The Major Incident

Chapter 1

'And then, after that, we had a bottle of wine and danced till the club closed, then went back to her place. She's gorgeous, Hutch. How was your evening?'

Hutch smiled at his partner's enthusiasm. He'd heard it all before. The first night out, the meals, the dancing, the romancing, the sex. But it always ended the same way, with his curly haired partner finding some excuse to end the relationship. He became bored once the novelty of a new woman wore off, seeking only the thrill of the encounter without the commitment that most women wanted. No one would ever take the place of Terri.

'So you want me to hit the streets with a partner who's going to fall asleep every time we stop for a coffee? Honest Starsk, I don't know how you do it. Out four or five nights a week and ya still have enough energy to come to work'.

The dark haired man chuckled. 'Guess you'd have to be just a bit jealous, me being such a stud an' all that!'

Hutch rolled his eyes and bit back a retort as they both walked through the door to their office at the Metro. Hutch immediately sat down at his desk and started rifling through the folders he'd left there the previous evening. Starsky headed for the coffee machine and poured two cups of the vicious black liquid. Placing one in front of the blond, he slowly sat down and sipped the brew, suddenly feeling tired and a little irritable.

The previous night he'd met Evie and taken her for a drink to the Pits before a meal at the new French restaurant that had opened in the centre of town. Sure they had had a pleasant evening. Conversation was easy and she was way too easy on the eyes. Starsky also couldn't deny that the sex afterwards had been great. Evie didn't push their relationship. She didn't ask for dates or commitment and had her own circle of friends. Starsky could almost admit to himself that she was perfect — a little too perfect. At 5'5", 110lbs, with dark brown hair and twinkling eyes, he had once again picked a woman with the same physical characteristics as Terri, and he knew it wouldn't; couldn't last. With Terri's death now seven months into the past, Starsky wondered if he would ever find someone he could love again, or if he actually wanted to. All he did know for certain was that he was heartily sick of one night stands and the hurt in their eyes when he finished it.

He became aware that Hutch was speaking, and raised his eyes from the depths of his coffee cup.

'Hey, you OK buddy? Ya want to talk about it?' Hutch's voce was soft. He'd stuck with his friend through the really rough first couple of months, through the hand holding and the sobbing and the denial. He admitted now that that had been the easy part. This new phase — Hutch called it the wild man phase — was taking its toll on both the detectives and Hutch didn't know how long he was going to be able to cope before one or both of the men broke. Their job was such that they needed to be on the ball all the time. One error; one lapse of concentration on either of their parts would mean injury or even death. They both knew it and Hutch felt that his partner was playing a bit too fast and loose with their lives.

'You thinking of Terri again? Its OK partner. It's OK to feel like that. It was always goin' to be a totally crap time. You've just got to ride it'. Hutch gave a little smile and looked steadily at the man at the other side of the desk.

A sigh. 'I don't know how long I can go on like this Hutch. It's been seven months now an' its not getting' any easier. I still just wanna curl up and die. I'm a mess. I get a girl and think wow this is the one, then I realise I only like 'em because they look like Terri. Then I finish with 'em, which makes 'em cry, then I feel like shit all over again. It's a vicious circle an' I don't know how to break it'. The explanation came out without a breath, as if Starsky had to get it out if his system before he changed his mind. He looked up with a sad smile on his face, and Hutch could see all the pain and sorrow of the last months in those indigo eyes. It haunted the blond man, and he knew that only time would heal his partner's wounds.

'I know its hard buddy, but I'm here for ya, you know that. Ya just need something big to take your mind right away from all this. A vacation. Or go back home to see your Mom. We could go together maybe?'

Starsky was just about to answer when the door behind him was flung open and the familiar brown bulk of Harold Dobey filled the doorway. 'Starsky, Hutchinson, in my office now'.


The men looked at each other and cautiously entered Dobey's office. They both knew that tone and it usually meant that their Captain was not a happy man, either with them, or someone else. As they entered they both realised that it was probably the latter on this occasion, as also in the room was a tall, ramrod straight man with short hair, a tanned skin and sharp features. He wore a dark blue suit, white shirt and navy blue tie and had an air of authority about him.

Starsky immediately flopped down on the chair to the left of the door, his blond partner perching on the arm of the same chair. Both men looked expectantly at their boss, knowing from experience that wise cracks at a time like this would only infuriate the dark skinned man.

'Starsky, Hutchinson, this is Brigadier General Sharpe of the US Army Special Operations Unit. General, these are the two men I think you need to speak to'. Dobey sat down heavily and waited.

General Sharpe turned to fully face the two detectives. He was a good four inches taller that Hutch, the taller of the two men, and he had a presence about him which immediately made Hutch sit up and take notice. Starsky, on the other hand seemed unable, or unwilling to look at the General. Instead, he stared at his Addidas clad feet.

'Gentlemen, I'd like to thank your Captain for allowing me this time to speak with you. I'll keep this short and to the point. We have a situation, which I think your unique talents will be able to help with. During the past six months, five men from my unit have been found dead in suspicious circumstances. Three have died from apparent asphyxiation, although no ligatures or similar have been found. The fourth was found with a gunshot wound to the head, seemingly a suicide, and the fifth appears to have taken an overdose of barbiturate. It's this last death which has caused me to seek you out, as the soldier in question is one Private First Class Pitt, the son of Senator Pitt.

None of these unfortunates were the type who would contemplate suicide, and investigations have turned up no clues at all. That's where you come in'.

Hutch looked over to Dobey. 'Our unique talents. What's that supposed to mean Cap?'

Dobey looked uncomfortable. 'The General here wants you both to go undercover to investigate what he believes is a narcotics ring within the 12th Battalion. Hutch, with your medical background, you'd be there as one of the Medical officers and Starsky'..............

'Starsky, get back here' Dobey shouted to the dark haired man's back, as Starsky rose and left the room. He looked apologetically at the General and shrugged. 'Told you he wouldn't buy into this. He's never talked about his tour. I get the impression he's buried it so deep for a reason'.

General Sharpe's face fell. 'It's unfortunate. We could specifically use Major Starsky's talents on this one'. He looked over to Hutch. 'Perhaps you, as his friend could persuade him?'

Hutch's jaw had dropped 'What did you call him? Major Starsky? You've got the wrong guy. He was a Captain in Vietnam, but that's it'.

'I think you need to have a conversation with your friend, Mr Hutchinson, there are obviously things he hasn't told you, and we do need him'.

Hutch rose from the chair arm and headed for the door. 'Sure I'll talk to him General, but I'm not goin' to force him into something he doesn't want to do'.


Hutch ran from Dobey's office and out into the squad room. Not finding his partner there, he went out into the corridor and through to the bathrooms. Not finding him there either, he made his way out to the front of the building where the Torino was habitually parked. A space marked the place where Starsky had left his pride and joy that morning and so Hutch went back inside, borrowed the keys to Dobey's car and set off to his partner's apartment.

Lurching to a halt outside the apartment, Hutch bounded up the steps and pushed the door open.

'Starsk. Starsky are you there? We gotta talk buddy? Starsk?'

Hutch went further into the room and looked around for the brunette. It was just a small choking sound from the kitchen area which finally got his attention and showed where his friend was. Walking round the island unit, Hutch looked down at his friend, who sat with his back against the wooden unit, knees pulled up to his chin with arms wrapped around them. His head rested on his arms and Hutch thought he heard a sob. Bending down, he touched Starsky's shoulder, then put a finger under the chin and turned the brunettes face towards him.

Starsky snuffed and angrily wiped the back of his hand across his eyes, then down the sides of his jeans.

'OK, spill. What just happened there, partner? I've seen you mad as hell, angry, scared, but you've always stayed put. What made you run out?'

The eyes that stared back at him held more pain than Hutch thought would be possible for one man to have. 'That guy. That Brigadier General Sharpe. I know him, an' he knows me, an' there's no force on earth gonna make me work for him again'.

Hutch was quiet a moment. 'Starsk, I know you never wanted to talk about your army service, but this guy has you so screwed up. If we're gonna do whatever it is that Dobey wants us to, then we need to start talking. Or you need to start talking and I need to start listening'.

Starsky took a deep steadying breath, then pushed himself up from the floor and padded over to the settee. Sitting down heavily, he watched as Hutch lowered himself into the chair opposite, breathing deeply and seeming to gather himself.

'OK. You asked about it, so here goes. The stuff I told you about being drafted into the army was all true. I was just a poor kid from Brooklyn and I couldn't escape the draft, so I ended up doin' my basic training at some god forsaken hell hole on the Mexican border. I didn't know at the time that it wasn't where everyone was sent. I don't know why I was singled out — just lucky, I guess. The top dog at the training camp was one Colonel Edward Sharpe, and he was one mean son of a bitch. I did my training and they found out I was a fair marksman, so I was given special training in weaponry. Ended up I could fire anything from an AK50 to a semi automatic like the Beretta 92.

To cut a long and bloody story short, I ran three or four top secret missions and made Major before the final one when I was sent into Nah Am. I lead a team of three. We went in by HALO,

Hutch looked at his partner disbelieving. 'HALO? You mean......'

'Yep. The technical definition is high-altitude, low-opening jump for insertion of troops behind enemy lines. The jump begins from 15,000 feet, but the 'shute doesn't open until the last possible second, to avoid radar detection'.

'But, you hate heights. You hate flying'.

'Yeah, well, now ya know why. Are you gonna listen? We were supposed to spring this General from a POW camp, but it all went real wrong. We were ambushed and taken prisoner.

Anyway, they wanted to know why we were there and how we got there, an' we weren't goin' to tell 'em, so they tried to persuade us. You've probably heard about their encouragement techniques — electricity, beatings, starvation — well those were the pleasant parts. I won't, can't tell you about the rest. But I was finally rescued, the other two never made it. No thanks to Sharpe. His unit denied all knowledge of us, so we were there about five months and got the 'special' treatment almost every day. I wasn't in very good shape at the end, in fact it took me four months in a vets hospital before I was well enough to get transferred stateside. My fingernails and toenails grew back; I got my hearing back and my lungs got better. And that, as they say, is that. Don't make me tell you any more. I've kept it buried for so long'. Starsky lifted pleading eyes to his friend.

Hutch was stunned, speechless. 'My God, Starsk. You've kept all that to yourself all these years. Jeez, you think you know someone, then something like this happens. How did you survive buddy?'

'I didn't for a while' the dark haired man almost whispered. 'I was a real screw up. I got some medals, like they could make us feel better'. He moved into the bedroom and Hutch could hear him rummaging about in an old suitcase He came back a moment later and handed Hutch three flat red boxes. Silently the blond opened each in turn, examining the three medals in turn. Vietnam Service medal; Republic of Vietnam Wound Medal and Vietnam Gallantry Cross Personal Award.

'That's all I have to remind me of nearly two years of my life that Sharpe stole from me. I've never forgiven the bastard for leaving us to rot in that camp and I never will'.

'How long did it take you to recover fully? asked Hutch softly.

'Don't know that I ever really have. I know you always laugh about my eating habits, like burritos for breakfast. Well, when you're on starvation rations for months, then ya don't get fed for up to four days straight, ya get a kind of hang up about food. That was one of their little distractions. They'd wait till I was nearly passing out with hunger, then they'd set up a dinner table outside my cell. I had to stand at attention an' watch 'em eat. If I passed out, or fell over, I got another beating'. The dark haired man shrugged. 'Its just comforting now to know I can eat what I want when I want it. I weighed 102lbs when I was rescued.

Hutch's face said it all. He had had no idea about his partner and best friend's past, and this was so painful to hear.

'Did ya ever wonder why when we go to the emergency room I always get a side room? Well that's one of the 'perks' of my chequered career — the local hospital has my army notes, so they know my medical history and my previous rank, and I get preferential treatment'. He smiled his lop sided smile and looked away, suddenly embarrassed.

'Why did you tell me you were a Captain?'

A shrug of the shoulders. 'Major sounds kinda pretentious. I thought Captain sounded better. And the least you knew about my past, the more comfortable I was. Guess all that's changed now. But I'm still the same guy'.

There was a silence, before finally Hutch said 'So. What now? Do we go back?'

'I dunno Hutch. My instinct tells me this is all wrong, but I can't tell Dobey 'no' without telling him the whole story. And that I can't do — no way'.

'OK Partner. Well, we take this a bit at a time, trust no one other than me and thee, and see how it all goes?'

Starsky straightened and looked Hutch in the eye. 'Sounds like a plan'. And with that, he got up to leave.

'Just one thing, Starsk' Hutch added. 'The General said something about unique talents. Ya want to tell me what yours are?'

The dark haired man stopped but didn't turn. 'Yeah, laugh if ya want, but I lectured other members of the unit'.

'And your subject?'

The answer was flung over Starsky's shoulder as he made for the door. 'Interrogation techniques'.


The journey back to the Metro was done singly, Starsky driving the Torino and Hutch returning Dobey's car, each man absorbed in their own thoughts. Hutch couldn't take in everything he'd heard about his best friend's past. It was so horrific that it was almost incomprehensible. And Starsky had told him in such a matter of fact manner. Like it was the sort of thing that happened to folks every day. Well it happened to him every day for five months, for God's sake.

Starsky's mind was on other things. He'd been embarrassed that Hutch had finally found out his secret past. He'd kept it safely hidden for years and had cultivated his 'little innocent boy' routine as he liked to call it. It was a defence mechanism, and he had used it so often that he almost believed it himself. But now this General Sharpe had come back from the shadows to haunt him, and he didn't know if he could cope, or if he wanted to deal with the guy again.

They parked the cars next to each other in the car park, got out and regrouped.

'Are you ready for this partner? Any last thoughts before we go up there. I'll go with your gut feelings on this one. You say we pull, and we walk away now'.

Starsky smiled grimly. 'I need to know what he wants, then I'll make up my mind. You're gonna have to trust me on this, OK?

And with that, he headed for the lift with Hutch in hot pursuit.

Dobey and Sharpe were still talking in Dobey's office when the two detectives pushed open the door and entered. There was an awkward silence before finally Sharpe said 'Well, Major. I suppose I should thank you for returning. Frankly, as your service has just been reactivated, you should be on report, but I'll ignore the infringement this once'.

Starsky straightened himself and looked coldly at the General. 'So, I don't have a choice in this, do I? What exactly do you want then, Sir?'

Dobey saw the warning signs from the hot headed brunette and interjected 'Cool it Starsky. Just hear the man out, and then we can talk, OK?'

All four men sat down and waited expectantly. Sharpe took documents from his brief case and began.

'Just over four months ago, I began to suspect that someone was peddling drugs in the battalion. At first, it was just a suspicion, but the five soldiers who died were all from either the hospital or pharmacy. None of them had records for violence, but all showed signs of bruising on their bodies. At first, I was willing to believe it was coincidence. The army can bring out a mans more violent tendencies, as I'm sure you are aware, Major'.

Starsky stared ahead, refusing to look at the senior officer.

Sharpe continued. 'None of the men were ever going to be operational in the field but I became more suspicious when I was made aware that all five had undertaken PQ testing, even though they would have had no need to. At that point I started my own investigations but drew a blank. That's where you two come in. Officer Hutchinson, I can't make you take on this assignment. You are a civilian. Major Starsky, on the other hand.........'

Hutch felt the anger rising inside him. He had watched his partner as Sharpe had outlined the problem as he saw it. He'd seen Starsky's jaw tighten and his fists clench, but knew the curly haired man was powerless to do anything. Hutch, however, had no such constraints.

'Cap, this stinks an' you know it. I've never heard of a Vietnam Vet's service being reactivated. Starsky's done his bit for his country. You know the sort of year he's just had, he....'

Hutch was cut off as Dobey put up his hand and turned to the General. 'What exactly is PQ testing?'

'It's brutal and completely unnecessary'. Starsky broke his silence. 'It was originally used for operatives who were likely to be in situations where they may be captured. The exercise is supposed to measure pain quotients, to establish how long a soldier is likely to last under questioning. It was never proved to be effective, and it was banned in all but a very few units. And I would suggest it is never used now. So, General, what was happening in your unit then, Sir?'

The sarcasm seemed to flow off Sharpe's back. 'That's for you to find out, and Mr Hutchinson too, if he accepts the task'.

Hutch paused. 'Cap, can I have a private word with my partner, outside?'

Dobey nodded and the two detectives rose and left.

Chapter 4.

Outside Dobey's office, Hutch found Starsky leaning his back against the wall. The dark hared detective's head rested back and his eyes were closed, his breathing deep and measured.

'You OK partner?'

'What do you think Hutch?' Starsky spat. He took another steadying breath. 'Look, it seems Uncle Sam has called the shots on this an' I have to go back. You don't. So just walk away from this Hutch. It's a different world in there. Unless you've experienced it, you wouldn't understand. We wouldn't be partners; in fact I'd probably end up being your commanding officer. I.....' he stopped, seeming to run out of words.

Hutch stared at his partner of seven years. 'You honestly believe that I'd let you go into this on your own? I thought you knew me better then that. How could I let you go back to a world that obviously screwed you up so badly without me to watch your back? Fine, so you'd be my CO. The situations were reversed when I made Detective before you. Does it matter?'

'Hey, buddy' Hutch put his hand out and gently touched Starsky's arm. 'We go in, we do the job, whatever it is, an' we get out — simple as that' he smiled.

Starsky looked at his partner. 'You have no idea what you're letting yourself in for, an' I'm not going to allow this to happen. It's bad enough me being a head case, without you having to go through it too. Sharpe is one evil son of a bitch. There'll be no protection from him, so whatever is goin' down in his unit, we'd be completely on our own'.

Hutch interrupted 'And that's just why we need to do this together. To watch each others backs even if it's at a distance. Jeez Starsk, I'm a big boy an' I can make my own decisions. And my decision is that either we do this together, or we find a good lawyer to argue your reactivation before a Judge'.

Starsky sighed, pushing himself up from the wall and walking back towards the main office. The strut had gone from his walk, to be replaced by a defeated gait. Inside he walked over to the coffee machine, poured a mug full and downed it in one.

'Fine, have it your way. I'll do everything I can to make sure we get out in one piece. Just hope it doesn't damage our friendship, coz that'd tip me clean over the edge'.

'Aw Starsk, nothing could do that buddy. C'mon, let's go see what the big bad General has to say'.


They walked back into Dobey's office. Hutch sat himself down on the chair, but Starsky remained standing. Looking towards the General, he smiled a thin smile.

'I know I have no choice in this, but my partner here has decided that he'll take the job. There are, however some stipulations, Sir. One; I have command of the unit and can vet any of the men beneath me for suitability. How you tell the current incumbent is your responsibility. Two; I take complete control of the medical facility and its staff, which I know is not strictly correct, but take it or leave it. I need to have some measure of protection for Hutch. Three; the minute I get the feeling it's getting too much for Hutch, or he's in danger, I pull the plug'.

Hutch felt like he was looking at and hearing a complete stranger. The partner he had known for seven years was replaced by someone who looked familiar, but seemed so at ease with giving orders, and, it seemed, having them obeyed. Gone were the wisecracks, and the goofy grin. Gone was the little boy who seemed to see wonder in almost everything around him. Instead was a steely military man, willing to take command of a set of men who he had never met. Hutch wasn't sure about this sudden personality change. Was this the real David Michael Starsky, or was this a pretence, and soon he'd have his friend and partner back. Or perhaps his partner had spent the past seven years living a lie, and this was his real persona. And would he ever really know?

General Sharpe, however, took it all in his stride. He listened carefully to all Starsky's commands, nodding and making notes. 'Well, you seem to have the situation covered, Major. Your requests are not unreasonable. Leave them with me, and I'll make the necessary arrangements. The unit is now based near a small village on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. I'll expect you there in three days time. Mr Hutchinson will join the unit ten days later as a civilian doctor attached to the unit to conduct research. Both your travel papers will be sent to you tomorrow'. He made to leave.

'Just one more stipulation, General, perhaps the most important of all'.

The General turned. 'Yes, Major, what else?'

With a serious face, Starsky stared at the Senior Officer.' The hair stays — I'll have a trim, but no more buzz cuts for me'.

And Starsky flipped a cursory salute, turned on his heal, and winked at Hutch as he made his exit from the room.

The night before his departure, Hutch and Dobey met Starsky at the Pits for a final drink with Huggy. The past two days had been a whirlwind of planning, instructions and, yes, the dreaded haircut. The result was shorter that Starsky had worn it for some time, but nowhere near what Hutch could only guess would be regulation. It amused the blond that even now, his partner had to have one piece of defiance against the system.

The four men sat round the table, beers in front of them. They were unusually quiet, each lost in their own thoughts.

Starsky had spent the past two days going over things with Hutch and Dobey. The travel documents had arrived. Both men would meet their transport aircraft at an army airfield just outside Bay City. There would be a flight of about four and a half hours. A military transport would meet them at the airfield outside Guatemala City and take them to the camp at Lake Atitlan. Hutch's cover was that he would be researching the effects of altitude on the troops.

Starsky had been given a list of the men who would be under his 'command' - a total of 43 men and 5 women, including 12 medical personnel. Hutch would make that number up to thirteen, and Starsky hoped that that wasn't a bad omen.

'Well come on guys, I'm only gonna be gone a little while, and Hutch'll be there the week after next. This is meant to be a pleasant drink, not a wake!' Starsky made an effort to get back to his old self, if only for the sake of his friends. He felt sick at the prospect of yet another tour of military duty, but, what the hell. The three other men played along, and slowly the atmosphere thawed, although some of the laughter still held a brittle edge to it, and Hutch kept glancing sideways at the shorter man, still feeling his partners' discomfort.

The evening wore on, and finally they all said their goodbyes, and went their separate ways.


The next morning Hutch arrived at Starsky's apartment to take him to the airfield. He bounded up the steps and was just about to open the door when Starsky appeared.

Hutch gasped. Gone were the blue jeans and red tee shirt, the worn brown leather jacket and the ubiquitous blue Adidas. In their place, Starsky wore green army fatigues over a plain black tee shirt. Over his left breast pocket a white patch labelled him as Major D Starsky. His trouser bottoms were tucked into regulation black army boots and a baseball style green cap covered his now shorter hair. The look was completed by regulation black sunshades. The whole ensemble made Starsky look older, taller, and, Hutch admitted to himself, even more handsome.

'Wow' was the only thing Hutch could think to say.

'And good morning to you too' his partner responded. 'Wassa matter Hutch, ya got a thing about men in uniforms?'

'Well, it's a completely different look for you, Gordo. I don't know whether to laugh or salute! It just took me a bit off balance. How ya feelin'?'

'Like I'm going to my own execution. Oh, and to add insult to injury, the condemned man has to take his last drive in that heap of junk' he nodded towards Hutch's battered car. 'I almost wish I hadn't taken the Torino back to Merle's for a tune up. With any luck that rust bucket'll die on the way, an' I'll have to call the whole thing off'.

Hutch caught the slight hitch in his friends' voice and knew there was something less than a joke in Starsky's comments.

'OK then, lets go do this' he said quickly, and headed towards the car, opening the trunk to let the shorter man put his regulation kit bag inside.


Approaching the airfield, Starsky looked over to his partner. 'Any last thoughts, Blitz? Now's the time to change your mind — there's still time'.

They had completed the journey mostly in silence, and now Hutch drew the car to a halt. 'I've made up my mind, and you know it. Today's Tuesday. I'll be there a week on Friday. I know to report to your office when I get there, and if you get the chance, you know my telephone number. Just be careful and don't do anything stupid, OK?'

They smiled at each other, before Starsky pulled the blond into a bear hug of an embrace. He squeezed his partner one last time, then hurriedly got out of the car and jogged round to the trunk. He extracted his kit bag and without a backwards glance, set off to the small wooden hut at the edge of the air strip to wait for the plane.

Hutch watched his back, smiling. He shrugged — Starsky always did hate soapy scenes.

Chapter 6

The plane flight was long, noisy and boring. The army aircraft was devoid of any comforts and was cold. Starsky spent the hours on a bench seat arranged against the side of the plane. He went over in his mind the last 72 hours, the initial meeting with Sharpe, the preparations and the final farewell with Hutch at the airfield. He just couldn't get out of his head the fact that something didn't seem right — not kosher — he smiled at the Yiddish that came unbidden into his head.

Finally the plane started its descent and Starsky looked out of the small window at the fast approaching ground. He could see the mountains in the background and, as the plane landed and the door opened, he felt the cold crisp air rush in.

There was an army car waiting for him and the three soldiers inside snapped salutes to him, as one of them retrieved his kit bag and stowed it in the back. He returned their salutes, slipping too easily into the army routine again, and then got into the back of the car and they drove away from the airfield.

The journey west from Guatemala City took a little over two hours, through streets that looked like every spaghetti western Starsky had ever seen. Small mud houses, really no more than cubes with cut outs for windows and doors flashed past as children and dogs played by the road side in the dust. Women in colourful skirts and blouses wearing tiny bowler hats sat at roadside stalls selling fruit and vegetables, and multi coloured weavings meant for the tourist trade.

The journey was undertaken in almost total silence, the three soldiers staring ahead with jaded eyes. They'd seen it all before. Eventually, Starsky saw a sign post to Lake Atitlan and the car pulled up at a small pier. The volcanoes around the azure blue lake rose tall and across the other side, Starsky could just make out the village of Panejachel, nestling between two of the peaks.

A small inflatable with an outboard motor was waiting and Starsky and his kit were guided to it, where a fourth soldier saluted and helped him on board. The engine roared into life and the short journey across the choppy water was once again done in complete silence.

Starsky was used to noise. He worked the city and he drove every day with a partner at his side. An equal, with whom he could talk, swap banter and jokes and generally make the tedium of the day a little more acceptable. The silence he was now encountering made him edgy and irritable, and there was still some nagging doubt at the back of his mind; something that wouldn't go away, no matter how hard he tried to ignore it. He had spent his life as a cop listening to his instincts. They had saved his and Hutch's lives on more than one occasion, and he wasn't about to shelve them now. Apart from that, his boots were new and rubbing and he longed for the comforting softness of his jeans and tennis shoes. What are ya doin', Davey? If ya wanted to play at soldiers you'd have stayed in the sodding army. Do as Hutch says. Get in there, do the job and get out.

Starsky was woken from his dark thoughts by the inflatable hitting the shore. He realised he'd been daydreaming, and rapidly pulled himself together. Standing he made his way unsteadily off the small craft and crunched up the shingle beach to yet another waiting car. Sighing deeply, and wondering just how much further he was going to have to go, he got in, the engine roared to life and once again, he was speeding away, this time towards the peaks surrounding the lake.


Eventually, after another 45 minutes of bumping along a non existent road, Starsky saw in the distance a cluster of makeshift buildings — huts, a couple of tents and a large, prefabricated shed. The car finally came to a stop and Starsky eased his aching body from its interior.

The air here was cold and crisp, and the curly haired man could tell he was at altitude by his slight breathlessness and the pounding of the blood in his ears. The four soldiers had also got out of the car and were waiting for him to enter the nearest nissen hut — a building no bigger then any domestic house. He walked up to the door and opened it, to be met by a blast of warm air from the interior. Stepping inside, he found himself in a vestibule of sorts, another door facing him. Stepping from the plenum chamber into the main room, he did a double take as a familiar figure rose from behind a desk.

Starsky opened his mouth to make a comment, but instead found the words cut off by a hand over his mouth, and a needle being pushed none too gently into the vein at the side of his neck.

He had only time to wonder what the hell Sharpe was doing there, when Starsky was meant to be in command before the room swayed drunkenly and the floor came rushing up to hit him.

Chapter 7

Starsky opened his eyes. Or he thought he opened his eyes, but there was just blackness and for a moment he was completely disorientated. Where exactly was he? Where's Hutch? Oh wait. Remember now. Army. Guatemala. Oh shit!

OK, assess the situation. He realised he was sitting down, on a hard chair. His hands were secured behind his back, pulled uncomfortably over the back of the chair. His legs didn't seem to want to move either, and he assumed they were secured to the chair some way as well. His heart was beating rapidly, and he tried to take deep breaths to calm himself, but the air felt close and stuffy, like he was breathing fog.

What the hell's goin' on?

He felt a cold waft of air on his bare arms, and realised that now he wasn't alone. He could sense someone else had come into the room. Room? Did he really know where the hell he was?

Suddenly the dark blue bag was yanked from his head, and a bright light shone into his eyes. He squinted, tried to take a minute to look around and establish just what was happening here, when a pair of hands took hold of the front of his shirt and shook him vigorously. It didn't hurt, but it caught the groggy man unawares and made him jump.

A voice, off to his right was saying something. Starsky shook his head to try to clear it, and was rewarded with an open handed slap to his face, knocking him off balance. Hands caught the chair before it fell to the ground, and stabilised it.

Voice. Better listen to the voice.

'Welcome back to the world of the living, Major. So glad that you finally decided to join us. I've had to wait a very long time for this'.

Starsky recognised the voice straight away.

'Fuck you, General, Sir' he spat out with as much contempt as he could muster. 'Just what the hell is playing out here?'

Another slap to his face, this time from the other direction. With the bright light shining directly into his eyes, he couldn't see the blows, and so couldn't prepare for them. Although none were exceptionally painful, they took him by surprise and set his nerves jingling. But at least they cleared his head a little.

'I think for the moment, Major, I do the talking and you do the listening. You are, after all, our guest, and it's rude to take over some one else's party.' The voice was soft, almost conversational.

'I've waited a long time for this. Too long. I've always enjoyed command.' The General continued, as if starting a bed time story. 'Been a Brigadier General now for twenty years. By now, I should have made four star General, but you put paid to that, didn't you? After your last disastrous little tour of 'Nam, you filed that damning report citing me as the main reason your team weren't extracted. It cost me dearly. Too dearly. One by one, I saw colleagues, friends, promoted, and then retire on vast pensions. Some were happily married; all left the service on higher ranks than me. Do you know how much that rankled? How much it cost me to call 'em Sir and pussy foot around 'em, when it should have been me in their shoes? You took all that away from me when you filed that report'.

The General gave a small nod, and Starsky felt another blow to the left hand side of his face, followed immediately by another to the right. Again he never saw them coming, and again they took him completely by surprise, setting his heart racing once again.

He stared straight ahead, trying to control his breathing which was rapid and shallow. 'You knew we were in that stinking shit hole, and you knew what we were going through every single day for five goddamn months, and you never lifted a finger to get us out. What was I supposed to put in my report?'

Another blow, this time with a fist to his stomach. It was the first blow that really hurt and it doubled the curly haired man over as far as his bonds would allow. He felt bile rising in his throat and fought hard to swallow it down again, his breath now low and ragged, the air whistling through his clenched teeth.

The General's voice was shouting now, at the owner of the fist. 'By the book. I told you, by the book. One more blow like that and you'll get the same treatment. Understand?'

What's that supposed to mean — by the book?

The General was talking again and Starsky realised the new tirade was directed at him once more.

'So, after you had departed your little war, all heroic and decorated with your petty little medals, I kept tabs on your career. I celebrated with you when you graduated the police academy. I read news reports mentioning a brave new policeman called David Starsky and I celebrated once again, when you made Detective and were partnered with a man called Kenneth Hutchinson. And all the while, I bided my time, waiting for just the right moment to come along, when I could give you as much pain as you've given me. But it's here now. You can't begin to understand how happy I am at this very moment. It's all worked out so beautifully.

You see, there have been five deaths in the unit, but they weren't really suspicious. The five soldiers were all addicts, who found they could bribe their way into the medical wing and get what they want. I was willing to let that go, but when Senator Pitt's son became involved, something had to be done. And then it came to me. I could get some credit and pay you back all in one go — it's perfect.

So I contacted your Captain Dobey. Stupid, trusting idiot that he is, and said I wanted only the best to investigate this. And as you had the military background, and Officer Hutchinson had the medical, you would be perfect'.

Starsky had sat quiet throughout the tirade, but the mention of Hutch's name sent a shiver down his spine, and made his blood boil. 'You leave Hutch out of this. This is between you an' me Sharpe. You lay one finger on him, and so help me, I'll kill you, ya hear?'

'Oh, but Major, I couldn't possibly have the responsibility of hurting him. Assaulting a police officer is a federal offence and that would certainly cost me my job'. The General walked towards the bound man.

Starsky squinted as the General's body was placed between him and the light source, and for the first time since this all started, he could see. The General was holding something which made Starsky's blood run cold.

'Ah, I see you recognise this, but I suppose it's been a while since you've seen it. Never been on the best seller list, has it?' He held up a slim book in a plain black cover, the legend on the front reading "An investigation of Interrogation and Mind Altering Techniques" The name of the author was picked out in red beneath — Major DM Starsky.

'You see, David. I may call you David? I'm not going to lay a finger on Officer Hutchinson'. He laughed. 'I'll leave that to an expert!'

Chapter 8

Starsky didn't ever remember being so tired. Every bone in his body was sore and every muscle protested each movement he was permitted to make. He didn't know and didn't care what time it was any more. Time was irrelevant, measured by the periods when the blindfold was removed and he was forced to watch the pictures moving on the bright white wall opposite.



Sharpe had explained to the detective that he was going to start at chapter one of the book he, Starsky, had researched and helped to write all those years ago, and work his way through to the end. Starsky had spat at the General, telling him exactly what he thought of the General's attitude, ideas and ancestry. He had been rewarded with what felt like several rounds with Mohammed Ali. As a result, he had lost consciousness and his last lucid thought had been for his blond haired friend. Oh God Hutch. I need you buddy, but I don't want you to come here now — just stay out of the way an' everything will be fine.

Starsky regained consciousness as someone threw a pail of ice cold water over him. The surprise jarred his sore muscles and he tried to shake the water from his eyes, but his head and neck hurt so much, he abandoned the idea, instead leaving the water to sting his eyes and drip from the dark wet curls plastered to his forehead. He realised he's been stripped naked and that he must have been that way for some time. He was shivering uncontrollably, his teeth chattering so much he thought they would break. The room was cold and Starsky thought grimly of Chapter 2 — 'Technique 5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water'. Well this is one crap way to see if it works. Serves ya right for bein' so damn thorough!

The cold seemed to burrow its way into his bones. His skin, he noticed fatalistically was mottled and blue, his finger tips white. There was an intense ache in his shoulders and neck, which he realised was probably from the shivering, and his head hurt like there was a jack hammer going off inside.

A loud voice was telling him to stand up. At first the command didn't register and he didn't move, eliciting a swift and heavy kick to his back at the level of his kidneys. He jerked in shock and pain and the breath whistled through his teeth. He fell forward onto his stomach and stayed there in a heap on the cold hard ground for a moment. Anything to defer from the next blow. The voice was shouting again and slowly and stiffly Starsky rose to his feet.

He realised that the cold room was occupied by himself and two other soldiers who refused to look directly at him. They told him to stand facing the wall and to take up the 'stress position'. Starsky feigned ignorance — mistake. More punches, this time to his stomach, causing him to retch and fight for breath. The blows overlay those he had suffered earlier making them doubly painful, and when he tried to double over to protect his stomach, the soldiers instead changed their target to his back and kidneys.

Finally they stopped and gave the command again. Starsky staggered towards the wall and stopped about eighteen inches away. He slowly reached up with his hands until he was spreadeagled against the wall, his fingers reaching high above his head, his legs spread apart and his feet back, causing him to stand on his toes with the weight of his body mainly on his fingers. The position was intensely painful from the beginning and the dark haired man knew the build up of lactic acid in his muscles would only intensify the sensations over the coming hours.

A blindfold was once again placed over his eyes, and his world was reduced to darkness, his universe shrinking to the core of his body, the sensory deprivation seemed to intensify the aches and pains Starsky felt, and he fought to take his mind away, to think of something else and not give in.

Another dose of ice cold water which hit his body like a set of knives, scattered any last vestiges of warmth from his core. Starsky realised that other than the commands, the whole of the exercise had been conducted in silence, the only touches the soldiers had allowed had been the multiple blows to his body.

Suddenly Starsky yearned for a gentle touch, a kind word. What did Peter Pan say? Find your happy place. Well you'd better start lookin' now Davey, you're gonna need it.

He concentrated and suddenly, like an angel rising up from the depths, the happy place emerged. Starsky's mind conjured up a vision of a blond head; a smiling face; a lithe Viking body. In Starsky's mind, the man turned to look directly at him, smiling. Ice blue eyes looked directly into his and he heard a voice, low, gentle and silky smooth saying 'me and thee, Gordo, me and thee'. The vision, memory, whatever it was, took away some of the dark haired man's pain and he continued imagining that the two detectives were once again driving the streets of Bay City in the powerful red car, the warm sun shining down on them, sharing jokes and banter. He concentrated on the feeling of Hutch's hand on his arm, and almost managed to imagine the warmth of the broad, strong hand.


Two thousand miles away, Hutch sat in his battered car, outside his apartment after the second boring day without his partner. The sun had shone all day and the inside of his car was like a toaster, his hands burning on the leather as he took hold of the steering wheel.

Hutch had expected a telephone call from his partner the previous night, but none had been forthcoming. He had put it down to the dark haired man having to familiarise himself with his new command. He was bound to be busy. But something tugged at Hutch's mind. He too felt that there was something not quite right about the whole set up, but he couldn't put his finger on it.

Suddenly a shiver ran down his spine and a cloud seemed to pass over the face of the bright sun. He felt as if someone had walked over his grave and the temperature inside his car seemed to plummet to sub zero. In his mind he had a fleeting image of his partner. Hutch's heart speeded up and his breathing hiked to match. He paused in his action to switch on the engine, pulling a shaking hand away from the key. Grasping the shaking hand in his other, he took a deep breath. Pull yourself together, Hutchinson. It's only been two days. Just give yourself some time. Starsky'll be fine — he's in command for Gods sake.

Hutch got out of the car and went inside his apartment. He busied himself making tea, pasta, fruit and took his supper over to the table already loaded with medical books, as he re-familiarised himself, preparing for his undercover role. He bent his head to the books and tried to concentrate on Blacks Medical Encyclopaedia. The words seemed to swim on the page and another wave of cold hit him.

For pity's sake, Hutchinson, this is no time to get sick. Another shiver. Hutch raised his cup of tea to his lips and took a sip of the scalding brew. Taking a steadying breath, he tried to ignore his growing concern, and returned to his books.

Chapter 9 — More darkness to follow

Thursday (2 days in)

Starsky couldn't feel his fingers any more. The aching down his arms and the sides of his chest had intensified into a burning agonising blaze — fire coursing through his body. It was echoed by a similar pain in the small of his back. He had no idea how long he had been made to stand in the stress position. He tried to think back to the book — he was sure it advocated no more than four hours at a time. Jeez, has it only been four hours. It feels more like four weeks. Just keep goin' Ya can do this. But then a darker thought. But this is only the beginning.

He was aware that there were still people in the room with him. He had tried to move once, but was stopped by a hard object (felt like a baseball bat) being pushed into the muscles of his back. Again, no words, just the painful action, then nothing more.

He was aware that his mind was drifting. There was nothing to fix on, no point to anchor him to reality as the blindfold was still in place. In the past, if he'd been in pain, he'd stared at a point on the wall, or a picture, or anything, to focus his mind away from what his body was telling him. That wasn't possible in this sense deprived horror and only the face of the blond kept him from caving in.

Suddenly the hard object was back, this time twisting into his stomach muscles, pulling him away from the wall. Although his arms were exhausted, the muscles rebelled and he was unable to lower them all the way to his sides. His fingers didn't exist any more, and he was more tired than he'd ever been I his life.

He flinched as the blindfold was yanked from his eyes, and he screwed them up, then opened them to try to focus. His first view was of General Sharpe, standing in front of him, smiling.

'What an accomplishment! We managed chapters 2 and 3 there, Major, all in one go. Did you remember what you'd written, because if so, you'll be able to follow the next few days so much the better. Oh, I have added one or two modifications here and there, but we can 'discuss' those as we go along, can't we?'

Starsky had managed to get his arms down to his sides now, although there were still knife edged pains flashing down his sides and back. He stood unaided but swaying. He felt disorientated, like he didn't belong in this world. It was strange, but although he knew he hated this man, he was pitifully thankful that finally someone was talking to him — recognising he was there.

Wearily, he pushed his chin from his chest to look Sharpe in the eyes. 'What exactly is this all about. What the hell's going on here?' His voice was thick, the words sticking in his throat. He was dry as a bone and suddenly realised he hadn't had anything to eat or drink since the food on the plane on the way to the camp. How long was that? A day, a week, last year? Starsky's mind refused to function on any level other than the here and now. He didn't even register that he was still bone cold, or that he was still wet from the last pail of water.

'I would have thought you would have guessed by now, Major. You upset my life plans completely. Now it's my turn to ruin yours'. Sharpe nodded his head to the soldier standing behind Starsky, who came forward and calmly beat the weary detective into unconsciousness.

Friday (3 days in).

Hutch's dream shook him awake. He was still cold, even though he's turned off the air conditioning during the night and pulled an extra blanket over his bed.

He'd read his books until about 2.00am, then forced himself to close them, turn out the light and try to sleep. His dreams had been vivid, and all had been of either his partner or the two of them together. The dreams had them doing nothing extraordinary, just cruising the streets, eating burritos, standing on the beach looking at the ocean. He was enjoying the last dream of the sea. He sat side by side with Starsky, feeling the grains of sand beneath his bare feet, watching wave after wave run lazily up the beach, before halting, reversing and loosing themselves in the sand. It was peaceful and warm.........and then he could swear he heard a blood curdling scream. He'd looked towards his partner, who was on his feet, white and shaking, pointing at ...........and then he'd woken.

Sitting up, Hutch forced his legs over the side of the bed, and sat panting. Come on, idiot. What's this all about? He's been undercover before and there haven't been all these histrionics. For Gods sake pull yourself together. He'll ring today, and everything will be fine.

Hutch scrubbed at his face with his hands and looked at his watch. 8.30am. Well, I've had some sleep. He pushed himself out of bed, feeling dizzy and disorientated, and thirsty. Turning the tap in the bathroom, he cupped his hand under the cold water and drank.

He still couldn't get past the unease he felt. It was more intense than he'd ever felt before. Hutch had learned over the years to listen to his instincts, and now they were literally shouting at him to do something.

OK Gordo, I'll run with this. Something isn't right and I need to find out what it is. Getting dressed. Hutch ignored breakfast, got into his car, and set off for the Metro.


Friday 17.00

Starsky awoke in a small cell. Still naked, he was in a heap on the floor, exactly where the two soldiers had dumped him however long before. He took a moment to try to remember where he was and why he was here. Army. I'm in the army? Did I do something wrong? God I hurt. What time is it? How long have I been here? He couldn't remember anything other than the fact that he was so thankful he didn't have to stand against that shit awful wall any more.

The door opened, and Sharpe walked into the cell. He stood staring down at the heap of humanity on the ground for a moment. Starsky looked at the boots, not having enough will to raise his head further.

'It's against regulations to remain seated when a senior officer enters a room, Major' Sharpe began.

The dark haired man levered himself unsteadily to his feet and stood swaying, somehow not wanting to disappoint the tall man. All his muscles now protested every movement, and as Starsky looked down he realised that most of his chest and abdomen were now blue and purple, the bruises showing lividly against his otherwise tanned skin.

'That's still not quite right is it? Where are you manners?' His tone changed, as he barked 'Stand to attention when I speak to you'.

Uncertainly, Starsky drew himself up straight, placing his feet together, arms by his sides.

'That's much better. Now, stand at ease'. And once again, his captive complied. Feet, a regulation eighteen inches apart, hands behind the back and cupped in the small of his back. Starsky stared fixedly straight ahead.

Is this right? Am I doin' it right? Should I be doing this? A flash of a blond head and a smile, and in his imagination he heard that oh so familiar voice 'You OK Gordo?'

Sharpe was continuing. 'You may have a drink Major. You must be thirsty by now'. A soldier entered and handed a cup of water to Starsky, who took it uncertainly, then downed the contents in one. The feel of the cool sweet water running down his throat was beautiful, and Starsky stared in thankfulness at the tall General.

'Now, I think we can progress to chapter 4, Don't you?'

Swiftly the soldier grabbed Starsky from behind, pinning his arms uselessly behind him. He saw two others bringing a large wooden chair into the room and setting it down at one end. It reminded Starsky almost of a throne, with its wooden arms, stout legs and high back.

One of the soldiers also carried a black belt which he brought over to the now trembling prisoner. Starsky eyed it disbelievingly, suddenly remembering what chapter 4 had been about.

Chapter 10

Saturday 7.00am (4th day in).

Hutch had had a difficult 24 hours. After his rude awakening from the dream he had had, he had hot footed it to the Metro. Unsurprised at seeing Dobey in his office at such an early hour, the blond detective pushed the door closed behind him and flopped down into the chair, suddenly feeling a wave of tiredness wash over him.

The dark skinned man looked over to him, concern showing in his big brown eyes. 'What's up with you, Hutchinson? You look like you haven't slept in weeks'.

'Feel that way too Cap. I don't know if I'm coming down with something. I can't get warm, I feel shivery an' thirsty, and.........' he stopped himself short of telling Dobey about his dream. Surely it was just a dream, his mind coming to terms with the fact that his partner wasn't there.

Dobey put down his pen and set the papers he was reading down on the desk. 'You're worried about Starsky?'

'I can't help it Cap. Every time I close my eyes, I see him, like he's trying to tell me something, but I don't know what. Guess I'm just being paranoid. That General Sharpe really creeped me out'. The blond ran his hands over his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. 'Starsk was supposed to phone me, but he hasn't been in touch. It's not like him'.

'I know how you feel' replied Dobey, surprisingly. 'I had a weird dream last night too, and Edith said I was tossing and turning all night. What do you want to do about it?'

Hutch looked up. 'You think there's something wrong too? I thought you'd just tell me to shut up and get myself together'.

The senior officer smiled. 'With any other pair of detectives, I would. But you two are different. I'll go with whatever you want to do'.

Hutch was up and pacing the room. 'I haven't had any travel documents yet, but I do know where the camp is. Starsky pointed it out to me on a map. Said Sharpe had said its location was secret, but that he wasn't going to keep that kind of secret from me. Can you pull any strings to get me up there early?'

Dobey was already reaching for the phone. 'Leave it with me son. Whatever happens you'll be on some kind of plane as soon as possible'.


And so now, Saturday, Hutch was on the 7.00am from LAX to Guatemala City. He sat back in his seat and went over the rest of the events of yesterday. His unease had got worse as the day progressed and Dobey was unable to get any sense from the Army authorities regarding General Sharpe. The most he had found out was that Sharpe was still on the army payroll, but had been on paid sick leave for some time, and that he was out of the country. No, the army said they knew nothing of a camp in Guatemala, or the fact that a Major Starsky's service had been reactivated (but they might say that to a civilian, if the matter was top secret). The only thing that Sharpe had told them that was true and verifiable was that Starsky had indeed been a Major, and that he had run four secret missions in Vietnam.

Dobey had slammed down the phone and immediately asked Minnie to get a plane ticket booked for Hutch, and to arrange a hire car at the airport. He wasn't happy that Hutch wanted to go alone, but as Hutch reasonably pointed out, if this was just a big stupid mistake, why take more men off the street. Eventually, they had agreed that Hutch should be at the camp by mid afternoon Saturday. Allowing for travel times, and a chance to find out what was going down (if anything), Hutch should ring Dobey by 7.00am Sunday morning. If he had sent no word, Dobey would send in the troops, so to speak.


It had been a long, dark and intensely painful night for the object of Hutch's fears. On the Friday evening, as Sharpe told him they would be continuing to 'Chapter 4', the soldier carrying the black belt approached Starsky, and secured it round his waist. Starsky started to sweat, knowing what was coming next.

Sharpe looked on in a bored manner. 'Do you remember this Major? This is a REACT belt. The Remote Electronically Activated Control Technology belt. You remember how it works, don't you? It will apply 50kV to the muscles in the area of your kidneys, pulsed over 8 seconds. It is a product of a company in Cleveland, Ohio. You advocated its use for 'prisoners displaying particular recalcitrance'. I've adapted it a little, of course and added a few refinement. I can vary the intensity and duration of the current now, and its on a timer'.

'You mother fucking bastards. I'm gonna kill the lot of ya, d'ya hear?' Starsky spat the expletives at the two soldiers, struggling with them as much as he could.

He was manhandled over to the chair and forced down into it, the struggle taking most of the remnants of his energy. His arms and legs were secured to the arms and legs of the chair with rope, and a wide stiff leather collar was fastened tightly round his neck, forcing him to sit upright and look straight ahead. One of the soldiers came forward with a set of electrical leads. He attached one end of the leads to the power pack of the belt. The other ends of the leads were finished by small wicked looking aligator clips. The soldier knelt in front of the bound man and quickly and painfully clipped the four clips to Starsky's scrotum, the jagged teeth drawing blood.

Forced by the collar to stare straight ahead, Starsky faced a blank white wall, which suddenly sprang to life with a moving cine film. It showed a jungle, which the weary man immediately recognised as being somewhere in Vietnam. It showed pictures of his two team mates from his last mission there. They were smiling and waving, relaxed and jovial. The picture suddenly changed to one of two broken bodies, blood flowing from their faces and chests, and there, interjected into the gory sequence, a subliminal vision of a blond man, laughing.

Starsky looked at the picture. Hutch, Oh God, Hutch, I need you buddy. As a wave of searing pain shot through his back and genitals. He threw his head as far back as the leather collar would allow and screamed, his whole body spasming and his muscles straining to their limits. Eight seconds, that seemed like eight thousand years later, the pain stoped and Starsky groaned, the pitiful sound coming from deep in his chest. His eyes fluttered open, but there was no one in sight, just the constant cine file, silently mocking him.

Throughout the next ten hours of the night, the pattern did not change. Periods of painfree viewing, showing happy laughing individuals, birds, animals, then pictures of carnage; broken, bloody bodies, severed arms and legs, and always that image of the blond man laughing. The last always accompanied by the deep searing pain, which left Starsky jangling in his chair, muscles cramping involuntarily as sweat flowed down his face and torso. His voice had long ago gone, screamed away, to be replaced by a hoarse whimper, and his spasms becoing all the weaker as the long night drew to a close.

As time wore on, he came to hate that blond image. Hutch. That was his name. He was laughing at Starsky's pain. He was laughing at the bodies of his friends. He was the cause of the pain. As the next set of pictures came round, and Starsky braced himself for the pain he shouted out in anger 'Fuck you Hutchinson', what was left of his voice raw with emotion, before his lungs gave out, his body rebelled against the constant stimulation, and darkness claimed him, blessedly.

And in the next room, watching through a two way mirror, Sharpe clasped his hands in glee.


The soldiers who came to collect the sweat soaked body from the small room were impressed. 'He's one tough son of a bitch' said one, admiringly. 'He's been in here ten hours now. I've seen 'em crack after three'.

'Hm', agreed his friend. But look at him, he's one hell of a mess'.

The soldiers looked down at the body they carried between them. The face was lined in pain, even though he was unconscious and the body still twitched occasionally as over stimulated muscle groups fired automatically. Sweat soaked the body which was now a mass of black and purple bruises, back and front. Blood flowed from between the detectives legs, where the aligator clips had been removed, and where the electric plates of the belt had come into contact with Starky's back, there were oval shaped, angry red burns.

The soldiers carried him into an adjoining room and laid him on a medical examination couch. They left as Sharpe entered the room. He walked over to the broken body on the bed and gently stroked the mahogany coloured curls from the wet forehead. Starsky moaned at the touch, 'Hutch?' he whispered, and after a moment, indigo blue eyes fluttered open. He looked up at the General, who smiled down at him.

'It's OK, son, it's over for the moment. Just rest and sleep. Here, drink', he said holding a cup to Starsky's dry and cracked lips.

The detective sipped the water, allowing the coolness to sooth his raw throat, before looking up at the face above him, gratitude shining in his eyes. 'Thank you Sir', he whispered, before his eyes closed and he fell into an exhausted sleep.

Sharpe exited the room and gave cursory orders to the two soldiers waiting there. 'We're doing well. He'll be following all my orders without question by the time Hutchinson gets here. Give him till 9.00am, that's two hours, then wake him and put him back in stress. You can leave him there till he falls down'.

And with that, he swaggered down the corridor to his comfortable offcie, hot coffee and bagel.

Chapter 11

Saturday 9.00am (4th day in).

He was dreaming and he knew it. He felt the darkness surrounding him and wanted to pull it up to his chin, to snuggle into the velvety blackness like he would snuggle into his favourite bedclothes at home. Home. That word brought him back closer to reality. He was far from home now and he hurt. Jeez, did he hurt. He bit back a whimper as he tried to roll onto his side, to try to recapture the measure of comfort he had had.

A face hovered into his mind. A glance of ice blue eyes set into an open, vulnerable face, surrounded by a halo of soft blond hair. Hutch? About to chant his mantra 'I need you Hutch buddy', a wave of pain took him and shook him like a dog with a rag. The face was laughing at him, ridiculing his pain and anguish. He tried to remember. Struggled to remember. Hutch. He loved him didn't he? He worked with him? No. Hutch caused him pain. Hutch was associated with the deaths of his Vietnam team. Hutch was evil.

Starsky closed his eyes, screwing them up to try to get rid of his thoughts. Tried to settle comfortably again on the narrow bed. The General had given him a drink. He'd stopped the pain and made the soldiers go away. Starsky was pitifully grateful to the tall man.

The door was flung open and the two soldiers bustled in. Grabbing the man on the bed by his arms, they hoisted Starsky to his feet, eliciting a scream of pain, and dragged him back to the first small cell he had been in. Once there, the blindfold was tied around his head, covering his eyes and wrapping him in terrifying blackness once more. He felt himself pushed forward and hands raised his arms up above his head, fingers outstretched to the wall. His legs, which felt like they would collapse at any moment, were kicked apart, and once again he was left to endure.


Saturday 14.00

Hutch's plane had landed at Guatemala City airport on time and as he had no baggage to claim, he made his way hurriedly to the exit where he was met by a man waving a sign proclaiming 'Mr Hutchinson' in crude black letters. Huggy Bear had once more come through with the transport. Was there any country in the world where the black man didn't have some contacts?

The driver introduced himself as Pedro and showed Hutch to the car, which was, if anything, even more broken down than Hutch's own. Hutch explained where he wanted to go and Pedro told him that he had been briefed by his American friend and that he had arranged also the boat and connecting car.

Hutch settled back into the front seat of the car, and watched the scenery fly past. Pedro's driving was even more nerve racking than Starsky's, and they flew along barely missing stray dogs and dodging the multiple potholes in the road. Hutch smiled to himself as he recalled the line from the Beetles Song 'A day in the life' 'four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire' — John Lennon had obviously never been to — where was this? Ah Antigua Guatemala, a sign read.

After a couple of hours of bone jarring driving, they arrived at the same pier his partner had used four days ago. As they got out of the car, they were swamped by small, dirty faced children begging for sweets and dollars, hands outstretched, all competing to be the biggest and loudest. Negotiating the children, the next obstacle were the women selling weavings and wooden objects. Ordinarily, Hutch would have spent time here, playing with the children and examining the native crafts, but today, he just wanted to be across the lake. His feeling of dread now intensified hour by hour and he had convinced himself that something bad was going down. Hold on Buddy, I'm on my way.


Saturday 14.30

The dark haired man's body finally gave up the fight against gravity and slumped to the floor insensible. He had been standing in the stress position against the wall for four and a half hours. Coupled with the previous five hour session and the night spent in the electric cinema room as he remembered it, he had had no more than six or seven hours sleep since his arrival at the camp 96 hours previously. His body now a mass of bruises and burns, he was filthy, weary and weak. He had no more fight left in him and wanted, no yearned, for all this to end, or at least be able to understand what it was all about.

The soldiers watched his body fall heavily to the floor, Starsky's head connecting with the ground with a heavy thud, but made no move to catch the ruined detective, or to cover him, or move him. The General had said to leave him till he dropped and that was just what they had done.


Saturday 16.00

Hutch finally got out of the car just before the crest of the hill leading down to the camp. He had asked Pedro to stop there, so that he could go ahead on foot to assess the situation and hopefully go unnoticed.

He crept up to the trees at the top of the rise, and, leaning in to one of them, peered down at the camp below. There was no sign of movement around the small collection of buildings. Odd, he thought, that an army camp of this type should have no sentries. There was also no identifiable hospital tent. Starsky had told him all army hospital buildings had a clearly defined red cross on the roof. Again his suspicions were raised.

He backed away and went down the hill to the waiting driver. Knowing that the nearest civilisation was Panajachel Village, some hours drive away, Hutch gave Pedro a hastily scribbled number to Dobey's direct extension in Bay City. He asked the driver to come with him back up the hill and to wait there whilst Hutch went to investigate, If Hutch didn't come out into the open and wave within fifteen minutes of arriving at the camp, Pedro was to get back to the car as swiftly as he could and drive to Panajachel and place the call to Dobey. The Captain would then put their plans into motion as quickly as possible and hopefully extract both detectives.

Agreeing the plan, Hutch cautiously made his way down the hill, hugging the trees as much as possible to give him some cover. Gaining flatter ground on the outskirts of the camp, he ran to the closest building. It was no more than a prefabricated shed of a place, the door having a small window set into it. Hutch carefully peered inside, and, seeing no one there, pushed the door open and entered. He crept forward through another door, into the main body of the building. Gun drawn, he edged towards the door at the end of the short corridor.

He didn't hear the door to his left open, and didn't see the soldier emerge and creep up the corridor behind him. He didn't see the other man's hand raised and certainly never saw the butt of the gun that connected with the back of his head sending him into oblivion.

Chapter 12

Saturday 17.00 (4 days in).

The soldier looked down at the blond mans' unconscious body, then carefully stepped over it and went into the office at the end of the corridor. Snapping to attention he announced 'Sorry to disturb you Sir, but I've apprehended a man trying to get into your office'.

Sharpe got up from his chair and moved around his desk, to look down the corridor. Smiling grimly, he thanked the soldier. 'That would be Detective Hutchinson. I wondered how long he would last before he came looking for his partner. Its irritating that he's here so soon, but no matter. Major Starsky's treatment has been very effective and I think we should be ready to move to the next stage tonight. See to it that this one remains asleep, then go and prepare the Major for his reunion with his partner'.

The soldier nodded, stepping once again over Hutch's body, and going into the other room to call for help.


Monday 6.00am

Both soldiers walked into the small cell where Starsky's body still remained on the floor where it had dropped. He hadn't moved, and one of the soldiers bent to check the pulse at the brunette's neck — the first physical contact Starsky had had with anyone other than the General in five almost six days. Content that the heart still beat, albeit rapidly, the soldier grabbed the battered body under one arm, his friend mirroring his action on the other side, and they raised Starsky into a standing position. Gradually, his breathing deepened, and the eyes fluttered open. He flinched as he eyed his two tormentors, but meekly walked with them as they lead him from the room.

Bracing himself against the wall of the shower cubicle, Starsky wondered what he had done to make his fortunes change. The hot water beat down on his battered and bruised body, knifing into the bruises and stinging the area between his legs where the alligator clips had dug into that most sensitive place. He still felt bone weary and was unsure he could actually stand without the aid of the wall, but the water felt good and he had been given a drink and some broth to eat. The soldiers still hadn't spoken to him, but he was beginning to forget what conversation was. He was happy for the moment to enjoy the small comforts afforded him.

The soldier motioned him from the shower, and obediently he stepped out, taking the course towel offered him. He cringed as he tried to dry his back and the rough material scraped over the burns there, and as he brought the towel away, he realised it was streaked with his blood. He struggled into the clothes handed to him and after fighting with the fabric, he was once more dressed in the army fatigues — the first time he had worn clothes in over five days.


Hutch awoke slowly. His head pounded and his vision was blurred. He felt strain on the muscles of his arms and realised he had been strung up. His His His hands were bound together and pulled above his head, his feet barely touching the floor. His clothes had been stripped from him, and his pale skin seemed luminous in the light of the room. He tried to look around the room he was in, but could make out only that the walls were white and devoid of decoration. He was also aware there was a man dressed in army uniform standing slightly to the back of him. He shivered, feeling the cold, not only because of the low temperature, but also because he realised he had been right to worry.

The door opened and in strode General Sharpe. Hutch was just about to launch into a tirade about his treatment, when his breath was taken away by the sight of the General's companion.

Starsky walked unaided, but stooped slightly, the pain in his back, stomach and shoulders bending his body. However, he followed the much taller man and stood quietly as the General addressed Hutch.

'I hate impatience, Mr Hutchinson. It ruins plans and reduces my enjoyment. You are at least five days early. But you're here now, so we must make the best of a bad job, mustn't we?'

Hutch looked past him at his partner. 'You OK Starsk?' he said. Not only was Hutch shocked at the smaller man's appearance, but also at the look of complete hatred directed at him. My God, buddy. What have they done to you?

The General was once more talking and Hutch paid attention. 'Major Starsky has had a change of heart recently and wishes to put you in the picture about his new views on life'. The General took a step back and whispered in Starsky's ear. The dark haired man smiled and nodded. The General handed him an implement that looked like a police baton, and turned back to the bound blond.

'Major Starsky wishes to show you how he feels about your partnership and how it has affected him. Enjoy!' And with that he took a step back, allowing Starsky to come forward.

Hutch's breath hiked up a notch as he looked at his dark haired partner advancing on him.

'Starsk? Starsky, it's me Hutch. Starsk, do you recognise me?' he pleaded, trying to look into the indigo eyes he knew so well.

Those eyes stared back at him, burning with anger and hatred. Starsky smiled a thin smile, .advanced a little further, and swung a vicious punch at Hutch's abdomen, repaying him for the way he'd laughed at Starsky's pain and suffering. The blow felt good, and he wished to continue..

The effect was immediate, sending the breath whistling through the blonde's teeth. Hutch stared in disbelief. Once he'd regained some of his composure, he tried again. 'Starsky, it's me buddy, It's Hutch. Don't do this. They've messed with your head buddy. Starsk'.

This time, Starsky brought the electric cattle prod up, and with a smile on his face, held it against his friend's chest. Hutch's body convulsed against his bonds, as he tried to find some reason for his friend's actions.

Finally the pain ended and Hutch groaned, bringing his head up to look at the tormentor that had once been his best friend. It was a signal for the curly haired man to push the prod at him again, this time lower, on his abdomen. Over and over the metal was pressed against his body, until the pains seemed to flow one into the other and the room swam.

Throughout, Hutch had tried to reason with his friend, but to no avail, and soon, he had barely enough strength to hold himself up and wait for the next round of stimulation.

Starsky had pushed the metal against the flesh of the blond over and over, feelings of vindication flowing through him. But the dumb blond wouldn't shut up. He kept up a one way conversation, all the time asking him what he was doing and why.

Monday 9.00am

Starsky was tired of the talk. I'm doin' this for Alex and Ian, the guys you killed. I'm doin it for them Blintz. Wait. Blintz? Where did that come from? Who's Blintz? He looked over at the swinging form of the semi-conscious blond, and paused a moment. Did he call me Starsk? Do I know him? What did General Sharpe say? This man was in the war? No. I know him. How do I know him?

As Starsky came towards Hutch again, the tired blond thought he detected a difference in the demeanour. Was it his imagination? He was so tired, it could be nothing. As the cattle prod brought its burning pain to his side again, the taller man tried one last time and whispered 'Remember, Starsk. Me and Thee' as the final searing pain took away the last of his consciousness.

Something broke in Starsky at that moment. He looked at the body he had been torturing for the last three hours, and suddenly the images of the past five days cleared to be replaced by recognition, and regret.

Sharpe saw the change immediately and was quick to shout to his soldiers.

'That's it. We've lost him. Finish it and report back to me'.

Chapter 13

Monday 9.00am.

Starsky stared at the retreating back of the General, past memories filtering back slowly. Of course he knew the blond; he was his partner in the army. No. Wait, he'd been a soldier in the past, but now? He struggled for clarity, fighting the enforced mind altering regimen of the last few days.

The soldier who had held vigil in the room advanced on the dark haired man, licking his lips in anticipation. His CO had just given him free reign to do whatever he liked, and he wasn't going to pass up the chance for some fun. He'd had the night shift in Starsky's cell through a couple of nights and although he couldn't help admiring the brunette's stamina and capacity to withstand pain, he didn't take kindly to being deprived of sleep. That was fine for prisoners, not for their captors

Starsky eyed the soldier coldly, weighing the odds. He was fast coming to the end of his human emotions and only those more animalistic and fundamental feelings were left. Hutch was out cold, so no help there. And will he ever help me again? He pushed the thought to the back of his already addled mind for the time being. One thing at a time here Davey. The soldier toted an AK50 sub machine gun. Starsky recognised it as newer version of the AK-47. This one had a permanently mounted "illegal" triangular bayonet, which he remembered would leave a sucking wound that would not close. So don't get in the way of that thing, hotshot.

The two men circled each other, one confident and armed, the other weary, sore and confused. As the soldier made his move, ignoring the gun's true purpose and instead trying to stab his captive with the knifed end, Starsky's instincts took over and he rolled down onto the floor, sweeping his legs against the soldier's and knocking the surprised man to the ground. Muscles protesting all the way, Starsky sprang to his knees, and with an almost animal scream, launched himself at the downed soldier and with all the hatred of the past five days behind him, landed the best left hook he had ever thrown on the man's right cheek, knocking him out cold.

The brunette collapsed against the body of the soldier, his last ounce of strength leaving him. His breath was ragged, and the wounds which had been inflicted on him over the past week hurt like nothing he had felt before. Still, at the back of his mind, he knew he had something else to do. Now, if he could just remember......Me and Thee. The phrase caught in his head, playing over and over until the words ran out of meaning. The blond man had said 'Me and Thee'.

Forcing himself to look up, he saw Hutch's body still hanging by the wrists from the ropes anchored to the ceiling. He forced himself to his feet and staggered over to the blond, relieved to see the chest fighting to rise and fall with each breath. Reaching up, he tried to undo the ropes around Hutch's wrists, but the rope was damp with the taller man's sweat, and the knots had swollen, making the task impossible. Starsky looked back to the soldier, still unconscious on the ground, and limped over to take the gun, with bayonet attached. He struggled back over to Hutch and with difficulty levered the weapon overhead and sawed through the bonds, the muscles that had held him spread-eagled against the wall for hour after bitter hour cracking with the effort.

Hutch's body dropped heavily to the floor and he let out a low groan. The brunette bent down to pull the blond over onto his back and was rewarded with a glimpse of ice blue eyes looking back at him, uncertain.

'Starsk?' Hutch whispered, 'That you? You OK Gordo? Thought I'd lost ya there buddy', he tried a weak smile.

Starsky was confused, but glad the blond man remembered him. If he could only remember why he knew him. He looked down into the face, his mind taking him back to another time he'd done that. He remembered this same man laid in a hospital bed, a sweat soaked yellow gown sticking to too pale skin. He'd been shivering and in pain and he'd looked up to Starsky and gasped 'The game is Hutch is dying.......'

The memory was so powerful, it took Starsky's breath away, and the room took a dip to the side, as the brunette passed out.


Starsky flinched as he felt a hand slowly stroking his forehead. Positive the pain was about to begin again, he whimpered pitifully and tried to knock it away. Slowly realization hit that the hand was accompanied by a voice, which was achingly familiar, and he cracked his eyes open to see Hutch leaning over him.

'Oh, hey, there you are. Welcome back buddy, can ya sit up?'

Starsky decided he didn't want to but probably could. He struggled into the requisite position, pains knifing through every part of his body. Whilst unconscious, the curly haired detective had dreamed of his blond partner, memories of cars, women, wounds and jokes flooding back to him. And the realization that he had almost snuffed out the very life he had always pledged to watch. That memory, more than any others was so painful that Starsky couldn't look his friend in the eye. Instead he smiled a thin smile and took a deep breath.

'We need to get out of here now. Can you walk after....'For Gods sake, just say it you sadistic bastard. Say 'After I nearly tortured you to death'.

'I'm good' Hutch grunted, as he levered himself to his feet. 'Clothes would be nice though'. He looked over to the still unconscious soldier and unceremoniously divested him of pants and black tee shirt. Once clad in the slightly too large clothes, he tried on the boots. 'Ah well, knew it was too good to be true' he murmured as he took the too small boot off his left foot. 'Bare feet it'll have to be'. He removed the laces from the boots and quickly tied the soldier's hands behind his back.

All the while, Starsky had been examining the room, the door and the corridor outside. Gathering up the AK50, he expertly checked the magazine and thumbed the button at the side from single shot to automatic. At least this way, if they met any resistance, he'd just have to point and spray ammunition. Looking behind him he asked 'Ready?' before opening the door and venturing into the corridor.

Although he had been in the building for five days, he had never had the opportunity to explore it. He thought the way out was probably straight ahead, so, pushing Hutch behind him, he set off as quietly as possible.

The men were approximately half way up the corridor when Starsky sensed a movement behind him, before a deafening shot rang out behind them. He felt Hutch's body catapulted into his own and a burning sensation in his right side. Looking down, he saw blood blossoming from the bullet hole, just as he fell to the ground beneath his partner's body.

Sharpe had seen the shadows moving outside his office, and, taking up his own AK50, crept out into the corridor. He was surprised beyond words to see the two detectives alive. In anger, he brought up the gun and with one shot, the high powered bullet passed first through the blond man, then ploughed into the body of the brunette.

Sharpe smiled evilly, Fantastic — two for one — I do hate waste. He set of confidently up the corridor to inspect the two bleeding bodies on the floor.

Monday 11.00am

As Sharpe bent down to examine his handiwork, he was surprised to see the brunette twist painfully, bringing up an identical weapon to his own. His surprise still registered on his face as the cascade of bullets spattered through his body, the brunette's finger jamming against the trigger, convulsively.

As Sharpe's body hit the floor, Starsky pushed his way from underneath Hutch's body and dived towards the General's still twitching form. All the pain and suffering of not only the past six days, but the two hellish years of the draft suddenly poured out of Starsky as he savagely brought the bayonet down time after time, wounds appearing on the dead man's body as blood fountained up, staining the brunette's face and chest as he stabbed repeatedly into the thin body of the man he had come to hate.

Finally, his strength ran out and he pushed himself away, shaking, and panting. His mind cleared, his killing frenzy dissipating and he turned to his blond partner, terrified of what he would find. He shuffled over to the supine detective and gently reached to the neck and found a pulse. It was weak and thready, but proved that the life had not yet gone.

He gently pushed Hutch over onto his back and looked down at the neat hole in the blonde's right hand side, midway between ribs and hip. He glanced down at his own body, to see a matching wound there, the bullet having travelled through the two of them. Well that's a whole new meaning for Me and Thee, partner. He patted the side of Hutch's face ' Hutch? Hutch can ya hear me. I need you to open your eyes for me, Blintz' Nothing. He tried again and was finally rewarded with a view of those ice blue eyes.

Leaning forward, he put his ear close to the blonds' mouth to hear the whisper. 'Another fine mess you've got us into, Gordo'. Hutch coughed, clutching at his side as a wave of pain threatened to send him back into unconsciousness.

Starsky assessed the situation. They were both bleeding pretty badly now. He slipped off the fatigues jacket and balling it up, placed it beneath Hutch's head. Hutch watched as the brunette then took off his black tee shirt, gasping as the material pulled from the bullet wound.

Hutch let out a gasp of his own as he saw the damage done to his friend's body. The bruising now covered the whole of his chest, abdomen and back, colours varying from purple to a sickly green mottling the otherwise tanned skin, and there were two livid red burns over the curly haired man's kidneys. My God, buddy. What did that evil son of a bitch do to you?

Starsky ripped the tee shirt in two. One half he pushed against the wound on Hutch's side, the other he pressed to his own. Finally the adrenaline flow started to subside and the brunettes' body started to rebel against even the slightest movement. With his remaining energy, he lay down next to his now unconscious partner, put his arms around the body protectively, and passed into blessed blackness.


Monday 14.30

The five soldiers, two detectives and Dobey pushed their way cautiously into the prefab building, the soldiers with their weapons drawn; gazing down the barrels of the guns as they methodically searched each room in turn. The lead soldier turned the corner into the corridor, coming up short and holding his hand up, fist clenched in the military silent speak for 'Stop now'.

Slowly he approached the two bodies on the floor, and after final confirmation that there was no trap, he knelt down and checked pulses and breathing.

'Get a corpsman in here now' he shouted as Dobey shouldered past and knelt by the side of his two star detectives. He stared sadly down at them, Hutch held protectively in his partner's arms, both near death. How many times might he witness this? He remembered other times with other members of his team. It never got easier. But with Starsky and Hutch it was even more difficult. As much as he hated to admit it to himself, he was incredibly fond of the two men he sometimes had cause to curse for their recklessness. Heck, they were even God Fathers to his daughter Rosie.

He pulled away and stood up as the corpsman bustled past. Checking vitals, they gently placed one body on each of two stretchers and carried the two detectives out to the waiting ambulance.


Wednesday 7.00am

Hutch wondered for a moment where he was. The ceiling was unfamiliar, certainly, and the bed sheets didn't feel like his own. His throat hurt and his head ached, and shivers shook his body. A female figure in a white uniform looked down at him.

'Ken? Good, it's nice to see you awake. I'm Maria. You're in the military hospital in St Augustine, Florida. You've been here two days now. I don't want you to worry. You have a temperature, but we've dealt with the bullet wound and we're giving you antibiotics'.

For the first time Hutch noticed the IV in the back of his hand, and the feel of another tube in a far less comfortable place.

'Starsky? Where is he?' his first thoughts, as always, for the welfare of his partner.

A shadow fell over Maria's face. 'Yes, he's here, and we've dealt with his wounds too. The bullet which passed through you lodged in his abdomen, shaving his liver. He had emergency surgery and is recovering well from that. In fact, he's one tough guy — he woke up yesterday. Amazing after what he's been through'.

Hutch was used to seeing his partner immediately after injuries. 'I need to see him, nurse. Can you take me to him?'

Maria shook her head. 'I'm afraid Major Starsky is in anther part of the hospital, Ken. He, em'. She faltered. 'He's refusing to speak, or eat or drink. The doctors are worried about his state of mind'.

Hutch was struggling to get out of bed, ignoring the pain from his multiple burns and the hole in is side/ 'I need to see him, now. If you don't get a wheelchair and take me, I'll damn well walk — the choice is yours'.

Maria pushed him gently down onto the bed, noting the sweat now pouring from his forehead down the sides of his face.

'Wait there, Ken. I'll get the doctor, then you can make a decision together'.


Wednesday 9.30am

Maria pushed Hutch's chair towards the double doors marked Psychiatric Wing. Oh God Starsk. Hang on buddy, I'm coming. In the previous hour, Doctor Carson had explained the type of treatment Starsky had endured at the hands of Sharpe and his accomplices. Hutch had felt physically sick at the torture the brunette had had to face, even though no-one could actually get Starsky to go into details. Hell, they couldn't even get him to talk. The details they had were from the soldier who had been knocked out and tied up in the small cell. Starsky had been completely silent since his admission, even through the painful treatment of his injuries, before and after the surgery. He had silently but forcefully refused any pain killers, and so his temperature was rocketing. The good doctor had suggested that anything Hutch could do to get the brunette to open up would be a breakthrough.

Hutch braced himself as he came to the door of Starsky's private room. Maria opened the door and wheeled Hutch inside. Hutch's heart died as he saw the figure in the bed.

His partner of seven years was propped on pillows in a semi upright position, on his back, facing the door. The white sheets, which were pulled to his waist contrasted horrifically with the bruises showing over his body, and the large white dressing on his right hand side. He had an IV in his right wrist, another in his left hand, and a naso-gastric tube exited his nose and was taped to his cheek. Starsky's wrists were bound to the sides of his cot with soft medical restraints. He stared straight ahead head slightly lowered, and did not blink as Hutch entered.

The doctor had explained the NG tube and restraints. Apparently, Starsky had refused to eat or drink and had twice pulled the offending tube out. In a last ditch attempt to get much needed nutrients into his body, they had re-passed the tube and secured his hands, to stop any further attempts at renewal.

Hutch pushed his chair forward. 'Starsk? How ya doin, buddy?'

Chapter 15

Friday, midday.

During the past two days, Hutch had been constantly at the side of the dark haired man who was still silent in the bed. He had kept up a steady stream of comforting phrases, parroting over and over again 'Come on buddy, it's over now. Hey Starsk. Talk to me, will ya', but there had been no sign from the smaller man that he even knew that Hutch was in the room with him. The doctor had explained that Starsky's present state was one step away from catatonia. The NG tube remained in place, and in fact when the nurses came to force the nutrients down the tube and into his stomach, this was the only time Starsky showed any signs of being aware of the world.

The first time Hutch had watched the procedure, which was neither painful, nor uncomfortable; he had had to turn away as he watched his friend's body bucking in the bed, trying desperately to stop the life giving fluid from flowing. After that, he'd asked the nurse to show him what to do, and had steadily fed his partner every four hours of the two days since he'd first seen him, feeling that he alone should be the bearer of Starsky's angst.

The doctor had also told Hutch that Starsky was refusing any drugs, again becoming violent to the extent where he was causing injuries to his wounds. Food they could force on him, but their patient's charter refused the enforced administration of medication, and so Starsky's temperature had soared to 103 degrees and they could only guess at the level of pain he was in by the sweat which poured from him constantly. Hutch had explained he had power of attorney for situations when his partner was injured, but the doctors said that wasn't enough. Finally Hutch signed a waver and the nurses drew the drugs into the syringe, which Hutch then delivered into his friends IV, bracing himself for the hurt and pained look in his friend's eyes.

On that Friday. Hutch had had another one of is deep talks with Doctor Carson. 'I don't know how to reach him anymore, Doc. I've seen him in states worse that this, but he's always responded to me before. In fact on most occasions, he won't let me out of his site. I'm the same — if I'm hurt, I can gather some strength and comfort from him, because I know he's been through similar, and knows how I'm feeling'.

'That's the point though, Hutch' the doctor nodded sadly. 'You've never been in a similar situation to this. When Brigadier General Sharpe had Starsky held captive, he very carefully absented himself from all the most painful sessions, but was there at the end with water, or a comforting hand. Your friend got a bad case of Stockholm syndrome — where he became almost infatuated with his captor. When he broke the two of you free, he killed Sharpe, and now has to come to terms with that, and the mistreatment he vested on you too'.

Hutch took a deep breath. 'Tell me what I can do' he pleaded.

Carson paused a moment. 'He's still army, even though his service should never have been re-activated. The powers that be have told me that if there's no improvement by tomorrow, we should try ECT '.

The words hit Hutch like a physical blow. 'You're telling me that even though he was electrocuted for ten hours straight, you want to subject him to still more? No way. Over my dead body!' he rose and stormed out of the room, his blood boiling at the injustice of it all and his inability to be able to do anything to help his friend. He made his way back to Starsky's room, arriving just as one of the orderlies had set a tray with Hutch's lunch down on the table.

The blond walked over to the bed and leaned over its occupant. 'Hey buddy. How ya feelin?' No response, the indigo eyes stared straight ahead. 'Starsky, its me. Come on, give me some help here Gordo'. Nothing.

Suddenly a dam seemed to burst inside the blonde's head. He turned and lashed out at the metal lunch tray, sending the contents crashing noisily to the floor. Kicking out at the inanimate object Hutch turned to the wall and banged his forehead repeatedly against the brickwork, tears coursing down his face in exasperation and anger.

'utch?' no more than a whisper floating in the air.

Hutch thought he was loosing his mind. He turned to see his partner's head had turned and the glazed indigo eyes were looking at him. Swiftly he crossed to the bed, reaching out a hand to try to cup the handsome face, but Starsky pulled back and looked away.

'Fine', shouted the blond. 'Have it your way, you stupid son of a bitch. Ya think that all that matters is you. Sat there in your own little world hoping everything will go away. Well it won't and some time soon you're going to have to face a hefty dose of reality here, coz unless you get your fuckin' head into gear, they're gonna throw another few shots of electricity through you, do ya hear me?' He sat heavily on the chair at the side of the bed, head in his hands, exhausted by his outburst and the futility of the situation.

Another whisper 'Don't want you to be here'.

'Why? Why don't you want me Starsk? Just tell me what I can do?'


'No. I'm not leavin'. Not till you tell me why. I need to understand this buddy'.

'I enjoyed it'. It came out in whisper, accompanied by a strangled sob.


'When I was hurtin you...................I enjoyed it. I knew I was hurtin' you, and I knew I shouldn't, but I couldn't stop, coz every time I put that electric prod against you, an' saw you jerkin' on the end of that rope, somethin' inside me felt good'.

Hutch swallowed hard. 'Aw Starsk, that wasn't you buddy. That was that evil bastard Sharpe. He played with your mind babe. You know deep down that you wouldn't do that to me, or anyone else come to that. You've got to try to forget'.

But Hutch was once again talking to the side of Starsky's face, as the smaller man resumed his silent staring into the distance.


Hutch went in search of Doctor Carson, and told the man of his seeming breakthrough with Starsky. He found it incredibly hard to tell the doctor that the man he had called friend all these years had admitted that he had enjoyed hurting him. The Doctor, however was impressed at the progress and explained to Hutch that Stockholm syndrome would make a victim feel emotions alien to them if they thought that that was what their captor would want. 'They will do anything they can to please them, even if it means hurting, or killing the person they love the most. I've even seen young kidnap victims trying to strangle their parents to death. It's a sad reflection on the amount of damage that has been done to your friend's mind. But it is something we can work with now'.

'So you won't do the ECT, then?'

'I think that that form of therapy is probably still warranted, and I think we should still plan it for midday tomorrow, but there is nothing to stop you keeping up the fine work you are doing with him so far'.

'OK, Doc. But promise me that if I can get a significant change to happen, you won't shock him?' Hutch implored.

The Doctor nodded and simply told Hutch they would have to wait and see.


Back in Starsky's room, Hutch once more set about the one sided conversation with his partner. There were some minor changes. Starsky did look towards him once or twice, and did not rebel quite so forcefully against the forced feeding, but there was no more talk, no conversation, and by midnight, Hutch's wounds were so painful, he dejectedly returned to his room. He lay down on the bed, pulled the sheets about him and drifted off into a troubled sleep.


Next morning, Hutch woke early, and glancing at the clock realised he had about four hours to make a last ditch attempt at getting through to his partner. Wearily, he set off back down the long corridors of the hospital and finally arrived at Starsky's room. Bracing himself, and fixing his face into a cheerful smile, he pushed the door open.

'Hey Gordo, how's..............' He stared uncomprehendingly at the empty bed, the sheets rumpled.

Turning on his heal he ran down the corridor to the nurses station and grabbed one of the women by her arm.

'My Partner, David Starsky. Where is he?'

She looked at him in surprise. 'Doctor Carson has him in theatre. He's been scheduled for his ECT this morning'. But she was talking to Hutch's fleeing back as he ran towards the sign marked 'Psych theatre 1' opposite.

As he pushed open the doors he could hear shouts and a commotion from the inner room. Banging the second set of doors open he was appalled at the vision before him.

His partner was laid on the operating table, stripped to his waist, His arms and legs were bound to the edges of the table and a long thick leather strap was secured across his chest. Doctor Carson had just finished attaching the electrodes to either side of the dark haired man's temples and was holding them in place with yet another strap attached once again to the table and passing over Starsky's forehead.

Hutch could see his friend's chest heaving with exertion and covered with a patina of sweat. The Doctor was issuing orders and having difficulty making himself heard as the bound man was screaming over and over again


The blond was at his side immediately, pushing the doctor unceremoniously away. Holding Starsky's bound right hand in his, he gently stroked the sweat soaked curls. 'Shhh, its OK Starsk. I'm here now. Shh, there. S'Ok buddy, I'm here, I'm here'.

Slowly the words seemed to take effect, and Starsky's body stopped its fevered thrashing. He opened his eyes a little, tears flowing down his cheeks.

'Hutch?' he whispered, his voice raw from the screams. 'Is that you? I didn't know you'd come for me Blintz. I'm so sorry'. He sobbed, each painful intake of breath racking his body as he repeated over and over again 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry'.

Hutch looked over to the Doctor. 'For gods sake, get him out of these bindings'. The doctor nodded and the two orderlies set about undoing the buckles. Once free, Hutch gathered his friend up in his arms and held the sobbing man to him, gently rubbing his back and arms, running his fingers through the mahogany curls.

'I'm so, so sorry Hutch. I couldn't stop myself. Some perverted part of me enjoyed it and wanted to keep on hurting; you. Sharpe had me there and, oh God. I only managed to hold out for five days. Five days, Hutch. That's all it took for that bastard to break me, .so that I could have killed you'.

Hutch gently pushed him away. Looking into those beautiful indigo eyes. 'Na, you'd never do that Starsk, and I knew you wouldn't when you were.....When that son of a bitch had you doing what you did. We've been through too much together for someone like Sharpe to break you. He messed with your mind, buddy'.

Starsky looked Hutch in the eyes. 'But you were always there. Even when I was blindfolded against that wall, I saw ya. You kept me as sane as I am. You're my anchor'.

The doctor nodded to his staff to leave the two men alone for a time, sensing a crisis had been reached and passed, almost embarrassed at the strength of friendship the two detectives shared.

Hutch pulled Starsky close again. He chuckled a little and felt Starsky pull away, a questioning look in his eyes.

'I was just thinking back to when all this started, Gordo. You were having trouble with Terri's death, and I said you needed something to take your mind away from it'.

Starsky smiled weekly. 'Maybe in future I won't take you so literally, Blintz. Hey. Where exactly are we?'

And so Hutch sat back, and started the story from the beginning, glad at last to have some ghost of his friend back with him again. I know this is only the start Gordo, but welcome back.



Two weeks later

Starsky sat staring at the letter he had had from Hutch, smiling and glad he was on his way home. Over the past days, he'd had several sessions with Doctor Carter, where he had recounted in as much detail as he could, the treatment he had received from Sharpe.

Hutch had returned to Bay City four days after the ECT episode, as Starsky came to call it. During that time, they had, once again become inseparable, and had finally wangled a double room. As Hutch explained — he needed to continue Starsky's therapy.

During the four days, Hutch had explained everything that had gone on as far as he knew, and Starsky haltingly told him of his treatment at the hands of Sharpe. Hutch had at first been angry, to the point of wanting to hurt something or someone, but the smaller man had placated him. 'Hey Blintz. I got over worse things than this from 'Nam. I'll do it again. If you can forgive me, I can eventually forgive myself'.

Hutch had looked at him with eyes shining with tears. 'Starsk, there's nothing to forgive'.

And now he sat re reading the letter he had received. Apart from the news from Bay City, Hutch had included a tape of a song he had heard on the radio that morning, and told Starsky the words reminded him of the two of them. And so Starsky had borrowed a tape player and had listened.

Tides may turn, winds may blow o'er land and sea.

Where e'er you roam, the world will turn and bring you back to me.

Be brave, my wandering soul, courage is what sets is free.

Domus, domus.

Home, is a world, but so much more

Home is where the heart is.

Roam, and find your destiny

Julilate Domum.

He settled back into the pillows on his bed, Sure Blondie, I'll roam, but me and thee will never be separate for too long.