Thanks to my crazy, barking puppy who kept me up to write this, and as always a big thanks to Alone Dreaming for being there and listening:heart:
The floor seemed to sink down with each step he took. His legs were getting harder and harder to lift, but he had been here before, he knew, and that he had to. His partner was counting on him.
There was the door; finally, it was never any easier coming here. The dark haired man examined the door before him…everything about the door was plain except the room number which shone brilliantly '333' There was a crack towards the last digit, one that wasn't there last time…
Could it be?
No. Not yet, there was still hope. Hesitantly the man tapped gently against the smooth door, cold to the touch, almost like marble…almost.
A familiar face opened the door, blinking rapidly at the light the man standing before him seemed to bring.
"Oh, hello David." The man smiled gently, with vast affection for the man standing before him, "Here to see Kenneth? Of course what am I asking?" The man let out a laugh and opened the door wider. "Come in, come in, I believe you know the way? It will be much harder this time, I must warn you…much harder…"
Starsky gulped, he had feared that it would be, but at least Herman still gave him the light of hope.
"Yea? He's ok right?"
"I wouldn't know David, hasn't shown himself to me yet. He's very close David…very"
"Thanks Herman…" Herman would understand if Starsky didn't stay around to chit chat, Hutch was hiding. Worse he was leaving…not if Starsky could help it. So he stepped forward through the door into the darkness. Herman, by now, had left with a small click of the door.
"Hutch?" Starsky called out, a smile in his voice. "Buddy? You can come out now…the doorman left, what do you say? Want to sneak out?"
Silence. That's what he hated about this place, he couldn't even hear his own voice if Hutch didn't want him to. And whenever Hutch was scared, he seemed to silence everything around him, to get his mind clear.
Starsky's ears caught the faintest sound ahead.
Shuffling. Cards. The occasional tap against wood reassured his guess, Hutch was dealing, he was waiting for Starsky.
With a sigh, Starsky followed the noise through the black darkness, and ended up bumping into a small wooden chair.
"Very funny Hutch. Now come out will ya?" The shuffling continued, and Starsky took that as a cue to sit down, the chair was abnormally comfortable…easing the pain he just had from walking this vast distance.
Good ol' Hutch.
As soon as Starsky was seated, he noticed the darkness filing away, retreating. Grass sprung out from underneath his shoes and carried out to fill up his entire view, a lake filled up next to him, and a barn faded into view in the distance. A tree sprouted rapidly, leaves and flowers blossoming with color and joy.
Starsky watched with amusement, each time this was a learning experience for both of them. One learned of the other's past, and the other learned what it took to conjure up the image.
This apparently was Hutch's grandfather's farm. At least, in the light his blond partner remembered it to be.
Starsky jumped as the table appeared in front of him, and gazed up momentarily startled at the ice blue eyes staring straight into him.
"Glad you could make it buddy." The shuffling continued, "What would you like to play? Poker?"
"They let you gamble here?" Starsky joked, worried at Hutch's avoidance of the main issue, even more worried at the look of fear in his eyes.
"Sure." The blond shrugged "Why not?"
"Just thought…" But Hutch had already started dealing. "What are we going to use to gamble?" Hutch grinned and a little purple pouch swirled into appearance.
"Some marbles, they give you a lot of fun toys…"
"Yea, I know? Great isn't it?" Starsky watched Hutch staring intently at his cards, the right corner of his mouth twitching into a smile…Hutch never had a set 'poker face'…but then again, any other person probably wouldn't have noticed. The action was ever so slight…but there.
Starsky looked at his own hand, and found a pair of fours. Not bad, at least it was something. They played the rest of the game in silence, adding 'raise you' and 'calls' every so often. Finally, Starsky fed up that this was all they were doing, put it all in.
"Let's see your cards partner." Hutch gladly showed his hand.
A royal strait. Starsky should've known…only Hutch has such luck gambling.
"Yours?" Hutch questioned slyly, and Starsky mumbled something about partners and outer-world conspiracies before laying his hand down. Starsky hadn't managed to gain anything throughout the entire exchange. He only managed to keep his two fours.
"A pair of sailboats…" Hutch clicked his tongue "I guess you lost all of your marbles, buddy." Starsky flushed at the obviously planned pun on Hutch's part.
"That's terrible Hutch!" Starsky cried out in mock disgust. Hutch laughed lightly, almost airily as his voice carried across the fields.
"You know you'll miss 'em" Hutch chuckled, referring to the puns, and began shuffling again.
"Hold on a second partner…please tell me you're just giving up on puns? Huh?" The shuffling stopped and Hutch gazed questionably at his friend before him.
"No…Starsk. I'm not going back." Hutch lowered his eyes and absently began shuffling once more. A flush began creeping up Starsky's neck. Fear, dread, and horror gripped his heart.
"Wha-what do you mean?"
Hutch laid the deck of cards aside and rested his elbows on the tabletop. He then pointed with his right hand, his finger lining up behind Starsky.
"The door's locked for me buddy. No going out, already tried. And tried and tried" Starsky turned around and noticed the door, from which he had come, only a few feet away. This side was covered in dirt, claw marks jagged and scraped across it, deep blood stains from times past were still there, the doorknob was black and grimy, and from here it looked almost slippery to the touch.
"They sure give it a nice homey look, don't they?"
"That's what they're going for."
"It's never been locked before…" Starsky let out the fear that was in both of their hearts. This time…this time…no…it couldn't be.
"Nope, and check out the glorious sight behind me." Starsky did, the door now coming into view. It seemed Hutch was hiding that from him as well.
The door created a great contrast versus the one before. This one was plated in gold, carvings were engraved at the side posts, and the door seemed almost to sing with the vibrancy it held. There were no knobs, it looked like one could just push it open, and it was awfully tempting to, from where Starsky was sitting.
Starsky hadn't even seen the door when he actually died; rather…his father had told him to go back, that there was still much to live for. Starsky listened and went back happily, the grimy door open and hard to go through. Still, he had gotten back to Hutch and the rest of his life.
But this time, in Hutch's case, it was different. He had gotten himself into a coma, his heart was weak and beating slower and slower with each passing breath. The door was locked.
"It's a little much? Don't you think?" Starsky croaked, and Hutch smirked at his partner's comment.
"Yea. It's why I haven't looked at it yet. I can feel it though." Tears started forming at the corners of his eyes. "Oh Starsk, how I can feel it."
"H-How does it feel buddy?"
"Glorious. Peaceful. Magical." A laugh "The list goes on."
He couldn't go. This was his best friend, the best friend he ever had, the one he could share anything with…he couldn't…he couldn't.
"Are you going?" Starsky questioned in fear, trying his best not to show it. Hutch was so close, so close…
"Not yet, not if I can help it." Hutch began passing out cards again. However, this time he was setting them up in a solitaire fashion.
"Hey buddy, I want to play too." Starsky gently rubbed Hutch's sleeve, noting his distress.
"You're leaving…" Hutch nodded towards the door, Herman was coming towards them. Hutch quickly handed a letter to Starsky. "When you get back…read this to me…maybe it will help, it's from my grandfather…it was here waiting for me."
"Hutch, I can't-" Inwardly Starsky was wondering if it would disappear and the words would be lost, or what if the words were tempting Hutch to go through the musical door? What if…?
"Starsky, please…" Starsky had already risen from his chair and was being held by the shoulder by Herman. "Please…"
"Ok." Starsky relented quietly. "But you better come back, promise?"
"I'll try. I really will Starsk, with every ounce of strength in my body, I'll try…"
It wasn't enough. Even Hutch didn't know if he could do it. But Starsky had to trust his partner, and he had to help.
"I'll see you, right?"
"Right, see you on the other side." Hutch joked. And Starsky shot a glare at him.
"Which one?" And he left Hutch alone at the table with his game of solitaire. Slowly and sadly Hutch began playing the game, alone in the vast green fields. It wasn't as if Hutch hadn't tried, He had pushed, smashed chairs against the door, fired a gun at the knob, nothing. It was only a matter of time before they would come for him.
Well, he would go fighting.
There was a sudden breeze, wind tickling the grass below his feet. Funny, he hadn't created that…the wind then hit him full on. With the wind came an attack on his side, aching, hurting. The same pain that had led him to this place. Hutch shut his eyes, and bit on his lip, forcefully enough to draw blood. Hutch closed his eyes, if this was some sort of test…
A gasp. A flash. His head was being attacked by another set of pain. It hurt, Hutch slid from his chair onto the soft velvety grass that was flickering from under him. Lord it hurt! Blearily, Hutch opened his eyes and looked to the grimy door in front of him.
The door…the door…was slightly ajar. One lone blue striped adidas was holding it open.
Starsk. Hutch thought with a laugh, the joy overcoming the pain for a slight moment.
I'm coming buddy, watch out, I'm coming…
Hutch glanced up, hearing Starsky's voice lined with encouraging words.
Starsky had stayed by his partner's bedside for hours end, the critical hours, the critical days, where the doctors were still unsure he would make it or not. It was more likely he wouldn't, they warned him, and he had better start calling his family.
That was four-no-wait-five days ago, Hutch was still stuck. His body was growing weaker and weaker, and just a minute ago the doctors spoke of pulling the plug, how the machines were doing all the work…
Hutch…you gotta make it…who's going to take care of me if you decide to leave?
Starsky sighed as he leaned back on the chair, watching his buddy sleep. Starsky rubbed his eyes with fatigue, then let his hands travel downwards from a stretch and met up with a faint crinkle from inside his jacket.
What the hell was that? Starsky again, ran his hand over the spot, the crinkle louder as more force was applied. He didn't remember having anything in there, curious Starsky searched his jacket and pulled out the mystery noise.
An envelope, yellow with age, and the words 'Kenny' were written across it with a silver ink and a fine hand.
How did it get there? The oddest feeling washed over Starsky, a sense…that he had to read this letter, now…to Hutch.
How he knew, he had no clue.
He opened it carefully, and shook out the letter from inside. A piece of parchment fell out, written in shimmering ink. Starsky's heart thumped in his chest faster, and he began to read the letter hungrily and out loud.
They tell me you're coming soon, and though I shall be happy to see you, I can't but help feel saddened that your life was cut so short.
Son, is there any way you could stay with your friend a bit longer? I may not be able to touch you, or hug you, and you may not be able to see me, but I am always able to see you, and watch out for you. I have been able to see how you have suffered, the both of you, I have seen your mistakes, and your traits that help save people everyday.
I see your happiness, Kenny, you're not ready to come up here. Personally, now don't tell anyone, it's a little boring. Now, now…it may get a little crazy on Wednesdays, but forget that. You are doing so much; you may not be able to see the lives you've saved and the after effects…
But I've seen how they grow and have picnics with their family, laugh with their friends, or sit alone watching the lake's ripples. They all have lives, thanks to you.
So go on, go back to yours.
I'm sure you'll find a way.
Starsky let the words dies on his lips, just where was this letter from? How did he get it? What did it mean?
"Smrt ahn, ianfuther…" The voice came from the bed, the voice came from the man who supposedly had no chance…Starsky quickly ran over to his side and clenched his hand gratefully, taking in Hutch's eyes like oxygen.
"What was that…? Hold on let me get the nurse…" He was about to cry for her, when he spotted the call button next to Hutch. He pressed it and smiled at Hutch who still had his eyes half open. There was never a more beautiful sight; Starsky gazed with heartfelt love at the man before him, his eyes shimmering with unshed tears.
"Said….smart man, my…grand..fa...pop." A shivering cough, and a smile "My way, Starsk…you were my way…" Hutch closed his eyes in happiness and Starsky was left hanging on each and every last word. It was then the nurse burst in through the room, panting in fear…
"He-He woke up" Starsky started, still overwhelmed with giddiness, letting his words trip over one another.
"His vitals have gotten stronger." The nurse mused, leaning over her patient. "I'm going to call the doctor, see what he thinks."
"He's going to make it." Starsky stated with confidence.
"Yes, was there any doubt?" The nurse winked as she left through the door. Starsky realized it was one of the same nurses that always attended them when they were hurt; he had yet to find out her name…all this time…
Starsky then noticed that he kept shifting weight. Puzzled, Starsky looked down to find one of his shoes was missing. Starsky rapidly glanced around, seeing nothing, and not truly caring went to sit back next to Hutch.
"I'd knew you would make it buddy, you always know how to beat the odds." Starsky grinned, resting his head on the bed, where silent tears escaped in relief. "Another one of the reasons why I love ya buddy." Starsky looked up, blinking away tears, and was surprised…no shocked…to find his missing shoe in Hutch's hold. As if Hutch were holding onto a teddy bear.
When did that happen?
He was about to take it back, but he couldn't…Hutch was so snuggled into it, happiness and relief visible even in his sleeping features, the shoe tightly clenched in his hands, and pressed against his face.
Briefly Starsky wondered if his shoes were dirty, he didn't want Hutch to get any infections or the like, but remembered this was a new pair…only worn once, on the way to the hospital…though, that could still lead to infection…again Starsky placed his hand over the shoe, but Hutch moaned in response.
Starsky drew his hand back. The doctors could take care of it…they would scold him though, even though it wasn't his fault. He had no clue how the blond lug had managed to get his shoe!
It didn't really matter. Starsky's thoughts were already left in relief, happiness. His friend had made it. They had made it.
Together, they found their way.