All my gratitude to Donna Engle, Beta reader and friend for all her help.
This story was written purely for entertainment and is not for profit, and is not meant to trespass in any way on the holders of the rights to Starsky and Hutch.
That Sunday evening Hutch was alone in Starsky’s place. A place where he would go when he was feeling distressed, sad or alone, as he felt that day; though the apartment was too empty for the blond one now that Starsky was not there.
The entire place had Starsky's essence permeating it. All room, every item in it spoke out loud about its owner's personality, but now, with Starsky gone, it looked to Hutch somehow darker than usual; dark and lifeless like an empty shell.
Throughout the whole day, he had felt a restlessness that nothing or nobody could ease. Today was the first anniversary of the day that Gunther’s men had shot Starsky. In fact, his anguish on that day was the same that he had felt every day for the last 12 months. The tension of everything that had happened had taken its toll on him. And the arrival of that anniversary was something Hutch had feared with an almost irrational fear.
Besides, at that moment, he was missing Starsky from the deepest of his heart.
But Starsky was far, very far away from there...
Smiling for a moment, Hutch thought of how his curled-headed friend could have cheered him up if he was there, as so many other times he would do, with his boyish charm, with some silly joke and a smile. Starsky was always like that. A big child, a kid's soul in a man's body, though on the other hand, in the streets, he could be the toughest cop. Anyway, his natural happiness, his vivacity, and his little touch of naiveté had taught more things to Hutch that all his years in the classy school he’d attend to and all his childhood and young years in Minnesota surrounded with people who didn’t know the true meaning of love.
I should have gone away with you, Starsk…Hutch thought, caressing one picture in which he and Starsky were smiling while cooking a turkey, a distant Thanksgiving Day, two years ago.
Then, Hutch, suddenly felt the urge to do something that he had never done before, but that somehow, he hoped would help him to feel a little better. He began to write a letter to Starsky...though he knew that he would never give it to his friend.
Producing a sheet of paper and a pen out of the drawer where he knew Starsky kept that stuff, the blond one sat down in a chair at the kitchen table and, while drinking a cup of coffee, he began to write the most sincere and sad letter of his life. A letter that he was hoping would help him to get rid of the nightmares, the fear, and the constant restlessness he kept feeling since one year ago…
Dear Starsk: Hutch began writing on top of the paper.
I’m writing this letter to you, though I know that I can’t give it to you, but I'm doing it anyhow. More for myself, than for you, I must say.
I know that I would be unable to say this to you if you were here now, because it would hurt you too much, but...it doesn’t matter, I guess…Because you aren’t here anyway.
A year has gone by…A year since all of that happened. And since then, I haven’t had one single, true moment of peace. The worst are the nightmares. Everything that happens in them seems to be so real… I can see, hear and feel so clearly the grieving and tearful people, the rain on my face, the words of the Rabbi!... Already a year has gone by, but the damned nightmares just won't go away.
Every time I close my eyes I see again your funeral service; your friends and family surrounding your coffin that is resting on the cemetery lawn while the rabbi is talking, as the thin rain keeps flogging the city on that spring morning. He’s talking on your valor and generosity while your body is waiting in a wood coffin for your eternal rest in the ground, and your soul is already resting in peace, near God.
I keep all these words the rabbi says in my mind, one by one, because every night, I hear it again.
Your son, David Michael Starsky, is now resting in peace by your side...
He lived and died with valor...
Then, all of sudden, I always wake up, covered in sweat and trembling. And I know that the nightmares will return, real and terrifying, night after night, and I will never be able to forget that dark day.
I’m sorry, Starsk, but I’m afraid that I can’t overcome this. It comes to me again and again, every time I try to fall asleep to give my body and mind a bit of well-deserved rest.
It’s one year today. One year since the most horrible day in our lives.
That sunny and warm morning nothing presaged what would happen a few minutes later. You and I were heading out from the precinct; We were already on both sides of the Torino, joking and talking about steaks and lobsters, when I saw it. A black and white approaching us. A police officer, aiming a machine gun at you.
STARSKY, GET DOWN! I shouted out at the top of my lungs.
How many times I have thought about that moment along the last twelve months! On how our lives can change in a second and forever, and on how death can surprise us, when we think that the best things in our life are yet to come, and we have all the time in the world ahead of us.
Yes. I know it, buddy. You loved being a cop. You were enjoying your work, your life, and our friendship. You were basically a happy man, though I know that you were looking forward to something more in your life. You were hoping to get married and to have kids eventually. At times, we had spoken about it... Do you remember the last conversation we had about that matter before that day? I do.
Hutch, have you thought ever on getting married? You asked me.
Well, Starsk. I already was married once. And, in the end, everything turned out pretty rough. But why are you asking me this now? Without answering my question, you asked me again.
Do you think that I would be a good husband? And a good dad?...You candidly inquired me .
You know, Starsk? I still remember your words as if you had said them yesterday. And also I remember the sadness that was squeezing my heart whenever I remembered them along the next months.
You loved Terry, and you wanted to marry her, but the hatred of a madman destroyed all your dreams and hopes with her. Nevertheless, as time eased your pain, you understood that your life should go on, and you could think again about having a future, close to someone. And you knew that Terry, from the place where she was, would be happy if you were.
But suddenly, while your body was lying on the ground covered in blood, I thought that your wish would never come true. I don’t remember too much about everything that happened in the next minutes. For a few seconds, my body became paralyzed, like my mind. I just couldn’t move. They... Someone had killed you, in front of my eyes, and I was unable to protect you when you had needed me most...
Really, that’s the worst experience that a cop can live through. Not the injuries, the fear, or to face the possibility of one’s own death, but to be eyewitness of a partner’s next death. A partner who’s also your best friend.
As I was kneeling on the ground close to you, I could see that you were still alive. Your eyes were opened, filled with confusion, pain and fear. You were seizing my jacket with a weak and bloodstained hand. Your blood was in everywhere. Never before had I seen so much blood. It was seeping from your body, quickly covering the ground. I couldn’t do anything to stop it, and soon both of us were in the middle of a little red puddle. The blood was dripping from your mouth as well, as you were opening it in an attempt to get a bit of oxygen.
I could only hold you in my arms, as tears were running down my cheeks, while I was beggin' you to not leave me...
PLEASE. DONīT GO! DONīT LEAVE ME...PLEASE...PLEASE!
STARSK, PLEASE. DONīT GO! DONīT LEAVE ME...PLEASE...PLEASE!
However, and despite all my begging, life was leaving your body.
Some people says that in moments of intense fear, emotional pain, and anguish our minds allow us to see things that, in other moments, we can’t. And I swear you; in those dreadful minutes, I saw someone else in there, kneeling down by our side: A strange human figure dressed in black.... I’m not sure if it was a man or woman. It had a very pale face, long black hair, and big, sad, dark eyes. It was looking at us with a wicked smile, trying to snatch you from my arms. Was it real or just a hallucination? Was it death, something like the Grim Reaper? The fact is that I’ll never know, and really, now, it doesn't matter any more.
Short after the shooting somebody had called for an ambulance, and soon we were surrounded by a swarm of people. Some police officers, were there watching the scene in horror. Dobey was there too. A few minutes later the paramedics had arrived and they began to work on you, trying desperately to help you, at least, to get alive to the hospital.
Soon, you were wheeled into the ER. In those moments, time was our most valuable treasure, and the hospital staff couldn’t waste even a minute, your life was depending on that.
Along endless hours, Dobey, Huggy, and I waited for some information that never did come. Doctors and nurses were continuously coming in and out from the ER, but they never said a word to us.
Along those hours, I felt ill and scared. I did nothing but wishing that what happened to you would have happened to me, or that it would be just a nightmare. But it was not. It was something very real.
Finally, a doctor left ER to give us some news. They had stabilized you and, at that moment, they were taking you up to surgery. Against all odds, you were still alive, but the damage caused by the bullets in your body was terrible, and no doctor was hoping that you would survive the next hours.
Anyway, you survived the surgery, and the next days, too, and though you were in a coma, you were alive. It was something that both, doctors and nurses were looking at as a little miracle.
Since then, I was almost all the time in the only place where I want and could be. With you, by your side, in your hospital room. Looking scared at your pallor, your fragility, and being terrified as well for the strange and menacing machines surrounding your bed, keeping you alive and still with me.
You were very badly wounded, struggling to live while the men who had tried to kill you were still free and healthy. And you know, Starsk? I was pissed off about that, as never before in all my life. I had to do something about, and feeling your strength and the power of our friendship by my side I was able to do it. I took Gunther and all his organization down.
After that, I came back by your side, and along all the endless hours I was with you in the hospital, I kept talking to you, trying to drag you out from the dark and lonely place in which you were. Doctors and nurses told me how much good could do to a patient in a coma to feel loved, how good it was for you that I was speaking to you, because somehow, you would know that you weren’t alone.
If you could hear me, I just wanted you to know that you didn’t have to feel scared because I was there, and you were going to get better. I wanted you to know that though your return to life wouldn’t be easy, I would be there for you, all the time, to help you to recover everything Gunther had stolen from you. Your health, your happiness. And if you couldn’t be a cop anymore, it did not matter. You would be still my best friend and I was sure that we would find something to do together, because I didn’t want to be a cop any longer without you on the streets with me.
I wouldn’t allow myself to give up, to lose hope. I wanted to believe above all that you would recover, though the doctors were telling me to be realistic. Your condition was still very serious, and any small complication could be fatal.
Then, you suffered the cardiac arrest. Now, one year later, every time I remember it, I can’t help myself; I feel again the same fear and despair I felt while I was racing to get to the hospital, to see you, maybe for a last time. At that moment, I was sure that you, my beloved friend, were losing your hard battle. Despite your tenacity to cling to life, death was finally getting the upper hand...
In the last minutes, Hutch had lost track of time. He was totally engrossed in the writing of his letter, when he’d hear the front door being unlocked and a few footsteps getting closer to the kitchen. Then, the blond one stopped writing, got to his feet and headed out of the kitchen, almost bumping into the man silently standing in front of him pointing a gun to his chest.
"But...What the hell are you doing here?" Startled, Hutch asked to the new comer.
"What kinda question is that, Blondie? This is my apartment. I live here. Don't you remember? Or maybe you have forgotten that?" Starsky answered, relaxing his stance and placing his gun back in its holster.
"I know, I know. This is your apartment, but you were coming back tomorrow." Hutch answered, feeling a little awkward.
"Well, I decided to leave earlier. Before things with Nick were getting even rougher. If you don’t mind, though, right now I don’t feel like talking about him... Instead, I’d like to know, what are you doing here...You told me that you had planned to go fishing this weekend...Maybe you were playing some songs to my plants?" Starsky teased before taking seriously again. “You scared me, Blondie. I could have blown your beautiful blond head off.”
"Oh, well…I just came here to see if everything was okay, Starsky, " Hutch lied. Starsky knew it, however, he didn’t say anything about. “Okay, buddy, it’s good to have you back." Hutch added then, while a warm happiness filled his heart. "How’s your mom doing? And how are things going in The Big Apple?"
"Mom is doing much better now. She sends her love and kisses to you, but, if you don't mind, I'd rather not be the one to give them to you. I prefer a beautiful stewardess named Sarah, who took care of me along the whole flight." Starsky joked waving his brows "By the way, I’m still thinking that you should have come with me. I don’t know why you didn't want to, Hutch." He added while picking his duffel bag up from the floor, taking it to his bedroom.
"You know, partner; I was feeling too tired to travel" Hutch answered while going back to the kitchen where he took the letter he had been writing, wrinkling in his fist before stuffing it in his pant pocket.
"I’m hungry Hutch. How about pizza? Without anchovies on your side, of course, and some beers, too" Starsky asked stepping back in the living room. "You’ll stay here to have dinner with me, I guess? He asked, plopping on the couch and looking tired.
"Are you okay Starsk?" Hutch asked concerned, sitting down next to Starsky.
"Yeah, sure; I’m okay. Just a little tired. What about you, Blondie? You don’t look too well yourself. Something’s wrong?"
"No, Starsk. Everything’s fine now." Hutch said earnestly, giving a gentle squeeze to his friend’s shoulder before getting back to his feet and heading to the phone to call for their pizza.
Once Hutch had hung up the receiver, he went back to the couch and looked at Starsky. He was sitting down with his elbows on his knees and his hands covering his eyes. A wrinkled sheet of paper was resting on the coffee table...
Then Starsky lifted his head, staring at Hutch. His eyes showed a sudden sorrow that put a lump in the blond man’s throat.
"God, Hutch… I didn’t know… I mean, of course, I know what day is today. But I didn’t know...I didn’t know how much it still hurts you. I’m sorry, partner... I’m so sorry." Starsky said forlornly.
"Starsk, I..." Hutch stuttered. Suddenly, all the color was gone from his face. "I am sorry, Starsky, I didn’t want you to read this letter… It must have fallen from my pocket...Shit! I’m a damn stupid!" The blond one snapped, sitting down on the coffee table in front of Starsky, staring at the floor.
"Hutch... Hutch, look at me. “Starsky asked staring into Hutch’s eyes. Hutch obeyed, looking up at his friend.
"Hutch, I’m here. I’m alive and feeling well. That day was the most horrible of our lives, sure, but it’s past already. Gunther is in prison, and you and me are here, alive, healthy and safe. I’ve travelled to New York alone, and without problems, and I hardly need pain pills any more. My physical therapy will be over in a few weeks and, hopefully, soon I’ll be able to leave that boring desk job behind and go back to the streets with you... Or maybe not. I don’t know. Anyhow that’s not the most important thing. If I can’t do what I really want, then, there it’ll be always some bank in Bolivia to rob, I guess." Starsky’s joke managed to elicit a smile in Hutch’s lips. “The matter is that I won't be able to overcome the bad memories, if you can't...Hutch, buddy, what can I do?" Starsky asked candidly. "Tell me how I can help you to overcome what happened a year ago, because I just don't know how to do it." A few seconds of silence hanged between both men. Then Hutch cleared the lump in his throat before speaking.
“I don’t know what to say, Starsk. You went through hell this last year... but now, here you are, trying to help me..." Hutch stopped talking, as a sad smile curled his lips "Sorry, Starsk, I know how much you hate soapy scenes." He added as an apology.
"It's okay Hutch. Never mind. You know that still I have nightmares, too. You have been with me, helping me every step of the way and, you know that more than once, I’ve just wanted to give up and quit fighting, to don’t feel the pain any more. Very often, in the first months after the shooting, I’ve wished to don’t be any more in a body that was nothing but my enemy. More than once, I’ve just wanted to die. But you haven’t allowed me to give up. For a long time along this last year I’ve been exhausted, hurting and aching, unable to do even the easiest things in my own. Now, I'm almost the man I was before. And if I went this long in my recovery, it has been thanks to you. We both know that without you, I couldn’t have done it. That gives you some right to feel exhausted, I guess."
Starsky ended his words feeling suddenly drained. Then, both men, feeling the pushing need for the other’s comforting touch, got up and met in a silent embrace. Somehow they were sure that each other's arms was the only place where no hurt could reach them.
"You need some more time to heal, Hutch, same as I need it.” Starsky stated, still don’t pulling away from Hutch’s warm embrace “And, now, we have all the time in the world, all our lives ahead…That’s of course, if I don't starve to death. Where are they bringing that pizza from? Italy itself?"