CHILD'S PLAY

By Enola Jones



The yearly department physicals were looming down their necks, so Starsky and Hutch determined to stay as busy as they could so they wouldn't have to face it for as long as humanly possible.

Four drug rings had been successfully dissolved in the last three weeks -- three of those completely by accident! The partners were in the bullpen finishing up the paperwork on the fourth and final one -- when she walked in.

The tall, willowy brunette walked over to their desks and smiled at them. "Dave Starsky and Ken Hutchinson, I assume?"

As one, they rose to their feet and shook her hand. "Hutch, please," Hutch smiled at her. "And you would be--?"

"Marcy Allen. Doctor Marcy Allen." She smirked at them.

They looked at each other, then back at her. "You're Doctor Allen?" Starsky yelped.

"I certainly am," she grinned. "You wouldn't come to me -- so I came to fetch you."

"Could you excuse us for a second?" Hutch asked, pulling Starsky to the side. "Well, how about that?"

"Wanna get these over with?"

Hutch nodded. "At least the scenery is a lot more pleasant this year."

Starsky's crooked grin showed his agreement.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Half an hour later, they were lying in two separate rooms, impatiently waiting for Marcy.

She came in to Hutch first. "All looks fine -- except for one small detail."

Hutch frowned. "Detail?"

Smiling, she held up a loaded syringe. "Vitamin shot. Your bloodwork shows some serious deficiencies in B-12 and E."

Sighing, Hutch rolled over. "So much for my healthy diet, huh?"

Marcy chuckled as she swabbed an area with alcohol. "Diet alone can't give you all the nutrients you require. I heartily recommend a daily multvitamin." And she plunged the needle home."

Grunting softly, Hutch nodded. "I'll buy a bottle when I'm done here."

"All done. Now lay there for a moment and gather your strength."

Hutch rolled back over and lay down, sighing impatiently.

The pain hit a few seconds later. "Marcy.....what....?"

She smiled and kissed him gently as she wiped his sweaty brow. "It'll all be all right."

Hutch's eyes went huge. "That... wasn't....vitamins."

"No." She smiled as he fought encroaching unconsciousness. "It wasn't. The first shift is the most painful. They will grow easier, so long as you change volountarily."

"....shift? .....change? .....wh--" And the pain won. Hutch tumbled into the waiting darkness.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Starsky turned to face the door, smiling as Marcy walked in. "Took you long enough."

She shrugged, smiling apologetically. "We had to re-run some of your bloodwork. I didn't want to say anything until I was sure."

Starsky's smile fled. "Sure? Ab-About what?"

Chuckling, Marcy shook her head. "Take it easy, Dave. You're not dying."

"Oh, that's good."

"You do, however, have a severe B-12 and E vitamin deficiency." She pulled a filled syringe from the pocket of her lab coat. "Fortunately, this will set you to rights."

As Starsky rolled over for the injection, he completely missed her delighted but feral smile.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Waking up was a chore. Hutch forced his leaden eyes open and frowned deeply.

Marcy was bent over him, untying his legs. She looked a lot larger, as though she'd grown. She glanced up and smiled.

"Ah, you're awake." A larger hand caressed his cheek. "I'm sorry I had to restrain you. You had a small seizure."

"Sei--zure?" His voice was odd -- too high and reedy. He cleared his throat, asking, "What - what did you do to me?"

"What I had to. I was under orders to." She unfastened the restraints on his hands. "I am sorry the first change caused you so much pain."

"Change? What...what change? My voice...."

She smiled gently and helped him sit up. Tucking the covers around his legs, she said, "Don't move."

"'Don't move', she says,' Hutch grumbled.

Marcy brought a mirror from the bathroom and turned it so Hutch could see his reflection.

Hutch let out a shriek as a young boy -- no older than six or seven -- looked back at him. "That's not me! I'm a grown man, not a little boy!"

But the reflection's mouth moved exactly in time with his words. The reflection's eyes widened as Hutch felt his own widen.

And to his humiliated horror, he found himself acting like the child he now was.

Hutch -- exhausted and hurt and shocked and very, very frightened -- burst into tears.

Marcy gathered the boy into her arms and rocked him until his tears sent him into an exhausted sleep. As she lay the child back down onto the bed, she ran her fingers through the soft blond hair. After drawing the covers over his limp form, she brushed a maternal kiss over his temple and whispered two words.

"I'm sorry."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She found Starsky sitting up in bed, staring at a compact mirror that looked like it had come from a nurse -- Marcy couldn't see him carrying a pink compact -- touching his young face and wiping away furious tears. "Dave?"

Starsky's head snapped up and he glared at her, his jaw jutting out. "Why?" he choked out. "We trusted you!"

Marcy blinked in the face of his automatic -- correct -- assumption that this had been done to his partner as well.

"We trusted you!" the boy snarled at her. "Why -- how -- could you do this to us?"

Marcy heaved a great sigh. "I don't expect you to believe me," she began as she sat on the foot of the bed, facing him.

"Try me," Starsky retorted, crossing his arms and fixing a furious little boy's glare onto her.

The effect of the young boy's glare was an unexpected grin from Marcy. She immediately held up a hand. "Sorry, sorry! I didn't expect you to be such a cute kid, is all."

Starsky rolled his eyes and waited for her to get on with it.

"I was ordered to do this to you. Both you and your partner are empowered now--"

"Whoa, wait -- empowered? You -- you mean this isn't permanent?"

Marcy shook her head. "In return, we expect you to do a few favours for us from time to time."

But Starsky wasn't listening to that. He had fixated on something she'd said. "....not permanent.... What kind of empowerment is this?"

Marcy shook her head, chuckling. "You and your partner are what we call temporalmorphs. You canbecome any age from three to ninety. You will find you will be most comfortable at an age you have already been."

"Hence, why I'm a little boy," Starsky nodded. "You gave two ages as limits?"

Knowing he was listening now, Marcy replied, "You can't be younger than three or older than ninety. Any younger than three and it's irreversible. Any older and you will die. You must shift ages at least once every twelve hours, or you will shift involuntarily. and, as you have found out, involuntary ones hurt like hell."

His eyes widened. "So -- you've done this before."

"With limited success, yes. You two are the first full temporalmorphs. And all we ask in return are a few favours here and there."

Starsky's eyes narrowed. "Favours? To whom -- exactly?"

Marcy smiled gently. "The CIA, Detective Starsky."

The door opened. "Doctor Allen?" a nurse asked. "You have a phone call."

Marcy petted Starsky's leg and left the room.

He thumped back onto the pillows and watched her leave. a thought, and he aged to twenty-five.

On impulse, he reached over and put his hand on the metal food tray beside the bed. A thought later, and rust spots began to appear. Starsky concentrated again, and they faded away.

"So..." he whispered. "It's not just myself that I can age and make younger...."

A smile played on his lips. "I can't wait to share this with Hutch." Then, to himself, he thought, I'll tell him this wrinkle to our powers -- but not Marcy. I don't trust her anymore.

Sliding out of bed, Starsky crept to the nurse's station. Keeping out of sight, he aged himself to eighty before making his shuffling way to the desk.

"Excuse me, ma'am?" He was startled by his own reedy voice. "I'm lost... I'm looking for my room."

The young nurse smiled kindly at the obviously confused elderly man. "May I have your name, sir?"

"Hutchinson," Starsky replied. "Kenneth Hutchinson."

She checked her records. "You're in luck, sir -- it's just down the hall. Room 612. Would you like me to help you?"

"612? No, i can make it. Thanks, honey." He shuffled into the shadows and aged down to his normal thirty-five.

Starsky then walked down to 612 and pushed the door open. Walking in, he saw the small blond form in the bed.

"Hutch?" He knew what had been done to them -- but seeing Hutch as a child was still a jolt to his system.

The boy responded to the name, turning his head to look. Seeing Starsky there -- looking absolutely normal -- he whimpered and flung himself onto his stomach, burying his face into the pillow. "Go 'way," his muffled child's tenor sobbed. "Go 'way, Starsk."

Instead, Starsky sat on the bed and rubbed the small back. "I'm not going anywhere, partner."

"Noooo...." he moaned. "Not partner -- not anymore." A sob, and one word forced out.

"Freak!"

Starsky's eyes widened as he realised that Hutch didn't know! "No, Hutch. You're not a freak."

Before he could go on, Hutch interrupted, "Yes, I am!" He rolled over and looked Starsky in the eyes. "Look at me, Starsky! Look at me! I'm six damned years old physically! My mind is an adult, and my body is a child!"

"That's right," Starsky said calmly, supporting himself on the bed with the hand that had been resting on Hutch's back. "But you're not a freak."

"Starsky--"

"Marcy hasn't explained it to you, has she?"

Hutch frowned. "Explained? Explained what?"

"It's a power, Hutch. You can be any age from three to ninety." He smiled. "At will."

Blue eyes had widened as Starsky talked. His mouth worked, but nothing came out for a moment. Then he asked, "How do you know that?"

"Because," Starsky began.

Then Hutch yelped as Starsky suddenly shrank from thirty-five to match Hutch's six.

"Because," his startling pre-pubescent voice rippled out, "I have the same power."

ONE MONTH LATER

Starsky returned to their new apartment to find a teenage Hutch busily unpacking. "You're what sixteen, seventeen?"

"Nineteen. I always looked younger at this age." He smiled. "I'm about done."

"Good. We've got a case."

"Lovely. Our first one since this. What've we go?"

Starsky shook his head. "Dobey wants to see us in person."

Hutch winced. "Well...hell."

"You'll be fine. Grow up and come on."

Shaking his head, Hutch aged to 35. "I never thought I'd hear you say those words to me."

"What words?"

"'Grow up'."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Forty hours later, Hutch lay with a bullet wound in his shoulder and Starsky was glaring death rays at the punks that had locked them into a large cage. The punks gloated and then left them alone, confident that the cops were no longer a threat to them.

"You're going to be okay," Starsky soothed.

"I know," Hutch groaned. "Just can't decide up or down!"

Starsky blinked incredulously at him for a moment, then burst out laughing. "Down."

And Hutch was on his feet less than a minute later a year younger. No sign at all of a bullet wound.

"You're okay?"

"I'm okay," Hutch confirmed. "How're we getting out of here?"

"Through that door." Starsky took the padlock in his hand.

"Starsk, I don't under..." Hutch's voice trailed off and his eyes widened.

Rust spots began to appear on the lock. They spread until the entire lock was rust-coloured. Then it began to disintegrate.

Moments later, Starsky was brushing rust dust off of his hands to join the pile of it on the floor and Hutch was swinging the door open.

"You have got to teach me that," Hutch breathed as he passed Starsky by, eager to get out of the cell.

Starsky just gaped after him. Teach him? What the hell--?

"Why are you lookin' at me like that?" Hutch asked, puzzled.

"We'll talk later. For now, let's get those creeps."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Starsky stood and watched as the crooks were hauled away. Both of them were babbling incoherently. One kept raving that he shot Hutch who was now back to his normal age. His age-shifts had healed him.

The other one kept gasping that they were locked up there was no way they could have escaped --

And that reminded Starsky. He pulled Hutch aside and asked him, "What was that about?"

Hutch frowned. "What was what about?"

"Asking me to teach you that trick with the aging! That's part of our powers!"

Hutch studied him for a moment, then shook his head. "Hate to break it to you, partner but that seems to be all yours. I can age me. And that's it."

Starsky just stared pop-eyed at him.

"I'm serious, Gordo. That little trick is part of your power. Not mine."

Starsky gaped at him. "You...can't...."

Hutch shook his head. "Nope. I can age myself. You seem to be the only one who can age or de-age other things."

"But we got the exact same dose of the exact same stuff!"

"And we're two very different people," Hutch grinned. "I'm honestly not surprised that we got slightly different powers."

"Lovely," Starsky growled. "How much harder is this going to get? Not only were we changed against our will, we're sometime pawns for the CIA and we don't even have the same powers!"

"Oh, it's not hard."

Starsky blinked at him. "No?"

"Naaaah." Hutch went down to six and his small hand crept into Starsky's. "Not hard." He smiled. "Matter of fact I'd say it's child's play."

And Starsky found himself returning the warm smile.

THE END




Return to The Starsky and Hutch page

Return to The Realm