Chapter 16 –By Kirsty Welsh-
The weekend had been spent in preparation. Starsky had worked steadfastly at the exercises the doctor had given him to get his wasted leg muscles back into good working order, whilst Hutch had started to gather brochures together for a new apartment for him. Having sold his when he went north, the brunet was effectively homeless and both he and Morris were bunking down at Hutch's until the brunet could get something more permanent.
They'd made it back from New York in record time, arriving back on the Saturday evening. They'd made immediate arrangements to meet with Dobey and the big black man had come around to the apartment to tell them the deal that had been cut. Both men had welcomed him with open arms. Offered him drinks and had listened to the proposals Dobey had made.
Whilst they would lose the "detective" title, they would in effect receive a pay rise. Whilst not getting promoted as such, both men would have enhanced pay to reflect the specialised work they would be doing. Whilst on active duty rosters as from the following Monday, they would undergo specialist training from police psychologists and would be "on call" from that time on. When they weren't used as negotiators for Bay City, they may be called upon to go to neighbouring precincts to use their skills there, and further down the line, would be expected to train others in their techniques.
At the end of the meeting, both men were delirious with happiness. Never in their wildest dreams did they think that they would be able to work together again, much less in the department that they'd grown to love in a perverse sort of way. There was no way they could express their thanks to the two men involved and so they told them with quiet dignity that they do everything in their power to make the job a success.
On the Sunday, before they were due to go back to work, Hutch had driven Starsky around the block to see an apartment that he'd seen advertised. It was only a hundred yards or so from his own place and he'd had a preliminary look around. Morris came with them for the ride and was amazed at what he saw.
The two bedroom apartment faced onto Venice Canal with a small garden area to the front. It was a single storey building accessed by a short level driveway. As Hutch lead Starsky around it, the brunet could feel that it was light an airy. The living room opened out onto an open plan kitchen and from there onto a small patio at the back, surrounded by high trees for privacy. Back inside the two bedrooms were of equal size and Starsky could feel that both had big windows looking out from under deep eaves, giving plenty of light and a sense of airiness whilst keeping the rooms cool from the sun. It had a good feel to it, the rooms flowing from one to the next in a logical pattern. When Hutch lead him into the bathroom, he felt as though he'd been elevated to one of those LA celebrities he'd seen on the TV. It was a large room and Hutch described it as having black and white marble effect tiles, a huge walk in shower and separate tub, toilet and wash hand basin. There was storage for linen and towels and another window opening out onto the back porch.
Starsky fell in love with the place and organised with Maureen, the owner to rent the house on a long term lease. As Morris pointed out, there was noting to walk into, and the brunet had already started counting paces between one place and the next, feeling right at home. With his home now safely dealt with, only one thing remained – work and by that evening, both men were feeling excited and at the same time a little concerned about what they'd let themselves in for.
2 weeks later
Starsky had finally moved into his new apartment and was adjusting well to life on his own in his blind world. Although to say "n his own" wasn't quite right as he'd invited Morris to stay for a while. A holiday as a thank you for all the old detective had done fro him. During the days, he and Hutch worked alongside each other and their instructors had all agreed that they both had a flair and an aptitude for the task they had been given. While Hutch's voice was calm and able to talk down a tense situation, the blindness that had once been a curse now came into its own as the brunet heard the different inflections in people's voices, interpreting their mood and likely actions without the need to see their body language. What one lacked, the other made up for and by the beginning of their third week of training, they'd settled into a routine of Starsky being picked up by Hutch at 8:00am, an hour in the gym at the precinct, strengthening Starsky's legs and giving back the muscle tone Hutch had lost during his period when he'd spent his time looking after Starsky.
After that, it was 6 hours of talks, practical exercises and even some deep self analysis. But nothing prepared them for their first job.
The day started as normal and they were literally just getting dressed from the showers when one of the uniformed officers came running into the changing rooms.
'Hutch, Starsky, Dobey wants you. Your first shout!' he said excitedly.
Shouldering into the rest of their clothes they. Made their way up to the squad room and sat in their old familiar positions on Dobey's chair – hutch on the seat and Starsky perched precariously on the arm. Dobey got a lump in his throat seeing them like that, but he quickly dismissed his romanticising as he got down to business.
'There's been an armed robbery first thing this morning at Bay City Banking Corporation. So far we know there is only one man and fortunately at that time of morning very few customers. Even so, he's taken one member of the public hostage. Our guys managed to get a picture through the window'. He handed a grainy black and white image to Hutch who took it and examined it. He looked up at the Captain, questions in his eyes and Dobey shrugged silently.
'Hutch? What's up?' Starsky asked, stunned at the uncomfortable silence in the room.
Dobey shook his head wordlessly as Hutch continued to stare at the picture.
'Erm….nothing' he said quietly.
'Hutch? I may be blind but I aint stupid. What's up. Ya've gone all quiet on me'.
Hutch cleared his throat. 'sorry Starsk. They've got a picture. Of the hostage'.
'And its Pat Morris. M'sorry'.
'If this is too close to home, I'll get someone else' Dobey continued. 'The robber is making allsorts of demands and is threatening to kill the hosta…kill Morris unless he gets them'.
'Who're ya gonna get Cap? Hutch 'n' me have trained for this. We're goin' got that? Now. What sort of demands has he made?'
'Half a million dollars in unmarked non-sequential bills and a 'copter to take him to a private airfield. After that, he wants safe passage to any country that'll have him'.
'Not gonna happen' growled the brunet. He turned to Hutch. 'We need to get over there, now'.
'I know partner. We've got everything we need. Who's the officer at the site?' he asked Dobey.
'Its Bill Malcolm. He's expecting you'.
'Ok tell Bill to keep the gunman happy. We'll be there in 15 minutes' Hutch said, reaching for Starsky' hand and placing it on his elbow. 'Ready?'
'Am I ever?'
The drive down to the bank was done in next to no time with the mars lights and sirens, but Hutch cut both of them as they neared the bank, not wanting to do anything to upset the precarious balance they had with the robber. As they pulled up, he trotted round and took Starsky's arm, guiding him through the maze of cars until they found Malcolm.
'Bill? Has he made any more demands yet?' Starsky asked.
'Nothing. Its all gone quiet in there' the burly sergeant said. 'Boy am I glad to see the two of you? How d'ya want to play this?'
'Soft and gentle' Starsky said.
Hutch looked around, describing the scene to his partner. 'bank to the front. There's a door on the corner, windows along the side of the building facing us. Two storey building, and access looks restricted to the front door. if he's gonna come out, that'll be where he does it'.
'Can you see him? Can you see Pat?'
'No nothing yet. We need to get around to the front. Hold on and follow me' .
Hutch felt Starsky take hold of his belt and, accommodating the limp his partner still had, they made their way slowly round to the front of the building, using the various cars and trucks surrounding it as shields. Once there, they hunkered down behind a convenient black and white and an officer gave Hutch a loud hailer. He took it.
'Well, we'll see how good the training was' he muttered and thumbed down the switch.
'This is Ken Hutchinson, speaking to the man in the bank. If you can hear me, you can ring 555 172 1884. That's a private line through to my telephone and we can discuss your terms'. He put down the loud hailer and waited and within 30 seconds, the extension phone next to him rang. It had two receivers and both men picked one up simultaneously.
'Is that Hutchinson?' a voice sounded in their ears.
'Yeah, who is this?' Hutch asked calmly.
'It's the guy with the power, that's all ya need to know pig'.
Starsky heard the fear in the voice and signalled to Hutch who nodded. Take it calm buddy, he's dangerous.
'I was kinda looking for a name. I always talk better when I know who I'm talking to' the blond tried again.
There was no answer.
'Ok, well, I'm gonna go with Steve. So, Steve. The guy you have in there with you. He's got nothing to do with this. He's just an innocent bystander. Ya wanna let him go?'
"Steve" snorted. 'Nice try, but no can do. I need some leverage'.
'OK, I can see that. Can we at least know that the guy is OK? Will you let him talk to me?'
'Fuck off. He's alive, take it from me'.
Starsky had been listening intently, and in the background he thought he heard Pat Morris groaning, but couldn't be sure. He put his thumb up at hutch, who was sweating now. You're doin' great buddy. keep goin'. He's gonna cave soon, I'm sure.
Hutch tried again. 'Fine Steve. Have it your way. Buddy, I need you to come to the door. No guns, I promise. Nothing at all. I just need to see that you're ok and that your hostage is. The 'copter will be here soon. They'll have the money. Can you hear it?'
'Do you think I was born yesterday? I come to the door an' you'll shoot me'.
Starsky made a winding motion with his hand, hearing the note of panic in the voice. Take it slow Blondie. Don't spook him. You're doin' great.
'No, no we won't. No-one's gonna shoot you. Promise. If I show you I'm unarmed, d'ya promise to come to the door? You're gonna have to come out to get to the helicopter. So make it easy huh? The 'copter is close now'.
Very slowly, Hutch stood from his hiding place, hands above his head and slightly out to his sides showing he was unarmed. He looked directly at the door and muttered under his breath, his lips hardly moving.
'I can see the guy. He's got Morris by the throat, but Pat is moving. He's doin' great. Not struggling. The guy's seen me. He's walking towards the door. c'mon buddy. One more step, that's it. One more step'.
'Hutch, get back down here' Starsky hissed, fearful his partner was taking too great a risk. 'Hutch!'
The blond stood his ground, eyes fixed on the door to the bank as he saw the robber reach for the handle. He took a swift look around. There were various marksmen hidden behind cars, all out of sight, but the air was tense. Starsky shuffled himself around until he was at the blonde's feet, shoulder pressed against Hutch's leg to feel the movements.
The blond continued his low commentary. 'He's on his way Starsk. C'mon pal. One more step and we can getcha outside. That's it, nice and slow'.
He saw the man's hand on the door handle. He saw the door pull open and Morris was thrust outside as a human shield. Morris stood calmly, his old police training kicking in and telling him to try to stay out of the way. Hutch saw Morris make his move a split second before Pat shouted and ducked.
And then all hell broke loose.
Morris rolled himself onto the floor as the marksmen stood to take a shot at the robber. The guy took a step forward, bringing his own shotgun up and as one of the marksmen fired, the robber's shot went wild as his arm was flung upwards and he fell with a bone crunching blow to the ground. The policemen around were all shouting, surging forward to cuff the robber and get the hostage out of the way and some were clapping Hutch on the back, telling him he'd done a great first job. The blond felt elated, the adrenaline still surging through his bloodstream and it took him a moment to realise that the one person he hadn't heard from was his partner. He looked down and fell to his knees in horror.
Starsky was still slumped against his legs, where he'd been during the last moments of the negotiation, but now, his head had fallen forwards on his chest. As Hutch gently reached down to tip the face back, he saw blood and a fresh gash on Starsky's left temple, almost exactly where the previous injury had been. The robber's shot had gone wild, and had hit the brunet in the head. The indigo eyes were closed and Starsky was unconscious. TBC