Author's Note: I own nothing. Not the characters, nor the plot (which was 'borrowed without permission' from the Grey's Anatomy episode of the same name). Just couldn't resist.
"I need some help here!"
David Starsky pushed through the heavy glass doors and entered a world of anesthetics, blood, bright lights, and white coats. He clung fiercely to Hutch, who was wet with blood and rain.
"I'm a doctor, bring him in here. I need some help here!"
Starsky dragged Hutch into the room the gray-haired man had pointed out as several other nurses dropped what they were doing. By the time he eased Hutch onto the gurney, the room was filled with bustling medical personnel.
"Sir, can you tell me what happened?"
Starsky didn't so much 'step' away as he was pushed away from Hutch's side. All around his semi-conscious partner, there was a flurry of medical uniforms, needles, and life-monitoring equipment.
The wall stopped his backwards movement. "He was shot," Starsky replied, his tongue thick and heavy in his mouth. "We're cops. I got here as fast as I could- he's gonna be okay, right?"
"We'll do everything in our power to see that he does," the doctor said, and what was meant to be a reassuring statement was lost as Hutch's shirt was cut away, revealing the true extent of the damage.
Starsky flinched. Hutch was bleeding profusely from a bullet hole on his right side, halfway down his ribcage. He was clearly in a lot of pain- his forehead was creased and sweating, his eyes hazy and blinking rapidly, and a restlessness had taken hold, causing him to thrash weakly against the hospital staff. Starsky's gaze settled back onto the gaping wound until at last, it was covered with a handful of white gauze.
The doctor was spouting cryptic orders to his team and the movement and energy in the room never slowed. Tests were ordered, drug dosages rattled off, and a request to clear the operating room was sent upstairs. Starsky hardly understood any of it, except that his partner was in pain.
He moved forward, unaware of the trail of bloody rainwater he was dripping on the white tile floor, and found Hutch's hand. It was cold and weak, so he gripped it strongly. Confused blue eyes found his, and Starsky smiled.
"Hold on, buddy, you're gonna be okay," Starsky said, believing in his words one hundred percent.
"Starsk…" Hutch was looking up at him, and everything else seemed to fade away. "God… hurts."
"I know," Starsky replied, because he did know. "They'll sew you back up, you'll see. You'll be good as new."
"Excuse me," the doctor cut in, shattering the privacy. "We're ready to move him now. We'll need you to stay in the waiting room. You can get started on the paperwork."
"I want to come," Starsky argued, unwilling to release the hand that gripped his so solidly.
"We're moving him to the operating room," the doctor replied. "You can't come. I'll find you just as soon as we're done." Then, he added, "We have to move now."
Starsky looked at Hutch. Everything seemed to come to an impatient standstill as Starsky raised his other hand and patted their joined ones. "I'm gonna go now, Hutch," he said, ignoring the wires and tubes that now decorated his partner. "I'll see ya in a little bit, okay?"
Hutch nodded, then closed his eyes.
Time resumed its normal rhythm. As Starsky was led from the room- from his partner- two young doctors entered. He tried to turn back to question their presence, but was steered forwards, towards a central desk. A clipboard heavy with paperwork was pushed into his hands, and his escort promptly left.
Starsky stood numbly in front of the desk.
He turned and looked through the large glass windows of the emergency room. The young doctors were standing on either side of Hutch as the older one spoke, his hand gesturing to various parts of Hutch's body and to the corresponding machines that monitored them. "What's going on?" he asked aloud, but was surprised when someone actually answered him.
"They're interns," said the nurse behind the counter. Patient files were scattered on the desk before her, and apparently her job was to place them in the appropriate baskets. "They'll be assisting with the surgery."
Starsky was about to voice his objection to having those 'kids' work on his partner when the lights flickered.
"What was that?" he snapped, looking up at the multitude of fluorescent light bulbs inlaid under the ceiling tiles.
"Nothing to worry about," the nurse replied distractedly. "Happens every time there's a storm outside. We have a backup generator, just in case."
Starsky didn't feel as reassured as he thought he should. He sank down onto a hard plastic chair and managed to fill in Hutch's name at the top of the first paper before looking up again, monitoring the progress of his partner.
They were moving him now. The senior doctor left the room first, followed by the interns who were pushing the gurney. A few nurses followed, and the rest remained to clean the room.
Starsky sighed. It was always hard to leave the life of his best friend in the hands of strangers, no matter how many years of schooling they had undergone. Hutch's life was a precious thing, something he had been reminded of tonight in a very unpleasant way.
It had all been by the book, at least from their end. He and Hutch had been on an overnight stakeout, bird-dogging a man accused of first-degree murder. The storm had started as soon as they entered Quinn's neighborhood, and that should have been Starsky's first sign of how the night would end. For four hours, they sat in complete darkness, listening to the rain beating upon the Torino and the occasional deep roll of thunder. Lightening split the sky more and more frequently as the storm grew closer, then settled directly overhead. The temperature grew colder and the thunder stronger, until the booming rumbles shook the car with their force.
Just when Starsky was about to call the whole thing off, Quinn made a run for it. Only a well-timed bolt of lightning illuminated the criminal's escape, and after giving the green-light for backup, the partners were out of the car and into the storm, the chase underway.
Except Quinn was more familiar with the streets. He soon had an unacceptable lead over the detectives, so the decision was made to split up.
Two against one. It should have been easy.
Starsky had took the long way. He would cut Quinn off, and Hutch would bring up the rear, effectively trapping the murderer. They had done it a million times before.
But they had underestimated Quinn, and for the first time, that mistake had almost proved fatal. Starsky had jumped into the middle of the alleyway, gun out in a locked-elbow embrace, and his aim instantly fell upon Quinn's chest. Quinn stumbled to a halt, his own gun gripped tightly in his right hand, and for a brief moment, the two made eye contact.
Then, Quinn did a panicked about turn just as Hutch appeared at the opposite end of the alley. Quinn's run rose, and Starsky's finger tightened, but the following gunshot was not from his weapon.
The bullet raced through the air, above the scattered trash and between the fat raindrops, and buried itself firmly in Hutch's warm chest.
Starsky pulled his own trigger as Hutch fell to the ground, thirty feet away.
Quinn was the second to fall.
Starsky's heart was in his throat as he ran, leaping over the knocked-over trashcans like they hardly existed. He crashed to his knees at Hutch's side, fumbling to return his gun to its holster, then reached out and gathered his partner in his arms.
The lights flickered again and Starsky shuddered, shaking himself from his memories. The constant movement around him was the same. He didn't understand how you could ever feel so alone amidst so many people. He looked down to the pen in his trembling fingers and the still blank pages on his soaking lap.
With a deep breath, Starsky raised one hand and pushed his fingers through his wet, snarled curls. This was hopeless. How could he be expected to fill out meaningless paperwork when the single most important person in the world to him lay bleeding all over a hospital bed, without him? He could tell the staff anything they wanted to know- after all, he knew everything there was to know about Hutch- but he couldn't remain idle in this ugly orange chair.
Starsky looked once more at his partner's shaky name written in his own handwriting, then tossed the clipboard on the table beside him.
Starsky rose, his knees popping in protest and his wet clothes clinging to him unpleasantly, and started towards the sign pointing out the direction of the operating room.
Then, the power went out.
When he said something hurt, then it meant he was really hurting.
Hutch watched the alternation of ceiling tiles and bright lights as he was rolled down the hall, flanked by two impossibly young doctors. He couldn't have heard that part right. They must be students.
Fire coursed through his side with every breath. He felt hot. Tears leaked out of the corners of his eyes, even though he was refusing to cry from the pain. He was a detective, and he didn't cry.
Things were sticking to his bare chest and he could feel wires snaking their way over his body. Something annoying was beeping beside his ear, apparently having been loaded onto the gurney next to his head. His midsection had been wrapped tightly, making it difficult to breath but at the same time, keeping his organs inside. Nothing but pure, pulsating fire consumed his body, spreading from his wound to his arms and legs and head like a poison. It was uncomfortable to lie still, and it was uncomfortable to flail around. Nothing stopped the pain.
Something dinged and Hutch watched the change in the ceiling as he was wheeled from the hall and into an elevator. The older doctor had gone before them to begin scrubbing in as Hutch was moved at a more careful pace up to the operating room. It grew darker as the doors closed, and suddenly Hutch was looking up into the faces of two very concerned, young men.
"How you hangin' in there?" the one on the right asked.
Hutch blinked incredulously, and another tear spilled from his eye. "I'll be better… when it's out." Hell, even talking hurt.
The elevator lurched its ascent. "Don't worry, we'll have that bullet out in no time," the young man replied. "I'm Doctor O'Malley. This is Doctor Karev. We'll be assisting with the surgery."
The kids were doctors? Hutch closed his eyes.
He was a dead man.
"Don't worry, we've-"
Whatever comforting thing the kid was going to say was cut short when the elevator stopped suddenly and Hutch opened his eyes to darkness.
"What's going on?"
Starsky turned in the direction of the nurse's station, his eyes slowly becoming used to the near-darkness. Dim emergency lights glowed from their strategic placing on the walls, slowly illuminating the frantic staff and patients.
"The power went out," the nurse replied, her voice disembodied as she moved faster than Starsky could see.
"What about that backup generator?" He bumped into the desk, effectively coming to a halt.
"It's not working," she replied curtly, her voice now off to his side and elevated in panic.
Starsky turned in a tight circle, back towards the direction he had last seen Hutch go. A sense of foreboding came over him.
"Where's the stairs?"
O'Malley- he still refused to believe the kid was a doctor- faced his partner. "No kidding."
Hutch stared up at the dark elevator ceiling. He was getting hotter, and his lungs more heavy. It felt like something was pressing down hard, preventing him from ever getting a full breath. The pain was all he could focus on, and it was driving him mad.
"What's happening?" he bit out, grating his teeth as the agony in his side flared.
"Looks like the power went out," O'Malley replied, now out of view. "Don't worry, we'll get out of here soon. There's a backup generator."
Hutch tried really hard to believe that.
Karev grunted from the direction of the doors. "They're not moving, George."
Hutch rolled his head, knocking into the small monitor next to him, and could barley make out O'Malley's form by the elevator buttons. "You know," the kid started, "if they don't want you to be alarmed, why do they tell you to push the button that says 'alarm'?"
Hutch stared at the glowing red button. "You guys… really doctors?" His weak voice was plenty loud enough in the silent confines.
"Yes, we are first-year interns," O'Malley replied, turning away from the wall. "Now just relax, someone will have us out of here in a few minutes."
And after what had to be more than a few minutes, Hutch was still staring at the two kids- interns.
The machine by his head was starting to beep faster, and he was getting hotter.
"Name's Hutch… by the way," he said, breaking the uncomfortable silence.
"Oh, yeah, sorry," O'Malley jumped in, clearly the talker of the two. "So… how'd you get shot?"
"Good one, George," Karev snorted from the corner.
Hutch watched a flicker of something like hurt pass over O'Malley's face. "It's okay," Hutch replied, shifting again in a search for a less painful position. "Partner and I… chasing a criminal."
"You're a cop?"
The interns looked at each other excitedly. Hutch suppressed a sigh.
They were first-year alright.
Hutch's breathing was turning ragged now. It hurt to move at all, and he was becoming increasingly out of breath. A bead of sweat dropped from his temple to the white sheet underneath him. His fingers and toes were tingling.
Suddenly the everything grew darker.
"His pressure's dropping."
Hutch felt himself going numb. A loud ringing filled his ears. Images flashed before him at a dizzying speed. He felt nauseous. A hand grabbed his arm and fingers pressed against his wrist. Then they moved to his neck. Starsky? A frustrated curse sounded above him, but his eyes were closed and he no longer had the strength to open them. Something cold pressed to his chest. What was happening? Why couldn't he move?
Where was Starsky?
"Where's my partner?"
Starsky stopped beside a gathering of people outside the closed doors of an elevator. Traffic in the halls was minimal- once the power had gone out, all the patients were redirected to the east wing. All, that is, except for one unlucky patient trapped in the elevator.
The middle-aged doctor from downstairs was straining to pull open the elevator doors, now dressed in surgical attire. Starsky recognized the man despite the dim lighting. "What's going on? Where's Hutch?"
The doctor looked up immediately. "The elevator is stuck between floors. Your friend is inside."
"Help me pull these doors open."
The small crowd of nurses parted and Starsky stepped up. "How could this have happened? Is he okay?"
The doctor made a strained face as he pulled on one of the doors. "I'm sure he's fine, detective. I have two of my interns with him. Once the fire department arrives, we'll get them out."
A million thoughts raced through Starsky's mind, but the doors began sliding open at an agonizingly slow rate. His arms burned as he dug in his heels and pulled for all he was worth. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, the doors stopped moving and Starsky looked at their progress.
The steel doors had parted a mere ten inches.
Starsky's gaze dropped. The elevator hadn't even made it half-way between floors. Only the top foot or so of the elevator was visible from above the floor he was standing on.
Interrupting Starsky's disappointment, the doctor dropped to the ground on his stomach. "O'Malley! Karev! Can you hear me? Open the doors!"
There was a muffled response, then slowly, the elevator's interior doors slid open, creating a small, one square foot passageway between the doctors.
Starsky's vision narrowed to a ten-inch wide tunnel as he focused on his partner. Hutch was facing in his direction, but his eyes were closed and he wasn't moving. A small monitor by his head displayed the number '30' rather ominously and the two interns looked scared.
"Hutch? What's going on?" Starsky asked, but was drowned out by the doctor beside him asking the very same thing.
"O'Malley, how's the patient?"
"Pulse is thready Doctor Burke. Lost consciousness just a few seconds ago."
"O'Malley, what's his blood pressure?"
"I can't hear a systolic reading above 30, sir."
Starsky was no doctor, but he could tell from the doctor's painful expressions that a reading like that was not good. "You're gonna help him, right? You guys trained for situations like these, right?"
"Just calm down, sir. We're doing everything we can." Doctor Burke redirected his somber attention to his interns. "You two are going to have to operate in there."
"What!" Starsky was beside the doctor in one tense movement, echoing the protest of the two interns. "You can't be serious! That's my partner, he needs-"
The doctor turned on him. "What's your name?" he snapped, and Starsky answered reflexively.
"David Starsky, I'm a detec-"
"Mr. Starsky, your partner is my patient right now. It would be in your best interest to back off and let my guys attend to him."
Starsky was so shocked that his vocal chords were paralyzed, and the doctor must have mistaken that for an answer.
"Good." He turned back to the elevator's occupants. "O'Malley, Karev, listen to me. Now this isn't going to be the most sterile surgery, but I'm going to walk you through it, understand? We just need to keep him alive until we can get you three out of there."
The interns looked incredibly nervous, then at last the shorter one, O'Malley, agreed. "Okay."
Starsky blinked away his astonishment as the intern rattled off the list of supplies needed. He pinched himself. This was a dream. It had to be. No way would any self-respecting hospital allow something like this to happen. They were going to cut open his partner in an elevator? No way.
Before he knew how much time had passed, a nurse appeared with an armful of blue packages. Doctor Burke took them, setting them on another towel on the floor, and put on a pair of sterile surgical gloves.
"Go ahead and intubate him," the senior doctor ordered as he opened one of the packages.
Starsky kneeled numbly on the floor, just behind Doctor Burke. He watched with a pounding heart as the interns titled Hutch's head back and slid a clear tube down his throat. They attached a type of balloon to the protruding end, and the quiet intern, Karev, squeezed it steadily.
Starsky realized they were breathing for Hutch, and his eyes filled with water.
He rocked back on his heels before he fell over, and his rear end hit the floor hard.
Unfortunately, it wasn't hard enough to wake him from this nightmare.
"Good, now you're going to make a cut near the bullet wound." Doctor Burke was handing a scalpel through the small opening, and it gleamed in the dim lighting.
O'Malley looked at the object for a long moment before taking it. "How long?" he questioned in a voice that wasn't anywhere near as steady as Starsky would have liked it to be.
The doctor replied using directional terms of the human anatomy, but the only part Starsky understood was, "Long enough to fit two hands inside."
"Inside?" Starsky croaked. He was starting to feel nauseous. He was also ignored.
The intern began to cut and Doctor Burke continued, "Don't cut too hard or you'll slice the heart and lungs."
Starsky closed his eyes a second before O'Malley did. "This can't be happening," Starsky murmured, hoping and praying that when he opened his eyes, he and Hutch would be at Huggy's eating dinner. Anywhere but here, feeling suspiciously light-headed in the hallway of a dark hospital.
"Okay, got it," O'Malley replied at last. "No cutting the heart or lungs..."
Heavy footsteps sounded to his right and Starsky opened his eyes to find the source of the commotion.
"The fire department is here!" He exclaimed, getting to his feet. "Everybody back up, let them open the doors!"
"No!" Doctor Burke snapped. He lowered his voice as Starsky tried not to watch the two young men cutting open his partner. "I have a very nervous intern in there, and your partner's life is in his hands. I don't want anything to change. Let him finish."
"And I want my partner to live!" Starsky yelled.
"And he will," Doctor Burke said with such conviction that Starsky dared to believe him. "Just a few more minutes, then we'll open the doors."
Starsky took a deep breath. His shoulders felt like giant knots and he was sure his blood pressure would never return to normal.
"I didn't cut the heart or lungs!" came the excited cry from within the elevator. "Doctor Burke, I didn't-"
"Great job, O'Malley," the doctor replied, turning his attention back to his interns. "Now reach inside, and clamp off all the bleeders you find."
Starsky watched with wide, terrified eyes as the young doctor put his hand inside Hutch's body. He was dizzy and wanted to look away, wanted to pace a hole in the floor, but his gaze was locked on Hutch's very still and pale form, the tube coming from his throat, and the foreign hand in his body. Starsky was unsettled to say the least- mentally disturbed for life to be more accurate. This would be a vision that would plague his nightmares for the rest of his days. He felt his own blood draining from his face.
"Next to the spine…" the intern said suddenly, "I found the… aorta? I can localize the bleeding."
Doctor Burke almost smiled. "Good job, O'Malley. Put your finger on it to stop the bleeding."
Starsky had to look away as the intern shifted his hand, and Hutch's skin moved. Bile crept up this throat. Was it just him, or were things getting darker?
"I got it. The heart's beating stronger!"
This time, Doctor Burke did smile. "Congratulations, gentlemen. You just flew solo."
"Now what do I do?"
"Now hold it."
Starsky risked another look in the elevator. There was Hutch, flat on his back and blessedly unconscious while the young intern had his entire hand inside- inside- Hutch's chest cavity. There was a hand inside Hutch. And he was still alive. There was blood, lots of it, and Starsky began to sway. He was fainting, and powerless to stop it. How long had it been since he fainted last?
The last thing he heard was someone warn, 'Man down!', and then Starsky hit the floor in darkness.
When he said something hurt, then it meant he was really hurting.
Hutch became aware of a blinding light on the other side of his eyelids, and he turned his head away from it with a frown. His side, although it still ached fiercely, was undoubtedly hurting less than the last time he was awake. It was easier to breathe now, and that alone relieved Hutch immensely. He felt the familiar pull of an IV line and wondered briefly what kinds of drugs were being pumping into him.
Then he decided that at the moment, he didn't care.
It hurt too much to think.
A soft "I saw that" broke the silence and Hutch jerked awake. He rolled towards the voice, his eyes watering from the bright lights, and slowly made out the shape of a familiar form in the bed next to him.
Hutch blinked slowly.
Oh yeah, he was on the good stuff.
He tried to focus on Starsky. "You okay?"
"Yeah. Just fainted."
"Fainted? Why?" Hutch blinked again, and tried to feel concerned.
"Cut you open."
Hutch furrowed his brows. Starsky wasn't new to the proceedings of a hospital, and Hutch was clearly still alive, so- why did he faint? But that was entirely too much for his dry throat to handle, so he settled for "Oh."
"Got you out."
A combination of warmth and drugs pulled at him. He hadn't really a clue what Starsky was talking about. Out of what? "Are you following me?"
Starsky snorted. "Always," he said with a smile in his voice. "Me 'n thee, 'member?"
Hutch nodded and closed his eyes. Softly, just before returning to a deep sleep, he echoed, "Me 'n thee."