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Why was he so lonely? Where the hell was everyone? It was so goddamned dark in here... The loneliness crept into his soul like a creature wrapping itself around his heart. The last time he felt this way was...oh...his dad died...when? Yesterday? No...long time what is it this time? He must be dreaming...

"No," a voice whispered in his head..."this is no dream."

He tried to stem a rising tide of fear. Why did he feel so alone? Where the hell was everyone? An image came to him....he was falling and the pain....the pain was more than he could bear. Maybe this wasn't a dream? sob If it wasn't a dream then what the hell was it? What had happened? The fear was so palpable it threatened to send him screaming into the darkness.

"This is no dream," the voice whispered again..."this is what it's like to be dead."

To be dead? sob No!! No, it couldn't be. Darkness, fear and dreadful loneliness? Wasn't there supposed to be light? Wasn't there supposed to be happiness? peace? something...? Not this horrible fear and loneliness. There wasn't any light here and the darkness was a tangible, slithering thing trying to overcome his senses. He had to get out of here.

He tried to run. Every fiber of his being strained forward. His heart thudded with the effort. His breath came in ragged gasps. It was no use. The darkness was catching him. The fear was overcoming his efforts and dragging him down...down. He was falling now tumbling over and over into a black pit...

He moaned in despair. The spinning was making him nauseous. Then he heard something, something far away...his name?

"Starsk?" A familiar voice, comforting...

He tried to answer but only his mind screamed out, "I'm here!"

He heard it again. Louder this time and more demanding.


The darkness was grabbing him and he moaned in terror fighting to break its grip. He didn't want to stay here in this lonely, terrifying place. He fought, though the pain was immense.

"Starsky, dammit, open your eyes!"

Could it be that easy? He thrashed against the darkness and miraculously opened his eyes.

Light. Blinding light and the pain, the god-awful pain. He squeezed his eyes shut again but the darkness was there and the terror. "Somebody help me," he thought "Somebody please help me."

The loneliness washed over him in a wave. Pain or terror, terrific choices.

The familiar voice, "Come on buddy you can do it."

"Easy for you, Blondie." The thought came unbidden to his pain fuzzed mind. He wasn't alone. The realization flooded him. He felt giddy with relief and chuckled softly as he connected the voice to a name. He tried to reach toward the sound. A hand took his and held it tight.

"Hutch." It came out as a hoarse whisper.

He tried again with slightly better results. "Hutch"

Now he was weeping. Damned emotional roller coaster this was. He wanted off this ride from hell.

"I'm here, Starsk." The voice was euphoric yet...was Hutch crying?

"Don't cry," he croaked.

"Look who's talking. You gonna open your eyes? You want anything?"

He shook his head carefully, no, then yes.

"What? What can I get you?" Hutch's voice was definitely tearful.

"Hutch." He said the name again to reconfirm it in his mind.

"Yeah, buddy it's me."

"Don't go."

"I'm right here, partner. Don't worry, I'm not goin' anywhere."

"Good." He replied and let himself slip back into the darkness, no longer terrified or alone.