Starsky looked over and grinned at his blonde partner. “Feel better?”
“Much,” Hutch sighed as she lowered her arms and came out of the stretch. “Man, it’s good to be out of that car!”
“Hey!” Starsky tried to glare at her, but the grin he couldn’t shake ruined the effect.
She shot him an unrepentant grin. “Oh, stop. You know what I meant!”
“Yeah, I know.” Starsky squinted up at the incredibly blue sky. “Beautiful day, off the clock for a couple of hours – great time to take a walk and just spend time in the sunshine!”
Hutch chuckled. “Okay, that does it – you’ve been spending way too much time listening to Huggy Bear!” They laughed together as they walked on.
The laughter stopped as a bank alarm ripped through the air. Without even pausing to look at each other, the partners took off – running all out toward the nearby First National Bank.
Just as they reached the bank, figures were seen running from it.
“POLICE!” Starsky roared, drawing his gun. “FREEZE!”
Instead of freezing, they drew guns and fired on the partners. Starsky jerked left and Hutch right as they returned fire.
One of the goons ran out of bullets. He threw his gun at Hutch and took off running. Hutch bolted after him.
Seeing the movement out of the corner of his eye, Starsky whirled as he squeezed off one more shot.
Hutch shrieked in pain as her hand flew to the bleeding gash on the side of her head. A moment later, she crumpled into an insensate heap onto the sidewalk.
“Nooo!” Starsky wailed as he pelted to her side. “Kay…” he whimpered as he drew her into his lap. “…Kay….” Touching her cheek, he whispered, “I’m so sorry….I didn’t think….Kay….”
Starsky paced the waiting area of Bay City General like a possessed tiger in a too-small cage. His thoughts free-wheeled wildly between desperate prayers for his partner and self-condemnation for putting his best friend in this place.
His eyes closed. I shot the woman I love….
He whirled toward the voice, opening his eyes to see a middle-aged man walking toward him. “Are you--??”
“I’m Doctor Johnson – the physician treating Detective Hutchinson.”
“How is she?” When the doctor launched into a string of technical words, Starsky shook his head. “Straight up…please!”
The doctor sighed. “Straight up—Detective Hutchinson is blind.”
Her head tilted as the door opened. “Hello?”
A smile broke out on her face. “Starsk!” To her surprise, her response produced a tiny sob from him. “Starsk? Wh-what is it?” she reached toward his voice.
He took her hand in both of his and put his cheek on them. “Hutch….Kay…I am so sorry…P-please…I didn’t mean to….”
Hutch frowned. “What are you going on about? It’s not as though this is your fault or any—“
Something in his voice gave her pause. “Starsky?” When he didn’t answer, she jostled his hand. “Starsky, answer me! Did you do this to me?!”
“It was an accident…I’m sorry….”
The whole incident came pouring out. Hutch listened, holding her friend’s hand tight. When he finished, Hutch quietly said, “I need some time…”
“I understand.” She felt his hands start to release and she clamped down so he couldn’t pull away. “Ow! Hey, what--?”
“Don’t.” Her voice was suddenly steel. “I’m mad, I’m confused, I’m hurting, I’m frustrated – but I will not have you beating yourself up over this!”
“How can you say that? I did this to you!”
“Yes!” she agreed. “Yes, you did! But!” She took a deep breath and squeezed his hand. “I know it was an accident! And I don’t hate you! Mad as hell at you, yes -- but I don’t hate you!”
After a very long few moments, she heard a soft chuckle. “Best I can hope for right now, huh?”
Hutch nodded. “You got that right. Now – could you do me a tremendous favour?”
Another nod. “I am this way because of your shot. You wanna punish yourself, yeah? Then your punishment is to stay with me and help me adjust to… to bein’ in the dark.”
There was another awful pause, then a second soft chuckle. “How ever am I going to stand it?”
“Me and Thee, remember? Same way as always. Best friends forever.”
“You got it, partner.” He squeezed her hand in acknowledgment.
Hutch forced a smile. “Now get outta here and let me rest awhile.”
“I’ll be back tonight, okay?”
“Okay.” She felt his hands leave hers. “Starsk?”
This time the smile was real. “I honestly don’t hate you.”
“Thanks…means a hell of a lot.”
She nodded. “Go.”
“Gone!” he laughed, and a moment later she heard the door close.
Only then did Hutch curl onto her side, roll into a tight ball, and cry bitter tears.
Starsky opened the door to Hutch’s hospital room to find her sitting in bed. She was dressed and fidgeting with the pillowcase. He licked his lips. “Hutch?”
Her face lit up as it turned toward him. “Ready to take me home?”
“Well, they lettin’ you go?”
Hutch chuckled. “I’ve already checked myself out. There’s no letting me go – I’m going.”
Starsky chuckled in return. “Come on, then, let’s get you home!”
Another nod, and Hutch stood up. Disoriented and dizzy in the shifting of her dark world, she gasped and swayed slightly – hands reaching automatically.
And automatically was how Starsky reacted – grabbing her hands and pulling her close. She clung to him like a lifeline – trembling uncontrollably.
“It’ll be okay,” he soothed, absently carding this fingers through her long blonde hair. “Somehow, someway – it’ll be okay.”
After a moment, she nodded. “I-I’ll hold you to that….” She lifted her head. “Hey – di-did the doctors tell you the good news?”
“There’s good news?”
She smiled toward his voice and Starsky felt his heart squeeze in his chest as those eyes failed to focus. “They think this—“ she waved in the direction of her eyes, “is only temporary!”
He squeezed her just a little tighter. “Hutch, that’s great!”
Hutch beamed happily, then frowned. “Did you catch those perps?”
“No,” he admitted.
They were halfway down the hall when Hutch stopped cold. “What is it?” Starsky asked, alarmed at both her abrupt halt and her expression.
Her hand tightened on his arm. “You did this to me,” she hissed.
He blinked, then slowly said, “And you said you forgave me….”
“I do forgive you…but…Starsk….” She turned her face toward him, dead eyes huge. “I.A.!”
Starsky took a deep breath. “I know.”
Hutch’s large blind eyes widened more. “They’ve already been in touch, haven’t they?”
Unable to answer verbally around the great lump in his throat, Starsky raised her palm to his cheek so she could feel his nod.
The blinded eyes narrowed. “Fine. I want to testify.”
“Hey.” He guided her into the elevator and pushed the button for the lobby. “You focus on gettin’ adjusted and then on gettin’ well. Let me handle I.A.”
“No.” Her voice was suddenly that stubbourn, throaty growl. “We started this together. We will finish this together. I will testify. End of conversation.”
Starsky studied his blinded partner’s face. High colour touched her cheeks, and her mouth was set in an angry, stubbourn pout. Golden brows were drawn tight over narrowed cobalt pools. She was every inch a Fury, ready to fight for her best friend --- handicap be damned.
At that moment, Starsky thought she’d never looked more beautiful.
His fond smile showed in his voice as he petted the hand crooked in his elbow. “As milady desires,” he quipped.
Hutch’s musical laughter echoed as he guided her from the hospital, sneaking her out before she had to take a disorienting ride in a wheelchair.
“Thank you,” she said once they were in the Torino and heading toward Venice Place.
“For what?” Starsky frowned.
“For helpin’ me walk outta there under my own power.”
For reply, he reached over and mutely squeezed her hand.
News of the gun battle and an officer’s subsequent blinding didn’t take long to hit the Bay City press.
The bank robbers read about it and jumped to the conclusion they had done it. “They’ll be comin’ after us now,” one growled.
“So what are we gonna do?” the other one asked. “Blind or not, she’ll be able to testify! We’re in deep here…”
The first one’s eyes narrowed. “Well, then, we’ll just have to get out of it.”
“How?” the second asked.
“C’mon, Bill,” the first one said with a cold smile. “Time for us to turn detective. We gotta find her.”
“And then?” Bill asked.
“We make sure she can’t testify.”
Starsky was in the bathroom while Hutch was sitting on the couch listening to the radio.
At least, that was where she was supposed to be. In reality, she was slowly making her way toward the kitchen and something to drink.
Hutch froze when she heard the front doorknob turn. She turned, heading back toward the couch and her gun.
Suddenly she heard the door being kicked in and heavy footsteps. She lunged toward the couch, only to feel her wrist being seized.
“Uh-uh,” a stinking whisper reached her ears as her wrist was twisted behind her. “No guns. Not for you.”
“This her, Joe?”
“Yeah, Bill… this’s her. Now that she’s heard our voices –“ Hutch’s eyes widened as she heard the snikt of a hammer being pulled back. “She’s a cop. Cops are only good one way.” Metal touched her temple. “Dead.”
Hutch didn’t dare move. She didn’t dare call for Starsky. She was surprised she hadn’t heard his voice by now….
“All right, punks! Let her go!”
…Ah, there he is…
“No – I don’t think so.” The hand released her wrist to snake around her neck – which was where the punk made his mistake.
Before he had a good grip on her, Hutch whirled. Slamming the gun away from her head, she hit the warm body she felt too near her, shoving it backward.
She then ran blindly toward Starsky’s voice.
A hand grabbed her other wrist, and she heard Starsky breathe out, “It’s me!” before she felt herself being pushed behind him.
Hutch clung to him, an anchor of safety in her dark world that was now so frightening. She could smell his aftershave and the soft leather of his jacket---
“No!” Starsky suddenly barked, shoving Hutch to the floor. She heard an uncountable number of shots – it happened too fast – and then an unearthly silence.
“Starsky?” she called softly.
The silence in the air seemed to mock the blind woman.
“Easy…Hutch!” Starsky’s voice came, tight with pain. “I’m…okay!”
“The perps?” Hutch demanded.
“Out of commission…” There was a grunt, and his voice lowered. “They won’t be botherin’ anyone again.”
“Are you hit?” She moved toward his voice.
“Uh…yeah.” He grunted again. “Grazed my ribs…gonna head to the hospital…”
Hutch nodded. “Gonna call Dobey?”
“Already am…” And the conversation that followed showed Hutch he was doing just that.
She felt her way to his side and felt him sigh as he hung up the phone. “Starsk?”
“Mmph. IA’s tomorrow.”
“Hush. It’ll be fine. Let’s just get you okay for now.”
Starsky spent the night in the hospital for observation. The next morning, IA decided to make his life hell.
The panel began badgering Starsky immediately. They painted a portrait of him as a loose cannon, firing at everything that moved.
“Too bad your ex-partner had to pay the price,” one particularly nasty man ground out.
Hutch had had enough. “NOW HOLD ON!” she roared, jerking to her feet.
“Miss Hutchinson, you are out of order!”
“Like hell I’m out of order!” she bellowed. “The only thing out of order here is you! This is supposed to be a hearing to find facts, and you people are crucifying my partner!”
“DETECTIVE!” A voice bellowed from the rear. Hutch heard footsteps coming toward her and felt his hands on her shoulders as the voice continued, softer: “Her proper title is Detective. And she’s right!”
“Captain Dobey, this is a closed hearing—“
“Oh, is that what they’re calling witch hunts now?”
Hutch felt herself smile as she heard people around the room splutter at Dobey’s remark.
“You people make me sick,” he went on. You’re Internal Affairs, for G-d’s sake! You’re supposed to be the ones who keep us honest! But you’ve set yourselves up as judge, jury and executioner here! It! Was! An! Accident!”
“Were you there?” the nasty one sneered.
“Were you?” Dobey shot back. “These two have no reason to lie about what happened, and adjusting for individual points-of-view, their stories mesh! The perps are dead. Detective Hutchinson will recover. Let…it…*rest*!”
“Captain Dobey, you have no authority here—“
“Shut up, Abernathy!” another IA man growled. “He’s right and you know it! It was an accident, the detective holds no malice toward her partner, and this is not a permanent injury!” There was a rustle as the man stood. “Captain Dobey…. On your recommendation? We will let this rest. This time.”
It was over.
And two days later, when Hutch’s sight finally began to return – they knew it was truly over!
Return to The Realm