Author: Starsky's Strut PM
Hutch is alone on a 3 day camping trip in the Mohave Desert. What could possibly go wrong?Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Angst - Chapters: 8 - Words: 22,886 - Reviews: 83 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 08-31-07 - Published: 08-14-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3722369
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
All usual disclaimers apply. I don't own the rights and this story is for entertainment only. Please excuse any errors; they are entirely mine. This story is loosely based on an episode of Bonanza called "The Crucible".
I wrote –and completed- this story over a year ago for a S&H zine that never was produced. I hope you enjoy!
This story is dedicated to a very patient E-pony who is still waiting for me to finish "West". I am working on it, honest!
As always –a massive and heartfelt thanks to the Usual Suspects for their continual support. You guys are the best!
Warnings: This is a DARK story. Torture, suffering, profanity, content and some gross things. Please do not read this if you are sensitive.
Enough rambling, on with the story…
By Starsky's Strut
"Starsky…" Hutch sighed gustily as he ran a frustrated hand through his hair, mussing the fine, sun-bleached, white-gold strands. "This was supposed to be our vacation." His sulking partner's dark blue eyes met his own light blue ones, and the brunet's lower lip puckered out into an impressive pout.
Hutch steeled himself against it. "Starsk, that's not gonna work on me. We –you and I – are going backpacking. I've been planning this trip for months." Hutch prepared himself for what he knew was coming next.
His curly haired partner lowered his head slightly and raised his eyebrows, giving Hutch his best sad puppy-dog look. "But Huuutch," Starsky whined. "Look at her… She wants me." The puppy look faded and was replaced by his "Lothario" look. "She wants me baaaad." The word bad was drawn out and whispered. The brunet waggled his eyebrows comically.
Hutch's chin dropped to his chest. He knew when he was beaten, and he was beaten right now. But he was no quitter; so he tried one last time, heaping the guilt on with each word. "Starsky, you know I've been planning this trip for months and months! And the moment we get close to the starting point, you find some chick to shack up with." He knew he was sounding whiny, but if it worked, it was worth it.
"Yeah, but what a chick! Did you see those –" Starsky made a motion with his hands. "And her –" He made another motion. "She's built like –" The brunet made a third descriptive move. "I mean, what's a guy supposed ta do, huh?"
Hutch shook his head, defeated. "Fine, I can't argue with –" He repeated all three motions.
"Precisely!" Starsky crowed, as he set off after his new temporary lady.
The blond snagged his friend's elbow and swung him back around, "Hey, wait a second. You gotta drop me off at Pointer Peak this morning. And since you're gonna have the car, you can pick me up there in three days." Hutch thrust his hand with three fingers raised into his partner's face and wiggled them. "Three days. Don't be late. Oh and I'm keeping the money."
"What?" Starsky's level of enthusiasm dropped a smidge. "But Hutch, you'll be camping. You won't need-"
Hutch interrupted. "I said I'm keeping the money. You've got the car; I've got the cash. It's a fair trade." The lanky blond inclined his head as he folded his arms over his chest.
"You're mean, d'ya know that?" Starsky looked away, appearing to think the words over before turning back towards his partner. "Okay, deal. But just to be fair, this backpacking in the desert was all your idea. I just wanted to spend time relaxing on the beach- maybe play a little volleyball, watch some suntanned tail and drink some beer. You thought of this trip all by yourself. You didn't bother to ask me until you'd already made the plans. You're closer to me than my brother is Hutch, but sometimes you can be so bossy. I let ya talk me inta comin' here, but now that I'm here, I don't wanna go. Sorry." The brunet ducked his head and looked away once more.
Starsky did look sorry and Hutch hadn't asked his friend what his plans were before springing this trip on him. He had just assumed Starsky would want to come along. Now, the more that he thought about it, the more ridiculous it seemed. His city -born and raised friend wouldn't find the quiet solitude of a desert beautiful. Or comfortable. Or even remotely fun. Hutch knew he would return with his own internal batteries recharged and his mood on an upward swing, but his poor partner would return sunburned, wind- and sand-chafed and downright cranky.
Hutch hooked an arm over Starsky's shoulders. "Don't worry about it buddy. You're right; I didn't think. Just drop me off. I'll do my thing, and you do your new girlfriend and I'll see ya in three days." He was rewarded with a brilliant grin from his partner and a reciprocating arm flung over his shoulder, as well.
"Thanks, Hutch! I knew you'd see my side of it," the curly haired detective crowed.
"Yeah, but I'm still keeping the money." Hutch laughed as his friend gave him a playful shove, nearly pushing him off of the sidewalk. As they walked away, the duo took no notice of the two scruffy-looking men who were fiddling with a dirt bike in the shade of the lone tree growing next to the parking lot.
The potbellied, standing man nudged his kneeling friend with the toe of his scuffed cowboy boot. "That blond guy's got some money. I'd like some money. How 'bout you?"
"I'd like some money too, 'specially when it's easy money." The kneeling man wiped his greasy hands on a rag as he stood up, speculatively watching the blond and brunet make their way down the street to their car and a waiting female.
"A lone guy out in the desert… Tsk, tsk, tsk Don't he know all sorts of bad things could happen to 'im?" The potbellied man shook his head sadly.
The other man, the shorter and thinner of the two, chuckled, "I can think of two things that are gonna happen." He shared a sly grin with his friend.
Later that morning, Pointer Peak, Mohave Desert
Hutch picked up his backpack and slung it over one shoulder.
Starsky reached out and assisted him in putting on the rest of the way. "Got everything ya need?"
"Yes, Mom." Hutch grinned as he secured the backpack's waist strap around his middle.
"Map?" The brunet inquired.
"Yep." The tall man waved the object in question in his partner's face before stuffing it into a pouch on the side of the pack.
"Food and plenty of water?" Starsky fiddled with a tie strap, obviously confused about what to do with it. He gave up and simply let it go.
"Yes, Mother." Hutch's grin widened, and he reached out to tuck the ever-loose end of Starsky's belt into a belt loop. "You can still come along if you're so worried, Starsk."
"I ain't that worried." The brunet leaned hipshot against the LTD, crossing his arms as he did so.
"You look worried. I'm a big boy. I'll be back here in three days." Hutch tapped his right index finger on the tip of his partner's nose. "Be here in three days and try to be on time, okay? Just this once." He flicked his partner's nose with the tip of his finger.
Starsky batted the finger away and gave Hutch an innocent "who, me"' gesture, placing a hand over his heart. His normally dark blue eyes were painted a bright blue under the glare of the morning sun. He was the perfect picture of innocence. "I'll be on time. Count on me. Have a safe trip. I'll be right here in three days. Scout's honor." He held up three fingers.
"You'd better be." Hutch cautioned with a big smile and a wave before he turned and headed out on the well-used trail. He turned back as a thought occurred to him "Hey! You were never a Boy Scout!"
Starsky threw his head back and laughed "I've been around you for so many years now, I figure as few things must have rubbed off on me by now."
"Starsk, I was a Sea Scout, not a Boy Scout." The blond corrected.
"Sea, Boy, what's the difference? They're both Scouts of some sort." The curly haired detective shrugged.
Hutch stopped and stared at his partner for several long seconds. 'Starsky logic' was a puzzle he could spend a lifetime trying to comprehend- not that he wanted to- besides, some things were best left a mystery. So he gave up with a chuckle as he shook his head and continued on his way.
Starsky waited until his friend was out of sight before climbing into the car and heading back to town - and his temporary girlfriend.
Hutch hitched his backpack around, adjusting the fit a bit. He had already hiked five miles that morning and would have to start back soon or risk being late to Pointer Peak and worrying Starsky. That was provided good old Starsk remembered to pick him up tomorrow afternoon. His partner could be worse than a hound dog when it came to sniffing around women, losing all track of time and duty.
The tall detective shook his head. Not that he was a slouch himself when it came to picking up women, but damn if Starsky didn't just have to show up and they'd practically fall into his lap – like Sherry had. The partners had stopped into a local shop to get a spare pair of boot laces, when Sherry, the store clerk, had nearly fallen off of the stepstool she was using to help her change a burned-out light bulb. Starsky had caught her just as she lost her balance, and the rest was history. The pair had started making calf eyes at each other seconds later, and the next thing Hutch knew, he was on a solo journey in the Mohave Desert.
It hadn't turned out all that badly. He had marveled at the color changes in the desert during the sunrise and sunsets. The Joshua trees – which weren't really trees but a type of yucca plant – were interesting, and he had taken the time to draw several pictures of them and to snap plenty of photos, as well. If Starsky had been along, he would have been talking –or more likely- complaining nearly nonstop.
Hutch exhaled slowly, closing his eyes so he could concentrate on the scents of the desert. He could definitely see taking another trip like this one in the future – just nature and him - communing, as one. No hassles, no noise, no crime. A small, carefree smile played across his lips. He was suddenly very happy that he had slipped the money he had brought along into Starsky's pocket just before they parted ways. Now, they could both enjoy the things they liked best. He could shed the trappings of civilization and Starsk could indulge his newfound lady with all of those same trappings – and probably some hedonistic ones as well. Hutch chuckled as he started to walk along the animal trail he'd been following.
As the detective skirted a large rock formation, a potbellied man with a crew cut and a nose that looked like it had been broken several times, stepped out in front of him from behind a boulder. Hutch stopped walking. The hair on the back of his neck stood up, and he sneaked a peek over his shoulder. Behind him was another man. This one was sporting long greasy blond hair, a heavily pox marked face and a crooked goatee. Hutch looked back at the first man. "Can I help you?"
"Yeah, hand over your money." The first man snapped his fingers. "Quick, like a bunny."
"Hey, Kurt, you just rhymed," the man with the crooked goatee chuckled from behind Hutch.
"Sid! You just blabbed out my name, dip shit." The first man, Kurt, snarled.
Hutch warily kept an eye on the bickering pair as he slid one foot sideways, perhaps he could make an exit without having to fight them. He backed away slowly.
"Hold it right there, Blondie. We ain't done here yet."
Hutch stopped and turned partway around to stare at them. "Look, guys, I don't have any money on me. Let's just think about this for a moment. Why would I need money out here? I'm nowhere near any place I could spend it." He reasoned.
"We heard you tell your pal back in town that you where gonna hold onto the money. Now fork it over." Kurt thrust his hand out, palm up.
"Yeah, fork it over," Sid seconded.
"Do you have to repeat everything I say?" Kurt snapped at Sid.
The detective shook his head at the pair. "I don't have the money anymore. I gave it to my friend –" Hutch stopped talking when he heard the distinctive click of a hammer being cocked on a pistol. Knowing the wrong move could get him killed, he slowly edged his hands up and away from his sides.
"Sure ya don't," Sid gave a low, dirty laugh. "Do you believe him?"
"Nope I surely don't." Kurt chuckled. His voice became cold once more. "So, ya wanna do this the hard way, don'cha?"
"No I don't. I don't have the money on me," Hutch spoke the words carefully, knowing he had to make the men understand that he had nothing to offer them and that he was no threat, at least for now. He fully intended to go after them the minute he got a chance – provided they gave him one. Now that he thought about it, the pair looked vaguely familiar to him. "Didn't I see you two back in town?"
The two men exchanged a look and then Kurt spoke up, "Maybe."
Hutch felt the undercurrent passing between the two and understood things were about to go badly for him. Mentioning that he had seen them before had been a mistake, and all three men knew it. In an effort to stall for time and perhaps give himself a few seconds to come up with a plan, the big blond started to remove his backpack. He hoped this would do two things. One, it might help distract Kurt and Sid. Two, if he needed to move quickly, it would be a lot easier to do without a 50-pound pack weighing him down.
'What're ya doin'?" Sid took a step closer to the blond, waving the gun in his face.
"Taking off my backpack, what does it look like?" Hutch wanted to bite his tongue after the comment slipped out, but he quickly covered it up. "You wanted the money, right?" He thought he might be able to distract the pair with a couple of bucks and some credit cards. Even as he pulled the pack free, his mind was running full blast, trying to figure a way out of this mess while sustaining minimal damage to himself.
Kurt grunted and stepped back, while Sid hovered closely, looking keenly at the pack
Hutch kept watch on Sid with his peripheral vision. Kurt didn't seem to have a gun, or if he did, he hadn't pulled it yet. Hutch fiddled with the straps of the backpack, pretending he was nervous.
Eager for the money, Sid stepped closer. Hutch quickly calculated that the man was now within his striking range.
The detective went for Sid's gun hand, executing a swift karate chop to his wrist that made Sid drop the weapon. Hutch dove for the handgun, only to have a massive weight land on him, knocking all the breath out of him. He struggled for air as Sid quickly added his weight. With more than 400 pounds of human flesh on his back, Hutch couldn't budge. Further more, his lungs were being compressed and if this went on much longer, the blond knew he would suffocate. He dug madly for the gun that was only a hair's breath away from his questing fingertips.
Kurt, the bigger of the two men saw what he was doing and shifted slightly, hammering a few wicked elbow strikes to the back of the blond's head.
Hutch saw stars, but kept trying for the gun, the one equalizer in the unfair, no-holds-barred wrestling match in which he found himself.
"Sid, dammit! Git the hell off my back and git the gun!" Kurt grunted as he shifted his weight to again pound a fist into the blond's head.
Hutch felt the movement and squirmed, fighting for some air and to get out from under Kurt's bulk. The weight on his back lessened as Sid slid off. Hutch flung his head back, managing a solid head butt to Kurt's face.
"JERK!" Kurt bellowed in pain. He began raining blows on the blond's skull. "Teach you to hit me in the face!"
As Kurt angrily hammered at the downed man, Hutch's world turned a fuzzy red color, faded to a blurry gray, and then suddenly went black.