Just For Tonight

Starsky wheeled his partner out of the hospital and into the parking lot being careful to avoid skewering passing nurses doctors and visitors on the out flung, white plastered leg. Hutch hung on to the crutches he’d been given, with instructions to bear no weight on that leg for at least two weeks. Not that e wanted to. It hurt like hell whenever the pain meds wore off, and when they wore off he had pains of a whole different kind too. But he’d save that for later. Right now he was glad to be going home and glad to be in the care of his partner.


When Starsky had found him wedged under his car those five days ago, it had been one of the happiest moments of the brunet’s life. He’d taken the advice of Colonel Sonny McPhearson and had followed the Canyon road out and up into the hills behind Bay City, suspecting that the car in front was also intent on finding his partner. After the initial race and the screeching stop, he’d bounded down the hillside, throwing caution to the winds and adding in the casual arrest of his would be assassin en route and skidded to a halt by the side of the upturned car, his heart in his mouth as he saw the sweat and grime lined, pale face and closed eyes. Hutch’s breathing was so shallow he thought for a moment he was too late, but then, as his right hand hovered inches away from his friend, the ice blues had fluttered open and Hutch had managed a weak smile.


The wait for the ambulance had been interminable as Starsky had talked to his partner none stop, intent on making sure Hutch didn’t fall unconscious, scare stories of concussions and death floating through his fevered imagination. He talked bout anything and everything. About the Colonel, about how Dobey had eaten so many of Edith’s apple pies to assuage his anxiety, about the nights he’d stopped up, watching television because he couldn’t seep with worry. All the time he talked, Hutch hung on to that familiar New York brogue, not really hearing the words, but drinking in the closeness and companionship. Starsky was here. Everything would be fine. And then the paramedics had appeared and taken over and Starsky had followed behind the ambulance in his striped tomato, getting in the way at the hospital and generally fussing until Hutch had been whisked away to the OR.


Then there had been the agonising five hour wait while they repaired his leg. The doctor had finally appeared, still swathed in his theatre greens and had sat the brunet down in a small room and tried to explain what had gone on. He talked about crush syndrome, where the toxins in the body built up behind the crush site and as the weight or obstruction was lifted from the limb they flood the tissues and cause breakdown and something called necrosis. The doctor said Hutch had been very lucky that the crush syndrome had been negligible and that they had managed to debride the effected tissue, the car having not had its full weight on the leg.


But then he said that Hutch had a “floating knee”. His femur, tibia and fibula had all been broken, leaving the centre part of his leg essentially free floating. They’d repaired it with rods, screws and spanners – a veritable Mechano set inside his partner’s leg – and he would require constant care, and plenty of pain relief over the coming weeks.


Starsky hadn’t taken it all in to begin with. His mind was numb, glad only to have gotten his friend back, if not in one piece, then at least alive. He never gave a thought to the pain relief or the type of medication the hospital had used. And he certainly never gave a thought to the information that was missing from those hospital notes.


In the days that followed, he noticed Hutch’s unnaturally bright ice blue eyes and the slight tremble in the limbs, but he put it down to the crush injury, the broken leg and sheer relief at being alive and back in the bosom of his friend’s company. As he wheeled Hutch out to the parking lot, he laughed along with his friend at the joy on the blonde’s face at seeing an almost carbon copy of his battered LTD ready and waiting for him to drive away when he was able.


It wasn’t until the first night at home, when Starsky had manoeuvred his partner into the bed and gotten him settled down for the night that he began to suspect that something was not quite right. They’d spent the first night at home sitting quietly watching television, Hutch’s leg propped up on a pillow as he sat on the settee. Once or twice he’d managed to hop to the bathroom, coming out moments later with some tissue as he wiped his seemingly ever runny nose and finally he’d decided that the ache his body had tried to subdue would be better catered for if he lay down. Hutch’s hand trembled as he reached for the glass of water and the two Tylenol that Starsky handed him.


‘Is there nothing stronger?’ Hutch asked as casually as he could as he took the pills and swallowed them.


‘They’re strong enough aren’t they? Are you in too much pain? D’ya wants me to call the hospital?’ Starsky asked, troubled by the tremble, the flush in the cheeks and the bright eyes.


‘No, s’ok, m’fine’ the blond mumbled, hoping the feelings would abate now that he was home. He put his shaking hands under the quilt and clasped his fingers together to stop the shaking showing above the bed clothes.


‘You sure you’re ok. You don’t look good’.


‘I’m just tired I guess’ Hutch lied. Don’t push it Starsk. Not now. Just go away an’ leave me alone.


‘You don’t look so good’ Starsky pressed, unsure, but reading his partner’s body language.


‘I’M FINE’ Hutch yelled, and then backed down, looking embarrassed. ‘Sorry, Gordo. I’m fine, just tired’.


‘OK, well. I’ll be on the couch if ya need me’ the brunet said, straightening the sheets and standing. ‘Just call huh?’


‘I’ll b be fine’ Hutch stammered and leaned back, closing his eyes against the curious look his partner gave him.


Starsky switched ff the light and went to lie down on the couch.


In the dark, Hutch rubbed at his nose, snuffling as he tried to sleep. He stared up at the ceiling, sleep evading him even though the pains in his leg had abated somewhat. He yawned, then yawned again, swallowing down the nausea he felt. He hated feeling this way; hated the way he craved the drug he thought he gotten out of his system the year before.


When they’d pumped him full of the heroin that three days he’d been held captive, he enjoyed the sweet high it brought him, the languor and the relaxation feeling nothing like anything he’d felt before. He could have laughed at the world and he could have cried with it all at the same time. He looked on everyone as his brother and his friend until the rush left him. And then the feelings of paranoia hit, the panic and the glances over his shoulder to check that he wasn’t being followed.


When Starsky had taken him to Huggy’s room to dry him out for 48 hours straight, he’d hated his partner with a vengeance he didn’t think he had in him. But as the last tendrils of the drug had left his system he came to realise just what a sacrifice Starsky had made for him. And he vowed he would never let himself be put into that position again.


But then he’d been rescued from under the car and taken to the hospital and they’d operated and for 24 hours he was completely out of it, coming around eventually to the sweet sight of indigo eyes above him and the warm fuzzy feeling of the morphine lingering in his system. For a while he cherished it, hugging the fugginess and warmth to him like a long lost prize. But them the cramps had begun and he’d realised just what had happened.


Once and addict always and addict and he should have told them there and then that he’d been hooked on horse. But he didn’t. He was too weak and he enjoyed the wonderful highs the morphine gave him. He lied about his pain levels, telling the cute little nurses and the doctors that it hurt more than it really did, just so that he could get more of the beautiful drug into his body. And all the time lying to his partner.


Hutch whimpered into the darkness as the first tongues of pain snagged at his guts, twisting into them like knives. He wouldn’t give in. Starsky had been through too much worry to have to go through detox with him again. The cramps took him and shook him, but still he held out, biting down on the quilt to stop himself from crying out and rousing his sleeping friend. He looked over at his clock. Five minutes since the last time he looked. Fuck, it felt like five days!


Another cramp, this time attacking from the back, feeling as though someone had shoved a flaming poker into his anus. He writhed on the bed, physically shaking now as the withdrawal symptoms started to take hold of his body. He wiped his hand over his sweat beaded forehead and shook, shivering in the bed now. In his pain he cried out once.


‘Fuck it!’ a desolate, lonely cry for help that brought the brunet running.


‘Hutch, you ok babe?’ he put his hand on the sweat soaked forehead. ‘Hutch you got a fever. I should call Memorial. We need to get you back t…’


Hutch made a mad grab for the brunet’s arm with a hand that shook so much he thought the fingers would rattle clean off.


‘S’not f fever. J just stay huh?’ he moaned through clenched teeth.


‘Well what is it. Is it pain, Do you want me to get you more pain killers .Its only been two hours since the last lot’.


‘Hurts, yeah. Bbut not the l leg Sstarsk I need…..need….Oh God!’ he whimpered, the sentence tailing of into pained desolation.


And then it struck the brunet. How could he have been so naive? He took in the sweat soaked tee shirt top, the flushed cheeks, too bright eyes and the shaking hands.


‘They gave you morphine at the hospital didn’t they?’ he asked softly.


The red rimmed ice blues starred back, full of pain and loneliness and fear. Oh my God I wish I could have hidden it from you buddy, but I’m just too much of a wash up.


‘Yeah’ the blond whispered. What was Starsky going to say? What was he going to do? Hutch felt so weak and useless. Why hadn’t he just said he couldn’t have more morphine? Why couldn’t he have told them about the addiction? It wasn’t like it was his fault; he’d understood that a long time ago. But, he admitted to himself he loved the feeling the drug gave him. He loved the floating dissociated feeling where he could look at everyone and everything with not a care in the world.


Starsky’s heart plummeted, remembering the last time he’d sat by the blond, living every moment of sweat pain and anguish with him. Could he cope with that again? Especially after almost losing him under that car. This was just too much.


Why didn’t I think? Why didn’t I have the courage to tell ‘em? Why didn’t I just save him this pain? God he’s been through enough and now this. And it’s my fault! He couldn’t tell ‘em about the morphine, he was unconscious. I failed him. Shit, I’m supposed to watch his back and I failed him!


He got up, extricating himself from Hutch’s grip and walked out of the room without a backwards glance. He got dressed quickly, lacing his blue Adidas and, turning a deaf ear to Hutch’s pleading, he got his jacket and car keys and went out into the night.


Hutch listened to him go. There was no way he could stop his partner. No way could he get himself up and out of the bed. His leg just couldn’t take the weight at that moment. And so he lay, terrified that he’d chased away his best friend and brother, terrified he’d have to go through the bone crushing withdrawal again, and this time on his own. He closed his eyes and tears coursed down his cheeks. Why did he have to do it? Why was he just so fucking weak? He sobbed into his pillow, embracing now the agonising cramps that peppered his guts with fire, unable even to bend his leg up to relieve them.


Don’t go Starsky. Pease don’t leave me. I’m sorry, so sorry. I shouldn’t put your though this. I can do this. I can get trough this, I deserve the pain, but it hurts Starsk. Oh god it hurts.


Starsky got into his car and drove. He knew exactly where he was going and he didn’t want to think about it too much. Just wanted to go, do it and come back. No thought, just reflex action. He wanted to help his partner, but that night he was just too exhausted to get through the recriminations, shouting, crying and longing that came with withdrawal. He’d only just got his partner back from the edge of death. He’d never allowed himself to think of Hutch as dead when he was missing. He didn’t want to listen to the shouts, insults; vitriolic ranting he knew would surely come as the blond fought his way out of his own personal hell. Not tonight. He wasn’t strong enough.


So he drove, eyes scanning the sidewalks of the darkened city, smiling grimly at the low life that came out in the wee small hours, and knowing exactly what he wanted and where he could get it.


He drew up outside a seedy motel, took the keys from the ignition and with the feeling of a dead man walking, made his way into the grimy dive. As he walked through the front door, Benny, the man on the reception desk looked up, doing a double take and looking over the brunet’s shoulder for the usual blond accompaniment.


‘Starsky!’ he said aiming for casual and managing scared out of his wits. ‘What can I do for ya?’


‘Where’s Luigi?’


‘Oh hey, he’s not here. He’s taken his business elsewhere. Haven’t seen him for weeks’ the little man mumbled.


Starsky reached across the counter and grabbed the little man by his lapels, bringing him bodily over the countertop until his feet dangled in mid air and his face was inches from the angry brunet’s


‘Tell me where he is. Which room?’ Starsky ground out.


‘Ok okokok, room 21 up the stairs’ Benny stammered as he felt solid earth under his feet again. The curly haired cop dropped him, reached around the countertop and yanked the wire of the telephone from the wall and bounded up the steps. ‘We don’t want to be disturbed’ he grinned.


Taking his gun from his holster he stood outside the grimy door and knocked once.


‘Luigi? Open up, its Starsky’. He heard a movement, stepped back and kicked out at the door with his powerful leg. The wood splintered and he burst into the room just in time to see Luigi trying to get his aft carcass out of the window. In two steps he was across the room and hauling the corpulent dealer back through the window.


Luigi stood panting as he stared down the muzzle of the brunet’s Smith and Wesson. ‘Well, Detective Starsky. What a erm…..pleasant surprise’ he smiled greasily. ‘What can I do for you? I promise I’ll be off your patch tomorrow’.


‘Yeah ya will. But before ya go, I want a half gramme of your best an’ I want it now’.


The dealer did a double take. ‘You want to…..you’re jestin’ You don’t want to…..Oh my God. You wanna buy?’


‘Shuddup. Just gimme the deal an’ I’ll pay your price. After that you’re outa here. Got it?


The dealer nodded, licking his lips. ‘Ok’. He walked to the cupboard and took out a tiny bag of white powder, holding it out for examination’.


Starsky took it. ‘Needle, syringe. The whole pack. Now’.


‘I don’t have the…..’ he stopped as the gun inched higher and reluctantly he reached back into the wardrobe and fumbled in a box handing the requisite items over too’.


The brunet took them and examined them, then stowed them in his jacket pocket. He handed two $20 bills to the sweating man.


‘It’s erm…..$40’


Starsky looked up. ‘What?’


‘The price. $100 You look to be in need. The price varies’.


Starsky ground the muzzle of his gun into the dealer’s stomach. ‘Don’t push it Luigi. That’s a fair price an’ you know it. An; you’ll be outa here tomorrow or I might just have a word with the Narcs boys’.


‘You wouldn’t. And I’ll just tell them you dealt’.


The brunet grinned. ‘And ya really think they’d believe ya?’ He backed out of the room and made his way back downstairs.


Half an hour after he’d entered, he emerged feeling dirty, weak and $100 poorer. But he’d gotten the relief he needed. He got back into the car and without a backwards glance at the girl standing illuminated in the doorway, made his way back to his apartment.


Coming to a halt outside the darkened abode, he switched the engine off and took a deep calming breath. He could do this! He needed to do this. For Hutch. For Starsky. For one night of no shaking and no pleading.


He took the steps slowly and as he came through the door he heard a whimper from the bedroom. His heart broke as he thought about the man he’d left to suffer on his own.


Just a few more minutes Blintz. Just hang on a few more minutes!


He looked in through the bedroom door. Hutch was still lying on his back, but the bed now visibly vibrated in accompaniment of the blonde’s shaking. The flaxen hair had turned a dark golden and the blonde’s pain wracked body was jerking spasmodically on the bed. Hutch turned pain filled eyes to his partner, relieved to have the comforting presence back. He refused to look the brunet in the eyes, instead turning his head to the wall and clamping his lips closed. He wouldn’t make it harder on Starsky than it already was.


Starsky was gone a few more minutes and at one point. Hutch thought he smelled the acrid perfume of a struck match, but his internal pains were such that he was beginning to hallucinate. He whimpered again, just once, then buried his head under the quilt,


Moments later, he felt the mattress dip and a hand insinuate itself under the bedclothes, closing on his wrist.


Starsky withdrew Hutch’s arm and looked into the red rimmed eyes.


‘Starsk….hurts….Starsk, help me?’


‘I’m sorry babe. I can’t do this tonight. There’s been too much happened an’ I’m tired. Tomorrow’s another day, an’ we can start then, but this is just for tonight. Ya hear? Just this once? If it’s what ya want’.


‘Dunno what I want. I want t’stop hurtin’ Want to….’his eyes caught sight of the needle, fixing on its steely point.


‘Are ya sure you want this?’ the brunet asked softly.


‘No1…yes…..Oh shit Gordo, I don’t wanna beg, but I need so..somethin’. Please…..gimme the medicine….please?’


Hutch looked up in surprise as Starsky tied the tourniquet around his friend’s upper arm and tried to pull his arm away, but his heart wasn’t in it. He craved oblivion.


‘Where d’ya g get it?’ he asked, watching the brown liquid in the syringe in sick fascination. He craved the sweet rush like no craving he’d ever felt before and he looked up into the indigo eyes, seeing pain, and fear there. But the cramps bit at his stomach and the shaking made his leg ache. And he needed relief. With a final shaky breath and a feeling of disgust he held out his arm and straightened his elbow presenting the target and he felt the sharp scratch as Starsky pushed the needle into the turgid vein and depressed the plunger.


Hutch felt two rushes. The rush of the powerful heroin flooding his being and a rush of love for the man who would put his principles to one side to aid a suffering friend.


And as Hutch rested back on the pillow and floated away on the euphoria, Starsky staggered back into the living room. He rushed to the bathroom and threw up into the pan, leaning over the porcelain until he thought his guts would appear in his mouth.  And he stayed like that for minutes, resting his head against the cool surface until his legs began to cramp. Standing he wiped the back of his hand over his mouth and rinsed the foul taste from it with water before weaving his way into the living room and hitting at the door lintel in desperation. He hit the dumb wood time and again until he left blood smears on the wall and splinters in his knuckles. And still the feeling of weakness wouldn’t go away. He looked at the needle, the spoon and the white powder. What would the rush feel like? Would it take this feeling away? He reached for the syringe with a trembling hand.


What would it feel like?


Sorry Blondie. Will you ever forgive me? What was I supposed to do huh?