THE END OF THE NIGHTMARE

 

 

All my gratitude goes for Delia for all her much appreciate 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.

 

I came in time. It was a very close call, but I came there in time, just when that bunch of weirdoes were about to kill Starsky…A few minutes later, and it would have been too late…Christ! The mere thought of what could have happened if I had come there just five minutes later still scares the hell out of me!

 

For a little while I fought against three of those goddamned cultists, while Starsky, with the little strength he still had, was trying more or less successfully, to put in a fight for his life; for our lives…You know, we are ´Me and thee´ even in the most extreme circumstances; well, especially in those ones, I guess.

 

Luckily, and despite the wild madness fuelling them, those weirdoes weren’t too of good fighters, so before I realized it, all of them were restrained and taken by a few uniformed officers to the patrol cars.

 

Then was when I knelt down in front of Starsky, reaching out for him and holding him in my arms.

 

“It’s over, Starsk, It’s all over.” I soothed him, my hand on the back of his neck, never letting go of my hold on his trembling body.

 

“What took you so long? Huh?” He joked feebly, giggling tearfully, and resting his head against my chest . Wisecracks and jokes had been always Starsky´s characteristic way to try to ease the roughest moments.

 

“Nice looking nightgown you got there.” I joked back looking at the sinister black garment that Starsky wore while a shiver ran down my spine. We weren’t trying to make fun of that nightmarish situation; rather we were doing our best to subdue the terror flooding our minds, to a bearable level. Meanwhile, Gail, the girl that somehow had helped to save Starsky´s life, even if just by delaying his execution with her hesitancy, stayed there, weeping silently, clutched to Starsky´s legs.  Finally one of the six police officers that, along with Dobey, had come with me, pulled her gently off of my partner and took her to a waiting patrol car. It was then that I saw Starsky´s gaze staring at a point in the ground, some steps away. I turned my head to look what he was looking at in unmistakable dread.

 

Then I saw them. A baseball bat, a large cook’s knife and a thick chain. Harmless stuff resting onto the ground, yet at the same time menacing, scary weapons, carriers of death

 

“COULD SOMEBODY TAKE THAT FUCKING STUFF OUT OF HERE?” I asked in loud voice, partially giving vent with my shouts to the angst tightly knotting my stomach.

 

As one of the officers hurried to put those things into an evidence bag and out of sight, I felt Dobey´s warm, comforting hand squeezing my shoulder.

 

“Are you okay, son?” He addressed Starsky, crouching down between us.

 

“Yeah…okay…I´m okay, Cap.” Starsky answered not too convincingly and not looking at our superior officer eyes. 

 

“Fine. However an ambulance is in the way to take you to the hospi-”

 

“NO!” Starsky cut him off, leaping to his feet and staggering a couple of steps backwards. I´m not going to any goddamned hospital!” He said in high pitched, yet shaking voice.

 

“Starsky, please, you need to be checked out in an hospital…besides, they should assess your possible injuries for the case, Starsk, you know it…” I said in soft voice reaching out for him, wondering worriedly what other injuries those demons could have inflicted to his body and mind besides the burned flesh that stuck out noticeably under his eye.

 

“No hospital, Hutch, please…no hospital. Just take me home…please.” He begged me both with his voice and with his imploring eyes.

 

“Starsk, listen…” I tried again, running a hand nervously through my hair.

 

“NO! I´m not going to any hospital Hutch! I´m okay and I only wanna go home!” He shouted increasingly upset.

 

“Okay, Starsk, okay…We’ll do it your way.” I conceded reluctantly wondering if I was doing the right thing. My only reassurance was that whether Starsky got checked in the hospital or not, we had evidence enough against Marcus cultists. 

 

“No hospital, that is, unless I think it’s strictly needed, deal? And once at home, I´m going to call a doc to check on you, no matter what you say.” I assured to Starsky, glancing briefly at Dobey, who luckily would let me deal with the situation in hand on my way.

 

“Do you mean it? Do you mean than we can just go home?” He asked, his eyes wandering restlessly between Dobey´s and mines.

 

“Of course I mean it, partner. Have I ever tricked you before?” Starsky kept staring silently at me. It didn't seem like he was going to utter any answer, nor was it needed either. We both knew that neither of us had never ever lied to the other, and that we never would.

 

Let´s go home Starsk.” I said encircling his waist with my arm and grabbing his elbow for support.

 

“My place?” He asked in weak voice, all the stamina of a moment ago totally gone from his body.

 

“Or mine. Wherever you prefer, Starsky.”

 

“Mine.” He just said.

 

“Yours, it is.” I was getting Starsky out of there when Dobey put his hand on my forearm stopping me.

 

“I hope you know what are you doing, Hutchinson.” He said trying hard to maintain his composure.

 

“I know it, Cap. Trust me; I know it.” I assured him with a confidence that I wasn´t sure I was feeling. The only thing I was sure of was that I didn´t wanted anybody else pushing Starsky´s abused body and prying into his mind,   scaring him even further. Not until he could felt strong enough to bear any of that.

 

“Call me, Hutch; do you hear me? Call me and tell me how he’s doing and if you need something. Anytime.”

 

“Sure Cap. Thanks”

 

“And don’t forget that we are going to need his statement, son.” Dobey said looking down at his feet, feeling clearly uncomfortable with what he was saying.

 

“It can wait for a while, I guess.” I stated rather than asked, while Starsky apparently withdrawing into himself, was looking at some spot ahead us.

 

“Not too long, Hutchinson, you know it. We need to pin down those bastards as soon as possible.” Dobey said going wholly into his cop mode yet with his eyes full of concern and compassion for Starsky´s distress.

 

“Sure cap. I´ll keep it in mind; leave this matter in my hands.” I said before I gently began leading Starsky to his car parked a few feet away.

 

I opened the passenger door helping my partner inside and fastening his seatbelt, a motion that I don’t ever remember when I had done this the last time, but that right then seemed the most right thing to do. Then, once I was sure that he was settled safely and comfortably in his seat, I trotted around the hood of the car sliding behind the wheel and starting the engine.

 

Our ride to his place was made mostly in silence, Starsky hunched in a tight ball against the passenger door of his Torino, staring with an empty look, at the streets that we were passing on our way home, while I was driving and looking at him from time to time, to be sure that the was holding on, and maybe somehow, to be sure as well that my partner, my best friend was back by my side, probably more scared and hurting than he was willing to admit, yet in one piece.

 

“You okay, Starsk? Wanna talk?” I asked reaching my hand out to rub his stiff, tense back.

 

“No Hutch…I don’t wanna talk. I only wanna go home.” Starsky answered in toneless voice, never taking his eyes from out of the car´s window, never turning to look at me.

 

It’s okay buddy, lets leave the talk for later, when you´re ready. We’ll take this one step at time Starsk.” I said reassuringly, focussing my mind back just to the driving.

 

Once at his apartment, he stood motionless  in the middle of his living room, like if he was plunged into some sort of trance, the first thing I did was to go to his room to get his pajamas.

 

“How about taking a shower and later going to bed, partner? Or maybe you're hungry? Want something to eat?”

 

“Huh?” He asked absent-mindedly, still staring at the space.

 

“A shower Starsky.” I said knowing that he hadn’t listened to anything I just said, “Come with me. I´ll help you to get rid of that damn gown, and you can take a shower. Meanwhile, I´ll call the doc.”

 

I guided my partner to the bathroom, helping him to take the ominous black tunic off, though actually the only thing Starsky did to free himself of it, was to raise his arms on my request, as I pulled the piece of clothing off over his head tossing it against one corner of the floor. Later I’d put it in a bag for evidence, but right at that moment, my only concern was Starsky. I led him to sit on the lid of the toilet to check the angry bluish bruises I saw on his chest, stomach and back.

 

“Does it hurt Starsky?” I asked while pressing carefully on the bruised spots, looking for lumps or broken bones.

 

“A little.” He answered wincing slightly every time my fingers found the most tender spots.

 

“Okay, now, drink this.” I said after filling a glass of water from the tap and holding it out for him. “I guess that you didn't get any water in the last few hours, and I don’t wanna you getting dehydrated. I´m not going to give you any aspirin or anything until the doc checks on you, but the water will be good for you.”

 

It was then, when he saw the glass of water, a sparkle of fear shone in his, until then, dreary eyes and he crossed both arms onto his stomach.

 

“Starsky…Are you okay, buddy? What´s wrong?” I asked at a loss, while his body began to tremble.

 

“The…the water…they…they gave me some water and…”

 

“What Starsky, what was wrong with the water.” I inquired fearfully as the memories of Starsky almost dying after being poisoned by Bellamy, rushed into my mind

 

“I…I don’t know. They put something…something in the water, and then, right after drinking it my stomach…”

 

“Your stomach what, Starsky? Was the water poisoned? Does your stomach hurt now? Do you feel sick?” I tried to coax Starsky into talking while doing my best to hide my rising panic.

 

“No…now not, but It...it did hurt. Back then it did hurt a lot…”

 

“Listen Starsky. I think I should take you to the hospital right now, I mean it.” I said getting to my feet “We don’t know what was in that water.”

 

“No hospital, Hutch.” My partner said stubbornly.

 

“Starsky, I didn't know that you had been poisoned, or drugged, or whatever. If I knew…”

 

“Call the doc, okay? Daniels or any other doc.” He said referring to a doctor who was a long time friend of ours. That´s okay with me, but I´m not going to the hospital and that´s all!” Starsky wasn´t any longer sitting onto the toilet’s lid but standing in front of me, growing clearly upset

 

“The doc can draw my blood and find out whatever was in that water, besides to check on me, can’t he?” He asked trying to sound calmer though the tremble in his voice couldn't fool me in the least.

 

“God, Starsky” I mumbled wiping my face with both hands “Why have you to be so stubborn?”

 

“Call the doc, Hutch. Meanwhile I´ll take a shower. I´ll be okay…you go to make that call.” He said as only an answer.

 

“It’s okay Starsky. You win. I´ll call Daniels. I only hope we aren’t making the biggest mistake of our lives.” Starsky, clearly unwilling to discuss the matter further was already dragging open the shower curtain, stepping in.

 

I´ll be in the living room Starsk. Call me if you need something.” I said before heading out of the bathroom, closing the door at my back to give Starsky some privacy.

 

I phoned Doctor Daniels, filling him in briefly on what had happened and asking him to bring along a test tube to send a sample of Starsky´s blood to the laboratory to analyze. Then I hung up the phone, walking closer to the bathroom and listening for any strange sound coming from inside, hearing just the spray of the water. I was about to go to the kitchen to fix some tea for Starsky when, mixing with the sound of the running water, I heard a different noise, a noise soft yet noticeable, though I couldn't identify it clearly.

 

“Starsky?...Starsky, you okay?” I asked knocking at the door, but no answer came from inside. As the gripping fear that kept nagging my insides climbed a couple of notches, I grabbed the knob opening the door and stepping inside the bathroom.

 

It was then, when I got near the shower, when I was able to identify the sound. And when realization broke my heart in pieces…

 

The sound were Starsky´s faint, soft sobs

 

“Starsky…”

 

I jerked the plastic curtain open to meet the image of Starsky, my brave partner reduced to a terrified, crying  kid sitting in the shower tray, knees folded up, touching his chin, arms embracing his legs while he kept rocking himself backwards and forwards and the shower  water cascaded freely down his body.

 

It’s okay, Starsky, It’s okay, I´m here.” I said stepping into the shower regardless of the water soaking my clothes and shoes, kneeling down to hold Starsky in my arms.

 

“They…they w-were…were about to k-kill me…to stab me to death…And the-there wasn´t a damn thing I...I could do to…” Starsky said among sobs.

 

“Shhht, It’s okay Starsk. They didn´t do it. And you´re safe now.” I soothed him “It’s over, partner, it’s all over. You´re at your apartment, in your shower. Safe and sound. And I´m here, with you.”

 

“I was so…so sorry that I was going...going to be unable to say to you my…my last goodbye.” He said in faltering voice moving his arms away from around his legs and grabbing onto me in a fear-filled tight embrace.

 

“Aw Starsk!…Forget that, okay? Not good byes. You´re still here and I am with you.” I said pulling him closer in my embrace as my heart squirmed in a mix of pain for the angst he was feeling and happiness for having him still by my side.

 

I´m scared Hutch…I know it’s stupid, that I shouldn’t act like a baby, but I can’t help…I´m scared.”

 

“It’s not stupid Starsk, and you aren’t acting like a baby.” I said rubbing soothing circles in his back “You´re scared, besides exhausted, and to feel this way after which you went through it’s okay…it’s a totally normal reaction, partner. You have to give it some time, but you’ll feel better, I know it”

 

“Do…Do you think so?” He said in a thread of voice, staring into my eyes, looking desperately for reassurance.

 

I´m positive, Starsk. Everything’s going to be okay. Trust me, partner.” I said while reaching for the shower tap to turn off the water “Now how about getting out of this shower before catching pneumonia?” I joked half-heartedly while helping Starsky to his feet and out of the shower, towelling him dry and helping him to put into his pyjamas before taking him to his bed. Then, once he was comfortably lying down under the covers, I picked a pair of briefs, a shirt and a pair of jeans, shoes and socks I had in Starsky´s wardrobe to change myself into dry clothes

 

A short while later, when Doctor Mike Daniels came, Starsky, after drinking a few sips of the tea I had fixed for him, had fallen into a deep sleep, so the doctor could check him out easily besides tending the burn on his face and drawing Starsky´s blood eliciting just a slight wince from him in feeling the sting of the needle sliding into the crook of his arm.

 

“Okay Ken. David doesn’t seem to have any broken bones nor internal injuries and about the burn on his face, it’s not serious and it will heal nicely in a few days, as well as the bruises and scratches. Right now, I´m going to take the blood sample to the laboratory. I´ll ask the techs to look for any toxic substance in it and I´ll call you with the results in a few hours. However, I really think that David would be better off in a hospital, Ken. Just in case” The doctor advised me while handing me a bottle of pain pills for Starsky.

 

“I know it, Mike. You´re right.” I answered tiredly “Actually, I’ve tried to talk Starsky into going there, but you know how he is.”

 

“Yeah. Stubborn like a damn mule.” Daniels answered shaking his head. The man knew my partner quite well.

 

“Besides, after all that he has gone through, I don’t feel like…” I began to explain in sort of a justification mode.

 

It’s okay, Ken. You don’t need to explain it to me. Okay, now I must go. I´ll take the blood to the lab and I´ll be back to my office in about an hour. Call me there if you need something. If I am not there, you can reach me at home. No matter when. If you need me just call me, okay? I´ll come back to check on David tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, give him plenty of liquids to drink, but not coffee, okay? And don’t forget his pain pills. If he isn’t hungry today, don’t worry. Don’t try to force him to eat. The fluids intake is much more important than the food right now.”

 

“Thanks Mike. Thank you very much.” I said feeling genuine gratefulness towards that gentle man standing in front of me.

 

“Don’t mention it, Ken.” Mike Daniels answered already stepping outside.

 

“Give my regards to Laura and the kids.”

 

I´ll do it, Ken, bye.”

 

As son as Daniels left, I came back to Starsky´s bedside, sitting in an armchair I had  carried from the living room,  ready to start my vigil on my partner’s sleep. For a while, I busied myself reading one of Starsky´s books, but the exhaustion of the last hours soon defeated me, and I fell deeply asleep in the comfy armchair.

 

I don’t know how long I was asleep, though I guess that it had been just a few hours, given that outside it was yet daylight. Next thing I saw after opening my eyes was that Starsky´s bed was empty.

 

“Starsky?” I called out for him getting to my feet, all the sleepiness gone of my mind

 

“Starsky, where are you, partner?” I asked while heading to the living room. Apart from the muffled noises coming from the street behind the windows, Starsky´s place was dead silent. My partner wasn´t in the living room nor in the bathroom either, so I headed to the kitchen calling out for him, growing anxious despite my efforts to tell myself that Starsky could be doing something as simple as getting himself something to eat or maybe a drink of water.

 

But then…Why wasn´t he answering me?

 

The answer to that question unfolded in front of my eyes as soon as I stepped into the kitchen…

 

Starsky was hiding under the kitchen table, again curled in a tight ball and holding his legs with both arms, as I had found him in the shower a few hours earlier

 

“Hey, buddy…What are you doing here?” I asked gently, getting under the table.

 

“Shhht…the…the bear…the bear will find me, Hutch…it’ll eat me alive” Starsky said in a trembling whisper. His eyes were open yet expressionless and he didn't seem to be totally awake, though he wasn´t asleep either

 

“Starsky…oh, God, Starsk, wake up, please, wake up…you´re scaring me...” I begged, but my partner kept motionlessly staring at a spot in the middle of his kitchen

 

“STARSKY WAKE UP, FOR GOD SAKE, WAKE UP!” I yelled rattling his shoulders a little more ruthlessly than I had intended.

 

“Huh?...What?... What we are doing here, Hutch?” He then asked puzzled, blinking repeatedly and looking at his surroundings; an inquiring expression replacing the void in his eyes.

 

“You were…were…sort of dreaming, I guess…Talking about a bear, Starsky” I said breathing in relief, putting a reassuring hand onto Starsky´s shoulder. “What was that about, Starsk? Did a bear…try to attack you?”

 

“They’ll come back, Hutch, I know it.” Starsky said as an answer to my question, seemingly feeling too ashamed of his irrational fear even to look at me. “They’ll come back to get me. And this time for good. No matter how cautious I can be from now on. Simon dreamed that I had to die…And I´m going to die.”

 

“Starsk…Look at me, Starsky. They won't come back to get you. You can’t believe that nonsense about Marcus’s dreams.” I said to Starsky, wondering once more if  taking him home instead of going to a hospital, had been the wisest thing to do.

 

“Those nuts are all in prison, Starsky” I kept explaining. “And, their leader, that rat wasn´t released despite all their requests. All of them are behind bars.”

 

“He was in jail too, when they got me yesterday, Hutch…That guy is powerful, and dangerous. No one can really do anything against him. At least nobody can do anything to stop him from getting me…”

 

I just couldn't believe what I was hearing from Starsky´s lips…My partner; my fearless and tough best friend was terrified. Utterly sure that those   weirdoes were going to get him again, anytime, in any place, and they were going to kill him.

 

What have those bastards done to your mind in less than twenty-four hours, Starsky? WHAT?...

 

I was searching in my mind for the right words to say to help Starsky, when the ring of the phone took me suddenly off my musings.

 

“Come on Starsk. Let’s go answer the phone.” I said helping Starsky to his feet and heading to the living room, careful of not losing sight of him, still shocked by what had just happened in the kitchen minutes earlier.

 

The call was from Captain Dobey. He had phoned to ask about Starsky, but also, he told me something that caught my attention immediately.

 

After a few more minutes of talk, I replaced the receiver back in its cradle and looked at my partner that sat down on the couch, looking distractedly down at his feet.

 

“Come on Starsk. Get dressed. We got a visit to pay.” I said wondering uneasily if I wasn´t going to make a huge mistake.

 

“Now? A visit? Oh, no, Hutch. Forget it. I´m not in the mood to make visits. I´m tired” Starsky said still sitting on the couch.

 

“Please, Starsky…Please, get dressed.” I pleaded sitting on the couch beside him and staring into his eyes “There’s something that you should see to understand…”

 

“To understand? What in hell do I have to understand Hutch? What´s wrong with you, huh?...do you really think I am in the right frame of mind for games or riddles right now?” Starsky raised his gaze, looking at me with piercing eyes. The lack of interest was being quickly replaced by a sparkle of anger, and that, somehow eased my worry, if just a little.

 

“Starsky…Starsky, partner, do you trust me?” I asked plainly knowing that if there was any way to talk Starsky into coming with me, that one was the only one.

 

“Come on Hutch, what kinda dumb question is that? Of course I trust you. I trust you with my life, you know that.” Starsky stated without hesitation.

 

“Okay, then get dressed and come with me. No questions, okay? Just with come with me.”

 

I got it. Without further questions Starsky headed to his bedroom to get dressed and a few minutes later we were in his car.

 

Starsky kept silent while I drove, that was until I turned left onto one intersection and he realized that I was driving towards Memorial Hospital.

 

“Now wait a moment Hutchinson!” He shouted out, his face turning into a mask of rage. “You told me that you weren’t going to take me to the hospital, and I believed you, damn! Now what…”

 

I´m not taking you to the hospital Starsky. At least not as a patient but as a visitor.” I said calmly trying to appease his bubbling anger.” If once we are there you wanna stay to be checked, it’ll be more than okay with me, but right now I´m taking you there just as a visitor. Honest, Starsky. Trust me once more, okay?” Starsky didn´t answer, he just threw me a scolding look.

 

Luckily, at that moment we were already pulling into the parking lot of the hospital where I parked the Torino and headed to the entrance stairs, all the way with my sulky and silent partner in tow.

 

In the next minutes, I could sense Starsky´s confusion as clearly as if it had been written all over his face. The worst moment though, the one in which I thought he could break into a run and go only God knows where, happened in the ICU nurses station, when  I asked to see one of the patients…

 

Simon Marcus…

 

Seriously injured…

 

Beaten to a few inches of his life…

 

In a coma…

 

Trashed all over, branded in his forehead, where the reversed cross was now hidden by a new and much more ordinary, earthly sign.

 

A word

 

Seven letters

 

BASTARD

 

I had a hard time to persuade Starsky to stick with me, as much as to convince the ICU chief nurse to let us too, see Marcus, even after showing her my badge and telling her that the visit was related to police issues, eventually though, she agreed to let us in, if just for a couple of minutes. Enough to Starsky to see that the menacing, omnipotent God of evilness whose power had terrified him, had turned into a poor devil, a miserable waste too frail even to keep breathing on his own without the help of the life support machines…

 

“What…what has happened to him, Hutch?” Starsky asked once we were out of the hospital, leaning his back against his car and folding his arms across his chest to hide his shaking hands.

 

“Revenge, Starsky. A clear, simple revenge.” I explained leaning against the car by Starsky´s side “Turns out that one of the guards of the prison happened to be the father of one of those kids that son of a bitch and his cultists killed. Looks like him and two of his companions had this stunt planned for quite a while. This morning, while taking Marcus to the showers, they found the right moment to do it, and, well…they just did it.” I went silent, giving Starsky time for the whole purpose of this visit to sink in. The purpose of my visit to Simon Marcus, and he did it. Of course he did it…

 

“Looks like that guy, Marcus isn’t invincible, after all.” Starsky said, looking a little more relaxed and raising his face up to the get the caress of the evening sun.

 

“Nope. He's not.” I answered matter of factly.

 

“Neither omnipotent.”

 

“Not even too strong, actually.” I added.

 

“Hutch?” Starsky said turning his head to look at me.

 

“Huh?”

 

“Thanks for helping me realize it. Now I know it. They aren’t going to come back.”

 

“Any time, buddy. Any time. And now, how about going back home? I don’t think that you´re in shape yet to be hanging around for too long.”

 

“Maybe you´re right, but, Hutch?” He said with a smile curling one corner of his mouth

 

“Yeah?”

 

I´m hungry”

 

“Fine. How about a bowl of vegetable soup and...”

 

“Uh-uh.” Starsky cut me off shaking his head. “Pizza.”

 

“Pizza, Starsk? Are you sure?” I asked teasingly.

 

“With all the works. And chocolate pie. And a chocolate shake too.”

 

“Okay. I´m buying. But at home, do you hear me? We’ll have dinner at home. You still need your rest.”

 

“Whatever…but don’t forget to ask for pepperoni in the pizza.”

 

“Sure, partner. I´ll won't forget the pepperoni.” I said surrounding Starsky´s shoulders with my arm and dragging him closer to me.

 

The first step of the way back to our normal lives had been taken. I wasn´t trying to fool myself thinking that it was all over. Most likely Starsky would still have frightening memories to beat for a while, but with the help of his natural strength, optimism and zest for life he’ll do it.

 

I was totally sure of that.

 

THE END

 

 

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