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Hutch never told Starsky about the conversation he had with Terry the day before she died. Terry had called him at the precinct and asked him to meet her at a coffee shop near her place, without Starsky.
As he sat across from her studying her face, memorizing it because he knew it would be gone from them forever all too soon, she smiled and began to speak. "Ken, I need you to do something for me. I am worried about Dave. He is so scared and vulnerable and I'm afraid of what will happen to him when I am gone. Please promise me that you'll keep an eye on him, keep him safe. You won't let him do anything foolish, huh?"
Hutch was touched by her concern. He reached across the table and took her small hand in his. "Terry, you know I will. Losing you is going to be very hard on him. I'll be there for him though. I won't let go."
"Thanks, Ken. I just have this bad feeling about how he will take my death. I expect him to be sad, just like I would be if he died first. But Ken, my intuition is telling me that he could do something desperate. I wouldn't have thought that about him, suicide. I can't explain it, but I'm telling you that I fear it. I know from the things he has said to me in the past few days that he blames himself for what happened to me. I don't mean to scare you, I could be wrong. But please don't let him die just because I do. He has his whole life ahead of him. He'll love again. He'll marry. Promise me you'll keep him safe and help him through this until he is okay again. I'll be there to help you."
Terry's words chilled Hutch. He thought about it for a few seconds, and then dismissed it from his mind. No way Starsky would be capable of suicide. His partner was a happy person. His positive outlook on life was a remarkable thing in a cop. Since Terry was shot, Hutch had thought about how her death would affect Starsky, but suicide? Never. He wanted to allay Terry's fears and did not want to let on that he dismissed the idea.
"Please don't worry about this. I believe he would not try to kill himself. I'll keep him safe. I can't live without him. Keeping him safe is what I do. In time, I hope I can help him see that this situation is not his fault."
He smiled and squeezed her hand. She said, "Good. That's settled. Now, you'd better get back to that curly-headed nut or he's going to get suspicious!"
"Let me give you a ride home."
"No, I want to walk. I need to stop and pick something up from the book store."
Hutch kissed her on the cheek and said, "I promise, Terry." Then he left her in the coffee shop with a silent promise to himself to keep this conversation from his partner. He thought to himself how lucky Starsky was to have had someone in his life that loved him so completely she was worried about him, even though she was about to die herself.
Ten days had passed since Terry died. Hutch had spent every minute with his partner since they recaptured Prudholm. Hutch even stayed at Starsky's apartment, crashed on the couch so he could be there when his partner had nightmares, a bad night, or just needed to talk.
Though Hutch was doing his best to comfort his partner, Starsky wasn't sleeping much and he didn't eat much. Hutch tried to tempt him with all his favorite foods, but his friend just wasn't interested. He picked and moved food around on his plate, hoping to fool Hutch into thinking he was eating. He was losing weight though, he had dark circles under his eyes and today, Hutch thought he was getting sick.
Starsky had only taken a few days off after Terry died. Dobey wanted him to take some more time, but he insisted that being back on the streets would keep his mind focused on something other than his grief. Hutch was worried about his partner's lack of concentration though, afraid it might get one of them hurt or killed. Desk duty would have infuriated his partner, so Hutch conspired with Dobey to get them assigned to some safer cases for a few weeks.
On the way out of the station after their shift that night, he watched Starsky out of the corner of his eye. If he had been feeling better, Starsky would have yelled at him to "cut it out" long before now. Instead, he just sighed and looked out the passenger window of the LTD. Starsky hadn't even complained about the car all week. He hadn't offered to drive. That worried Hutch.
Even though Starsky seemed to be coming down with something, Hutch thought today might have been a little better for his dark-haired friend. He seemed a little more relaxed and talkative at work. When Hutch looked into his eyes, he looked a little less fragile, a little less like he might crumble right in front of him. That's it, buddy. Every day will get a little better. Hutch had watched him carefully, looking for signs of despondency. His worry was beginning to fade just a little. They were off for the next three days and he was planning what they could do to keep Starsky occupied.
"Hey, Starsk, how `bout tomorrow we wash the Torino and take it down to San Juan Capistrano for the day? Your baby hasn't been out at all in over a week and she probably misses you."
"Yeah, okay, Hutch. If you want to." He didn't even look at Hutch.
"Well, we could just hang around here, buddy. I just thought a short road trip might be a good idea."
"Whatever you want."
Uh-oh, this wasn't going as well as he had hoped. Hutch figured he had all evening to work on Starsky though. Right now, backing off was probably a good idea.
When they got back to Starsky's place, Hutch asked him what he wanted for dinner. Stupid question.
"I'm not really hungry, Blintz."
"Well, I am, Gordo. How `bout I order a pizza, or maybe some Chinese food. I know you're not hungry, but you really do need to eat something."
Starsky looked at his partner. He could see the worry on his face. His heart ached so. He just didn't have the energy to fight Hutch about anything. He wasn't hungry, his head was starting to pound and he thought he might have a little fever. As much as he appreciated his best friend being there for him, he couldn't seem to get past his grief. He wanted the pain to stop and didn't know how to make it. One thing was certain though, he knew he needed to convince Hutch that he was okay. If he didn't, he'd never have another moment alone. He didn't like being a burden to Hutch and he wished Hutch wouldn't worry so much.
"You're right," he said, mustering a smile. "Why don't you order something from Vito's. We haven't had anything from there in a while."
"Great. I'll even let `em put anchovies on your half."
Starsky chuckled. "Now I KNOW you are my best friend."
Hutch made the call. After he ordered it though, the lady at the restaurant told them they couldn't deliver tonight. Their driver had called in sick. They'd have to go get it themselves. Vito's was only about fifteen minutes away, but Hutch didn't like the idea of leaving Starsky even that long. "Well, Starsk, they can't deliver it. Driver is sick. Guess we'd better go over there. You want to bring it back or eat it there?
"Nah, I don't want to go, Hutch. Do you mind going alone?"
Hutch studied his friend's face carefully. Then he said, "No, I don't mind, but I'd rather you came with me."
"Look, Hutch, I appreciate everything you're doing for me, but I really can be alone for half an hour. You'll be there and back before I even have a chance to miss you. Everything is okay, huh?"
I don't like it. How can I make him go with me?
Starsky smiled at Hutch hoping he was convincing.
"You sure you're okay, buddy? You like a little pale." Hutch touched his partner's forehead, thinking he felt a little warm.
"Don't be such a mother hen, Hutch. I'm okay. Just go, will ya? Maybe I am a little hungry after all and the sooner you get out of here the sooner I get to eat. `Kay?"
Hutch remained unconvinced, but he wasn't sure how he could wriggle out of it gracefully. "Okay, well, if you're sure. I'll be back in a bit."
This nagging feeling just wouldn't leave Hutch alone though. He turned to look at his friend again before he left and Starsky smiled saying, "Aw, come on, will ya just go?"
Hutch didn't like it, but he went.
Starsky sat in his apartment alone for a few minutes. Gradually, a sense of calm came over him because he knew what he needed to do. Starsky didn't like doing this to Hutch, but he didn't think he'd get another chance at being alone for a while. He got some paper and a pen to write Hutch a note. He put the note on the kitchen table. He had to go now or not at all and he had made his decision. Starsky picked up his keys and looked around the apartment, his eyes stopping on a picture Huggy had taken of him with Terry and Hutch at one of their basketball games. He picked up the picture and left.
Traffic was a little busy that night and it took Hutch 20 minutes to get to Vito's. When he got there he waited for the pizza for another 10 minutes, looking at his watch every two minutes. He did not like leaving Starsky alone and was angry with himself for allowing it. He had painted himself into a corner and that didn't happen to him often. He had a nagging feeling that something about Starsky wasn't right. Once, he walked over to the pay phone to call and check on his partner, then shook off the urge. Trying to dismiss it he thought, Get a grip, Hutchinson. He's fine.
By the time he and the pizza got to Starsky's street, 45 minutes had passed. Hutch was getting pretty uptight by then and when he pulled around the corner to discover the Torino was gone, he got a rush of adrenaline. Shit! I've only been gone 45 minutes. Where did he go?
Hutch raced up the stairs and let himself into the apartment. Within a few seconds, he spotted a folded piece of paper on the table that had "Hutch" written on it. No, no, no, this isn't happening!
When he read the note, his knees gave out and he dropped down onto the floor. Now he was really scared for his best friend.
I'm sorry. The pain is just too much. I can't take it anymore. Why do the people I love always get hurt? You'll be safer without me. It's better this way. Please forgive me.
Oh, God! Oh, God! Pull yourself together, Hutchinson. Think. Where would he go?
Kicking himself for allowing Starsky to maneuver him into leaving, he got up and ran to the phone to call Huggy. Diane answered, "The Pits."
"Diane, this is Hutch, get me Huggy."
"He's kinda in the middle of something Hutch, can I have him call you?"
"No, n-now! I'm sorry I yelled, but it's an emergency, Diane. Please."
"Okay, Hutch, hang on a minute."
Hutch looked around the room and noticed that Starsky's gun holster was not on the bookshelf anymore. He started shaking and tears were coming to his eyes when Huggy answered.
"Hutch, Diane said you sounded upset."
"Huggy, have you s-seen Starsky?"
Huggy knew this must be bad because Hutch was stammering. He only did that when he was really upset. "No, I thought you were both at his place."
"Oh, God, Huggy. You've gotta help me. I left him alone for less than an hour to go for some food and he's gone. He left me a note, Hug. A note! I'm afraid he's going to do something stupid."
Huggy felt like his heart had stopped for a minute. "Okay, let's think about this. Where would he go?"
"I don't know, but we need to find him quick. He's got a big head start wherever he's headed. Maybe if we split up and look for him, we can find him before it's too late. Huggy, he took his gun."
"Okay, I'm closer to the park and the schoolyard," Huggy said.
"I'll try the pier, and the beach. You don't have a radio in your car, Huggy, so call the dispatcher and ask to be patched through to me in thirty minutes."
They hung up and took off to look for Starsky.
Starsky pulled into the parking lot at the cemetery twenty minutes after he left his place. He sat in the Torino for a few minutes looking at the picture he had brought with him, tears streaming down his face. Starsky had not known this kind of grief since his dad was killed. Somehow, the people he loved just seemed to get hurt. He didn't want to be responsible for that anymore. Making the pain go away was all he could think of, even though he knew it was the wrong thing to do. He hoped Hutch could forgive him.
The cemetery was locked up for the night, and it was already dark. Starsky climbed over the fence and went looking for Terry's grave. By this time he was feeling pretty bad. He hadn't really eaten in two days, had only gotten a couple of hours of sleep, and his fever was climbing.
Terry's gravesite was nice and secluded. Just what Starsky needed. He knelt down and touched the grave marker. "I can't do this, Terry. All I want to do is die. I miss you so much. What good am I to anyone anyway? The people I love get hurt. I can't wait around until it's Hutch's turn."
He pulled out his gun and looked at it. Well, at least it would be quick. He looked up at the stars, tears flowing. His fever, stress, and the lack of food were catching up with him. Starsky took off the safety and put the gun up to his head. He was sobbing uncontrollably when he looked up and saw a woman he recognized walking toward him. "Terry?" His mind was racing, but not comprehending how he could be seeing her in front of him. His ears started to ring and darkness crowded into his field of vision as he collapsed on her grave, out cold before he hit the ground.
The radio in the LTD signaled a patch through from Huggy. "Any luck, Huggy?"
"No sign of him. We're--we're overlooking something, Huggy. Why can't I think?"
"I know. Give me a minute," came the reply.
Hutch put his head down on the steering wheel thinking furiously. He was crying when he whispered, "I'm sorry, Terry. I know I promised. Please help me. God, Terry, please can you help me save him?"
Huggy was terrified. He knew if they didn't stop Starsky, he would lose both of his friends. Hutch would never forgive himself and he'd find some way to join his partner in death.
"I didn't say anything, man."
He realized he was hearing it in his head, not from the police radio.
The cemetery, hurry.
He couldn't explain it, but he suddenly knew just where to go.
"Huggy, the cemetery! Meet me there."
"On my way!"
The drive to the cemetery was the longest ten minutes in Hutch's life. He wanted desperately to turn on the siren, but he did not want to draw attention to what he might find when he got to the cemetery. All he could think of was getting there before it was too late. Please, Starsk. Hang on, don't you leave me!
Hutch and Huggy arrived at the cemetery parking lot within seconds of each other. They jumped out of their cars and ran for the fence.
Starsky was sitting on a rock, looking at the ocean. I must be dead. Didn't hurt though. I thought it would hurt. He saw Terry walking toward him and he ran to meet her. "Terry, is it really you?"
She took his hands in hers and looked into his dark blue eyes. "Yes, it's me, Davey. You have to listen to me. Don't do this; I won't let you. I don't want you to die just because of me."
"I thought I was already dead. Didn't I pull the trigger?"
"No, not yet. Please don't do this. Think about what it will do to Hutch, Dobey, Huggy, and your mom. They need you."
"I know, Terry, but it hurts so bad. I can't imagine it will ever stop hurting. I just want to be with you and to stop feeling the pain. Besides, I am a jinx. If I don't do this, Hutch could die next, or maybe my ma. Everyone I love gets taken away from me."
Terry's eyes were full of compassion and love. "Davey, this isn't right. You're sick and in pain. You don't know what you're doing."
Starsky started to cry and took Terry in his arms. "Please don't ask me not to do this. I want to be with you, please."
"Dave, look at me. Do you want Hutch to die?"
He looked at her in disbelief. "Of course not. Why would you say that?"
"Hon, if you do this it will kill him. Is that what you want? He'd never forgive himself. You tricked him into leaving you alone tonight."
"Oh God, no. Can't I do anything right? I want him to be safe. If I were gone, maybe he'd get off the streets, take a promotion to a safer job. Hutch is strong, he'll be okay."
"You're strong too, Dave and look at how you are feeling tonight. You're one of the bravest people I've ever known and are you okay now? You don't want to do this. Please. I love you and I want you to go on with your life. I told you I'd always be there when you need me and that I'd be waiting. You believe me, don't you?"
"Yes, but it hurts!"
"I know, but it will get better. Please trust me. Trust Hutch. He loves you and needs you. Give it a chance, for me and for Hutch."
He sat back down on the rock and cried, still holding onto her hands. "I don't want to go back, Terry. I don't want to do it."
"You need to, Dave. I'll be there. Please. I don't want you to die. Go back for me. Hutch is looking for you. Please let him find you."
Huggy and Hutch ran up the small hill to Terry's gravesite. Hutch's heart sank when he saw the body lying on the ground. "Oh God, Huggy. We're too late!"
The two men ran to the spot. Hutch could see that Starsky had his gun in his hand. When they reached him, he couldn't look at his face. He didn't want to see his friend like that. "Huggy, please, is he dead?"
Huggy looked at Starsky's face, checking him over, and he didn't see blood anywhere. He reached out a thin, shaky hand to take his pulse.
"Hutch, he's alive! He didn't do it."
Hutch turned his head to look at Starsky's face. His friend was pale and out cold, but alive. "He must have passed out before he could do it." He touched his best friend's face and found he was burning up with a fever. Regardless, Hutch couldn't remember being so relieved since Starsky had recovered from Bellamy's poisoning attempt. "We've got to get him out of here before someone finds us."
Hutch was afraid if the department found out about this, they'd put Starsky in a psychiatric hospital on suicide watch. A cop with a suicide wish was a dangerous liability. This could cost him his career. Hutch wanted to take his friend to a doctor, but decided he'd better try and handle it himself if he could.
"Help me get him to the car, Huggy. "Starsk, I'm here with Huggy. Can you wake up for us, buddy?" No response. Fear was gripping Hutch around the heart. He was wondering if his friend could just decide to die on him without even pulling the trigger. "Buddy, we're gonna get you out of here."
He carefully took the gun out of Starsky's hand, put the safety back on and put it in his jacket pocket. He noticed the picture Starsky was holding in his other hand and let out a sob. Hutch stuffed the picture in his other pocket. No time for this now, they had to get moving.
Huggy helped him pick their friend up and they carried him back to the cars. Starsky's dead weight was not easy to maneuver back over the fence and Hutch was sure they were going to get caught before they could make it to the parking lot, but no one came. Maybe the security guard did his rounds later in the evening.
The two men put Starsky in the LTD. They left Huggy's caddie in the parking lot and Huggy took the Torino. They headed for Hutch's.
Huggy remembered the time they had Hutch up in the room above the bar, helping him kick the heroin Forrest's people had forced on him. The memory sent a shiver up his spine. Starsky was so strong for Hutch then. "Please, God, help us help him. If he dies, I'm gonna lose both of my best friends. Please help." He prayed all the way.
Starsky was still unconscious when they carried him up the stairs at Venice Place.
Hutch's hands were shaking when he handed the note to Huggy to read. "What are we gonna do, Hug? Why would he do this?"
Huggy shook his head in disbelief. They both knew how much trouble their friend was in now and were at a loss to help him. "I don't know, my man, but we'd better think of something. He's in a bad way. I'm gettin' worried, why isn't he awake?"
Hutch shook his head and asked Huggy to go get the thermometer, aspirin, some clean cloths, and cool water. "I don't know what we're dealing with yet."
Starsky's temperature was high, 103.8. How did he get this sick so fast, right in front of Hutch?
Starsky started mumbling deliriously, "Terry. Hutch. I can't. Sorry...sorry...Hutch."
Hutch's heart was breaking for his friend. "Don't you give up on me, Starsky. Damn it! You can't just quit on me!" He held his partner's hand, willing him to be better.
He wiped his friend's face with the cool cloths and put one on his forehead. He knew he needed to wake him up so they could get some aspirin in him. "You gotta wake up, Gordo. You're sick and I need you to wake up so I can help you." Starsky showed no signs of waking up and Hutch was beginning to feel panicked.
"Huggy, I need you to get me a doctor. Someone who can come up here and look at him, but who won't ask too many questions. Please, you've gotta know somebody."
The thin black man thought about it for a minute. "Toss me your keys."
Hutch threw him the keys to the LTD. "I'll be back."
Hutch nodded and Huggy ran out of the room to get the doctor. All Hutch could do was keep his friend warm and apply cold compresses to his head.
"Starsky, you can't die on me. Please, don't die. I could never forgive myself. I can't believe you fooled me like this. How could I not see what you were planning to do? This is my fault."
Starsky could hear his friend talking to him, but he didn't want to wake up again. Why wake up? What's the use? I'm just going to hurt Hutch. How can he even look at me now? God, Terry, where did you go? Please come back for me!
Part 9Dr. Jeff Martin was an old friend of Huggy's. He ran the local free clinic and Huggy knew he could count on the doc for both his help and his silence. Huggy filled him in on as much as he knew about what had happened to Detective David Starsky. He explained Hutch's concerns about the need to keep this house call between the three of them if at all possible. The doctor trusted Huggy so he agreed. Dr. Martin grabbed an assortment of medical supplies, medications, instruments, and a couple of cooler chests. They stopped on the way back to Hutch's to fill the cooler chests with ice. Huggy had told the doctor about Starsky's fever and he wanted to be prepared.
An hour later, Hutch heard Huggy come in with the doctor and looked out to see them setting down a lot of supplies they had with them. Huggy introduced the doctor, "Hutch, this is an old friend, Dr. Jeff Martin. Jeff, this is Detective Ken Hutchinson, Detective Starsky's partner"
The two men shook hands, "Thanks for coming Dr. Martin," Hutch said.
"Just Jeff, Detective."
"Hutch is fine, Jeff."
Hutch confirmed Huggy's description of what had happened that night while the doctor started his examination. He also explained about Terry and how grief-stricken Starsky had been since her death. Starsky was still unconscious.
"How long has David been like this, Hutch?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe a couple of hours."
"Has he been eating and drinking the past few days?"
"Not much. I've tried, but he's been so damn depressed since she died. Getting him to eat has been nearly impossible. Please, what's wrong with him?"
"I don't like this at all. He really should be admitted." Before Hutch could protest, the doctor continued, "I know, I know, I promised. But I want you to know I'm very concerned about this and I DON'T like it. I can try to patch him up physically, but he needs help with the depression. I understand your reasons for wanting to keep this private, but is there anyone you can get him to talk to, a counselor? You'd need it to be a friend, someone who won't report him."
"I've been thinking about it and I do know someone. A guy I went to college with is a psychologist now. He moved out here from Minnesota last year. I think I can trust him to help Starsk without reporting him. I know they're supposed to report people who are a danger to themselves or others. I just can't do that to him. We can get him through this with enough time and care. This could ruin his career and being a cop may be the only thing he can hang onto right now."
"Alright. He is probably unconscious because of severe dehydration and shock. Whatever brought him to try to kill himself, his physical condition sent him too far over the edge to go through with it, thank God. He also has an infection. I'm going to give him an antibiotic for the infection and something to bring down his fever. Is he allergic to anything?"
"Good. He should wake up soon though. The longer he's out, the worse it is. Please understand this is serious. I can't make any promises. You're taking a big chance here. We both are. If he dies, I could be in big trouble for not admitting him."
Hutch looked at Huggy his eyes pleading with him for the right words to convince the doctor they would keep him out of trouble if the worst happened.
Huggy looked at the doctor and said, "Jeff, if that happens, we'll say he refused to go to the hospital. I know that ain't honest, but Hutch knows his partner. He would want to do it this way. You can trust us to keep you covered."
The doctor looked at Huggy and his blond friend and nodded.
"Alright, Huggy. Although it's against my judgment to treat him as an outpatient, I'll take you at your word that you know what he would want."
Hutch let out the breath he didn't realize he had been holding. How was it possible to be relieved and worried at the same time? "Thank you, Jeff. What's your plan?"
"I'm going to draw some blood and run it through the free clinic under an assumed name. I'm also going to start an IV so we can get some fluids in him. I'll come back after clinic in a few hours and check on him. Can you change the IV when it runs out if I don't get back in time?"
"Yeah, I can do that. Anything he needs."
"I want you to keep him warm. Take his temperature every 30 minutes to make sure it isn't climbing. If it gets near 105, you're going to need to pack him in ice. We brought two cooler chests of ice with the medical supplies. If that doesn't bring it down, you're going to have to give in and call an ambulance. You agree to that, or I can't continue."
The doctor looked into Hutch's bright blue eyes. They were intense and dark with worry. Even though he thought it was foolish, he admired the man for his devotion to his partner. Not many people have a friend that close.
Hutch said, "Uh, Doc, I need to know something. Do you think a person could 'will' himself to die?"
The doctor sighed and looked at the distressed man with compassion. "People do give up, Hutch. You just have to reach him. Talk to him. Make sure he knows he is loved and that you need him here. We'll do everything we can to help him. Try to have faith."
Dr. Martin drew the blood, started the IV and administered the medications. He took Starsky's vital signs and was not happy with his low blood pressure, or his climbing fever, up to 104 now. If he didn't have night clinic to take care of, he would have stayed.
Before he left, Dr. Martin turned to Hutch and put a hand on his shoulder. "Hutch, I want you to be very clear about something. Huggy tells me that your partner had his gun in his hand, safety off and that it is a miracle he didn't pull the trigger. This was no cry for help. David wanted to die tonight and Huggy tells me how stubborn and determined he can be when his mind is set. Don't leave him alone again until he has passed this crisis. Not for a minute."
Hutch swallowed the lump in his throat, fighting back guilty, worried tears. "Thanks, Doc, I won't. I am not kidding myself about this. I just want him back and safe. Thanks for helping us."
Huggy told him he and the doctor were going over to pick up his car from the cemetery, then he was going to Starsky's apartment to pick up some clothes and things for him. He'd be back within an hour.
The fact that they were expected to be off duty for a few days worked in Hutch's favor. He hoped he could get Starsky back on his feet by then. At least enough to go through the motions at work. If not, he'd have to tell Dobey something.
Dr. Martin had left all the supplies Hutch needed. He was checking Starsky's vital signs every 30 minutes and writing them down for the doctor when he returned. His blood pressure was not improving, his pulse was rapid, and his temperature was still rising. All Hutch could do was hold onto his friend and pray.
Hutch climbed onto the bed and put Starsky's head in his lap. He held the hand without the IV and talked to his best friend.
"Hey, Starsk. How you doing in there, buddy? I need you to wake up for me. You're safe; we're at my place. A doctor friend of Huggy's is taking care of you and I'm not going anywhere. You have to get better so I can kick your butt though! What were you thinking, buddy? You know I can't live without you. Who's gonna watch my back if you are gone? What would make you go and do something so foolish? You know how Dobey always says 'No Private Parties?' Well, you sure had one tonight. What about Me and Thee, huh? "
Hutch cried silently and prayed. Please, God, you've gotta help me. Please bring him back to me. I won't let him kill himself. I need him so much. Please. He's the bravest, kindest person I have ever known and he deserves some peace in his life. If you let me have him back, I promise to spend the rest of my life helping him find that peace.
"Buddy, I heard Terry tonight. I know I did. She told me where to find you. Terry doesn't want you to die either. She wants you to stay here. I never told you about how she made me promise to keep you safe. If you die, I blow it with her. Her last wish was for you to have a happy life. Do you want me to be the one to deny her that wish? This is my fault, Gordo. I need you to come back to me so I can make it better for you. I need to tell you how much I love you and how much your friendship means to me. Starsk, I'm nothing without you. You made my life whole. You helped me find out what it feels like to have someone love you just like you are, just for who you are. You know I never knew that before you. If you die, buddy, I'll have nothing left. Please, Starsk, please want to live. I know it hurts, but we can get through this together. I need you too much to let you go. I can't let you go!"
Starsky was looking even paler. Huggy walked back into the apartment just in time to see Starsky go into convulsions.
"God, Huggy," Hutch said frantically. "Quick, bring that ice into the bathroom. Hurry!"
Hutch knew Starsky's fever was higher now. He held his partner and kept him from pulling out the IV until the seizure subsided.
When the seizure stopped, Hutch got up and carefully laid his partner down on the bed. He grabbed an extra blanket, and ran to the bathroom, putting the blanket into the tub. Then he came back, picked Starsky up and carried him into the bathroom. Hutch laid his partner down in the tub on the blanket.
Hutch laid towels over Starsky, hung the IV from the shower rod, and then he and Huggy poured the ice over their friend. Hutch was grateful for his first aid training every time his partner was hurt and this was no exception. He knew he had to get the fever down fast.
He looked at his watch. Time to give Starsky more of the medication to reduce his fever. The doctor had left everything he needed and he prayed it would be enough. Hutch dreaded it, but if this didn't work, he knew he'd have to get his partner to the hospital.
The two men kept a vigil over their dark friend until Hutch saw his fever break. When he first took Starsky's temperature after his seizure was over, he had found it was 105. Now, his partner's face was broken out in a sweat and he looked less flushed. The sweat was a good sign that his dehydration might be responding to the IV fluids.
Hutch took his temperature again. He was relieved to see it was down to 103. After a few more minutes on ice, Hutch and Huggy carried him back into the bedroom. They carefully took his wet clothes off and Hutch changed the IV so they could get dry clothes on their friend. They put on the sweats that Huggy had brought back from Starsky's apartment.
After tucking him back into the bed, Hutch was encouraged to see his vital signs improving. By the time Dr. Martin returned to check on them, he was showing some signs of coming around and Hutch was starting to have hope.
All the time Hutch was talking to him, Starsky could feel his presence and could sometimes hear what he said. He was feeling sad and guilty. He wanted Terry, but he also wanted Hutch. When Hutch laid him in his lap, he felt safe again. Then his fever shot up and he found himself in the middle of a fitful dream.
He was back at the cemetery, and he watched himself as he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. He fell back onto the grass and suddenly his spirit was standing on the ground looking down at his lifeless body. Then he saw Hutch and Huggy running toward him. When Hutch saw him on the ground, blood pooling under his head, he knelt down and pulled him into an embrace. "Noooooooo, Starsky, Nooooooooo!" he cried. His blood was all over Hutch's hands and face now. "God, Huggy, I didn't make it in time. He's gone, he's gone and it's my fault! I should have known what he was going to do. God, Huggy, I promised Terry. I failed!"
Huggy knelt behind the hysterical blond and put his hands on his shoulders. Trying to comfort him, tears running down his dark face.
Starsky's spirit stood there, looking at his best friend. Knowing he had just destroyed two lives. Oh, God, Hutch. What have I done?
Then, when Starsky didn't think it could get any worse, Hutch looked up at Huggy, sobbing hysterically, and he started to gasp for breath. He put his clenched fist over his heart, pain gripping him and showing on his face. "Huggy..."
Hutch collapsed beside Starsky's body. He was turning blue and Huggy couldn't find a pulse. No, Hutch, Starsky thought. Not you, this can't be happening. Oh, God, what have I done? Huggy was crying and trying to do CPR on his fallen friend.
Starsky's spirit stood there, horrified by what he had done. Then, he felt a warm presence behind him.
"Davey, is this what you want?" Terry's voice said.
He spun around and looked at her. "No, Terry. God, no. You were right. He really can't live without me. What was I thinking? How could I do it?"
She took his hand in hers and said, "Dave, you didn't do it. I just wanted you to know what would have happened if you had. Carry that with you. Don't throw your life and Hutch's away like this."
"I love you, Terry. Can I go back and make this right?"
"Davey, I love you, too. Yes, you can. Please be strong. You can do it and it really will get better. I'll be around, waiting for you. Dave, life is too important to give it up without a fight. Please don't ever even think of suicide again. Please, for me."
"I love you, Terry. I'll do my best."
His vision of the cemetery and Terry started to fade. He thought he could still feel her hand in his, but he slowly realized it was not her hand. The hand was Hutch's.
Dr. Martin took Starsky's vital signs again. Then he pulled the stethoscope out of his ears and said, "Well, Hutch, looks like he has turned a corner here. You did the right thing with the ice. You saved his life. He's still in serious shape, but I think he's going to be okay. At least physically."
Starsky started to moan and he squeezed Hutch's hand.
"Common, babe, open your eyes. Please come back to me, Starsk."
Starsky's indigo eyes fluttered open and he tried to focus on the worried face of his partner.
"Hutch...sorry." Starsky closed his eyes again
"No, Gordo, I'm sorry. I should never have left you alone tonight. Please, wake up and look at me."
Starsky struggled with the darkness that wanted to reclaim him, but he opened his eyes again.
Dr. Martin looked down at him and said, "David, I'm Dr. Martin. You gave your friends here quite a scare tonight. Do you know where you are?"
"You're at Hutch's place. Hutch has been taking good care of you. You had a fever, and you were dehydrated, but we're working on that and it's getting better. When you are a little more awake, I want you to eat something. "
"No, not hungry."
"Hutch tells me you've hardly eaten a thing for days. You haven't been drinking any liquids either. Dehydration, stress, and your grief made you susceptible to infection. Don't argue with me. You do what I tell you. Hutch, you make sure he gets some soup and some water soon."
"'Kay" was all Starsky could manage.
Huggy said, "Hey, man. Welcome back. You had us running tonight, but I'm glad you're gonna be okay."
Dr. Martin drew some more blood, made some adjustments to Starsky's medications and left with Huggy to give the partners some time alone. He promised to come back the next day and check on him again. The doctor left Hutch with instructions for the next 24 hours, including round the clock IV fluids to keep improving his status. His infection was responding to the antibiotics and Dr. Martin hoped he would be better in two or three days.
Hutch was back on the bed with his partner's head in his lap. Starsky's eyes were closed again and Hutch could see he'd fallen into a natural sleep. Thank God. Sleep a while, buddy. We can talk later. Suddenly, Hutch started to feel his own exhaustion. He fell asleep still holding Starsky's hand.
A few hours later, Hutch woke up and realized it was time to change Starsky's IV.
Damn, how'd I let myself fall asleep for so long!
He was grateful to feel his partner's fever had dropped some more. Stiff from sleeping upright against the wall, he slowly eased his friend down onto the bed and got up to handle the IV. Starsky woke up again while Hutch was taking his blood pressure.
Hutch smiled down at him, happy to see those dark blue eyes looking back at him. Starsky could tell he'd been crying.
"Hutch, I'm sorry. How can you even look at me?" He closed his eyes and tried to turn away from Hutch's gaze. "Don't look at me, buddy. I'm so embarrassed. You must hate me for putting you through this."
"Starsky, look at me." Hutch said. "I mean it!" He repeated firmly when his partner didn't comply. "First things first. You scared the shit out of me and you better never do that again. I want you to promise me, on our friendship, that you will never try anything so knot-headed again. Not ever!"
Starsky was crying now too. "Aw, Hutch..."
"No, don't you 'Aw, Hutch' me! You promise me. I know you wouldn't break a promise to me and I want your word. Promise."
As soon as he looked into Hutch's eyes, full of concern, love, and fear, Starsky knew he had to promise him. "Okay, I promise."
Hutch sighed and relaxed just a little. He brushed the curls back from Starsky's forehead and let out a shuddering sob. "I thought I had lost you, babe. I couldn't stand it. Huggy and I were frantically looking for you. I need to know what stopped you. Why didn't you pull the trigger?"
"I can't, Hutch. Please don't make me tell you about it."
"You have to tell me. I deserve to know. Please, Starsk. I need to know how to help you, so I need to know what happened."
Starsky could not argue with his friend's logic. "You're gonna think I'm crazy for sure if I tell you, Hutch."
"No I won't. Please."
Hutch was looking so deeply into his eyes, Starsky felt his resistance crumble. He knew he'd have to tell him. "Hutch, Terry stopped me. I was a second away from pulling the trigger, then I saw her. She was walking up to me and...I just didn't. Next thing I knew I was sitting on a beach talking to her. I can't explain it."
He told Hutch about his time with Terry. Starsky left out the second dream though. He did not want to talk about his vision of his best friend dying of a heart attack right in front of him.
"Starsk, what you told me is not crazy. I guess you don't remember me telling you this before because you were really out of it. I didn't think of checking the cemetery myself. Guess I was too freaked out to think of it. I heard her too, babe. Terry. She told me where to find you. I asked her for her help and she told me. If I hadn't found you, who knows what might have happened?"
Trying to lighten the conversation just a little, Hutch added, "Now, hearing voices in your head, that's crazy." That comment earned the tiniest smile from his groggy friend.
Tears slid down Starsky's face. He could not believe how lucky he was to have friends like Hutch and Huggy. Hearing that Terry probably had intervened to save his life made him feel even luckier. To think he almost gave up and threw all of that away. He knew in his heart that he needed to tell Hutch the rest though.
Starsky smiled slightly. "Uh, Hutch. I still have something to tell you."
"Hutch, I had another dream. This time I was back in the cemetery, but I pulled the trigger. Then I saw you and Huggy coming to find me, but it was too late. I was dead. I guess it's not true that if you die in your dreams you really die."
Hutch felt his heart twist and his stomach did a somersault. He hugged his partner a little closer, glad this was only a dream.
"I stood there beside you and Huggy. You picked me up in your arms. You were tellin' Huggy how it was all your fault I was dead. Next thing I knew you were having a heart attack or something and Huggy was trying to give you CPR. God, Hutch, that was the most terrible thing I've ever watched. I felt helpless...and responsible. I'm so sorry, Hutch. I really won't ever do anything like this again. I'm so sorry! I know I don't say this much, but I love you, Hutch. I can't stand it that I almost hurt you like that."
Starsky started to sob. Hutch held him, crying.
"Shh, buddy, we're both gonna be okay now. I love you too. No more tears, huh? We'll get through this, Me and Thee, okay?"
"Terry said I should remember that if I died, you would too."
"Terry was right, pal. You have some more work to do though. I have a friend I'm gonna take you to so you can talk some of this out with someone."
"I don't need anyone but you, Hutch."
"No way, Gordo. Not this time. You tried to kill yourself and I'm not taking any chances. I'm gonna call my friend and make sure he'll see you without it getting back to the department. You don't have to worry, but you don't have any choice either. You have to do it, for me. 'Kay?"
"I'll do it for you, Hutch."
"You'll do it for both of us, Gordo."
Starsky was much better in another day and Dr. Martin took him off the IV fluids. Hutch called his psychologist friend who agreed to see Starsky and to keep it quiet as a favor to Hutch. Things seemed like they were on a good track and Hutch started to relax. Even though he believed his partner's promise never to attempt suicide again, he refused to give him back his weapon. He promised Starsky it was just until he got a little less skittish about it and he would return the gun when they went back on duty.
He had decided Starsky needed a little more time though, so he called the captain.
"Cap, this is Hutch."
"Hutchinson, you're off today, everything okay?"
"Uh, yeah, Cap. You know that time you wanted Starsky to take off right after Terry died?"
"Well, I think he needs it. I want you to put both of us on leave for a week."
"Hutch, what's going on here? Is something wrong?"
"No, Cap. Everything is fine now. I just..."
"Now, Hutch, how many times do I have to tell you two that there are NO PRIVATE PARTIES!"
Hutch winced at the bellowing, but he persisted. "Cap, please. I need you to trust me on this. Everything is going to be okay. I have it under control, but I need this time off for both Starsky and me. Please."
"Well, okay. But you touch base with me every day, you hear?"
"Tell Starsky I'm thinking about him and I hope he's okay."
The night they opened Terry's gifts, Starsky was feeling much better. He played Monopoly with Hutch, losing badly just like he usually did. The two of them drank enough beer to get pretty silly. Hutch was enjoying seeing his friend smile, even if it was just a little. He was still plenty worried, but starting to feel like things would be okay again. Starsky was talking about quitting the force though. Hutch knew he needed to delay that decision a while until his partner felt better. He told him he couldn't find anything for him to do other than play defensive end for a Canadian football team. Good stall, Hutchinson. He might just be drunk enough to fall for that.
When Starsky opened his gift from Terry, Hutch felt a sense of warmth about the funny little book. He remembered Terry saying she had to stop at the bookstore that day they met at the coffee shop. Their conversation and that day seemed a hundred years ago. He silently wished he had given more serious thought to what Terry told him that day.
So that's what she wanted at the bookstore. A "how to" for Starsky on how to win at Monopoly! Starsky didn't know Hutch's warm smile at the gift meant more than that he thought the book was funny.
The day after they opened Terry's gifts, Hutch drove his partner over to the cemetery. He didn't want to go there, but Starsky insisted. He waited off to the side while his best friend went and put some flowers on Terry's grave. He watched Starsky crying quietly and talking to Terry. Finally, Starsky motioned him over to his side.
"You okay, buddy?"
"Yeah, Blondie. I'm fine now. I just needed to tell her something. Take me home, huh?"
Before he did though, Hutch knelt down on the grave and touched the marker.
"Don't worry, I'll keep him safe. Ollie, too. I'll love them and I won't let them change. Thank you, Terry. Thank you for helping me keep my promise."