This story appeared in the zine "LA Vespers 2". Special thanks to SHaron for having it transcribed. The author is not on the internet and doesn't have email. Comments on this story can be sent via snail mail to Flamingo, PO Box 823, Beltsville MD 20704-0823, and will be forwarded to the author.

Katherine Robertson

Night. A time of darkness. So alone, so hurting, and now he'd seen the worst -- that side of himself he would have died denying. How could he have known, or guessed, that for a syringe full of H he'd sell another human being? No matter that she wasn't innocent; no matter that it was because of her he'd been juiced. Those were inconsequential facts and didn't change for one moment what he'd done.

He lay in the dark listening as Starsky's car pulled away, then turned his face to the wall. What if...? The question to end all questions began its drumming, turning his body into nothing more than taut leather over bone. What if Forrest had wanted Starsky? Would he have sold him? Could he have? Right now, with the needle marks slowly fading from his arms, and his mind beginning to accept rational thought again, he could say "No!" with an emphatic snap. But then? Then, when the sweet silver juice raced through him, caressing his innards with its seductive song? Jesus! His heart pounded as he remembered the incredible need, and all for a shot of poison. All his life for a lousy pop of horse. Sliding his lips back from his teeth, he tried to remember the pain, the agony of getting himself back together. For some reason the only things he clearly remembered were endless cups of coffee, black and sweet... and Starsky.

Starsky. His mind enfolded itself around his partner, and he felt a slow warmth fill out his soul. A warmth unlike the sliding silver in his veins; this was the heat of love, the incredible glow of friendship. He curled himself into a ball and tried to recall it all, tried to recapture just what he'd heard his partner say when he was puking out his guts and life.

You big lummox. You're gonna make it!

Yes, he'd heard that and more. The words were dim now, but they had been whispered into his ear, a secret he supposed, so why couldn't he remember them? He pictured them together, he lying in Starsky's arms, one hand curled around the strong thigh, fighting for life. And all the time his body screamed for a fix, for one more shot, one more trip down memory lane. He could still feel Starsky's hands as they roamed over his body, trying desperately to ease the agonizing spasms. And he knew there was something else...

He frowned, eyes now open, mind seeing back as though watching a television screen. What had Starsky said? All the usual phrases: I love you, babe. Everything'll be okay. Come on, Hutch, keep it down. Lottsa sugar, Hug.

Again he saw the hands, this time stroking his face, fingertips lying across his mouth, and Starsky's eyes, fire-filled, exhausted, staring down at him. Don't die, Hutch. I need you.

Something stirred inside him, a small thing, a nibbling mouse of doubt, and he mulled it over for a moment before snorting it back into the darkness where it belonged. Starsky was always looking at him that way, worrying about him. Hell, for as long as he could remember his partner had shown concern. How long was that? Nearly four years, now, over a thousand days of knowing one another. And did he feel just as strongly? What if it had been Starsky strung out? What if his partner had had to choose between a fix and Hutch? If it ever came down to that, at least he'd understand if Starsk did sell out. And he'd hold him, bring him back to life, see that Starsky never gave up. Only now, now was the hard part. And now was when he needed his partner the most. Needed the arms around him, holding him down, needed the fingers stroking his face, needed to hear that he was loved. Yes, oh God, where was Starsky now?

He huddled into a tighter ball and cried softly, eyes burning with fear. A fix, that's what he needed. One fix would make everything else all right.