The curly haired brunette weakly forced his eyelids open and groaned as he took in his surroundings. He was in a hospital bed, but this was no hospital. It was a room in a house. Heavy dark green drapes hid the windows behind them. The walls were white and devoid of any pictures or decorations, although he heard a clock ticking behind him. Starsky groggily observed that the IV was back in his left hand. His right front forearm was rebandaged. Any attempt to move his legs was impossible as now the casted limbs had been tied to the bed railing. He raised his shaky, left hand to feel where the stitched wound had opened again. The blood had been cleaned off his face.
Every breath in and out continued to cause sharp, stabbing pains from the broken ribs on both sides of his chest. A steady, sharp pain emanated from a puncture wound below his left ribcage.
At the sound of footsteps, Starsky startled, sending waves of pain through his broken body.
A tall, stocky woman entered the room carrying a tray with a bowl and set it down on a stand next to the bed. Crossing her arms over her chest she stood observing her patient with a critical eye. "It's good you are awake. I brought you some broth. You need to take more of it this time. I don't want a repeat of earlier today."
Starsky lay unmoving staring at his feet. The thought of the greasy broth made his stomach flip over.
Suddenly the short haired blond reached out and slapped his face.
"Look at me when I talk to you!" she snapped.
Starsky grimaced as the pain in his head went from throbbing to pounding unmercifully from the blow to his head. He looked up slowly noting the blue plaid flannel shirt she wore over blue jeans. Her brown eyes were the only attractive part of a face with big cheeks, a strong jaw and a jutting chin. The skin was covered with pock marks.
"Okay, let's try this again." she said lifting the bowl and a spoon from the tray.
"No. Please don't. I can't." Starsky replied in a thin, shaky voice.
You will." she said as she lifted a spoonful of the liquid to his lips. He turned his face away. "Don't start this again!" She moved the spoon and he turned his head away again. She set the bowl down and turned back to Starsky.
He looked fearfully at his tormentor and cried out weakly, "I can't. It'll make me sick."
"You will." she said as she grabbed him by the hair holding his head still and brought the bowl to his lips. "Now open up!" The pain from the wound there was sharp, bringing tears to his eyes. He squeezed his eyes shut and did nothing. She pushed the rim of the bowl tight against his lips leaving a cut from a tooth on his lower lip. A line of blood tracked down his chin. Releasing his hair, she then pinched his nose shut and waited. Starsky had little air in his lungs and when he opened his mouth to gasp in a breath she tipped the bowl into his mouth. He choked and coughed the brown liquid out spraying it over her hand and his chest. Some dribbled down his chin as he struggled to breathe. The pain in his chest was unbearable. He whimpered.
"Now look what you've done!" the woman screamed. She slapped him and then pushed her hand down on his rib cage. Starsky gasped and panted in pain. Sweat was cascading down his face. He screamed pitifully when she bore down on his side, grinding her fist into the wound there. The bandage soon changed from white to bright red with his blood. She smirked as she watched him writhing in pain.
Face livid with anger, the woman slammed the bowl down on the tray. "That's it! There will be nothing else. You can live off the IV until I get a feeding tube in you!"
Starsky was panting shallowly. He cried out weakly, "Hutch?"
Margaret picked up the tray and turned to walk out of the room saying, "I told you, Hutch is dead."
As her footsteps faded, Starsky sagged slowly to the right, his head down and tears rolling down his cheeks. "No, no Hutch. I need you."
All he could remember was that he had been in an accident. He and Hutch had been chasing a robbery/homicide suspect into the foothills. Hutch was driving and as he came around a sharp curve a car was stalled in the middle of the lane. Hutch swerved left to avoid the car, the left front tire blew and the car skidded out of control through the guard rail and rolled down into the ravine. Starsky was thrown from the car. He remembered hitting the ground and screaming as his legs snapped. He rolled a short way and was brought to an abrupt stop against a jagged rock. His mind was on Hutch just before he passed out.
He woke up in the room in the house. His head was pounding. He hurt everywhere. Trying to move a little he gasped in pain and then started breathing in short shallow pants from the fiery pain in his ribs.
"So, you are awake."
Starsky's head whipped to his left and he regretted it instantly as the hammers pounding inside his head multiplied. The woman was adjusting the IV flow. Finished she looked down and smiled.
"My name is Dr. Margaret Downy. You can just call me Margaret. This is my house. I brought you here. Do you remember what happened?"
The car went off the road." Starsky said, his voice shallow and shaky. "Hutch!" he cried weakly. "Where's Hutch?"
The woman put her hand on his and said, "I'm afraid your friend did not make it."
Starsky's eyes widened as his face paled. "No! Hutch! No, it can't be!" He struggled in vain to sit up and move his legs. All he did was cause his pain to spike. He flopped back on the pillow, his head rolling side to side, eyes squeezed shut with tears running down his face. "No! he can't be. I'd know if he was." he said quietly.
"I buried him myself. He most certainly is dead."
Starsky closed his eyes. He felt so confused and lost. Why would this doctor bury Hutch? Why was he in this house and not a hospital?
"You will be okay. You will stay with me and heal. I will be your friend now. Just rest." the doctor said while patting his hand.
Starsky's mind was racing with questions. What? Live here? No, this isn't right. I can't do this! I can't be here! He slid his hand out from underneath hers and struggled to sit up.
"You can't keep me here!" he rasped. "I'm a cop. Detective Sergeant David Starsky." He paused, panting for air. "Get me out of here! You're, you...you...can't do this! Huuuutch!" Then he fell back on the pillow unconscious.
The next time he surfaced he found the woman checking his toes.
"How long have I been here?" he asked weakly.
"It's been two weeks now."
"Two weeks!" Hutch! He will be frantic! Trying to find me. Wait, she said he was dead. No, no no! He whimpered in despair. "He can't be dead." he whispered.
Margaret covered his feet up and moved to his side. "I'm sorry. He is very dead."
Cold blue eyes bored into brown and he said, "You can't keep me here."
Margaret laughed. An ugly laugh. Starsky felt himself trembling. She shook her head.
"What are you going to do? Walk out?" She snorted. "Both legs are broken. You have a concussion, broken ribs and I had to remove a stick from your side. You have refused any nourishment all the other times you have woken up. You are so weak you can't even sit up! I'd like to see you try to leave." She moved to the night stand and picked up a bowl.
"This is chicken broth. Now, I want you to take this. You have to get some nourishment in you if you want to get stronger and heal." She took the spoon and dipped it in the liquid, then leaned toward Starsky and put the spoon to his lips.
He hesitated, then realized he needed to eat if he was going to get out of here. He opened his mouth and took the spoonful. Grimacing, he swallowed quickly. It was like drinking grease. His stomach immediately revolted and he gagged. He kept the broth down but refused the next spoonful.
"No. No. It's making me sick. No more." he pleaded.
"You need this! Now take it!" the doctor snarled.
Starsky pressed his lips tight and turned his head away.
"Do I have to hurt you again? You have done this each time I have tried to feed you!"
Starsky couldn't remember the other times. It was a good thing.
The doctor grabbed his forearm gripping tightly over the bandaged area. Starsky couldn't stop the soft cry that escaped his mouth. The doctor continued to squeeze harder. He tried to pull his arm away but he was too weak. When she finally let go, his arm dropped to the bed, bright red blood blossoming through the bandages. Starsky lay panting, tears of pain in his eyes and watched as she left the room.
"Maybe you will try harder tonight when I bring more broth."
Tears of frustration rolled down his face. His stomach still roiled. He kept swallowing, fighting not to heave. Oh Hutch, I miss you. I need you. You were the only one who could ever get me out of trouble. How can I live without you by my side buddy?
This woman is nuts. He wanted out of here now. There must be some way out. Each hand grabbing a side rail he began pulling himself into a sitting position. Sweat ran down his flushed face. Once he was sitting he paused to get his breath back, panting harshly from the pain. He then ripped the gauze wrap off his left wrist and pulled the IV needle out. He started sliding to the end of the bed. He had to stop frequently to rest, his chin on his chest, gasping in pain and fighting dizziness.
This is how the crazed doctor found him. Enraged, she lifted the meat tenderizer in her hand and struck him on the head reopening the stitched wound. Blood immediately flowed down the middle of his face and he slumped forward sinking into oblivion.
Starsky was feeling hopeless. The tears rolled steadily down his cheeks. He was feeling sicker than before and realized he had a fever. If he couldn't be with his best friend, his brother, then he did not want to live. And yet staying here was not an option. He was sure he was only seeing the start of the madness that held this woman in its clutches.
There was a sudden commotion coming from somewhere in the house. He could hear Margaret screaming and he began to shake with dread at what she would do next. He was too sick and weak to straighten himself up or even lift his head.
"Oh Hutch." he whispered as he heard approaching footsteps.
Starsky froze as he felt two hands grasp his head and slowly lift it up. He gasped as he looked into Hutch's face and agonized eyes.
"Oh Starsk, what kind of hell have you been through?" Hutch said as he helped his partner to lay back against the pillow. He then lowered the side rail and sat down on the edge of the bed. He noted the heat radiating from his friend and wondered where the ambulance was.
"Hutch? Is it really you?" Starsky asked and then broke down. He tried to raise his arms to hold Hutch but they wouldn't cooperate. Seeing this, Hutch grabbed Starsky around the shoulders and pulled him into a hug. Starsky leaned heavily into Hutch and let the sobs take him. He was able to lift his right arm high enough to grab weakly onto Hutch's jacket. When the tears slowed down he said, "Oh God Hutch. She told me you were dead. That she had buried ya'."
"Starsk, I'm so sorry. I'm alive. I'm here with you now buddy. You're going to be okay. I'm going to get you to the hospital." Hutch said, relieved to hear the sirens of the approaching ambulance.
As the paramedics lifted him onto the gurney, Starsky's hand raised up and was caught in Hutch's hand and he held it tight all the way to the hospital.
Lying in the bed in Memorial Hospital, Starsky lay quietly listening to Hutch explain all that happened.
Hutch was the only one found at the accident scene. He had suffered a concussion but refused treatment when he was informed that Starsky was not found.
The next few days he spent searching the area for any sign of his partner besides the blood stain found on the boulder.
As the days passed and there were no leads, Hutch became desperate. He stayed at Metro going over past cases Starsky had dealt with and getting nowhere. Neither Dobey or Huggy could get him to eat or sleep until finally he collapsed into his captain's arms and was laid down on the couch in Dobey's office.
The break came when one of Huggy's friends was telling his pal's how he had seen this doctor he knows at the drug store. Huggy, delivering beers to his table overheard his friend tell his buddies that she was single and gay, but was buying shaving cream, a men's razor and two packages of men's underwear. The men at the table chuckled, finding it odd. Huggy got the name of the doctor and called Hutch thinking it might be something worth checking out. Hutch checked and got the address and also a warrant just in case.
The deranged doctor had not taken kindly to Hutch coming into the house, even with the warrant he handed to her. She attacked him but he quickly subdued her, cuffed her and handed her off to his fellow officers that had come along.
Hutch paused and looked down at the floor. When he looked up, Starsky saw that the ice blue eyes were shimmering with tears.
"Starsk, when I first saw you bent over in that bed, I,,I,,I..." he bowed his head again.
Starsky reached over and placed his hand on Hutch's head. "Hutch. It's okay. You found me. You always find me. You saved my life. I'm gonna' be okay now because of you. Please don't be upset anymore."
Hutch raised his head and their eyes met. Their souls connected. Everything was good.