By Startisparticus2017 ** November 2016 - 2018

I do not own the characters nor do I receive compensation for this

story. The same for the song.

Fire Away (Song by Chris Stapleton)

NOTE:This takes place post-Gunther's attack on Starsky in the police department parking lot filling him with bullets. After months of physical therapy and hard work on Starsky's part and dedication of his partner, Hutch. Starsky returned temporarily to desk duty and within the last month cleared for full active duty. The brunet was deemed a miracle. Everything was fine during Starsky's duration of desk duty. Hutch passed on the offer for a temporary partner. Everyone knew it was pure suicide to attempt to fill-in either detectives 'partner' duties. As Huggy once stated, 'a Starsky without a Hutch is a pig without the pork.'

The return to full active duty for Starsky was difficult. The brunet had reached his limit of patience with his blond partner who didn't seem to want to release 'the mother hen routine.' The few instances when chase and guns were involved put Hutch over the edge, and tempers had flared with words exchanged. Starsky was only doing what he had always done and within the guidelines of protocol, but that didn't seem to put Hutch's stress level on the back burner.

Fire Away

As Starsky drove he thumped his thumbs on the steering wheel and presented a good mood. Hutch sat and stared out the window. The weather was in the high 80's, yet the blond felt an unwelcomed chill called a guilty conscience. Hutch glanced over at his partner, and then looked ahead, and sighed. "Starsk?"

Starsky glanced over quickly, and then focused back on the road. Hutch shook his head and found it difficult to speak and articulate what he needed to say. "We need to talk. I-I…didn't mean, I wasn't…oh hell. I wasn't second guessing you."

Starsky displayed a fierce expression, moved his hands, and tightened the grip on the steering wheel. "Let it go will ya, water over the bridge." Starsky's grip loosened and his shoulders relaxed, his anger dissipated as quickly as it came.

Hutch put his hands up, as though to prove a point. "Fine! By the way, the term is water under the bridge!"

Starsky shrugged his shoulders and began to hum some unrecognizable tune. A grin formed on his face. "Oh come on Blondie, you get a little skittish, and you're worried. I get it. It's like being a new parent."

Hutch raised his eyebrows; his shoulders pulled back. "Glad you find this amusing, because I don't." He folded his arms over his chest. "If I were your parent, I would have put you over my knee a long time ago."

Starsky shook his head and smirked. "Always threatening me with a good time." He snorted. "Look at the bright side; you're in my will."

Hutch closed his eyes, opened them, and gave his partner a very disgusted and irritated glance. A mischievous grin formed on the driver. Hutch backhanded his partner on the shoulder playfully. "What did you leave me, your Fats Domino collection, and the striped tomato?" The sarcasm was duly noted. "Well, you can keep them."

The radio came to life. "All units in the vicinity of Darrel and Hollis, silent alarm at Diamonds Diamond at 2321 Darrel.

Hutch grabbed the microphone and responded. "Zebra 3, we are responding to a silent alarm at 2321 Darrel; e.t.a, 3 minutes."

Hutch grabbed the mars light and stuck it on the roof of the car. Starsky accelerated the car and took the corner with what felt like only two wheels. Hutch grabbed the dashboard to stabilize himself from the abrupt turn, and then glared fiercely at his partner.

Starsky sensed it and lifted his right hand and pointed. "Hutch let me do my job! Please?"

The frazzled blond opened his mouth but stopped when he saw Starsky's grin and a wink. As they arrived, Hutch retrieved the light. They slowed down and approached very cautiously. Both detectives exited the car. Starsky pulled his gun as well as Hutch and glanced at each other. The building was on a corner. The neighbored businesses were closed. It was dark and no one around. Two additional units pulled up behind them with their lights also off. The other four officers opened their doors and waited for instructions.

Starsky went toward the back running low. Hutch went to the front mimicking his partner's moves. His breath labored slightly, the blond detective leaned against the building. He peered through the window to see if there were any lights or movement. He could see two men in the center of the store. His dark-haired counterpart was at the side waiting. Hutch peaked around the corner and motioned via a hand gesture that there were two men. He also signaled the other officers to get into position.

Starsky moved to the back like a cat on a prowl and looked around the corner of the building where a van was parked and slowly made his way to the back door of the building. It was open. The brunet leaned his back against the building. He extended his gun with both arms in front of him then turned and pointed at the doorway; quickly he assessed that there were two men.

"Police! Freeze!"

Both men wore black masks. One was taller and thinner than the other was; he drew his gun and pointed it at Starsky. The shorter man headed for the front door in a panic. The blond waited with his gun aimed at the man through the window. The short man dropped his weapon immediately and raised his hands.

"Unlock the door, now!" Hutch shouted and pointed at the door. The other man fired his weapon and missed Starsky by mere inches. The stunned brunet dropped, rolled, and returned fire, hitting the man in the right shoulder. The tall, thin man immediately fell to the floor to his knees, his gun catapulted from his hand and landed on the floor.

Hutch cuffed the short man and handed him off to an officer standing behind him, and rushed to the back to check on his partner. The brunet sat on the floor as he regained his balance and breath. Hutch kicked the gun on the floor away from the injured suspect. Another officer directly behind him secured the situation by attending to the injured criminal.

"STARSKY!" Hutch dropped to his knees in front of his partner, his nerves raw.

Starsky tried to stand up as they collided into each other. "I'm okay, Hutch!" Starsky jolted backward onto his behind as he shouted.

Hutch gasped, leaned over, and bowed his head. Several uniformed officers worked their way through the crime scene. The thin man was taken away. Hutch recovered and rose to his feet and looked at his partner. The blond's features radiated with fear and concern; his eyes displayed blue pools of terror. "I thought you were hit!" His voice was louder than he had intended.

Starsky sprung to his feet in a huff. Hutch raised his right hand and pointed his finger at the disheveled brunet's chest. "What are you trying to prove, Starsky? The question crisp and packed a punch.

Starsky shoved his gun into his holster aggressively. His eyes were wide and wild with fury. All eyes present were focused on them. He glanced around noting each person, then turned to his partner and cringed. "WHAT?" His jaw rigid. "Prove? I'm doing my job, Detective Hutchinson! Like I've done thousands of times before!" His voice carried loudly, no question to the anger expressed. He'd never called his partner, 'Detective Hutchinson,' unless he was introducing him. The other officers watched the two men.

Hutch's hand shook as he retracted his pointed finger and formed a fist; eyes focused on his partner. "You call that doing your job? You damn near got yourself killed!"

Starsky watched the audience of uniformed officers and his partner's reaction from the corner of his eye and walked away with rigid shoulders.


Back at Metro, Starsky stood in front of his locker. He slid his arm into the sleeve of his shirt as he walked over to the back and dropped his towel into the laundry bin. The uniformed officers from the robbery entered. They went to their lockers a few rows down. They were unaware of Starsky's presence as he walked back to his locker. The dejected brunet sat down and continued to dress.

The muscular blond was Bigelow, and the tall brunet was Munzi, and the other two were the Kopki twins. All four men were rookies and new to Metro. Bigelow struggled with a button on his uniform, and then looked at the other three as he shook his head and snickered. "Hutchinson was unglued today!"

They glanced amongst each other and snickered. Munzi opened his locker. "It's been happening a lot since Starsky returned from leave."

The men continued to rummage through their lockers. Starsky sat and listened. Uneasiness trickled through him; mostly embarrassment.

The Kopki twin with the mustache sat on the bench. "Starsky is a freaking hot shot! You'd think he'd be more careful." He reached up and combed his mustache.

The men continued undressing. Bigelow tossed his shirt onto the floor and closed the locker as he spoke. "He's got a death wish if you ask me; after all, you can't go through what he did and come back one hundred percent." He ran his fingers through his hair. "I've been told he's a legend. He and Hutchinson are some kind of super team."

The men shook their heads. Munzi continued to undress and pointed his long thin finger at the men. "He'll get Hutchinson killed with his superhero tactics; he's no longer the top cop! Can you say ; early retirement?"

The men headed to the shower area laughing.

Starsky sat with his head lowered. He was hurt, angry, and embarrassed. His mind wandered as he thought about what they had said. He couldn't move for quite some time. In deep thought for what seemed like an hour; he wondered if he made the right decision returning to work. Was he placing his partner in the line of danger? The doubt weighed heavy on his conscience. He held his blue tennis shoe in his hand and grasped it tightly, so tight his hand trembled. His jaw was tight and lips pinched tightly.

Hutch walked in and saw Starsky sitting; he hesitated then made his way over. Cautiously he opened his lockers and cleared his throat. "Hey, you okay?" The question held authentic concern.

Starsky sighed, and then raised his eyes to meet his concerned partner. He stood and adjusted the collar of his shirt as he quickly disengaged the eye contact. The officers emerged from the shower area and returned to their lockers. Hutch looked at Starsky as the rookies continued their conversation. Their voices echoed in the locker room.

The other Kopki twin without the mustache tugged at the towel around his neck. "If I were Hutchinson, I'd request a new partner. That cripple, Starsky should just retire. Somehow, I think those bullets affected more than his physical; ya know what I mean? " He emphasized by wiggling his eyebrows. "From what I hear, he's always had a screw loose; ya know a little crazy and a quick trigger finger." He demonstrated by twirling his pointed finger at his temple.

The others laughed. Bigelow sat and pointed at the Kopki twins. "No, it's that macho Brooklyn Jew street punk. He won't retire. He'll be hauled out in a body bag. Besides, he's got something to prove even if he kills himself. Hutchinson feels sorry for him, feels guilty."

Hutch's mouth opened and his face froze with an expression of sheer shock. His fingers stopped in the middle of unbuttoning his shirt. His face blanched; before he could react Starsky had slammed the locker door shut and quickly walked out of the room. The usual confident swagger a distant memory replaced with humiliation.

"Starsky, wait! Starsk!" Hutch punched his locker and walked around to meet all four men who were motionless with stunned expressions. The tall blond's blood was boiling. The extended Hutchinson finger pointed, and his jaw was rigid. If looks could kill, these men would have been dead. "That man you called a Brooklyn Jew street punk and a cripple is a damn good cop. The best there is compared to a bunch of snot-nosed little rookie panty wastes like you." His eyes were wide. The words were precise and loud. "That man, that cop, my partner is better than he's ever been and beaten all the odds to do a job he loves. He'd take a bullet for me without a second thought, he has my back, and I never, I repeat, NEVER worry about it."

The four men all bowed their heads as Hutch stepped a little closer to invade their space. "He's got something that none of you two-bit punks could touch, and that's heart, integrity, and street smarts! You don't mess with a man's partner, especially mine! Try it again, and I'll be glad to introduce you to crazy! You got it?" Hutch retracted the pointed finger and formed a fist of tense white knuckles. His eyes boiled with rage. "Now get dressed and report to Captain Dobey, immediately!"

The men quickly and quietly resumed dressing. Bigelow looked at Hutch. "Hutch, oh, um, we didn't…I'm sorry."


Hutch sat in his usual spot in Captain Dobey's office; his fingers pinched the bridge of his nose with his head bowed. Captain Dobey placed the handset onto the cradle of the phone and sighed heavily. "I won't tolerate that behavior in this department. Those four will be on traffic duty until further notice."

Hutch looked up at his Captain. He shook his head and sighed; he was hurt, worried, stressed, and very angry. "They were out of line, Captain. DAMMIT! I gave them the ammunition." Hutch slammed his hand on the arm of the chair.

Captain Dobey, sighed, and put his hands in front and cracked his knuckles. "What's been going on between you two?"

Hutch ran his hand through his hair and shook his head. "What hasn't?" Hutch stood, and started to pace. "He's Starsky!"

The Captain stared at Hutch inquisitively. He raised his right hand and scratched his head. "He's Starsky; he is who he is, Hutch. He hasn't changed. The man has beaten all odds and made a remarkable comeback. A walking miracle." Admiration present in his voice.

Hutch stopped and sat back down, rubbed his chin. Sadness carved his features as he slumped into the chair. "And I've become the overbearing, mother hen!"

Captain Dobey pulled his hanky out and dabbed his forehead. "Hutch you…we almost lost him, that does count for something. I still remember as though it were yesterday." The phone rang. The burdened black man answered. He kept his eyes on the bewildered blond detective before him. "Dobey! I see, thank you, Minnie." He placed the handset onto the cradle gently and sighed. "Your partner signed himself out."

Hutch stood, then put his hands to his face and wiped downward, followed with a sigh of disappointment. His shoulders slumped in defeat. "I'll finish the reports, Captain."


The search for his hot headed partner ended with exhaustion. The worried blond went home to shower. He stood surrounded by his beloved plants. The words spoken by the rookies ran through his thoughts, they haunted him. He couldn't imagine what was said before he had arrived. Hutch pondered on the situations that had arisen over the past few weeks. The heated discussions between he and his quick tempered partner. The blond took a deep breath, pinched his lips together. "What are you doing Hutchinson? He's doing what he does, and you are choking him!"

Hutch sat on the bench in the middle of the room and looked at his plants. The conversations lingered like a recording. The heated words that left his very lips. "Brilliant Captain Marvel! Oh, that's just great, Starsky. Are you trying to get yourself shot again? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?" Hutch sighed; he looked down at his hands, which trembled. "I'm scared Starsk; it was too damn close. I'm scared; I'm so scared."

Hutch took a deep breath and tried to calm his raw unstable nerves. He stood and went to the kitchen and pulled out a bottle of whiskey from the corner cabinet. The dark amber liquid splashed as he poured himself half a glass and drank it in one long swallow. He closed his eyes and cringed from it bite. "Do your magic, Jack. Take the edge off one more time. Oh god, what am I doing, Starsk?" He wiped his face with his hand and bowed his head.


The next few days their partnership was far from a well-oiled-wheel. The strain had taken its toll on both men. Starsky kept his nose to the grindstone and didn't offer more than needed for conversation. Hutch knew it was best to let his partner stew and when he was ready, they would talk. The blond was fatigued and silently nursed a hangover. The drinking didn't go unnoticed and was duly noted by the brunet half of the duo.

Starsky sat at his desk and concentrated on the file before him. Hutch walked over with a cup of coffee and placed it by his partner as though it were a peace offering. The pale skin and sunglasses a dead giveaway of yet another night of self indulgence. Suspiciously the brunet glanced, unease settled in the core of his body. "Mornin', you okay?" A simple nod came from the tall man he called a partner.

Captain Dobey's door opened abruptly. The Captain focused on the two men. "1340 Denmark Street, shots fired a possible hostage situation." His voice growled. The boys dashed out of the room.

They arrived within minutes. Starsky parked the Torino and bolted from the driver's side. Hutch followed as he ejected from the passenger side and tossed his sunglasses onto the seat of the car. He addressed three officers standing by a squad car. The heavy set officer turned to Hutch. "Hutch, we got a perp high on something. His daughter says he has her mother hostage on the second floor."

Starsky retrieved his gun; his eyes squinted in the direction of the building. "There's a fire escape; the stairs are to the right at the end of the hall. I'll take the back."

Both men had been to this residence before on numerous occasions. The officer looked at Starsky and acknowledged. "Apartment 302B, he's armed."

Starsky looked at his partner, nodded, and took off toward the back fire escape. Hutch along with two officers went into the front of the building and made their way up the stairs. Starsky climbed the fire escape, focusing on the layout of the building and where he would enter. He scaled through an open window into an apartment that was vacant. He went to the door that led to the hallway next to 302B.

The curly-haired detective quietly opened the door and stepped into the hallway to see a man with a gun pointed at a woman's head. The woman was a petite blonde with a severe amount of bruising to her face and upper body. The man turned and saw Starsky, and fired a shot missing him by inches; Starsky somersaulted into the room and back onto his feet. His gun in his left hand tucked close to his face. "Police! Hold your fire, pal!" His voice sharp and loud.

The man had his arm around the woman's neck; he perspired and shook. He towered over the woman in height, slender build with long disheveled dark greasy hair. His eyes wide and exhibited rapid movement. "You stay back, cop!"

Hutch heard the shot and his partner's voice. He stopped at the end of the hall and peeked around the corner. Starsky stuck his head out and saw his partner, their eyes met briefly. Hutch felt his blood turn to ice. He knew what his partner was about to do.

Starsky stepped out with the gun in his left hand and arms to his side and up. "Listen, just here to help ya. Lady, are you alright?"

The woman was crying; she nodded, a trail of blood slid from her nose. The man pushed the gun to her head and twitched. The woman shrieked and cried hysterically. "I'll kill her pig, now drop your gun."

Starsky kept his eyes on the man. Starsky held his gun in the air with his left hand. He stepped forward. The twitchy man pointed the gun at him.

Hutch kept out of sight and watched as every ounce of his being unraveled with anxiety. His heart raced. The morbid thoughts plagued him from the past. In his mind, he started to scream. "Starsky what the hell are you doing?"

Starsky stopped, his eyes focused on the unstable man. "Let the lady go; you can take me instead." His intense blue eyes never left the man before him, yet he sensed his partner's chaos of fear. He thought to himself. "I'm okay, Hutch. Don't freak out."

The weapon pointed at the brunet shook uncontrollably. "NO, the bitch is my wife; whore won't let me see my kid!" The man trembled from head to toe, and the gun quivered in his hand. "Back off, or I'll shoot you!"

Hutch placed himself in a position to act and took two long breaths to regain control.

Starsky backed up, keeping his hands up and watched the man's hand like a lion on its prey. "No one needs to get hurt here, if it's your kid ya want to see, maybe we can work a deal." The New York accent trickled, his tone calming.

The man started to cry, his hand shuddered, even more, the gun went off. Starsky dove to the ground. Hutch fired, and shot the man in the hand that held the gun. The pistol was ejected from his hand. He released his wife. Hutch moved in and pushed the man to the wall, the two officers behind him followed and took over and handcuffed the man.

Starsky rose to his feet and watched the woman crouch to the floor. Hutch quickly walked over to the woman to make sure she was okay. Dazed, Starsky felt something burn on his left arm and reached with his right hand, the warmth of blood welcomed his touch.

Hutch caught a glimpse of the blood; his face paled, his body numbed and paralyzed. Starsky noticed his partner's behavior; the soft blue eyes were wide open tunnels of pure panic. Gently, he walked toward him and extended his hand out to comfort. The same hand that held a small amount of blood. Hutch looked at him as the events of the past played out like a slow-motion movie reel in his mind. The Bay City PD parking lot, Starsky on the ground on his side, bullet holes, blood.

"Hey! Hutch, I'm okay, it's just a graze." The brunet saw the terror. His voice trailed with concern and empathy. It became evident to the Starsky that his partner harbored trauma and skeletons in his closet.

The awestruck blond detective reached out and ran his fingers delicately over his partner's injured arm. The tender gesture appeared as though he were handling fine china. An expression of angst swept across his face. He looked up at his dark haired partner's face and back at the injury. His eyes turned a fierce blue; tears shimmered on the verge of spilling. The blond's jaw grew rigid as anger brewed. "W-what kind of stupid stunt was that, Starsky?" The question held rage. "This has to be…of all the stupid, dumb, idiotic things you have ever done."

Starsky's anger flared like a blow torch. "Stupid? This is the same stunt we've pulled in the past, partner."

Hutch grabbed his partner by the left wrist; he invaded the brunet's space within an inch of his face. "Are you trying to get yourself killed, huh?" Hutch's eyes were full and very angry, his voice soft but intense.

Starsky pulled his arm away; he looked at the silhouette of a man unhinged before him. "Back off Hutch, just back off will ya?" His voice trembled beneath gritted teeth. Starsky walked away, leaving Hutch standing in the hallway. He felt like everyone, including his partner questioned his ability and mental status. What was worse he was now questioning his long time partner's mental status.


Starsky drove the Torino to the front of Hutch's place. The car came to a screeching halt. Hutch sat on the passenger side, his elbow propped on the window ledge. His head leaned onto his hand. Slowly he sat up straight and dropped his arm. Starsky looked straight ahead; the blond opened the door and exited at a snail's pace and closed the door. "Why don't you come in and I'll bandage that arm up for you?" The blond bent over to make the much-needed eye contact. Starsky accelerated the Torino causing the tires to screech.

Hutch stepped back with his hands up and took in the ambiance of smoke from the tires. He walked up to the stairway; his hands shook again. He unlocked the door and walked in. The keys were dropped on the kitchen table. He put his hands to his face, wiped at it as though it had cobwebs. He made a white-knuckled fist with his right hand. "What the hell are you doing, Hutchinson?" He removed his jacket and holster and hung them on the coat rack, then migrated to the kitchen. Reaching, he pulled a bottle of whiskey from the cabinet. The dark amber liquid moved in the full bottle as he glanced at it. "Well…hello my friend the bottle. It appears that you are the only one I'm not ticking off these days."


At The Pits, Huggy noticed Starsky enter, alone. The swagger of confidence not present, more like a cat doing the low crawl. He sat in his usual booth in the corner. The solemn look on his face displayed trouble. Huggy poured a beer from the tap accidentally splashing his flashy yellow shirt. He shrugged it off and casually swaggered over and placed the glass on the table before the dark mass of curls. "Well, if it ain't Sneezy! Grumpy's been looking for ya! Hey, you're bleeding?" His voice elevated with concern.

Starsky looked up at Huggy and smirked. "I'm fine! It's just a crease. Don't you start on me too!"

Huggy slipped into the booth. He dropped the towel from his shoulder onto the table. "Easy my dark-haired compadre. Your better half called a half hour ago, lit like a Christmas tree!" The barkeep pursed his lips and sighed.

Starsky took a sip of beer, closed his eyes, and sighed. "Not surprised, he's been doin' a lot of that lately. He means well Hug, but he's stranglin' me. I'm doin' what I've always done, what we've always done." The tone softer. He looked at his long-time informant and friend.

Huggy grabbed the towel and wiped the table. "You're the miracle, Curly. Blondie almost lost ya, actually did my man. That comes with side effects, you dig?" He tilted his head slightly to the side and raised his eyebrows.

Starsky took another sip of beer. "I dig! But it don't make it right. What if, what if...huh." Frustration plagued his features.

Huggy crossed his arms over his chest after placing the towel down. "Can't go there, my man. The 'what if's' will lead ya to a dead-end road. Listen, your choice of work is your choice. I think you're crazy, but ya rock at it, before and now. Ya showed them all. You are back and badder than ever, my man." The thin man raised his eyes to meet attentive indigo blue pools.

Starsky grinned, sipped the beer again, and sighed. "Thanks Hug, not according to my colleagues, and Hutch. Seems I'm out to prove something." He pursed his lips and glared at his friend.

Huggy grabbed his towel, shook his head. "In a way, you are my man. Hang in there. Tread lightly with, Goldie Locks. The exterior and foundation may appear flawless until ya find that one stress crack."

Starsky placed some money on the table, and stood, stretched his injured arm. "Guess I'll tend to those…side effects, and cracks! Thanks, Hug."


Starsky had arrived at Hutch's apartment and climbed the stairs. He hesitated before he knocked on the door. There was a grumble; Starsky opened the door to see the light in the kitchen and Hutch sitting at the table. An empty bottle of whiskey and half a glass filled with the dark liquid placed before him. He walked in then closed the door. Slowly he pulled a chair out and sat next to Hutch.

Hutch finished his drink, glanced at his partner, and frowned. "Oh look, it's my partner! The miracle man himself."

Starsky looked at him his shoulders slumped. "Heard Grumpy was looking for Sneezy!"

Hutch was drunk and in a mood. "I was. I'm not anymore! Now go home!"

Starsky casually went to the fridge and pulled a beer, turned and gathered the items to make coffee. He completed the task and grabbed his beer and went back to the table and sat. He skillfully played with the beer bottle, looking directly at it, his eyes rose to meet his partner's very drunk stare. "What do you want, Hutch?"

Hutch looked at him, stood and went to the fridge for a beer, he leaned against the counter, smirked, philosophically, flailed his arm and with his hand up, he answered. "What do I want, what…do I want?" He took a drink, held the beer bottle up as if to propose a toast. "I want to stop worrying, Buddy, old Pal! Captain Fucking Marvel!"

Starsky kept looking at his beer bottle; he watched the condensation drip down the side. "I'm doing my job, Hutch, no different than before!" He puckered his lips took a sip of beer, and watched the blond stagger and stumble.

"Doing your job no different than before? You got shot, remember, Einstein?" He pointed his finger with wide eyes. "Whatever, you know something? You're paying me back aren't you for that bitch Kira?" Hutch's words slurred slightly. It bit through the already thick tension in the air.

Starsky bowed his head down; he kept his voice calm. "That's the past, let it go. You were going through some bad times. We both were!" Starsky paused, looked at Hutch and rubbed his hands together, then grasped them, interlocking his fingers. "Gunther raked us both over the coals. I know it was tough on ya, pal. I wish I could take it all away from ya."

Hutch moved over toward Starsky, sat on the chair, and slammed his beer on the table. The beer splashed and landed on both men. "He sure fucking did. I've had it with all of this, you and your therapy, your recovery, this partnership. You, us!" His hand rose, and he pointed his finger at his startled partner. "I gave up months of my life to care for your sorry ass because I blamed myself! I…blamed myself!" His jaw tensed as the words flowed. "Did you know that? Do you even care?" He laughed; briefly, the humor disappeared from his features, his jaw rigid, eyes now full lasers of torment. "I hollered to you, hollered for you to get down. You got shot up, Superman!"

Hutch stood abruptly, violently grabbed Starsky by the shirt, and pulled him up off the chair. His eyes were bloodshot, and piercing. The veins on his neck bulged. "What do I want, huh, Buddy? What do I want? I'll tell you; I want to stop worrying, hurting, just to walk away. I want to take this feeling in my heart and rip it out. Every time I go out there and you are in harm's way I live that day all over again. You being shot! You bleeding to death on that pavement!" He licked his lips as his chin quivered. "Your heart stopped." Emotions spilled through his words. "There was nothing I could do. Don't leave me, please don't leave me behind." A single tear trailed down his cheek. "I wish I had never met you. Fuck! What the hell am I saying?" Hutch pulled Starsky even closer and rougher.

Starsky cringed but didn't fight back. He remained calm as though he were a rag doll.

The blond had more tears in his eyes that threatened to escape. "You died, Starsky. You were dead. You weren't supposed to live. A damn miracle. Did you know that? Did you?" He let his partner go; his voice trailed with pain.

Starsky fell back on to the chair like a sack of potatoes. He bowed his head, then put his hands on his face then wiped downward. Slowly he rose to his feet. Gently he pushed the chair back into place with his jaw clenched. He felt as though his heart had been ripped out. Hutch's words cut like a knife; he fixed his jacket. "I don't have a death wish, Hutch. You're my, pal. I'm sorry ya feel this way." He lowered his chin followed by a stifled sniffle. "What do you want, Hutch?" The sour taste of reality invaded his tone.

Hutch threw his beer bottle missing the head of curls by mere inches; his anger erupted at full tilt. "What's the matter, Starsky? You are finally accepting who the brains are in the partnership, college over street smarts! What do I want?" Hutch put his hands up in the air, started laughing. "What do I want?" He rubbed the side of his face, put both hands behind his neck, and frowned. "For you to leave. I'm tired. Tired of it all! I am tired of feeling, worrying, and hurting, T-I-R-E-D! He shouted. His voice lowered. "You drain me! Every time we go out there, and you pull that gun, you get that look in your eyes. You do what you have always done, and I see you die, and then I die!" His voice held a distinct element of fluctuation of layered emotions.

Starsky knew it was best not to engage in the conversation when his friend was like this and refrained from responding.

Hutch staggered into the kitchen and grabbed another beer. Popped the cap and drank it down, then slammed it on the counter. Like a cannon being shot he walked toward Starsky, grabbed his arms swiftly and rough, his eyes were crazed. "What I want is for you to L-E-A-V-E!"

The brunet put his head down then gently pulled away. He closed his eyes briefly and bit his bottom lip that quivered and headed for the door. He stood there for a moment, glanced back then opened the door and walked out. The door closed quietly.

Hutch turned, put his hands up behind his neck, his face saddened. "STARSKY! Starsk, I didn't mean it." He pushed his head back into his hands behind his neck and a whisper laced with emotional strain. "I didn't mean it."


Hutch sat and drank his coffee at the table. The effects of the previous night's alcohol hung on his features. He felt lost with the weekend ahead and no Starsky, and not sure if there would ever be a Starsky and Hutch future. He rubbed his forehead and slammed his fist on the table. "What have I done?" Hutch stood and began to pace aggressively. He ran his fingers through his hair. "Time for some help, Hutchinson. This…whatever this is started before Kira and you almost lost everything then. Time you get some help."

He rubbed his forehead, and bolted to his feet, then grabbed his jacket and his keys. His long legs shortened the distance to the door. He opened it and startled when a brown paper bag fell onto the floor in the doorway. Hutch reached for it and brought it to the table. He looked inside there was an album by Chris Stapleton with a note taped to it. Hutch pulled the folded paper which was addressed to him; he opened it.

"Hutch, I found this album a while back and wanted to give it to you. I was waitin' for the right time. This is as good a time as any. There's a song I want you to hear called, Fire Away. The song says a lot, and maybe it will help.Well, all except the honey parts. But ya know what I mean. Starsk"

Hutch chuckled, removed the vinyl record, and placed it on the turntable. He located the song and sat on the couch and listened.

"Honey load up your questions
And pick up your sticks and your stones
And pretend I'm a shelter for heartaches
That don't have a home
Choose the words that cut like a razor
And all that I'll say

Is fire away
Take your best shot
Show me what you got
Honey, I'm not afraid
Rear back and take aim
And fire away

Well, I wish I could say
That I've never been here before
But you know and I know
That I'll always come back for more
Your love might be my damnation, But I'll cry to my grave."

The one thing Hutch understood was music and the meaning of a well-written song. This song grasped his heart. The message was loud and clear. He reached for the album and read the words on the decorated paper insert. "But you know, and I know that I'll always come back for more. Your love might be my damnation, but I'll cry to my grave."

Holding the album insert and cover he walked to the window. Visions of Starsky doing what Starsky does, laugh, joke, and boast the newest trivia, his tenacity of getting the job done, loyalty. Hutch read another section of the insert. "Pretend I'm a shelter for heartaches, that don't have a home, choose the words that cut like a razor and all that I'll say is fire away, take your best shot show me what you got. Honey, I'm not afraid, rear back and take aim and fire away."

Hutch nodded, and smiled. His chin quivered and fought back the tears that threatened to fall. "For a guy who hates soapy scenes, you really know how to create one." He quickly walked over and turned the record player off and placed the album contents on the table; he grabbed his keys and jacket and went out the door.


Starsky walked along the quiet beach; the air had a chill. It was brisk for the summer. The waves were high. He wore his sweater, jeans, and tennis shoes. The beach was deserted except for a few seagulls; he walked to his favorite spot of beautifully carved stones.

The waves crashed loudly. The wind blew and rearranged the brunet's curls. He sat on the large rock and looked out at the ocean. His mind was heavy with thought. He felt sad, but most of all worried about his best friend. Starsky thought about the last month, he hasn't laughed much or had a beer or pizza with Hutch. It all came to a halt when he returned to the streets, but there must have been a sign that things had changed. Hutch had changed. Why didn't he see them? Did he get so focused on recovering and getting back to the streets that he didn't see Hutch's fears or emotional and psychological turmoil?

Hutch was in a spiral of depression before the, Kira situation. He was burned out. Tired of the job and had forgotten why he was doing what he was doing. The blond felt like it would never make a difference. Starsky reached into his pocket and pulled his badge, behind it was a picture of them from the academy. Starsky ran his thumb over it. "I'm sorry, Hutch. I never meant to let you down. I know you're scared. Hell I am too. I don't know how to help you or if I can help you." He slid the picture back behind the badge.

Starsky sensed someone was behind him but didn't turn. Hutch sat next to him. He pulled the collar on his jacket and looked out at the ocean. Silence hung for a moment. The blond glanced over as he slid his hands into his pockets. "I've been looking for you."

Starsky looked over at him, then back at the ocean. "Ya found me."

Hutch removed his sunglasses and put them in his pocket, and sighed. "That song hit home, Starsk! Thanks for setting it straight about the honey part."

Starsky bowed his head and fumbled with a seashell, and tossed it toward the water. "I would have preferred, Babe!" He smirked; it faded, followed by a deep sigh. "Says a lot."

Hutch pulled his hands out of his pockets, and leaned onto his knees with his elbows propped, hands in front. "You are helping me. More than you realize. Don't ever change, mush brain. I owe you an apology." He bowed his head. "You didn't let me down, Buddy. "

Starsky grinned; he knew his partner got the message loud and clear. He sighed as a sense of relief overcame him.

Hutch closed his eyes, hesitated, and took a deep breath. "I need help. I begin sessions with a department shrink tomorrow. As you would put it, get that 'stop getting inside my head' thing straightened out." He chuckled.

Starsky glanced over, nodded. "Hey, that's great." Surprised yet he admired his partner's decision. He nudged his friend with his shoulder.

Hutch looked out to the ocean. "I'm sorry, Starsk. What I said…did! I-I thought I could handle it. The minute you left that desk and put that gun in your hand it all started to fall apart."

Starsky pursed his lips, sighed. "I get you're hurtin' Hutch; I know post-traumatic stress disorder, it's not just for Nam Vets, ya know. We don't do what we do without the physical and emotional scars. Me and thee, Buddy." Starsky played with the sleeve of his cardigan. "Never meant to be a burden, feelin' maybe I complicated things."

Hutch put his hands to his face his heart sank. "You were never a burden, Buddy." He rubbed his chin. "As far as complication, I did that all by myself."

Starsky grinned, and then snorted. "Yeah, you did! So our foundation is cracked, nothing we can't fix."

Starsky stood and began walking back toward his car. Hutch followed anxiously. "Starsky? Starsk?" He reached and grabbed Starsky's arm, both pair of blue eyes met.

Starsky smiled. "Now you're complicating my life by stretchin my sweater, Blintz!" Starsky's eyes glowed. His features soft and didn't bear the sadness anymore. Hutch saw the forgiveness in Starsky's eyes; their glance locked commencing the unspoken conversation. "Where are you going, Starsk?"

"Home, ya comin'?" Starsky reached up with his left hand and tapped Hutch on the stomach. They both walked back to their cars side by side.


Hutch went to his first and second session with the department psychologist and found it to be enlightening and not at all as bad as he thought; the psychotherapist was a believer in meditation and encouraged Hutch to resume his earlier practices. Upon returning to his place, the rejuvenated blond wanted so to share his experience with his partner, but he had been heavily involved in testifying in court the past week.

Hutch paced the apartment; he couldn't kick the anxiousness and uneasy feeling. He increased his stride to the phone and dialed Starsky's number, but there was no answer. Hutch re-dialed, this time calling Huggy.

Huggy reached behind the bar; and pulled the telephone and placed it onto the counter. He casually placed the handset to his ear. "The Pits, Huggy Bear at your service!"

Hutch smirked. "Hey Hug!"

Huggy sighed, leaned onto the bar. "Blondie! Good to hear from you."

Hutch rubbed the back of his neck with his left hand and sighed. "Thanks. Say have you seen, Starsky?"

Huggy handed one of the waitresses a tray that sat near the phone and repositioned himself to speak with Hutch in private. "Ain't seen Curly since your private party."

Hutch rubbed his neck aggressively. "That private party almost cost me a partner."

Huggy frowned, shook his head. "Nah, a Starsky ain't complete without a Hutch, my man!"

Hutch smirked, but it quickly disappeared. "I'm worried, something just doesn't feel right." Hutch began to pace. "If you see him."

"I'll tell him you're lookin' for him." Huggy scratched his head.

Hutch hung up the phone, the urge to see Starsky made him anxious. He grabbed his keys and dashed out the door.


Hutch arrived at Starsky's place; the Torino was parked in its usual spot. Hutch made his way up the stairs and knocked, but received no answer. Hutch turned the knob to find it was unlocked and opened the door slowly. The apartment was dark and all too quiet. "Starsk!"

Hutch flipped the living room light on. Everything was neat and in its place. Hutch glanced into the kitchen, Starsky is a neat freak, but even this was too organized. Hutch noticed Starsky's badge and holster on the coffee table, but no gun. The unsettled blond walked over to Starsky's bedroom and walked in cautiously, flipped the light switch. "Starsky?" Hutch froze when he saw his partner sitting on the floor of his bedroom with his knees to his chest. His arms wrapped around the knees and his Barretta dangled from his left hand. The brunet sat there with his chin resting on his arms in a daze; a few beer bottles empty sat next to him along with a silencer.

Hutch cautiously walked over and sat on the edge of the bed at a safe distance. He tried to calm himself; his heart was about to leap out of his chest. The cop instincts kicked in to assess the situation and to read his partner. The friend wanted, needed to get closer. "Starsk, what's going on?" His voice soft, but held a trace of anxiety. "I tried to call you."

Starsky raised his head then laid it back against the wall. He took a deep quivered breath. "All the work we've been doing on those rape cases blew up in our faces, Hutch. The son-of-a-bitch got off on a technicality."

Hutch leaned in a little closer, startled. "What?"

Starsky closed his eyes briefly then swallowed. He looked at his partner. "My so call physical and mental well being, they used it as a technicality."

Hutch felt a blow to his gut; his face wore an expression of a man punched.

Starsky ran his right hand through his hair and wrapped his arms around his legs again dangling the gun. He looked over at Hutch then pursed his lips and tilted his head. "Locker room gossip. Seems I'm a damn hotshot with a death wish, should be retired! Oh…and a few screws loose, ya know bananas." Starsky started chuckled, but it wasn't a laugh of happiness. "The Jew from Brooklyn with the hot head, questionable if he's stable enough to cover his partner's back. Detective David Michael Starsky, crazy fuckin' Nam Vet!" Starsky laughed, as he removed the safety button on the gun with his thumb.

Hutch grew very anxious, when Starsky's expression changed to a stern, cold stare. Slowly he slid off the bed and knelt in front of his partner. His eyes searched his partners. "Starsk, you're not crazy. You are a damn good cop! The best, you beat the odds!"

Starsky looked at Hutch, his features softened. "You've been questioning me too, Hutch. I don't blame ya. Maybe I was out to prove myself and went about it the wrong way."

Hutch's hands shook as he tried to reach for Starsky, but stopped. "Starsky, there's a difference between being a mother hen and believing in my partner. My partner…you always have my back!" Hutch spoke soflty but kept his eyes directly on his partners. "What else is going on, Starsk?" The concern seeped through this question.

Starsky rubbed the gun against his knee. His face etched with disappointment. "I'm finished, Hutch. They went above, Dobey. I got a registered letter requesting me to appear for a hearing to determine my future as a cop. If I cooperate, they'll recommend full retirement benefits. Isn't that's just terrific?"

Hutch just felt another blow; he felt light-headed, he bit his bottom lip. "What? Starsk, you are fit, you are ready!"

Starsky closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. "Gunther won! Son-of-a-bitch won! I'm sorry, Hutch. I let you down. You worked so hard to help me. Ya stuck with me, pal. I let you down."

Hutch inched himself closer, his voice was shaky. "You didn't let me down, Buddy! For God sakes, you aren't even supposed to be here! But you are!"

The brunet's eyes were clouded and filled with pain. Moisture glistened his cheeks. "Not mad at ya, I got over it, the Kira thing. I don't blame ya. I know it was rough on you and all when I was shot. I shoulda talked to ya." Starsky pressed his back against the wall, shook his head. "I was back; I needed to prove to myself I was okay. I was just doin' what we do. I didn't have a death wish. I just wanted my life back, our life back. Just to be a cop."

Hutch felt a lump in his throat; he reached out to touch his friend. The blond pulled his hand back. "You asked me what I wanted, Starsk. I want us to plan our future, either as cops or as something else. I don't care, as long as we are alive we've won, we got that bastard, Gunther beat!"

Starsky played with the safety button. The sound of click on and click off echoed in the quiet room. "Tired of the uphill battle, Hutch!"

Hutch gave Starsky a firm and direct stare, his eyes intense. "You aren't leaving me behind partner, Butch, and Sundance. Remember?"

This message weighed immensely on the partners; they had always enjoyed the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Starsky's hand twitched, his once fogged eyes seemed to clear.

Hutch extended his hand outward. He looked at him intensely. "What are you doing with the gun, Starsk?" His voice quivered slightly asking the question.

Starsky's grinned, bowed his head and looked up and glared ahead. "Shootin' some ghosts!"

Slowly, carefully, he extended the gun and handed it to Hutch. The blond confirmed the safety was back on and tossed the gun onto the bed. He turned to look at the wall which displayed a newspaper clipping of James Gunther with bullet holes between his eyes.

Starsky took a deep breath in and kept the tears at bay. The blond slid next to him, leaving no gap between them. He took a long overdue breath. "How are you at repairing sheetrock, Gordo?" They both started laughing.


Hutch stood in the kitchen and prepared coffee. He placed Starsky's gun back in his holster and hung it on the coat rack. Starsky exited the bathroom, showered, and looked cleared but worn. The brunet wore a T-shirt with PJ bottoms; while Hutch wore a white robe. Hutch poured and brought two cups of coffee to the table. Both men sat in silence. "I called Dobey at home last night. He called back while you were in the shower."

Starsky looked up at him.

"Simonetti, need I say more?" The words left Hutch's lips sarcastically, with anger.

The name itself made Starsky's stomach cringe. This particular colleague on more than one occasion had attempted to make both detectives' lives a living hell. Starsky sighed and shook his head. "Two-bit punk!"

Hutch nodded and looked up at his partner. "You were right, Dobey knew nothing. There is no hearing or doubt as far as the Chief or I & A regarding your status, Starsky. Simonetti used his new position to his advantage and took it upon himself to mail you that letter." His jaw was rigid. "There's going to be full investigation."

Starsky took a sip of coffee, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "Terrific!" Starsky played with his coffee cup. Something still weighed on his mind. "I'm sorry, Hutch."

Hutch looked up to meet Starsky's eyes. He sat back, sighed. "For what, Starsk?"

Starsky rubbed his face and crossed his arms over his chest. "Not helping you sooner or seein' you were drownin' too."

"You've been taking my punches of doom and gloom a long time, and you've been there for me. I'm sorry." Hutch responded and grabbed the back of his neck with his right hand and rubbed. He stood and walked past Starsky lightly touching his shoulder and made his way to the couch and sat on the arm. "I had an excellent session, Starsk; opened my eyes to a lot of things." Hutch rubbed his chest. "I almost lost you, almost lost me, us! That scared the hell out of me." He bowed his head. "I got caught up in it all, caring for you and being the protector. I didn't want my mind to register the when and what if's of you returning to full duty. I didn't realize how badly it would affect you or me." Hutch looked at the floor and back at Starsky. "You're a miracle, Starsk." His eyes filled with moisture. "All I wanted was for you to get better and get your life back. I forgot to breathe and deal. When you stepped away from desk duty it all became too much. When I saw you in the line of fire it all came crashing down." The words were heartfelt and sincere. Hutch sighed as he wiped his eyes with the palms of his hands.

Starsky stood and walked by Hutch. He stopped at the window, and then crossed his arms over his chest. "Hence the mother hen routine!"

Hutch smirked followed with a brief chuckle. "You got it."

Starsky walked back over and sat on the couch and played with the hem of his shirt. "I get it, Hutch!" Starsky continued to fumble with his shirt, as he glanced raising his eyebrows. "So what now?"

Hutch reached over and grabbed Starsky's shoulder and squeezed. "We meditate! I'll mix you up some plain yogurt, goat's milk, blackstrap molasses, lecithin, desiccated liver, trace elements of vitamins and minerals."

Starsky looked over at Hutch and laughed. "Good to have you back, Blintz, but let's not get carried away."

Hutch reached over and ruffled his partner's hair and smiled.

Just when you think things are back to normal…


November 2016 - 2018

Song by: Chris Stapleton

Fire Away – The Sequel

Over the next few months, both men worked on their friendship and partnership. Hutch continued with his counseling sessions and had improved in spirit and mind. He had incorporated his partner into many of his sessions for support. Hutch tapped into the PTSD that he sustained during the Gunther situation and had faced his biggest fear, the "what ifs." The unfortunate situation with Kira did little to ease the blond, not a proud moment for him or his partner. His mood and lack of not caring anymore played out, and he lashed out at the person he cared about the most, Starsky. Hutch was back emotionally and physically and was energized to get to work.

Simonetti faced suspension without pay and a demotion. The four Rookies met their destiny with traffic control for one month. The rape cases were addressed and set for retrial. Starsky's performance and ability no longer questioned by his co-workers. Unfortunately something within the last week changed in the brunet's behavior. Hutch at first feared Starsky still was hurt from his drunken performance; he was quiet and distant. The usual jokes and banters were far and few. Hutch mentioned the uncomfortable change during a session with Doctor Amy. Upon her recommendation, he gave his partner space. But his instincts screamed 'something is not right.'

Fire Away

It was late afternoon when Hutch returned from his visit with, Doctor Amy. As he walked down the hall of the precinct, he noticed everyone either stared or avoided eye contact. Upon entering the squad room, the chatter ceased. All eyes focused on the tall blond. Starsky was nowhere in sight. Hutch walked over to his desk.

Minnie pushed her way through the door; she walked over to Hutch. "Hey Hutch, Dobey's been looking for you." The usually flirtatious demeanor, not present, she seemed on all business.

Hutch looked at her, and sensed she knew something; everyone went back to what they were doing. "Thanks, Minnie. What's with the strange looks and silence?"

She forced a smile, shrugged her shoulders and touched his arm and walked away.

Hutch looked at Starsky's desk as he walked by and knocked on Captain Dobey's office door, then entered. The Captain appeared to be stressed. His shirt collar unbuttoned and tie loosened and crooked. "Have a seat, Hutch." He requested in a passive tone.

Hutch's instincts surged with uneasiness; Dobey was too soft-spoken. Hutch sat slowly; he could feel the tension in the air. His eyes never left the man before him as he waited. "Minnie said you wanted to see me."

Dobey sighed, and sat back; the chair creaked from his movement. "I gave your partner the next couple of days off."

Hutch processed the Captain's statement and catapulted from the chair. "You did what? Why?"

Captain Dobey rubbed his face as he responded. "Arnetti has been suspended until further notice for an assault on a police officer. Your partner!"

Hutch looked at Captain Dobey his face paralyzed with disbelief. "Assault! On Starsky? What? When? What happened? Is he okay?"

Captain Dobey knew this would send his blond detective into a spiraled protection mode. He rubbed his forehead with a white handkerchief retrieved from his brown suit coat pocket. "He's fine." The Captain held his breath, and then sighed. "Did Starsky mention to you he was receiving death threats and racially explicit mail?"

Hutch rubbed his neck, his head slowly turned to the side, the look of 'what are you talking about' spread across his face. "WHAT? NO!" Hutch began to pace.

Captain Dobey pulled a file and extended it to Hutch, who stopped in his tracks. "You may want to sit." His eyes locked and his voice uncharacteristically comforting. His face was stone with angst.

Hutch took the folder and sat down very slowly. He took a deep breath as he opened it. The first picture was a doctored photo of the both of them in the shower in a compromising position. Hutch's face flushed with embarrassment and anger. The next was a black and white newspaper clipping of Starsky with a swastika emblem over his face with the words 'you should have died,' in large red letters.

Hutch closed his eyes. His jaw tensed. There were several pictures of Starsky lying on the ground next to his car. On the picture in red writing, 'Gunther failed but I won't, and Hutchinson will be rid of the dead weight soon! You're dead'. Hutch's hands shook. There was one final photo of Starsky from Vietnam with six other men in red lettering, 'incompetent Jew, you kill, you destroy. YOU WILL DIE'.

Hutch closed the folder, placed it on the Captain's desk. He sat back in the crackling leather chair then put his fingers on the bridge of his nose, and slammed his left fist onto the armrest. "This is sick!"

Captain Dobey held his head down, rubbed his forehead. "Pending further investigation Simonetti and Arnetti have been suspended; we have enough evidence to warrant their arrest."

Hutch stood up quickly, placed his right hand on the back of his neck. "Simonetti and Arnetti? Starsky, is he hurt?"

Captain Dobey sighed then sat back in the creaking office chair. "A little roughed up, he caught Arnetti in his locker, leaving the compromising photo of the two of you. One thing lead to another and Simmons and Babcock stepped in."

Captain Dobey looked at Hutch, who was in the midst of processing everything. "They searched Arnetti's locker and found evidence, which led to searching Simonetti's. A black book with phone numbers for a known assassin, and plans to gun your partner down, Gunther style, were located."

Hutch sat back down, shock and fear left him weak in the knees. "The hit! What about the hit?"

Captain Dobey wiped his forehead, and tossed the handkerchief onto his desk. "The evidence found gave us enough to track one of them down; Simmons and Babcock have intercepted Lionel Hink, aka Long Shot. If Starsky talked, they would kill you, his mother, and brother!"

Hutch bowed his head and sighed. Captain Dobey looked at him with brown pools of sympathy.

"You said one of them? How many more?" His voice was stern, the blond completely unsettled.

"We aren't certain. There was another number and initials of TR. The number is connected to a payphone across the street. Hutch, there's more!" Captain Dobey pulled another photo and handed it to Hutch. It contained pictures of a young Starsky recovered as a POW, battered with bodies surrounding him. "This was left in various desks and lockers around the station, read the back."

Hutch looked as though he would vomit; he turned the photo, it read. "Kids died on your watch, Detective Starsky." Hutch dropped the photo on the desk and stood up and turned away from his superior.

The Captain contained his inner rage for what had transpired. He knew the blond detective simmered with anger and fear for his partner. "Hutch, why don't you take a few days off with Starsky, it's for the best. Watch your backs!"

Hutch turned, the color on his face a little more composed, his throat felt dry as he cleared it. "W-what did, Starsky...?"

Dobey looked at him, took a deep breath, and shook his head. "He didn't say a word, Hutch, not a word and left. I'm concerned."

"That makes two of us." Hutch acknowledged with a nod and headed for the door. He had a destination and didn't look back.


Hutch maneuvered the battered Ford Galaxie and parked behind the Torino. Anxiously he exited and sprinted up the stairway. At the door, he hesitated then knocked and entered. Starsky sat on the couch; he didn't look up to greet his partner. Hutch walked over and sat on the coffee table in front of his partner. The brunet extended a large manila envelope, with his head bowed, voice strained with tension. "You'll find copies of my full medical history, stuff on my pop and my time in Nam." He wiped his eyes vigorously. "These were classified, Hutch. They dug up everything!" His voice was sharp with anger and traces of pent-up emotion. "I didn't want the private party; they threatened to kill you, Ma and Nicky." Starsky's voice was soft once again, his New York accent very heavy.

Hutch placed the envelope on the coffee table; he leaned forward, put his elbows on his knees, and bowed his head. "Oh God, Starsk, I'm...I aw fuck!" Hutch's anger and emotions got the best of him; he put his hands on his face.

Starsky stood, touched Hutch's shoulder as he walked by, and headed to the kitchen. He retrieved two beers from the fridge and slowly, with a defeated posture, made his way back to the couch and extended his partner a beer. "I can't burden ya with this, Hutch." Starsky opened his beer and tossed the cap on the coffee table. He sat and gulped over half the bottle. "This is too much. My past, it's dark. I'm not who ya think I am."

Hutch opened the beer, placed the cap next to Starsky's, and took a sip. "That's bullshit, and you know it!" Hutch shouted, and looked directly at Starsky, blue on blue. "Me and thee!" Hutch said softly in a voice only reserved for his partner.

Starsky looked at the envelope, back to the radiant caring blue eyes that glared at him. "Read it, then we talk."

Hutch grabbed the envelope and relocated to the kitchen table. The contents of the packet spilled onto the table. Hutch sorted them and began to read. The details of Starsky's medical records from Gunther's attack and prior injuries were displayed. The military file of a Lieutenant David Michael Starsky impressed Hutch; he did not realize his partner made Major in rankings.

The events of his partner's tour left Hutch unnerved, feeling his partner's exposure of deeply hidden traumatic memories. He knew some details of Starsky's term, but not this detailed. Included was the loss of a young farm boy who died in Starsky's arms after being severely beaten. Starsky was captured and held for several weeks as a POW; he was tortured, starved, and had to watch six of ten men die brutal deaths. The details listed his injuries which included broken ribs, broken fingers, cuts, and burns. It also listed dehydration, and starvation, the list continued.

The description stated one Lieutenant Starsky's ability as a sharpshooter along with orders given. It described that he received honors for saving fellow soldiers, and a young military boy from Virginia by carrying him to safety while under fire.

The contents showed dead women and children, along with soldiers missing arms, legs, and even heads. There was a black and white photo of Michael Starsky, the brunet's father, dead on a sidewalk with a young David Starsky standing nearby being held by another uniformed officer. Hutch placed everything in the envelope; he covered his face. His mind raced in total disbelief.

Starsky sat on the couch non-expressive; Hutch made his way over and placed himself on the coffee table before his silent friend. Starsky looked at him. "The good, the bad, and the ugly, Hutch."

Hutch nodded, placed the beer down on the table. "Doesn't change what I think of you, Starsk. I never pushed for details nor did I expect any."

Starsky couldn't look at Hutch, his voice low, almost a mumble. "The rest is tucked away in my head."

Hutch bowed his head and looked back up. "When did the nightmares start?"

Starsky looked at him, as he scratched his head. "A few nights ago." Starsky rose to his feet and walked toward the window with his back to his partner. "Think it's best I resign, Hutch."

Hutch was stunned, his face shown of shock and disbelief. "Because of this? You have got to be kidding me." The crease on his forehead formed. The blond detective turned his head slightly with lips parted. He raised his hand to cover his mouth.

Starsky crossed his arms over his chest, his shoulders tensed. "Because of what this will do to you…us."

Hutch leaped to his feet and shortened the distance between them, now in his partner's personal space. "You can't be serious?" He had his right hand in the air; the other palm pressed to his forehead.

"It's best we part ways. Ya need to walk away, Hutch." Starsky rubbed his face; he sensed his partner's resistance. If Hutch stood by him, it would mean a sure death sentence.

Hutch couldn't get his breath; he felt as though he were sucker punched. "This changes nothing, Starsky!" He quickly responded with a tone of agitation, his hands raised and pointed his finger at his partner. "You resign, I resign. It's as simple as that, Buddy."

Starsky turned abruptly and made eye contact. "No, you've given up too much already for me."

Hutch invaded his partner's space; he looked directly into his eyes. "I don't care what people think, Starsky! You're my partner and friend. Oh hell you're my family. Can the crap about giving up to much already! It's you and me or nothing at all."

Starsky put his hands up, his anger present, his jaw rigid with tension. "You're on the mend. The last thing ya need is my skeletons invadin' your closet. Dobey will assign ya a new partner."

Hutch placed his hand on his partner's arm; his grasp tightened, his eyes fierce ice blue. "Oh…no, if you aren't my partner no one will be!" Hutch didn't disengage the eye contact. "You thought if I knew everything I would walk away or think less of you. Didn't you?"

Starsky pulled away briskly, and looked away, anywhere but at his partner. His voice delivered a tone of shame. "Not exactly the kind of things that comes up in an everyday conversation, Hutch! Oh hey, my name is, David Starsky I'm a Nam vet. I watched my regimen die, get blown to pieces. I spent time as a prisoner of war." Starsky swung his left hand outward; his voice roared and sarcastically delivered more information. "Oh, by the way, I watched six of my men being tortured and killed." Devastation and pain displayed in the brunet's eyes, a lost soul, and tunnel of sheer darkness.

Hutch began to pace, his fingers snapped at his sides, his legs taking long strides. "I can't believe this; I can't, Starsk! I just can't believe this…you?"

Starsky swaggered over and sat on the arm of the couch. His body no longer displayed confidence; he presented tormented blue eyes and looked at Hutch. "Well, believe it, I quit! We are done, and that is that! I was a fool for thinkin' that this would all go away." He shouted with conviction.

Hutch clenched his fists, and walked toward Starsky and raised the famous Hutchinson finger. "Just like that, huh? You aren't pushing me away, no way! Knowing any of this doesn't change a damn thing. You…we don't give in to threats. You don't give in to the past. Y-you fight…we fight."

Starsky swatted the tall blond's finger away, his face saddened, his eyes dulled as he fought emotion. "Hutch, please…it's for the best. Ya got a future. I died in that jungle. I was just on borrowed time, kiddin' myself that this would all go away."

Hutch spun and kicked the coffee table, his frustration at an all-time high. He turned and glared. "Tread lightly; you're talking about my, partner! I don't believe that for one second, Starsky! You…my partner never gives up."

Starsky bolted from the arm of the couch and grabbed Hutch by the jacket with two clenched white-knuckled fists; his eyes were pools of blackness, rage, survivor's instinctual fear. Something Hutch never saw before, the after taste of 'Vietnam.' "How do ya like me now?" The once indigo pools now replaced with shade of night. "We are done, Hutch! Done! I think its best ya leave!" Starsky released his partner and caused him to stumble back. The once orbs of darkness returned to indigo blue as he turned away.

Hutch was paralyzed with shock. He had never seen this side of his best friend before. Although at times David Starsky could flare up with the best of them with his temper, but this was deeper, darker, and frightening. He rubbed his neck, headed for the door. He stopped and placed his hand on the door. He cleared his throat and started to sing, his voice was like caramel.

"Honey load up your questions

and pick up your sticks and your stones

and pretend I'm a shelter for heartaches

that don't have a home

Choose the words that cut like a razor

and all that I'll say

Is fire away

take your best shot

Show me what you got.

Honey, I'm not afraid

rear back and take aim

and fire away." He grabbed the doorknob, his jaw tightened. His lips were pressed together and his chin quivered. "I'll leave, but we are far from finished." The tall blond figure slammed the door as he left.

Starsky's rigid shoulders collapsed as he crossed his arms over his chest. His body shook. An inner battle of control took place as his body convulsed with muted sobs. The memory of war claimed its victory as the brunet succumbed to his once buried emotions, his knees buckled, and he crouched to the floor then covered his face.

Hutch stood outside the apartment door, he was fully in tune to Starsky's emotions, and it was ripping him apart. He closed his eyes, pinched his lips together as tears stung his eyelids. "You aren't pushing me away."


Now late evening, Hutch had moved his car and parked it where Starsky wouldn't see it and sat and watched the apartment. He wasn't about to let his partner and friend throw it all away. There was still the uncertainty of a second hired hitman. Hutch waited and an hour after the lights went out, headed up to the apartment. Quietly and carefully he allowed himself in via his own personal key. He removed his shoes, jacket, and holster then hung them up on the rack. He made his way over to the sofa, and sat, laying his head back.

The silence was short-lived when he heard moaning that came from the bedroom. Hutch jumped to his feet and headed toward the bedroom. Starsky tossed and turned violently. The blankets scattered about the floor. Hutch walked in quietly, Starsky mumbled at first, then shouted. "No, no...Hutch!"

Hutch moved closer to the bed and lightly touched the distressed brunet's arm to comfort him. "Hey Buddy, I'm here. It's just a dream."

Starsky jumped upward into a seated position screaming. "HUUUUUUTCH!"

Hutch grabbed his arms and steadied him. Starsky's breathing was rapid, he was drenched with sweat. Hutch looked at him, panicked. "You okay, huh?" He kept his voice soft, soothing.

Starsky nodded, closed his eyes, and opened them again; he placed his hand on the arms that braced him. "I am now. What are you doing here, Hutch?" His words trailed with rapid breath.

Hutch stood and headed to the bathroom for a face cloth and came back. "Does it matter? I'm here." He handed the cloth to Starsky who put it on his face, his breathing calmed. The brunet swung his feet over and placed them on the floor.

Hutch sat next to him; inner conflict plagued him as he sighed. "Starsky, you can't go on like this, you need help." His voice trailed with grave concern.

Starsky inhaled, dropped the face cloth onto his lap. "I was fine, until all of this stuff came out. I can't, Hutch." His voice softer, fear laced his words. Hutch took the cloth and brought it back to the bathroom. Starsky looked at him as he walked back in. "So you're not leaving or backing off, are ya?"

Hutch crossed his arms over his chest. "No, partner! You and me, it's like a marriage, for better or worse. Until death do us part!"

The brunet shook his head, sighed. "Well, ya bitch and nag like a wife and you're stubborn. I want a divorce?" Starsky stood and made his way toward the bathroom; a red flash came across the living room. Startled he stopped and looked toward the window. A red dot appeared on his chest. A haunted vague look crossed the brunet's face. His cat-like reflexes pushed Hutch who stood beside him. The blond tumbled to the floor as a bullet crashed through the window. Starsky fell forward and gasped as he landed on top of his bewildered partner. The shot hit the wall just above them.

Hutch scrambled beneath his partner in a panic. "What the hell? Starsky?" The blond cried out. He noticed Starsky moving but holding the left side of his head. Hutch rolled, steadied himself, and dragged Starsky to a safer spot near the bathroom. He went into the bedroom and dialed the phone frantically; he took a deep breath. "This is Detective Hutchinson, officer down at 2480 Ridgeway; we have a sniper situation…yes, yes!" Hutch hung up the phone and crawled on the floor to the coat rack and retrieved his gun, then retreated back to his partner. Hutch looked out toward the window with his weapon steady in his right hand and ready.

Hutch kept his eyes peeled. "Starsk, you okay?" His voice was raspy and slightly breathy.

Starsky groaned, opened his eyes to meet his worried partner's glare. "Hell of a headache, just a crease!

The blond took a deep breath and smirked. "Well Virginia, I believe we have a second hit man." A tone of sarcasm present.

Starsky pursed his lips playfully. "Glad it wasn't Santa Claus. I'd hate to think he thought I was that bad."

Hutch flipped the bathroom light on and pulled Starsky in and leaned him against the bath tub. He grabbed a cloth, with trembling hands turned the faucet on and ran the water to soak the towel. Kneeling before his partner, he gently pulled his hand away; the blood ran down the side of the injured detective's face pooling onto his shoulder and upper chest. Hutch placed the towel methodically and applied pressure; Starsky cringed, put his hand up, and relieved his caring partner's of the duty.

The sound of backup and an ambulance neared. Hutch bowed his head in relief.

The dazed brunet looked at him and saw that Hutch was pale and his hands trembled. "I'm okay, Hutch! Hey…hey I'm okay." Starsky grabbed his arm gently, smirked.

Hutch took a deep breath, his body relaxed upon the comforting touch. "You saved my life!" The blond raised his eyes to meet his partners.

Mischievously, the dark-haired detective inhaled deeply and smiled. "After all, I am, Captain Marvel. Besides, ya think I wanna go through training another partner? It took me years to break ya in ya know!" They both chuckled.


Captain Dobey barked orders. A team of forensics along with police combed through the apartment. Starsky sat at the table while a paramedic attended to him. Hutch paced by the bullet hole in the wall. Captain Dobey looked at Starsky; his eyes were wide and worried. "They're combing the area; whoever did this is long gone. We don't have to guess that we have a second hitman."

"Army issued M21 with AR-15 red dot sight!" The brunet raised his eyebrows, his words hung in the air.

Hutch stopped pacing and looked at Captain Dobey with a stunned expression. A forensics expert examined the hole and extracted the bullet. The thin man with dark-rimmed glasses examined the shard metal and looked at Captain Dobey. "Captain the bullet retrieved is for an M21, Detective Starsky is correct." The dark-haired forensic placed the bullet into a paper evidence bag and walked away.

Captain Dobey walked toward the bullet hole in the wall. "What the hell is going on here?" The exasperation was evident in his voice.

Hutch sat on the arm of the couch; he rubbed his face. "Someone wants Starsky dead, Captain. We've missed something!"

The paramedic finished taping Starsky's bandage. He stepped back. "You really should have that checked at the ER, Sir."

Starsky put his hand up, lifting his sagged shoulders. "I'm fine. Thanks."

The paramedic packed his bag and left.

The injured dark-head of curls sat in deep thought; his eyes wandered between his Captain and Hutch, he sighed. "Well, we know it's not Long Shot, he's in holding." He took a deep breath and crossed his arms over his chest.

Dobey sat at the table, rubbed his face. "I think it would be best if we put some security in place, or better yet bring you to a safe house."

Starsky looked at Hutch, and then back to his Captain, he snapped. "Not happening."

Hutch stood and began to pace his face was stern. "Hit men are for hire!"

Starsky rubbed his forehead, his shoulders raised. "Simonetti and Linquest, they couldn't afford this on a cop's budget. Ya saw the suits they wear. Need I say more?"

The blond detective snapped his fingers then stopped and looked at his partner. "Starsky's right, Captain. Someone is bankrolling this hit. We need to do some digging, check their bank accounts."

Captain Dobey pulled his handkerchief out and patted his forehead. "Either case you're sitting ducks!" He adjusted his suit coat. "I made some calls to New York. Your mother and Nicholas are safe. Chief Elkin sends his best."

The brunet nodded with acknowledgement and a sense of relief. "Thanks, Cap'n."

Hutch sat on the arm of the couch again, his face a canvass of deep thought. "M21 and AR-15 are military issued, obviously military marksman."

Captain Dobey stood, adjusting his suit coat. "I'll get started on this at the office, in the meantime lay low and be careful!"

Both detectives looked at their Captain then back at each other. Starsky's apartment cleared. Hutch stood near the window and pulled the drapes closed. Starsky stood and walked toward the bedroom and found himself drifting off path and dizzy. Hutch curtailed the distance between them with a quick stride, and grabbed his partner before he slammed into the door frame or fell.

Starsky smirked, widened his eyes playfully. "Thanks. Say I was only kiddin' about the divorce. Tenderly he raised his hand and tapped his worried partner's chest."

Hutch chuckled, as he directed his wobbly partner to the bathroom. "Come on, let's get you cleaned up, Ollie."


Hutch made his way to the kitchen. He scrambled some eggs and placed bread into the toaster. Starsky walked out of the bathroom, sporting clean clothes. He looked a little stressed and pale and startled when the phone rang. Hutch stopped scrambling the eggs; Starsky walked over to the phone and answered. "Hello!"

The loud music in the background blared through the phone. "Curly?" It was Huggy, he was at a pay phone in the back of The Pits, and looked around nervously. "Blondie with you?"

Starsky looked over at Hutch with concern. "Yeah Hug, he's here, what's goin' on?"

Huggy shifted, he pulled at the collar of his bright red shirt. "It's not healthy to be acquainted with you, Curly!"

Starsky motioned Hutch to grab the other phone in the bedroom. "Talk to me, Hug!" The concern trailed in his voice.

Hutch picked up the phone and listened tentatively.

"Word is Long Shot is a decoy, two cops on the take and hired by big money!" Huggy's voice lowered as he spoke directly into the phone.

Hutch looked at Starsky his eyes wide. "Who's the big money?" His voice was tense with anxiety.

Huggy peaked around the corner. "Well Blondie, no one's willing to give me that info, you dig? Target practice season on one Detective Starsky. This is personal and someone is going out of their way to let you know."

Starsky closed his eyes, rubbed the side of his face. "They paid me a visit earlier. Hug they threaten you, are ya hurt?"

Huggy sighed, shifted the weight on his feet. "No, but muscle and guns are nosing around. Does the name Crandal ring a bell?"

Starsky's jaw dropped, and complexion paled. The name was very familiar to both; he worked for James Gunther. Huggy shifted again to make sure no one saw him. "Listen, a friend of a friend mentioned something about some military cat named Reno. Word is he's an excellent shot. Hey, I got to split!"

Starsky glared sullenly and almost dropped the phone. Hutch quickly hung up the phone and was at his partner's side. He took the phone from his ghostly white counterpart; the line went to dial tone.

Starsky sat on the arm of the couch; Hutch placed the handset in the cradle of the phone. Unpleasant news inevitable from the look on the curly-haired detective's face. "Talk to me, Starsk. Who is Reno?"

Starsky crossed his arms over his chest, took in an extra long, deep breath. His eyes met his partner's. "Reno was special ops; we didn't see eye to eye. He hated my guts. Feelin' was mutual. His idea of getting the job done was opposite of mine, if ya get my drift." Starsky looked away from his partner; his body shivered as he rubbed his left arm. "He disappeared in the jungle, presumed dead."

Hutch walked over and sat at the table; he rubbed his hand over his mouth. "Spill it, what aren't you telling me?"

Starsky bowed his head and sighed with quivered breath. "He won't quit til I am dead."

Hutch rubbed the back of his neck, and his voice trailed annoyance. "I was afraid you were going to say that."

Starsky stood and walked into the kitchen and grabbed two beers and brought one to Hutch. He sat on the arm of the couch as he twisted the top off. "Hutch, walk away now?" His voice came as a soft plea.

Hutch twisted his cap off his beer and looked at Starsky and pointed his finger. "Forget it, Partner. I'm in it all the way!"

Starsky looked up at him and grinned. "Anyone ever tell ya you're a stubborn son-of-a-bitch?"

Hutch chuckled, took a long sip of his beer. "Yeah, you a time or two. Thanks, I think?"


The next morning Starsky and Hutch arrived at Metro in Hutch's heap. Both men were on alert and made their way across the Bay City PD parking lot. The elevator doors opened, Starsky noticed everyone looking at him. Astutely aware, the blond walked right beside him. He sensed his partner's anxiety as Simmons and Babcock approached them. The two partners bowed their heads, and Babcock extended his hand to Starsky.

"Starsky we got your back, Nam was hell. I knew you'd been there, but what can I say, you are one ballsy son-of-a-bitch!" Babcock spoke with admiration and wore a genuine smile. Starsky grinned. Simmons extended his hand. "Ditto! Hey, Dobey's got us on Crandal, and Gunther's is transferred to maximum security." The partnered team smiled and walked away. The atmosphere lighter, everyone acknowledged, nodded, or waved, as though it were a hero's welcome.

Starsky was stunned; Hutch smiled, feeling a sense of pride and led his shocked partner into Captain Dobey's office. The Captain finished a phone call as Hutch sat in the leather chair and Starsky sat on the arm of the chair next to him. Captain Dobey hung up the phone, sighed. "Starsky, I contacted the army, spoke to a General Mitchem and he confirmed your records are missing. He also indicated that, until our phone call, Thadius Reno was presumed dead."

Starsky sighed, scratched the side of his head. "Presumed but never verified. Reno is a ticking time bomb. He's itching to get me."

Dobey moved the stack of manila file folders on the desk. "How well do you know him?"

Starsky crossed his arms, looked to meet his Captain's inquisitive stare. "Loner, an ego the size of California, hated my guts; he's an excellent shot! He's an expert with explosives."

Hutch put his hand to his forehead. "You had to tell us that!"

Starsky stood and went to the coffee maker by Dobey's file cabinet. "For better or worse, remember?" He sarcastically responded to the blond as he poured a cup of coffee and gave it to his Captain. He then poured another and handed it to Hutch. "I know he'll hit sooner, rather than later! The man doesn't know the meaning of the word procrastinate, let alone spell it. He's toying with me. If he wanted me dead, I would be." As Starsky turned to sit on the chair next to his partner, Hutch noticed the red dot hovering on his partner's chest. "S-T-A-R-S-K-Y!" He reached and pulled his partner onto him and screamed. "GET DOWN!"

Captain Dobey fell to the floor with his chair; Hutch went to the floor, Starsky on top of him. The bullet buzzed by and hit the water cooler behind them and exploded. Starsky got up and pulled his gun and crawled over to the window. He saw a figure moving on the roof across the street. Hutch hid behind the desk with his weapon, waiting.

The door to Captain Dobey's office opened, the room flooded with uniform officers who escorted both Starsky and Hutch along with Captain Dobey to an interrogation room down the hall.

Starsky put his gun back in his holster as he walked quickly and hollered. "Across the street, Milhem Building, roof. 5'10 dressed in black."

All three men visibly shaken. Hutch had his hands behind his neck. "That was close."

Starsky leaned against the wall, closed his eyes. "Thanks, Hutch. You okay, Cap'n?" The Captain sat down and dabbed his forehead with his hanky, with a breathy growl. "Thanks to Hutchinson; that was too close."


Starsky paced the interrogation room; Hutch entered with sandwiches and coffees. He placed them down onto the table. "It's chaos out there."

The door opened, and a very distinguished gentleman entered, in his mid 50's in a military uniform. Starsky stood, straightened his posture, and looked directly at him. A stance of military professionalism intact as he saluted the studious individual. The man nodded, he smiled admirably as he also saluted. "At ease, Lieutenant Starsky, or shall I address you as Detective Sergeant David Starsky?" He walked over to Starsky and extended his hand. The handshake was brisk and genuine.

"General Mitchem, this is my partner, Ken Hutchinson." Hutch walked over and shook his hand firmly. "Hutch this is, General Mitchem." Starsky motioned the general to sit, as they followed suit.

The General looked at Starsky. "Lieutenant, this is rather an unpleasant circumstance. Please accept my apologies regarding your files. The matter is being investigated." Starsky looked at the General; Hutch saw a look in his partner's features that made him uneasy, this David Starsky was a much different person, profound, respectful.

"Sir, if I may be direct?" Even the tone was different.

The General nodded.

"The army knew Reno was alive, didn't they?" The question asked with respect, but direct.

The General looked at Hutch and back to Starsky. "Lieutenant, I won't sit here and deny it; the army on the other hand..."

Hutch looked at Starsky once again and noticed a veil of darkness that made him unsettled.

"General, will the Army assist us in locating or provide us with information on Reno?" The blond leaned forward, his eyes focused as he waited for an answer to his question.

The General pulled an envelope from his coat and handed it to Hutch. "The army no, but I however will. Lieutenant, I feel my debt to you has been paid." The General stood, as did Starsky and Hutch. The General looked at Starsky. "Lieutenant or should I say, Major? I assume you still have your weapons and skills intact. Good luck, send my regards to Reno! Oh, by the way, I will deny I was ever here." The General smiled and walked out.

Starsky looked at Hutch who had his mouth partially opened and stunned, more so puzzled. "Weapons?"

Starsky smiled and sat down. Hutch opened the envelope which contained information on Reno, his most recent address and guns of choice. They ate their sandwiches as they combed through the data. Hutch glared at his partner who seemed a million miles away.

"What? Will ya stop starin' at me?" His blue eyes met with the blond partner who displayed a face of a thousand questions. "Reno and I were top of our class for marksman."

Hutch raised his eyebrows. "You are a damn good shot, Starsk!"

Starsky folded the paperwork, evidence of buried memories of the past. "We were ordered to take certain people out, integrity…Reno had none. The punk once shot the enemy and made no qualms about the woman and child next to him, took them out too."

Hutch closed his eyes and shook the visual from his mind. "A real creep, huh?" Hutch fumbled with the pages of paperwork, craving more information. "What about the debt? General Mitchem mentioned a debt."

Starsky sat back, leaned his head back, and rubbed his neck. "I saved his nephew, Thomas Mitchem."

Hutch tilted his head, stunned. "The kid you carried out?"

Starsky stood and reached into his pocket, raised his shoulders. "You got any change?"

Hutch reached into his pocket and handed him some change. Starsky stretched and opened the door and walked over to the vending machine halfway down the hall. He placed the coins in the slot and selected the candy bar he wanted by pulling the lever. From the corner of his eyes, he caught a glimpse of a package that sat oddly near the stairway. Curiosity took over his suspicious nature. He cautiously walked over to examine the box. As he approached the brown paper wrapped article, he heard ticking. He stopped immediately. Starsky looked around, his eyes wide. "Hutch…HUTCH!"

Hutch emerged from the doorway and stopped; Starsky put his hand up, his eyes wide with fear. "Get everyone off this floor, now!"

Hutch's eyes gazed beyond his partner. The box caught his attention. He went back in and made the phone call. A few people scattered out of their offices. Starsky directed them to head to the opposite stairway. Hutch walked back out to the hallway, Starsky turned and indicated for him to go back to the interrogation room.

"Not without you, Dummy!" His voice traced with deliberation.

Starsky started to backtrack. Hutch entered the room as a ringing noise came from the box. Starsky stepped into the room when the item exploded and projected him against his partner, both landed on the floor. The blond landed a few feet further.

The hallway was a mangled mess. The vending machine hurled toward the interrogation room and mangled, part of the ceiling was on the floor along with doors and windows shattered. Starsky had struck his temple when he landed, causing it to bleed, he was covered with debris from the ceiling along with dust. He put his hand to his head, Hutch crawled over to him and touched his arm gently, Starsky looked to assess that Hutch was okay. Both men were speechless, and out of breath.


The hallway soon filled with police and fireman along with a bomb specialist. Captain Dobey made his way to the room. Starsky sat at the table; his face was pale, the bandage stained with blood on his temple. Hutch leaned on the table next to Starsky. Captain Dobey approached them. "You two, okay?" His voice delivered concern.

The both of them nodded, Starsky dusted himself off. "No one is safe as long as I'm here."

Hutch looked at him with his jaw tight and eyes pierced and back at Captain Dobey. "Forget it, partner, and no private parties!"

Captain Dobey sat in front of Starsky and slammed his fist. "Listen to your, partner."

Starsky looked at both men; his eyes filled with anger and emotion. "Can't afford to get innocent people killed, Cap'n!" Starsky made a fist and bowed his head as he placed his elbow on the table and leaned his head on it. "Let me handle it on my own?"

Hutch jumped to his feet, walked away, and turned with the finger of his right hand extended. "No! Do you hear me? No way, Starsky!"

Captain Dobey wiped his forehead with his hanky, and shook his head. "Not happening, do you understand me, we need to get you and Hutch somewhere safe until we can come up with a plan."

Starsky stood, and walked toward the door; Hutch grabbed his arm with a firm grip. "Where do you think you're going?" He asked in an agitated low voice. Hutch looked into his partner's eyes and saw that look again, the one that he didn't know. Tunnels of nonexistent blue orbs replaced with a dark soul of jungle survival mode. Dobey stood and saw it too. Hutch didn't break the eye contact, they communicated intuitively. Starsky's eyes softened, his body relaxed, the once black stare presented indigo brilliance. The brunet retreated and sat as the blond walked back to the opposite side.

Starsky rubbed his forehead. "How did he know we were in here? There are five interrogation rooms in this building."

Hutch tilted his head as he glanced. "I'd say we have eyes on the inside?"

Dobey shrugged his shoulders as he sat back. "Well, gentlemen, who do we trust?"

Starsky slid back in his chair, pursed his lips, and looked at both his Captain and Hutch. "Aside from Simmons and Babcock, Us!"

Hutch leaned onto the table, his blue eyes intense. "I say we bait the hook."

Starsky sat up and rubbed his chest, his stance energized. "Let him think I'm injured."

Captain Dobey's blood pressure now at an all-new high. "I don't like it, but we don't have much choice."

Hutch bowed his head; his stomach turned at the thought. "I don't like it either, Starsk."

Starsky glared at both men raised his eyebrows. "Let's go fishin!"


In the squad area at Metro, a young female officer maneuvered around the office, she placed files on various desks. She looked around to assure she was alone. The young officer picked up the handset from a nearby phone and dialed; Minnie was in Captain Dobey's office when she overheard the young officer's conversation. The Captain's door was ajar as the woman spoke.

"Yes, it exploded, as far as I know, Starsky's been injured, Reno." The woman paused and sighed.

"They took him to Memorial Hospital, West Wing on the third floor. Reno that's all I know." Her voice tensed, she scanned the room and doors. "I'll keep you updated; I put it where you wanted by the stairs. Yeah, Starsky played the hero as you suspected."

Minnie heard the conversation clearly and quietly peeked to see who the woman was, then stepped back away from the door. The young woman hung up the phone and dropped the files and headed for the front desk. Minnie picked up the handset from Dobey's telephone and dialed. "Patch me through to Captain Dobey, it's urgent." Her expression held anger, as she whispered.


Starsky had arrived at Memorial in an ambulance along with Hutch in tow. Captain Dobey waited in the waiting area with Hutch. He was paged to the phone. The Captain walked over to the desk area; a nurse pointed to the phone as he picked up the line. "Dobey here!"

Minnie closed the door to the office. "Captain, it's Minnie, I just overheard an interesting phone conversation made to a man named Reno regarding Starsky."

The Captain sighed, his body tensed. "Who was it?"

Minnie shook her head. "The new rookie, Angela Forman, she spilled the beans about Starsky being injured and going to Memorial, she was the one who put the explosive there."

Dobey looked around, his voice lowered. "Contact Simmons and Babcock, speak to no one else Minnie, no one and fill them in. I want her detained."

Minnie smiled, her face glowed. "You got it, Captain. Send Starsky my best." The Captain hung up the phone.

Starsky was placed in a private room in an area of the hospital away from everyone. There was an officer at his door. Hutch paced the waiting room, Dobey entered, Hutch stopped.

"Angela Forman, new rookie, was just caught having a phone conversation with someone named Reno."

Hutch's eyes widened, his expression all business. "Reno knows!" Hutch rubbed his neck; he began to pace again. "I don't like this!"

Dobey sat down and stretched his arms. He watched his detective pace. "I knew about Starsky's military background; he's trained for this, Hutch."

"Yeah, there's a side of my partner I don't know." His voice trailed with uncertainty and fear.

Dobey bowed his head, with turmoil within him. "They come back from there, and they don't talk about it, can't, some just won't." He raised his eyes to meet his blond detective. "It's there, in his eyes."

Hutch swallowed, heavy with heart. "Doesn't change anything, Captain, he's still my partner."

A strange looking black woman entered the waiting area; she had long black curly hair and a hat with a long yellow coat and sunglasses. She sat across from Captain Dobey and Hutch; Hutch looked at her and raised one eyebrow. "You are one ugly woman, Hug!"

Huggy pulled the sunglasses off, peered around the room. "Doubt you'd win Miss America yourself, Blondie."

Captain Dobey chuckled; he removed the smirk from his face. "Pardon me, Ma'am, I'd reconsider the color yellow, lovely locks."

Huggy crossed his legs and tossed the hair off his shoulder. "Don't think I was followed, the goons that were hanging at my place left in a hurry an hour ago."

Hutch rubbed his face and sighed. "Well, that means they're headed here."

A nurse arrived in the waiting room, petite brunette with chocolate brown eyes. "Detective Hutchinson?"

Hutch walked toward her and smiled.

"Detective Starsky is asking for you, room 602 down the hall on the right." She smiled, checking Hutch out, as he grinned and blushed. "Ah, T-thank you."

Starsky lay on the bed; he wore a hospital gown over his clothes. His gun was hidden under the blanket. He scratched an area near the bandage on his temple as Hutch entered the room. Starsky grinned and tugged at the hospital gown as he wiggled in the bed. "Hey!"

Hutch walked over and pulled a chair. "Hey yourself. Well, its official, we found our snitch, Angela Forman."

Starsky's eyebrows rose, his mouth opened. "Ya kiddin? The perky blonde with the big caboose?"

Hutch slid the chair closer, leaning forward. "Minnie overheard her on the phone with Reno, she planted the bomb, and oh, Huggy's dressed as a woman! Caboose?"

Starsky looked at him in disbelief cocked his head and laughed.

"Huggy says the goons disappeared from his place an hour ago." His voice trickled with anxiety and anxiousness.

Starsky sat up, sighed, his facial features form seriousness, back to business. "This is gonna get ugly, Hutch." He fidgeted with the sheet, glanced up to meet Hutch's focused stare. "Reno won't quit till I'm dead." The words filled the stark, semi-empty room.

Hutch rubbed his face and groaned. "Well, not on my watch, pal!" The blond responded as he winked. Hutch went to the closet and opened it and pulled some hospital scrubs and lab coat and looked at his partner. "Showtime."

Hutch stepped out of the bathroom wearing the hospital attire along with a surgical bonnet. Starsky lay on the bed and looked at his blond partner in masquerade and grinned. "Maybe you shouda been a doctor, Blondie?" Hutch looked at him and shook his head. The phone in the room rang; Starsky looked at Hutch and reached for it. "H'Lo!" The phone line went to dial tone; he looked at Hutch eyes wide. "Not getting a good feelin 'bout that."

Hutch shifted the lab coat and headed for the door, stopped and looked at his partner; both men locked eyes and communicated silently 'be careful.'

Hutch took a deep breath and stepped out into the hallway and walked into a room two doors down that read doctor's lounge. Dobey and Huggy, who now looked more like himself minus a wig both sat, in a waiting pattern, the door had privacy glass where you could see out but not in the room. Hutch stood by the door and watched. Two officers sat at a table with earphones, recorders, and handheld radios, Dobey nodded at them. The younger officer with a mustache flipped the switch to hear Starsky humming; the officer looked at Dobey and gave him a thumb up.


In the basement stood four men, three of them wearing hospital scrubs and fake name tags, the tallest of the four was Crandall, the other two were the goons that hung around Huggy's, Rafferty and Lincoln. The man wearing a lab coat and black trousers and black sweater and tight buzz cut was the man of the hour, Reno. Reno lit a cigarette, pulled a handheld semi-automatic from a bag, reached in, pulled two grenades, and handed one to Crandall.

"Push the cart and when you are in position, set it off in the hallway near the doctor's lounge." Reno continued to prepare himself. "Remember what I said, David Starsky is mine." His voice was sinister.

The men looked at each other. Crandall shuffled his feet impatiently. "This is above, and beyond Reno, Mr. Gunther will be pleased, very pleased."

Reno placed a knife in his pocket; his eyes shifted back and forth. "This isn't for Gunther. Starsky and I have a score to settle." His eyes turned to cold steel, the Nam look. The other two men stood next to Crandall.

"What about Rafferty and Lincoln?" Crandall cleared his throat in anticipation. Reno puffed his cigarette, reached in his other pocket, pulled a pistol with a silencer, and fired two shots. The two men fell to the ground, Crandall stood with his mouth open.

Reno put the gun back in his pocket and grinned. "What about them?"


The officer guarding Starsky's door was called into the Doctor's lounge by Hutch. Starsky lay in bed singing, Tiny Bubbles to himself, the two young officers laughed. Dobey looked over at them not pleased with their behavior. Hutch observed as the elevator door opened and a man with a medical cart stepped off the elevator. The man headed toward the supply closet past the lounge, he kept his head down. He stopped and left the cart near the door as he turned his back toward the lounge door. The man extracted the grenade from his pocket, pulled the pin and placed it on the cart and headed for the stairs. Hutch watched, then noticed the cart was left behind, the grenade rolled across the top.

"GRENADE!" He pushed everyone back away from the door. The grenade exploded, the door was dislodged and dangling on its hinges and debris everywhere.

Starsky jumped out of bed, pulled his gun and made his way to the door, opened it and cautiously peeked out with his weapon ahead of him. The elevator opened but jammed due to the blast and debris. Reno appeared at the end of the hall with his semi-automatic perched ahead of him.

"Lieutenant David Starsky, long time no see! It seems we both don't know how to die!" His voice slithered. He smirked. Starsky put his gun out ahead of him with half of his body out of the doorway and glared at the man.

"Way I see it, Reno, it wasn't long enough." Starsky could hear the commotion coming from the lounge which distracted him. Reno fired. The brunet quickly and instinctively ducked back into the room.

Everyone in the lounge was on the floor; Hutch was dazed, slightly as well as everyone else. Huggy stirred and pulled himself onto all fours from the floor and assisted Captain Dobey to his feet. The two officers scrambled to help; Hutch shook his head and got to his feet when he heard the gunshot. The door was wedged and extremely heavy, Hutch approached with his gun in hand, his voice carried. "Starsky?"

Starsky went to the hospital bed and reached under to retrieve a semi-automatic and held it as his hands shook, he ripped the hospital gown off that expose a large knife tucked into his jeans. He whispered. "Davey, get it together!"

He took a deep breath; his body tensed shoulders rigid. "I'm okay, Hutch!" His voice carried across the hall to his partner. Starsky went to the door and held his weapon, Reno laughed.

"Lieutenant come on out and play! Did you tell your pals you made Major thanks to me? Good and bad, we were some team. You always had to be the hero and take the high road."

Hutch and the two officers maneuvered the heavy door away; Hutch peaked to see Starsky by the doorway and froze when he saw what Starsky was holding in front of him. The blood drained from his face. "Starsk what are you doing?"

Reno moved in a few steps; his face wore a disgusting grin. "Come on, hot shot, being a cop you forget how to fight?"

Starsky's eyes changed again, Hutch's stomach turned at the site. Hutch looked directly at Starsky, and they made eye contact, Hutch shook his head. "No!"

Starsky took a deep breath and came out from the doorway with his gun in front of him. "Nope, never far from my thoughts, Reno, jungle to a concrete jungle."

Reno looked at him and laughed. "Well, well now it's you and me, Lieutenant. You hear that Detective Hutchinson, you make any attempt at saving your boy toy, you go down. This little war is between me and do-it-by-the-book Lieutenant Starsky."

Starsky's shoulders broad, sturdy and set the tone of 'go ahead, make my day.' His jaw tightened, the boyish demeanor no longer existed; his features were hard, cold.

Hutch held his gun up and peeked to see where Reno was and kept an eye on his partner. Starsky stood confidently, his feet slightly apart like a lion stalking its prey. "Leave him out of this. You want me; you got me!"

Starsky grinned; the dark eyes sparkled with mischievousness. "Why don't we do this like the old days, dirt bag, no weapons…one on one?"

Reno laughed loudly; he shook his head. "You serious?" He lowered the weapon, his shoulders tensed. "You ain't what ya used to be, compadre."

Starsky relaxed his gun hand slightly, stepped out of the room completely, and gave him a look of defiance and challenge. "Only one way to find out, sucker."

Starsky raised the gun and fired, knocking the semi-automatic out of Reno's hand. Reno shook his hand; he went into a full-blown smile. "Always was the sly one, Lieutenant, you want to rumble, lets rumble." He pulled another weapon and shot the gun from Starsky's hands.

Starsky's eyes were spheres of black onyx as he dropped, somersaulted into Reno, and knocked him onto the floor. The gun in Reno's hand fell to the floor a few feet away, the two men struggled and rolled back to their feet. Reno kneed Starsky in the gut, followed by a punch to his already injured head. Starsky stumbled backward and regained his footing and pounced on Reno again.

Hutch popped out into the hallway to see Crandall standing with a gun in hand aimed at him. Hutch ducked back into the room when a shot was fired. Starsky punched Reno in the jaw and was about to send another when he felt a knife, slicing his right arm. The injured brunet punched again and knocked the knife out of Reno's hand. He rolled and grabbed the knife and flung it at Crandall hitting him in the gut. Crandall dropped his gun, placed his hands on his stomach, and collapsed to the floor. Hutch watched this unfold and was taken back at his partner's accuracy with the knife and agility. The man in that hallway was not the David Starsky he knew; this was the combat side of him.

Starsky's eyes were wild pools of blackness, his body Hutch attempted to step out of the room but Reno pulled a handgun and aimed it at him. Starsky went into protective mode, swung and hindered the accuracy of aim as the gun went off and missed Hutch by inches. Starsky dove onto Reno, a battle of brute strength. Both sets of hands on the pistol when it fired once again into the air. Starsky gained control of the gun by twisting Reno's wrist and flung it into the air. The wiry brunet reached down and grabbed Reno's leg and used his legs to wrap around and twisted which caused the buzz cut man's knee to snap.

Starsky stood in front of him; his eyes were caverns of darkness. "You don't do that to a man's partner!"

Reno shrieked with pain from his leg, he gasped and laughed at the same time. "Guess I underestimated ya, Lieutenant." He cringed and pulled a grenade from his pocket.

Starsky slowly began to retreat; Reno laughed uncontrollably. "Well, Lieutenant, guess you won, yippee-ki-yi-yay!"

The pin was pulled; Starsky ran into the lounge and collided with Hutch as the blast went off. Starsky fell on top of Hutch; the other men in the room went to the floor, covered their heads.

Starsky quickly pushed himself off of Hutch, his eyes still in combat mode. Hutch saw the blood seeping down his friend's arm from the knife wound. The man before him looked like his partner, but his demeanor displayed cold and ready for battle.

Hutch looked at Dobey and Huggy as they got to their feet and put his hand up to have them stay back. Dobey looked at the two officers and motioned them out of the room. Huggy looked at the Captain. "What's going on?"

Dobey pulled Huggy toward the doorway; both men moved slowly. "Huggy, let Hutch handle this."

Starsky's facial features twisted, his jaw tightened, his breathing labored. Hutch reached out to touch him, but Starsky pulled back and turned. He staggered over to the other side of the room and leaned his back against the wall; his eyes were focused and cold and dilated. He slid down to the floor. Hutch eased his way over slowly; he kept his breathing steady, and calm.

"Hey buddy, we need to stop your arm from bleeding." His voice calm. Starsky's eyes looked at him and down at his right arm. Hutch grabbed a towel from a cabinet above, and slowly walked over, then knelt and covered the wound, tying the cloth around it. He put his hand on Starsky's shoulder gently. "Starsk, it's over, Buddy!"

Starsky just looked down; his body was still taut. Hutch could feel it under his hand. The noise in the hallway made his partner skittish. Dobey stood outside the door and redirected people from the room. Huggy paced, avoiding the gruesome the scene in the hall. "I've heard the term falling apart, but this honky is in pieces." Huggy cringed, looked away from the ghastly scene and at a very unhappy Captain.

Starsky moved his hands in front of him and looked at them as they trembled. Hutch removed his hand from Starsky's shoulder and watched. Starsky's chin began to quiver, his eyes watered and the ice melted away, he looked at Hutch and off to the doorway.

"Yippee-ki-yi-yay, right back at ya, Reno!" It came out as a weak whisper. Starsky's body relaxed.

Hutch put his hand behind his partner's neck and pulled him into an embrace. Starsky silently cried. Hutch held him tight as his eyes watered. "Fire away! Fire away…It's over, buddy." Hutch tightened his jaw, took a deep breath. He gently guided the exhausted man back against the wall and looked at his partner.

"You are Captain Fucking Marvel." Hutch smiled with watered eyes. Starsky looked at him and snorted as they both laughed. Dobey and Huggy both put their heads down in relief and laughed.


A little over a week passed. Simmons and Babcock wrapped up the case with Reno and Gunther. The evidence brought forth led to bank accounts in Simonetti's and Arnetti's names, along with a very challenging paper trail. The hit originated and extended into a personal vendetta against Starsky via Reno.

Starsky needed surgery for his right arm, along with numerous stitches. His recovery physically was on track; his recovery psychologically would take a little longer.

The precinct gossip spread like wildfire. The moody, boyish man partnered with Detective Ken Hutchinson was being viewed with respect and admiration. Captain Dobey and the Chief felt it necessary to set everyone straight to avoid gossip and the rumor mills. Hutch sat at his desk typing, distracted by the soft murmur in the office. He looked at his watch, and back toward the hallway, he expected his partner at any moment. Captain Dobey's door swung open. He gestured for the blond detective to come in. Hutch paused, an uneasy feeling came over him as he stood and walked in. Hutch closed the door and sat down. Captain Dobey sighed. "Starsky called in sick, again."

Hutch looked at the Captain; put his fingers to his chin. Dobey fumbled with some folders; his eyes displayed worry. "What's going on with your partner?"

Hutch looked at his Captain, shrugged his shoulder. "He just needs time, Captain."

Captain Dobey rubbed his face; he sat back, the chair creaked. "Do you want me to talk to him?"

Hutch stood, put his hands in his pants pockets, and looked at his Captain. "I'll handle it, thanks." Hutch left the room and looked at his watch again, and headed for the exit.

Starsky poured himself a cup of coffee in his kitchen; he had his red V-neck shirt and jeans on. He took a sip, and leaned against the counter and listened to the music in the background. Starsky eyed a green duffle bag on the floor near the closet. His mind reveled what had taken place and how his past had made itself present.

He heard the slamming of a car door and knew who it was; he put his head down and waited. There was a knock, and the door opened, and the tall blonde entered. "Starsky?"

Hutch closed the door. Starsky stood in the in the kitchen and poured another cup of coffee, turned to greet him, he spoke. "Coffee?"

Hutch walked to the table as he smiled. "Sounds good."

Hutch removed his jacket and placed it on the couch and sat at the table. Starsky brought the cup of coffee over and handed it to him. The curly haired detective sat across from the blond, concerned man, and glanced at him. "Dobey send you?

Hutch took a sip and put the cup down. "Yeah, he's worried." He paused and played with his cup. "So am I."

Starsky sighed, took a sip of his coffee. "Needed time to think, Nam was buried for a reason."

Hutch leaned on the table with his elbows and looked up at his partner. "I get that, Starsk."

Starsky stood, leaving his coffee cup on the table and walked toward his window, he lightly rubbed his right arm and winced. "You saw something, a part of my past, part of me, I hoped would never come out." He paused and sighed, embarrassment lingered. "I'm sorry."

Hutch closed his eyes and took a quiet breath. "Don't be, Buddy."

Hutch rubbed his neck. "I'll be sure to stay on your good side." Hutch lightly joked and winked.

Starsky turned and smirked and looked back out the window. "General Mitchem called; he set up an appointment with Major Travis. He's a shrink."

Hutch turned in surprise. "You told me about him. Trav's a good man, Starsk."

Starsky nodded, turned to look at Hutch and walked back. "Trav called, and I'm gonna meet him later, he works with vets."

Starsky sat at the table and leaned back and looked at Hutch. "General asked me to reenlist."

Hutch looked at him, surprised; he stopped himself from reacting. Hutch noticed the duffle bag as Starsky crossed his arms over his chest; "Told the General that my partner's a real klutz and needs me to cover his back."

Hutch smiled ear to ear and let out the breath he had been holding. "Is that right? A real klutz, huh? But, I am cute."

Starsky smiled the Starsky smile that Hutch had missed over the last month. "We've been through a lot, Hutch you've been there, couldn't have done it without ya…thanks."

Hutch reached over touched Starsky's arm and lightly squeezed. "Buddy, I'd do it all over again. Speaking of watching my back, what are you going to tell, Dobey, when I don't return to work today? After all, I am a klutz, and we wouldn't want me out on the streets, would we? Besides…we have an appointment."

Starsky glared at him. "We?" He asked with a wide grin. "It won't be pretty."

Hutch returned the smile and winked. "I'm not afraid of ugly. Only, if you want me to tag along? Me and Thee, right?

Starsky bowed his head and nodded. "Yeah! Until death do us part." The emotions stirred within the burnet. Hutch accepted the ghosts of the past and wanted to stand by him.

Both men sat sipped coffee as the song Fire Away played in the background.

The new beginning…