The Major Redemption

Chapter 1

It was dark and airless. He'd felt that stuffy foggy nothingness before, and hated its associations. It was associated with a bone deep cold, like nothing on earth would ever make him feel warm again. In his sleep, Starsky thrashed his head from side to side against his pillow, muttering under his breath curses and whimpers, until finally he could stand it no longer and the horror of it shook him awake. He lay bathed in sweat, his breathing heavy and ragged as he tried to slow down the laboured pumping of his heart.

Slowly, his breathing regulated and he felt able to sit up. Pushing himself to his feet, he padded barefoot into the bathroom and turned on the tap. Cupping his hand under the cool water, he took a couple of mouthfuls before splashing the rest on his face. He straightened and looked at his reflection in the mirror, indigo eyes staring back at him, seeming to mock his anxiety.

This was the better of the nightmares he'd had recently. All involved some level of pain, but the worst were the ones involving Hutch. He didn't want to think about those now. They made is anxiety worse, so that he couldn't think straight. He would never have admitted it to Hutch, and certainly not to his shrink, that after these dreams, he had sometimes woken to find his Beretta in his hand, as he stared down its barrel. On those occasions, it had taken all his will to slowly unclench his fingers and lay down the weapon. The last time it had happened, he had scared himself so much with the intensity of the feelings that he had taken to locking it away last thing at night. He was not so much scared of pulling the trigger, but more of allowing his partner of seven years to patrol the streets without him. His anger split between the fact that Sharpe had brain washed him into hurting the man who was closer to him than a brother, and the disgust he felt at himself, knowing he had only been able to withstand five days before he was broken.

Slowly he made his way back to the bedroom and looked down at the bed. Dreading a rerun of the dream, he shrugged, checking his clock. 5.00 am. Slipping on sweat pants and top he quietly exited his apartment and started a five mile run down to the ocean and back, stretching the muscles that had been damaged by Sharpe.


8.00 am and Hutch was surprised to see the Torino parked outside his apartment. He walked out of his bedroom just as his dark haired partner pushed open his front door and entered.

Clutching at his chest in mock pain, he croaked 'Oh My God. Three days straight he's early!'

Starsky smiled and ambled over to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and took out a beer.

'Bit early for that, even for your breakfast pal' said Hutch, evenly, walking towards his partner, noticing that of late the famous Starsky Strut had vanished, to be replaced by an almost defeated gait.

'Just get off my back will ya. Ya sound like my Mom' the brunette spat, pushing the cap of the bottle off against the counter top.

Hutch stopped in his tracks. 'Another bad night buddy?' he asked softly.

Starsky plodded over to the settee and plonked himself down, gazing at the bottle in his hand. 'Sorry Blondie'. He rubbed at the back of his neck, stretching the tense muscles. 'Just wish the dreams would stop. Hell, it's been four months now. I've had so many sessions with the doctor at Cabrillo that they're thinking of naming a wing after me. But every night I go to bed dog tired and then shake myself awake with one dream or another'.

Hutch sat beside him on the arm of the settee. 'You still taking your meds?'

The smaller man nodded. 'Sure. They send me to la la land for about four hours, then that's it. I can't take any more after that coz if I do I'll be no use to either of us on the street. Probably end up getting you hurt.........again'. The last came out in a strangled sob, as Hutch put a protective arm around his partner and pulled the dark haired man to him.

He thought back to that time four months previously. Brigadier General Sharpe had arrived at the Metro asking Dobey to release Major David Starsky from police duties as his army service had been reactivated. He wanted Starsky and Hutch to go under cover to investigate some suspicious deaths at a training camp in Guatemala. Starsky had gone on ahead, ostensibly to take command, but of course it had been a trap. The General had blamed Starsky for bringing an end to his promotion prospects after Starsky had written a damning report naming him as the CO in a mission where Starsky had been captured with two others behind enemy lines in Vietnam. Starsky and his team had been held for five months, and tortured each day, whilst Sharpe denied all knowledge of them.

Sharpe this time used Starsky's own knowledge of mind altering techniques against him. He was made to stand naked in the stress position for up to six hours at a time and electro shocked for ten hours, as he watched pictures of Vietnamese atrocities interspersed with pictures of Hutch smiling and laughing.

He suffered the treatment for six days before Hutch had run with his gut feelings and gone to Guatemala early. He was also captured, but having been brain washed, it was Starsky who had tortured Hutch. Only Hutch's pleas of 'Me and Thee' had broken through the programming. Eventually Starsky had shot Sharpe dead, but not before Sharpe had shot both the detectives with one bullet, passing through each in turn as they tried to make their escape.

They were air lifted to the army hospital at St Augustine, Florida where they both eventually recovered sufficiently to return to Bay City. Hutch's injuries were the first to heal, but he was granted sick leave to help his partner come to terms with the treatment he had both received and delivered.

Unknown to Starsky, Hutch was also undergoing counselling. Hutch hadn't told his friend as he felt the brunette had enough to deal with without worrying about him too. Truth was that although on one level Hutch had immediately forgiven the smaller man for everything he had been forced to do, on a deeper level, he was still dealing with the betrayal he was angry to admit lurked beneath he surface. As Starsky had repeatedly pressed the electric cattle prod against the blonde's body, the pain Hutch felt burned a niggling doubt about his friendship into his core. Hutch didn't know what was worse — the pain he now admitted he felt at the memories, or the pain he saw his friend in every day since the mission

He shook himself and concentrated on the curly haired man sitting next to him. Starsky ran an angry hand over his face, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand.

'You OK now, buddy? It'll get better, honest. You just gotta give it time. And maybe a bit less beer for breakfast?'

Starsky put the bottle down, a forced smile onto his face. 'I deserved it. I've done five miles this morning, whilst you were still giving it the zees in bed'. He sighed. 'You're right, I suppose I have to be patient, but I'm sick of feelin' like this'. The look on his face pulled at the blonds' heart strings as he saw the man he's known for so long reduced from a strong confident police officer to an edgy, broken man.

He patted the smaller mans knee. 'OK Gordo. Captain Marvel ready to save Bay City for another day?'

Starsky smiled and got up. 'Ready when you are, but we gotta go into the office first. Dobey wanted to see us this morning. Then we see Marvin down at the docks at 11.00 — says he's got some news on the perp from the docks murder last week'. Hutch watched as the brunette walked tiredly to the door, before picking up his gun and his black leather jacket and following his partner to the striped tomato parked outside.


The journey to the metro was done at a reasonably sedate pace, considering that Starsky was driving. They kept up a friendly inane banter about the weather, the meal they had had the previous evening, the game on TV. Twenty minutes later. Starsky pulled the powerful car to a stop in his customary parking spot right outside the front door of the Metro.

Inside, they said good morning in passing to two uniformed officers heading out, Starsky asking about John's new born daughter, then headed upstairs to the squad room. After stopping at the coffee machine for two cups of steaming black brew, they knocked on Dobey's office door and entered. The big black man sat behind his desk reading a sheaf of papers and wiping absently at his face with a big orange handkerchief. Looking up, he eyed the two detectives and gruffly told them to sit.

The two men looked at each other, then obeyed, Starsky slumping in the easy chair by the door, and Hutch perching on the arm next to his friend.

'Lemme ask you a question, gentlemen', Dobey growled. 'If you had a cop on the team who was exhausted and refusing to take leave, what would you do?' He stared at the two men.

They looked at each other then back at Dobey, realising where this was going.

'What are you trying to say captain?'

'Well look at you both. You look like shit. Hutch, I've seen paler circles on the eyes of Pandas then there are on your eyes. An' Starsky, you must have lost at least twelve pounds. You both need a break, and I intend to make sure you take one. I've been in touch with welfare and as a result I have booked you both on a vacation cruise'.

'Now wait a minute Cap' Hutch started.

'Don't "wait a minute Cap" me Hutchinson. You're both going and that's that. And I expect you both to return bright eyes and bushy tailed and ready to get some proper police work done. See Minnie downstairs. She has your tickets and itinerary.'. With that, he put his head down, signalling the meeting was at an end. As the two men got up to leave, he added 'Oh, and Starsky? Adidas are not usually worn with dinner suits'.

The curly haired man reached for the door, slamming it behind him as he heard his Captain's voice shouting 'And don't slam the door!'

Chapter 2

The cruise terminal at Port Canaveral was busy, the concrete dock side seemingly stretching for ever. The terminal building sparkled in the hot sunshine as the acres of glass and chrome beckoned the cruisers towards it.

'Wow, will ya look at the size of that sucker' Hutch craned his neck up to see the full height of the cruise ship. A gangway stretched from the dockside up the fifth deck entrance. Another lower entrance with its own gangplank was located at the stern of the ship, from where crew members embarked and disembarked like ants running over spilt sugar.

Two days ago, Starsky and Hutch had dutifully gone to see Minnie, who had explained that the welfare fund had been contacted by the police surgeon and granted an amount of money to be given to the two detectives for a period of complete rest and relaxation. Minnie had been given carte blanche to pick out the appropriate vacation, and so she had booked an outside cabin on the MV Adonis, bound for two weeks in the Eastern Caribbean out of Canaveral. Never the sort to pass up on sun sea and pretty ladies, the two men had taken the tickets and once they'd seen Marvin at the docks (a false lead), returned home via a department store to stock up on shorts, tee shirts and sun cream.

So now they had completed their flight from LAX to Orlando International and had taken the complimentary shuttle bus along the Beeline expressway and across the vast expanse of the Banana River. To their right they could see way off in the distance the vehicle assembly building of the NASA space centre, standing tall and white.

Starsky had been silent for long parts of the journey. He had seemed stressed on the plane, his knuckles showing white as he gripped the armrests during take off and landing. Hutch was amazed at the dichotomy of his friend. He had recently learned that Starsky had been a Major in the army and had been dropped behind enemy lines in 'Nam by a HALO jump. And yet, here he was terrified on the Airbus 320. Although, thought Hutch, the last time he'd been on a plane he'd been airlifted from Guatemala to Florida with a hole in his side and more bruises and burns on his body that anyone could count — go figure.

Lost in his thoughts, Hutch suddenly realised his partner was talking

'We have a perfectly good cruise terminal in LA at San Pedro. Why'd we have to fly clean across the country to Florida? And call this a bridge?' he huffed as they passed over the Banana River Bridge 'This is an apology for a bridge. At least in LA we........'

He was cut off by the blond man digging him in ribs. 'First, Florida is a flat state, so bridges don't need to be high and second, Canaveral is an easier way to get to the Eastern Caribbean. Will ya shut up an' just enjoy?'

Secretly Hutch worried at his friend's lack of enthusiasm, It was usually the blond who saw the pitfalls in everything, whilst Starsky looked at the world through childlike eyes, finding wonder in everything from fancy watches to guinea pigs. Hutch sighed. It had to get better then this.

So, they queued with the rest and eventually found their way onto the ship which was enormous, opulent and white. Finding their cabin on deck eight, they unpacked, locking their shields and weapons in the safety deposit box and headed for the sail away party on the sun deck.

Hutch had watched his buddy closely, still worried that Starsky wasn't his normal self. Oh sure he looked reasonably relaxed in his red tee shirt and cut off blue jean shorts, but he was certainly downing the Mai Tais fast, and the laughter was brittle, his smile not the usual dazzling, lop sided grin.

The party lasted until the ships sirens had blasted three times for departure, the screws started turning and mooring ropes were cast off. As the breeze on deck started to pick up, the guys headed back to their cabin to get ready for their first night on board.


'I look like penguin' Starsky whined as he stepped out of the bathroom dressed in his dinner suit, crisp white shirt and black bow tie. He tried to insert a finger between the skin of his neck and the collar of the shirt, but gave it up and flopped down onto his bed

Hutch appraised him. What he saw was a tall dark handsome man. Certainly the face looked a little drawn to anyone who knew Starsky well, and the suit hung a little too loosely off the frame. But the cut of the jacket was good and the formality of the clothes suited the dark haired man. He was reminded of the James Bond films and could almost see the indigo eyes looking up from a glass filled with a martini — shaken, not stirred.

He glanced down at the feet. 'Well, ya look the part' Hutch replied. 'Glad you took Dobey's advice' he chuckled, as he saw black leather lace ups in place of the ubiquitous blue Adidas. He took his turn in the bathroom as he heard his friend's 'Hmph'.

Hutch emerged ten minutes later dressed in his own dinner suit and standing behind his partner to look in the mirror, he put a hand on the smaller man's shoulder. 'Well we scrub up fairly well'. He paused. 'What is it Starsk? I thought you'd be ripped by a chance at a free vacation. You've earned time to relax, just go with the flow an' maybe when we get back ya can kick Cabrillo into touch once and for all'.

Starsky's reflection stared back at him. 'Sorry Hutch. You're right. I'm gonna quit griping an' enjoy myself. Sharpe's gone and we survived. Its just that every time I close my eyes at night I see you hanging there an.... Well, you might have forgiven me, but I can't forgive myself'. He smiled a sad smile that didn't light up his eyes. Squaring his shoulders he went on 'This is just what we both need. Rest, relaxation and not a psychopathic murdering son of a bitch in sight. Come on. I'm suddenly starving. Let's go see what posh people eat'.

The men left the room, heading for the dining room. Silently, the cabin steward entered their cabin. After turning down their beds, tidying the bathroom and putting a chocolate on each pillow, he proceeded to check all the drawers, before opening the safety deposit box with a master key. Lovingly fingering the shields and guns, he smiled a little.

Chapter 3

Dinner had been wonderful. After they had eaten, the two detectives had wandered the ship finding their way around. They came to the casino finally. The room was smoky and crowded with tables for poker and other card games and slot machines around the walls. The carpet was thick and red and the furniture around the room was guilt coloured with red leather upholstery. Mirrors adorned the walls and a spiral staircase lead up from the deck beneath into the centre of the room.

At one of the tables, a large crowd had gathered and Starsky and Hutch found themselves drawn to the table by the murmurs of excitement. They caught sight of two men sat opposite each other across the roulette table, game chips stacked in front of each. The man on the left had just won another round and the croupier was pushing a large stack of $1000 chips in his direction. Both men had women draped around them, kissing and nuzzling their necks as they waited for the next spin of the wheel. The man on the right nodded to the dark haired woman dripping diamonds who stood at his shoulder. With a confident movement, he wadded all his chips together and pushed them onto the table 'everything on red' he announced as the spectators gasped.

'That must be at least half a million' Starsky gasped, as he pushed forward to get a better view.

The man on the opposite side of the table mirrored the move and placed his considerable bet on the black.

'The table is closed' the croupier intoned, closing the deals. Taking the small silver ball in his right hand, he deftly flicked his wrist, sending the wheel spinning. Letting loose the ball in the opposite direction, there was silence around the table as everyone leaned in to see which colour would win the spin. The wheel slowed and the ball skipped from one pocket to the next before finally settling in the black 11 pocket. A roar of approval went up around the table as the croupier pushed $1 million in chips towards the winner. He smiled magnanimously to the spectators, pushed a $100 chip towards the croupier and got up to leave the table.

The looser on the opposite side of the table pushed his chair back from the table and rose. Pushing the spectators out of the way, he launched himself at the winner, who was kissing his female companion passionately. Landing a telling punch to the side of the winners head, he was winding up for another blow when suddenly a dark missile propelled itself into him, knocking him sideways to the floor.

As Starsky grappled with the looser on the floor, finally sitting astride the man and pinning his arms to the deck above his head, Hutch was pushing the crowd of now screaming spectators back and checking the bleeding winner. He looked around to check his partner who had reached behind him instinctively for his handcuffs. Realising that the metal bracelets and dinner suits did not really go together, Starsky was stuck sitting on the man until the ships security officers arrived to take over the situation.

Finally a phalanx of white clad officers arrived and assessed the situation. Once they'd cuffed the assailant, Starsky could get up off the floor. He went over to the blond. 'You OK Gordo?' asked Hutch. 'Neat move ya did there'.

Giving a mock bow, the curly haired man replied with a southern accent 'Why thank you kind sir'. For the first time in a long time, Hutch saw the shadow of the sparkle his friend always used to have in his navy blue eyes.

As the man was lead away to the brig by two security men, the Bosun headed over to the two detectives.

'I'd like to thank you two. Your quick reactions saved what could have been a very nasty situation. Where'd you learn those moves?' He appraised the dark haired man who seemed not even to be out of breath.

'LAPD' said Hutch. Holding out his hand he introduced them 'Detective Sergeant Ken Hutchinson and Detective Sergeant David Starsky. We're supposed to be getting away from all this' he added with a smile.

'Well, the least I can do is buy you a drink. My name is Alex, by the way. Alex Moore. I'm the Bosun'. He led the way out of the casino and up to the bar on the next deck and got three chairs around a table at one end of the bar.

'What can I get you?'

'Mines a scotch on the rocks' said Hutch.

'Brandy for me please' added Starsky.

The drinks arrived. 'So what brings you onto a cruise ship? Didn't think LAPD would pay enough for this'. He smiled.

Starsky smiled back. 'Sick leave. We've had a pretty intense year, so we needed a bit of RandR' he shrugged his shoulders, and to Alex's credit, he didn't push the matter.

The night wore on and the three men chatted comfortably as they drank their drinks. Eventually, Alex looked at his watch. 'Well, better be going. My next shift starts at 06.00 and its 01.30 now, so I'll see ya around. Oh, and don't go inciting anyone else to riot!'

Watching the officer depart, Hutch stretched and stood up. 'Well, that's enough excitement for me for one night'. He looked down at his partner. 'I'm gonna turn in. Are you coming?'

They both made their way back to the cabin. Getting ready for bed, Starsky put on his pale blue pyjama bottoms and got into bed as Hutch finished cleaning his teeth in the bathroom. Clad in similar fashion to his friend, he too got into his bed and pulled up the sheets.

There was silence for a moment.

'You OK Starsk?' Hutch asked.

'Yeah. I think I am. I feel pretty good' he smiled. 'Pretty beat though. G'night Hutch'.

Hutch put out the light and stared into the darkness, listening to his partner as his breathing slowly took on the quiet regularity of sleep. As Starsky finally slept, Hutch allowed himself to relax. He was quietly pleased as he thought back over the day. His partner did seem to be relaxing. Just one day at a time, partner. One day at a time.


Hutch was instantly awake, looking at the shadows moving in the room. He looked over to the other bed, which was empty, the bedclothes rumpled as if its occupant had been in a fight. At first he thought Starsky had got up to use the bathroom, but there was no light on. Something made Hutch look towards the door, which he now realised was open slightly. Getting out of his bed, he padded to the door and looked down the corridor. Where are ya goin' now Gordo? Hutch put a sweat top over his pyjama bottoms and wandered off in search of his partner.

Ten minutes later, he found his way out onto the deck to see a familiar figure holding onto the deck rail and looking out into the velvety blackness. He walked over to the smaller man and was about to put an arm round him when something about his demeanour stopped him. Gazing at Starsky's face, he realised that the dark haired man was actually asleep. Aw Starsk. when you told me you were sleep walking again, I didn't think it had got so bad. Gently he took hold of Starsky's arm to try to lead him back to the cabin. As he made contact, the brunette gave a start and looked around him in confusion.

'Hutch? How'd I get out here?'

'You sleep walked buddy. You told me you'd started again, but I didn't realise it was this bad. God Starsk, you could've thrown yourself overboard or somethin'.

Starsky shivered. 'How long have I been here?'

'Dunno. I woke up and found you missing, but I don't know how long you'd been gone. Come on, lets get you back to the cabin before you catch your death of cold'.

The smaller man allowed himself to be lead back up the deck and into the warmth of the interior of the ship. Once back in their cabin, he lay back down on the bed, closed his eyes, and was asleep within seconds.

Hutch looked down at his partner, and gently ran his fingers through the mahogany curls.

'What am I gonna do with ya, eh?' he tucked the sheets around the body, and got back into his own bed. Sleep didn't come as easy to the blond and dawn was pushing its light into the cabin before he was able to close his eyes and relax.


The next morning Hutch awoke as Starsky bounded about the cabin.

'Come on Blintz. The suns up, the seas calm and there are lots of pretty ladies out there. Hey, you OK?'

'What, ya mean after the jog round the decks in the middle of the night. No. Actually I'm wiped'.

'What do you mean, jogging round the decks? Couldn't you sleep or somethin'?' Starsky at once all concerned for his friend.

Hutch looked at him disbelievingly. 'Ya mean ya don't remember walking out onto the deck into the middle of the night in your sleep?'

Starsky's blank look said it all. 'I thought I'd got over that again. It was bad when I first got home from hospital, but I thought it had stopped. Sorry Blondie'.

He was stopped by a knock on the cabin door. Getting up to answer it, Starsky was surprised to see the Bosun standing in the corridor.

'Hi Alex. What can we do for you?' he asked, motioning the officer inside.

Alex entered the cabin, twisting his cap round and round in his hands. 'I know you guys are on vacation, but I think I may need your expertise. Em...there's been an incident on board. A murder, during the night. I wonder if you could come and see the body and the scene.'

The two men exchanged glances. 'Sure Alex, lead the way'.

The Bosun set quite a pace as he ploughed down the corridors of the ship and out onto the stern section of deck seven, where the promenade deck was covered by a walkway near the engine room. In the bright sunlight of the day, the two detectives could see a body covered by a sheet, two security officers standing guard over it.

Approaching the body, Starsky squatted down on his heels and pulled back the sheet. The body of the man had been strangled. He realised with surprise that it was the body of the winner of the roulette game the previous evening. His face was blue and his eyes bulging in their sockets. The body had had its shirt ripped open, and as Starsky looked further he could see blood. Motioning Hutch over, the two men looked at the grim sight.

Carved deeply into the flesh of the body's chest were three cuts in the shape of a letter H.

Chapter 4

The two detectives surveyed the scene in front of them, now understanding why Alex wanted their help.

'Has anyone seen the body other than us?' asked Hutch, searching the deck in the immediate vicinity. There was no blood spread around there, which lead the blond to think that the gory slashes had been inflicted after the unfortunate man had died.

'No, I don't think so. The Medical Officer has been. He gave time of death at around 03.30. One of my security officers was doing a routine sweep of the decks when he came across the body. He immediately cordoned off the area and informed me. Then I came to get you two. I'm way out of my depth here. I'm more your bust up in the casino type'.

'Starsky, do you think we can get the body bagged and removed?' Hutch asked his partner. Starsky had remained squatted by the side of the body and at first Hutch had thought he was examining some piece of evidence he had found there. There was no movement from the brunette and Hutch tried again.

'Earth to Starsky, are you receiving?' Nothing. Putting on his best patrol voice he tried 'Zebra 3, respond please'. Starsky looked up, his face pale.

'Hey, you OK Gordo?'

'Yeah, I'm fine. Just a bit sea sick, I suppose'. He rose from the deck. 'What were you saying?'

'Do you think we can move the body now?'

'Oh, yeah, don't see why not. I can't see any blood anywhere else than on the body, there's no footprints near and I can't find any trace of a knife, or blade'. He looked over to Alex. 'Did the M.O. say what sort of instrument he thought had been used to do the cuts?'

Alex shook his head. 'This is a cruise ship. We're all 'jack of all trades and master of none.' He's used to dealing with heart attacks and seasickness, not acting as a coroner. Looking at these cuts now, my best guess would be a small knife like a pen knife — flat blade not serrated coz the edges of the wound are too clean. But I'm no expert. You've probably seen more of these than I ever want to'.

The three men moved away as the hospital orderlies came to put the body on a trolley and take it down to the ship's morgue. Once gone, the deck was opened up again, just in time for the early morning runners to start their circuits of the ship.

'We have no jurisdiction here, you know. We can give you tips on how to do the investigation, but we have no authority outside Bay City' explained Hutch, glancing sideways at his partner, who was holding on to the ships rail and staring out to sea.

'Any advice will be gratefully received' Alex smiled. 'Is Mr Starsky OK. He seemed a little pale back there' he asked.

'Oh he'll be fine, once he's got his sea legs' Hutch replied, as dismissively as he could. He walked over to his partner and gently touched him on the arm.

'Hey, Starsk, lets go get some food before we help Alex out any more'

Starsky turned to Hutch, his face blank for a moment before smiling and following the blond inside. They made their way up to deck eleven, to the buffet restaurant, and after picking pancakes and syrup, they headed over to a table. Hutch watched as his dark haired partner pushed the food around the plate, until finally he pushed it away, the food uneaten.

'OK Starsk. Spill it. What's on your mind?'

Starsky lifted pained eyes to his partner. 'Alex said the time of death was 03.30. What time was I sleep walking?'

The question took Hutch off balance. 'Hey, slow down there. What are you asking?'

Starsky sighed heavily. 'Its just I had weird dreams again last night. There was the usual nightmare with you strung up and me..........' His voice tailed off, unable to finish the sentence. Bracing himself, he continued 'But there was another dream. I was back with Sharpe. I'd been in that room with the electrics' he rubbed unconsciously at the two fading burn marks on either side of his spine. 'He was tellin' me to do things. I didn't want to, but I couldn't stop myself'.

'And you think you had something to do with this, buddy?' Hutch asked softly.

'I don't know. My heads still screwed up. I don't sleep, I can't think straight. There's only you to talk to about it all, an' you're not exactly A1 yourself'. There was a defeated tone to Starsky's voice. His eyes were downcast, unable to meet the ice blue of his partner's. 'You tell me. Is Sharpe still playing with me, even though he's dead?'

Hutch rubbed the tense muscles in his neck. He knew how much it had cost his partner to tell him what was worrying him, and at the back of his mind there was a small niggling doubt. The treatment the brunette had endured at the hands of Sharpe would have broken any man. That Starsky had been able to endure five days of the treatment and still be able to now function on any reasonable level was a miracle. But the doctors had warned them both that there might be deeper problems, which would surface as time went on.

Pushing the dark thoughts to the back of his mind, he smiled reassuringly at his partner. 'No Starsk', he replied firmly. 'It's done and finished with. We both survived and now it's time to move on. We've got this fantastic opportunity to relax. This murder is nothing to do with us. We can help Alex a little, but we don't get involved, OK?'

'OK' the brunette answered unconvincingly. 'we'll go see Alex, then the day is ours. How long before we get to Barbados?'

'Three whole days at sea, buddy, to rest, relax and soak up the sun'.


The two detectives met with the Bosun, going over the usual steps they would take at the start of a murder investigation — the background of the deceased, any motives for his death, list of passengers etc. Finally having given him as much information as they could, and promising to keep in touch, they left Alex's small airless office and made their way back up to the deck. For the rest of they day, they lazed on the sunbeds, the sun being hot, but with a cool breeze from the sea. They read books and dozed. Starsky looked over to his sleeping partner at one point and thought for perhaps the hundredth time how boy-like he was.

There was something about the blond hair, cut a little longer of late, and the wide expressive blue eyes that had women melting in their boots. In sleep, the face, which had recently looked older with worry lines, relaxed and Hutch was once more the picture of the 'boy next door'. He lay on his back, face upturned to the sun, his naturally pale skin taking on a rosy hue, hiding the remaining darker burn scars on his chest, back and sides.

Starsky dozed himself, but did not allow himself to fall into a deep sleep for fear of the returning nightmares.

As the sun started to dip below the horizon, the two men went in to shower and change for dinner, which was, as usual, wonderful. After taking in the show and a final round of drinks at the bar, they went back to the cabin. Once again their beds had been turned down and their cabin tidied by their cabin boy.

Undressing and moving to the wardrobe to hang up his dinner suit, Hutch dropped the hanger on the floor. Bending down to pick it up, he noticed the safety deposit box door was ajar.

'Hey, Starsk. Did you get somethin' out of the safe?' he asked.

'Nah, there's nothing in there except the travel stuff an' our shields, cuffs and guns, why?'

'The doors open. S'OK, I'll make sure its shut'.

Hutch made his way back into the main part of the cabin.

'You gonna be OK tonight, Gordo? No more wandering the decks?'

Starsky stretched back on his bunk. 'Well, I'm dog tired from doin' nothin' so hopefully I won't need any midnight exercise' he smiled, turning onto his front and pulling the sheet over his back, which was taking on a deep olive tone from the sun.

'Night Blondie' he murmured, already drifting towards sleep.

Hutch waited till he heard his partner's breathing even out, then padded into the bathroom, took two headaches pills and laid down on his own bunk, staring into the darkness as the lazy motion of the ship rocked him off to sleep.


Hutch didn't know how long he'd been asleep, or what time it was. He was woken by the door of the cabin opening, letting in the light from the corridor outside. He saw his partner's slim figure walking back into the room, where he lay back down on his bunk and resumed his sleep.

Where've ya been this time, buddy? And how long have ya been gone?

Hutch got off his bunk and quietly looked down at his sleeping partner. In the moonlight from the cabin window, he could see the outline of the handsome face against the pillow, the chocolate curls framing it against the white pillow. Hutch gently put his hand against the dark curls on the brunette's chest. The skin was cold, and although the air conditioning in the cabin was turned on, he knew the cold must have been from outside.

Checking once again that everything was OK with his partner, Hutch didn't notice the door of his cabin push open a crack, then close again just as quietly. He went back to his bunk, laid down, and closed his eyes.

How long he had been asleep he wasn't sure, but the cabin telephone jangled him awake, and Starsky reached for the receiver. Hearing muffled with sleep he heard Alex's insistent tone at the other end of the line. 'Dave, is that you. Oh thank God. There's been another murder, same deck. Can you come?'

Starsky put down the receiver as he saw his blond partner looking over at him. 'It's happened again' he said simply, before rushing to the bathroom and depositing last night's dinner.

Chapter 5

The MO was the same. The body was found at the stern end of deck seven, although this time, there were signs of a struggle before the victim had been strangled. Starsky and Hutch had made their way down to deck seven as soon as Starsky had recovered control of his stomach. Alex had met them in the stairwell and was with them now as they looked down at the body, pale and blue in the dawning light of day.

'Its just the same as last night' he was saying. 'He's been strangled and left and there are cuts in his chest'.

Hutch was bending over the body of the mid thirties blond man, examining the gashes on the chest. Again there were three distinct cuts, this time two parallel lines, with a third joining them at the bottom. Very like a letter U. He looked over to his partner, who was standing a way away from the body, ostensibly looking for any clues on the deck. Getting up, Hutch moved over to the smaller man. Up close he could see Starsky was shaking and pale, his breath uneven, as if he had run a race. He looked into those indigo eyes and saw only pain and hurt, The brunette running every possible bad scenario over and over in his mind

'Hey, Starsk. It's not what you think. It wasn't you'. He put his hand out to give a little comfort to his friend, but Starsky ducked away, angrily pulling his arm back out of reach. Hutch tried again, but ended by talking to his partners retreating back, as Starsky bolted for the open doorway.

Going reluctantly back to the crime scene, the blond cleared with Alex for the body to be moved to join it's companion in the morgue. Hutch went quickly in search of the brunette and found him sitting on the edge of his bunk in their cabin. He looked down at his partner, noticing the drooping shoulders and the ragged breathing. Starsky looked up at Hutch, his eyes full of pain and fear.

'Ya wanna tell me whether I sleep walked last night?'

Hutch swallowed carefully. 'Em, well, I saw you coming back into the cabin, but I don't know where you'd been, buddy'. Seeing the look of terror on the smaller man's face, he hurriedly went on 'You could have been out in the corridor, or on the top deck. You don't know and neither do I, so let's not second guess this shall we?'

'Yeah. But there's the possibility I was on deck seven, and you know it'. Starsky put his head in his hands. 'Jeez Hutch, I'm just not safe any more. What do I do?' His voice cracked and he lay back on the bunk, his back to his friend. The blond could see by the shivers running down the brunette's spine that Starsky was fighting to control his emotions. He knew better than to touch or console his friend at times like this. After years of developing his 'Starsky sense', he knew to back off and leave his smaller partner to find his own level.

Hutch sighed heavily. 'We carry on today like we're a couple of vacationers, which we are, and tonight, we'll take it as it comes, OK?'


During the rest of that day, Hutch had had a persistent headache as he watched his partner trying to relax and enjoy the sun. It tore at his heart strings to see the smaller man in so much pain. As if he hasn't been through enough, with Terri's death, then Sharpe, and now this. I wish I could help Ya, more, buddy. They tried to enjoy the sun, but Hutch was tense as he watched Starsky's body never once relax, the muscles continually bunching in his shoulders and back as evidence to the internal struggle still going on.

As night fell and they once more got ready for dinner, Starsky's mood became even darker and finally he asked whether Hutch would mind if he had his meal in the cabin.

'I can't face goin out tonight' he had explained. 'You go, if you want'.

'No, I'm bushed' the blond agreed, 'dinner here is fine'. He headed over to the cabin telephone and made the necessary arrangements. And so room service had delivered two trays, and the two men watched the television in their cabin until nearly midnight. It was an old black and white film 'Reach for the Sky' and Hutch, knowing how his friend enjoyed retro films, hoped it would lighten his mood. Finally, Hutch got up and stretched. He went into the bathroom and got himself ready for bed. Coming out of the small bathroom, he stopped in his tracks.

Starsky sat on the edge of the bed, staring down at the handcuffs in his hand.

'What're you doing with those buddy?' Hutch asked carefully.

Starsky looked up, a look of such loss and confusion on his face that Hutch felt a lump rise in his throat.

'I can't trust myself to go to sleep and not sleep walk. And if it is me.....'

Hutch sat down next to his friend. 'Starsk, it's not you, it could never be you. Just put the cuffs down and get ready for bed'.

Starsky became more agitated. 'Hutch, you can't watch me all night. You're more tired than I am. I worry about you Blintz. You're not sleeping because you're watching me. And you're not telling me that just a little bit of you isn't worried that I have turned into a raving psychopathic night time murderer' he shushed as Hutch started to reply.

'I've made my mind up. Just cuff me to the bed. Then you can get some sleep and I can rest easy knowing you're sleeping. And if there's no body in the morning, well, we got our answer'.

Hutch was silent. He was torn between doing what the brunette wanted and telling him not to be so damned stupid. But Starsky was right. There was a tiny bit of him that had that niggling doubt. No one knew what damage had been done to his mind during those five days in Guatemala. Even the doctors were unsure. What made it worse was the anger Hutch felt towards himself, for not believing in his friend implicitly. Is that because there's a chance Starsky is doing this, or is it because he strung you up and electrocuted you for three hours, and you can't forgive him for that?

The anguish must have shown on the blonde's face, because the brunette took matters into his own hands. He stripped off his tee shirt and shorts, but on his pyjama pants and sat back down. Snapping the cuffs onto his right wrist, he lay down on his back, looking for a suitable anchor point. Seeing the light fitting above his head, he raised his arms up threaded the cuffs through the loop of metal of the bracket, then once again looked back at his partner.

'Will ya just do it, Blintz, please' he pleaded.

With a heavy heart, Hutch leaned over the smaller man, grasped his left wrist and snapped the cuff closed on it. Looking down at his partner, seeing his bound by his own hand was almost ore than he could bear. He swallowed the lump in his throat.

'Your arms'll go to sleep before you do' he said. 'At least let me sort your pillows out'. He took the pillows off his own bunk and wedged them under Starsky's back and neck, so that the arms held above his head no longer put as much strain on the brunette's back and shoulders. His partner still looked uncomfortable, his chest splayed, so that Hutch could see the various scars he carried beneath the forest of hair on his chest, the flat tanned abdomen pulled taught Unable to cope with the view of his partner stretched out that way (God, you're a sick bastard Hutchinson), he turned away, turned off the light and got into his own bunk..

There was an uncomfortable silence, before a barely audible 'Thanks Hutch. G'night'.

Hutch buried his face in his pillow to stop the noise, as the tears fell unbidden. 'How's it come to this Starsk. God. How's it come to this?'

Chapter 6

Eventually Hutch had fallen into an uneasy sleep. Throughout the night he was woken by the man in the other bed. Starsky did not sleep peacefully. How can ya sleep trussed up like that anyway buddy? His head thrashed from side to side, and he muttered incomprehensible words. At one point he screamed and Hutch bounded out of bed, seeing in the moonlight that the brunette's face was wet with sweat. Hutch retrieved a cool damp cloth from the bathroom, and gently wiped the handsome face, murmuring nonsense in a comforting low voice. Whether Starsky heard him or not, he didn't know, but eventually the smaller man calmed and his face relaxed into a semi-peaceful sleep once again.

Hutch padded back to his bunk and lay down on his back, right arm behind his head as he closed his eyes once again, wondering just how much of the night was left. He was way more than uncomfortable with the knowledge that he had secured his partner to the bed, but knew he would be even more uncomfortable with Starsky's wrath if he unlocked the cuffs before morning. Sighing deeply, Hutch eventually drifted into his own troubled sleep, to be plagued by his own dark demons.

Later. How much later? The moon passed behind a few lonely clouds, blocking out the light from the room, as the door cracked open a little and a small figure insinuated itself into the cabin. Surefooted and quiet in the darkness, it made its way to the two sleeping men. Stopping to gaze in wonder at the dark haired man handcuffed to the bed, the figure smiled knowing that half the work had miraculously been done. He crossed over to the blond figure in the opposite bunk, taking a moment to admire the lithe Nordic body exposed by the sheets thrown back against the heat.

Pausing a moment as the blond moved in his sleep, the figure waited until he had quieted again before bringing out a large white handkerchief and a bottle of clear liquid. Deftly, it unscrewed the top of the bottle and poured a little of its contents onto the cloth. Careful not to inhale, it screwed the top back on the bottle and approached the supine detective. Swiftly, it placed the cloth over Hutch's mouth and nose. The ice blue eyes flew open at the foreign smelling substance invaded his senses, and Hutch thrashed his arms towards his attacker, but the chloroform was working too quickly. He had time only to look over at his partner secured on the other bed, before darkness overtook him and his body fell limp.

Grasping the tall detective under his arms, the surprisingly strong figure pulled his body off the bed and started dragging him to the door. It paused, breathing heavily, to open the door. The sudden influx of light roused Starsky from his sleep. Rolling over as much as his bound arms would allow, he managed to catch sight of Hutch's heals leaving furrows in the carpet as his body was dragged from the room.

Instantly awake, Starsky shouted, and tried violently to pull his arms free, but the cold steel dug into the flesh of his wrists. Calming for a moment, the brunette wondered what to do. What's goin' on now Blintz. Hell, can't we even have a vacation without our own personal drama any more? Hold on, I'm gonna get to you some how. He could see the key to the cuffs on Hutch's bedside cabinet, way out of his reach. Even if he was to knock it down onto the floor, he wouldn't be able to pick it up and get it into a position to unlock the cuffs. His fingers were numb from the long night's bondage. Sense flew out of the window as he started pulling once again wildly at the unforgiving metal, and he was rewarded by a trickle of blood inching its way down his forearm, towards his elbow from the torn flesh at his wrists. It glistened darkly in the dim light.

He calmed himself, allowing his ragged breaths to quiet. He looked up at the light fitting he was attached to on the wall. Studying it, he could see it was sturdy, but worth the effort of trying to dislodge it. He pulled experimentally with both hands at the same time. Bright white pains flashed down his hands and arms before he gave up. Experimentally, he raised his leg and kicked out above his head at the fixture. Because of the strength of the metal and the fact his feet were bare he managed only to break the bulb and a shard of glass fell, embedding itself in his right hand. He hissed in pain. Great, Starsk. What ya gonna do now? Saw off your hand? The light fitting was still stubbornly attached to the wall, and seemed to lie like a malignant thing over the brunette's head, taunting him. Closing his eyes, he tried to centre himself. C'mon Hutch, what would you do? You're the brains of the operation.

He looked over to the bedside cabinet again, his eyes resting on the telephone. The beginnings of a plan taking shape, he shuffled his legs around, until he could reach the phone with his bare foot. Hooking the telephone onto the floor, he manoeuvred the receiver to a distance he hoped he could shout into. Rolling onto his side as much as he could, he pulled the telephone round until he could see the numbers and, using his toe, pushed 9184.

He heard the ring tone, then the number connected, and after a couple of rings, distantly he heard a sleepy voice answer 'Hello, Ltnt Moore'.

Starsky shouted at the receiver 'Alex, its Dave Starsky. I need you to come up to my cabin quick'.

To his credit, Alex asked no questions. Starsky heard the click as the receiver was replaced, then he fell onto his back and waited.


Alex burst through the door, taking in the sight of Hutch's empty bed, and Starsky cuffed to his. He skidded to a halt.

'Do I want to know what going on here?' he asked carefully.

'The keys to the cuffs are over there' grunted the brunette.

Alex moved to the cabinet, collected the key and winced as he unlocked the cuffs, seeing Starsky's torn and bleeding wrists and the glass sticking out of the palm of his right hand. Starsky slowly brought his arms down to his sides, wincing at the flashing pains down his arms and chest, his breath whistling between his teeth. He lay for a moment, allowing the circulation to return bringing with it a more urgent burning pain before cautiously sitting up.

'Someone got into the cabin whilst we were asleep. They've taken Hutch' he explained to the Bosun. 'I think they drugged him coz he wasn't putting up a fight, he looked unconscious. God, I hope he was only unconscious! I've gotta find him' he tried to get off the bed, but collapsed back dizzy.

'You're not going anywhere till you've been to sick bay and had those hands seen too' Alex replied

'There's no time. I need to find Hutch' Starsky almost shouted, standing again. He made for the door as Alex's hand caught him on the shoulder.

'I'll get my men to do a preliminary sweep of the decks and interior. They know the ship better then you do. Just come with me and we'll let Doc Jackson do his stuff, then we can get to looking harder. Your partner's a tough guy. We'll find him'.

He ushered the curly haired man out of his cabin and down the corridor to the lift. Pushing the button for deck four, they descended and found their way to sick bay. Alex pounded on the door to Jackson's cabin at the rear of the sick bay. 'John' he shouted 'you're needed'

The Doctor opened the door squinting at the sudden bright light. Accustomed to being summoned at all hours, he quickly assessed the situation and pushed the semi-clad detective into the clinical room. Sitting on the edge of the examination table in his pyjama pants, Starsky was grateful that the doctor went swiftly to work without asking too many questions.

Doctor Jackson examined Starsky's wrists, cleaned the blood from them and looked again. 'Hm. These'll just need bandaging. The wounds aren't too deep, so I'll steri-strip 'em and bind them'. He looked next at Starsky's hand. Feeling around the protruding glass as Starsky winced and bit his lower lip, he muttered to himself. Picking up a syringe and a tiny bottle of fluid he crossed back to the brunette.

'I'll numb this, and then take out the glass. I'm afraid it's going to need stitching afterwards'. He glanced up at Starsky taking in the profusion of scars on his chest and arms. 'I can see you're no stranger to this procedure' he added with a grim smile.

'Occupational hazard' grunted Starsky, eyeing the needle. 'Still don't like needles though, so can we just get it done?' He looked away as the Doctor repeatedly pushed the needle into various sites around the wound infiltrating the margins of the wound with Novocaine.

'That should be it' the doctor said finally. Pushing the point of the needle into the palm of the detective's hand he asked 'Can you feel that?'

'Not a thing, thankfully'. Starsky remained quiet as the doctor extracted the glass and busied himself with sutures, gauze and tape. Satisfied finally that his patient was dealt with, he moved away to tidy up the room. Starsky looked down to see the bandages round his wrists and right hand, standing out bright white against his newly tanned skin. He chuckled. 'Well' he said, that's gonna put paid to an even tan'.

He levered himself off the table and nodded to Alex. 'Any news from your guys?'

The Bosun shook his head. 'They've done a preliminary search of all the decks, particularly deck seven, but nothing yet. You ready?'

The detective nodded and padded after the Bosun back up to the cabin to get dressed suitably to look for his friend.

Chapter 7

He'd smelt that smell before. Not the sickly sweet smell that had sent him to oblivion, but this new one; a crisp dry smell like something from his childhood. The comforting thought clashed jarringly with the situation he found himself in, but the smell filled his senses, if he could only remember what it was.

Other more pressing demands were making themselves felt on the blonde's body. The first was the increasing ache in his hands and arms. As Hutch's senses sharpened he realised he was held up by his wrists, roped together as they were and pulled above his head. He strained his eyes upwards and saw a tube or pipe of some sort between his bound hands holding him up. His back was rebelling too, the old wound not taking kindly to the enforced position. The hands themselves had taken on a bluish tinge, and he realised he had probably been in here for some time. His fingers were numb and his wrists were an angry red and swollen.

His head ached viciously from the after-effects of the chloroform and it was only in the last minute or so that he'd been able to move his eyes without the room taking a severe dip to one side or another. Looking down towards his feet, he realised he'd already lost his dinner. He shivered, although the room he was in was quite warm and as he looked around further he could make out banks and banks of bed linen neatly laundered and folded on the racking against the far wall. He was still clad in his dark blue pyjama pants, his feet were bare and his heals painful from being dragged along the carpet from his cabin.

Hutch closed his eyes trying to calm his breathing and heart, which was beating way too fast just at the moment. What the hell is going down here? He cast his mind back to the cabin a while ago. Was Starsky OK? Oh crap, he's till cuffed to the bed. God, I hope he's OK. Hope whoever took me left him alone.

The door to the laundry room opened a crack, releasing Hutch from his thoughts. A small figure entered the room and walked over to the bound detective. Once close enough, Hutch recognised him as their cabin steward, Ivan.

'Ivan, am I glad to see you' Hutch started. He was about to continue as the small Russian smiled, pulled back his fist and punched Hutch directly in the stomach, sending his breath whistling through his teeth. If he hadn't already lost his dinner, it would definitely have seen the light of day, as the bile rose in the blonde's throat. 'What the fuck.........' another blow to the same place and Hutch's world disappeared in a blaze of red agony as he fought once again to recover.

Ivan looked up into the face of the man he had come to despise. This tall blond Viking of a man epitomised everything that Ivan had come to loath about the German Reich. He had been orphaned as the Nazis had taken his father away and tortured him to death because of his hair colour; because of his skin colour; because of his size and because of his religion. The regime in Auschwitz had been none too kind on little Ivan either. His head shaved, he was starved and without the comforting touch of his mother, he had been left to fend for himself as all around him the tall, blond Aryan race proclaimed their superiority over the Russian Jews in their charge.

Ivan had taken it as his life's work to rid the world of as many of the Germans as was possible, his father always there, helping him to select his targets carefully. He had worked his way through Germany after liberation and into France, where he was schooled. It was in France that his father had first told him to seek out the Aryans in whatever disguise they took, and to avenge his death in any way he was told. It was from France also, that Ivan had had to flee from the police after the first fifteen or so deaths had been related to each other.

From there he went to England where another reign of terror ensued. The British police had been quicker to spot the pattern and within six or seven years, Ivan had had to move on again, this time to the USA. Having found work in Ithaca, NY State, he had kept up the same pattern of kills followed by onward transit, covering Denver, Houston and finally a little backwater, Oviedo in Florida. Time eventually ran out there too, the town too small and parochial to afford him enough cover, and so he had taken himself out to the East Coast and to the cruises ships. This was his first voyage, and the sight of all these bourgeois Nazis, throwing their money about and subjecting Ivan once more to a life of servitude had tipped the little Russian over the edge.

He listened now to his father standing at his side. This is another of them son. They killed me. They caused me pain. They caused you pain. Its time to avenge my death mojj dorogojj (my precious)

He looked now at the tall blond, swinging at the end of his rope, his head falling forward on his chest as he fought to get breath back into his body; the sweat running down the tall mans face and chest. He was satisfied as he saw the beginnings of the purple bruises that would form across the abdomen from the blows he had so far delivered. He licked his lips as he thought about all the rest of the delights he would mete out on this Germanskijj,

Hutch forced open his eyes, groaning at the knifing pain he felt in his stomach. Where was he? Oh yeah, laundry, with a psychotic midget. He tried to concentrate on what the man was saying.

'Sprichts Du Deutsch??' (Do you speak German?) No reply from the blond

'Antworte Mir' (Answer me). Hutch stared back at him a blank look on his face.

Finally Hutch cottoned on and, searching his high school languages, finally managed to answer. 'Eine Bisschen. Nicht gut' (A bit. Not well)

Swapping languages Ivan tried again 'Vous parlez français?' (Do you speak French?)

Hutch lifted his head 'Un peu, mais lentement' (A bit, but slowly) he stammered, wondering where this journey around Europe was going.

'êtes-vous américain?' (Are you American?)

Oui, je suis American'

'OK' Ivan switched thankfully to heavily accented English. 'My Father' he motioned to the empty space at his side, 'says that you are a Nazi and that you should die. I think I agree' the little man said thoughtfully.

Hutch looked around him. Seeing only Ivan in the room, he realized that his first thought 'psychotic' was probably right. His brain was fuddled by the mixture of chloroform and pain, and he was having problems concentrating on anything too much at the moment, the fire in his abdomen threatening to consume his consciousness, every movement sending fire coursing through his tortured muscles.

Screwing his eyes tight to help him clear his mind, he looked at the small man again. 'Ivan' he said, slowly and carefully, 'listen to me. I'm a police man from America. I've never been to Germany or Russia or France. I don't even know anyone there.

'You lie! You answered me in German and French. You know plenty'. He cocked his head on one side as if listening to another person next to him. 'My Father says you are Nazi. He saw you in Auschwitz. He saw you enjoying the killing'.

Oh fuck, thought Hutch, so this is what it's all about? It was almost laughable. On occasions when he and Starsky had had to go to a tourist spot either in LA or elsewhere, Germans almost always came up to ask him the time, or directions, and always in German. His looks were too typical of that race. It had happened again, but this time with painful consequences.

He tried to reason. 'Ivan, I only learned a few phrases at school. I'm American, from Duluth, Minnesota. I work as a police man in........' his words were cut off as another blow came from nowhere hand hit his midsection like a train. This time, he passed out almost straight away, as the pain sent rainbow explosions into his body and brain. His last thought as blackness consumed him was OK, Starsk, this hurt and I don't want to be a hero. I've had enough vacation. I wanna go home now.


Two decks up, the darker of the two detectives was flinging on a tee shirt and shorts, as Alex Moore stood calmly by the door. Starsky pushed his feet into his brown leather sandals and reached towards the safety deposit box.

'Can you get me the Captain on the telephone?' he asked.

Alex looked confused. 'Yes, but why?'

'Coz I'm outa my jurisdiction an' I need to carry my gun. Your Captain should be able to give me permission' he explained as Alex headed for the telephone, dialing the number.

Five minutes later a disgruntled Captain Black had listened to his Bosun's report and spoken with Starsky, then reluctantly given his permission, urging that no-one was to go blowing his ship to smithereens. Starsky had tried to assure him that that wouldn't happen, but honestly, he wasn't sure. At the back of his mind he didn't really care, all he wanted was to get his partner back, wherever he was. God, he can't be too far away. We're on a ship for fucks sake. It aint that big!

He and Alex decided that whilst half the security team would start a search of every cabin and public area, Alex and Starsky would start to interview everyone, starting with the crew, as they were the easiest to corral and order.


Hutch was having a hard time breathing. He felt as though his belly had swollen to twice size, invading his chest space. Ivan had taken another three swings at the blond, even though he had lost consciousness after the first one. It didn't seem to bother the little Russian, fixated as he was by the zeal of killing yet another Nazi. His father was telling him what a good boy he was and how proud he was making him, so why stop?

Finally, out of breath and sweating he rested, watching the tall form as it hung limp from hands that had now turned navy blue. He stayed there for perhaps 30 minutes, watching as slowly Hutch's breathing calmed and finally the pain filled eyes opened once more.

'I am so glad you can be with me for the next part' he said conversationally. 'When we were in the camps, you Nazis always liked to mark us as Jews, permanently, so that everyone would know who and what we were'. From the rack of linen at the side of him, he produced a wicked looking pointed blade, mounted on a handle perhaps six inches long. In the dim light it glinted dully and Hutch could see speck of dark on the blade. Shit, its dried blood from the other victims. Ivan advanced towards Hutch and brought the knife up to eye level.

Chapter 8

Starsky surveyed the long queue of crewmembers lined up outside the makeshift incident room. They had taken over a bar area on deck seven and one by one each person was going through a carefully worded questionnaire as to their whereabouts over the past couple of nights. Alex's staff were cross checking answers with staff rotas and work patterns as each questionnaire was completed, eliminating those members of crew who had been on duty with others and those in sick bay.

The process was necessarily lengthy and with each passing moment the brunette's heart rate increased. He was used to running the streets. He was used to action; getting into his Torino and giving high speed pursuit down crowded Bay City Streets, not standing around and waiting. He was used to working with his partner. He had never been any good at the paper work. That was why he and Hutch made such a perfect combination. Starsky was the hotheaded go get 'em type, ready to charge off at a moment's notice whilst Hutch had always been the one with the calming influence. The one who had paused and thought things through. The perfect cool foil to the brunette's fire. Starsky's gut knotted at his thoughts. He missed Hutch with an emotion so powerful that he couldn't put words to it. If he had his left arm cut off, he wouldn't miss it as much as he missed the presence of the blond. He paced backwards and forwards. Finally he could stand the inactivity no longer and searched out the Bosun.

Alex was with a member of the catering staff, filling in the final bit of their questionnaire. He looked up at Starsky's approach, heedful of the pain the dark haired man was so evidently feeling.

'How's it going' asked Starsky

Alex sighed. 'Slowly, but we are eliminating people as we go on. We just need time'.

'Yeah, well that's one luxury Hutch might not have' spat Starsky, hammering his fist down on the table. Pausing to compose himself he continued 'Alex, I'm sorry. You're doing everything you can, I know. But I gotta do somethin'. I'm no good at just sittin' and waitin'. I gotta go look, poke around, anythin' other than standin' here'. His dark eyes pleaded silently with the Bosun.

Alex nodded, feeling the depth of commitment the man had for his missing friend. He had noticed it right from the very first meeting in the casino and bar, when he had seen the interaction between the two. They seemed joined almost symbiotically. Starsky would start a sentence and Hutch would finish it. They would both smile at the same time at something as yet unsaid, as if a moment of telepathy had occurred. At first, Alex had wondered at their relationship. Were they gay? Seeing them out on deck eyeing up the ladies, and the way they were around the opposite sex at dinner, or in the casino, however, he had come to the definite conclusion they weren't. He was almost envious of the relationship they shared, and wondered at what experiences they had had to make them so close.

The Bosun rose and walked with the detective to the door of the bar. He handed Starsky a bunch of keys. 'These are the keys to all the private areas on the ship. This one', he pointed one out, 'is the master key to all the galleys, laundries and porterage areas. Help yourself, but take this with you. If you're stopped show them this'. He handed Starsky a credit card shaped pass. 'Tell them to check with me if they're in any doubt, but they shouldn't stop you'.

Smiling his thanks, Starsky grabbed the keys and pass and exited the room.


Down on deck five, Hutch eyed the approaching Russian, licking dry cracked lips. The knife seemed to take on a malignant life of its own, as it came nearer and nearer to the bound blond. The pain in his arms stomach and hands temporarily forgotten, Hutch tried once again to reason with the little man.

'Ivan, there's no one else here. Its just me an' you. You don't wanna do this. I wasn't in Auschwitz. I'm too young to have been there. Look at me, we can work this out', he pleaded.

The Russian however, was listening to a different voice, his Father's commands ringing loudly in his head. That's it, my son, mark him, like he marked us. Ivan looked towards his left forearm, seeing the pale blue numbers indelibly carved into his skin — his serial number. He had been reduced from a human, to a Jew, to a number and now this Nazi would pay.

He brought up the knife and as if caressing a lover, held it against the skin of Hutch's immobile left forearm, looking all the time into the ice blue eyes above him. Slowly he pushed the blade into the flesh and drew it downwards, leaving a long bloody trail behind it. Hutch closed his eyes, feeling a tired sickness spread through his body. At the first movement of the blade, his eyes flew open again as he hissed through his teeth at the sharp, insistent pain. Blood started to flow down his arm, a thin trickling which tickled and annoyed, feeling warm and sticky against his skin, damp from sweat.

The Russian drew back as if to admire his handiwork. 'That one was for my Father', he explained softly. He brought the blade down, now, to Hutch's chest, and held it there a moment. Hutch tried not to breathe, so that the blade would not pierce his skin, but the small man once again pushed the point into the blonde's flesh. Starting high up between the bound man's nipples, he traced a horizontal line, then drew the blade away. The pain, in itself was nothing compared to what Hutch had already suffered, but it had him teetering once again on the brink of unconsciousness. He was sweating now, and the salty fluid was stinging the wound on his arm and that on his chest. The Russian chose a point midway in the slash he had just made, and drew the blade once again over Hutch's taught skin in a downwards movement, making a crude T shape on the blonde's body.

The pain was enough to send Hutch spiraling down into blackness again as he let out one, gut wrenching scream.


Wondering where to start, Starsky decided to work his way up from the bottom decks of the ship in systematic fashion. He ran down the stair well as fast as he could finding his way to the lowest deck — deck three. Checking what was there, he realised these were crew quarters, and those had already been thoroughly checked by the ships own security detail.

Backtracking he went up one level to deck four. OK, sickbay to the left. Starsky walked into the room, just as John Jackson was exiting his office.

'Ah, Mr Starsky. Having trouble with those wrists?' he asked pleasantly.

'No, nothing like that Doc, they're fine', he lied, as he felt the skin on the palm of his hand pulling uncomfortably. 'My friend is missing and I'm just tryin' to search all the room to see if I can find anything. You seen anyone odd hereabouts? Anyone new?'

The doctor paused. 'We took on a bunch of new crew at Canaveral. I haven't seen all of them yet, but can't say I've noticed anything out of the ordinary. I'll go through the manifests, and if I find anything I'll let you know'.

The brunette nodded his thanks and left, searching next the morgue and vast refrigeration rooms on the fourth deck. He found nothing as he moved from room to room, frustration growing with every door he closed. God Hutch, where are ya, buddy. Just hang on an' I'll find ya, but ya gotta hang in there.


One deck up, Hutch was no longer hanging, though. Taking his chance whilst the blond was unconscious, the small Russian had cut him down, letting the body fall to the deck with a satisfying thud. Now was the time for the coup de gras. He wanted so much to see the Nazi suffer and to finally watch the light in those pale blue eyes die for the last time.

He manhandled the dead weight of the blond into the middle of the deck, and began to secure Hutch's feet to two of the fixed racks opposite, so that they were spread about 24 inches apart. Moving to the blonde's head, he pulled the arms once more over the head and a little to the sides and secured those too to the racking behind him. He stood back to gaze down at his captive, bound now like a starfish, but not so tightly that there was no play in the bonds. There was a purpose to his actions.

He sat back on his heels and waited, watching the Blonde's chest rise and fall, the breathing uneven and ragged. The wound on the left arm gaped open a little and was still bleeding freely, as were the wounds on the chest. Hutch's stomach was now a mass of purple and blue bruises and was swollen on the right hand side. Ivan stared at the skin before him, the very paleness seeming to mock him, reliving over and over again every injustice he had ever felt, until he felt he would burst with the emotion. He was so close to making this Nazi pay for everything done to him, his father and the entire Jewish race.

Very slowly consciousness returned and Hutch forced his eyes open a little. It took a moment to register that he was no longer in a vertical position. Although he realised he was still bound, he found the hard metal deck pitifully comfortable against his aching body. He tried to raise his head a little to see if he was alone, sensing that he probably was not. The small movement caused a myriad of pains to blossom across his body, from the sharp, insistent pains from the cuts in his chest, to the now almost unbearable ache in his abdomen.

Great, there's the little weasel. Now what's he gonna do? Shit. Starsk, if you're gonna find me buddy, now would be a real good time. I hurt too much to keep this up much longer. Hurry.

Ivan saw that his captive was awake, and excitedly stood to put in place the last part of his plan. Hutch watched with a fatalistic interest as the small man busied himself with a plank of wood and the knife. The wood was perhaps six inches wide and 24 inches long. Set into its flat surface was a tube fastened in a vertical position, so that it protruded from the surface of the wood by a couple of inches. The Russian flicked open the wicked four inch blade of his knife and inserted the handle of the knife into the tube to that the blade stood up proud from the tube and wood.

Ivan pushed the whole assemblage over to the blond, and once again, in a conversational manner, began to explain what would happen next.

'Father says that you must arch your back for me now, please' the polite ending to the order seeming incongruous against what Hutch was being asked to do.

'Fuck you' rasped the blond, patience with the small man gone.

'Father says if you don't the knife will cut you all the quicker. Father doesn't want that to happen, and neither do I' he pushed his hand under Hutch's body and hefted upwards, sliding the wood, knife and all into place in the centre of Hutch's back, a little way from the blonde's arched spine.

Hutch suddenly realised that to relax even an inch would push the blade into his back. He was tied down, arched over the infernal metal as the Russian smiled down at him.

'Eventually, your muscles will tire and you will start to collapse onto the knife. As you do, your own weight will stab the knife into your back. You seem like a very fit man, so I wonder how long that will take. I'm sorry I can't be here to see all of the show, but I have work to do and cabins to clean, so goodbye for now, I shall be back to see you later'.

And with that, he rose, leaving the room and closing the door behind him, leaving Hutch in the darkness once more.

Chapter 9

Starsky was getting more and more anxious with each room he searched, as one by one he drew a blank. He had moved up now to deck five and was starting with the Reception area and bars. Again after a thorough search, he found nothing, and kicked out in anguish at a convenient table, overturning it with a crash. Looking round, he saw that no one was around, and bent down to retrieve the piece of furniture and right it.

He carried on up the corridor, seeing more and more cabins to each side of him. These were passenger cabins, and he knew he had absolutely no jurisdiction to barge into any of them to search them. That would come later, if he didn't find Hutch in the mean time, when a member of Alex's team would accompany him. He ploughed his way on up the corridor looking left and right, almost giving up and turning round before he saw a door marked laundry to his right.


Hutch's muscles were tiring. How long had he been in this impossible position? He was braced on his buttocks, shoulders and the back of his head, arched over the knife at his back, and secured there by ropes. He could feel its point on his skin and knew it was only a matter of time now before he would have to relax and the metal would skewer him. Not only were the muscles in his legs and back screaming for relief, his tortured abdomen was also giving him grief, the bruises pulling unmercifully and the right hand side of his stomach now tight and aching abominably.

He had tried shouting for help, but the acres of linen within the room deadened any noise and he knew that unless his partner could find him very soon, all Starsky would find would be a Hutch Kebab.

His muscles had started to tremble, the build up of lactic acid playing its devilish dance in the fibres. His left shoulder slipped a fraction on the metal of the deck, and Hutch let out a scream as he felt the blade point penetrate his flesh. Unable to move to get any better purchase on the deck, he tried to stay still, but his traitorous body was having none of it. After hours of confinement in the bonds, the muscles and sinews were rebelling, the trembling developing into out and out shakes, which jarred his shoulders further and further away. Frantically Hutch tried to get a grip on the cold metal beneath him. But there was no way the blond detective could grasp even an inch more traction and with a final strangled scream, he felt the knife plunge all the way into his back, entering with a fierce fiery pain which left him gasping, tears forming in his pale blue eyes. In the darkness, his final thought was for his partner. Sorry Gordo, I tried, but you're on your own now.


Starsky moved towards the door of the laundry room, fumbling to find the master key. Inserting it into the lock, he cautiously opened the door. It was pitch black inside and the brunette searched around on the wall next to the door for the light switch. Grasping his Beretta in his relatively uninjured left hand, he threw the switch and the room was flooded with light.

At first, all Starsky saw was rack upon rack of bed linen. He inched gingerly into the room, gun now cupped in both hands and pointed skywards. Moving more quickly now he took up a stance at the head of one of the rows of racking, back against the rack and knees bent as he steadied himself. Quick as lightening, he turned, crouched in firing position and brought the gun down.

What he saw made his heart stop. Hutch was lying spread-eagled on the floor in a pool of blood, ropes securing him to the fixed racking by his wrists and ankles.

Wedging the gun into his waistband, he hurried forward and dropped onto his knees beside his partner's body, hardly daring to touch it for fear of what he might find. Hesitantly, he reached out and gently pushed his fingers against the carotid in the blonde's neck. Searching, he finally found a weak, thready pulse. He bent down to cup Hutch's face in his hands, looking down at the wounds on his chest and arm and the discoloured hands and wrists. There was way too much blood to have come from those wounds, deep as they were. Where's it all coming from Blondie?

'Hutch, can you hear me? Hutch, I need you to wake up for me Blintz. Where are ya hurt? Aw, come on Hutch, please wake up'. He gently patted the face, waiting for any sign of life.

Hutch was riding a cloud. He was under water. He was in a furnace. He knew he shouldn't be in any of those places, but they were all far more comfortable than where he knew he should be. He'd finally given in to the pains his body had borne for so long. He was too tired and wanted to sleep. He wanted everything to go away, but he knew that by going away he'd never see his partner again. And somehow, the pain of loosing Starsky was more than the sum of all his bodily pains put together.

Very slowly, a voice penetrated the fog that had taken over Hutch's mind, stuffing the blonde's head with cotton wool. He knew the voice and wanted to answer it, but it seemed to be so far off, and he couldn't shout so loud. He wished the voice would come nearer so that he could answer it, but just breathing hurt like the devil and he wanted the pain to stop. But the voice wouldn't go away. He thought he should try and listen a bit more carefully and concentrated on it one more time. Yes. He did recognise the voice. He shouted at the top of his voice for his partner.

To Starsky, the shout came out as a whispered 'Starsk?'

'Hey Blondie. I got ya, partner. I got ya. Just stay with me here. I need to know where you're hurt. Can ya tell me, huh?'

Again a whisper 'Back......knife........stuck' the effort cost Hutch dearly and his breathing hiked up a notch as the pain redoubled its efforts to cut him in two.

Starsky looked down, noticing for the first time the piece of wood protruding from under his partner's body. 'Where's the knife Hutch? Are you lead on it?'

The ice blue eyes cracked open a little and he concentrated on the sound of Starsky's voice. With an almost superhuman effort he forced his mouth to form words coherant enough for the brunette to understand. 'Knife was in w wood. He p pushed it under m me. Couldn't keep off it.......its in m my back' he gasped.

Understanding the situation, Starsky dived for the telephone on the wall by the side of the door, dialling the security office. The phone was answered on the second ring 'Security, Morgan here'.

'This is Dave Starsky. Can you get an urgent message to Alex Moore to say I've found my partner, then get Doctor Jackson up to the laundry room on deck five quickly''.

'Certainly Sir. Is that the forward or aft laundry room?'

'How the fuck do I know' shouted the brunette. He opened the door and looked at the number on the cabin door opposite. 'Its opposite cabin 5467. Hurry' and slammed the receiver down.

Running back to his partner, Starsky gently undid the ropes binding Hutch to the racking, noticing the state of his hands and wrists, which were blue and swollen to almost twice their normal size. God, Blondie, what have they done at you?' All the time speaking comforting words in a low even voice, he proceeded to check over the rest of the body. He didn't know if Hutch could hear him or not, he seemed to be in limbo, between consciousness and blackness. Once or twice as he moved a limb, Hutch gave a low, weak moan, which cut the smaller man to the core. Starsky was worried not only about the knife impaling the blond, but also the state of Hutch's stomach, which instead of being a flat muscular plain, was discoloured and swollen. He suspected some internal injury, but wasn't a medical man. No, that's your department, Blintz.

After freeing his friend, all Starsky could do was to sit by his side, hand on the blonde's shoulder. Ordinarily, he would have cradled his head, or pulled him up so that he was in Starsky's lap, but that wasn't an option this time and Starsky was too afraid of doing further damage to move any part of his partner's body more than a couple of inches. Craving the touch as an addict craves the next fix, he knew that by touching his partner, by laying his hand on the blonde's body, he could connect and through that connection could sustain the other until help arrived.


Starsky sat on the floor next to Hutch's body, time seeming to extend beyond all reasoning. As he watched the blond fight for each laboured breath, he thought back to all the times it had been Hutch comforting him. He started to talk — anything to try and keep his partner conscious, terrified that if Hutch passed out, he may never wake up again.

'Hey Blondie. Remember that time at the Italian Restaurant? All you'd wanted was scrambled eggs, but nah, I had to have Italian. Didn't realise they were planning to do a job on the Vic Monty. I'm gonna look after you like you looked after me then. Do you remember packing all those table cloths against my back?' He chuckled at the memory. 'There were so many at the end, I could hardly lie on that damn couch!'

'And that time Bellamy did a number on me. Do you remember cruisin' the streets lookin' for him? Ya never gave up on me. What did ya say? Its always harder on the ones' he choked on the words.

'Left behind' a feather light whisper floated on the air between them 'Not goin' anywhere'. Hutch gasped 'Just k keep talkin'. Need to hear your lousy v voice'.

'I'm right here, Blintz. Ain't goin' nowhere. Leastwise not without you. Ya know, I never wanted to come on this stupid cruise. I didn't want us to get so close again'. Starsky put his head in his hands. 'My head just keeps goin' back to Guatemala, an what I did to ya. I didn't think I could live with myself — still don't sometimes. I hurt you so bad. And knowing that hurts me more than anything. I thought if we weren't so close, no one could use either of us again, like Sharpe used me. I wanted to kill myself'.

Hutch was struggling to lift up his head to see his partner, but the effort was too much for him. Instead, he closed his eyes, focussing on the right words. 'If ya killed yourself', he gasped in pain before continuing 'you'd kill me too'.

Chapter 10

The door to the laundry room flew open and the welcome figures of Alex Moore and Doctor Jackson cannoned into the room. Jackson was at once on his knees beside the wounded detective.

'Careful Doc. From what I understand, he's got a knife stuck in his back and it's attached to that piece of wood stickin' out underneath him'.

The doctor nodded his understanding and continued his preliminary examination. Although he noted the condition of the blonde's wrists and hands, he made more of the abdomen, gently pressing on the right side. Hutch's eyes flew open and he let out a strangled scream, sweat beading on his forehead. 'Hmm, sorry son, its going to be OK, just try to relax. Good. Looks like a ruptured spleen. We need to see to that immediately, otherwise his blood pressure will drop suddenly and we'll loose him'. He signalled to the two orderlies who had arrived with him. 'We need to get him up onto the stretcher now, but we mustn't dislodge the knife in his back. You take hold of his body; I'll steady the wood and knife. That'll have to come out in theatre'. The two orderlies, Starsky, Moore and the doctor all got into position. 'Can we all lift together please, on my count. One.....two....three and lift'.

The pain of the move, gentle as they all were, was more than the injured detective could bear and with a last gasp of pain, he thankfully lost consciousness.

As the stretcher was moved away, Starsky stared down at Hutch's blood pooled on the deck and knew he had to be the one to find the monster who had done this to his friend, anger welling inside him. He trotted by the side of the doctor as Hutch was moved swiftly into sick bay, Jackson darting to one side, giving orders to ready the operating theatre as he started his scrub routine. Starsky was once again by the blonde's side, holding the grossly swollen hand carefully and looking for signs of life. Finally he turned to the doctor.

'Can you give him anything to bring him round. I need to get a description of the man who did this to him'.

Jackson looked at him aghast. 'No, certainly not. Your friend needs emergency surgery now. To give him any drugs now would interfere with anaesthetic. You'll have to wait until afterwards, I'm afraid'. The doctor was not a cruel man. He realised just how much Hutch meant to the dark haired man, and said more gently 'You can remain with him until we take him into theatre, but after that, I suggest you go back to your cabin and get some rest — you've had a bad experience. I can give you some tranquillisers if you like, or something to make you sleep?'

Starsky smiled his thanks. 'No, no drugs Doc, I need to keep a clear head'. He paused before asking quietly 'Will he make it?'

'He's young and strong, but he's going to need a lot of luck to pull through this. From what I can see, the spleen is ruptured and needs to be removed. I'll check for damage to the liver as well. The wounds on his arm and chest will need to be cleaned and sutured, and I'll have to check his hands thoroughly to rule out any nerve damage. It's the knife I'm worried about. Getting it out without causing further damage will be difficult. He's going to need a blood transfusion. What type is he? Do you know?'

'A+, same as me'.

'Then we may need to borrow some of yours. I'll have the nurse check our stocks. Now' Jackson had completed his scrub and was being helped into a fresh green gown and gloves. 'Say goodbye to your friend, Mr Starsky and we'll take it from here'. He held up a hand as he saw the brunette start to speak. 'Go back to your cabin and wait. We'll let you know as soon as we're done, but its probably going to be another three or four hours'. He turned his back and disappeared into the theatre.

Starsky took one more look at Hutch, touched the pale face gently and bent over the body. Getting as close as he could, he whispered into the blonde's ear 'Hang in there Blintz. Ya can't leave me, you know that', then he backed away as the orderlies wheeled the body through the doors.


Following Alex Moore back up to his cabin, Starsky was overcome with a bone crushing weariness. He was worried for his partner and hated feeling like there was nothing he could do. All the times he had had to wait at Memorial whilst his friend was being treated he'd always had Huggy or Dobey there lending support. Hell, there had even been that lovely old lady who'd danced and got him chicken soup! Now he was on his own, with no familiar faces to help.

They stopped outside his cabin. Alex looked back at the brunette, concern showing in his face. 'I'll be back in a minute. Just got to sign out, then I'll come and keep you company, OK'

Starsky nodded and opened the cabin door. He noticed that once again, it had been cleaned and tidied, and heard sounds from the tiny bathroom. Looking through the doorway, he acknowledged the cabin steward. 'Oh Hi Ivan. Thanks for that. Erm. You'll only need to make up one bunk tonight — Hutch is in the infirmary'.

The small Russian gave him a peculiar look and, thrusting his cleaning equipment into his trolley rushed out of the cabin. Starsky stared after him. OK. Was it something I said?


Throughout the rest of the day, Moore and Starsky sat in the cabin, a bottle of Scotch between them. Starsky told Moore of the history he and his partner had had. Of some of the escapades they had shared, although he barely touched on the events of the previous four months. Moore was impressed with the depth of commitment they obviously shared.

Starsky was on edge. He needed to be doing something. He needed to have something to occupy the empty hours that stretched before him until he had news of his partner. The time jangled him, an itch deep inside his stomach needing scratching. He had paced the small cabin constantly until Alex had told him he would get a tranquilliser himself if the brunette didn't sit down. That pacing wouldn't help Hutch and that Starsky needed to keep himself well and rested for the hunt for Hutch's attacker. The curly haired man saw the sense in Alex's words, but it made it no less difficult to sit and watch the clock.

Finally, the cabin telephone rang and Starsky's hand flew out, grasping it like it a drowning man would grasp a life preserver. He heard Jackson's voice on the other end.

'Dave? You can come down now. We've finished. I'll tell you everything when you get down here. He's made it so far, but he isn't out of the woods yet'.

The two men ran down the corridor and took the stairs two at a time as they made their way to sick bay. Starsky flung open the door and barged in, much to the surprise of a couple of passengers waiting for an early evening appointment.

Pushing past them, he entered the inner room just as the still unconscious body of his friend was being placed carefully in a bed against the far wall. He waited impatiently whilst Jackson and the nurses fussed around the bed, checking monitors, drip flows and oxygen rates, before Jackson beckoned him forward.

Starsky looked down at the pale form in the bed. Hutch's face was peaceful, the blond hair brushed back from his forehead. Seeing him like that, Starsky thought, not for the first time, that he looked like a little boy in a big man's body. Looking further he saw the drips going into the wrists of both hands, one for a clear fluid, one for blood. An oxygen mask covered the mouth and nose and there ware bandages all over the torso, the biggest of which covered almost all of the right side of the body.

The doctor came to stand at the side of the bed. 'Your friend has been incredibly lucky', he said. 'I've had to remove his spleen, which had ruptured, and I've evacuated the blood away. It was contained in the sac that coats the spleen, so luckily it was contained. He'll have to be careful to avoid the flu or other infections. Fortunately his liver was not compromised either by the blows he suffered to his stomach, or by the knife I managed to extract. That didn't hit any vital organs either. I've sutured the wounds on his chest and arm. Although the wound on his chest was deep, it should leave minimal scarring — I've used a continuous suture to help in that respect.

As for the wound on his arm, that was very deep — down to the bone in places. That, coupled with the injuries to his hands and wrists make it difficult to assess whether there will be any lasting limitations to movement and sensation. You'll have to see a neurologist when we dock in Bridgetown tomorrow. As regards his prognosis, if he makes it through the next 24 hours, he should make a full recovery. I've given him five units of blood so far. I expect to give him another two after this, so I'll need to take some from you to replenish our stocks if I may'.

Starsky nodded absently, concentrating on the blond in front of him. Gently he touched the forehead, making small stroking movements, before bringing his own bandaged hand down to take hold of his friend's.

'Hutch, can you hear me?' he whispered.

'I'm afraid he'll be out cold till tomorrow' the doctor explained.

'I don't think you understand', Starsky said. 'If I can't get to speak to him now, tomorrow'll be too late. As soon as we dock, his attacker will take off and I'll never find him'. He looked to the doctor with pleading eyes. 'Ya gotta give him something to wake him up, if only for a few minutes. Please'.

Jackson hesitated. 'I don't think you realise how much you will compromise his position if I give him a stimulant now, or how much pain he'll be in whilst he's awake'.

Starsky swallowed, weighing up the options. What you want Blondie? Do I ask the Doc to wake you, knowing its gonna hurt ya? And am I goin' after this guy for you, coz you'd do the same thing if I was in your position. Or am I doin' this to make me feel better, to make up for what I did to ya? Help me, please. He waited a moment. Gathering himself and trusting his instinct he made a decision.

'Its what he'd want me to do, Doc. Give him the smallest dose you can, I just need to speak to him for a couple of minutes, then I'll leave, I promise'.

Jackson looked unconvinced, but seeing the steely glint in the brunette's dark blue eyes, he realised argument would be pointless. He crossed to the drug cupboard and pulled a small amount of a drug into a syringe. Coming back to the bed he explained. 'When I give him this, he'll be conscious for perhaps five minutes. How much sense he will make I don't know. And for the record, I don't approve'.

Starsky nodded and took hold once again of the blonde's hand as he watched the doctor push the drug into the port on the side of Hutch's drip. He waited a moment, not really knowing what to expect, but bracing himself for the pain he would necessarily inflict on his partner.

A few minutes passed, which seemed to the brunette like hours. Eventually Hutch gave a low moan and his head moved a little on the pillow. Starsky was immediately there, murmuring comforting words as he leaned down low, next the taller man.

'Hutch, can you hear me? Hutch, I need you to open your eyes buddy'.

The head moved a little more and a grimace of pain appeared on the once peaceful features. Starsky swallowed and tried again a little louder.

'Hey Blintz, wakey wakey. I need you to open your eyes, Blondie'. He was rewarded with a tiny view of ice blue as Hutch cracked his eyes open a little, gasping in pain. 'Starsk?' he whispered then bit back a moan. '.....hurts'.

Quickly Starsky leaned closer. 'Sorry Blintz, I know it hurts, but it's only for a minute then ya can go back to sleep. I need your help buddy. Can ya tell me who did this? Did you see 'em. How many? A description, a name?'

Hutch moaned again and licked his dry lips, his head moving from side to side on the pillow, his hair taking on a darker golden hue as he started to sweat. 'Name?' he whispered.

Starsky became more persistent, knowing each extra minute hurt his partner more.

'Hutch' he said louder. 'Did ya get a name. A name, Hutch?'

'Yeah, name'.

Starsky knew how far he could push his partner. That sometimes Hutch responded more to a sharp command, like when he had been hooked on the heroin, Feeling like a complete bastard, he tried one last time. 'OK Hutchinson, the name, now. Come on Blintz, tell me' he was almost shouting'.

Hutch cracked pain filled eyes open a little more and a shadow of a smile played over his features. 'An' you say I sound like d Dobey when I shout?' he gasped, a spasm making him writhe on the bed. Finally he relaxed a little and motioned the brunette closer. 'Ivan. He s said I w was German'.

Starsky looked unbelievingly. 'What, Ivan the cabin steward?'

Hutch had just enough left in him to nod and whisper 'Ya got a lousy b bedside m manner before sleep overtook him.

Chapter 11

Starsky looked over to the Bosun an incredulous look on his face. 'He says it's Ivan, our cabin steward. Something about Hutch being German? I don't understand. Can you pull the file on Ivan, Alex?'

Moore nodded, and with a final backward glance at his now sleeping partner, they headed for the door. God, I only saw the little weasel in my cabin a while ago, acting like nothing was wrong. Both men made their way up to Alex's office and he started searching his files. Eventually, the Bosun pulled out a buff coloured folder and started to read.

'Seems Ivan Petrovich joined the crew in Canaveral. He's a new recruit to the cruise line and as yet we have very little information on him. He was taken on as a cabin steward because of his ability with languages. Says here he speaks Russian, Yiddish, French and German as well as English. Age 43. Religion.......'

'Jewish' Starsky finished for him.

'How d'you know that?

'He speaks Yiddish and he has a Russian last name. Just put two and two together. He's 43, you say. Does it give a place of birth?'

'Yes, Leningrad'

'I think I'm getting a picture here, but we need to find the little weasel. We need to do a systematic search of the ship. Can you get your men together for a briefing. But keep it low key. We don't want Ivan to get wind of what we're doing, OK?'


An hour later, Starsky stood in front of the 30 strong security detail of the MV Adonis. Alex had introduced him and passed the small microphone over to the brunette, who was now eyeing it suspiciously. Finally he started.

'Thank you very much for attending. My name is Detective Sergeant David Starsky of the LAPD. You will all know about the murders which have taken place on board in the last two days. My partner, Detective Sergeant Ken Hutchinson has been the latest attack victim. He's still alive, but in a bad way. I've been able to speak to him and he's identified the attacker as Ivan Petrovich, a cabin steward on deck eight. Petrovich knows that Detective Hutchinson survived the attack so I would think he will be hiding out somewhere. I found my partner in the laundry room on deck five. I need you to pair off and take one deck each, one man checking every cabin on the port side of the ship, the other doing the same on the starboard side. The remaining members will take all common spaces. If we all start at the same time at the' he paused looking for the correct terminology before giving up and continuing 'pointy end, we should be able to flush him out. But when you corner him, he's mine, OK? No one is to tackle him without me there. Got it?'

He saw a host of nodding heads as he motioned for the Bosun to take over. Moore quickly read out a list of names, assigning men to the various decks and areas. Finally he said 'OK men, I'll give you fifteen minutes to get into position, then we start. I make the time 19.00. Go'.

Everyone moved away as Starsky looked towards the Bosun. I'm going back to that laundry room, see if I can pick anything up'.

Moore tossed a walkie talkie to the brunette. 'Keep in touch. I'll be on channel 18 if you need me. Good luck'.


Starsky walked cautiously down the long corridor back to the laundry room on deck five. He checked his watch. 18.55. Five minutes and the sweep would begin. He paused outside cabin 5467 and looked over to the laundry room door. It was closed and he inched it open a little at a time, gun in hand. He checked he had a full clip and thumbed off the safety, cupping the weapon in both hands. His sore right palm protested the movement, but Starsky ignored it, moving silently into the room.

Someone had switched the light off and he groped for the switch. Finding it, he flicked it to the on position, but nothing happened. Alert now, he moved even more cautiously into the room, edging around the racking, trying to accustom his eyes to the dark, trying to use the periphery of his vision where the black and white sensors of the eye are situated.

As he walked forward towards the racking to which Hutch had been tied, his instincts took over and he became even more alert. He could hear muttering coming from the depths of the room. A conversation, but the voices sounded similar. He edged forward and sneaked a peek around the corner, pulling his head back as quickly as possible.

The little Russian was sat by the pool of now dried blood. He was on his knees looking away from Starsky, his back to the brunette. He was illuminated by the light of a flashlight on the floor and surrounded by a selection of knives, a belaying pin and, Oh fuck, a small revolver. Where the hell did he get that? OK Davey, take it nice and easy. The upwards light from the floor gave the small man an other — worldly appearance, enhancing the contours of his face.

Starsky listened. 'I'm sorry Father, I've failed you. I should have waited. I should have given them the whole message so that the stupid policeman would understand'.

'You needed more bodies to spell out the word, but you didn't wait, shmok'.

'I know, I'm sorry Father, but when I saw him asleep and his companion was unable to help him, I knew I couldn't wait any more. Sorry'.

Starsky listened to the mumbled conversation. What did it mean — the whole message? What word? He cast his mind back to the other bodies. The first, a blond man in his forties had three slashes on his chest in a letter H. The second, again a blond but younger had three slashes, this time like a letter U. Hutch had two wounds on his chest in the shape of.......Oh God.....a T. Crap. It couldn't be. Was he going to spell out Hutch on the bodies of his victims? Surely not. Why would he? Hutch had never seen him before.

Finally Starsky knew the only way to answer the questions was to ask.. Slowly, he aimed his gun straight ahead at the kneeling man and crept forward, his feet making no sound on the metal deck. He carefully tapped the Russian on the shoulder and sprang back, immediately on the defensive.

The small man turned as if he had felt a ghost, grabbing for the revolver. He looked up into dark burning blue eyes. Recognising Starsky as the man from the cabin with the 'Nazi' he stood slowly, pointing the gun at the detectives head uncertainly.

Starsky was in no mood for prevarication, but knew he had to take it slowly and make a connection — there was something about the little man that bothered him. Reaching back to his childhood Yiddish he started 'Shalom'.

'Shalom' the Russian returned in surprise. 'You are......'

'Jewish, yeah. From Brooklyn, New York. You?'

'Originally from Leningrad, but I've lived all over the world'. He cocked his head on one side, listening to his other voice. 'Father says you are a companion of the Nazi'.

The comment took Starsky aback. Nazi? Who's a Nazi? What's he talking about? He swallowed, realising the little man was sick, that knowledge tempering his feelings, even though Ivan had almost killed his partner.

'Who's the Nazi, Ivan? I don't know what you mean. Tell me who the Nazi is?' he tried to keep his voice reasonable, conscious that the gun was still pointing unwaveringly at him.

'The man who kept you in his cabin. I saw how he treated you. You were tied to the bed. He's just like all the other Nazis, a Jew hater'.

Shit, he means Hutch! 'No, no, you got it wrong Ivan, Hutch is my friend. I work with him'.

The Russian was shaking his head. 'That is what he wants you to think. They're all like that. You must know what I mean. They will be nice to you, then they turn on you and make you do bad things — against the people you love'.

Yes, I think I do know — there's something there — what?.

Those Nazi's will lure you away from the places you feel safe, so that you will more easily do what they want. Something of that rang true to, but, no, he wasn't a Nazi.

They will make you hurt people. They will make you do bad things and they will make you believe you are doing it for them.

Yes but Hutch hadn't made him do it, had he?

Listening to the words, Starsky's breathing quickened more. He had been in the same position. Hutch had made him do bad things.

His world turned upside down. He'd done bad things to people he loved. Hutch!......... No it couldn't be Hutch. He'd hurt Hutch. Confusion. Something seemed to snap inside his head. A physical break like a dam bursting, as repressed memories started to flood back.

He was cold and naked. He was in a white room and he was shivering and more tired than he'd ever been in his life. He was tied to a chair and there was something round his waist. He felt agonising pains coursing through his body and realised he was being electrocuted, the pains beginning in his back and another set further south in his genitals. He watched the blonde's face laughing and smiling in pictures projected on the wall. Then they changed to people dead and dying, but Hutch always laughed.

Then there was a man there, giving him water to drink, taking the pain away. He was a friend. Was that Hutch? No, Hutch wasn't there for him. The other man gave Starsky his clothes back and stopped the others from beating him.

Starsky was still cold and in pain, but the nice man had let him shower and dress and had shown him into a room where Hutch had been waiting .Why hadn't Hutch helped him? And the man had handed Starsky a cattle prod, all the time smiling and encouraging the dark haired Jew to hurt the tall blond man. Because Hutch hadn't been there for him. But he was hurting Hutch. He couldn't be the same man. Couldn't be Hutch telling Starsky to hurt Hutch. Confused.

Starsky felt the cold metal in his hand and heard again the raw screams as time and again he'd pushed the sparking rod against Hutch's pale flesh.

Oh God, I hurt you Hutch, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. And now you're hurt again.

Starsky was breathing hard. Trying to make sense of his memories, of his feelings. The memory of his abuser looking first like Hutch, then morphing into another face. He recognised it, but..........what was the name.........he knew it, knew the name. SHARPE.

Clarity at last.

It wasn't Hutch who made him do the things, it was Sharpe. Hutch had been as much a victim as Starsky. Sharpe had given the orders. It was Sharpe who had made the others beat and torture him. Sharpe had made him hurt Hutch. Hutch was there all the time, but he was a victim too.

Not my fault.

Not my fault.


A vision of te big blond man swam before his eyes. A smiling face; a laughing face. Then Hutch lying in the hospital bed, pale and hurting. And this madman in frn tof him had hurt Hutch.

Oh God Hutch, babe, I love ya.

As the flood of raw emotion washed over him, the conditioning finally broke for good.


He realised he'd fallen to the floor and was sitting with the gun held loosely in his left hand resting on his knee as he held his head in his right hand. He watched as tears fell to make dark marks on the deck beneath him, echoing the dark blood marks opposite.

He had spent so long in therapy at Cabrillo State, talking about the abuse he had endured and the abuse he had meted out on his partner, but the therapist had never really understood him, never understood the depth of the programming he'd been subjected to. Had never been through anything like it himself. And yet here was a man who had almost killed his partner, but who really understood what Starsky had gone through and could identify with it.

Starsky looked up into the face of the little Russian, suddenly so grateful that a stranger had helped him rid himself of his demons and determined that as well as being brought to justice, he would get the help he needed..

But he stared into the barrel of the gun that was now inches from his head.

Chapter 12

Slowly bringing his right hand up to his face, he wiped the tears away with the back of his hand, clearing his vision. His eyes never leaving the little Russian's face, Starsky gently laid his gun down on the deck and brought both hands into the small man's clear view.

Heaving a calming sigh, he attempted to re-establish the onnection he thought he had madder and said 'Ivan, Hutch isn't German, he's American. He comes from a place called Duluth in Minnesota. He's never been to Germany. You've made a mistake. All those men you hurt. They were American'.

The Russian's answer was to place the gun at Starsky's temple, pushing the cold metal into the tender skin. 'My Father is not wrong. This man is tall, he is athletic, he has blue eyes. He answered me in German He is Aryan. He hates Jews', the voice getting louder and more agitated.

Starsky winced at the pressure on the side of his head and tried again, 'No Ivan. How could he hate Jews? He's my friend and I'm Jewish. He's my best friend and at the moment he's hurt. He's in the sick bay Ivan, but he'll be OK. Just put the gun down and we can talk. I know you're hurtin' too, but we can fix it, OK? We can fix this Ivan'.

'No, he's brainwashed you into thinking he's your friend but he isn't' he shouted, the gun wobbling unnervingly.

Starsky tried again. 'Believe me, I'm not brain washed' (well, not any more). 'The war is over Ivan. It ended a long time ago. I know they hurt you. I've seen pictures. I've been to Yad Vashem and read all the accounts. But the war is over and we're all friends now. You don't want to do this. Let me have the gun, then we can talk like friends'.

The gun lowered a little, now at ear level. The brunette continued gently 'That's right, Ivan, you can do this. You can put the gun down and we can talk. I know you're hurtin and I know what they did to you in the camps, but its over now. Believe me, I know what its like to live with the pain and the suffering, but Hutch is my friend and I have to help him......I have to help you'.

The gun lowered further and Starsky started to breathe a little easier as the little Russian seemed to be listening to him. He continued 'Good Ivan, good. Now, give me the gun, so that we can sit down and talk. It's heavy and its going to make your arm tired. You don't want it to go off by accident do you? Bet ya like Vodka? My Grandpa was Russian, he loved Vodka. When you put the gun down we could have a drink and just talk'.

Suddenly the small man cocked his head on one side.

'No Father, he's a good man. He's Jewish too. He says we made a mistake, but its OK now'.

'He'll put us in prison, son. He'll punish us like they did in the camps. He'll get the Nazi to hurt us'.

'But he says the blond man is American. He says he's his friend'.

'Don't listen Ivan. He's trying to turn you against me. He's trying to take my place. I will look after you, like I have done all these years. You must rid yourself of him. He's dangerous. Kill him now'.

Starsky had been trying to follow the conversation the little man was having with himself, unhappier by the minute at what he heard. Although the gun had fallen down so that it was held limply in the Russian's right hand, he saw the beginnings of a muscle twitch, the fingers tightening almost imperceptibly against the trigger of the revolver.

With reflexes honed from years working the down town district, Starsky lurched for the gun hand, trying to get a moments advantage before anything bad could happen, but was fractionally too slow. The Russian brought the gun up quickly towards the detective's body a look of apology now showing on his face. But he was unable to aim properly, the brunettes body diving at him a he tried to fire. As Starsky dived towards him, his finger twitched prematurely and the bullet, instead of blowing Starsky's head away, instead hit his right shoulder, spinning him round and slamming him into the linen racking.

The noise of the discharge in the small room was deadened by the yards of material lining the walls, but was still loud enough to leave a ringing in both men's ears and the smell of the cordite was almost overwhelming, its sharp persistent smell irritating and noxious.

In the silence that followed the explosion, a moment of sanity returned to the cabin steward and he stared in disbelief at the bleeding body of the detective, now slumped on the floor, then back at the hot gun in his hand. Dropping it onto the deck as if it was a poisonous snake, Ivan let out an agonised yelp and headed for the door.

Starsky was fighting to stay conscious. The breath had been driven from his body, and he sucked in lungfulls of air now to try to bring colour back to his world, which was rapidly turning grey. The impact of the bullet felt like he had been hit in the shoulder with a pile driver, accompanied by a white hot burning pain which extended from his finger tips along his arm and down his right side. He couldn't move his right arm, it was numb all the way to his fingertips and his back felt like it was broken in two. His head hurt from the impact with the metal racking and he could taste the coppery blood in his mouth, realising he had bitten his lip on the way down. His ears rang with the noise of the discharge and he was having a real problem focussing his eyes, as blackness threatened to claim him.

Giving himself a brief moment to try to get himself together, he slowly levered himself into a sitting position, his back against the racking, and let his head lean back against the linen as he closed his eyes and fought for breath, sweat coursing down his face and making the curls around his forehead cling to the damp skin there. Looking around him he realised he was alone. Where the hell is Ivan? Where he gone now?

Carefully, trying not to jar his shoulder, he rose to his unsteady feet leaving a trail of red sticky blood on the material at his back and paused a moment as the deck took a dip to the side and threatened to take him with it. He swallowed hard to retain his last meal. Fighting for control, he pushed off from the support of the metal and staggered towards the door, stooping to retrieve his Beretta on the way. He pushed open the door with his good left hand and was rewarded with a glimpse of the Russian's retreating back at the far end of the corridor.


Groaning aloud, he realised he had to go after the Russian, and lurched out into the corridor at a run. Unsteady as he was, he ricocheted from one wall of the corridor to the other, the impacts with his right arm and shoulder sending bright white pain through his body and making the breath whistle between his teeth, but he forced himself forward, determined to catch up with Ivan. He needs help as much as he needs to be taken down.

Exiting the corridor, he turned and made his painful way up the steps hoping he was going in the right direction. Making a cursory search of the corridor on deck six and not seeing the little man, he forced himself up the steps to deck seven, and struggled to push open the heavy door open out onto the Promenade deck.

The breeze along the open deck was cool at this time of night. Night? It was early morning now and the distant lights of Bridgetown Barbados could be seen on the horizon twinkling seductively.

Starsky looked left and right, scanning for movement. He saw the Russian at the far end of the deck and wearily pushed himself on, trying to keep to the shadows as much as possible. He saw the Russian look back over his shoulder as he got to the bows of the ship, and pause. Starsky pushed himself on, realising he was now leaving drops of blood behind him on the wooden decking as it dripped from his now useless fingertips.

Cautiously he approached the little man as he stood by the ships rail, still pointing the gun at the detective, but in a distracted, half hearted manner now. The brunette came slowly forward, starting his conversation all ove again.

'Ivan, you don't wanna do this, w can fix it. We can work on this an' make it better. Just come with me' he stopped gasping for breath as the Russian watched him.

Starsky was now less than ten yards from the little man and creeping forward ever more slowly. The pain in his arm was threatening to tip him into oblivion, but he forced himself forward. Ivan was watching him, like a cornered mouse watches a cat, his eyes never leaving the detective as he approached.

Finally, Starsky was almost close enough to touch the Russian, and he very carefully put his own gun into the front waistband of his shorts and reached out with his left hand.

'Give me the gun Ivan. That's it, just give me the gun and everything will be fine'.

The Russian stared at his one last time before turning, vaulting over the ships rail and diving into the sea.

With a cry of desperation, the brunette lunged forward, vaulted the rail himself, and plunged seven stories down towards the inky depths beneath.

Chapter 13

In sick bay, Doctor Jackson was busy checking his patient's vitals and recording them on the chart he hung at the bottom of the bed. Since his friend had left, Mr Hutchinson (did his friend call him Hutch?) had not rested easily. The doctor was amazed that, having endured so much, the blond detective was not completely knocked out by the anaesthetic and pain killers he had been given. He was even more amazed when the blonde's eyes opened a crack.

He seemed to be searching for someone, or something, his hand twitching against the sheets and the fingers making grasping motions, as if looking for a hand to hold. He bent forward over the detective.

'Ken, are you alright? Do you have pain? I'm Dr Jackson, and you're in the sick bay of the ship. Do you remember?'

The eyes opened a fraction more and Hutch's lips worked at making a word. 'Starsk? Where's m my partner?'

'He's gone to look for the Cabin Steward, Ivan. The man you told him did this to you. He's with the Bosun, Ltnt Moore. Just try to rest. Hutch, is it? Can I call you Hutch?'

The blond nodded, his eyes closed. 'F find him. Something's wrong. Find Starsk' he was becoming more agitated, his head rolling against the pillow'.

'Everything is OK Hutch, just try to rest. Everything will be fine' the doctor persisted, but Hutch wasn't having any of that. He tried to raise himself up, picking at the tape holding the venflon in place at his left wrist. The doctor gently pulled his hand away, but Hutch persisted making weak efforts to rise.

'G got to get to S Starsk........trouble.........needs h help'.

The doctor took hold of Hutch's right hand. 'I'll get someone to go and look for your friend, but you must rest. And you can't pull the cannula out. It's over an inch into your vein. Its not like television, Hutch, you can't just rip it out and wander off. Just wait, and I'll let Alex know you need them to search, OK?'

Hutch nodded slightly, resting his head back on the pillow as the doctor made over to the telephone. He listened as the physician explained to the Bosun what had happened. 'I don't know Alex, but he's convinced, and I know he won't rest 'till someone finds Mr Starsky'.

He put the receiver down and walked over to the bed bound detective. 'Hutch, Alex will search. He'll find Mr Starsky and send him to you. But you have to rest now, OK. Just rest' and he put is hand on Hutch's forehead and felt the blond relax back onto the pillow.


Seven storeys down, Starsky's body hit the surface of the sea at over 60 miles per hour. He had tried to bring his arms up into some semblance of a dive, and had managed to get his left arm to cleave a hole in the water for his head and body to fall through, although the right arm had stubbornly refused to move. And so the impact of the long dive was lessened a little from a bone crushing crash to a collision that merely knocked the brunette unconscious.

His body continued to gently fall through the water until his lungs started to protest the lack of oxygen and instinct took over. His legs and arm jerked convulsively to try to bring the body back to the surface and slowly he started to rise up.

As Starsky's head broke the surface, he was once more conscious and opened his mouth to take in a desperate lungful of air. Floating between the waves, the brunette gasped, the salt water stinging the gunshot wound on his shoulder and the wrist and hand wounds diabolically as he tried to remember what had just happened. What ya jump off the ship for, idiot? OK Concentrate. Oh yeah, Ivan. God where's Ivan?.

As clarity returned, Starsky thrashed about scanning the horizon between the waves, trying to find the little Russian. His view was obstructed by the waves which had, from the ship, seemed small and insignificant. Shows what you know Davey boy. Try as he might, he couldn't see anyone, and in desperation, he dived beneath the surface again, but still nothing.

Finally he broke the surface, his heart heavy at not having been able to save the little man who had suffered so much during his life. Starsky looked back towards the ship, but was brought up short. The ship was still steaming along at 18 knots and was now disappearing into the distance, and he knew that no amount of swimming would be enough to make him catch it, even if both arms had been working. And then there were the sharks!


Alex Moore recalled his men from the search for Ivan. Assembling them in the same bar area they had departed a while ago.

'I need all of you to be on the lookout for....'

He was interrupted by one of the crew bursting into the room. 'I'm sorry, sir, but one of the passengers has just notified us. She thinks she saw two people fall overboard'.

At once, Alex was giving orders. He telephoned up to the bridge for all stop and to come about, informing the Captain of the passenger's fears.

And so, the ship's engines were put into full reverse, and the big ship started her lumbering turn. In the meantime, a lifeboat was lowered from its davit onto the surface of the water and with directions from the bridge, the three man crew started its search.


Starsky was getting tired. His shoulder wasn't hurting any more, he was passing beyond pain. It took all his energy just to keep his head above the water. He had always been a good, strong swimmer, but had never had to content with six foot waves and a gunshot wound.

He turned onto his back and floated, preserving what energy he had left. He closed his eyes and thought about his partner. OK Hutch, maybe this is it. I know you'd have told me not to jump. That's why I always need ya, Blondie. You're always my voice of reason. Stop me doing stupid things like walking off a ship into the ocean in the middle of the night. God I'm sorry Blintz. Truly I am. Is hurts so much an' I;m so damn tired. I tried to stop Ivan. He needed help an' I know you would have helped him too, but I couldn't save him.

Slowly darkness was descending on the curly haired detective as the sea around him rocked his body, lulling it into a false sense of warmth and security. It took all Starsky's energy to keep from giving in and slipping under the surface one last time.


On board ship, Hutch was restless. The doctor watched concerned as the blond tossed restlessly in the bed. His temperature was up and the fever showed itself in the flush on the handsome face and the sweat which the nurses constantly dabbed away with cool cloths. He muttered under his breath, the words mostly inaudible, but the one word which recurred time after time was that of his friend

'Starsk? Where are ya buddy. Starsk what have ya done. Need ya, Starsk?'


The launch made its way back the way the large ship had just come. The three men on board constantly searching the surface of the water for the bodies of the two missing persons. Each had a pair of binoculars and each was quiet caught up in the frantic search, knowing that every minute counted. The small craft ploughed through the waves, which at times broke over its tiny deck, wetting the occupants to the skin.

Eventually they were back at what they thought was the correct position, Each man took a quadrant of the horizon and started the search proper. Suddenly one of the crewmen gave a shout of triumph. He had spotted a speck of red floating on the surface some 100 yards to their port side. Gunning the engine, Alex manoeuvred the boat to the position and they started a more in depth search.


Starsky was past caring. His head hurt, his shoulder was past numb and was shouting pain throughout his body. He knew he'd lost a lot of blood and was feeling weak and sick. He was shivering uncontrollably, although the temperature of the sea was not so cold. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was going to die, that the ship had gone away and that no one would know where to look for him. His one overbearing regret was that he had not been able to say goodbye to Hutch.

As he floated, visions started progressing through his mind.

He was little again and running down the busy New York street to the Italian Restaurant his grandmother lived above.

He was at school being taunted by a group of boys because his Mother couldn't afford new sneekers for him.

He was at college, trying to come to terms with his fathers death.

He was at the police academy, watching a tall athletic blond competing n the track and field events.

He was in his beloved Torino, cruising the streets with that same blond at his side.

He was at the bedside of his girlfriend as Terri died in his arms, and Hutch was there to comfort him.

He was sick and dying as he was slowly poisoned, and Hutch was there to comfort him.

He was in a hospital bed, looking up at Doctor Jackson. No wait, that's not a memory. Is that you Blondie? Do you know what's happening to me? Can you hear me if I say Goodbye?


The lifeboat got to the body just as it had begun to sink below the waves. Alex leaned over the side of the craft and hooked his arm under the body, bringing it back to the surface. He pulled and with the help of another crewman, brought Starsky's limp form aboard. It slithered lifelessly to the deck as the engine was pushed up to full throttle and headed back at full speed to the ship.

Chapter 14

Doctor Jackson was all business as they brought Starsky's body into the sick bay. The brunette was deathly cold, his skin was pale to the point of being blue and he had not regained consciousness since he had been plucked from the water 20 minutes ago. Alex had checked that he was breathing as soon as the limp body was deposited on the deck of the small craft, and as his men turned the boat and headed at full speed back to the cruise ship, he had wrapped Starsky up in a blanket and hugged him to keep him warm. That he had been breathing when found was a miracle in itself, but both Moore and Jackson realised the detective lost a lot of blood and would need a transfusion.

They laid Starsky on the bed in the OR, stripping off his wet shorts and red tee shirt that had made it so much easier to spot him in the dark ocean. Nurses rubbed him gently with warmed towels as Jackson prepared to treat the brunette for hypothermia, his core temperature having dropped desperately low. Once he was warmed, he could start repairing the wounded shoulder.

Inserting a wide bore cannula into his right wrist, he started to run through a normal saline solution, warmed to 43 degrees to start re-heating the body, then moved to insert a breathing tube into Starsky's trachea to allow warmed oxygen into his lungs.

Once the initial treatment had concluded, Jackson sat back and waited for his patient's temperature to rise from its present 33 degrees. Outside the OR, there was a commotion and wearily he turned to see one of his nurses wrestling with the blond on the bed.

Hutch was way more than restless now, having seen the body of his partner being carried into the OR, he was making desperate efforts to get out of his bed. Jackson went over to the detective and pushed gently on the shoulder.

'Hutch, David's OK, he just very cold and we have to warm him. He's got as gunshot wound in his right shoulder, but it must have been at point blank range because the exit wound is just as small as the entry. I can close that as soon as he's warmed up, some. You're not doing him or yourself any favours getting all riled up like this'.

Hutch relaxed back on the bed a little, but refused to give up completely. His eyes burned still with fever, but he was insistent. 'I've gotta be with him Doc. I need to be with him, please? I just need to be in the same room' he pleaded.

'I don't know about that, Hutch. You need your rest and we have to see to David' the doctor explained gently.

Hutch summoned all his energy and started shouting 'Let me see my partner. Please let me get to him' as he started struggling again.

Finally, seeing that the blond would get no rest at all, he had the bed wheeled once more in to the OR and brought it alongside the table Starsky still occupied.

Hutch rolled carefully onto his left-hand side to look over at his partner, noting the breathing tube, the drip and the colour of his friend. Gently he reached over and took hold of the limp left hand, rubbing the back of it with his thumb. It was the only part of the brunette that he had energy to reach, but it was enough to have some physical contact.

'Starsk? Can ya hear me, buddy? It's gonna be OK now, you're safe an' its all over. What've ya done at yourself now, ya big lug? Ya had us all scared for a while there. Starsk?' a painful pause. 'Don't leave me again, Gordo'.

Overcome with weariness, Hutch closed his eyes and rested back against his pillow, relief coursing through him, now that the brunette was next to him again. When the doctor returned five minutes later, he smiled as he saw the protective hand the blond had on the dark haired man's arm.


The ship docked in Bridgetown later in the afternoon of that same day. Although not the prettiest port in the Caribbean, it had good access for vehicles with its wide concrete avenues threading between the columns of crates waiting to be loaded on various vessels. And so the private ambulance had no trouble in rendezvousing with the ship. It was a hot sunny day as the vehicle wound its way down busy Broad Street and across the Carenage to the private hospital up the hill on the other side of town. The driver sang softly as he went, nodding greetings to other drivers on the road.

In the back of the vehicle, the two detectives were very much awake. Starsky had regained consciousness sometime late in the morning. The doctor had been there immediately as he coughed out the intra tracheal tube. His first action was to look over to his left hand side to see his partner fast asleep, holding his hand. He had smiled and drifted back to sleep again, the exhaustion of the last 24 hours finally claiming him.

Now, the blonde's face was a little less peaceful as every pot hole or crack in the road which the ambulance hit sent waves of pain through his damaged body. Not that Hutch minded too much. He was just so glad to have his partner back with him.

Starsky's voice was raw and raspy from the tube that had been put in his throat, and his shoulder was stitched and bound. They lay side by side in the old fashioned ambulance as Starsky grumped.

'And to our left, ladies and gentlemen, we have the Carenage, where sailing ships would be run up onto the shore for maintenance. Not that we can see it, cos the windows are blacked out. And on our right is Bayshore Beach, an ideal spot for sunbathing and snorkelling. And once again we'll miss that too'.

Hutch was still weak, but he couldn't resist 'S'OK Starsk. I've seen it before'.

'Ya have?, When?'

'Vanessa and I came the year after we got married. It was hot and romantic and we went for moonlit walks on the sand'.

'Oh well that's OK then' rounded the brunette. 'Just so long as you've seen it, we can go home'. There was companionable silence. The ambulance drew to a stop and the men could feel the movement as the driver got out, slamming the door behind him.

Starsky looked over to the blond, grabbing this short time when they were alone. 'Glad you're OK Blondie. I was scared there for a while'. He said softly.

'Not half as scared as I've been for you, Gordo. I nearly lost ya there'.

Starsky looked surprised. 'What do ya mean? I've been shot before, and you know I can swim...'

Hutch shook his head and took a deep breath.' Not then, stupid. I nearly lost you four months ago. Your body was here with me every day, but Starsky wasn't. I've missed ya babe'. He settled back, his stomach still hurting. 'Just glad to have my Starsk back'.

Starsky looked over to his partner. A lump in his throat, he managed to whisper 'Yeah. It took the man who nearly killed you to bring me back to life. Thanks Ivan'.