It was already turning into a bleak, grey day by the time the Torino pulled up outside the warehouse district. "I hate days like today," Hutch growled as he radioed in their location.
"Yeah? Chasin' perps and gatherin evidence not excitin' enough for ya, Blintz?" Starsky teased.
"Oh, shut up and let's just go inside." He looked at the clouds, at the rapid darkening. "And let's hope there's no holes in the ceiling."
They went inside and began their sweep of the premises, hoping to find at least some tiny clue to indicate Braden had been there as the informant had fingered.
After splitting up, Hutch took the high road-- the catwalks and upper floor -- while Starsky checked below. Two frustrating hours later, Starsky called up, "ANYTHING?"
"NO!" Hutch called back down. Then he frowned. "HEY STARSK -- YOU FEEL THAT?"
A moment, then Starsky frowned too. "YEAH! A RUMBLING.... HEY I THOUGHT THE TRAINS DIDNT RUN HERE!"
Hutch paled. "THEY DONT!"
"BUT I'M HEARING---"
"STARSKY!" Hutch screamed. "GET UNDER COVER!!! NOOOOWWW!" He began to run for the stairs ----
And the warehouse dissolved around them, sucked into the gaping maw of the maelstrom bearing down on them from the clouds.
For long moments, the tornado raged, metal ripping and wood snapping to the accompaniment of two terrified screams.
Then silence reigned amid the debris.
After an interminable amount of time, Starsky opened his eyes to blue sky and fluffy white clouds above him. He moaned and sat up, marveling at the fact that despite being battered and bruised, he wasn't badly injured. "Hutch...."
At the name, a pile of debris shifted and moaned.
Starsky was instantly there, lifting away boards and glass and metal and various whatnots, uncovering his partner. "Hutch..." he moaned, seeing the bloody gash on his head and the half-open eyes. "Hutch, lay still....."
"No...." Hutch whimpered. "No..... get me out..... so dark..... can't stand ....trapped in dark...."
"Dark...." Starsky looked up at the blazingly blue sky. "Good God. I'm gonna get you out, partner, I swear...just hold on for me, okay? Where are you hurtin'?"
"....head....leg......damn it Starsky....." His eyes blinked. "......heat......" he moaned suddenly and his eyes closed. "....no.....not blind.....no...."
"Hey....Hey!" Starsky put his hand on Hutch's neck and squeezed. "It ain't for good, ya got me? It ain't for good!"
"Not....." Hutch licked his lips and nodded. "Get me... out...."
"Workin' on it, blintz, fast as I can." He returned to the extrication process, freeing Hutch's arms and hands and then moving down. "Gonna get your legs now, okay?"
"O-Okay..." he waved his hands in front of his face, whispering under his breath, "...not for good....not for good...." almost like a mantra.
Starsky began moving the debris off of Hutch's legs --- only to stop when Hutch arched and screamed. Starsky swore as he saw a jagged piece of wood sticking from Hutch's thigh, down into it. "......lord, Hutch....." He began to work it free, and Hutch screamed again, his fists flailing.
Starsky ducked and managed to break off part of the wood. "Hutch, Hutch, it's me! Calm down!" he cried. "I know it hurts, I know it hurts! I'm gonna get you out and then we'll get that out of you, okay? I'm gonna get you out first!"
Sobbing from the pain, Hutch nodded. He trembled as he felt Starsky move the rest of the rubble. "....done?"
"Done, you're free." He took Hutch's hands. "I gotta move you. Do you understand?"
"I'm blind and hurting, not stupid!" Hutch shot back.
Starsky smiled. "You're going to be fine."
As he put his hands under Hutch, he felt Hutch grip his wrists. "Starsk.... I'm sc-I'm scared."
"I know ya are, buddy...ya ready to blow this pop stand?"
"Like the big bad wolf, partner...." Hutch said, his voice shaking and his smile watery.
When Starsky lifted him, Hutch screamed again, and automatically flailed out. This time he caught Starsky in the shoulder.
"I hate to do this, partner," Starsky lay him on even, soft ground. "But I'm gonna have to get that outta your leg and I can't with you flailin' at me."
It took a moment for the meaning to penetrate, then Hutch moaned. "Is... is it really... necessary?"
"Fraid so, already got a near-black eye and a bruised shoulder. Can't help you if I'm out for the count!"
Hutch moaned again, then nodded. "Too bad... no whiskey...." he grinned slightly. "Take edge--- off pain."
"Let's just get you fixed, then we'll talk of spirits." Starsky found some cable and gently bound Hutch's hands, fixing them over his head to a beam. He bound his ankles together. "Ready?"
"Just ... do...it!"
"Here we go," Starsky warned as he opened his pocketknife. He wadded up Hutch's handkerchief and put it between his teeth. "Bite down on this."
Hutch nodded, his unfocused eyes staring upward.
Starsky paused as the knife was about to touch the skin after he'd cut away Hutch's pants leg as much as he could. "I'm sorry, buddy. If there was any way to avoid this...."
Hutch nodded slowly, accepting and forgiving in that one motion.
"Okay," Starsky panted, looking at his trembling hand and willing it still. He saw Hutch's hands grip the ropes and knew this was terrifying for him -- bound, blind, hurting, and very aware he was about to be cut on.
Blinking nervous sweat out of his eyes, Starsky straddled Hutch's lower legs and set his right hand on Hutch's knee. Very deliberately, he touched Hutch's leg with the knife, pausing as the blade contacted skin.
Hutch stiffened a bit, his hands twisting in the ropes. Breathing deeply, he forced himself to relax....and nodded.
Then Starsky brought all his weight down on Hutch's legs, anchoring him -- and sliced deeply.
The reaction was immediate --- Hutch's head snapped backwards as much as it could, his body arching and a scream from the depths of his soul erupting around the makeshift gag. Starsky couldn't stifle the involuntary sob as he pressed harder, forcing the twisting body beneath him still. "I gotta do this, buddy," he sobbed. "Gotta get the stuff outta you..."
He probed with the knife, praying he wouldn't hit anything vital and watch his partner bleed to death before his eyes. Then the knife hit something that didn't feel or sound like bone or muscle and was too large for sinew and blood passages.
"I found it, Hutch!" he called over the screams. "Just another second!" He used the knife like a pinball flipper, and the shrapnel popped out.
Hutch let out another agonised scream and his eyes finally let the tears go.
Starsky probed just a bit, making sure it was all gone. Finally, he took his own handkerchief and balled it up, putting pressure over the wound.
Hutch's screams had dwindled to gasping sobs. Starsky used the material he'd cut away and bound up the wound. Then he cut Hutch's bonds.
Out of his mind with pain, Hutch reared up, attacking. Starsky caught him and held him until the firestorm of pain subsided. "I've got you... Shh, I've got you...."
After a few more moments had passed, Starsky tilted Hutch's head up, though he knew Hutch couldn't see him. "I'm gonna call for help now, okay, man? I'm gonna call for help, I'm not leavin' ya, I'm just goin' to the car..."
Hutch nodded. "Keep--- talkin'...."
"You got it, Blondie." He released Hutch and moved to the partially-buried but intact Torino and cleared it off, griping the whole time about his 'bruised tomato', calculated to make Hutch laugh.
When he could, he leaned in and pulled the radio out. "Central, this is Zebra-Three! We need an ambulance at 5 Markson Lane --- officer down! Repeat, officer down! Perp was a tornado!"
After a moment, Hutch heard him repeat, "No, Cindy, a literal tornado! Hutch and I tangled with a damned cyclone!" Another pause. "Thank you, we're a few yards from the car." Still another short pause, then, "Oh, very funny, Cindy. No, I don't think my car could scramble radar!"
Hutch shot, "Donít -- bet-- on that--- one, partner!" then he sat back, laughing.
"Everyone's a comedian," Starsky growled. "Zebra-three out." He came back to Hutch's side. "Ambulance is on its way."
"I'm gon-gonna....I'm gonna...pass out...now...."
Starsky pulled him close, careful of his wounds. "You go right ahead, good buddy. Ya done good."
A nod, and Hutch surrendered to oblivion as the scream of the ambulance sirens sounded.
Days later, Starsky blew into Hutch's room. "Good news, good news, good news!" he crowed.
Hutch looked up, grateful the concussion had eased to the point where he could look up again! Seeing the goofy grin on his partner's face, he quipped, "Yeah? Shirley DiFalco finally give you a second look?"
Starsky paused, scowling at Hutch. "Not yet...." He grinned. "We caught Braden red-handed!"
"Yeah?" Hutch began to smile.
"Yeah! He's goin' down for a long while!" He nodded toward Hutch's bandaged leg. "How're you doin'?"
"Better," Hutch sighed. "Doc says I'm outta here in a few days -- wants to make sure the wound doesn't get infected. He says you did a hell of a good job out there."
Starsky blushed. "You'd have done the same for me."
"Yeah...." Hutch held out his hand. "Yeah I would."
Starsky clasped it, and two pairs of blue eyes met as silent messages flew.
We're fine. We made it though the black day. TOGETHER.
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