Final Chapter. Thank you for your reviews. This was always only intended to be a short story although as I started posting I soon realized I could have taken it further.
Starsky braced himself for the injection, praying he'd have the strength of his partner to endure the hell of heroin. He wished he'd taken the time to tell Hutch how much he admired his strength but it was too late now. He took a deep breath in preparation for the needle prick and tried to prepare himself. But instead of the expected injection, he felt himself fall over backwards and his last moment of awareness was as his head hit the table.
Hutch had watched the thugs preparing his partner for the injection and his fury had rapidly become overwhelming. He'd been working on loosening his ropes and the frenzy he felt as he watched the syringe being pointed towards Starsky's arm gave him the extra strength he needed to break loose, and he threw himself forward with such force that all five of them ended up on the ground. Afterwards he wasn't able to remember exactly how he'd overpowered three of them but somehow he managed, the desperation giving him the determination to do so. Starsky and the man holding his shoulders had fallen and were unconscious after hitting their heads on the table. A frantic punch to the man holding the syringe saw him collapse to the ground and despite the continuing confusion Hutch grabbed the dreaded syringe and threw it far away. The third man had been stunned by the unexpected reaction, but quickly reached for his gun. Hutch was quicker, and soon kicked out at him, managing to trip him up and subdue him.
After making sure they were all under control, he turned his attention to the unconscious figure of Starsky. He quickly removed his own gag and untied and ungagged his partner, carefully moving him right away from the drugs. He equally quickly removed the rubber tourniquet and tossed it away. Feeling sick and shaken he gently patted Starsky's face trying to rouse him.
"Hey, buddy, you okay?" Hutch spoke quietly, slightly relieved to see signs of returning consciousness.
"Hutch?" Starsky was starting to recover. Hutch had gently lifted Starsky's head into his lap and as he watched his partner struggling to wake up, he fully understood for the first time how badly he'd been screwed up. He'd been so worried about losing his career and reputation but what the hell did they matter? He thought they mattered more than anything in the world to him, but he'd been wrong, very very wrong. How could he have missed the obvious. He'd rather lose it all than have to watch Starsky suffer drug addiction, or for that matter, suffer anything. Forrest and his thugs had seen what he'd been too blind to see. He wouldn't make the same mistake again. Life was difficult at times, and cruel, but it came down to having priorities straight.
Starsky was recovering his equilibrium and tried to pull himself up, wincing as he moved. He turned to look at Hutch who wasted no time in speaking.
"I'm sorry, buddy." Hutch looked directly into the tired, but thankfully clear, blue eyes.
"It's okay." Despite his confusion over what had happened, Starsky felt the apology from Hutch had little to do with their recent ordeal.
"No it isn't. I've been wallowing in self pity and fear, and jumping at shadows and totally lost sight of what's most important. Not my damn job..." he broke down. At long last the tears came and all of Hutch's fears and emotions were released, instead of remaining bottled up and strangling him. Starsky put his arms around him and pulled him into a bear hug, hating to see him like this but knowing a turning point had at last been reached. His partner was on the way back.
"It's okay, blondie, it's okay…" For the first time in a very long time, Starsky felt it would be.
Later that day, after clearing up the mess and taking the men into custody and to the nearest jail, they drove back to their campsite. Hutch had wanted Starsky to get checked by a doctor, but Starsky refused. He'd only suffered minor cuts and bruises and his head hardly hurt him, or so he said, and he hadn't been unconscious for very long. As he said, somewhat ironically, he'd suffered much worse injuries. Hutch had his doubts about the wisdom of bypassing a doctor, but he recognized the determined glint in Starsky's eyes and he wasn't willing to start a huge argument about it. He had every intention of keeping his eye on his stubborn partner and he'd make sure he received medical attention if he needed it.
Starsky was just so relieved to see Hutch looking much more like the old Hutch that he was even prepared to complete the camping trip without making too many complaints. Not too many anyway. He knew how much Hutch loved camping and they were still on vacation after all - in fact they had another week away from work. He winced slightly at the thought of the creepy crawlies, but after giving Hutch a quick sideways glance, he guessed he could cope with the horrors of the wilderness to help his friend. He'd always intended to, and it would be cheating to try to use recent events as an excuse. Somehow Hutch had found his way to recovery and he intended to be there with him.
Hutch himself felt like a weight had been lifted from him. Sure he still had to live with the fear that people would find out about his brief addiction, but he now realised that losing his job didn't count in the scheme of things. He knew it would be a terrible thing but not the worst thing that could happen, not by a long shot. He looked at his partner and best friend - there were more important things in life, especially the one constant that he could always count on. He grinned at him.
"Let's go fishing."
Starsky grimaced. "I guess. Nothin' much else to do out here".