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Wuemsel's Fanfic Corner

Risks Worth Taking


Home

"Aw, c'mon, Hutch, you can't be serious! This is not breakfast! It's violence."

"Shut up and eat it. It's good for you."

"Why do I always have to eat yucky stuff that's good for me when I just want to pick you up for work?!"

"You know something, Starsk? Every couple who thinks about getting kids should have to spend a week with you before finally making a decision."

Inwardly chuckling at the look he received from his partner for that line, Hutch pointed at the still untouched plate before the unhappy looking detective. "You said you were hungry."

"In my vocabulary that's not the same as I want to be poisend."

"It's just..."

"I don't wanna know what it is, okay? It's green and I think it's looking at me. I wonder how Sarah survives this. Where is she, anyway?" Starsky added, looking around from where he sat on Hutch's kitchen table.

"She had to work late tonight."

"I bet that's just an excuse to avoid your breakfast," Starsky commented, finally shoving his plate over to Hutch, who smiled.

"You think I'd serve that stuff to my girl-friend?" Hutch asked in mock disbelief and, chuckling at his partner's inaudible grumbling, stood to follow him outside to his car.


Hutch and Sarah had hit it off right away. She was a secretary at a small company that had lost its boss due to a drive-by shooting about a month ago. Hutch and Starsky had been the investigating officers and therefore had to inform the victim's family as well as the company he'd worked for.

That had been were Sarah and Hutch had met. Not the perfect starting-point for a relationship, yet after his partner had driven him almost nuts by talking about nothing but that beautiful, charming seceraty at "Brown & partners" for two whole days, Starsky finally had convinced Hutch to call the girl and ask her out. That is, he hadn't actually said it. Just stopped at a phone box, dropped a dime in Hutch's hand and opened the door for him.

It hadn't really helped, though. Now for the next hours Hutch's topic had been his joy over her saying yes.

That all had been a few weeks ago, and still there were moments when Hutch couldn't believe his happiness. With Sarah everything felt right and good. She was funny, witty, joyfull and so beautiful that he could spent hours just watching her sleep or working at some papers she'd brought home with her to work on. It seemed like the first phase of falling in love, of missing her when she just went out of the room, would never pass. Sarah was perfect, their love was perfect.

Smiling slightly as he watched his partner lost in thoughts that left a dreamy glance in his eyes, Starsky opened the door to the precinct for him before he might run into it. He liked Sarah too, first of all because she was good for his friend, of course. She made Hutch happy and would have been reason enough for him to like her, anyway, but they genuinely got along pretty well. They both detested Hutch's idea of healthy stuff, both enjoyed to tease him with comments about the garbage can he misused as a car and, most of all, both cared about him dearly.

"So what, that's your idea of breakfast?" Hutch asked when Starsky stopped at one of the candy bar vendings, searching his pockets for coins. "Candy bars?"

"Sure. They got all the important ingredience one needs for a good start in the morning."

"Sugar and nuts?"

"Precisely. You got a quarter?"

Hutch frowned in mock hurt. "Hey, I'm your partner, right? Your pal. You really think I'll support your ruining your health with that stuff?" With that he opened the door to their office, leaving a grumpy Starsky behind.

"You're just mean!"

"All right, all right" he sighed, throwing a quarter at his partner, who caught it in the air. "Go ahead, jam your veins with sugar, grow fat, what do I care?"

But Starsky didn't listen, he was already outside, getting his long desired breakfast.


It was a quiet day, mostly spent in the office since they'd had a lot of on-street cases lately and barely had had time for doing all the paper work that went along with those. One of the days they both absolutely loathed, where time seemed to slow down just for their frustration and typing became a torture, each single word that had to be written on the paper bearing boredom beyond endurance.

"You know what this station needs?" Starsky exclaimed as he once more dragged a paper out of the typing machine and crumbled it angryly.

"A dictionary?"

"Ha, ha, smart ass. No, a machine that corrects typos on its own," the frustrated detective said, throwing the paper into the basket next to their table. As practised as he was he never missed it.

"And what'd you do with all that extra time on your hands then, hm?" Hutch continued teasing, ducking, when another paper ball barely missed his head.

About half an hour later Starsky's last report was typed, and yawning, he checked his watch. "I'm outta here. Give you a lift?"

"No," Hutch sighed. "I'm not done with the old lady's evidence, yet." Holding his notebook close to his eyes, he frowned, narrowing his eyes. "I can barely read her writing."

"Why did you let her write it down?"

"She wanted to make sure I'd get it right."

"Oh," Starsky nodded with his brows raised. "I see. Well," he added, suppressing a laugh, "I can wait if you want."

"That'd be..." The ringing of the phone interrupted him and he quickly picked up the receiver. "Hutchin... Hey. Yeah. Aw shit. Was that today? Aw Sarah, I'm sorry. Honest honey, I just forgo... No, I'm not fini... Wait a minute. -- Hey," he said to his partner, who'd stood to get another cup of coffee since it looked like he would have to stay a little longer waiting for Hutch to finish his report. "Could you pick up Sarah at her office and drive her home, please?"

A wry grin spread on Starsky's lips as he put the cup back on the table. "Only a month and you already forget appointments? Ts, ts."

Rolling his eyes, Hutch spoke into the receiver again. "Sarah? Starsk is coming to get you, I can't leave yet, okay? Yeah, I'll be there as soon as I'm done here. And I'm really sorry, I didn..." There was a little pause, then he grinned, bowing his head a little. "Yeah, okay. Hm-hm. Love you too. See you later."

"You stand her up and still get the sweet-talk?! How do you do..." Catching his partner's self-content look, he winked. "Oh, forget it." And left the office.


"Oh joy," Sarah greeted Starsky when she entered his car, leaning back comftably. "You have no idea how much I love this car, Dave."

At his laugh, she frowned in mock seriousness. "Honest, sometimes I wonder how a girl with such good taste as mine could possibly end up with a guy driving... whatever it is he's calling a car."

"Shall I call Dobey to give him a little more paper work to do, so we two can cruise around a while?"

Sarah laughed, punching his arm playfully as he drove on. "Friends like you."

"Hey, you're the girl-friend who's insulting her man's car. Don't you know that a man's car is the most precious thi... Hey, wait, why do I defend Hutch's garbage can?"

"Friends like you," Sarah pointed out with a warm smile, that Starsky returned.

"Right."

They spent the rest of the drive chatting, laughing a lot, the comfortable atmosphere of a new friendship spreading among them.

"Thanks for the ride, Dave," she bit her goodbye as she left the torino, placing a little kiss on his cheek. "See you."

"Yeah, Sarah, see you," he waved and drove on, but hadn't reached the next corner when he noticed a tall man following Sarah inside her apartment in the rearview mirror. He couldn't really tell from her movements, but it seemed that she hadn't expected him to be there and he could have sworn she looked... scared.

Without losing another second, he turned over, drove back and reached the door just in time of the man leaving the apartment.

Sarah stood behind the half-closed door, looking scared, yet surprised at seeing the detective again.

"Dave..."

"That this fancy cop friend of yours, honeybunch?" the man asked in a smug voice, looking down at the smaller man with unhidden agression in his eyes.

Starsky lifted his chin defiantly. Though he was smaller he didn't look cornered or even threatened, an ability he'd developed over the years working on the streets. He didn't take his eyes off the man, but spoke to Sarah instead of him. "You okay, Sarah?"

"Yeah," she replied nervously. "Don't worry, Dave, everything's fine. Thanks for..."

"I asked you a question!" the guy growled and was about to grab Sarah's arm, but Starsky had caught his in mid-air first with just one quick movement.

"The lady obviously doesn't want to answer your question," he said calmly, holding the man's arm in a vise grib. "And neither do I. Just so much: yes, I am a cop. And if you don't leave right now we two will have to make a little trip to the precinct."

"On what charge, pig?!" The guy obviously wasn't the clever type, Starsky thought with a wry smile.

"Insulting a police officer."

The man opened his mouth, then seemed to recall his last words, and closed it again, clenching his jaw.

"Well?" Starsky asked with a sweet smile. "Do I hear an apology?"

"Sorry," came the hesitant mumble after a few seconds.

"Didn't sound very satisfying, but I just cleaned my car, anyway. So you can go now," he added, letting go off the man's arm.

The guy stepped back, looking at Sarah and, raising his index finger warningly, opened his mouth again to say something.

"I said you can go now," Starsky interrupted him before he could start and gently shoved Sarah inside her apartment, closing the door behind both of them.

There he remained where he stood, watching Sarah nervously wandering around, shrugging out of her coat, throwing her coat onto the cauch, avoiding looking at him.

"You sure you're okay?" he finally asked.

"Yes!" she snapped.

"Care to tell me what that was all about?"

"No," she exclaimed, shooting him a quick glance, before turning to vanish in her kitchen.

A dreadful feeling building up inside him, Starsky slowly followed her, coming to a halt in the door.

"It was something I could have handled perfectly by myself," she said from where she stood at the breakfast bar, her back facing him.

"Didn't look that way to me."

"Well, things don't always look the way they are," she said quietly, and he thought he'd heard a sob caught in her words.

"No," he replied, frowning at the trembling back, "they don't."

A long silence followed, filled a lot of staring and wondering and thinking and dreading on the detective's side. He didn't move when Sarah finally turned to sit down at her kitchen table, her face hidden in her hands, trembling, crying.

This can't be happening again. Please don't let this happen again. Please don't let him be hurt again. He doesn't deserve that. And I couldn't bear seeing him suffer so much again. Please don't let her hurt him. Please.

"Sarah," he finally broke the silence, "is there something you'd like to tell me? Something... Hutch mustn't know about?"

A small nod was all he got for a response.

He slowly walked over to the table and sat down, not touching her, just watching her wipe her wet face, looking down at her hands.

"You can tell me," he said calmly, inwardly bracing himself for whatever dark secret this beautiful, inteligent girl might carry around with herself. For what it would be this time.

Finally she looked up, directly at him. "How can I be sure you won't tell him?"

"I won't. I promise."

She waited another few seconds, searching his eyes for something she seemed to finally find, for her gaze dropped again, her voice grew very quiet. "I'm not only a secretary."

Oh god, here it comes, he thought, yet didn't say anything. Just sat there, waiting.

"I work for a man called Matthews. Nick Matthews. He's a..."

"Drug dealer, I know," Starsky interrupted her, still calmly, though this was even worse than he'd thought. Oh buddy, your choice in women... "So what d'you do? Connect? Sell?"

"No," she replied quickly. "No, not se... Well, sometimes I do. But it's not like you think, it's... complicated."

"It usually never is, Sarah. Do you sell drugs, yes or no?"

Running a trembling hand over her eyes, she looked down. "Yes, I guess I do. But only sometimes. I'm more of a... I let them use my place," she finally said, lifting her hands as if saying that was all. No big deal.

"Your place?" Starsky repeated with a frown, looking around. "This one?"

"Yeah, see, I dealt for Nick when I was in college, but I didn't want to do it anymore after a few years and I told him I wanted out, but..."

"He wouldn't let you," the detective said, fighting a terryfing deja-vu. "Did he hurt you?"

"No. Well, not really. He threatened me. Told me I could have another job, but that I should never think about leaving the team," she quoted with a wry smile. "He's a very teamable guy."

"I bet. What job did he gave you?"

"Contact. I'm one of his contacts to big customers, you know, folks from NY or Miami. Grand League."

"You want to quit and he promotes you?"

"Funny, David, real funny. The important thing for me was that I was off the streets, okay? The customers only get my address and they come here, together with one of Nick's guys and all I have to do is, well, get them here. That's it. I mean, sure, they know where to find Nick if they really want to, but usually they just talk to me."

Tiredly rubbing his eyes, Starsky sighed deeply. "Oh Sarah, god, you know that you could get 15 to life for this?! You're a dealer for christ's sake. A big one!"

"I know," she snapped, but looked down again immediately, knowing he was only concerned. "I want to quit, I wanted to before, but Nick, he won't let me go. I'm... I'm scared, Dave, okay? I'd rather play along with him and maybe even get caught one day and go to prison than get killed or beaten up or whatever! I'm scared!"

"I know," he said soothingly as she practically broke down on the table, hiding her face in her hands once more, sobbing. "Shhh, it's okay." Sliding closer, he put one arm around her and pulled her closer, until she wrapped her arms around his neck, crying in earnest now. "It's all gonna be okay, hm? Sarah?"

"But... but what about Ken?" she sobbed against his shoulder. "If he ever finds out... He'll never understand, will he?"

No, he won't. I don't understand it myself, girl. But I can't let this happen again. I'm not sure if you're worth it. But he is.

"Who said he will find out?"

There was a short pause, then she pushed herself up, out of his embrace and looked at him with wide eyes. "What?"

"If you promise me to never let him know what you just told me, I'll help you. But he mustn't ever know, you hear? Never."

"B-but..."

"No buts. If you want to quit, really quit, I'll help you."

"How?"

Backing a little away from her, Starsky drew in a deep breath. "You're going to make one last deal. I assume the nice fellow I just met was here to let you know about the next one, right?"

"Yeah," she nodded, "that was Tino. He works for Nick, he's... let's just say he's one of the reasons I haven't quit yet."

"That's what I thought. Okay, what kind of deal is it?"

"Miami," she replied. "About 400,000, I think. It's a buy. Nick's buying some stuff from them."

"'kay. When will it be?"

"Wednesday."

"Good. Today's monday, that should leave me enough time."

"Enough time for what? What d'you want to do?"

"Talk to Nick Matthews," he answered calmly.

"What?! I tell you he'll kill me and you want to sit down and talk to him?! D'you really think he'll..."

"Yes, he will."

"Oh and why would he..."

"Because he is a man of business, and I'm going to offer him a deal." With that he stood, giving her shoulder a parting squeeze. "Don't worry, I won't let anything happen to you. I promise."

The sudden anger vanished from her glance, and he thought, just for a moment, he'd saw jealousy in them. But most of all she looked worried. "You're going to do something extremely stupid, aren't you, Dave?"

"Yeahp," he said and grinned wryly, shrugged, then turned to go.

"Hey," her voice held him back when he'd reached the door.

"What?"

"There's nothing you wouldn't do for him, is there?"

They exchanged a quick glance, before he bowed his head, opening the door. "Just lay low. I'll call you."


Nick Matthews was having dinner, when Detective David Starsky was announced and entered the room, coming to a halt behind the door just like he had in Sarah's apartment.

It wasn't his usual behavior, standing in a scum's room with his hands crossed before him, waiting for the man to speak, keeping his head low. But then this wasn't a typical situation. No Hutch beside him. No case to solve.

"I was told you had something to discuss with me, detective," Matthews said, coming right to the point. He was relatively young for a drug dealer that successfull. In his early forties maybe and in extreme good shape. His dinner seemed to consist of something Hutch would have liked, Starsky thought, but kept himself from uttering any comment.

"Yes, I do."

"Well, have a seat," Matthews offered, and Starsky sat down across the table. "Can I offer you something to eat? Drink?"

"No thanks."

"Well then. What is it that brings a cop to my humble place? I paid all my parking tickets," he added with a short laugh.

Starsky didn't react, just looked at the man. "I want to talk to you about Sarah Shaw."

The dark eyes narrowed a little at the mention of Sarah's name, yet the voice remained calm, friendly even. "Good girl."

"I know."

"I heard she is involved with a cop now, but somehow I get the feeling that it's not you."

"Right."

"Well then what do you care about her?"

"Let's just say she's important to me."

"Important enough to endanger your life by coming here?"

"Important enough to endanger more than that," Starsky replied, making a short pause, before adding: "She wants to quit. And I want you to let her quit."

"And no one's asking what I want?" Matthews asked sarcastically.

"No. But I'm offering you a deal. Or better I'm telling you how's it going to be."

A smug expression spreading on his face, Matthews leaned back, mentioning for the detective to start.

"Sarah told me about her next deal. And it will take place. Only with a slight change. I'll be the supplier."

Matthews almost chocked on his own breath. "Wh-what?!"

"You heard me. I will get the thing done together with her. No cops," he added quickly, raising his hands, "no undercover thing, nothing at all, I swear. Just me doing the job. And after that," he continued after a short pause, "you and your goons are never going to get near Sarah Shaw again, am I understood? If she so much as catches a cold, I'm gonna hunt you and I'm gonna find you. I'd have proof enough for you to spent the rest of your miserable life in one can of a cell."

Slowly, realization dawned on Matthews' face. "I see. And so will I. D'you really know what you're suggesting, detective? The words alone could already cost you your badge. If I ever decided to name a dirty cop, your name would be the first that'd come to my mind."

"For my name they'd probably let you go to the john twice a day instead of once in jail," Starsky shrugged. "I can live with that risk. 'sides somehow I get the feeling it's gonna be a long time before someone will manage to get you into a cell," he added with a humorless grin that was answered by Matthews. "What with all the paper work that'd have to be done and all those complicated rights of yours to respect and stuff like that. You know what I mean, right?"

"Is than an agreement?" the older man finally asked, and Starsky nodded.

"You're taking one hell of a risk for that girl, detective. She must be awfully special."

"She is," Starsky replied and stood to leave, shaking Matthews' hand before turning.


On wednesday Starsky had to admit that he'd underestimated Hutch's ability of looking right through him, of knowing, sensing it when something was wrong.

How the hell was he supposed to go on with this forever? How was he supposed to keep this to himself for the rest of his life?

How will it be when I see you with Sarah the next time? Will she be able to keep it from you? What if we screw up? What if I screw up? Bad? Would you ever forgive me?

"Starsk? Zebra three to Starsky," Hutch's voice drew his attention back to the here and now, and he blinked as if waking from a dream.

"Huh?"

"Here's your lunch."

"Oh. Uh. Thanks," Starsky mumbled and grabbed the plastic plate Hutch held out for him, before entering the torino again.

"You all right?" he asked the unavoidable question once he sat inside the car, eyeing his friend suspiciously.

"Sure."

"It's just... You've been awfully quiet the last two days. Something bothering you?"

"No," Starsky shot back unnervedly. "And what's this?!"

"Pizza."

"Doesn't look like it."

"Yeah, they do it a special wa..."

"Oh 'triffic. Why is there never a crime taking place around the corner when you're chosing the lunch?!"

Hutch watched his partner for a minute, chewing quietly, then rose his voice again: "Okay, Starsk, spill it. What's wrong."

"Nothing."

"C'mon, babe, talk to me."

Starsky smiled, his head bowed, the urge to just tell his partner, his pal, Hutch, what he'd done, what he knew, how he felt, how incredibly scared he was, was almost overwhelming. Yet, he just kept staring at the untouched plate on his lap, saying in a very shaky voice: "''just... have you ever... thought about... I don't know... how it'd be not to be a cop? I mean like..." Being on the other side.

"Aw, Starsk," Hutch sighed, reaching out to gently squeeze his friend's shoulder. "Did you dream about Terrie again?"

"Yeah," Starsky answered after a moment's thought, almost relieved to have the opportunity to lie to his friend. "'msorry I'm..."

"No, it's all right," Hutch cut him off, his hand traveling up to caress his friend's neck. "Wanna talk about it?"

"No, it's okay. Really. Just..." He lifted his eyes now, looking at his caring friend, at the love reflected in the blue eyes. "Sarah, she's a great girl, you know?"

Hutch smiled confusedly. "Sure I know. I love her. But what..."

"Nothing," he smiled, looking down again. "Nothing. Never mind."


The deal was to take place on wednesday evening, so that there'd be enough time for the two visitors to catch the latest flight home afterwards. They didn't want to spent any more time than necessary in Bay City.

And there was no small talk.

"Okay, here's ours," one of the three tall man said, throwing a package of whiteness into Sarah's arms. "Check it."

She did. It was pure.

Starsky swallowed dryly, his experience with undercover assignments helping a lot. What a bust this would have been. What a chance to get Matthews too.

But he couldn't endanger Sarah. Couldn't let Hutch find out. The memories of his friend seeing his Gillian's dead body still too fresh in his mind. The memories of Hutch's pain afterwards, of the nights he would hold his friend when he was crying, grieving so desperately. You're worth whatever it takes.

It was Starsky's turn to deliver the money, and he got the bag from where it stood in Sarah's bedroom, opening it for the guys. He himself had only once caught a glimpse at it when Sarah had placed it in there. No need to check on it. Sarah said she had before he'd arrived. It was her job. He trusted her.

Why wouldn't he?

"If this is supposed to be a joke, it's not funny," one of the guys announced when he'd taken a look at the money. Or better: at what was there.

"Huh?" Starsky made, throwing Sarah a confused look, noticing with raising panic she avoided his glance. "Sa..."

"You wanna fuck with us, kid?!" the man interrupted his question, grabbing him by the collar of his shirt, almost lifting him in the air. "That's 100,000 in there. Not a penny more. Where's the rest?"

"I don't know," Starsky replied through a caugh, kicking his legs. "Lemme down!"

And the guy obeyed, throwing the smaller man against the nearest wall. "What stunt are you two trying to pull here, hm?!"

Throwing a glance at Sarah, who was still looking down, Starsky rubbed his sore throat, answering: "Hey, this is what we got from Matthews. You want your money, you've to ask him."

"Funny. I think you have it."

"No! I swear, we..."

"You haven't said anything, honey," the man said, approaching Sarah, bending down a little to look into her eyes.

"It's like he said," she exclaimed, flinching when she was roughly grabbed by the man. "We got the bag from Matthews. We don't ask questions, you know that. We're just..."

"So Nick Matthews' fucking with us and you just play along? Hm? Darling? That it?"

"No!" Sarah faught, wincing, as the man's fingers left blue bruises on her wrists. "You know it's not our fault when something goes wro..."

A fierceful blow interrupted her, sending her flying through the air, before she fell to the ground, sobbing, the right side of her face feeling like it was on fire.

Everything happened pretty fast after that.

"Don't you touch her!"

Starsky didn't even reach the man still standing over Sarah, but was grabbed from behind, roughly shoved against the wall again, his arms twisted behind his back.

The man who'd hit Sarah turned, looking down at the struggling man with a wry grin. "You know what, kid? You're right. I don't enjoy taking out my frustration at women. I'm too much of a gentleman. But with scum like you it's different."

"It's not our fault!" Starsky called out, struggling against the vise gribs of the two men holding him 'til he was completely exhausted. "When she says this is what Matthews gave her, you've gotta..."

He never finished his sentence.

Sarah sat where she'd been shoved to, huddled against the wall, watching in horror as they beat up her boy-friend's partner. They were very thourough, leaving no part of his atonomy untouched, and they sure took their time.

Even before they finished and let go off the unmoving man who fell limply to the ground, Starsky had stopped yelping or moaning like he'd stopped struggling or protecting himself before. He lay where they'd thrown him to, blood quickly covering the carpet, his eyes closed, his battered body unmoving, not even at the parting kick he received, before the three turned to drag Sarah up from the ground again.

"You can tell Nick Matthews if he doesn't pay within an hour he is a dead man," the man who'd hit her said, lifting her off the ground, close to his face. "You can show him this," he pointed at the bloody heap on the floor, "as our card."

With that they left. Threw the door closed behind them.

She was alone.

"D-Dave?"

He didn't move, didn't react, just lay where he was, unmoving. Did he breathe?

Carefully, as if not wanting to disturb someone asleep, Sarah approached him, 'til she could tell that he was breathing, that he was still alive.

"Dave!"

He didn't wake up. Would he ever? Blood, so much blood. His left arm lying beneath his body, bent at an unnatural angle. His closed eyes almost covered with blood. His curls soaked with blood.

"Dave, please! Wake up! Dave! Wake up! Please!" She knelt down before him, not daring to touch him.

Nothing. Not even a moan.

Her eyes wandered to the phone. Call someone. Get help.

"David!"

Get help.


Hutch called Starsky to ask him if he was in the mood for a couple of beers at the "Pit's", but since no one answered the phone, he assumed his partner was out for the evening, and grabbed a beer from his fridge, preparing for a comfy evening with a good book. Sarah had told him earlier that day she'd been too busy for a date today and actually he was a little disappointed that Starsky wasn't at home. He'd been looking forward to spending some time with his friend he so seldomly had seen during the last few weeks due to his falling in love with Sarah.

And then of course Starsky had acted pretty strangely the last two days. And yes it could be because of him still having nightmares about Terrie's death, but somehow Hutch got the feeling it was something else this time.

But it was too beautiful an evening to spent it worrying all the time, and besides, if Starsky was out, it probably meant he was feeling better, anyway. Maybe he was at the "Pit's" already.

Yeah, Hutch decided, he'd drink this beer and then go over there to see if he'd run into his pal. Cheer him up if he needed it. He had enough of joy to spread it all over the city. Smiling warmly, he though of Sarah, of the next time he'd see her, when his phone rang.

"Yeah, Hutchin..."

"Ken," a paniced voice interrupted him.

Instantly sitting up on the cauch, Hutch asked: "Sarah? What happ..."

"Ken, I... I need you. Please come here immediately. It's... it's urgent. Ken?"

"Yeah, I'm coming, Sarah, what happened?" Hutch asked frantically, already getting into his shoes.

"J-just... just come."

He could hear she was crying.

"Sarah, what..."

"Come!"

He put the siren on on his way to her apartment.


"Dave, wake up, please!" It felt like she'd never said anything but those few words. Never done anything but kneeling next to the battered form of David Starsky, staring at him, pleading with him to wake up, but not touching him, never touching him. "David!"

Finally, finally she heard another voice, a frantic voice, accompanied by knocks outside her door.

"Sarah! Sarah, it's me, Ken. Open up. Sarah!"

"Ken!" She sprinted towards the door and fell into his arms, clinging onto him as if for dear life. "Oh Ken!"

"Hey. What happened?" Hutch could feel her trembling in his arms, stroking her back, as he walked them both inside, closing the door behind them. "Sarah, what happ... Oh god," he exclaimed when she looked up at him and he could see the ugly bruise on her cheek. Gently, his eyes full of pain, he ran a soft thumb around it. "Who did this? What happened?"

"I... I couldn't wake him up. I... He won't wake up," she stuttered, tears falling from her eyes. "I'm sorry, Ken. I'm so sorry."

He looked down at her, who again clung onto him, crying at his chest now. "You couldn't wake up whom? What..."

And then he looked up.

"Oh my..."

And saw him. Saw his partner. Saw the crumbled form on the floor. The blood. The bruises.

"Starsk."

Letting go off the girl, he hurried over to his friend, kneeling down beside him. "Starsky."

Sarah stood where she'd been left, watching her boy-friend gently stroking back blood matted curls, brushing clammy skin, whispering assuring words.

"What happened here?!" he asked, looking up at her with eyes she couldn't look into.

"I..."

"Who did this?"

"Guys from Miami. I... I don't know their names."

"Miami?! Why would they... Why would anyone from Miami want to do this?!" He was nearly crying, yanking a blanket off the cauch, carefully covering his still unmoving partner, his hands always on him, always comforting, always stroking, always caressing him. "Buddy, hey, wake up. Please, Starsk, wake up for me."

"He tried to help me," she said, her voice distant, like she wasn't really there. Wasn't really watching.

Hutch's head snapped up. "Help you?! How..." He stopped, when he heard a tiny moan. "Starsk. Hang on, babe, just hang on. I'm here. It's okay. -- Did you call an ambulance?" he asked, looking up again.

Sarah shook her head. "No, I..."

"Call one!"

She obeyed immediately, always hearing Hutch's voice in the background as he tried to soothe his waking friend.

"Shhh, babe, I'm here. I'm here. It's gonna be okay. No, don't go back to sleep, Starsky. Hang on. Please hang on."


"What happened?!" Hutch asked once he'd seen the liveless form of his friend vanish behind the doors of the ER, and turned to cast a stern look at Sarah, who sat on one of the benches, tears still running from her eyes, a blanket wrapped around her. "Just tell me why I found my best friend beaten up in your apartment! What was he doing there in the first place?!"

She told him. Slowly, quietly, everything.

When she was finished, he sat down next to her, slowly, quietly, broken. "Y-you're a dealer?"

She nodded silently. "A-and Starsk..."

"He just wanted to help. But..." Closing her eyes, she swallowed. "There's more, Ken. I... You know, I didn't believe Matthews yould give up that easily, so I... I..." With closed eyes she finally whispered: "I set him up. I took the 300,000 dollars. I didn't mean to keep them, I just... I thought they'd kill Matthews." At his widening eyes, she quickly added: "I never meant for Dave to get hurt, honest! You gotta believe me, Ken! I like him, I never wanted him to get hurt. I just... it... I think I misjudged..."

"You think you misjudged?!" Hutch cut her off loudly, standing to pace. "My partner in there might be dying right now!!! And it's your fault! You set him up!"

"I didn't mean..."

"I don't care what you meant! You set him up! My best friend! After all he'd done for you, risking his job! His life! You..."

"He didn't do it for me, Ken," she interrupted him, almost cooly, and he bowed his head, looking away.

"I'm sorry," she whispered after a pause, standing to reach for his hand, but he flinched, backing away. "I am."

He looked at the ground, avoiding her glance. Finally he replied: "That's not good enough, Sarah. That's not good enough."

"Ken, please..."

"Detective Hutchinson?" a nurse interrupted her, approaching Hutch. "Phone for you. Right here."

Casting a look at Sarah, Hutch followed the friendly nurse to the next phone and answered the call. "Hutchin... How d'you know? Oh. They informed... Okay. Yeah. I see. No. We don't... He's been hurt pretty bad. Yeah. Yeah, I'll let him know. And, hey, tell Dobey to call and check on him, okay? 'kay. Thanks for... Yeah. Thanks."

After he'd hung up, he slowly made his way over to Sarah who still stood waiting in the hall, her beautiful features drawn, her brows raised questioningly.

"The precinct," Hutch told her. "Congrats. They just found Matthews' body. Starsky and I should have taken the case, but... I think I'll let someone else handle it. The ones who did it are probably already back in Miami, anyway."

"Ken, I..."

"No, don't," he cut her off. "Just don't. D'you still have the money?"

"I swear I didn't mean to keep..."

"Do. Keep it. Actually I thought maybe it'd be better if you... left the city. As soon as possible."

"Ken, please..."

"300,000 dollars should get you some place sunny and warm, don't you think? Some place far enough away from here."

She closed her mouth, a single tear escaping her eyes. "I love you," she finally said. "I didn't want any of this."

Though he felt wetness in his own eyes, Hutch knew he looked cold, stern. A mask of stone. "I don't believe you."

She left, turning at the door, but he looked away, and finally she was gone.


"Detective Hutchinson?" the soft voice of a nurse rose him from his misery as he sat slumped on one of the benches, staring ahead, the thoughts running in circles inside his head.

"Yeah, that's me! Is it my partner? What..."

"He woke up a few minutes ago," she told him with a warm smile, that grew even wider as he practically jumped to his feet to follow her to Starsky's room.

"Did he ask for me?"

"Ahm... I think he wanted to. But he... actually he looked a bit afraid of..."

Grining brightly, Hutch winked, and entered Starsky's room, sitting down next to his friend's bed. A lot of white bandages covered Starsky's chest, and his arm was in a cast, but there were no beeping machines in the room, a fact Hutch took as a good sign.

"Hey," he greeted Starsky softly, taking the hand that laid next to him on the sheet in his. "Buddy, it's me."

"Hu-Hutch?" Starsky whimpered, fighting his swollen eyes open. "Sarah... How..."

"Shhh, babe, don't talk too much," Hutch soothed, brushing back some of the unruly curls from Starsky's forehead. "Sarah's fine. They didn't hurt her. She's okay."

At his partner's questioning, almost fearful look, he nodded slightly. "Yeah, she told me everything."

Starsky cringed, moving his head a little as if wanting to look up at his friend. "Y-you very mad?"

"Furious," Hutch said softly. "When you get out of here I'm gonna kick your butt. What the hell did you think you were doing, gordo?!"

Starsky had to drew in several obviously painful breaths, much to Hutch's distress, yet he managed to answer: "I knew you'd do something stupid if... if you'd find out. Didn't want you... want you to get hurt, blintz."

Hutch couldn't help but chuckle and bent forward 'til his forehead touched Starsky's. "Don't you ever pull a stunt like that again, buddy, you hear me? Or I swear I'll skin you alive."

"I... I don't plan to," Starsky smiled wearyly. "I... I don't know what... what went wrong, anyway. It shoulda..." He couldn't go on, the pain leaving him gasping for breath, squeezing his friend's hand.

Hutch closed his eyes, whispering: "Sarah went wrong. She set you up. She kept the money." He still didn't open his eyes. He had to say everything first. "She wanted them to kill Matthews. She used you, buddy."

Starsky didn't say a thing. Didn't swear. Didn't react. It wasn't until Hutch finally looked at him that he saw that his partner's eyes were filled not with betrayal or anger or hate, but sympathy. Pure sympathy. And love. Sadness.

"I'm sorry, Hutch," he whispered, his eyes daring to fall close again. He'd worn himself out just by talking as much as he had. "I'm so sorry. I know how much... how much you loved her and..." He faught to keep his eyes open, blinking fastly.

"It's okay," Hutch assured, stroking an untouched area on Starsky's cheek. "She's gone, though. I... I told her to leave the city."

"She... kept the money then?"

"Yeah."

"A-and Matth..."

"Dead. Her plan worked after all."

"Guess so." Starsky's voice was barely a whisper now, his eyes sliding close quickly. "'mso sorry, babe. Know... Didn't... didn't want you to... live through this 'gain. To..." His head rolled to one side, the hand holding Hutch's growing limp. "...lose someone..." He was asleep, breathing softly, his head resting against Hutch's arm.

"It's okay, babe," Hutch whispered, carressing his friend's head. "It could have been worse. I could have lost more."

And, a single tear falling unnoticedly from his cheek, he watched over his sleeping partner.

 

THE END

 

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