Sometime had passed before a low moan, followed by another low guttural moan was heard under the pile of debris and a thick layer of cement dust.
Hutch managed to free himself from the hindering blocks, but the effort it took sapped him of his remaining strength, leaving him lying on his side with his eyes closed and nostrils flaring from the crucial lack of oxygen denied the two detectives. He tried to suck in the little precious air through his mouth and quickly regretted the move by hacking his lungs out.
The coughing fit managed to rouse Starsky. His eyes fluttered open and slowly, he tilted his head to the side in time to witness his partner coughing out blood.
"Guess th-this is t-the end f-for us…" Starsky conceded in a feeble voice.
"They'll find us." Hutch wheezed out. Starsky shook his head in disbelief at his best friend's misplaced confidence. The air was now growing thick and more difficult to breathe for both of them.
Hutch crawled on all fours to his partner, who was lying supine, with his legs trapped under a pile of broken rubble. Exhausted, Hutch collapsed to the ground on his stomach, too worn out to even yelp in pain. He grabbed Starsky's hand and held it tight.
"Hang on, Buddy, there's still hope."
"D-do me a f-favor…w-will ya b-blondie? "
"What's that, Starsk?"
"My f-family... t-tell them…t-tell them f-for m-me…"
"H-hey! I don't want any of that. You'll them yourself."
"I-I don't think I'm gonna make it…" Starsky squeezed his eyes shut.
"Chan-chances are, you don't get outta here, I w-won't either. They find you, they f-find me. It's m-me and th-thee, remember?" Hutch squeezed his friends' hand.
"Cr-crazy b-blonde blintz…" Starsky coughed out.
Hutch chuckled, which triggered another round of coughing in the blonde detective. He felt the grip from his partner's hand loosen, and he watched as Starsky's faint smile faded, and his head lolled to the side.
Despite Hutch's best effort to rouse him, Starsky remained still.
Hutch released his friend's hand and instead draped his arm across his body, resting his head on Starsky's chest. He was relieved to feel a faint heartbeat. It seemed to be fleeting, and he wondered how long it would be there.
Tears crept from his eyes at the inevitable fate that awaited them.
"L-love you t-too, S-starsk…" Hutch whispered with his last conscious breath before he was lost to the world.
~S&H S&H S&H S&H ~
"Hey Cap! We found 'em!"
Dobey and the crowd above heaved a sigh of relief, but the elation was fleeting when Dobey shouted out the next question.
"Are they alive?" Anguish grew as the seconds elapsed.
"We have pulses, but they're not breathing." The medics had begun the IV's into Starsky and Hutch's veins, and had begun pumping air into their lungs with ambu-bags.
"Damn, no pulse."
"No time for CPR, tell the guys up top to be ready for him, he's in cardiac arrest!" Paramedic White yelled. Paramedic Hogan yelled the info to the crew above, and Starsky began his journey upward.
Minutes later, hands grabbed Starsky and began CPR before placing the defibrillator paddles in their proper shocking locale. The whine of it charging sang through the air, and Starsky's body lurched him back into sinus rhythm.
Seconds later their efforts were rewarded by a hacking cough.
Come on, Starsky, you with me?" Hogan asked frantically of his charge. "Come on, detective. Open your eyes for me. That's it. Sir, he's coming around." Dobey and the others crowded around.
"We'rrrrrrrre out?" Starsky coughed out.
"Yes, you are." Dobey informed him happily. Starsky coughed out a few more dust balls before his eyes widened in panic.
"Hutch? Where's Hutch?
"Easy Starsky. They're trying to revive him. Settle down. He's right there. " Hogan motioned to the right, where White and others were working on his partner.
Starsky tried to lift his head. His efforts were thwarted by a pair of strong hands.
"What are you doing? You need to stay down." The capable medic tried to keep the anxious detective stilled.
"Hutch…I need…" Starsky gulped, "I need to go to him."
"He's being taken care of. We need to give them room to work."
"Please, take me to him…he needs me. " Starsky pleaded with tears in his eyes. Hogan looked at the ambulance attendants, and nodded in consent, and they wheeled Starsky's gurney over to Hutch's stretcher. He watched in defeated horror as his best friend was defibrillated – twice.
"Com'on, Blondie. Don't give up now. We're out! We're saved! You have to wake up and say you told me so! Come on! Stay with me! Hutch!"
HHUUUTTCH!" Starsky rasped out, his own body still reeling from the brutality of the explosion.
It wasn't long before Starsky's own body forfeited the fight and gave into unconsciousness.