Author's Note: Y'all didn't really think I'd be the only one without a Halloween fic, did ya?
"Reach for the sky, mister!"
Hutch froze as the all-too-familiar feeling of a cold, steel gun barrel was pressed into the small of his back. Slowly, he raised his hands defenselessly, and Starsky mimicked the action beside him.
He and Starsky had been leaving his apartment with the intention of going to Huggy's for dinner. Now, halfway to the Torino, the partners found themselves being held up at gunpoint by some juvenile, novice criminal. Hutch looked around for help. The kid's voice gave him away. He sounded as if he should be home now, doing homework at the kitchen table instead of sneaking around in the dark, toting a firearm and robbing people. They were in the middle of the sidewalk for crying out loud, didn't anyone see what was going on? Wasn't it unusual to see a kid aiming a gun at two grown men?
The young ones were always scared, and scared was unpredictable.
This was not how Hutch wanted to die.
He glanced at Starsky. The pale light of a full moon sparkled in his eyes, and Hutch saw the readiness in his partner's stance. "Calm down," Hutch said calmly, his eyes never leaving Starsky's, "You want our wallets? They're yours."
Hutch moved his hands slowly, lowering them towards his back pocket. Once the kid thought he had succeeded, Hutch and Starsky would draw their own weapons.
The sound he heard next chilled his blood, then boiled it.
From a head that couldn't have been more than four feet high.
Hutch spun around, bumping shoulders with Starsky. Before them, clad in boots, plastic spurs, blue jeans and a cowboy hat, stood a young boy. "Trick or treat!" he beamed, chest puffed as he held out a white pillow case with both arms. Clutched in his right hand was a toy pistol.
"Do we look like we have any candy?" Starsky growled, raising his arms and shoulders in an irritated gesture. "Here's a tip kid," he continued, taking a step forward and the boy lowered his sack. "Don't sneak up on people like that. It's a good way to get yourself hurt." The little boy's lip was trembling as Starsky continued his slow advance, backing the boy away. "Now beat it!"
Hutch watched the little boy flee down the street. He looked at Starsky. "That was a little much, don't you think?"
"The kid stuck a gun in your back!" Starsky retorted as they once again headed for the Torino. "What if we hadn't been cops, but some other scum ball who was packing? That kid would have got his head blown off!"
Silently, Hutch agreed. The kid was too young to be out by himself on Halloween night. Where were his parents? At the very least, where were his friends? Rumor has it that one of Bay City's finest cops lives on your block so you turn your kid lose? The problem was not with the child, but with his parents. Hutch hoped that the kid would heed Starsky's 'words of wisdom' and hightail it home.
"Come on," Starsky said as they neared the car. "He'll be fine. Cheer up. I'll buy you a burger at Huggy's!"
Hutch went to the passenger side and scowled at Starsky over the car's bright red roof. "Yeah, with the money I leant you."
"Hey, it's the thought that counts," Starsky beamed brightly, then ducked his head, searching for the door handle in the dark.
Hutch grumbled to himself as he pulled open the door and got in. The day had been filled with serious calls about prank criminals, leaving the detectives exhausted and anxious to see the end of Halloween. They had already arrested five ghosts, Elvis, Robin Hood, and a banana-wielding gorilla.
And that had been before lunch.
Hutch was almost starting to miss real crime.
So naturally, the last place he and Starsky wanted to be tonight was sitting by the front door, handing out candy and encouraging the madness. Tonight, Hutch was hungering for the greasy food and good adult company of The Pits.
They arrived a short while later, after passing a multitude of TV and movie characters, as well as your average goblins and gremlins. The streets were seething with children of all sizes, made anonymous by the costumes they wore. Even the prostitutes were getting in on the action, approaching the cars as traffic was stopped at intersections. This was one night the detectives were powerless to stop them, as the women all boasted that they were merely trick-or-treating.
Hutch snorted to himself as Starsky parked the car. "You know," he said, glancing at Starsky as they stepped onto the parking lot, "I'm surprised you don't have a costume. Doesn't your holiday spirit stretch for Halloween?"
Starsky shot him a look as he shut the door. "I am dressed up," Starsky replied, pinching the shoulder of his button-down shirt and lifting it a few times. "See, I'm a handsome, off-duty detective who's not eaten since lunch. Can we go in?"
Hutch smiled and started after his partner. Just as with any child, Starsky tended to get cranky when he was hungry. They headed towards the bright, neon sign marking the entrance of The Pits when Hutch heard something behind him.
He stomped to a halt, filling his lungs as he prepared to shoo away another trick-or-treater. As expected, a pain flared in the small of his back before he could even turn around.
"Keep your hands where I can see 'em and nobody gets hurt."
"For cryin' out loud- hey Starsky, hold on a second. We're being robbed again."
Starsky stopped, his body barely recognizable in the shadows of the alleyway. "Again?" he echoed, eyes twinkling as they rolled in sarcasm. "Aren't you the popular victim tonight."
"Hey, is there a sign on my back or something?" he asked, lowering his arms a bit. "I mean really, what makes you kids think I have any candy?"
The gun was pressed harder into his kidney and Hutch squirmed a bit. "Hey-"
"I don't want any candy, tough guy. I want your wallet."
Hutch looked at Starsky, who, although obscurely backlit by the streetlights and neon signs, appeared to have the same inpatient demeanor as before. So the kids were getting bossy on this side of town, okay. Hutch could handle that. "Fine, I get it. Look kid, I'll give you a dollar, okay? How's that sound? One dollar will buy you any kind of candy you want-"
The gun was shoved impossibly closer and a voice near his ear murmured, "Give me the wallet, now."
It was then that Hutch realized he was possibly in danger. Starsky must have sensed it as well, for he straightened and took a step forward.
"Hold it!" Came the sharp bark. "Don't move, or your buddy here gets a bullet in his spine."
Starsky froze, blending into the shadows silently.
Hutch's heart was beating fast now. "Okay, calm down. I'm going for my wallet now." The gun barrel was pressed into his back so hard it would surely leave a bruise. He could feel the other man's hot breath against his neck and smell the tobacco that clung to the stranger. Hope was not lost, though, as they were standing just outside The Pits. Someone was sure to come out of the bar anytime now…
"Hurry up, and no funny business."
Hutch's fingers closed on the warm leather, but he kept his gaze locked on Starsky. He couldn't see his partner's face but hoped Starsky understood what he was thinking. Tense and barely breathing, Hutch waited for the right moment.
He pulled the wallet from his pocket and held it at his side. "Here."
Then he felt it. The gunman reached for the wallet and the pressure in his back lessened fractionally. Seizing the moment, Hutch went for his own gun as he spun away. A glint from the shadows told him Starsky was pulling his own gun as well.
Years of experience had made them fast, but tonight, they were not fast enough.
A gunshot echoed in the alley and Hutch felt the bullet rip through his side, igniting a crippling pain in its wake. Adrenaline left him still standing, though his senses grew distorted. Someone yelled 'Freeze!', the shadows came alive and slithered about in the darkness in front of him, and a second gunshot pierced the confusion.
The smell of gunpowder hung heavy in the silence, and Starsky panted from where he stood over a fallen body.
Hutch collapsed against the cold brick wall of The Pits and felt himself sliding to the ground.
"Hutch!" Starsky cried, appearing before him faster than Hutch could comprehend. He blinked, feeling Starsky's hands on him, and tried to breathe through the searing pain. Already, his leg and rear end were hot and wet.
His shirt was yanked open and Starsky quickly shrugged out of his own. He balled it up furiously, then pressed it to Hutch's left flank. "You just hang in there Hutch, got it? Everything's gonna be okay."
Hutch swallowed hard and nodded, his skull rocking over the jagged bricks. He pressed his palms to the sidewalk to keep from falling over, and his left hand splashed in warm, sticky blood. "You got him?" he asked, trying to redirect his attention while blinking back the tears in his eyes.
"I got him."
Their harsh breathing was the only sound for a moment, then the unmarked back door of The Pits burst open. "What's all that racket outside my establishment? I'm trying to serve-"
"Huggy!" Starsky interrupted, shouting over his shoulder at the lean black man. "Call an ambulance, now!"
There was a pause, and Hutch imagined Huggy's frown as he understood what was going on. Then, "Sit tight, Starsky. I'm on it."
"Hey," Starsky said when they were in silence once more. "You still with me?"
Hutch nodded. It hurt to breath, and the sensation of the bullet wound overrode everything else. It burned, it throbbed, it stung and it ached. Hutch felt as if his intestines might be leaking out. His hands and feet were numb, and even sitting he was feeling light-headed. His throat was tight and sore and producing sounds he hadn't even been aware of. He looked down, seeing the glisten of Starsky balled-up shirt and the tracks of his own blood as it ran from between Starsky's knuckles and down his wrists.
"Don't," Starsky scolded softly. "Don't look at it. You're gonna be fine, hear me? The ambulance is on the way."
How? Hutch wondered. How was this going to be okay? He was sitting in a puddle of his own blood, shot through at least one vital organ, he was sure of it. He shivered, and the congealing, tacky blood made odd sounds as he moved. Starsky was sitting incredibly close, and at last, Hutch could see his partner's eyes.
"Damn kids," he whispered, mustering bravado he didn't even know he had. "Always makin' ya let your guard down…"
Starsky snorted. "You wanted to know why they choose you? It's because you a big softie, Blintz. Kids sense that kinda stuff."
"My curse, I guess." It was getting colder, and harder to breath. He shivered violently, knocking his shoulder blades against the brick. The shock was wearing off and the agony in his side was increasing by the second.
Starsky moved his head, catching Hutch's eyes. "Well I'm gonna go in and grab a bite to eat, you be okay out here for a few minutes?"
Hutch glared at his partner. "Don't… joke. Hurts."
Huggy clattered into the alley. "Ambulance is on the way," he panted, stumbling to a stop beside Starsky. "Here. How's he doin'?"
Starsky exchanged the blood-soaked shirt for the towels Huggy offered. "He'll make it, won't ya Hutch?"
Feeling his eyelids grow heavy, Hutch simply nodded. It was getting hard to hold his head up and he barely felt Starsky putting pressure on his wound. Coldness seeped into his bones from the brick and pavement, and his ribs were squeezing his lungs impossibly tighter.
Unconsciousness lurked at the edge of his mind, growing stronger and darker as the moments passed. It promised of warmth and peace and freedom from the white-hot pain in his gut. Hutch felt his body shutting down.
"Hutch!" Starsky yelled, and Hutch felt a slap on his cheek. "Don't go to sleep, okay? Hold on."
"To what?" Hutch breathed, feeling exhausted and numb except for a center of hurt. He was slipping.
Hutch's hand was lifted and Starsky's fingers interwove with his own. The sensation of warmth and a strong heartbeat gave him strength, but only for a few seconds.
The last thing he was aware of as he slipped into the blackness was how perfectly his hand fit with Starsky's.
Hutch didn't know which feeling he disliked more- that of intense pain, or that of confused detachment.
All around him, hospital staff bustled like ants on the trail of food. Black and orange decorations hung from the ceiling and walls as if the spirit of Halloween itself had exploded. Even on the wheeled table next to his bed, a tiny orange pumpkin accompanied his covered plate.
"You look sick," Starsky noted from the chair beside him.
Hutch blinked. "I feel sick. You try coming out of surgery and coming face to face with a mummy."
Starsky snorted and grinned knowingly. "I saw the mummy. I got her phone number."
Apparently Halloween didn't stop at the front doors of this hospital.
Hutch rolled his eyes and his gaze landed on the clear tubing leading into his hand via IV catheter. Whatever fluids they were feeding him were laced with pain killers, and Hutch no longer felt as though he had a gaping hole in his side.
The hole, in fact, had been very real and was now sewn shut. Hutch had no memory of the ambulance, and only a hint of a memory upon entering the operating room. He would never forget, however, the violent swirling of black and orange and fluorescent lighting as he was wheeled from the table to his 'room'. The colors and sensations had made him sick, causing the nurses to cease all forward movement while his stomach convulsed. Everything was a blur after that.
When he woke in a more lucent state, Starsky had been there to explain what had happened. The bullet had gone straight through, front to back, taking out a portion of both large and small intestine in its destructive path. Hutch had grinned, saying that he was right when it felt like his guts were falling out, and Starsky had retorted by saying, "Yeah, but it's a good thing we don't need all 25 feet of that mushy stuff."
They sat in companionable silence now, Starsky having picked over most everything Hutch had been given to eat, and together they just listened to the hustle and bustle of the hospital staff. Hutch tried not to think about the man that had died. It was a move Starsky was forced to play, but it didn't mean they were happy about it. They had both been scared, huddled together in that alley, and judging by the enormous bucket of get-well candy Huggy had brought, the bar owner had been scared as well. Perhaps kids weren't the only ones to get frightened on Halloween. But now, in the aftermath, it was good to simply sit together, and heal.
And with only eleven more minutes until November, what else could possibly happen?