Jingle Bells

This story has been a labour of love for me. i've had the idea for a long time, burning into my soul and I've finally had the courage to write it. I hope you like it as much as I've loved writing it.
Chapter 1

--------22nd December--------

‘Can this car actually set off without the tyres squealing Starsk?’

The curly haired detective floored the gas pedal and set off in pursuit of Henry Mears, Bay City’s latest drug runner, the big striped tomato side slipping and fishtailing down the road as the siren wailed and the red mars light shone malevolently at the rapidly disappearing felon. Starsky deftly corrected the under and over steer as the blue Pontiac in front ran a red light, other cars screeching to a halt to let the red car through behind. A man pulled his girlfriend ut of the way of the Pontiac at the last minute, falling over her in the middle of the road

‘Shit, did you see that? Son of a……just let me at ‘em’ Starsky cursed as he nursed his Torino through the mess of stationary cars at the intersection.

‘Starsky for Gods sake, we need to catch him’ Hutch yelled over the top of the sounds of the tortured engine.

‘What the hell d’ya think I’m doin’ Blintz, hold on’ he executed another U turn and set off up the entrance road onto the freeway.

Hutch hung on to the passenger grab and braced his long legs against the dashboard. ‘No, I meant we need to be alive to catch him. You’re gonna get us killed if ya don’t slow…no, you’ll never make it’ the strangled cry came as the brunette aimed his car for a miniscule gap between two cars going at about 50 miles per hour.

‘Starsk! Slow down, we’ll never get…..we’ll never….oh shit!’ the blond closed his eyes and braced himself for the inevitable impact, but it never came. Instead there was a banshee yell from his partner as the Torino threaded its way through the traffic.

‘Jeez Starsk! I didn’t think we’d make that. For Gods sake, I want to live to see my old age. It’s not worth killing us for. He’s a drug runner, not a mass murderer. We’ll get him next time’.

But the brunette had the bit between his teeth and was once again hitting the gas pedal, hiking the speed up until the needle on the gauge touched 80. The Pontiac in front showed no signs of slowing, but now Starsky was closing the gap and Henry Mears could see him in his rear view mirror, the curly head pointing forward in concentration, the blond head at the side. Ducking off the freeway at the next intersection, the bright red car followed the drug dealer along a rough road and up towards the hills behind the city. The tyres of both cars kicked up dust on the tight corners and both were forced to reduce their breakneck speed marginally, but the two detectives knew the area like the back of their hand and the curly haired cop used their knowledge to his advantage now as he inexorably closed the gap between the two cars.

‘Hang a right up ahead’ Hutch shouted as the turning came up quickly.

‘Got it’ Starsky grunted as he pulled the wheel around and set off again following the rising dust trail down the track. The tyres rattled and bumped over the exposed rocks on the little used track and Hutch chuckled to himself at the barely suppressed gasps and groans from his partner.

‘Hey you wanted the chase’ he yelled at the scowling driver.

‘My poor car! Listen, she’s cryin’ Hutch. Ya can hear her yelpin’ over the rocks. Oh my poor girl!’

At that moment they went over a particularly big rock and the wheel was pulled from Starsky’s hands. He grabbed for it and righted the car sending it slewing across the track, but the Pontiac had fared even worse and as the dust settled they could see it on its side in a ditch at the side of the road.

The brunette pulled up sharply, the striped tomato slewing sideways and catapulting Hutch forward. He brought himself up short about an inch from the windshield and grunted as he pushed himself back. Starsky was already out of the car and had his gun drawn. He was squatting down by the side of the driver’s door, checking the clip and slipping a bullet into the pipe. He thumbed off the safety and ducked up, looking through the open window at his blond partner.

‘Cover me’ he hissed as he set off down the road towards the stalled blue car.

Hutch unholstered his own Colt and got quickly out of the car, leaning against the wing of the car and sighting down the length of his arm as he saw his partner approach the Pontiac. He had a moment’s clear sight and then the driver was pushing the door open. Starsky saw the movement and stopped, crouching down low as he saw the man draw his own weapon. As the shot rang out, he flung himself into the ditch at the side of the road, rolling over and landing with a bone crunching thud on his back. He gasped, the breath knocked from his body.

Back on the road, Hutch ran forward as the driver got out of his car and bolted for the open countryside. The man was fast on his feet, but the blonde’s boots kicked up the dust as his muscular legs powered him after the drug dealer. He sprinted down the track and jumped over the broad ditch, running up the hillside, the breath whistling in his throat. The hillside was steep and the sun hot and Hutch struggled to keep up with the fleeing man, eventually being forced to stop as his vision threatened to leave him, bright sparkles playing around the periphery of his sight. He dropped to his knees in exhaustion, his head hanging down between his arms as he propped himself up, fighting to recover his breath and stopping his legs from trembling. A wave of acute nausea washed over him and with a groan he deposited his breakfast onto the toasted grass at his side, pushing himself away and swallowing down the bitter taste in his mouth.

Moments later, Starsky skidded to a halt at his side.

‘Where’s the bad guy?’ he said, looking around him.

With a shaky arm, Hutch pointed up the hill. ‘He went thataway’ he gasped, heaving enormous lungfulls of air.

The brunette sprinted off in pursuit of Mears leaving his partner to recover his breath and curse at the flu he’d just recovered from. He waited for a quarter of an hour, slowly letting his breathing and heart rate return to normal and vowing that he’d drag himself back to the gym the next day or die trying. He longed for some cool water to wash away the foul taste in his mouth and shakily, he wiped away the beads of cold sweat that had formed across the bridge of his nose and forehead. Starsky was always better then him at a sprint, but he had always been able to outdistance the brunette in a long chase. But these last couple of days he’d not been able to shake the exhaustion that had left him in bed by 9:00pm each evening and struggling to get up at 7:00am the next morning. Damned Asian flu! He’d been laid low in bed for a week with the chills, fevers and dry hacking cough and had taken another two weeks t get over it. Or he thought he’d gotten over it. Obviously not!

He stood slowly as he saw his partner coming back over the crest of the hill with Mears clutched by the collar of his jacket, his hands cuffed behind his back. Starsky walked down the hill, pausing just long enough to check Hutch was ok before marching his prisoner back to the Torino and pushing him into the back seat.

Hutch limped down the hill behind the brunette and leaned heavily against the car, trying to make it look casual as Starsky did the business with Mears. The drug dealer was whining like a girl as he sat back on the black leather upholstery.

‘You got the wrong guy, cop. I don’t deserve this! I provide a public service! My customers need me’ he mumbled as Starsky pushed him back in the seat.

‘If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime’ he chimed, grinning and looking pleased with himself as he got into the drivers side, and stowed his Smith and Wesson. He watched as Hutch lowered himself into the passenger seat and under cover of the engine asked in a quiet voice ‘Are you ok Blintz?’

‘Yeah, why?’ Hutch replied a little too defensively. He caught himself and then smiled reluctantly. ‘It’s that damned flu. I can’t seem to shake it. I’m just tired. Let’s get back to the metro and get this goon processed.

‘Yeah, well you were pretty sick there for a while. Just take it easy. D’ya want me to drop you at home before I take Mears in. Maybe ya just need a pick me up huh? I could get Aunt Rosie to send you some of her chicken soup…..or maybe not, but her wonton are to die for. But I can make you some authentic Jewish chicken soup. I got the reci……Hutch? Oh shit, not in the car’ he pulled over t the side of the road, and the blind opened the door just in time to deposit more breakfast on the roadside verge.

Starsky rubbed at his partner’s back, the man in the back of the car temporarily forgotten in his concern for the flaxen haired cop. Hutch was pale and shaking and a low groan escaped his lips as he sat back up, wiping the back of his hand over his mouth.

‘Oh shit!...haven’t felt so sick to my stomach since that last burrito you bought for me from Vinny’s’ he panted, easing his long legs back into the car. Starsky ran his hand over his partner’s forehead.

‘Ya seem cool enough. No fever. Maybe you need to get checked out huh? I could take you over to the Doc’s. Maybe ya need antibiotics or somethin’.

Hutch rested his head back against the headrest, closing his eyes to stop the world spinning. ‘I’ll be fine. M’just tired I guess. Don’t need to go to the doctors. And anyway, we got our annual physicals tomorrow. I can only face so much poking and prodding. I just need to sleep’.

‘Well that’s settled it. I’m dropping you at home. I can process him’ he flicked his head at Mears ‘and then I’ll call round later t’check on ya’.

The blond smiled. ‘Starsk I’m tired. I’m not dying! Lets just get down to the Metro, do the business then, if you want, you can mother hen me all you like’.

‘Did anyone ever tell ya you’re a stubborn son of a bitch?’ the brunette asked good naturedly as he pulled the car back out into traffic and headed back down town.

‘What? Me? Stubborn?’ Hutch asked with a straight face. ‘Lil’ ole me? Nah. You know me Starsk. I’m just a pussy cat’. He chuckled at the “hurumph” from the seat next to him and settled back into the seat, closing his eyes. Within minutes he was asleep, his head lolling slightly to the side.

Starsky slowed down the speed of the car and took the corners more carefully than usual, concern showing on his handsome face as he cast sideways glances at his sleeping partner. He’d never seen the blond so wiped out from an illness. Although the doctor had told him that the flu was a virulent form and that it could take weeks to fully recover. But it was a month ago, and he’d have thought that a usually healthy guy like his partner would have been able to shake off even a nasty flu in that time.

It crossed his mind to ignore his friend’s wishes and just take him home, but decided against it. It was one thing to have a tired partner, but he couldn’t cope with a seriously pissed Hutch. And that’s what he’d have if he ignored what the blond wanted. So he carried on into the city centre and pulled up outside the big stone building in his usual parking place. He leaned over and nudged the shoulder next to him.


Hutch screwed his nose up and rolled his head away, so Starsky tried again.

‘Hey, Blondie. Wakey wakey! Time to go do some work huh?’

The ice blue eyes cracked open and Hutch stared blearily at the world. He felt worse now than he had before he’d gone to sleep and he dry wiped his hand over his face, taking a deep breath.

‘Sorry Starsk. Musta nodded off’. He got out of the car and stamped his foot on the pavement absently trying to get rid of the pins and needles in his toes. Great! Tied, sick and then ya had to sit funny and give yourself a dead foot! He followed the brunette into the building, ignoring the red and white bearded Santa on the sidewalk and bringing up the rear as Starsky escorted Mears up to the interview rooms.

Three hours later, statement completed and paperwork more or less done, they emerged into the darkening evening.

‘Home now?’ Starsky asked.

‘Home now’ Hutch agreed, his body longing for his bed and for once even looking forward to his partner looking after him. He was tired, his stomach was empty and the pins and needles in his right foot had now been joined by pins and needles in his left. His day was just getting better and better!

Chapter 2

--------23rd December--------

Bright and early the next morning Starsky was back at his partner’s apartment. The previous evening, he’d busied himself in Hutch’s kitchen, chopping chicken, making broth, combining the two and dosing his friend with “Jewish penicillin”. Hutch had sat uncomplaining on his settee and smiled as the curly haired cop had busied himself in his kitchen, the picture of a domestic god. It never failed to impress Hutch that his partner was such a tidy guy. Hutch enjoyed cooking, but by the time he’d completed a dish, his kitchen looked like a war zone with every pot and pan he had out on the counter top and dirty. With Starsky, each implement was washed and dried carefully and replaced in its rightful place as it was used. At the end of the operation, the only sign of cooking in his small kitchen was a dirty bowl and spoon when Hutch had finished his supper and the delicious aroma of the hot soup.

The brunette had stopped at Hutch’s apartment, playing with the baubles on the small Christmas tree and childishly fingering the wrapped presents beneath it until he was sure his friend was in bed and asleep and then had let himself quietly out, more than a little worried at the tiredness and nausea. But he reassured himself that flu took some getting over and they had the physical to look forward to. They’d always passed it with flying colours, but it was reassuring to know Hutch would get a thorough check up.

So now he knocked on the fancy, tree embellished front door and let himself in, hearing the noise of the shower going in the bathroom. Starsky went into the kitchen made two cups of coffee and then sat down on the settee and waited, knowing Hutch would be out before too long. Minutes later, his partner appeared, towel wrapped round his waist and toothbrush clamped between his teeth. He stopped at the door and forced a smile onto his face.


‘Mornin’ yourself. Coffee?’ Starsky pointed at the cup on the table and tried to disguise the look of concern. Hutch looked no more rested than the night before. In fact, if anything, he looked as though he’d been up all night. ‘Trouble sleeping?’ he asked.

The blond snorted. ‘More like trouble waking up. I feel like I could sleep for a week!’ he headed for his bedroom. ’I’ll be with ya in a minute’.

Starsky leaned back on the settee, idly flicking through “The Patio Gardner” book his partner was currently using as his bible. Five minutes later Hutch emerged in his pale beige pants, brown tee shirt and with his holster dangling under his left arm. He reached for the coffee and drank it down in one, hoping the effects of the caffeine would clear his head a little.

‘Are ya ready? Have you got your sweats?’ Starsky asked.

‘Yeah. I know. Its poke ‘n’ prod day. Wouldn’t miss it for the world’. Hutch shouldered into his black leather jacket and headed for the door with an impatient ‘Ready?’

They made their way out to Starsky’s car and got in. Switching on the engine the brunette gunned the engine and they set off with the customary squeal of tyres.

‘D’ya have to?’ Hutch asked with a half grin on his face

‘Have to what?’ his partner asked innocently.

‘You know what I mean. Set off with that noise every time. You’ve left half your rubber on the black top. It’s fine if we’re chasing someone, but we’re only going in to work’.

The brunette grinned. ‘I like to keep in practice’.

Making it to the Metro in on piece, both detectives headed down to the basement and to their appointment with the police surgeon for their annual checks. Walking into the small windowless changing rooms, they shucked off their working clothes and changed into sweat pants and tee shirts and sat on the hard wooden benches waiting to be called. Starsky leaned back against the lattice metalwork of the hangers lazily stretching and making a good imitation of a cat sunning itself in a window, and Hutch prowled the floor, more like a caged tiger waiting for escape.

‘You ok Blintz?’ the brunette asked, his head following the blonde’s progress as if he was watching a ping pong ball flying over a net. His partner seemed ill at ease which was unusual as he was the one who always prided himself on keeping himself in tip top shape.

‘Yeah. M’fine. Just don’t see the need for this. Every year the same thing. You’d think they’d have enough of our blood now. It doesn’t change you know. Same old same old. Its red, its sticky an’ it belongs in my veins rather then in their needles’.

The blonde’s tirade was interrupted by a pretty nurse in a starched white apron, a clip board under her arm. She smiled. ‘Good morning. Detectives Starsky and Hutchinson?’

The curly haired cop brightened at the prospect of a morning with her and pointed. ‘Um…I’m Starsky, he’s Hutch’.

She smiled again, liking what she saw. ‘Well shall we begin gentlemen? Shirts off and we’ll start with the treadmill test’. She watched as both men removed their tee shirts and then got busy, cleaning spots on their chests with methylated spirit and attaching small sticky pads at strategic points. Hutch didn’t mind so much, but Starsky complained bitterly.

‘Have you any idea how much they hurt when you take ‘em off?’

The nurse gave him a withering look and Hutch rolled his eyes. ‘For God’s sake! Don’t be a wimp Gordo. It’s only like a sticking plaster’.

‘Easy for you to say, Oh bald chested one! For those of us with manly chest hair, its torture’ he whined as the nurse attached leads to the pads and led both men to the treadmills. Setting the heart monitors to ready, she started the treads moving.

‘2 miles or 12 minutes, whichever comes first’ she said merrily and sat back.

Both detectives set off at a steady trot, increasing speed as they got into the swing of the test. Starsky always hated the treadmill. He had no problem keeping up and staying the distance, but he always complained that he got bored. Today he started off by singing, only giving up when his breath was needed for the final few minutes of the test.

Hutch listened to his partner’s raucous attempts at a tune as it took his mind of his lethargy. He hated to admit it to himself and he certainly wasn’t ready to admit it to anyone else, but he was struggling. His heart was racing and the breath was catching in his throat, his legs felt like lead and by the end of the test, when the treads were slowing down, he could feel his vision greying slightly at the periphery. As he saw the nurse zero the counter on the machine he made a grab for the handrail and jumped onto the fixed areas at the sides of the moving tread, hanging his head and struggling to breath. To a stranger, it was just a man recovering from a strenuous run. To the brunette it was a picture of his partner in trouble. Letting the nurse remove the leads and pads from their chests, he waited till she was out of earshot and leaned over to Hutch.

‘Hey, buddy. Are you ok? You look a bit wiped there’ he hissed.

Hutch raised tired ice blues and shrugged. ‘It’s that damned flu. I can’t shake it. I just need some time off. Maybe somewhere warm like Barbados or Hawaii’.

‘With a cute little long haired maiden dancin’ the hula. That’d raise the old blood pressure!’ Starsky added, wiggling his eyebrows.

The blond chuckled. ‘The way I feel right now buddy, I couldn’t even raise a smile’. He stepped off the machine on rubbery legs and both men went back to wait for the next battery of tests. Hutch sat on the hard wooden bench leaning forward with his elbows resting on his knees and his head in his hands. He could feel his mind drifting away while he waited, his heavy lids closing as he drifted into a doze, only wakening when his elbow lost it’s purchase and he fell forward. In a flash a strong brown furred arm shot out and held him upright and worried indigo eyes looked into his face.

‘Hutch, just tell the Doc about the flu. Maybe he can give ya a pick-me-up or somthin’. I dunno, maybe you’re anaemic’.

He blond blushed at having been caught dosing and tried to cover his embarrassment. ‘A knee mick? Isn’t that a tiny Irishman?’

Starsky rolled his eyes and looked away. He knew his friend well enough to know not to push. Hutch would only dig in his heels if he asked him too much to see the medics. But he knew something was wrong and he needed to get to the bottom of it. He tried again. ‘Just tell the Doc you’re feelin’ tired and ya had the flu. Maybe he can give ya some pills?’ He shut up at the stormy look on the Viking face.

‘Shudup will ya? I’m fine. I just need to get this bug outta my system OK?’

The brunette held up his hands, admitting defeat. ‘OK OK. Don’t go off on one. I just thought….Right, I’ll clamp it’ he said just as the nurse returned. She stopped at the door and consulted her clipboard again.

‘Detective Hutchinson?’ the doctor will see you now’.

Hutch stood and made his way wearily into the small consulting room and sat down, emerging half an hour later scowling and with a band aid taped over the crook of his arm. As he flung himself down on the bench he nudged Starsky who had taken the opportunity to lie on his back and dose.

‘Dracula wants you now’.

Starsky sat up and headed into the room for his turn with the blood sucking doctor.


‘So, Mears. Who’s your supplier? Hutch asked again as he paced the small white tiled interview room.

Both detectives had been sent back to work after their physical with promises that they’d get the results within a week. Hutch was glad for a little normality and had elected to play “bad guy” for the purposes of the interrogation this time. So as he prowled the perimeter of the room and occasionally leaned over the drug dealer, his face mere inches form Mears’, Starsky sat straddling one of the ladder backed chairs, looking on. As the blond approached Mears again, the brunette spoke up.

‘Hey Hutch, why don’t ya take a break huh. I’m sure Mr Mears would like a cigarette. Wouldn’t ya Henry? Just a little break so that ya can get your memory in order?’

Hutch glanced sideways at his partner, suspicious. Was Starsky playing the good cop/bad cop routine, or did he think he needed a break? He decided on the former and barged past the now sweating perp heading for the door. He slammed it behind him and went to the water machine, grabbing a small paper cup. A moment later his partner appeared and made a beeline for the candy machine. Checking no-one was around Starsky aimed a strategically placed and well practised punch and was rewarded by a free Hershey bar. He leaned complacently back against the wall, legs crossed and munched on the chocolate.

‘He’s cracking’.

Hutch raised his eyebrows. ‘You think? He’s a cool one’.

‘Nah. I saw the twitch’ the brunette insisted.


‘Yeah, twitch. They all twitch before they crack. That’s what ya look for when they start to tell the truth. Twitch, crack. Works every time’ he said happily. He finished the chocolate, scrunching up the wrapper. He aimed it at the bin and then strutted back to the interview room door.

‘Ya comin’?’

Hutch nodded and waited a moment till his partner had got himself settled before flinging the door open and barging into the small room. Mears had been sitting puffing on the cigarette and as he saw the blond whirlwind enter, his hand started to shake and he set the stub down on the ashtray.

‘Don’t get him mad’ Starsky said lightly, looking from Mears to Hutch and back again ‘You’d hate it when he’s mad’.

The flaxen haired cop pulled up a chair close to the dealer’s and sat down, looking intently at the sweating man, drumming his fingers in an hypnotic rhythm on the Formica top of the small table. He watched the sweat bead on the man’s upper lip and then….there….that twitch of the eyebrow!

‘OK OK…..just get me a lawyer’ Mears blurted out as Starsky winked knowingly at his partner.

Chapter 3

-----24th December - morning -----

‘Deck the halls with boughs of Holly….’ Starsky’s voice warbled as he beat his fingers on the dash of Hutch’s car on the way down town. He was feeling distinctly Christmassy as they passed the street corner trees decorated in lights and tinsel, the shop windows ablaze with shiny red, green and silver decorations.

‘What’ve ya got me Hutch? C’mon, ya know you’re burstin’ to tell me. What is it, huh, huh?’ the little boy looked expectantly at his friend.

The blond looked sideways at his partner, smiling at the boyish attitude to the season. ‘Same as last year, but a different colour’.

‘Oh, that’s um….hey, you didn’t get me anything last year! All that Scrooge stuff about Christmas being over commercialised’.

‘That’s it partner. Same again. You know I don’t “do” Christmas’ he yawned and swerved as the car took a dive to the right.

‘Tired still?’

He shrugged. ‘No more’n yesterday, or the day before that, or the day before that. It’s kind of a permanent feeling now. I think I’m getting used to it’.

‘Well it’s the big night tonight. Ya have to be right for that. Christmas party! Is Ginny coming?’

Hutch rubbed his hand tiredly over his face and wiggled his fingers to get rid of the pins and needles. He’d had them on and off for the past couple of days and the feeling was getting more than annoying. ‘I didn’t ask her. I’m not in the mood for parties. I just wanna go home and sleep’.

‘Party pooper’. But Starsky cast a sly glance at his partner. It wasn’t like Hutch to be like this. And as for passing up a party with the lovely Ginny!

They pulled into the police garage and got out and as the brunette bounded upstairs, Hutch tiredly trailed behind him feeling like shit and thinking dark and evil thoughts about bouncing brunettes and their attitudes to Yuletide. As they got into the squad room, Hutch sat down heavily at his desk and started to toy listlessly with the papers he’d stacked there the night before.

‘Coffee?’ Starsky asked, holding up the cup and wriggling it.

‘A bomb’d be more like. I just want someone to give me a shot of get up an’ go, coz mine got up an’ went a while ago’. He fiddled in his desk for a pen and started to look at Mears’ statement from yesterday. As he did the phone rang and Starsky pounced on it, wanting to spread his Christmas spirit to all corners.

‘Happy Christmas’ he said down the phone, cupping it in his hand and wrapping his fingers around the mouthpiece. ‘Yeah, he’s here. Hold on’. He handed the receiver to Hutch. ‘For you’.

Starsky watched as the blond nodded, a furrow creasing the golden brow as the conversation continued and as he put the phone down, the brunette saw the look in the ice blue eyes.


‘That was the Doc downstairs. He…um….he wants to see me. About the blood test results’.

‘Yeah, when?’ Starsky asked, suddenly more than a little concerned.

‘Now. He ah…he said he needed to see me right now’. Hutch’s voice sounded thin and he smiled a brittle smile. ‘Probably telling me I need that vacation after all’ he said quickly, standing and shouldering into his jacket.

Seeing the worry in his partner’s face, the brunette stood too. ‘Do ya want some company?’

Both men went down the stairs and back to the basement rooms. Hutch hadn’t liked the tone of the doctor’s voice or the fact that he’d said that Hutch should come immediately. It’s like going towards certain doom. Why is everything bad always downstairs? You don’t get the bad guys in the movies sitting in the brightly lit living room. No! They’re always waiting downstairs in the basement with the lights off and the axe in their hands. The bad stuff is always in the basement.

Shudup Hutchinson. Pull yourself together. He probably wants more of your blood, or maybe another whiz around on the treadmill. It’ll be fine. Enough of the histrionics!

As the two detectives pushed the door to the small suite of consulting rooms open, worryingly Doctor March was waiting for them.

‘Ah, Detective Hutchinson. Come in. And Detective Starsky too. Would you like to wait outside?’ he asked the brunette. Starsky looked at the worry on his partner’s face and shook his head.

‘Whatever Hutch wants’.

The blond was already anxious and wanted to cut through the waiting and pleasantries. ‘He’s fine. What I know he knows. What’s this all about Doc? Couldn’t it have waited? We’re right in the middle of a big drug bust’.

The March looked compassionate and concerned – a combination that both men knew from experience was never the forerunner of good news. He cleared his throat. ‘Let’s sit down in my office shall we?’

Both cops followed him into the small room and he closed the door as they took seats at either side of the desk. The doctor started to leaf through a file of papers on his desk, making the “hmm” noises that medics are noted for. Finally he looked up, a serious look on his face.

‘Tell me how you’re feeling’ he said looking at Hutch.

‘Feeling? What’s that supposed to mean? Just cut the crap and tell me whatever it is you want to tell me huh?’ Hutch was scared at the way the interview was turning and his heart started to beat a little faster.

‘Have you been sick recently…..ah…..Ken?’

Oh shit. He called me Ken. Never a good sign. Ok Ok, just cool it. Just tell him everything’s fine and then you can go.

‘I had the flu a couple of weeks ago. Why?’

‘And have you been feeling tired at all recently?’ March pressed.

‘Yeah, a little’. Hutch ignored the quiet snort coming from the brunette. ‘I just put it down to the bugs not being out of my system. What’re ya tryin’ to tell me Doc?’

March paused and picked up his pen; an emotional crutch when he had to deliver this sort of news. ‘Have you had any pins and needles, or loss of sensation in your extremities? Fingers or toes?’

Hutch’s patience finally went. ‘Just tell me what you want to tell me Doc’ he snapped as Starsky put a calming hand on his arm.

‘Doc. What my partner is trying to say is cut the flannel and if there’s anything wrong we need to know’.

The doctor sighed. ‘Very well. Your blood tests have come back showing that there is an abnormality. It’s quite a rare condition and one which has the potential to be debilitating at best and at worst crippling or possibly even fatal’. He stopped to let the news sink in as he took in the looks of horror on Starsky’s face and disbelief on Hutch’s. There was silence for a moment as both men assimilated the news.

‘That can’t be right. It’s just the after effects of the flu’ the blond protested.

March was used to the inevitable reactions and looked levelly back. ‘I’m afraid I had the samples tested twice. You have the early stages of a neurological complaint called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or GBS for short’.

Hutch looked as though a feather would have knocked him over. Very slowly he ran his finger over his bottom lip and blinked once or twice, but said nothing. Instead Starsky sat forward on his seat, asking the questions for him.

‘What do you mean “debilitating or possibly fatal”. What’re ya sayin’ here Doc? That my partner might die? Just lay it on the line huh?’ The brunette’s mind went back to the last time they’d been shell shocked by a doctor, That time Hutch had stared down a microscope in a hospital laboratory as the doctor told him he was about to become sick with an incurable plague. Like then, the blond was now sitting staring stoically ahead, silent and brooding, needing to get to grips with the news and not wanting to upset Starsky.

March looked at the silent blond. ‘Ken?’

Hutch shook himself from his stupor. ‘Ah….yeah. Just give it to me straight. What does it do, this GBS?’ But deep down, he braced himself, needing only confirmation, because he’d seen it all before.

The medic sighed. ‘OK, well basically: The symptoms of GBS vary a great deal from patient to patient, and so each has a unique case history. The severity of symptoms can vary considerably between individuals. Symptoms can range from mild muscle weakness that resolves quickly, to muscle paralysis. Guillain-Barre Syndrome frequently follows an antecedent flu-like illness within two weeks prior to the onset of neurological symptoms occurring. As you can see, the blood test results are backed up by your case history. You had the flu and you’ve been feeling increasingly tired’. He paused, watching the expressions flit over the blonde’s face.

‘What’s the cure?’ Starsky asked hesitantly.

March had dreaded the question and sadly he shook his head. ‘There isn’t a cure, and no particular treatment. We can treat the symptoms as they appear, and it may be that Ken will only have a mild form of the disease, but…..’

‘But what?’ the brunette snapped

The doctor looked at his pen and gave it a strenuous twiddling as he searched for some sort of comfort. ‘But the blood test doesn’t back that theory up’ he said gently.

‘So tell me Doc. How long have I got?’ Hutch asked very quietly.

March took a long look at his patient, weighing up whether Hutch could palate the truth or not, finally deciding that that was the way to go.

‘Patients generally notice weakness in their legs, manifesting as "rubbery legs" or legs that tend to buckle, with or without numbness or tingling – pins and needles. As the weakness progresses upward, usually over periods of hours or days, your arms and facial muscles may also become affected. GBS isn’t a precise science. It can develop over the course of hours or days, or it may take up to 3 to 4 weeks, the slower the onset of symptoms, the quicker and more complete the recovery will be. I’m guessing that if you hadn’t had the physical yesterday, you would have felt the need to go to your doctor some time soon. Are you sure you haven’t had any pins and needles, maybe in your toes?’

‘No’ Hutch said, a little too emphatically. ‘No, nothing like that. And I’m not going to. You’ve either got it wrong Doc, or it won’t be as bad as you make out. I feel fine, just tired. That’s hardly life threatening!’

Starsky put his hand out to stop his partner ranting further. He understood that this must have come as a terrible shock to Hutch, and indeed he felt as though the world had been pulled out from under his feet too. But he still needed answers. There were so many things to ask.

‘You say there’s no cure. Are you sure? Can we get a second opinion? Surely there’s something you can do. You’re a doctor for Gods sake’ It was the curly haired man’s turn to become agitated now and the blonde’s job to calm him.

At the mention of the GBS, Hutch’s mind went back to the days when he was a medical student back at Duluth County General.

He’d been following the neurology professor on his ward rounds that morning and they’d entered the room of a relatively young woman. It was quiet and still, only the hiss whoosh of a respirator breaking the silence and the professor had started to talk about the patient as though they weren’t there.

This is Amy Furness. She was admitted two days ago with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. She had rapid onset debilities, ending in complete muscle paralysis, including all muscle groups. Her breathing is being assisted and at this moment she is probably awake, but trapped in her body, unable to speak, breathe, blink, swallow or communicate in any way with the outside world. The situation may or may not be permanent’.

The professor turned away and Hutch was left staring at the shell of a girl who was once vibrant and alive. He looked at the paralysed body and wondered what it would be like to withstand being a prisoner inside your own flesh. And then to have a doctor talk about your prognosis as though you weren’t there. He shivered in sympathy and his hand trailed over the girl’s hand. Gently he bent down over the body and whispered in her ear.

Thanks Amy. You’ll be fine, I know you will. He’s an asshole!’

Hutch looked now at Doctor March. This man didn’t look like an asshole, but the blond still didn’t trust him.

‘What do you want to do now?’ he asked matter of factly.

‘I think you should take yourself along to Memorial. I’ll ring ahead and get a bed for you’.

The doctor reached for the telephone, but Hutch put his hand out and stopped him.

‘No. I’m fine and I’m not going to the hospital. While I still can I’m gonna keep on working. If things get worse, I’ll come back. Deal?’

Starsky pulled at his arm. ‘No deal partner. If you’re as sick as the Doc here says, you need to be in the hospital now’.

But Hutch had had enough. With the memory of Amy Furness still etched into his brain, he walked towards the door. ‘I’m not going to the hospital and that’s final. Now. Are ya comin’ or not. We’ve got the paperwork to finish on Henry Mears’ and with that, he opened the door and walked out as the brunette and the doctor watched his departing back. The door slammed and again there was silence.

Chapter 4

----24th December - afternoon ----

‘You really are one pig headed son of a b..’ Starsky grouched as he followed his partner back up to the ground floor of the Metro.

When Hutch had rushed out of Doctor March’s office after being told the diagnosis, the brunette had stayed behind for a moment, letting the momentous news sink in. He’d watched the emotions flickering over his partner’s face and knew Hutch was struggling to come to terms with the diagnosis.

‘Jeez! What can I do now? He said, feeling helpless and more than a little scared.

March shook his head slowly. ‘It’s a normal reaction. I’ve seen it countless times before. People either laugh hysterically or get quiet and angry. Right now he’s in denial and there’s only time, and the onset of the disease that will convince him that this is the real deal and not some sick joke’.

‘How long before the other symptoms show?’ Starsky asked softly

The doctor shrugged. ‘I’d guess he already has some of them but has chosen to ignore them. Like I said, it’s difficult to plot the progress of this particular disease, but we’re talking days rather than weeks’.

‘And there’s no cure? You’re sure of that? Can we get a second opinion?’ Starsky continued desperately.

‘No, there is no cure. When the symptoms start to manifest, we can treat those, but other than that it’s just a matter of waiting for the GBS to run its course. We have no idea how serious or not it’s likely to be’.

The curly haired cop pursed his lips. ‘So it could be that this is as bad as it gets?’ he asked hopefully.

March nodded. ‘Possible, but not probable. Just watch him for any signs and if and when things start getting tough, get him to Memorial. I’ll have them on standby’.

So now Starsky was following the fleeing blond out of the building and back to his car. It wasn’t particularly difficult to catch up as Hutch’s pace was slower than usual and Starsky was driven on by the need to comfort his partner. They got into the car and Hutch stared out through the windshield at nothing in particular. Starsky became uncomfortable with the silence, which seemed to stretch taut between them, suddenly making them strangers. Finally he couldn’t stand the quiet any more and turned to Hutch.

‘Do ya wanna talk Blondie, coz I do?’

The blond turned the key in the ignition. ‘There’s nothing to talk about. I’m fine’ he said tightly.

Starsky decided to let it ride for a while, hoping that driving would quiet his partner’s mind. He sat back as Hutch pulled out of the garage and into the morning traffic. Everywhere red clothed Santas were out with their collection boxes and harassed women charged around with armfuls of packages as they completed their last minute Christmas shopping. Hutch watched them as they went about their business, no doubt looking forward to the season’s holidays with their families. Their greatest worry was whether they’d bought the Malibu Barbie for the daughter or whether their husband would like the pair of slippers she’d chosen that year. They were oblivious to his problems. They had no idea that some virtually unknown doctor had just pronounced almost a death sentence on him. And would they care?

No, he thought. It was worse than death. If the disease progressed, it was a living imprisonment and the thought scared Hutch so much that he felt sick to his stomach. He tried to clear his mind and concentrated on weaving his old rust bucket of a car through the shopping traffic and back to Starsky’s apartment.

Well Starsky won’t want your car when you don’t need it anymore. You might as well get rid of it….Shit Hutchinson. Shudup. Just shudup huh? You’re not dying. You’re not gonna die, so just keep your mouth shut.

He continued silently berating himself as he drove, feeling the waves of sympathy coming from his partner and feeling claustrophobic because of them. If the tables had been turned he knew he would have been there, offering drinks, solicitously making sure the brunette got to bed. But this was different. He wanted to talk, but he didn’t want sympathy. If anything he felt like he needed a good argument, just to get the pent up emotions out of his system. They drew up outside and he left the engine on idle, sitting in silence for a minute.

‘Are you coming up?’ Starsky asked.

‘Dunno. I think I just want to go home an’ sleep’.

‘Well then I’ll come home with ya’ the brunette said, taking his hand off the door handle.

‘There’s no need. I told you. I’m fine’. Hutch’s voice was toneless, but he refused to look at his partner.

‘Hutch, if I was you I’d be scared out of my wits. I don’t think you should be on your own. You need company buddy. If not me, then Ginny. Can I call her?’

‘NO’ Hutch snapped. ‘Don’t call her. And I don’t need company. There’s nothing the matter with me. I’m just tired. I don’t need you to look after me. I am NOT sick’.

‘We need to talk…. I need to talk’ the brunette persisted.

The look of open hostility in Hutch’s eyes made him clamp his mouth shut and refrain from further protestations. ‘Fine’ Starsky admitted defeat. ‘If ya want to be on your own, that’s fine. But if you need anything call me huh?’ He got out of the car and looked in through the open window. ‘Hutch? Call me?’

The blond looked wearily at him and gave him the ghost of a smile. ‘Yeah, I’ll call if I need anything. But I’ll be fine. See you tomorrow?’ and with that, he slipped the selector into drive and set the car in motion.

Hutch drove home with his mind in turmoil. His toes still had pins and needles in them. At first, it had been an intermittent feeling, but now, it was there all the time and as he gripped the steering wheel he could feel the same thing happening to his fingers. Doctor March’s voice sounded in his head.

It starts with pins and needles in the hands and feet and can stop there or can lead to complete muscle paralysis.

His heart hammered in his chest as he turned off the main road and down to his apartment and he parked up, walking tiredly up to his home. He put the key in the lock, opened the door and closed it behind him, leaning against it, his head resting back on the wood and his eyes closed.

This isn’t happening. It’s not happening. It’s a mistake, it has to be.

The flaxen haired man took off his holster and hung it and his gun in the cupboard by the door. He walked into the kitchen and reached for a beer from the fridge before getting the veggies out of his basket and starting to peel the carrots. He looked down at the absurd vegetable in his hand, suddenly laughing almost hysterically.

The Doc’s just told ya you’re gonna maybe die, and you set to and make a casserole!

But just the homely procedure of peeling the carrots and potatoes and chopping them calmed the blond and for a few minutes, his mind blanked and he enjoyed the quiet domesticity. Putting the food into a dish and into the oven, he picked up the remains of his beer and walked into his living room, sitting down on his settee. He wanted to be alone with his thoughts and yet those thoughts scared him witless. The memory of Amy Furness’ still body pervaded his consciousness and he saw it each time he closed his eyes, making him shudder all over again. He wiped his hand over his face, trying to ignore the prickly feeling of the pins and needles and put the beer bottle down on the coffee table.

So, what’s this going to mean then Kenny? Maybe it’ll be nothing. Maybe it’ll just be a quick thing like the flu again. Yeah, right! Should I go to the hospital now? Am I being a fool to ignore it? No. I still feel OK. Business as usual. Ignore it an’ keep on going for as long as you can. That’s what Starsky did when Bellamy got him with the poison. Just carried on as long as he could. Ignore it and it might go away. Shit! How’s Starsky? He’s gonna be upset. You left him so damned abruptly. How’s he gonna be feeling? Well call him.

Hutch’s hand reached instinctively for the telephone and then he withdrew it. He couldn’t face the thought of his partner fussing over him like a Mother Hen. He didn’t need it.

Well not yet, but maybe soon.

But he needed something. Just the thought of his partner sitting in his living room, beer in hand and goofy smile radiating friendship brought a lump to his throat

Starsk! I need ya buddy, but I don’t need sympathy. I need normality. I need to cherish it ‘coz I might not have it much longer. (sigh) See. There ya go again ya dumb ass. All gloom doom and despondency. Pull yourself together!

Listlessly he picked up ‘The Patio Gardner’ and leafed through the pages, stopping at the article he’s been reading about ferns. Very interesting.

Ferns are very successful niche plants: they are well adapted to particular environmental niches - soil moisture, humidity, light, etc. They seldom grow outside these niches, some of which are very specific’.

He read the first sentence six or seven times then gave it up, unable to concentrate. Flicking the button on the remote, he switched on the television and surfed through the channels. Each one seemed to have a hospital drama of some sort, men or women led prettily in their beds whilst their relatives and loved ones crowded round them. No paralysis; no respirators; no incontinence; no loss of dignity. Nothing too inconvenient. Clinical and romanticised. He sighed and flicked the off button, throwing the remote down in disgust.

Quietly he looked around his room.

OK Hutchinson. Get yourself in gear. If this is gonna happen what d’ya need to do? C’mon, get with the plan.

He sat for a while making mental lists that ranged from arranging for his neighbour to water his plants to checking out his medical insurance. But there was one thing he needed to do now, and he felt a heel for doing it, but it’d save hurt in the long term. With trembling fingers he reached for the telephone and dialled a familiar number, waiting till the receiver was picked up.


‘Ginny. Hi it’s Hutch’.

‘Hi lover, what makes you phone at this time of day?’ she sounded so happy to hear from him which made it worse still.

‘I…um….I need to tell you something…..and it’s not easy’ he mumbled, unsure whether he really wanted or needed to do this.

‘What is it Ken? What’s so hellfire urgent we couldn’t wait till tonight? Or do you just miss me too much?’

‘Yeah, I miss you, who wouldn’t? But, Ginny, there’s something happened and….I….um’ he sighed. Get a grip Hutchinson, just tell her’. ‘I need to tell you that I can’t see you any more’ he finally said in a rush.

There was shocked silence at the other end of the telephone and then a one word reply.


Oh shit, oh shit oh shit. Don’t ask honey. Don’t make this harder than it is. You don’t want to be saddled with a dying man for Gods sake. Just take it from me that you’re better off without me.

‘Like I said, something has happened and I can’t see you any more. I’m sorry’. He wanted to put the phone down; to end the conversation, but she wouldn’t let him.

‘Is there someone else?’ she asked with a crack in her voice.

‘No. There’s no-one else’ Hutch said. Something, but not someone.

‘Then why. I don’t understand. I thought you liked me. I thought you might even love me. How can you do this – on the telephone? Couldn’t you at least have seen me face to face?’ the accusation was strong in her voice and Hutch hated himself more with every word.

Hardening his heart, he took on a harder tone. ‘Ginny, trust me, I want to explain, but I can’t. You’re better off without me. Trust me when I say that. You don’t want me…..and I don’t want you’.

He put the phone down and stared at the receiver, breathing heavily as though he’d run a race. He’d just finished with his girl because of some stupid bugs washing around his body and all he wanted to do was bury himself away somewhere and ignore the world.

Hutch looked at his watch. 8:15pm. It was too early for bed, but it was too much effort to stay awake. Wearily he forced himself out of the chair and towards the bedroom, turning off the cooker on the way. He didn’t want the damned casserole anyway. He tripped over his own foot en route, his toes now numb and the panic rose a little higher up his chest. He sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed at them vigorously, willing the feeling to return and still trying to convince himself that this was not the beginning of the end. But as he heaved his heavy legs onto the bed and pulled the blanket around his ears, he couldn’t get over the fact that, believe it or believe it not, something sinister was happening and the Doctor could well be right.

Chapter 5

----25th December – early morning----

Starsky answered the telephone at the third ring, expecting it to be his partner. But instead he heard the strangled gasping sobs of a woman on the other end.

‘H’llo? Who is this?’

There was another sob then she managed to answer. ‘Dave? Oh thank God. I didn’t know whether you’d be out partying’.

‘Ginny. What the matter honey? Are you ok? Has something happened?’ his nerves jangled as he heard the upset in her voice almost expecting her to say that Hutch had collapsed.

‘I was going to ask you the same thing. Has something happened to you or to Hutch?’ she asked.

Starsky was on his guard immediately. ‘What d’ya mean?’ he said carefully. ‘What’s happened?’

‘Its Hutch. He broke up with me. He said something happened and he can’t see me any more, but he wouldn’t say why. I need to know Dave. Can you tell me? I can’t carry on if I don’t know’ she sobbed, getting upset again.

Oh my God. What’ve ya done now Blintz? Why do this huh? Are ya hurting so much babe?

‘Yeah, something happened Ginny, but if Hutch didn’t tell you, it’s probably because he was trying to protect you’.

‘Protect me? Protect me from what? Dave you’re scaring me. Is he undercover or something? Coz I can handle that. I just need to know’.

Starsky sighed. It wasn’t really his place to be telling, but he had a fair indication now of his partner’s state of mind, so he took a deep breath. ‘He’s sick honey. He went to the Doc’s today and he’s sick’.

‘He didn’t sound sick’ she said disbeleivingly.

‘Well he is. An’ he’s gonna get worse. He…erm…I dunno, Maybe he didn’t want you to see him like that. He’s just mixed up at the moment honey. M’sorry, he only found out today an’ he’s kinda taken it hard. The news is too raw for him at the minute’ the brunette explained.

He heard the sigh at the other end of the phone. ‘I want to be with him’ Ginny said.

‘I know you do. I do too, but he won’t even let me in. But he’ll come round, just give it time. And you can be with him, when he’s less screwed up about it. Just give him some space huh? He still loves ya’.

‘And I still love him. Will he be ok? What’s wrong with him?’

It was Starsky’s turn to sigh. ‘I don’t think it’s for me to tell ya. But he’s maybe gonna get very sick. Hospital sick, and then he will need you. He’ll tell you when he’s ready’.

The girl sounded deflated, upset and lost. ‘OK, well….look after him Dave. And tell me how he is. I’ll be here when he’s ready. Oh and….erm….happy Christmas’.

Starsky heard the phone click down and rolled onto his back on the bed, arm over his eyes as he tried to figure out what was going on in the blond head. Maybe he’d never know. Hutch had long since stopped trying to understand Starsky’s mental perambulations. But one thing was for sure. He needed to check on his partner. He reached for the phone hesitantly. What if Hutch was sleeping? What if he really was fine? Making a final decision, the brunette got out of bed and dressed quickly in his usual faded jeans and a long sleeved black tee shirt. Snagging his keys from the table by the door he set out into the night.

The streets were unusually busy as he drove. Revellers were coming home from parties full of Christmas spirit, laughing and joking and it seemed incongruous to the curly haired cop that they should be out enjoying themselves when he and his partner were trying to deal with such bad news. He heaved a deep sigh, putting his black thoughts to the back of his mind and minutes later he drew up outside Venice Place.

The apartment windows were dark as he looked up at them and fumbling for the key, he let himself through the front door, taking the steps up to the first floor three at a time. Starsky paused outside Hutch’s front door and listened at the wood. Silence. He reached up to the lintel and got the key, putting it quietly into the lock and turning it. If Hutch was fine, he’d be mad at Starsky worrying for him, but if there was anything wrong, the brunette would at least be there. Either way, Starsky would have peace of mind. Gently he opened the door and stepped inside, closing it silently behind him. The room was in darkness, but the brunette knew it as well as his own home and he sure footedly stepped around the furniture, his eyes slowly becoming accustomed to the dark. Making his way to the bedroom, he opened the door and let himself in, hardly breathing in case he woke his partner.

As the door opened, he saw that the light on the bedside table was on, casting a mellow light across the room. Hutch was in bed and apparently asleep, his flaxen hair mussed and falling over his eye making look like a little boy. Starsky smiled and was just about to back out of the room when a sleep befuddled voice mumbled ‘Close the door’.

‘Hutch, are you awake?’

‘Yeah’. The blond rolled over onto his back and brushed his hand over his forehead and eyes. ‘Tryin’ t’sleep, but I can’t. What’re ya doing here?’

‘I couldn’t sleep either’.

‘No? That’s not like you’ the blond chuckled. ‘I thought you could sleep in a tightrope’.

‘Well, there was something else too. I got a call from Ginny. She was so upset. What did ya have to do that for Blintz? She loves ya’. Starsky crossed over to the bed and sat down on the edge as Hutch tried to lever himself up into a sitting position. He got half way and seemed to think better of it, resting back on his pillow with a grunt.

‘Starsk, can you get me a glass of water?’ making it sound as though he wanted to change the subject. He saw the look of consternation cross the handsome face, but the brunette let it ride.

As Starsky got up, Hutch prodded at his right hand with his left, the breath shaky and whistling in his throat. He watched as his partner came back into the room and handed him the glass, but as he took hold of it it fell through his fingers and landed in a wet puddle on the floor.

‘Oh shit’ he muttered, seeing the look in the brunette’s indigo eyes.

‘Hutch? What is it? What’s the matter?’ he asked as calmly as he could, bending to pick up the glass.

The blond refused to meet his partner’s eyes, looking down at the sheets on his bed. ‘I …um…I can’t feel my hands’ he said softly.

‘Oh God Hutch! Is there any pain? Can I get you anything?’ Gently Starsky reached for the right hand and took it in his own. He rubbed softly at the knuckles. ‘Can you feel that?’

Troubled ice blues looked up. ‘Feel what?’ Hutch said shakily with a watery smile. ‘Ohhh shit. So now it starts’ he smiled again at his partner who looked distraut, trying to calm the brunette. It was bad enough that he felt terrified, but he didn’t want his partner to have to go through the same range of emotions. He needed to keep it light for Starsky’s sake. And if he could convince the curly haired man that it wasn’t so bad, maybe he’d believe it himself.

‘What can I do?’ Starsky asked. ‘What do you want to do? I ought to take you to Memorial like Doctor March said’.

Hutch shook his head. ‘Not yet. It’s not that bad. They’re just numb. I don’t wanna go yet. Not on Christmas day, it doesn’t feel right on Christmas Day. Just stay huh? Let’s just have one more day where everything is normal’.

‘But the Doc said once the symptoms started you should go to the hospital, before they got too bad. Maybe they can do something Hutch. Just….’

The blond put his numb hand out and rested it on Starsky’s knee. ‘Its gonna happen whether I’m here or in hospital Gordo. One way or the other, I’m gonna get sick and there aint a whole lot of stuff we can do about it. So, while I’m still feeling OK, we’re gonna have Christmas day at home. An’ I promise when things start to get bad, I’ll go in. Deal?’

‘Deal’ his partner replied, not looking convinced. Starsky looked at his watch. ‘OK well, its 2:15, so normal is going back to sleep’ he said.

‘Uh huh. I don’t want to sleep any more’ Hutch said tightly.

‘But you’ve been so tired. Aren’t you tired any more?’

The flaxen haired cop smiled. ‘More’n I could possibly say. But I still don’t want to sleep’.


‘Coz I don’t know what I’ll be like when I wake up’ the blond said in a very small voice. He saw the look flit across the olive toned face.

Don’t fall apart on me Gordo. Please don’t do that. I need you to be there for me, just as you are. Just be my Starsk and I’ll be able to deal with this, but don’t fall apart on me huh?

Slowly the brunette stood up. He went out of the bedroom and Hutch could hear him doing things in the living room. Minutes later he came back with two cups of coffee and a box under his arm. He put the cups down on the table and laid the box on the bed.

‘OK, well, if you don’t want to sleep, there’s only one thing left to do. Monopoly!’ He started setting out the board and counting out the toy dollars into piles as Hutch rested back on the pillow. As Starsky looked up he saw his partner looking at him.

‘What? What did I do?’ he asked suspiciously.

‘Nothing. I was just thinking how much I….’

‘OK that’s it. If you’re gonna get soapy I’m going’ Starsky grinned. ‘Whatever happens Blintz, we’re gonna get through this OK? But right now, there’s just one important thing I need to know’.

‘What?’ Hutch asked with his heart in his mouth, wondering what was coming.

‘Do ya want to be the little doggy or the top hat? Starsky asked seriously.

Engrossed in their game, both men continued playing Monopoly through the remainder of the night. Towards morning Hutch could hardly keep his eyes open. He’d managed to roll the dice and move his top hat around the board, but counting out the small paper bills was almost impossible with his numb fingers and so Starsky had obliged, keeping an eye on his friend, but keeping his worry to himself.

As the first rays of winter sunshine filtered through the window Hutch closed his eyes wearily and yawned.

‘Merry Christmas Starsk’ he said.

‘Merry Christmas to you too Blondie’ Starsky said, watching carefully as Hutch rested his head back on the pillow. He’d seen the blond tired before, but now his friend looked all in and slowly he closed up the board. ‘You win. I concede defeat’ he said. ‘Are you ok?’

Hutch smiled. ‘I’m just tired Starsk. I’m gonna sleep for a while. Wake me up later?’

‘Yeah. I’ll wake ya’ Starsky said softly as he watched the eyes close. Within moments, Hutch had drifted off into an exhausted sleep. Starsky waited until he was sure Hutch was resting then quietly padded into the living room. He picked up the phone and dialled the Dobey house, waiting expectantly.

An excited voice answered the telephone on the fourth ring.

‘is that you Rosie?’

‘Uncle David! Happy Christmas. Thank you for my present’ the little girl’s voice yelled down the phone’.

‘Hey you’re welcome honey. Can I speak with your Daddy?’ he waited and then heard the slightly less gruff than normal voice answer.

‘Cap? Happy Christmas. Ah…did the doctor speak with you yesterday?’ he asked, knowing that any abnormalities in physicals were reported to senior officers.

There was a pause. ‘Yes. Is Hutch OK?’

‘Not really, although he’s putting a brave face on it. It’s started. His hands are numb, but he doesn’t want to go to Memorial yet. I just thought you ought to know’.

Another pause. ‘Thanks. Keep me informed. How are you?’

Starsky chuckled. ‘Fine so far. Ask me again in a week huh?’

He put the phone down and went back into the bedroom to sit and wait, watching his friend sleeping and hoping he would wake up from this nightmare.

Chapter 6

----25th December evening----

Hutch had finally woken at about 11:00am and had found his partner curled up on the floor next to his bed, fully clothed and with his head nestled on the crook of his arm. He’d waited for a while, not wanting to wake the brunette as he tried to assess what his body was doing. His hands were now completely numb and alarmingly his feet were too. Whilst it felt good not to have the annoying pins and needles any more, it now felt as though he’d slept awkwardly and his extremities no longer belonged to him. Added to that he had an ache low down in his back, which felt as though he’d, pulled the muscle some way, an ache like a toothache that nagged at his nerves and wouldn’t allow him to ignore it. It was that which had woken him and he wriggled on the bed, but couldn’t shake it, so he lay back and decided he’d live with it for a while.

Now that the symptoms had finally started to manifest themselves, he felt oddly calm. He was still scared to be forced into this position but the panic of the previous day had gone. The waiting had been the worst, when he couldn’t bring himself to believe that the doctor’s diagnosis was right. There was no way he could think of himself as a patient. In all their time working together, it had mostly been Starsky who had been the one to get sick or injured. Although Hutch had had the plague once and had been shot, he always saw himself in the role of the caregiver. He was the one who sat by Starsky’s bed at the hospital or fussed over him when he came home. He’d never been used to being looked after. Even when he was little it was left to an aunt or an au pair to look after him because his Mom was always helping her successful husband further his career. He wondered now how he would adapt to being reliant on others for his day to day life. He sighed, remembering how he’d felt only 24 hours ago. But now the sickness had started he’d reached a new acceptance. He’d fight it all the way for sure, and the final stages of the disease still scared the crap out of him, but he decided to take one step at a time, and resolved to go through a few ground rules with his partner.

Looking down at the sleeping body again, he decided that Starsky would probably suffer aches and pains more than he would if he let him carry on his slumber on the hard, unpadded floor. He looked distinctly uncomfortable and once again Hutch marvelled at the way Starsky seemed to be able to sleep anywhere. He always managed to make the car seat, settee or park bench look like the most comfortable bed in the world and he smiled fondly down.

I’m gonna need you so much now Gordo.

Finally deciding that he’d get maudlin if he stayed with his own thoughts for much longer, he lent over and gently prodded at Starsky’s shoulder.

‘Starsky? Happy Christmas Gordo’ he said quietly, not wanting to startle the sleeping man. He watched as the eyelids twitched and he tried again, rubbing his numb hand over the curly haired cop’s shoulder, feeling nothing of the material of the tee shirt or the muscles beneath it.

‘Hey, Rip Van Winkle, wakey wakey’.

Slowly the brunette straightened out the kinks in his body and gave a long luxurious stretch. ‘What time is it?’ he muttered thickly.

‘Time to open the presents’ Hutch responded, knowing that that at least would wake his partner up.

He saw the grin spread across the handsome face. ‘Yeah? Great!’

As usual, Starsky had brought all his presents to Hutch’s house and now he brought them all into the bedroom and opened both his own and the blonde’s, ripping at the coloured paper in his rush to get to the contents.

Hutch tried to carry on as though nothing was happening to his body. He sat and watched as Starsky opened all the presents from under the tree in his usual excited manner. It never failed to impress the blond that his partner could have such a zeal for the season. Although not practising the Jewish faith any more, Starsky had been brought up as a good little Jewish boy in an environment where Christmas was definitely not on the religious calendar. In all the years Hutch had known him, his partner had been like a small boy at this time of year, almost as though he was making up for all the Christmases he’d missed when he was little, choosing the tree, decorating it with baubles, tinsel and bells and cooking far too much food for just the two of them.

The haul of loot mounted as the morning wore on. Hutch’s pile of books rose and Starsky particularly liked the “Practical Photographer” book Hutch had finally bought him as a surprise.

The blond watched, smiling as Starsky tore into the last, soft parcel marked “Hutch”. He cast the paper away and held up a pair of maroon pyjamas.

‘Just what I need’ the blond said wryly, reading the gift card attached. ‘There’s nothing like a present I can use again and again’. His eyes prickled and for one ghastly moment he thought he was going to burst into tears. He heaved a deep breath and told himself not to be so damned melodramatic.

‘Aw, c’mon Blintz’ Starsky said softly. ‘They didn’t know’.

Hutch sighed. ‘No, I know. Ignore me. So, Christmas dinner?’

For the rest of the afternoon, after Hutch had limped into his living room, they sat and watched the television, Hutch with his feet up on the settee and Starsky slumped in the armchair, casting surreptitious looks at his partner. Occasionally a twinge of something would narrow the ice blue eyes and more than once the brunette bit back the question he longed to ask.

By early evening though, Hutch admitted even to himself that the pain in his back was getting a lot worse. When he’d woken it had been no more than a dull ache radiating from the bottom of his back outwards a little way. He’d managed to ignore it for most of the day, refusing to give in to the nagging pain, but now it was getting bad enough to cause him to wince every so often and a fine sheen of sweat had appeared across his face as he strove to control it.

Twice during the day he’d gotten up to go to the bathroom. The first time, although his feet were numb, he’d managed the short trip without mishap. The second time, four hours later, as he swung his legs off the side of the settee, he noticed that they felt like lead and as he started to stand it was as though they didn’t want to support his own weight. He stumbled and sat back down heavily.


‘Are you ok? What’s the matter?’ Starsky asked, sitting up.

‘Legs don’t want to work. Damn this thing is fast. Too fast’ Hutch said shakily.

‘C’m’ere, let me help’. The brunette stood and pulled his partner gently to his feet, walking with him to the bathroom and waiting outside the door. As they started the short journey back, Hutch stumbled again and Starsky caught him with an arm round his waist.

‘Blintz? I know ya don’t want to, but shouldn’t we get you to the hospital?’

Hutch made it back to the safety of the settee and sat down heavily as Starsky helped him get his legs back up onto the horizontal. He looked at the clock. 9:45

‘Not till Christmas day is over with’ he grunted, stifling a yelp as the pain in his back redoubled its attempts to make him throw up. ‘I’m not going to hospital on Christmas day. Its wrong and I’m…ungh..’ he clutched at his back and arched it backwards, closing his eyes against the pain.

‘You didn’t tell me you were hurtin’ the brunette said accusingly. ‘At least let me get you something for that’. At the curt nod he headed for the kitchen and rummaged through the cupboards for the bottle of aspirin Hutch always kept there. Returning with a glass of water he handed the two white pills to his partner. Hutch tried to pick them up, but his hands refused to work and he gave a small whimper of frustration. Gently Starsky put the pills on Hutch’s tongue and held the glass to his lips as he washed them down.

‘Is it bad? What can I do?’ Starsky asked as he watched his friend struggle to get comfortable.

Hutch smiled grimly. ‘Get me a new body huh? Or failing that just be there’.

‘Hey, ain’t goin’ nowhere’ the brunette mumbled. He sat on the settee and eased Hutch forward so that he could rub small comforting circles on his back.

Hutch accepted the ministrations in silence for a while, allowing the hypnotic rubbing to dull the anxiety that was mounting hour by hour.

‘Starsk, there’s some things you ought to know’ the blond said hesitantly. ‘I’ve seen this GBS thing before. When I was a med student. It’s not pretty an’ it scares the hell out of me. I saw this young girl. The professor we were with treated her like she wasn’t there. He talked about her as though she was a disease rather than a human being. She couldn’t move anything, not even blink her eyes, but she most probably could hear everything that went on. I…promise me. If it gets so bad, don’t let ‘em treat me like that huh? Just keep talkin’ to me. I can do this if you just keep talkin’ to me’ he looked over his shoulder at the brunette, seeking confirmation.

Starsky was shaken to the core, but he refused to let the hurting blond know just how scared he was. So he grinned back, continuing his rubbing. ‘When did ya ever know me shut up, huh? Don’t worry Blintz. I’m not gonna leave ya, promise. And no matter what I won’t let ‘em treat you like he did that girl’.

The continued sitting together in silence for a while, each wrapped in their own thoughts until Starsky broke the moment.

‘Are ya gonna call your Mom?’ he asked.

Hutch stiffened. Now there was a question. Did he want to call her? Did he want his parents to know? Would they even care? ‘I dunno. I don’t really want to tell ‘em’.

‘They got a right to know’ Starsky said evenly. ‘It’s your call, but I know if I was sick Ma would want to know’.

The blond chuckled. ‘And when was the last time we compared the lovely Rachel Starsky with the eminent Doctor and Mrs Hutchinson. They’re like chalk ‘n cheese. Course your Mom would want to know. She’d be on the next flight out of JFK before you could shake a Christmas cake at her. But with my parents it’s…..’

‘Different, I know. But you should still tell ‘em’ Starsky completed his partner’s sentence. ‘They have a right to know Blondie’.

‘What a right to know that their long ignored son is dying? Jeez Starsk, what a cute conversation that’d be huh? What would they care? They didn’t come see me when I had that plague thing. They didn’t come near when I was shot and God knows what they’d say if they ever found out that their wayward son had been hooked on horse’ he closed his eyes and shuddered, panting at his outburst as Starsky sat stunned at his side.

The brunette had always known there was an uneasy relationship between the Hutchinsons and their son, but his partner had always kept his feelings tightly bottled up inside. To hear the explosion of venom coming from the hurting man was like a slap in the face, and he remained quiet as Hutch struggled for composure. Finally he opened his eyes and looked at the brunette.

‘M’sorry. I just….if it gets really bad I’ll tell ‘em….or maybe you’ll have to’ he gave a crooked smile. ‘But I can’t face telling ‘em tonight. Shit, did you hear them ring to wish me Merry Christmas? No! So why should I bother? Let’s just enjoy the rest of the day huh? Just the two of us and good old Bing’ he nodded at the blue eyed crooner on the TV who was just about to start the second verse of “White Christmas”.

Chapter 7

----26th December ----

At exactly one minute past midnight, Starsky called for an ambulance. The last two hours of Christmas day had taken their toll on Hutch and the pains in his back had gotten so bad that he couldn’t help but cry out at the worst of them. The aspirin hadn’t even touched the agony and he sweated and held on to his partner’s arm as though his life depended on it. But he steadfastly refused to go to the hospital until Christmas day was officially over.

At half past midnight, the ambulance arrived and the two paramedics bounded up the stairs to the apartment. By now the pain in Hutch’s back had him rolling from side to side on the settee, the sweat trickling down the sides of his face. Starsky had tried all things to make his partner more comfortable, finally settling for rubbing his back again until his own wrist was aching and beginning to swell. Hutch tried his best to keep his suffering to himself, but the pain was so intense that not even the blonde’s iron will could help him quiet through the worst of it. As the two medics appeared, the brunette gave them a quick assessment of Hutch’s condition, mentioning the GBS and telling them about the fast onset of pain.

One of the men knelt down at the side of the settee and put his hand on Hutch’s forehead.

‘Hi, I’m Malcolm. I’m going to be taking you to the hospital, but I’m going to try to make you a bit more comfortable first. I’m going to put a needle into your hand and give you something to help the pain ok?’

He waited for the slight nod and Starsky stood by his partner’s head as he watched the paramedic push the cannula into the vein and tape it down. He drew up a liquid into a syringe and pushed the plunger home, delivering the morphine directly into the blonde’s bloodstream.

‘There you go Pal. You should start feeling some relief almost immediately’.

As the medic busied himself with other checks, paperwork and the like, Starsky watched as Hutch’s body relaxed a little against him.

‘How’s it goin’ buddy?’ he asked as he saw the pain filled eyes crack open.

‘B been better. S’not one of my b better days’ Hutch gasped and reached for the brunette’s hand. ‘M’scared’.

‘I know, I know. But I’m here. Not goin’ anywhere’ he looked up as Malcolm stood.

‘Ready?’ the men said. ‘We’re just gonna get you onto this stretcher and get you to Memorial’.

Malcolm and his partner lifted the big blond onto the gurney. Hutch felt strange. The numbness had crept up as far as his knees now and he felt as though half his body was missing. Now that the pain in his back had receded slightly, he felt fuzzy and disassociated and the morphine made him sleepy. But he fought against it’s effects, scared that if he fell asleep things would be too much to bear when he woke up.

With the brunette at his side, the retinue made their way to the ambulance and once inside and settled they set off for the hospital. Hutch had his eyes closed for most of the way, not wanting his partner to see the fear in them, but he fought the effects of the morphine and as the vehicle pulled up outside the entrance to the hospital he opened them again.

‘Ready to go?’ Starsky asked softly, winking down at the blond.

‘Oh yeah, sure. Wouldn’t miss it for the world’ Hutch ground out through gritted teeth. Any movement on the gurney felt like hot knives piercing his back now and the end of the journey had been one of the most painful he’d ever experienced. Now as the medics took hold of the stretcher and pulled it from the ambulance he groaned softly and tried to reach again for his partner’s hand. But his arm steadfastly refused to move and he groaned again from sheer frustration.

Starsky saw the fear in the ice blues and put his hand on Hutch’s shoulder, ten sought out the limp hand as they walked into the hospital and made their way in the elevator up to the fifth floor. As the elevator doors opened a cheerful looking nurse greeted them.

She escorted them to a small single bedded room with a window out onto the front of the hospital. It was lit by a small lamp on a dresser in the corner and a neon blue strip at the head of the bed. The only decoration was a picture of a seascape which made Starsky feel a little seasick to look at.. Painfully the two men lifted Hutch into his new prison, the bed feeling hard and unyielding beneath his back. With a pat on his shoulder they left, leaving Hutch, Starsky and the nurse alone. She sifted through a pile of papers and files and then sat down on the edge of the bed, put her pen away and observed her new patient.

‘Hi honey. I’m going to be your nurse for a while, till you can get yourself better and out of here. My name’s Grace and your other nurse will be Amy. She’s the lucky one that gets the day shift! We’re gonna be here all the time for you, so if you need anything, just ask. Do I call you Ken or Kenneth?’

‘Neither’ he said, warming to the young woman. ‘Call me Hutch’.

‘OK Hutch honey. We’re gonna get to know each other pretty well for a while, so we’re gonna need to lay down some ground rules. I see from you’re file you’ve been a patient here before?’

Hutch groaned inwardly. Hospital rules! Great, that was all he needed. ‘Yeah, once or twice’ he muttered.

‘OK. Well, your friend can visit any time he likes. I turn a blind eye to the occasional bottle of beer I might find in patient’s lockers and if you’re going to watch the big game on TV, let me know first and I’ll bring the popcorn’ she said, chuckling at the look of disbelief on the men’s faces.

‘What’s the matter?’ she asked innocently.

‘I think I’m in love’ the blond mumbled, fluttering his eyelashes at her.

She laughed. ‘OK, now, to business. What do you know of GBS?’ she asked.

‘Enough to creep me out’.

‘OK, so you know you may be here a while. This is a long stay ward and we have more relaxed rules for our long stay patients. Try to treat it like home from home, with us nurses to wait on you hand and foot. And who’s this?’ she turned bright blue eyes on Starsky who introduced himself self consciously.

‘Um…Dave. Dave Starsky’.

‘And do you prefer Dave or are we going with the last name too? She asked with a smile.

‘Dave’s fine’ he replied, liking the woman more and more. If his partner had to be sick, then at least his carer had a good sense of humour and great assets!

Getting down to business she saw the look of pain cross Hutch’s face and she stood.

‘Hutch, just how much pain are you in. On a scale of 1 to 10?’ she asked.

Hutch pursed his lips ‘8?’

‘And where is it? Have you lost sensation yet anywhere?’

Hutch saw his partner looking carefully at him and he licked his lips. He’d tried to keep the reality from the brunette and had denied it himself so far, but the time for subterfuge was gone.

‘The pains all in the bottom of my back an’ its getting worse all the time. I can’t feel my hands or feet and the numbness is up to my elbows and knees. My eyelids feel like they’re a ton weight and my lips feel tingly’ he said in a rush, seeing his partner wince. But Starsky refused to look away, instead locking eyes with his partner and silently communicating

I’m here blintz. Still here. Ain’t goin’ nowhere.

Grace made some notes on a form on the clipboard, which she hung at the bottom of the bed, then put her pen in her top pocket.

‘Ok Hutch. I’m going to go get the doctor who’ll be looking after you. He’s a nice guy. Doctor Cole - Stuart. You’ll like him. And I’ll get you something else for the pain’ She winked at him. ‘Try not to worry. We’re here to look after you’.

As she bustled out of the room Hutch turned to Starsky.

‘I like her’.

‘Me too. Great ass!’ the brunette replied.

‘Starsk! D’ya have to bring everything down to their bodies?’.

The brunette tried to look offended. ‘I like their minds too. Its just I can’t see their minds and a bit of eye candy is good for the soul’. He became more serious. ‘Why didn’t you tell me it had gotten so bad?’ he asked quietly.

Hutch looked away. ‘I guess I was trying to kid myself’ he said honestly. ‘And I didn’t need you to be upset’.

The brunette swallowed down the lump in his throat and put his hand on Hutch’s shoulder. ‘Aw buddy. Don’t keep things from me. If I’m gonna help I need to go through this with you. The whole nine yards huh? I can’t do that if you’re not honest with me’.

The blond sighed. ‘I know. I’m sorry. I’m just scared’

At that moment a young, fresh faced, tall and lanky man walked into the room, walked straight over to the bed and held out his hand. ‘Hi. I’m Stuart Cole and Grace tells me that you’re Hutch’. He picked up Hutch’s limp right hand and shook it as though it was the most natural thing in the world to be so familiar with someone who couldn’t reciprocate.

Hutch liked him immediately also. ‘Hi yourself’ he said.

‘Grace also tells me your symptoms have started showing and that you have a lot of pain. Did the ambulance guys give you anything?’

‘They gave him a shot of morphine’ the brunette joined in, ‘but it didn’t seem to help.

Stuart looked at the chart at the bottom of the bed. ‘Hmm. Well I think we can top you up, although I’m afraid the back and leg pain is one of the more painful effects of the GBS. We’ll keep you as comfortable as we can, but don’t be stoical. If you need it, it’s there for you. As for your other symptoms, they seem to be coming thick and fast now. How’s the numbness?’

For the next quarter of an hour the doctor went over the various symptoms with Hutch and Starsky, laying the disease on the line, being compassionate without pulling any punches. Finally he looked up and smiled at Starsky.

‘Grace said you were Hutch’s partner. Is that partner as in….’

‘No. Oh God no! We’re cops – partners. But we are close’.

‘OK, well its our policy to get friends and relatives in on the treatment, if you want?’ Stuart said.

‘Sure….anything, so long as Hutch don’t mind’ the brunette grinned, glad to be doing something.

‘Hey, give it your best shot Nurse Nightingale’ Hutch responded with a weak smile. ‘S’fine by me’.

The doctor became more serious. ‘Hutch, I’m going to test your reflexes. The numbness seems to be travelling at quite a rate now and I think you’ve already resigned yourself to the fact that this isn’t just going to be a little bit of pins and needles and then nothing more’. He put his hand on his patients shoulder. ‘It looks as though you’re gonna be the greedy one that gets its all. I don’t want you to be alarmed, but I’m going to get some equipment brought into the room. It’s a precaution – its just in case ok? So don’t let it scare you’.

Hutch took a shaky breath and locked eyes with his partner.

This is it buddy. Don’t leave me now, I need you so damned much.

‘Do what ya have to Doc’ he said slowly as he rested his head back on the pillow and stared at the ceiling.

Over the course of the next few minutes, Stuart palpated, pushed and pressed at Hutch’s arms and legs, seeing what worked, what moved and more to the point what didn’t. Although numb, the examination left the blond tired and sweating although whether it was from the physical movement or the ghastly realisation of just how far the paralysis had spread Hutch didn’t want to guess. At the end, just as Doctor Cole was finishing, Grace reappeared with a dish containing a hypo. Gently she fed the drug into the port on the cannula on the back of Hutch’s hand and stood back.

‘That should make you feel better honey. See if you can sleep now. You need your rest’ she said kindly.

Grace and Stuart left the room and the two detectives alone. Starsky could see that Hutch was fighting to keep his eyes open and gently brushed a bang of golden hair from the sick man’s forehead.

‘Why don’t ya just have a sleep like Grace said huh?’ he asked softly.

Hutch opened pain filled eyes and gave a watery smile. ‘Coz I don’t know what I’ll be like when I wake up, an’ it scares me shitless’ he said with a quake in his voice.

The brunette’s hand stopped it’s stroking for a moment as the news sank in, then very carefully he resumed.

‘Whatever happens Blintz, we’ll get through it. I’m here. Not goin’ anywhere, and whatever happens, it’ll happen whether you’re asleep or awake. Just rest and I’ll wait huh?’

Wearily, the ice blues closed again and with a great effort, Hutch whispered ‘me ‘n thee huh?’

As his breathing assumed the quiet regularity of sleep Starsky wiped his hand over his face, as if doing so could wipe away the sight of his friend in so much distress.

‘Yeah, that’s it partner. Me ‘n Thee’.

Chapter 8

-----26th December evening-----

For the rest of the day Hutch tried to accustom himself to being in the hospital. It ate away at his soul that his independence was being eroded away, bit by bit. He’d been so used to be the care giver and not the patient and as his arms steadily stopped working he had to fight hard not to shout at and yell at the injustice of it all. In the space of a few short days he’d gone from being a street wise tough city centre cop with an equally tough partner at his side to being a patient in a hospital steadily losing the ability to move anything but his head, with that same tough partner now sitting by the side of his bed acting as nurse maid.

Not that Starsky minded in the least, but he couldn’t escape the pained look in Hutch’s eyes when their supper had arrived and without comment he’d cut up the meat and veggies into small pieces and fed it a little at a time to the blond.

But Hutch also knew that this would be incredibly hard on the brunette. They had relied on each other for so long – since their Academy days – and Hutch wanted to make sure that this disease – this horrible, life sucking phenomena would be as easy on his partner as possible. So, other than the couple of times he’d come clean and said he was scared, he tried to keep his feelings to himself. And he admitted to himself that even that was partly selfish. Hutch reasoned that if he could convince Starsky that everything was OK then even he might be able to believe it, if only for a little while. It gave him the chance to get his life into perspective and the gentle banter that he had always had with his partner was something he wanted, no, needed to preserve at all costs.

Throughout the day, there had been several procedures carried out.

Amy arrived on the ward at about 8:00am and Grace introduced her to Hutch before she left, mentioning that she’d be back on duty at 9:00 that night.

Amy was the complete opposite to Grace. She was a tiny bundle of energy with a sense of humour that had all her patients liking her the minute they saw her. She was middle aged, around 48, perhaps 5’2” tall and not the most slim person in the world. Unkind people may have called her fat, but Amy preferred the word comfortable and that’s how she described herself. She had long mid brown hair, which she wore in a ponytail down her back and had moss green eyes shining from a face that rarely did anything other than smile or laugh. Although not beautiful, there was something about her, a certain attractiveness that made men fall at her feet, although she was unconscious of her attraction. To Amy it was what she did that counted far more than what she was.

As she’d started to care for Hutch during that first morning she’d realised that really she had two patients. The sick blond who was failing fast, and the anxious, ruggedly handsome man that refused to leave his friend’s side. By mid morning she’d hit on a strategy to care for them both and as she arrived in to the room with a silver metal trolley full of equipment she’d put her plan into operation.

As she walked into the small room she’d seen both men glance at the medical equipment. Whilst Hutch seemed to take for granted the fact that his body was about to be invaded by countless tubes, needles and drugs, the brunette fared less well, visibly paling at the sight of the equipment.

‘Dave, I’d like to introduce you to Judith. She’s our physiotherapist and she going to take you away to have her wily way with you’ she teased as she nodded at the woman who’d followed her into the room. She saw the alarmed look on Starsky’s face and laughed. ‘Only joking! She’s going to show you some massage techniques that you can use on Hutch later’.

‘Well, I really wanted to….’ Starsky stopped at the hand raised imperiously.

‘Talk to the hand sweetie, coz the face aint listening’ she smiled. ‘Hutch and I have some business we need to take care of and you need to go learn. So do as Aunty Amy says. Be a good boy and go with Judith. You might even like it!’ she giggled.

Reluctantly Starsky patted his partner’s hand. ‘Don’t go anywhere partner. I’ll be right back’.

‘Hey, not too soon. I need to give Amy full value’ Hutch smiled back and watched as the brunette paused at the door and winked once.

As Starsky left, Amy closed the door and pulled the small modesty curtain across it.

‘So, I’ve got you all to myself’ she said. She sat on the edge of Hutch’s bed. ‘How much do you know about what’s going to happen to you?’ she asked openly.

Hutch blew out a breath. ‘Enough to know that that lot will be needed before long’ he said looking at the drip set and catheter.

‘OK. So you know that as the muscle paralysis progresses there will be certain things you won’t be able to do for yourself?’ She saw the brave man swallow once and she put a hand onto his limp, unresponsive arm. ‘Hutch sweetie. Just one real important thing. I know you want to be brave for your friend. And Dave will be here for you no matter what. But so will me and Grace. And the thing about us is that we won’t get upset if you blow up at us. We won’t mind if you yell and tell us that the world sucks, or if you feel you need to break down and weep. That’s part of what we’re here for. To make sure you can sound off and tell us your darkest fears safely; to someone who can handle it. Will you do that? Don’t be the stoical silent type. It isn’t good for you. Ok sweetie?’

Hutch felt an enormous lump rise into his throat. Subconsciously he had been hiding his true feelings from Starsky, trying to make it easier for his partner. But in doing so he’s made things easier for himself too. But there were the times – in the middle of the night, or when Starsky went to the bathroom or to make a drink. Those were the times when Hutch had those intensely lonely moments where he wanted a mother figure to hold him close and rock him and tell him that everything would be ok.

And suddenly the dam burst. Without noticing, tears formed in his eyes. Tears of forlornness and self pity that he’d held back since he’d started feeling the bone crushing tiredness and suspected something was wrong. And now, with this tiny woman’s words, he let out all his insecurity, fear and anger.

True to her word, Amy sat by him and watched as Hutch finally came to uneasy terms with the turn his life had taken. As the wracking sobs shook him she stood and gathered him up against her ample bosom and rocked him gently back and forth as she ran her fingers through the flaxen hair or the head resting on her shoulder.

They stayed like that for some time and Amy didn’t hurry her patient, instead letting the tide of emotion run it’s course until finally Hutch pushed himself weakly away and sagged back against the pillows, utterly spent. He tried to wipe the tears away from his face, but his arms refused to work and gently Amy took a tissue and dabbed at his eyes, running her hand down his cheek. She smiled at him.

‘Better now?’

‘Wouldn’t say better. But…..thanks. Amy don’t say anything to Starsk about….you know’ he looked earnestly at her.

‘About what?’ she asked innocently as she took the green drape from the trolley.


Over the other side of the hospital Starsky was having a female encounter of his own. He’d followed Judith down the corridors of Memorial and had finally stopped at the physiotherapy department. Judith had shown him in and sat him down in a small sterile white room as she got her supplies together.

Eventually she came back into the room. ‘What do you know about caring for someone who’s paralysed?’ she asked bluntly.

The word left Starsky’s nerves jangling. Paralysed. It was a word used to describe an old person or someone near death, maybe. Certainly not a word used to describe a tough, fun loving klutz of a guy like Hutch. And yet that was what Doctor March had originally said would happen and Starsky shivered at the prospect of seeing his partner so defenceless and having to cope with it on a daily level.

‘I don’t know nothin’ he answered truthfully, trying not to shy away from the painful truth of the situation.

‘Ok well, that’s honest! Hutch is going to be reliant on others for virtually everything’ she started, seeing the look of pain flit across the handsome features. ‘But mostly, when someone is paralysed, although they can’t move, they get the same cramps and kinks in their muscles that an able bodied person does. So something you might be able to do for Hutch is to massage his limbs, back and chest to make him feel more relaxed. But it will also improve blood supply to his muscles and eases out cramps, so it may help his recovery as well. Are you up for it?’

‘Anything I can do to make him feel better’ the brunette said eagerly. He’d had to stand by while all the medics, nurses, doctors and ward aids had looked after his partner and he hated it. He hated the feeling of jealousy he had that they could help Hutch and he, his partner of 6 years couldn’t do a damned thing. It ate away at him, and although he knew Hutch would still need him there on an emotional level, now he relished the fact he may be able to do something practical too.

Judith smiled at him. ‘Off with your shirt and pants’ she said.


‘Your clothes. Take them off. I can’t give you a massage with your shirt and pants on’ she explained. Seeing the blank look in the indigo eyes she carried on. ‘The best way to learn massage is to experience it’.

Light dawned and slowly Starsky pulled his shirt out of the waistband of his jeans. Judith left the small room until Starsky was ready in just his boxers. He lay down on the padded table and stared uncertainly at the ceiling as she came back in with an armful of small brown bottles and a larger bottle of clear liquid. Sitting back up he looked at them with interest as she laid them out on her counter top.

‘This is carrier oil’ she waggled the large bottle, unscrewed the top and poured a small amount into a plastic tub. Replacing the cap she took up a few of the smaller bottles. ‘These are essential oils. Like flavouring in a cake’ she said. ‘Decide which smell you like, or you can mix them up and have fun. You can make fragrances to stimulate, relax, rejuvenate…whatever. What sort of smells does Hutch like?’

Starsky didn’t need to think. ‘Citrus’.

‘OK, well, we’ll mix some lemongrass and bergamot oils. What d’you think?’ she asked holding out the tub for the brunette to sample.

‘That’s great. Its just like his aftershave’.

‘Right. Well now we have the oil, we need to use it. Lie down and I’ll talk you through it’.

Over the next hour Judith talked Starsky through the Swedish massage techniques he could use on Hutch when things became worse, to bring some relief to the blond and to give Starsky something practical he could do to aid Hutch’s recovery. By the end of the session, the brunette’s brain was stuffed full of new information and his body felt limp and boneless. As he lay back at the end of the session, wrapped in a warm towel he realised just how grateful he was to the physiotherapist and also to Amy whose idea this had been.

Finally taking his bottle of carrier oil and bottles of lemongrass and bergamot oils with him, Starsky trudged his way back to his partner’s room feeling if not at ease, then at least easier than he had done for a while.

When he got back to the room he saw that Hutch was laying a little flatter in the bed and looking distinctly uncomfortable. At the questioning look, Hutch nodded down the bed, inviting his partner to peek under the bedclothes.

Starsky raised the sheet and saw the catheter now in place and noted the drip feeds going into both his partner’s arms between wrist and elbow.

‘Looks like they’ve got me good and proper’ Hutch smiled tightly as Starsky pulled up a chair.

‘That’s what ya get for lying in bed all day’ the brunette quipped. ‘I got these. How d’ya like the smell?’ he wafted the plastic pot under Hutch’s nose and the blond inhaled appreciatively.

‘S’good. All lemony. What is it?’

‘Something to make you feel better when it…..when its bad. Judith showed me how to give you a massage to ease out any kinks in your muscles’.

The blond raised his eyebrows. ‘I’ll bet she did’ he said suggestively. He looked up as a lady in blue overalls came into the room.

She placed a tray on the bed then wordlessly left the room.

‘Tea?’ he asked

Starsky raised the covers on the plates. ‘Kinda….do you want the creamed potatoes, the soup or the ice cream?’

Hutch paused for a moment looking distinctly uncomfortable. ‘Um….small problem there buddy. I can’t move my arms to get the spoon up to….’ He trailed off, his voice small and childlike.

Starsky’s featured softened. ‘No problem. Ice cream?’ he sat on the wedge of the bed and slowly and carefully fed the dessert to his partner.

Chapter 9

-----27th December - early morning-----

After the ice cream, both men chatted about nothing in particular and everything in general. Twice while he was eating the cold dessert Hutch had choked on the creamy substance, but had recovered well enough and neither man had said anything. But towards midnight it became apparent that things were taking a turn for the worse.

Grace was back on the ward now. She’d popped in to see the two men as she’d come on duty and although she hadn’t shown it in her face, she was dismayed at the rapid deterioration of her blond patient. She always felt that disease in such a virile otherwise healthy young man was unfair at best, and at worst just downright cruel. She could see he was struggling valiantly to cope with his failing faculties and finally she made a decision. After she’d taken the handover from Amy, she got her stuff together and came into the room.

‘Hutch honey, I can see you’re having a bit of difficulty swallowing now’. She said it gently and with no accusation.

Scared eyes looked at her, but Hutch knew he couldn’t put off the inevitable. ‘Yeah, it’s like there’s too much fluid in my mouth. Can’t get rid of it an’ my throat doesn’t want to work’.

Starsky looked away as though in a pain of his own.

She smiled sympathetically. ‘I know Hon. So I want to put a tube into your stomach. It’ll help us feed you and it’ll make that feeling go away. Will you let me?’

‘Feed me huh?’ The blond winced. The thought of yet another tube invading his already pierced and intubated body left him cold, but he knew there was no alternative, so he plastered a smile onto his face. ‘Do your worst’ he said and looked away as he saw his partner wince.

Grace had got all her equipment together and she wheeled the small trolley into the room.

‘Do you need me to go?’ Starsky asked, almost hoping she’d say yes.

But Hutch shook his head, trying to reach out to stop his partner, but cursing when his arm refused to work. ‘Stay?’ he asked simply.

Starsky braced himself and took hold of Hutch’s limp hand. ‘Course’. He suddenly realised that if Hutch had the courage to go through this with his own quiet dignity, then he’d have the courage to watch without flinching or turning away

Grace took hold of a long flexible piece of tubing with a metal tip and an open end. ‘Hutch this is a Ryles tube. It goes up your nose then down into your stomach. It’s not the nicest thing in the world, but it doesn’t hurt and you’ll get used to it’ she explained honestly. At the nod of acquiescence from her patient, she interested the metal tip into Hutch’s nose. He jerked his head back involuntarily at the strange invasion, but tried to breathe deeply as he felt the tube worm its way to the top of his nose, making his eyes tear. Then it was past and Grace paused for a moment.

‘It’s gong to touch the back of your throat in a moment Hon. When it does you’re going to feel like you want to gag. When that happens, I want you to concentrate on swallowing. Once you’ve swallowed it, everything will be fine. Trust me? One, two, three’ she pushed again and Hutch felt the tip hit the back of his throat.

He felt as though he was going to throw up, the sensation of having something stuck in his throat so strong, but he took a deep breath and tried to swallow the foreign object down, imagining it was an extra long piece of spaghetti and with a titanic effort, he felt the metal tip slide down past his throat and on its way downwards.

‘That was very good’ Grace praised as Starsky wiped at the tears now flowing down the blonde’s face. She aspirated some stomach contents, checking she was in the stomach and not the lungs, then pushed in the pink spigot at the end of the tube. ‘I’ll bet you really hate me now’ Grace chuckled sympathetically as she saw the flaxen haired cop’s attempts to accommodate the tube.

Hutch felt as though there was something stuck in his throat and he swallowed convulsively time and again, trying to dislodge the foreign object. The idea of talking while it was there was almost too gross to think about, but finally he seemed to get control of the situation. As Grace taped the tube to his cheek, he looked sideways at Starsky.

‘Not so bad’ he lied, trying to wipe the look of horror off his partner’s face with his words. Starsky tried to remain impassive, but the sight of his friend’s independence being taken away with every tube or needle added to his collection was almost too painful to bear.

‘Nah, didn’t feel a thing’ the brunette replied fondly as he took his own shaky breath. ‘Just think – beer on tap without even having to force it down huh?’

As the evening of the 26th wore on, Hutch had more and more difficulty in swallowing to the extent that even Starsky started to notice.

‘Blintz, are you ok?’ he asked after another bout of coughing had left his partner laying back on the pillows and fighting for breath.

Pained ice blue eyes looked back at his partner.

This is it Hutchinson. You’re gonna lose it before long. You’re not gonna be able to talk to him any more. C’mon, get it together. He’ll be here. You’re in the hospital an’ they’ll take good care of you. Just get this over and done with.

Weakly Hutch nodded at the bedside table. ‘Starsk, I can hardly breathe and I can’t swallow very well’ he rasped, breathlessly, the effort of breathing leaving his voice thin and stretched. He saw the brunette’s hand go automatically for the nurse call button. ‘Not yet’ he said.

‘There’s something in my drawer I need you to read, but not just yet huh? Maybe when I can’t talk any more. But read it Starsk. I need ya to read it huh?’

‘Course I will, ya big lummox. But I won’t need to. You’ve just got to fight this an’ it’ll be fine’ Starsky said, unsure if his own breath would hold out long enough to get the sentence out. It killed him to see the deterioration in his blond friend and selfishly, he really needed Hutch to remain strong for him.

‘Starsky, shudup huh? There’s some things I need to say. …..an’ they aren’t easy….. so just shudup and listen’. He saw the brief nod and the dark lashes fall over the familiar indigo eyes.

‘Talkin’s getting hard, but ….I need to tell ya. The letter …..sets out a whole shitload of stuff…..just do what it says……tried to make it easy…shit! Don’t want to….go like this……hurts…..remember….keep talkin’…..no silence……too scary…..Starsk?’

‘Yeah I’m here Blondie. Aint goin’ nowhere. I’ll remember’ he said not trusting his voice to keep from cracking under the strain.

The voice was getting thinner and more laboured as Hutch struggled to form the words ‘Keep talking…..I’ll be awake…..I…..ungh….’ his body arched in pain and Starsky’s hand shot out to the call button as the other gently caressed his partner’s face.

The blue eyes were staring wildly now as Hutch fought to draw in his breaths ‘Don’t go Starsk……no silence……don’t let ‘em…..’

Grace rushed into the room a second later, taking in the wild staring eyes and laboured breathing with one practiced look. Calmly she went to the door of the room and called quietly down the corridor for one of her colleagues to bring Stuart. Then she came back into the room.

‘Easy honey’ she said as she stroked Hutch’s brow with a cool hand. ‘We’re gonna make this easier for you. I know….I know it’s hard to breath right now. We can take care of that. Try ‘n’ relax. With the other hand she retrieved an oxygen mask from the loop at the head of the bed and passed the elastic over Hutch’s head. She regulated the flow and watched as the gas flowed into the mask and her patient.

Starsky watched in sick fascination as the strong blond man struggled for each breath. He hung onto Hutch’s hand not knowing whether Hutch could feel it or not, but the action brought the brunette a modicum of comfort, so he continued and with the other he rubbed at the flat smooth chest, as he had done when Hutch had been sick once before with the plague.

Hutch felt as though he was dying. Each breath was a gigantic effort to bring air into his tortured lungs. He felt as though he’d run a marathon and had ended by having his head dunked under water. Not only was there insufficient air, but what oxygen there was felt heavy and wet and was an extraordinary struggle to inhale. Only the comforting presences of his partner and the calm nurse stopped him from freaking out completely and silently he locked eyes with his partner, the only sounds in the room now being the crooning words of the nurse and the wheezing breaths of the blond.

Within moments, Stuart Cole appeared at the door. He walked calmly into the room and assessed the situation with a professional eye. Moving into his patient’s line of sight he smiled down at the blond. Hutch broke eye contact with his partner and gazed pleadingly at the doctor.

‘Hutch, I think the time has come to put you onto the ventilator. The oxygen doesn’t seem to be working as well as we’d like’ he said.

But Hutch shook his head. ‘Not yet’ he muttered weakly between gasps.

Stuart took hold of Hutch’s wrist and counted the pulse beats, then replaced the limp hand.

‘OK. Just a while longer, but as soon as Grace here thinks it’s too much for you, we act ok?’

He motioned the nurse to follow him outside leaving the two men alone in the room. Starsky kept a hold of the hand on the bedside.

‘Can you feel me holding your hand?’

Hutch’s eyes closed and he shook his head. ‘Feels…..lonely’ he gasped. ‘Can’t feel…..anything…..Shit…..sucks!’.

‘Yeah, I know buddy. But we’ll get through this. I know we will. You’ve just gotta fight it’

‘Will do……hurts …..Starsky……the letter huh?’

With a trembling hand, the brunette opened the drawer of the small table and withdrew the letter. He put it in his jeans pocket without opening it.

‘I’ve got it Blintz. Its right here’.

‘Don’t tell….Mom ‘n Dad’.

‘Why? They need to know’.

The blond head thrashed weakly on the pillow. ‘Don’t ….want ‘em here’.

‘OK. What about other visitors? Dobey wanted to come by’.

‘No-one Starsk……don’t want….’em t’see me…..like this…..promise?’

‘Yeah, I promise’ Starsky said with a heavy heart. ‘Jeez, Hutch will ya just leave it. It’s like you’re sayin’ goodbye or somethin’ It’s not goodbye. I’m not goin; anywhere an’ neither are you’.


The sentence never got finished as the ice blue eyes rolled up into his head and Hutch’s face fell sideways towards the pillow. The brunette was galvanised into action. He hit the call button, but it wasn’t quick enough and he rushed to the door of the room, yelling down the corridor for Grace.

The nurse looked up and rushed up the ward, pushing Starsky gently to one side as she went into the room. Another nurse followed her and as she assessed the breathless body on the bed she asked the other girl to find Doctor Cole.

Grace deftly removed the oxygen mask from the blonde’s face and retrieved an ambu bag. Fitting the mask over Hutch’s mouth and nose she started to artificially inflate the cop’s lungs until the doctor arrived.

As Stuart rushed into the room, the second nurse took Starsky by the shoulders and pulled him away.

‘Let them work’ she said, leading the curly haired man to the visitor’s room. She sat him down and handed him a cup of coffee which he took automatically. As she left, the brunette took the letter from out of his pocket and stared at it.

Chapter 10

----27th December ----

Very slowly Starsky slipped his thumb nail under the sealed lip of the envelope and slid it along, breaking the seal. Inside there were several sheets of paper, neatly folded along their middles and he withdrew them. He read the top of the first sheet, the words blurring together as his tired eyes saw his partner’s somewhat scrawling writing on the page.

Ya should’a been a doctor Blintz. No-one can read your writing anyway!

The sheet was headed

To Starsky

Hey partner, if you’re reading this, then Doc March is right and I have got GBS. In which case I’m probably somewhere stuck on a few machines keeping me going. Look on it as a holiday away from my jibes at you huh?

So, there’s a few things I need to tell you about stuff in general.

Mrs Kralevski next door will look after my plants. You water them too much and I want at least one of them to survive me. Tell her the baby fern needs somewhere darker – not direct sunlight.

I signed Venice Place over to your name, so do what you want with it. Maybe you can sell it and buy something better than that place you’ve got at the moment. As for my car, I know how much you really want it, but tear yourself away from it buddy. The big brother scheme was on the look out for cars for the older kids to learn in, so give it to them. I’ve left some money for insurance and stuff.

As to my other things. You’ve worn most of my clothes over the years anyway, so take what you like. I don’t care about the rest. And my record collection is your too – try not to bake too many of them huh?’

At that Starsky smiled though the tears ‘Sure buddy’ he mumbled and took a deep breath before reading on.

If I die tell Mom and Dad, but don’t say anything before that. It’ll save them having to make up some pathetic excuse as to why they can’t come visit. I don’t want them here anyway. Tell my sister I love her.

As for funerals…..

The brunette hitched a breath, crumpling the papers in his hand.

This is too much Blondie. Don’t make me do this. Please don’t make me read this. You’re still here and that’s how it’s gonna stay.

But the pragmatist in him took over. He’d promised the blond that he’s read the letter, so he needed to fulfil that promise. Carefully he opened the paper out again, taking time to smooth out the creases he’d put into the plain white sheets. Taking a deep breath he resumed.

As for funerals…..

There are a few ground rules to lay down.

No-one should wear black

No stupid sentimental music

No tears

No recriminations

In fact, I’ll make it simple – just throw me in the Ocean off Breakers Point!

Well that about wraps it up. Except for the most important thing.


You’ve been the brother I never had, plus the Dad I always wanted and the Mom I could never have. You’re my soulmate, my partner and my closest friend.

I’m sorry to do this to you. Selfishly I always wanted to be the one to go first, because I couldn’t bear the thought of being the one to be left behind. I leave you my money, my house.

But most of all, I leave you my love.


In the envelope with the letter were the documents for the car, but more importantly the deeds to Hutch’s beloved apartment. Starsky fingered them lovingly, remembering the good times they had had there; the beers they’d drunk; the games of Monopoly that Hutch always seemed to win; the times they’d laughed about work and the times they’d cried over a woman. Could he ever go back in there again with the blond at his side?

Shakily he put the documents down and rested back in the chair, exhausted, wired, needing to sleep, but vowing he wouldn’t until he knew how his partner was. He refused to think of Hutch in any other way. He was his partner and he always would be, no matter what. If Hutch didn’t get over this they’d……No scrap that. Hutch would get over this and soon they’d be back out on the streets again. To think of any other scenario was just too damned painful.


Doctor Cole inserted the drug into the port in cannula in Hutch’s arm, talking all the while. Although the blonde’s eyes were closed he knew from experience that hearing was the last thing to go and so he kept up a steady stream of dialogue.

Hutch could hear what was going on, but at that particular moment all his energy was taken up with fighting with the muscles of his chest, forcing them to draw air into his body.

Ok sucker. This is not how it’s gonna be. I am not gonna be stuck with some freaking hose pipe down my throat, hoping there isn’t a power out. I will breathe on my own, even if it’s the only fuckin’ thing I can do for myself. If I don’t do anything else I’m gonna win this battle.

Far off he heard Cole’s voice talking to him.

‘OK Hutch, I’ve just given you something to sedate you. I know you’re having trouble breathing just now, so we need to do something about that. I’m going to but a tube down your throat and connect it to the respirator machine. It’ll make it easier for you and then you won’t have to worry about taking a breath. It’ll do it all for you until you’re well again’.

No, no, no you don’t Doc. Please don’t do that. I can bear everything else, but there’s just no way I can let you do that. C’mon lungs, breathe why don’t ya? C’mon concentrate. In yeah that’s good now out great. See Hutchinson you’re doin’ it. Ya can do this if you concentrate.

But what if I go to sleep? What then?

Shudup and cross that bridge when ya come to it. One step at a time. Little steps….little steps.

Cole took up the silver laryngoscope and stretched the long tanned neck back to insert it between Hutch’s teeth, but just as he was about to do that Grace stopped him.

‘Stuart, I think he’s making attempts to breathe on his own. Can you wait a minute?’

They both stopped, holding their own breaths as Hutch valiantly commanded his lungs to take the next breath in and then let it out. It was mechanical. Not easy, but he was doing it and the medics looked at each other, smiles on their faces.

Grace brushed Hutch’s cheek with her finger gently. ‘Well done Hutch honey. Keep on going. If you can keep this up, you’ve won the first battle’ she encouraged.

Oh sure lady. I’ve won the first battle, but the war is still raging non stop. Need a little help here!

Hutch was aware of movements around him, but his eyes steadfastly refused to open and he concentrated so hard on his breathing anyway that he wasn’t sure that he could focus on something else as well. But he listened in a distracted sort of way to the doctor’s reassuring tone. Cole seemed to be reading his mind and he welcomed the fact that the young medic bent low to his ear to speak.

He could almost feel the breath on his ear as Stuart spoke to him.

‘Hutch you’re doing very well. If you can keep this up it’ll be all the easier for you. But just in case you’re worried, I’m going to connect you to another couple of machines. Don’t worry, they aren’t invasive. One is called a Cardiorespiratory Monitor. That will count both your breaths and heart beats. It will sound an alarm if the number of breaths or heartbeats go lower than a set number, so don’t be afraid to rest huh?. The other monitor is a Pulse Oximeter This is a machine that tells how much oxygen is in the blood. I’m gonna put a cord with a sticky strip on your finger. The machine will alarm if it can’t read the oxygen level or if you need more oxygen. I know they make annoying beeping noises, but you’ll get used to them’.

‘Can you blink or nod if you can hear me?’

Hutch tried to move his head, but nothing happened. It was as though he was encased in resin. Whatever he tried to move didn’t work. His limbs felt heavy and lifeless and although he could feel people touching them, stroking them or pushing needles into them, he couldn’t move them out of the way. He’d found it freaky enough not to be able to move his arms and legs, but now he couldn’t move his head or his eyelids either he felt panic washing over him. The beeps on the heart monitor became more pronounced and closer together and to his credit, Stuart guessed what was going on.

‘Hutch just rest huh? We knew the disease would do this didn’t we? It’s ok Pal. I know you can’t move much now, but you’re doing so well at breathing on your own. That’s a big battle to have won, I don’t want you to be discouraged’.

Discouraged? Who’s discouraged? Freaked out, scared beyond words, but how could I be discouraged? I can breath on my own! Shit Hutchinson, listen to yourself. Breathe on your own! Well, ok, it’s a big step. Big battle won. Now, where’s Starsky? That’s all I need now Doc. Just bring my partner back an’ I’ll be better huh?

Hutch felt the doctor and nurse leave and for a moment absolute panic hit him. He was on his own. In that lonely hospital room with no-one around, no method of shouting for anyone, no way of attracting attention.

What’re ya gonna do Hutchie? Breathe at ‘em? OK Ok calm down. Just concentrate. In and out. In and out. See, easy. You can do this. But what if…Shudup. There are no “What ifs”. You aren’t Amy Furness. You’re not gonna die. You’ve got Starsky. He’ll be here. He’ll.

STARSKY!! Where are ya buddy? I need ya. Shit! Wish I could open my eyes. Where is he? Where’s the curly one huh? What’s that? What’s that on my head? Shit its….its ok. It’s him. Relax.

Starsky walked back into his partner’s room just as Stuart and Grace were leaving. He met them in the corridor and looked at Grace’s smiling face with questions in his eyes.

‘He’s breathing on his own’ the nurse told him proudly.

‘Yeah? That’s a good sign?’ he asked.

‘The best! If he can keep that up it means the disease can’t take total control. He’s on monitors now and he could use the company, but he’s breathing’.

‘Thank God! I knew he could do it. He’s so fuckin’ stubborn even the germs can’t get him huh?’

A slight cloud crossed Grace’s face. ‘There’s just one thing. He’s concentrating on breathing so well, he can’t move anything else. Dave, he’s trapped at the moment. Trapped in his own body and he can’t communicate’. She said gently.

‘S’ok. I can read his eyes’.

‘No. You can’t honey. He can’t open them any more’ she explained. ‘He doesn’t have any method of communication right now’.

Staggered, the brunette paused at the door to Hutch’s room. The soft beeps of the machines only highlighted the lack of Hutchly wisdom flowing his way and Starsky wondered what it would be like to not hear his partner, but also not be able to see those ice blue eyes again. Shit partner. How’re we gonna play this one huh?’

Chapter 11

----28th December-----


‘Ok buddy. Well, I know you can’t see me right now, but I’m here and I’m not goin anywhere, so you’re stuck with me. Kinda like glue. I’m holding your hand now. Don’t know if you can feel it, but its there anyhow’.

‘It’s good you’re breathin’ on your own. I know you didn’t want one of those respirator things. I hate ‘em. Freakin’ tube down your throat and then ya can’t talk to….’

‘Shit, sorry Blintz. I didn’t mean that. Hey. It won’t be long before ya can talk again. Then ya can just tell me to shut up like you always do. I miss that. Didn’t think I’d miss having you call me a mushbrain or stupid. Aint it amazing what ya can get used to huh?’

‘You shouldn’t have given me your house though. You’ll need it back anyway. What did you do it for? You always told me that I had to look on the bright side of things. That ain’t lookin’ on the bright side Blintz. That’s just coping with what you think is the inevitable. Well it’s not inevitable. I saw Grace out there and she says if you can keep on breathing on your own then the disease can’t win. And that means you’ll get better. So. No more talk of houses and deeds and funerals. It aint gonna happen, d’ya hear?’

‘Hell, this is stupid. What do I say to you? It’s like I’m talking to a stranger, not my best friend'.

'My fault, not yours'.

'I’m just not used to you being so quiet. I guess I kinda like you whinging on at me all the time. D’ya remember that time you got all riled up about the numbers? Jeez you really gave Minnie a run for her money that day! D’ya remember Blondie? Suddenly you decided that we were names and not numbers. I remember you pulling that mic. from me and saying in that real icy calm voice ya get. ‘Hello warm person, this is three zebras…and then you went off on one, telling her we were men and needed to be treated like human beings! D’ya remember that?’

‘Didn’t stop ya calling in the murder though did it? And all in the right numbers too! And that balling out that Minnie gave ya when ya got back to the Metro. God! I wish I could’ve sold tickets for that one’.

‘Oh say. Are you ok? Are you comfy? D’ya need to turn over?’

‘Oh shit Hutch, this stinks. I know you think it does too. There must be some way!



Thank God you’re back buddy. I was getting’ lonely there without ya, an’ it’s only been a few minutes. I know this is gonna be as hard on you as it is on me, but I just need to hear your voice. Yeah, I can feel you holding my hand. It feels good, like I’m safe again.

Oh Jeez, Hutchinson, enough with the smaltz!

But I need to make sure there’s someone here with me. It’s not that I’m afraid of the dark. I never have been. But this dark is different. Its like I’m in a prison, but the bars are my own body and I can’t find a way out. Its scary buddy, but I feel better when you’re here watching my back. Just like always huh?

Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t get the respirator too. Although you wouldn’t believe just how close it got. I couldn’t bear the thought of that too. It was too awful when I saw you on the stupid machine at the end when they’d given you the antidote to Bellamy’s poison but it hadn’t started to work. And thanks for reminding me about the freaking hose, mushbrain! As if I needed you to tell me that it’s real big and nasty.

Sorry Gordo. Don’t mind me I’m just a little cranky right now! Comes of being trapped in here.

I needed to give you my house. I needed to get my things in order. Too many things to think about. I read a story once and there was this phrase. “Too many difficult things before breakfast”. Can’t remember who wrote it. Either Lewis Carol or a girl called Jenny. Doesn’t really matter. The sentiment’s the same.

I guess this disease has one good thing. I knew it was coming so I could get some stuff done before I…well. Before I got past the point of no return huh? So yeah, the house is yours. Maybe we can find somewhere else later….if there is a later.

Oh fuck, Hutchinson. There ya go again. Melodrama at its best. Just get with the plan huh? Starsky’s here, prattling on. Just listen to him and breathe. Two things, only two!.

God I’m tired. I’ll just keep awake a while longer. Hmm. Problem. I told him I was scared of silence. How do I shut him up? How do I tell him I wanna sleep? Yeah, well come to think of it, how do I tell anyone anything? Blink? Nope, Can’t move eyelids any more. Damn!

OK ok don’t panic. You’ll figure something out. Plenty of time!


Starsky’s voice was getting raspy as his throat dried out from all the talking he’d been doing. Wearily he looked up at the clock on the wall and saw that the fingers had crawled around to 4:20 am. Time when all good little Jewish boys should be home and tucked up in bed. He looked back at the body on the bed.

Hutch looked to be asleep, his chest moving rhythmically and hypnotically up and down, up and down. Starsky had to stop himself from staring at it, willing it to keep going, and he tore his eyes away, trying to focus on something else. Anything. He was fast running out of things to talk about.

It seemed strange to him now. He’d never had any difficulty in talking. In fact just the opposite. He had problems in shutting up most of the time. But now, when his partner needed his company he had difficulty in finding anything to say. How strange was that?

And he felt weary. Exhausted. He couldn’t imagine what Hutch must be feeling like, if he could feel anything at all. But the emotions of the past few days were rapidly catching up with the brunette and he had a strong compulsion just to rest his head on the bed and fall asleep. But he’d promised Hutch that he’d talk, and talk he would until his voice gave out.

‘D’ya need anything Blintz?’ he asked again, realising the futility of his question. Hutch couldn’t even blink a response, even if he was awake in there. So how could he hope to discover what if anything his partner wanted?

He rested his hand on the bed, lightly on top of Hutch’s leg, anywhere different just to break the monotony of holding the limp hand.

‘Are you ok?’ he asked as much to himself as anyone else.

And then he felt it. A slight tremor in the muscle of his partner’s thigh. He pressed down and tried again.

‘Is that you Hutch? Did you make that happen?’

Again he felt the muscle twitch and again he was unsure whether it was a reflex action or whether his blond partner was able to communicate.

‘OK, call me thick, or doubting, but one last time here Blintz. Do you want something?’


‘Ok. Well, lets see. One twitch for yes, two for no huh?’


‘Oh my god, ohmygodohmygod. Are you comfortable?’

Twitch twitch.

‘Shall I get Grace to come and turn you over?’


Starsky ran for the door.


The nurse looked up, wondering what had gotten the brunette so excited. He didn’t look upset, just the opposite. She walked up the ward.

‘Hutch wants to turn over’ Starsky grinned.

‘Wants to….how do you know?’ she asked looking at the paralysed man in the bed.

‘His muscle in his leg. He can twitch it. One for yes and two for no. I asked him if he was comfy and he said no. He wants you to turn him over’.

Grace rushed over to her patient and put her hand on his leg as the brunette showed her. ‘Hutch is that right. Do you want me to turn you over?’

She waited, holding her breath, and there it was. A distinct twitch. Quickly, she rearranged his body on the bed, a smile on her face. When she’d done, she put her hand back in that one place.

‘OK now?’ she asked and was rewarded by another twitch.

‘Well I’ll be! Communication1’ she said.

‘Yup, and I know how to make it better’ Starsky said crossing back to the bed. He bent over his friend’s body.

‘Hutch, I’m going back to your place. Just quickly. Try ‘n’ sleep while I’m gone. I won’t be long, but I think I can make this easier for us ok?’


Thank you God! I can communicate! Oh joy! Now what. What’s that crazy partner of mine doing? Where’s he going? Back to my apartment? What for? Oh well, I guess he knows what he wants. Just lie back and sleep huh? While he’s gone, just have a little rest.

Starsky patted the blonde’s shoulder one more time and turned. He kissed Grace full on the lips and bounced out of the room. He couldn’t imagine why one little twitch of a muscle could make him feel this way, but he knew for sure now that Hutch was at home and even if his body wouldn’t let him come out to play, then at least he could communicate on some fundamental level.

He skipped down to the parking lot and suddenly realised he’s come to the hospital in the ambulance with Hutch and had no method of getting anywhere. Looking round desperately, he saw a parked black and white and ran over to them. Looking in through the window he saw Knight and Veevers, two of the officers from the precinct.

‘Hey guys, can you give me a lift, I need to get to Hutch’s place’ he said.

‘Yeah sure’ Veevers answered. ‘We heard he was sick. Is he OK? You look like shit man’.

Starsky grinned. ‘Gee, you say the nicest things Veevers. Hutch is bad, but he’s gonna be ok’ he said with conviction as he climbed into the back seat. ‘D’ya know where his apartment is? Venice Place’.

The drive over there was done quickly and with the minimum of fuss and when they got there, the brunette’s Torino was still parked at the front. He got out of the car and rapped on the roof. ‘Thanks guys’ he said as he turned to walk into the apartment.

It felt strange knowing that technically he owned the place now. He reached up to the lintel and snagged the key, inserting into the lock and pushing the door open. The Christmas decorations still hung where he’d left them, seeming to mock him with the good tidings of the season, but he headed straight for the Christmas tree, searching for what he needed.

When he’d felt the thrill of the muscle jumping in his partner’s leg he immediately knew what he needed to do. It was fine to keep a hand there, feeling for the twitching answer to his questions, but on the occasions when he wasn’t there, or when Hutch needed to attract someone’s attention, he needed to think of something better – louder.

Taking what he needed, Starsky took a careful look around the room and picked up the maroon pyjamas. They’d forgotten them in the haste and angst of the last few hours the blond had spent at home, but now they’d be a welcome change from the hated gown his partner had worm since his admission to the hospital.

With a final sigh, he took his treasure trove and headed down to the car. He allowed the Torino to hug him in its familiar embrace, feeling at once happier because he was behind the wheel of his motor, and for once in control. Happily he set the engine turning and turned the big car citywards, enjoying the quiet drive through the afternoon traffic. Although Hutch was still severely debilitated and sick, just that one small response and the fact that he was breathing on his own gave him cause to feel an upsurge of joy and he broke into a quick chorus of Jingle bells, only stopping when he pulled up in the hospital parking lot.

With his presents under his arm, Starsky hurried back up to Hutch’s room. It had felt selfishly good to be out of those confines for an hour or so, just to e alone with his own thoughts, but now he knew his efforts would redouble and as he got to the door of the room he smiled.

Grace was still with the blond, talking to him and checking his vitals. The monitors still beeped softly in the background and the nurse looked up as he walked in.

‘Hey Hutch, your handsome friend is back’ she said to the paralysed man on the bed.

Starsky chuckled. ‘I bet you say that to all the visitors’.

He bent over the inert body.

‘Hey Blintz. I got a surprise for ya. I brought your new PJs back and this’ he jingled the thread of bells which had been on the Christmas tree and then laid them across Hutch’s thigh.

‘Now try talking to me’ he said

Ok ok I can do this. One two three! TWITCH.

The bells let out a cheery, merry jingle as they fell from the blonde’s leg and onto the bed.

One more communication had been restored!

Chapter 12

----1st January----

Four days.

Four days of one sided conversation.

Four days of the jingling bells rattling as they fell off the twitching leg.

Four days of Starsky hoping things would improve and four days of Hutch trying with all his might to open at least one eyelid and see the outside world.

There had come a point where his eyes had opened on their own. No muscle there. No command to open them, they just opened, but then he couldn’t close them and that was scarier than ever. They felt dry, as though his eyeballs would crack with the strain of looking up at the ceiling. He’d jangled his little bells when it got too much and Amy had come running in the middle of the night. She’d seen his eyes open and asked him to blink but try as he might he couldn’t and he whimpered to himself in frustration and self pity. But then she’d come back and had closed his eyelids down and had put cool gel packs over his closed lids so that they wouldn’t open again. And the cool dark had been good for a while and he’d slept.

Breathing was still ok and he’d even gotten used to the beeping of the machines around him. He could go for long periods now without ever hearing them and then he’d notice them all over again and his mind would play tricks with him, making him sing songs in time to their steady rhythm or say verses of long forgotten poems over and again.

But always there, in the background was his curly headed partner. Patiently putting the bells back on his leg each time he twitched them off to get some attention, wiping his forehead and adjusting his pillows. Starsky read to him constantly. They’d almost completed “The fern in sickness and health” and it was interspersed with chapters of “The Lord of the Rings”. Hutch loved hearing the brunette’s laconic New York brogue reading to him and would concentrate on the nuances Starsky tried to put into each character’s voice. But most of all he looked forward to the touch of his partner’s hand in his darkness, telling him he would be ok and not to worry. And for a while he’d obey the command and close down his remaining senses, revelling in the pure touch.

But still at night, there would be long periods when he was alone. He couldn’t expect his partner to go without sleep and he knew that Grace and Amy had other patients to see to. But the long night hours, when the hospital was quiet and he had only the machinery for company were the most scary. Those were the hours when Hutch tried hard not to think about the future, or at least not a future where he was still trapped in this living hell. Despite their best efforts, the nurses were unable to stop him from developing bed sores on his back. His coccyx, hips and heels were faring the worst and they spent long hours rubbing creams and lotions into the skin, but still the areas were painful and if he could have, he would have groaned each time they turned his body.

Starsky was getting very practiced at giving him his daily massage and had taken over this bed baths as well. It was as therapeutic for the brunette as it was for Hutch to be able to do that for his friend and Hutch breathed in the scent of lemongrass and bergamot as each massage commenced, happy to have some different sensation to explore rather than the smell of the boring, antiseptic air conditioned air that circulated through his room. He revelled in the touch of the brunette’s hands, Starsky’s hands were smaller than his own and oddly delicate for a man. But they held a power, the strong fingers kneading into his knotted, painful muscles as hour after hour, the curly haired man rubbed away at his limbs, chest and back. Hutch had never thought of Starsky as a lover before, and still couldn’t think of his friend in that role, but he loved the touch as an athlete might love their coach’s hands after a long race. Starsky’s hands held a masculinity and tenderness that a woman could never hope to emulate and Hutch wished he had the power of words to express his gratitude.

On the morning of the first of January, Grace came into the small room as usual to say goodbye to her patient. She’d taken to spending a little bit of time at the beginning and end of each shift with her favourite patient so that Starsky could take some time to eat and have a shower. The brunette had almost moved into the hospital and they’d moved a small sofa into Hutch’s room so that at least the curly haired man had somewhere to chill out during the times when Hutch was resting.

‘Happy New Year’ she whispered to Starsky as she came in. ‘Has he slept much?’

‘Yeah, I think so’ the curly haired man answered, smiling. ‘At least the bells didn’t go off during the night’ he chuckled.

‘Go and get your shower if you like. I’ll check him out and wait till you get back’.

Hutch heard his partner leave. For some reason today he felt different. Not quite so woolly or spacey. During the night, instead of letting his mind wander while Starsky got some rest, he’d drifted off into a relaxed sleep. At first he wondered why, and then it came to him. He didn’t have to think about breathing any more. Since just after his admission, he’d thought about the mechanics of getting air into his lungs through all his waking moments. In and out. In and out. But now, it was as though his body had taken back some control. He didn’t have to consciously thing about it any more. It just happened and for the first time in as long as he could remember he felt rested, warm and content.

He felt a movement at his side and Grace’s warm hand on his wrist checking his pulse and then he felt her lift the gel pack from his eyes and looked straight up into her big brown eyes.

She was taken aback for a moment at the sight of his crystal blue eyes, then said carefully

‘Hutch honey. Can you blink?’

Oh well there’s the sixty four million dollar question. Can I blink? Hmm. Ok Hutchy Give it a try. One two three. C’mon eyelid close damn you. Hey! Did I just do it? Can I do it again? Oh my God. I can blink! Can I do anything else? Arm? No well, that’s maybe too much. Little finger then? Aw shit. Well ok concentrate on the blink thing.

Grace laughed out loud as she saw the single ice blue eye wink at her and she rested a hand on Hutch’s shoulder. ‘Nice to see you back honey. Wait till your handsome friend sees what you can do. Just let me go find Stuart’. She turned and left leaving Hutch feeling stupidly proud of himself. He looked up at the ceiling, something he hadn’t seen for four days now. It felt so fantastic to be out of the dark that he couldn’t believe it, and when his other eye decided that it too wanted a piece of the action he wept for joy, the tears of happiness escaping the newly born eyes and dripping down his cheeks.

Moments later the doctor came into his room and insinuated himself into the blonde’s line of sight.

He smiled down. ‘Well, I think we can safely say you’ve turned the corner’ he said gently. ‘Well done you. You fought this all the way. The only direction is up now, so keep on fighting huh?’ Cole said as Hutch blinked his response.

As Stuart continued checking Hutch’s vitals, marking readings down on the chart from the monitors, Starsky made his reappearance back in the room. He stood at the door, heart in his mouth as he saw the doctor bending over his friend in the unscheduled visit.

‘Doc? is he ok?’ he asked carefully.

Starsky was relieved as he saw the huge smile on the man’s face as he turned.

‘I think your friend has a surprise for you’ he said, motioning the brunette forward.

Starsky walked to the side of the bed and was rewarded with the sight of Hutch’s ice blue following his movements.

‘Hutch? Can you see me? Can you close your eyes?’ he asked excitedly.

Hutch blinked once and jangled his bells in celebration as Starsky picked Grace up and swung her around in the little room.

‘He’s back. He can see. He can move his eyes’ he crowed as he put the nurse down.

Hutch felt as though he should be smiling. He felt as though there was a smile on his face, but he couldn’t actually move the muscles there. But he knew the joy was there in his eyes and the sound of his partner’s laughter was music to his ears. He was going to make it. He’d defeated this dismal damned disease and he was going to make it. He closed his eyes and savoured the moment.

Stuart nodded to the door, silently asking Starsky to follow him outside. Once in the corridor, the brunette was beside himself with joy.

‘I know its wonderful news’ the doctor said. ‘And it’s an amazing first step. But I just need to build in a little caution here. I don’t want to deflate your bubble, but there’s a helluva long way to go yet. This is just the first step, and I know you’re excited, but we’re still in for the long haul. We don’t know how long it’s going to take for him to get other movements back, or even whether he’ll get them all back. I just wanted to let you know’.

But Starsky was on cloud nine. ‘You don’t know Hutch, Doc. He’s not gonna let this beat him. He’s gonna be up and around in no time, just you wait and see. He’ll be back before you know it’.

Stuart chuckled. ‘Well, if he has as much drive and optimism as you, and I’ve already seen a sample of what he can do, then I have no reason to doubt you’ he said. ‘Go and enjoy his newfound freedom huh? And oh….Happy New Year!’

Starsky went back into the room and sat on the bed beside Hutch.

‘I knew you could do this Blintz. I knew you’d fight this. Are you feeling ok?’

Hutch blinked, but the enormity of the situation finally kicked in. He’d spent all his time since his original diagnosis fighting the disease. He’d denied it, riled against it and despised it, but never once given in. Even when he was immobile and in the darkness, during the worst hours of pain, he’d refused to give in to his emotions, knowing that to do so would weaken his resolve to get well again. And he knew that while he was strong, he would get well again. To think of his partner out on the streets with someone else was unconscionable.

But now that there was this first fragile sign that he’d won the battle against the worst of the symptoms and that finally the GBS might be on the run, his cast iron control of his emotions finally dissipated and another tear escaped his eyes to roll unchecked down his cheek.

‘Aw buddy. Don’t cry. Be happy. You’ve won. The enemy is in retreat! Here’. Starsky gently wiped away the teardrop with his thumb, his hand lingering on his partner’s cheek as he smiled into the ice blue eyes.

They say the eyes are the windows of the soul, and during the days when Starsky hadn’t been able to see the blonde’s beautiful ice blues, he’d felt more lost then any time he could remember. They had a connection; a way of reading each other’s feelings just by looking into the other’s eyes. But not being able to see them had taken that dimension to their friendship away. Sure, their bond was a strong as ever, if not stronger. But that channel of communication; that very personal view into the other’s soul was missing and both men had felt the loss acutely.

Now they both feasted on the other’s eyes. Not a soapy “I love you” type of lingering look. Just a “thank God I’ve got you back” type of gaze. One that said I’ve got your back partner. Me and Thee against the world.

‘Happy New Year Blintz. I’ve got a feeling it’s gonna be a great one’.

Chapter 13

----3rd January----

Hutch had slept well for the past three nights and on the morning of the 3rd January he awoke refreshed and rested. He paused savouring being able to open his eyes when he wanted to and felt the customary ache in his lower back. Knowing Amy wouldn’t be on the day shift for the next couple of hours and not wanting the disturb the brunette who was sleeping on the sofa in his room, Hutch made one more effort at turning on his own.

Although nothing moved below his chin he stunned himself when a low groan emanated from his mouth. He stopped in his struggles, brought up short by the unaccustomed noise. Slowly he concentrated and tried again. Oh my god he could groan! He laughed to himself at his discovery. Who on earth had ever been pleased to be able to groan before? His voice sounded different somehow. Lower and definitely more rasping. But it was his voice nonetheless.

Experimentally he tried to move his lips and was rewarded with the sensation of flesh moving over his teeth. It made him jump, it was so unexpected and he relished licking his tongue over his dry cracked lips, although the action was slow and somewhat unco-ordinated. Grace and Amy had both applied moisturising cream to his lips, but nothing could make up for wetting them with his own tongue.

It felt strange, as though it didn’t quite belong to him, and his lips tingled again, as they had done before he lost the use of them. He tried to purse them together, not quite achieving the desired result, but there was still definite movement and he felt overwhelmed as he managed to stretch unaccustomed muscles into a smile.

His next surprise came when he looked over at his partner, still sleeping on the sofa, unaware of his miracles. And then it struck him. Hutch hadn’t just moved his eyes, his whole head had lolled sideways on the pillow and he’d moved it there by himself. He made a titanic effort and got it upright again, then let it fall sideways so that he could once again see Starsky.

Ok let’s go the whole nine yards shall we Hutchy. You’re on a roll here boy, so let’s try shouting for him. Watch him roll off the sofa in amazement.

Gathering all his strength Hutch framed his lips into the correct position.

‘Sssssstaaaarsssskyyyyyy’ he barely whispered, alarmed at the sound of his own rasping, breathy voice. His lips worked, but not fast. But he could speak! Wonder of wonders he could communicate properly with the big wide world. Hutch was back on the scene! If only the big wide world would wake up and listen to him. He tried once more.


Ok. A bit louder but you won’t be making a cheer leading team any time soon.

But the mere whisper had the desired effect and the indigo eyes had flown open at the tiny sound. Starsky wiped his hands over his eyes and wondered what had shaken him awake. Automatically he looked over at his partner and fell off the sofa in surprise. Not only were Hutch’s eyes open, but his head was turned and he was looking at Starsky. The brunette levered himself off the floor and staggered over to the bed, watching the eyes, and the head, tracking his movements.

‘Hutch? Did ya……did ya say something?’ he asked softly, trying hard not to build up his hopes, his left hand hovering by the side of his partner’s face.

‘Ssstaaarssskyyyyy’ his partner tried again, both pleased that he was making a sound and at the same time dismayed that he sounded like one of the drunks they habitually picked up on a Saturday night in down town Bay City.

But Starsky just stared in surprise, his olive toned face cracking into a broad grin.

‘Hutch, you spoke. You can speak. You can turn your head! Am I dreaming? Pinch me. No, you can’t pinch me. Ok ok well, can you move your head for me?’ Starsky was aware he was gabbling but he felt so excited that he was beginning to get his partner back again that ordinary words weren’t enough to express his relief and excitement.

The blond forced wasted disused muscles into something he hoped resembled a smile and shook his head slowly on the pillow.

‘Iiiiiiii caaaaan taaaaalk’ he said carefully.

‘Oh my God you can! Where’s Amy? Where’s Grace? They have to see this. No, wait. I want this all to ourselves for a while. Jeez Hutch this is….its…..I can’t tell ya buddy. its so……ya know’.

For the first time in over three weeks Hutch felt a chuckle well up inside his chest. When it emerged it sounded more like a cross between a squawk and a cough, but it was accompanied by a strained smile, and it felt oh so good.

‘How d’ya feel buddy? Can I get ya anything? Oh my God, I don’t know what to say first. I’m just so happy to have ya back’.

‘Gooood b beiiiiing baaaack’.

Without any artifice, or sentimentalism, Starsky bent forward and hugged his partner, planting a kiss on the pale cheek. ‘God, I missed you buddy’ he said, wiping away a tear.

Hutch felt more tired by making those few movements and noises than he’d ever done running a perp down across a couple of miles. But it was a good tired and he allowed his face to once again relax into a smile as he felt his partner’s hand stroking his brow. And he allowed himself another luxury. One he’d wanted to do since he first became sick. As the big caring hand hovered over him, he nudged it with his head, snuggling into the warmth and companionship it emitted and as he drifted off to sleep again he felt happy and relaxed.


Over the next few days more and more muscle groups started to work and Hutch felt as though he was making real progress. On the morning of the 5th January, well into the third week of his sickness, Grace came into the blonde’s room with a small silver coloured tray.

‘Good morning handsome’ she said cheerfully.

‘Moooooorrrrrnin’ Hutch responded hesitantly, eyeing the dish with some trepidation. Grace caught the look and chuckled.

‘Hey, don’t worry, this is all good’ she said gently. ‘We know the muscles in your mouth and neck are working now, so I thought you might like a little something as a treat’ she showed her patient inside the dish and there, nestled amongst ice chips were tiny slivers of ice cream.

It was the first time Hutch had had food in his mouth for so long, and the thought of the sweetness and cold made his mouth water. He still had the Ryles tube in place and had been fed regularly through that, and although he had no pangs of hunger to speak of, he’d felt the loss of the sensations of eating keenly. Grace sat on his bedside and picked up one of the slivers of ice cream on a spoon, manoeuvring it to Hutch’s lips as he sucked it into his mouth. His arms and legs still steadfastly refused to move, but the taste of the desert made up for all his other limitations.

The blond rested his head back on his pillow and enjoyed the feeling of the desert melting on his tongue. He tried to swallow it down and choked, coughing so that tears ran down his face with the exertion and Grace stood by him, rubbing his back gently in small circular movements.

‘S’ok, honey, S’ok now. That’s it, just try ‘n breath deep. That’s good’ she said as Hutch lay panting and screwing his eyes up in frustration. ‘It’s only to be expected. You haven’t eaten anything for nearly three weeks. Your throat needs to get used to things again’ she said soothingly.

The pale man groaned. ‘Ssssssuuuuuucks’ he mumbled, closing his eyes.

‘I know, but its such early days yet. Do you want another try?’

‘Another try at what?’ Starsky said walking back into the room, his curls still wet and dripping from the shower.

‘Hutch is just having breakfast’ Grace said proudly.

‘Chooooooookin’ Hutch said disparagingly.

The brunette smiled at his and peered over the nurse’s shoulder at the dish.

‘Oh my God, you’re trying to poison him. That’s why he can’t eat! Ice cream for breakfast! Now give him some nice pureed liver with wheatgerm and he’d have your hand off’.

‘Shhhuduuuup’ Hutch muttered darkly, but with a shadow of a smile on his face. It felt so good to be able to have some banter with his partner that sometimes, if he closed his eyes he could almost believe that things were back to normal again. And then he’d try to move and he’d find himself once again stuck in the nightmarish real world.

Grace handed the dish over to Starsky. ‘Here, you do it, I’m busy with really sick patients’ she grinned as she walked out of the room.

The brunette stared down at the dish and spoon. ‘Hey, its strawberry’ he said, obviously impressed. He took a tiny bit of the ice cream and tried it. ‘It’s good. You should try some’.

‘Sstaaarssk!’ the blond rolled his eyes at his partner.

‘Oh, yeah, sorry Blintz, here’. Starsky took another sliver of ice cream and deposited it tenderly on Hutch’s tongue. This time, the blond let the sticky sweetness melt away and swallowed carefully, managing the procedure without choking himself. He smiled, obviously pleased with himself.


Together the two men continued until the dish was empty and Hutch was full. Carefully Starsky took a tissue and wiped at the corner of his partner’s mouth where some of the pink cream had escaped, feeling the tissue rasping against the flaxen whiskers.

‘Y’know buddy, you could really do with a shave’. He stood back and appraised the man in the bed.

Hutch had always weighed around 170lbs and was careful of his weight, keeping trim by diet and exercise. But the sickness had taken it’s toll on the once tanned and toned body. Now having lost about 30lbs in weight, Hutch’s face was gaunt, with dark circles beneath his eyes, and his ribs, showing above the sheet looked as though they were waiting for a musician to play him like a glockenspiel. The once luminously flaxen blond hair was dry and dull and stuck close to Hutch’s scalp and he looked 10 years older than his actual age.

‘What say we try and wash your hair and maybe cut it a little?’ Starsky asked. ‘Might make you feel a bit more like you huh? D’ya wanna risk it?’

Hutch nodded, too tired by his eating escapades to talk, but the prospect of washing his hair and shaving was a good one.

‘Who’sssss gonnnnnnna cut?’ he asked

‘Me, unless you got an objection’.

‘k. Goo fff’rit’.

Starsky went off to make preparations and Hutch rested back on his pillows. Yesterday, Amy had raised the head of his bed a little so that with his renewed sight, he could start to enjoy what was going on in the hospital. It felt good to be anything other than lying flat, and although he was by no means sitting upright, he could at least see his toes for the first time in a while.

Hutch knew he should feel grateful for everything that was happening to him, but after the initial euphoria of opening his eyes and then getting his voice back had worn off, he was plunged into a black hole of depression which he tried desperately to keep from his partner. Starsky was so ecstatic to have Hutch talking and seeing again, that it seemed to have escaped the brunette’s notice that Hutch couldn’t move his arms or his legs. He still peed through the catheter, and most undignified of all, had to endure an enema three or four times a week as those muscles in his stomach still didn’t work either. It was during those times that he was at his lowest, when even a simple bodily function like that had to be taken care of by his nurses. They never commented; never made him feel embarrassed by their actions or words, but he hated having to rely on them for even that most personal of services.

Hutch berated himself for his depression, knowing deep down that he shouldn’t feel that way and instead concentrated on keeping Starsky happy. Although the thought of clean hair and no beard was appealing, the mechanics of achieving it seemed too complicated to think about. But he new the brunette was nothing if not resourceful, and when he came back into the room bearing a bowlful of warm water and a bottle of shampoo, Hutch resigned himself to a little more manhandling.

As it turned out, they had more fun in trying to wash Hutch’s hair than they would have had in going to a ball game or cinema. By the end of the procedure, the bed was wet, Starsky was wet, the floor was wet, and even a little moisture had made its way onto Hutch’s hair. But the warm water on his sticky scalp felt good and the gentle massage of his partner’s strong fingers sent ripples of enjoyment through his body. At the end of an hour, the blond was washed and had had his hair cut shorter, was beardless and with all the exertions was asleep.

Starsky looked at his achievement and smiled to himself. ‘We’re gonna make it Blintz. It’s the first step, but we’re gonna make it’.

Chapter 14

----19th January----

‘If you don’t stop treating me like a child I’m gonna kill someone. Just leave me alone. Leave me alone huh? Who do you think you are, my Father? Well you’re not. You’re not my Dad or my Mom, ya hear? Just LEAVE ME ALONE’.

The blonde’s sweat soaked body shook itself awake with the viciousness of the dream and he lay for a moment panting and attempting to get his breath under control. Hutch had had a lot of these dreams recently. Dreams where he was trapped – confined by someone in a big old house while they waited on him hand and foot. No-one was cruel to him, but every time he made an attempt to do something for himself, hands would bat his own hands away and do the task for him. He knew logically it was a reaction to his current position, but it sucked. In fact just at that point the whole of the Blonde’s world sucked.

Since the mammoth events of the beginning of January, when his eyes had regained their independence, allowing him a view on the world, and his voice had returned, there had seemed to be little or no further progress. His voice was a little stronger and the terrible slurring of the words was slightly less acute, but the affliction had left him with a stammer which he couldn’t shake.

During the past couple of weeks, Amy had continued cranking the head of his bed up a little higher each day and now he was sitting almost upright in the bed, so that he could take a bit more part in his surroundings. He had enough muscle control back to keep himself from falling over when he was sitting up, but so far, his arms and legs still refused to move and he was reliant on others for everything from eating to voiding his waste. He still riled angrily against the catheter and the almost daily enemas. Their frequency had had to be increased because finally he was able to eat more solid food, and last night had managed almost a whole banana without choking on the sweet, pulpy fruit. At least now the drips and the Ryles tube had been removed, leaving big, blue/black bruises down each arm, contrasting with the fading tan on the wasted muscles.

Starsky still massaged his legs, arms and back each day, and that was one thing that the blond really looked forward to, although he was beginning to worry for his partner now. The brunette hadn’t been home for more than a few hours at a time since Hutch had been admitted to hospital and although Hutch cherished the fact that his friend was there at his side almost constantly, he could see the toll it was taking on the curly haired cop in the looser fit of his jeans, the longer, almost unkempt hair and the dull look in the indigo eyes.

Hutch hated himself for being so reliant on his partner for everything, but try as he might, his limbs refused to move under their own steam.

Stuart Cole had been back each day to see him and had counselled both Starsky and Hutch on how long the recovery process might yet take, warning that with each passing day with no movement, the chances of a full recovery eroded away. Whilst being thankful that the doctor wasn’t filling them with false hope, the brutality of the truth was still hard to take for both men. While it filled Hutch with fear to think that he may be stuck this way for ever, he had the advantage of experiencing it first hand. He knew it was more difficult for his partner to accept, because Starsky could only imagine what it might feel like to be paralysed. And yet, the brunette put on a brave face, and continued his programme of massage, talking, reading and playing music each day, as Hutch got steadily madder and madder.

He couldn’t take out his feelings of inadequacy on the nurses. They were doing everything they could for both men and Hutch couldn’t let Cole see how he really felt because he was grateful to the doctor for his honesty. But with Starsky there was a comfort. With his partner there was a safety net, where he could blow off and yell at the injustice of it all.

And that’s what he’d done last night. After an exhausting day of trying to get his body to do what he commanded it to do, and dealing with the feelings when his arms and legs refused to do anything but lie lifeless on the bed, Starsky had innocently suggested that he put some different music on the record player. Why should that trigger such a strong response? Why should that one, helpful suggestion take the blond completely off the rails? He had no idea. But blow his top is what he did and for ten minutes he let rip in his weak, breathy and stammering voice, while the brunette stood in the middle of the small room with a hurt look in his eyes, never saying anything. At the end of Hutch’s tirade, in which he’d accused Starsky of staying with him purely because he felt sorry for him, and then – Oh this was the best part – saying that Starsky wished he’d die, just so that he could have his money – the brunette calmly picked up his jacket from the chair, wished Hutch a good nights sleep, and walked out of the room.

That was at 9:17pm precisely and it was now 11:07am. The longest he’d been without the brunette’s presence in almost a month and to say that Hutch hated himself would be the understatement of the millennium. With tears of self pity and recrimination welling up in his eyes, he turned his face to the wall and tried to go back to sleep.


When Starsky had listened to the last of the poisonous words his partner directed his way, he felt as though his heart would break. Deep down, he knew that Hutch was frightened, angry even, but he’d never expected the outpouring of emotion that was directed at him. He knew he needed to get out before he too joined in with his own comments on the disease, the hospital, his partner and the world in general.

He’d picked up his coat and run out into the night, needing space and a friendly face. His life for the past month had revolved around that small hospital room, and although he felt a complete bastard for having the ability to actually leave, when Hutch was trapped in the room, he felt as though his head would burst if he didn’t get away.

Getting into the car he slammed the door, turned on the engine and set off in the direction of Huggy’s wanting company, a beer and a conversation that didn’t revolve around medical procedures and bowel movements.

Entering the bar was like entering a womb. The warm fuggy air, the dim lights and the loud music embraced him and Huggy looked up and smiled as he walked up to the bar.

‘What it is my man’ the black man greeted him. ‘How’s that blond one doin’?’

‘Fine Hug, but can we not talk about that tonight? You can go visit him if you want tomorrow’.

Being a bar tender is part drinks mixer and part psychologist, and Huggy had served behind a bar long enough to be expert in both.

‘You guys havin’ a fallin’ out?’ he asked gently.

The brunette sighed and stared into the depths of his beer glass. ‘Nah, not a falling out. We just needed some space’ he said moodily.

‘I hear ya. Consider this space central’ the barman said and left to serve another customer.

A young blond woman eyed the handsome curly haired man from the other side of the bar and finally walked over to him.

‘Hi handsome’ she said in a soft husky voice.

Starsky looked up and smiled at the pretty woman. ‘Hey Sweet Alice he said non committally.

‘Do you want to but me a drink?’ she asked. The brunette grinned. ‘Yeah, you can have a drink, but then I’m leavin’.

She looked downcast and he tried to explain. ‘Look Alice. I’ve been cooped up in a hospital for a month lookin’ after Hutch. I needed a beer and some company, but if ya stay, I just might take you up on all the offers you’ve made me over the years’ he said wiggling his eyebrows.

Slowly she put her hand on his arm. ‘Now who says I’d be averse to that happening sugar. I can see you’re all knotted up Starsky. Let me help ya wind down some huh?’ she twined her long slim fingers in his curls and Starsky felt the heat in his groin rise.

‘Alice, you know I like ya Hon. But I’d only be taking advantage of ya’ he growled.

She smiled a long slow smile. ‘And the other men who come to see me don’t? You’ve always been kind to me. You and handsome Hutch. And ah can see you’re hurtin’ real bad now. Let me help ya huh? Let me take your mind off of your problems, just fer tonight’.

The ache in his groin redoubled itself and Starsky made a decision, dragging the woman out of the bar and into his car. He kissed her savagely on the lips and then turned on the engine, racing back to his apartment. This was a woman he knew. Oh sure she was a prostitute, but that was perfect. He could take out his pent up emotions with her safely and in the knowledge that he was a lot gentler than most of her clients, and that she liked him. No commitment. No recriminations in the morning.

Pulling her up the steps, he let them both in to his apartment, taking off his jacket and flinging it down on the floor. He steered them both towards his bedroom and eased Alice down onto the bed, running his hands tenderly through her hair and over her breasts. She gently rolled him over.

‘Lie back sugar. Tonight is just fer you. Let me take care of ya. Kinda like a thank you fer all the times you’ve taken care of me’.

Deftly she unbuttoned his shirt and he sat up while she pushed it from his shoulders, running her fingers through the brown curls on his chest as he shivered and growled low in his throat, trying to steel a kiss. She pushed him gently back onto the bed, kissing him lightly on the lips and her fingers worked at the belt of his jeans, then with practiced ease dealt with the button and zip. She felt the bulge leap free from his jeans and took him in her hands as he groaned below her, biting his bottom lip as he fought for some control.

He’d had a month of living another person’s life as he cared for Hutch, and he knew he would never have had it any other way, but he’d neglected himself and now as he surrendered to Alice’s tender, experienced hands he felt as though he wanted it to last for ever.

He pulled her hand from his groin and pulled her to him so that he could kiss her again, and her tongue darted into his mouth as she delicately sucked on his lower lip and then on his tongue itself, her own drawing deft circles around his mouth as she explored every part of him.

This wasn’t like servicing a client. This was her heartfelt thank you to a man who’d been kind to her and respected her despite her profession. When she’d seen how much he was hurting at the Pits, the loneliness in his eyes, she’d know that if nothing else, she could ease his longing for the night and now she set to work with zeal.

Alice played the brunette’s body like a musical instrument, her hands flitting from one place to the next while she extracted the maximum pleasure from each spot she touched. Starting at his ankles, she kissed and licked up the length of his strong, muscle corded leg, stopping just short of the centre of his body. She paid particular attention to the hollow at the back of his knee, a spot Starsky didn’t know could be so sensual until she started. Within seconds, he was writhing beneath her whimpering at the sensations as they washed over him.

Next she kissed her way up his chest as her hands fluttered against his flanks, her tongue drawing small wet circles around his dark brown nipples. And then she progressed down each arm in turn, the area on the inside of his elbows yielding more spine tingling sensations as he continued to murmur and groan on the bed. Her tongue darted around the dimpled skin of the bullet wound scar on his left shoulder and Starsky went wild, thrashing his head against the pillows, never realising just how sensitive that damaged area was.

Only then, when his body was limp and boneless did she concentrate on the centre of his body, taking him gently in her mouth and feeling him fill her. She was surprised at his size, although she easily accommodated him, her tongue flicking at the end as he bucked on the bed, his hands clawing at handfuls of the sheets to keep himself from climaxing. She hummed, setting up vibrations deep within his body and swallowed causing added suction so that he cried out her name in a voice husky with need.

Only when she saw that he couldn’t wait another moment did she release him from her mouth to position herself above him. And looking down into his beautiful eyes, she slowly impaled herself on him with a sigh before riding him to a bone crushing climax.

At the end, he cradled her in his arms and she snuggled into his side, enjoying that intimacy she never got from her clients. While they all left the money on the dresser and left, Starsky was happy just to cuddle, treating her once again as a regular human being and not just some commodity.

And as he lay next to her, his mind cleared of all the shit of the argument with Hutch by the mind blowing sex, a plan formed in his head.

Chapter 15

----20th January----

Early the next morning, Starsky drove quietly back to the hospital, but instead of heading straight back up to Hutch’s room, he sought out Doctor Cole and asked if he could have a private wordThe doctor was curious, especially with the intent look on the curly haired man's face. he invited starsky into his office and both men talked for over an hour and at the end of it, the brunette was wiser and had his plan even more firmly engraved in his mind.

He bounced along to Hutch’s ward, but still didn’t go in to see the blond. What they did and what was said the previous evening needed more than a cursory explanation and Starsky needed all his time just at that moment to put his plan into operation. He tiptoed onto the ward and grabbed Amy round the waist, pulling her into the small staff kitchen.

‘Where’ve you been?’ she hissed ‘He’s been beside himself this morning. He’s inconsolable, miserable, depressed. Did you two have an argument?’

‘Kinda. I know he’s feeling frustrated. So am I. I guess we both needed to let off steam, but it'll be ok. Listen. There’s something I need to do and I don’t have time to explain properly. And I don’t want to see Hutch until it’s all settled. Can you give him a message from me?’

Amy nodded intrigued at the intensity in the brunette.

‘Tell him Starsky’s law is in operation’ he’ll know what it means’. Starsky cupped the small nurse’s face in his hands and slapped a kiss on her lips as she squeaked, but didn’t pull away. Letting her go, the curly haired cop raced out of the ward and back to his car, the first stop being the Metro.

Pulling up outside in his usual parking slot, he got out and took the steps into the building three at a time. He hadn’t felt this focussed or alive since before Hutch took sick and he knew he could make his plan work. the disease had taken all control form the both of them, and that was what Starsky hated most. But now he had something he could do; something he could navigate and control. Once again, he felt as though he had the upper hand.

Stopping in front of the wooden door, he actually knocked before opening it and pushing his head around the corner. Seeing the office empty of everyone but his boss, he walked in and sat down in the small leather armchair opposite Dobey’s desk.

The Captain looked up and smiled. ‘Starsky! How’s your partner doing? Can we go visit? Rosie really wants to go see her Uncle Ken and Edith has been worried sick’ he patted a plate of apple pie by his desk. ‘I reap the benefits. She bakes when she’s worried!’

Leaning forward and breaking off some of the crust, Starsky chucked. ‘Good old Edith. Cap, I have to talk, have you got time?’

At his Captain’s nod, Starsky leaned back and outlined his plan. For a half an hour or so, they discussed possibilities, finally hitting on one that they were both happy with, and with promises to come by and see Rosie, Starsky made his way back out to his car.

For the rest of the afternoon, he trawled the various shops, knowing what he was looking for, but never actually finding it, until he hit upon a small place in a back street. Coming out minutes later with a piece of paper bearing an address, he headed down the coast a ways and met up with an attractive looking blond realtor who was standing by the side of the beach house. She let them into the single storey property and Starsky felt at home right away. There were three bedrooms, two of which looked out onto the beach. The central living area joined the kitchen and living room together in a big L shape and the living room had enormous patio windows leading out onto a covered wooden porch leading around three sides of the house. The wooden boards were painted a flaking pale blue and the walls a pale sand colour, the whole house seeming to blend into its surroundings as it nestled between two low dunes, fronting right onto the sand. It was a small, unassuming and unpretentious house, but the view out to the ocean was to die for and as Starsky looked back into the house at the polished oak floorboards, the simple white kitchen and the large open living space he knew it was ideal.

Following the realtor, he headed back to the office and signed the rental documents there and then, obtaining the key and the pictures of the place from the small brochure and happily drove back to the hospital.

He took the steps up to the ward slowly and was intercepted by Stuart Cole on the way to Hutch’s room.

‘Well?’ the doctor asked.

‘Done. Its perfect. Have you asked them?’

Stuart chuckled. ‘It’s highly irregular, but they both agree and the hospital are happy to give them a three month career break. When do you want to do this?’

Starsky paused. ‘It’s Wednesday now. Um…is Friday too soon?’

‘No I think Friday is perfect. I’ll start getting things together for you. But I think you ought to go see him now. I’ve never seen him so depressed. Good luck’.

With a sigh, Starsky walked slowly along to Hutch’s room feeling a heel for having walked out on his partner the previous evening. But, he reasoned, if he hadn’t, he’d never have had the idea, and it was in Hutch’s best interest at the end of the day. He paused at the door and looked in, his heart bleeding for his friend as he saw Hutch’s head facing away from the door. Quietly he opened it and walked in.

Hutch heard the door go and thought at first that Amy had come back. She’d turned him a while ago and had gasped in sympathy when she’s seen the enormous sore at the bottom of his back. He knew it was bad because it hurt like hell, but he refused to complain, hugging the pain to him because he felt he deserved it for all the hurt he’d caused to Starsky. She’d told him she’d be right back with some analgesia and that’s what he expected now.

Starsky! How could he have been so cruel to the one man who’d put his life on hold to look after him.

And what do you do Hutchinson? You yell at him and accuse your best friend of plotting to take your money? Some friend you are! It’d serve you right of he never came back.

That thought filled Hutch with dread and in his fright and his loneliness he whimpered to himself in frustration and anger.

And then he felt the hand on his shoulder. He recognised the touch straight away without opening his eyes. In fact he was frightened to open his eyes because he didn’t want to see the pain he’d caused reflected in them. But he heard the voice.

‘Hey Blintz’ Starsky said softly.

Hutch opened ice blues and looked into the indigo blue pools above him, bracing himself for the anger he felt sure he’d see there. But instead all he saw was the goofy grin his partner always carried when he was particularly pleased with himself, the indigo shining even brighter than usual.

‘I d didn’t thiiink you’d c c come baaack’ Hutch stammered and slurred, his voice effected by his emotional state.

‘What d'ya mean, wouldn't come back? Ya can’t get rid of me that easy! Hey, Hutch. What’s the matter buddy?’

Hutch’s face had crumpled and Starsky looked on in horror as a tear trickled down the side of the blonde’s face, losing itself in the flaxen bangs.

‘Aw, Hutch, don’t cry babe. What’re ya crying for?’ Starsky felt the lump rise in his own throat at the sight of the man who’d spent all this time being so stoical now breaking down before him.

‘Thhhhought I’d l lossssst ya’ Hutch whispered, closing his eyes so that the brunette wouldn’t see the despair in them. He felt that strong hand lightly rubbing away the tears and the dam burst, all the pent up emotion, loneliness, regrets and fears of the past month finally escaping as the blond sobbed huge wracking sobs.

Without a moments hesitation, Starsky picked up the frail man and engulfed him in an enormous bear hug as Hutch buried his face into Starsky’s shoulder and cried into the familiar brown leather jacket.

Starsky held on to the bony, thin shoulders and rocked his partner back and forth, rubbing small circles against his back and feeling each spiny bone sticking out from Hutch’s thin frame. He held on as the blond trembled in his clutch and until the sobs started to diminish, and gently he rested Hutch’s body back against his pillows.

‘How could ya ever think I’d go, huh? I’d do anything for you. Didn’t Amy tell ya I’d be back? Didn’t she give you my message?’ Stormy eyes searched the blonde’s face and Hutch tried to smile back.

‘Shhhe s said s something about Ssstaarsky’s l law’.

‘Yeah, that’s right. That’s what I told her to tell ya. I was gonna put Starsky’s law into operation. So why get upset?’

The brunette couldn’t help but chuckle at the bewilderment in the ice blue eyes opposite.

‘S so many ffffreakin’ l laaaaws. C couldn’t d decide whiiiich one, m mushbrain’.

‘Aw Jeez, Hutch. M’Sorry buddy. This is my masterplan. I have to tell you about it. Hutch I’m springing ya from this place. On Friday’.

Starsky watched the look of amazement flow over the blond face.


‘Doc says he can’t do anything more for you here than we could do at home, so you’re officially outa here on Friday’.

‘B but how wwwwill I get uuup the ssssteps?’

‘Ah, that’s the cunning part of the Starsky masterplan. You gave me the deeds to your place. I’ve set it out to rent and the income that it provides, along with some of my savings means I’ve done a long term let on a new place. You’ll love it Hutch’ Starsky produced the brochure from his packet and held it out for his partner to look at.

Without thinking, and without conscious effort, Hutch’s left hand hovered an inch or so above the bed, not exactly making it all the way to reach the proffered paper, but a movement nonetheless.

There was a silence in the room as both men looked down at the hand and then in no more than a whisper Starsky said ‘Do that again’.

With a look of intense concentration, Hutch closed his eyes and willed his right hand to move, not opening them in case the perceived movement didn’t actually translate into motion at all. He opened them when he heard a gasped ‘Oh my god’.

The right hand had moved again. Not a whole long way, but it was a movement and not a fluke. Hutch stared at it as though it didn’t quite belong to him and then burst into tears all over again.

It was a day for emotions and this time, the brunette joined him, both men shedding silent tears of happiness, so that when Amy arrived back with the cream she was going to use for Hutch’s back, she saw the guys wrapped in each other’s arms laughing and crying at the same time.

‘Is everything alright?’ she asked carefully as she entered the room.

Starsky let go of Hutch, resting him back on the bed. Wiping first the blonde’s tears then his own, he beckoned the nurse over and as she watched, very slowly and with an inordinate amount of wobbling, Hutch raise his arm up and crooked his fingers at her.

The scream of joy could be heard across the Mexican border as Amy took hold of Starsky and together they danced a quick jig across the floor of the room.

‘Oh my God this day just keeps getting better!’ she finally said when she’d dried her own tears. ‘I’m going to enjoy this so much. Have you told him yet?’

‘No, not everything. He did his "Great Hutchini" trick before I got chance’.

Hutch looked from the nurse to his friend and back to the nurse again. ‘Ttell meeee what?’ he stammered.

‘It’s what I was trying to tell ya before you surpassed my surprise with one of your own! I’ve got us a beach house. It’s perfect, right in the dunes, a view of the ocean and all on the flat. So we move there on Friday and Amy and Grace are seconded to look after you until we can manage on our own!’

Hutch took in the rapt look in his partner’s eyes and smiled. ‘W what abbbout y you?’

‘Oh, it’s ok. I’ve talked it over with Dobey. I’m off homicide for a while. I’ve got three months leave, then until you’re ready to return to work, I’m gonna be a police photographer. Steady hours, no weekends. Perfect. So, here’s to Friday huh?’

A pained expression on Hutch’s face stopped him. ‘What’s the matter buddy?’

Hutch looked confused. ‘I lloooove the idddea. Wwhat d day issss it nnnnow?’

Chapter 16

----22nd January----

‘Plllleassse d don’t mmmake mmme go in annn ammmbulance. I d don’t nnneed one. I c can sit up on mmmy own annn’ if you ssstrap mmme in w with the ssseat belt I’ll b be fffine’ Hutch protested on the Friday morning.

Starsky had spent the previous evening moving a lot of Hutch’s stuff from the hospital to their new beach house and now he was back in the small room making final preparations. It had surprised him just how much work it had entailed to get their belongings to the new house and he just hoped that the blond would love it as much as he’d grown to like it in the past couple of days.

‘Look, it’s only a short distance. If you go in the ambulance you’ll be safer’ the brunette argued.

‘Are you sssayin’ yourrrr drrrivin’ issssn’t ssssafe?’ Hutch asked with a smile on his face.

‘No, I’m sayin’ that even when you’re sick you can be an annoying son of a bitch’ Starsky responded good naturedly. ‘Ok, fine. No ambulance, but that means Amy’ll have to ride in the car with us. Deal?’

Hutch nodded, pleased he’d managed to win the argument. Since Starsky had told him about the beach house, he’d worked hard at moving his arms. He could get both up off the bed by a good twelve inches now, and although it wasn’t enough to be able to feed himself yet, it made him feel as though he had a target to work for. Being sprung from the hospital was like a milestone – a new beginning and Hutch felt he needed to start his new life in a positive way. So he was damned well going to arrive by car rather than ambulance. Ambulances were for sick people and he wasn’t sick. He was recovering.

Whilst the brunette had busied himself moving furniture from their apartments to the new house Hutch had had his first visitors since he’d been admitted to hospital, starting with Dobey and Rosie. She’d wanted so much to see her Uncle Ken and she’d picked out a balloon saying “Get well soon” and a card which she’d scrawled with her own personal message.

The Captain had held his little girl’s hand as they’d made their way up to the room, bracing himself for the sight. Starsky had told him that Hutch was feeling better and getting stronger each day, but the big sensitive black man had hated the thought of the young officer having his youth and vitality ripped from him. He’d hoped that his imagination might be worse than the actual truth, but as he got to the door of the room, he had to stifle a gasp.

Hutch had never really liked wearing anything in bed, but in deference to the nursing staff, he’d taken to wearing pyjama pants in hospital, but refused to wear the shirt. Hence, when Dobey looked he saw the ribs sticking through the tight skin on the blonde’s chest, the jutting cheek bones and hollow, sunken eyes. He tried to keep the look of sympathy and horror off his face, but Rosey had none of the adult hang-ups and if she noticed the sick look pervading her uncle, she chose to ignore it.

Rosey ran across the room, the balloon bouncing along behind her and climbed up onto the bed, flinging her arms around the big man and planting a kiss on his cheek.

‘Uncle Ken! Are you feeling better?’ she asked gazing earnestly into his face. He nodded and smiled, wondering what she would think of the way he was forced to speak now. It made him embarrassed to stammer and slur his words and although the speech therapist had said that “normal service would be resumed shortly” he was beginning to doubt her words.

But Rosey wasn’t contented. ‘Uncle Ken, why don’t you hug me back?’ she asked.

Hutch took a deep breath. ‘Mmmy armmmsss d don’t wwwork’ he said slowly.

She giggled. ‘You sound funny! But that’s ok, I still love you. Here, let me help’ she said. She sat close to the big blonde’s body and carefully arranged his right arm until she could hold it around her waist. Happy with the results, she nestled back and grinned at him. ‘This is nice. I missed you’ she said happily.

Hutch rested his head on the top of her head, feeling her hair tickle his nose. ‘Yeah, sss’nice’.

For the rest of the visit, Dobey and Rosey did most of the talking, about nothing in particular and everything in general until Dobey saw the detective’s eyelids begin to droop. Starsky had warned him that Hutch’s energy levels were low and the Captain knew that the next day would be a big one for Hutch, so he made his excuses and lifted his daughter down off the bed, after she’d planted another wet kiss on his cheek.

‘I love you Uncle Ken. Hurry up and get better’ she said as she stood at the edge of the bed.

‘I llllove youuuuu toooo’ Hutch slurred, feeling tired but happy and before Dobey and the little girl had made it out of the room, he’d fallen asleep.

So now Hutch was getting ready to experience the great big world outside after a month in the hospital. He was excited at the prospect of seeing something else other than the four boring pale blue walls. He’d counted the ceiling tiles, the floor tiles, the number of petals on each artificial flower in the vase opposite his bed and had even tried to count the hairs on his partner’s head when Starsky had fallen asleep one night by his bed. To say he was bored of the place was an understatement. But at the same time he had some fear about leaving. Here, he knew that if anything went wrong, or God forbid he had a relapse, there were doctors and drugs on hand. Out at the beach, they’d be on their own, but he suppressed the negative feelings, stuffing them deep down inside as he fed off his partner’s energy.

Finally Amy helped Starsky lift Hutch into a wheelchair. It was the first time he’d been out of his bed since he’d arrived at the hospital and although he’d sat up in the bed countless times now, it felt strange and not a little uncomfortable to be in a chair. The bones in his butt rubbed against the seat of the chair and as Starsky started to wheel it, he had a sudden wave of nausea. He swallowed it down and plastered a smile on his face as he got to the nurses station for the customary hugs and kisses and eventually, with flowers, cards and chocolates packed in a paper bag, Hutch made his final bid for freedom.

As Starsky and Amy manoeuvred him into the Torino and the brunette belted the seat belt around him, he looked up at the building that he considered had been his prison for four long weeks. The sun was shining and it was warm, the sky a beautiful blue and the breeze ruffled his flaxen bangs through the open window of the car and Hutch swallowed down the lump in his throat. He’d made it this far against all the odds and now he was on the next stage of the journey towards getting back onto the streets at the side of the brunette. He sighed and rested his head back against the headrest, feeling Amy’s presence behind him.

Starsky got into the drivers side and with a final check that they had everything and Hutch was safely stowed he switched on the ignition, dropped the selector into drive and moved off carefully into the traffic. There was silence for a moment and then Hutch broke the magic moment.

‘D don’t’.

Starsky glanced sideways. ‘Don’t what?’

‘D don’t ussse yourrr commmprommmise ssspeed’.

‘My…what d’ya mean my compromise speed? I’m just driving politely’ the brunette defended himself.

‘Nnnoo sssquealing t tyres! Mmm nnnot gonnnnna b break’.

The curly haired cop chuckled. ‘Ok, sorry Blondie. No more compromise speed, but I ain’t gonna be chasin’ any perps today, no matter what ya say!’

The three enjoyed the drive down the coast, Hutch especially. Everything looked so fresh, as though he was seeing everything for the first time, with new eyes. He even had a new appreciation for the Torino, although towards the end of the drive, his bony, thin frame was beginning to suffer from the lack of its usual padding and he winced as the road got rougher as they neared the house.

Starsky pulled up into the small parking space by the side of the building and turned to his partner. ‘Welcome to your new home buddy’ he said simply, seeing the blond appraising the house.

Carefully Starsky and the little nurse helped the tired cop out of the car and into the wheelchair and into the house. The brunette proudly conducted the guided tour of the place and showed Hutch where everything was. But it was the view from the living room window that staggered the blond. The ocean was only yards from the huge glass doors and between the inky blue water and the house was a stretch of fine white sand inviting long walks and games when he was well enough.

As Amy busied herself making drinks and setting out her stall in the bathroom and kitchen, Starsky flung open the doors and let in the salty air, the sounds of the waves whispering onto the beach carried to them on the warm breeze. Hutch had put on a warm sweat top for his journey and despite the warmth of the sum he shivered, unaccustomed to the breeze after so long spent indoors. Starsky noticed immediately.

‘Ya cold Blintz? D’ya want me to close the doors?’

‘Nnno. I wwwannnt to get t to the wwwwater’ Hutch said smiling.

Starsky looked at the far away look in his friend’s eyes and carefully stood. ‘I’ll never wheel the chair over the soft sand, but I’ll get ya down there. D'ya mind?’ He stooped and put his strong arms around Hutch’s insubstantial, almost featherlight body and lifted his partner bodily out of the wheelchair. Slowly and sure footedly he carried the blond down the beach to the waters edge and gently set him down on the sunwarmed sand. Hutch managed to prop himself up until Starsky sat down behind him, putting one leg each side of the flaxen haired cop’s body and slowly Hutch leaned back against his friend until they were both looking out to sea.

The sun was going down now and it cast a rosy glow over the ocean, leading a shining pink and yellow path back to the two men on the beach as they sat, enjoying the peace and each other’s company, savouring the peace and quiet and their new chance at life.

Chapter 17

----11th March----

‘How dooo I loook?’

Hutch straightened the collar of his shirt in the mirror in his bedroom as he sat up a bit straighter in his wheelchair.

In the two months since he’d escaped the confines of the hospital to come down to the beach house the change in him had been amazing. When he’d left Memorial he’d weighed no more than 130lbs, the GBS having ravaged his body leaving him no more than skin and bone. But the salt air, the loving care he’d received from his two nurses Amy and Grace and of course the constant care and friendship of Starsky had helped him back on the road to recovery.

Although not back up to his usual body weight, the plough furrow ribs had been covered once again by a layer of muscle and the sunken eyes which had stared out of a face pinched by pain and paralysis had become brighter and had regained some of their previous glitter.

Hutch’s arms were almost back in working order now and he worked at exercising them constantly, gripping the squeezy balls Grace got for him and working with his partner with a set of weights that Starsky had brought from Venice Place. His arms were strong enough now to propel him about the smooth oak floor of their beach house and the new found freedom, free from having to ask his friends to take him everywhere had done the blonde’s spirits a power of good. The muscles he was rebuilding in his chest were defined now beneath a skin that had taken on a healthy tan from the days he’d spent on the covered porch enjoying the sea breeze and the view of the ocean.

Only his legs remained debilitated by the nerve wasting disease, and his speech, which became slurred when he was tired or excited. Although he could move his legs, there was no strength there, meaning that he was still confined to his wheelchair, managing only one or two fumbling steps whilst he leaned heavily on either the brunette or the walking frame.

But today was a big day. For the first time in 3 months, he was going to see Ginny, the girl he’d broken up with on the night he’d found out he was going to become sick and may even die. Then she’d been devastated and had called Starsky asking for an explanation. She’d honoured her boyfriend’s wishes and had kept away from the hospital although it had almost killed her to be apart from him. Hutch wasn’t a vain man, but the prospect of his girl seeing him so sick and feeble was more than he could bear and he’d been adamant that he wanted no visits from her until he felt well enough.

To her credit, Ginny had persisted, calling the beach house two or three times each week although Hutch had steadfastly refused to speak to her, ashamed of his stammer and the slurring in his speech.

But finally, after all this time, he’d relented and she was on her way to see him. He’d taken extra care, sitting on the small stool in the shower as he washed his hair and shaved carefully. Starsky had made a decent job of cutting his locks the first time whilst he was still in hospital, and so he’d continued the task of keeping the silky flaxen hair in trim and the new, slightly shorter style suited Hutch perfectly.

Now he sat on the front porch of the house, waiting nervously for Ginny to arrive and wondering if they could ever pick up where they’d left off. Since his illness, Hutch had had very few times when he’d felt any urges and he certainly didn’t feel sexy at all. He’d always found Ginny attractive and now he worried that when he saw her he wouldn’t have the same urges he’d always felt when he was in her company. Whilst his legs didn’t work properly, what was between them still had a life of its own and Hutch wondered if he’d ever get a chance to use it again. He took a deep breath as he saw her small green convertible rounding the corner down to the house. She pulled up and got out, waving at him as she walked down to the house.

Walking onto the porch, Hutch tried to see her eyes to decide whether he could tell what she was thinking. Ginny approached him slowly, appraising the man in the wheelchair. Once upon a time he’d have run to her and swept her up in his strong arms, but of course those days were gone. Now, she walked up to him and cautiously put her arms around him, giving him a peck on the cheek and wondering whether he would hurt if she held him tighter.

‘Hey’ she said, uncertainly.

‘Hi honnney’ he smiled at her as she drew up a chair and sat at his side.

There was a small pause. ‘Um…how are you?’

‘Hutch couldn’t resist looking down at his useless legs as he sighed. ‘Mmm’ok. You?’

‘Yeah, yeah, I’m good’ she said, caught unawares by his slurred speech

Another pause.

‘Are you ah…um….feeling better?’ Ginny asked, feeling like a complete stranger with this man who had, not three months before, taken her to his bed and given her wild nights of passionate love.

‘B betterrrrr, yeah’.

‘I erm….I like the house’.

‘Hmm. B beaaach isss good. You lllllook welllll’.

‘Yeah, I'm good. I’ve been keeping busy. Going out . I went to the Angles nightclub the…..’ her voice trailed off as she realised that Hutch hadn’t been with her

Hutch caught the hitch in her voice and knew immediately that this meeting was a mistake. With Starsky, the only other person he had interaction with who knew him before his illness, he could be himself, never having to pretend, or having to work at the relationship. With Starsky, he could be himself without pretence. But sitting here with Ginny, he realised just how much he’d changed and how much his life now differed from what she’d known before. And he recognised that he could never go back. His perception of the world would never be the same, even if he made a full recovery. His life experiences would mould his outlook, and his old friends would either have to adapt or leave.

He looked again at the stunningly beautiful girl who was struggling to find something to say to him.

Ginny had never felt as uncomfortable as she did at that moment. She waited so long to see the man she called her boyfriend. She hadn’t entertained going out with anyone else, even though she’d had other offers, always maintaining that she was Hutch’s girl. She’d romanticised him illness, seeing him in her imagination laid in his hospital bed, dressed in white robes, with the usual drips in his arms. But it had been a sanitised image, a far cry from the man she saw in front of her.

She’d expected Hutch to look no different from the man she’d seen before Christmas, maybe with just a hint less colour in his cheeks and walking with the aid of crutches, the injured romantic hero – Rochester to her Jane. There was no way she could have prepared herself for the gaunt, haunted look in his face, or the obviously wasted legs, and in one grim moment of reality she realised this was not the man she had loved and she was not woman enough to love him now.

Hutch took a deep breath. ‘Letssss c cut the c cackle Ginnnny’ he said almost roughly. ‘Yoooou’re shhhhocked aren’t you?’

She looked away, unable to meet his direct gaze. ‘I’ll get used to it’ she said uncertainly, mentally beating herself up for not having the courage to admit she couldn’t cope. She didn’t want to lead him on, but she didn’t want to upset him either. Not when he’s a cripple.

But Hutch had no such compunction. ‘Whaaat w will you get ussssed to Ginnnnny? W will you g get usssed to the fffact that yourrrr mmman can’t w walk? Or thaaat he cannn’t go t to the bathrrrroom on hissss ownnn? Helllll, c cannn’t evvvven talk prrrroperrrrly’.

She stood, the chair cannoning away from her in her haste as she looked down at him with tears in her eyes. ‘I’m sorry’ she said. ‘I’m so sorry. This was a mistake. I can’t….’

‘C cannn’t livvvve w withhhh a crrrriple’ Hutch slurred angrily, watching her face crumple as the tears coursed down her face. Not wanting to be cruel, but at the same time needing to get out of her company, Hutch took the breaks off of his chair and wheeled himself into the house and through to his bedroom, slamming the door behind him.

And then he cried. For himself, for his lost life, for the love he’d just said goodbye to. For the first time since his diagnosis, Hutch cried purely for himself, his head in his hands as the salty tears flowed through his fingers and pooled in the material of his jeans until they flowed no more and he felt heavy and empty.

He had no idea how long he stayed like that in his room, but finally he heard a small noise behind him and looked up, his face pale, feeling completely drained.

Starsky walked over to him and sat down on the bed in front of him.

‘I’m sorry buddy’ he said simply.

‘Sssorrry forrrr what?’

‘I’m sorry you fell for a girl that was so shallow that she couldn’t see past the chair. I sent her packing. When you came inside she came to find me, trying to tell me she was sorry she’d treated you like that’.


‘I told her to fuck off’.

Hutch looked steadily at his partner. ‘Why?’

‘Because you can do better than that buddy’.

‘Ssso thaaat I cannn get a girrrrl who’lllll wipe mmmmy asss?’ Hutch said bitterly.

‘No! so that you can get a girl who’ll have the patience to wait until you’re well again’.

The look on the blonde’s face tore at Starsky’s heart. It was a look of loss, betrayal and anger and he wrapped his arms round his partner in a bear hug.

‘Oh shit Hutch. What can I do for ya huh?’

‘Rrrrrub mmmmy back?’ the voice said quietly

‘Course I will. D’ya need to ask dummy? C’mere’.

Starsky lifted the blond onto the bed and helped him ease off his shirt, wincing at the sores that still marred his partner’s back from the long weeks in the hospital bed.

As Starsky broke out the familiar lemongrass and bergamot lotion and started to massage it into the tanned skin with long firm strokes, Hutch relaxed down onto the bed, allowing himself to forget the pained look in Ginny’s eyes as she’d watched him go and to concentrate on his body and the friendship he shared with the brunette.

Starsky allowed his mind to wander as he kneaded the knots out of his friends back and shoulders. He’d never wanted Ginny to come to the beach house, realising early on that the girl wouldn’t be able to cope with the sight of Hutch in his current state. And he hated what she’d done to the carefully preserved bit of self confidence that the blond had left. As he worked his mind worked overtime and eventually, as the skin under his practiced hands took on a rosy hue and Hutch relaxed into a dreamless, exhausted sleep, Starsky got up carefully, wiped his hands and took himself off for a walk down the beach.

In the distance he saw a couple of horses walking down to the waters edge and as he drew closer he saw that one rider was an adult, riding a large chestnut horse while her companion was a small girl on a dapple grey pony. It looked like every rocking horse Starsky had ever seen in a toy shop and he watched it as it’s hooves disappeared into the soft sand at the waters edge, suddenly realising that the little girl’s legs were spindlier than most children’s. As he got even closer, he realised she wore splints on them, although she rode the pony with confidence, giggling as the water splashed up at her.

As he watched the child and her adult friend he wondered. Could this help? He remembered Hutch telling him he had had riding lessons as a boy and liked horses and so he put up his hand and went to speak to the woman and little girl.

Chapter 18

----12th March----

Hutch hadn’t moved from his bed when Starsky got back to the beach house the previous night, and when Grace went into his bedroom to help him get ready for bed at 10:00pm he’d said he didn’t want any supper and went straight to sleep. The night was long and the brunette didn’t get much sleep as he tossed and turned, seeing over and again the hurt and betrayal in his partner’s eyes after Ginny had gone.

You’re better off without her partner. She’d never stay the course anyway. You’ll find someone far better than her. You deserve someone who’ll love you for who you are rather than what you can do.

Now, in the cold light of the early morning, Starsky waited on the front porch, looking down the beach at the tide washed sand. He’d got up early, excited at the prospect of the surprise he had in store for his partner. The morning was cool and calm and there was a slight breeze blowing in off the ocean, ruffling the small waves into frothy, lacy tops and inside the house, the brunette could hear Amy helping to get Hutch up for the day. He didn’t in truth need too much help now and Amy and Grace had agreed with the two men that at the end of the month, they’d leave and go back to their normal jobs back at Memorial. It would be a wrench to see both of them go. They had not only been nurses, but had turned into good friends too and Hutch was comfortable enough with them to allow his feelings to show through, taking some of the pressure off Starsky when he was feeling down or angry.

They’d fallen into a routine. Grace helped in the evening and was around during the night. Amy came to the house early and helped with breakfast, showers and the like and stayed during the day. Starsky enjoyed the routine, and had learned a lot from the two women, both in helping his partner physically and emotionally. They’d seen the process of recovery before and had acted for counsellors for the curly haired cop when he was having a tough time too. But now he knew Hutch was getting bored of the same things happening day after day, even though he still relished the ocean breezes and the views. Now that Ginny was no longer on he horizon Starsky hoped his new diversion would help give the blond something else to think about.

Just as Hutch wheeled himself into the living room, freshly dressed in pale blue jeans and white tee shirt, Starsky’s plan hove into view and walked up the beach. He waved and turned back to the blond who was just about to start his breakfast.

‘Hutch? There’s someone I want ya to meet’.

Hutch looked around, a resigned look on his face. ‘No Starsk. I can’t do it any more’ he said wearily.

‘You can do this. I’ve got you a girl who’ll carry ya, support ya and will never answer back’ Starsky said mysteriously.

The blond sighed without turning round. ‘Shudup. I’m not in the mood for jokes this morning. Just leave me alone huh?’

But the brunette refused to take "no" for an answer and crossed the room, whipping the chair round and propelling it and Hutch towards the open patio door.

‘I want to introduce you to your new girlfriend. Meet Honey’ he said with a flourish.

Hutch looked up at the dun coloured horse, taking in the biscuit coloured hide and the dark mahogany mane and tail. The horse lowered her head and blew gently at Hutch who reached up and hesitantly patted the muscular neck, looking into the liquid brown eye. The animal towered over him, but was gentle and non threatening, never looking at the wheelchair and accepting Hutch for who he was – a man who loved horses. Quickly he looked back at his partner, questions in his eyes as he continued to stroke down the flanks of the horse who stood patiently accepting the ministrations.

‘Oh, you should meet Emma as well. She’s the human on the horse at the back!’ Starsky grinned as he saw the rapt look on his partner’s face

The girl in question came forward and she smiled down from her horse at the man in the wheelchair with no hint of sympathy in her face. She bent down and proffered her hand.

‘Hi’ she said openly.

‘Hi’ Hutch replied, still captivated by the horse who was now searching his pockets in the hope of finding mints or other goodies.

Starsky stood back and watched the budding love affair. The horse didn’t care whether Hutch was able bodied or not. All Honey cared about was whether he was kind and gentle and she showed her affection by blowing once again on his cheek with breath that smelt of hay and the countryside.

‘So, you like my girl do you? Do you want to ride her?’ Emma asked.

‘Who mmme?’ Hutch stammered. ‘I…erm….I c can’t wwwalk’.

The woman smiled. ‘That’s ok, she’ll walk for you. She’s used to people who’s legs don’t work too well, and I think she likes you’.

Hutch smiled back. ‘I thinnnk I like hhher too’ he said, patting the biscuit coloured horse again.

‘So, d’ya want a lift up there? The brunette asked, seeing the longing in his partner’s ice blue eyes. The day before, when he’d seen the horses on the beach, he’d stopped the woman and asked her if there was a stables nearby. She’d answered that she was part of a riding for the disabled programme and before Starsky knew what was happening, he was deep in conversation with Emma about the therapeutic effects of horseracing. The trust built up between rider and horse and the muscles that were strengthened in backs and legs by riding.

The brunette had explained all about Hutch and the disease he’d battled, finding the woman direct, open and easy to talk to and by the end of their conversation he’d arranged for her to bring a suitable horse over to the beach house next morning.

‘Ah…yyyeah! I’d love to rrride’ Hutch said, mesmerised y the animal in front of him.

Together, Amy and Starsky got Hutch standing up and Emma guided the horse along the sand by the raised porch so that the blond could lean his body over the saddle. With a bit of grunting and groaning and a non too graceful lurch, Hutch managed to get one useless leg over the saddle and levered himself up into a sitting position as Starsky jammed his feet into the stirrups. Hutch took a hold of the reins and Emma clipped a lead rein onto Honey’s bit.

‘How does that feel?’ Emma asked as Hutch got himself arranged in the saddle.

The flaxen haired man wiggled a bit, finding a comfortable place for his bony underweight butt on the hard leather saddle and then smiled. ‘Fffeels good’ he said happily.

‘Ready then? We’ll just go for a walk down the beach. Tell me if you feel insecure or tired. But Honey is such a …..well…such a honey, she’ll look after you’.

They set off slowly and Hutch made a mad grab for the horse’s wiry brown mane until he became accustomed to the gait and as they walked slowly back to the waters edge and the firmer sand he became used to feeling the animal’s muscles bunching and working beneath him, easing him along.

It felt so good to the blond to be raised up out of the damned wheelchair, so that instead of looking up at everyone, he was looking down at them. The muscular body of the horse felt good beneath him and he felt as though the gentle beast would look after him no matter what. And amazingly, he could balance. His legs flopped along at the sides of the saddle, but he felt safe and secure and as he walked alongside Emma and her big chestnut horse, George, he found he was talking to her about everyday things without worrying about his slurring, stammering speech. It was like a blank slate. Emma hadn’t known him before the GBS and accepted him for what he was. And the fact they were both on horseback meant they were both on the same level. If anything, Hutch was slightly taller than the woman and could look down on her and as the two horses walked slowly along the beach, he felt some of his confidence returning.

After an hour, they returned to the beach house, Hutch tired but excited at the same time. He loved the big horse and as he slipped back down to earth, he held onto the animal’s neck with both arms as the beast stood stock-still. It was as if Honey understood that, for a while at least, this man needed a little extra love and attention, and she was more than willing to give it to the man with the soft smile and kind hands. Hutch sank back into the strong arms of the brunette and then into the wheelchair, but he was already longing for the next ride so that he could once again experience the freedom the horse afforded him and he waved sadly as Emma lead the two animals away, tired but full of accomplishments.


----14th May----

‘Your girl’s here’.

Starsky waved to Emma as she sat waiting, George impatiently chewing at his bit as Honey gazed expectantly into the house. In the two months since Starsky had introduced Hutch to the woman and the horse, the flaxen haired cop had ridden almost every day, and now the improvement was marked.

Hutch slowly made his way to the porch, leaning heavily on the walking frame he used since he’d gotten rid of his infernal wheelchair. His arm and chest muscles were back to their former glory and in fact were more defined than before the GBS as his upper body had continually born the weight of his whole body. Once he’d started to ride, the muscles in his lower back and legs had been stimulated into action and the constant movement of the horse, along with the almost daily massages his partner still gave him had worked wonders.

He paused, panting slightly at the exertion of the walk and put his arm around the horse’s neck.

‘Hey sweetness’ he whispered into her ear as Honey waited expectantly for the carrot she knew he was hiding in one of his pockets. The horse blew back at him and carefully Hutch manoeuvred himself alongside so that he could put his leg over her back and mount.

‘Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, and don’t forget to be back for 11:00, you need to get ready’. Starsky grinned as he watched the couple prepare for their ride. When Hutch was in the saddle it was easy to think that there was nothing wrong with him. As his balance had improved he’d even managed to increase the speeds when he rode and now, as the brunette watched fondly, Emma and his friend cantered off down the beach, their horses hooves kicking up the sand as they made their way down to the surf.

Starsky turned back to the house, hoping the euphoria of the ride wouldn’t wane when Hutch had to go back to the Metro that afternoon. It would be the first time he’d been back since he became sick and he had to go back to get an assessment for Doctor March. It also marked the final day when Starsky would stay at home, and in preparation for his temporary assignment he got out his trusty Nikon and started to clean the lenses and chamber, the mindless preparations taking his mind away from the butterflies he felt for the afternoon.

An hour and a half later, the horses returned and the curly haired cop watched happily as Hutch bent over and delivered a kiss on Emma’s lips before sliding down of the horse and burying his face in the warm mahogany coloured mane.

‘Same time tomorrow?’ he asked

‘Wouldn’t miss it for the world’ Emma replied and rode off leaving the flaxen haired man watching her back before moving back into the house to shower and shave.

Chapter 19

----14th May afternoon----

Hutch looked up at the towering stone building with a certain trepidation. Since his release from the hospital he’d spent his time in the peace and quiet of the beach house and the drive back into the city had come as a bit of a culture shock. The gull’s cries and the gentle susurration of the wind through the mallam grass were replaced now by the rev of engines and angry honking of horns as Starsky drove them through the familiar streets. And for a while, Hutch could almost imagine he was back, cruising the streets with his partner, ready to run down a perp at a moments notice. The only thing missing just at that moment was the heavy comforting weight of the Colt beneath his left arm and he rested his head back against the seat back and sighed.

‘You ok buddy?’ Starsky asked sneaking a look at his friend.

‘Yeah. I was jusssst thinking’.

‘Me too. Its feels almost like the old days’.

Hutch reached out and patted his friend’s knee. ‘I’ll get back thhhere’ he said softly. ‘Jusssst gimme a while lllonger’.

‘I know ya will. An’ I got all the time in the world’ Starsky said fondly. ‘So. Are ya ready?’

Slowly Hutch got himself out of the car, thankful his partner’s usual parking spot outside the building was free so that he didn’t have too far to walk. With one hand on Starsky’s arm and the other leaning heavily on his crutch, he hobbled up the steps and into the building, breathing in the familiar scent of disinfectant, floor polish and cooking.

The minute he entered the building he was swamped by people coming up to him asking after his wellbeing and when he would be returning. It took almost a quarter of an hour to get from the door to the elevator to take him down the Doctor March’s rooms in the basement. By the end of the short trip, Hutch was out of breath, looking forward to a sit down and had smears of lipstick along his cheek and neck from the countless women officers he’d met. He lowered himself into a seat in the waiting area, grinning to hide his nerves.

‘Jeez, Mr Popular!’ Starsky said sitting next to him after he’d checked in with the receptionist.

‘Wwwwhat can I sssay. Some of usss got it and sssome don’t’ the blond smiled, rubbing at his aching legs, He was pleased he’d managed to get into the building under his own steam, but the exertion had made him feel tired and breathless.

A far cry form the last time you were in here Hutchy. And you thought it was bad that you couldn’t run 2 miles on the treadmill. Try walking 200 yards, see how that floats your boat!

‘Officer Hutchinson!’ the doctor’s voice interrupted his ruminations and Hutch jumped. The doctor walked towards him and held out his hand. ‘Shall we?’ he said, indicating his office.

Shakily, Hutch stood and with Starsky’s help limped into the small office where this had all begun. He sat down on the chair across the desk as March looked at his rather full file of papers, making encouraging noises. Finally he looked up.

‘You’ve had a rough ride’ he said gently.

‘You could sssay that’ the flaxen haired cop said wryly.

‘And now we want to see how much further you have to go’.

‘There’ssss no seeing about it! I’mmm gonna get back heeere’ Hutch said with a certain finality.

‘And that’s just the attitude that has gotten you back to this stage. Now, let me see. I want to do some nerve conductivity tests and an electromyography. It should tell me how far you need to go and whether you’ll get full strength back in your legs, although by the state of the return of use in your arms, I’m thinking there will be a very good prognosis’.

Hutch followed the nurse slowly into the medical room and stripped his jeans off as she plastered patches down the length of each leg. He lay back on the examination table as the doctor started the test, increasing the electrical current through each patch until Hutch was sweating and jumping at every stimulation.

Apparently satisfied with the results of that test, March explained the next stage.

‘Electromyography (EMG) involves needles being placed into the muscles in your legs and then you contracting those muscle. I’m sorry detective, this can be quite uncomfortable during the test, and you may feel muscle soreness at the site of the needles afterwards as well. We’re doing this test to diagnose nerve damage or destruction and to evaluate how the GBS has effected your muscles. Are you ready?’

Hutch winced as each of the needles was pushed into the muscles of his thighs and calves, biting back the groans as he bent and flexed his legs while the doctor recorded the results. As March turned away to chart his findings, the nurse removed the needles and put small bandaids over the puncture wounds until he looked like a patchwork. Holding onto the nurse, he made his weary way back into the small consulting room and sat back down next to his worried partner.

‘Piece of cake’ he muttered.

‘Yeah? Knock ‘em dead tiger’ Starsky responded as the doctor followed them in and sat back down. He smiled over his glasses at the two men.

‘Well, I won’t pussy foot around. I’ve seen some things in my time, but your recovery is amazing Detective. From the symptoms you displayed and the speed of the onset of the disease, I originally put your survival rate at perhaps 30. Once you were discharged as an inpatient, I would have put your hopes of a full recovery at 75 at best and I had braced myself for giving you the bad news that you’d never again be able to work on the streets’

He saw the look flee across both men’s faces as they braced themselves for the inevitable. They’d talked about what would happen if Hutch couldn’t go back to work again and Starsky had been adamant that he could never partner anyone else. They were a team and he couldn’t face the thought of someone else watching his back. He could never trust anyone as much as he trusted the flaxen haired cop.

‘I don’t see any reason why you won’t make a full recovery’ March said slowly and clearly.

‘But Doc, you don’t undersssstand, I have to get b back to w… What?’ Hutch had got his protestations ready in advance, determined he was going to use all his persuasive skills to encourage the doctor not to write him off, and the sentence had taken a while to sink in.

‘You should be able to return to work. I don’t know what regime you’ve been following, but keep it up. I was going to suggest some light exercises but you seem to be taking care of things yourself’ March continued.

‘When? How long w willll it take?’ Hutch asked

The medic out his pen down and steepled his fingers. ‘I want to see you again in October, and by then, I expect I’ll have a better idea. But provisionally how about December?’

‘Decemmmber?’ Are you k kidding? I can’t wait that lonnng!’ Hutch blustered.

March smiled at him. ‘Don’t push it detective. I’m going to be calling you the miracle patient, but even miracles need a little time! Have some patience and keep up the good work, and I’ll see you in October’.


Back at the beach house, Hutch flopped down on the lounger on the porch, looking disconsolately at the ocean. The sun had gone in and the dull day made the waves look grey and gunmetal in colour, reflecting the blonde’s mood. Today had been a roller coaster of emotions and he felt tired and spent, happy that the doctor hadn’t written him off, but angry at himself for condemning his partner to another six months doing a job he didn’t really want to do.

‘Look on the bright side Blintz. I’ll get every weekend off and no late nights. I’ll look on it as a holiday’.

Hutch humphed. ‘Some holiday huh? Working all day and then coming home and looking after me. What kind of a life is that?’

‘It’s the one I chose’ the brunette said simply. ‘C’mon babe. We’ve come this far. I know it seems a long way of, but if you keep up the exercises and continue the way you are doing, we’ll surprise them all’.

The blond was quiet for a while, rubbing his finger along his lower lip ‘Starsk, what did you do with the deeds to Venice Place?’

‘I’ve still got ‘em. I told ya. It’s rented out till you can get back there. why?’

‘This place issssn’t too far frommm town, ya know’.

Starsky handed him a beer and sat down beside him on the other chair. ‘No, its not’.

‘I kinnnda like it here. It’s got evvverything I ever wanted from a plaaace’.


‘Ssstarsk. I want to buy it. I want to sssell Venice Place and move out heeere’ Hutch said with such intensity that it took the brunette aback.

‘Well, it shouldn’t be a problem. The realtor handling the rental says the tenant might like to buy anyway’.

The piercing ice blue eyes turned on his partner. ‘Do ya wanna go halvesss?’

‘What, sell up and move out here too? What happens if we get some hot chick action? Or if we fell out? It’s a nice idea, but there’s a lot to think about’ Starsky said dubiously.

‘We’ve lived togethhher for nearly halfff a year now. I jussst wanted you to get sssomething out of this as well ya know?’ Hutch said, a little disappointed that the curly haired man wasn’t jumping through hoops at the idea.

‘I know babe. It’s just a big move and so sudden. But yeah, we could go halves. I think I’d like that. I love the place too’.

‘Ok. Well whennn you go back to wwwork tommmorrow, I’lll get thingsss movin’.


The next morning, Starsky was washed and dressed before Hutch was up. He knocked on the bedroom door and went in as Hutch looked up dopily. ‘Mornin’

‘D’ya need anything before I go to work?’ Starsky asked, putting a glass of juice on the bedside table.

‘What time is it? The blond groped for his clock’.

‘Stupid o’clock in the morning. Go back to sleep huh? I’ll be home at five. You know the number. If you need anything give me a call. Anything, ya hear?’ the brunette was in full Mother Hen mode, feeling unsure now at leaving his partner alone for the first time since he took sick.

Hutch wiped his hand over his face. ’Will ya goo allllready! I got a lot to do’.

With a flip of his hand, the curly haired cop headed for the door, leaving Hutch alone for the first time in almost six months. As he heard the door close, he laid back in the bed and listened to the silence. No singing or humming, no jokes, no clattering of pans. Just the sound of the ocean meeting the shore and the gulls over head. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the natural sounds for a while, happy he was alive and well enough to enjoy them.

Chapter 20

----15th September----

Hutch must have drifted back to sleep because he was woken by the unaccustomed sound of a female in the house. He groaned and sat up, glancing at the clock. 10:00am. He should be up and dressed by now. He heard the voice again.

‘Hutch? Are you ok?’

Emma tapped uncertainly on his bedroom door and poked her head around it, smiling as she saw the tousled hair and slightly dazed expression. ‘There you are. I thought something was wrong!’

‘No, ssorry. I must have dozed off’ Hutch replied, rolling over onto his back. Where are the horses?’

‘They’re tied up in the shade out back. I’ve given them a pail of water so they’re happy. Hold on’ she left and a moment later came back with two cups of coffee. She handed one to the blond and sat on the edge of the bed.

Emma had been bringing the horses around to the beach house every day during the summer. As regular as clockwork she would appear at 10:00am and the two of them would go for long rides over the dunes, sometimes not getting back to the house until early afternoon. The riding had proved a godsend for Hutch. The exercise improved the muscle tone in his legs to the extent he could now walk for over a mile on the treadmill he’d bought and installed in the house and he’d even broken into a trot once or twice, although he still felt clumsy and awkward when he was tired. Several times he’d been up to the stables and had helped Emma with some of the lighter work, cleaning tack, feeding the horses and spending quiet, quality time with Honey. He loved the horse and she loved him back with a warm, unconditional love only an animal could provide, and Hutch worried about the day he’d have to go back to work and wouldn’t be able to see her again.

‘Ssorry I overslept’ Hutch said, the slurring in his speech now only evident when he was tired or excited. ‘We had ssome friends around last night to celebrate the ssale going through. The beach houssse iss ours now’.

Emma peeked out into the living room, seeing the empty beer bottles which Hutch had promised to clear away in the morning and grinned. ‘Looks like you had a good time’ she giggled.

‘Yeah. Our police Captain and a friend from the city were over. We got a little merry’.

Emma reached forward to brush a stray lock of hair from his forehead and without thinking Hutch snagged her wrist and pulled her to him in an embrace. Emma didn’t pull away. Instead, she melted into his arms and he kissed her tenderly, feeling her lips part as his tongue explored her mouth. He pulled away.

‘Are you sure the horses are ok?’ he asked

‘What horses?’ she said dreamily as Hutch rolled her onto the bed at the side of him. Their relationship had grown over the months and although they’d never said it in so many words, they were both falling in love. The hours spent in the lonely dunes with just George and Honey for company had been some of the most special of the summer and now Hutch’s body responded to the pretty girl as he pulled her close and kissed her again.

‘I think I love you Emma Cox’ he mumbled into her hair.

‘And I love you too’ she replied, intoxicated by his kisses.

Hutch trailed his lips down the side of her neck, pushing the collar of her blouse away as she shivered beneath him. Quickly she sat up and started to unbutton it.

‘There’s nothing wrong with my hands any more’ he said gently.

‘I know. You just weren’t getting there fast enough’ Emma replied with a wolfish grin. She stripped her shirt off and kissed small kisses up the smooth flat tanned plane of the blonde’s abdomen and chest until she reached his lips again.

Hutch had his hands on her shoulders and he pushed her down to the bed, kneeling above her as his hands started to explore her body pushing at the straps of her bra until he gained access to her breasts. He bent and kissed each one as she arched her back below him. Deftly he unbuttoned the waistband of her jeans and she wriggled out of them, pulling him back to her so that she could nuzzle his neck, biting down on the pulse in his neck and breathing in his warm perfume. Hutch always smelled of lemons and new mown grass and his essence intoxicated her as her hands wandered over his muscular back, kneading at his muscles and rimming the edges of the scars where the bedsores had faded away.

She reached for him, feeling him hard and ready through the thin cotton of his pyjama pants and quickly she pushed the fine material over his hips, gaining full access to his manhood. She grasped him in her hand and he groaned at the welcome sensation as she started to rub up and down the shaft, circling his heavy sac until he gritted his teeth in a mixture of frustration and longing.

Deftly he knelt between her legs and lowered himself down feeling her body accept him in a intimate embrace as she started to rock the centre of his body back and forth, finding a rhythm that both could enjoy. Emma wrapped her legs around his waist, arching her back so that she could pull him further in as she mewed beneath him, her eyes locked on his as they started to reach their climax.

As the explosion came, they both cried out in ecstasy riding the wave of pleasure as they both freewheeled down the other side, Hutch collapsing onto his side and holding the panting breathless woman in his arms as she wiped at the beads of perspiration on his brow.

‘Well the Doc did say try different types of exercise’ he chuckled when he had sufficient composure to speak.

‘And that was a ride of a whole different type’ she grinned. ‘How was it for you Mr Hutchinson?’

‘Wonderful!’ he said with meaning. ‘I should sleep in more often!’


When Starsky came back from work that night, he was surprised to see the two horses still grazing peacefully in the small garden at the back of the house and as he walked through the front door, there was a delicious smell of cooking emanating from the kitchen. Rounding the corner he looked at the picture of domestic bliss.

Hutch sat in the chair, reading a recipe book and Emma, wearing one of Hutch’s shirts and very little else, preparing the veggies.

‘Am I interrupting?’ the brunette asked with a grin.

‘No. Good, You’re home. Come and sit down. We have a surprise for you’.

‘Oh shit, You’re getting married and you want my half of the house’ Starsky quipped half seriously.

‘Nah, mushbrain. Nothing like that. We just decided you needed a treat so we made one’ Hutch explained as Emma guided him to the table and pulled out the chair for him. Hutch levered himself out of the chair and limped over to join them. As the brunette looked on expectantly, Emma took a casserole dish out of the oven and set it down on the table along with three plates, knives and forks. As she ceremoniously lifted the lid, Starsky leaned forward, sniffing the aroma and looked into the dish.

‘Et voila! One Paul Muni special!’ Hutch presented with a flourish.

‘What’s the celebration then?’ Starsky asked, looking round.

‘Nothin’. We just wanted to give you a thank you’.

‘Thank you for what?’

Hutch looked away, more serious than he’d originally planned to be.

‘For being here an’ looking after me’ he said simply


----22nd December ----

Hutch and Starsky were once again back in Doctor March’s office, waiting for the final results of the tests and the decision on whether Hutch could return to active duty. In the preceding months, he’d continued riding every day and his relationship with Emma had gone from strength to strength although neither of them were ready for anything permanent. But they enjoyed each other’s company and, as Starsky had wryly observed, the extra exercise was building up the blonde’s stamina.

March was once more looking through his notes and he put them down with a flourish.

‘Well, detective. I note you can now run 2 miles on the treadmill in under 12 minutes and that you lung capacity and stamina are back up to the levels you had before you became sick. I think my original prognosis of coming back to work in December was right. So if you’re ready, I’m signing you back to active duty. You can report back to Captain Dobey tomorrow. Is that soon enough?’

‘Is it ever Doc’ Hutch let out the breath he didn’t realise he’d been holding. All week he’d been working himself up to this final visit with the medic and he was so ready to leave the world of drugs, doctors and even pretty nurses behind him for a long time. With a final shake of hands and promises to come back if he ever felt he needed anything further, he said goodbye and set off back towards real life.

Heading out of the office, Starsky cut him off on his way up to the squad room.

‘Hutch before we get back to normal, there’s something I want you to see’.

‘Aw, c’mon Starsk. I need to get back in there’ Hutch protested as his partner steered him towards the door.

‘Look, the guys’ll be there tomorrow. I just need to do this one thing, then its back to normal ok?’

The blond sighed. ‘OK, anything to shut you up!’

They walked back to the car and as they got in, Starsky produced a scarf. ‘Here, tie that round your eyes. This is a surprise’.

‘Starsk don’t. Don’t spoil the day huh? I just wanted to get back to normal’ the flaxen haired cop protested, looking at the blindfold in his hand.

‘Hey, humour me’.

‘Fine’ Hutch gave in with bad grace and tied the material over his eyes. ‘Satisfied. I feel like an idiot’.

‘You don’t need a blindfold to make you look an idiot. You can do that all by yourself. No peeking now’ Starsky ducked the blind swipe as Hutch tried to hit him, then set the car in motion and drove off.

‘Where are we going?’ Hutch asked, feeling a little sick in his darkness.

‘I told ya. It’s a surprise. Just have some patience will ya. You’ll love it. I know you will’. Starsky said, his voice holding a note of excitement.

Hutch shut up and concentrated on the direction the car was taking, but his partner appeared to want him disorientated and seemed to be driving around in circles. Eventually, the Torino’s path straightened out and Hutch sat back, lost in his world of self imposed blackness as Starsky drove in silence.

Finally, the car drew up and stopped. Hutch got the impression there were buildings around him, but couldn’t make out where he was, but he felt the car dip as Starsky got out and he heard the soft footsteps as he came around to the passenger side of the car. The door opened and a hand took hold of his arm, guiding him out of the vehicle until he stood swaying, his back against the metal.

‘Ok five steps forward’ the familiar voice said as Starsky’s hand guided him.

‘Enough Starsk. Tell me what this is all about’ Hutch insisted, planting his feet firmly and refusing to go further.

But he’d done enough and as he felt a familiar breath on his cheek, Starsky whisked away the blindfold revealing the stable yard and Honey’s dark brown, velvet soft nose.

‘Happy Christmas Blintz’.

Hutch looked confused. ‘What, you bought me riding lessons for Christmas. That’s nice Starsk’ he said, rubbing Honey’s neck whilst the horse pushed against him appreciatively.

Emma rounded the corner grinning. ‘No he didn’t buy you riding lessons. He bought you the horse!’

The blonde’s jaw fell open. ‘Ssstarsk. The horse? You bought Honey fffor me’ his speech slurred at the excitement.

‘I knew you couldn’t bear the thought of being without her, and I think she would’a pined without you. She helped you so much Blintz. i just wanted to give ya somethin’ special’

Hutch wrapped his arms around the horse’s neck, tears coming unbidden to his eyes and he ran his cheek down the long nose, as Honey blinked her liquid dark eye at him.

He tuned away from his Christmas present.

‘’I didn’t get ya anything’ he said quietly, feeling a complete bastard after all Starsky had done for him.

In silence the brunette came forward, wrapping one arm around Hutch’s waist and the other round the horse’s neck.

‘You got me the most important thing in the world Blondie. You got me everything I ever wanted. You survived’.


I do hope you enjoyed this story. i know it was dark in parts, but it is based on one person's expereince of this devastating disease (not mine I hasten to add!). As I sais at the beginning, this was a labour of love to write and your warm words throughout have encouraged me. thanks to Angie for driving me on and to Nelleke, who trusted me! And to all you other lovely readers, a big warm hug.