Hutch was furious at Nick Starsky. He'd just found out that his partner's brother was dealing dope.
"What do you care?" the younger man asked sarcastically.
"I don't give a damn about you, but I do care about your brother!" Hutch replied angrily.
"Oh, yeah, you sure do. I've seen the way you 'care' about my brother," sneered Nick.
Taken aback, Hutch asked, "What exactly are you implying?"
"You think I haven't noticed? I saw you last night at the disco. I saw the way you looked at him. I don't know why he hasn't noticed it. Either he's blind, or he's just chosen to ignore it."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Hutch stated.
"You have the hots for Dave! It's written all over your face!"
"And if I do? What difference does that make?" asked the blonde detective.
"Once I tell him that you want his body, he won't listen to a thing you have to say about me," said Nick with satisfaction.
"Listen to me, punk. I don't give a shit what you think of me. But if you hurt him, I will find you, and I will make you pay."
The younger Starsky brother looked at Hutch with a shade more respect than he'd been showing. "You're in love with him. You don't just have the hots for him. You're in love with him."
Hutch didn't say anything.
"It's no use, you know. He likes women. He isn't like you."
Just then the door opened and Dave Starsky walked in. Hutch looked stricken. "How much did you hear?" he asked his partner.
"Enough," said Dave quietly. "Look, I need to talk to my brother alone. I'll see you later, okay?"
"Okay," Hutch said with a nod, and left. At least Starsky hadn't seemed too angry. Yes, he was upset, but was he upset with his brother or with his partner? Ken wasn't sure. Damnit. He hadn't wanted Starsky to find out about his feelings, at least not like this. But if there was one thing he knew from all his years of being a cop, it was that secrets had a habit of coming out when you least expected or wanted them to. Hopefully he and Starsk would have a chance to talk once he was finished with his brother.
"So, I bet that wasn't something you expected to hear," Nick said to his brother with a nasty grin.
"What, that my brother is dealing drugs?"
"That your partner is in love with you."
"Hutch's feelings for me, or my feelings for him, are none of your business," replied David.
"And what I do is none of yours," said Nick.
"Yes it is. Because what you do is illegal, and I'm a cop."
"So what, you gonna arrest me?"
"No, because so far all you've done since you've been here is make the acquaintance of some rather unsavory characters. But I will warn you - stay away from Frank Stryker. He's bad news," said Dave.
"I can take care of myself, thank you very much," replied his brother. "So, what are you gonna do about Hutch?"
"Why should I do anything about him?"
"Because he's a big homo, that's why! He's queer and he's in love with you! Doesn't that bother you?"
Dave shoved his brother none too gently against the wall. "Don't you ever say anything like that about my partner again, got that?"
"Are you one, too?" Nick almost spat the question out.
"A homo. A faggot."
"If I love Hutch, does that make me a homo or a faggot?" asked Dave calmly.
"Do I what?"
"Yes," said Starsky, almost surprised to hear himself say it. "And I think that I should go tell him that."
Nick looked at him with disgust. "Fine. Go see your boyfriend. I have stuff to do." And he stormed out of the apartment.
Starsky walked into the precinct and immediately spotted Hutch, sitting at his desk looking worried. He wanted to reassure the other man that everything was okay, that he wasn't angry, that, in fact, he had been pleased to hear that Hutch loved him, but this was not the place to do it. He was contemplating his next move when he got a phone call. It was Nick. Frank Stryker was holding him because he wanted to get to Starsky.
Fortunately Nick was able to provide some clues in his message that led the detectives right to his location. Dave couldn't resist a little gloating when he saw his kid brother sitting there tied to a chair, trussed up like a Christmas turkey.
"Who's the older brother?" he asked.
"You are," muttered Nick through his gag.
"And which one of us is tied up?"
"I am," Nick said.
"And who came to your rescue when you needed it?"
"Me and who else?"
"Hutch," answered Nick reluctantly.
After Nick had been questioned and released, Starsky took him home. He still hadn't had a chance to talk to Hutch. At least Nick had started to come around after seeing the two of them in action. It didn't hurt, of course, that they had saved his butt.
He took his brother to the airport the next day. "Try to stay out of trouble, will you?" he admonished the younger man. "Don't make me come out East to knock some sense into you."
They hugged, and Nick was about to leave when he turned back and said, "Listen, about Hutch. He seems like a good guy. And if he loves you, well, maybe that's not such a bad thing."
Starsky grinned. "See ya, kid."
"See ya, big brother."
As Starsky drove to his friend's apartment, he thought about what Nick had said. Loving someone wasn't a bad thing. He sort of got the feeling that maybe Hutch thought it was a bad thing to love him. He hoped he could convince him otherwise.
He stood in the hallway and knocked. Hutch had given him a key a long time ago, but he felt kind of strange just walking in on him. When the blonde opened the door, Starsky said, "We need to talk."
Hutch let him in without saying a word. He motioned to the couch and sat down in a chair. He'd been dreading this conversation for almost two days. "Look, I don't know where Nick got this crazy idea from. He thought I was checking you out at the disco. It's ridiculous. I.... "
"Shut up, Blintz," said Starsky.
Startled, Hutch did so.
Starsky lay a hand on his shoulder. "Look at me, Hutch. Look at me."
Slowly, reluctantly, the detective raised his head and looked into his partner's eyes. What he saw there surprised him. Starsky wasn't shocked or disgusted. He looked happy.
"I love you, Blondie."
Hutch swallowed hard. "You do?"
"Yeah, I do."
"You're not mad at me?"
"No, but I might be soon if you don't come over here and kiss me."
Hutch did as he was told.