Friends are friends

Still trying to regain his composure, Hutch dialed the phone number again, this time in the right order.

"The Pits. What's shaking?"

"Huggy?"

"Hey blonde!" the familiar voice brought a little smile to the lips of the tall policeman "How you doing?"

"Fine, I'm fine ... eh... Starsky's there?

The sudden silence on the other side of the line answered the shaky question and Hutch push a little more "Please, Huggy"

"Um, yeah, he's here but ... well, I think it'll be better if you leave him alone" there was another silence before Huggy finished the sentence "At least for a while"

Hutch ran a hand over his face in a tired gesture. "I need to see him, I have ... I have to apologize. I ... "

"Yes, you should"

Huggy sighed, he was angry at Hutch, but his voice turned gentle when he remembered to be patient for Starky's sake. "Look, maybe he needs sometime for himself"

"You mean sometime apart from me"

Huggy let out a snort. His friend was on the verge of war, turning every phrase into a personal attack, but he didn't have the same endurance that Starsky had and despite he knew all the things that Hutch had been through, enough is enough

"Yes, that's what I mean. Look, this wasn't fun for Curly either"

"I know!" Hutch cried, unable to control his bad temper. He gripped the phone as if this tiny contact would be able to help him to maintain his composure. "I know Huggy, God it's just ... he's always here, watching, waiting for the moment I make a mistake and ... and ..."

"He's there 'cause he's your friend and cares about you. You might not have noticed but you're not the only one who's suffering here" Huggy's voice softened "Look blonde, I can understand what you're going through, but I'm not Starsky so I won't refrain myself and say everything is going to be ok. The man is torn apart, he barely slept in days, spending all his time looking for you. He took responsibility for failing to report that you had appeared high as a kitten, jeopardizing his career in the process. He watch over you all the time you were here and when he wasn't locked in that room he was on the streets, looking for ways to help you. You can't take advantage of Starsky's good nature, or the situation you are in, and dump your frustration on him. Starsky can't get you out of the hole if you don't want to and I'm not planning on letting you pull him down with you"

Hutch was speechless. Who was Huggy to dare say such things?

The fury flooded in, filling Hutch like an empty bucket, but as soon as it came it was gone and he returned to that depressing state that seemed to be his second skin those days. Again he ran a hand across his face as if trying to erase the pain that clung into his features. Who was Huggy? The answer, as old as time. His friend and also Starsky's, and like a good friend would do, he was watching over them. Hutch relaxed his hand over the phone.

"I want out of that hole Huggy" he said in a whisper "It's just ..."

"You forget is that what you want"

"Yeah, I guess you could say so. It's as if I've never known anything but that hole. It's crazy, half the time it looks like I'm in another universe. No, not me, just my soul. I do and say things I don't think, It's like I see myself through a mirrow and I can't stop it. God! It's .. it's a perpetuos nightmare.

Huggy glanced toward the stairs. He'd never seen his friends so lost and he began to fear that once all this was over they're so badly broken that it would be nearly impossible to put the pieces together. He could hear Hutch's heavy breathing over the phone and he assumed his friend was about to give up.

"I'm coming Huggy and this time I'll get it right"

And with that he hung up. Huggy looked surprised at the handset, almost expecting to see the blond police pull himself out of the phone. A smile grace his lips, it seemed that Hutch had began to rouse from the nightmare. He had heard the determination he admired and respected in his friend's voice. Maybe that hole wasn't so deep after all, maybe they could climb that slippery wall and be back under the caresses of the sun.

About an hour later the tall frame of Hutch walk through the doors. He didn't seem particularly happy and Huggy began to consider whether to let him up the stairs. There's no doubt that the blonde looked much better and although one could read the tension of those who feel prey to something or someone, at least he didn't have that blank stare that made you doubt if you could find a soul inside that body. Hutch also seemed to be aware of his temper, 'cause he sat on one of the stools and ordered a Coke.

"Starsky's taken away my car keys" he growled when Huggy put the soft drink on the wooden surface. "I caught a taxi, but I had no money so he didn't pull over until we found a cash dispender. He even escort me to the damn machine and made me pay for the ride"

"Why didn't you say you were a cop?" Huggy asked trying to make the chucky smile not too noticeable.

" 'cause Starsky has my badge!" Hutch said hitting the counter with the glass "And my gun since we are at it . At least he left the clothes"

"Oooooooh" Huggy said letting the smile spread across his face. "Don't worry my friend, I assure you that your clothes are safe. We could say that your styles are quite different in the field of clothing"

"What about the shirt he asked me a month ago and I haven't seen it since"

"Well, there're exceptions for everything"

"Sure"

Hutch took another sip and turned his eyes toward the stairs. Her features softened and a look of sadness came to replace the wrinkles of anger.

"He's still here"

"Unless he's jumped through the window, he's still here" Huggy said leaning his elbows onthe bar "He sked me for a bottle of whiskey"

Hutch frowned. It wasn't like Starsky to drown his sorrows with alcohol. It's easier to play a succesful guilt trip when you were sober and his curly friend like to ride in the rump of Miss guilt horse painfully conscious. Hutch stood up boldly, patting the wood surface.

"I'll fix this," he said as if trying to convince himself along with Huggy, and walked briskly up the stairs.

"I hope so" Huggy whispered collecting the discarded glass.

It was over a month since the nightmare started and Hutch couldn't find the strength to be back at work. He was going crazy of doing nothing but he was sure that if anyone paid a little attention they would see the truth. That he was a druggie, a pariah. Starsky had no choice but to continue with his life and Dobey had assigned him to narcotics for the time being (the ironies of life). The curly detective did the job they asked him for without a word and then he went straight home to find out how his partner was doing. Sometimes he couldn't restrain himself from being worried and he phoned the house in the middle of the day making sure everything was all right.

Hutch had his ups and downs. Sometimes he could almost forget that anything had happened, but other times ... he forgot what life was like before all of it. He was angry and like a kid with a tantrum he poured his anger against Starsky, who stoically endured the blast of insults and reproaches. That further unnerved Hutch and his words became poisoned arrows pointing where he knew it hurt most. More than once he had seen his friend grow pale at his words. Although Hutch realized the unfairness of the situation he can't stop himself, finding a bitter satisfaction in the fact that someone else was suffering. Huggy was right, he was pouring all his frustration and fears into the only single person who he knew wouldn't flee from them.

TBC