COUCH TALK

 

 

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.

Special thanks to Tricia for her great beta work .

(Shootout epilogue)

 

So, whaddaya want for lunch, Starsk?” Hutch asked solicitously. They had arrived at Starsky´s apartment just a little while earlier, after the blond one picked his partner from the hospital where he´d spent a week, recovering from the gun shot wounds that were inflicted while he was an unexpected victim in Giovanni´s; that Italian restaurant of infamous memory.

 

“Linguini with clams.” Came the sullen answer from the couch.

 

There´s no clams in your fridge Starsk.” Hutch explained stepping out of the kitchen and approaching Starsky. “We spent the whole morning waiting for your discharge papers in the hospital. Remember? No time to go shopping for groceries.”

 

“Then you could have got ‘em yesterday, or the day before yesterday.”

 

“Yeah, sure partner, and after two days, they might possibly have gotten out of your fridge in their own to welcome us on your doorstep. Seafood has to be eaten while it´s fresh, but, if you wanna, I can fix some soup and sandwiches.” Hutch sighed tiredly at the sight of his silent friend sitting down in the couch, shifting uncomfortably while running through the TV channels with the remote. Starsky was looking pretty moody. Well; to be true, the blond one had to admit that his partner was acting appallingly moody along all the days he spent in the hospital. Furthermore, his mood was worse than the one of any spoiled little kid...Nevertheless, it didn´t matter for Hutch. Whatever his humor was, that man who sat down sulkily in the couch was the best friend he had got in the whole world. The person he loved more than anybody else.

 

“Alright Starsky, let’s try once more. What would you like for lunch?” Hutch asked patiently, sitting down in the armchair, resting a hand on Starsky´s shoulder.

 

“I don't mind. I got already used to starve.” The curled-haired detective muttered under his breath, like a kid who didn't want his father to hear his sulky reply.

 

“Hey partner, what´s this nonsense of you getting used to starve, huh? Didn´t I bring you the junk food of your choice to the hospital almost daily?”

 

The only answer from Starsky was a shrug of his shoulders, as his frown deepened while he pretended to be utterly fascinated learning all the advantages of a mop with ultra-absorbent filaments that one TV commercial was showing at that moment.

 

“Okay. Fix what you want, Hutch. I´m not that hungry. But no sea kelp, butterfly bones, or desecrated liver, okay?”

 

“Desiccated, Starsk. It's desiccated.” Hutch corrected with endless like-martyr stoicism.

 

“Whatever.” Starsky answered still staring at the screen.

 

Hutch sighed, thinking one more time how versatile his partner could be: Loyal and caring friend; brave and smart cop; warm and kind person, yet at times, irritating…a deeply irritating kid, all of those things wrapped up in the same, surprising man.

 

“Does it hurt, Starsky?” He asked looking concernedly at Starsky´s arm, settled in a sling.

 

“A little. No big deal though.” Starsky said just casting the briefest glance at Hutch; though it seemed a good start for the blond one. Something was bothering Starsky. And when the curly-headed man was in one of his dark moods, the best thing Hutch could do was try and sort things out as quickly as possible if he didn´t wanted to spend the rest of the day walking on eggshells.

 

“Okay buddy. Let´s get this straight. Mind telling me once and for all what’s bugging you?

 

Nothin´ is bugging me, Hutch.”

 

“Starsk.” Hutch said softly, yet in a warning tone, drumming his fingers on the headrest.

 

“Okay, okay. Wanna know what bugs me? So I´ll tell you!” Starsky bursted, slamming the remote onto the couch and getting to his feet.

 

“Everything bugs me, Hutch! Last time I went out of the precinct, after hours dealing with that fucking maharaja, maharaji, or whatever that scum Harry Sample wants to be named, I just wanted to have a nice dinner with my best friend, but, guess what? The only thing I got though, was to get ourselves into a hell of a mess, besides being shot! And now, here I am; unable to do the simplest things like cooking or getting dressed in my own, not to mention driving my car for weeks! Besides, once back at work I´ll be stuck to my desk doing boring paperwork, most likely through the whole month! And that’s while every morning I let some like-gorilla therapist twist my arm in the oddest angles! On the other hand, I don’t even succeed in getting to eat a lousy plate of linguini with clams, ‘cuz maybe clams are an extinct species and I´m unaware of that!” Hutch had to choke back a fit of laughter in hearing that, but laughing at Starsky when he was that pissed off wasn´t a good idea at all.

 

“And on top of that,” The brunet kept saying in an increasing loud voice, gesticulating widely with his good arm “my shoulder hurts, my head hurts and even my ass hurts, this last, courtesy of that monster size nurse that every morning gave me that fucking antibiotic shot!...SHIT! EVERYTHING’S HURTS EVERYTHING’S WRONG AND THAT SUCKS! GOT IT, HUTCH?” Starsky hollered as Hutch kept staring at him, still and wide-eyed, until, nodding briefly, he answered in his softest voice.

 

“Yeah Starsk, got it. Loud and clear. But now, do ya mind sitting down again and telling me what is really bothering you?” Hutch did feel truly sorry for Starsky´s discomfort, but at the same time he was sure that it wasn´t the real cause of his outburst. There had to be something more. And he had to find it out.

 

“I can't sleep Hutch. And that has me on edge, I guess” Starsky said faintly, sitting back on the couch “I´m unable to get a real night of sleep since…Since that night at Giovanni´s. And it´s not just because of the endless string of nurses who look like they don't have anything better to do than to awaken their patients several times at night.”

 

“But…Why, Starsk? Why can't you sleep? And why didn´t you tell me about this earlier? Did your doctor know it?”

 

“Oh, the doc.” Starsky waved his hand. “Forget him, Hutch. The poor guy couldn´t have done anything even if he had known it.”

 

“Okay, partner. I wanna know right now what happens to you. And I mean right now” Hutch said firmly, sliding from the armrest to sit beside Starsky; an arm back around his friend’s shoulders. “The lack of sleep isn’t going to do anything good to your recovery, so it´s time to try and solve whatever that doesn’t allow you to rest.”

 

“Nightmares.” Starsky said laconically.

 

“What kind of nightmares, buddy? Talk to me.” Hutch coaxed gently.

 

“Nightmares in which that rusty gun that that girl, Theresa gave you doesn´t work…it…it blows up in your face.” Starsky swallowed hard, resting his head back in the headrest.

 

“Those nightmares kept coming back over and over, Hutch. Every single night, and as soon as I fall asleep. And the images are so vivid…” Starsky kept talking, shutting his eyes tight. “I am back there, in the back room of the restaurant, lying in that couch. Then, you go to the dinning room while I keep there, someway feeling, that things are about to turn even worse, much worse than they already are. That’s when I hear the gun’s noise; your body collapsing onto the floor…In my dreams, somehow I manage to drag myself out of the couch and out in the dinning room, just to see that you…you are…”

 

“Aw, Starsk…I´m sorry” Hutch cut off; innerly chiding himself. He should have known better. Starsky was a very tough man actually, but on the other hand, he was very prone to have nightmares. After every traumatic; frightening event, his mind would begin playing nasty games on him. And that night at the Italian restaurant was, no doubt, a pretty scaring one

 

“At that point, is when I wake up, and that’s all. My night of sleep is over.” The curly-headed man kept explaining “I rather prefer to spend the rest of the night awake, watching TV, reading some magazine, or simply looking through the window than try and go back to sleep just to be caught again in any of those damn nightmares…”

 

“Why you didn't tell me about earlier, Starsky?” Hutch asked. “I could have stayed with you in the hospital at night.”

 

“No joking, Blondie. Besides the first night, you kept almost the whole day sticking with me while I was in the hospital. I couldn´t ask you to spend all the nights sleeping in one of those rotten plastic chairs too. Your back wouldn't be too happy doing so…I´m already a big kid, able to sleep alone, I guess.”

 

Hutch smiled softly at that comment. “Starsk…Starsky, look at me.” he asked waiting until his partner did so. “I´m here; alive and I am fine. Nothing happened to me.”

 

“But…You could have got yourself killed, Hutch. And that would have been my fault.” Starsky stated, his eyes carrying all the despondency he felt at that moment.

 

“WHAT?” Hutch raised his voice. “Your fault?...Starsky, for God sake! You were the one who got shot that night.”

 

“Yeah…´cause I was the one who wanted to go out to dinner…Remember? You only wanted to get home and fix some scrambled eggs. Instead though, you find yourself in the middle of a fine mess; in your own to save the day besides having to take care of me.”

 

That’s my partner. Hutch thought, realizing once more how blessed he was for having Starsky´s friendship. He was in there, in that lousy backroom, hurting and bleeding badly, but he feels just guilty ´cause I was in danger too.

 

“Starsky, listen to me” Hutch said as the hours spent at Giovanni’s played itself again into his mind. “I, like you do, am supposed to take care of my partner, no matter where or when…But it looks like I didn´t do it too well this time. You almost died because of it, so I have my own, good reasons to feel bad too. Besides, you were there for me. Doing as much as you could. We both know that.”

 

“Yeah, I was there…Saying dumb wisecracks about your teeth.”  Starsky said in true, deep dismay.

 

I´m fine Starsky. You´ll be okay in no time, and that’s all that matters. It's time to leave aside all those bad memories. Now, tell me. Is there something I can do to help you to feel better?” Hutch asked plainly

 

“Besides taking me to Las Vegas to spend my recovery in one of those fancy five stars hotels, you mean?” Starsky joked half-heartedly.

 

“Sorry, Starsk. No luck this time. Try again.” Hutch smiled, patting Starsky´s leg while rising from the couch. “Now I´m fixing us something to eat, and after lunch, you’re going to take a nap. How does that sound, huh?”

 

“No linguini, no Las Vegas. Just some soup, sandwiches and a nap…Sorry if I´m not too thrilled with the idea.” Starsky grumped as Hutch headed to the kitchen, guessing that, once his partner had allowed himself to share his distress, he wouldn’t be late in bouncing back to his old gleeful, confident self.

 

A short while later Hutch had managed to fix a quite good meal. Both men were hungrier that they thought, so they ate the whole of their lunch while the brunet stifled a few yawns.

 

I´ll take care of that, Starsk” Hutch said when Starsky raised from his chair, starting to clear up the table with his good hand "How about taking that nap, huh? You really could use some rest now, buddy.”

 

“Yeah, maybe you’re right, but…” Starsky began to say.

 

“I know, Starsk, I know. The nightmares. Listen, partner. I´ll stay here and I´ll wake you up if I see that you’re having any of them, okay? Trust me there; you won’t have nightmares this time. Go to bed.” Hutch commanded gently.

 

“Okay. Actually, I think that I could sleep two days in a row…Thanks Hutch.” Starsky said already shuffling tiredly towards his bedroom.

 

“Anytime buddy.”

 

Along the next minutes, Hutch busied himself clearing up the table and washing the dishes, while listening for some sound coming from Starsky´s bedroom before stepping silently in. There, the curly-haired man lied in bed, but not as he used to, on his back and with his legs and arms sprawled in all directions, but curled up in a tight ball, with his injured arm cradled against his chest. He seemed to be soundly asleep, but a frown strained his expression, and the blanket wasn´t covering the still form, but tangled in his legs.

 

Nothing will disturb your sleep this time, Starsk. I´ll make sure of that. Hutch thought fondly while untwisting carefully the blanket and taking Starsky´s Addidas off, before replacing the blanket onto the sleeping man. Then, and at the sight of Starsky´s eyes moving fast under his closed eyelids, the blond detective climbed onto the bed, lying beside his friend, and rubbing soft circles on his back.

 

It´s okay, Starsk. I´m here, buddy. Just sleep.” Hutch whispered near his partner´s ear, noticing how the tense body began to relax under his touch. A few minutes later, Starsky, moaning comfortably in his sleep, had finally loosened his tight posture and Hutch had begun to feel his own tiredness washing over him until falling asleep with his head leaning carefully against the crook of his friend’s neck, feeling once more grateful and lucky for having the most important person in his life, alive and by his side.

 

After the events of the last week not just Starsky but Hutch as well seemed to be exhausted, and neither the street noises nor the darkness falling over the city sky were able to wake up the men that, still in their clothes would keep asleep until the dawn.

 

That night the nightmares would not come back to haunt Starsky´s rest. He had the best protection against them. The warmth of his friend´s body next to him; a protective arm around his waist and the blessing of the most sincere and caring friendship to help him to left behind all the scaring dreams and memories. 

 

 

THE END

 

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