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The Bay City Aquarium was nestled in the safety of the harbor. It held many wonderful and exotic creatures of the sea. Large glass tanks encircled the inner walls of the facility, holding a variety of fresh and salt-water fish, sea turtles, and sharks. The center of the aquarium held a most impressive sight, a large round cement wall enclosed the blue pool; its contents swam far below in quick perpetual motion then jumped high in the air and back down into the depths of their man-made home. The dolphins were part of the Safe Harbor Foundation. The sick and injured were brought here to the aquarium to live the rest of their lives in peace and comfort away from the hazards of the sea.
The room was lit well as the ceiling was one large sky light and a wall of glass from floor to ceiling adorned the far end of the room. The dolphin's home extended out of the building as they could swim under the glass wall into a larger pool area outside. The outdoor pool was surrounded by a wood deck and overlooked the harbor. Visitors were allowed to feed the dolphins and pet them when the mood struck them to venture close enough to out reached hands.
Starsky and Hutch were awe struck by the magnificence of the sleek gray animals. Both men leaned in and over the wall, which was chest high, fingers wiggled in the water to gather the attention of the playful animals that lurked near by.
"Starsk, I told you this would be a great way to spend our day off; now do you understand why I wanted to bring you here?"
Starsky was too engrossed with the child-like friend that was only a few feet from his hand to answer his partner. The officers had been working night and day, and as the last of their paper work was typed and the case closed, Hutch and Starsky were worn and heads pounded from stress. Hutch the nature lover had always wanted to make the trek to the aquarium, and decided that he and Starsky would find some peace and relaxation there. Starsky being the city boy he was didn't share Hutch's enthusiasm of the trip, but gave in to his friend's pleas.
"Starsky, Starsky, Starsk...." Hutch finally splashed some salt water at his friend to get his attention.
Starsky looked up with that big kid grin. "Hutch this is the best idea you ever had!"
Hutch was pleased that his best friend and backup had found this trip to be the therapy they both craved. "Hey buddy, how about we go get some lunch and eat out on the deck, we can still watch the dolphins from there?"
"Ssshhhh.... Hutch it's coming over to me; be still."
The dolphin moved in slowly toward Starsky's hand that floated gently on top of the sea salt. Hutch watched as his friend's eyes grew to the size of ping pong balls as the dolphin moved right under his hand and rolled over to have its tummy stroked.
Starsky rubbed the large animal with pride. "See that, Hutch, she likes me."
"Gordo, how do you know it's a girl?" Hutch smirked.
In his usual Bogie impersonation Starsky replied, "Hey, sweetheart, all the ladies enjoy my touch."
Hutch rolled his eyes and pulled Starsky away from the attraction to head for lunch. Starsky yelled over his shoulder to the dolphin that watched her friend walk away, "Bye, Lucy. I will see you later."
Starsky was starved and with his coke in one hand and large slice of pepperoni and anchovy pizza in the other he looked for where his blond partner had gone. Hutch had found a table near the pool. His lunch consisted of a fruit platter with cheese and crackers and lemon aid; he spied Starsky, and waved a hand at him. Starsky caught sight of Hutch waving; he waved back in response with the hand that held the slice of pizza, and in an instant a whoosh sound flew past his ears and a sea gull snatched Starsky's lunch from his hand and flew out over the harbor with it. Starsky looked over at Hutch who by now was falling off his chair in laughter. Starsky gave him the death stare and headed back for another slice of pizza that he would guard this time with his life.
As the two finished their lunch some commotion was coming from over by the pool.
Four men waved guns in the air and fired shots off. They were angry, and began to corral people into a group. A lot of the visitors on the inside had heard and seen the ruckus and fled the scene.
Hutch and Starsky got down low, guns drawn, and crept toward the men, weaving in and out of the picnic tables where they had just been enjoying their lunch. As they stalked their prey they were aware of the words that came from the apparent leader of the gang.
"You people stay quiet and do as we say and no one will get hurt. Everyone on the ground now and don't move." The man had a crazed look in his eyes. His long blond hair was tied in a ponytail and the stern look he held was enough to make the tourists do as they were told.
Ted was a smaller heavy set man with not much hair at all. He yelled over at Mr. Pony Tail, "We need to find a phone and make our demands. If they don't release these dolphins back into the wild where they belong, we'll show them what it means to be sorry."
It was becoming clear that these men were not of the stable nature as Starsky and Hutch crouched behind a large potted plant awaiting there next move.
A man stood up from his place in the corral and began to speak to the freedom fighters. "Look fellows, these dolphins are here either because of injury or illness. They are well cared for and quite happy." The veterinarian was very thin and tall and wore glasses. He spoke again, catching the men off keel. "Most of them would not be able to survive in the wild any longer, and we have learned a lot about them as well."
The four men were angered more by the words of the animal doctor and one of the goons walked over and shoved the vet back down to the ground, telling him to shut up, that he didn't understand the true nature of the sea and they were about to set things right or else.
Hutch gave his partner a look and they both knew this was the time to make their move, while the men seemed to be distracted by the words of the vet. Weapons ready, they rushed the four men thinking the element of surprise would be on their side.
"Freeze, police!" Hutch yelled.
The men were indeed surprised, but had no intention on giving in so easily. They began to fire.
Careful not to hit any of the visitors who were now as flat as pancakes on the ground, Starsky took aim at one of the misguided activists. A direct hit to the leg and the man fell in pain to the wood deck. The other three men ran to the group of people and began to move the corral in front of them as a human shield. This was not working out the way the detectives had planned it; the element of surprise wore off in a heartbeat.
Hutch and Starsky lay low against the cement wall of the pool trying to figure their next move. Mr. Pony Tail grabbed a young girl and held her out in front of him with his gun pushed in to the side of her head. "Give it up or I'll take her head off!" His voice was dead serious.
The poor little girl cried and kicked at the man and in response to that Ponytail shook her hard and cocked his weapon. Starsky, not thinking too clear as his anger got the better of him, stood and took aim at the head of the crazed man. Hutch reached up to grab Starsky back down but it had been too late. His over-zealous partner again took action before thought. Ted saw the curly head come up from its hiding place, and he squeezed the trigger that was aimed directly at Starsky. A direct hit to the stomach sent Starsky flying backward and into the salt-water pool.
"Starsky!" Hutch jumped to his feet. Now he was not thinking clearly either.
"Drop it pig!" The tall leader took aim at Hutch.
Hutch was now cornered like a rabid dog. There was no where to go, no where to take cover. He was out in the open and it was hunting season. Hutch dropped his gun to the ground and moved to the pool in attempt to retrieve his partner.
"Don't you move, cop, or you can join your partner."
All three guns were on him as Hutch peered into the clear pool. His heart took a leap ten feet high at the sight of his brother and partner sinking to the bottom, lifeless, as blood circled around in a cloud. "I can't just leave him to drown. Do you understand the penalty for killing an officer?" Hutch shook as he screamed at the men.
Hutch knew he would be of no help to Starsky dead, but he couldn't just stand there and watch his friend die.
He again began to go in after Starsky when Ted ran to him, pushing him to the ground and knocking him in the head with the butt of his gun. Hutch's last visions were of his friend sinking to the bottom of the pool. He had failed to protect him and now Starsky would die because of it.
He was floating as if in a cloud. It was peaceful and quiet and calm unlike any feeling he had ever had before. Dolphin dreams invaded his thoughts and his soul. They swam around him, brushing up against him in such gentleness and love. They called out to him with clicks and whistles, nudged him, and spun him around in a dance of splendor. It was blue and echoes of love filled his being. He rose higher and higher. The dream began to take new shape. It felt cold, wet, a pain in his side burning, tearing at him. Something under him pushing against his torso, pushing him upward toward a blur of colors.
He took a deep breath and felt himself pushed up against the stone wall. Instinct caught hold and he grabbed the wall and held tight, gasping for air. Blood swirled around him as his peaceful dream took on the rawness of reality. The dolphin's eyes looked deep into his and they held the gaze for what felt like eternity. Starsky reached out a trembling hand and lay it on the lifeguard that floated next to him.
"Lucy," he coughed out. Hutch will never believe this one, he thought. A dolphin, an angel of the sea, saved my life. "I'll see to it you get a lifetime supply of shrimp, sweetheart." He coughed more and eased himself out of the water.
Starsky turned back toward the water at the sound of something clanking on the side of the pool. Lucy had his gun in her mouth. It must have fallen into the pool with him he thought, and again the sea angel was there, staring with gentle love as Starsky removed the armor from her mouth. He gave her a grin and a wink and, dripping with sea water and blood, laying low, he made his way toward the screams and cries. He could tell they were close by.
Starsky had made his way back inside the aquarium. He held his side with his right hand. He pressed hard and winced as blood covered his hand and dripped to the ground. In his left hand he held the wet, salt-damaged gun. He didn't know if it would be of any use.
Peering around a large free-standing glass tank, he could see the freedom fighters and their hostages. There were about 12 visitors mostly women and children sitting up against a wall. Most were crying and hugging each other tight as the men paced back and forth in front of them waving guns and yelling, their frustration evident. One of the men leaned off to the side, was out for the count, a rag of some sort tied around his wounded leg.
"Now what do you plan on doing? We got us a dead cop. They ain't never gonna give us what we want," the near bald headed man stated firmly to the others.
Pony tail pointed at Hutch who sat starring blankly into space. "We got this one here and he will make sure we get these animals free and safe passage for us out to sea as well or we start killing one by one."
He reached down and grabbed Hutch by the hair and yanked him up. Hutch loomed in front of the tall man. Pain wrenched his face. He couldn't shake the memory of his partner sinking to the bottom of blood filled water. A trickle of blood ran down his face and his head hurt from the blow of the gun as the deranged activist shoved him toward a nearby pay phone.
Pony Tail shoved the phone into Hutch's face. "Make the call!" he demanded.
With daggers in his eyes, Hutch glared at the man who had killed his partner. Hutch couldn't contain the fear and sorrow. It erupted like a volcano. He lunged at the man grabbing his pony tail and smashing him up against the pay phone. The two other men stood in disbelief for a brief moment, then Ted ran over and cocked his gun and pointed it at Hutch's back.
He began to pull down on the trigger when Starsky came out from his cover yelling, "Don't anyone move." His gun was pointed outward, his right hand and shirt covered in blood, hair and clothes dripping wet. He swayed back and forth a bit and yelled again, "Drop the guns now!"
Ted spun around and pointed his gun toward Starsky.
Everyone in the room was still and stared in shock at the wet, blood drenched man. Hutch almost passed out from glee to see his friend, but the happiness faded quickly when he saw the blood soaked shirt, and, knowing his partner the way he did, he could tell Starsky was about to hit the floor.
Starsky took a few tentative steps toward the men. He swayed and tilted a bit, his eyes heavy he motioned with his gun at baldy. "I said drop it," he slurred.
Hutch watched Starsky, never taking his eyes off him. His partner was fading fast. "We have ourselves a little Mexican stand off," Ted said with a chuckle.
Hutch still held tight to Pony Tail, not sure what his next move should be, waiting to see if his partner could keep upright long enough to disarm the other two men.
Starsky stared at baldy. He began to feel strange. He was cold, very cold, and the room began to move round and round. He struggled to stay focused. He stumbled forward, somehow still holding his gun in front of him. He mumbled something again but it was not understood.
Ted smiled, holding a hand up to his comrades in arms to wait just a moment. All three men had an evil smile as they watched Starsky lose his battle over wakefulness.
Hutch's grip on Pony Tail loosened a bit as he watched his partner take one more unbalanced step toward the gunmen. The partners' eyes met a moment in time, froze, then Hutch watched Starsky's eyes roll to the back of his head and he landed in a heap on the floor.
Hutch closed his eyes as he let go of his prey. Ted ran to Starsky and took the gun, shoving it in his pants. Pony Tail threw Hutch against the wall as Ted dragged Starsky across the floor and tossed him in Hutch's lap. "This what you were so upset about, pig?" Pony Tail said with a grin the length of the Mississippi.
The three men walked a few feet away, ever watchful of their hostages, to discuss their demands.
Hutch pulled Starsky close to him. He lifted the wet, blood soaked tee shirt. He could see the bullet wound and could tell Starsky had lost a lot of blood. He had nothing he could use but his hand as he pressed it against the hole in his friend, trying to slow, if not stop, the bleeding.
The men decided to make their own phone call. They wanted a boat and some of the dolphin caregivers to aid in the transfer of the creatures to the ship they would take out to sea and set them free, and with the money they also demanded they would make their escape out of the country in search of more earthly destruction to repair.
These guys had heart enough to want to save the earth and its creatures but they sure didn't have a full deck in the way to go about it, thought Hutch as he cradled Starsky close to him.
Starsky shivered as he lay in Hutch's arms. Hutch looked down at his friend. "Hey, hey." He shook Starsky slightly, trying to get his friend to open his eyes. Hutch needed to see some life in the limp cold body of his partner.
"Hutch," came a breathless whisper. Starsky was freezing cold and his side hurt like someone stuck a hot cattle prod into it. His eyes opened but were no more then slits as he tried to focus on the face that had bent down close to his.
"I'm here with you, buddy, right here." Hutch could feel how cold Starsky was and tried to hold him closer to keep him warm. The bleeding had all but stopped but Hutch noted the loss of blood. "Starsk, take it easy, stay with me."
"Lucy." Another breathless whisper.
"What, Starsk? You mean the fish?" Hutch was trying hard to understand what his partner couldn't get out.
Starsky gasped in some air. He felt weak and his side hurt so badly his head tilted backward at the pain. Again he called, "Hutch."
"Buddy, easy, easy, don't talk. I'm here, just sleep." Hutch was so helpless he couldn't do anything to ease his partner's pain. Starsky shivered uncontrollably in Hutch's arms. He moaned and twitched and grabbed at Hutch's shirt in pain. Hutch couldn't take it another minute. He yelled at the three men who were engaged in deep conversation. "Look, I need to get him to a hospital now." The men didn't seem to care what Hutch was saying. "At least get me a blanket to cover him with. He's going into shock." Hutch was beside himself with grief as he looked down at his friend.
The Unknown Soldier headed over to one of the women taking her long coat and tossed it over to Hutch. "This will have to do, pig." He grunted at the bother of it all and walked away. Hutch rapped the garment around his friend.
"It won't be long now."
Pony Tail said we should be getting our passage out of here along with our cargo.
It won't be long now, Hutch thought, if I don't get him some help soon. Tears welled in his eyes as he gazed up at the stars that shown through the sky light above. Starsky lay quiet now in the arms of his partner, dreams of dolphins loomed in his mind. The cold and pain had left and he felt free.
Hutch then caught the reminisce of a shadow above, no two, three shadows lurking on the roof. The silhouette of a large heavyset person peered down through the sky light, gun in hand. "Dobey," Hutch whispered under his breath. The cavalry was here finally.
Hutch shook Starsky to wakefulness. He had to be ready to move when the shit hit the fan. Starsky winced at the effort it took for him to open his eyes. "Blintz, I'm tired. Sleep, just want to sleep." He began to fade out again, but Hutch shook him harder.
Hutch couldn't help but feel guilty for causing his friend more pain but he pulled Starsky to a sitting position and whispered in his ear. "Starsk, hang on to me tight. I'm sorry if it hurts but were going to have to move fast in a minute, buddy."
Starsky, ever trusting of his partner, only had the strength to nod as he grabbed Hutch's shirt in preparation for the move. Hutch looked over at the other hostages. They were all sleeping, lying on the floor.
Dobey looked down through the glass roof. He could see the men and all the hostages. He had been alerted to the hostage situation by several visitors who had escaped and phoned the police. They decided to head up to the roof as they had a vantage point of the whacked out activists below. The police had no intentions on giving in to their demands. When Dobey first arrived, he was not at all stunned to see the one and only Starsky mobile parked out front. Why do my boys always seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? the gruff man just shook his head in thought.
The natives were getting restless as they began to pace the floor. What was taking so long?
Hutch had to keep shaking his partner to keep him awake. He whispered low into Starsky's ear, "Gordo, come on, you gotta stay with me here."
Starsky looked up at the sky. He struggled to keep his eyes open. He caught the sight of Dobey and the rest of the rescue team. He sat up and leaned heavy on Hutch. He felt numb and weak but continued to try to get to his feet. Just as the men saw the movement of the two cops and began to walk over toward them the sound of a thousand shards came crashing down around them. Two men suspended by ropes came blazing down toward them. Precision sharp shooters took aim at the criminals, taking them down one by one. The men had no time to respond.
Hutch had finished hauling his partner to his feet and half dragged him away from the falling glass. The women and children were up against the wall now huddled in fear and covering their heads. As calm settled over the aquarium and the bad guys were cuffed and whisked away (their injuries being only bad enough to incapacitate them). The rest of the hostages were helped out of the facility with no more then small scratches.
"Where's the ambulance," Hutch yelled over to Dobey who was just heading over to his boys. Starsky's wound was bleeding again from being moved so quickly. Hutch pressed down hard. His partner flinched at the pressure. "Sorry buddy, I got to stop this bleeding." Hutch's concern flared.
Starsky looked at Hutch with glazed eyes. "It's ok partner, not going anywhere. Shrimp," he breathed as his head fell to one side.
Hutch was confused. He held onto Starsky, his hand painted red, as he waited for help to arrive. Buddy, you better not be going anywhere without me, he thought as pictures of the day flashed through his mind. He smiled at the shocked look Starsky held after the seagull had stolen his lunch away.
It had been a few months since the detectives had been to the aquarium. Starsky healed from his gun shot wound. He had nearly bled to death, but no other damage was done to any vital organs. With rest and blood transfusions his recovery was a quick one.
Hutch stood by the pool petting the dolphin his partner lovingly named Lucy. Her watery eyes looking into his silent sea blues. A moment of understanding passing between them. "Thank you," he choked out to the animal. Hutch had heard miraculous stories of animals of all forms saving people but he never thought he would be thanking a fish for saving his partner's life. Oh, yeah, sorry, he thought, mammal.
Starsky ran over to where Hutch had been standing, a large tin bucket in hand. He began to lean over and dangle a small pinkish looking thing over the water. "And there is plenty more where this came from, sweetheart," he drawled.
Hutch laughed out loud as he also grabbed a shrimp from the bucket and held it out to the dolphin.
The harbor would be safe once more.