I HEARD A VOICE

By: Karen B.

Summary: The plague. Missing scene. After Hutch is given the serum. Hutch pov.

I had lost track of all time, and I was having a really bad time of finding it again. Trapped in a dark world somewhere between sleep and wakefulness. I watched as the ceiling of the gloomy cave I was confined in seemed to fall. It pressed me down hard. I kept trying to sleep away the pain, but something inside me, a memory maybe, wouldn't let me. I tried to capture the memory, but no matter how hard I tried it ran from me.

It felt as though I were belly crawling through a dark tunnel lined with razor blades. I was determine to find an opening that would lead me out, away from the pain, but someone had cleverly concealed it. Must've been fumbling, twisting and turning around in there for hours, going further and further out of touch. It felt spooky and I was scared. I didn't like this dark place.

I sensed something was with me, but I didn't know who or what it was. There were shapes. Shadows? Faces? Goblins? I had no clue. All I knew was I felt small and I hurt all over. As if that were not bad enough, something cold, soft, and moist vigorously began to rub against the crook of my arm. Then one of the mystery monsters moved in close to bend over me. I felt a flicking sensation in the same area that was being rubbed, just seconds ago. Tap. Tap. Tap.Time and time again in a maddening rhythm that annoyed me. Two words came to me. 'Blood test.' I didn't know where, how, or why, those words came bubbling up into the mix of my half-conscious mind. Man, this was turning into a real nightmarish puzzle.

Then, without warning, a long and sharp object jabbed me in that very place, and my whole body began to twitch. I tried to pull away. I couldn't. Something kept me still. I held my breath, listening to my wild heart beat, but not for long, as my throat began to vibrate. I cried in pain, but my protest only came out as a drooling sputter. It seemed cruel, and sure in hell wasn't much fun.

After that I found myself in the dark maze again. However, this time I wasn't belly crawling. I lay on my back. Very still. Staring blankly without blinking into the darkness, and not even daring to take a breath. I flexed my fingers feeling something soft brush against them. For a moment the fire in my chest stopped, and so did my heart. It seemed only seconds later when another brush to my fingertips started it all back up again. Whatever this was. Whatever was happening to me. It had taken me down too fast and far too easily. How long I laid on the edge of consciousness? I don't know. I wanted to cry, but all I could do was shudder and cower, a pitiful squeak leaving my lips.

Then, I heard a voice.

"Hey, it's okay," it said.

You've got to be kidding? I was completely in the dark. I didn't know a thing. Was I in a heated pool or a snowdrift? I couldn't make up my mind, shaking my head back and forth, trying, but I just couldn't remember. It was like a stone door had slammed shut on my brain. The darkness began to shrink, and I was having a harder time catching my breath. 'It's okay?' I wanted to argue that fact, but with who?

'Uh…uh." I tried to force words from my mouth, but nothing would come out.

The touch, it skimmed across my arm this time, and I flinched afraid another jab might be coming. It was a defenseless action on my part, but the voice was there, saying something again. It sounded shaky, and I couldn't make it out. The soft touches were replaced by a firm hold of my hand. I--I tried to withdraw, but there was a power. A power that wouldn't reveal itself, yet I knew it was keeping me alive. Willing me on. I tried to open my eyes. When I did, I was practically blinded by a bright light, and I squeezed them shut again.

"Take it easy," the voice said.

I lifted and lowered my lashes several more times, but still couldn't get my eyesight in check.

"C'mon, buddy."

I felt a pressure on my shoulder, felt hot breath so close against my cheek, but I couldn't distinguish what it was. I thought I should be afraid. I was helpless. Couldn't fight back. But for some reason the warmth calmed me, and I turned my head toward it.

"How you feelin'?" What? Who? I wanted to ask, but instead all I managed was a hiss of pain. "Hey, can you talk to me?" the voice asked in anguish.

I frowned, concentrating hard, there were so many questions. "I know you're hearing me." The disembodied voice seemed to be on familiar terms with me.

My heart thundered. I think I whimpered, feeling hot sweat trickle down my back, but then it quickly turned to ice. The chills were back, taking over my body, and causing me to dig my fingers into whatever it was I was lying on.

"Shhh. I'm sorry." I felt something fiddle with my hair. It felt good. "It's okay, you don't have to talk right now, buddy."

The voice. It sounded so worried, it took hold of my heart. To hurt that voice; it was the last thing in the world I wanted. I eagerly opened my mouth to answer, but a lump caught in my throat when a spasm of pain clenched my stomach, and I clamped it shut. Shivers ran up and down and through my spine. I felt as though I where tumbling back into that dark underworld, going even deeper. I shifted from side to side uncomfortably. This time I didn't whimper. I moaned loudly. Suddenly, a weak sense of astonishment hit me, when I realized, I was being supported within someone's gentle hold. My head was resting in the folded curve of someone's arm, and I appreciated the calm way I was being rocked.

"Don't worry." The voice sounded sincere, but I felt a tremor ripple through the body that rocked me.

I ached all over, but because of the life I felt so near, I wouldn't go back into the darkness. Feather light caresses stroked my arm, and I struggled to breathe, to talk, to do something.

"Ah….." I heard myself rasp.

"Easy. Easy." The voice was still there, it would not desert me.

I swore I was dying. Desperate to know, my fingers fumbled about until I clutched at what I figured was a forearm.

"Relax," the voice barely whispered.

I was burning up, beaten down. The feather light caresses moved to the sides of my neck. I arched toward the touch that seemed to seize the pain I was in, and toss it away. The voice kept talking soothingly, but the words were lost to me. I needed to hear them. Needed it to stop the hurting. My eyes flicked open, but everything twirled like a colorful pinwheel making me feel sick, and I squeezed them shut.

"How you feelin', huh?" The voice asked me again, and this time I struggled to grasp every word, as they seemed to be tossed round and round my head. "It's okay. Please, it's okay if you can't answer me."

I finally understood them. Great, at least I could juggle now. I was deeply affected by the voice, and a moment later I shocked myself when I finally did answer it.

"Not good," I panted. "I'm hot. I'm cold."

"Yeah, I know you are." The voice sounded so mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted.

What had I done? Felt like I'd spent a week at a bar drinking shot after shot after shot? A cool cloth came to my forehead. It felt like a splash of ice water as it moved to tenderly pat my cheeks, throat, and chest.

"Hmmm." It felt terrific.

"Shh," The voice uttered.

After that there was a long drawn out silence. I didn't want the voice to leave me. I felt alone, unable to see. Breathing started to be increasingly difficult again. I struggled to open my eyes. To find the face the voice belonged to, but it lay hidden from me. I was afire with fever, the heat pulsing through me, messing with my vision and my consciousness. I felt like I were dying. Someone might as well start digging the hole. My body felt rigid, and tense, and I gritted my teeth.

Then the voice came back. Speaking in hushed tones, yet once again it was muddled, and I couldn't understand it. All I knew was something good and too strong to be broken was there with me. A hand curled around the back of my neck and massaged there. It didn't take long for me to relax into the touch.

"I wasn't going to go, partner." The massaging continued and I felt myself going limp from the pleasure of it. "Enjoy it while you can, blonde" the voice snickered softly. It sounded so good. So natural. I blinked my eyes twice trying to clear this confused and disoriented feeling. "You're all right, Hutch, have a little patience, it will get better."

Partner? Blonde? Hutch? Something clicked inside my brain; flashing like a thunderbolt. At that, the mystery lifted, and I managed to open my eyes, staring up at a cloudy face.

"Starsk?"

"I'm right here," he called. I licked my lips, my eyes rolled, but I forced them back into their sockets. "I want you to stay with me, Hutch." The neck rub stopped, but he left his hand in place. I fought against the spooky thing that kept trying to pull me down. I wanted to do as my partner asked, but I was just so damn weak. "You scared me," Starsky said, and I could see in his eyes the truth that didn't set him free, but more like, set him on fire.

I bit back the pain of another spasm. "I did? Wasn't trying to," I said, taking in a full breath and struggling to stay with it, to not go back into that dark trap. "I thought--I thought I was dead."

"Dead?" Starsky chuffed. "If you're dead, Hutch, then so am I," he laughed, but I knew my partner didn't think it was funny.

It dawned on me that Starsky looked like hell. Sick almost. Like someone had mistakenly put banana chips in his cookie jar and he ate them all. What had I missed? For a moment we just stared at each other, Starsky giving me this happy almost whimsical grin.

"You're going to be fine, we got him, Hutch. Got the serum."

More confusion. I kept thinking, I should be on third base, when I really was only on first. I was going to be fine? We got him? Got the serum? What was going-going o--The Plague. Callendar. Hutch is dying. Suddenly I was in the outfield catching a fly ball, without my glove on. That brought back the stinking feeling of nausea and dizziness, and everything started to churn. I was alive. I didn't die. I might make it to one hundred and forty after all. The colors of the room twirled, like a fast-tempoed dance step. The dark vapor was coming back, but this time I didn't feel trapped or scared.

"What? What's wrong?" Starsky huddled closer, getting agitated.

"So--some damn party," I uttered, trying to ease his worry. I inhaled a steadying breath, then jerked hard when I felt like the bed dropped out from under me.

"Yep, and you're the damn guest of honor." Starsky relaxed a bit, laying a cool palm to my forehead, and threading his fingers through my hair. "Bell of the ball," he smiled. "You did it, Hutch."

What was he talking about? I'm alive because he found Callendar. I didn't do anything but lay here in my own sweat. If he can't admit it, I will.

"Starsk, you're--you're the reason I'm still here." Starsky's eyes welled with tears, and he shook his head 'no.' "Why don't you just admit--admit it," I said, tilting my head back when every muscle in my body tensed.

"Easy, now." Starsky's fingers began massaging the back of my neck again, forcing the pain to release me. "Whatever makes you happy, partner," he whispered.

Something about Starsky won't let him take credit where credit is due. I wanted to say more, but the effort to stay awake was getting to be too much. I turned my head to the side, focusing my eyes just long enough to watch Starsky close his, and lower his forehead to touch mine.

"I wonder if-if it's you who want's to be Captain Marvel," I softly whispered, as I shut my eyes, starting to drift back off.

"Nope." Starsky lifted his forehead away from mine, and then there was a long pause. "Well, maybe." I heard a voice say.

The end