Hutch is still recovering from his heroin ordeal. He is getting stronger and finding his way back into his role as detective sergeant, undercover.

Just as well because an old friend from the partners' past is back and Starsky will need all of Hutch's reserves and more.

This is a joint effort between myself and BrookGirl/Brook5 ….she has many personas. Readers will recall her work with other authors such as the wonderful Kirsty Welsh and ShawnetillDawne.

Fandom united!

Thanks Brook. Let us know if you like our stuff and we will gladly keep trying to bring new productions to your inbox.

This is a chapter story. Neutral POV (at this point) and third person.

Disclaimer: I have no rights whatsoever to Starsky and Hutch or their creators. My stories are purely for entertainment purposes.

If I Can't Have You

Chapter One

He wondered now if he had ever said anything way back, way back when it had first happened, whether it might have changed the course of things for them both.

Fact is he hadn't.

Fact is he would never really know.

Hutch would always, always carry the regret and the guilt for having kept quiet about it all.

Starsky was the one who suffered because he hadn't.

oooOOOoooOOOoooOOOoooOOOoooO OOooo

"Now don't go gettin' any smart ideas Hutch that ya' goin' to roll with me this week. Remember I'm lettin' ya back here on one condition. Desk work only ya hear? Nothin' else. No drivin', no runnin', no shootin' and no fightin'.

Get it big boy?"

Starsky pushed the squad room door open as he gave his long-term partner a stern look. Starsky's long-term partner gave him back a look that was as frustrated as Starsky's was stern.

"Oh, so while I 've been away I see you've risen to the mighty ranks of Captain of Detectives Starsk? Was that a self promotion or did you win the position with your great skills of annoying the hell of everyone till they locked you in your own separate office?"

"Hey! Hey! Don't try to change the subject or make me lose my point here by bein' a smartass Hutchinson. Fact is I'm ya partner and fact is I get to say what is best for ya'."

This last comment was made as they were pulling off their jackets and tossing them over the backs of their office chairs.

Just like any normal day back in the squad room Hutch thought…but its not.

Starsky was busy looking at the desks and his face took on a guilty look. Hutch followed the direction of his partner's gaze and as his own eyes alighted on what Starsky was currently taking in, he raised one eyebrow at his dark haired friend.

Starsky knew that one eyebrow look and instantly knew that it was not a good sign. He hurried on before Hutch could speak.

" Besides…I ahhhh..have got a little bit behind in the reports over the past coupla weeks and well…"

He looked sheepishly now at a toppling pile of files that covered Hutch's side of the desk. He cringed as one of files crashed to the floor as he spoke.

"Well, we both know that ya' love doin' reports and stuff " when he saw his partner's face darken he was quick to add "and oh yeah, we both know ya' so good at 'em Hutch. Way better than me."

Nope, his weakened partner still looked pretty pissed off. For someone who was supposed to be still worn down by the recent events – who was worn down by recent events, he was looking sufficiently pissed to worry even his healthy, strong partner.

For added safety and in the interest of ensuring that his own healthy body remained intact, Starsky pulled out all the stops.

"Way, way better. Faster at typin' too and smarter with the words and stuff…."


"And well ya' know Dobey prefers your style of reports…ya' don't put any of those stupid car descriptions and stuff in and –"

"Starsky" louder now.

This was not going to work Starsky thought.

"Its not working Starsky. "

"Oh well, then …" he switched back to his tough partner act. " Don't matter what ya' think about the idea anyway, that's the way we're gonna play it – or I can take ya' back home right now. Got it Hutch? I'm serious here"

He pushed his face up close to his partners and tried his best to look threatening and mean. Which was really hard given that in the past weeks all he had wanted to do was protect and care for his partner. To take away some of Hutch's pain and anguish at having gone through a withdrawal from heroin, losing his girlfriend and having his career threatened.

All because some punk drug king had punished the shit out of him with the needle in order to get him to sell out on the woman who had wanted to be with Hutch instead of him.

Hutch had been to hell and Starsky had gone part of the way with him over the past weeks. Watching his best friend struggle, fight, push against the sheer torture of withdrawal and the lure of addiction had truly been hell on earth.

As Starsky took stock of his best friend now he was secretly appalled at the changes in him. He was thinner than he had ever been, his tall frame was more stooped, his face gaunt, his sky blue eyes often took on a haunted, fearful light to them as if he sensed threats from every new stimulus. Even his white blond hair seemed not to glow so brightly.

It made Starsky sick.

It made him want to beat his fist into a wall and pretend it was Forrest's face. It made him want to shoot Monk again although he had already killed him once. There just wasn't enough of the accountable parties around on whom he could vent his fury.

So instead he had been doing a great job on suffocating Hutch with his overprotectiveness.

There was a problem though. Hutch was trying to get back on his feet and he nolonger needed or wanted his partner's protective shield. And so, with no heads to bust and a friend who refused any more caring, Starsky was left feeling inadequate.

But he couldn't do this anymore to Hutch. He had worn them both down with his constant worrying about Hutch's recovery and the anger he harbored for what had been done to him at the hands of Forrest and his men.

He knew that Hutch wanted to start to put it all behind him and he knew that his own hyper protectiveness was not helping him. In the end he had conceded that it was probably best for Hutch to return to work. He had put him off now for a whole week. Hutch refused any more time at home…he wanted back on the force and he needed to feel that his job was going to be ok given the prejudicial experience he had gone through.

A heroin junkie on the force was not good. Hutch needed to prove to himself that he could step up to the plate and show himself, his partner and his Captain, that he was not compromised by what had been done to him.

"I cannot let that fucking needle take anymore from me Starsky! You have got to agree to let me back and soon!"

That had been last week and Starsky had finally relented. He agreed that today would be the day Hutch could return. Not of course that it was Starsky's decision, but both men knew that in their relationship, all decisions were dependent on how the other felt about them. What affected one affected the other. Their closeness was so tight that actions, behaviors and decisions on life tended to be mutually acceptable , palatable and workable for them both.

Starsky was jolted back from all of these thoughts that had crowded his mind since Hutch had been abducted. He had to try and cut loose a bit and let his friend have some free rein.

He would be ok he knew – but God it was hard to stop the worrying thoughts.

He was surprised to see that Hutch had just quietly sat down at his desk and had begun pushing things around, sorting out the files and reports.

Now he felt worried that Hutch had relented and accepted his bullying tactic too easily. Had he gone too far?

" So – umm – good. Well I see you're fine with that then Hutch? Good. Good – I knew you'd see sense about those reports and stuff".

His bullying act had died. He was back to worrying.

"Starsky. Just sit down and shut up. I know what you're trying to do and ok I'll play along with the game for now ok? All right I'll stick to the freaking desk for the next few days, no strenuous activities ok? You have my word."

He could see that Starsky was worried as always, and softened at his partner. He spoke more quietly now as others were starting to come in and start their own mornings in the squad room.

"Its ok Starsk. I'm going to be ok." He gave his friend a long encouraging look "We're both going to be ok very soon."

He waited a second and then seeing the other officers and admininstration staff, he changed his tact.

He raised his voice again; purposely letting the other cops hear his words.

"So, if you want me to start going through all of this mess you have accumulated for me while I was off sick, than it is only fair that you go get the coffees. And umm Starsky, pick me up a tuna and mayo sandwich while you are down in the cafeteria hey?"

He winked at his friend who realized the ever-smart mouthed blond had tricked him. "You know I am trying to build up after that flu' Starsk…I need all the nourishment I can get. I'll just wait here and make a start on all of this ok?"

As Starsky hummphhedd his way out of the squad room to make good his run to the cafeteria, he smiled to himself.

Well he may be weaker and he may be skinnier but he sure to hell hasn't lost any condition off of his smart ass!

oooOOOoooOOOoooOOOoooOOOoooO OOoooOOOoooOOOooo

Once the door had swung closed on his partner's back, Hutch exhaled and slumped back in his chair.

This was going to be hard work. Starsky is going to be hard work.

He turned around now to greet his co-workers, other cops and a couple of office assistants. They had been milling in the background smiling and nodding at him but were approaching him now that Starsky had left his side.

Probably couldn't get near me before he thought, only half in humor.

There were the usual slaps on the back, handshakes and soft punches to the shoulder that were the dialogue of office comraderie. Everyone was being very kind to him, welcoming him back to work after his extended "illness".

A couple of the female staff were all clucky, commenting on how he needed fattening up and how badly the bout of flu' had surely knocked him. The men were also solicitous but less touchy feely and were making jokes about him staying clear of them as they didn't wanted the dreaded bug.

He joked along with them and made as if to pull himself a safer distance from their desks and pulled out his handkerchief to half cover his face. A few coughs and splutters added to the act. Lots of the usual office laughs and innuendos and he played his part well.

Yep this sure had been one shit of an illness.

But it wasn't funny and he really didn't feel like laughing. (He half wished now he hadn't sent Starsky off on that errand). Starsky would know how to deal with these first awkward moments back when everyone wanted a bit of him and he felt he was being dissected and examined under a microscope. Felt that if they looked too closely they could easily see the truth.

See the scars of my needle tracks.

He was terrified they would see the truth.

He wanted to scream at their well-intentioned jibes –

"I haven't had the flu, a virus or any contagious or medical illness. Can't get what I've had from air borne particles.

This illness comes on the end of a hot needle. This illness rips out your soul and your brain. It's a bad one boys.

Pray it never happens to you. Pray no one ever ties you down and pumps you full of heroin for days on end until you are begging and frothing at the mouth for it.

Pray they then don't leave you strung out and you have to scrape yourself up off the ground because there isn't anymore juice to be had, no more beautiful juice filling your veins to take away the want that is eating you from inside out. "

Someone was mentioning Starsky's name now and he tried to focus on his audience and look the part. At Starsky's name he added another very important piece of silent advice to his peers.

"Pray you have a partner like Starsky to save you from yourself."

It was over. They were all settling down at their desks again, getting on with their day and moving on.

Life was like that of course.

He needn't have worried. In the end, people just focus on the the humdrum crap of everyday life and small blips like him being away and coming back were just that … small blips.

Five minutes ago he thought he was going to have a full blown panic attack with everyone crowding him for explanations. Now it was business as usual and he blurred into the fabric of the squad room just like he did on any other normal work day.

For the first time in a week he stopped worrying about his job and how it was going to fall back into place.

So what? Three weeks ago you were a junkie! No big deal. Now lets get back to work.

Ok, he was getting there. This was coming together.

Maybe what he'd said to reassure Starsky was true. He was going to be ok.

Feeling freer and more like his old self in weeks, he pulled the first pile of files over closer to him. May as well start looking over these and cross-referencing them with the list of outstanding reports that shone like a beacon on top of the pile. The list was written in bold red capitals, some with asterixes against the names. He recognized Dobey's big looping letters. No doubt he would have been riding Starsky for the reports for weeks. He immediately recognized two of the case names as being undercover jobs that he and Starsky had worked on before he was "indisposed"…that fateful day he left the office early to get ready for his hot date with Jeannie. No wonder Dobey had used asterixes Hutch thought.

The enormity of the paper tasks ahead of him came into view. It was obvious that Starsky was not only "behind" with his paper work but that in all probability he had done zilch, zero….NO paperwork at all in his absence.

"Bloody Starsky" he muttered to no one in particular but he noticed a few smirks from the sidelines. He tried to ignore the smothered laughs that went with the smirks.

Everyone knew about Starsky and paperwork.

Fifteen minutes or more had past and Starsky still hadn't returned with the real coffee he now desperately needed. It was getting to the point that he might have to resort to the squad room bitter brew. He looked over at the warming pot where is sat near Dobey's door.

The first meeting back with Dobey was another hurdle and he would not broach it until Starsky was by his side. Starsky had already filled him in on the fact that Dobey was ensconced in a meeting with another captain from the nineteenth precinct this morning and therefore he was not surprised that he had not surfaced to greet him a welcome back.

As he was thumbing through the filing cabinet, pen in his mouth and list in his hand, he heard the squad door open again. Thinking it was Starsky he turned to make a smart comment about death from coffee deprivation, when he saw him.

A face he knew, a face he didn't much like and a face that he would prefer was not here in his squad room.

The man in question saw him too and after a few casual greetings with the other cops, made his way over to the filing cabinet and Hutch.

Still got the bloody cocky stride and jumped up arrogance about him. Someone should have beaten it out of him by now.

"Hello Hutch. Long time no see."

"Ryan, what brings you here?"

As if I care.

Hutch looked at him now and thought that in the year or more since he had last seen him at some departmental meeting or whatever, that he hadn't changed. Hutch was sure that Ryan was probably thinking the exact opposite about him knowing what a former shadow of himself he now presented.

He could see the other man assessing him though his eyes were hard to read. Those dark brown eyes..too dark really, almost black were hooded under a heavy brow.

He was tall, probably Hutch's height, but with a strong muscular build. He was bigger than a lot of the guys in the force and he was known for his pride in his stature and physique. He spent long hours at the academy gym when they were younger Hutch remembered now. Always pumping himself up with iron. His hair was black to match his eyes and he wore it long like most of them did now, and combed back in a straight black sheet from the heavy dark brows. The effect meant that his dark eyes were the first place a person looked as with no hair falling across his forehead it was hard not to focus on those black inky pools.

The clothes he wore were more upmarket than anything either he or Starsky dressed in on the job. Quality and class was evident in the cut of his trousers and the sheen of the fabric in his shirt.

Undercover cop or not, it seemed to the blond detective that unless he was undercover in a high end fashion designer murder case or extortion racket of the rich and famous, he would not have blurred too well with the local players.

Ryan put his hand on the other detective's shoulder as a way of greeting. Hutch had to try hard not to reflexively pull away. He looked at the other man's hands. He remembered them for some strange reason. In comparison to his thick body, he had long tapering fingers and fine boned hands. Not a good hand for making a fist. Not a good hand for throwing a punch. Very distinctive hands that Hutch always remembered.

It was apparent that the man felt the blond's antipathy – Hutch's subtle conveyance of dislike and distrust of this dark haired intruder. And in sensing it he pulled his hand back after only a second and looked at the blond with some sort of silent understanding. In turn Hutch looked at him.

I know you know how I feel about you Ryan.

Ryan said nothing about his colleague's changed appearance and this only heightened the wariness in Hutch.

After what seemed a long pause of them both sizing each other up, Ryan answered Hutch.

Ahh…my captain is in here for a meeting with Dobey and I said I would pick him up, give him a lift back to the precinct as I was in the area following up on a lead. He threw his head toward Dobey's door as if he was as familiar with the layout of this squad room as his own.

The implication of the action was not lost on Hutch. He studied the dark man more closely. Not sure what he was trying to see.

"So…." Ryan lifted his arms up to indicate the entire space of the room. "Starsk not here today?"

Hutch cringed at the other man's use of his Starsky's shortened name. He was possessive of this truncated version of his friend's name. No one else in the precinct used it, no one else on the streets…. occasionally Huggy, but only on rare occasions, and that was "kosher" as they were both pretty damn tight with Huggy.

It was a term largely reserved for use only between the two of them.

Hearing this man let it slide out of his thin lips did nothing to raise Hutch's opinion of him.

"Starsky is down in the cafeteria getting us some coffees."

He didn't see the need to expand on that. Didn't want to expand on that.

Ryan pulled out a chair and settled his muscular form into it. He didn't look like he was going anywhere.

"Well I guess he'll be back in a minute and I will catch him. Looks like Dobson is going to be a while yet anyway." He cast another look at the Dobey's door.

Just what you want on your first day back at work Hutchinson. Ryan fucking Lancaster. Guaranteed to make my day sunnier.

A curse and a yelp at the squad room door was a welcome diversion from the mounting tension between the two men. Starsky backed into the room juggling a tray laden down with coffee cups and food. Napkins and sugar sachets went flying as he righted the precariously tipped tray at the last minute. He turned, victorious that he had navigated the journey from cafeteria to squadroom with most of the tray's contents still in place.

"Hey Hutch, wait till ya' see what I got ya' here. Better than tuna and mayo…well I got ya' that too cos I know you like that stuff, but these Danishes were fresh and so were the donu…"

He stopped midsentence as he was sliding the burgeoning tray onto the desk.

"Hey Ryan Lancaster! Hey man, howya' goin'?" Starsky effusiveness was in direct contrast to his partner's earlier reticent reception to the dark man and likewise Ryan's attitude to Starsky was totally different than he had been with Hutch. He was smiling up at the curly headed detective with open pleasure at seeing him again.

He stood up now as Starsky turned to him his hands now free of the tray. As Starsky went to slap him good-naturedly on the back, Ryan grabbed him into an enthusiastic bear hug. When Starsky pulled back to say something to him Ryan lifted his hand and ruffled his friend's curly hair affectionately.

Hutch said nothing. Just waited.

"So Ryan, what's doin'? What brings ya' to Hutch's and my simple abode?"

"I was just telling Hutch…here to pick up the boss. He's having a D and M with your Dobey. Secret stuff you know. Boring bureacratic shit more likely."

He squeezed Starsky's arm again. "God it's so good to see you again man. Seems like years since the academy and then we never see each other much now we're all detectives." He didn't sweep Hutch into his gaze, thus effectively discounting him in the "we".

Starsky didn't notice but Hutch did.

Starsky laughed. "Of course it seems like years since the Academy. It is! You're not a young pup anymore Ryan. None of us are . We'll be lining up for our pensions soon won't we Hutch? " Starsky laughed, turning from Ryan to his partner, and giving him a private grin. He pushed the tray closer to his partner and picked up his coffee placing it into Hutch's hands.

"Here Hutch…your coffee, while it's hot. There's your tuna sandwich and lots of other stuff if you feel like it."

"Starsky, you were going down to get coffee and a sandwich, not the whole buffet."

"Stop ya' whining will ya'…ya' can't live on that tuna shit, its not proper food."

"Oh and I suppose apple Danish and sugar donuts are."

"Hey I think you know that apart from burritos, they are my staple food."

"Yeah, but you're leaving out pizza, chili dogs and tacos."

"Hutch just eat that damn sandwich and drink your coffee." Starsky fixed his partner with a steely gaze but it was easy to see that he was trying to encourage the blond at the same time.

Ryan's expression as he observed the interplay between the two detectives was hard to gauge – his face reflected amusement but his eyes took on a hooded look.

Anyone looking at his face could have seen that he was trying to work out the two levels of this little play.

They stopped suddenly and looked up. As though they had both felt Ryan's eyes on them.

The dark eyed man quickly recovered his hooded look and gave a half laugh, which to Hutch's ears sounded accusatory.

"What the hell? You two have gotten worse! What are you Starsky, his mother?"

Starsky reddened and gave a loud throat clear that sounded very much like embarrassment.

"Oh well, Hutch is a fussy bastard and prefers to eat live things that are green and fresh…just trying to introduce him to all the good stuff in life."

"Seems to me Starsky you have been doing that now since the Academy. I don't think Hutch here is going to change. But you have got a point…."

And here it comes thought Hutch. He knew that Ryan had been saving up delivery of the line for optimum punch.

"Hutch you look terrible. What the hell? Is this undercover work too much for you?"

Hutch wasn't even going to grace Ryan with an answer. He would easily have made do with an indifferent shrug, leave him hanging.

Starsky jumped into the fray. Hutch wanted to moan.

Starsky you have to stop this!

You can't go around anticipating every comment, defending me against every whisper, every rumor. It will just wear you down. It is already wearing you down.

"Yeah, that's my point Ryan he needs more donuts! Hutch has been decked by this flu. Knocked him for six didn't it Hutch?

Knocked you for six! That damn near killed you! That bastard Forrest! Knocked you for six and left you for dead. But you didn't die Hutch. You were stonger than that.

Ryan saw again how the two of them kept lapsing into this closed one channeled, two-person unit. He felt superfluous and as he cast his eyes around the squad room he wondered if he was the only one. An attractive uniform with milk chocolate skin and huge brown eyes looked over at them and caught his eye. She seemed almost sympathetic, understanding to his situation.

"Don't ya' pay them no attention now. This is always how they carry on. Day in and day out."

She gave him a sweet smile but Ryan noticed that she gave an even sweeter one to Starsky as she sidled up to him and patted him lightly on the face. Starsky made no hesitation into sliding closer into her flirtatious touch.

"Starsky boy. Leave poor Hutchie alone. Can't ya' see he is tired of your naggin' bout eatin' your damn donuts and such. You're goin' to wear him out more than that darn flu' has done."

Ryan noticed how Starsky was instantly receptive to this woman's touch and words and gave her his own long smile with a cocked eyebrow and a pout to follow.

"Ya' right of course Minnie. He deserves those damn grass sandwiches. I won't waste my donuts on him anymore. But…what da ya' say to you and me finding a quiet corner to ummm….lick the sugar off my….umm, my sweets."

This brought a loud cackle of laughter from the attractive Minnie and she punched Starsky affectionately on the arm as she batted her eyelids at him.

Hutch just rolled his eyes and took a big gulp of his coffee.

Minnie laughed at Hutch's frustration with his partner and leaned over and gave him a soft pat to the blond's cheek. Hutch put his hand up to cover hers.

"He's all yours Minnie, anytime you want him ."

She laughed, a tinkling laugh this time, and walked back toward the door.

Ryan just watched it all. He had enough of this whole show. He was starting to feel like a bit actor who could not manage to get caught in even one quick sweep of the camera lens.

The old anger in him started to rise to the surface.

The semi - arrogant smile that had dominated his features earlier was gone.

Anyone who was really watching could see that in its place was a new look.

A dark and slightly twisted look.

Hutch was watching and he caught the look. He also saw how the look changed when Ryan turned toward Starsky as Minnie walked away.

Starsky was still smiling at Minnie and had turned to Hutch to share the laugh. He did not see Ryan looking at him.

But Hutch did.

He knew what would be on Ryan's face before he saw it.

And what Hutch saw there on the black haired man's face filled him with quiet loathing.