Part One - Lynne

    Sometimes there were nights like these, when sleep wouldn't come.

    The only sound in the darkened room was a low-pitched, continuous rasping as the tip of the needle dragged across the smooth vinyl beneath. The crackle from the stereo finally registered on his consciousness, and he managed to reach up to switch it off. The abrupt silence pounded at him, carrying the faint echo of the album's closing lyrics.

    ...And when storms are high and your dreams are low, I wish you the strength to let love grow ...I wish you the strength to let love go.

    As the clock struck one, sleep still didn't come, but the tears did.

Part two - Virginia Call

    An untold age later, tears faded and soul numb, Starsky's eyes fell upon a familiar silhouette. It was so close, yet so inaccessible.

    I can't. I won't, he chided himself savagely, wiping uselessly at the dry tracks of his grief. If only we had both been honest. If only...

    He should sleep, but he would have to pass that moonlit temptation to make things worse, to lose what little self-respect he had kept.

    All it would take would be one call, and he would know.

    But the phone was silent, as he would be.

    He could not be the first.

Part 3-Isabel

    Hutch stared at the phone. He should call. He owed it to him. Starsky, I'm sorry. That's all it would take. Just three little words.

    Their last too-familiar conversation echoed within, infinities of meaning in triplicate:

    "How could you?" 
    "I don't know." 
    "You fucked her!" 
    "I still care." 
    "Yeah? About what?" 
    "About... about us." 
    "Then prove it."

    And with that he'd been gone, hours ago, a lifetime ago. Again.

    But three little words could make things O.K.. Important words. Vital words. Words like, 'Me and thee.' Words like, 'I love you.' Words like, "Starsky, I'm sorry."

    He wanted to make things O.K. again. He did. So why couldn't he say them?

Part 4 - MEKerley

    Hutch wanted desperately to kiss Starsky gently, hold him close and whisper, 'I'm sorry, babe.'

    If I could get Starsky into bed, fuck him senseless ... maybe he'd forgive me.

    'Just call him,' an inner voice nagged.

    "Shut up," Hutch muttered, but he picked the phone up and dialed Starsky's number. It rang once. Panicked, Hutch hung up, his heart pounding. "I can't ... I can't... You're an idiot, Hutchinson.

    Starsky was startled awake by the phone; he'd drifted off. Stretching stiffly, he listened intently in the dark, but the phone remained mute. Angry tears welled up. He knew it was Hutch ... who else would call at this hour?

Part 5 -- Jae

    There had been a time not all that many years ago when he would have made the first call. When he was unsure of his own ability to be faithful. When he would forgive anything because this was all so new and they were both blundering through the first stages of the first real relationship either of them had ever had. But now... he had been sure. Sure of his partner, sure that his decision had been the right one. Then Hutch had brought it all crashing down around him.

    Starsky stared at the phone. It will ring again. Please.

Part 6 -- Killa

    He was still waiting, alternately waking and drifting, when the alarm went off.

    Morning brought a whole new kind of pain, and Starsky didn't think he could face it. How the hell was he supposed to be any kind of cop when he didn't even want to face leaving the house? He'd get one or both of them hurt, killed... for a second, he didn't care.

    It had been a long time since he'd hurt like this, but after a minute, he remembered how you do it. How you roll off the sofa and get up before your brain really knows what's happening, how you move one foot in front of the other, how you stand in the shower and shut everything off, don't think, just let habit take over. He very carefully didn't let himself think about the one thing that had always made that kind of coping possible. The one person.

    In the car habit started him for Hutch's place before he remembered.

Part 7 - by Candy Apple

    Starsky navigated through the sparse early morning traffic, still heading in the direction of Venice Place. Is that where we go from here? Fail as lovers so go back to doing what we could get right? Being cops, partners? Starsky popped his sunglasses on, less to battle sunlight than to cover eyes that were unforgiving of so many tears. How do you go back to riding together, covering each other's do you go back to being friends and partners when you've held each other close, learned every secret of each other's bodies, been so in love? You don't. When you've had it all, if it's gone, the only alternative is nothing... God, why does real love always have to hurt this way?

Part 8 by Amoreena

    Starsky allowed the red Torino to glide into the parking spot in front of Venice Place. It knew every corner and curve of this street as well as Starsky knew every inch of Hutch. Throwing the gearshift into park, he revved the motor, mostly out of anger, but also so Hutch would note his arrival. How am I going to get past this? Starsky seethed.

    Hutch opened the door and slid silently into the passenger seat. He looked as haggard as Starsky felt. Starsky logged them in by radio and the Torino purred down the familiar streets of their "beat". The silence between them surely could sink the Titanic. Hutch didn't quite know what to say, and Starsky was afraid of what he might say. Finally, Starsky stopped the car in front of the park. This park had history, ancient as it may be. Starsky had shared his dreams with Rosie Malone here. Hutch had watched Abigail walk out of his life. But more recently, it had been where Starsky first told Hutch that he loved him, but not just as a partner. Starsky bared his soul and a lot more to Hutch that sunny day. He was so relieved to find out that Hutch felt the same way. Yes, if there was to be a reconciliation this would be the place.

Part 9 - by SAC

    For an eternity it seemed, both sat in silence...each lost in a world of thoughts...of accusations and self-recriminations.

    Finally, Starsky turned to look at Hutch.

    The blonde cop seemed battle-ready... his back ram-rod stiff, hands balled into tight, white fists. He stared straight ahead...his vision locked on some distant point.

    "So...where do we go from here?" Starsky asked softly.

    He waited...his apprehension turning to the minutes ticked by and Hutch neither spoke or even acknowledged that he had heard the question. His right hand shot out...clamped down onto the other cop's arm with an vise-like grip.

    "Answer me!" he ordered.

    Another half-minute slipped by and then a heavy sigh filled the air. Hutch's words came out in a choked whisper. "I...don't know."

    "Not good enough!" Starsky snapped, then demanded in a cold, harsh voice. "We get this...thing...figured out...HERE AND NOW!"

    Hutch twisted free. "Leave me alone!" he moaned, then threw open the car door and bolted blindly.

    "Hutch! Damn you! Get back here!!" Starsky ordered, as he ripped the keys out of the ignition.

    It was as he leaped out of the Torino, ready to take chase, that he heard the urgent blast of a car horn and the seemingly endless squeal of brakes...spun around to see...Oh,!!


    In less than a heart beat, Starsky dropped to the ground where his partner...his dearest, more...his soul mate...laid, bloodied....trapped beneath the wheels of a truck.

Part 10 - by SAC

    Starsky remained oblivious to the controlled chaos of the Intensive Care Unit -- his attention focused solely on the stilled and bloodied form laying in the bed.

    A large patch of the familiar blonde locks had been shaved away -- an array of tubes had been inserted through the crushed skull -- to allow drainage of the blood and clots, reducing the life threatening build-up of pressure against fragile brain tissue.

    The mustache that had become, at least in part, a symbol of this ever changing man he had grown to love was gone... had also fallen victim to the razor's edge -- sacrificed in the effort to treat facial injuries so extensive...there had been a moment, upon first entering the hospital room, when Starsky hadn't even recognize Hutch.

    "He's gonna be mad as hell when he finds out you shaved off his mustache."

    The statement sounded bizarre even to his own ears so Starsky wasn't surprised when the Chief Neurosurgeon paused from examining Hutch and turned a puzzled look his way.

    "If he survives...that will be the least of your friend's concerns."

    Starsky swallowed hard, felt his heart plunge. IF? God, no!...please! IF'S!

    He waited until the doctor left the room, then reached out to gently stroke one of the swollen, bruised cheeks.

    Hot tears filled his eyes as he leaned down to whisper into his partner's ear.

    "You have to be all right, Hutch. You hear me, huh? I love ya, mean everything to me...please...don't die! Don't leave me!"

    The only response to his desperate plea was the steady "hiss" of the respirator and the rhythmic "beeping" of the heart monitor.

    Maybe it was already too late. Maybe that special essence which made Hutch who and what he was...was already lost to him.

    Starsky slumped against the bed as his tears gave way to sobs.

Part 11 -- by Raven

It had been nearly two months since Starsky's world had ended in the screeching of tires and the blare of a car horn.

Day after day Starsky wandered the cold, sterile hospital corridors; eyes shadowed by the lack of sleep, brain numb from constant worry.  He wasn't working; Dobey had insisted that he take compassionate leave. He hadn't been worth much to the force-not like this.

No one could talk to him-if it hadn't been for Huggy, he'd have stopped eating. As it was, he'd lost so much weight that his clothing hung on him.

He'd turned into a mere shadow of himself. He had only one purpose at being alive.


Hutch looked much better. Much of his face had been rebuilt. The swelling in his brain had receded. Most of his hair had come back, a little curlier than the rest, but it was there.

His sense of guilt, he realized had grown out of all proportion-after all, Hutch had cheated on him. And it was Hutch's inability to face it-to face Starsky-which had led to this.  Hutch had jumped out of the car-and run straight into oncoming traffic.

What the hell were you thinkin', love?

And now Hutch lay in coma. The doctors held little hope for his recovery.

The rage and hurt seethed in Starsky, just as it had, at least once a day, every day-for the last few weeks. You bastard. It always has to be about you, doesn't it? Do you even realize just how selfish it was to run away from me like that, so blinded by your own guilt--?

Hutch's guilt.  Oh, lord.  Starsky's throat tightened with potent mixture of anger and sorrow.

Goddamn you.

You did this on purpose, didn't you?  Why couldn't you have just talked to me?

A young female voice behind him startled him out of his reverie. "Sgt. Starsky?"

"Yeah?" Starsky turned to find himself staring at a thin, blonde haired woman who regarded him with a crisp, grey gaze. He didn't recognize her. Not from a case. Not a relative of Hutch's.

"Hi. I'm Rebecca."  She said and reached out a hand to shake his. He returned the gesture absently.

She was a pretty woman, Starsky noted, amazed that he could even register that fact-especially, now. It made him uncomfortable. Who was this woman?

"Can I help you with something?" Starsky asked, wondering why she wanted to talk to him.  She's not a doctor...

"I...heard about what happened to Ken...a while ago. I'm sorry I didn't stop by before, I didn't think it would be...appropriate." She looked up at him, seemingly abashed.

Something seemed to spark in Starsky's brain, and it hurt. Ken? Not appropriate?

"I...well..." She stopped, unwilling to go on.

Oh my God. It's her. The one he slept with. Oh, Jesus.

" slept with him, didn't you." Starsky was frankly amazed at how calm he was sounding. Because at this moment he wanted to kill this woman.  "Did you know about us?" He asked. "Did you know that we were lovers? That we had a committed relationship?"

The woman said nothing. She looked afraid.

They were both silent for a long time.

"I met Ken at a bar. He was upset, drinking a lot-so was I."  Rebecca said.  "He said he and his lover had a fight. We started drinking together. He...he told me about you. I told him about my ex-we'd just broken up that night."

"And things just...kind of went from there, huh?" Starsky was unable to keep the sarcasm from his voice, and the woman flinched.  At the moment, he didn't particularly care too much about her feelings.

"It wasn't like that at all. It was just...I was hurting and he was hurting...and we both did something we shouldn't have. He--he cried about it."

"He what?" Starsky didn't believe what he was hearing.

Rebecca took a deep breath and fidgeted with her bag. "He cried about it...saying he didn't deserve you, that he'd ruined the best thing he ever had." She stared at the floor, unwilling to meet Starsky's eyes.

Starsky turned to stare out window. "When he came home...the next day...I could smell you on him. I could see it in his eyes, and I knew. It almost killed me."

He whirled back to face her, and it was all he could do to keep his voice down. "What the hell do you want me to say, I forgive you? That I can forget what happened?"

Rebecca had backed away little. " I-I don't know. I supposed I wanted--absolution."

"Forget it, lady."

"I'm sorry-"

"Please, just go."

She stood there silently for just another moment. Finally, she shrugged sadly, and walked away, leaving Starsky fighting tears in the hall.

He roamed the hospital and the grounds for a while. He couldn't think. He couldn't feel. But his heart pounded, and his blood roared in his ears.  It was a long time before he wandered back into the still room. He sat next to Hutch's bed, and took his thin, cold white hand into his own.  He heard himself speak, and realized that his voice was nearly gone, from the never-ending stream of one-sided conversations he'd had with Hutch. Would Hutch even recognize his voice? He talked anyway-hoping that somehow, Hutch would hear - and come back.

He was never really conscious of what he said. He would just talk, until he ran out of words.

He was beginning to nod off, when he felt something...a faint his hand. He looked down, disbelievingly. Hutch's hand twitched. And then the fingers curled weakly around his own.

Starsky stared at Hutch's face, watching for any movement, anything-and there was movement under the pale lids. Hutch's breathing changed and grew more rapid. Slowly, his eyes opened up to stare at nothing.

"Hutch? " Starsky whispered. He reached over to press the buzzer to summon the nurse, never taking his eyes from Hutch's face.

Hutch's mouth worked, but no sound emerged.

"Honey, please, babe-don't try to talk-I'm here, baby-" Starsky softly chafed Hutch's hands in his own and was overjoyed when Hutch's eyes finally focused on him.

The opening of the door signaled the nurse's arrival. Without looking up, Starsky ordered,  "Get a doctor-"

"What?" The nurse began, "Is there something -"

"He's awake, get a doctor. Now." Starsky snapped.

Hutch was still trying to speak and tears began to roll down his cheeks.  Starsky wiped the tears away with the edge of his thumb. ", it's okay. You're gonna be okay now, you hear me?"

Hutch tried again, and managed to say--something. Starsky had to struggle to hear it, and it nearly broke his heart to hear how weak Hutch's voice was.  And then Starsky registered what Hutch had said. He'd said " you."

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