Peppers and Onions
By Alone Dreaming
Disclaimer: I do not own Starsky and Hutch. If I did, this would not be posted under fanfiction.
Author's Note: This is the first story that I have written in a very long time that I have been proud of. I've spouted out all sorts of nonsense as of late but I'm hoping that this ends my 'bad' writing period. This is my first posted Starsky and Hutch fanfic and I hope everyone enjoys it.
Thanks goes to: SilentTrainConductor who not only introduced me to the boys but also convinced me to post this. You are wonderful, mellon nin, a true God send.
On a final note, this hasn't been beta'd. I've read through it and looked for any obvious mistakes but- bear with me. I'll find a good beta at some point.
I hate being tired. Not the tired that comes from a long day where I've had to work hard and I need sleep; it's a different sort of tired. It's the tired where everything hurts constantly. It's the tired where you're in bed, out cold at nine and when you wake up at six, you feel like you haven't slept at all. It's the tired where you dread having to go into work. It's the tired where, more than anything, you just want a break. It's the tired that has been sinking into my bones for weeks, no, months. And I think that I may have finally reached my limit with it.
Usually, the tired doesn't ever get the better of me. On a normal day, when I start to feel it, I know that I can sleep it off. I know that eventually things will be better. Even if I wake up the next morning feeling drained, I know that the weekend is coming and that I'll be able to catch up on my rest. I also know, that on a normal day, when everything's good, that my partner will be there to catch me. If I'm about to give up, I know Starsk will help me.
Now, though, there seems to be no breaks to help me brush off the tired. There is no respite from the creeping exhaustion. There is no weekend to look forward to. And my partner, my best friend, is not able to look out for me. Not right now, at least. I know that he wants to and that, if he could, he would be doing it. But he doesn't have the energy for it. The tired has him worse than it has me.
He was shot only three months ago. He was released from the hospital only a month and a half ago. He was able to stay home for more than two hours alone only three weeks ago. He was able to sleep through the night without pain or bad dreams only a week ago. And yesterday, he was able to smile like he used to.
If he helps me fight off the tired that's pulling me down right now, I'm afraid that he'll stop moving forward in his recovery. He'll stop looking after himself because he'll be worried about me. Never mind the fact that his heart stopped beating and he died for a while. He'd forget that he can't walk without a cane and he's still getting therapy for his one arm. He'd brush off the funny little cough he gets when he breaths too deeply. He'd be focused on making ME better. I can't let him do that. He's come too far to fall again.
So, I've been hiding the tired. I'm still hiding the tired right now, as a drive home from another long day at work. When I reach the door, and walk inside, I'll keep it within me. I'll smile, I'll ask him how his day was, and I'll get ready to prepare a nice dinner for us. If I'm lucky, he'll be asleep before he notices the bags under my eyes and the paleness of my face. If I'm luckier, he'll keep missing it for the next week; maybe, even the next month.
Deep down, I know that's not going to happen. It'll only be a matter of time before the tired gets the better of me; before he notices that I'm aching and needing a break. Of course, that will bring so many new problems. He'll claim that he's a burden. He'll think he's dragging me down. He'll blame himself for my exhaustion. He'll try to leave, try to live on his own. He'll hurt himself with his guilt and his attempts to 'help' me.
The very thought of that hurts me more than I can bear. It's been my very joy to watch him recover. Every little step has brought a new hope into me. Every time the doctor, or the therapist, or the nurse, or the psychologist has come to me and said 'He's doing better, Ken' I've had to suppress tears of joy. Better is good. Better means that soon he'll be himself. I can't bear the idea that I could cause all of that to fall apart. That's why I have to cover up how tired I am.
But, God, I'm so tired.
Here I am, parked outside my apartment, my head resting on the steering wheel. My limbs are simply refusing to move. I know I must get upstairs, put on my smile and care for my friend. I know that he's expecting me up there any second now. I also know, though, that entering my home means the cycle is starting over again. The cycle of life which is going to make me more exhausted than before. I'm terrified that if I go up right now, he'll notice my lack of energy and my worst fears will come true.
I lean back, pushing my hands into my eyes, trying to fight back the lack of energy in me. It's been building up, trying to drag me down ever since I saw Starsky lying on the ground, bleeding. I've had to double my efforts to control my emotions. It's hard to do and sometimes, it hurts so badly that I feel like I might explode. Some of the tired comes from that, I know. I also know that I can't let those emotions out, not right now. Maybe, once Starsky is back on his feet, when the limp he has is a memory and he can write normally again, I'll tell him how bad it hurts.
I slowly open the door and drag my flaccid body out of the car. It's starting to get dark out and Starsky will be worried soon. Running a hand over my hair, I look at the stairs that seem a mile high and begin to climb. I force my best smile onto my face and try to shove the tired down as far as it goes. I realize that it doesn't go as far down as it did yesterday.
I hope he doesn't notice tonight.
I find myself at the top of the stairs and in front of my door. My hand fumbles for the key that's in my pocket and I try to open the door. It seems unbearably hard to unlock and open the door tonight. God, it's so hard to hide this anymore. I just want to crawl into the house, collapse into my bed and not move for a week. I know I can't...but I want to so badly. The door finally opens and I look inside.
The TV is on and Starsky is sprawled on the couch. His head his hanging off slightly and the blanket he's using is balled up at his feet. He's breathing slow and even, and a bit of drool is coming out of the corner of his mouth. A sigh of relief escapes me and I allow the tired to rise just a bit. Limping over to the couch, I gently push his head into a more comfortable position and pull the blanket back over him. He stirs slightly, but doesn't wake up. I thank whatever deity watches over me for a small blessing. I'm not doing well enough tonight for him to be fully awake.
I watch him for a moment, noting the pizza sauce around his mouth with a little sigh. I've been trying to keep him on a healthier diet and for the most part he's been agreeable about it. For the better part of a few months, he couldn't keep much down anyway. But now that he's feeling up to it and I'm not around to fix every meal for him, he's been sneaking more and more of his junk. Though it upsets me some, I can't help taking it as a good sign. He's really getting better.
His meds are out on the counter, the lids still off, so I assume that he's taken them recently. He wouldn't be able to sleep without them anyway. One by one, I snap the lids back on them and place them in their corner. I swallow hard at the amount of them there are. It's a little bit scary- I don't even know what half of them are for. I know that they are helping my partner heal but they are a constant reminder of how sick he really is. He may be able to eat his pizza, but he's still far from being well.
I suddenly feel the tears welling up and decide that now would be a good time to take a shower. I don't cry openly at all anymore. If anyone sees me, if STARSKY sees me, my cover is blown. Running a hand over my face, I stumble to my room to find a fresh pair of clothes. I'm in the bathroom with the door locked and the shower on just as the tears start down my face.
I haven't cried very much, not since Starsky turned the corner. But, whenever I have cried, like I am now, the tears come in torrents and refuse to stop. I sob until I hurt so bad that I can't remember why I'm crying anymore. This time is the worst though I think. I stand with my arms around me, in the overly hot shower, simply crying for everything. For Starsky, for how tired I am, for not being able to stay strong; it all comes out in hot rolling tears.
I think now I realize that I can't keep going on like this. As the tears flow out, my strength wanes. The entire defense that I've built up is crumbling with each salty droplet that traces its way down my face. The pain that I've been covering slowly leaks out and strengthens to the point that I physically hurt. I know that once I get out of the shower, I won't be able to cover up my emotions. Tomorrow, when I wake up, I'll be worse than I am now. I know that I have failed, that Starsky is going to see.
It's all too much.
Over my own coughing, whimpers and, of course, the shower, I barely hear the knock on the door. It's a frantic sort of knock, and I realize that Starsky must have woken and heard me crying. My cover is blown now. He's probably frightened, wondering what is wrong. He wants to come in a make sure I'm alright. Fear clenches in my chest as I think about it and I stifle my sobs. If he finds out, he'll be scared. He'll try to help.
I can't let him do that.
Stifling my sobs, I crawl out of the shower and wrap a towel around my waist. Tears are still coming down my face but I'm pretty sure that I can say its water from the shower. I'm confident that I can fool him into thinking he just imagined the sobs. Maybe then, I'll be able to keep up this masquerade for one more day. I shakily reach out and undo the lock. I don't even get a chance to say anything to him. As soon as the door is unlocked, he barrels in, not even looking at me. He drops to his knees next to the toilet and heaves.
I'm shocked but at the same time, relieved. Hutchinson, I think as I move quickly to his side, since when has it been all about you, huh? I feel a bit of relief that his visit to the bathroom wasn't about me but at the same time I'm nervous. It's been a while since Starsky hasn't been able to handle food. It must have been something on the pizza, I realize as I kneel next to him, rubbing his back. Must've tried toppings he wasn't ready for.
"Sorry," he whispers, gasping for air. This brings me out of my reverie and immediately throws me into my care-for-Starsky mode. "Guess the peppers and onions were a bit too much."
I smile weakly and squeeze his shoulder. "It's okay, babe. No big deal. We've just learned you can't handle those two together yet, right?"
He nods and then heaves again. I find myself cooing comforts at him despite my pain, just like I have done constantly through the past months. The tears are still coursing down my face but I try to ignore them. Starsky currently is my main concern, as always, and my pain has become secondary. I can only hope that he doesn't notice.
"God, Hutch," he gasps, leaning against me. "I-I'm such a pain these days. 'm sorry..."
I shake my head, and cradle him. "Don't worry about it, buddy. You're recovering- these things happen. You can't blame yourself for being sick."
He sighs slightly and I know that there's something else he wants to say but he holds back. Slowly, he sits up and looks at me. I turn my face away, pretending to be engrossed in flushing the toilet. It's a desperate and ineffective attempt to hide the fact that I'm still crying, perhaps harder than before. It hurts to see that he can't eat what he used to. It hurts to know that he enjoys his favorite foods and then throws them up. It hurts to know that I can't do anything more than comfort him. It hurts even worse to know that I'm at the point where I can't handle it anymore.
"Aw Hutch," he says, his voice soft and sad. "Are you cryin'?"
I swallow hard and shake my head, not trusting my voice. A lump the size of a small boulder has lodged itself in my throat. I busy myself fumbling with a washcloth to give to him to wipe his face.
He's not fooled. Of course, I really didn't expect it in the long run. Starsky knows me too well. I look back at him and the sadness on his face nearly breaks my heart. He takes the washcloth from me and wipes his mouth, all the time, his eyes focused on the tears streaming down my face. I want to stop them so badly and tell him that it's just water from the shower. But they are only coming faster now, and I am helpless. I have no strength left to fight anymore.
He sets the wash rag down and before I can say anything, he grabs me into a tight hug. "Aw Hutch," he says again, holding me close. "Aw, Blintz, it's alright."
My shoulders are shaking and I'm full out sobbing again. My crumbling defenses shatter and everything tumbles out in one, big wave. I cry for him, for me, and for everyone that was affected by what happen. I cry for the little things, the big things, for everything that's occurred. I cry for the pain I know he feels and for the pain I feel everyday. Soon, I can't even figure out why I'm crying but I still am.
"Shh," he mumbles in my ear. "S'alright, Blintz. You'll see. Everything's gonna be great after this, huh? It's gonna work out, I promise. Just let it all out now, buddy. I'm right here. Me and thee, remember? You take care of me and I take care of you. Don't you forget it. Doesn't matter if I'm hurt or not, I'm here for you. Okay? Alright, Blintz? Me and thee."
Me and thee. I had forgotten over the months. Me and thee; I take care of you, you take care of me. It was what we did. It was our motto. It was us, what we were to each other. I don't think I forgot it, really. I think I became so obsessed with caring for him, so obsessed with making sure that he was okay that I didn't remember the 'thee' part of it. I forgot that it was he was supposed to watch out for me too.
"It's okay," he says again, rocking me now. "We'll make it through this together. We always do, don't we? We'll beat this and soon, everything will be just fine again."
He's right, I know, as I kneel there sobbing so hard I can barely breathe. We do things together and we make it through them together. Me and thee; together forever. Maybe everything won't be fine, in the long run, but we'll be together to help each other through it. And, I'm going to make sure that I won't forget it again.
I hope you enjoyed this! Hopefully, there will be more to come. If you have a moment, please review. I really like to hear what everyone thinks.