closed his eyes as he remembered the sharp cry of pain that came unwillingly from the cop when they had finally cut him down from the rafters in the shed, several hours after Jebb had come home. He knew of the intense burn the detective was probably feeling in his arms and shoulders, as his arms dropped and he fell to the ground. It pained him greatly to watch as the cop instinctively curled one strained arm around his bruised and battered ribs. At that time, Lee Roy had felt the sickening sense of despair growing deep in the pit of his stomach when he looked at the wounded man, but to his credit, the brunet gritted his teeth and made no more sounds, his dark blue eyes defiant and angry as they glared up at Jebb, just like how they were doing now, glittering almost catlike as they caught the light from the shimmering moon.

“Don’ look at mah pa like that mistah,” Lee Roy whispered softly to the cop, feeling his nose twitch as the brunet’s dark curls tickled its tip, “Don’ go makin’ him madder than he already is . . .” the boy warned softly. The tall lad liked the rugged detective. He liked the defiant and rebellious nature of the cop named Starsky, and wished he had half of his courage when it came to standing up to his daddy. He also really liked the car the cop drove and had never seen such a vehicle up close like the one he had seen tonight . . .

To see his pa driving up the narrow dirt road in the furner’s car was something to marvel at, and Lee Roy couldn’t help but notice that the shiny red car parked in front of their cabin just emphasized the filth and the squalor that they lived in. Steam rose slightly from the Torino’s hood, and Lee Roy rubbed his dirty palm against the sides of his overalls before he ran it reverently against the car’s sleek side.

“She’s beautiful pa,” the teen whispered, his gray eyes wide with wonder, “Ah guess pohleece men must make quite a livin’ doin’ what they do.”

“She runs like a racehorse,” Jebb grinned, “Drove her ‘round for a bit ‘fore comin’ back here. We can fix her up real good an’ keep her after everythin’ cools down and they stop lookin’ for the cop.” Jebbediah snorted, “We’ll drive her into the shed fer now, lock her up in there until we can find a better place t’ hide her. Jebb turned to look towards the shed in the darkness behind him, a strange glint coming to his dark gray eyes. “An’ how’s our ‘guest’ doin’ boy?” he asked quietly, a slow smile tweaking his thick lips.

“He’s hurtin’ pa,” Lee Roy said softly, “Ah think . . . ah think we should cut ‘im down.” The tall lad looked quickly to his dirty feet, knowing he had said too much, but there was something he really liked about the cop that was hanging from the rafters of their shed. What they were doing was wrong, but then again, everything that happened in their neck of the woods was wrong.

Jebb snorted as he looked at his son, “Y’do, do ya?” the big man said, one brow rising in derision, “An’ jus’ when have ah ever asked fer yer ‘pinion boy? Y’bes’ mind yer tone w’me y’hear?” the hillbilly threatened, grinning as he saw his son cower back down once more, “An’ as fer the pig . . . well, he ain’t even felt what hurtin’ is all ‘bout . . . but he will boy, he will . . .”

The almost inaudible groan from the cop brought the boy out of his recollections and he shivered as he remembered his pa’s threats. Sighing softly, his eyes filled with compassion and sorrow, Lee Roy made sure the detective could sit up by himself before he went back to the truck and took out the things he’d brought. He walked quietly back to the bound man and squatted beside him in the dark, opening the gunny sack to put in a canteen of water and a sandwich that he made before they left. “Here ya go mistah. Ah brought some vittles fer ya t’keeps up yer strength.” Lee Roy carefully placed it before the cop and reached behind him to cut the ropes that tied his hands behind his back.

Starsky grunted softly as circulation flowed once more to his extremities, causing the familiar burning pain to flare as he winced and rubbed his mangled wrists. “So what now? ” the detective snarled as Roy stepped away, stormy blue eyes glittered dangerously as he glared at the large hillbilly, “You gonna strip me naked and chase me through the woods?” Starsky flicked his cobalt blue gaze over at Lee Roy when the boy gasped softly; his gray eyes were suddenly filled with fear and trepidation.

“Don’ push me boy,” Jebb sneered, licking his thick slimy lips, “An’ don’ give me no ideas that ah ain’t already thought of m’self. Now git yer ass off th’ground and start hightailin’ it. Ya gots 15 minutes ‘fore we come a’lookin’ for ya . . . snipe!”

Starsky watched as Jebb looked at the cheap watch he had strapped around his thick hairy wrist. Confusion marred his features as he stared at the two hillbillies in the moonlight, the moment seemed almost surreal as he tried to stand, one hand clenched against his left side, the other holding the gunnysack that Roy had given him. Starsky looked from father to son, seeing the look of sheer terror on the boy’s face.

Lee Roy bit his lip, his dark gray eyes conveying the urgency he felt within. ‘Why was the cop just standing there?’

“Fourteen minutes,” Jebb said calmly, the gleam in his eye reflected the thrill he felt as the countdown began.

Looking from his pa to the dark haired man, Lee Roy blurted out, “Run mistah, don’ jus’ stand there like a deer caught in th’headlights . . .ya gots t’run!” The tall youngster pushed the cop towards the dark trees, “Run mistah, run fer yer life.”

Starsky turned and began to run, his hand clenched tightly to his side, as sharp agonizing pain stabbed into him with each jarring crunch of his bare feet against the pine needles that littered the forest floor. Breathing heavily, Starsky ran until he was as far from the truck that brought them here, the thick forest quickly swallowing his retreating form.

It was chilly, the night air caused puffs of smoke to appear each time the brunet exhaled. Breathing was a bitch with the pain that flared in his side and the Starsky knew that a few of his ribs might have been cracked from the beating he took in the shed. The wounded detective stopped for moment to catch his breath and bearings, hearing the sound of running water in the distance. Gasping softly, Starsky looked to the brightness of the moon that streamed down through the thick branches of the pine.

“There’s gonna be a full moon t’night . . .”

“Ah’m not ‘pose t’tell ya this, but when the hunt begins, stick to the crik and follow her down ‘bout a mile or so ‘til ya gits to the Johnson’s farm.”

Remembering the boy’s soft words spurred the cop into action once more as he made his way towards the creek, making sure to cover his tracks as he went. He felt thankful for the moonlight, which made it easy to pick his way through the bushes and thick brambles and foliage of the forest; yet at the same time, the iridescent glow gave his pursuers an advantage over him . . . especially because they had the rifle and all he had for protection was a burlap sack filled with a canteen full of water and a haphazardly made sandwich.

Had the situation not been so dire, the curly haired cop might have even found it humorous, but with his head pounding and his ribs aching, there wasn’t much to laugh about. Being in this situation was like being stuck in a nightmare. Who would have thought he’d be running for his life, as redneck hicks chased him through the woods at night. Thoughts of his blond haired counterpart flitted through his mind as he crouched behind a large tree trunk, catching his breath. He could only hope that Hutch understood his message, which was abruptly ended thanks to Jebb’s shovel. Starsky gingerly felt the back of his skull. The crusty goose-sized egg he’d found there throbbed and pulsed and the brunet leaned wearily against the trunk, attempting to slow his breath, as his eyes darted back and forth through the foliage. “Aw Hutch,” he whispered, “Hurry up and move that ass of yours buddy.”

“It’ll be a nice, peaceful drive for you and then we can both ride home together after the weekend is over? It would be a great road trip . . . what do you say buddy?”

The dark haired cop snorted derisively as he thought of what Hutch had said to entice him to visit his home state. “Yeah . . . right!” he murmured, closing his eyes for a moment as he gave in to the exhaustion and pain and that pummeled his body, suddenly feeling the chill of the night air against his sweat-damp skin. Yet, just imagining his partner’s soothing voice helped him to find the stamina to continue on through this holocaust he suddenly found himself in.

If anyone could have told him that he would be stuck in the middle of nowhere, with a psychotic redneck hot on his trail, hunting his ass down with a loaded rifle as he ran through a forest at night . . . well, he would have thought that person was off his rocker or doing drugs; but here he was living out his very own “Twilight Zone,” his bruised and aching body loudly protesting the crouched position that he was in, as he peered into the darkness of the night.

Being out in the wilderness like this, adrenaline pumping, being on guard and watchful, reminded Starsky of the time he served in ‘Nam. Dark memories of running silently through the humid jungle, dodging bullets as the staccato sounds of gunfire played repeatedly in the background, watching his friend Ross being blown to smithereens right before his eyes from the enemy’s grenade came rushing back full force.

Ross . . . his childhood buddy. He hadn’t thought about his friend for a long, long time. He and Ross would often go over to Johnny Blaine’s house to listen to his stories about being a cop. John always had a way of building it up, somehow making it sound more exciting than it really was, enticing the imagination of two young boys as they listened to him tell his stories of life on the streets, of putting the bad guys behind bars, somehow making good always triumph over evil, leaving them wide-eyed with wonder and excitement.

Starsky snorted softly at the memory, pain filled sadness spilling out from his wounded heart, ‘Ya lied to us Johnny,’ the dark haired detective thought, silently berating his deceased mentor in his mind, The brunet sighed wearily, his dark blue eyes searc“Ya should’a told us about the scum and filth on the streets, instead of makin’ it seem like cops were heroes, knights disguised in uniforms wearing gleaming badges of polished metal . . .’ hing warily through the darkness, ‘Now look at you . . . and Ross too . . . you’re both dead and buried . . . gone. See Johnny? Knights don’t exist.’

Yet, in the back of his mind, Starsky knew of one cop who reminded him of the knights of yore; the brave and noble knights that he and Ross would pretend to be as they rode through their neighborhood street on their trusted bikes turned to steeds . . . glorified, shining knights who sat at King Arthur’s legendary Round Table in the stories that John used read to them when they were just boys . . . and that cop was Hutch.

Hutch was the golden white knight who stood up for the underprivileged though he himself, came from affluence, a cop who wasn’t afraid to show compassion for the drunks and derelicts on the dirty streets as he doled out money to help ease the strain of their miserable lives, a sensitive cop who would be the first to reach out a warm hand and lay it on a quaking shoulder to comfort with his touch. There was something innately good about his partner that Starsky strived to emulate . . . something that reminded him so much of Ross and so much of John.

‘Aw Hutch,’

Starsky longed for his partner, leaning back against the solid trunk of the tree that he hid behind. The quiet stillness of the night, the cadence and rhythm of the crickets chirping helped to ease his rapidly beating heart. He was so tired and cold. His head throbbed and the chilly night air made him want to just close his eyes if only for a little while. He knew he was relatively safe, well hidden between a large tree trunk and a thick bramble bush. If he just stayed still, it would be near impossible to see him. His mind knew he had to move on . . . get to the creek, but his limbs were so heavy and just breathing in and out became a painful chore . . .

A sudden snap of a twig nearby brought him quickly around and he jolted stiffly awake. He hadn’t even known he had passed out again. ‘Damn,’ he thought silently, his eyes scanning the area for any sign of movement as he pressed his back into the trunk, peering stealthily through the waning darkness. The brunet cursed his weakness, he should have been trying to escape, should have been using the cloak of darkness to elude his pursuers instead of giving into the sleepiness that a head injury brought on. If Hutch had been with him, he wouldn’t have drifted off . . . concussion or not, the blond Blintz would have made sure he didn’t nod off. Starsky looked to the sky above the hills in the east, its purple and pink highlights were the herald of the dawn. “Fuck!” the cop swore softly under his breath.

The sudden retort of the rifle’s loud bark filled the quiet stillness of the forest, effectively silencing the chirping insects and the hum of nocturnal life in the woods; the force of the discharged bullet sped through air and leaves to gouge itself into the side of the tree trunk, mere inches from where Starky’s hand lay pressed against it. Small splinters of wood and bark pierced sharply into the side of the brunet’s palm, causing the detective to hiss quietly in pain as he quickly retracted his hand.

“Y’should’ve been runnin’ boy, ‘stead of sleepin’,” Jebb’s voice rang out from the darkness, sending a chill of fear racing down the detective’s spine, “’cawse ah’ma comin’ fer ya now . . .”

Chapter 6

Jebb smiled as he looked through the high-powered lens and pulled the trigger. He and Roy had been searching throughout the night and it seemed like that cop had just disappeared right out from under their noses. He was losing his patience, knowing the sun would be up in just under an hour, but he could track anything. The hillbilly smiled confidently knowing he’d met a worthy opponent. It appeared the cop had some skill in covering his tracks. He’d never thought that a city boy would know how to do stuff like that and his admiration for the lawman raised a notch.

He almost missed spotting the cop hiding behind the large tree trunk, the brambles and bushes nearly camouflaging him completely, but Jebb was an experienced hunter. He knew all the tricks that his prey would use and the thrill of the hunt raced through his blood. He loved the sound of the rifle firing loudly in the early morning just before dawn, loved the hard kick of the rifle’s butt into his shoulder, loved the ping the bullet made as it sunk into the bark of the trunk next to his “snipe”.

Jebb laughed, calling out to the cop, chiding him in a sneering voice as he heard the frantic scrambling of his prey trying to escape in the distance. “Give it up boy,” he shouted smugly, “Y’don’ stand a chance in the daylight!” The fat hillbilly lowered his rifle butt to the ground as he held its sleek neck in his thick, meaty hand.

“Gimme some of that ‘shine boy,” Jebb said over his shoulder, snatching the jug from his son’s hand, pulling the cork out as he tipped his head back to guzzle down some of his homemade brew, loving the burn as it slid down his throat. The hillbilly lowered the jug and belched loudly, enjoying the cool trail of the moonshine as it dripped down his chin and into his wiry beard.

Jebbediah dragged the back of his hand against his mouth, handing the jug back to the tall boy who trailed silently behind him the whole night. The mountain man turned and eyed his son, who corked the jug and quickly looked down at his feet. “Don’ worry boy, we’ll catch ‘im . . . and then the fun’ll jus’ begin . . .”

Lee Roy said nothing, feeling his father’s keen eyes upon him as he looked to his bare feet. He knew what his pa was insinuating at, and the sick feeling in his belly continued to worsen. The tall boy had wished with all his heart that the cop would escape and somehow find help; he should’ve never fallen asleep.

Throughout the night, Lee Roy had followed along behind his pa, silently hoping that the dark haired lawman had made it, that he had somehow gotten away, but he nearly cried out in frustration when he saw his pa lift the rifle to his shoulder, unexpectedly jumping as his pa fired, the roar of the firearm disturbing the quiet, early morning hours. He hoped the brunet was all right, he could hear the faint sounds of bare feet running in the distance and it alleviated his worry somewhat. Lee Roy gnawed on his thumbnail; though he couldn’t see anything from where he stood, he quickly sent up a silent prayer anyway that the brunet would keep going and that he would somehow make it to the Johnson’s farm.


The early morning sun had finally shown her radiant head, illuminating the tips of the pine trees, bathing them with soft, golden highlights. It would have been breathtakingly beautiful had he had time to just sit and watch the dawn gracefully unfolding. Hutch had once told him how he and his grandfather had watched the sun come up one morning when he was a kid, and Starsky had always wanted to see that magical moment that Hutch had described, but being hunted down by some insane backwoods hillbilly somehow took away all the marvel and splendor that nature wanted to reveal.

It had taken him some time to cover his tracks again as he made his way quickly to the creek, his hand clutched tightly to his side, holding his ribs together as he quickly moved through the foliage wet with morning dew. The agonizing rub of bone against bone nearly took his breath away, but Starsky knew he didn’t have time to tend to his wounds. If he had his shirt, he could have probably made some makeshift bandages to bind his ribs, but as luck would have it, that sick bastard had taken that opportunity away.

Starsky looked out at the waterway from behind a tree. Dark, slippery rocks were strewn haphazardly in the heart of the creek, but there was hardly any coverage on the bank, except for a few rocks here or there. He would have to stay in the woods, making sure to follow the creek downstream in hopes of getting to the Johnson’s farm. Staying low as he followed the path of the stream was killing his ribs, which screamed out in protest.

Starsky gritted his teeth and bore down on the debilitating pain, pushing himself to hurry while at the same time, making sure he was covering his tracks. He felt flushed and dizzy; hazy bits and pieces of his time in ‘Nam drifted back to him as he remembered running from the VC, his small group cut off from the rest of the platoon. It was a miracle that they made it through that day, surrounded as they were by the enemy who held guns on them and made them kneel with their hands behind their heads, only to have their platoon arrive in the knick of time, killing off several of the astounded Viet Congs and taking the rest as prisoners of war. That was the day Ross had died, blown up right before the brunet’s eyes as they sat quietly in a tree on a reconnaissance mission.


He had never talked about Ross to anyone, not even to Hutch. It was just too painful, and like the childhood memories he had had of his father, Starsky laid the memories of Ross to rest, sad and bittersweet memories that he had thought were long buried in his heart. It truly surprised the dark haired detective that it would come to the forefront now, during this nightmare he was forced to live through, 'Must have a fever or somethin’,' he thought silently, wiping the back of his hand against his warm brow.

He was thirsty and he cursed himself ten times a fool, for leaving the canteen of water and the gunnysack next to that tree where he had fallen asleep. His energy was near depletion and his stomach rumbled miserably as he made his way over to the rushing water. He could probably get a quick drink of creek water, but he’d have to be careful since there was no coverage there.

Breathing heavily, Starsky stumbled along, his mind dazedly racing, his ribs and body screaming out for him to stop, if only for moment, but the brunet just grimaced and sucked it up, forcing himself to move on, stopping only when he realized that the sounds of the forest had stilled. Dark blue eyes darted about; seeking out the enemy who he knew was close by. A shot rang out, and then another, pinging dangerously near his head, as he ducked and raced for the only cover available.

The dark haired detective crouched low beside a large rock, his erratic breathing sounding loud in his ears, though he knew that the sound of the running water effectively masked his hurt filled gasps. Starsky blinked the sweat from his eyes, cursing softly under his breath, as he cautiously looked around, it was hard to tell which direction the bullets had come from.

“We gots ya now pig,” Jebb’s called out, his voice booming over the sound of the rushing water, “Ah sees ya behind that rock.”

Breathing hard, Starsky clutched his left side tightly, his detective’s mind racing as he looked around for more cover. If he could make it back to the trees he would stand a chance of escaping, but the nearest tree was a yard or more away. Usually a fast runner, Starsky wouldn’t have hesitated before, but he knew his busted ribs and concussed head would slow him down. Yet, he really had no choice in the matter. Out here by the waterway, he was a sitting duck and he knew it.

Drawing a breath in to steady himself, Starsky made a mad dash to the line of trees in the distance, holding his breath as bullets dog tailed his footsteps, running for all his worth until he suddenly gasped in pain, feeling a hot slug agonizingly tear through his upper left thigh, causing him to fall just short of the trees, the momentum of his run spinning him head over heels as the crippling pain flared fiery trails of white hot agony up the conduit to his brain.

“Uungh,” Starsky groaned softly, digging his hands into the dirt and moss so that he could drag his body up against the trunk of a nearby tree, wiping the dirt from his hands so that he could cover and press down upon the ragged wound on his outer thigh that was bleeding profusely. The dark haired detective pushed down upon his torn flesh, his body jolting against the fiery pain as he closed his eyes in agony, his shallow and rapid breaths sounding loud in his ears, as the warm blood gushed through his fingers, saturating his jeans, the tangy smell of copper filling the air. Though he couldn’t be sure, it looked like the bullet had just grazed him, but with all the blood, it was hard to tell. Gasping, the detective quickly looked up as he heard heavy footsteps approaching.

“Well now . . . looky here,” Jebb drawled, breathing hard as he ambled over to the wounded man, his gray eyes raked over his prey, his breath reeking of sour staleness, “Looks like ah gots me a snipe!”

Chapter 7

Hutch stepped on the accelerator as he sped down the highway towards Makinen; the sun had already risen hours ago and he’d wasted precious time last night in Macon; the sheriff there telling him of a reported vehicle, red in color, make unknown, sighted by some of the town locals who were quick to notice things out of the ordinary, and a sporty red vehicle was definitely something out of the ordinary in their little town. In Macon, everybody knew everybody’s business and that red car was not recognized as being from their area. A quick call to the other sheriff’s office in the other two towns had nothing yet to report, so Hutch made it out to Macon to check on his only lead, which later turned out to be absolutely nothing but a waste of time and effort.

The wild “goose-chase” had the blond feeling angry and frustrated. Thoughts of his partner hurt, or worse yet, dead, flashed in the fair-headed detective’s mind. Starsky was depending on him and he was fucking it up as the proverbial sand continued to pour through his mental hourglass. Snapping at Sheriff Jenkins did nothing to speed up the process and only earned him glares and disgusted shakes of their hat covered heads.

“We don’t rush things here in Macon like you city boys do,” Jenkins said calmly, his deep voice as slow as molasses, “All things will turn up in their right time, son . . . they always do.”

Much later, they had finally found the owner of the red sports car in the early morning hours just before dawn. They had made quite a scene, pounding loudly on the door of the motel room, waking the visitors from their uncomfortable motel bed to ask them unnecessary questions and validate their license and identifications. They were just tourists from the east, passing through the state of Minnesota on a little summer road trip as they headed on to California to see the wonderful world of Disney.

Finishing up on their “lead”, the frustrated and exasperated blond detective from Bay City quickly called the sheriff’s offices of McKinley and Makinen to once again to see if there were any new leads on his partner’s whereabouts.

Though McKinley’s Sheriff Thomas had nothing to report, Hutch could feel hope flare in his heart when the Sherriff of Makinen county reported that some of the folks living near the highway had seen Jebbediah Woods, a local derelict, driving some hot shot red car with a loud white stripe painted across her side. Apparently Frank Johnson, a local farmer, had seen the car parked on the side of the highway for quite some time, before he finally saw his neighbor, a man named Jebbediah Woods, driving the car around some hours later. Growing suspicious, especially because he despised his neighbor, Johnson decided to place a little report in to Sheriff McCabe.

Listening to McCabe’s description, Hutch knew that the car was Starsky’s and his heart palpitated wildly knowing that his partner wouldn’t have willingly handed over his car keys to anyone unless there was something that had gone wrong. Sheriff McCabe had mentioned that he’d already sent his deputy out to the Woods’ place, but the deputy reported back that no one was home at the time and all had appeared normal there.

“Damn incompetents!” Hutch thought irritably. He would be in Makinen in an hour, maybe just under an hour if he continued to push the rent a car like he was doing right now. “Hang on buddy,” Hutch silently thought, hoping his friend would know he was doing everything within his power to find him, “I’m almost there . . . almost there.”


The soft, painful moans and loud grunts coming from the next room brought the hurting brunet to the surface of awareness. Long dark lashes lifted to reveal dazed blue eyes that first tracked the wooden beams above him, then skirted around the room in which he found himself, skimming over the small fire that blazed in the hearth, uncomfortably heating the already too warm room, to finally rest upon his cuffed wrists that held him shackled to the dirty bed in the corner of the cabin’s living room.

Gritting his teeth to bite back the groan that wanted to escape, Starsky slowly lifted his head to see that his legs were also tightly bound to the wooden bed frame preventing him from moving; and to his horror, he found that his jeans and underwear had been removed and he was lying butt naked, spread eagle, on the dirty, scratchy patchwork quilt beneath him.

He quickly twisted his wrists, feeling vulnerable and exposed, arching his back, struggling and straining against his bonds only to fall back once more, pain exploding in his ribs and on his upper thigh. “Fuck,” he whispered as the intensity of the lancing pain brought back the frightening memory of the moonlit hunt and how he got shot up in the woods. He remembered Jebb standing above him as he tried to staunch the flow of blood that gushed from his outer thigh, hearing the hillbilly say that he finally caught his “snipe” before the insane backwoodsman used the butt of the rifle to knock him senseless.

It didn’t take a genius to realize that they had loaded him up and brought him back to their decrepit hovel once again, using his own cuffs to shackle him to this bed. From the sickening smell of copper that assaulted his nostrils, the dark haired cop could only assume that his newly acquired rifle wound had been left unattended.

Starsky wearily lifted his head once more, pulling against his bonds to see his upper left thigh, killing his ribs in the process. Grunting softly, he strained to see the wound, which as he suspected, still ran a slow leak of his life’s blood. He could feel it dripping warmly down the side of his thigh to pool in the quilt, leaving a sticky ebony mass that reflected the flickering light from the fireplace.

Breathing heavily, the brunet abruptly fell back, his throbbing head pounded out a drum solo as sudden dizziness washed over him, which he vaguely attributed to either blood loss or to the ever-present possibility of a concussion. “Fuck,” he swore again, closing his eyes, dark lashes lying like crescents against his glistening cheeks, while he attempted to breathe through the nausea that assailed him, his throat muscles working spasmodically as he swallowed back the bile.

A muffled groan from the other room made the detective snap his eyes open again as he turned his head to look at the shut door. The loud grunts of pleasure made him feel sick inside as he turned away to look up at the wooden ceiling, his mind trying to shut out the sounds that filtered out from that back room. Jebbediah Woods was one sick bastard and Starsky itched to put him away for good.

He remembered the hideous feeling of Jebb’s hands as it ran over his abdomen, pinching his nipples, and the lewd and lascivious grin on the hillbilly’s face as he touched him. “Whatsamattah boy? Ain’t no man evah teched ya befoa? Don’ tell ole Jebb that that nice lookin’ blond man in dem pictures ain’t nevah done this t’ya,” The hillbilly’s ghostly taunts came back to haunt him, making him shudder with disgust and loathing.

The thought of what was happening in the back room, made the detective physically sick and his mind inadvertently drifted to his mentor. ‘How could two men even get it up do it?’ he wondered silently, 'I mean how could a man derive pleasure from that?’ the dark haired cop thought darkly, wondering how John could prefer a man’s hardened body to the soft voluptuousness of Maggie’s. A woman’s body was made to fit a man’s, not visa versa. He was savvy enough to know what went on between homosexuals, and though he never openly judged their chosen lifestyles, he never really chose to get close to anyone with that sexual preference either; they always existed outside of the tight circle of friends and family he surrounded himself with . . . until John.

The brunet frowned, ‘Maybe working 24/7 with men all the time, like how they did as cops, made it easier to bend the other way. Maybe feelings become so intertwined, you don’t even know when its changed.’ His mind raced back to that strange discussion he had had with Hutch as they rode in the blond’s beat up car one afternoon, after John Blaine’s case had been solved. He remembered sitting in the backseat of Hutch’s messy LTD, feeling drained, still trying to comprehend and deal with the shock of finding out about John’s secret life . . .

“You’d think in this business we’d get used to surprises . . .” Starsky said, his two feet propped casually on the back of the LTD’s front seat, a magazine in hand as he relaxed into the backseat, loving the cool summer breeze that occasionally ruffled his thick sable curls.

“Well . . . the day that happens, we might as well throw in the towel.” Hutch replied, his eyes on the road.

“Yeah, well it’s still kinda hard to believe . . .” the brunet sighed, his mind’s eye drifting to John, seeing him lying on the dirty bed of the cheesy motel.

“Starsk, it’s no big thing . . .”

The blond’s remark caused the dark haired detective to snap out of his meanderings and look up from the magazine he was holding, “Hey you’re not that sophisticated,” Starsky said, as he eyed his blond counterpart through the review mirror, “A man preferring a man is not as casual as having a bad cold!”

“Is that right?” Hutch asked softly, glancing at the mirror, sky blue eyes connecting with the darker blue of his partner’s, before once again returning to the road.

“Yeah, I mean . . . I’m not taking a position for or against it, but it is something to contend with,” Starsky clarified, “I mean, it’s not your usual everyday thing right?”

The tall blond casually changed the subject, asking if his partner was hungry, before pausing and saying, “Starsk, would you consider that a man who spends 75 percent of his time with another man has got certain tendencies?”

“75? You mean three quarters?” Starsky asked absently, once again flipping through the magazine he was perusing, knowing his partner was rolling his eyes just by the slight irritation he heard in Hutch’s voice as he answered with a monotoned, ‘Right.’

The brunet looked up, “Yeah, sure . . . why not . . . you mean in the case of John . . .”

“No, no, no . . .” Hutch interjected, “It’s the case between you and me . . .”

“What?” Starsky asked perplexed, trying to follow what his partner was trying to say.

“Well figure it out,” Hutch said calmly, “In a five-day week, there’s about 80 waking hours right?”

“Yeah,” Starsky said, leaning forward now, his mind adding up the actual minutes that he and Hutch did spend together on a regular basis.

“We work, eat and drink about twelve of those hours right?” the blond continued, “That’s sixty hours a week . . . 75 percent of the time we spend together and you’re not even a good kisser!”

Starsky paused for a minute, feeling the sudden quiet that filled the car’s interior, before putting on a puzzled look of indignation as he leaned close to his parnter’s back, looking at Hutch through the review mirror, his eyes twinkling playfully, “How do you know that?” he said, a smile breaking out on his face as Hutch’s eyes widened in surprise making them both laugh out loud.

In the darkness of the cabin, Starsky frowned. Though he had answered Hutch’s question with their familiar banter, instantly easing the quiet tension that he suddenly felt in the car, if he were honest with himself, everything Hutch had said had thrown him for a loop and had made him think. Spending time with his partner came second nature to him . . . almost like breathing. Hutch was the yin to his yang, the right to his left, the better half to his soul. He wondered for a moment if John had felt this way about the young politician he’d been secretly seeing for many years.

There was a rhythm that he shared with his tall blond friend. Their connection and bond was so strong that they sometimes finished each other’s sentences or knew what the other was thinking before it was said. It was this same closeness that probably saved their lives countless times on the streets and made them the gossip of the department, earning them snide remarks from the older detectives who were jealous of the duo’s success. Those insinuations from their fellow colleagues never bothered him one bit because he knew Hutch, understood him like no other. He was secure enough in their relationship to enjoy the gentle touches his blond friend was so willing to bestow upon him . . . it was what made them so close, what drew them together and separated them from any other partnerships in Dobey’s squad room. The sudden soft moan from the back room dragged the dark haired detective from his confusing thoughts, filling his heart with trepidation and disgust.

Starsky sighed, hissing softly as he jangled the cuffs that had been threaded around one of the steel pipes of the bed’s frame, inadvertently scraping his already mangled and tender skin against the unforgiving metal, reopening the wounds there, feeling the warmth of his blood as it trickled from his wrists to his forearms. Starsky closed his eyes as thoughts of Hutch raced through his mind, making him long to see his partner once more.

‘Hutch, where are you buddy?’ He knew his partner was coming, could almost ‘feel’ it, but would he be in time? Would he get here before that incestuous bastard finished, before he came out and . . .

Starky shoved that horrid thought from his mind, pushing back the fear that wanted to creep out and take over his heart. He could still hear the soft whimpering coming from the other room, as haunted gray eyes rose unbidden to the forefront of his mind.

His heart ached for the ungainly youth. Lee Roy was just a kid. No kid should have to be put through that kind of horror. A parent should be there to serve and protect . . . just like cops. Starsky breathed heavily and jerked as a spasm of pain ripped through his thigh and stabbed into his ribs, gritting his teeth once more to stifle the cry that wanted to leave his lips. The dark haired detective focused his thoughts on Corday, as John Blaine’s face swam before him, forcing back the pain, surfing through it until it became more tolerable.

‘Aw Johnny,’

Corday was a pig . . . as bad as Woods . . . maybe even worse. Starsky thought of those two men, both so different; yet cut from the same cloth. Jebb was an ignorant and uncultured bastard who took great joy in hurting others who were weaker than himself. Corday on the other hand, was an educated cop; he had taken an oath to serve and protect the weak and bring justice to the bad guys, yet in Starsky’s mind, these two men were one and the same in that they were both evil. Evil came in many forms, and Starsky was streetwise enough to know that evil often masked itself, deceptively cloaked its hideous visage in sheep’s skin, often posing as something that evoked trust and represented justice and benevolence to the people it tried to deceive . . . someone who misleadingly stood in the place of authority like a cop . . .or better yet, a parent.

Starsky heard another quiet groan from behind the closed door and he clenched his fists, letting his anger for the abused teenager mask the fear that he felt inside for himself. How could anyone do that to kid? It was no wonder that Lee Roy had those eyes on him . . . sad, desperate eyes that had seen too much, hooded gray eyes that reminded him of a dark, stormy day, eyes that reflected the pain of betrayal and hurt locked deep within, like a heavy dark cloud ready to burst . . . and yet, Starsky knew that had Lee Roy been given a different set of circumstances, he would have been a great kid. There was an innate sense of kindness and compassion in the boy that superceded all the horror and abuse that he’d been living through.

The creaking of door filled the sudden silence of the cabin. Starsky had been so lost in his own dark thoughts to drown out the horrible sounds that had come from the back room, purposely filling his mind so that he could concentrate on something else . . . anything else, that he had been unaware of the sudden stillness that permeated the cabin.

The squeaking of the door made him turn his head in the direction of the sound as Lee Roy quietly crept from the back room, softly shutting the door behind him. Stormy cobalt connected to shimmering gray from across the expanse of the room, until the tall boy, slowly ducked his head and hitched up his jeans, tugging at the rope that served as a belt for the too large pants, hiding his shame from the detective as he gathered some gauze, a bottle of peroxide and a first aid kit. The young boy hobbled over to the bound man, pulling up a wooden stool to sit beside the detective.

“Hey kid,” Starsky said softly, sapphire blue eyes filled with compassion and sympathy as he looked to the boy’s face, running his gaze downwards until he saw the dark bruises on Lee Roy’s arms. The curly haired cop could just imagine Jebb gripping onto his son’s arms as he rutted away like the dirty pig that he was.

“Fuckin’ piece’a shit,” Starsky snapped, his sapphire colored eyes hardening, as it locked on the finger-shaped bruises that lined the upper arms of the boy, ‘I’m gonna kill him!” the cop snarled, pulling angrily at his bonds, straining to get free so he could bust through the next room and kick the fat hillbilly’s ass.

Lee Roy sighed softly, laying the things he carried on the bed next to the naked man, before he gently pushed the cop back down with a hand to his chest, “Please mistah, ya gots t’keep it down, mah pa . . . he’s sleepin’ now . . . if’n ya wakes him up, he’ll be as unforgivin’ as a swarm o’ angry bees.” The boy bit his bottom lip in trepidation as he warily glanced to the back room. Seeing the fear in the boy’s eyes made Starsky push down the anger he felt raging inside, as he attempted to calm down for the boy’s sake.

“Ah’m sorry mistah, yer still bleedin’,” the boy whispered as he opened the bottle of peroxide, “Ah wanted t’clean ya up when we first brought ya home, but mah pa . . .” Lee Roy paused for a moment, his eyes growing dark.

“I’m sorry kid,” Starsky said softly, feeling sick inside for the tall boy, “You don’t have to put up with that kind of abuse . . . I can help you Lee Roy . . . if you let me . . . you don’t have to be afraid . . .” Starsky stared into the boy’s eyes, the intensity of those blue orbs caused Lee Roy to look away, “If you help me . . . we can make all of this stop right here and now!”

The boy took a deep breath to still the anger that suddenly came over him as he thought of his father sleeping in the back room, his bottom lip trembled as hate filled his heart, but he quickly pushed that emotion down as he exhaled slowly, lowering his voice even further, “Anyways, this is gonna sting some,” he continued softly, pretending he didn’t hear the dark haired cop at all, “Yer leg’s all torn up, but I don’ think there’s a bullet in there.”

Starsky frowned, watching the parade of emotions that passed across the boy’s face when he suddenly jolted and hissed as Lee Roy slowly poured the burning, clear liquid over his bleeding gash. The dark haired cop scrunched his eyes closed and clenched his fists tightly as his flesh foamed and sizzled, cleaning out the bacteria that had already settled into the open wound, feeling the cold solution running down the side of his thigh.

“Sorry mistah . . . I know it hurts,” Roy said softly, his eyes sunk lower as they looked over the wound. “Ah’m’a gonna have t’do this one more time ‘fore ah wraps it up fer ya . . . jus’ t’make shure it’s all disinfected and all . . . y‘kay mistah?”

“Dave . . .,” Starsky said through gritted teeth, “Call me Dave.”

Lee Roy lifted his sad, gray eyes and they connected once again to agonized blue ones, now shining bright with pain. The tall boy gently touched the wounded man’s thigh and then leaned over and laid his hand on Starsky’s forehead, “Y’feel hot Mistah . . . ah mean . . . M-Mistah Dave . . . think y’might be running a temp.”

“Lee Roy,” Starsky said softly, willing the boy to look at him, “Do you know where the keys are to these cuffs?”

The tall lad nodded slowly, “They’re in there,” Lee Roy jerked his head towards the back room, “Wit’ mah pa . . .”

“And my pants?” Starsky said quickly, noticing how the boy’s eyes strayed downwards over his naked form only to raise once again and connect with his own, a blush staining his cheeks.

“Ah’m sorry mistah,” Roy mumbled, shaking his head, his sad, gray eyes glanced down at the ruined denim on the floor, “Mah pa took ‘em from ya when y’were out cold . . . said ya wouldn’t be needin’ ‘em fer awhile wit’ yer wound an’ all. He cut ‘em off of ya, cut ‘em into shreds, but I have an extra pair ah can lend ya aftah we bind up your wound.”

“Forget the wound, just get those keys and the pants and let’s get the hell outta here,” Starsky said urgently, “And stop apologizing and calling me mister.”

The boy bit his lip once more at the gruff tone of the detective, “Mah pa will hurt me if’n ah helps ya t’escape . . .”

“He’ll continue to hurt ya anyway,” Starsky interjected forcefully, desperate to make the boy understand, “whether I escape or not!” The cop lowered his voice as he saw the tall boy’s eyes dart to the door of the back room, “Ya know I’m not lyin’ to ya kid . . . this is your chance to get away . . . now . . . before he wakes.”

Lee Roy nodded and stood slowly, knowing the dark haired man was right, struggling to get past the fear that was attempting to anchor him to the spot. If he didn’t do it now, there wouldn’t be another chance and he owed it to this man to help him get out. Making up his mind, Lee Roy murmured, “’Kay Mistah . . . ah mean . . . Dave . . . I’ll be right back wit’ them keys and then ah’ll get a knife to cut those ropes from ya.”

The boy made to move around the bed when suddenly the door to the back room slammed open and Jebb stumbled out, his large hand held up his weight against the doorframe as he eyed his son who stopped in his tracks and trembled before him.

The nude hillbilly scratched his large belly as he looked from his son on over to the bound man who glared angrily back at him. “What’chya been talkin’ ‘bout boy? Huh?” Jebb sneered, belching loudly as the sickening smell of regurgitated moonshine filled the cramped cabin, “Y’ain’t thinkin’ on escapin’ are ya?” Jebbed chuckled, one brow raised lewdly as he looked to the dark haired man’s genitals, “Cawse the party’s jus’ beginnin’!”

Chapter 8

“C’mere boy,” Jebb called softly to his son, seeing the defeated look that came to Lee Roy’s eyes, “It got cold in there without ya.”

“You fuckin’ pervert,” Starsky snarled, straining to free himself from his bonds, not caring as the metal cuffs cut brutally into his wrists once more as he futilely twisted them, “Leave the kid alone!”

Jebb grinned widely, exposing the many gaps of his missing teeth, “Were ya listenin’ in on our ‘family business’ boy?” The fat hillbilly chuckled and lowered his hand to cup his hanging genitals, “Did’ya get off on hearin’ me fuck my boy’s hole? Did it git ya all hot’n bothered?” Jebbediah Woods laughed obscenely, then ambled over to his son, laying a heavy arm across the boys’s thin shoulders, “Cawse if it did, Lee Roy hea, don’ mind sharin’ his pa wit’ another fine lookin’ stud like our pohleece man friend . . . d’ya boy? In fact . . . we can make it a threesome . . .”

Lee Roy quickly dropped his eyes and shook his head, “Ah don’ mind . . . whatevah y’wants pa,” he whispered softly, fear extinguishing the fire of hope that had kindled in his heart just a few seconds ago. Listening to the cop’s words had fueled his courage and for a brief moment, he had actually believed that he could escape the nightmarish life he had been born into; but the sudden appearance of his pa had killed that little spark of hope, crushing it ruthlessly, beating it back down into submission beneath the threat of punishment or something even worse, until the mask of defeat that he usually wore was once again back in its place.

The resigned look of despair in his son’s eyes caused Jebbediah to chuckle once more as he roughly slapped the boy on his backside, causing the lad to wince in pain. “He likes t’take a man up his ass now and then, don’chya boy? I taught ya well.” The detestable hillbilly dragged his son close, sticking out his fat, sticky tongue to obscenely lick the side of Lee Roy’s neck, eyeing the tied up detective the whole time, as he cruelly pinched the boys butt cheeks through the thin denim fabric of his jeans.

“Pa . . . pa please,” Lee Roy begged softly, his face turning red as he winced in pain.

“Yassiree . . . mah boy jus’ loves t’take a man up his ass . . .” Jebb reiterated as he held his son tighter against his bulk, loving the feel of the squirming boy at his side.

“I said to leave the kid alone you red-neck son of a bitch!” Starsky growled, hurting for the boy, feeling the rage he felt for the lascivious hillbilly consume him as he struggled once again against his bonds, “You ain’t a man . . . if you were, you’d cut me loose. You’re just a coward . . . picking on kids and huntin’ unarmed people . . . you make me sick!”

The bound detective glared at Jebb defiantly, lowering his gaze as he mockingly eyed the pot belly and sagging chest of the hillbilly, “Yeah, you definitely ain’t a man,” Starsky sneered, “And you’re a fucking poor excuse for a parent . . .go take a look at your ignorant self in the mirror . . . with your pig-like features, it’s no wonder you can’t find any woman to share your bed!”

The dark haired detective smiled contemptuously at the fat man, knowing he was egging him on and that he was probably going to be hurting even more, but if it would make him leave the kid alone, he was willing to run interference to draw Jebb away from his son’s side.

The lewd smile on Jebb’s face slowly faded as he roughly pushed his son away from him, making the boy stumble and fall. “Well now . . . looks like ya gots some of that spunk back in ya. . . it’s a good thang ya gots t’rest for a spell.” Jebb glanced at his son who slowly stood, seeing the fear once again etched upon the lad’s features. The older hillbilly sneered once more, turning to look at the brunet, “Ya like mah boy cop? That why he lef’ me an’ came out hea to be wit’ ya?” Jebb asked, his voice deceptively soft.

Lee Roy stuttered, his eyes round with fear, “N-no pa . . . ah jus’ came out t’tend to his wound . . . he’s still b-bleedin’ an’ all . . .” the boy’s soft voice pleaded. Large gray eyes watched as his father walked over and then stood before the fireplace, quietly gazing into the burning embers that glowed fiery red in the dark of the room. “Ah swear pa . . . ah didn’t do nuthin’ else,” the tall boy whispered, his frightened eyes glued on his father’s back.

Starsky lifted his head, watching as the fat hillbilly reach down to draw out a hot poker, its fiery tip glowing brightly in the darkening room. Jebb turned to face the wounded cop, “Now ain’t that sweet. Mah boy any good at playin’ nurse maid?” Starsky could feel his breath quicken as the backwoodsman approached him, his dark blue eyes locked on the smoking iron rod held up in the hillbilly’s meaty fist.

Jebb came alongside the bed, an evil grin slashed across his face, as he stood above the bound man near his left thigh. “Y’aint so mouthy right now . . . are ya boy?” The hillbilly glanced down at the wound his rifle had caused. “Yup, yer still bleedin’ all right . . . guess mah boy didn’t know how t’do this . . .” Jebb’s eyes gleamed with delight as he chuckled and pressed the red-hot, smoking iron tip of the poker into his captive’s skin, searing his flesh with a wicked sizzling sound as the sickening stench of burning meat filled the cramped quarters.

Starsky jolted against his bonds, crying out sharply, his sweat slick body glistened as it strained against the ropes and cuffs that held him strapped to the bed, abruptly relaxing and falling back onto the dirty mattress when Jebb quickly removed the hot poker, hurt filled gasps the only sound in the dirty cabin. The hillbilly greedily eyed the dark haired man who lay panting, his long dark lashes lay spiked against his pale sweaty cheeks, his muscled chest heaving, his strong abdominal muscles moving in and out as he labored to surf through the pain that ripped throughout his body.

“Pa . . . please . . . don’ hurt ‘im anymore,” Lee Roy cried out, his dark gray eyes round with horror and despair, as he moved to stand on the other side of the strapped man, “Please pa . . .”

“Shut yer pie hole boy,” Jebb shouted, turning his wrathful gaze upon his quaking son, “Don’ y’ever tell yer pa what t’do.” At the boy’s frightened nod, the bulky hillbilly turned back to look once again at the bound nude man who clenched his jaw and his fists as he rode out the flaring pain.

“There now,” Jebb consoled mockingly, “Ah was just cauterizin’ yer wound there fer ya . . . couldn’t have y’bleedin’ to death . . . after all, the fun’s just startin’!” Jebbediah licked his lips at the sight of the ruggedly handsome and vulnerable man; feeling empowered to know he had caused this strong man so much pain. His eyes fastened on the cop’s heaving abdomen and chest, loving the soft gasps that came from the brunet’s luscious and slightly opened lips, roving his gaze up the sculpted body to rest upon the dark lashes that hid the intensity of those blue eyes.

Jebb rubbed the back of his wrist against his lips to wipe the drool that leaked out from the corner of his mouth, “Yer lucky ah shot ya where ah did boy,” the burly man said, “Cawse any higher, and ah wouldn’t be able to do this!”

Starsky jerked as he felt the bastard touch his penis, his thick hand enfolding his limp flesh, feeling the hillbilly’s dirty thumb at it rubbed around the head of his cock. “You son of a bitch!” the angry brunet snarled, blue fire blazing in the depths of his eyes that snapped open, oblivious to the agonizing pain that ripped throughout his body from the multiple wounds he’d acquired, “Get your hands off me you filthy prick!”

“Pa!” Lee Roy said, “Pa . . . please . . .”

Jebb chuckled as the cop struggled and bucked, arching his back as he tried to dislodge his hand from his member, “Mmm mmm . . .yer a feisty one that’s fer shure. Jus’ like a big black stallion. Gonna love breakin’ ya boy,” Woods whispered obscenely, leaning his wide girth over to stick his warm, slippery tongue into the shell of the struggling detective’s ear, leaving a slimy trail as he slowly traced its contours. The fat hillbilly reluctantly let the cop’s cock slip out of his grip with a sigh, shaking his head, as he looked the brunet over. “Gonna be hard to do what ah wants t’do wit’ y’tied up an’ lying flat on yer back that’a way,” Jebb leered.

A soft, quivering sob made Jebbediah look to his son, feeling the anger flaring once again for the tall teenager, “Shut up boy! Go an’ put this poker back in the fireplace and get yer ass back in bed. Ah want ya to shut yer trap and wait fer me on that bed . . . y’hear? Wait fer me cawse ah gots some business t’do with our friend hea.” Jebb shouted, his icy glare hardened when the boy stood rooted to his place, “Y’hear what ah just told ya boy? Now git!” The fat hillbilly raised his heavy arm and pointed to door, watching with pleasure as his son took the iron rod back to the fire and slunk back to the room from which he came. Smiling smugly, Jebbediah Woods turned his attention back to the bound man, once he heard the soft click of the door being shut behind him.

“Now where was we?” Jebb said amiably as he stared at the glaring cop, “D’ya know y’have the purttiest eyes?” he said, wetting his lips once more with a swipe of his tongue, “Ah likes ya lookin’ at me like that, yer eyes all full of sapphire flames,” Jebbediah whispered seductively, his breathing growing heavy as he cupped his balls in his hand, rolling his testicles between his pudgy fingers, making his manhood swell and harden once more, “Yer gonna feel mighty good boy . . . ah bet yer hole’s nevah been stretched by a man before.” The backwoodsman leaned closer, eyes raking over the sweat drenched body that was laid before him like a banquet to be feasted upon, his gray eyes connecting to the blazing cobalt that would have fried him to the spot had he known his victim had not been tied as tightly as he was. A lascivious grin came to the Jebb’s face and he raised a bushy brow, his voice deepened as he softly asked, “Y’a virgin boy?”

“Fuck you, you stinkin’ bastard,” Starsky growled, the cuffs jangling as he struggled against his bonds, wanting to bash his fist into the dirty pig’s smug and leering face, “I’ll kill you if you touch me again . . . so help me God!”

“God ain’t hea boy,” Jebb whispered eerily, “Go ask Lee Roy, he knows . . . he can tell ya. God don’ visit this part of the woods no more,” Jebb looked around and spied the torn and ripped jeans thrown on the dirty floor of the cabin, the jeans the cop had been wearing before he cut it off the man’s lean hips. Reaching for the article, the hillbilly rolled up the denim and roughly jammed it under the brunet’s hips as a bolster. “There now . . . that might make it a bit easier fer the both of us.”

“Cut me loose you fuckin’ coward,” Starsky snapped, angry at the helplessness he felt as he strained against his bindings, his twisting ankles were raw and bleeding as the rope cut into his tender skin, stripping it bare from his constant thrashing as he tried to push away the material from under his hips. He could feel his heart beating erratically, feeling vulnerable and exposed, as the lecherous hick reached out and touched him again, running his index finger along the length of his inner thigh.

“Now, now . . . take it easy boy . . .” Jebb murmured as the handsome curly haired man bucked and thrashed once again, “Jus’ the sight of yer body a’twistin’ that way ‘s’gonna make me cum,” the hillbilly panted as he rubbed his turgid shaft, “Love how yer body s’all shiny and sweaty . . . sweet and ripe fer th’pickin’. The burly man heaved his bulk onto the bed, lying down between the detective’s spread and bound ankles, feasting his eyes on the dark haired man before him. Jebbediah cupped his palms under the cop’s thrashing buttocks, lifting his hips as high as his bindings would allow, spreading his cheeks roughly to get a better look at the prize he longed for.

“Mmm . . . yer hole’s gonna be so tight . . . ah can tell,” Jebb murmured, looking up to catch the angry blue gaze that shot bolts of hate in his direction. The old hillbilly grinned as he slowly stuck his thick index finger into his mouth, coating it with his slimy saliva, relishing the look of hatred and fear in the brunet’s eyes. “Ah’ma gonna take this nice n’slow being that yer a virgin an’ all . . .”

“You fucking bastard,” Starsky snarled, his muscled legs pulling at the ropes that held them apart, wanting to kick the fat hillbilly in the head. The dark haired detective tensed as he felt Jebb’s thick finger at his center, spreading his saliva against his most vulnerable spot. Starsky increased his thrashing, unmindful of the pain in his ribs or his thigh, not caring about his wrists and ankles as blood flowed freely from his abraded flesh, his mind just focused on that hidden area where Jebb’s finger continued to stroke.

“You filthy pig,” the brunet gasped, feeling enraged at the helplessness he felt, “The minute I get outta here . . . you’re a dead mother fucker,” Starsky shouted, as he bucked his hips to free himself from Jebb’s grasp.

The brunet suddenly cried out, arching his spine as he threw his head back and clenched his eyes shut, his body tensing in pain as the hillbilly suddenly jammed his finger within the cop’s unwilling body, twisting it painfully, only to draw it out once more almost to the tip of his fingernail, just to thrust it forcefully back in again, bruising Starsky’s inner walls.

“Damn, boy,” Jebb groaned, feeling the muscles in the cop’s ass contracting around his meaty digit, “Yer hole is as tight as ah thought it would be.” The burly hillbilly grinned as he heard the bound man swear angrily once again, “Now ya gots a dirty mouth on ya boy, so’s ah suggest ya keep it shut,” the hillbilly said, sweat beading on his brow as he tried to contain the excitement he felt, “Cawse we can make this as nice or as painful as y’wants.” The hillbilly licked his lips, breathing heavily as he watched the bound man grit his teeth and bite back the scream, as he rammed his finger in him once more, loving the feel of the tight muscle clenching and squeezing almost painfully around his buried digit. “Y’bes’ relax yer ass boy, or ah’ma gonna make ya bloody,”

“You son of a bitch,” Starsky gasped, his body and mind going into shock as Jebb rammed in another finger to join the first. The brunet arched again, his body tense and unyielding, lifting as high as his bindings would allow, groaning in pain as he felt his tender flesh tear from the hillbilly’s brutal invasion, feeling sick and ashamed as his blood eased the burning friction from the thick digits buried within him, lubricating his abused and hurting passage. “I’ll . . . kill you . . . you slimy piece of shit,” Starsky said between gasps of pain, groaning once more as he felt Jebb’s meaty fingers scissoring back and forth within him to stretch him even further.

Lustful grunts and painful gasps filled the silence of the cabin as the hillbilly gloated, loving the idea of breaking the arrogant cop. “Now ah’ma gonna give ya a taste of somethin’ real nice,” Jebb murmured as he carefully crooked his fingers inside his captive’s passage to rub against the detective’s prostate, loving how the brunet jerked and tensed as a jolt of pleasure stabbed deep within him, burning its way up to his gut. The hillbilly smiled at the sharp gasp that came from the sweating dark haired man, noting the flicker of surprise and confusion in the cobalt blue eyes that held his gaze.

“That feel good boy?” Jebb asked softly, smiling lewdly as he repeated the motion, loving the jolt of the rugged body above him, watching intently as the brunet closed his eyes, long dark lashes hiding the turmoil and bewilderment he felt inside as his cock twitched spasmodically. The hillbilly smirked eyeing the brunet’s limp cock as it began to slightly swell, becoming semi-hard before his greedy eyes. Jebb licked his lips and eagerly crooked his finger once more, rubbing the hidden gland again, enjoying the breathless gasp and the involuntary jolts that raced through the cop’s twisting body.

The hillbilly repeated the action again, sliding the pad of his fingers against the brunet’s prostate, loving the inner turmoil he knew he was causing the detective. “Jus’ like a fish on a hook,” Jebb whispered obscenely as he slowly removed his fingers, enjoying the shudder and gasp that came from the cop as he pulled free, obscenely licking his fingers clean as he eyed the silent, broken cop who looked away in disgust, loving the sight of the brunet’s heaving chest as he labored to breathe through the shame that coursed through his soul.

“Ya liked it, din’t ya? There’s more where that came from,” Jebb said softly, smacking his lips, as he stroked his own hard shaft. “Ya taste real good boy,” Woods murmured softly, reaching over to slowly untie the cop’s left ankle so that he could have easier access to the brunet’s body . . . getting off on the idea that he was breaking the rebellious boy’s spirit. “Ah’m gonna fuck yer hole so hard boy, y’ain’t gonna be able t’walk fer a while . . . ah’ma gonna ram it in and hit yer sweet spot again and again, gonna make you cum boy,” Jebb bragged, releasing the man’s left leg, pushing it slowly up to the brunet’s chest as he focused his gaze on the cop’s ass, hoping to see that sweet entrance that he wanted to plunder.

Without warning, Jebb flew backwards as Starsky kicked out despite the debilitating pain that agonizingly flared in his thigh, sending the hillbilly stumbling backwards towards the fireplace, pissing the backwoodsman off as he quickly grabbed the iron poker once more, sneering as he looked up at the glowing red point, “Ah had ‘bout enough of yer ornery ways boy,” Jebb shouted, “Now yer gonna feel yer hole really burn when ah shove this stick up yer ass!” The hillbilly quickly ambled over to the bed as Starsky braced himself for whatever the burly man was going to do.

Dark blue eyes widened with shock as the sound of a gunshot reverberated loudly within the confined quarters of the cabin and the top of Jebbediah’s head blew off. Starsky closed his eyes quickly, shuddering, as pieces of gray brain matter splattered all over his chest and oozed down his sides. He could hear the hillbilly’s body fall heavily to the floor beside him and he tried to breath through the sudden nausea that brought the sick taste of bile to his throat.

“Mistah? Y’okay?” Lee Roy’s soft voice called out, after a moment’s silence.

Starsky swallowed and opened his eyes, refusing to look at the warm mess on his own chest and abdomen as he locked his gaze to the familiar, yet fearful gray eyes that shimmered with tears.

“Kid?” Starsky rasped, as he looked over to the tall boy who held the smoking rifle in his hands, his shaking finger still locked on the trigger. Starsky was surprised to hear the tremor in his own voice as he swallowed once again, clearing his throat before he said, “Yeah . . . yeah, I’m . . . I’m good.”

The brunet watched the boy slowly lower the rifle, as silent tears ran down his sallow cheeks. “It’s okay kid,” Starsky said softly, knowing that it would never be okay . . . not for the kid . . . and not for himself. He could feel his body trembling in the aftermath of the filthy violation he lived through, “U-untie me will’ya?”

The boy put down the gun and came over the bed, making sure to walk around his father without looking at his body. Lee Roy quickly fished out the key from his pocket, unlocking the metal cuffs, hearing the cop groan softly as his arms fell to the bed. With trembling hands, the boy quickly cut Starsky’s other leg free from the bed frame with the small pocketknife he took from the back of his jeans, and reached over to help the naked man sit up, inadvertently touching the soft gooey mess on the detective’s abdomen. Lee Roy quickly stood, his horror filled eyes staring at his glistening hand.

“Oh my God, Mistah . . .” Lee Roy said softly, his lower lip trembling, “Ah killed mah pa . . . ah jus’ . . . ah jus’ killed mah pa!” The boy turned to look horrifically at the cop who was using the dirty quilt to rub off Jebbediah’s grisly remains, “Ah . . . k-killed mah pa!” Lee Roy said again, his soft voice rose into a keening wail as hysteria and shock took a hold of him, the impact and finality of what he had done sinking into his distressed and confused mind.

“Hey, hey, it’s okay Lee Roy,” Starsky whispered as he turned to look at the young boy, his heart breaking at the expression on the kid’s face, “It’s okay,” the brunet said soothingly as he stood unsteadily and gently pulled the boy into his embrace, hugging the kid tightly against his chest as he tried to comfort and shield him from the horror of what he had just done.

“Look,” Starsky said softly, feeling the boy’s hot tears running down his chest, “I’m a cop, I’ll help ya through all of this okay? We’ll . . . we’ll help each other.” Though the boy was shaking in his arms, he felt the small nod of agreement and the brunet gently took a step back to look at the young hillbilly. Sighing heavily, Starsky took the damp quilt and covered Jebb’s body, to shield the boy from the gruesome mess that had once been his father. “Okay listen kid, you get my pants and I’ll go call for some help okay?”

Lee Roy nodded again and went into the back room once more as Starsky made his way on shaky legs to the kitchen. The past two days had been surreal; and it felt like a déjà vu experience to be reaching for the same phone, to be holding the same receiver he had held just yesterday as he talked to Hutch. So much had happened since then . . . it seemed almost a lifetime ago. A shudder ran through the brunet’s body as his adrenalin slowed down and the aches and pains he had made itself known once again, pummeling his torn and exhausted body. He felt somehow broken not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too.

The dark haired cop wearily began to dial the number he’d memorize, the number to Hutch’s grandfather’s farm, seeing Hutch’s handwriting in his mind, when he heard the sirens in the distance. Lee Roy came running out of the back room with a pair of jeans in his hands, “They’re comin’”, he cried, “What am ah gonna do? The pohleece, they’re comin’!”

Putting down the phone as the wailing sounds became louder, Starsky turned and grabbed the trembling boy by both arms, “Listen to me kid,” he said sharply, breaking through the fear that engulfed the tall boy, “Calm down . . . it’ll be okay, but you have to hold it together!”

At the boy’s terrified nod, the brunet quickly donned on the denim, hissing softly as he pulled the jeans over his wounded thigh, biting down the urge to cry out as the burn rubbed against the rough material. He glanced at the covered body of Jebb, hearing the sounds of car doors opening and slamming shut outside and he quickly turned to Lee Roy, “It’ll be okay kid . . . just let me do the talking huh?” Starsky smiled gently at the boy, hoping to comfort and soothe the lad, yet inside, it was all he could do to hold himself together.

The door suddenly burst open and Starsky’s eyes widened in disbelief . . . there standing before him in all his shining glory was Hutch. The tall blond detective stood in the wooden doorway, his familiar, large cannon in hand, a look of relief slowly replacing the mask of anger and worry that was etched upon his visage as he spied his partner near the dilapidated kitchen. “Starsk,” his familiar voice made the dark haired cop suddenly tremble as the past few hours of hell took its toll and washed over the brunet’s weary mind and exhausted body.

Starsky swallowed back the emotion that wanted to roll him over, that wanted to take him down and break him apart. If there had been no one else in the room, perhaps he would have just let go, but the brunet was conscious of the sheriff and the deputy that made their way into the cabin . . . and there was Lee Roy he still had to contend with. He could feel his partner giving him the once over as he tucked his gun into his holster, a frown marring the blond’s handsome face as he sensed the brunet’s distress.


The tall blond saw his partner flinch as his soft voice carried across the cabin; he could see that his partner had been hurt, his icy blue gaze ran over the brunet’s whole body, quickly noting his partner’s bleeding wrists and ankles, skimming over the dark bruises that covered his friend’s abdomen and ribcage, to the bruised jawbone, cut lip, and the gash on the side of Starsky’s temple. The crease between the blond’s brows deepened, turning Hutch’s frown into a scowl. “You okay buddy?” the fair haired cop asked gently, and though he made sure that he kept his voice calm and soothing, Hutch could see the slight trembling in his partner’s fingers and he watched as the brunet squared his shoulders, already knowing that his dark haired counterpart would downplay the extent of his injuries.

Starsky sighed softly. It took every effort within him to lean casually against the wall, and bring a cocky grin to his lips, it took every effort to pull himself together and be strong when his body was shaking from the shock of surviving the horrific events of the past few hours, it took every ounce of strength to force himself to meet his partner’s worried gaze and quietly say, “Yeah . . .’m fine . . . what took ya so long huh?”

Chapter 9

Hutch stood in the quiet corridor of Makinen’s small local hospital as he waited to hear about his partner’s condition. The tall blond tipped his head back as he lifted the coffee cup to his lips, downing the last sip of the dark, bitter brew. The detective quickly crushed the foam cup in his large hand and walked to the trashcan, disposing of the Styrofoam. Leaning one hand against the wall, Hutch pinched the bridge of his nose between the fingers of his other hand, hoping the added pressure there would alleviate the pounding ache between his brows. He was tired . . . the race to find his missing partner left him running on empty, consuming his every thought and action for the last twenty-eight hours. Who would have thought that something like this could happen in Minnesota? The handsome blond sighed softly, releasing the bridge of his nose to wearily rub the grit from the corner of his eye, his detective’s mind trying to piece together the horrific events of what his dark haired counterpart had lived through . . .

Unable to ride down in the overcrowded ambulance, the tall blond had made sure his partner was settled comfortably despite his protest of having to lie on a gurney; promising to meet him at the hospital once everything got squared away up at the cabin. Starksy, for the most part, had put up a fuss, insisting that he was okay and that he didn’t need any medical attention, but the sheriff had made it quite clear that the dark haired detective and Lee Roy would take a trip to the hospital to be checked out by a doctor and Hutch had agreed with him, earning him an angry glare from his uncooperative partner.

Hutch thumped the back of the ambulance as it slowly drove away, the bright red taillights illuminating the dark silhouette of tall pine trees as it drove down the narrow dirt road that led to the highway. Exhaling softly, Hutch went back into the cabin to look around once more. He had seen the ropes near the foot of the bed frame and the blood and gore on the dirty old quilt, which had been packed up for evidence along with the iron poker and the rifle. Following the coroners as they took the wrapped body of the deceased hillbilly to load into the van, the blond detective went into the shed where he could hear the deputy and sheriff murmuring softly. The bright, shiny red and white Torino stood out in its crude surroundings, a splash of color amid the dreary drabness of the wooden shack. A tow truck had been called for earlier, and they were awaiting its arrival.

The tall blond could feel the hot flare of anger that erupted in his heart when he looked up, following the direction of where the sheriff and his deputy were staring, seeing the chains hanging from the rafters there, knowing his partner had been hurt in here. Hutch squatted as he spied the two by four lying on the ground, remembering the bruises on his partner’s ribcage. “Damn,” he said softly, his large hand clenching around the piece of wood as he picked it up, feeling guilty for spending so much time in Macon when his partner had been here, waiting . . . suffering all alone.

The tall blond rose to his feet, dragging his hand through his hair as he tried to stem the anger and frustration that came to the forefront once again as he pictured his partner standing near the kitchen, his arm wrapped around his ribs. He would never forget the almost fragile look on his partner’s face as he busted through the cabin door, reading the weariness and shock etched in the fine lines around his partner’s eyes and mouth before the brunet effectively covered up his exposed vulnerability with a cocky grin, mouthing the familiar words that somehow warded off the severity of any life and death situation they found themselves in . . .

“Yeah . . .’m fine . . . what took ya so long huh?”

Hutch remembered what he had said, sensing his partner’s fragile state, wanting to help his friend’s silent struggle to maintain some sense of normalcy after the hell he’d been through, “Well . . . I would have been here sooner pal, but I went to check out motel rooms for our road trip home,” Hutch countered softly, seeing a shadow of a smile that came to the brunet’s lips as he tried to honor his partner’s strained banter, knowing that Starsky had attempted to alleviate the tense situation with his familiar question.

Hutch walked slowly over to his dark haired counterpart, concern clearly plastered across his face as he took in the apparent injuries on his friend’s upper torso, “You been in a fight with a bat buddy?” Hutch joked, though his smile didn’t reach his pale blue eyes, lifting a reassuring hand out to squeeze his partner’s shoulder.

Starsky tensed, “I said ‘m fine Hutch,” the brunet murmured stiltedly, seeing the flicker of surprised hurt in the tall blond’s eyes as he pulled away quickly before Hutch could touch him. The dark haired detective bit his bottom lip, feeling guilty that he had indirectly wounded his partner, but for the life of him, he just didn’t want anyone touching him right now, especially not after . . .

Starsky sighed, his right arm wrapping tighter around his hurting ribs, “Really Blintz,” he said softly, his dark blue eyes rising hesitantly to meet those of his partner, “’m fine . . . it’s the kid I’m worried about.” The dark haired detective looked away, knowing his blond friend could sense that something was wrong aside from the obvious bruises and contusions that were already visible on his body, and he struggled to maintain a semblance of balance that would ease the searching look his partner gave him, “And besides, it wasn’t a bat, it was a piece of lumber.” Starsky said as an afterthought, a slow grin lifting the corner of his mouth as he winked and passed the worried blond to limp over to Lee Roy who was trembling in fear as the sheriff tried to take his statement.

“It’s okay son,” Sheriff McCabe said gently, “Slow down and tell me again . . . what happened here tonight.”

“Ah told ya . . . ah did it, ah killed mah pa,” Lee Roy said in a soft trembling voice, tears streaming silently down his dirty face, “Ah took the rifle that he keeps next t’his bed an’ ah . . . an ah shot ‘im . . . he was . . . he was hurtin’ Mistah Dave . . . an’ ah . . . ah jus’ had t’stop ‘im.”

“I see . . .” McCabe nodded, his pencil moving rapidly across his small notebook, “And how was he hurting the detective?”

“Mah pa had Mistah Dave strapped to that bed,” Lee Roy nodded to the small cot in the corner, “And he was . . .”

“He had that hot iron rod in his hand,” Starsky calmly interjected as he came and stood beside Lee Roy, “He was going to use it on me,” the brunet said softly, feeling his partner’s eyes upon him.

“An’ ah shot mah pa ‘fore he could use it,” Lee Roy said, looking with relief to the tall brunet. “Mah pa hurt ‘im real bad . . . he had ‘im strung up in the shed when we first got ‘im, and he beat ‘im real bad fer a long time.” Lee Roy whispered, “An’ then we went snipe huntin’ and he shot ‘im, and ah was cleanin’ his wound, aftah . . . aftah he . . . an’ then he came out an’ he wanted to hurt mistah Dave and ah jus’ couldn’t let ‘im anymore . . . ah jus’ couldn’t let ‘im . . .”

“It’s okay son,” Sheriff McCabe said kindly, as he gently eased the trembling boy down onto a nearby stool, “We can finish this later. Deputy Simpson radioed in and the ambulance should be here shortly, along with the coroner’s wagon and the tow truck. I want you to just relax, and then you and Mister Dave here, can go and get yourselves checked out at the hospital okay? It’s gonna be okay son.” The Sheriff said kindly, his low rumble of a voice was soothing to the lad who nodded silently, but his eyes were still filled with doubt and self-recrimination.

“Is it gonna be okay Mistah Dave?” Lee Roy whispered, looking up at the dark haired detective, gray eyes shimmering with tears and a flicker of hope that brought a lump to the brunet’s throat.

Starsky nodded, “Yeah kid, it’ll be okay . . . I promise.” The curly haired cop nodded to the sheriff as the older man motioned for him to come over by the fireplace, “Listen to me, Lee Roy,” Starsky whispered, “Ya just sit over here and rest okay? You’re doin’ jus’ fine kid.” The brunet smiled his thanks as Hutch first laid a blanket over his own shoulders, and then one over the shoulders of the trembling boy.

“Don’t worry,” Hutch added kindly, leaning over to hover over the boy as he whispered conspiratorially, “We’ll handle the Sheriff.” The tall blond detective smiled as he gently ruffled the boy’s dirty hair, “Thanks Lee Roy, for taking care of my friend,” Hutch said softly, winking as he stood to his full height and walked alongside his limping partner as they went to stand by Sheriff McCabe who began to ask questions once more.

Hutch listened intently as his partner gave his statement and stiffly went through the details of his ordeal, from the time he first got clobbered after he got stranded on the highway, to the horror of the moonlit hunt, and finally to waking in that corner bed tied and branded with the iron poker. It was all Hutch could do to stand calmly when he wanted to lash out and throw something . . . do anything . . . except stand here and listen to the monotone retelling of the horror his partner had lived through. It was good thing that Jebbediah Woods had been killed by his own son, for if he hadn’t, Hutch would have gladly done it.

“Detective Hutchinson?”

The soft inquiry drew the blond detective from his morbid thoughts and he immediately straightened and stuck out his hand to shake the doctor’s, “Yeah, I’m Hutchinson, how is he doc?” Hutch asked anxiously.

“I’m Doctor Brennan. Your partner is doing remarkably well Detective Hutchinson, considering the circumstances of his abduction. There is a good size lump on the back of his head from where he took that hit from the shovel. I’ve checked for signs of concussion, especially after he told me how he had passed out for a while in the wood, but I think we can rule that out. Right now, his pupils appear equal and reactive and it has been over 24 hours since he acquired his head injury. However, he also has a few cracked ribs and has a multitude of contusions over his chest and abdominal area. We’ve taken him to imaging and ran x-rays over those areas, but though it looks bad on the outside, his vital organs remain uninjured and intact.”

“What about the gunshot?” Hutch asked, the throbbing ache in his skull growing by the minute, “The boy said he was shot.” The tall blond closed his eyes and rubbed the area between his furrowed brows with his forefingers.

“Yes, we examined the area . . . the bullet grazed his upper thigh, but it is the 3rd degree burn that we are most concerned about,” the doctor continued as he looked to the detective, “Apparently he was branded by a hot iron rod. Though it cauterized the bleeding from his wound, we need to be careful to monitor the burn and keep it from getting infected.” At the detective’s nod, the doctor said, “Although it is against my better judgment, your partner insists on leaving the hospital tonight . . . says you’re used to looking out for him and that you know the old song and dance routine of caring for injuries.”

Hutch snorted softly, a smile lifting the corner of his mouth, “Yeah . . . he hates hospitals . . . can he be released soon?”

Doctor Brennan sighed softly, “Detective, burns like these are very painful in itself, but your partner has also been bruised and battered quite severely. We wanted to have him stay here at least overnight so that we could monitor his breathing.

“His breathing?” Hutch reiterated, one brow rose in silent inquiry, pale blue eyes locked on the doctor’s weary face as he tried to read every nuance and cipher out anything the doctor might be keeping from him.

“His cracked ribs make breathing rather painful. They are being wrapped at this moment which should bring some relief and support, but I think it would be in your partner’s best interest if he remains overnight.” Doctor Brennan said solemnly.

“Can I see him?” Hutch asked, “I’ll try to persuade him to stay overnight, but my partner can be a mule-headed goat once he got his mind set on something.”

The doctor chuckled, “Yes, I have been made privy to that side of his demeanor as well, although the word that came to mind was more along the lines of ‘pig-headed’ . . . excuse the pun detective . . .” The two men chuckled softly in the quiet hallway as Doctor Brennan took off his spectacles and wiped the lenses against his white coat, “Go ahead Detective. Go on in, I’ll be bringing him some pain medication.”

Hutch nodded, “Thanks doc. I appreciate it.” The detective turned to leave, eager to see for himself how his partner was faring. He remembered the shuttered look in the brunet’s eyes and the way he avoided being touched up at the cabin, and though it was understandable with the aftermath of what his partner had survived, it still worried the tall blond. Maybe now, in the safe surroundings of the hospital, after being away from the scene of his horrific abduction and the brutal beatings he’d had to endure from the psychotic redneck, Starsky would be more like himself.

“Oh Detective?” Doctor Brennan called out hesitantly to the retreating man’s broad back, watching as the tall blond turned to look at him.

“Yeah doc?” Hutch replied, turning slightly as his light blue eyes connected once again to Brennans’; waiting almost impatiently for the doctor to continue so that he could fulfill his need to see his partner.

The doctor frowned, his brows drawing together as he debated whether or not to tell the blond detective about his partner’s adamant refusal to be checked thoroughly. Sheriff McCabe had asked the good doctor to run a complete physical on the dark haired detective, and legally, the doctor was obliged to do it for the records, but the brunet had stubbornly refused, angrily threatening to walk out. He had just come from checking Lee Roy Woods and finding out about the young boy’s sexual abuse had made the doctor speculate if something more than just the branding and bruises had been done to the battered cop.

“Ah . . . nothing . . . nothing . . . never mind detective,” Brennan said softly, making up his mind to let his suspicions rest, “I’ll be there shortly . . . just make sure he doesn’t run away in the meantime.”

The tall, blond detective snorted and smiled, “Yeah, I’ll hold him down myself if I have to,” he said to the kindly doctor, quickly turning to walk to the room down the hall. Hutch quietly pushed the door opened and peeked around its edges to see his partner sitting up in the middle of the bed, his long dark lashes lay pressed against pale cheeks, making the dark bruise along the brunet’s jaw more blatantly obvious. A regulation hospital gown was knotted behind his back bringing a smile to the blond’s lips, for he knew how much Starsky despised those gowns.

“Hey buddy,” Hutch said softly, entering the room, the door silently swinging closed behind him as his dark haired counterpart looked up, “How ya doin’? Love the outfit by the way . . .”

“Hey . . .” Starsky softly greeted, snorting as he pulled at the neckline of the short blue gown, “This old thing? It brings out the color in my eyes,” the brunet smiled, his dark blue eyes though weary and dazed, lit up as he saw the tall blond, “Ya springin’ me from this joint or what?”

Hutch snorted and came to stand beside the bed, suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of immense gratitude that his partner was here and alive. The bruise on Starsky’s jaw line and the butterfly bandage along his temple made the blond suddenly angry that this whole nightmare had to have happened in the first place. It was supposed to be a vacation for crying out loud! If he could have just figured it out sooner, if the farmer had just called it in when he had first spied the Torino, then maybe his partner would have been spared some of the agony he was put through. The look on his face must have mirrored his feelings because the brunet suddenly cleared his throat, bringing the blond’s gaze back to his own.

“You okay Blondie?” Starsky asked softly, seeing the familiar guilt and remorse that washed over his partner’s face, “Hey . . . this wasn’t your fault ya know . . .” It killed him to know his partner was blaming himself, but Hutch was accustomed to shouldering responsibility and was a master at feeling guilt and regret.

‘Thanks to his wonderful upbringing from his ‘forgiving’ and ‘accepting’ parents,’ the dark haired detective thought sarcastically. For a minute, Starsky could picture Hutch as a young sensitive boy and suddenly an image came to his mind of another boy with sad, gray eyes and stringy blond hair. “How’s the kid?” Starsky asked softly, cobalt blue ran searchingly over the blond’s face.

“He’s fine buddy,” Hutch said softly, remembering Sheriff McCabe coming to talk to him as he waited for word on Starsky. Apparently Jebbediah had sexually and physically abused the boy and the sheriff was waiting for child protective services to get to the hospital.

“They’re going to put him in a foster home Starsk; he’d been sexually and physically abused by his father for years . . . CPS has been called in.” Hutch whispered, seeing the tense look of anger that came to the brunet’s face and the tic that flared in his jaw. “He’ll probably have to go to professional counseling . . . poor kid, he’s been through hell.”

“Yeah,” Starsky agreed softly, lowering his lashes to hide the dangerous glint that came to his eyes, as he unconsciously rubbed his sore and torn wrists, “His father was a fuckin’ bastard . . . a sick son of a bitch . . . I’m glad he’s dead . . . I wish I had killed him.”

Hutch nodded, feeling the anger that rolled off of his wounded partner, “Hey, it’s okay buddy, take it easy partner,” the blond soothed softly, reaching out to gently rub above his friend’s abraded wrist, “He’s dead alr. . .” The blond stopped in mid-sentence, a look of surprise etching his face as his partner jerked his wrist away, wincing in sympathy as a sharp pain stabbed into the brunet’s ribs from the jolting movement.


The brunet quickly wrapped his arm around his side, breathing through the sudden crippling pain that lanced his ribs, as Jebb’s voice swirled through his mind . . .

“He’s all golden like the sun, a totin’ ya up with his hand ‘twixt yer legs. Makes me kinda wondah if ya like to hop the fence now and then . . . if’n ya knows what ah mean?”

“Yeah . . . sorry . . . ‘m jus’ tired,” Starsky said, trying to appear unshaken, hating the look of confusion that entered his partner’s soft blue eyes. Starsky looked down at the crisp white bed sheet and ran his fingers over it, self-consciously smoothing it out, wanting desperately to remedy the quiet stillness that permeated the room, “Jus’ kinda jumpy I guess . . .” The brunet snorted self-consciously and looked at his hand that suddenly fisted the sheet, his voice soft and vulnerable as he asked, “Hey when are we getting’ outta here huh?”

“Well . . . the doc wanted you to stay the night,” Hutch said softly, unable to keep the worry from his eyes as his partner refused to look at him, knowing the brunet well enough to know that he was changing the subject, and that for the time being, he would let him, “I think maybe you should listen to him . . .”

“What?” Starsky said, dark eyes lifting to connect to his partner’s sky blue, “Ya gotta be kiddin’ me right?”

“No, he’s not,” Doctor Brennan said, walking into the quiet room, “I’d really like you to stay overnight just for observations . . .”

“But I’m fine,” Starsky interjected, “Hutch can take care of me . . . it’s not like I ain’t had my ribs busted before.” The dark haired cop looked beseechingly at his partner, “Right? Tell him Hutch . . .”

The tall blond snorted, “Yeah, I told him already buddy,” he said soothingly, “But the doc feels . . .”

“You don’t only have broken ribs, you were burned by a hot iron poker tonight too. We’d have to monitor that . . . burns are very painful. Right now it’s not so bad, but the sedative we gave you when you were first brought in will be wearing off in a few hours. We’d have to clean and change that dressing and watch it closely for any signs of infection,” Brennen said firmly.

“Nope . . . I ain’t stayin’,” Starsky said stubbornly, wincing as he eased over to swing his legs off the bed. “I had enough pokin’ and proddin’ to last me a lifetime,” the brunet grumbled, grunting softly as he tried to reach behind him to untie the strings of the gown that he wore, feeling the agonizing pull in his side, “I’m outta here tonight . . .”

“Okay, okay . . . take it easy buddy,” Hutch murmured, pushing his partner’s searching hand away to first untie the gown for him, and then to help him lift it over his head, wincing as he heard the brunet’s soft grunt of pain, “I told you he’s a mule-head,” the blond said apologetically to the doctor who in turn, sighed and shook his head.

“More pig-headed if you ask me,” Brennan said sarcastically.

Hutch sighed, “Can you tell me how to care for that burn? I’ll help him to clean and change the dressing and I’ll watch out for any signs of infection.”

Dr. Brennan eyed the stubborn brunet who picked up the shirt his partner had brought for him and resignedly handed Hutch two small brown bottles. “Painkillers and antibiotics,” he said, at the detective’s silent question, “Believe me, he’ll need them.”

Chapter 10

They decided to stay at a Motel 8 along Makinen’s main highway, thanks to the belated recommendation from Sheriff McCabe who had walked into the hospital room shortly after Doctor Brennan had exited, informing the brunet that he needed to stay in town at least for another day just in case he had further questions for the detective. The elderly lawman had also told them that he had released Lee Roy Woods into the care of Child Protective Services after taking his statement in the hospital, and he handed Hutch the address to the garage where the Torino had been towed.

When Starsky asked McCabe about the welfare of his prized baby, the sheriff shrugged his shoulders apologetically and smiled as he told the detectives that he had no idea how long it would take to fix the problem with the flashy red and white car.

The motel was your run of the mill place, nothing fancy, just practical. Hutch parked the car in one of the many vacant stalls and walked to the front desk; the bright neon light flashing vacancies illuminated the dark with its harsh colors as the blond entered the lobby and registered them for the night, while Starsky waited in the car. Getting the key and the room number, the tall blond thanked the clerk and made his way back to his partner.

“Room 9,” Hutch said, leaning up against the open window on the passenger’s side, “Got us a room on the bottom floor so you don’t have to climb the steps buddy. Stay here while I dump the bags, and then we can drive over to that diner we saw down the highway okay?”

Hutch waited for a reply, but all he got was a brief nod from his silent and brooding partner who leaned wearily against the door, looking out through the rain splattered windshield.

Hutch sighed softly, knowing Starsky was hurting both physically and emotionally, and he wanted so badly to reach out and squeeze his partner’s shoulder, to let the brunet know without words that he was there for him, but the fair haired detective kept his hands to his side. Refraining from touching him, Hutch quietly took the bags from the trunk, though his mind never left his companion. The tall blond frowned; he hated when Starsky would shut him out, going within to lick his wounds, but that was his partner’s SOP when he was hurting or wounded, especially when it was emotional hurt that he was trying to deal with.

For the most part, Hutch understood his partner and tried hard not to push, allowing their natural bond and chemistry to somehow ease the way in so that his partner would open up on his own, but this time . . . well this time there was something that seemed to be “blocking” it. Though he couldn’t put his finger on it, Hutch could ‘feel’ it and it bothered him immensely. As the tall blond methodically opened the motel room with the key; not even bothering to flip on the lights as he quickly placed the bags down and shut the door, he thought back to what had happened back at the hospital . . .

Hutch had wanted to help his partner dress, knowing how difficult it was with broken ribs, but the brunet had stubbornly refused, insisting that he could manage, becoming irritated and short with his blond counterpart when he continued to hover.

“Hutch! Will you stop?” Starsky snapped, as the tall blond held up the sleeve of the tee-shirt to make it easier for the brunet to get his arm through, “I can do it myself!” the brunet grumbled, feeling suddenly awkward and uncomfortable with his partner’s close proximity. The dark haired detective sighed as he saw the flash of hurt that entered in his partner’s light blue orbs, “Look buddy,” Starsky began, finally giving in to the blond’s persistence as he clenched his teeth and begrudgingly stuck his arm through the sleeve, “I get that this whole thing freaked us out, but it’s over now. I’m fine. I’ve lived through worse injuries than this.”

“Starsky, that backwoods psycho abducted you, beat you, hunted you down . . . like you were some kind of animal, and he . . .”

“And he’s dead already!” Starsky snapped, angrily cutting the blond off, feeling the sudden, almost tangible silence that filled the small room. The brunet exhaled slowly, trying to get a handle on his raging emotions, knowing he was intentionally pushing Hutch away and hating himself for it. “I’m sorry Blintz,” Starsky said more calmly, “But really, I’m fine . . . okay?”

Hutch snorted softly, the look on his face was both sheepish and apologetic, “Yeah . . . okay . . . no mother-henning . . . I get it.”

“Good!” Starsky said, “Now hand me my pants.” The brunet grinned as Hutch tossed him another pair of what his blond friend called ‘crummy”’ jeans. “Thanks pal!” Starsky winked, trying hard to make light of his earlier sharp retort, wanting to smooth over the awkwardness of the moment with the friendly banter that they were so fond of. He didn’t want to hurt his partner, but just being with anyone right now took effort and the weary detective struggled valiantly for normalcy.

Hutch grinned as he caught the playful twinkle in his partner’s sapphire gaze, “Yeah . . . you owe me one buddy . . . you’re lucky I remembered to take your duffle bag out of the trunk before your piece of junk got towed.”

“Junk?” Starsky feigned a hurtful expression, “She’s a work of art Hutch . . .”

“Yeah? She blew her engine again buddy, you need to trade her in.” Hutch interjected.

“What?” the dark haired detective frowned, grimacing as he pulled the tight pants over his bandaged thigh, hating to be in any state of undress right now, especially with his partner standing so near.

“You’re just lucky I don’t trade you in pal!” Hutch griped, though a tiny smile tweaking the corners of his mouth softened his declaration, giving away his pretense of irritation, as he eyed his partner, wincing in sympathy, almost feeling the pain himself from the wound on the brunet’s thigh.

The dark haired cop grinned, “Hey . . . tell ya what? I’ll buy dinner at the first greasy diner we see around here . . . ‘sides I’m starvin’,” Starsky whined, as he searched through the pockets of his jeans, his puzzled look turning to one of anger, “Damn! I forgot!”

“What?” Hutch asked, as he regretfully saw the frown marring his partner’s previously smiling face. The tall blond was beginning to enjoy their playful banter, making things feel somehow right and normal again between them, “What’s wrong buddy?”

The brunet cursed softly under his breath, “My wallet . . . I forgot that scum bag took it.” Thinking of Jebb made him remember how the hillbilly had looked through his pictures, hearing his drawl, making lewd comments as he leered with his toothless grin at the people who were closest to his heart . . .

“This hea yer mama boy?”

“She be a fine woman . . . bet yer daddy loved to fuck her dry huh?”

“She looks like ya . . . so purty . . . with all of them dark curls,”

“An’ looky hea . . . this shure is a purty little filly,”

“That yer gurl, boy?”

“Ah bet she was good in bed too. Milked ya real tight ‘twixt them creamy thighs of hers . . . huh boy?”

“Well, well . . . yer wallet’s jus’ full o’ purty people ain’t it? He’s all golden like the sun, a totin’ ya up with his hand ‘twixt yer legs. Makes me kinda wondah if ya like to hop the fence now and then . . . if’n ya knows what ah mean?”

“Starsk?” Hutch called softly as he watched the emotions that played across the brunet’s face, intuitively knowing that something was wrong, that some horrible memory of his capture was being replayed in his mind. Hutch walked quietly over to his friend, not wanting to startle him, reaching out a comforting hand to place it upon the brunet’s rigid shoulder . . .

“Whatsamattah boy? Ain’t no man evah teched ya befoa? Don’ tell ole Jebb that that nice lookin’ blond man in dem pictures ain’t nevah done this t’ya,”

Starsky jolted at the unexpected touch, reacting on instinct as he roughly whacked Hutch’s hand away, his eyes glittering angrily as he snarled, “You son of a bitch!”

For a second there was only stunned silence and the heavy breathing of the brunet who suddenly registered the blond’s astonished face, feeling sick inside as he quickly lowered his eyes to hide the raw anxiety and humiliation that he felt within, while struggling to bring his breathing and rapid heartbeat under control.

Hutch was concerned and perplexed. If he didn’t know better, he would think that Starsky was keeping something from him; granted his partner had been through hell, but this kind of reaction wasn’t typical of Starsky, especially not when it came to them. Touching one another was something that brought them comfort; that made their bond even tighter, that took away and eased the pain and horror of whatever the streets and their job threw their way. “Starsk?” Hutch began again, keeping his voice soft and soothing like he would if he were speaking to a wounded animal or a frightened child, “Buddy, it’s me . . . you wanna . . . you wanna talk about it?”

The dark haired detective kept his head down as he tried to get a grip, he could feel the slight tremors that raced throughout his body, could feel the intense and worried gaze of his partner and he knew the look of concern that would be etched upon the blond’s face if he raised his head; so he didn’t . . . he couldn’t . . . not yet. It sickened him to think that he had struck Hutch’s hand off, when his partner was just trying to comfort him, but the ‘nightmare’ of Jebb was still so vivid, still so harshly ‘real’, and to be frank, Hutch being in his personal space all the time was starting to unnerve him, it was unsettling, almost suffocating . . .

“Ya liked it, din’t ya? There’s more where that came from,”


Swallowing hard, the brunet lifted his head; a stormy blue ocean met the blue of a soft, summer sky, “Let’s get outta here huh? I’m starvin’.”

Hutch nodded slowly, knowing his partner was trying to change the subject again, knowing that Starsky was trying to bury whatever it was that was bothering him and it tore the sensitive blond up, but for now, Hutch would let it go. Now was not the time or the place for the heart to heart talk they needed to have.

“Okay,” the tall blond conceded, “Let’s get you out of here pal.”

Hutch frowned as he made his way back to his rented car. He was gonna get to the bottom of whatever was eating away at his partner. Maybe after he ate something the tight-lipped brunet would be more apt to talk. The tall blond prayed it would be so.

Starsky laid his weary head against the window, the cold, smooth glass felt good to his warm forehead. His body loudly protested his upright position, but slouching lower made the knife-like stabs in his ribs flare painfully, so he just eased back and leaned against the door, tracking the tall form of his friend through the rivulets of water that ran down the window pane, watching as he carried the bags until he disappeared around the corner.

The dark haired detective closed his eyes, letting the fatigue wash over him, feeling the residual effects of the sedative start to fade as the pain in his body grew more intense. He was so tired, tired of sitting up, tired of thinking about forcing himself to eat so Hutch wouldn’t worry so much, tired of making conversation and pretending that everything was okay when all he wanted to really do was to take a hot shower and wash the filth and horror of Jebb’s disgusting memory away from him. Yet mere soap and water alone would never take that nightmare away, for if the truth were known, Starsky felt as dirty on the inside as he did on the outside.

The dark haired cop could feel anger and confusion flaring within as he remembered the jolting stab of pleasure that breached through his defenses as he bore the brutal and painful assault of Jebb’s invading fingers, hearing the slime’s whispered words, the barely contained excitement in the hillbilly’s panting voice . . .

“That feel good boy?”

“Ya liked it, din’t ya? There’s more where that came from,”

Starsky shuddered, hating himself inside as the hot color rose from his neck and stained his cheeks in the dark and quiet solitude of the car. “Fuck!” he swore softly, “I’m as sick as that fuckin’ son of a bitch,” he whispered to himself, hanging his head with shame and degradation as he thought of the jolt of pleasure that had pierced his soul. How could he have found any pleasure in that whole horrific ordeal? ‘What the hell is wrong with me?’ the brunet thought angrily, ‘Maybe I’m more like Johnny than I thought.’ Starsky held onto his aching ribs and sat up straighter as he saw the approaching blond making his way over to the car. “T’rrific!”

The brunet sighed, feeling his mask of indifference fall back into place, knowing he was building a protective wall around his heart, but how could he even begin to share any of this with Hutch? If his partner knew, he would freak . . . there was no way, he would ever share what happened up at the cabin . . . as it was, he knew they were already talked about by the others in the department and if they found out that he found any pleasure in that disgusting act . . .

The dark haired detective’s sapphire eyes hardened with determination as he thought, ‘There is no way anyone will ever know . . .not now . . .not ever! Not Hutch, not Huggy, no one.’ Starsky sighed softly, tightening his arm around his ribs as he closed his eyes in despair, determinedly making up his mind. He would die before he would expose himself . . . and he would make sure that no one would ever know what a sick bastard he was.

Hutch walked quickly through the light drizzle as he approached the car; making out the dark silhouette of his partner still slumped against his side of the door. The fair-haired detective took in a deep breath and squared his shoulders; whatever was bothering his friend was going to be resolved as soon as possible. Hutch plastered a grin to his face as he opened the driver’s side of the door to peer in at his partner, “Okay, you ready to eat pal?”

Starsky turned to look at his longtime friend and attempted to grin back, though the smile somehow never reached his eyes, “Yeah, starvin’ . . . let’s go huh?” he said softly. The gentle jostling of his partner getting into the car beside him made his ribs ache painfully and the brunet inconspicuously clenched his side as the blond closed the door, and started the motor. The darkness that settled over them was comforting to the curly haired cop for he knew it cloaked his expression from his partner; and he leaned wearily against the door looking out his window, not registering any of the town that slowly drifted by.

Chapter 11

“Well, what are you hungry for?” Hutch asked, his pale blue eyes skimming over the menu as he tried to decide what he was going to eat, “Hank’s Tavern is known for their meatloaf and ale.”

“Maybe just a cup of soup and some fries,” the brunet mumbled absently, his dark blue eyes were distant and unfocused as he gazed out the large picture window at the falling rain, his menu remained closed and untouched on the scarred surface of the wooden table on which they sat, one hand unconsciously rubbing the abraded and bruised wrist of the other.

The tall blond looked over his menu to inconspicuously peek at his silent and brooding partner who continued to gaze out the window. Hutch’s pale blue eyes drifted downward and he frowned as he eyed his friend distractedly rubbing his wrists; worry and concern making the grooves between his brows deepen. He knew his partner was trying hard to keep the walls down, making lame attempts at smiles and banter, but the fair haired detective knew his friend too well, knew he was harboring something inside, something more than just physical pain. The quiet introspection of his dark haired counterpart was starting to wear on the blond; for deep inside, Hutch intuitively knew that something horrible that happened up at that cabin, something more than what his partner was telling him.

“Stop it!”

Hutch glanced up at his partner as the soft command intruded upon his thoughts, watching as the brunet turned slowly from the window to look at him, stormy blue eyes pinning him to the spot.

“What’s that buddy?” the tall blond asked softly.

“I said, stop it!” Starsky reiterated.

“Stop what?” Hutch asked, a perplexed look upon his face.

“Stop staring at me.”

“What?” the blond said in surprise, “I wasn’t staring at you . . . believe me, I have better things to look at . . . like that waitress over there,” the flaxen haired detective said as he smiled and nodded at the tall, buxom redhead who was making her way over to their table. “She’s better looking than you,” Hutch whispered with a chuckle, “Why would I waste my time and look at your ugly mug? You look like you went ten rounds with Muhammed Ali and lost.”

“I saw ya . . .,” Starksy said, self-consciously touching the deep cut on his bottom lip, “Through the window. . .”

“Oh,” Hutch said, looking down at his folded hands which he placed over his menu, “ Well . . . I was just wondering what you were thinking about buddy . . .”

“What can I get you boys?” the green-eyed waitress said, unwittingly cutting off all attempts at communication, as she smiled at the curly haired brunet while fishing for her pad and the pencil that she took down from behind her ear, “Hey, are you from around here?” the redhead smiled and winked, “Haven’t we met before?”

“Nah,” Starsky said, feeling suddenly uncomfortable as he felt the vibes and the silent invitation from the woman before him, “Not from here . . . we’re from outta state . . . road trip and all . .. don’t think we’ve met . . .”

“I’m Candy,” the woman said brightly, “What’s your name cutie?”

Starsky sighed softly, not feeling very sociable especially with all the aches and pains bombarding his body, “Name’s Dave . . . hey um . . . can we order?”

Hutch frowned, noting the weary lines around this partner’s eyes and the pinched expression on his face. He could tell his partner was exhausted and the pain had to be bad by now, “Yeah, I’ll have the meatloaf and a mug of ale.”

The waitress scribbled down the order, turning her green eyes upon the brunet once more, “And you Dave, what do you want?” Candy said, her eyes roaming over the ruggedly handsome man; despite the bruises that marred his face, the brunet was still a very enticing hunk of meat in her eyes, “You look like you could use a massage honey,” she said as she winked again.

Starsky smiled uncomfortably and cleared his throat, “I’ll ah . . . I’ll jus’ have whatever soup ya got and a plate of fries.”

The red haired woman took the order and smiled, “I’ll be right back with your dinner.”

For a few minutes, the two men sat in virtual silence once more, the blond looking around the diner, wracking his brains on how to casually continue their interrupted conversation; as and the brunet went back to his brooding vigil, staring silently out of the window once again.

“Hey,” Hutch said softly as he turned to look at his partner, watching as the brunet slowly turned to look at him. “How ya doing Gordo?”

Starsky snorted softly, “Been better,” he said quietly, a small smile gracing his lips at the familiar nickname, “Just tired s’all . . . not even that hungry.”

“Yeah, but I want you to try to eat something,” Hutch said, his blue eyes softening with affection for his partner, “You can’t takes these meds on an empty stomach,” the blond said, fishing the brown pill bottles out from his jacket pocket. Hutch popped the caps on both and spilled two tablets onto his palm. At the brunet’s silent question he said, “The white one is the antibiotic, the blue one is the painkiller.”

The brunet reached over and took the white pill, purposely leaving the blue one. If he took it, it would probably knock him out, and Starsky couldn’t chance the possibility of saying something in his sleep that would alert Hutch about what had happened up at the cabin. Pain was no stranger to the brunet, and he could tough it out when he had to.

Starsky slipped the pill into his mouth and lifted the glass of water to his lips, noting the blond as he raised his brow in silent question. The brunet swallowed down the pill and said, “I don’ need that one, I’m fine for now.” He could see the frown that immediately appeared across his blond friend’s forehead and he exhaled wearily, preparing himself for the battle ahead. “Look Hutch . . .” he began softly, his usually bright blue eyes were dull with exhaustion, “I jus’ . . .”

“No, you look buddy,” Hutch said, pale blue eyes hardening, as he pointed his long index finger at his partner, “The doc said you need to take this . . . at any time the pain can flare out of control and this will help to keep it manageable. You need to listen to the doc, Starsky. Your body has been through hell and it needs to rest, to heal itself and rejuvenate . . . this pill will allow your body to recuperate and give it reprieve from the pain that I know you must be feeling, especially now, since what they gave you at the hospital must be wearing off.”

Starsky sighed once more and turned to stare out of the window, “Get off my back Hutch,” he said quietly, feeling the invisible wall of defense rising back into place, feeling himself retreating behind it, where it was safe. There was no way Hutch could know why he was avoiding that pill, if he knew he was keeping something from him, the persistent blond would keep digging, not stopping until he ferreted out the truth and that was not an option.

The tall blond could feel the anger rise up as his partner tried to shut him out again, “Starsky . . .”

“Here you go boys,” Candy said, placing the food before them, “Nice and hot.”

Hutch sighed and turned to force a smile at the waitress, “Thanks Candy,” he said graciously, noticing that the brunet didn’t even turn to address the woman, his cobalt gaze still locked on the silent drizzle outside, “It looks great.” The tall blond finished lamely, wishing the waitress would just leave so that he could finish his point and make his mule-headed friend understand the importance of taking his pain meds.

“Hey Dave,” the redhead said, a wanton smile came to her lips as she saw the brunet finally turn to look at her, “I get off work in another two hours . . .” Candy leaned over and whispered, purposely allowing the brunet to see the swell of her ample, creamy bosom. “I can give you that massage I was tellin’ you about . . . I can tell you might need one . . . they say my fingers are the best in the state!”

Hutch worried his lower lip as he saw the slight blush from his exhausted friend, and he briefly wondered if Starsky was starting on a fever, “I think my friend and I just want to eat . . . we’re starving,” the blond said, hoping the woman would catch a clue.

“C’mon Dave,” she cajoled, totally ignoring the tall blond man who sat across the quiet brunet, “It would be fun,” she added as she slid her voluptuous body onto the bench beside the dark haired man, reaching her hand out to caress the detective’s broad chest, accidentally elbowing the man in the ribs as she tried to get him to move over.

Starsky grunted in pain as he immediately wrapped his arm tightly around his left side, dark lashes pressed tightly against suddenly pale cheeks, breathing short rapid breaths while he tried to surf through the knife-like stabs that suddenly pierced into his ribs.

“Starsk!” the tall blond winced, almost sharing the agony his friend was feeling as he reached over the table to lay a comforting hand on Starsky’s rigid shoulder, turning to look angrily at the waitress as he said, “Look lady, he ain’t interested okay? Just lay off and get back to work . . . I think some of your customers are waiting for your service . . .”

The concerned look that marred the redhead’s face morphed into a mask of hostility as she glared at the blond, “Geez, I should’ve known . . .” she sneered, looking once again to the handsome brunet, “All the good ones are usually taken. You could’ve just said you were gay . . . then I wouldn’t have gone through all that trouble!” Candy huffed as she slid out from the bench seat, pulling down her short dress as she stood, “Nowadays it’s hard to tell the straight guys from the queer ones . . . maybe next time you should wear a sign!”

The dark haired detective felt the color drain from his face as the redhead stormed off, her comment made the brunet feel ill inside, dragging up issues that had been lurking at the edges of his consciousness, the face of Johnny Blaine flashing across his mind’s eye, making him feel nauseous as the knot in the pit of his stomach continued to grow.

“You okay buddy?” Hutch asked, noticing his friend’s pallor and that his partner was not eating as the blond slowly chewed on his overly dry meatloaf, “You not hungry?”

Starsky sighed and nodded, pushing the soup bowl away, “Yeah, I guess I ain’t hungry after all . . . jus’ wanna lie down for a bit, but don’t worry . . . ‘M fine . . . jus’ finish your meatloaf.”

Hutch took a sip of his beer, suddenly feeling his appetite waning as he looked at his partner’s weary and pinched features as the brunet absently began to rub his chafed and abraded wrists once again, “I’ll jus’ have this wrapped and we can leave, but I want you to take a few spoonfuls of that soup buddy, you took that antibiotic on an empty stomach okay?”

The brunet snorted as he looked to his partner’s soft blue eyes, feeling the strong bond that they shared, a glimmer of a twinkle appeared in his own dark blue depths, “I thought ya said ya weren’t gonna mother-hen me Blintz?”

Hutch chuckled, “Well . . . I lied! Now hurry up and drink that soup pal before it gets cold!”


Hutch stopped the car, dropping his partner as close to their room as possible, “Here Starsk, take the key and open it up,” he said, handing the brunet the small metal key, “I’ll go park the car and meet you back here.”

“Thanks,” Starsky said, opening the car door and gingerly stepping out, grateful for the blond’s consideration as the ache in his ribs and thigh screamed to be heard, “Try not to get lost huh?” the brunet murmured cockily.

Hutch snorted, looking over his weary partner, “Yeah, and try to not to fall down,” he laughed, as the door slammed shut. The dark haired detective made his way to their room as the blond eased the rental into a stall a few doors down.

Starsky slowly opened the door to the room, after fumbling with the lock. It was your average standard motel room, cheap curtains hanging over a window with an air conditioner in place beneath it, a TV consol, and a small bathroom made up the rest of it. The musty stale odor of cheap perfume and cigarette smoke filled his nostrils, but it was the sight of the bed that made the brunet stop in his tracks. There was only one queen size bed in the middle of the room, and the sight of it shook him, suddenly filling his fragile state of being with dread.

In the past, something like this wouldn’t have even fazed him, for there were many times the partners had shared a bed for one reason or another, but this time . . . with his emotions so raw, with the pain of his recent ordeal still so fresh in his mind, sharing a bed with anyone, much less Hutch, was not something he was relishing. He could still hear the waitress, her voice mocking and condescending as she stood, 'You could’ve just said you were gay . . . then I wouldn’t have gone through all that trouble!'

“Hey, how’s the room?” Hutch asked as he quietly came up behind the brunet who was still standing in the doorframe, “What’s wrong? How come you still out here?”

“It stuffy in there . . . smells like smoke and there’s only one bed,” Starsky said petulantly, masking his face into a playful pout so that Hutch wouldn’t know that the idea of sharing a bed had kept him rooted to the door, shaking him to the core. The brunet tried to take in a deep breath to push down and still the fear that suddenly wanted to overwhelm him, but the painful stab in his cracked ribs reminded him that that was not possible. Starsky’s eyes never left the bed, as his blond friend pushed gently past him to peruse the room.

“Yeah,” Hutch said looking around at the cheap decor, “Well, it’s not too bad, we’ve been in worse places, just turn on the air con, it might help circulate the air better.” Hutch walked over to the bed and ran his hand over the cheap bedspread, “The guy at the front desk said that all bottom floored rooms had only queen size accommodations . . . thought it really wouldn’t matter since we’ll probably be here just for the night. Didn’t want you to have climb those stairs,” the tall blond said turning to look at his partner, a frown drawing his pale brows together as he said, “You’re not uncomfortable with the arrangements are you? I mean …”

“No,” Starsky said quickly, cutting off the blond as he walked into the room and closed the door behind him, “It’s not a big deal . . . ain’t like we never shared a bed before . . . jus’ make sure though that you stay on your own side . . . and keep your hands to yourself Blondie!” The brunet forced himself to grin when he heard the soft snort that came from his partner. He knew Hutch had taken his comment as a joke, but deep inside, Starsky knew that for himself, this was far from being a joking matter.

Hutch chuckled as he lifted the brunet’s duffle onto the edge of the bed, “Yeah, like I’m gonna rape you,” he grinned, turning to see the color drain from the dark haired detective’s face, “Starsk? You okay?” the blond asked softly, concern instantly replacing the smile that had been there just a moment ago, “You should lie down buddy and you really need to take that painkiller.” Hutch said, crossing the short distance to reach out and place his hand on Starsky’s shoulder. A look of shocked surprise raced across his face as the dark haired detective angrily shrugged his hand off.

“Don’t!” Starsky snapped. The air crackled with suppressed electricity as the rigid brunet bristled with sudden anger.

“Starsk? Hey buddy . . . what’s going on?” Hutch asked, his hand slowly lowering to his side, a look of perplexed concern mirrored in his pale blue eyes.

Starsky sighed, willing the hammering in his heart to slow down as he attempted to calm the raging emotions Hutch’s words had provoked as he turned to walk over to the bed, refusing to look at his partner, not wanting to see the hurt and confusion he knew Hutch was feeling. He didn’t know how to respond to the tall blond’s question. How could he explain something that he, himself, was having trouble understanding? His turbulent emotions were so mixed up, feelings of anger, remorse, humiliation and fear coursed through his veins, making him want to just throw up and purge what little he had in his knotted gut. He knew Hutch was just trying to help him, lend him a comforting hand like they usually did when one or the other had been through something traumatic, but the thought of anyone touching him right now just made him feel ill.

“I don’ want ya to tou . . . to talk about those pills anymore okay? Jus’ drop it Hutch. I tol’ ya . . . I’m fine!” the brunet said gruffly as he opened his duffle and angrily dug through his bag, taking out some fresh clothes. The silence that permeated the room was overwhelming, and all Starsky wanted to do was run from it, run from the silent speculation and perusal of the silent blond, intuitively knowing that his partner’s sharp mind was slowly trying to piece together what was wrong. The thought of Hutch figuring it all out scared the brunet shitless.

“Hey, I’m sorry buddy . . . I-I don’t know what I’m doing wrong,” the soft voice of the blond reached out across the small expanse of the room touching the brunet’s heart, the tinge of sadness, and the slight stutter made Starsky tremble with despair, knowing he was inadvertently wounding his friend, “B-but if you can just talk to me . . . maybe I can figure out wh-what I’m doing that’s upsetting you . . .”

The dark haired detective sighed, squeezing his eyes shut before opening them once more as he turned towards his friend. “Look, I’m sorry okay?” Starsky said softly, glancing up at his partner from under his thick, dark lashes, feeling miserable and sick as he saw the look of bewilderment and hurt on Hutch’s face. The brunet sighed again, feeling the claws of guilt as it tore into his heart, “You’re not doin’ anything wrong Hutch, it’s me,” the dark haired detective said quietly, pressing his clothes against his chest, feeling the sharp pain that flared in his side, “I’m just tired and jumpy . . . jus’ need to take a hot shower . . . it’ll help me relax I think . . .” Starsky lifted wide blue eyes, the apology clearly reflected in its sapphire depths.

Pale blue eyes softened with fondness as the tall blond stared at his partner, noting the dark circles under the familiar cobalt orbs and the weariness that lined Starsky’s face. Hutch snorted softly, his mind racing, feeling a sudden sense of relief as he saw the tiny grin that immediately lifted the corners of his partner’s mouth. ‘Maybe that’s all it is . . . maybe he was reading more into this than what was really there; after all, it was obvious that the dark haired detective was exhausted and coming from that horrific situation where he had almost lost his life . . . well it would shake anyone.’

The blond grinned back, his heart warming with affection for his best friend, “Need help with that?” Hutch asked softly, nodding towards his partner’s side, knowing the brunet would have to take off the layers of bandages that bound his ribs before he could take that shower. “What about the burn on your thigh?” the blond pressed, “You have to remove the bandages there too.”

The brunet forced himself to keep the grin on his face, “Hutch, I’m fine okay? Tell ya what . . . if I need help, I’ll call ya . . . I promise!”

The tall blond detective watched as his wounded partner turned and limped towards the adjoining bathroom and though he listened intently and waited for a call from his friend, it never came.

Chapter 12

Hutch startled and woke as he heard the soft murmuring, easing his body from its slumped position on the padded chair, feeling the kink in his lower back as he sat up stiffly, blue eyes drawn to the brunet who moved restlessly under the covers of the blanket. The blond frowned, worry making the furrow between his brows deepen with concern.

For a minute Hutch quietly watched his partner toss and turn, wondering what was going through the brunet’s mind as he slept. Starsky had been on edge since he’d found him up at that cabin, his emotions were raw and were barely kept in check; though Hutch knew the effort it had cost the dark haired detective to try and hide it. All evening he had tried to appear “normal”, but Hutch knew him like the back of his hand, knew that something was terribly wrong.

The blond sighed, arching, as he tried to stretch out the kink that had settled in his lower back from sitting all night in the chair. The flaxen haired detective eyed the bed longingly, wanting nothing more than to crawl into its soft warmth, but something about the wariness in his partner’s eyes this evening had stopped him. Even now in sleep, the brunet hugged his side of the bed, stiff and rigid even in repose, where in the past, it was all Hutch could do to keep his partner from rolling all over him, often waking with limbs entwined whenever they had to bunk together.

Hutch sat at the edge of the chair, his elbows resting on his knees, hands folded together, leaning towards the bed as his partner began to mumble softly again, hoping to catch some clue as to what Starsky was attempting to bury. It bothered the sensitive blond to know that his partner was desperately struggling to keep the walls from coming up between them, trying in vain to preserve the camaraderie they shared with one another. Yet, the blond knew instinctively that Starsky wanted to remove himself from the pain, needed to erase from his mind the abhorrent memories of his abduction.

The tired detective sighed softly. Though he intuitively knew all of this, it nevertheless still hurt Hutch deep within to know that Starsky, despite the bond and friendship that they shared, wanted to disengage and distance himself from everyone, including his longtime buddy who just wanted, no . . . who needed to console and touch to heal not only his partner, but himself as well.

‘Just what the hell happened up there anyway?’ the quiet blond speculated silently, his eyes narrowing in anger as sordid thoughts traipsed silently across his mind.

“N-no,” the quiet whisper from his dark haired counterpart intruded upon the blond’s thoughts and Hutch found himself crouching next to his partner’s side trying to decipher the words from the slumbering detective’s ramblings, clues that would give him pieces to the puzzling and uncharacteristic behavior of his friend; hoping to glean some information to help him understand what was going on.

The fact that Starsky didn’t want to be touched was abundantly clear to the blond. There had been too many incidents that pointed that fact out and the way he behaved once they got to the motel room, made Hutch wonder again just what had happened up there at the cabin besides the obvious beatings his partner had endured from the hands of that stinking redneck. He thought back to Starsky’s almost strange behavior before the brunet climbed wearily into bed and finally passed out in an exhausted slumber . . .

He had watched as Starsky bundled his clean clothes and pressed them against his chest, holding it to him like a shield for protection after he had offered to help him remove the ace bandage that was wrapped tightly around his ribs. He could see the strain on his partner’s face as Starsky attempted to keep the grin plastered there as he said, “Hutch, I’m fine okay? Tell ya what . . . if I need help, I’ll call ya . . . I promise!”

He watched as his wounded partner turned and limped towards the adjoining bathroom and though he listened intently and waited for a call from his friend, it never came. He could hear the shower being turned on and walked over to the closed door, laying his ear against the wooden surface to listen in, just in case his stubborn partner needed help. Hutch could hear Starsky fumbling around inside the small bathroom; the soft grunts of pain followed shortly by a cuss were indications that his dark haired counterpart was having difficulty.

The tall blond pondered over what to do. It was made clear to him that Starsky wanted to do this on his own, that he needed to feel in control of the situation and Hutch totally understood that feeling.

It had been the same way after Simon Marcus and his cult had abducted Starsky. For days after his rescue, Starsky had been distant, going within to sort things out, trying to be independent as he dealt with his injuries and the fear that plagued his waking, as well as sleeping hours. The nightmares that time were bad, but in the end, Starsky had been able to allow Hutch to help him through it, had dropped his walls slowly until Hutch was able to reach out and pull him over the abyss, his partner allowing him to once more soothe and talk him through the memories that haunted him . . .


The expletive that came from behind the door brought Hutch back to the present and he pressed his ear tightly against the door again, trying to discern what was going on in there. The loud slam from the toilet seat falling over made Hutch finally knock, calling out for his partner as he did so.

“Starsk? You okay buddy? Need some help?” The tall blond jiggled the doorknob; surprised to see that it was locked. “Hey . . . open up . . . you okay Starsky?”

“’M fine! I didn’t call for ya Hutch!” a muffled reply came disgustedly from behind the door.

A small snort escaped from the blond as he remembered his partner’s promise to call if he needed assistance. “Yeah, well I heard something drop,” Hutch said, rattling the doorknob again, “Why the locked door buddy?”

Hutch pressed his ear against the door once more, listening intently to the fumbling going on within the small bathroom, his mind racing as he heard the soft grunts of pain and his partner’s quickened and shallow breathing. A look of utter surprise came to the face of the blond as the door was suddenly yanked open, revealing the disgruntled brunet, a towel wrapped around his lean hips, noting the mottled bruises starkly littered all across his partner’s upper torso and left side.

Dark blue eyes widened in bemusement as it connected with familiar sky colored orbs. Dark brows drew together in a frown as Starsky eyed his sheepish partner whose face turned suddenly red with embarrassment. “That’s gross Hutch!” the brunet scowled, “I can’t believe you had your ear to the door, listening in like that . . . I might’a been doin’ somethin’ on the john . . .”

“Yeah? Well it wouldn’t be anything I haven’t heard before buddy,” the blond quickly recovered, gently pushing his way into the crowded bathroom, pulling the shower curtain closed against the stream of hot water that poured out of the showerhead. “I just thought you might need some help removing those bandages from your ribs,” Hutch murmured, noting the long bandage on the floor, “ . . .and anyway, you couldn’t have been doing anything on the john because the seat’s down,” he finished lamely, pointing at the covered porcelain bowl.

Starsky sighed heavily, his hand rose unconsciously to his unbound ribs, drawing the blond’s gaze to his bruised and battered side, “I was trying to put the seat down and it slipped,” the brunet began, the weariness and exhaustion that bombarded the dark haired cop was plain to see and it tugged at the heartstrings of the blond.

“Okay . . .” Hutch said slowly, “You needed the seat down for what?”

Starsky snorted softly and dropped his eyes to the tiled floor, “Was gonna try and take off the bandage on my thigh, but the damn thing is sticking to the burn.”

Hutch nodded slowly, biting his lip as he watched his partner slowly sit on the covered toilet, “I ah . . . I can help you with it buddy,” the blond said hesitantly, unsure if his offer would be taken correctly. Whenever he tried to help, it only seemed to make Starsky upset, “I mean I can try and . . .”

“Hutch, I know what you mean.” Starsky said, sighing softly, feeling guilty as he heard the uncertainty in his partner’s quiet voice, “You don’t gotta explain nuthin’ okay? I’m sorry I’m just . . . I’m tired ‘s all. It’s okay. I know ya jus’ wanna help.” Stormy blue connected to sky blue eyes that were soft with understanding and compassion.

“Well let’s take a look then,” Hutch said as he knelt on one knee beside the porcelain bowl, lifting the towel up to his partner’s left hip, noting that the white bandage on Starsky’s upper thigh had a small dark stain in the center of it. The blond looked up at his dark haired counterpart and noticed that though Starsky had turned his face away, he was stiffly aware of what Hutch was doing, a slight crimson smudge slowly coloring his neck and cheeks.

“Yeah it looks stuck Gordo,” Hutch continued softly, lifting the bandage carefully until he reached the center area that was crusted to the gauze.

“Jus’ yank it off,” Starsky said gruffly, “That’s what I was gonna do before I caught you eavesdroppin’.” Dark blue eyes turned to twinkle down at the blond as a small grin tweaked the corners of the brunet’s mouth.

Hutch snorted softly, a smile mirrored his own lips and he turned his attention once more the bandage, gently pulling at it’s edges until he felt his partner jerk and tense, “I don’t think we should do it this way,” Hutch said softly, “Get in the shower Gordo, the water will loosen the gauze from the wound.”

Starsky looked uncomfortable as he stood up from the toilet seat, his fist clutching at the towel around his hips, “Okay,” he said slowly, “I can take it from here Hutch.”

The blond could feel the unspoken tenseness that filled the small bathroom, could feel the uneasiness that rolled off of his partner in waves, “Starsk?”

“I said I can take it from here . . . just get out Hutch . . . NOW!”

The fair-haired detective gently pulled the covers up, tucking it around the slumbering brunet; his mind filled with images of how Starsky nearly pushed him out the door in his haste to have his partner leave the cramped quarters of the bathroom. Later on, when he finally came out, they had hardly spoken to each other, the brunet abruptly fielding all attempts at communication with monosyllabic answers until the blond finally gave in and stopped talking altogether.

Though his dark haired partner was exhausted and hurting, Hutch noticed that he had refrained from going near the bed until the blond finally made mention of it and Starsky silently crept under the covers, hugging his side of the bed where he remained unmoving until now.

The brunet murmured softly again and Hutch carefully reached out to check if his partner was feverish, only to soothingly run his hand over his friend’s damp curls. Though slightly warm, Starsky’s temperature was near enough to normal. Hutch sighed softly as his pale blue eyes lighted upon his partner’s features that even in sleep appeared lined with fatigue and anxiety. Hutch looked to his partner’s bruised and abraded wrists, remembering how his partner had unconsciously been rubbing it all evening, his eyes drifting to his friend’s hands that even now, clutched the sheets tightly.

The tall blond gently ran his fingers over the scrapes and cuts that lined the back of Starsky’s left hand, smiling softly as his partner’s fist slowly relaxed. Hutch carefully turned the familiar hand of his friend over; a frown marred the blond’s features as he perused the brunet’s torn and scraped palm.

He remembered Starsky telling the sheriff in his statement that some of the tree trunk he’d been hiding behind had splintered from the rifle’s bullet. Though he could tell that the doctor had removed most of it, Hutch could still see a few tiny slivers of splintered bark in the fleshy pad of his partner’s palm that he had missed. Seeing those splinters angered the blond once again as he thought about the moonlit hunt and the hillbilly who had hurt Starsky.

Hutch found himself thinking of the young teenager with hair the color of moldy straw and the horror that the boy had lived through. The blond detective knew his own parents weren’t the world’s greatest, but to be sexually assaulted by your father was something that Hutch couldn’t even begin to fathom. ‘What if that hillbilly did something to Starsky?’ a niggling voice whispered in the back of his head. A pale face and haunted indigo colored eyes swam before him as he remembered the joke he had carelessly thrown out when they first entered the motel room, “Yeah, like I’m gonna rape you,”

“Damn!’ Hutch said softly under his breath, running a hand through his hair in frustration.

Just thinking of Jebbediah Woods made the suppressed anger in the blond detective rise to the surface once more. ‘If that pervert touched Starsky . . .I’ll . . .’ the flaxen haired cop paused, his dark thoughts swirling in his mind, mixing together with frustration and pain as he realized that there was nothing he could do. It’s not like he could go back to the cabin and kill the man for hurting his partner; after all, Jebbediah Woods was no more, he was just a corpse lying on a metal tray in the town’s morgue.

‘Could that be what this is all about? Had Starsky been violated in a sexual way?’ Hutch thought, his pale blue gaze hardening as he watched his sleeping partner who periodically murmured softly, the blankets twisting as he tossed and turned under the sheets. The tall blond bit his lower lip with indecision.

Usually when something traumatic happened to either of them, their bond and trust got them through it, and gentle touches always added a sense of security and rightness to whatever holocaust they lived through, aided in their healing, but this time, if what he suspected was true, then it was no wonder that Starsky didn’t want to be touched.

Hutch’s gaze returned to his friend’s glistening face as the brunet groaned softly in his sleep, his lips murmuring quietly as his brows drew together in an angry frown. Hutch knelt even closer, cocking his ear to discern what it was his partner was saying.

“I’ll . . . kill you . . . you slimy piece of shit,” Starsky murmured, groaning again as his nightmares replayed his violation at the hands of Jebbediah Woods, feeling the hillbilly’s thick fingers entering his body, the cuffs and ropes cutting into his limbs as he tried to twist away from the piercing penetration and the jolt of pleasure that erupted through his battered form.

Hutch gently rubbed his partner’s mangled wrist, watching in despair as Starsky cried out softly in his sleep, arching his back as he tried to get away from whatever was hurting him in his dream, “Starsk, Starsky,” the blond whispered soothingly, trying to gently wake his shuddering partner from the persistent claws that held him trapped to the never-ending nightmare that plagued him. “Hey it’s okay buddy,” the blond said again, his voice soft and comforting as he gently reached out to smooth the brunet’s unruly curls, smiling sadly as one errant tendril wrapped possessively around his pinkie.

Starsky groaned softly, his long dark lashes rolling to and fro, caught in the hellish nightmare that wouldn’t end. “No . . . no, please . . .”

“Starsky . . . wake up pal . . .it’s just a dream.” Hutch soothed, gently shaking his partner in an attempt to wake him, but the brunet just turned his head and pressed the side of his face into the pillow beneath him, struggling to catch his breath as the dream dug its merciless claws into him and refused to let go.

His partner’s soft gasps and quiet pleas tore at the blond’s heart and Hutch longed to comfort his dark haired friend. Listening to the brunet’s labored breathing, knowing the broken ribs were making it difficult for Starsky to breathe, prompted the blond to take action. Though on some level Hutch knew he was probably making a mistake, he determinedly followed his gut feelings and eased his long body onto the bed, carefully lifting his partner over so that he could slip under him to prop the dark curly head upon his shoulder. Hutch gently lifted and held the brunet against his chest, whispering soothing words of comfort, smiling as the he felt the tense rigidity slowly leave his friend’s body; Starsky’s breathing becoming instantly lighter and less strained.

“Buddy I’m here . . . I’m here,” Hutch whispered softly, his chin pressed down onto his partner’s soft, dark curls as his words brought back a memory of holding his partner on a rooftop; those simple words made him remember Starsky’s indomitable spirit as he fought against Jenning’s poison that was slowly and painfully stripping him of his life. The blond remembered how Starsky had willingly sacrificed his own life to save his, shooting their only lead to finding a cure for that insipid poison, watching in horror as Vic Bellamy died on the rooftop of that apartment building, taking with him the knowledge of how to save the life of his best friend.

Hutch inadvertently squeezed his slumbering partner, remembering how he had held Starsky back then when he had collapsed into unconsciousness, his whispered words ringing in his ears, ‘Thought it was a good idea at the time . . .’

“It’s okay buddy, I got you!” Hutch said reassuringly, gently reaching over to rub his partner’s torn and mottled wrists once more. Starsky had rubbed his wrists throughout the evening, and somehow Hutch hoped that this small act would bring him some comfort and relief as he slept. The tall blond’s pale blue eyes drifted to his friend’s limbs, noting that the brunet’s wrists and ankles bore testament to the struggle his partner had endured; they told a story of how he had fought to free himself. Hutch stroked the soft curls again as Starsky sighed softly and turned his head into his chest, pressing his face against him, the blond’s quiet heartbeat soothing the brunet’s slumber, making a lump form in Hutch’s throat as he carefully nestled his chin into the dark, soft curls once more and continued to stroke the broken skin of his partner’s wrists.

Hutch felt helpless in his want to aid his friend, angry that it had taken him so long to find his partner, and if what he suspected was true, it would take more than just talking and gentle touches to help his buddy through the aftermath of his ordeal. Hutch’s mind drifted to Starsky’s friend and mentor. The tall blond knew how hard it was for his dark haired counterpart to accept the truth about John. His partner was at times almost homophobic and if Jebb had touched him in a sexual way . . .

Hutch stiffened and looked down at his partner who was slowly awakening, watching as Starsky mumbled something, long dark lashes lifting groggily to reveal dazed orbs of cobalt blue. “Hey buddy,” the blond said softly, using the honey-laced voice he reserved only for the man he held in his arms, “Was wondering when you would get up.”

Chapter 13

Hutch could feel his partner’s body instantly tense and grow rigid in his gentle embrace, now that he was surfacing to consciousness; the uncomfortable wall was being erected once more and the blond regretfully loosened his hold on his partner as Starsky struggled to sit up at the edge of the bed, stiffening even more when he felt the blond’s hand on the small of his back, as his friend tried to aid him.

“What’s goin’ on?” the brunet asked dazedly as he eyed his disheveled blond partner who sat on the bed, his back leaning wearily against the motel’s cheap wooden headboard. Though Starsky tried to sound indifferent, Hutch could sense the suspicion and trepidation behind the question.

“Nothing . . . you were having a nightmare and I was trying to soothe you . . . dummy! I tried to wake you, but you wouldn’t get up.” Hutch grinned, attempting to lighten the awkwardness of the situation. For a moment, the blond watched the parade of emotions that crossed the brunet’s face, as he groggily tried to process what the blond had just said, smiling as he noticed the brunet’s shoulders relaxing once more. Hutch grinned softly, his dark haired partner appeared almost childlike as he rubbed his eyes and tried to wake himself from the encompassing arms of Morpheus, his messy dark ringlets all askew and rumpled.

“Yeah?” Starsky grinned tiredly, rubbing the sleep from his eyes with both fists as he yawned widely, only to wince in pain as his ribs sharply reminded him of their battered presence, “How come you on my side of the bed? Thought I tol’ ya hands off Blondie,” the brunet joked softly. Although his dark blue eyes twinkled playfully as he looked at his partner, Hutch could a hear an underlying warning behind his words as he noted the weary lines of fatigue that plagued around the sapphire blue of his partner’s eyes.

Hutch snorted quietly, the smile never leaving his lips, “Thought it was a good idea at the time buddy,” he said soothingly, his eyes soft with affection for his sleepy and bruised partner, his words making them both remember that time on the rooftop after Bellamy had just been wasted, tightening the bond of love and friendship that they shared.

For a moment it was quiet and still in the motel room, and the uncomfortable distance dissipated; held at bay once more as the detectives silently remembered the times they’d lived through, the difficulties they’d overcome together as a team, as partners, as brothers.

Starsky heaved a heavy sigh, his dark blue eyes drifting over to his still smiling companion, his heart growing warm in fondness as he caught the almost dorky expression of hope in his partner’s gaze, bringing a smile to his own lips as he said, “Listen Blintz, about the other night . . .”

“Hey it’s okay partner,” Hutch interjected softly, “I just want you to know that I’m here okay . . . in c-case you ever need to talk or . . . or if you just want me to listen or . . . or anything,” he finished lamely, “You’ve been through hell and back Starsk . . . you’re entitled to have some space . . .”

“Says the man who was just holding me in his arms, hogging my side of the bed,” Starsky joked, a soft snort from the tall blond made the brunet grin lopsidedly, sapphire gems twinkling softly as he gazed at Hutch, “So what time is it anyway huh?” Starsky asked, a sheepish grin still tweaking the corners of his mouth, feeling the warm fondness and camaraderie he had for his longtime friend.

Hutch sighed softly, suddenly feeling the fatigue that he had held at bay all night long, squinting as he glanced down at his wristwatch, “Well . . . it’s ah . . . it’s almost 5:35 in the morning pal . . .”

“Wha?” Starsky questioned, a frown marring his once smiling visage, as he took in his partner’s disheveled appearance, noticing for the first time that Hutch still wore the same clothes he’d worn when he burst through the cabin door the other night, “You tellin’ me you didn’t sleep at all?” The brunet jerked his chin at the stained and rumpled clothing the blond still wore, noticing how his friend smiled uncomfortably.

“Well ah . . . I did sleep for a bit . . . fell asleep in that chair over there,” the blond nodded towards the dilapidated furniture next to the side of the bed, “Guess I was too tired to crawl in . . . and anyway . . .” Hutch said defensively as he faced his partner’s bright blue stare, “You were hogging the whole bed Gordo . . .”

“Yeah right!” Starsky said, feeling guilty, knowing his honorable partner probably never made it to the bed because of his cold and distant actions the previous night, “You’re back is probably killin’ ya right now. Go to bed Hutch, get some rest . . . you look like shit buddy . . .”

“Said the fly,” Hutch joked, chuckling softly as he heard his partner’s soft snort. Hutch was about to add to the banter when the sudden ringing of the phone cut him off. Pale blue eyes connected to dark blue as both detectives wondered who would be calling so early in the morning. The tall blond reached over to grab the phone on the nightstand.

“H’lo?” Hutch said, pressing the receiver against his ear.

“Is this Hutchinson or Starsky?” a low, soft voice came over the other end.

“This is Hutchinson,” the blond replied, recognizing the Sheriff’s voice, “A bit early for socializing isn’t it McCabe?”

“Here in the country, we get up at the crack of dawn, not a moment to waste, unlike you city boys,” the sheriff said good-naturedly, “Anyway, I wasn’t callin’ for small talkin’, I was wonderin how your partner was?”

Hutch frowned, “He’s fine, just woke up . . .”

“Good. I was concerned about him after Doc Brennan told me he had refused to be checked out and all; especially under the circumstances of his abduction with that lecherous bastard, but if he’s okay, then I was wonderin’ if he’d be up to visitin’ with the Woods’ boy. He was askin’ to see your partner . . . and after what that kid has been through . . . well I was hopin’ Detective Starsky would be obligin’. I have a soft spot for that kid. I could come over and pick your partner up to see Lee Roy if he’s willin’.” The sheriff said gruffly.

“Yeah . . . well let me let you talk to Starsky,” Hutch said softly, eyeing his dark haired partner who eyed him back as he sat at the edge of the bed, trying to discern and make meaning from the one-sided conversation he was hearing.

“It’s the Sheriff . . .” Hutch said softly, covering the mouthpiece of the phone, “Lee Roy’s been asking for you and McCabe’s hoping you’ll visit with him before we leave here today.”

“’Kay,” Starsky said, nodding, as he took the phone and listened to the sheriff on the other end.

Hutch frowned again as he watched his partner speaking with the McCabe, his mind racing over the clue the sheriff had unwittingly leaked out. ‘What did McCabe mean when he said that Starsky had refused to be checked out by Brennan?’ As far as Hutch knew, the good doctor had checked Starsky over; his ribs and burn were treated and meds were dispensed. The tall blond’s eyes suddenly widened as he remembered the doc calling out to him as he walked down the corridor to Starsky’s room.

At that time, he had been so eager to see Starsky, that Hutch had completely dismissed that whole incident, but now in retrospect, as he replayed that brief moment in his mind’s eye, it did seem like the doctor was about to say something before he quickly changed his mind . . .

“Yeah okay,”

Hutch looked up as he registered his partner’s soft voice, knowing his conversation was coming to an end.

“Yeah . . . I can be ready in 20 minutes . . . you know the motel we’re stayin’ at, right?” Starsky asked, “’Kay, will do. See ya in a few.”

The brunet handed the phone back to his partner who quickly reached over and hung it up. Hutch turned to look at the tired brunet, noticing the way he rubbed his wrists again before moving his right arm over his abdomen to his ribs.

“You going to see Lee Roy?” Hutch asked, although he already knew the answer to his question.

“Yeah,” Starsky sighed softly, “The kid wanted to see me again before we left. McCabe’s gonna drive me over there, he said he’s gonna be here in about 20 minutes or so.”

“You want me to come with?” Hutch asked quietly, “We could go together . . .”

The bruised and battered brunet looked over at his fair haired friend, noting the lines of fatigue and the dark circles under the familiar pale blue eyes, “Nah . . . you should get some beauty rest Blondie . . . believe me, you need it!”

Hutch chuckled, “Yeah? Well then you should take a look in the mirror yourself pal . . .”

Starksy snorted softly, knowing he must look like how he felt . . . awful! The brunet winced as he slowly got to his feet, feeling his partner’s watchful gaze boring into his back as he limped towards the bathroom. The dark haired detective turned to look back at his partner just before he went through the doorway to wash up, his voice soft and uncertain, “Hey . . . ah . . .Hutch . . . did I um . . . did I say anything when I was sleepin’?”

Hutch frowned slightly; although Starsky had asked that question casually enough, he could almost feel his partner’s sudden anxiety and he quickly tried to alleviate the unspoken fear he saw on the brunet’s face, “Well you were mumbling a lot buddy, but you know, since you don’t even articulate clearly when you’re wide awake, it was nearly impossible for me to make out what you were saying when you were fast asleep.”

The tall blond laughed aloud as he saw the middle finger his partner raised in response to his little monologue before Starsky stepped into the bathroom. The tall blond called out, still chuckling softly, “Yeah same to you Gordo and before you leave with McCabe, you’re gonna take both pills today . . . y’hear me?”

The slamming of the door made Hutch laugh again, but the smile soon faded from his lips as he thought once more to what the sheriff had said. Making up his mind, Hutch decided that while his partner visited with Lee Roy, he’d go and visit with the good doctor to get some answers and then go and see about the status of the Torino.


They sat together quietly in the early morning stillness. The dew on the grass sparkled brilliantly as it reflected the soft light from the morning sun. A red-breasted robin twittered excitedly as it flew from tree to tree in the park, oblivious of the two figures who sat silently below on the park bench, as she gathered her next meal for her hungry family.

A light breeze ruffled the dark curls of the detective and Starsky looked to the young teenager who sat silently beside him, his heart going out to the boy. Lee Roy looked better this morning; well, at least he looked cleaner. His hair had been washed and groomed; his shining blond locks sparkled in the rays of the sun, reminding the dark haired detective of his partner’s golden tendrils. Starsky glanced over his shoulder, looking to the parking lot and the sheriff’s car in the distance, vaguely making out the shape of McCabe who sat behind the wheel, who tactfully deciding to wait in the car, giving the privacy the boy needed, to say whatever needed to be said. The dark haired detective was grateful that the sheriff had the decency to do that.

Starsky inhaled as deeply as his hurting ribs would allow, glad that he had not argued with Hutch when the tall blond handed him the glass of water and the two pills before he left. The brunet exhaled slowly, ending with a quiet sigh, “So . . . how ya doin’ kid?” the detective asked softly, dark blue eyes running over the sad face of the boy who sat silently beside him, “The sheriff said you wanted to see me and I really wanted to see you too, before my partner and I had to leave.”

Lee Roy glanced up at the detective, his sad, gray eyes reflected despair and doubt, “Y’leavin’ already mistah? Ah was a’hopin’ you’d stay fer a bit, jus’ until every thang settles down and all . . .” The boy bit his bottom lip miserably, his long bangs covered his eyes as he looked down to his hands on his lap, “Sheriff McCabe tol’ me it ain’t mah fault ‘bout what happened to my pa. Said ah probably wouldn’t have t’go t’jail . . . that ah killed mah pa in self defense and that ah was protectin’ an officer of the law.”

“He’s right,” Starsky said, bright blue orbs locked upon the boy’s hidden face, compassion and concern for the young hillbilly making the detective’s gaze soften to an almost lavender-blue color, “You did what you had to do Lee Roy. . . you saved my life kid, and I want to thank you for helping me.” The boy nodded silently, miserably, and Starsky could feel the clenching of his own heart.

“Last night . . . it felt strange to be in another person’s house,” the blond boy continued softly, “Ah kept thinkin’ as ah lay in the dark, that ah would turn over and my pa would be lyin’ right next t’me, snorin’ away like he always does aftah . . . well, ya know . . . aftah he’s had his way with me and all, but it was just quiet and the darkness was all around me . . . and ah was jus’ alone.”

Starsky nodded, swallowing down the sudden anger that rose in his heart, his jaw clenched tightly as he kept silent, allowing the teenager to continue, knowing the youngster just needed someone to listen, needing to know that he was not alone in the world.

“Ah used’ta dream a lot about being in another person’s home, of being born in another family and all,” Lee Roy said so softly that Starsky had to lean closer to hear his quiet drawl, “Sometimes ah’d pray t’God, y’know, when my pa wasn’t home, that ah would have a normal family and that my ma was still alive . . . that ah could be like other kids and not be afraid to be alone with . . . with him.”

For a moment there was only an overwhelming silence and Starsky quietly cleared his throat before he spoke, his voice rough with emotion, “Yeah, well . . . maybe God’s givin’ ya the chance you’ve always dreamed about . . . maybe this foster home will be the family you’ve always wanted kid . . .”

Lee Roy slowly nodded, “Maybe,” the teen said softly, “Maybe not . . . ah guess ah’ll find out soon enough.”

Starsky nodded at the boy’s quiet acceptance of his unstable future, remembering when he had lost his own father, the anger and loss he had felt, burying it deep inside, and the sense of betrayal when his mother shipped him off to California to live with distant relatives that he barely knew. “I know how you feel Lee Roy. My dad died when I was younger than you and my mom sent me away from all that I knew and loved, to come and live in . . .”

“Did y’kill yer pa too?” the boy quietly interjected, haunted gray eyes lifted to the detective’s face, “Do y’know how that feels? Did y’learn how to live with that thought, knowin’ that y’killed yer own pa? Seeing the top of his head bein’ blown away again and again when ya close yer eyes, knowin’ that y’pulled the trigger . . .cawse if you did mistah, ah wish ya’d teach me how t’get over that . . . how t’not see it anymore in mah head . . .”

The raw guilt and pain on the teenager’s face nearly killed the cop who swallowed down the lump in his throat, his words of encouragement suddenly lost in the dark, gray depths that shimmered in the morning light. His heart ached for Lee Roy, knowing exactly how alone the teen felt at this moment as he tried to deal with the guilt and remorse of blowing away his own father. The rugged cop carefully put his arm around the boy’s shoulder’s, pulling the unresisting youngster against his side, feeling the slight trembling of the boy as silent tears ran down his young face. The dark haired detective had no words to say, and he knew the boy didn’t expect any. He blinked back the hot tears that suddenly filled his own eyes as he felt the boy’s pain wash over him. They sat like that for a while until Lee Roy gently pulled away and Starsky let him go.

“Sorry mistah,” the boy sniffed, rubbing his finger under his nose, his eyes downcast once more, “Din’t mean t’make ya feel bad, it’s ain’t yer fault . . .”

“And it’s not your fault either,” Starsky said gruffly, emotion making his voice rough and ragged. Starsky took in a cleansing breath, “Look kid,” the cop said in a softer voice, “Sometimes when faced with something that is so wrong, you just act without thinking,” His mind drifted back to the night on the rooftop, his body wracked with pain, barely able to draw in a breath, his vision blurry as it strained to see beyond the broad back of Vic Bellamy to his partner crouching for cover as the creep raised his gun to blow Hutch away. He didn’t even stop think about it, didn’t even realize he was sentencing himself to death as he pulled the trigger; his only thought was to save his best friend in the whole world, “You did what you did, because it was the right thing to do . . . that’s what heroes do Lee Roy . . . and in my eyes, you’re a hero, kid.”

Dark, gray orbs lifted once again to the detective’s face, quietly searching the sincerity of the cop’s words, and the young hillbilly nodded once in agreement, his eyes widening in dawning understanding, his voice a quiet whisper as he said, “Ah get it now. Ah understand what them words were tryin’ t’say.”

“Words?” Starsky echoed, his head tilted slightly to one side as he tried to make meaning of what the boy was talking about, “Sorry . . . I’m not followin’ ya . . . what do you mean?”

Lee Roy truly smiled for the first time since they’d been together, and Starsky was amazed at the change in the boy’s face. The teenager looked almost handsome when he was smiling like that, the fine lines of worry and fatigue, of guilt and pain suddenly gone from his youthful visage as he said softly, “In mah history class, ah once read these words; ‘Heroism feels and never reasons, and therefore is always right.’

The young hillbilly looked to the detective beside him, “Ah memorized that sentence, though ah never quite knew what it meant, but ah liked the sound of it, and every so often, ah would go over it again and again in mah head, tryin’ t’make heads or tails of what that person was tryin’ t’tell me . . . and now it finally makes sense Mistah.”

Lee Roy’s gray eyes grew bright with unshed tears, “That night at the cabin, ah never thought ‘bout what ah was doin’ when ah pulled that trigger . . . jus’ knew that what mah pa was doin’ was wrong and ah had to stop it. Heroism ‘feels’ and never reasons, and that’s what ah did, ah didn’t think . . . ah jus’ felt, and now you an’ ah can be sittin’ here talkin’ ‘cawse it was the right thang t’do.”

Starsky grinned lopsidedly, his sapphire colored eyes twinkled, “You’re one smart kid. Anyone ever tell you that? You remind me of my partner.”

Lee Roy blushed profusely at the honest compliment from the detective, “That big guy at the cabin . . . the one who gave me the blanket . . . was that your partner?”

“Yeah, that was Hutch,” Starsky said, “He’s the smartest guy I know, plays the guitar and sings and drinks these gross healthy shakes, but he’s still real smart and he came from Minnesota too. He’s my best friend.”

“Ah could tell that jus’ by the way he was a’lookin’ at ya. He was so worried ‘bout ya. Mus’ be nice t’have a friend like that. One day, ah hope ah can have a friend as good as him.”

“Until then, you have me kid,” Starsky said warmly, his bright blue eyes softening with affection for the youth, “You and me could be buddies and if you ever need to get something off your chest, you can talk to me . . . Hutch would disagree, but I’m a pretty good listener.”

The boy grinned and then blushed, pleased with the cop’s offer of friendship, “Ah ain’t evah had a friend who was a pohleece man befoa.”

“Yeah? Well if you were a lot younger I’d let you wear my badge,” the curly haired cop laughed aloud, “Kids always get a kick outta that,” the smile slowly faded as Starsky thought of his missing wallet that held his badge.

“Speakin’ of which . . .” Lee Roy said softly, digging into his back pocket, “Ah forgot t’give this t’ya in the ambulance the other night . . . guess ah was still in shock and all . . .”

The teenager silently handed the wallet over to the detective who took it, his dark blue eyes wide with wonder, his fingers slowly, reverently running over his police badge that glinted in the sunlight, “Ah’m sorry about yer pictures though Mistah . . . mah pa shouldn’t have done that.”

“Your pa shouldn’t have done a lot of things Lee Roy, but none of his doings were your fault.” Starsky said solemnly.

The boy nodded sadly, once again looking down at his hands. Starsky almost didn’t hear the young hillbilly as he whispered, “Did he do somethin’ bad t’ya too mistah? Did mah pa do what he did t’me?”

Lee Roy looked up to see the familiar dark, blue eyes grow hard as the detective suddenly became quiet, a tic appearing in his clenched jaw. The boy lowered his head once more, feeling miserable inside, “The sheriff says aftah we leave the park and he takes ya back to yer motel, he’s gonna take me to see a counselor. Said ah needs t’talk t’someone ‘bout what mah pa did t’me . . . says it’ll make it bettah.”

“It will.” Starsky said stiffly, “I know it will be hard, but talking about it will help you heal inside Lee Roy.” The dark haired detective swallowed the anger down as sad, gray eyes turned to look at him and the cop struggled to soften his voice, sighing as he said, “What he did to you was wrong kid, and if you can talk about it, it might help you release stuff that you’ve been carryin’ around on the inside. Being a cop, I’ve seen a lot of bad things that happen to good people.”

The dark haired detective locked his gaze to the young boy’s face, sapphire blue melding with charcoal gray, wanting the boy to understand, “Sometimes when we have a lot of pain on the inside and we don’t do nuthin’ about it, it comes out in ways that might hurt other people and I don’t want that to ever happen to you Lee Roy . . . d’ya understand?”

The teenager nodded sagely, dark, gray eyes wise beyond his years, “Okay Mistah Dave, ah understands and ah promise that ah’ll try t’be honest and say what’s on my mind to that counselor person, but since we’re buddies and all . . . can you promise me that you’ll do the same?”

“What?” Starsky whispered, feeling the dread he’d been repressing leak once again into his heart.

“Y’heard me,” Lee Roy said softly, “Promise me that y’ll talk to someone . . . like maybe that partner of yers. Ah’d feel awful and blame myself if’n y’carry around the hurt and anger of what mah pa did t’ya up at the cabin . . .”

“He didn’t do nuthin’,” Starsky said angrily, “Not like what he did to you . . .”

“It don’ mattah none,” Lee Roy said quietly, “He still hurt ya . . . ah . . . ah saw it . . . and ah really likes ya Mistah . . . just promise me that y’ll talk to Hutch okay? Ah promise that ah’ll never tell a soul ‘bout what happened up at the cabin . . . ‘bout what my pah did t’ya . . . but y’have t’promise me that ya’ll talk to yer partner ‘kay?” The tall hillbilly boy grinned as he saw the stiff nod from the dark haired detective. “Y’swear Mistah?”

“Yeah.” Starsky said resignedly, his thoughts drifting to his blond haired, blue-eyed partner who he knew he’d been pushing away all this time. He could almost hear his friend’s soft, soothing voice whispering in his ear . . .

“Hey it’s okay partner, I just want you to know that I’m here . . . in c-case you ever need to talk or . . . or if you just want me to listen or . . . or anything,”

“Pinkie swear?” the boy asked drawing the detective’s attention back to the present, as he held out a long slender finger that he crooked in the air.

Starsky snorted softly, ruffling the boy’s soft blond hair, before he joined his baby finger to Lee Roy’s and shook it, “Yeah, pinkie swear! C’mon let’s get outta here . . . the sheriff’s probably bakin’ in the car by now.” The bright smile on the boy’s face warmed the detective’s heart, as he placed his arm over the teenager’s shoulder and limped back with him to the car. “Hey, maybe we can get the Sheriff to buy us some breakfast . . . whattaya say kid?”

Lee Roy’s bright laughter took the brunet by surprise and the detective realized that it was the first time he’d ever heard the boy laugh. Things suddenly looked brighter and Starsky leaned over and whispered as they neared the car, “I’d race ya . . . but right now, you’d probably win . . . so’s how ‘bout we see who can limp faster to the car? If I win, I get t’keep the pants you loaned me!”

“An’ if ah win?” Lee Roy smiled, “Would y’come with me to see that counselor?” the young hillbilly asked almost shyly, his dark, gray eyes searching the detective’s face.

“You bet kid!” the brunet said wholeheartedly, reaching out to ruffle the hair on the boy’s head, “You ready? Set . . . go!” Starsky grinned as Lee Roy started limping as fast as his long legs could stretch. ‘Maybe the kid was right . . . maybe talking to Hutch would help him get his head on straight.’ The grin on brunet’s face grew wider as he hurriedly limped along trying to keep up with the long stride of the excited youth. . .‘maybe, just maybe, things would be okay after all . . .’

Chapter 14

Hutch lay on the bed in the quiet motel room, lost deep in thought. The curtains were drawn to keep out the bright afternoon light and the room was lit entirely by a small, dim lamp that sat beside Starsky’s side of the bed.

The tall blond sighed wearily. He’d left the motel room a couple of minutes after McCabe had come to pick his partner up to meet with Lee Roy. Driving to the hospital, had given Hutch time to think about everything, it gave him time to script out what he would say to the doctor to glean the facts that he desperately needed. The tall blond detective knew that the doctor would be hesitant to share information about his partner due to the privacy acts and the nature of the patient and doctor relationship, but Hutch was determined to find out what Brennan knew about his partner.

Though the blond had to wait a good twenty minutes to see the doctor, he was grateful that the busy doc could finally spare some time to chat with him. At first, like he expected, the physician had refused to comment and respond to the pointed questions that Hutch had asked, but upon reassurance from the fair haired cop that he was like family to Starsky the doctor soon relented, after all, Brennan had witnessed the bond and close relationship between the detectives firsthand.

Brennan soon confirmed the blond’s suspicions and shared with him about how his partner had adamantly refused to have his rectum and genitalia examined for signs of sexual abuse or rape. The doctor softly admitted that at the time, it had made him wonder if something more had happened up at that cabin . . . especially knowing that Jebbediah Woods had a history and tendency of abuse and molestation and had been abusing his own son sexually for years.

After a few more minutes of small talk, the tall blond had thanked the doctor, assuring him that Starsky was fine and that he had just wanted to double check that everything was okay and give him feedback as to how Starksy had fared during the night.

Hutch glanced over at the watch that he laid on the bedside table. On the way back to the motel, the tall blond had made it a point to stop at the garage where the Torino had been towed and found out that the car would be ready for pick up later in the afternoon. In a way, Hutch couldn’t wait for them to be able to leave Makinen and the bad memories they’d incurred there.

Hutch frowned as he glanced to the door once more. ‘Just where was Starsky anyway?’ It had surprised the fair-haired detective to find the motel room still empty when he returned. His pale blue gaze drifted to his partner’s duffle bag that sat on the floor near the chair he’d slept in last night, his eye catching the corner of a yellow carbon slip of paper that lay peeking out of the side pocket of his partner’s duffle bag.

The blond detective sat up, stifling the groan that wanted to escape when he felt the sharp protest of pain that flared from his weary back. He quickly stood and stretched out the kinks before making his way to the bag to retrieve the folded paper. Unfolding the crumpled edges, Hutch quickly scanned the contents.

It was a copy of the statement Starsky had given to the sheriff up at the cabin. The tall blond frowned as his eyes perused the scribbled handwriting of Sheriff McCabe. On paper, everything looked fine as he skimmed over the detailed accounting of what had occurred during Starsky’s abduction, but now armed with his suspicions and what he gleaned from the good doctor, Hutch tried to discern what his partner was trying hard to keep under wraps.

The crease between the detective’s pale brows deepened, his mind drifting back to that horrible night, to the adrenalin he felt coursing through his body as he burst through the old wooden cabin door and to the relief he had felt when he saw his wounded partner was still standing, albeit bruised and bleeding.

Hutch sat down on his side of the bed, dragging his hand wearily through his tousled hair. He remembered how Starsky looked almost fragile as he tried to hold it together, how he had shrugged off his touch, and how he had calmly interjected as the sheriff questioned the hillbilly boy. The blond closed his eyes as he struggled to remember and replay in his mind’s eye the details to the sheriff’s questioning. He could almost hear McCabe’s deep, gruff, voice in his head . . .

“It’s okay son,” Sheriff McCabe said gently, “Slow down and tell me again . . . what happened here tonight.”

“Ah told ya . . . ah did it, ah killed mah pa,” Lee Roy said in a soft trembling voice, tears streaming silently down his dirty face, “Ah took the rifle that he keeps next t’his bed an’ ah . . . an ah shot ‘im . . . he was . . . he was hurtin’ Mistah Dave . . . an’ ah . . . ah jus’ had t’stop ‘im.”

“I see . . .” McCabe nodded, his pencil moving rapidly across his small notebook, “And how was he hurting the detective?”

“Mah pa had Mistah Dave strapped to that bed,” Lee Roy nodded to the small cot in the corner, “And he was . . .”

“He had that hot iron rod in his hand,” Starsky calmly interjected as he came and stood beside Lee Roy, “He was going to use it on me,” the brunet said softly . . .

Hutch’s eyes snapped open. At first when he had heard Lee Roy say that his pa was hurting Starsky, he took it to mean physically, but could the boy have meant sexually? And now that Hutch reflected upon it, his partner had calmly interceded before Lee Roy had the chance to go into detail about what his dad had done to the detective.

Hutch intuitively knew Starsky was keeping something from him, was pushing him away, holding him at arm’s length to keep him from getting too close, from finding out what really went on at the cabin . . . the doctor himself, had suspicions regarding the same thing.

“Damn!” Hutch whispered angrily in the silence of the room, ‘Just what did happen up there, Starsk?’

The sudden opening of the door had Hutch turning towards the portal, squinting as the early afternoon light filled the dim room; his partner’s tall form, just a dark silhouette in the doorway against the bright backdrop of light that haloed around him.

“Hey . . . sorry . . . were you sleepin’?” Starsky called out softly, quickly closing the door behind him as he turned to eye his blond counterpart who still sat on the edge of the bed looking ragged and wasted, “Did you get any sleep at all Blintz?”

Hutch smiled at the familiar nickname, lines of exhaustion etched his face as he quickly ran his eyes over his partner. Though he could tell his friend was exhausted, Starsky looked good. For some unknown reason, the blond had worried about his friend meeting up with Jebbediah’s son again, maybe because of the haunting memories it would stir up, maybe because of the gut-wrenching sadness in the kid’s dark gray eyes . . .

“You okay Hutch?” Starsky asked quietly, concern swimming in the dark blue depths of those familiar eyes, “You don’t look so good.”

Hutch snorted softly, soft blue eyes twinkling with fondness, “I think I should be asking you that question Gordo . . . how’d it go with Lee Roy?”

Starsky grinned then looked down at the worn carpet, “He’s a great kid Hutch. Sorry it took me so long to get back; after the sheriff took us to breakfast, I decided to go with Lee Roy to talk to the counselor . . . for moral support and all . . .”

“Yeah?” Hutch smiled, “I’m glad the boy decided to talk to someone . . . sometimes talking helps buddy . . .” the blond said pointedly as he eyed his dark haired partner.

Starsky sighed, not even bothering to lift his eyes, knowing his partner well enough to know that his friend was talking about him. “Yeah,” the brunet said softly, “Look Hutch . . .” he said as he dragged his eyes up and forced himself to make contact with this partner, “I’m sorry that . . .”

Bright blue eyes drifted to the yellow paper his partner still clutched in his hands, “What is that?” Starsky asked, getting sidetracked as he nodded towards the sheet of paper. The tall brunet winced as he gingerly took off his white windbreaker, the sharp jab in his ribs, a painful reminder that he was still on the mend. The dark haired man carefully laid his jacket on the back of the chair and looked over to his partner.

“This?” Hutch said, lifting the paper, a guilty look crossing his face, “It’s ah . . . the statement McCabe took at the cabin,” the blond admitted, “I saw it sticking up from the pocket of your duffle bag . . .”

“Yeah?” Starsky frowned, “Well, why are you reading that? You were with me when I gave my statement, you heard the whole thing up at the cabin.” A look of suspicion crossed the brunet’s face, “What are you lookin’ for Hutch?”

“What? Nothing.” The tall blond stood abruptly, re-folded the carbon copy and placed it under the watch on the table, “Just saw this in your bag and . . .”

“And you went into my bag to get it?” Starsky questioned, a hardness tingeing his voice as he looked his partner in the eye, “What’s goin’ on Hutch?”

“Why don’t you tell me buddy?” the blond said defensively, anger making his usually soft voice hard and accusing, as pale blue eyes turned the color of ice, “I’m not the one hiding secrets . . .”

Cobalt colored eyes widened in response, “What?” Starsky said, dark brows drawn together in a frown, “Hidin’ secrets? I ain’t hidin’ nuthin . . . what are you diggin’ at Hutch?”

“Oh c’mon Starsk . . . I know you better than anyone,” Hutch said angrily, “I can tell if you’re keeping something inside . . . I know you’ve been through hell . . . and I know that something happened up there . . . up at that cabin . . . that you don’t want me to know about it! I can feel it right here!” The tall blond jabbed a finger to his own chest, over his heart.

“Yeah?” Starsky snapped, stormy blue eyes flashing hostilely, “You don’t know nuthin’ Hutch . . . nuthin’ okay? I got abducted and beaten by some crazy backwoodsman, got shot by his rifle, got hunted down and branded like an animal in the middle of the night . . . I think that about sums it up and I think I have a right to not want to talk about it okay?”

“That why you don’t want me to touch you either buddy?” Hutch asked softly, sadly, seeing the color suddenly drain from his parnter’s face, feeling sick inside that he even said it in the first place.

Hutch sighed, the sudden anger that consumed him expelled with the puff of air that left his lungs. The tall blond sat down heavily on the side of the bed once again, leaning over to rest his elbows on his knees, his eyes softening to sky blue once more as they drifted to his hands, “Look Starsky, I’m sorry okay? I . . . I just don’t want you to shut me out anymore . . .”

Hutch looked up as his dark haired partner swallowed down the retort he was about to make, a tic appearing in the taunt line of his jaw as the brunet angrily grabbed his jacket once more from the back of the chair, “Where you goin?” the blond asked worriedly, standing as he watched his partner striding towards the door.

“Out!” Starsky snapped, needing to get away of the small, claustrophobic space of the motel room. As it was, it was hard enough to breathe with his broken ribs, but to have Hutch constantly in his space, digging up issues he was trying desperately to bury . . . it was just killing him and he needed to loose himself, needed to get away so that he could breathe once again . . .

The large hand that slammed upon the door near his face startled the brunet from his thoughts. He hadn’t even heard Hutch coming up from behind him and he jerked dark blue eyes angrily towards his partner who blocked his way, “Move Hutch!” Starsky growled softly, the almost feral glint to the cobalt colored eyes made the blond draw his hand back slowly, cautiously.

“Starsky,” Hutch whispered, “Let me help you . . .”

“You wanna help me?” Starsky said, his snarl was deceptively soft, as he glared at the tall blond, “Then move outta my way . . . now Hutchinson!”

“Okay,” Hutch said soothingly, his large hand held out before him, “Okay. Just tell me where you’re going . . . the garage said they’d call once the Torino was ready for pick-up this afternoon . . . I could check us out and then come and pick you up . . . providing you still want to go to the farm . . . after . . . after everything that’s happened . . .”

The hopeful expression in the soft, familiar sky blue orbs brought a lump to the brunet’s throat and Starsky sighed softly, feeling the fight or flight adrenalin leave as abruptly as it had come, “Just gonna go to that diner we went to last night . . . maybe get somethin’ to eat or drink . . . I just need some space right now . . . okay Hutch?” For a few seconds, the two detectives eyed one another, allowing the silence to speak for their hearts, and then the tall blonde saw his dark haired friend begin to smile once more.

The slow grin that lifted one corner of the brunet’s mouth, made Hutch’s heart glitch with relief, “You’re ah . . . you’re not gonna drink alcohol are you buddy?” the blond began uncertainly, “I mean . . . you’re on meds and . . .”

“Hutch!” Starsky growled, the warning glare in the bright blue depths of his eyes made the blond stop mid-sentence.

The tall blond sighed and smiled, “Okay, okay no mother-henning, but just water okay Gordo? Promise Me? Pinkie swear?”

Seeing his partner holding up his long pinkie brought a vision of Lee Roy’s face to the brunet’s mind . . .

“Y’heard me,” Lee Roy said softly, “Promise me that y’ll talk to someone . . . like maybe that partner of yers. Ah’d feel awful and blame myself if’n y’carry around the hurt and anger of what mah pa did t’ya up at the cabin . . .”

“Starsk?” Hutch whispered, seeing the shuttered look that came across his partner’s face all of a sudden, “Hey . . .”

“. . . but y’have t’promise me that ya’ll talk to yer partner ‘kay?”


Y’swear Mistah?”

“Pinkie swear?”

“Starsky? What’s wrong?” Hutch said softly, knowing by the vague look in his partner’s eye that he was lost to some memory that assailed him, “Hey pal,” the blond whispered, reaching out a hand as he laid it gently on his friend’s shoulder, “I’m here Starsk . . .”

“Don’t!” Starsky snarled, knocking his partner’s arm away, pushing the tall blond back from the door, “Just don’t . . . don’t touch me . . . get the hell outta my way Hutch,” the brunet said angrily, “Just get the hell outta my way . . .”

The tall blond watched with concern as his partner shoved past him and bolted from the door, one arm clenched around his ribs as he retreated out into the early noon sun, his back ramrod stiff.

Hutch gave a frustrated sigh and dragged his hand once more through his fine, golden hair. His heart ached for his stubborn friend, his mind reeling at the look of haunted despair beneath the anger on his partner’s visage. The tall blond squared his broad shoulders determinedly. Starsky was a man about to fall off the edge and if Hutch could do anything about it, he’d be there to catch his friend before he hit bottom.

Chapter 15

Starsky sipped the amber colored liquid from the tall glass, relishing the cool, smoothness of the beer as it slid down his parched throat, easing the ache in his ribs and upper thigh, and the heavy guilt that weighed upon his heart.

“Fuck!” the brunet swore softly into his beer, dark lashes lowered over the brim of his glass, as he swirled the amber liquid around, his mind replaying the situation in the motel room over and over until his head was ready to explode.

“Oh c’mon Starsk . . . I know you better than anyone,”

“I can tell if you’re keeping something inside . . . I know you’ve been through hell . . . and I know that something happened up there . . . up at that cabin . . . that you don’t want me to know about it! I can feel it right here!”

“That why you don’t want me to touch you either buddy?”

“Y’swear Mistah?”

“Pinkie swear?”

Dark gray eyes filled with trust and laughter floated before his mind’s eye, and Starsky quickly lifted the glass and tilted his head back, downing the beer in one gulp as he tried to drown that image away. He knew he had promised the kid to talk to Hutch and actually, the brunet knew that what went on in the motel room just now would have been the perfect opportunity to spill his guts, but . . . how could he?

It made him sick to think that he’d have to tell Hutch everything . . . to admit to his partner that he was a fuckin’ sick pervert like Jebb. If Hutch knew he had gotten off on it, that he had found some perverse pleasure in that horrible act . . . no . . . no . . . he couldn’t tell Hutch anything! Just thinking about Jebb’s violation brought hot anger and a flush of humiliation to his face.

“That feel good boy?”

“Ya liked it, din’t ya? There’s more where that came from,”

The dark haired cop slammed the glass roughly on the scarred wooden tabletop, breathing rapidly to push down the sudden anger that surfaced as he heard the lewd whisperings of Jebb in his head. Seeing Hutch holding that statement in the motel room . . . knowing the perceptive blond was digging for answers brought a lump of fear to the brunet’s throat. No . . . Hutch could never know about what transpired up at the cabin and Starsky would see to it that his partner would never find out.

“Hey honey, you okay?” the tall red-headed waitress asked, pulling the brunet back from his dark thoughts, “You want another one?”

Starsky looked up into her dark green eyes and grinned lopsidedly, “Nah . . . thanks though . . .”

“You okay?” Candy inquired, “You look like you got a lot on your mind . . .”

Starsky sighed, “Yeah . . . it shows huh?”

“Yeah, it looks like you lost your best friend or lover or something,” Candy replied, looking up as the small bell jingled over the door to the eatery, “And speaking of the devil . . . here he comes now . . .”

“T’rrific,” Starsky mumbled, not even bothering to look over his shoulder, dreading the idea that Hutch was around when he could barely hold it together. His partner would see how close to the edge he really was. “You know what Candy? I will take another one, and ah . . . bring one for my partner too okay?”

“Your ‘partner’?” Candy snorted, “Yeah figures . . .okay, two beers coming right up!”

Starsky didn’t give a shit anymore what the bimbo thought about him and Hutch. He had more important things to worry about as he sensed his partner coming up behind him. He could feel his defenses coming up again and he struggled to keep the walls down.

“Hey,” the quiet, honey laced voice of his partner could be heard, and Starsky raised his dark blue eyes from his empty glass to connect to the soft, blue of the sky. “Mind if I sit down?”

“Nope . . . suit yourself,” Starsky said stiffly, immediately wanting to kick himself for sounding the way he did, wanting desperately to breach the wall he was struggling to hold down, “I mean . . . been waitin’ for ya . . . what took ya so long huh?”

Hutch smiled a tentative, hesitant grin and quickly slipped into the booth across from his dark haired counterpart, “Sorry . . . got the phone call . . . that red tomato of yours is fixed and ready to go.”

“Yeah?” Starsky said suddenly smiling widely, imagining his red beauty all shined up and waiting for him, “When do we leave?”

“It’s up to you buddy,” Hutch said softly, smiling at Candy as she brought two, tall glasses of beer over to their table.

“Here you go,” she said, sliding a glass to the blond, “Your ‘partner’ bought this for you.” Looking wistfully over at the dark haired man, Candy shook her head slightly and handed the other glass of beer to the ruggedly handsome brunet, “Here you go honey . . . geez . . . what a waste!” With that last comment, the buxom red-head sauntered away to greet another customer that walked in.

“Thanks pal,” Hutch said, eyes growing soft with affection for his quiet partner, “But I thought I told you not to drink any alcohol.”

“It’s just beer Hutch, one or two ain’t gonna hurt nuthin’” Starsky replied, dragging his glass over and raising it to his lips, “’Sides, I think we need to celebrate!” he said, taking a gulp of the brew down.

“Celebrate?” Hutch reiterated, one brow arched in surprise, “Celebrate what Gordo?”

“My car! She’s fixed! And now we can get the hell outta this hick place!” Starsky said with a grin on his face.

Hutch snorted, “You still want to head out to my grandfather’s farm? I mean . . . we don’t have to go there if you don’t want to Starsk. We can just head on home to Bay City and spend the rest of the week there . . .”

The blond’s offer touched the brunet’s heart and brought a lump to his throat. Starsky knew how much Hutch loved his grandfather’s farm, knew how much his friend had wanted him to share in his fondest of childhood memories. To think that Hutch would give that all up, his plans, his last time on the farm just for him . . .

“Are you kiddin’?” Starsky said brightly, “I drove all the way out here to see your Grandpa’s place. Of course I want to see it dummy!” The brunet snorted softly as he saw the happy, dopey smile that lit up his friend’s features.

“You’re gonna love it Starsk!” Hutch said excitedly, “And I have everything all ready for us too. Got the place cleaned up and provisions have been stored and if we leave now, we can still have time to go fishing at the lake, or if you’re tired, we can go fishing tomorrow.

Starsky snorted and grinned into his glass, it was so easy to make Hutch happy. Swallowing down another mouthful of beer, the brunet raised his eyes to peer at his partner who practically glowed with excitement. “So . . . how you wanna do this?”

Hutch smiled, “Well, we could do this two ways. I could turn in my car rental and we could drive together, or I could drop you off at the garage and you could follow me to the farm. We could turn the rental in just before we leave for L.A.”

“Got this all figured out huh?” Starsky snorted, “It don’t matter to me . . . whatever you wanna do Blondie . . .”

Hutch took a good look at his partner, noting the tired lines of fatigue and pain that marred his partner’s dark features, knowing his stubborn friend would die before letting on just how exhausted he was. If they drove together, it would give Starsky some down time to rest. “Well . . . no sense in both of us driving . . . I was hoping we could turn in the rental and drive together. I’ll drive us both . . .”

“What?” Starsky said frowning, “You drive my car? I’ll drive . . .”

“Now wait a minute,” Hutch said calmly, but firmly, “I know the way to the farm . . . and anyway, you can do the driving back to California . . . c’mon buddy . . . this is my home state . . . let me show you the sights . . . okay?” The tall blond’s eyes softened with fondness as he stared at his counterpart across the table, knowing he would win this one, smiling as he saw his partner finally relent with a small shrug.

Starsky sighed softly, feeling the stab in his ribs, secretly glad that Hutch would be driving. He was tired and the pain from his injuries were making themselves known as the effects from the painkiller he’d taken in the morning receded from his system. “That how you get the ladies to give in Blondie? You melt your baby blues at them huh?” The brunet grinned as he heard his partner laugh out loud, a red blush coloring the Nordic features, the rich timbre of his voice a soothing balm to the dark haired detective.

“Yeah right buddy . . . don’t knock it . . . after all, it always works with you . . .” Hutch grinned and downed the last of his beer, sliding out of the booth to stand as he reached out a large hand to his partner and helped him to slide out.

The buxom red-head watched as the smiling blond casually slid his arm over the brunet’s shoulder; sneering discreetly at the two men, one dark and the other light, as they left the restaurant, bantering happily back and forth. Candy sighed, shaking her head once more, “What a fucking waste!” she murmured disgustedly, under her breath, “I just hate homos!”


“Country roads . . . take me home . . . to the place I belong . . .”

Hutch hummed along quietly to John Denver’s melodic voice coming through the radio, his long slender fingers tapping the sides of the steering wheel as he kept the beat, his eyes slowing drifting over to his slumbering partner who sat slumped against the door of the passenger’s side. The tall blond smiled almost wistfully, as he turned his attention back to the road, his thoughts still lost upon his friend who hadn’t moved from his cramped position for the last few miles.

In a way, Hutch was glad that Starsky had finally shut his eyes and succumbed to the exhaustion that was so evident by the weary lines upon his face. Despite the brunet’s adamant denials, Hutch knew his partner was weary and ridden with pain from the injuries he’d incurred up at the cabin.

The tall blond slowly shook his head as he remembered how Starsky had once again refused the pain meds back at the garage where they had picked up the Torino, and then again at Alamo, when they dropped off Hutch’s car rental. As Hutch signed the paperwork, he glanced over to see the brunet using the phone to make some quick calls to Sheriff McCabe and to Lee Roy before stepping outside of the car rental office. Once business was taken care of, Hutch walked over to the familiar flashy red car. It surprised the blond to see his dark haired counterpart sitting on the passenger’s side, waiting patiently for him. The tall, fair-haired detective was glad to see that his partner wouldn’t put up a fuss about driving like he thought he would.

Hutch sighed as he turned the wheel, taking the cut off that would lead him to the farm; he turned to look once more at his slumbering friend as he thought back to their earlier conversation when they left the car rental . . .

“Hey . . . you okay buddy?” Hutch asked as he slid his long frame onto the bucket seat of the Torino, eying his quiet partner.

“Yeah . . . why wouldn’t I be?” Starsky said, as he squirmed around trying to find a comfortable position.

“Oh . . . I dunno . . .” Hutch countered softly, “Maybe because I thought you would put up a fuss about me driving your car, or maybe I’m asking because I know you’re hurting . . . the pain must be substantial by now since the meds wore out a long time ago . . .”

“Hutch!” the brunet warned, dark blue eyes hardening as he stared at his partner, “Not this again . . .”

“Okay, okay,” Hutch grinned, holding up a hand in defense, “Just worried about you, that’s all . . .” The blond smiled as he saw that his words had appeased the defensive brunet and he looked on fondly as his friend squirmed around gingerly until he settled his aching body against the door. “Comfortable?” Hutch asked sarcastically, then chuckled at the sour expression that crossed the dark haired detective’s face . . .

“Just drive Hutchinson,” the brunet said grumpily, one arm inconspicuously wrapping around his left side, “And keep your baby blues on the road so you don’t run over the pot holes and break my car again!”

Hutch’s grin slowly faded as he thought of how his friend’s dark mood seemed to waver back and forth as he pulled onto the dirt driveway of his grandfather’s farm, stopping near the front porch. It was almost like Starsky was fighting an internal war to appear “normal” and that thought saddened the blond. He had hoped that Starsky would be able to confide in him with anything, that he would be able to trust him, that he would know that no matter what happened, Hutch would accept him and not judge him and that he could be himself, but then again, if what he suspected had happened up at the cabin was true, it would take more than just trust to get his partner to bare his soul. It was no wonder that Starsky’s mood was so erratic and unpredictable with the burden he was carrying around inside.

Hutch sighed. The drive over had been pleasant enough and for the most part, Starsky had been in a good mood, bantering and chuckling the whole time until he finally dozed off. The tall blond only hoped that their stay here would go as smoothly. Hutch could tell that his partner was trying to deal with his ordeal as best as he could. ‘Maybe I should just not say anything until he is ready to open up,’ Hutch silently thought, his eyes drifting once more to his still sleeping partner as he shifted the Torino into park and turned off the rumbling engine.

The sudden silence woke the dark haired detective who abruptly sat up and winced at the aches and pain thrumming throughout his cramped body, “We here already?” Starsky asked groggily, rubbing the back of his hands against his eyes like a little boy who had just woken from his nap. “Did I hear John Denver singing again? That the only song that plays here in Minnesota?”

Hutch smiled as he saw his partner frown grumpily, “Well John Denver’s popular with us mid-westerners . . . he’s a good ole country boy like me . . . and you like me don’t ya?” The tall blond laughed out loud as he heard his partner mumbling under his breath, “What’s that buddy?”

“Nuthin!” Starsky grouched, wincing as he sat up and took in his surroundings, suspiciously eyeing the shimmering lake in the distance. The sun was already beginning to sink, painting the early evening sky with hues of orange and pinks and purples. “Don’t think we’ll have time to fish before the sun sets. Bet there ain’t even a hamburger joint nearby . . .”

“Aw c’mon Starsk . . . where’s your sense of adventure . . . we can catch our own dinner tomorrow, lots of trout in that water just begging to be cooked!” Hutch said as he opened the heavy door of the Torino, swinging his long legs out to stand.

“Yeah? I hate fish . . . just like I hate John Denver and that song too!” Starsky mumbled sourly under his breath . . . remembering that this whole nightmare began with that tune. For the dark haired detective, hearing that song again so soon, was a like a bad omen. “I think I had enough “adventure” to last me a lifetime!” the brunet grumbled softly under his breath.

“What?” Hutch asked from behind the open trunk of the car, his voice muffled and distracted.

“Nuthin’!” Starsky said loudly, wincing again as he stood up from the seat, his battered body aching and protesting. The brunet eyed the place where Hutch loved most. Though the house was weather-beaten and old, a sense of peace and tranquility permeated the premises and the dark haired detective could feel the tenseness in his shoulders and back slowly ease up. Starsky took a deep breath of the fresh evening air, wincing as he once again felt the lancing pain in his side. “Well what are we eating tonight? I mean . . . it’s kinda too dark to fish ain’t it?”

“You worried Starsk?” Hutch chuckled as he tossed him the key to the front door. The tall blond eyed his disgruntled partner, perceptively noting his discomfort, “Don’t worry buddy . . . I got everything taken care of . . . everything.” Hutch pulled out his friend’s duffle bag from the trunk, “Go in Starsky and make yourself at home. I’ll show you the guest room in a bit . . . you can lie down and rest while I whip us up some dinner okay?”

The brunet sighed and trudged up the wooden steps that led to the porch fronting the house, his body screamed in protest with each step that he took. The cramped position he was in during the duration of the car ride made the aches and pains even more apparent and the thought of lying down on a mattress was enticing. “Okay, but hurry up with the grub!” Starsky said in answer as he fumbled with the key; though he tried to sound enthusiastic, his stomach churned at the thought of digesting any food.

Hutch watched as his partner slowly walked through the screen door and shook his head. He knew Starsky was in a lot of pain, but he was still adamantly refusing to take any painkillers for it. Hutch frowned, making a silent promise to himself that before the night was over, he would make sure that that stubborn ass partner of his would have some pills in him before he went to bed. “Yeah right,” Hutch scoffed softly to himself, “Not even Jesus could perform that miracle!”

Chapter 16

The cool morning breeze gently ruffled the fine gold tendrils of Hutch’s blond hair as he made his way carefully through the slippery sludge of the lake’s muddy bottom; the cold of the water made its presence known even through the thick, rubber boots and pants he wore as he carefully waded along the shoreline, trying hard to not disturb the water and scare away the trout.

The tall blond expertly whipped the rod back over his shoulder, only to cast it out before him, the hum of the line skipping over the crystalline water was sweet music to his ears and the plopping sound of the bait and floater entering the water in the quiet, early morning filled the detective with a satisfied feeling as it created ripples over the smooth glassy surface of the lake. Hutch took in a deep breath and smiled, feeling the tension of the past few days leaving his shoulders. He could almost hear the deep voice of his grandfather whisper in his ear, “There you go Kenny, a flick of the wrist . . . just like that boy . . . pretty soon you’ll be better at casting than your old grandpa.”

Fishing with his grandfather was always something Hutch looked forward to as a child and standing in the crystal cold water filled him with bittersweet memories. It was his grandfather who took the time to teach and invest in his young, shy grandson and Hutch never forgot the love and security he always felt when he was on the farm. There was an air of tranquility that never failed to soothe the tall blond whenever he came here and it saddened the fair detective to think that he would never be able to ever step onto this farm in the future once it was sold. In a way, he had hoped that his parents would be willing to dole out the money to procure the farm, especially because they had the funds to do so, but his parents had no attachment whatsoever to the old place, not like Hutch did. If he had the money, Hutch would have bought the place at a drop of a hat.

“You catch anything yet Blintz?”

The voice of his friend pulled the tall blond from his thoughts and Hutch grinned as he looked over his shoulder to where his partner lay sprawled out on the wooden dock, waiting, his elbows bent, palms holding up his head as he looked expectantly to his partner.

“Nope, not yet . . . but I will!” the fair-haired fisherman confidently promised with a wink.

Though it was good to see Starsky outdoors, relaxing and enjoying the morning sun, the natural lighting emphasized the bruises and discoloration that littered the bare torso of his friend, driving home once again for the blond how close he had come to nearly losing his partner. For the most part, the battered brunet had been quiet and withdrawn most of the previous evening, hardly eating at all though he had made a show of whining about his empty stomach when they first arrived at the farm. Though they had laughed and bantered with each other throughout the evening, both men were cognizant of the fact that conversation between them was kept at a surface level and there was an air of forced cheerfulness in the brunet that saddened the sensitive blond. It killed Hutch to know that his partner had once again gone to bed without painkillers, stubbornly refusing anything except the antibiotics though he had tried to persuade Starsky to take them.

“I’m hungry!” the brunet called out loudly, grumbling under his breath as he gingerly rolled onto his back, feeling the warmth of the wood pressing into his aching muscles. The heat felt good, and for a while Starsky just laid there, squinting up at the clear blue sky. He could hear Hutch chuckle softly in the distance, which brought a small grin to his lips.

“Well if you keep on bitching buddy, you’re gonna scare all the fish away.” Hutch calmly replied, as he moved slowly and stealthily through the water towards the beginning of the dock where his partner lay.

“Yeah right. Stop makin’ excuses Hutchinson . . . been waitin’ here for hours and still nuthin’ but an empty stomach and a bad sunburn . . . SHIT!” Starsky jolted and quickly sat up, hissing softly at the pain that flared in his side and thigh, his arm immediately wrapping around his side as droplets of lake water ran down his sun-warmed skin. The brunet lifted pain filled eyes to glare at his sheepish partner who smiled apologetically in return.

“Damn . . . that water is cold!” Starsky huffed.

“Sorry buddy . . .forgot about your ribs there for a moment,” Hutch said guiltily. Knowing that he had unthinkingly caused his friend more pain made the tall blond want to berate himself. Splashing water on his cocky, grumbling partner wasn’t such a good idea after all. The simultaneous sudden jerk of the rod and his partner’s excited shout brought the blond’s attention back to water and the fighting fish at the end of the line.

“Ya got a big one!” Starsky hollered, getting carefully to his feet, one arm still wrapped around his midsection, dark blue eyes wide with excitement as he watched his skilled partner reel the fish closer in, drawing it ever nearer to shore. The tip of the rod bent under the weight of the trout as Hutch yanked it hard from it’s watery grip only to have the fish land with a thud, flopping helplessly on the wooden dock next to the brunet’s feet.

Hutch whooped excitedly, quickly making his way to the dock as the brunet stared down at the fish shining like silver in the sun’s rays as it thrashed upon the deck; only to eventually lie still, its eyes wide and mouth gaping, its gills working desperately to suck in oxygen to maintain life. Starsky could see that the sharp hook tearing into the side of its mouth, left droplets of blood on the wooden flooring.

“Jus’ like a fish on a hook,” The lecherous voice came out of nowhere, invading the brunet’s thoughts as he watched the helpless fish slowly dying in the warmth of the sun.


He could feel Hutch as the tall blond came up beside him, he could see the tips of the black rubber boots, still wet from the lake, from the corner of his peripheral vision as he stared at the trout, who’s unblinking eye glared at him accusingly.

“That feel good boy?”

“Starsky . . . you okay buddy?” Hutch asked, all thoughts of the fish dinner were swept away by the look on his partner’s face.

The dark haired detective closed his eyes, willing the voice to leave, swallowing down the bile that rose in his throat as he remembered the feel of the hillbilly’s blunt, thick fingers invading and ravaging his most private of parts, almost hearing the backwoodsman as he lewdly groaned in pleasure, “Damn boy . . . yer hole is as tight as ah thought it would be.”

“Buddy . . . what is it?” Hutch asked softly, reaching out to touch his partner on the shoulder, “You okay? You in pain?”

A small gasp escaped from the brunet’s lips as Hutch’s hand made contact, drawing the dark blue eyes to the blond’s. Hutch watched as the cobalt orbs, initially filled with pain and fear, suddenly hardened with anger as Starsky snarled, “’M fine Hutch . . . how many times do I have to tell you that huh?” The dark haired detective roughly shrugged off the large hand still on his shoulder, “If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were deaf or somethin’!” Starsky turned suddenly and headed back to the farmhouse.

Jostled by his partner’s abrupt departure, Hutch caught his balance and watched as his curly haired friend stormed off; the tall blond’s mouth opening slightly in shock and confusion, not quite understanding what had just happened. The fair-haired detective looked down to the fish at his feet, feeling his own temper rising at the abrasiveness he’d just experienced.

“I don’t know what’s going on Starsky, but it damn well ends here and now!” Hutch whispered angrily as he quickly turned to follow his partner into the house; the fish all but forgotten on the wooden dock.

He found his partner sitting stiffly at the kitchen table, moodily staring down at his hands, one of which was rubbing absently at the now healing wrist of the other hand. The sight of his hot-tempered friend looking so lost and vulnerable quickly took the heat out of the blond’s tirade. Taking a deep breath, Hutch walked purposefully, but calmly to a cabinet and took out two glass goblets, which he filled with his grandfather’s good brandy. Without a word, the blond detective took the seat across his partner and carefully put the glass down in front of Starsky who lifted his lowered eyes to stare at the goblet before him.

“Thanks,” the brunet whispered softly without making eye contact, raising the glass to his lips, feeling the burn of the alcohol as it slid down his throat bringing a feeling of warmth to the pit of his stomach and to his cold extremities. He could feel Hutch’s eyes upon him and it burned into him more than the brandy did, making him want to shrivel up and disappear, before having to fess up and tell Hutch what had happened up at that cabin. He knew Hutch needed answers and he knew that he couldn’t keep driving a wedge between them because of his own insecurities, but knowing and doing were two different things.

He wracked his mind, what the hell should he say? ‘Oh by the way Hutch, did you know I was pervert like Jebb? Yeah, the old coot shoved his fingers up my ass and I liked it so much it made me hard.” Just that thought alone made the brunet shudder in silence, bringing a frown to the perceptive blond’s face.

“Starsk . . .”

“Hutch,” Starsky quickly interceded, raising his hand to silence the blond, “Jus’ gimme a minute huh?” he asked softly. After a moment’s pause the brunet continued, “I know you’re worried ‘bout me . . . that you wanna help me . . . I get it . . . but I jus’ . . . I jus’ need you to drop it okay? I don’t wanna talk about anything except that fish you caught . . . don’ wanna talk about anything except what we’re eating for dinner tonight and what we’re gonna do this evening. Can we do that huh? Please?”

Hutch stared at his partner, noticing how Starsky kept shifting his gaze, unable to keep eye-contact for long periods of time. The tension between them was back, arcing through the air like an electrical current, and it was all Hutch could do to keep from shaking his stubborn friend.

The frustrated blond sighed heavily and dragged his hand through his hair, his pale blue eyes beseeching, “Starsky, I know you don’t want to talk about what happened up at the cabin . . . but it’s eating you up alive . . .its tearing you up inside . . . and I just think that if you could open up . . . if you could put into words the feelings that are bombarding you . . . maybe you could . . .”

Hutch’s eyes widened in surprise as the brunet abruptly shoved away from the table almost knocking over the bottle of brandy which the blond quickly righted, sky blue eyes never leaving his friend who now stood, bristling in anger, stormy blue eyes flashing as he said, “What are you huh? My shrink? You think that just because you took some stinkin’ psych courses in that fancy college of yours that now you’re some kind of an expert Hutch? That you can pick my brain and tell me what kind of a sick bastard I am . . . huh?”

“W-What?” Hutch stammered, confusion written all over his face, “Starsky I never meant to . . .”

“You don’t get it do you?” Starsky snapped, “You jus’ gotta keep pushin’, jus’ gotta keep diggin’. Look buddy, talkin’ about stuff don’t work for me. I jus’ have to deal that’s all . . . and I jus’ wanna . . . I jus’ wanna let this lie Hutch, jus’ wanna move on . . .”

“But burying the truth isn’t going to help you to deal wi . . .”

The shattering of glass took both men by surprise and silenced the blond immediately. Starsky slid his eyes away from the bleeding wall of dark liquid running down between the tongue and grove of the cedar slats, to look unbelievingly at his hand that threw the goblet in anger. The brunet lifted his gaze to look at his partner, his chest rising with each heavy breath, his throat convulsing as he swallowed hard, his jaw clenching until a tic appeared. Starsky shook his head almost imperceptivity, his eyes speaking volumes, his voice rough and deceptively soft, “Jus’ . . . jus’ drop it Hutch!”

Starsky turned away abruptly wanting to escape the look in his friend’s eyes, wanting to disappear until he could get a hold of his emotions, but the quick-footed blond barred his way from the kitchen, grabbing the smaller man’s shoulder’s roughly, “No way buddy, you can’t run from this . . . whatever it is Starsk, let me . . .”

The tall blond’s head snapped back from the force of the blow that connected with his chin, catching him completely off guard. Breathing hard, Hutch righted himself, rubbing his jaw that ached from the sucker punch, pale blue eyes turning to slivers of ice as the tall detective eyed his angry partner who glared back in return.

For several long seconds the only sound in the kitchen was the heavy breathing of both men and the quiet ticking of the battery operated clock on the wall, until the brunet finally broke the silence, his voice soft, but rough with emotion, dark head turned away, unable to look his blond counterpart in the eye, “Don’t Hutch . . . please jus’ . . . jus’ drop it . . .”

The fair-haired detective watched as his partner slunk silently from the sunlit kitchen; the sound of his soft, broken voice, filled with desperation and despair, still echoing in his mind. Hutch let out a weary sigh, surprised to see that he had been holding his breath the whole time. The tall blond walked back to the kitchen table and downed his brandy in one gulp, feeling the burn of the alcohol run down his throat, only to settle in the pit of his stomach as he gingerly worked his jaw from side to side, feeling frustrated with the helplessness he felt inside.

Setting the empty goblet down on the wooden table, Hutch slowly lowered his long frame onto the chair, his handsome face lined with worry as he anxiously thought about his dark haired partner, the past few minutes replaying over and over in his mind. The tall blond absently rubbed his chin where he was clipped as he thought about Starsky. The day had started out great, but something had set his friend off, some unwanted memory had made itself known and Hutch could only speculate at what that was. Shaking his head slowly, Hutch propped his elbows on the table and dug the heels of his palms over his eyes.

‘God, he was so tired of all of this, and yet, if he felt this bad, Starsky was suffering even more.’

Sighing heavily, Hutch resolved to give his friend the time and space he needed to heal, knowing that he would be close by if ever Starsky needed him. “Buddy I’m here,” Hutch whispered softly, sadly, to the empty room, “Just know that I’m here . . .”

Chapter 17

Hutch awoke to the comforting sound of crickets chirping in the darkness outside his bedroom window. For a few seconds, he listened to the chorus of insects, vaguely wondering about what it was that woke him up in the first place. The soft, comforting chirpings made him remember how the song of the crickets would often lull him back to sleep as a boy whenever he came over to spend time with his grandfather. It saddened him to think that he would soon be losing this place that he called “home. This place was where he had felt most loved and most accepted and for a moment his heart squeezed tightly as he imagined his Grandpa’s kindly wrinkled face all scrunched up in a huge welcoming smile, arms stretched out wide to enfold him in warmth and love, making a sad, lonely young boy feel suddenly safe and reassured that there was someone in the world who truly cared about him.

Hutch yawned, stretching his long limbs out languidly against the soft, feathered mattress. He missed his grandfather so much and being here was his connection to his childhood. It felt good to be at the farm and for a minute, the tall blond let the peaceful night sounds wash over him, soothing him in its familiarity as he closed his eyes once more, pale lashes sweeping over his cheeks.

Suddenly his eyes snapped open again, his ears strained to hear the soft, unfamiliar noise that had woken him up in the first place. Hutch sat up on the edge of his bed, listening intently as his mind tried to comprehend what he just heard; a dull thud reverberated in the stillness of the farmhouse and spurred the blond into action.


Hutch got up quickly and made his way down the hallway to the guest room from where the sound originated. His stubborn partner had remained out of sight for most of the day and had refused to come down to eat when Hutch knocked on his bedroom door earlier in evening. The dark haired detective claimed he was tired, but they both knew that he was just avoiding his perceptive partner and the issue at hand.

As the tall blond neared his friend’s bedroom, he immediately heard the soft painful gasps as he opened the door to peer within the darkness. He could see his partner slowly pulling himself off of the floor; one hand grasping the beddings as leverage, the other hand clenched tightly around his abdomen and ribs.

“Buddy? You okay?” Hutch murmured, as he hurried over to assist his friend, gently pulling him up and easing him onto the edge of the bed. The uncomfortable distance and silence that the brunet had kept throughout the day and evening, dissipated instantly as Hutch eyed his partner with concern.

“’M fine,” Starsky murmured, eyes tightly closed as he attempted to breathe through the pain that jolted through his battered body, “S-sorry if I woke you up Hutch.”

“What happened?” Hutch asked, worried lines between his brows marring his handsome features as he looked to his partner, wincing in sympathy for his hurting friend.

“I fell off the bed . . .”

Hutch snorted softly, carefully easing his long frame onto the bed next to the brunet, trying hard not to jostle his partner in the process, “I can see that . . . must’ve . . . must’ve been some nightmare huh?”

The brunet shrugged, his shoulders rising slightly in a noncommittal response to the unasked question hanging heavily in the air. Starsky knew Hutch was waiting patiently for some kind of answer, he knew that his partner sensed something was not right especially after that incident in the kitchen and he knew Hutch had been more than patient.

The dark haired detective was honest enough to admit that had the roles been reversed, he would have been as persistent as his blond friend, wanting to help because he cared for Hutch more than anyone in the world outside of his family. Starsky cleared his throat; feeling uncomfortable and uneasy as the tall blond gently laid a strong, warm hand upon his shoulder.

“Starsk . . . whatever it is buddy, I’m here . . .you know that. M-maybe talking about it would help . . .” Hutch hesitantly pushed, his rich, soothing voice was as soft as melted butter. The scene in the kitchen flashed through the blond’s mind and Hutch immediately wanted to kick himself as he remembered his promise to give his partner some time and space to deal with whatever it was that was driving a wedge between them. “I-I’m sorry Starsk . . . you don’t need to say anything if you don’t want to . . . I just . . . I-I heard you fall and I just wanted to see if you were okay . . . I’ll just go back to my room and let you get some rest . . .”

“It’s okay Blintz,” Starsky sighed quietly in the darkness, feeling guilty as he heard his friend stammering in the darkness, knowing he was causing confusion and uncertainty in his partner by the constant change in his own demeanor.

The brunet cocked his head slightly to the side to peer up through the dark line of his lashes at the blond who sat beside him in the dark. The meager light that came through the curtains from the quarter moon illuminated the hollows and planes of Hutch’s shadowed, but familiar features, and the quiet intimacy of the darkened room allowed Starsky to drop some of the walls that he erected in the light of day. “You don’ have’ta leave,” the brunet began hesitantly, stopping his sentence abruptly; the air, heavy with the pregnant pause. Starsky cleared his throat once again before he said softly, “You’re right . . . I ah … I had a nightmare I guess . . . found myself suddenly on the floor . . . must’ve rolled off the bed tryin’ t’get away . . .” Starsky’s quiet voice faded in the stillness of the room.

“Away from what? What were you trying to get away from . . . was it . . . was it Jebb?” Hutch asked softly, holding his breath as he felt his partner tense beside him, the brunet’s body was wound tighter than a spring, ready to snap, “I-I mean … were you dreaming about him?” The tall blond bit his bottom lip, hoping his stubborn partner would relent and let him in.

“Yeah,” came the brunet’s quiet response after a moment’s pause, flooding the gentle blond with sudden relief, “Even though that bastard’s dead, I guess . . . I guess he’s still with me ya know . . .”

Hutch could feel his heart clench as he heard the vulnerability in his friend’s voice, the way his eyes lowered almost in shame. The tall blond stared at his partner, who dropped his curly head, stormy blues eyes hidden in the darkness, as the brunet focused on his left wrist, which he began to unconsciously rub again with his right hand.

The blond detective distractedly watched his partner’s motions for a brief moment before he took in a quiet breath and let it out slowly, his mind was racing and he desperately wanted to say the right things that would keep his friend talking, that would keep the walls from coming up between them once more.

“I-I know I’ve said this before, but s-sometimes talking about traumatic things that haunt us can help Starsk . . .” Hutch said, hating how “clinical” he sounded as he looked over at his silent partner whose dark features were inscrutable, blending in with the shadows around him. Swallowing the lump in his throat Hutch tried again, “ I’m n-not gonna pretend to be a counselor or shrink buddy, but I know you, and I know there’s something that’s been on your mind, something that probably happened up there at that cabin with you and Jebb and I’m not talking about the beatings you’ve endured from that sick bastard. I just . . . I just want you to know that whatever you’re going through, I’m here for you . . . you’re my best friend Starsk, I would never judge you or think badly about you or about anything you confide in me . . . you know that right? I just . . . I mean . . . I can almost feel the burden you’ve been carrying around, and if I could help to lift some of that weight off your shoulders . . . just know that I’m here buddy . . . I’ve always been here . . .”

The tall blond watched as his partner took in a ragged breath; his dark, sapphire-blue eyes lifted to meet and lock upon his own pale blue ones, the air was heavy with the silent intensity of his partner’s gaze; the quiet chirping of crickets the only sound in the darkened room.

Starsky sighed and wearily ran a hand through his dark, curly locks, “Yeah . . . I know Hutch,” the brunet began slowly, his soft voice rough with emotion, “You’re my best friend in the whole world and I’ve been treatin’ ya like shit. I’m sorry. I know I can always depend on you . . . me and thee right? Who do we trust time?”

Hutch snorted quietly, pale blue eyes twinkling as they caught the light from the moon outside, “Yeah . . . me and thee . . . always,” the tall blond smiled fondly, his large, warm hand upon the brunet’s shoulder squeezing reassuringly, “You don’t need to apologize buddy . . . just know that whatever it is, you can tell me . . . i-if you want to that is . . .”

Starsky silently tipped his head in acknowledgement, taking in another breath only let it out slowly, suddenly glad that the darkness of the room hid his eyes from the perceptive gaze of his partner before he whispered, his voice ragged and torn. “Today on the dock . . . I guess . . . I guess I kinda had this flashback from up at the cabin . . .” the brunet began hesitantly, “and it threw me . . . I’m sorry I lashed out like that Hutch . . . sorry that I broke your grandpa’s goblet.”

“Hey . . . it’s okay buddy,” Hutch said softly, his voice soothing and reassuring, “It was old, but I’m glad it was that glass and not my head that hit the wall . . .” The blond grinned.

Starsky looked up at his friend’s smiling face and snorted softly at his partner’s attempt at levity, “Nah . . . you know your head’s too thick Hutchinson . . . ain’t nuthin’ that can break that . . .”

Hutch chuckled, his light blue eyes twinkling with mirth as it caught the moonlight, “Yeah . . . well you came pretty close to knocking it off with that mean sucker punch of yours,” the tall blond ribbed, immediately regretting his words at the look of guilt that flashed across his partner’s face before Starsky dropped his head back into the shadows, the darkness obscuring the nuances that Hutch needed to see and “read” from his now silent counterpart.

“Hey buddy,” Hutch began, “I was just joking . . .”

“I’m sorry about that too,” came the soft response of the brunet who was still shrouded in darkness, “I shouldn’ta hit you like that . . . I jus’ . . .”

“It’s okay Starsk,” Hutch interjected, “I was asking for it . . . pushing you to tell me before you were ready to . . .”

Starsky snorted quietly, his voice but a whisper in the stillness of the room, “I don’ even know if I’m ready to talk about it now . . .” The dark haired cop looked up through heavy lashes, his dark blue eyes filled with a raw vulnerability that took the blond’s breath away.

Hutch took in a deep breath to calm the sudden anxiety he felt inside and then squeezed the brunet’s shoulder compassionately, forcing himself to keep quiet, allowing his partner to lead the way. For a moment they sat silently together, the sound of the crickets serenading them in the darkness, lulling them into a semblance of security and peace.

“Ya know, I never hear ‘em back home,”

The blond frowned, trying to make meaning of what his friend just said, “Y-you mean the crickets . . .”

“Yeah, no matter how quiet it is, I never hear ‘em back in Bay City.” Starksy said softly, his eyes straying back to his hands, rubbing his wrists unconsciously, his voice soft as he continued, “But I could hear ‘em that night in the woods . . . when I was being hunted down like some animal in the dark by that son of a bitch!”

Hutch could hear the hostility in his partner’s voice as it hardened; he could feel the almost tangible anger that radiated from his friend’s being, and he squeezed the brunet’s shoulder once again to calm him down, to calm himself down. “He was a sick man Starsk . . . the things he did to his kid . . .” ‘The things he might have done to you . . .’ the tall blond thought silently, angrily, letting out a slow breath as he tried to control the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. It wouldn’t do to get upset now, not when he needed to hold it together for his partner’s sake.

“He had me stripped and tied to the bed and I could hear ‘im . . . behind the closed door . . .” Starsky voice became soft once again as the memory washed over him, his eyes drifting to look off over his partner’s shoulder, gazing into the darkness that seem to pull him in, “He was . . . he was raping his own son and I could hear it . . . it was . . . it made me sick inside and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.”

“Hey . . . listen to me buddy,” Hutch said softly, “You were hurt, bound, handcuffed and bleeding . . . he shot you for Christ sakes, what could you do . . . you were . . .”

“Helpless?” the brunet soft voice quickly interjected, “A victim?” The dark haired brunet drew in a shaky breath, his eyes fisting closed with the anguish he felt inside.

“Starsk . . .” Hutch began.

“Whenever we’re out on the streets,” Starsky whispered, opening his eyes once more to stare at the distant wall, “You see ‘em all the time . . . helpless victims . . . people who get hurt, or taken advantage of . . . and our job is to render aid to them . . . to protect them . . . we’re cops Hutch; and I couldn’t do a damn thing to help Lee Roy . . . or myself,” he added quietly.

“Starsk . . . what did that bastard do to you?” Hutch asked softly, almost afraid to hear for himself and have his suspicions finally confirmed. When the brunet remained silent, the blond leaned in closer, wanting his friend to “feel” his support as he said, “D-did Jebb . . . d-did he rape you?”

Hutch pulled back suddenly as his dark haired counterpart abruptly stood up, his arm snaking across his midsection to support his cracked ribs. The tall blond watched as the brunet walked over to the window, his free hand reaching out to draw the drapes back a bit, a part of his face that was once in shadow, was now chiseled by moonlight as he gazed silently out towards the lake that shone like polished silver under the starry sky.

A moment or two passed by as Hutch waited anxiously, his eyes locked upon the silent form that stood by the window; not wanting to force the issue, but needing to know the truth. The tall blond quietly stood and made his way over to the window to stand behind his partner. He reached his hand out to lay it on the brunet’s shoulder, watching as the dark haired detective jerked reflexively at the warm touch, letting the curtains slip listlessly from his hand, effectively shrouding the room once again in darkness.

The brunet lowered his head once more, his broad shoulders seemed to droop under the weight of whatever secret he was hiding and it killed the sensitive blond to see his partner hurting like that.

“Starsk,” Hutch began slowly, “Whatever it is . . .”.

“I don’ know if you could call it that . . . call it rape,” Starsky whispered, his voice soft and hesitant. Hutch heard his partner take in a shaky breath, as he waited for the brunet to continue, feeling the tenseness in his own back and shoulders, his other hand unconsciously fisting at his side as Starsky continued, “I mean . . . he didn’t . . . he never got the chance to do it, but he wanted to. That sick, fuckin’ bastard had the hots for me . . . made all of these lewd comments about what he was gonna do to me; and he made these insinuations about . . . about us. He saw your picture in my wallet . . .”

Hutch swallowed hard, “So he never . . . never raped you then . . .” Hutch reiterated softly, watching his partner’s shadowed expression closely.

“He was pissed . . . said he was gonna shove that iron rod into me . . .”

“Shove it where?” Hutch asked softly, almost afraid to hear Starsky’s answer as he looked his partner in the eye.

“Where do you think?” Starsky replied sarcastically, shrugging nonchalantly at the look of anger that flared in the blond’s eyes, “Yup . . . right up there where the sun don’t shine.”

“Fuck!” Hutch snarled; pale blue eyes narrowed as he imagined his partner tied up on the bed, defenseless and exposed. The tall blond took a deep breath in, trying to calm the hammering in his heart, “B-but he didn’t right . . . I mean . . . he didn’t touch you then . . .”

“Oh . . . he touched me alright,” Starsky said softly, his voice rough with emotion, dark curly head lowered in shame, “That dirty son of a bitch shoved his fingers into me, prepping me for himself, and when he untied my leg, I kicked him off of me which got him pissed. That’s when he was gonna use that rod on me and then the kid came out and blasted him with the rifle,” the brunet finished softly, shuddering slightly as he remembered the disgusting wet, warmth of Jebb’s brain splattering all over his chest. “If Lee Roy didn’t do what he did . . . his prick of a father would’a had his way with me for sure.”

For a minute Hutch remained quiet, silently digesting all that his partner had said, pale eyes watching his friend’s every nuance, noting how Starsky refused to look at him, sensing the shame that coursed through the dark haired detective.

“Hey . . . Starsk . . . it’s okay,” Hutch said softly, “You have nothing to be ashamed of. He was a damn pervert who got off on hurting people. If I know you buddy, you fought him with every ounce of strength you had. I know you’ve been through hell and back, but you made it, you’re here in one piece. What he did to you . . . it’ll take time, but eventually you’ll be able to move on . . . and I’ll be with you every step of the way . . . I’m . . . I’m proud of you buddy . . .” Hutch finished lamely, admiring his partner for the way he stood beside Lee Roy, even though he was hurting inside himself.

Starsky snorted derisively, “Proud of me? I don’ think so. If you knew the half of it, you wouldn’t be proud of me Hutch . . . I’m as sick as that backwood’s son of a bitch . . . no better than that scum.”

“What? W-what are you talking about?” Hutch frowned as his partner hung his head lower refusing to make eye contact, “I don’t understand . . .” When it appeared that the brunet was done conversing after a period of time had elapsed in silence, Hutch quietly said again, “I don’t understand Starsky . . .”

Starsky took in a shuddering breath, silently remembering the sick jolt of pleasure that took his battered body by surprise as Jebb rammed his dirty fingers inside of him.

“That feel good boy?”

The brunet could almost hear the lewd whisperings haunting his soul, and Starsky squeezed his eyes shut as remembered images flashed in his tortured mind, as the fear and confusion took over once again, “Ya liked it, din’t ya? There’s more where that came from.”

The dark haired detective shivered imperceptibly as a gentle night breeze came through the open window, curtains silently lifting to allow it access into the warmth of the room. ‘How could he have found any pleasure in that vile and perversed act? Did that make him a sick bastard like Jebb?’ How could he even begin to tell Hutch?”

“Starsk? What is it?”

He could feel the warmth of his partner’s hand on his shoulder and for a moment he struggled against his natural instinct to pull away, battling within to keep his defenses down, to keep himself in the room when all he wanted to do was to run . . . run far away from the haunted memories of Jebb leering down at him, run from the whispered voices that crowded and plagued his mind, run from the despair and anger at himself for his body’s betrayal in feeling any pleasure from that hillbilly’s vile act, run far and fast from the possibility that he might be “queer” like his mentor John . . . but most of all, he wanted to run far away from the soft, forgiving blue of his partner’s eyes.

“Hutch . . . let’s jus’ drop it okay?” Starsky whispered, his voice shaky and uncertain, “I’m fine . . . He didn’t rape me and I’m . . . I’m dealing with all of this . . .”

“No. Don’t you run from me Starsk,” Hutch interjected, “Not now . . . not when you’ve come this far . . .” A look of shock surprise flared in the blond’s eyes as the brunet angrily batted his hand from his shoulder and turned to glare up at his fair-haired counterpart in the dark of the room.

“What do you want from me Hutch?” Huh?” Starsky snarled, cobalt eyes stormy, almost glittering as it caught the fragment of moonlight that entered into the room’s dark interior; the look he gave his partner seemed almost feral and dangerous, “I told you everything . . . there’s nothin’ else to tell!” the brunet snapped.

“No!” Hutch pushed, innately sensing that there was more, “I know you . . . there’s something you’re not telling me and it’s tearing you up inside . . . I . . .”

“Okay! You wanna know?” Starsky growled, breathing heavily in the sudden stillness of the night, “I’m a sick bastard that’s what! You call Jebb a pervert . . . I’m no better . . .”

“What? Starsk . . . what are you . . .”

“No . . . jus’ shut up and listen Hutch okay? You wanted to hear this . . . so here it is . . . I think I’m . . . I . . . when he was shovin’ his fingers into me, it hurt. God it fuckin’ hurt so bad . . . felt like it was burning me up from the inside out . . . ripping me open . . . and then . . . and then I think I started bleedin’ ‘cause it eased up a little . . .”

The tall sensitive blond swallowed hard as he imagined the pain his partner went through; knowing how something like that, if done roughly, could tear someone through, rupturing tender tissue. A part of him, out of habit, wanted to reach out again to lay his hand on Starsky’s shoulder, to console him with touch like they always did, but Hutch refrained, knowing that his partner would reject it right now. His mind struggled to focus in on what his partner was saying . . .

“ . . . and then that son of a bitch did something . . . and I . . .” The dark haired cop stopped mid sentence, his breathing harsh and labored as he fisted his eyes shut, dark lashes pressed tightly against his cheeks, hiding his despair from the familiar blue of the sky as a slow blush crawled up his neck and into his cheeks.

“You what?” Hutch pressed gently, struggling to keep his voice soft and soothing, knowing that they were coming to the heart of the matter, “What happened Starsk? What did you do?”

At his partner’s gentle prodding, the brunet lifted his head and looked his friend in the eye, startling the tall blond with the intensity of his gaze. The blond watched as his partner slowly shook his head in denial as a look of distress passed across his face, “I can’t . . . I jus’ . . . I-I don’t know how to tell you . . .”

Hutch sighed and ran his hand over his face, feeling his heart tighten up at the anxiety he could feel radiating out of his partner’s tense body, “Look Starsk,” he said softly, gently, “When I was a kid, I used to come out here to this farm regularly and many times I’d fall down and skin my knee or an elbow and my grandpa would pick me up, carry me into the bathroom and patch me up. Guess I was kind of a klutzy kid.” The tall blond grinned self-consciously as he wearily dragged a hand through his golden hair.

Starsky snorted softly, feeling some of the tenseness leaving his shoulders as a grin lit up his features, “Yeah? Looks like some things never changed partner.”

Hutch laughed, feeling so glad to see his partner’s familiar smirk even if it was at his own expense, “Yeah, laugh it up Gordo, but here’s my point, when it came time to clean and redress the wound, I’d be scared ‘cause I knew it would hurt you know?”

At his partner’s slight nod, the blond continued, “My grandpa though, would always say, ‘Kenny, every hurt, no matter how small, needs to be cleaned or it will get infected and make you sick inside. So here’s what Grandpa’s gonna do . . . I’m gonna pull the bandage off real quick like and even if it hurts a bit, the faster we do it, the less it’ll hurt.” Hutch smiled at his partner, but his grin soon turned to a frown when he realized his friend was still clueless.

“You ah . . . you don’t get it do you?”

“Get what?” Starsky asked, his dark brows coming together over wide blue eyes.

Hutch sighed and then snorted softly shaking his head, “Starsk,” he said patiently, “I was talking about you.” At his partner’s blank look, the blond sighed again, “I was trying to relate my story to what you’re going through. You’re hurting right now buddy, but if you don’t release it, whatever it is will just keep tearing you down, it’ll get infected and make you sick if we don’t clean it and the only way to do that is to talk about it. I know you’re scared and you say you can’t, but maybe if you say it real quick, like how my grandpa used to take off my bandage, it won’t hurt as much.”

Starsky gaped at his partner in the darkness, his mind going over his friend’s simple solution to his gut-wrenching problem. The dark haired detective could feel his stomach clench tightly as he thought of Hutch’s reaction to what he’d be sharing, “Okay,” the brunet said softly, hesitantly, his anxious eyes silently begging for understanding as it searched his partner’s face, “Okay . . . but we’ll still be friends no matter what it is, right? I mean . . . I’m still the same guy and all . . .”

“Starsk . . . just say it . . .” Hutch said encouragingly, “It’s me . . . it’s who do we trust time buddy . . .” The tall blond watched as his partner drew in a shaky breath and lowered his eyes to the floor.

“Okay . . . okay . . . here it is . . .” the brunet almost whispered, making the tall blond lean forward to hear his partner’s soft voice, “I ah . . . I think I’m gay . . .”

Chapter 18

“You think you’re . . . you think you’re what?” Hutch sputtered, flabbergasted. Of all the things he thought Starsky would say . . . this was definitely not it! The tall blond’s pale, blue eyes flicked back and forth over the familiar features of his partner whose eyes were still glued to the ground.

“Okay . . . lemme get this straight . . . you think you’re gay?” The blond detective could see the humiliation in his friend’s whole demeanor as the brunet nodded miserably. Hutch shook his head in disbelief. There was no way in hell his homophobic friend could ever be gay.

‘What the hell is he thinking?’ Hutch wondered, confusion written all over his face as he stared at his dark haired counterpart. Starsky was a man’s man if ever there was one and it astonished the blond that he could even begin to question himself. All of a sudden, Hutch burst out laughing, “You’re kidding right? I mean . . . Starsky . . . what the hell man?”

“It ain’t funny!” the brunet said sullenly, his lower lip sticking out in a slight pout. Bright blue eyes glared at the chuckling blond. “I don’ believe you . . . you keep pushing me to spill it, to bare my soul, and here I am finally pouring my heart out to you and you’re laughin’ . . . so much for me and thee . . .” The hurt expression on Starsky’s face instantly sobered the blond who quickly cleared his throat and wiped the smile from his lips.

“Okay wait . . . you’re serious then . . . I mean . . . you really think you’re gay?” At his partner’s embarrassed nod, the blond frowned and continued, “Starsky, I just don’t understand why you would think that. You were victimized by a sick bastard . . . how does that make you a . . . a . . .”

“John was gay and we never knew about it.” Starsky said softly, “I mean it threw all of us for a spin when we found out. John was not someone who anyone would think of as gay. I mean . . . he played football, was married, and he did guy stuff and he was a cop!”

Hutch snorted softly at his friend’s innocence, “Buddy . . . anyone could have a different sexual preference and if they wanted to hide it, no one would ever be the wiser . . . it’s not like they wear a sign or anything.” Hutch grinned and wagged an eyebrow, “I mean, even I could be gay, or you could be, and if we didn’t want anyone to know, I’m sure we could hide it,” the blond detective joked, his chuckle swallowed back as he watched Starsky quickly look down again. Hutch’s brows drew together in confusion from his partner’s reaction, perplexed by the shade of red that continued to darken in his cheeks. ‘What the hell?’ Hutch wondered silently as he watched his partner squirm uncomfortably.

“Starsk? What’s wrong buddy?”

Starsky sighed softly, “I bet John never even knew he was gay until he . . . you know . . . until he was with a guy in that way. Maybe the first time he . . . I mean, maybe it took him by surprise . . . maybe the first time he found some pleasure in that act made him realize that he swung that way.”

“I don’t think John would have been sexually intimate with a man if he didn’t have those tendencies to begin with Starsk.” Hutch’s frown deepened as he tried to piece together the distorted clues his partner was giving him. He knew Starsky like the back of his hand, and he knew the dark haired detective was trying to tell him something important in a roundabout way. “What does John being gay have to do with what happened to you up at that cabin anyway? And I still don’t understand why you even think you’re gay?”

“Awwww, just drop it Hutch,” Starsky said gruffly, irritation evident in his rough voice.

“No . . . just answer my question Gordo,” Hutch persisted, “What happened to you that night doesn’t make you gay Starsky . . . you were nearly raped up at that cabin, and that’s a far cry from choosing to have sex with another man.”

The dark haired detective shrugged his shoulders, his voice hardening in anger and disgust, “Well, it ain’t no different if I got off on it.”

“Got . . . g-got off on it? What are you talking about?” the confused blond asked, his eyes locked on the silent brunet who seemed to be curling in on himself, “Starsk . . . just spit it out.”

“Okay!” Starsky snapped suddenly, eyes sparkling in anger, “What part of ‘got off on it’ don’t you understand Hutch? He was shoving his fingers into me and it fuckin’ hurt. And the whole time he was doing that, he was yappin’ away about how I was gonna love it when he hit my sweet spot and then he did something . . . inside of me . . . and I . . . I could feel myself getting hard okay?” That clear enough for you?”

The angry tirade left the brunet’s body as he turned away from the blond, the sound of the crickets’ chirping filling the sudden silence of the room. Starsky could feel the warm flush coloring his cheeks as the unfamiliar feeling of shame coursed through his body and he refused to look at his partner, almost afraid to see the condemnation he was certain would be in Hutch’s light blue eyes.

“Oh my god,” Hutch’s soft voice filled the silence from behind him making the brunet cringe inside, “Oh my god! You mean this whole thing is about . . . about that?” Starsky stiffened as his partner came around to stand before him and he lifted angry eyes to glare up at the tall blond.

“Starsky,” Hutch began gently, his voice calm and soothing, “Every man . . . and I don’t care if it’s John, or you, or me . . . or even Dobey . . . every man has a prostate gland and every man would feel intense pleasure if our prostate were touched like that. That’s what Jebb meant by “your sweet spot.” We all have it and when it’s rubbed from the inside of our bodies . . . well . . . there’s this jolt of pleasure that races through us.”

The tall blond smiled as his friend’s angry gaze turned to one of uncertainty and confusion. Hutch nodded as his partner’s said, “You mean . . . what I felt was normal? I mean . . . I started to get hard Hutch . . . I thought I was a sick bastard when that happened.”

“It would have happened to the best of us buddy,” Hutch said softly, daring to allow a grin to grace his lips, “And just because you felt pleasure when your prostate was touched . . . it doesn’t mean you liked or condoned what Jebb was doing to you . . . and it certainly doesn’t mean your gay! Okay?” Hutch chuckled at the look of relief that came to his partner’s eyes. It never failed to amaze the blond how boyishly innocent and naïve his street-smart partner could be sometimes.

The dark haired detective visibly relaxed, feeling the weight of the past few days falling from his shoulders as he looked up at his smiling partner, a slow grin coming to his own face, “Okay! So I’m normal then . . . man, I feel so much better Hutch,” Starsky laughed, “I mean, I thought I was really following in John’s footsteps for moment . . .” A frown suddenly marred the handsome brunet’s face, “But there is still one thing that is bothering me . . .”

“Yeah? What’s that buddy?”

“How’d you get so knowledgeable about prostates, and um . . . how do you know how it feels to have it rubbed . . . huh Hutch? That ever happen to you . . . hmmm Blintz? You been holdin’ out on me or what?” the brunet joked, a smirk coming to his face.

“Yeah. Wouldn’t you like to know . . .” Hutch chuckled, so very glad and relieved to see the partner that he knew and loved once again back in place.

Starksy laughed out loud, grimacing as his healing ribs gave him a painful reminder of its existence. “Damn,” Starsky winced, his arm sliding over his abdomen to his hold his side, “Don’t make me laugh Hutchinson . . . and no . . . I don’t wanna know the sordid details of your prostate’s adventures . . . gross!”

Hutch laughed out loud as his partner shuddered silently then chuckled softly, “Okay then . . . we good?” the blond asked.

“Yeah . . I’m good . . .except for one small thing . . .”

Hutch frowned in concern, the laughter leaving his eyes, “What’s that buddy?”

Starsky sighed softly, the quiet stillness of the night sounding louder after being filled moments ago by their laughter, “Well . . . I don’t know how to tell you this but . . . I’m hungry . . . you still got any of that trout left from dinner?” The brunet raised dark blue eyes to his friend’s light blue ones, the expression on the dark haired detective’s face was filled with love and a inner peace that radiated out to touch the sensitive blond who immediately threw his arm around his partner’s shoulder in a show of camaraderie.

“Yeah, I got some trout left, dummy,” Hutch said jovially to his partner, as he walked his friend slowly to the bedroom door, “There’s a bite or two left since you were too pig-headed to eat tonight. Tell you what . . .” the blond smirked, “I’ll race you for the fish!” With that, the tall blond detective dashed away, leaving the flabbergasted brunet behind.

“Wait a minute . . . hey . . . I’m wounded here remember?” the brunet whined as he limped out the door, “Hutch? Hey . . . Huuuuuuuuuu-tch!!!!!!!!!!”