Never Forget Me & Thee

Chapter 1

The Problem

"But Chief, you know they'll do it. Look at how many cases they've already helped with." Johnson pleaded as his chief just looked at him and his partner.

"You know it's the only way we can get someone on the inside." Reynolds added hoping the chief would see things their way. He usually did after a little coaxing.

"They retired for a reason." Chief Sterling replied, hoping his two detectives would come up with another solution. Although, deep down he knew they were right.

"Only because of the department's age policy. They had to retire. Will you at least let us ask them? If they say no then we'll come up with something else."

Chief Sterling looked at his men for a long time. He desperately wanted this case solved and solved quickly. He thought long and hard about Johnson's request. Bringing two detectives out of retirement for a special assignment was not totally unheard of, but it was unusual. Then again, Starsky and Hutch were themselves unusual and the chief knew if anyone could pull it off it would be those two. Finally he said, "Alright, but only if they agree to it and you have to tell them everything. I want to meet with the four of you before you go any further, got it?" His voice was tough and stern.

"Yes, sir." Johnson and Reynolds both replied as they stood up and headed out the door.

Reynolds put his hand on the passenger side of Johnson's car as he was about to open it, "You really think they'll do it?"

Johnson unlocked the car and opened the driver's door, "I'll bet you lunch at Huggy's they'll jump at the chance."

"You got a deal, partner." Reynolds took his cell phone out of its case and called Hutch.

Hutch was sitting on the beach with Debbie. She had packed a lunch and had laid out it on the blanket. It was a nice afternoon and a soft breeze was blowing. The sand was nice and warm but not hot. He smiled as he saw her hair gently blowing in the breeze. He was a lucky man to have her in his life and he knew it. And then his phone rang. He knew by the ring tone, 'Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do', that it was Reynolds. He also figured that it was important. He sighed as he looked at Debbie. "Go ahead and answer it, honey." Debbie said as she poured them each a glass of lemonade.

"Someday, I'm gonna throw this thing away." He said as he took his phone out of its black leather case that was attached to his side. "Hutch here."

"Hey, Hutch this is Reynolds can you and Starsky meet us someplace later maybe about four?"

"I'll call Starsky but I think we can. What's up?"

"We'd like to discuss a case Johnson and I are working on."

"I'll call my 'other half' and if we can't make it, I'll let you know. Does Huggy's sound okay?"

"Huggy's is great. Thanks, Hutch."

"Well, at least that won't spoil our plans for now. I do need to call Starsk though." Hutch brushed the hair out of Debbie's eyes as she sat down.

"What'd he want?" Debbie snuggled next to Hutch.

"Reynolds wants me and Starsk to meet him and Johnson at Huggy's at four to talk about a case there working on." He kissed her forehead and dialed Starsky's number.

Jeanne had been trying for a long time to get Starsky to go with her to the beauty parlor and get a haircut himself. This morning, after looking in the mirror, he finally agreed to go. He told her he would take her anyplace she wanted to go for lunch afterwards. They had just entered the parlor when Starsky's phone rang. Knowing it was Hutch by the ring tone, Hutch's voice saying 'It's the Thee of the Me and Thee,' he smiled. "Saved by the bell." He said as he answered, "Perfect timing as always, buddy."

Hutch told him about the call he'd received from Reynolds and Starsky said that he would them at Huggy's at four. Hutch said that he would call Reynolds back and let him know. "What are they working on now?" Starsky asked as he opened the door to the shop. Jeanne smiled knowing Starsky was finally going to get that 'mop' cut.

"I don't know, but it sounds like they need our help."

"Ain't retirement grand?" Starsky asked smiling. He loved the thought that Johnson and Reynolds needed their help. He hung up after talking with Hutch and went inside to get his hair cut.

Hutch was waiting outside 'The Pits' when Starsky pulled up in his usual screeching-his-car-to stop style. Hutch shook his head and walked over to his partner's car. When Starsky stepped out Hutch started to laugh. "Don't. Don't say it. In fact, don't even think about it."

Hutch was trying not to laugh, but he couldn't help it. When he saw Starsky's new haircut he laughed so hard he could hardly stand up. In an attempt to bring back some of curls that he was starting to lose, Jeanne had the beautician put a perm in Starsky's hair. The result was Starsky's head looking like he stuck his finger in a light socket. His afro was so big Hutch asked, "Can you get through a door with that big head of yours?"

"Funny, very funny, Hutch. Maybe I'll convince Debbie that you need a haircut and you can go to the same place."

"And mess up my golden locks, not a chance." Hutch replied still laughing.

Starsky started laughing too and said, "Jeanne's not happy about it either. Serves her right for making me go."

Hutch knew Starsky was really not happy about it but he couldn't help making fun of him, "How long will you be playing gorilla head?"

Starsky didn't respond but opened the door to go inside. Johnson and Reynolds were sitting in the booth in the back corner as usual. Hutch stood behind Starsky and when Johnson started to say something about Starsky's hair he waved his hand and mouthed, "No, no, no." He frowned a little too. It was okay for him to make fun of his buddy but he didn't want anyone else too. Not when Starsky was this upset about it. Johnson and Reynolds got the hint but Huggy snuck up on them with beers on a tray before Hutch could say anything to him.

"Hey, Starsk, love the 70s retro look. Did anyone tell you your head looks like a gorilla's?"

Starsky scowled at Huggy, ignored the remark and just sat down. Reynolds and Johnson looked at each other and held their laughter through clinched teeth. Starsky thanked Huggy for the beer, "Okay, Johnson we're here." He wanted to get the attention off his hair.

After he composed himself, Johnson asked, "We uh, how would the two of you like to help on an assignment?"

"What kind of assignment?" Hutch asked looking away from Starsky's head so he wouldn't be tempted to laugh again.

"We need someone who is… Someone who can…Oh hell, Hutch, Starsky we need someone to go undercover in a nursing home. We need someone who looks, yeah that's it, looks like they're old enough to be in a nursing home."

"Do I look old enough to be in a nursing home?" Starsky asked.

"Not with that hair." Hutch just couldn't help himself. He thought he whispered it but Johnson and Reynolds heard it and now they were all laughing. Starsky looked upset at first, but even he had to admit it his head did look like a gorilla's.

"Okay, the gorilla is going to be gone tomorrow. Now tell us about the case."

"Sorry, Starsky. Have you heard of the Pine Crest Nursing Home? It's on Pine Crest Drive, near Miller Street?"

"That new place? You know Hutch, it just opened up about four months ago."

"Oh, yeah. What about it?"

"We've received some reports that the residents are being grossly mistreated." Reynolds said as he took a sip of his beer.

"How?" Starsky asked. The thought of someone mistreating the elderly or any defenseless person always put knots in his stomach.

"We got reports of some of them being slapped, others not being fed and some residents being left alone in their room for long periods of time. Problem is, most of them can't speak up for themselves. They have dementia." Johnson said with his voice full of distaste at the very thought of the whole thing.

"So, let me get this straight. You want Starsk and me to go in and pose as residents to check it out and see if the complaints are valid or not, right?"

"What did Chief Sterling say?" Starsky asked.

"He said he would reinstate you two, if you agreed, for this one case. He wants to meet with the four of us before you go in, though."

Starsky and Hutch looked at each other and were silently asking each other what they thought about going undercover again. They were thinking and talking about those poor elderly people being mistreated and abused. They were also wondering how their wives would take the news of them going undercover again. All of this took place without a single word being exchanged.

"Johnson, do you think you and I will ever be able to talk without saying anything like these two?"

"I don't think so. Nobody is as good at that as Starsky and Hutch here. Uh, guys?"

"We'll do it." Came the simultaneous reply.

"Can you meet us in the Chief's office tomorrow morning about 1000?" Reynolds asked. He wanted to get started on the case as soon as possible.

"We have to check with our better halves. We'll call you in a couple of hours and let you know for sure, okay?" Hutch said as he finished his beer. He knew they needed to get going if they were going to break the news to their wives. They weren't worried about the boys. He knew they were going to think this was funny. Starsky and Hutch got up and paid their tab.

Before they got into their cars, Starsky said, "It'll be just like old times again, Hutch." His voice sounded like a little kid who was just told he was going to Disneyland.

Hutch could tell Starsky was excited about going undercover again. He could still act like such a kid at times and that was one of the things that Hutch liked about his partner. "Yeah. I have to admit I'm looking forward to it too. Although, our retirement hasn't been dull, that's for sure."

"Hey, Hutch, let's come up with a couple of real good cover names. Not Ramon or Ollie."

"Whatdya have in mind?"

"I don't know, but let's think about it tonight, okay? Something really different this time."

"Okay, you got it. I'll stop at Kiko's, pick up dinner and be at your place in about an hour."

"Dinner should soften the blow."

"That's what I'm hoping." They got into their cars and went their separate ways.

Chapter 2

The Assignment

As promised, Hutch arrived about an hour later at Starsky's with dinner and a smile. As Hutch and Davey walked into the kitchen carrying the dinners, Debbie looked at Jeanne and they shrugged at each other. Neither of them had any idea what Starsky and Hutch were up to but since they bought dinner, they were sure up to something. The only thing Starsky and Hutch told their wives and boys was that they needed to talk to them tonight.

When Davey walked into the kitchen he saw his uncle putting ice in some glasses and just started laughing, "Uncle Dave, Kenny said it was bad but…"

Starsky glared at his nephew, "If you say one word about a gorilla…"

"Gorilla heck no, I was thinking more of a troll on steroids."

When Hutch heard that he almost dropped the bag he was carrying and tried to hold in his laughter. His jaw was as clenched as tight he could make it but he couldn't help but let a chuckle out.

Starsky finished putting the ice in the glasses, poured the drinks and sat them on the table. He totally ignored the troll remark, but when his back was turned he had to laugh a little himself.

After they all sat down and started eating, Jeanne looked at Starsky then at Hutch. "Okay, guys, time to spill it. What's going on you don't want to tell us?"

"I bet I know." Davey said as he wiped his mouth with the napkin, "They're going to help Johnson and Reynolds on a case by going undercover."

"They're retired. Would Chief Sterling let them come back like that?" Kenny asked as he took a sip of his drink.

By the looks on Starsky and Hutch's faces, Debbie and Jeanne knew Davey was right. "You are going undercover again, aren't you?" Debbie asked putting her fork down on the plate.

"Now, honey, hear us out, please. We said we'd only do it if you all agreed." Starsky said as he looked at his wife and son. He knew this would be hard on them. Going undercover was always hard on their wives and the boys.

"He's right. We told them that you would have to agree to it and if you say no, then we'll tell them no. But, please let us tell you what's going on and why they asked us specifically." Hutch spoke in a very soft we really want to do this tone and looked at Debbie with those pleading blue eyes.

Debbie never could resist those beautiful blue eyes of his or that tone he used when he really wanted something. "I know it's important to you so I'll listen."

"I think it's cool you get to go undercover again, Dad. It must be something really special for them to ask since you're retired." Davey said with a mix of admiration and excitement in his voice.

Starsky was sitting next to Jeanne and took her hand and said with all seriousness, "Honey, there have been reports of people being grossly abused and neglected at a nursing home. They want us to go in and see what's going on."

"The reports we're getting is that some of the residents are being slapped, not fed and worse. They want us to go in as residents and find out what's going on. Starsky and I will be in the same room and you know we'll take care of each other."

He looked from Debbie to Starsky who nodded, "You know it, partner."

Davey and Kenny started to say something about how funny it was that their dads were old enough to go into a nursing home, but thought better of it when they heard the sad reason why. It wasn't funny that elderly people were being abused.

"What's the setup going to be? Who's going to be your contact?" Davey asked.

"How old are you going to be and why are you being put into a nursing home?" Kenny asked.

"You two sure have a lot of questions." Starsky said as he let go of Jeanne's hand.

"We'll have a meeting with Chief Sterling, Johnson and Reynolds to work out all the details. Like we said before, if you say no and really are against it then we won't do it." Hutch said looking at Debbie, Jeanne then Davey.

"Those poor people. I can't say no to them. I know how much you want to do this. You have my blessing, dear. I can't say it doesn't scare me but I know it's something you have to do." Debbie said as she smiled at Hutch.

"I feel the same way. Someone needs to go in there and find out what's going on. When will you go?" Jeanne said as she looked from Starsky to Hutch.

Starsky smiled as he looked at Hutch. He didn't say anything. He didn't need to because he knew they were both thinking the same thing. They were glad their wives and boys were okay with the idea of them going undercover again.

"So what's your cover name going to be Uncle Dave, David Troll?" He started laughing.

Kenny spit his drink out into his napkin. Jeanne and Debbie couldn't help but laugh and Hutch just about fell off his chair he was laughing so hard.

"Okay. The hair is going first thing in the morning, if I have to shave myself bald." He tried to sound annoyed at all the jokes he'd heard all day but it was pretty funny.

Starsky said that they wanted to start as soon as they could and would like to set up a meeting with the Chief in the morning to discuss the case.

As Starsky and Hutch were explaining to their families about the assignment they were about to accept, Betty Miller was lying in her bed crying at Pine Crest Nursing Home in room 402. She has been a resident for two months now and getting through each day was more difficult than the last. Betty was 82-years-old and had the beginning stages of dementia, severe arthritis in her hands and poor eyesight. Her family just couldn't take care of her at home anymore and she was placed in Pine Crest. Her family thought that she would be well taken care of and from all outward appearances it was a great place. A nurse walked by, went in the room sat on her bed and slapped her as she very harshly said, "You should be grateful that someone took you in. Now, stop that noise or you'll wake the others."

"Yes, Ma'am." Betty rolled over and pretended to be going to sleep. She had not been allowed to eat anything except breakfast that day because she had accidently dropped her water glass at the breakfast table.

Roy Stevens was a 79-year-old gentleman who had dementia and he often wandered around the building. He has been a resident for about six weeks. Walking around seemed to be the only pleasure the gentleman had. He would talk to everyone very sweetly and never hurt anyone. He talked about old times and things that didn't make a lot of sense to anyone but him. Today, he made his aide mad because he wandered into another resident's room and he was supposed to stay of out other people's rooms. She had taken him back to his room and put him in the bed with the rails up so he couldn't get up.

Other residents were having similar incidences of abuse and they were looking forward to the peace that came with sleep. For some, sleeping was the only peace they now knew.

Chapter 3

Welcome Back

Hutch called Johnson and arranged for a meeting with Chief Sterling at 0900 the next morning. When they arrived in the chief's office, Johnson and Reynolds were already there waiting for them. Starsky and Hutch took a seat and Starsky put his feet on Chief Sterling's desk. Sterling put the file down he had been looking at and cleared his throat, "Starsky, get your feet off my desk and what's up with that hair. You're going undercover in a nursing home not a zoo."

Needless to say everyone else busted out laughing. Starsky huffed, "Yeah, yeah, yeah go ahead and laugh. It will be taken care of by the end of the day. Now, will you tell us about the case, please?"

"Okay, like Johnson said yesterday, we'd like to reinstate the two of you for this one assignment but only if you agree to it." He continued to explain some of the abuse that was taking place involving some of the patients. No one in the facility would know who they really were. Once inside they would be on their own. Austin and Martin would pose as their sons and one of them would be stopping by every two to three days. If they checked in any more than that it would not only look suspicious, but they wouldn't be able to find out what was really happening. He told Starsky and Hutch that they would be roommates and they would be arriving the same day. "I need one of you to be recovering from knee surgery and one of you to have dementia."

"I'll have dementia." Starsky jumped at the chance.

"You look the part." Hutch mumbled under his breath.

"What?" Starsky asked knowing Hutch was talking about his botched up hairdo."

"I said I'll have the knee injury. You're better at acting crazy anyway." Hutch was imagining how well his partner was going to play this role. "Wait a minute, Chief. I can't be recovering from knee surgery. I won't have a scar. How about if I just say I'm there for some therapy to avoid having to have surgery?"

"That's a good idea, Hutch." Austin said. Realizing Hutch was right. If he didn't have a scar or stitches he couldn't say he was just recovering from surgery.

"Okay, you two, I hope you have come up with some creative new undercover names and not the same ole ones." Chief Sterling said.

"We thought about that on the way over here and decided I'm going to be Paul Glaser." Starsky said squirming in his chair to get more comfortable.

"Where did you come up with that name?" Johnson asked.

"I know who that is. He played on some old cop show that Starsky used to like back in the 70s." Austin said grinning. He thought that it was funny Starsky was going undercover using an actor's name who played a cop.

Sterling may have looked unimpressed but he thought it was funny too. "And you, Hutch, what name have you come up with, John Denver?"

"Hey, how'd you know that?" Hutch asked.

Chief Sterling shook his head, "You're serious aren't you?"

"Yep." Was the simultaneous reply Starsky and Hutch gave the Chief.

"Okay, I'll have the IDs printed up."

"When do you want us to start, Chief?" Hutch asked.

"When can you start?" The Chief replied.

"How about the day after tomorrow?" Starsky asked.

Martin said, "I think that would give us just enough time to get your medical records set up."

Austin said, "Hutch, you're going to be transferred from County Hospital to Pine Crest by ambulance, and Starsky you'll be transferred from General. You'll arrive about an hour later. Hutch, I get to be your son."

"Starsky, I get to be your son. I'll meet you at General Hospital at 0900 the day after tomorrow."

"Sounds good, Son." Starsky said getting up from his chair.

"I'll see you about 0800 the same day I take it, Austin?" Hutch said as he too, got up.

Starsky and Hutch told their families that night about the assignment. They told them they were hoping the assignment wouldn't last more than a week, two at the most. They should have enough information to validate the abuse by then.

Medical records were faked and Starsky and Hutch were both transported to the nursing home about an hour apart.

Austin went to Pine Crest and signed the paperwork. He said it looked like his dad would be well taken care of, said he'd be back later in the week. He went into Hutch's room for a few minutes to see where it was. He made sure his dad was in the bed and said, "I'll be back later in the week, Dad. Do your therapy like you're supposed to and don't be giving the nurses a hard time."

"Yeah, sure just leave me here. I know you don't care about me or you would let me go home." Hutch appeared to be very bitter about being left here. He was going to have a bad attitude toward everyone except Starsky of course. He hoped Starsky would show up soon. He was sitting on the side of the bed with his feet on the floor. A few minutes later a nurse, who looked about 50-years-old with short brown hair and brown eyes, came in the room pushing a chair. She looked at Hutch and said, "Mr. Denver, I'm your nurse Kathy and you're here for rehabilitation. We'll see what we can do to get you back on your feet and home in no time." She explained that the chair would give her his weight. Hutch played the part complaining about the pain when he had to stand up to sit in the chair or move his knee. She asked what happened to his knee and Hutch explained that it just hurt and he was there for some therapy. He said the doctor thought it was arthritis starting to set in and he was hoping to avoid surgery with the therapy. She told him that he would have a roommate and he would be arriving soon. She put the chair in the bathroom. She showed him where the call bell was and told him not get out of bed without assistance to prevent him from falling. She helped him back into the bed and put the rails up, for his safety. She made sure the TV remote was within his reach before she left.

The ambulance personnel took Starsky straight to his room. Starsky was yelling as he was being wheeled down the hallway, "Where are you taking me? You can't do this to me! You're supposed to take me home, I can't stay here." Hutch could hear the yelling and knew it was Starsky. He grinned and said quietly to himself, "That's my partner, playing his part to the hilt."

Starsky was taken to his room and put in the bed by the attendants. They told him the nurse would be in soon to check on him. Starsky was still yelling, "You can't leave me here. Does my son know where I am?" He changed his tone from angry to sad, almost pathetic sounding, "Hey, please, please don't leave me here."

One of the attendants, Tammy, held his hand gently and said, "It'll be okay, Mr. Glaser. Your family knows where you are and a nurse will be here in a few minutes. You're not alone. It'll be okay."

Tammy's partner, Sandy, leaned over and gave him a gentle, friendly reassuring hug, "You'll be okay, Mr. Glaser." They put the bed rails up. Starsky curled up in the fetal position looking very afraid of his new and unfamiliar surroundings. Tammy and Sandy put his bags with his clothes and other personal items on the counter. They smiled at Hutch as they left.

When they left, Starsky looked over at Hutch who was laughing at him for playing his part so well. "I'm Paul Glaser, who are you?"

"Really. You're gonna play this all the way aren't you?" Hutch asked knowing full well his partner was going to make the most out of this last chance to be undercover. Starsky grinned at Hutch as he nodded. Hutch knew he was going to be in trouble and shook his head. Starsky was going to have fun with this whole dementia bit. "And, uh, what's with that hair? You've gone from bad to worse." Laughing he added, "You went from gorilla to greaser look."

Starsky whispered, "She put this stuff in it to straighten it and now it's flat and greasy. I swear, Hutch, I mean, John, I look worse than a new army recruit. It's so flat. I've never had it this straight and greasy. I hate it."

"We'll, I still love ya, even if you do look a grease…"

"Don't even say it, John." Starsky frowned. His hair really did look awful and he knew it. It would be a while before he could do anything about it now.

Nurse Kathy came in and Starsky went into his dementia routine. "Why am I here?" He yelled and sounded very angry.

She took the chair out of the bathroom and said, "Mr. Glaser, my name is Kathy and I'm going to be your nurse. You're going to be just fine here, I promise. We will take good care of you here. I need to get your weight so can you sit in this chair for me?"

Starsky pretended he couldn't sit up by himself, like somehow he had forgotten how. Kathy assisted him up and carefully guided him into the chair. After she obtained his weight, with the same carful movements she guided him back into his bed. She raised the bedrail and handed him the call bell and the remote to the TV. "What's this button do?" He asked when she handed him the call bell.

"Push that button when you need something and someone will come in here."

Starsky pretended not to know what she was talking about and tried to put it in his mouth. She took it just before he bit it, "Now, Mr. Glaser, you can't eat that. It's not food." He didn't say anything he just gave her a confused look. "Your lunch will be here soon. I'll be back." Kathy closed the door on her way out.

Hutch looked at Starsky, "You tried to eat the call bell? Really."

"Just playing the part, partner."

Martin signed the papers when he arrived at Pine Crest. "You know my dad was a very intelligent, gentle man before he came down with dementia. Now… well there's no telling what he's going to say or do." He told the administrator as he was signing the paperwork. He knew Starsky was going to play the part of a patient with dementia. He didn't know what Starsky had in mind but he was sure he would play it well.

The administrator handed him another paper to sign and said, "Now, don't worry about a thing. Our staff has been dealing with dementia patients for years and they understand they don't know what they are doing. Trust me it'll be okay."

Martin finished signing the papers and went into Starsky and Hutch's room. He noticed they were both lying in the beds with the rails up. Martin pulled a chair up and sat between the two men. Martin saw Starsky's hair and tears fell down his face as he tried to hold in his laughter. Starsky just shook his head.

Starsky looked at Hutch and said, "Is this your son, John?"

"No Dad, I'm your son, Bill. You remember me, don't you?"

"I don't know you." He looked at Martin a minute and added, "Oh, hi, son. It's about time you came to see me. When are you taking me home?"

"Now, Dad, we talked about this. I can't take care of you at home anymore. You will be living here for now."

Kathy came back in and walked over to Martin and with a very sweet concerned tone said, "I'm Kathy and I will be your dad's nurse. I promise I will take good care of him. His roommate is John Denver, no relation to the famous singer though. He's only been here an hour himself."

"Hi, Mr. Denver. I hope my dad won't be too much trouble."

Hutch raised his eyebrows as he glanced at Starsky, "Me too." He said softly under his breath then added, "You can call me John. I'm sure we'll get along just fine won't we, Paul." Starsky just raised his eyebrows as he looked at Hutch.

"Thank you, Kathy. I know my Dad will be in excellent hands. I have to go out of town for a few days but will be back." Martin left and Kathy left the room right behind him.

"Well, so far so good, buddy." Hutch said to Starsky as he turned on the TV. "Let's see what's on."

At noon a woman came in and brought their lunches. As soon as she came in, Starsky didn't say anything, instead he curled back into the fetal position and looked very frightened. She put Hutch's tray on the stand and wheeled it closer to the bed. "Mr. Denver, here's your lunch. I'll be back later to take the tray."

"When am I going to start my therapy?" Hutch asked as he took the lid off of his plate. He let out a slight groan when he saw his lunch. It was less that appetizing.

"I don't know. I work in the kitchen. I just bring you your meals." She put Starsky's lunch on his stand next to his bed.

Neither of them could eat their lunch it was so bad. Starsky said, "It smells worse than my shoes."

"It tastes worse than your shoes." Hutch said as he put the lid back on the plate so he wouldn't have to smell it any longer.

The woman who brought them their lunch, came back in a couple of hours and took the trays. She saw that neither of them had eaten anything but didn't say anything.

Starsky sat up in the bed and asked, "Why am I here? Where's my son?" He sounded like a little lost boy and looked like one too. He was ignored.

When she was gone Hutch turned the TV back on. There was nothing really good on and they were bored.

"John?"

"Yeah, Paul?"

"Name some of your songs."

"My songs. I don't have any songs."

"You know what I mean. Come on tell me some John Denver songs."

"Why? I don't want you to sing them."

"I want to…"

"I know you want to sing them to bug me."

"No. Not you. The staff. If I'm gonna play this part, I'm gonna play it. I'll only sing around them."

"Promise?"

"Sure, I promise." Knowing full well he was going to drive Hutch just as crazy as the staff.

Hutch told him the names and words of some of John Denver's songs. It was something to do to pass the time.

The rails were still up on both of their beds when they both had to use the bathroom. Hutch pushed the red button on the call bell several times and after waiting half an hour he crawled out of the bottom of his bed. He thought if he really did have problems with his knee there would have been no way he could have maneuvered out of bed like that. It was tricky enough with four good extremities. He put the side rail down for Starsky. After they both finished, Hutch put the rail back up for Starsky so no one would know he was out of his bed.

Hutch filled both water pictures and put them on their bedside tables so they would have water to drink. No one came into the room until it was time for dinner. They were left all day except when someone brought them their meals. They had each other, but thought how sad it was for the others who really had physical or mental problems.

When it was time for dinner, trays were brought into their rooms and just put on their stands. This time when the tray was brought in, Starsky just looked out the window. He didn't look at the woman or talk to her. She didn't say anything to him either. Their dinner was not much better than their lunch but they managed to eat a little of it and only because they were hungry.

Chapter 4

The Abuse

After dinner, Starsky decided he would try to get someone to come in and at least check on them. Hutch was against it at first, but Starsky reminded him that if he had dementia he needed to play the part. Hutch begrudgingly agreed. He had a feeling he knew what Starsky was going to do and was hoping the results weren't going to be too drastic.

In as loud a voice and off key as he could manage he started singing, "Take me home country roads, I wanna go home, take me home. West Virginia mountain momma, take me home to the place I was born. I was born in…"

"Paul, you're getting the words wrong."

"I know. I have dementia remember? I can't be expected to remember the words." He raised his eyebrows at Hutch grinning.

Hutch laid his head on the pillow and muttered, "What have I gotten myself into this time?"

"Talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in. How sweet it is to love someone, how right it is to care and…" Starsky was singing louder to draw attention to himself. Hutch covered his head with the other pillow.

Just then the door opened. Starsky quit singing when he saw Kathy with a needle. She walked over to him and said, "It's time for you to go to sleep."

"What are you giving him?" Hutch asked as he gave Starsky a worried look.

"That is none of your business, Mr. Denver. Your roommate is being out of control and a nuisance to everyone on this wing." She said with a matter-of-fact voice.

"No, no shot. Please, I'll be good. Why do you want to hurt me?" He tried to sound like a little kid again. As she came close to him he went into his angry mode and tried fighting her. Hutch was going to help Starsky but the two locked eyes momentarily. Starsky's quick gaze told Hutch not to. He was playing his part and didn't want Hutch to possibly blow their cover. Starsky could have fought Kathy off but he let her win and he received a shot in the arm. He drew his feet towards his chest and looked at her like a wounded animal.

Kathy looked at Starsky with the coldest and most uncaring look Starsky had ever seen anyone give another human being, "Now, you'll shut up and go to sleep." She looked at Hutch and added, "Mr. Denver, if you know what's good for you, you'll forget what you just saw."

Hutch nodded and rolled over so he was no longer facing his partner. He didn't say anything. He didn't want to make her angry at him and risk getting a shot too. He knew one of the two of them needed to stay lucid.

Hutch waited about twenty minutes after Kathy left to wiggle out his bed and check on Starsky. Just as he thought, Starsky was out like a light. He tried to wake him, but got no response. He didn't know what Kathy had given him but it sure did the job. He covered his buddy up and quietly said, "Sleep tight, partner."

About 0700 the next morning, Kathy walked into their room. She had another woman with her, who looked to be in her fifties. They pulled up a chair and placed it in the middle of the foot of their beds so they could see both of them. Starsky asked, "Are you my friend? You're nice." He smiled as big as he could, hiding his true feelings for Kathy.

"I am not your friend. This is Tara and she is going to be your nurse today and almost every day I'm not here. I'm going to tell you the rules."

"I don't like rules." Starsky said in a whinny voice.

"Shut-up, Paul. Rule one is I'm in charge here and what I say goes. If you want to be fed, if you want out of your beds you'll do as you're told. When I'm not here you'll do as Tara says. We work twelve hour shifts and one of us is usually here. You patients with dementia know a lot more than you let us believe and you can be taught to follow the rules. So, no more singing, yelling, or fighting. You got a taste of what I can do last night. You do remember last night, don't you, Paul?"

Starsky smiled and said, "I like you. I'm scared, will you hold my hand?" He was pretending like a dementia would he didn't have a clue what she was saying to him. He held his hand out for her to hold.

She slapped it away. "No. I will not hold your hand. Today, you will be given breakfast and if you're good, I'll let you go down the hall to the recreation room. If you don't behave, you'll be back here. You will not go into anyone else's room. John, you will not receive any therapy while you are here. We don't have it in the budget, so if you want to walk good enough to get out of here you'd better figure out how to do it on your own. Your progress will be noted in your file. I'd advise neither of you to discuss the rules with anyone including other employees when we're not here. Believe me, we will know and there will be hell to pay. No one will believe you, not even your families."

Tara added, "She's right. We run the show here. We have been here since this place opened and you will do as we say. We will not come in here at your whim, so don't bother pushing that call bell. It won't be answered. The best thing you can do is not to bother us."

Starsky's voice became angry this time as he looked at Tara and said, "I don't like you. Go away."

"I don't give a rat's ass if you like me or not. I'm not here for you like me." She sounded as hateful as she possible could. Starsky couldn't figure out whom he disliked more, Kathy or Tara.

"When can I have a shower?" Hutch asked wondering what he would have to do to earn that right.

"You have a sink in your bathroom. Learn to use it. We don't have time to give you a bath. And if you don't want your roommate smelling up the place, you'll help him."

"I like baths. Can I have one now?" Starsky asked sounding happy again acting like the previous fear and anger were gone.

"No. I'm not giving anyone a bath." Kathy said sounding like the very thought of it nauseated her.

Starsky took a swing at her. He was still lying in the bed so there was not a chance he would actually hit her. He was just trying to show how angry he was at being talked to in that tone.

Kathy jumped up and slapped him, "Are trying to hit me! Now, do I need to restrain you in your bed the rest of the day or are you going to behave?"

"Please, don't. I'll make sure he behaves. He doesn't know what he's doing." Hutch said hoping he could keep Starsky from being restrained.

Starsky didn't want to be restrained either and changed back into the little boy, "I wasn't hitting at you. I saw a fly. I don't hit. Mommy said not to hit. We keep our hands to ourselves." He rubbed his face where Kathy had slapped him. He also winked, ever so slightly at Hutch to let him know he was okay.

An aid came in with their breakfast and put them on their bedside stands. Kathy stood up, pushed her chair back in the corner and said, "Okay, guys, I'm going home now. I will see you tomorrow." She sounded so sweet and caring as soon as someone entered the room.

"Eat all your breakfast and I'll take you to the rec room." Tara said in a loving and caring voice. She put her chair back in the other corner and raised her eyebrows at them both as she left the room.

The look she gave them let them know that she meant business. They wanted to get out their rooms and meet the other residents. Their breakfast today was better than yesterday's lunch and dinner, that or they were so hungry it just seemed that way.

Tara came back in about half an hour to see if they ate their meals. Starsky, still playing the role, acted like the whole conversation earlier hadn't even taken place. "Who are you?"

Hutch rolled his eyes and shook his head without Tara noticing. She pushed Hutch's wheelchair close to him, put his bedrail down and said, "If you want to go to the rec room get in your chair and follow me." Hutch pretended it took a lot of effort to get into the chair without help. Tara pushed the other wheelchair in the room next to Starsky's bed and put his rails down. Starsky looked at her like he didn't know what to do. He wasn't going to push her too far this time but he had to keep up the façade of having dementia. "Don't look at me; I'm not going to pick you up. If you want to go, get in the chair."

Starsky smiled and said excitedly, "You're taking me for a ride!" He moved slowly as if he was trying to remember how to get into the wheelchair.

Tara didn't say anything she just stood there impatiently and tapped her foot. When he finally sat down she wheeled him down the hallway. Hutch was right behind them. She took them to the recreation room. It was a large room that had a big screen TV, a few chairs and tables and for the first time they saw other residents. They looked for, but did not see any cameras or other recording devices. Tara parked Starsky just to the right of the doorway and said, "Do not get out of your chair you could fall." Then she bent down and whispered something in his ear. Starsky just looked at smiled at her like he didn't understand a word she had just said.

Hutch wheeled his chair next to Starsky's, "What did she say?"

"Oh, she said if I fell there would be hell to pay. I'll tell you, John, there's going to be hell to pay that's for sure and I know who's going to pay it."

"I hear ya, buddy. Hey, don't rock the boat too much; we still have two more days before Austin or Martin checks in on us."

"Me rock the boat? Would I do anything to get us into trouble?" He wheeled toward an elderly woman he saw sitting in one of the chairs. She was pretending to be watching TV but the screen wasn't on.

Hutch rolled his eyes, "Exactly what I was worried about, partner." He whispered as he wheeled himself toward an elderly man sitting at one of the tables. "Hi, I'm John." Hutch said as he smiled at the man.

The man looked at Hutch, "I'm Roy. I think that's my name. Yes, I'm sure it's Roy."

Hutch noticed there was a checkers game on the table, "You want to play a game?"

"What game?" Roy looked puzzled.

Hutch realized that Roy really did have dementia and smiled as he said,

"This game is checkers. Have you played checkers before?"

"Oh, I like checkers. Do you want to play?"

"Sure, I'd love to." Hutch set the game pieces up and Roy actually played a pretty good game. Hutch talked to him about Pine Crest and the staff while they were playing. He asked how long he'd been there and if he was happy. Roy said that he liked it here, but there was something in his eyes that told Hutch a different story. He knew Roy was probably being subjected to the same kind of abuse that he and Starsky were. He tried to get Roy to talk about it more but he would just change the subject to something else.

While Hutch was talking to Roy, Starsky struck up a conversation with Betty Miller. The first thing Betty asked was, "Who does your hair, because to be honest it looks like hell."

Starsky had forgotten all about how bad his hair looked. Hutch had been gracious enough not to mention it today. Starsky wanted to get her to open up and talk to her so he played it off, laughing "I know. I need a new hairdresser." Betty seemed to be very sad and Starsky had the feeling he knew why. He tried to get Betty to talk about Pine Crest and her life here but she wouldn't say anything about it. He got her to talk about other things. Betty had dementia too and she seemed to remember a lot about the past. She talked about things that happened when she was a little girl and she talked about having children. Starsky discovered that she liked a lot of the same old movies he did.

They stayed in the room talking to Roy and Betty until Tara said it was time for lunch. She said that if they wanted lunch they needed to follow her to the dining room. She told Starsky and Hutch that they wouldn't be served meals in their room anymore that they would have to get themselves to the dining room on time from now on. She told Hutch that if he wanted his roommate to eat, it was up to him to get him there since it didn't seem like he had enough sense to get there himself. Hutch asked and was told what time each meal was.

As they went into the dining room, Starsky and Hutch sat at the same table as Betty and Roy. The food in the dining room was better, by far, than what they had been given in their rooms. Starsky and Hutch both knew that was another way of controlling the residents.

Starsky accidently knocked over his glass of water and Betty started crying. Starsky and Hutch looked at each other, curious as to why that would upset Betty so much. Hutch softly said, "It's only water, Betty, it's okay."

"No. No it's not you'll see. He'll be punished." Betty said as she started to cry.

"You shouldn't have done that, Paul." Roy said as he tried to help Hutch clean it up before anyone noticed.

But someone did notice, Tara came to the table. "Now, whose drink is this?"

"Mine." Starsky and Hutch both said.

"I see, then the both of you will be pay for this."

Starsky put his head down and rocked back and forth in his wheelchair, "It's my fault. I didn't mean to. Please don't hurt me."

Tara picked both of their plates of food up and threw them in the trash. "Now go back to your room."

"For spilling water. You gotta be kidding me." Hutch said unable to hold in his anger.

Tara grabbed the back of Starsky's wheelchair and pushed him quickly down the hall back to his room. If he was going to be in trouble for something like knocking over a glass of water he was going to make her pay. He started singing, "When the sun comes up I got something on the griddle, thank God I'm a country boy. All day long, something I forgot the words, life ain't nothing but a funny, funny riddle, thank God I'm a country boy."

"Shut-up!" She snapped all the way down the hall. The more she snapped at Starsky the louder he sang. He knew he would pay for it later but he didn't care since he was mad. Hutch was wheeling his chair right behind Starsky shaking his head. He knew Starsky was probably going to be given another shot and would be asleep the rest of the day. He was really worried about what was going to happen to both of them this time.

Tara put Starsky back in his bed and he pretended like nothing happened. He got into his bed on his own, "Can I go to sleep now? I'm tired." He thought if he told Tara that he wanted to go to sleep, he could avoid a shot that would force him to go to sleep. He pulled the covers up and rolled onto his side facing Hutch, who was already in his bed covered up. He was hoping to avoid a shot too.

Tara said, "You will both stay here until you can behave. I don't have time or wish to clean up your messes." She started to leave and saw a picture on the small dresser on Starsky's side of the room. She knew one of the men in the photograph but didn't say anything to Starsky or Hutch about it. She cut the cord to the TV so they couldn't watch it and turned out the light when she left.

After she left, Starsky said, "You know, Hutch, I really don't like that…"

"I know. I can't wait until Austin or Martin show up the day after tomorrow. Heads are gonna spin. And you, partner, are playing your part very well."

"I do what I can. You know me when I'm undercover…"

"You're undercover all the way. I get it, but I think you'd better let up just a little. I need you at your best. Not knocked out from some shot."

"I hear ya, Hutch. All kidding aside, having dementia is rough. It's hard to have so many emotions going at once. And I'm just playing the part. I can't imagine what these poor people actually go through, sad one minute, happy the next, then angry again. I really feel for them, Hutch, I really do."

"I know you do, buddy. Just hang in there a couple more days."

"I was talking to Betty and she remembers so much of her younger years. It's like part of her is in the here and now, and part of her is someplace else."

Chapter 5

A Dark Place to be

When Tara saw the picture on Starsky's dresser she knew she was in trouble and she wasn't going to be the only one. She called Kathy at home. "Kathy, I'm sure of it. The man in the photograph on Paul Glaser's dresser is a cop. He's the one that busted my husband last year. He lost his pharmacist license for that and is in jail for five years."

"Do you think Glaser's a cop too?"

"I don't know. He's a little old to be a cop. Maybe he's just his father like he said. Either way we got to get rid of him somehow. I don't want to kill anyone though. Can you think of something else?"

"I have an idea." Kathy explained to Tara just how they would handle Glaser. Tara mentioned how easily Denver and Glaser became friends. They noticed how they seemed to already know and care about each other. It was decided they would take care of both of them. Kathy told Tara to make sure they were both knocked out by midnight and she would take care of the rest of it.

When Kathy hung up the phone from talking to Tara she made another phone call. The man on the other end said that he understood and he would take care of them. No, he wouldn't kill them, but no one would ever find them either.

About 2200 hours Tara finally brought Starsky and Hutch their dinner. When she came in Starsky started his dementia routine again, "I'm hungry. You know I used to live in San Diego when I was a kid."

Tara didn't say anything to either of them. She just put their food trays on the stands and left. She was hoping they would eat. The only edible food on the tray was some mashed potatoes. The chicken was actually cooked so much it was hard as a rock and the carrots were no better. They were grateful the potatoes were good.

About half an hour after they ate, Tara came back to take their trays. Starsky started his singing again, "I'll walk in the rain by your side, I'll cling to the warmth of tiny hand."

Tara slapped Starsky and curtly said, "I told you not to sing around me."

She left the room smiling as she noticed they both ate the potatoes. After she took the plates to the kitchen she called Kathy back and told her they ate all the potatoes. Kathy said everything was set for midnight.

After Tara left Starsky said, "John, I don't feel so good. My head's spinnin'."

"Mine is too. I think we've been drugged, buddy."

"You don't think our covers…?"

"I doubt it. I think she just wants us to sleep and leave her alone the rest of the night."

"Goodnight, pal." Starsky's eyes became so heavy he couldn't keep them open any longer.

"Goodni…" Hutch couldn't even finish the word as he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep too.

Right at midnight, as promised, Kathy showed up with her brother. All the other residents were asleep or in their rooms with the doors closed. Kathy's brother put a very drugged up Starsky on a gurney and put him a van waiting outside. Hutch was put in the van next. He looked at Tara and Kathy both and said, "Now, just stick to the plan and I promise everything will be okay. By the time I'm through with these two they won't know who they were."

Starsky was struggling to move as he slowly started to wake up the next morning. He opened his eyes and looked around. He didn't recognize where he was. He did know he couldn't move anything except his legs and he struggled. He struggle until he wore himself out and drifted back to a deep slumber.

Hutch moaned from the enormous headache he had as he started waking up. He couldn't move his arms or hands. His consciousness was slow to return but he took some deep breaths to keep himself from panicking. 'Stay calm' he told himself over and over again. He looked at his new surroundings and saw that he was lying down on the floor in a small padded room, alone. He was wearing a straight jacket that he couldn't get out of. He thought why couldn't they have just tied me up, ropes I can get out of.

He called, "Paul, hey Paul where are you? Are you here, buddy?" There was no answer. Hutch wanted to at least sit up. It took him a few minutes but he finally managed to sit up and was leaning against the wall when the door opened.

"Hi, Mr. Davis. How are you today?"

"My name isn't Davis it's John Denver." He thought it was best to keep up his cover for now until he found out where he was and where Starsky was.

"Mr. Davis you're not on that kick again. I thought we talked about that yesterday. Your name is Steve Davis."

"What! Where am I?"

"Okay. I see we're going to play these games again. You are in the county hospital for the mentally ill. You've been here for about ten years now."

Hutch's mind was racing with thoughts of fear and panic. He had no clue how he got here or how he was going to get out. If this was part of some sick game he would have to play along to escape. He thought maybe he was in some secret room in the nursing home. "What's your name?"

"I'm Dr. Burns. I've been taking care of you since the accident."

"What accident?"

"You were in an accident ten years ago and received a brain injury. Since then, your memory has come and gone. You don't have any family so you were sent here."

"Where's Paul Glaser?"

"Who?"

"Paul, he was at the nursing home with me."

"You have never been in a nursing home. You've been here for the past ten years."

Hutch was still a little groggy from whatever drug it was he had been given the night before, "How much are they paying you to do this?"

"Oh, you're going into your angry routine again, I see. Mr. Davis I will be back later. There's nothing more that I can do for you today. You were pretty violent last night and we had to lock you up in here for your own good. Now, later if you behave I will send you back to your own room."

"I'll behave, let me go back now."

"No. You stay here a while and think about what you did last night and we'll talk about it later. I have to make sure the rest of my patients stay safe." With that the good doctor started to leave.

"Wait! Please, at least get me out of this."

Dr. Burns turned around and let Hutch out of the straight jacket. Hutch want to jump him; he wanted to fight, but knew that he didn't have the strength just yet. He didn't know what was going on but he was determined to find out.

When Dr. Burns left Hutch's room he went into Starsky's. Starsky was awake now and sitting as Hutch had been leaning against the wall still in the straightjacket. He could have gotten out of it, Kenny showed him how, but thought it best he keep his cover for now. When Burns came in Starsky wasn't sure what was going on so he kept up his dementia routine and started singing, "When he first came to the mountains his life was full of fear, hi ya, doc. I was singing John Denver's song."

"Can it. I know you don't have dementia. You know it too. You're just mad because your family put you here, Mr. Brooks."

Starsky looked surprised, "Brooks. Who's Brooks. My name is Paul Glaser."

"I said can the act. I know your name is Jason Brooks. You've been here for five years now. It's time to quit the dementia routine."

"Jason Brooks. I don't even know a Jason Brooks. Where's John Denver?"

"He died in a plane crash a few years ago."

"Not that John Denver. The one I was in the nursing home with."

"You've never been in a nursing home. I said quit the dementia routine. You have schizophrenia not dementia and you need to take your medicine."

Starsky started hyperventilating he had no idea of what was going on, where Hutch was or where he was for that matter. "Where am I? I mean, what is this place?"

"You know where you are, I've told you a hundred times. You are in the county hospital for the mentally ill and have been your doctor for the past five years. Last night you got into a fight with another patient and I had to put you in here. If you behave yourself, I'll let you out later."

"Can you at least get me out of this?" He was struggling with the straight jacket.

Dr. Burns let Starsky out of the straight jacket. He left Starsky there in the padded room alone.

Dr. Burns left Hutch alone for four hours before he returned and when he did return he had a cup of water and two pills. He told Hutch to take his medicine or his headaches would become unbearable. Hutch took the pills and pretended to swallow them with the water.

"You have to actually swallow the medicine Mr. Davis."

"I did." Hutch had no intentions of taking any pills. They argued a few minutes and Hutch spit the pills out. Dr. Burns left the room again without another word. Hutch wasn't sure what kind of game he was playing but he didn't like it and wasn't going to participate either. Dr. Burns closed the door behind him and smiled. He muttered to himself, "The medicine was in the water."

He did the same routine with Starsky. Starsky flat out refused to even put the pills in his mouth but drank the water. He wanted to hit the doctor but knew that wasn't the way out of what mess he'd gotten himself into. He wondered where Hutch was and if he was going through the same thing. Starsky knew it would be at least one more day before Austin or Martin checked on them. He thought, like Hutch, that he was just in another part of the nursing home. He couldn't think clearly right now, unaware that he had just been drugged, and he needed to sleep.

Hutch didn't know what time it was when he woke up again with another pounding headache. He was not in the straightjacket anymore, he was grateful for that. He stood up and walked to the door and tried to open it. 'It was worth a shot' he told himself. There was no window for him to look out of. 'Starsk, where are you. Man, I hope you're okay wherever you are.' He thought to himself as he sat down and leaned against the wall for a few minutes. He got up and started pacing after about ten minutes. He wondered how long he would be left in this room. It reminded him of when he had been left alone for hours on end when Scott Grayson kidnapped him. He wished he wasn't alone. "Dr. Burns said if I behaved, he'd put me back in my room." He said out loud. If anyone was listening he wanted to be heard. "I'll behave. I know my name is Steve Davis. I won't fight anymore." That's what his words were, his thoughts were 'I'm detective Ken Hutchinson and I'm going to find my partner and get us out of here.'

Dr. Burns was watching Hutch through a camera that was not visible to Hutch. His whole plan was to convince Hutch that he was Steve Davis and he was there because of a brain injury he received in an accident ten years ago. With the medication, this John Denver would eventually forget who he really was. He would live out the rest of his days in the mental institution and no one would ever know what happened to him. Dr. Burns knew that if John Denver and Paul Glaser were undercover names, he needed to get them to reveal their true names. He could do it with the proper medication and sleep deprivation. He also had to make sure the two men didn't see each other at least for a while.

Dr. Burns decided he would start with Starsky because he appeared to be more of a hothead and he wanted him under control. Right now he was the only one who knew the two were even in the building. He had taken them to the old part of the basement that was never used. The rooms they were in were well padded and no one would know they were there until he was ready to mainstream them with the rest of the patients and by then they would know nothing of their former lives.

He spent the rest of the first day alternating between Starsky and Hutch telling them over and over why they were there and what each of them had to do to get out of their solitary confinement. Hutch was trying to play along, but Burns knew it was an act. He gave them both medications that would keep them up all night. The next morning they would be willing to tell him what he wanted to know.

He drugged Starsky with sodium pentothal when he brought him his breakfast. After Starsky ate, he waited for the drug to take effect. He brought two chairs into the room, one for Starsky and one for himself. He sat the chairs so they were facing each other. "Mr. Brooks, I want you to sit in this chair." He pointed to one of the chairs and he sat in the other one. Starsky didn't even try to argue about his name. He did what he was told, like a robot. After Starsky sat down, Dr. Burns said, "Now, I know that your real name is not Jason Brooks or Paul Glaser. You will tell me your real name now. I need to know your name to help you."

His voice was very monotone and Starsky was so tired and drugged he couldn't even think before answering, "I'm David Starsky."

"Thank you, David, now we're getting somewhere. What were you doing at Pine Crest?"

Starsky hesitated before answering. Something deep inside him told him not to say anything else. Dr. Burns asked the question again and again. Starsky couldn't resist any longer, "I'm a detective. My partner and I were looking into abuse cases." He spoke like he was a robot showing no emotion.

"What's your partner's name?"

"Ken Hutchinson."

"You're doing very well, David." Dr. Burns had all the information he needed. Now it was time to start tearing down Starsky's memories and creating new ones. "Now, David, I want you to listen to me. Your memories of you being a detective are not real. Remember, I told you that you suffer from schizophrenia? Your real name is Jason Brooks. Jason Brooks is your name. You started the illusion of being a detective and having a partner a few years ago. None of that is real. I want you to repeat, my name is…"

"My name is…"

"Jason Brooks."

"Jason Brooks."

"Very good, Jason. You were never a cop."

"I was never a cop. What about Hutch?"

"Hutch is, or was rather, your imaginary partner. Hutch is not real and he never was."

"Hutch is my best friend."

"He's all in your mind, he's never really existed. He's the perfect friend you've always wanted. You made him up to be just what you wanted."

"What about my wife, Jeanne and son, Kenny?"

"All just a part of the life you want to have so much you made them up."

"I think that's enough for now. I'm going to let you sleep now. You had a rough night and need your rest. I will check on you later Jason, Okay?"

"Okay. Thank you, Dr. Burns."

"You're welcome, Jason." Dr. Burns got up and took the two chairs with him when he left the room. He had a good start with Starsky but it would take days for him to fully believe that he was Jason Brooks. Dr. Burns now knew the real identity of both detectives. That would give him a starting place with Hutchinson.

Pleased with the way things went with Starsky he went to Hutch's room next and attempted the same process with him. Hutch was a little more resistant than Starsky and it took two doses of the drug to get him to admit that his name was Ken Hutchinson.

"That's good, Steve. Do you remember I told you about the accident you had and the brain injury you suffered?"

"Yes."

"That's when you started your fantasy about being a detective. See the mind plays funny tricks on you. You told me once that you wanted to be a detective and you actually started to believe that you were one. You created some partner and imagined all kinds of adventures the two of you had. I must say, I was impressed with all the details you went into while telling me your stories. We both know that none of it ever happened. You've been here."

"I made Starsky up? He's not real? But all the things we've been through… He's my best friend." He sounded like someone who'd just lost his best friend.

"None of it was real though Steve. You wanted a best friend so you made one up."

"But we went through the academy together."

"That was when you decided you wanted to be a detective. You went through the academy with your friend. You made him up when you wanted to join. When did he become your partner?"

"After we were on the streets a couple of years we took the detective exam together."

"Now doesn't that sound a little unrealistic to be true? You wanted to be a detective and you wanted a best friend. In your mind, you created that to happen."

"Starsky's not real? What about my wife, Debbie and my son Davey?"

"Of course you made up a family and named you named your son after your made up partner. I'll bet in your mind he has a family too, and a son named after you."

"Kenny. His son's name is Kenny his wife is Jeanne."

"Steve, remembering all this or I should say recounting this made-up life is not good for you. I need you to be in the present and back in the real world. You're making good progress and you may be well enough to be released someday."

"None of them is real?"

"Right. None of them are real. You're here with me and I take care of you. We've done enough work for now. I want you to get some rest now. I'll be back and we'll talk some more later."

Hutch got up and walked to the corner of the room and laid his head on his arm. He struggled to get comfortable, "Dr. Burns, can I have a pillow please?"

"Sure, I'll bring you one." Dr. Burns returned in a couple of minutes with a pillow and he even brought him a blanket.

Chapter 6

The Search is on

It had been three days since Starsky and Hutch went undercover at Pine Crest. Kathy knew that Martin was coming in today to check on his dad. Her brother, the good Dr. Burns, had told her all about Starsky and Hutch's real identities. When she relieved Tara at 0700 she called the police station to report two missing residents a John Denver and Paul Glaser. She told them that Mr. Glaser suffered from dementia and Mr. Denver was his roommate.

In ten minutes Austin and Martin were at Pine Crest. Kathy showed them the reports from the bed checks that were completed last night up until 0500. They were both sound asleep according to the records. Kathy said they found Starsky's alarm bracelet on his bed. It had been cut off. She told them that the two must have just walked out. Without the alarm on Starsky's leg no alarm would have sounded. She explained the doors could be opened from the inside but not from the outside. She was all out of breath and sounded genuinely concerned for the missing men. She explained that no one had ever been missing like this in all the years she'd been a nurse. This Pine Crest has only been open a few months and no one's ever disappeared from here either.

Austin and Martin looked through both of their medical files and didn't see anything out of the ordinary. It showed Hutch had two therapy sessions since his arrival.

There were a couple of notes on Starsky's behavior. Austin shook his head when he read Starsky had been singing John Denver songs because he was roomed with someone by that name. Martin chuckled sadly as he pictured Starsky driving Hutch crazy singing. Their belongings were all still in the room.

It wasn't long before they called Chief Sterling and put an APB out on the detectives… again. Reynolds and Johnson came to Pine Crest and the four detectives asked permission to talk to some of the residents. They said they wanted to know if any of them saw them leaving. They were also going to question them on any abuse they have endured or witnessed.

Every available officer was searching the immediate area. Chief Sterling asked Seth and Thompson to go tell Jeanne and Debbie and their boys what was going on. They had the right to know and he wanted them to hear the news from them instead of from the news or someplace else.

Seth pulled up to Starsky's house and knocked on the door. Kenny answered it and knew by the look on Seth's face the news wasn't good. "They're missing." Seth said quickly. He didn't want Kenny to think anything worse. Seth came in and sat on the couch while Kenny got Jeanne who was in the kitchen. Seth told them everything he had been told, which was not much. He assured them that everything was being done to find them. Jeanne and Kenny both were both visibly shaken. This was supposed to be fairly simple assignment compared to the rest of the assignments over the years. No matter how many times Jeanne and Kenny had been told Starsky and Hutch were missing or hurt over the years, each time they felt devastated and this time was no different.

"Do Debbie and Davey know yet?" Jeanne asked.

"Thompson is there now telling them. Is there anything I can do for the two of you?"
"We'll be fine. Mom let's go to Hutch's, okay?"

"Good idea, son. We should all be together."

Just then Kenny's phone rang and he knew it was Davey. Davey told him that Thompson just told them about their dads being missing again. Kenny told them they were going to come over there so they could all be together. Davey was glad to hear it. He said they could use the company. It wasn't long before Jeanne and Kenny left to be with Debbie and Davey.

Seth and Thompson joined the search for Starsky and Hutch at Pine Crest. When they arrived, Johnson and Reynolds had been talking to Kathy and Tara in separate rooms. Their stories seemed to match each other's and the documented reports.

Austin and Martin were not having any luck getting anything out of the other residents. They all seemed too demented or scared to talk. They had to find Starsky and Hutch and were getting nowhere at Pine Crest. The abuse case they were working would have to be put on hold.

None of the officers on the streets came up with any information or clues. It was as if Starsky and Hutch just vanished. Seth told Johnson that he'd like to talk to Huggy and let him know what was going and see if he could come up with anything. Johnson thought that was a good idea.

When Seth and Thompson walked into the Pits, Huggy was already waiting for them. "I heard the news already, gents. I'm sorry, I got nothing yet. Rest assured my peeps are on the streets looking for them. As soon I hear anything, I'll let you know."

"Huggy, how'd you hear…" Seth started to ask.

Huggy interrupted, "Come on, guys, you know I'm the bearer of information. I heard a few minutes before you got here. Like I said I'll let you know when I hear anything. They're my friends too."

Seth patted Huggy's arm, "I know they are, Hug. We'll find them."

"You do that and when you do, tell them I got a cold one waiting for them on the house."

An extensive search was conducted throughout the entire day. Every employee was questioned several times including those that were off duty. Tara had been called back to answer questions too. She only said that they were both in their beds when she did her rounds during the night. She wasn't sure what time they left but the last bed check was at 0500. Austin thanked her and she was allowed to go back home. He knew she had been up all night working. No one had seen or heard from Starsky or Hutch all day. No one was giving up the search and extra men were called in or volunteered to join the search. Chief Sterling was leading the search and every inch of Pine Crest had been searched several times with no indication of what happened to his two missing detectives. He didn't know where to take the search next but he wasn't giving up either.

It was 2000 and Austin and Martin were about to leave when Roy Stevens bumped into Austin and fell down. As Austin bent down to help him, Roy whispered, "Get me out of here. I can help you. I'm not who anyone thinks I am."

Something told Austin that Roy was not just an ordinary dementia patient. He believed him and he knew he needed to help him. "We'll help you. Stay down, don't get up just yet, okay."

Roy nodded, "Cut the alarm bracelet off my left leg." Austin didn't hesitate to pull out his pocket knife and cut the bracelet.

"Hey, Martin, come here a minute, will ya?" Austin called to Martin. The two men stood Roy up and had him walk in front of them so no one would see him. They hurried and took him outside and put him in Austin's car.

"My real name is Brandon Carmichael and I'm a reporter for the Daily Advance."

"Hey, I've heard of you. I used to read your column." Martin said.

"Me too, until a few weeks ago. I thought maybe you retired or something."

"I heard about abuse at this place and thought I'd check myself in. I know it was stupid on my part, but I didn't tell my editor what I was working on. I was about to make my escape but then I saw your two friends being admitted. I wanted to stick around and see if I could gather more evidence. Anyway I have plenty of evidence of abuse here. I'm not sure what happened to your friends but you can be sure that if it has to do with this place it was Kathy and Tara. I have a notebook under the bed in my room. I can't go back inside now but if you'll look the box spring has a hole in it and I put the notebook in there. I also have a camera with some pictures in it. There's plenty of abuse going on here by Kathy and Tara."

"Austin, if you'll stay here with him I'll get the notebooks. What's your room number, Roy I mean Brandon?"

"It's room 328, don't forget the camera too. Inside the box spring on the bottom left side."

"Okay. I'll tell Johnson and Reynolds what's going on. Maybe they'll get them to tell us where Starsky and Hutch are."

Martin saw Johnson and Reynolds talking to Kathy who appeared to be very upset that the two men under her supervision had not yet been located. He thought, 'She sure is playing the part well.' He called out to Johnson, "Hey, Johnson, come here a minute, will ya?"

He made his apologies for leaving Kathy and reassured her that they would locate Mr. Denver and Mr. Glaser. He walked over to Martin, and was filled in on everything Brandon had just told him. He didn't want to let Kathy know what he knew until they searched Brandon's room so he sent Reynolds a text and told him to keep her busy a few minutes.

Martin and Johnson found Brandon's room, looked inside the box spring and found four notebooks full of information. They also found the camera. They didn't want to waste time so they didn't look through the pictures on the camera. Johnson told Martin to go with Austin to take Brandon back to the station with the evidence. He was going to bring Kathy and Tara in for questioning.

Brandon's notebooks were full of several incidents of abuse suffered by the residents at the hands of Kathy and Tara. The rest of the employees were not a part of it and had little contact with the residents. It was a small nursing home and each wing had just the one nurse working on it. Kathy and Tara were the two main nurses on that wing. Brandon also had pictures of various bruises on himself and others that were directly caused by the two nurses. They would say that elderly people bruised easily, but Brandon had seen for himself that they were being hit. He had written down every time a resident was not in the dining room for any meal. He himself had missed a few meals and was locked in his room for various offenses.

They had all the proof they needed to arrest Kathy and Tara. They would also be talking to the rest of the residents over the next few days. For now, they wanted to Kathy or Tara to tell them what happened to Starsky and Hutch.

Johnson and Reynolds interrogated both women separately and together. Neither of them strayed from their original stories. Even though they knew they were involved in their disappearance, they couldn't hold them and they were released by the end of the day.

Chapter 7

Memories Lost

When Dr. Burns left Starsky's room all Starsky could think about were the words that Hutch, Jeanne and Kenny were just people he made up because he wanted them in his life so bad. He couldn't believe Hutch and everything they'd gone through was just made up. His head hurt and he was very tired and upset. He put his head on his hands as he turned onto his side and fell asleep.

He was being picked up off the floor and he was in pain. He had just been shot in the head and shoulder. He looked up and saw a tall blonde man carrying him. The blonde was telling him that he was taking him someplace where he could be comfortable. Then he was lying on a gurney and he was dying. He looked into the eyes of a tall blonde man who was looking back at him. Without saying a word he was telling the blonde how much he meant to him and the blonde seemed to be telling him that the fight to save him wasn't over yet. Next, Starsky was pinned under a car and he was fighting with the same blonde haired man. He wanted him to go and save himself. There was the smell of smoke in the air and he knew the blonde didn't want to leave him trapped under the car, even to save his own life. He also saw a tall thin black man who was smiling at him handing him a beer. He saw his face several times usually smiling at him and usually handing him a beer or a burger. He saw the face of a beautiful, wonderful woman and two boys that reminded him of himself and the tall blonde. He saw the tall blonde lying in a hallway. He had been shot and Starsky yelled, "Huuutch." That's when he sat up quickly. Realizing that he had been dreaming, he looked around at his surroundings and knew he was still in the padded cell. He was breathing very rapidly and he was sweating. "Hutch, Jeanne, Davey, Kenny and Debbie and Huggy, you have to be real. I need you all in my life. You can't be made up." He curled up into a ball and said, "Me and Thee, Hutch," before drifting back to sleep. If his partner and family were only there in his dreams then that's where he wanted to be… asleep.

Hutch was lying on a bed in more pain than he could ever imagine. His shoes were being removed by some tall skinny black man who seemed worried about him. He heard a voice telling him he was going to make it. He was being held too, but in a reassuring way letting him know that he was not alone. He saw the man's smiling face and knew that he was going to stay there with him. He was pinned under a car and his leg was broken. He had been there for days and thought he was going to die there. All of a sudden, he saw the same friendly face looking at him saying, "We made it, partner. We made it." Then he felt lost and afraid as he was being made to some white stuff into plastic baggies. That same friendly face looked at him and told him, "Never surrender." It had been Starsky that helped after he'd been kidnapped once before. He saw is wedding and two boys who reminded him of himself and Starsky, his partner. His head moved from side to side as he mumbled, "Me and Thee, Starsk, I know you're out there. I know you and my family are real." His eyes opened wide and he sat up trying to remember every minute of the dreams he'd just had. He surveyed the room and felt his head. He had another throbbing headache. He sighed as he thought about Starsky and his family. Could he have made them all up? Were they just part of an imaginary life he created since an accident ten years ago? Something told him that it was all a lie. He knew Starsky and his family were real and he had to find them. He whispered quietly to himself, "The first step is to find Starsky. I promise, Starsk, I'll never surrender."

Dr. Burns went into Hutch's room first because Starsky had gone back to sleep. "How did you sleep last night, Steve?"

Not wanting to mention the dreams about his partner and family, "Fine. Yesterday you said I could go back to my own room if I was good. I promise I'll behave. Please, I want out of here. I want to go to my own room."

"What's your name?"

Hutch swallowed the lump in his throat, "Steve, my name is Steve Davis and I have a brain injury. I think I've been hallucinating."

"What have you been hallucinating about?"
"People, people that don't exist. I don't want to talk about them." He put his hand up and rubbed his temple.

"Do you have a headache?"

Hutch nodded, "But I don't want to take anything for it."

"You need your medication, Steve. Your headaches get very bad when you don't take them. Maybe tomorrow you'll be able to go back to your own room."

Hutch's mind was so foggy he didn't know what the truth was anymore. Maybe the doctor was right maybe he did make up an entire life. Maybe just maybe he really did have an accident ten years ago and has been in this place all that time. He took the medicine the doctor handed him and went back to sleep within a few minutes. Dr. Burns smiled as he left the room. "Two more days of this and they won't even recognize each other."

When he left Hutch's room he went back into Starsky's room. He woke Starsky up when he closed the door. "What were you dreaming about, Jason?"

"Nothing. I mean I don't remember."

Dr. Burns thought 'he didn't argue about the name change. He's starting to believe.' "How do you feel this morning?"

"I'm fine." He lied. He had a headache. He was going over the dreams he had in his mind. He felt a strong connection to someone and he knew that was real.

"Yesterday we talked about your imaginary life as a detective. Do you remember that?"

"Yes. I remember talking about it. I have- I mean I made up a partner. I called him Hutch, right?"

"That's right. But he's not real you know that."

"Why does he seem so real?"

"Because you made him up just when you needed someone like him in your life the most."

"When will he go away? From my imagination I mean?"
"When you don't need him anymore, he'll be gone and you will be able to function in the real world again."

"What about my family? Will they go away then too?"

"Yes. As soon as you decide you want to be a part of the real world, your imaginary friends and family will go away and you will feel so much better. I know you think you love and need them, but they're not real. You need to focus on the real people in your life and you will find your true self."

"I want to do that. I want to be part of the real world. How do I get rid of the people inside my head?"

Dr. Burns smiled at Starsky, "You're making excellent progress, Jason. First you've admitted that they are not real. None of them are and you know that now. We've worked long and hard to come to this step. Tomorrow I'm going to let you go back to your own room if you promise not to fight anyone."

"What was I fighting about when I put in here?"

"Someone told you that your partner wasn't real and that you were never a cop. You got mad and hit them."

"I won't do that again. I know Hutch isn't real. I made him up."

"I'll see to it that you get plenty of food and water today and I want you to rest then we'll talk tomorrow and see how you feel. I think you will probably be ready to back to your room by then."

Dr. Burns had visited them both a couple of more times during the day with just about the same good results. They both were starting to believe what he told them about their lives and reasons for being in a mental hospital. He also knew that was largely due to the drugs he kept feeding them. If the drugs wore off he would have to start all over again and it would be even harder to get them back into his made up world. Eventually, they would no longer need to be drugged but that was going to be a long way down the road. He couldn't keep them in the basement very long. He went home and heard about the search for Starsky and Hutch on the news. He knew they would not be found as long as they were in the basement, even if the police did a search of the building. He had told Kathy and Tara both to just stick to the story and everything would be alright. He knew he would have to keep Starsky and Hutch in their current rooms a few days longer but with the drugs he was giving them they wouldn't know much time was passing. He would keep his same routine with them and tear down their belief in each other more each day.

When he wasn't in the room with Starsky or Hutch he was creating a file for each of them. He would need an extensive file on each of them and he finally had them together. He had created a file for each of them that documented treatments and sessions dating back ten years for Hutch and five years for Starsky. A lot of things in files were duplicated with nothing more than the dates changed. He could go through them more as time went on. For now, he had enough documentation. He thought about what to tell the staff but decided to tell Starsky and Hutch that he was moving them to a new place because they were doing so well. The staff would believe they were simply getting two new patients and Starsky and Hutch believed they were going to a new place.

On the third day of being confined to the padded room, Dr. Burns walked into Starsky's room and sat the chairs in the usual position of facing each other. "Tell me about the dreams you had last night."

"Doc, I think I'm beginning to let go of Hutch or the made up memory of him anyway."

"That's great, but what make you think that?"

"Well last night I dreamed I hit him. We were fighting and I didn't want to see him anymore. I felt…" He stopped.

"You felt what, Jason?"

"I felt angry at him and I know he felt angry at me too."

"I think you're right. It sounds like you are ready to let the memory of Hutch go."

"I think I'm ready to face reality now. What's the next step?"

"I'm going to be moving you to a new facility later today but don't worry I'll still be your doctor."

"I can get out of this room and be with other people again."

"If you promise no more fighting, I'll let you be with the others."

"I promise."

"I want you to take this pill. It will make you sleep so you can be transferred without having to be tied down. When you wake up you'll be in a room. How's that sound?"

"Okay." Starsky took the pill without hesitating. Overall he was feeling better. He was looking forward to waking up in a real room. With the drugs in his system he didn't realize the dream he had about hitting Hutch had taken place years ago when they fought over a woman. He was getting his dreams confused with actual events that had taken place over the years. While he was awake he tried to push Hutch out of his memories and join the real world. He tried to push the visions of his wife, Jeanne, his son Kenny and nephew out of his thoughts too.

The pill Dr. Burns gave Starsky would last a couple of hours and that was long enough to brief his staff on the new patient they would be receiving. He managed to get Starsky into his room when everyone was busy doing something else so no one noticed he didn't come in by ambulance.

After he had Starsky safely in his room he went to check on Hutch. He asked Hutch about his dreams from the previous night and was surprised to hear that he had also dreamt about a fight with Starsky. In his dream he said that he hit Starsky and saw a woman lying dead on the floor.

"I think that means you are finally realizing that both Starsky and your wife were made up. Maybe you're finally letting both of them go."

"What about my son? Why didn't I dream about Davey?"

"Because you know he's not real."

"Okay, I can understand why I would make them up, and I've let them go. Now what do I do. I want to get better."

"I can see you do. Tell you what, I'm going to transfer you to a new place, but I will still be your doctor. You can get out of this room and be allowed to join others. You have to promise no more fighting or I will have to bring you back here."

"No more fights. I promise."

"There's one more thing I need you to do." He handed Hutch a pill, "I need you to take this pill so you will go to sleep and I can transfer you without having to tie you down. It will safer and easier for everyone."
"When I wake up will I be in another room?"

"Yes." Dr. Burns would take Hutch to a different ward from Starsky. He had to make sure that the two men did not see each other at least for a few months.

Hutch took the pill just like Starsky did. He didn't hesitate at all. Dr. Burns knew now that both men trusted him and more importantly, they believed him.

Chapter 8

Starting a New Life

Starsky woke up a couple of hours later in a new room. When he returned to full consciousness he sat up slowly. He looked at his new surroundings and noticed he was in a room with no padding on the walls. He went into the bathroom and saw his own reflection for the first time in days. He stood there staring at himself in the mirror for a long time. He studied every inch of his face, his blue eyes, every wrinkle, his ears, nose and his hair. He laughed when he saw his hair. Without thinking he said, "Hutch said I went from gorilla head to greaser look." He remembered that. He remembered those exact words. But they weren't real. Hutch was made up, Hutch wasn't real. "Hutch isn't real." He said to his reflection in the mirror. He splashed some water on his face and walked back into his bedroom.

A nurse was standing there holding some towels and clothes for Starsky. "Mr. Brooks, these are for you. Dr. Burns said you might like a shower today and here are some clean clothes." She laid the clothes on the bed. She smiled sweetly at him.

"What's your name?" Starsky asked the young woman who appeared to be in her early twenties.

"My name is Madison. This is my first day here. If you need anything please let me know. I'm here to help."

"Thank you, Madison and I will let you know if I need anything. This is my first day here too."

"I'll be back in a few minutes to show you to the main room."

Starsky flashed her that half grin of his and picked up the towel and wash cloth and headed to the bathroom. He was taking a shower when he felt a small scar on the side of his face. He dismissed it and continued with his shower. He kept thinking of Hutch. He kept seeing a tall blonde man who always seemed to be there when he needed him always smiling at him. He tried to push the memories back. He didn't want to go back to the padded room. Starsky saw scars on both of his legs. He said, "Hutch wouldn't give up on me. Hutch wouldn't leave me when the fire started coming over the hill. I was under the car, trapped and he wouldn't leave. I begged him to leave, but he wouldn't." He remembered the time they were on their way to visit their paramedic friends in Los Angeles years ago. There was an accident and Starsky had been trapped under a car. The scars were real, the accident had to have been real. No, he told himself. Maybe I was in an accident, but Hutch is not real. He wasn't there, not really. Maybe I made him up because I wanted someone to be there. As he dried himself off he saw scars on his back in the mirror. His face turned white as he remembered being shot by Gunther. He looked over his entire body looking for more scars, more evidence of Hutch's existence and that of the rest of his family. He started remembering everything about Hutch and everyone else he loved and cared about. Not only were the drugs wearing off, but the love he felt for his family and friends just could not be taken away from him. He looked in the mirror and thought my name is David Michael Starsky. His mind was still a little foggy but he knew everything Burns told him was a lie. He had to figure out where he really was and he had to find out what happened to Hutch. He would keep up this charade for the good doctor and he would try not to take any more pills.

He finished his shower, changed into the clean clothes and sat on the bed to wait for Madison to return. He wanted to go to the main room. He wanted to see if Hutch was there. He couldn't ask anyone about seeing him. No, he couldn't ask anyone about Hutch.

A few minutes later Madison did return and she took Starsky to the main room. He asked her about the other rooms he saw and he asked general questions about the layout of the place. He said he was just curious about this place since he was new there. She seemed happy to answer all of his questions. She told him there were four other wards and that two of them held the women and the other ward was where the rest of the men were kept. Starsky was allowed to wander freely and talk to the other patients in the main room. He just made casual conversation and never mentioned anything about being a detective or Hutch. He played cards with a small group, he watched TV, and just enjoyed the freedom he now had. None of the other employees seemed to even notice he was there.

When Hutch woke up he was in another room. This room had no padded walls. He sat up and smiled. He felt happy for the first time in days. The foggy feeling was still there but not as bad and his headache was almost gone. He heard a voice say, "Hi, I'm Bucky."

The man seemed friendly enough and held his hand out to shake his so Hutch shook hands with the man. "I'm Steve."

"The nurse put a clean towel and clothes on the chair and said you could take a shower when you woke up."

Hutch looked at the chair the man was pointing to and said, "Thanks. I think I'll do just that."

"Okay. I'll take you to the fun room when you get out. Hey, will you be my friend?" The man appeared to be in his early forties and smiled at him.

"I think I could use a friend right now." Hutch smiled back. He picked up the towel and clothes and went into the bathroom. As he started getting undressed he noticed some scars on his left shoulder. He heard a young boy laughing that he was shot in the same shoulder again, Dad. "No, Davey's not real." He said out loud. He did think the scars looked like gunshot wounds. He shook his head and thought his imagination was just working overtime.

He turned the water on in the shower and while it was running a couple of minutes to get warm he looked at himself in the mirror. He thought he saw a glimpse of a shorter dark curly haired man standing next to him. Smiling as he said, "Hutch, I'm real." Hutch turned away and said, "No. Starsky's not real." He stepped into the shower. As he was washing off he saw a scar on his left arm. A memory of a woman pressing her finger to her lips then touching the scar ever so gently came to mind. "Debbie. Debbie did that the night…" He whispered to himself but stopped in mid sentence. He pictured Starsky holding him up as he was sliding down a wall after he had been stabbed. He looked again at the scars on his left shoulder and remembered how he received each of them. He stood there and let the water run over his body until it was cold as his memories came flooding back to him. Starsky was there holding me all night when I struggled with the heroin addiction. It wasn't a dream. He looked at himself from head to toe like Starsky had done looking at his scars and proof of Starsky existence. He saw the scar on his arm and remembered Starsky cutting the branch that was attached to it when their plane crashed in the Sierras. Most of all he remembered feelings. He remembered Starsky always being there for him like no one else. It seemed he was always there when he needed him the most. Every dream he told Dr. Burns about were things that had happened. He knew that now. Hutch was fully aware of everything that Dr. Burns had been trying to do. He didn't know why and he didn't know where he was or where Starsky was. He did know that Starsky was real and so was his family. He couldn't let anyone know that he remembered. Like the last time he had been kidnapped, he would have to wait until the right time to escape.

Starsky and Hutch both knew they had to live this false life for a while. They had to stay strong to find their partner. They had to stay strong for each other. They could each feel the other's presence now. Their minds were clear for the first time in days and the connection between the two was now restored. They just had to wait for the opportunity to find each other.

Hutch was taken to the 'fun room' as his new roommate called it. It was full of other men doing different things. There was a checkers game going on in the far left corner, a card game being played in the middle of the room and others were just sitting in chairs staring off into space. Buck asked Hutch if he wanted to meet some of his friends. Hutch said he'd love to. Hutch looked everywhere for Starsky but didn't see him.

About 2200 hours Dr. Burns came into the main room on Starsky's side and said, "Jason, will you come with me please."

Starsky was playing his role and didn't hesitate to get out of his chair and follow Dr. Burns into an office. "Thank you, Dr. Burns."

"What are you thanking me for?"

"I feel happy for the first time in a long time. I got to be with other people and I didn't think about Hutch or my non-existent family all day. I was able to talk to the others." He sounded happy.

"Well that's great, Jason. I'm glad you're happy. I think you've come a long way this week." He handed Starsky a couple of pills and Starsky took them without thinking twice about it. He swallowed the water that was in the cup and Dr. Burns told him he should go back to his room and get some sleep.

When Starsky got back into his room he went into the bathroom and spit out the pills Dr. Burns handed him. His thoughts were getting clearer as the day went on. He could definitely feel that the connection with Hutch was back. He felt a little guilty for almost letting Hutch go and almost forgetting about Me and Thee. He thought 'tomorrow, tomorrow I'll find you Hutch' as he drifted off to sleep.

After he had given Starsky his nightly medicine he found Hutch in the main room and took him to his office. He asked how Hutch's day went and Hutch told him that he had a good time being with others and that he only thought of Starsky once during the day but that was briefly and he dismissed it, that he knew his mind was playing tricks on him. Hutch was given a couple of pills, just like Starsky had been, and he swallowed them with the water he was given. Dr. Burns told Hutch that he was hoping he would finally start to be happy here and enjoy life again. Hutch said that he did feel happy today and it had been a good day for him.

The search was still going full force for both of them but there were no leads. Everyone knew that Kathy and Tara had something to do with it but their lawyers had put an end to the interrogations. They were being followed by Chief Sterling's three special teams. They only went to work and home. Brandon had agreed not to print anything about the abuse taking place in Pine Crest until Starsky and Hutch were located. Chief thought that might somehow hinder the investigation.

Davey and Kenny were looking after school for their dads. The 'lunch bunch' they hung out with at school helped too. They were all old enough to drive and they took different areas every day. Chief Sterling was not too happy about a bunch of kids looking for trouble but he couldn't order them not to drive around public streets either. He trusted the kids enough to call in if they found anything. He knew all of them for a long time now and they were good kids with good heads on their shoulders. They always went in pairs.

Jeanne and Debbie were very worried and could not imagine what happened to them. Huggy had his people out on the streets too, but he wasn't turning up any information either. No one was giving up and no one was losing hope.

Chapter 9

Help

Two weeks had gone by since Starsky and Hutch come out of their drug induced state. They kept up the pretence of being Steve and Jason for Dr. Burns and they pretended to take their nightly medicine. They could still feel each other's presence and knew the other was close by. Dr. Burns kept them apart. He made sure they stayed on different wards.

Madison made friends with Starsky. He didn't seem like the others. He talked normally. They talked about a lot of things from movies to her problems with her current boyfriend and school. She was studying to become a psychologist herself. She enjoyed his company. Today she asked him, "Why are you here? You don't seem to be like the others. I mean you don't seem…"

"Crazy you mean." He smiled at her. Starsky thought this may be a chance for him to find out if Hutch was on the other ward. He took a big risk but he had too, "Can I ask you something? But I want it to stay just between the two of us, please."

"Sure."

"Do you ever go to the other men's ward?"

"Sure I do. I'm there sometimes in the mornings."

"I'm going to ask you something but…"

"I won't tell anyone. It's just a question, right?"

"Right. Just a question. Is there a blonde man about six feet two inches tall with thinning blonde hair? He would have come the same time I did."

"I think you're talking about Steve Davis. He's about that height and came the same day. I've seen him a couple of times."

Starsky could hardly contain his excitement but he managed to. "Will you see him tomorrow before seeing me?"

"Yes. I'll work there the first part of my shift."

"Okay, this is real important and for my own sanity and his you can't say anything to anyone. I want you to ask him if the number eighty two means anything to him. If he's who I think he is he will know what it means and he will give you a number to tell me. Can you do that for me without letting anyone else know?"

"Sure, but why do you think you have a friend over there?"

"I promise I will tell you everything tomorrow. Just please keep it between us and Steve." She nodded and said she had to leave for the day. She promised again that she would not say anything to anyone.

Later that evening when they were talking to Dr. Burns, they talked a little about their day and how things were going with them. They both stated that they were getting along alright with the rest of the residents. Starsky said that he thought he was making progress and knew that he wasn't ready to be released from the hospital yet.

Hutch thanked Dr. Burns for everything he was doing for him and said that he had not thought of Starsky or his family in days. He enjoyed his roommate and felt comfortable with his life now. Dr. Burns believed every word they told him.

Starsky and Hutch both took their medicine that night when Dr. Burns gave it to them. It was spit out as soon as they returned to their rooms. They were working together without even seeing each other or knowing where the other was.

The next morning Madison went to Hutch's ward first and found him engaged in a game of checkers in the main room with Buck. She pulled a chair next to them and watched the game a few minutes. Buck got up to get a drink. Madison leaned toward Hutch so no one else would hear their conversation, "This is going to sound weird but I need to ask you something and it has to be kept a secret, okay?" Hutch nodded wondering what it was. "Does the number eighty-two mean anything to you? There's a man on the other ward who said if you were who he thinks you are then you would know and you would have a number for him."

Hutch's eyes got big and he clinched his teeth to hide his excitement, "It means everything to me. You tell him number twelve, okay? Got it, twelve? When will you see him again?"

"In about three hours. That's when I'll be transferred to that side."

"What I'm going to tell you now sounds a little farfetched, I know, but it's the truth. We are both police detectives. We were working undercover someplace and ended up here. We've been drugged and…"

"No one knows where you are, do they?"

"Right, and we need help."

"I heard about a couple of missing detectives on the news. Starsky and Hutch that's you?"

It took every bit of restraint Hutch had in him not to jump and down for joy, knowing that somebody was finally going to help them. "Starsky, is he okay?"

"I think so anyway. Listen, I think I can sneak away to my car in a few minutes. I can make a call and get you some help. Who do you want me to call?"

"Call 9-1-1 and tell them you need to speak to Chief Sterling. If you can't get him just tell them you know where Starsky and Hutch are. Once you do that, I want you stay out of this building. Don't come back inside until the police get here, okay?"

"I understand."

"Hey, do you think you can let Starsky know you found me on your way outside?"

"Yeah, I could go through that ward. You want me to tell him number twelve, right?"

"Yes. I can't begin to thank you enough for this. When you talk to Chief Sterling tell him the numbers eighty-two and twelve, please."

Buck came back and Madison said she would be back later. She told the charge nurse that she needed to get something from her car and she would be right back. The charge nurse just nodded at her. Madison was able to sneak to Starsky's ward on the way out. She found him sitting by himself playing solitary with a deck of cards. He looked up at her as she approached. She sat in the chair beside him and said, "Number twelve." Starsky grinned from ear to ear. He knew Hutch was real and he was alive. Madison whispered, "I told Hutch I could go to my car and make a call. I'm going to call Chief Sterling. I know who you guys are. I saw it on the news. Help will be here soon, I promise." She got up and walked outside.

Chapter 10

Starsky is Not Real, Hutch is Not Real

Dr. Burns saw her as she left Starsky and knew that she was supposed to be on the other ward. She was new and was the only person that worked on both wards. He knew that Starsky and Hutch must have told her something. He thought quickly of a plan. He asked Starsky to come to his office. Starsky didn't want Dr. Burns to know anything had changed so he followed him into his office. Dr. Burns explained that he would be leaving early today and he wanted Starsky to go ahead and take his daily medicine. Starsky popped the pills in his mouth and pretended to swallow them with the water he was given.

Starsky was unconscious within a minute. Dr. Burns had figured out that the two had not been taking their pills. This time he put the drug in the water like he had done in the beginning. After he put Starsky on a gurney and took him back to the basement room, he did the same thing to Hutch. Now both detectives were back in the padded rooms safely in the basement. He knew it wouldn't take the police long to arrive and go through every room in the building. He had taken Starsky and Hutch's files with him to the basement. The rooms in the basement were not on any blueprints and they were well hidden. The two rooms were connected by a door so the doctor would be able to go from one room to another without being detected. Each room also had a door that lead to the hallway in the basement.

The drug he gave them wore of quickly and Dr. Burns was in the room when Starsky woke up. "I was wondering how long you'd be asleep, Jason."

Starsky's head was foggy from the drug and he couldn't think straight. "Sleeping, but I was… I mean…"

"You were dreaming again. Tell me what you were dreaming about?"

"I was dreaming I was in a regular room. I enjoyed being around others. I dreamed…"

"You dreamed about Hutch again, didn't you?"

Starsky looked embarrassed as he nodded yes.

"Hutch is not real. You have to believe that so you can move on and then I will put you in a room with others. I want you to repeat, Hutch is not real."

"Hutch is not real, Hutch is not real. Hutch is… He really isn't real is he Dr. Burns? I did make him up didn't I?" Starsky really believed that Hutch didn't exist all over again. Dr. Burns gave Starsky another pill and Starsky moved to a corner and just stared into space repeating, "Hutch isn't real."

Dr. Burns told Starsky that he would be back in a little while. We went to Hutch's room next. Hutch was awake already and was very confused. He thought he was in the main room and waiting for help to come. Dr. Burns convinced him that was all a dream that he'd never left the padded room. He told Hutch he was disappointed that he had been dreaming about Starsky again.

Hutch sounded angry, "I know he's not real. How do I get him out of my head? How do I get rid of Starsky?" Hutch believed that everything that had happened over the past couple of weeks had been a dream. He believed that Starsky never existed.

Dr. Burns had Hutch repeat the phrase, 'Starsky is not real' several times. Hutch sat in a corner and just kept repeating it over and over again. Dr. Burns knew he didn't have much time to escape.

At the same time Dr. Burns took Starsky into his office, Madison was in her car call making the phone call she promised to make. When she dialed 9-1-1 and told the dispatcher that she needed to speak directly to Chief Sterling, they patched her straight through. "My name is Madison and I work at the county mental hospital. I've just talked to Starsky and Hutch. They are there and need help."

"You're telling me that Starsky and Hutch are in a mental hospital?"

"Yes and they need help. Please hurry." She sounded excited and was very scared. "Hutch told me to stay outside until the police came. He also said to tell you the numbers eighty-two and twelve. Whatever that means."

"I do know what they mean. Where are you calling from?"

"I'm in my car in the parking lot."

"Okay. I don't want you to go back inside. I'm sending some detectives over right away."

"I'm in the front of the building. I'll watch for them."

Chief Sterling immediately sent his three teams to the hospital. He also called for several other units to meet them there. Madison took Reynolds and Johnson to the ward Starsky was on first, while Seth, Thompson and the others started searching the other wards. Madison told Johnson that Starsky and Hutch were there under the name Steve Davis and Jason Brooks. Johnson and Reynolds searched everywhere and didn't see Starsky anywhere. Madison took them to Starsky's room and he was nowhere to be found. They asked other staff members about him, but they said they didn't know anything about him. They said they have so many patients that come and go they can't keep track of any of them. Madison was getting very upset. "I promise, Detective Johnson, I didn't make this up."

"I know you didn't. The numbers eighty-two and twelve are their badge numbers, only they would have told you that. I know they're here someplace."

"That's what they mean. I get it now. But where could Starsky and Hutch be?"

"They have to be here someplace. We'll search every inch of this whole place if he have to." Reynolds said as he walked to the next room. He picked up his cell phone and called Seth to see if they found Hutch yet.

None of the others were having any more luck than Johnson and Reynolds were. Chief Sterling joined in on the search and a set up a command post after the first couple of hours had gone by with no luck. Chief Sterling ordered a copy of the blueprints and they were there within fifteen minutes. An APB had been put out on Dr. Burns when they found out he was Kathy's brother.

While the police were searching the building, Dr. Burns had time to sneak out the back of the building. When he left, Starsky and Hutch were still in the corner mumbling that the other never existed. He was happy with himself.

It took about four hours before Johnson and Reynolds made it to the basement. There were no patient rooms down there so it was the last place they searched. Johnson found the hidden door and opened it. He gasped when he saw Hutch sitting in the corner of the room mumbling, "Starsky's not real. He's not real. Starsky never existed."

Reynolds saw the scene and patted Johnson on the shoulder, "I'm going to call Dr. Mays."

Johnson nodded as he slowly walked toward Hutch. He bent down to make eye contact with him, "Hutch?" He asked in a low, calm, quiet voice. "Hutch, it's me Johnson."

Hutch looked at him briefly and started hyperventilating as he started to rock back and forth faster, "You're not real. Starsky's not real. Go away. Get out of my head." His voice sounded angry.

Johnson didn't know what to think. He didn't know what to do. "Hutch, it's going to be okay. Do you know where Starsky is?"

Hutch's voice sounded angrier than it was a couple of seconds ago, "He's not real!" Johnson tried to talk to him more but Hutch wouldn't say anything else.

Seth and the others joined the search in the basement to look for Starsky. It was Austin who found the door leading to Starsky's room. He saw Starsky in the same condition as Hutch, sitting in the corner repeating, "Hutch is not real." He kept saying it over and over again. Austin approached Starsky and told him that Hutch was in the next room. Starsky became angry and took a swing at Austin connecting with his friend's right eye.

Chapter 11

The Healing Begins

Johnson told everyone to leave the two alone and wait until Dr. Mays arrived. They weren't sure what was going on, but their mere presence appeared to be making both of them worse.

It was about thirty minutes before Dr. Mays arrived on the scene. Johnson gave him a quick update. He told Johnson that he wanted an ambulance on standby.

Dr. Mays went into Hutch's room first. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath when he saw the scene as Johnson had described. He approached Hutch slowly and cautiously and bent down to meet his eye level, "Hutch, it's me Joe Mays."

"No, Hutch. Not my name." Hutch said as he chewed his nails rocking back and forth.

"If you're not Hutch then what is your name?"

"Steve, I'm Steve Davis."

"Okay, Steve. What can you tell me about Starsky?"

"He's not real. I made him up."

"Okay. Steve, I want to help you will you come with me?"

Hutch shook his head no. "Have to stay here. It's safe here."

"Okay, Steve. You stay right here." He stood up shaking his head. "Where's Starsky?"

"He's in here, doc." Austin said standing in the doorway to the room where Starsky was.

Dr. Mays looked at Starsky and knew he would not get any better response from him than he did Hutch. He rubbed his head and had a very disgusted look on his face.

"What's wrong with them, Dr. Mays?" Chief Sterling asked. He was very concerned about the two detectives and it showed in his voice and the look on his face.

"I'm not sure yet, but from the looks of it, they've been drugged and possibly brainwashed. I hate to do this but I'm going to have to give them something to make them sleep to get them to the hospital. They're going to be combative otherwise."

"Do you think they're going to just let you give them a shot?" Seth asked as he watched Hutch still rocking.

"No. I'll need help. I hate to do it, but it's the best way. I'll give them just enough to put them out long enough to get them to the hospital. I'll know more after I get them to the hospital. I'll ride in with Hutch and I'd like it if you would ride in with Starsky, Chief. Johnson, will you get someone to take my car to the hospital?"

"Sure, anything Joe. What about Jeanne, Debbie and the boys?"

"I want them at the hospital but don't tell them anything. I'll talk to them. Right now it's not a good idea for Starsky and Hutch see them."

Dr. Mays opened his bag and prepared two shots, one for Starsky and one for Hutch. He told the paramedics to be ready to put them on the stretcher.

Dr. Mays tried to talk to Hutch one more time. He didn't want to put him to sleep if he could avoid it, but Hutch became very agitated and in the end it had to be done. It took Johnson, Reynolds, Seth and Thompson to hold him down so he could give him the shot. Hutch was fighting and hollering every minute. The shot took effect almost immediately and he was put on the stretcher then loaded into the unit. The paramedics started an IV and ran an EKG for Dr. Mays while he was working with Starsky.

Starsky was about the same. Dr. Mays tried to talk to him but he became violent and had to be given a shot too.

The men were rushed to the hospital where blood work, urine samples and other tests were performed while the two men were still asleep. Dr. Mays had them put in the same room.

Seth and Thompson had called Jeanne and Debbie and let them know that Starsky and Hutch had been found and they needed to come to the hospital. They were only told that they were alive but they didn't know any more than that.

Dr. Mays stayed at their bedside. Hutch woke up first and looked at his surroundings and mumbled something about all of it not being real. Dr. Mays put his hands on Hutch's shoulders and looked directly into his eyes and softly said, "Hutch, listen to me. You've been drugged. Dr. Burns has been drugging you and convinced you that you are someone else." Hutch looked away. "No, Hutch, look at me. You know me. I've helped you before. When you were kidnapped, remember."

Hutch looked at Dr. Mays and slowly and sounding very confused said, "Joe. Your name is Joe." He reached his hand out and touched Dr. Mays shoulder.

"That's right, Hutch. I'm Joe and I'm your friend."

"But he said…"

"We'll talk about what he told you later. How do you feel?"

"Confused. Very confused. I don't know what's real and what's not."

"Look at the bed to your left."

"Is that Starsky? It can't be he's not…"

"I assure you he's real, Hutch and he's right next to you."

Hutch started crying as he saw Starsky lying motionless in the bed next to his. "Starsky. Starsky. He is real." He nodded his head.

"He's very real, Hutch. You were drugged and the effects will take a few days to wear off, but I assure you that you and Starsky will be fine."

Starsky started moaning and turning his head from side to side. Dr. Mays went to his bedside, "Starsky, it's okay. You're going to be okay."

Starsky tried to focus his eyes as he struggled to recognize the voice. "Hutch's not real."

"Am too, pal." Hutch said smiling as he saw his partner for the first time in almost three weeks.

"Hutch?" Starsky said slowly as he was trying to convince himself that he was not dreaming again.

"It's me, buddy." Hutch was becoming more alert and his memories were slowing returning.

Starsky smiled as his memories were returning too, "I'm Me, you're Thee."

Hutch wanted to get out of his bed so he could be closer to Starsky. Joe knew they needed that contact and he let the bedrail down. Hutch was weak but walked to Starsky's bed and put the rails down. Starsky scooted over in the bed and made room for Hutch to lie next to him. Hutch ran his fingers through Starsky's "Your hair looks like…"

"Don't even go there, blondie."

"God, Hutch, how could we have even thought…" He let the tears flow.

"I don't know, buddy. But I'm glad to have you back." He let his tears flow too.

"Guys, remember you were drugged. None of this is your fault. I'm going to talk to your families now. I think you're… No, I know you're going to be just fine. I'll be back." He knew they needed a little time alone to realize that they both were real and not dreaming any of this.

Joe met with their families who were anxiously waiting for some news. He explained what they knew so far and said that they would make a full recovery but he wanted to keep them in the hospital a couple of days to make sure all of the drugs were out of their system and he wanted to talk to them to make sure they were okay emotionally with everything they had gone through.

Joe Mays was amazed at how fast their memories came back to them. Then he thought 'I should have known. All they needed was to see each other.' He smiled at the two of them. He explained that he didn't know everything the two had gone through but it was beginning to look like Dr. Burns had drugged them and attempted to recreate their identities.

About twenty minutes later, Jeanne, Debbie and the boys came in. Starsky and Hutch were so happy to see them and realize that they had not made them up too. Davey teased Starsky again about his hair. Everyone laughed, even Starsky. Huggy came by and brought dinner for everyone. Joe thought they seemed like one big happy family. He knew Starsky and Hutch would be just fine. He knew from past experiences, that they would have all the love and support they needed from each other and their family and friends.

That night Joe was in their room talking and Starsky and Hutch appeared to be very restless as the night wore on and they were getting tired. "What's wrong, guys?"

"What do you mean, Joe?" Hutch asked. He knew what Joe meant but he didn't want to talk about it.

"Both of you are restless and nervous. You need to get plenty of rest the next couple of days until the drugs are out of your systems." Starsky and Hutch locked eyes briefly then both turned their heads away from each other.

"I want both of you to listen to me, okay." They nodded but kept their heads turned away from each other and Joe. "Starsky, Hutch. I want both of you to look at me." They slowly turned their heads to face Joe. "You both are real. I promise that when you wake up you will be here, together in this room."

"I'm…Well, I'm scared that Hutch won't be here. That I'll be alone again and I won't have a family."

"I feel the same way. I'm scared to sleep. I don't want to be back there. I want this to be real."

"Look at each other." As Starsky and Hutch looked at each other, they felt a calmness overcome their fears. "I've known both of you a long time now. I also know that your connection is very strong. It was with you the past few weeks and it's what kept you safe over the years. It will get you through this too. I promise. You will be here together when you wake up in the morning. Trust me, please. I could give you something to help you sleep, but I think you've had enough drugs in your systems for a while."

Starsky and Hutch knew Joe was right and they were both beyond exhaustion. Joe stayed with them until they both went to sleep.

While they were in the hospital, Starsky had arranged for a beautician to come in and fix his hair which was growing out and looked like what Hutch called, "A greasy gorilla head." He waited until Hutch was asleep and went into the shower room. The beautician had been recommended by Huggy and although Starsky had his doubts, he allowed her to work on his hair. She worked on his hair for three hours before she was done. He was sitting in a wheelchair the whole time she worked on his hair and would not let him look in the mirror. When he was finally allowed to see what she had done, he was amazed. His hair actually looked better than it had in years. He gave her a friendly kiss as he thanked her. He didn't tell Jeanne or Kenny that he was getting his hair fixed beforehand either. No one knew except Huggy and, Emily, the beautician.

When Hutch woke up and looked at Starsky he said, "Turn around." Starsky got out of his bed and turned around slowly so Hutch could see his new hairdo. "It's great, Starsk. It looks great."

"You really mean that, Hutch?"

"Would I lie to my best buddy?" He smiled. Every time he woke up and saw Starsky the more he came to realize just how close he was to forgetting that he even existed. Each time he woke up and saw Starsky he knew that Starsky was real, their friendship was real and the Me and Thee had always been real and that's what kept them both alive and got them through this very difficult time.

Starsky smiled as he looked at Hutch. There lying in the bed next to his, was the one man he could always count on through everything. He knew Hutch was real and he would never let himself forget it again. The things they'd gone through, the feelings they'd shared over the years and the everlasting friendship would always be there.

Within hours of Starsky and Hutch being rescued, Kathy and Tara were both arrested for their part in the abuse and kidnapping. Dr. Burns was picked up by Seth and Thompson, the next day. Dr. Burns had the files he created on Starsky and Hutch with him when he was arrested.

The abuse at the nursing home was thoroughly investigated and new staff was hired. There were now staff that really cared about the residents and wanted to take care of them now. Starsky and Hutch made regular visits to make sure of it. The families of the residents were made aware of the abuse that had taken place and the importance of making regular visits with their loved ones living there.

Brandon printed a wonderful article about the abuse and about how much effort the staff put forth into changing their image and making things better for the residents.

The County Hospital for the mentally ill was investigated also. There were a lot of things that needed to be changed. The nurses and staff should pay more attention to the patients. They were grossly understaffed and that was part of the problem. The administrators agreed to make some changes and it was evident that they were. It would not take place overnight, but they were headed in the right direction. The state was working with them on making all the changes to make things better for everyone.

Kathy, Tara and Dr. Burns were each tried separately. During each trial Starsky and Hutch's families and friends were sitting with them in the courtroom. Dr. Burns' trial was first and when Hutch was asked to take the stand he put his hand on the bible and was sworn in. The prosecuting attorney asked him to state his name and he proudly said, "I'm Kenneth Hutchinson and David Michael Starsky is my partner." He winked at Starsky.

They had all been found guilty and would be spending a very long time in jail.

Starsky and Hutch celebrated the news by going to Huggy's with their family and friends. Starsky and Hutch made a trip to see Madison and invited her to Huggy's. They told her that if it hadn't been for her calling for help, they might still be there. She felt honored that they wanted her to join the festivities. Starsky and Hutch really needed that after all they'd gone through. It had been a month since they were released from the hospital, but their memories of everything they went through were still foggy in spots. They were working with Joe Mays, who joined them at Huggy's, to bring out some of those memories. Joe explained that because of the drugs, they would not remember everything that happened but the important thing was that they did know who they were and their lives were back to normal. As he put it, "As normal as it can be, considering the trouble that seems to find the two of you."

Huggy stood up and clanked his spoon against his glass of beer, "I'd like to make a toast." Everyone was quiet as Huggy said, "Here's to a wonderful partnership that has endured… Well, just about everything."

Everyone raised their glasses and said, "Amen," at the same time.

Throughout the evening Starsky and Hutch noticed that every time they saw Seth, he was talking to Madison. The two of them seemed to be enjoying each other's company. By the end of the evening, he had her phone number and a date had been arranged for their next day off.

A couple of days later, Starsky and Hutch were at their favorite pier watching the sunset over the ocean again. This was one of their favorite places to be. Sometimes they didn't even talk; they just stood next to each other and enjoyed each other's presence. "You know, Starsk, when we were there something deep inside me told me that you were real. I just knew it."

"I felt it too, Hutch. I felt you. I knew you were near. I guess that's why neither of us tried too hard to escape."

"I'm just glad you got your hair back."

Starsky frowned then grinned. He put his arm around Hutch's shoulder, "We'd better get home, buddy."

"I'll see ya tomorrow, right?"

"You know it."

They walked down the pier and each headed to their own homes knowing they would see each other again tomorrow.