This story first appeared in the zine, That's What Friends Are For (1996). This zine and other fine S&H gen zines can be obtained from the editor at: Intertwined@webtv.net Comments on this story can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org and will be forwarded to the author.
After the Race
Starsky went off to call the ambulance and Dobey. By the time he came back, Hutch was sitting on the edge of the van tightly embracing the sobbing girl beside him. He looked up as Starsky approached.
"Everyone's on their way. Her dad'll meet us at the hospital," Starsky informed him.
"Daddy?" Joanna looked up, her tears leaving tracks in the dust on her face.
Hutch hushed her with a gentle reassurance and after a few minutes, the tired girl began to doze in his arms.
Starsky watched them, taking note of how pale his friend was. He didn't know who looked worse, the girl or Hutch.
The sirens were approaching and Starsky moved toward the front gate to direct. When he got back, Hutch looked on the verge of keeling over. Starsky debated briefly about insisting that his partner leave with the ambulance, but he knew Hutch wouldn't go for it. The rescue workers took Joanna over without giving either of the detectives a glance, and the rescue equipment was soon speeding away.
Starsky paused a moment, but when it looked like his partner had no intention of moving, he placed a hand on Hutch's arm. "You comin'?" he asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
Hutch started at the question. "Yeah, sure," he said, hopping down. And almost falling, if not for Starsky's steadying hand.
"That settles it. We're taking you to the hospital, too. Who knows what you hurt, carelessly fallin' through that glass door." Starsky grinned at his partner, baiting him.
He was relieved that Hutch wasn't too tired for the challenge. "Me? You were the one who went barreling around the city on a dirt bike because you forgot we were both wearing bulletproof vests." Neither of them mentioned that Starsky was 'barreling around' because he had seen his best friend get shot and thought he was dead. "I'm just tired, Starsk, I don't need a hospital."
By then they were in the car. It took Starsky a minute to think of a brilliant retort, but when he glanced over, Hutch was asleep. Starsky smiled, but somberly. That wasn't like Hutch. Then again, fit as his friend was, he probably wasn't up to marathon running through the streets of LA and then getting knocked hard through a plate glass door. Starsky called in their destination and then slowed the Torino to make the ride as smooth as possible as they headed for the hospital.
Hutch hadn't woken up when they got to Central Memorial, so they ended up wheeling him into emergency. Starsky paced for a moment, then realized how hungry he was and strode down the hall to the vending machine for a candy bar. He also thought to call Collins and fill him in, and then resumed pacing. After a half an hour, he began to get worried. He hated hospital waits, especially when they didn't tell him anything. After all, how long could it take to clean a couple of cuts? There had been a lot of blood, but it didn't look like anything more than a few minor scratches. Of course, Hutch had been coughing some... Starsky forced himself to stop. This wasn't getting him anywhere.
It was another half-hour before a doctor came out to speak to him.
"Det. Hutchinson will be fine. He has a slight concussion, that's why he's so lethargic, but some rest should take care of that. We cleaned up the cuts and scratches, nothing major, he'll just be sore for a while. He's barely awake now, I don't know if you want to wait or take him home now..."
Starsky grinned in relief. "Actually, I think he'd be happiest if I took him home now. He's not too crazy about hospitals."
The doctor nodded understandingly. "Will you be able to stay with him for a while, then? He's not in any danger, but it would be best if someone could be with him for a day or so to keep an eye on him so he can stay in bed and sleep."
"Sure, Doc, no problem." That's what he'd planned to do anyway.
An orderly helped him load a sleepy, unresisting Hutch into the car and Starsky left for Hutch's apartment. Dobey called on the way to say the girl and her parents had been reunited, and Starsky took the opportunity to ask for two days sick leave for both of them which was cheerfully granted. Starsky's eyebrows went up in surprise. He couldn't remember the last time Dobey hadn't argued about their being off. I bet Joanna's old man was extremely grateful, he thought with a wry smile.
He pulled up in front of the apartment and regarded Hutch critically. His partner showed no signs of consciousness, so Starsky took a deep breath and lifted Hutch over his shoulder. That wasn't too bad, but getting him upstairs made Starsky work off a couple of pounds. He stripped Hutch down to his shorts and put him to bed, ignoring his partner's mumbled protests, then fixed himself a snack from the few edibles among the health food junk and settled down to watch TV. He checked in on Hutch a couple of times during the evening, stopping once for a few minutes to enjoy watching him sleeping peacefully. His partner looked awfully vulnerable with a bandage on his head and on both his hands. Who'd take care of you if I weren't around, buddy? You wouldn't have even gone to the hospital if I hadn't have made you. I'm not sure why you trust me like you do, but I'm gonna be here for you, I promise. He turned from the bed and made his way to the couch as quietly as he could. And, thank God, you'll be here for me, too. He fell asleep wondering what he could make for breakfast out of blackstrap molasses and wheat germ.
Written in 1995