This story is an amateur publication and does not intend to infringe upon copyrights held by any party. No reproductions without permission. Originally published in the Starsky & Hutch zine Half You, Half Me 1, in 1982. A longtime fan generously donated digital scanning, typing and proofreading for the archive. Enjoy!
David Starsky stood in the door of Captain Dobey's office. The paperwork was done, Hunter was behind bars and he was tired. It had been a long week, with Hutch disappearing for five days, then showing up again addicted to heroin; then two days spent helping him come down off the stuff. It was all a blur. And he wasn't finished yet. Hutch was still weak and shaky. Starsky knew they had a while to go before his partner was completely free from the aftereffects of the addiction. The dark haired man was concerned that Hutch would suffer emotionally from the knowledge that he had broken and given the crooks the information they had wanted. Now as he watched Hutch, his concern heightened. His partner looked like hell.
Oh, Hutch...easy buddy. It'll be okay, I promise.
Ken Hutchinson sat absorbed in his thoughts, nervously drumming his fingers on the desk in front of him. He could feel Starsky's eyes watching, that scared him a little. If his partner was still worried, then it wasn't over yet. He had hoped almost against hope that the reassurances Huggy and Starsky had given him were all he needed, but now he knew better. His own weakness angered him.
Maybe I can't be trusted? What if that had been Starsky? Questions and doubts chased each other around in his mind. They would have to talk it over, but he wasn't sure he was ready for that yet.
"Come on, buddy, let's go. It's been a long day and I'm bushed!" The cheerfulness in Starsky's voice didn't hide the worry in his eyes.
"Tell me about it." Hutch wearily pushed himself up from the desk and followed his partner out of the squadroom. They walked in silence until they had seated themselves in the Torino.
Starsky started the car. "Your place or mine?"
Damn! That confirms my suspicions. Starsky had no intention of leaving me alone tonight. Wait! Why am I getting pissed? I don't want him to leave me alone!
"Mine." At least I'll have the bed. I hurt all over now and it will be ten times worse if I try to sleep on that couch of Starsky's.
They rode in silence, Hutch staring out the window. With increasing regularity he caught quick worried glances sent his way every time the traffic cleared a little. Each glance seemed to irritate him and he felt the anger grow, wondering at it, until his sluggish mind reasoned his anger covered up the fear.
I hope you'll see it that way too, buddy. I'm not gonna be fun to he around.
The blond went back to his thoughts, 'round and 'round, always ending up in the same place. Jeannie. God how it hurt. The ache in his heart as he touched the whisper soft memories of their time together in his mind left him with a physical yearning much like his frazzled nerves craving the heroin. He wasn't sure which withdrawal hurt the most.
"Want to stop for something to eat?" Starsky broke the heavy silence.
"No. All I want right now is a hot shower and bed! I'm still full of coffee and your lousy candy bars. If I take another bite of anything, I'll be empty real quick."
"Think ya' can sleep?"
"I don't know. God, I'm tired enough."
There was an ominous feeling in the pit of his stomach. Nothing Hutch could put his finger on, but something nonetheless. He squirmed in the seat as the hair stood up on the back of his neck, and he noticed his palms were sweaty. He rubbed them slowly on his pants leg.
Starsky picked up his movements instantly and sent a worried look in the blond's direction. "Something wrong?"
"No, huh unh... nothing," Hutch answered a little too quickly, trying to cover his unease. "I... ah, thought you said the physical symptoms would only last two days."
"Well, they can last longer, I guess, but you weren't addicted long so I figured..."
"Anything else you didn't tell me, PARTNER?"
Hutch mentally kicked himself. No need to yell at you. You're not the enemy. Yet he couldn't quite dissipate the anger. These sudden mood swings from depression, to anger, to apathy irritated him. He looked over at Starsky, but couldn't read anything on the face staring straight ahead, too intently on meager traffic.
Easy David M. He ain't really angry at you. 'Member you know what to expect, 'n he doesn't. Maybe I should tell him? Shit! How do I tell my best friend I've seen some junkies strung out for months after they kicked it cold turkey...
Starsky blanked his face. Hutch could read him too damn well, so there had to be nothing to read, and forced cheerfulness wouldn't work, he'd see right through that.
He braked the Torino to a stop behind Hutch's beat up LTD. Starsky turned off the engine and climbed out, locking the door. Halfway around to the passenger side he saw Hutch grab for his stomach and double over. He raced to the door and pulled it open in time for Hutch to turn and vomit while Starsky supported him awkwardly. Pushing the damp straw out of Hutch's eyes, he hung on as wave after wave of reverse peristalsis turned his friend's stomach inside out. Finally Hutch, limp with fatigue, leaned back against the seat. His hair was dripping wet and a dark stain showed halfway down his shirt-front, showing Starsky that the dampness didn't stop at the hairline. Hutch's respirations were ragged and fast; the pulse at his temple raced and his face was pale. Hands shook as they wiped the sweat out of his eyes.
Starsky let him rest until his breathing slowed and a little color returned to his face. He reached in and took a firm grip on each arm at the shoulder and hefted Hutch to his feet. He supported half the larger man's weight as they slowly moved to the apartment.
The arms that held the blond shook also... not with weakness but in rage. Monk, if you weren't already dead, I'd find you and blow you into a million pieces for this!
* * *
Sipping on a beer he didn't want, Starsky sat and watched his partner. Within minutes of their arrival, Hutch had showered and climbed into bed. He had come out of the shower with spirits determinedly raised, but he hadn't fooled Starsky one bit. The blue eyes were still bloodshot and darted nervously. He visibly jumped at each passing car on the street below.
"Beard's not too bad, guess I'll wait until morning to shave," was the last thing the blond had said before climbing into bed. His partner's hands shook so much as he pulled aside the covers that Starsky knew the smooth face would have been a mass of razor nicks if Hutch tried shaving.
Now here he sat, two hours later, trying to tell himself to turn in. He couldn't! The feverish pleas—"Get me some help. Starsk please... you know where to find it." —kept creeping back into his restless mind.
That hadn't been Hutch talking. That was the heroin. Hutch would never have willingly shot up anything. Not Mr. Clean. The thought brought a small smile to Starsky's lips. Hutch hates the stuff and what it does, especially to the kids. The dark man's face sobered as his mind replayed the same scene over and over. Hutch, hurting, needing the dope, and Starsky letting him hurt. Guilt ate at his insides. Huggy and I coulda brought him down slow. But no, I wanted to get the scum responsible right then. It didn't help telling himself Hutch's career would have been over if the truth had leaked out. The only way, the fastest way, to help Hutch had been to bring him down quickly. What if he only remembers I wouldn't help him? I'll cross that bridge if I come to it.
Memories of long past vigils spent at the bedsides of other friends, most of whom had returned to the needle as soon as they were out of his sight, played in his subconscious. Finally untensing, he didn't notice when his chin hit his chest, or when the bottle slipped from his grasp to hit the floor with a soft thud.
* * *
His eyes opened slowly. The fear inside was mounting. He couldn't remember exactly what he was afraid of, only that he was and the taste of it was choking him. He wanted something... needed it desperately... .a fix. Yeah, that was it. Oh God, he needed one little pop. Heroin. He had always thought it was bad for you, he hadn't known how great it made you feel, how it took away all the scary things. Especially that. Nothing to be afraid of anymore.
Everything was fuzzy and distorted. He couldn't focus on anything. Then in the haze Monk's face towered over him and his eyes caught the glint of light off the needle Forrest's man held.
Monk, my friend, you've got it. Give it to me. Please. Ahhh, yes. Relief washed over him as he felt the make-shift tourniquet tighten on his arm. He closed his eyes waiting...but the prick of the needle didn't come. Terror tightened his gut and he opened his eyes anxiously searching for Monk. The man was gone, lying on the floor, blood gushing from a wound in his chest. Starsky stood over him, his automatic in one hand and the syringe in the other.
That's okay, Starsky is my best friend... he'll... Hutchinson watched in horror as the curly-haired man savagely hurled the syringe against the far wall. He watched as his ticket to tranquility broke apart in a thousand pieces dropping to the floor in slow motion.
"NO! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? GET SOME MORE! I NEED THAT! DAMN YOU!"
He heard someone screaming and felt strong hands shake his shoulders. Gradually the screams dissolved to sobs and the shaking stopped.
Hutch climbed out of the nightmare to find himself clutching Starsky's jacket in a knuckle-whitening grip. His partner's arms were around him in an iron embrace. They rocked gently. He could hear Starsky murmur as the sobs continued.
"It's okay, babe. Easy, easy. It's over... just a bad dream. It's over now, you're okay."
Starsky had awakened to terror filled screams and had known a few seconds of disorientation before realizing what was happening. Another nightmare. He'd shaken his friend until the dream's throes ceased. Now he held him, giving him the only comfort he could. The sobs that issued from his partner tore him apart.
Am I doing the right thing? Reason told him yes, but his heart ached to ease his friend's torment.
Maybe Huggy knows a "script doctor" where I could get him something, just for right... oh sure, you ass! Help him off one type of dope and onto another? Some friend I am!
Hutch gently pushed away from the embrace, keeping his eyes glued to Starsky's face. He maintained physical contact with a frantic hold on the nearest arm.
"When will it stop, Starsk? Am I always gonna want the stuff?"
"It'll stop, buddy. Just a while longer, then you won't need it..."
Hutch had no reserve with which to deal with a "little longer," and the frightening uncertainty of it shifted his mood darkly.
"Can you guarantee I won't, friend? Can you promise I won't turn on you for a hit? I don't even know myself anymore." He angrily pushed himself away and turned his back on Starsky, to sit face buried in his hands, trembling. "Get out, Starsk, before I pull us both into the gutter. Get out and forget you ever knew me!"
"Hey! What kind of a friend would I be if I left now, huh? No way, buddy, you're stuck with me for the duration. Go on back to sleep, you'll feel better in the morning."
Gently Starsky pulled the shaken man down onto the bed and covered him. He brushed the hair off the damp forehead and watched as Hutch burrowed into the pillow, hugging the blanket to his aching middle.
Starsky winced. Nicky used to scrunch up like that after a bad dream. But it wasn't his sibling on the bed, but Hutch.
As his friend relaxed, Starsky started to rise but was stopped by a fearful plea.
"Don't leave, Starsk. Promise me, no matter what I say or do, you won't leave, please."
"I won't leave, pal. I'll be here, long as you need me." Starsky squeezed the nearest shoulder reassuringly then returned to his chair, this time determined to stay awake.
He didn't succeed. The next thing he was aware of was the sizzle and smell of bacon frying. Great! If Hutch is feeling well enough to cook breakfast... A quick glance at the bed showed his partner was waking up to the same sounds and smells as he. Pulling himself to his feet, Starsky grimaced as every joint and muscle protested his night spent sprawled in the chair. He stumbled into the kitchen, his left hand holding his M-59. With mixed feelings of relief and bemused surprise, he found Huggy standing at the stove.
Hutch swayed to a stop behind Starsky. "What're you doing here?"
"I knew how you'd be feeling this morning and I didn't think you could take another day of your partner's four-star culinary efforts, my man."
For the first time in what seemed like forever, Hutch's grin was genuine. "I appreciate that, Huggy. Really. I just hope I can do justice to the, ah, feast."
"Go brush the sleep from your baby blues, and your repast shall await you." As Hutch left the room, Huggy looked anxiously at Starsky. "How's he doin' up front? You look like you didn't sleep much either, amigo."
"Nightmares, off and on all night. The craving's still with him, Hug. I don't think he has any idea of what's in store for us yet. Three nights now and it ain't gettin' any better."
Huggy reached into his pocket and pulled out a bottle with several red gelatin capsules. "Give him one of these tonight and you can get some sleep." Raised eyebrows conveyed his meaning.
Starsky nodded knowingly, "Thanks, Huggy." Hearing Hutch return, Starsky quickly pocketed the small bottle of pills, and avoided meeting Huggy's relieved smile.
Huggy served the two men with his usual flare. In a matter of moments, two glasses of orange juice, freshly squeezed the way Hutch liked it, rested beside plates of scrambled eggs and bacon. Another plate of toast sat piled high, and the coffee spread its aroma through the room announcing it was almost ready.
Suddenly ravenous, Starsky attacked the food in front of him. For the few minutes it took to polish off Huggy's breakfast, Starsky's mind was off Hutch. For the first time since he had disappeared, Starsky visibly relaxed.
Hutch sipped at the orange juice and eyed the other food warily. Although appreciating Huggy's thoughtfulness, he just wasn't hungry. He forced down the orange juice and took a few uneasy bites of the eggs, only to discover it went down easier than expected. He had eaten about half of what was on his plate when his sore stomach cued him to stop. He reluctantly pushed his plate away.
"Thanks, Hug. Everything is fine, but I just can't eat anymore."
"You did great, Hutch, better than I expected. Didn't he, Starsky?" Huggy smirked at his charges.
Brought back to the present, Starsky's head snapped up and he looked from man to man, momentarily confused. Seeing Hutch's half-eaten plate, he put two and two together and agreed.
"Now that we're all fresh and full, how about Monopoly?"
Huggy backed off rapidly. "Not me. I'm a hard-working business man. Got to get back to The Pits." He felt Hutch would be better handled by Starsky alone. If that didn't work, then LA would be short one detective.
Huggy left and the two men cleaned up the dishes in silence. Starsky washed each dish slowly, rinsed it and put it in the drainer for Hutch to dry. Today would bring more questions, and he wanted to prolong the comfortable quiet as long as possible. He wasn't sure how he was going to answer Hutch, because up to now, all his partner had asked for was reassurances, which Starsky had given blindly. His reverie was brought up short by the sound of breaking glass, followed by a string of muttered oaths from Hutch.
"Go sit down, I'll finish here."
"I can pick up the glass, damnit. I won't slit my wrists!"
"Hutch, I didn't mean..."
"Shit, I know you didn't. But come on, forget that mess, we've got to talk."
"Sure. I'll be right with ya'."
"Now!" Hutchinson hadn't shouted or even raised his voice, but Starsky got the message loud and clear.
Dropping the dish cloth into the water with a muted splash, he grabbed the towel out of Hutch's hand. He looked closely at the blond and tried to gauge how emotionally stable the man was at the moment.
Blue eyes ringed with dark circles stared back at him. The pale face that had been so familiar for so many years was almost a stranger's. The cheekbones were prominent on top of the hollowed-out planes of the face, and everything seemed to hang in slack folds due to the rapid weight loss. The only encouraging sign was the breakfast Hutch had eaten, the first solid food he had voluntarily swallowed in three days. Starsky desperately hoped his partner wouldn't get so upset he'd lose it. Physically, his partner still resembled a concentration camp survivor. Bad analogy, David. Starsky turned and went to sit on the couch. Hutch followed.
"What is my official status, Starsk?"
"Status?" The question was not what he had expected and it caught him off guard.
"Yeah, you know, at the department. Am I on sick leave, suspended, fired, what?"
The ludicrousness of that statement left him speechless.
"Undercover? What as, a junkie?" He turned his face away, shaking his head.
"That's not funny."
"You're telling me?" Letting out a long breath, he added, "I don't believe this."
A lengthy silence followed. Starsky watched the big man closely as the time passed. He wished Hutch would get it over with. The full truth he was not looking forward to telling him, but he didn't like the way he felt about himself in keeping it from him either. Hey buddy it's all right. We'll lick this thing. Together we can do anything. Just hang in there, okay?
Hutch continued to avoid looking at his friend. He had to believe all these half answers and evasions were just Starsky's way of trying to protect him. But from what? A lifetime of existing from fix to fix? He couldn't accept that. Starsky was capable of many things, but not that. Hell, he'd shoot me first. He turned to face his friend.
"All right, why the farce? I take it Dobey's in on it, too?"
Starsky looked at his partner, trying hard to school his face into the closed visage he had used the last few days. How could he explain to Hutch why they had pulled this and not add to his guilt? There were times he wished his partner were more predictable, but this time he couldn't read the thoughts behind the light blue eyes.
"How much sick leave would you need to recover from a beating that happened several days before you escaped?"
Hutch could tell from the fists shoved deep into his jacket pockets that the truth was coming painfully for Starsky. It was true his face was expressionless, but the stance, the rigid spine, told him more than the sharp face ever would. Starsky never seemed to catch on that there was more to body language than mere facial grimaces. He maintained his casual observance in silence, knowing it would hasten the revelation Starsky had begun.
Starsky swallowed hard and continued. "What would happen to your career if this showed up in your personnel file? IA'd consider you a liability and..."
"You mean Internal Affairs doesn't know?"
Starsky hedged. "The only charges filed against Hunter were kidnapping and assault on an officer."
"There are others that know. What about Conners. . .?"
"He'll keep quiet. So will anyone else who knows. Monk and his goon are dead, 'n it's a cinch Forrest ain't gonna take a fall by admitting to possession just to make sure the powers that be know you were strung out." Starsky squirmed on the couch and studied the cloth's pattern.
"Okay, Starsky—but what if I still want a fix later? The monkey may be off my back because you pulled it off, but it still follows me like a shadow, don't kid yourself." He was quiet for several seconds and waited until Starsky's eyes met him, and whispered, "I can't live like that."
Starsky exploded. "If you want a fix, you call me! We'll work this out together. You don't hafta do this alone, buddy."
Hutch felt an involuntary shudder run through him. He hated not being in control, but Starsky was right, as long as he wasn't alone he could fight it.
"Okay, Starsk. Whatever you say. Guess I'll have to take it one day at a time."
"Good! Now, anything else we need to discuss?"
"When do I come off this 'undercover assignment'?"
"As soon as you start eatin' better and sleepin' at night so you don't look like hell. You'd scare suspects to death. Police brutality, pal."
Feeling like they had resolved what was necessary to resolve for the moment, they settled down to the Monopoly game Starsky unearthed. Settled down wasn't an accurate description since Hutch was up and down like a bouncing ball. To the kitchen for a glass of water, then juice, at Starsky's insistence. A candy bar from Starsky's jacket pocket. When this is over, I'll never bother him about what he eats again, Hutch thought sheepishly.
They took a long break for lunch, which Hutch insisted on cooking, then talked about a quick run around the block; Hutch feeling it would do him good, but agreeing it was better for him not to be seen where he wasn't supposed to be. The idea was dropped, much to Starsky's relief since he didn't relish the idea of carrying the big man home. So, they watched television and Hutch tried to read. The afternoon dragged on until finally a late supper was on the table.
They ate quietly, with little conversation, both dreading the oncoming night. Starsky, giddy from lack of sleep, began cracking several lame jokes and laughing hysterically at his own humor. They cleared the remains, washed the dishes, and Hutch re-arranged the tablecloth while Starsky wiped down the drain board.
Starsky glanced over his shoulder at Hutch, uneasy about what he was planning. One cup of java, and if things work out right, it'll give us both a rest. "How about one more cup of coffee?" he called from the kitchen.
"Sure, in the living room, so we can watch the news. Let me get it, you look bushed."
"No, 's okay, I'm already here. You go sit down, I'll be there in a second." He averted his gaze from Hutch. The big blond was picking up on every movement and Starsky had to be careful.
He quickly filled two cups with the last of the pot. Slipping the pill bottle from his pocket, Starsky cut a capsule in half, emptying its contents into Hutch's cup. A quick stir hid the evidence. He walked into the living room and handed Hutch his cup as he sat next to him.
"No, just the usual crap." Hutch answered sipping from the cup.
As the news program drew to a close, the two men drained the cups. Hutch began yawning, his eyes had taken on a glassy look, and they felt like lead weights. For the first time in a week, he actually felt sleepy instead of physically exhausted. "Hey, I feel pretty good, maybe I'm finally getting that dope out of my system, huh buddy?" He stretched and yawned again. "I'm going to hit the sack."
"Me, too. See ya' in the morning, pal."
Starsky went for the blanket and pillow he'd been using, while Hutch disappeared into the bathroom. Shortly, the apartment was dark and quiet. Starsky lay listening to the sound of Hutch's breathing changing into a snore. Troubled thoughts ground through him for a time, until exhaustion joined his snores with Hutch's.
* * *
Starsky's eyes popped open the second he felt himself falling from the couch. Unfortunately, his reflexes weren't fast enough to prevent him from hitting the floor with a resounding thud.
What the hell, I've never fallen off Hutch's couch before. Must've had a dream. He untangled himself from the blanket to climb back on when his sleep-dulled senses registered Hutch was yelling at him.
"What the hell did you do to me? Damnit, wake up and answer me!"
Oh hell, he knows! was the first coherent thought to break the sleepy barrier. Talk your way out of this one, wise ass. "Whatdaya mean? I was just laying here, sleeping. Minding my own business..."
"Bullshit! Don't hand me that 'little boy innocent' crap! It's after nine and I didn't wake up or dream once last night."
"Gee, that's great, Hutch!" He kept his eyes on his fumbling attempt to fold his blanket.
The blond wasn't buying the stall tactic. "It would be if my mouth wasn't like cotton and my head didn't pound." His fist hit the top of the couch-back, missing Starsky's hand by inches.
"Okay, so I slipped ya' something." Starsky's temper began to flare, and he tossed down the cover. Then he was on his feet and shouting... "Maybe you're made out of steel, but I'm not! Sure, you haven't been sleeping so good, but I haven't been sleeping at all!" His voice quieted at the stunned expression on Hutch's face. "I couldn't take another night, pal, so I spiked your coffee with some Chloral Hydrate Huggy gave me. Hell, the rest did us both good. Your head'll feel better after you eat something, so shut up will ya'?" He stalked towards the kitchen.
Hutch's anger rose steadily as he listened, following his dark-haired friend. "What's the matter, still don't trust me? I told you yesterday I'd call if I felt the need..."
"We were talking about 'what if's' in the future, not here and now, and you know it. You're not ready, Hutch. Please, I've..." He turned to face the seething Hutch arm's length away.
"You're damned right I'm not ready. Right now the thought of a hit is real sweet considering the jackhammer in my head." Hutch spun and started toward the door.
Starsky made no move to stop him. The calm exterior betrayed the pounding of his heart in his throat, and the rock of ice jabbing his stomach. Instinctively he knew he'd lose a hand-to-hand bout right now—he'd seen Hutch fight when he was mad, and the taller man was livid.
"Sure, go ahead. Do it. But don't score here in Venice. The best stuff's at the docks. I mean, it'll have ya flying. You remember how that felt, don't ya'? The sting of the needle, then that rush, like liquid fire. It gets so good you think you can't stand it, then ya start to float. Man, everything's cool and soooo good. A real safe and peaceful world... no one can hurt ya, there's no pain, only that floating..."
Starsky's voice had taken on a silky tone and Hutch could almost feel the sensations his partner was describing. His muscles twitched in his aching need for it. With each sentence he took another more determined step toward the door.
Starsky's voice abruptly changed, becoming hard and hoarse. "You want to live like that the rest of your life? You won't be a cop... after a while you won't even be a man."
Fear knotted in the dark man's stomach and its ice seemed to shoot all over. He could feel his palms sweat and he had to concentrate to remember to breathe. Having given it his best shot, it was now up to Hutch. Starsky knew he couldn't stop him. He was physically and emotionally spent. He kept his eyes trained on Hutch and the blue bore into him becoming darker until they seemed almost deep-sea black. Hutch's hand reached shakily for the doorknob and hung there. Don't you do it! Damn you, don't you dare throw everything we've done so far away.
They remained frozen in place for what seemed like hours. Actually only a few minutes passed before Hutch crumpled against the door and, pulling his hands tightly against his stomach, sank to the floor. "Oh God, Starsk, help me. Damnit, why does it have to hurt so bad? I don't want to live like this."
Starsky charged across the room and kneeling, gathered the anguished man into his arms. Relief spread through him and he shook from the effects of the adrenaline released into his system. He hadn't realized how frightened he had been until the relief of Hutch's decision washed over him. He tightened his, grip and rubbed a bearded chin against sweat soaked blond hair.
"It's all right, babe. We've got it licked now." We're gonna beat it. Together.
Both men huddled together, tears mingling as strength flowed freely from one to the other.