This story first appeared in the zine, That's What Friends Are For #2 (1996). This zine and other fine S&H gen zines can be obtained from the editor at: Comments on this story can be sent to: and will be forwarded to the author.

All that Matters
K Hanna Korossy

It took almost four more minutes for the security guards to arrive. Starsky's impatience increased exponentially as each moment passed, wanting to be rid of his prisoner, but even more concerned about his increasingly unresponsive partner. He rolled his eyes at the two wary men who finally appeared, guns drawn, cautiously sizing up the situation.

"It's about time you got here. Take this turkey off my hands, would ya'?" he gestured to the furious Dr. Matwick who still sat across from him, on the ground, seething.

The guards advanced toward them, and Starsky abruptly realized that their guns were trained on him, not on Matwick. It suddenly struck him for the first time how it had to look, a wild-looking patient with a gun in one hand aimed at a doctor, while cradling a half-conscious orderly with the other. He blew out a frustrated breath. What else could go wrong that evening? Starsky shook his partner a little. "Hey, Hutch, you better tell 'em we're cops."

Hutch's head lolled to one side, and he mumbled something vague in response. His eyes immediately slid shut again; apparently the drug had taken full effect.

"Terrific," Starsky muttered.

"Okay, fella, just put down the gun nice and easy, hmm?" One of the guards was approaching him, hand outstretched.

Starsky shook his head. "Uh-uh. I'm a cop and so's my partner here." Hutch muttered an uncertain agreement. Starsky made a face and turned his attention back to the guard. "And none of us are goin' anywhere until you call up the Ninth Precinct police station and talk to Cap'n Harold Dobey, he'll verify it."

Matwick saw his opportunity. "This man is under psychiatric evaluation. He is very unstable. You must restrain..."

"Shut up or I'll shut you up myself," Starsky hissed at him angrily, emphasizing his point with the gun. He'd had just about enough of the whole thing, and not knowing how Hutch was didn't help.

Matwick shut up and the guards conferred, keeping their eyes on the trio.

Nurse Bycroft chose that moment to appear. She had stood for a moment silently behind the guards, sizing up the situation, then joined their quiet conference, glancing repeatedly at Starsky as she talked. He began to hope again that they'd wrap this up sometime that night as one of the guards stepped forward to address him again.

"Okay, mister. We're going to call this Dobey like you said. But you're going to have to give us the gun in the meantime." He reached out for it again.

Starsky mulled that one over for a second, glancing at Bycroft as he did. He saw saw her shake her head almost imperceptibly. She was right, it would be giving up his one ace. But what about Hutch...

"That's okay," he said almost conversationally, although with a steely-eyed look that left no doubt of his intentions. "I'll give you the gun as soon as Dobey sends someone down here. And an ambulance," he added. Starsky turned back to Matwick, anger rising again. "What'd you slip him, anyway?" His arm tightened protectively around his partner.

The gleam of satisfaction in the doctor's eyes was meant for him alone.

Starsky could only calm his fury long enough to gently lean Hutch back against the wall, then he lunged forward to grab Matwick's lab coat at the throat. He could hear the guards shift behind him, but his attention was fully on Matwick. Starsky's voice fell, deep with suppressed emotion. "I'm not asking again, doctor. Or we just may have to find something to experiment on you with."

Matwick stared at him with tight-lipped defiance.

Starsky had a sudden idea and let go of the lapel to move his hand down to the pockets of the lab coat. The first one turned up empty. His eyes never left Matwick's face as he silently switched the gun to his other hand and explored the second pocket. He pulled out a small, half-empty vial. "What is this?!" he said softly, dangerously into the mocking face, inches from his own.

"I think it's the experimental drug he's been working on."

A cold thrill of fear went through Starsky's body at the words. The voice had come from behind, and Starsky moved back from Matwick, gun never wavering, to glance at Bycroft who had silently neared them. He crouched back by the wall, unconsciously pulling the limp Hutch close again. "What experimental drug?" he asked with trepidation.

Nurse Bycroft's voice was soft as she calmly and knowingly implicated herself. "It's a behavior inhibitor. The more violent the patient and the more they fight it, the more it restrains them."

"Is it dangerous?" Starsky asked, also quietly. Bycroft hesitated. "Please," he begged.

"It can be," she said finally. "If the patient keeps fighting it, the drug can completely shut the body down, even the heart and the lungs."

Starsky digested that for a moment, pushing down his rising panic. "Is there an antidote?" he finally asked.

The nurse shook her head. "No. But it should wear off in a few hours, as long as he stays quiet and doesn't try to fight it." Her eyes shifted to Matwick who sat motionless, staring at her with undisguised hatred. "Most of the patients he tried it on were too aggressive for that. That's how they died." She looked at the floor.

Starsky was about to say something when the sound of running footsteps down the hallway drew his attention. He kicked himself mentally upon realizing that one of the guards had slipped away without his notice, but then saw the reason why as two uniformed cops and a detective that Starsky recognized followed the missing guard back to the four of them. Starsky immediately motioned to the detective.

"Bonhomme, thank God. Take this creep off my hand, huh? The charge is murder."

The guards glanced at the detective as the black man immediately nodded and came over, followed by one of the policemen. "Sure, Starsky." Bonhomme pulled Matwick up, patting him down as the patrolmen cuffed him, before sending him off with the two cops. Then he made an irritated motion at the hapless guards, still standing by with guns drawn, and they sheepishly put their weapons away, one leading Bycroft after the policeman. Bonhomme came over to kneel by Starsky and Hutch, absently accepting the gun Starsky handed him. "What's with Hutch?"

"The good doctor drugged him," Starsky answered, frustrated. With Matwick gone, his attention was focused solely on the blond. Starsky shifted his arm up around his partner's shoulders, then gently leaned the head back to rest against it. "Hey, partner," he said softly. "Hutch, can you hear me?"

Hutch's head rolled as he frowned, trying to respond with a body that refused to cooperate.

Starsky was quick to react, Nurse Bycroft's warning still fresh in his memory. "No, buddy, take it easy. Don't fight it, huh? Just take it easy and let me take care of everything." He lay a hand against the pale cheek until his partner relaxed, slumping against him again. Starsky glanced around the hallway, getting his bearings, then looked at Bonhomme. "Ambulance on its way?" he asked impatiently.

Bonhomme nodded. "Should be here soon." He looked down the long hall lined with doors. "You want to move him somewhere more comfortable 'til they get here?"

Starsky shook his head. "Uh-uh. He ain't movin' unless he has to."

If the other detective was taken aback at Starsky's vehemence, he didn't show it. He had been one of the first on the scene when Starsky had stumbled onto a hit in an Italian restaurant one night a few years back and gotten shot himself, and Hutch's protectiveness of his partner then was much the same as Starsky's now. Bonhomme just nodded. "Okay. I'll go down and wait for them then."

Starsky spared him a slight appreciative grin, then added almost as an afterthought. "Oh, there's another guy I locked in a broom closet upstairs."

Bonhomme's eyebrows rose. "Broom closet?"

"Yeah, well, I was in a hurry," was the unrepentant answer.

Bonhomme had some idea why, but he just grinned at his colleague and set off down the hall, leaving the two of them alone.

Starsky redirected his attention fully back to his partner, carefully leaning back against the wall and shifting the lolling blond head so that it rested against him.

"...Starsk?" Hazy blue eyes were trying to peer up and focus on him, frowning with the effort.

"It's okay, partner. Just relax. Help is on its way and then we'll get ya outta here." Starsky kept his voice insistent but quiet.


Starsky swallowed a sigh. Typical Hutch; you could take the boy out of the police, but you couldn't take the police out of the boy. "All the bad guys are gone and it's just you and me, 'kay? Let me take care of it, huh? Just take it easy, please, Hutch." The last was almost pleading.

Something in the words or tone seemed to get through as the eyes slid shut again, an expression of complaisance on the gold-framed face that rested drowsily against his chest. Starsky smiled wistfully at the little boyish unconstraint that his normally serious partner rarely revealed.

His attention was drawn to the sound of rattling metal, and he looked up to see two medics bringing a gurney, Bonhomme in the lead. He didn't move until the trio had almost reached them, one of the medics instantly starting toward Hutch. Starsky shifted protectively in front of his partner and put up a restraining hand.

"Hold it. I think the doc gave him some kinda new drug, something that shuts him down if he fights it or moves around too much. So take it slow and easy, huh? And I wanna be there with him all the way." His tone brooked no protest.

The medics exchanged glances, then the nearer one shrugged and moved forward to carefully check Hutch's vital signs and reflexes while Starsky watched him tightly, still not releasing his hold on his partner. Once the medic seemed satisfied by the patient's state, he motioned to his partner, who moved the gurney into place next to the two policemen. Starsky leaned down next to the blond head, whispering in his ear for a long minute until he got the barest hint of a nod in response. Then, with a deep breath, he nodded to the two rescue workers, and the three of them eased Hutch gently up onto the gurney.

Starsky crouched next to his friend immediately, leaning close for a minute. "Shh, it's okay," he said softly enough that only his friend could hear. "I'm right here."

Again, the barest hint of a nod was an answer, and Hutch lay limp and motionless as they rolled him down the hall, out of the building. Bonhomme took his leave, knowing full well he'd get no more help from either of the two detectives that night.

As they went out the large pair of front doors, Starsky breathed a sigh of relief. There were few undercover cases that he'd been this relieved to leave behind him. The role had been a little too real, and the end a little too close for his comfort. It was time to shed Rudy Skylar and become grounded in Dave Starsky again. Except a Starsky without a Hutch...

He helped them lift the gurney into the ambulance as smoothly as possible, then climbed in after them. As he settled near the head of the bed, Hutch's face furrowed in incomprehension, once more struggling to look around. "No...gotta..."

Starsky gently restrained the restless figure. "It's okay, Hutch. You're okay. Just take it easy. I've got ya'."

The cloudy eyes were searching for him, still not comforted. "Starsk...?"

"I'm right here. Come on, partner, just rest. Trust me."

"...yeah." The eyes closed and the head stilled, the response more of a sigh.

Starsky untensed a little, lowering his voice to a hypnotic quietness. "That's it. Sleep, partner. I'll be right here."

He waited until the breathing eased into a slow, even pattern, then rested a hand lightly on one shoulder, the touch keeping his partner calm and at ease.


The hospital was a frustrating mess of people in a hurry to help without knowing what the problem was. Starsky, after fruitlessly trying to explain things to the third staffer who had approached him to leave, finally allowed himself to be coaxed to one side for a consultation with one intern as another saw to his partner. But he had only just begun speaking when, eyes still on Hutch, he saw the blond jerk, then begin to feebly flail. "Oh jeez," he whispered under his breath as he darted back to the table, shoving aside the nurse who was still trying unsuccessfully to draw some blood from the agitated man. "Get back," he hissed at her, reaching out to restrain his friend.

The intern hurried up after him. "Now look, Mr. Starsky," he began patronizingly.

"No, you look. They already took some blood in the ambulance, go look at that. You don't know what you're dealin' with here, so just back off." He glared at them fiercely for a long moment, wondering how many times in one night he'd have to repeat this scene. Of course, it would've helped if he didn't already look like a madman.

Satisfied that the staff seemed to be momentarily shocked into acquiescence, Starsky turned back to the still restless Hutch, firmly holding onto a struggling arm with one hand, and taking the pale face into the other. "Hutch," he said sharply, "c'mon, take it easy. Don't fight it, it'll make it worse, y'hear me? I won't let anything happen to you, promise. Just relax. I'll stay right here."

The restive body in his hands calmed for a moment, then suddenly went completely slack, and Starsky's heart leapt into his throat as he quickly checked for breathing, the intern appearing beside him with a stethoscope. The labored, shallow breaths slowly settled, easing and becoming deeper, and the pulse was fainter but still steady and even.

Starsky gave a sigh of relief, then glared challengingly at the intern, who seemed to be torn between annoyance and concern. Finally, the intern shook his head. "All right, since it seems he's stable and there might possibly be some such strong inhibiting drug in effect, we'll put him in a room to rest until the bloodwork comes back."

"You do that," Starsky said shortly, "only, I'm going with him."

The intern sighed in martyrdom. "Yes, I can see that. All right." He waved to an orderly, talking with him briefly before turning away to see to his next patient. The orderly came over and, smiling at Starsky, pushed the gurney with Starsky at its side, out the ER double doors and down the hallway to a small, private room. There, another orderly joined him and the three transferred the now apparently deeply asleep Hutch onto the other bed. Then the two detectives were left alone.

Hutch stirred restlessly in half-dream, mouth unconsciously trying to form a name, but Starsky was there immediately to soothe him back to sleep. Assured of his friend's presence, Hutch easily drifted off again with a childlike trust that made Starsky's throat ache. He sat down next to the bed to watch and wait.

He couldn't help but note the irony that after several days of being confined and sedated and restrained, it was Hutch who ended up drugged and needing calming. Starsky hadn't told his friend how close he himself had come in the end to losing it, particularly during the long, terrifying hours of being tied up in that strait jacket, completely helpless and defenseless. Hutch had known, though, and had stuck close, stopping by as often as possible to check in on Starsky, as scared for his partner as Starsky was for himself. Knowing that his partner was close by, keeping an eye on him, coming to get him, aching for him, had made it endurable and saved his sanity. Now it was his turn to do the same for Hutch, so that together they could put behind them the nightmare of this case. Starsky shivered a little at the recollections and moved closer to the bed, still needing the reassurance of closeness himself.

The intern came in after a while to grudgingly confirm that apparently Bycroft was right; the drug was a Belladonna derivative and a strong inhibitor and sedative, but with uninterrupted rest and lack of struggle, it would wear off without ill effects. And since Starsky's presence seemed to help and he was ready to fight to stay if necessary, not to mention that Dobey had called to put in a few words about his men, the physician reluctantly agreed to let him remain until Hutch began to show marked signs of improvement and self-awareness. The intern then curtly left, thinking dark thoughts about stubborn, interfering cops.

Finally left on their own for the night, Starsky breathed out a long sigh of relief and, after a moment's hesitation, gave in to his fatigue and anxiety, climbing carefully on the bed next to his partner. Against the rules maybe, but tonight he knew what was best for his partner and he was calling the shots. Hutch, undisturbed, turned in his sleep to rest against Starsky, who put a protective arm across the other's back. Reassured that he'd know if his partner needed him, Starsky grinned faintly at what Hutch's reaction would be the next morning to find them so, before drifting off into his first real sleep since arriving at Cabrillo. All that mattered was safe and taken care of now, and everything else could wait until morning.

Written in 1995