Hutch woke up alone in the house. That was a rarity lately; he was determined to enjoy it.
He made himself a breakfast that was so disgustingly healthy even Honey wouldn't touch it. With a grin, he signed to her, You have no taste.
In reply, she took his sleeve in her mouth and tugged. Hutch frowned, till he saw the TTY light flashing. Downing the last of the protein shake, he sat at the keyboard. *Hello? GA*
*Morning, blintz. Pleasant dreams? GA*
Hutch grinned. *You, partner, are incorrigible. Where are you? GA*
*Going to the dictionary after that huge word.* Hutch laughed silently, waiting for Starsky to continue. There had been no 'GA', so he knew more was coming.
Sure enough: *Seriously, I'm at the station. Got called in early this morning -- figured I'd check it out before disturbing your beauty sleep. GA*
*Very funny, Gordo. What's up? GA*
*Tell you when you get here. Huggy's on the way to pick you up. GA*
As if on cue, the doorbell light blinked, sending Honey nudging Hutch's leg. *Correction: Huggy's here. See you at the station. GA*
*See you here.* And it shut down from Starsky's end.
Deafness didn't keep Hutch from behind the wheel; though the small matter of his car being in the shop with a busted heater DID. So Huggy drove him to the station and dropped him off. Hutch waved greetings to fellow officers, puzzled as always at the scowl Jacob Stanford shot at him.
What did I do to HIM? he signed for the umpteenth time to Honey. When he looked up, he saw Brenda Collins looking at him sadly. Hi, Brenda. What's up?
The night shift's senior detective signed back, He doesn't like anyone that's -- different. He doesn't like you because of your lack of hearing and voice, he doesn't like your dog just being here, and he doesn't like me because--- She broke off and smiled, holding her hand for Honey to sniff.
Makes me wonder how he ever became a cop, Hutch mused, and Brenda nodded at his words. He smiled at her and turned up the charm. Late night?
She nodded. Haven't been to bed yet. Dobey assigned me to work with you two in what limited capacity I'm able to in the daytime.
As he fell in step, he signed, Doesn't that make it hard? You being allergic to sunlight and all that?
Why do you think I work the night shift? she grinned. Long as I stay in the shade, I'll be fine. That was Starsky's first question too. I'm fine, let's do this.
Hutch and Brenda sat down beside Starsky. Starsky rolled his eyes good-naturedly as Honey licked his face before settling down beside Hutch. She kept her distance from Brenda.
"Still can't make friends with her, huh?" Starsky teased.
"I just don't get along with dogs," she grinned. "Actually, Honey tolerates me better than most."
So what've we got? Hutch asked, opening the folder and grimacing. Oh, lovely, don't tell me....
Starsky nodded grimly. Copycat killings.
Worse, Brenda sighed. Copycat VAMPYRE killings.
Hutch shook his head. I thought after Nadasy, they were over.
Brenda nodded. They WERE over. It's been over three years --- plus these are not identical, only similar.
Victims are different, too, Starsky said. These are equally men and women, and there seems to be no pattern.
There's ALWAYS a pattern, Hutch chided.
Brenda sighed. If there is, I'm too tired to see it. That's why I asked you two to work on it during the day for me --- so we can catch this sucker.
If Hutch had been able to, he'd have been groaning loudly. Under the circumstances, HORRIBLE pun!
Unintentional pun, she shot back. Shows you how tired I am.
Brenda left them around eleven, and the pair kept poring over the folders, occasionally comparing notes.
Hutch raised his head and hands to ask Starsky for some clarification, when he saw Starsky's head turn and saw him pick up the phone, his lips moving as he took notes.
Slowly, Hutch lowered his hands to his lap and waited. At times frustration over what had happened to him threatened to overwhelm him.
He missed the ringing of a phone.... the easiness of verbal conversation. He missed the background noise of the precinct bullpen. He missed Brenda's hearty laugh, Starsky's Brooklyn accent....
Hell, he just missed hearing.
As if reading his mind, Honey nudged his leg. He smiled down at her and rubbed her silky fur. She always made him feel better.
He looked up to find the phone back in the cradle and a grim-faced Starsky looking at him. What?
We gotta go to the morgue.
He nodded darkly. They just brought in another body.
They brought the folders with them and studied the new body carefully. They compared photos of the location, sex of the victim, wounds, occupation once they found an identity....
Nothing. No pattern.
Disgusted at both the killer and their inability to find a pattern, Hutch leaned on the table and let out a silent sigh. Then he happened to glance up. His eyes widened and he slapped the table twice to attract Starsky's attention.
Starsky frowned at him. I'm not making the connection, Hutch.
Hutch opened folder after folder. On every body, in the exact same location, there was a half-healed tattoo.
When Brenda returned after sundown, Starsky and Hutch were swinging along in full teamwork. Brenda smiled, steepling her fingers as she watched the team in action.
Hutch would find a bit of information, run it through someone on the TTY -- possibly Huggy Bear, Brenda thought -- then write down what he found and slide it to Starsky. Meanwhile, Starsky was surrounded by phone books and files, making phone call after phone call.
Honey caught sight of her and growled. Brenda reached out her hand to the border collie. Honey let out a soft growl and settled back, somewhat mollified by the familiar scent. Brenda shot her a wink and sat down.
"How's it going?" she asked Starsky, since Hutch's back was turned to her.
Starsky smiled. "Well, we found the missing link."
"Every victim had a fresh tattoo on their ankle. We're tracking it down, trying to find the parlors that did them all."
Brenda whistled. "Quite a task. Need some help?"
"Your case, after all," Starsky smiled.
"Yeah, my case and I missed this," she sighed, looking at the files.
Starsky laid a hand over hers. "You're tired, Bren. You've worked this night after night. Barely sleeping and, if I know you, barely eating."
She grinned at him. "No, I've been eating. Keep a cooler out in the car, you know."
"With food," she nodded. "Sleeping erratically -- but I have been eating."
Satisfied, Starsky wadded a paper into a ball and threw it onto the TTY keys.
Without looking up, Hutch raised his hand, one finger upraised, before he went back to typing.
Brenda howled her laughter. "Guess he told you."
"First sign he learned, I bet," Starsky grinned as he threw another paper missile, bouncing this one off the top of Hutch's head.
Hutch spun around, fingers flying -- and freezing mid-sign as he saw Brenda. Hi, he waved.
Hi yourself, gorgeous. Find anything pertinent?
I think so. Have a look at this. He passed a notebook to her.
She looked at it and nodded. Let's roll.
All of the tattoos had been done at one of two parlors practically next to each other. Both of them were open until midnight, and all of the murders had taken place three or four days later. The three detectives -- plus Honey -- went to one of them.
Walking up to the receptionist, Brenda showed her badge and introduced Starsky and Hutch. "We're here to ask you some questions about the marauders...."
Slowly, a man in the back put down his janitor's broom and picked up a phone, whispering something into it. Hutch's eyes narrowed as he read his lips. Just as slowly, he replaced the phone and started easing out the back.
He made it through the back door and partway down the alley when a voice stopped him. "Goin' somewhere?"
He turned to find the lady detective standing, arms folded, at the mouth of the alley. She raised her hands and signed something. He whirled to see the blond detective signing back to her, a growling dog at his feet.
"Our partner's gone after your partner," the woman said. "So why don't you make it easier on yourself and tell us which one of you did the actual killing?"
"You can't prove a thing."
"No?" she stepped forward. "We know you both targeted certain customers at the parlors -- only the ones who got tiny tattoos on their ankles. They were so few, so far apart, so seemingly random, there wouldn't appear to be a pattern." Watching the man grow pale as she spoke, she knew she'd hit. "Only thing we don't know is why the vampyre motif."
"We didn't kill them!" he growled at her. "We brought them over!"
Brenda and Hutch rolled their eyes in unison. At Hutch's nod, Brenda marched right up to him and snarled, "You didn't bring them over. They're no more a vampyre than you are."
"Oh?" he sneered. "And how do you know I'm not a vampyre?"
"I know," she said, grinning. Suddenly she grabbed him and threw him against the wall. Her eyes glowed an unearthly red and her smile was suddenly a fanged one. "I know," she hissed in a low, dangerous voice, "because I am one."
The young murderer just stared at her, before he sagged in her grasp.
Typical, Hutch teased.
She smiled at him as her features returned to human normal. At least we have them.
As they started to leave the alley, she took Hutch's arm and let her look convey her emotions.
Don't worry, he said with a gentle smile. Usual deal -- Starsky will never hear it from me.
She nodded, relieved. Poor thing is so superstitious, if he ever found out one of his co-workers was an actual vampyre....
Hutch nodded and petted her arm.
The pair of suspects -- and as the trial revealed, murderers -- were sentenced to psychiatric hospitals.
Brenda returned to her normal nocturnal schedule, leaving Starsky none the wiser as to what she truly was.
Hutch kept his promise -- and her secret.
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