Thanks, Sinistral, for correcting this story for me!
Colorful, when you wanted it. Black and white, when you felt like it. A swimming pool beside your house, when you wanted to go swimming. A snowy field across the street and warm temperatures in addition to that, when you wished to go skiing in nothing but a t-shirt. In dreams everything was possible. Dreams were always better and they happened like you wanted it them to happen sometimes, though often they just happened with no direction. But dreams always surprised and pleased you. Dreams were a wonderful invention.
Nightmares were different. Nightmares were dark. Nightmares were bad. They were cruel and anything but pleasant. Ken Hutchinson knew them all too well. That came with the job. But tonight he was just dreaming. An unusual dream maybe. But then, weren't dreams always unusual? Seemingly senseless and often not even remembered after the night?
Hutch had just spent his best dream-day ever on a wide green grassy place. Just lying there with a beautiful lady, looking at the sky, trying to make out the clouds and what they looked like and wondering if he could stay like this forever. Unfortunately this was soon interrupted and the wish disappointed.
Even though he could vividly recall that he had left his own house with his beautiful lady and they were already miles away by now, he could hear the unmistakable sound of the telephone ringing.
Unwillingly Hutch turned on his side searching with his hand under the grass for the receiver. With one hand he grabbed it and held it against his ear and thought, 'I didn't bring my telephone with me.'
Hutch looked up where he expected the sky, but suddenly the sun didn't shine anymore, the clouds had vanished and he no longer was on that meadow. 'No, definitely not', he thought, as he stared at the receiver in his hand.
"Hutch!? Hutch? Huuuu-"
"Mh, mhn'lo?" Hutch mumbled.
"Hutch! Hutch, it's me." The voice was familiar indeed. But strangely low and raspy. "Could you please, please wake up now?" And unnerving.
"Y'sound terrible," Hutch stated vaguely.
"Yeah, really, thanks, maybe that's 'cause I feel terrible." He coughed.
"Go to a doctor," Hutch murmured, wondering why Starsky didn't understand the most obvious things. When you were hurting you went to- "Starsky!" Suddenly fully awake Hutch jerked upright in his bed. "What is it? Y'alright? Starsk?"
"Finally," Starsky sighed in the receiver and Hutch could almost see him rolling his eyes.
"Gawd, why are you calling me in the middle of the night, it's …" Hutch grabbed the warning clock beside his bed only to instantly drop it again in shock. "…nine o'clock?" he said disbelievingly. "Did I oversleep?" He wiped a hand quickly over his tired eyes.
"Nope," came the dry answer. "It's nine o'clock in the evening."
"Really?" Hutch asked.
Frowning, he stared at the receiver as he dimly recalled the night before. He'd stayed at Starsky's place and they'd had pizza. Or maybe just beer. Did it matter? Later the pain had started again. Starsky had had problems with his throat for weeks. And as often as Hutch had told his partner to go to the hospital, but Starsky had refused.
"Maybe they have to take your tonsils out," Hutch had said and actually meant it as a comforting thing to say, but Starsky reacted differently.
"Take my tonsils out?" he had cried and made a face.
"Starsky," Hutch'd replied. "You won't die from it, I promise. And," he'd added, raising the Hutchinson warning finger, "One of your uncles may have died but I'm sure it wasn't from getting his tonsils out."
"You certain about that?" Starsky had muttered sceptically but Hutch had chosen not to say anything to that. Leave it to Starsky to believe all those horror stories about his mass of dead uncles.
And later Starsky who was so obviously trying to not show his pain had asked, "Hutch, I read about it. You mustn't eat anything for about a week when you get them out." He had made such a miserable face, Hutch couldn't help laughing and nodding in affirmation, causing Starsky to hide his pain even more over the next few days."
Before long that hadn't been possible anymore and the point where it had just been too much pain, had been last night. After being awake most of the night, Hutch had finally able to convince Starsky that it was really necessary and Hutch had driven his partner to the hospital, where, after two hours of painful waiting, the doctor had confirmed Hutch's earlier guess. Starsky would have to have surgery and get his tonsils out. The appointment for that had been set two days after, which meant the tomorrow now that Starsky was phoning Hutch at nine o'clock in the evening.
"They kicked me out, right? At five?" Hutch asked rubbing the bridge of his nose.
"Yeah, too bad the nurses saw you under my bed," Starsky said, clear regret evident in his voice. Then he sighed. "Why do I have to stay the night before the surgery? As if I won't have to be here long enough!"
"Aw, I know, partner," Hutch replied sympathetically. "Maybe they want to make sure you don't do anything stupid or they thought you wouldn't show up tomorrow."
"Mh," Starsky grumbled, then his tone changed into a sadder one. "I don't want any surgery. I mean, okay, if I'd been shot, then at least at would have been the bad guy's fault, but now it's… well, not my fault either – but, hey, speaking of bad guys… what did Dobey say?"
Hutch actually cringed at the mention of his captain. Searching for the right words, he answered at last, "Let's say, he wasn't too pleased."
"Who would have thought?" Starsky said.
Hutch snickered. "Yup." His grin faded a little, though, when a sudden question formed itself on his lips. "But, hey, why'd you call me? You wanted me to go home, earlier."
"'cause you were so tired," Starsky said hastily.
"Yeah, and what good does it do now if you won't let me sleep," Hutch said nodding with a roll of his eyes, which was pure reflex, since Starsky couldn't see him anyway.
"Uhm," Starsky started, sounding like a kid, searching for an excuse, why he came late home. "I didn't think you were already asleep," he said finally, seemingly satisfied with himself.
"Uh-huh," Hutch said. 'Yeah, suuuuuuuure.' "So why exactly did you call?"
"Oh," Starsky said in a vague voice.
Hutch grinned. "C'mon, Starsk, admit it. You can't sleep because of the surgery tomorrow."
"No, I can't because… those nurses come in here every second to open then window and shut it again. I think it's a kinda contest."
"Yeah, 'Who's the fastest in opening and shutting windows?'."
"Nope. 'Who keeps the most patients awake?'."
Hutch chuckled, then they fell silent, the blond waiting for the question to come. Just as he started to ask – and the grin had left his face completely by then- "Should I get there?" Starsky asked, "Could you get here?"
Hutch laughed shortly, then said, "I'll be there in no time."
He actually heard Starsky grin, something anybody else, might have been just able to do, but being Hutch, he also heard the gratefulness and relief in Starsky's voice when he said, "Don't slip from the street and crash your car in a sanitary landfill, I won't be able to tell the difference when I go and search for you."
"Thanks, buddy," Hutch said. "I'll watch out. I'm just lucky I don't have to drive your silly tomato, I probably wouldn't be able to go more than one mile per hour with it, because of all the by passers getting in the way staring at that ridiculous thing you call a car."
"Praising, Hutch," Starsky lectured. "Praising, not staring."
"Dream on, buddy." Hutch smiled to himself as he put the receiver down. Humming a little tune to himself he snatched his jeans from the couch.
Just the huge, happy smile Starsky greeted Hutch with was worth missing hours of sleep, even though Hutch actually didn't comment on that.
"You came!" Starsky said as loudly as he could, and, though it hurt to speak, grinned as the blond shoved himself into the room. "You really came," he repeated in his hoarse voice.
Hutch closed the door softly, tiptoeing over to the bed. "Sure. What did you expect? That I'd send Santa instead?"
Starsky considered that a second, then said, "Well, I would have been glad, I mean me, a cop, meeting Santa personally, but you're not bad, either."
"Oh, thanks. I feel honoured to be compared with Santa," Hutch replied dryly as he looked around in the dim light room. "But I didn't come to talk. I wanna sleep." And if for emphasis he rubbed his eyes tiredly.
"But you can't sleep!" Starsky whined. "You gotta keep me company!"
Hutch's eyes fell on the bed next to Starsky's. "It's empty."
"What's empty?" Starsky asked cluelessly.
Hutch threw himself on the bed. "Good night."
"But, Huuuuuuutch!" Starsky said in horror.
"Shhh!" Hutch hissed. "You wanna get the nurses in here and throw me out so you're alone again?"
Starsky looked at him sulkily.
"Starsk," Hutch said reasonably as he struggled with the blanket. "The surgery isn't dangerous, okay?" He softened his voice a bit. "They'll just take your tonsils out. Nothing more. Statistically, driving one mile with your car is more dangerous."
"What's wrong with my c-"
"Drivin' one mile with any car is more dangerous, Starsk," Hutch said exasperated, throwing his hands in the air. "Okay, will you let me sleep when I tell you driving my car one mile would be more dangerous than driving any other car?"
Starsky nodded childlike.
Hutch sighed shaking his head in disbelief.
"Okay, driving my car is more dangerous and now shut up and let me sleep," he said as he covered his body with a blanket. "'m tired," Hutch added through a stifled yawn. "But you can... you can wake me up if you still can't sleep, kay?"
Starsky grinned affectionately as he watched his partner curl up. "Thanks. G'Night, you big blonde Blintz," he whispered. Contented Starsky closed his eyes, the small smile not leaving his lips. With Hutch with him, the hospital wasn't half as bad.
Hutch held the cup of coffee in his hands, but he'd long ago forgotten it was there. The humming voices of other people waiting around him didn't reach his ears anymore as he was busy staring into empty space, thinking that Dobey was just as a big a softy as he'd always thought he was.
Smiling tiredly he thought of earlier that morning. Painfully quickly the night had changed into a way too early morning as at six o'clock probably the meanest nurse had burst into their room and started yelling that he should get out of bed before he'd even known where he was. Having felt pretty much reminded of being in junior high, he'd been too tired to walk, had fallen out of bed and, before the nurse could kill him for sleeping in the hospital bed with shoes, stumbled out of the room.
And now he was sitting in the waiting room area, flashing every passing nurse a charming smile, wondering why none of them stopped for a little chat, so his life would become a little more eventful.
Finally after he'd been so bored he'd actually started a stakeout game alone, which was-he observed-not as bad as playing it with Starsky, when a doctor who was scratching his neck walked towards him.
"Are you, uhm?" the younger man asked uncomfortably. "Uh, are you 'Hutch'?"
"Oh," Hutch grinned. "Yep, I'm Hutch, well, Ken Hutchinson," he added and shook the doctor's hand. "But Hutch is all right."
"Well, okay, uh," the doctor continued obviously deciding to just leave the name out, since he couldn't imagine calling a complete stranger 'Hutch'. "Your friend came through just fine. I really wonder why you stayed here so long. Getting the your tonsils out is an almost risk-free operation."
"Wait, wait!" Hutch interrupted. "I told him that!"
"Oh, I see," the doctor smiled. "Well, he's awake now and you can see him. Don't let him talk too much. His throat will be sore for the next few days. He also isn't allowed to eat anything but soup, ice chips and these liquids right now."
Hutch's face fell. "Great," he muttered shaking his head. "Easy for you. Not for me. Which room?"
Hutch knew the hospital, his white walls and grey doors by heart by now. He was convinced he'd spent more free-time in here than at his own place. So he didn't even have to look at the sign on the door saying '225', let alone wonder which hallway or floor it was on.
Sulking silence met him.
"Hey, what is it?" Hutch coaxed, walking over to the bed where a tired, but stubborn looking Starsky sat, pressing his mouth shut, which gave him the appearance of a little sick boy.
"You!" Starsky said his voice hoarse but nevertheless accusing. "You said I'd be allowed to eat!"
"I didn't say that," Hutch replied defensively.
"Yeah, you did! On the way to the hospital!"
"Yeah, 'oh', you did. But I can't have anything!"
He looked so miserable, Hutch started to hate the grin he couldn't stop appearing on his face. "Don't talk so much, Starsk, your throat is sore."
"I know that!" Starsky said exasperated. "That's because I can't have anything." He shot Hutch the most hurtful look as if it was all his fault.
"Aw, don't be sad, you can have these," Hutch answered mockingly. "Ice-chips." He pointed to a glass on the night-stand"
"I don't want them," Starsky whined. "They don't have any taste."
"C'mon, they're wonderful. I'll show you." Hutch took one chip in the mouth but instead of letting it melt – he didn't want to give Starsky any more arguments, since they really weren't anything to eat - he tried to swallow the whole bit and of course choked on it.
Starsky had to slap his back seven times before he got down it completely. Even though he was out of breath, Hutch managed a huge smile. "See?"
"It's water, Hutch," Starsky observed dryly.
"Starsk, if you think that way, I can't help you." Hutch sighed like a teacher who'd finally lost his last patience.
"Hey, what am I supposed to think? Oh, yeah, forgot." Starsky snapped his fingers. "Your way. But that's unhealthy for me."
"Okay, but, Starsk, face it. There's nothing else but ice-chips here for you."
Starsky's shoulders slumped. "Fine," he said looking as if Hutch had insulted him. "You'll see, I'll manage."
"Sure," Hutch grinned. "Okay, then I'll don't have to stay anymore, do I?" He stood up and strolled towards the door, the grin never leaving his face as he said, "I just decided to go down to the Shopping Center and get a few packages Ice-Cream," Hutch reached out for the doorknob. "But since you say you'll manage…"
Seemingly untouched he walked out of the room, stopping outside just far enough to listen to Starsky's desperate calling.
"Hey, Hutch! I was only kidding! Really, I can't manage! Hutch?"
Smiling sweetly he poked his head again in the room. "You were saying?"
"Huuuutch," Starsky pleaded. "Buddy, Babe, Blintz!"
"Magic word, Starsk," Hutch said expectantly.
Hutch folded his arms in front of himself. "Not quite."
"'kay, I give in. Please. Happy now?"
"Very," Hutch grinned.
Shaking his head in disbelief Hutch leaned his head against the bed rest. "How can a single person eat so much ice-cream in so little time?" he wondered aloud.
"I'm hungry," Starsky answered defensively.
Hutch rolled his eyes. "You've been hungry non-stop for a hour now."
"That's because I haven't eaten all day," Starsky explained.
"But it's only afternoon. You can't be that hungry."
"You say I can't. But open your eyes, buddy, I am. 'sides 's your fault. You bought the ice-cream. And you gotta buy some more it's almost gone."
"Don't eat so fast," Hutch advised.
"I'm not eating fast. How can I? Swallowing hurts like hell."
"Don't swallow, Starsk."
"But I want to!" Starsky protested.
"Please, whine to yourself. I wanna watch that report!" Hutch switched on the TV.
"It's boring," Starsky complained. "And the ice-cream is not that good I could put up with a report," he added making the word 'report' sound like a contagious disease.
"It's not boring. It's very good. See that man, he doesn't eat, just drinks water, meditates, prays, all the time. Maybe I should try that for a while."
"Do you always do what the TV tells you to do?" He thought for a moment. "When I switch to Rocky, will you try boxing then?"
"Nah, Starsky, we already watched that one," Hutch said.
Starsky frowned. "We did? I can't remember the ending."
"Because you fell asleep! Again," Hutch reminded him.
"I did not!"
"Yeah, you did!" Hutch said firmly.
Before Starsky could start another round of 'I did not' the door opened and a nurse walked in. "What did I say? Don't let the patient talk so much!"
Unseen Starsky stuffed the package of ice-cream under his bed, then winked at the nurse. "Hi."
"Visiting hours are over," she replied curtly.
"Oh," Starsky said, not even trying to conceal his disappointment.
"Yeah, well." Hutch stood up, patting his jacket as if he was full of dust.
"And don't you dare hide under the bed again!" The nurse told the blond pointing a finger at his chest.
"Won't happen again," Hutch promised, smiling charmingly at her. Turning to his partner he said, "So that's it. See you tomorrow. And don't eat too much."
"You're mean," Starsky muttered, thinking of the little bit of ice cream that was left, melting under his bed.
Hutch smiled, winked at the nurse and turned to go.
"Hey, Hutch," his partner called him back.
"Yeah?" he asked looking sympathetically at his still miserable looking friend.
"Uhm, thanks for the ice-cream and being patient enough to put up with me, you know?"
Hutch smiled warmly. "Anytime, buddy."