SOP Disclaimer: I do not own Starsky and Hutch and do not intend to infringe on the rights of those that do. This is for entertainment purposes only.


BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS

by: dnjlwilson

Chapter 1

Hutch was not happy. He knew Starsky had cheated on the coin toss. He wasn't exactly mad that he had cheated, he was mad because Starsky beat him to it. Hutch had been known to cheat a time or two and now he knew how Starsky felt. Mad as hell.

The toss was over a case. A case where there was only room for one of them. They were teamed with some young buck from vice. How anyone that young could make Lieutenant was beyond them. Ryan Kimbrough was all mouth, full of himself. He knew just enough to be dangerous and he was in charge. The bad part was, to Hutch, Starsky would be at his mercy.

Starsky and Hutch had been working with Kimbrough for two weeks now. According to Kimbrough, they had been working for him, not with him. He was that kind of guy. Hutch was amazed that Starsky hadn't decked the kid. Yet. They had worked hard, got this buy set up and now Kimbrough was insisting he be in on it. Starsky tried to explain to Kimbrough that his presence might spook their suspects. These guys didn't like anything new, and they were used to Hutch, not Kimbrough. Well, naturally, the kid pulled rank and won. He was in on it, no argument.

Hutch still remembered the look on Starsky's face when he took the coin out of his pocket. "Call it."

"Heads." Hutch said.

Before Starsky even looked at it, he said, "Sorry, tails."

Hutch looked at Dobey. No help there. "Starsk."

"Hutch." Starsky interrupted, "Fair and square."

"It wasn't fair and you know it!" Hutch replied.

"Enough!" Dobey yelled. "Hutchinson, sit down!"

Hutch looked at Starsky, who was smiling smugly. Hutch glared at his partner, earning him a free view of Starsky's tongue. The natural response from Hutch, of course, was the one finger salute.

Dobey was incensed. "Will you two stop acting like ten year olds for God's sake?"

"Sorry, Cap." Starsky offered.

Dobey somehow missed the sincerity in the detective's voice. "Can it!"

"Yes, sir." Starsky said obediently, irritating him even further. Dobey then glared at Hutch, silently demanding a response. "Yes, sir." Hutch replied, defeated.

Choosing to stop while he was ahead, Dobey continued with laying out the operation.

Thirty-six hours later, Starsky and Kimbrough were parked in a dark warehouse loading zone, waiting for the deal to go down. The only light was a dim street light nearly 200 feet away. They were both wired for sound, connected with the make-shift command post several miles away.

Starsky had quickly grown tired of Kimbrough's conversation. It had amounted to nothing more than crowing about all the accomplishments in his career and even a little boasting about his accomplishments with some to the women they both knew at the station. Starsky had just about had all he could take when he noticed headlights behind them.

"Show time." he whispered, speaking more to the wire than to Kimbrough.

"Let's rock and roll." Kimbrough said, slapping Starsky on the back.

"I can't believe he said that." Starsky whispered into the wire, knowing Hutch would hear him.

Hutch looked at Dobey and they both smiled. They knew how hard it was to work with a green kid who thought he knew everything and Starsky would have more trouble than anyone he knew. Hutch hoped Kimbrough's cockiness didn't get them both in trouble.

Starsky watched as the car pulled up behind them. He started to exit the car, but Kimbrough grabbed his arm and said, "We go when I say." Starsky took a deep breath and punched down the reply that was on the tip of his tongue. He didn't want to start anything with Kimbrough right now, but the time would come soon. Watching the car in his side mirror, Starsky said to Kimbrough, "We need to be in position before they walk up to the car."

"We have plenty of time, Detective. Hold your horses." Kimbrough's tone of voice was like he was speaking to a child.

Starsky's response was inaudible over the wire, but Hutch was pretty sure of what his partner said.

"Let's move slow, Detective." Kimbrough commanded.

They exited the car slowly, keeping their hands visible and away from their weapons.

"Hutch." Starsky whispered. "We got five guys. Mason is here, but I don't know the others."

"Easy, Starsk." Hutch whispered to himself. He knew Starsky was not liking this set up. God, he wished he was with him.

"Howdy, boys." Mason said cheerfully as he walked up to the car. Looking at Starsky and pointing at Kimbrough, he asked, "Who's he?"

The guy with the cash, Mase." Starsky smiled, trying to keep his cool.

"I don't like this. Where's the blond guy?" Mason asked, getting agitated.

Thinking quick, Starsky replied, "He got a hold of some bad stuff. Couldn't make it."

Hutch glanced at Dobey, smiling. "I told you he was a good liar undercover."

"You shoulda come alone." Mason said angrily.

Picking a bad time to join in, Kimbrough said, "I don't trust him with my money. Now do we deal, or do I walk?"

Hutch felt his stomach tighten. This wasn't good. Starsky would be in a world of trouble if Kimbrough didn't shut his cocky mouth.

Starsky tried to calm Mason down. "Lighten up, Mase. The cash speaks for itself." He then gave Kimbrough a very hard look. It was ignored.

Kimbrough took over. "I can cut this deal anywhere. You've got thirty seconds, then I'm out of here."

Starsky felt the anger from Mason as he glared at him. "Who do you think you're talking to?" Mason hissed as he pulled a pistol from his jacket.

"Come on, Mase." Starsky cut in. "He's just a little out of practice with this sort of thing. He usually gets dumb guys like me to do his dirty work." Starsky cut another look at Kimbrough. Again, he was ignored.

"Shut up and let me handle this." Kimbrough said to Starsky. "You can wait in the car."

Starsky could hardly keep his hands off of Kimbrough's throat. With incredible self control, he calmly said, "No need for that, sir, I'll be good."

Hutch looked at Dobey. "Cap, we gotta move. Kimbrough's gonna blow this."

Dobey though for a moment and shook his head. "We wait. Give it a few more minutes."

"Cap, that's Starsky in there with that idiot!" Hutch pleaded.

Before Dobey could respond, they heard Mason yell over the wire. "I don't care who the hell you are or how much money you have. I don't do business with anybody I don't know!"

Starsky stepped forward, trying to control Mason's rage.

"I oughta kill you for bringin' him!" Mason yelled at Starsky, as the other men walked toward them.

Kimbrough suddenly panicked with the deteriorating situation. His inexperience showed as he backed up and pulled his gun. "Hold it! Police!"

Starsky, caught off guard by Kimbrough's blunder, was too late to pull his pistol. Mason shot Kimbrough twice, then aimed at Starsky. "Freeze, pig!"

Obeying instantly, Starsky held up both hands. "Easy, Mason."

"Easy? You set me up!" Mason yelled.

The men surrounded Starsky as Mason felt for his gun. Starsky froze when Mason found the wire.

"You are a cop!" Mason was furious. He jerked the wire from Starsky and threw it across the dock. "You're good. I'll give you that. I didn't have a clue you were a cop. Now, pick up the money and come with me. You're gonna get us out of this mess."

Picking up the briefcase, Starsky caught Mason just under the chin as he swung it upward as hard as he could. Mason's goons began firing, hitting Starsky low, just above his right hip. Still on his feet, Starsky began firing back as he turned and ran for cover. Another slug hit his shoulder blade and passed clean through, exiting below his collar bone. He staggered slightly but kept running distancing himself from the two men who were right behind him.

He felt his warm blood running down his chest to his stomach from the shoulder wound and wondered how long he could keep this up. He had to ditch these guys somehow. Finding an alley, heavily littered with trash, he swung in and dove under the debris. Gulping air into his burning lungs, he fought the nausea that threatened to take his consciousness. He lost the battle and sank down to the filthy street, unaware his pursuers had passed him by.


Chapter 2

Mason and two of his goons were caught. Hutch had gotten to the scene quickly but not before Starsky had to run. Hutch assumed the two missing men were after Starsky and with all the shots he had heard over Kimbrough's wire, he feared Starsky might be wounded.

Hutch looked down at Kimbrough, who was face down on the concrete. It was apparent he had died instantly. Hutch tried hard to work up sympathy for the man. His own arrogance had killed him and it had also gotten Starsky into trouble. Just how much, Hutch didn't know.

"There's no sign of him." Dobey said as he walked up. "He said there were five. You think the other two took him?"

Hutch felt his stomach knot up as he considered the idea. What if they did have him? "Let's look some more and see what we can come up with."

"Okay." Dobey replied. "If he ran, he would have to run that way." he concluded, pointing back down the dock.

Hutch began walking that way. He saw no sign of Starsky, but continued on. The darkness hampered his efforts to find evidence, but he relentlessly continued. Looking toward the bay, he knew that was the last place Starsky would have gone, if he had a choice. Not wanting to leave anything out, Hutch walked to the edge of the dock and looked down into the water. It was too dark to make anything out, so he decided to make better use of his time and look where he could see the best.


As consciousness slowly returned to him, the first thing Starsky realized was pain. The next thing was the man standing over him. He was the biggest black man he had ever seen. The dim light in the alley didn't allow him to see much, but what he could see wasn't good. The man was huge, but there was something in his eyes that took Starsky's fear away.

The man meet Starsky's gaze and smiled. "You gonna be okay. Mama Jade will take care of you."

Starsky responded weakly, "Who's Mama Jade?"

"I am." a woman's voice to his opposite side startled him. "Moses was scrounging around in the trash when he found you."

"I gotta get back. They'll be looking for me." Starsky said, barely audible.

Blood loss had weakened him and he felt the blackness closing in again. He made a valiant effort to get up, but his mind was stronger than his body and he faded out once more.

Mama Jade gently patted his face. "Don't worry, Son, nobody's gonna bother you." Turning to Moses, she said, "Pick him up and let's take him home."

Moses was very careful with the injured man. He was worried the man might die. He had never seen so much blood before. He effortlessly picked him up and followed Mama Jade. When the man moaned, Moses comforted him, saying, "Don't worry. Mama Jade will know what to do."

Moses followed Mama Jade to a small, three room house near the railroad tracks. He gently laid Starsky on the bed. "Is he dead?" he asked her.

"No, but he may not be far from it." Mama Jade answered him. "Now don't you worry, Moses. I've seen worse. Go get my bag and we'll see what we can do for him."

Moses instantly obeyed. He felt an odd sense of urgency. Finding her bag, he returned to the bedroom.

Mama Jade took the scissors from her bag and cut the bloody shirt away. The young man's wounds were still bleeding, although the wound above his hip had nearly stopped. The shoulder wound looked as though a bullet had gone through from front to back, the exit wound far worse that the entry wound.

"Moses, bring me a bowl of water and those towels under the sink." she asked.

Again, the large man instantly obeyed. He returned quickly with the water and towels. His eyes widened when he saw the damage the bullets had done.

Giving him a chore to keep his simple mind busy, she said, "Tear those towels into three pieces for me." She then dipped one of the pieces into the water and began cleaning the blood from the man's body. She noticed he was a handsome young man with a very pleasant face.

When she got close to the lower wound, he stirred. "Sorry, Honey. I don't mean to hurt you."

"Hutch. Get Hutch." he murmured.

"Who's Hutch?" Moses asked.

There was no response. The man was struggling to evade Mama Jade's touch. "Moses, hold him still for me." she said in a gentle voice.

Moses did as he was told, holding the man still as he struggled. The injured man finally relaxed, sinking into unconsciousness.

Mama Jade examined his wounds and concluded the shoulder wound just needed to be cleaned and wrapped. The lower wound, however, still held the bullet. The young man was getting feverish and began showing signs of infection. She would have to work quickly. She needed to remove the bullet while he still had enough strength to survive the ordeal.

She left her patient with Moses while she gathered all the instruments necessary for the procedure. When she returned, she found Moses gently wiping the man's brow with a damp cloth.

"He's gonna be fine, Honey." she told him. "He's got a long road ahead of him, but he'll be okay. He must be awful tough or he wouldn't have made it this far."

"Can I help?" he asked her, innocently.

"You sure?" she questioned. "It will be messy."

"He's a nice man, Mama Jade."

"He sure seems to be." she replied. "Let's get started."

"Okay." he answered. "What can I do?"

"I need you to make sure he don't move." she said. "This is gonna hurt him and I don't know how deep that bullet is."

Moses pulled the man's arms over his head and firmly held them. "I'm ready."

"Hold tight, now." she replied, as she began.


Hutch continued his search, leaving the dock and walking down the narrow street that led to the warehouse. There were at least a half dozen side streets and alleys that turned off the street and he was determined to look at each one if he had to.

Dawn was beginning to break, giving him better light to work with. Going through several alleys and streets, searching carefully, he found nothing. Turning into the next alley, he began sorting through the litter, using his feet to move the debris around. Catching a glimpse of something, he dropped to the ground. Blood, and lots of it.

Something told him it was Starsky's blood. They would type it to be sure, but somehow he knew it was Starsky's. Searching further, his heart froze when he found the Beretta. Starsky's Beretta.

Dropping on to a crate, he put his head in his hands. "God, Starsk. Where are you?"


Chapter 3

He woke to a hot white pain in his side. He struggled to move his arms to fight the unseen enemy but couldn't. A heavy weight held him still. The pain grew more intense and he felt blackness closing in. "No!" he yelled, trying to drive it away.

"It's okay." Mama Jade's quiet voice broke through the fog that surrounded him. "I'm having trouble with this bullet."

"What?" Starsky yelled. "What are you doing?"

"Mama Jade's helpin' you." Moses said. "I'm helpin' her." he added, proudly.

"You're crazy!" Starsky again yelled. "Get Hutch!" he screamed.

"Calm down." Mama Jade replied. "You're not helpin' me at all."

"You shouldn't be doin' this! Let me up." Starsky pleaded.

"You're in no shape to go anywhere." she told him. "Now be still or you're gonna bleed to death."

"Just get Hutch. He'll take care of me." Starsky almost cried. The pain and shock took over all of his emotions. Blood loss rendered him nearly helpless. He couldn't get up if he tried. "You don't know what you're doin'."

"Son, I've dug out more bullets than I can count. And I've nursed more than one man back to health. Now be still!" Mama Jade shouted.

"Let me go!" Starsky struggled against Moses, trying to break free of the man's strong embrace.

"Moses, go ahead." Mama Jade nodded.

"But..." Moses started to reply.

"It's for his own good. He'll be okay." she assured him.

"Okay." he said quietly.

Moses then raised his large right hand and swung hard, connecting with Starsky's jaw, stealing his consciousness immediately. Starsky lay still, no longer struggling or yelling.

"Now." Mama Jade said, patting Moses on the shoulder. "Shoulda done that in the very beginning. My job will be much easier." She then continued her task of removing the bullet from her very compliant patient.

She was so focused on her work, she didn't see the tears in the large man's eyes or the gentle strokes he gave the injured man as he tenderly touched his face. "I'm sorry I hurt you." Moses said quietly as he turned and walked out of the room.


The search for Starsky had begun in earnest as nearly fifty men were brought in to search for clues. Kimbrough's body had been taken to the coroner and Mason and his men were taken downtown to the lockup.

Hutch had hit walls on every idea he came up with so he decided to talk to Mason. After all, Mason could only gain from helping him and Hutch had nothing to lose by talking to Mason.

Mason was brought to the interrogation room, cuffed securely. He looked at Hutch and immediately knew he had something to bargin with. Smiling, he said, "You must be that cop's partner. I heard about you."

Moving toward Mason swiftly, stopping only inches from his face, Hutch visibly snarled. "Mason, what you didn't hear, and what you should probably know, is that I will not hesitate to take any action I need to take to get what I want from you."

Not at all affected by the venomous tone, Mason laughed. "You tryin' to scare me, Pig?"

With lightening speed, Hutch grabbed Mason by the throat and shoved him against the wall. Holding him up by an arm at his throat, Hutch crowded as close as he could, this time, nose to nose with Mason.

"Look, you son of a bitch, they tell me my partner's probably dead, and I don't care about much else if he is. So if I kill you right now, it won't mean shit to me! If you've got something to tell me, you better say it fast!"

Visibly shaken and struggling for breath, Mason croaked out, "Okay, okay! I'll tell you what I know, buy you're not gonna like it."

Backing away from Mason, Hutch replied, "Just tell me." Dread made his stomach clinch as he feared what Mason had to say, but he had to know.

Mason hit the floor on his hands and knees, gasping for air. "Give me a minute, will you?"

Hutch reached down and grabbed Mason by the arms and bodily snatched him up to his feet. "Starsky may not have a minute! Now talk to me!"

"I didn't shoot him!" Mason blurted out. "I blew that loud mouth away, I admit it. But I didn't do the other one. I kinda liked him." Seeing the effect his words had on the tall cop, he continued. "I know my guys hit him twice. But he took off runnin' and firin' his gun. That's the last I saw of him before you guys came chargin' in. I swear!"

All the rage suddenly left Hutch as he visibly slumped and dropped down into a chair. "I believe you." he said, his voice barely a whisper.

Staring out, looking at nothing, Hutch said to the guard, "Get him out of here."

As Mason was led to the door, he turned toward Hutch and said remorsefully, "Hey, for what it's worth, I hope you find him."

Hutch never acknowledged Mason's words. The door closed and he was left alone in the small room. Focusing once again, he looked around and said, "How many times have we been in here messing with some guy's head? Oh, Starsk."

Hutch dropped his head down on the table, nearly collapsing with fatigue and hopelessness. Tears came, unchecked, and his shoulders shook with sobs he couldn't control.

"This shouldn't have happened!" he said angrily.

A small glimmer of hope crept across his mind as he realized he believed Starsky was still alive. Somehow he knew he was, he would know, deep inside, if Starsky was dead. Their connection was that strong.

"I'm gonna find you, Buddy, so help me God. Now matter where you are!"


Mama Jade finished cleaning the blood from her hands and looked at the young man. "How did this happen to you?" she said to him, not really expecting an answer from her unconscious patient. "I wonder who you are."

She walked over to the man and began searching his pockets. His front pockets held a set of keys, two pieces of gum, fifty-two cents in change, and an odd coin. It had what looked like the back of a quarter on both sides. "You're a strange one." she said, smiling.

Reaching into his back pockets carefully, she pulled out his wallet. "This will tell me what I want to know." Opening the wallet, she froze, her blood running cold. It held a badge. A cop's badge. The identification picture matched her patient's face. Old wounds were opened and bitterness and hatred clouded her vision.

Reading his name, she lost her breath. "Detective David Michael Starsky. This is unbelievable! I've got his partner. He will have to come to me!"

Walking, seemingly in a trance, to the picture on the well used dresser, she gently picked it up and clutched it to her breast. Tears streamed down her face as she said out loud to the memory that haunted her, "Baby, Mama's gonna get that man now. He'll be sorry he ever heard of you. I knew someday I would get even with him."

Mama Jade then collapsed into the chair in the corner of the room and laughed and cried at the same time.


Chapter 4

With new found hope, Hutch hit the streets. He would treat this as he would any other case and do what he was very good at doing. His first stop would be The Pits.

"Hey, Hug." he said as he stepped into the dark barroom.

Huggy looked up, smiling. "You heard anything yet?"

"I was hoping you had." Hutch relied, rather disappointed.

"If I had, I woulda called you by now." Huggy said.

"I guess you would have." Hutch responded.

"You can't give up on him, Hutch. You know that. He has nine lives." Huggy said, trying to convince himself as much as he was trying to convince Hutch.

"He's used up most of them." Hutch replied, nearly smiling.

Huggy walked around the bar and affectionately put his hand on his friend's shoulder and gently squeezed. "I've got everybody I know working on this, Hutch. Curly's got a lot of friend's out there. The whole city's lookin'. You'd be surprised at the people who are helpin'."

"No, I wouldn't. He affects people that way." Hutch looked at Huggy, shaking his head. "Seems somebody should have heard something by now."

Huggy nodded silently, knowing he would have to let Hutch get all the negative thoughts and fears out of his system. This was going to be hell for Hutch and Huggy vowed to be there for him anyway he could. He would stay with him until Starsky was found, hopefully alive. If not alive, Hutch would need him even more. Huggy knew, though, if Starsky was dead, he would lose two friends on the same day.


Dawn found Mama Jade sleeping restlessly. She had cried herself to sleep for the hundredth time in six years. The nightmares that haunted her were worse than ever and old memories did not dim with the passing of time.

Groans invaded her nightmare. "No!" she wept, as she tossed and turned, her body thrashing at the painful images brought to life by her mind.

The groans grew louder and finally woke her. They were not in her mind, they were coming from the injured man. She instantly jumped up and ran to his aide. Her healing instincts forced the vengence from her troubled mind. The man was feverish and flushed. He was muttering and turning his head from side to side. Checking the dressings on his wounds, she saw the lower one that had had the bullet removed had started bleeding again. She knew she had done some damage herself. The bullet was very deep, obviously entering from close range. Infection was setting in and was more a danger to him than the initial injuries.

Moses entered the room very quietly. "Good morning, Mama Jade."

"Good morning to you." she smiled at her nephew. Moses had been thrust into her care when his parents were killed in an awful accident, leaving no one else. Even though Moses was nearly 30 years old, he was unable to care for himself. He had been mentally challenged from birth and would never be capable of living on his own. She looked at him as a blessing and not a burden. His innocent view of life and people always brightened her dark world.

Mama Jade herself, was in her early 60's. Her family had come over in the days of slavery and were known for their hard work and loyalty. She had been taught the healing arts from a very young age and had honed her skills on the victims of the violence that was such a part of this large innercity. She was known as someone who would and could help anyone.

She was happy here, even though she had been widowed 20 years ago by the very people she now cared for, her husband a victim of a violent gang initiation. Their life together had been good and she had given him a son, who was their pride and joy. He made her life worth living after her husband had been killed. But then, she lost him too.

Her rage suddenly returned and she looked at her patient with disgust and hatred. Even though he was not responsible for Calvin's death, he was close to the one that was.

"It's ashamed all my effort will be for nothing, Detective Starsky." she hissed.

"Mama Jade?" Moses interrupted her tortured thoughts. "Are you okay?"

"I will be soon, Baby. Better than I have been in six years." she replied, gazing into space.

Worried, Moses gently touched her shoulder. "Are you thinkin' about Calvin again?"

"I know I told you I wouldn't, but I am." she admitted.

"I wish you wouldn't." Moses said. "It makes you sad."

"Moses, sometimes when you love someone so much and they are taken from you, you can't help bein' sad." she answered gently, patting the large man's arm. "The sadness makes you forget how happy you were when they were here."

Moses ducked his head and walked out of the room. He wished he could make her happy. He hated seeing anyone sad.

After Moses left, Mama Jade, coming back to reality, began tending to the Detective. "I gotta keep you alive a little while longer. You better not die on me now."

She looked at the young man. It saddened her to know who he was. His valiant struggle against his injuries and obvious pain was a testament to his courage and fortitude. But Mama Jade knew she must detach herself. This man held the key to the revenge she had waited so long for. One thing was sure, she must keep him alive, at least long enough to see the look on Kenneth Hutchinson's face as his best friend drew his last breath.


Chapter 5

The first thing Starsky noticed as consciousness slowly returned, was the smell. The unmistakeable smell of burning flesh. The acrid smell burned his nostrils and turned his stomach.

The next thing was the pain. A burning pain low on his right side caused his body to lurch upward. Fully awake now, he lashed out at the source of the pain.

"Hold him, Moses!" a woman's voice yelled. "I'm gonna do more harm than good if he keeps movin'."

The last thing he remembered before the darkness took him again, was the heavy weight that pressed him down to the bed, making it difficult to breathe. "Hutch!" he cried. Then, nothing.

Mama Jade was relieved the man had passed out again. He was a handful. His side had started bleeding during the night, forcing her to cauterize the wound. She admired his will to live. With the fever and blood loss, he should not have made it this far. All of his valiant effort would be for nothing, though.

"Is he gonna die?" Moses asked, interrupting her thoughts.

"I'm not sure. We're gonna do all we can for him." she lied with a small amount of regret. But she couldn't let go of her goal. Revenge was a harsh master and she didn't have the strength to overcome it's strong pull. This man held the key to her long battle with it and soon, she would finally be free.

No, she would keep him alive just long enough to accomplish her plan, and it was time to set it into motion. She steeled herself, knowing what she was about to do. Once it began, there would be no turning back.

"Moses, you stay with him 'til I get back." She patted the large man fondly. "I'm gonna see what I can get for his pain."

"Yes, ma'am." Moses nodded. He was proud of the responsibility she had given him. "I'll take real good care of him."

Mama Jade nodded and smiled, "Good boy. I'll be back as soon as I can."

Moses looked at the man. He was so still. Was he alive? His question was answered as the man took a deep breath and grimaced. Compassion overwhelmed him. "Please hurry, Mama Jade."


Hutch dropped into the chair that sat across the desk from Starsky's. Tired couldn't even begin to describe how he felt. He kept thinking he was going to wake up and find this had been nothing more than a horrible nightmare. Any time now, Starsky would come bouncing in with that stupid smile on his face. Stupid smile. How many times had he said that? Right now, that smile meant more to him than anything. What he wouldn't give to see it.

Falling into a retrospective haze, Hutch was flooded with feelings he couldn't control. He knew if he didn't get somewhere fast, the whole station was going to witness his breakdown. Literally running, he made it outside to his car before the tears actually started falling.

"Starsky!" he sobbed. "Where are you? Don't let it happen like this."

Memories came, unbidden, like his tears. His friend, closer than a brother, holding him as he went through the hell of withdrawal. His friend, unrelenting, searching for him until he found the wreckage at the bottom of the canyon, saving him from sure death. Starsky's smile, his touch, his boyish love of life, had so taken Hutch by surprise. When did it become 'Me and Thee'? When did they become so important to each other that life was not life without the other? Was it all the times they risked everything for each other, willingly putting life itself on the line?

Hutch was startled out of his reverie by the radio. "Zebra 3, come in."

"Yeah. Hutchinson." he snapped.

"Call for you. Lady says she knows something about Starsky."

Suddenly totally focused, Hutch nearly yelled, "Patch me in!"

"Negative, Zebra 3. She just left a number and said she wanted you to call her." the radio cracked back.

"Give it to me!" Hutch was yelling now.

Writing down the number, Hutch didn't even take the time to sign off. He hung up the radio and drove like crazy to the nearest phone. Practically jumping out of the car before it stopped, he fumbled for a dime, dropping change on the ground in his rush. Quickly dialing, he tried in vain to calm his nerves and slow his frantic breathing. He could tell he was working on a headache, which was something he couldn't afford right now.

Two rings, still no answer. Hutch let the phone ring eight more times then slammed the receiver down. Dropping to his knees in utter frustration, he yelled to the sky, "What game are You playing with me, God?"


The phone finally stopped ringing, much to Mama Jade's dismay. She got much pleasure from the vision she had of Kenneth Hutchinson frantically dialing and then waiting for an answer. "That should get him going real good. A few more tricks like this and he will practically run into the trap I'll set for him."

She knew they would trace the number down but that didn't bother her. She had give him the number to the phone booth several blocks from her house. Very pleased with her cleverness, she realized vengence was much sweeter than she imagined it would be. She was going to enjoy every minute of it. She laughed out loud when she tried to guess how many more times he would call, and just how long she would make him wait. She would have to have the patience of Job not to get in too much of a hurry. The longer she drug this out, the more Hutchinson would suffer.


Coolness on his face woke him. God, that feels good, he thought to himself. Slowly opening his eyes, squinting as the light strained them, he notice the same huge, dark face he had seen before.

Moses saw the deep blue eyes open and smiled. "You're finally awake."

Starsky tried to smile but grimaced instead. "Where am I?"

"You're in Mama Jade's house." Moses answered as he gently wiped the sweat from the man's face.

"That feels good. What's your name?" Starsky asked.

"Moses. I'm taking care of you until Mama Jade gets back." Moses said proudly, continuing his ministrations. "What's your name?"

"David. Who's Mama Jade?" Starsky asked.

"She takes care of me and anybody else who needs help." Moses responded.

"I'm sorry about all the questions. I don't remember much." Starsky said, weakly.

"That's okay." Moses assured him. "I like talking to you."

Starsky smiled. "How long have I been here?"

Moses paused, trying to think. "I think two days."

"Two days!" Starsky yelled, raising up from the bed. He quickly collapsed when the excruciating pain in his shoulder and side took his breath. "Damn!" he cursed.

"You better be still. You'll bleed some more." Moses said, trying to calm Starsky down.

Knowing he had no choice, Starsky sank back to the comfort of the soft bed and fought the nausea that made his head spin. Slowly, the pain subsided and he was able to continue. His heart softened when he saw the sincere concern in the simple man's eyes. "Hey, it's okay, Moses."

Moses just nodded, not making eye contact.

Trying to lighten the moment for Moses, Starsky said, "Moses. That's a great name."

Moses looked up, smiling. "You think so? Boys used to make fun of me."

Starsky had a hard time believing anyone would be brave enough to make fun of this giant. "Moses was a great man who lived a long time ago. He saved a lot of people." Starsky tried to keep his voice encouraging in spite of the pain he was in.

Moses seemed thrilled. The smile on his large face couldn't get any bigger. "Can I be your friend?" he asked suddenly.

"Sure you can. I need good friends." Starsky answered.

"Me too. I don't have many." Moses said sadly.

"Can I have some water?" Starsky asked, realizing how thirsty he was. He reasoned his fever must be pretty high.

"I will get you some fresh water." Moses offered. "Be right back."

Finally alone, Starsky quickly took in his surroundings. He didn't have a good feeling about this. Any normal person would have taken him to a hospital. The room was very clean and sparsly furnished. The smell of blood and sweat was evident, though. His pants were hanging on a chair across the room, as was his jacket and very bloody shirt.

Slowly, the recent past began coming back to him, the busted operation, the gun play, and the memory of Kimbrough going down hard. "Hutch must be worried sick!" he said out loud. Trying to get out of the bed, his breath caught from the pain. Pushing it all aside, he continued his struggle. The soft 'click' of a gun, his gun, being cocked stopped him cold.

Turning, he saw an older woman no bigger than a girl pointing his gun at him. The look on her face made his blood run cold, but her words scared the hell out of him.

"Hutch isn't nearly as sick as he's gonna be!" she seethed. "Lay down and put your right arm up next to the headboard."

Starsky painfully complied. His injured shoulder screamed with pain and he had to bite his lip to keep from crying out. "Lady, what's goin' on?"

Pulling his handcuffs out of her dress pocket, she roughly clamped Starsky to the headboard, securing him tightly. A wicked smile then spread across her face, "Sweet revenge!"


Chapter 6

There had been no sleep again that night. Hutch had the number traced down to a phone booth. That knowledge brought many questions and caused his already out of control fears to run wild. Assumptions and unsubstantiated conclusions flooded his exhausted mind. Either someone who knew Starsky was missing was messing with his mind or Starsky was in real trouble. The latter of the two was the one that kept him awake. Looking at the clock, he sighed. No use staying in bed, it would be daylight soon.

Although he was awake, the ringing phone startled him. "Who would call at this hour?"

"'Lo." he barked.

"Hutch?" Huggy's voice was hesitant.

"Oh, sorry, Hug." Hutch apologized. "It's been a long night."

"That's okay, I understand. I thought you'd wanna know this ASAP." Huggy began. "I just got a phone call myself. Got another number for ya."

Hutch tried to control his racing emotions. This could be another rabbit trail. "Do you know who called?"

"No. Just an old lady is all I know." Huggy replied.

"Probably the same one that left the last number." Hutch concluded.

"It was." Huggy confirmed. "Told me she was wondering why you didn't call. Thought you'd be more interested in the information she had for you."

"I did call!" Hutch yelled.

"Relax, Hutch. I told her that." Huggy tried to calm his frantic friend. "I got the number from her and it's different from the one you've been calling."

"God, Huggy. What's going on?" Hutch sighed. "I've got a bad feeling about this."

"Me too." Huggy agreed. "Seems I shoulda heard somethin' by now. The grape vine is usually pretty hip."

"I think I'll trace this number before I call. Maybe save some time." Hutch reasoned.

"Good idea. Let me know how it goes." Huggy replied.

Hutch wrote down the number then called the station. He was going to get to the bottom of this. Now.


Mama Jade returned to her small house as the sun was breaking. She was immensely satisfied with her efforts. She knew Huggy Bear would have called Hutchinson by now and interrupted his tossing and turning. It was his turn to grieve and lose sleep. She had been grieving for six years. The taste of revenge was more satisfying than she could have dreamed.

Checking on her patient, she found him restlessly sleeping. She reined in her compassion, telling herself she could not let him get to her. Although her uncaring attitude toward him went against her very nature, she had to remember that all of this was for Calvin. When this was over, she would finally be at peace.

Her instincts were hard to overcome as she found herself rinsing out a cool rag to put on his head. He jolted when the cool rag touched his fevered forehead. "Hutch?" he asked, confused by fever and pain.

"You want Hutch?" she asked. "He will be here soon, I promise." she assured, her heart beat racing at the thought of him being here in this very room. She longed to see the horror on his face when someone he loved was taken from him. He would soon know how she felt.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a sleepy voice. "Mama Jade?" Moses mumbled.

"What are you doin' up?" she asked tenderly. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"You didn't. He did." Moses said, pointing at Starsky. "He was moaning and I didn't know what to do. I'm scared for him."

"Don't be. He's strong." Mama Jade lied. She was worried about the attachment Moses had developed for the detective. She had to figure out a way to pull this off without Moses getting hurt. He was so innocent he would not understand. All he knew was that he liked David Starsky and wanted him to get well. She would definitely have to consider Moses when the time came.

"You go back to bed. I'll take care of him. Don't worry." she patted him as he left.

Looking back at Starsky, she knew she would have to act fast. He wouldn't last much longer. His fever was high and his shoulder wound looked infected. As weak as he was, she feared he didn't have over two more days.

Mama Jade's conscious nagged her. She could save him. She could even get him to a hospital. It wasn't too late. But, her hatred and bitterness was stronger than her conscious and the desire for revenge won the battle. She stopped her ministrations and walked out of the room. She must speed up this plan before he died and ruined everything. It was time.


Hutch was furious. The number Huggy had given him was to a phone booth on the other side of town, impossible to track down.

"Hutch!" Dobey called from his office. "Huggy, line one."

Reaching for the phone, Hutch hoped this was a good sign. "What you got, Hug?"

"Maybe the break you wanted." Huggy sounded excited. "Got a call from a friend. Said he saw somebody dumpin' some bloody bandages out near the tracks. Maybe somethin', maybe nothin'."

"Does he know who it was?" Hutch asked, hope rushing in for the first time since the nightmare began.

"Yeah, he knows." Huggy answered. "But, and I mean but, he won't say unless he knows this person won't get in trouble."

"I just want Starsky. Tell him no questions asked!" Hutch guaranteed.

"Let me handle this." Huggy suggested. "I don't want to spook this guy."

"Hurry, Hug." Hutch pleaded.

"You know I will, Blondie." Huggy laughed, trying to assure Hutch. "I want this as bad as you do."

"I know you do." Hutch sighed. "Just a little nervous."

"I understand. I'll be in touch." With that, Huggy hung up.

Hutch dropped into his chair. Allowing himself to hope that maybe this was it. Maybe Starsky would be here with him soon. But then, something Huggy said finally registered. Bloody bandages. "God Huggy, please hurry."

Time seemed to crawl while Hutch waited for Huggy to call. Waiting was not one of his strengths, but right now, it was all he could do.

When the phone rang, he was shocked to find it had only been an hour since he talked to Huggy. It seemed like it had been all day. "Talk to me, Huggy." Hutch answered impatiently.

"Meet me at The Pits and don't tell a soul. Got that?" Huggy asked.

"On my way." Hutch slammed the phone down, grabbed his jacket, and was gone. "I'm coming, Buddy. Hold on!"

Arriving at The Pits in record time, Hutch rushed in the back door, nearly knocking Angie, the waitress, down.

"What's your hurry, Gorgeous?" she asked seductively.

"Where's Huggy?" Hutch asked.

"Well excuse me. He's in his office." she responded sharply.

"Sorry, Angie." Hutch softened. "It's been crazy lately." he tried to smile.

"I can help you with all that tension, sweetie." she flirted.

"I'll take a raincheck," he said as he squeezed her hand.

"I'm holdin' you to it!" she said to his back as he rushed toward Huggy's office.

"This could be my lucky day." Angie said out loud as she returned to clearing the bar.

Huggy came out of his office as Hutch was going in, nearly colliding with the flustered man. "Whoa, Hutch. Slow down!"

"Sorry, Huggy. Can't help it." Hutch said, out of breath. "What you got?"

Pulling Hutch aside, out of the flow of traffic to the bathroom, Huggy whispered, "We gotta take this slow and careful or this guy is gonna spook. He sure is nervous about talkin' to you."

"Huggy, if Starsky's hurt, we need to get to him as fast as we can. It's been nearly three days!" Hutch said, trying to control his volume and his panic.

"I told you, let me handle this." Huggy insisted as he squeezed a tense shoulder and waited for a response from Hutch.

"You handle it, but handle it now." Hutch said forcefully. Then softer, "Please."

Shaking his head and smiling, Huggy said, "Let's go, Blondie. I sure pity anybody who gets in our way."

Walking out the door toward Hutch's car, Huggy hoped they weren't too late.


Chapter 7

Mama Jade sat in the chair beside the detective's bed drifting in and out of sleep. She was exhausted. Only the thought of finally settling the score kept her going. In her fitful dreams, she saw Calvin's smiling face. He was such a beautiful child. He had problems, like any other teenage boy, but he was good to her. Her next vision was of Calvin's still, lifeless body lying in the morgue. She had been called to identify the body. They said he had been involved in a liquor store robbery and was shot by a police officer. They were wrong. Her Calvin could not have been involved. He wouldn't do that. Not her Calvin.

She was awakened by the unmistakable sound of wretching. Startled into action, she helped the man roll over to his side as far as the handcuffed arm would allow. The violent, dry heaves racked his body, causing him to curl into a ball with one arm behind him. Her conscious told her to release him but her hatred willed against it. Finally, his struggle stopped, his body still except for the exhausted breathing, shallow and rapid.

Gently, she rolled him to his back and settled him back in the bed. His fever was very high. She must do something or he wouldn't make it much longer.

His voice startled her. "Why are you doin' this?"

"You can ask your partner." she hissed.

"What's Hutch got to do with this?" he asked, his strength fading.

Mama Jade walked over to him and bent down to within inches of his face. "You'll find out very soon. He'll come for you."

"You mean I'm bait?" Starsky was horrified. He pulled at the cuff to no avail, using the last of his energy. "No!" he cried as the darkness claimed him.

"Moses." Mama Jade called, trying not to be too loud. "Come in here, please."

"Ma'am?" Moses answered quietly as he tiptoed into the room.

"I need to get something for his fever." Mama Jade said, as if talking to a small child. "Stay with him and keep him as still as you can."

"I can do that, Mama Jade." Moses smiled.

"I know you can." she returned his smile. "I'll be back as soon as I can."

"Yes ma'am." Moses answered as he sat down in the chair beside his new friend. "You're so hot." Moses said softly to him, wiping his face with a cool rag.

Intense blue eyes slowly opened. "Where am I?" Starsky asked, barely audible.

Leaning close to hear the weak voice, Moses patted his chest. "Why is he tied up, Mama Jade?" Moses asked her, noticing for the first time the shackled arm.

Thinking quickly, Mama Jade replied, "I'm trying to keep him still. He wants to get up and I'm worried he might fall and hurt himself even more."

Apparently satisfied with her answer, Moses smiled. "I'll keep him still. Don't worry."


Hutch and Huggy arrived at a small bar near Mandalay Heights. Seedy didn't begin to describe it, but right now, Hutch didn't care.

"Where is he?" Hutch snapped at Huggy.

"Hold your horses!" Huggy answered. "He'll be here any minute. We're a little early."

Hutch plopped down on a rickety stool. "God Huggy, I'm losin' it."

Huggy squeezed his friend's tense shoulder. "You gotta think positive, Hutch. We're gonna find him. I just know it."

The entrance of a small, bald, black man interrupted whatever response Hutch was about to make.

"This is our man." Huggy smiled nervously at Hutch.

Trying to keep calm, Hutch put his hands in his pockets. He was afraid he would reach out and grab the man, demanding information.

"Did you tell him?" the little man asked Huggy.

"Tell me what?" Hutch said with a bite in his voice.

Huggy responded quickly, "He wants to be sure the person he saw won't get in any trouble."

"If he helps me, he won't. All I want is Starsky!" Hutch yelled.

"Okay, okay." the man said. "There's a place down by the tracks. A woman lives there who helps people out when they can't get to a doctor. I saw her nephew throwin' out some bloody rags."

Hutch grabbed the man before he could stop himself. "Where?"

Trembling, the man answered, "I'll show you."

"Let's go!" Hutch said loudly.


Moses was worried about his friend. He didn't look so good. "David?"

Tortured blue eyes slowly opened, trying to focus. "I'm here."

"Do you want some cool water?" Moses asked him.

"That'd be great." Starsky tried to smile. Nausea was threatening again as his vision swam. "Moses, get me loose."

"Mama Jade would be mad at me." Moses said fearfully. "She don't want you hurtin' yourself."

"Moses." Starsky gasped, his breath failing him. "Please. I've gotta warn Hutch."

"I wish I could. Here's your water." Moses said as he gently picked up Starsky's head.

Sipping slowly, Starsky felt the cool water go down his parched throat. He had to get loose and warn Hutch.

"Who's Hutch?" Moses asked.

"He's my friend." Starsky whispered weakly. "I'm afraid Mama Jade wants to hurt him. Do you understand?"

Moses shook his head. "Mama Jade wouldn't hurt anybody!"

Trying to calm the giant of a man, Starsky said, "Moses, it's okay. Just get me loose."

"I can't!" Moses yelled.

Starsky was too weak to argue. He knew he was in great trouble. The last thing he remembered was the coolness of the rag Moses place on his forehead.

"Don't die, David." Moses pleaded. He tenderly held Starsky's hand as he cried. "You're my only friend. Please, don't die."

Moses was startled by someone knocking loudly on the door. Running to answer it, he was nearly knocked down by the force of the door being kicked in.

Hutch bolted through the door and slightly hesitated at the sight of the huge man in front of him. "Where is he?" Hutch screamed.

"Who?" Moses answered, very confused.

"Starsky!" Hutch grabbed Moses' arms.

It finally came to Moses that this wild man was talking about David.

Hutch ran past Moses. "Starsky!" he called.

He halted in his tracks when he entered the small bedroom. The smell of blood and sweat was very strong. "Starsky." he cried as he slowly approached the bed. He nearly collapsed when he saw Starsky's condition.

"Oh, God." Hutch whispered. He barely heard Huggy explaining to the big man what was going on.

Starsky was unconscious, breathing rapid and shallow. Blood was seeping from two wounds. Without taking his eyes off of Starsky, Hutch said calmly, "Huggy."

"I'm on it!" Huggy replied as he went back to the car to call for help.

"Is he gonna be okay?" Moses asked shyly.

Hutch snapped his head toward Moses. His harsh reply was cut short by the look on the man's face. Hutch immediately realized he didn't really understand the situation.

"I'm Moses." he grinned. "David's my friend and I've been helpin' take care of him."

Looking away from Moses, Hutch seethed when he saw the handcuffed arm. "What's this for?" he asked harshly.

"It's so he won't hurt himself." Moses replied.

Shaking his head, Hutch reached into his pocket for his cuff key. He unlocked the cuff from Starsky's raw wrist and gently moved the arm to Starsky's side.

"Starsk." Hutch said tenderly, touching his face. "Can you hear me?"

Hutch was greatly relieved when blue eyes locked onto his. "Starsky, hold on. We're getting you some help."

"utch?" a weak voice asked.

"Yeah, it's me." Hutch said gently, hiding the panic that threatened to explode.

Starsky reached out, pushing Hutch away. "Get outta here! I think she's after you."

Not understanding, Hutch grabbed Starsky's hands to still them. "Easy, easy. What did you say?"

Hutch was answered by a voice dripping with contempt. "He said, 'I think she's after you'! And he's right."

Hutch looked up to see Huggy walk in with his hands in the air, followed by a woman holding Starsky's gun in his back. "Just back away from him and put your hands up!" she snarled.

Quickly raising his hands, Hutch said, "Lady, he needs help."

"It won't matter. He'll be outta his misery very soon." she said.

"Run, Hutch!" Starsky cried.

"You stay right where you are." Mama Jade pointed the gun at Hutch.

"Lady, whatever problem you have with me, leave him out." Hutch said.

"Unfortunately, he is a pawn, a very important piece." She smiled at Hutch, making his blood run cold.

"Mama Jade, what are you doing?" Moses asked, confused by her actions.

"This is the man that killed Calvin!" she screamed not taking her eyes off of Hutch. "And now you're gonna know what I've felt like for the last six years." Pointing the gun as Starsky, she pulled the trigger.

Hutch lunged for her but was too late. He was knocked aside by Moses.

"No, Mama Jade!" Moses yelled as he dove between Starsky and the gun. He landed heavily on top of Starsky and was still.

Mama Jade watched in horror as the bullet meant for Starsky slammed into her beloved Moses. Stunned, she dropped the gun and fell to the floor. "Oh God, no!"

Huggy quickly picked up the gun and held it on the distraught woman.

Hutch pulled Moses off of Starsky. "Starsky!"

"Nooo!" Starsky cried. "Moses!"

Hutch gently cradled Starsky trying to console him. He was greatly relieved when he heard the sirens in the distance. "Hold on, Buddy. Help's coming." he whispered in Starsky's ear just before his friend's body went limp.


Epilogue

Starsky's recovery was slow. Even though his wounds were healing nicely, the infection had taken hold of his entire body. Even one week later, he was still in and out of consciousness. A weary Hutch stood vigil, as usual, by his bed, the hospital staff having long since given up trying to make the man observe visiting hours. Hutch was going to make sure he was here when Starsky woke up, let him know he was safe. He could only guess the hell Starsky had gone through.

On the eighth day, Hutch was rewarded with the sweetest sound in the world. "Hush? You there?"

Smiling, Hutch answered, "Where else would I be?" He fondly ruffled Starsky's sweaty curls.

"Was it all just a nightmare?" Starsky asked.

"I'm sorry to say it wasn't, Starsk." Hutch answered quietly.

Holding back tears, Starsky said, "Moses was a very special person."

Hutch nodded. "Yes, he was. I owe him alot."

"Mama Jade?" Starsky asked.

"Cabrillo." Hutch replied shortly, still having trouble with the memory of Starsky's close call.

"Did you ever find out what was going on?" Starsky asked weakly. The simple tasks of thinking and talking were nearly too much for him.

"All these years, she thought I shot her son." Hutch replied.

"Did you?" Starsky asked.

"Funny thing is, I didn't." Hutch answered, shaking his head. "I wasn't even involved with that case."

"I feel sorry for her." Starsky said.

"You're unbelievable, Starsk." Hutch laughed.

"This was close, Hutch." Starsky said seriously.

"Too close." Hutch agreed.

"Hutch?"

"Yeah."

"I'm hungry."

And they all lived happily ever after. (Until I come up with another story! LOL)

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