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: Intertwined@webtv.net. Comments on this story can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org and will be forwarded to the author.
K Hanna Korossy
Memories of Gillian and that awful night at her place when Hutch had fallen apart and Starsky helped him pick up the pieces, mixed with the words that still hung heavily in the air between the two hospital beds.
So that's the kind of work you do? Running around, punching people?
...supposed relationship of ours...
...horrible, hostile person...
Hutch turned to bury his face in his arm, hurting from the memories, but even more so from the pain he knew he'd just inflicted on his friend. It would've been so easy, Starsky had had the perfect opportunity to rub Hutch's face in his behavior that night. But he hadn't. Thinking that Hutch couldn't remember Gillian or the pain of her death, Starsky had chosen not to bring it up, not even in his own defense. He had no way of knowing that that was a more effective rebuke than anything he could have said. And Hutch felt it keenly.
Misunderstanding the strained silence completely and oppressed with his own memories, Starsky sat defeated and lifeless on the bed. He could remember times when he'd prayed for Hutch's survival, for continued precious life at any cost. This time, too, he'd gotten his wish without even asking. But now, the cost seemed more than he could pay. Ken Hutchinson was alive and breathing, getting better every day. The man beside Starsky had the same blond hair, the same classic features, the same voice.
But Hutch was gone.
The eyes that always held an endlessly deep love for him in their depths, where only he could see it, now looked at him coldly, almost distastefully. The familiar voice held no warmth, either, no reassurance or emotion. For the first time since Starsky had discovered the treasure that was his partner, his best friend, he felt alone and on the outside looking in. It was more lonely than he could ever before remember feeling.
The door to their room opened, but Starsky didn't bother to look up at who came in. He started at the touch on his arm and met the eyes of the nurse.
"Sgt. Starsky, we need you to come down for some x-ray's now."
Starsky scrambled almost gratefully off the bed and into the wheelchair she had brought with her. At the moment, he wanted nothing more than to be anywhere but in that room with that stranger. He didn't look back as the nurse wheeled him out of the room. If he had, the expression in the other's eyes as he watched Starsky go might've given him pause.
Almost as soon as Starsky left, Huggy walked back into the room. Hutch glanced at him with little interest and the black man shrugged apologetically. "Sorry, Angie was just givin' me a message. Angie, my cook," he added helpfully.
The bathroom door opened and Dobey also came out, stopping short as he glanced around the room. "Where'd Starsky go?" he asked Hutch, frowning.
"X-ray's." The voice was flat.
Dobey glanced at Huggy, who returned his look. Someone had to do something. The captain squared his shoulders and stepped forward, pinning Hutch with a steely look. "Do you know what you're doing?"
That got the blond's attention. "What?" Hutch asked surprised.
"The way you're treating Starsky. You know what you're doing to him?" Dobey stared at him unwaveringly.
Hutch fidgeted uncomfortably, not sure how to respond. Dobey didn't wait to hear what he came up with.
"I'll tell you what you're doing. You're tearing him apart. That man has risked his life for you more times than I can count, and you're probably the person who means the most to him in this world. Did you ever think about that?!" His eyes bore into Hutch, who had gone a shade paler at the words that echoed the whispers from his own heart.
The captain wasn't finished though. "I can remember once, about a year and a half ago. You were set to testify against a stolen car dealer you had set up in a sting operation. Only, he decided to get you out of the way and hired a hitman for the job. The guy ran you off the road, trapped you under your car. Starsky knew something was wrong right away; he didn't rest for two days until he found you. Saved your life. And that's just one of the times." Dobey lowered his voice. "He loves you more than anyone I've ever known could love."
Huggy spoke up softly behind him. "That's true, Hutch. Starsky always was a little crazy where you were concerned. Not too long ago, he was supposed t'bring you in for a murder rap and instead he put himself on the line to help you get away and prove you didn't do it. Takes a special kinda friend to do that."
Hutch had shut his eyes, and opened them now to stare at the edge of the blanket where he'd worried a thread loose. "Yeah..." he said quietly in agreement, half to himself.
He forced himself to look up and meet Huggy's eyes. The black man continued quietly. "I know you don't remember any of this, but you oughta at least try. He doesn't deserve this."
Silent and ashamed, Hutch slowly nodded his head, then returned his gaze to the blanket.
Dobey straightened, tugging his suit front down. "Well, Hutchinson, I'll come by to check on you and Starsky later. Tell him I said to hang in there."
Huggy plastered on a fake smile that didn't fool anyone. "Yeah, tell him to get plenty of beauty sleep while he has the chance."
Hutch's responding grin was equally feeble. "Okay. Uh...thank you."
The two men just nodded and left, both glancing back at the blond uneasily before walking out the door.
Leaving Hutch alone with his thoughts. And guilt. He sat up slowly, leaning forward to rest tiredly against drawn up knees. "Oh, Starsk, what have I done?" he whispered to the silent room.
Five minutes later, he still had no answer when the door opened and the nurse entered, pushing Starsky in the wheelchair in front of her. Hutch avoided looking at him, sensing the other was doing the same, but the air of resignation surrounding his partner was almost palpable. He could hear the nurse helping Starsky back into bed, then the lights were turned off as she quietly admonished them to get some rest. Long moments passed as Starsky lay unmoving next to him and Hutch sat equally still as he collected his thoughts. The decision wasn't hard to make. He slowly eased himself back down with a groan and took a deep breath. It was time to end the sick charade. Softly, he began.
Written in 1995