Frowning at the sense of another presence in Starsky's apartment, Hutch left the door ajar, quietly reaching for his
"Don't shoot; it's just me."
A sudden soft voice to his right made him jump. "Terry," he stated in surprise, puzzled not only at her being there,
but at her tear-streaked, exhausted features as well. Wearing one of Starsky's sweaters that looked too large on her, she
was holding a steaming cup of coffee with both hands, giving it the eerie appearance of a comfort item, like a child's teddy
Hutch had never seen her cry before, and he couldn't help finding the sight disturbing, scary even.
"What're you doing here?" he asked, inwardly rolling his eyes at the insensitive sound of that.
With a shrug, she turned for the couch. "Wanted to get away from the tomb for a change." Obviously sensing his dismayed
cringe, she cast him an apologetic, gentle look. "What about you?"
Finally he closed the door. "Starsk has some old file bunkered here that might be useful, but he's busy working it all
out on some poor snitch right now, so..." He winked.
A knowing, small smile crossed her lips. "Escaped, huh?"
Giving the perfect picture of a man having been made but refusing to admit it, he stated, "We need that file."
After a moment he walked over to sit down in the wicker chair next to the couch. Avoiding his gaze, she bowed her head a bit,
looking ahead again. A single tear dropped into her coffee.
Feeling very lost, Hutch arched his brows, while he searched for the right words that wouldn't come.
"I'm glad he didn't come to get it himself," Terry said quietly and, sniffing back another tear, glanced up at Hutch.
Understanding, he nodded.
She flashed him a grateful smile. It was a perfect Terry-like picture, he thought sadly, to smile through her tears.
"Want a coffee?"
"No, thanks," he answered and watched her bow her head again. "Are you here often?"
Ever since the crushing realization of the inevitable had sunk in, Starsky had practically moved to Terry's apartment,
dropping by his own only to collect his mail and to water his plants.
"He thinks he knows what it's like," she said instead of an answer, catching Hutch fully off guard. Her voice was as
dark as he'd ever heard it, all survival sarcasm gone, faded into pure bitterness. It was a tone that didn't suit her and,
at the same time, sounded so right that it sent a shudder down his spine.
Bright, shimmering eyes met his. "Sometimes I feel like... like... he still thinks there's a cure or a miracle anti-serum."
Yet another sad smile broke free, a few tears rolling down her cheeks as well. "I know I'm being unfair. But, you know, a
24-hours-dying is not quite a comparison to what it's really like."
He didn't know what to say, just continued to listen--openly offered to listen.
Apparently, that was the right thing to do. After a brief pause, she looked up from where she'd stared into her coffee
again, revealing the despair and the tears that just couldn't be held back any longer. "I'm so angry, Hutch." It wasn't more
than a whisper, as if she was afraid of hearing her own words.
"I know," he answered just as softly and finally stood to sit down next to her. "Me, too."
"I don't want to leave him," she continued, a tad louder, the emotions being described slowly crawling into her voice.
"Or you. Or the kids."
"I was so looking forward to... my life." The last word was said almost through a laugh, as if the statement seemed ridiculous
to her. Its truth wrenched Hutch's heart. "We wanted to have children ourselves," she continued, casting him an unbearably
sad look. "So we could have them drive you nuts, when you'd have to baby-sit `em."
The thing about Terry was that she could always make you laugh, no matter how unfitting it was. So Hutch laughed softly,
earning a grateful ghost of a smile which quickly vanished as she added once more in a whisper, "But it'll be someone else's
Thick silence followed, the choking kind that seems like gas; like it could actually kill you.
Hutch averted his eyes, knowing, with what felt like pure cruelty, that it was true. And that he wanted it to be true.
As if she'd heard his thoughts, a gentle look settled on her face. "And that's good. I want him to be happy; I want him
to have a family and..." She trailed off, her gaze dropping. "I'm a horrible person."
Dismayed, he reached out to rub her arm comfortingly as she covered her face. "Aw, Terry, no. Of course you're not."
A helpless sigh broke free, and when he felt her trembling and crying in earnest now, he gently took the cup out of her hands
to put it on the table and dragged her closer. "C'mere. Aw God, honey, don't say that. You're great. You've every right to
feel this way."
Whatever resistance might have been there melted away, and she was crying at his shoulder, accepting every bit of comfort
she could draw from his presence and his soothing words.
"It's okay to be angry, Terry. I'm angry too, and so is Starsk. You don't have to hide here, when you feel like this."
"It's just that I..." she started through a sob, hesitated, then finished quietly, as if ashamed, "I feel so alone sometimes."
"I know," Hutch replied softly, stroking her head. "I know, hon. But you're not. We're here."
"Yeah, but..." It hurt to meet her gaze when she looked up at him, her eyes filled with the kind of despair knowledge
creates. "You won't be there... then. No one will."
The wish to be able to do something, to say something, to make it all go away nearly choked him, and he softly wiped
away a streak of tears on her cheek with his thumb. "He will be there." He knew it wasn't the right answer, but it was all
he could say.
With a sad, very Terry-like smile, she slightly shook her head. "Don't let him come after me."
Understanding, he returned the small gesture, though it was incredibly hard to do. "Don't worry," he whispered and, not
knowing where it'd come from, heard himself add, "I'll miss you so much."
The smile widening a bit, she nudged his arm. "Me, too."
And again, he laughed softly as he hugged her once more, placing his chin on her head as a sudden memory came to him.
"Did Starsky ever tell you what he thinks heaven is like?"
He could almost sense her frown, but she didn't push away again. "No. What is it like?"
"Well," he started, making it sound like the beginning of an old-fashioned tale, "it's kinda like a big amusement park."
He felt her grin at that. "No comment needed."
"Right," he replied with a very soft chuckle, and at the following expectant silence, continued, "Everything is on clouds
there, but sometimes it rains, like here. Then the people have to go inside, and there are lots of different rooms where you
can meet others."
Another small grin. "Like Bogey?"
"Sure. They all sit around, having a good time."
"Play some monopoly," she suggested.
He nodded. "Watch old movies."
"Discuss the cars they used to have."
"Plan pranks on old highschool teachers..."
She laughed. "Or on silly senile Blintzes?"
"Yeah, or that," he replied and gave her shoulder a playful little shove.
Pushing away from him to lean back against the headrest, she looked up. "Did he see that in a movie?"
"Uhm, sort of," Hutch answered, waggling his hand. "When he was a kid. But people didn't have wings in it," he added,
as a thought hit him. "And, well..."
"Gotta have wings," Terry stated with a faked earnest frown at the same time he said it.
"... in Starsky's heaven," he concluded, and she nodded gravely.
"He'd look cute with wings," she said with a thoughtful expression that barely hid true amusement. "You know, with a
red stripe sprayed across them."
"Do me a favor and don't suggest that when you see him there."
She smiled. "I'll try." A brief silence followed, both just looking at each other. "Thanks, Hutch."
The ringing of the phone kept him from answering, and with an understanding smile, he stood to pick up the phone. "Yeah?"
"Hey, `s me," Starsky's voice answered him, and he quickly nodded at Terry.
"I found the file in my desk," Starsky told him apologetically. "Sorry."
"It's okay," Hutch verbally winked.
"Yeah, listen, would it be okay if we call it a day? I can write the interrogation report tomorrow as well, and I'd like
to go spend some time with Terry."
"Sure, buddy," Hutch replied. "I can write that report, too, if you leave your notes."
"No, that's okay. Thanks." A tired sigh followed.
Hutch turned a bit to not let Terry see the expression of shared heartache that was undoubtly settling on his face, as
he asked his partner, "Are you all right?"
"Yeah," Starsky answered. "I just really want to see her."
"Okay. You do that. I'll drop by at the precinct to go through that file then; just leave it on my desk. And, Starsk..."
Suddenly feeling strangely uneasy, as he caught Terry's pain-filled glance, Hutch trailed off. "Say hi to Terry from me,"
"Will do. See ya tomorrow."
"Yeah," Hutch said. "See you." And with that, he hung up, his hand resting on the receiver for a moment longer, as Terry's
and his eyes met.
For a long time, neither of them said a word, until Terry finally broke the silence. "You look out for him, Hutch."
Nodding in understanding, he forced himself to try to speak past the lump forming in his throat. "Don't worry." It hurt
to watch her slide back into braveness, yet... how else was she to survive her dying days?
He swallowed dryly.
Picking up her cold coffee from the couch table, she stood up. "I better go."
"Yeah," he whispered, stepping aside when she passed him on her way to the kitchen. "Terry?"
"Hm?" She cast him a look that was so comfortingly familiar, he had to smile at it; and for her, he forced
himself to wink and said, "Just wanted to say something soapy."
Smiling gratefully, she walked over to him and placed a small kiss on his cheek.
He followed her to the door and reached out to open it for her, when she hesitated. "You know what's funny?"
"What?" he asked.
"I don't even know what to be scared of. If it's the unknown we fear, I'm all over that. I know when and how. What else
is there to fear?"
He couldn't have answered, if she'd given him enough time; but as it was, she quickly hugged him one last time whispering,
"Thanks for the wings" into his ear and left.
Hutch stood staring at the closed door for a long time, then turned to sit down on the couch, covered his face with his
hands, and cried.