Dave Starsky looked at the man in the other bed in his hospital room. He looked like Hutch; he had Hutch's voice; but he wasn't Hutch. Amnesia, the doctor had said. No way to know when - or if - he would get his memory back.
Starsky's memory was all too clear. He would never forget the feeling of waking up in the hospital not knowing where Hutch was, or if he was all right. He'd been plenty relieved when his partner was brought in to the room, until Hutch had told him about the amnesia.
How could Hutch forget him? More to the point, how could he forget *them*? Their partnership, their relationship, what they were to each other - it was just gone.
How could Hutch forget their love ?
He'd filled Hutch in on some of the more memorable moments in their partnership, but he hadn't told him that they were lovers. Not the kind of thing you just spring on a guy who's lost his memory. And frankly, he didn't think that this man, this stranger with Hutch's face, would want to know. He hadn't been particularly thrilled to hear that he was a cop or that Starsky was his partner. If he was that disgusted with their being partners on the force, how would he react to the news that they were partners in their private lives as well?
He didn't know what would happen if Hutch didn't get his memory back. He'd probably have to quit being a cop. Starsky supposed he would be offered a new partner, but if Hutch quit, he'd quit too. He didn't think he could be a cop without Hutch. The problem was that he had no idea what he would do if he wasn't a cop. Go to Canada and try out for the Canadian Football League? That had been an idea that he and Hutch had come up with after Terri died. Of course, they'd been massively drunk at the time.
What he would do for a job wasn't really what he worried about, though. What bothered him the most was the idea of a life without Hutch. What would he do without Hutch by his side?
He turned over so that he was facing away from Hutch's bed. He'd tried not to cry, but it was all just too much. He was hurt, sure, but most of all he was scared. He tried not to make a lot of noise. If the blond man saw he was crying, he'd probably look down on it as some sort of weakness.
Hutch was reading a magazine that Huggy had brought him when he heard the muffled sounds from the other bed. Was something wrong with Starsky? His partner was facing the wall and he couldn't see his face. Hutch quietly slipped out of bed and moved over to Starsky's side. He'd been feeling a bit ashamed of his 'amnesia' game after all the reminiscing the other man had been doing, remembering all that they'd shared, the time he'd helped Hutch through drug withdrawal, his comforting presence after Gillian died, his tracking down the carrier of the plague to save Hutch from certain death. What had surprised him was what Starsky hadn't mentioned - the fact that they were lovers.
He wasn't sure what he was hearing, and he moved closer. Even then he almost couldn't believe what was happening. Starsky was crying. He reached out and tentatively put a hand on his lover's shoulder. "Hey, Starsky. Starsky? Starsk? What's wrong, buddy? Should I call the nurse?" He gently rubbed the other man's back. He didn't know what to do. He wasn't even sure he still had the right to touch Starsky this way.
Starsky heard Hutch calling his name and felt the touch on his back. His name? Hutch used his name? And not only his name but his nickname too. He'd said 'Starsk.' The blonde man had been calling him "Starky" since they got here. Starsky rolled over and sat up. "You used my name," he said.
"Well of course I used your name," replied Hutch. "Would you rather I called you something else? 'Gordo', maybe?"
"Does this mean you have your memory back?" asked Starsky excitedly.
Uh oh. Confession time. "It was never gone," Hutch admitted sheepishly.
The other detective looked puzzled. "What do you mean, never gone? I don't get it."
"I was only pretending to have amnesia."
He watched as his partner processed this information. Finally, Starsky just said one word.
There was the 64 thousand dollar question. "I wanted you to see what could happen because of your driving."
"So because you wanted to punish me for bad driving, you damn near broke my heart?"
Broke his heart? Hutch was stunned. He hadn't realized how his little game had affected Starsky. He'd just been playing, getting a little bit of revenge and having fun with it. He didn't know that he'd hurt the man who meant more to him than anyone else in the word. "I-I'm sorry," he stammered. "I didn't know -"
"What? You didn't know what?" Starsky was angry now. "You didn't know what it felt like to think that you'd forgotten all about me, all about us? Do you know how scared I was when I woke up and you weren't here? It was worse than when you had the plague - at least then I knew where you were. I knew you were alive."
"But that's just the point I was trying to make. Your driving could have gotten us both killed!" Hutch was on the defensive now.
"Don't you think I know that?" Dave asked. "Don't you think I know that I could have lost you, and it was all my own stupid fault? When I saw you for the first time after the accident it was all I could do not to throw myself on you in front of the doctor and everybody. I wanted to touch you, to hold you, to prove to myself that you were really here. But you weren't really here. Someone was here who had your face and your body, but it wasn't you. You were alive, but I'd still lost you." He turned away slightly. "I've dealt with the possibility of losing you before, but I always thought that it would be to a bullet. I never thought about what would happen if you just didn't want me around anymore."
"I'll always want you around," Hutch stated emphatically. "I know I haven't been acting like it for the past couple of days, and I'm sorry that I hurt you. I woke up in the hospital, and I was all banged up, and everything hurt, and I was just....W ell, I was kind of pissed off, and I wanted to punish you. I've acted like an ass, and I wouldn't blame you if you never forgave me." He reached over and turned the other man's tear-stained face back toward him. "But I do love you, Gordo."
"I love you too, Blintz."
Hutch opened his arms. "Are we still partners?" he asked.
"Always," Starsky replied, going into his lover's arms and kissing him.
Huggy Bear walked into his friends' hospital room and saw them in each others' arms. "Guess Hutch got his memory back," he said to himself as he turned and walked out.
A pretty nurse was approaching the room with some meal trays. Huggy stopped her. "Detectives Starsky and Hutchinson don't want to be disturbed right now," he told her.
"Are you sure?" asked the nurse. "I'm about to go on my break, and if I don't give them their dinner now, there won't be anyone to give it to them 'till I come back."
"They'll be okay," Huggy assured her. He turned the small sign on the door so that it read "Do Not Disturb." Then he went back to the nurse. Taking her arm, he asked, "So, while you're on your break why don't you give me a tour of this lovely hospital?"