Turner was towing Hutch, across the murky water. The limp form of his partner floating close to his side. "I got him. I got him," the kid sputtered as he neared the pier. "Stay there! It'll be easier to lift him out if you're topside. Other guy's dead, drowned. "Couldn't save them both."
Starsky crouched low, reaching outward. "Hurry. Give him here."
Getting close to the dock, Turner raised the body he'd been towing up toward Starsky. "Bullet grazed his forehead, knocked him senseless." The kid sputtered and coughed up water.
All Starsky could do was nod his understanding, as he hoisted Hutch upward and watched the motionless form fold like a rag doll onto the wood planks. He stretched Hutch out lying him flat on his back, hearing a sickening gurgle. "Hutch!" he called loudly, and getting no response.
By now Turner was kneeling by his side, dripping wet and shaking for all he was worth. Quickly he reached for Hutch's arm locking his fingers around the injured officer's wrist. "Strong pulse." The kid frowned, still very concerned at seeing the alabaster white skin of the unconscious senior officer.
Starsky swiped a wet clump of hair off Hutch's face, leaning down so close to his mouth, he could smell the saltwater on his friends breath.
"It's faint, but he's breathing," Starsky barely uttered, shrugging out of his jacket and pillowing it under Hutch's head. "How long was he under?"
"Not long. When I got to him he was just barely conscious," Turner responded, watching the troubled rise and fall of the downed man's chest.
"How did my partner end up in the water?" Starsky pointed a shaky finger at the harbor. "Damn it, he could have drowned!" In frustration Starsky's hand reached out and seized a fistful of the kid's damp shirt. "Look at him." Starsky pulled Turner close.
The kid's hands clenched in his lap, listening to the angry detective. He knew seconds counted. Maybe he should have left Harper uncuffed, but deep down he also knew he had to secure the criminal first, before diving in after Hutchinson.
As Starsky ranted, the distant sound of sirens wailing could be heard.
Hutch moaned softly. His senses were clouded. He heard an angry voice, heard the wail of sirens, but couldn't open his eyes or speak. The last thing he remembered was feeling himself slipping away. Everything was black, and there was a tight crushing feeling in his chest. He was sinking fast, fading away. He recalled fighting with a gunman in the water. The man, in his panic pulling him under, his fingers clawing desperately. Trying to hold onto Hutch's jacket, face, anything to keep from going under. The man's terror dragging them both down.
He was drowning.
Hutch could feel himself going limp.
He had no air.
He clawed at his throat.
"Hutch! It's okay, Hutch. It's me."
Hutch could feel the patter of water, winding its way down his face and neck. Determination flared inside him. He wasn't going to leave Starsky this way. He wasn't going to let this man take him under. Survival instincts kicking in, he struggled against the hold. Hutch fought back, trying to sit up as fear pumped through his veins.
As Hutch slowly came to consciousness, he managed to peek open his eyes, seeing a blur of movement around him. He couldn't breath; was suffocating. He moaned again, flailing his arms.
An unclear face was bent low over him, strong hands restraining his. Hutch held his breath, looking up at the deep blue eyes staring into his. For several intense moments he stopped struggling.
"I want you to stay here. Don't get up," a voice told him.
Hutch tried to yell at this person to get off of him. That they'd both drown if he didn't calm down, but all that came out was a mouthful of seawater. Hutch squeezed his eyes shut, gurgling as bursts of stars went off behind them. He gulped for air--tried to lift his head, but was only pushed back down. He felt himself smoothly rolled to his side, a heavy unpleasant hand whacking him on the back, dislodging more of the water from his lungs.
The words finally registered.
Faint, but there. Hutch wanted to say the name, but instead gave way to a gasping breath, still choking and coughing up seawater.
"You got it now. That's it, boy. Breathe deep!" Starsky still patting at his back, but softer now. "Deeper!"
As Hutch did what was asked of him, he pressed a balled fist against his chest,trying to stifle the hard crushing coughs that breathing deeper had brought on. He shuddered, his head throbbed, and his throat hurt. He tried to swallow, but couldn't, as more seawater drizzled out his mouth. Finally he felt himself go limp, and rolled onto his back once more. He was cold and exhausted, but opened his eyes, focusing on the hovering face of his partner. Hutch tried to talk; his mouth moved, but he could make no sound.
Starsky slipped a hand under his partner's head and lifted him upward. "Buddy," Starsky gentled, not liking Hutch's pale bluish color and panting breaths. "I can't hear you. Just lie quiet. You have a nasty graze on your forehead and you were unconscious for a few minutes. I don't want you--"
"Starsk," Hutch muttered, letting his partner know he was back.
"Right here with you, Hutch," Starsky said, reaching out to touch a shoulder, keeping the man down. Hutch was just as stubborn as he was sometimes.
"Is he okay?" Dobey shouted, now standing gaurd over Harper having called for backup.
"Yes," Turner yelled.
"No," Starsky corrected angrily. "He's not okay. He nearly drowned, because of you. This is what I knew would happen."
Turner just stared in disbelief at Starsky, unable to discern the emotions playing across the dark-haired officer's face. Anger? Concern? Fear?
"I knew I shouldn't have trusted my partner with a rookie cop."
Turner knew Starsky was upset and kept his mouth firmly shut, taking what was dished to him. Maybe he hadn't done all he could do?
"I knew this was all bullshit!" Starsky yelled. The kid had good intentions, but his lack of experience almost got Hutch killed. Maybe he was letting irrational fear guide him. The kid did pull Hutch out of the drink, but right at that heated moment all Starsky could envision was a flag draped coffin with his partner laid out inside."You!--" Starsky pointed a lethal finger at Turner.
"St-Stars," Hutch stammered, trying to sit up. "You--" he took a breath. "You okay?" he asked, wanting to distract his partner from the perch he had on his soapbox.
Starsky stopped his rant, smiling fondly at his friend. "Yeah, buddy I'm okay. Are you okay?" he asked, enclosing his arms around Hutch and pulling him close.
"Thanks to the kid--" Hutch tried to make his voice more than a whisper, the effort causing him to shiver. He floundered for a hold of Starsky's arm, still taking in ragged gasps of air. "Pretty sure--" Hutch coughed hard, but forced the words out. "I'd …be floating out… to sea if it weren't for--for--"
Starsky pressed a finger to Hutch's lips. "Sh-I told you, don't try to talk now.
"I'm fine," Hutch mouthed, his body twitching involuntarily trying to warm itself.
"Right," Starsky's eyes narrowed. "And I'm a leprechaun."
"Looking a bit green, Starsk. Think you could pass for one." Hutch coughed weakly.
Starsky chuckled, feeling some of his fear evaporate. He glanced at Turner. He wasn't sure if it were perspiration or water that trickled down his face. What he could tell however, was that the kid was tense, soaked through and violently shaking. Starsky didn't have to see the sheer fright shining in the young officers eyes, he could feel it. But he'd done his job. He'd secured the criminal and pulled his partner from the harbor. That thought seemed to calm his fire, and he pushed away his anger toward Turner.
"Hey, you okay?" Starsky lay a hand to the kid's shoulder.
Turner gasped. "Don't sweat it, I'm fine." He looked up at Starsky with watery eyes.
Starsky stared at Turner, he knew he was shaken and scared, but the kid would never admit to that. There was a balance between the street and the weight of what's expected of a cop. Some cracked under that pressure when inexperienced and naïve, but this kid pulled through. He was tough and could hang with the big boys. He had the instinct, the heart, and the ability. He'd saved Hutch's life. Starsky knew he would never have gotten to Hutch on time. A lump of gratitude rose in Starsky's throat, but he couldn't bring himself to tell the kid that.
"So this time you managed to snatch a rabbit out of a hat. What about the next time?" Starsky left the question open-ended.
Turner reminded Starsky a lot of himself. He had the skills it took, and if the kid managed to dodge and elude the bullets that inevitably would come his way, like tonight, he'd manage to survive and become one of the best.
"You better go and see what Dobey needs," Starsky said, waiving the young officer away. He wasn't going to let the kid slip under his skin turning this into a soapy scene.
"You don't need me here?" Turner asked in dismay.
Starsky shook his head. "No, we're fine," he said, looking back down at his wounded friend.
Hutch's face was pale, eyes shut, blood pooling into the tiny frown line between his eyes and running down both sides of his face, along with the rain.
"Yeah, okay," Turner said, trying for casual as he trotted off.
Dazed and shivering, steeling himself against the dizziness and nausea, Hutch cringed. "You could've told him." Starsky bowed his shoulders over Hutch, trying to shield him and wipe the water from his face.
"Told him what?"
"Kid saved my life, Starsk. Thank you. Just--tell--him--thank you." Hutch suppressed a gasp.
"Hey, Hutch, you okay?" Starsky asked worriedly. The last thing he was thinking about right now were thank you notes.
"No," Hutch said, finally admitting defeat, and keeping his eyes shut tried to take in deep breaths.
Worried, Starsky glanced over at the Torino. " Let's get you to the car, partner. Get you out of this rain."
Hutch opened his eyes. The random shapes and color patterns that flitted about made him feel like he were part of an abstract painting. "Let's," he mumbled. "Not feeling so hot, Starsk." He broke down.
Starsky carefully wrapped an arm around his partner. "Oh--" Hutch's voice broke like glass, and he shut his eyes, as the pier seemed to tilt at an odd angle. "Dizzy."
"I can see why, buddy." Starsky studied the pinched and pale face of his partner. "Got yourself a nice gash on your head," Starsky said with sorrow in his voice. It hurt him to see Hutch in pain. "Think you can make it to the car?"
"Awe, come on, Champ." Starsky encouraged, looking at his partner's wet, poker straight hair and the way the ends curled, water dripping from them.
"Careful, go slow." Starsky took great care in getting his friend to the car. Letting Hutch's damp body lean heavy into his side. "Give me a minute, Hutch, I'll have you inside a warm dry car."
"I'm timing you," Hutch shivered, stiff and cold as ice, feeling rivulets of water slither down his back and under his waistband.
"You do that, buddy," Starsky laughed lightly.
Just before Hutch's knees gave way, Starsky eased him into the passenger seat of the Torino. He reached over Hutch to the backseat, producing a blanket, and quickly covered his friend. Hutch's tense body collapsed in exhaustion, letting his head lean back against the seat, and closing his eyes.
"That's it, partner. Just stay put right there and rest. Gonna find something to clean up some of that blood."
Hutch sat quietly, trying hard not to move. His body ached all over and he felt so weak and drowsy. He wanted to sleep, but didn't think he could. He kept his eyes closed and listened to the rain patter on the hood of the car, the drops slowing with each breath he took.
Hutch struggled hard, feeling enclosed in something and he was unable to breathe. He shoved away at the hand that kept grappling to get a hold of him.
"Get away! Get off me!" he yelled.
"Hutch! You're safe!" Fingers touched his face softly, but Hutch pushed them away. "We'll both drown. Get off me!" He repeated his plea, dazed and confused.
"Hutch, wake up! Come on, boy, you need to wake up!"
Finally the words penetrated his water-logged brain, and Hutch opened his eyes, blinking away the wetness. "Starsky?" His breathing rapid. "The water--the guy-- couldn't swim--wouldn't calm down."
Starsky lay a hand on Hutch's knee, the strength in the simple touch warmed Hutch's chilled body.
"Hutch, it's okay, you're here with me. You were having a dream."
Hutch looked to his hands. His fingers were curled into the blanket that was draped tightly around him. "Dreaming," he uttered, and sat back feeling a bit embarrassed.
"There you go, buddy. Rest. You need to save your strength," Starsky uttered, using the handkerchief he'd gotten from Dobey.
He continued to swab gently at the blood that dripped from the graze on Hutch's forehead. Starsky watched his partner's eyes flutter open and shut. First showing alabaster white then sky blue. The man was exhausted. Seeing the bleeding had slowed, Starsky brushed his fingertips across Hutch's throat in a comforting manner. Hutch's pulse throbbed strong at the base of his neck under them, but Starsky couldn't help but shudder, noticing the cold and clammy skin.
"Where-where's the junior detective?" Hutch asked, sleepily.
"He's with Dobey." Starsky glanced over to see Dobey shoving Harper into the backseat of a squad car, then back at Hutch. "They're going to wrap it up here. Don't worry, gonna get you to the hospital, get you all fixed up."
"Starsk," Hutch coughed heavily.
Starsky didn't like the rattling sound in Hutch's chest. "Easy. Awe Hutch, you can hardly keep your eyes open, Blondie, and you're all wet."
"And bloody." Hutch cleared his throat.
"The kid really came through, Starsk. "
"Hutch," Starsky stopped him. "Don't say it." A lump formed in his throat and he swallowed it down, straightening. "The kids naïve. But he did get a quick education tonight."
"Starsky. You-you have no idea how close you--you came to not having a partner."
"Starsky, he's a cop. A damn good one, and I think he would like to hear that from you."
"Let's get you fixed up," Starsky said, shutting the door and jogging around to the driver's side.
Hutch sat quietly as Starsky pulled slowly away from the scene. They passed by Turner who stood near a black and white backup unit that had been dispatched, looking down at the ground.
"Hey," Starsky called, leaning slightly out his rolled down window.
Turner raised his head, his eyes dark, a dejected look on his face.
"Nice moves Dillinger," Starsky said using a twangy Texan drawl, winking and giving the kid a thumbs up.
The transformation was amazing. "You should see me jitterbug!" A smile shot across the kid's face, shining like the break of day. "Next time I work with Officer Hutchinson--"
"Sorry, Officer Turner. I got dibs on that," Starsky said, driving away. "Smart ass kid," he mumbled glancing over at his partner. Hutch's eyes were closed and all he could hear was his steady breathing. "Did you miss me, Hutch?"
"More than you know Starsky," Hutch whispered in a harsh voice.
Starsky's hand came down on Hutch's shoulder and he pulled him near so he could lean against him. "Was hoping you'd say that, partner." Starsky smiled.