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Watch the Street


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An OldGuys story. For Tamminy. :)

The shiny green Mercedes took the corner with squealing tires. A slender thread of smoke curled up into the air, but was broken a second later by the black Sedan racing after the other car. It, the Sedan, nearly lost its footing in the sharp edge of the corner, and for a split second it looked as if it would be forced to an abrupt halt any moment.
 
Inside, the man on the passenger seat held on to where he´d grabbed his chest with the hand that wasn´t clinging to the dashboard with enough urgency to have his knuckles turn white. Even his gaze, that now wandered to his driving partner (and - former, he though grimly - best friend), moved very slowly, carefully.

 

"S-Starsky..." he started, but cleared his throat, when he noticed his voice was barely a whisper. "Slow the fuck down."

 

Surprised at the harshness of the words, Starsky shot him a glance. "Y´okay?" he asked with the faintest tinge of worry in his voice, and when his friend stared at him, added, "Hutch? You-" But the Mercedes just then took a jerk to the left, changing direction in the middle of the street.

 

Starsky reacted instantly. "Uh uh! Hang on!"

 

"Starsk, please, n-woooah!" Squeezing his eyes shut, Hutch held on to the inside of his door, while his friend tried his very best to increase everyone´s car-sickness...

 

When he opened his eyes again, half deaf from the constant noises of honking horns surrounding them, Hutch saw they were not only closer behind the Mercedes now, but also obviously preparing to race up on the line beside it.

 

"Look a´ tha´!" Starsky exclaimed proudly. "They thought they could lose us with that move, but noooow, we´re..."

 

As he spoke, the Mercedes sped up, zig-zagging its way through afternoon traffic.

 

Hutch stared after the vanishing car, then snapped his gaze at Starsky, whose jaws he saw clenching in a way all too familiar with him.

 

"Oh no," he said, warning finger popping up with urgent speed. "You go after them like that, I swear I´ll knock you out and stop the car." He paused, leaving no room for doubts he meant it. "Your choice," he added after a very silent moment.

 

Starsky stared at him dumbfounded. "B-but... Hutch!" Lifting both hands off the wheel (only to replace them at Hutch´s violent cringe) he helplessly gestured at the crowded streets before them. "They´re getting away!"

 

"Let the unis get them," Hutch ordered.

 

"What?"

 

"They have sirens, and we have a Sedan. Get my say?"

 

Starsky was devastated. He didn´t look like he´d dare to check on his friend´s credibility, though. "But they´re our bust! They´re the criminials, and we´re-"

 

"First of all," Hutch interrupted him sharply, "that line´s old." He paused, watching his partner grumble and finally slow down to a reasonable speed. "Atta boy. Secondly - right now, you´re not a criminal catcher, but an old man breaking every traffic regulation ever made."

 

"I slowed down, didn´t I?" Starsky growled.

 

Hutch wasn´t listening. Checking the rearview mirror and gazing over his shoulder, he muttered, "D´you believe that? No uni´s following us. What is it with those guys nowadays, huh? When I was a uni-"

 

"Please!" Starsky cut him off. "You got what you wanted, no need for torture."

 

Hutch narrowed his eyes for a glance, but let it be at that.

 

"This is unbelievable," Starsky started grumbling after a moment´s thought. "That was our bust, and you ruined it."

 

"Oh, come on, as if the Sedan would´ve made it," Hutch defended himself. "Buddy, I keep telling you, this is not the Tomato. There´re still kiddie seats in the back!" He pointed over his shoulder. "It´s not made for car chases."

 

Starsky snorted. "Right. Let me remind you that you had a car chase with this thing once. And the kiddie seats were occupied at that time." He lifted his brows meaningfully.

 

"That was different!" Hutch replied indignantly. "I was the one being chased."

 

"And did the car win?" Starsky asked provokingly.

 

"Because I hid! And that was a lifetime ago. It´s not only the car that´s not up to chases anymore, y´know?"

 

Starsky´s gaze snapped to him.

 

Hutch smiled challengingly.

 

"Repeat that." It was said in the most calm tone of voice.

 

"You heard alright," Hutch replied and waved slightly. "Watch the streets."

 

As if against his will, Starsky obeyed, but only to groan in frustration, when he noticed. "That does it!" he exclaimed, once more pointing his index finger at Hutch. "I´m a good driver!"

 

"Star-"

 

"I´ve always been a good driver. In fact, I´m-"

 

"Starsky!"

 

But it was too late.

 

When Starsky jerked his head around to look to his right, the other car, that was heading straight towards them, was already too close for any saving measures. All Starsky could do was to step on the gas, so that the whole impact was taken by the back of the Sedan.

 

Head ducked, eyes closed and his mind being flooded with unwanted feelings of déjà-vu, Hutch felt Starsky´s hand on his back to shield him from flying pieces of breaking glass. That, too, stirred unwanted memories.

 

When the Sedan stood still and the cracking and squealing noises stopped, Hutch blinked his eyes open carefully. He was confused; pretty sure he had not lost consciousness, but surprised at that. Absently noticing the smell of smoke and burnt rubber, he looked over to Starsky, his heart pounding in his throat.

 

Eyes wide with shock met his.

 

"You okay?" Hutch asked, inwardly adding a 'checked' sign to his list of things that worked and didn´t hurt. He didn´t think he was injured apart from maybe a few bruises and a cut or two.

 

Starsky nodded, seemingly unable to speak, yet. "Y-you?" he finally croaked out.

 

"I´m good," Hutch assured and frowned. "Your head is bleeding."

 

"Huh?" Starsky had already turned to stare at the car that had ramed them. "What?" At Hutch´s slight gesture towards his head, he touched a sore spot on his forehead and found a few drops of blood on his fingertips, when he withdrew them. "Just a cut," he waved dismissively, and turned for his door again. "Where the hell did they come fro... Oh my."

 

To Hutch´s surprise, a wide grin spread on Starsky´s face, and he feebly struggled with his door, while looking at Hutch again. "You won´t believe this."

 

"What?" Hutch asked, almost dreadfully. He too now tried to look into the crushed back but didn´t get a good enough look. "Starsky?" Seeing his partner had already left the car, he rushed after him, wincing some, when he noticed that moving so quickly was not such a good idea, after all. "Starsk, what... Oh."

 

Now that he was outside, he saw what Starsky had meant. The car that stood with smoking tires and with its front half buried in the poor Sedan, was no other one than the green Mercedes they had been chasing before.

 

Dumbfounded, Hutch stared over the mangled roof to where Starsky stood on the other side, arms folded in front of him triumphantly.

 

"Well? Who´s not a criminal catcher anymore?"

 

Hutch just blinked, his gaze wandering down to the sight again. "Where the hell-" he muttered, but was interrupted by a passer-by, a young woman, who appeared as shocked as he felt. Suddenly appearing at his side, she gently took his arm to have him look at her.

 

"I called an ambulance. Are you okay? They said they´d take care of sending the police here too." Without ever slowing down in her rambling, she turned to look at Starsky. "Sir? Are you alright? Oh my... you´re bleeding."

 

"He´s alright," Hutch assured her, cop mode kicking in, as he noticed her shocky behavior. He covered her hand that was still clinging to his arm with his own. "We´re okay. It´s a good thing you called an ambulance, Miss... ?"

 

"Jane. Uh... I-I mean, Fisher. My name´s Jane Fisher."

 

"Okay, Jane," Hutch smiled, patting her hand. "I´m Ken, that´s Dave."

 

Starsky waved from where he bent down to inspect the other car more closely. "The kid is still alive," he announced and withdrew his head from inside the car. Strolling over to Hutch and Jane, he sighed. "I couldn´t get to the driver, though. Lotsa bloo..."  Seeing the urging expression on Hutch´s face, accompanied by a discreet gesture towards Jane, he trailed off. "Bet he´s okay too." He flashed Jane, who had turned very pale all of a sudden, an assuring grin. "Those things always look way worse than they are."

 

Hutch scowled at him, but kept his voice gentle, as he talked to Jane, though he was glaring at his friend. "Right. Usually it´s just some jerkhead, who thinks he´s Steve McQueen, and then when you don´t watch the streets, stuff like this happens."

 

"Doesn´t mean someone has to get hurt," Starsky replied.

 

"Not in the accident, no," Hutch said, casting his partner a humorless grin.

 

Starsky opened his mouth to reply something, but turned his head, when police sirens could be heard approaching. As if suddenly caught by a thought, he checked his watch. "Man, they´re slow, huh?"

 

As if on cue, an ambulance screetched to a halt next to him, startling him, since it had appeared from the other side.

 

The paramedics already surrounded the Mercedes, when the police car finally arrived.

 

"Aw, no," Hutch whined, once he got a look at the two officers, who emerged from the car. A man in his forties and a very young looking blonde woman.

 

"Greatness," Starsky agreed, sounding equally enthusiastic.

 

The third one to moan was the female officer, when she saw them.

 

Hutch and Starsky both lifted a hand to wave at her, smiling sheepishly.

 

Jane had by now been led away by a paramedic, and the older, male cop approached her to take her statement, leaving his partner to deal with the oddly grinning oldies.

 

"Hey honey," Hutch greeted her, when she stopped in front of them, her expression that of a strict and very disappointed mother.

 

"Hi Zoe," Starsky smiled. "How´s your day been? Busy?"

 

"Officer Hutchinson," she corrected, producing her notepad and a pen. "`Kay, Gentlemen, what happened here?" Looking up, she noticed the bruise and dried blood on Starsky´s forehead. Instantly, her calm expression was clouded by a worried frown. "Are you alright? D´you need a paramedic?" She was already about to turn and yell for one, but Starsky held her back.

 

"No, no, don´t worry, I´m fine." He smiled.

 

"Okay. Now, what happened?"

 

"Starsky managed to almost get my head cracked again, that´s what happened," Hutch said.

 

Zoe nodded, unimpressed. "Starsky, that´d be you?" she asked Starsky, who opened his mouth to protest, but was cut off by Hutch.

 

"Yeah, Stars-ky," he said, bending over Zoe´s notebook, "that´s S, T, A-"

 

"Hey!" Starsky snapped and grabbed Hutch´s arm to jerk him back. "It was not my fault. They," he pointed at the totaled Mercedes, "hit us. Ignoring the right of way. I," he turned to Hutch again, "had the right of way."

 

"Yes," Hutch nodded humoringly, "yes, you had. Right up there with the right to watch the street!"

 

"Oh, please, go ahead, traffic snitch! Tell the cop!" Starsky waved at Zoe, who stood with her arms folded, one foot tapping in a fastening rhythym. "He made me not watch the street." He pointed an accusing finger at Hutch, who snorted. "He provoked me."

 

"I only said," Hutch said, before Zoe could even open her mouth to put an end to the scene, "that you´re too old for car chases. And what happens the minute after I say it?"

 

"Car what?" Zoe cut in, but wasn´t heard.

 

"We got hit by a careless - young - driver!" Starsky answered the question angrily. "That´s what happened! It´s not my fault criminals can´t drive nowadays! I´m a good driver, I´m... Zoe, tell him." Abruptly, he clamped his mouth shut, folded his arms in front of him and settled an expectant look on Zoe.

 

As did Hutch.

 

Zoe sighed, squeezing her eyes shut in a gesture she had inherited from her father, and looked up at Starsky again. She thought for a moment, then smiled, "Did you wear your glasses?"

 

Starsky´s answer came as fast as a gunshot. "Unfair. If you were a regular uni, you´d have no way of knowing that."

 

Zoe didn´t even blink. "Sir, may I have a look at your driver´s license, please?"

 

Resigned, Starsky searched his pockets for his license. "I lost my glasses during the accident. He´s my witness," he pointed at Hutch, who lifted his hands innocently, but was kept from an answer by his daughter stating, "I can have a bunch of lab guys get down here to search the area for your glasses." She lifted her brows challengingly.

 

The corners of Starsky´s lips lifted in a grin, but fell again, when Zoe reminded him that, "I have friends there. You know that, Dave."

 

Shooting Hutch a warning glare, Starsky handed Zoe his license, grumbling, "No, Officer Hutchinson, I did not wear my glasses."

 

"See?" Zoe smiled. "Don´t you think you´ll sleep better tonight, now that you´ve come clean and told the truth?"

 

"Uhm, Officer..." Hutch cut Starsky´s growled response off. "I want it noted that I told him to wear his glasses, before we got into the car."

 

Zoe studied him for a long time, then nodded and lifted her notepad. "Okay." Under her father´s spreading smile (that would occasionally wander over to his partner´s darkening face) she started to scribble something down on the small page. "Did you wear your safety belt at all time, Mr. ...?" Trailing off, she lifted her gaze, but couldn´t keep a twinkle from sliding into her eyes.

 

Hutch´s face fell. "Yes."

 

Zoe turned to Starsky, brows climbing up.

 

"Okay, no," Hutch exclaimed exasperatedly. "But he didn´t, either."

 

"Thought so," Zoe muttered. She scribbled some more. "Now, you said before you chased that car?" She pointed at the Mercedes.

 

Very careful by now, Hutch and Starsky nodded slowly.

 

"May I ask why?"

 

"Well, Officer... Hutchinson?" Hutch asked, earning an annoyed nod. "Yes. Well, when you and your partner will check out the trunk, you´ll probably find at least five kilos of cocaine, hidden in stuffed animals."

 

Instantly, Zoe´s face lit up. She whirled around to the car and the two young men, who were just then placed onto gurneys and wheeled off into the ambulance. "Woooooohhh," she exclaimed, turning to her father and friend again, "you caught them!"

 

They nodded.

 

"Don´t go away!" she ordered and hurried off to her partner, who had finished asking Jane Fisher and nodded at what Zoe had to say to him, then - with a wave at Starsky and Hutch - also climbed into the ambulance. It drove off.

 

"Great job, guys," Zoe said, when she returned to the partners. "Well done. Jamie will send back-up a.s.a.p., so we can file the coke." She was all giddy, almost clapping her hands, when a sudden thought hit her and she once more whirled to her father. "Hey, you two wanna stay, I mean, civil arrest money and all, right?"

 

"It is our bust," Starsky replied.

 

Zoe waved dismissively. "Yeah, yeah, course it is, but..." Stepping closer, she narrowed her eyes, studying her father, then Starsky. "Aw nooo. Please don´t tell me you´re armed again, yeah?"

 

Two very calm "oops" made her hang her head exasperated.

 

"Daaaad," she whined and looked up again.

 

"Well." He shrugged helplessly. "Sorry. What d´you want us to do, get out there with our bare hands only? We´ve been on a ten-hour-stakeout near South Central."

 

Zoe rolled her eyes. "How many times have I told you no one robs grandpas?"

 

"Watch it, young lady," her father replied. "I am armed."

 

Zoe didn´t even listen. "What the fuck-"

 

"Language," both men said simulationiusly, but were ignored.

 

"... is so difficult about getting a damned license? You´ve been in the business for months now!"

 

"Well, it´s..."

 

"Look, we..."

 

"It´s one trip," she lifted her index finger, "to get that! You´re spending half of your so-called working hours driving from and to fast food places, but you don´t manage to get a shitty piece of paper?" She let out a deep breath and repeated the Hutchinson Eyes Squeezing Gesture, with two very miserable old men watching. "Okay, gimme your guns."

 

"Uhm... Zoe...?" Hutch started, yet his partner had already produced his gun and put it into a waiting hand, so that Hutch could only follow his example.

 

With a last angry shake of her head, she marched off to the Mercedes, opened the trunk and unceremoniously dumped the two guns somewhere in between the stuffed animals.

 

"There," she said, closed the trunk and walked back to he staring family, clapping imaginary dust off her hands. "Thank me later."

 

Hutch and Starsky looked at each other, then at her.

 

"Our fingerprints are all over these things," Hutch informed her.

 

"So?" Zoe shrugged. "Mine too. I´m just gonna collect a favor at the lab. Don´t worry." She waved dismissively. "I have enough. And there," she added, turning, when a car approached the scene, "is back-up. Be right back."

 

Looking after her, Hutch scratched his head. "Hey, Buddy?"

 

"Hm?"

 

"Did we ever... Were we... That was totally illegal, wasn´t it?"

 

Starsky shrugged. "Maybe not anymore. We´re old people, what do we know?"

 

"Yeah." Hutch nodded, as if thinking. "Yeah, right. Could be it´s regulation nowadays, couldn´t it?"

 

"Sure."

 

"Yeah." Pause. "We need to call a cab."

 

Starsky nodded. "Yep."

 

"Maybe we should drive by this, uh, this place to, y´know, to get licenses for... uhm... our new guns."

 

Starsky frowned. "What, today?"

 

"Uhm..."

 

"Gilmore Girls is on today. How long d´you think getting a license will take?"

 

Hutch opened his mouth, but thought different and closed it again.

 

"`Sides," Starsky continued, "we don´t have any guns anymore, anyway, do we?"

 

"Now, that´s true." Hutch nodded. "Good point."

 

"I know," Starsky said and checked his watch. "Okay, let´s speed up a bit, so we´ll make it home in time." With a determined nod, he started to take over the lead.

 

Hutch followed. "Hey, we need to get someone look at your head, pal," he pointed out, but earned only a wave and some unintellagible mumbling.

 

"No, serious, Starsk. At your age, you shouldn´t take head injuries lightly."

 

"Neither should you," Starsky replied threateningly.

 

"Well, I am younger than-"

 

"Shuddup, Hutch."

 

THE END

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