Hutch has been seriously injured and it makes Starsky realize something.
A first time story.
Written: February 2013. Word count: 2,635.
"Come on, babe, open those big blue eyes and look at me." Starsky gently squeezed Hutch's hand and leaned a little closer to him, peering down to see if there was any movement; there wasn't. He sighed and sat back a little. "Oh, Hutch," he murmured softly.
He was scared; he was more afraid than he could ever remember being. Sure Hutch had been hurt before, he'd been hurt badly, he'd even been close to death - but somehow this was different.
Starsky wasn't sure why, he just knew it was. Maybe it was because this time Hutch's heart had stopped beating. Maybe it was because Hutch wasn't stable enough for the doctors to try to remove the bullet. Maybe it was because everyone was being so nice to him - including Dobey who'd said he could stay at the hospital for as long as he wanted to. Maybe it was because Hutch had taken the bullet meant for him when his gun had jammed.
Starsky wasn't sure which of the maybes it was - it could have been any of them or all of them, he just knew he was scared. He was cared he was going to lose Hutch; scared 'me and thee' would be no more; scared Hutch would die before he could tell him the truth about how he felt about Hutch. The truth that, as he'd stood forcing himself not to tremble as the paramedics worked on Hutch to staunch the blood and get his heart beating again, hit him harder than a speeding car.
"You see, babe," he said, now taking Hutch's cold, still hand between both of his, "I know I was wrong when I told you what I told you last night. And when you wake up I'll show you just how wrong I was. So you've got to wake up, Hutch, because - Well, you've just got to."
And as he sat holding Hutch's hand and staring at him, watching for the smallest movement, his mind went back to the night before.
Hutch had come over to his place for dinner, well, he'd brought a take-out with him, but Starsky had provided the beer. They'd eaten and drank and listened to some new LP Hutch had bought that lunch time - it wasn't Starsky's kind of music, but Hutch liked it, so he put up with it; that's what friends did; that's what partners did.
They were sprawled on the couch, legs and arms touching, just as they'd been so many times before, Starsky's head was close to Hutch's shoulder. Starsky was full of take-out and completely relaxed, as he always was with Hutch. Being with Hutch always made Starsky happy; he was easy to be - well apart from the times he went off on his guilt trips, but Starsky had leaned ways to nudge him out of them.
Suddenly Hutch said, "I love you, Starsk."
Starsky patted Hutch's thigh, "Love you too, babe," he said. "Me 'n' thee."
But Hutch sat up and looked down at Starsky before taking Starsky's hand. "No, Starsky. I mean I love you."
Starsky tilted his head back and stared up at Hutch and then suddenly Hutch's meaning hit him. "Oh," he said and swallowed as he tried to think of something to say. Hutch was just staring down at him in silence. He looked a little unnerved, scared even - maybe he thought Starsky was going to lash out at him or call him a pervert or tell him to get the hell out of his apartment and tell him he'd be requesting a new partner in the morning.
None of which Starsky was going to do and surely Hutch should know that, shouldn't he? Maybe that's what any other guy would do, but he wasn't any other guy; he was Starsky and the man staring down at him was Hutch - it was different; they were me 'n' thee.
But even as he stared up at Hutch, watched him swallow a few times, watched his gaze flicker away from his, Starsky realized he was a bit annoyed with Hutch for saying such a thing. Why had he had to go and tell him? Why couldn't he have kept it to himself? What did he think would happen if he told Starsky what he'd just told him?
"Oh," he said again, finally sitting up and turning around to sit cross-legged on the couch as he looked at Hutch who was still looking more than a bit nervous; still looking as if he thought Starsky might punch him. He felt a bit of a fool as he realized just what Hutch had hoped, if not thought, would happen when he told him what he'd just told him.
Moving slowly so not as to spook Hutch who now looked as if he was about to leap off the couch and run out of Starsky's apartment, he put his hand on Hutch's arm. It was rigid and he felt it tremble a little as he kept his hand there. "Babe," he said softly, "Hutch."
He fell silent again as he tried to find the words to say what he had to say. He wasn't that great at words; he wasn't the one with the college degree; when words were needed he'd always left it to Hutch to speak. But now he couldn't; now it was him; now he had to find the words. Again he felt a wave of annoyance race through him. Why couldn't Hutch have kept quiet? Why had be put him in this position?
He sighed and tried to push the annoyance away and remind himself it was Hutch, his best friend, the man who meant more to him than anyone else. "Hutch," he said again, this time concentrating hard on finding the words. "I do love you, babe. But I can't . . . I don't . . . It's -"
"Wrong?" Hutch said the word bitterly.
Starsky shook his head. "No, babe. No. It's not. It's not; it's not wrong, it's just not what I want. I'm sorry, Hutch," he heard himself saying. Was he? Yeah, he was because he'd just hurt his best friend, something he never thought he'd do.
Hutch stared at him and sighed. "I'm sorry too, Starsk," he said. "I shouldn't have said anything. I shouldn't have - Look I'll go." He started to stand up, but Starsky was quicker, he pulled hard on Hutch's arm until Hutch sat back down.
"No, you won't," he said, once Hutch was sitting down again, even though he was perched on the edge of the couch eyeing Starsky warily. "This won't change anything, babe," he said firmly.
Hutch stared at him and shook his head. "Ah, Starsk," he said quietly. "You might mean that now, you might believe that now, but . . ." He trailed off and shrugged. "If you want to ask Dobey for a new partner I -"
"I don't. Look, Hutch, let's just forget it, eh? Forget you said anything and just . . ."
"Go on as if nothing was said?"
Starsky nodded and smiled. "Yeah," he said. "Yeah, Hutch. We can do that, right?"
Hutch looked at him and shrugged again. "I guess we can try," he said his tone flat.
"Good," Starsky said and deliberately moved near enough to Hutch to throw his arm around Hutch's shoulders.
Hutch stayed for another hour or so before Starsky finally let him go, by which time he was exhausted from trying not to think about what Hutch had said and from trying to behave naturally with Hutch - something he'd never had to do before.
Starsky glanced at the clock on the wall, had it really been only fifteen hours ago since Hutch had told him he loved him? It felt impossible; it felt like fifteen days and like fifteen minutes. And it felt like fifteen days since he'd been sitting in Hutch's hospital room whereas in reality it had been less than two hours.
He glanced at the various machine attached to Hutch and tried to figure out whether they were telling him that Hutch was doing any better or if he was doing any worse - but they were a foreign language to him. He thought Hutch looked just a little less pale, thought his heart-beat might be a little steadier - but he accepted both thoughts were probably just wishful thinking.
He sighed. "Come on, Hutch," he said again. "Open your eyes or just give me some sign you can hear me and I can tell you."
"Tell me what, Starsk?" The voice was slurred, barely more than a whisper, but it was Hutch's voice of that Starsky was certain.
He jumped to his feet and bent right over his partner. "Hutch!" Hutch! Hutch!" he shouted, his voice getting louder as he repeated Hutch's name.
At that moment the door opened. "What is going on in here?"
Starsky hastily turned around and looked at the nurse who glared back at him. "He spoke," he said.
She stared at Starsky and he saw her gaze soften. "I don't think he did, Mr.
Starsky," she said quietly, now going as far as to give him a gentle smile.
"He did!" Starsky said. "He spoke to me."
The nurse shook her head. "What did he say?"
"He said my name and asked me what I wanted to tell him."
The nurse sighed softly and moved towards Starsky and put her hand on his arm. "Mr. Starsky, you and Mr. Hutchinson are close friends as well as being partners, aren't you?"
Starsky nodded. "Yes. He's my - me 'n' thee," he found himself saying. She looked at him and frowned a little, her puzzlement was clear. Starsky felt foolish. "It's just something we say," he muttered.
She patted his arm and turned to look at the machines, studying them for a moment or two; clearly they weren't a foreign language to her. "I am sorry, Mr. Starsky, I know you want to - I know you want to believe that you heard Mr. Hutchinson speak. It's only natural you would, but . . . He couldn't have spoken; his level of unconsciousness is too deep. I am sorry," she said again patting his arm and she turned to go. At the door she stopped and looked back at him. "Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?"
Starsky nodded. "Tea, please," he said, even though he hated it. "He did speak," he muttered as the door closed behind the nurse. "You did speak, Hutch, I heard you." He moved his chair a little nearer to the bed and once again took Hutch's hand in his. "I heard you," he said.
TEN DAYS LATER
Starsky stood up, stretched his arms over his head, rotated his shoulders and neck, rubbed his butt which was getting numb from the hours he'd spent sitting on the hard chair next to Hutch waiting for him to speak again - he hadn't.
As he walked around the room swinging his arms and still rotating his shoulders, Starsky dared to allow himself to wonder if he had actually heard Hutch speak, or if it had been a case of him wanting to hear him.
He went back to the bed and leaned over Hutch, staring hard at him and touching his shoulder before he looked at the machines next to Hutch's bed. They weren't quite such a foreign language to him now; he had a simple understanding of what a couple of things they showed meant.
Not that he needed the machines to tell him, because he could see it himself: Hutch was improving. He'd had the operation to remove the bullet from just above his heart and it had gone well, in fact the doctors had been surprised by how well it had gone. They had even started to talk a little optimistically about Hutch's chances of surviving and recovering - although they were worried by the fact Hutch was still unconscious.
For all his 'stay as long as you like', Dobey had when he'd visited Hutch the night before made pointed comments about the department being stretched and Starsky knew he'd have to go back to work very soon. 'A few more days' had been Dobey's parting words.
Starsky sat back down on the chair that he swore had got harder since he'd got up. "A few more days, babe, that's all I've got before I have to go back to work. So will you, please, just open your eyes and let me tell you -"
"Told you once, Starsk, tell me what?" This time there was no mistaking Hutch's voice and although it was still fairly low, it was far less slurred.
Starsky jumped to his feet again. "Stay there," he called to Hutch as he raced to the door and flung it open. "Nurse! He spoke; really, he spoke." The same nurse who had come into Hutch's room ten days ago looked at him. "Please," Starsky said softly, "you have to believe me."
With a fond look and shake of her head she went into Hutch's room and went over to the bed, looked down at Hutch, frowned and then looked at the machines. She put a gentle hand on Hutch's arm and said quietly, "Mr. Hutchinson?" Starsky found he was holding his breath and quietly let it out as he waited and waited. The nurse now put her hand on Hutch's cheek and then squeezed his arm. "Mr. Hutchinson? Kenneth?"
"He hates Ken or Kenneth. Everyone calls him Hutch."
She gave Starsky a look he couldn't really fathom out, but said in a slightly
louder voice this time, "Hutch, are you awake?"
Slowly, almost as if he didn't quite know how they worked, Hutch opened his eyes. Starsky had to stop himself from crying out and grabbing Hutch and - Hutch's gaze lingered for a moment on the nurse before slowly moving away and coming to rest on Starsky. "Starsk," he murmured and he held out a shaky hand.
Starsky swallowed hard around the lump in his throat and moved carefully to the bed to take Hutch's hand in his. "Hello, babe," he said softly.
"Tell me what?" Hutch said, still gazing up at Starsky.
"Um," Starsky said, glancing at the nurse who was watching both of them while writing something on the chart she'd taken from the bottom of Hutch's bed.
"Welcome back, Mr. Hutchinson," she said, putting the chart back down and looking directly at Hutch. "You had us all worried."
"Sorry," Hutch murmured, his gaze staying exactly where it was: on Starsky's face.
"I'll go and fetch Dr. Sweetling," the nurse said firmly, before turning on her heel and leaving the room - Starsky noticed she very purposefully closed the door behind her.
"Tell me what, Starsk?" Hutch asked again.
But words weren't what Starsky was great at; he wasn't the one with the college degree; when words were needed he left them to Hutch. So he did what he was good at: actions. He sat down on the edge of Hutch's bed, put one hand on Hutch's cheek, he took Hutch's other hand in his, bent over Hutch and kissed him.
"Starsk?" Hutch spluttered as Starsky took his lips away. "What . . . ? Why . . . ? How . . . ? When . . . ?"
Starsky just laughed, bent over Hutch and kissed him again. Then he lifted his head, gazed down into Hutch's still stunned expression and said firmly. "I love you too, babe." And just in case Hutch hadn't got the message the first or second time he bent his head and kissed Hutch for a third time.
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