©August 2011 by Charlotte Frost




The voices seemed to drift in and out.   One was exceedingly comforting, the other rather brusque, but both were at ease with each other.


The voice above him said, “Captain, you might be able to get around this traffic jam if you take the next exit.  I think it goes all the way through, until you can pick up the interstate again.”


“Okay,” the voice farther away said, “I hope you’re right.”


Starsky tried to grasp his situation and considered if he needed to reach full consciousness.


Hutch said, “He might be coming around.”


A hand cupped his jaw.


Starsky thought he heard a distant grunt.  “I was hoping the drugs would allow him to sleep the whole way.”


Fingers stroked along his jaw.  “It’s okay, buddy.”


They seemed to want him to remain where he was, which was fine with him.  He was resting against a familiar body, which felt very comfortable right now. 


Suddenly, his surrounding environment came to a halt, and he felt himself roll forward, and he was gripped around his shoulders and hip.  He grunted, feeling sharp points of pain along his torso. 


And then he rolled back.


“Sorry,” Dobey said.  “That’s a fast light.”


Starsky felt his shoulder squeezed.  “Easy does it, buddy.”


“Did he wake up?”


“I think he’s trying not to.”


“Good choice.”


The muscles around his stomach hurt, now that he’d been given reason to notice them, and Starsky whimpered.


Fingers massaged at his hairline.  “I know.  Try to relax.”


They were moving again. 


Dobey said, “When we come to a town, I think I’m going to stop and get something to eat.”


“Good idea.  He hasn’t taken a leak since before they took him off the IVs.  That’s been what?  Over four hours ago?  I bet he has to go.”

Now that Hutch mentioned it, Starsky was aware of having a full bladder.


“You think he can make it to a restroom?”  Dobey sounded doubtful.


“We might have to sit him up in the seat and get him to go in a bottle or something.”


Starsky thought he heard a heavy sigh from the front of the car.


“I can get him to do that.  I’ve taken care of him before.”


“Yeah.”  Soft.  “I guess you have.”


“We’ll just need to park somewhere where there’s plenty of privacy.”


“I don’t think there’s anything in the car that he can go in.”


“We’ll have to buy something and pour out the contents.”


All the talk about going was making his situation more urgent.  Starsky squeezed the body he was resting against.  “Piss.”


“Huh?  You need to piss?” 


Starsky felt an arm come around him, and he liked that.  Then he grunted in reply, because that was easier than talking.  His mouth was dry.


“According to a billboard we passed, there’s a McDonald’s up here a ways,” Dobey said.  “Maybe we can kill two birds with one stone.”


Starsky felt a gentle pat.  “Hang on.  We’re going to get you taken care of, pal.  After you piss, would you like some McDonald’s?”


It sounded good.  But he remembered how sore his stomach was.  He decided to let Hutch figure out what was best.


The arm that was around him squeezed his shoulder.


“Did he answer you?” Dobey asked.


“He seems to be drifting in and out.  Once he gets a whiff of a cheeseburger, I think he’ll be interested.”


“It’s up here.  Damn, it’s crowded, with all the traffic getting off the highway.  What do you want to do?”


“Let’s go through the drive-through and then try to find someplace private.”


“Looks like the line is moving fast, at least.”


Starsky was aware of the car stopping. 


“What do you want to get?”


“For us, get four double cheeseburgers and a couple of fries.”


“What about to drink?”


“Just waters.  Extra large.  Get an extra one for the cup.”


Starsky became aware that his torso was hurting, and he groaned.


A hand stroked through his hair.  “Hey, buddy, easy does it.”


“Do you think the pills are wearing off?”


“It’s nearly an hour before he’s due for another dose.  I might give them to him early if he gets too uncomfortable.  Especially if he’ll have food in his stomach.”


Starsky tried to shift his feet, and then realized that his legs were in an awkward position, as though they were somewhat tucked beneath him, his knees partially bent. He started to stretch one out, and felt intensified pain along his stomach muscles, and made a noise of protest.


“Hey,” Hutch scolded softly, “try to stay still, okay?  I know you’re tired of being like this, but we’ll be stopping soon, so you can sit up.”


He focused on his right hand and realized that, if he pressed, he could feel a rib through cotton cloth.  He pressed firmly.  “Whiz.”


“I know, I know.”  His hand was clasped.  “I know you need to take a whiz, pal, just hang on a little longer.  We’ll get you taken care of.”  His hand was squeezed, and then held in a relaxed clasp.


He heard a heavy sigh from the front seat.  “Man, this is going to be a long drive.  Especially with the highway being so backed up for God knows how long.”


“If it gets too tiring, we can just stop at a motel for the night.  He might be a lot better after a night’s sleep anyway.”


“At least we’re next in line.”   Then, after a moment, Dobey said, “I’m trying to remember the last time I got beat up.  It wasn’t that serious.  Didn’t even go to the hospital, but I can sure remember being sore as hell for quite a few days.  And the guys that nailed me weren’t professionals like these guys were.”  Another pause.  Then “You sure you’re doing okay, Hutchinson?”


“Yeah.  Most of them went after Starsky.  I just got nailed in the chops, and in my ribs, and scraped my knee pretty good when I went down.  Starsky would have come out of it a lot better if he’d stayed down.”


“Maybe he’s learned his lesson.”


“I doubt it.”  There had been a hint amusement in that.


There was a subtle movement of the car, and then the sound of outside air.  Then a crackling noise.  “May I take your order, please?”


“I’d like four double cheeseburgers, a Big Mac, three large french fries, three extra large waters, and an extra large coke.”


“Will that be all, sir?”




“Please drive around to the first window.”


“You have enough cash, Captain?”




Starsky’s hand dropped from the ribs to down lower.  He lost interest in the conversations out the car window when he recognized that he was approaching a knee, and he felt sad, thinking about Hutch’s injured knee.


“Easy, buddy.”  His wrist was taken in a gentle grip.  “It’s kind of tender there.”


Starsky drew a breath, and realized that he hurt all over.  He braced against Hutch’s thigh, trying to shift.


And arm tightened on his shoulders.  “Starsky, I know.  Five more minutes.  Just wait five more minutes, and then you can move a little bit and take a leak.”


“Has he opened his eyes yet?”


Gentle fingers brushed across his forehead.  “Not that I’ve seen.  But he’s obviously at least semi-conscious.”


Suddenly, a wonderful, familiar smell permeated the car.


“Thanks very much,” Dobey said.  And a moment later, “Thanks.  Have a nice day.”


The sound of outside air went away, and then they were moving.


“Looks like there’s some trees up ahead a ways.  We can stop there.”


“I’ve never liked McDonald’s much, but that’s smelling awfully good.”


“It’s good you have an appetite.”


“I didn’t get pummeled the way he did.  My upper ribs hurt the most.”


Starsky realized the injured ribs had to be on the side opposite the one he was resting against.


The car slowed, and then made a sharp turn.


“No one will be able to see if we go up by those bushes.”


A short time later, the car stopped.  Starsky heard dual sighs of relief.


There was the sound of doors opening, and suddenly cool air permeated his sanctuary.


“Buddy?  I’ve got to shift you so I can get up, and then help you sit up.  Okay?”


He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do, but Hutch was moving and he was slumping back against vinyl, and the entire middle section of his body started hurting.  He gasped – in confusion, as much as pain.


A hand settled gently on his cheek.  “Starsky?  How about opening your eyes?  It won’t hurt.”


Starsky squinted his eyes open.  He was looking out a backseat car door and saw sunlight.  Hutch was leaning in the door, watching him.  Hutch had a huge bruise on the side of his face.


“That’s good, pal.  Now listen.  I want you to grab hold of me, and then I’m going to lift you into a sitting position with your legs out the door, okay?  And then you can pee in a cup.”


He wasn’t sure that he was following the way Hutch wanted him to.  But peeing sounded like a wonderful goal.  He closed his eyes, because he didn’t think it was important for him to see anything.


A hand took his right hand and put it on a shoulder.  “Take a good hold me there.”  His left hand was taken and put against flesh that felt like it might be a waist.  “Grab hold of me.”  He curled his fingers and was rewarded with, “That’s a boy.”  Hutch’s voice grew more intense.  “I’m going to lift and shift you.  You can squeeze me when it hurts, okay?  Let me move you.  I don’t want you to do anything.”  A gentle hand brushed along his forehead.  “Okay?”


Starsky nodded, though he was only clear on the instruction that he wasn’t supposed to do anything.


He realized that something was supposed to hurt, but he didn’t know where it would come from.  Then he was being lifted an inch or so with strong hands, and every part of his insides seemed to protest.  He released a heavy gasp and felt his eyes water.  He cried out.


“There you go,” Hutch said in a tender whisper, letting Starsky back down.  “Let’s move your legs.”  He was rotated in the seat, and he squinted his eyes open to watch Hutch take each leg and carefully move it, so that he was sitting at the side of the seat, facing the open air.


Hutch’s hand settled on the side of his face.  “Sorry about that,” he said in the same tender voice.


“Here’s an empty cup,” Dobey said.  “Do you need help with him?”


“Just help him say upright, while I get in the other side.  It’ll be easier if I’m behind him.”


Starsky’s shoulder was squeezed.  “Hang on, buddy.”


Starsky was still catching his breath, aware that each exhalation hurt, and the comforting squeeze of his partner was replaced by a less familiar one.


“Take it easy, son.”


Starsky wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do to take it easy.


He was aware of movement in the seat behind him.  And then a comforting arm circled loosely around his chest.  “I’ve got it from here.  He just needs a little privacy.”


“Okay, um, I’ll start in on my Big Mac over there.”


“Relief is on the way, buddy.” 


Starsky felt both arms around him, and then his jeans were being unsnapped.  There was pain in his lower abdomen as the supporting pressure of his fly was lowered.  He whimpered.


“Hey,” Hutch whispered in his ear, “I’ve got a cup right here that you can go in.  I’ve got it in place.  Can you take it out, or do you want me to do it?”


Starsky wasn’t sure what Hutch was asking, but he knew what he needed to do.  He reached inside the slit of his underwear with his left hand, in the way that was natural for him, and wondered why nearly every part of him that wasn’t bone seemed to hurt.


“Got it?”  Hutch’s hand clasped around his.  “Just point it down.”  His hand was pushed lower.  “There.  You can whiz anytime.” 


Starsky felt a cheek rest against the back of his head.  “Nobody’s watching.”


He wasn’t sure that he remembered what he was supposed to do.


“Piss, buddy.”


It was such a relief, to do just that.  He heard the stream squirt against the paper of the cup.  As he continued to fill it, he realized that he wasn’t holding the cup.  He wondered how it was staying in place, and hoped he wasn’t going to make an embarrassing mess.


After a time, Hutch’s voice said with a hint of amusement, “I hope you’re about done.”


He didn’t think he was peeing anymore because the pressure was gone.  He tried to make a noise of agreement.


“You done?” 


He felt Hutch shifting behind him. 


Hutch’s hand left him, and Starsky began to tuck himself away.


“Stay still, Starsk.  Just let me put this down.”  Hutch brushed past him, as though leaning forward to an extreme degree.  “There.”  Then he straightened and put his arms back around Starsky.


Starsky felt his fly being worked with.


“I’m not going to snap your jeans, because I think you’ll be more comfortable.”  Hutch released a breath, and then a hand was on Starsky’s forehead, gently pressing back.  “Rest against me.”


Starsky gratefully let his weight rest back against Hutch.  He felt Hutch’s arms moving.


Something plastic touched his lips.  “Here, take some sips of this water.”


Starsky closed his lips around the straw.  The water that spilled into his mouth felt wonderfully good.  He spent a long time swallowing.  He grunted when he was finished, and Hutch’s hands were moving again.


Gently, Hutch asked, “How about a cheeseburger?”  Starsky heard the sound of paper.  Then Hutch enticingly said, “Here, want a bite of this?”


It smelled so good.  Starsky bit into what was pressed against his lips, and decided he definitely wanted it.  He reached up.


Hutch helped him grab hold of the wrapping around the burger.  “There you go.  Take your time, buddy.”


There was shifting behind him, more noises of paper, and then he was aware of Hutch eating, as well.


“How’s he doing?”  Dobey’s voice was at the front seat.


“So far, so good.  It just hurt like a sonofabitch getting him to sit up.”


“At least he’s eating.”


“I’m going to give him his pills when he’s done.  Maybe he’ll be able to sleep a few more hours.”


“We’re going to have to stop for gas within the next thirty miles or so.”


“If we can find some kind of department store, I think we need to buy some pillows to support him.”


“I wonder if he might be better off stretching out on the seat and you sitting up front.”


“Believe me, Captain, with his type of injures, he just wants to curl into a tight ball.  I can monitor him better if I’m back here with him, especially since I don’t think he’s playing with a full deck.  I’m afraid he’ll get confused and agitated if he can’t tell that I’m nearby.”


Starsky smelled fries.  He turned his head toward the front seat.


“Hey, you finished that?”  Hutch took the empty wrapper from Starsky’s hand.  “Want some french fries?”




Cardboard was placed in his right hand.  Then his left hand was picked up until his fingers touch something warm, crisp, and narrow.  “Can you eat those?”


Starsky pulled a couple from the box and brought them to his mouth.  They tasted warm and salty.


Dobey said, “I’m not sure it’s a good idea to stuff him.”


“Trust me, he’s not stuffed.  If he’s skipped a meal, he can normally down two double cheeseburgers and a large fries.  And then finish off some of mine.”


Dobey grunted.


Starsky was enjoying the fries, but his mouth was getting too dry.  He wondered how he could get a drink of something.


“Whoa, there.”  Hutch grabbed the cardboard container from his hand.  “You going to sleep on me?”


“Water,” he choked out.


“Here you go.”  The straw was back at his lips. 


He drank gratefully.  Then he turned his head and coughed.  He groaned at the spike of pain that laced through his mid-section.


A hand stroked along his forehead and scalp.  “Easy does it,” Hutch’s tender voice said.  “Keep drinking water until your throat clears.”


Hutch’s voice seemed farther away when it asked, “Where are his pills?”


There was the sound of paper, then Dobey said, “Oh, here it is.”


Starsky recognized the noise of a pill bottle as he felt the movement of Hutch’s shoulders and chest that he was resting against.


He jaw was taken in a gentle grasp.  “Open your mouth.”


He let the hand lower his jaw.


“I’m putting two pills on the back of your tongue.  Don’t bite me.”


Starsky wondered why Hutch thought he would do that, as he felt the strange sensation of fingers inside his mouth.  Then something bitter was on the back of his tongue.


The fingers were removed.  Then the straw was placed against his lips.  “Swallow that down.”


Starsky did.  The water still tasted incredibly good. 


Fingers massaged along his throat.  “Keep swallowing.”


Starsky suddenly sucked in air.


The paper cup was taken from him.  “You’ve already finished that off.”  A moment later, another straw was put against his lips.  “Here’s some more.”


He took a couple of more swallows, then grunted.


The cup was taken from him.  The top of his head was patted.  “You want anything else to eat?”


“Huh,” was all he could think of to say.


“Huh?”  Hutch’s voice turned away.  “There’s another cheeseburger there, Captain, if you want it.”


“Think I will.”  Noises of paper.  “What do you think?”


“I want to wait about fifteen minutes and give his stomach a chance to settle and let the pills start to work.  I don’t want to hurt him so much when we move him again.”


“We probably have about two hours of daylight left.”


“Yeah.  When you’ve had enough, we may as well find a motel.”


“I’m starting to wonder if we would have been better off taking a plane.”


“I don’t think he could have handled that.  It would have been more exhausting for all of us.”


A gentle hand rested across Starsky’s forehead.  “Relax back against me and try to go to sleep, buddy.”


Starsky thought he was doing just that.  A cool breeze blew in from the open door, but the food had warmed his insides, so it didn’t bother him much.


“When we stop for pillows, we’ll need to get a blanket, too.”


“I just wonder how long that traffic jam is.”


“It would be good to stay on this side road as long as possible.”


The voices became more distant, until Starsky was no longer aware of them.



Voices faded in and out.


He tried to ignore them, but his mind was becoming more alert.


“The most important thing,” Hutch was saying, “is that it’s a room on the ground floor.”


Starsky cracked his eyes open.  It was dark.  Dobey was in the front seat, driving.


Starsky realized that his arms were around a fluffy pillow that was pressed against his midsection.  After a moment, he decided that his head was also on a fluffy pillow.   He moved his head, and realized the back of it was against the softness of a belly.  He lowered his eyes and eventually made out denim-clad knees in the darkness.


The backs of his shoulders were rubbed in a slow, gentle manner.  “Starsk, you back with us?”


“He’s awake?”


“I’m not sure.”


The car made a sharp turn, as Dobey said, “Let’s try this one.  It says vacancy.”


“This has been a hell of a long day.”  Hutch sounded tired.


“I hear that.”  A car door opened, and then closed.


Hands continued to pet along Starsky’s shoulders, and then Hutch asked tenderly, “You feeling okay?”


Starsky grunted, unwilling to make an assessment.


“Hopefully, we’ll have you in a nice, comfy bed soon.”


Bed sounded good.  But Starsky realized he wanted to know something.  “What happened?” he whispered.


The hand on his back paused.  “You don’t remember?”


Starsky tried to remember what Dobey had said earlier.  “Beat up?”


Hutch squeezed his shoulder.  “More like beaten to a pulp.  Thank God they didn’t injure anything vital.  As vicious as they were, I think they were aware enough to not want to do something deadly.”


“You, too?”


“I just got a few sore spots, pal.  You wouldn’t stay down, so you took the worst of it.  Two against one, and professional fighters, at that.”


That sounded grave.  “Who won?”


Hutch chuckled softly, his hands rubbing along Starsky’s shoulders again.  “The calvary came.  The Eureka police.”




“Yeah.  We were in Eureka to help with that murder investigation, remember?  And then we happened upon that drug deal with the wrestlers.  When we tried to retreat for reinforcements, they saw us and were on us before we could even pull our guns.”


That was sounding somewhat familiar.  Starsky closed his eyes tightly, remembering huge fists landing powerfully into the soft tissues of his body.  It had crossed his mind that he might die – beaten to death.  That seemed like such an unglamorous end.


“You absorbing this, buddy?”




“You sound more alert.” 


“Not necessarily,” Starsky muttered.  He could feel that the pills he’d swallowed earlier were affecting his brain.  But if he focused, he could find some clarity.  “Why is Dobey here?”


“He flew up early this morning, as soon as he heard what had happened and that we were in the emergency room.  He’s driving us home in the rental car, since flying in your condition didn’t seem like a good idea.”  Hutch sighed.  “We were hoping to make it in one trip, but a big traffic jam on the interstate put us behind an hour or two.”  Hutch sounded like he was trying not to yawn.  “I think we can all use some sleep.”


The car door opened, and Dobey plopped into the driver’s seat.  “I’ve got us a room.  A double.”  He started the motor.  “They offered us a rollaway, but I figured you two wouldn’t mind sharing.”


“That’s fine.”


Starsky let himself drift as the car moved slowly. 


“Here it is,” Dobey said, pleased.  “We’ve got the space right in front of it.”  The car stopped, and the motor was turned off.  “Let me check it out, and then I’ll come back and help you with him.”


Dobey’s door opened and he left the car.


Hutch opened his door.  “Buddy, we’re going to need to sit you up, so I can get out.”


A blanket was shoved away from him.


Starsky started to gather himself, pushing off Hutch’s legs, and then he felt pain all along his front side.  “Agh.”


“Easy, easy.”  Hutch had him by the arm.  “Try to sit up real slow.  Hang onto me if you need to.”


Starsky grabbed at Hutch’s arm and shoulders, and then hoisted himself up.  “God,” he gasped.  “Jeezus God.”  The bruising felt so deep.


Hutch had hold of him by the shoulders.  “Sit back.  Sit back for a moment.”


Starsky obeyed that calm voice, but it made everything worse.  “Oh, man that hurts.”  Hutch was now out of the car and standing.  Starsky began to curl his knees up onto the seat.


Hutch was leaning into the car and had his hand on Starsky’s shoulder, squeezing.  “Catch your breath.  We don’t have far to go to get inside.”


Walking seemed like an impossibility, but it was the only way he was going to get to a bed.


“I’m going to move your legs.  They came out of it pretty good, so you don’t have to worry that they’re going to hurt.”


Starsky had his arm around his middle and watched as Hutch carefully took each leg and placed it at the edge of the seat, which caused Starsky to shift enough to face the open door.


“Starsky, I can’t hold onto you without hurting you, so you have to hold onto me.  Let me take your weight.”


“’Kay.”  Starsky swallowed thickly.  He reached to grab Hutch’s shoulders.


Dobey appeared.  “Starsky, you’re awake.”  Then, “What can I do?”


“Just stick close in case he looks like he’s going to lose his footing.”


He let Hutch lift him, as he held on.


Dobey said, “Take him to the bed away from the door, on the far side.  It’s closest to the bathroom.”


Starsky shifted to hold onto Hutch by the waist, so he could stay partially bent over.  It was slow steps, but finally he was crossing the threshold into the motel room, where the lights were all on.


Hutch asked, “You want to rest, or head straight for the bathroom?”


If they went to the bathroom first, then he wouldn’t have to get up again.  “Yeah,” he managed as they moved around the far bed.


Thankfully, Hutch understood his answer, and carefully guided him to the bathroom door.


They were both panting when they stopped beside the sink.  Hutch moved Starsky’s hands so they could rest against the basin.  “Do you think you can sort of stand?”


Starsky nodded.  “It’s okay.”  The toilet was thankfully right there.  He put his hands to his fly and felt that the snap was already undone.


“I’m leaving the door open a little.”


Starsky nodded.  He didn’t care, as long as he could relieve himself and get into bed. 


After he was done, he decided to work his jeans off.  His shoes hadn’t been tied, so they were easy to slip off.


Hutch came in and took the clothing from where they pooled on the floor.  “Want me to help you with the shirt?”


He wasn’t sure.


Gentle amusement.  “You fading out on me, buddy?” 


He leaned against the sink basin as the buttons of his shirt were unfastened.


“Take it easy.”  His left arm was pulled out of the sleeve, and then the shirt moved around him, until the sleeve was pulled away from his right arm, leaving him in his t-shirt.


“Ready for bed?”


He nodded.  He couldn’t deal with thinking about brushing his teeth.


“Hang onto me.”


It wasn’t as bad as when they’d gotten out of the car, because he wasn’t as stiff.  Still, he breathed a heavy sigh of relief when he was sitting on the edge of the bed, hunched over, after Hutch had pulled the covers back.


Dobey entered the room.  “I’ve got some ice.”


“Great,” Hutch said.  “Where are his pills?”


“On the vanity outside the bathroom.”


After a few moments, Starsky was handed pills and a glass.  He downed them with less than ideal tasting water, and handed the glass back.


Starsky watched as Hutch unsnapped his own jeans and gingerly pushed them down his legs.  He had a huge bandage on one knee.


“Thanks looks painful,” Dobey said.  “Did the doctor give you pills?”


“Yep.  I’ll take them in a minute.”  Hutch started unbuttoning his shirt.


“There’s a Subway sandwich shop around the corner.  I’m going to get us something to eat.”


“I’m going to pass,” Hutch said tiredly.


“You sure?”






Starsky realized he was expected to say something.  He briefly met Dobey’s eye.  “Just sleep.”  He was starting to feel worried about Hutch.


“Then I’m going to eat there, so I don’t disturb you two.”


“We’ll leave the bathroom light on.”


“Sounds good.”


Dobey left a moment later. 


Hutch had removed his outer shirt and stood in front of Starsky.  “Hey, partner, let’s get you settled, huh?”  He reached to Starsky’s legs and carefully lifted them onto the bed. 


Starsky bent his knees and gingerly turned onto his left side, facing the wall.


“You’ve been on that side all day.  How about rolling over to your other side?”


Starsky didn’t like sleeping on his other side.  But Hutch had a point.  Besides, he’d be facing Hutch’s side of the mattress.  “’Kay.”


Hutch reached to lift him and help turn him.  It hurt, and he gasped a few times.  But once settled, it felt good to have his weight off his tired side.


A moment later Hutch presented a fluffy pillow to him.  “You want this?”


Starsky took it and pulled its comforting softness against his midsection.


His shoulder was squeezed.  “Go to sleep, buddy.”  Covers were pulled over him.


Starsky closed his eyes.


He listened to noises of Hutch moving around… brushing his teeth… messing with a pill bottle and drinking water.


Starsky was aware of the pills in his own stomach.  He knew they would be more palatable if he’d eaten something.  But he was tired enough to fall sleep.


Lights went out.  There was one on behind him, in the bathroom, but then Hutch closed the door partway, so the room was almost completely dark.


“How you doing, buddy?”  Hutch whispered as the mattress jostled with his weight.


Instead of answering, Starsky opened his eyes and whispered, “You okay?”  He could see how gingerly Hutch was moving.


“Sure.”  Hutch eventually got settled, and carefully rolled to face him.  “I’m fine.”  His voice was soft.


“Thanks for takin’ such good care o’ me.”


Quiet snort.  “I wish I could have protected you better during that fight.”


“S’okay, Hutch.  If you’d done more, you would have been hurt worse.  Then we’d be in a real mess.”


Soft chuckle.  “Then I guess Dobey would have really had his hands full.”


Starsky grunted. 


A hand reached out and brushed along his cheek.  “Buddy?  I can feel the pills kicking in.  I’m going to sleep, okay?”


Starsky closed his eyes.  “Mm.”


“If you hear noises outside, it’s just Dobey coming back.”




Hutch released a heavy breath.  He swallowed.  And then his hand fell from Starsky’s cheek to the mattress.


Within moments, Hutch was breathing deeply.


Starsky listened to the peaceful breaths for a while.  Then he felt for Hutch’s hand on the mattress, and clasped it.


He drifted into sleep.



Harold Dobey turned the key and slowly opened the door.  He entered the motel room and turned to shut the door as quietly as he could.  He paused, listening, and only heard the sound of breathing.


He reached for his duffel bag that was between the two beds.  After straightening, he let his eyes adjust to the darkness, helped by the light from the bathroom.


His two detectives were facing each other, their hands loosely clasped on the mattress.  Both appeared to be deeply asleep.


He shook his head, smiling with affection, and moved toward the bathroom to prepare for bed.






Thanks to Keri T. for proofreading.

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