Starsky was feeling terrible. They had tied his wrists onto the chair. Blood was dripping from his nose and he couldn't wipe it off. He felt so helpless. The room was quite dark, but in the opposite corner he noticed a huddled form. "Hutch?" he croaked and heard a soft moan from there. What had these goons done to them?

He remembered that Hutch had wanted to check out the office of that Chinese gang to get some information about their next projects. The building seemed abandoned and Starsky, already with a bad feeling, had followed his partner in. When he heard footsteps it was too late. He was overpowered by someone and Hutch, who turned around to help him, got punched by another man. The last thing Starsky saw was his partner lying on the floor. Suddenly something hit him and he must have lost consciousness.

"Hutch? How you doing?" He had to get over to his partner, so he tried to move with the chair. Very slowly he edged forward. His body was aching. They must have hit him in the stomach, too.

"Can you help me undo the ties, buddy?" he whispered and was relieved when he saw that his partner was able to move and crawl towards him.

"Are you hurt?"

Hutch moaned: "They know pretty well how to beat you up." He tried to straighten a little, worked with trembling fingers at the rope and finally Starky could free his hands.

Rubbing his wrists, Starsky knelt down beside his partner. "Let me have a look at you," he said, full of concern. "Where did they hurt you?" Pulling up Hutch's shirt he saw the bruises and he gently probed the area. "It hurts," hissed Hutch and Starsky let his hand linger there to calm his friend. "Maybe some broken ribs, but you're going to be allright. It was a silly stunt to come here alone without back up, don't you think? And no one knows we're here..."

Hutch moaned again, obviously in a lot of pain. "Come here," and Starsky leaned against the wall and pulled Hutch close. After a short time Hutch was relaxing in his arms.

Suddenly there was a noise... Starsky blinked. He felt the familiar scent of a very important person in his life -- Hutch. His hair was ruffled affectionately and Starsky lifted his head, a little embarrassed now. "Hey babe, you took a nap on my shoulder, come on, let's take you home, it has been a long day today..." he heard his partner say.

Starsky cleared his thoughts and was looking around. He was at a very familiar place: The Pits, and Huggy, their old friend was just coming out of the kitchen, on a tray two 'Huggy Specials'. "You got awake just in time to try my new creation: Voila!" Starsky was beaming at him, then he looked at Hutch -- and frowned. "Hutch, you won't believe it." He bit in his hamburger and continued. "I had an awful dream. We were chasing that Chinese gang..."

"What?" Hutch almost choked on his burger then he started to laugh and Huggy was only giggling.

"Really, and it was terrible. Two Chinese tortured us, you got hurt..."

"Starsk, no wonder that you are having bad dreams. Didn't I tell you not to eat the two beef burritos and the enchiladas for lunch?"

"Burritos? That's my favourite food!" they heard a female voice. Starsky turned to his left and was impressed by a young lady sitting on the stool next to him.

"I just overheard your conversation..." and she smiled at him and made him speechless for a moment. He felt a light shove by Hutch in his back and tried to formulate something intelligent. "Ah... well, yeah, you like burritos like me? That's wonderful." He was getting a little more courageous. "Then we have something in common," and he returned her smile and was beginning to feel quite comfortable.

"May I tell you a secret?" she asked and when he nodded, his eyes still fixed on her beautiful face, she was leaning towards him. Her brown curls were tickling his cheek and he was just thinking about a tender kiss when suddenly her face faded...

Instead of it the ugly mug of the Chinese man of his dream appeared in front of his face. Starsky tried to move backwards. "I just wanted to kiss you..." he murmured.

"Are you nuts, you piece of shit? Do you think you can get out this way?" And a scornful laughter was roaring in Starsky's ears.

"I don't want to be in this dream any longer," Starsky said with conviction.

"You have just dreamed," the Chinese replied with an impending voice.

"This isn't a dream, this is the reality!"

Starsky couldn't believe it. He tried to get rid of the cobwebs in his head. Sitting at Huggy's, laughing, eating and meeting a nice young lady had been a dream? And what about Hutch? He had made fun of him and he had been fine, too!

At that moment Starsky felt the dead weight in his arms. There was his best friend, quite pale, obviously hurt -- and suddenly all the bad memories came back. They were trapped in that building and the two Chinese men hadn't shown any mercy when torturing them. Fortunately, they had left the room and Starsky bent over his friend to wake him up.

"Hey Hutch, sorry to tell you but the nice dream I had is over. Please wake up. I don't know what these Chinese men have in mind with us but we have to think of a way to get out of here."

Hutch began to stir and finally opened his eyes. "Where is Huggy? Didn't he offer us his Huggy Special, and where is the beautiful lady at your side?" he murmured slightly confused.

Now it was Starsky's turn to look at his friend in amazement.

"Hey, are you going to tell me that we had the same dream? Always 'Me and Thee', right?"

A little smile crept over Hutch's face.

He couldn't explain it but he was feeling better already. With his best friend by his side there had to be a solution to their problem.

"Can you sit alone for a while?" Starsky asked Hutch as he helped him to lean against the wall. "I've just heard voices from the other room. Maybe I can find out what they are planning."

Hutch nodded and Starsky moved next to the door. When he returned he looked worried, slid down next to Hutch and admitted: "All I could hear was something about drugs and Marian II... No idea what they mean by that."

"Wait," interrupted Hutch in a weak voice, "is it possible that it's the name of a boat? If they are dealing with drugs it could be where the deal takes place."

"I'm only wondering what they are going to do with us."

At this moment the door opened and the two Chinese entered the dark room. Before Starsky had realized what they were holding in their hands Hutch began to tremble and crouched nearer to Starsky.

Then he saw the syringe and he understood. Protectively he put his arms around his friend and tried to soothe him. It was in vain. Hutch's fear of needles was so overwhelming that he began to struggle to get off the floor. Only the pain of his hurt body stopped him from doing so.

"Are you afraid of a little shot? Chickens!" was all one of the men said, while the other laughed.

One day we'll show you who the chicken is, Starsky thought grimly. But first he had to play along with them.

"What can be so interesting to get us drugged? Leave us behind and we won't tell anybody what happened to us," Starsky tried to convince them.

"And elephants can fly," he got as answer and both men couldn't stop laughing about their own joke.

Maybe they had served themselves with the drugs already. Starsky had an idea. He leaned over to Hutch, making eye contact.

"You remember Paradise Island? I faked a seizure. Now it's your turn, babe. I'm sure you'll give the performance of your life."

Hutch nodded slightly and began to convulse and roll his eyes. The two men stopped and stared at him, giving Starsky the time to grab the nearest one's leg. He began to fall and Starsky was just about to take the syringe out of his grasp, when the other man noticed what was going on.

Hutch was too weak to interfere and had to watch the horrible scene in front of him. They pinned his partner to the ground and injected the needle into his arm.

"No!" Hutch cried desperately, thinking of his own addiction two years ago. Now his friend was in the same situation. It couldn't be true!

He wanted to help his partner, speak to him, hold him, but it was futile. The Chinese were approaching him and Hutch realized that one of them was preparing another syringe. For a moment Hutch felt his old fear about needles. He tried to suppress the trembling of his body and focused on his partner who was lying motionless.

All he wanted was to stay near Starsky and he was almost happy when he could reach him and touch him. The last thing he noticed was a pin-prick into his arm. Then he sank to the ground, his vision blurring as his head came to rest on Starsky's arm.

'Shang's Laundry Service' was written in big letters on the van and the two Chinese men seemed to be quite contented driving in direction to the port.

"It was a good idea of yours to take these dudes to the boat. When the deal is over we can get rid of them on the high seas... no problem at all. They are going to sleep long enough...

"What's that noise?"

The engine of the old van suddenly died.

"Shit" cursed one of the men, looking around very nervously. They had come to a halt in the middle of an intersection and soon the furious sound of uncountable horns were ringing in their ears.

"Are you nuts?" yelled the man next to the driver. "How can you steal a car without checking the gas?"

"Shut up!" hissed the driver, sweat forming on his forehead. From the left, a black and white was trying to get through the traffic jam. The two Chinese men glanced at the luggage space of the car. There was the laundry -- and nobody else could see what was below it.

"Gentlemen, what's wrong?" A friendly policeman was looking at them, while the other officer walked round the car.

"Well, please don't be too hard on us, but we forgot to fill up with enough gas, and now we're very embarrassed about it." These two people from China seemed to be so polite and helpless that the policeman decided to help them.

"Charley, come over here!" he called to his partner, who was still looking through the windows of the van.

"Let's help these people. I'm going to fetch some gas from the next gas station and you can direct the traffic."

Charley agreed with little enthusiasm. He didn't notice that the two men in the van were becoming more and more nervous.

The Chinese were thinking of the two cops in the back of the car. What if they woke up too early?

The Chinese were supposed to be already at the port by now.

Finally, the other officer came back grinning proudly.

"Here you are," he smiled and helped the Chinese to fill the gas in.

"Have a good trip and don't forget..."

The two men had already started the car. A last nervous smile in direction of the two cops, and they were gone.

"Let's have a break," suggested the policeman who felt exhausted from directing traffic. He and his partner entered a cafe and ordered a snack.

"I'm just thinking of Shangs Laundry, you know. We always bring our laundry there. They're very clean, but when I was looking through the windows of that van, I am sure I saw some adidas sneakers among the clean laundry. That's not the best recommendation."

"You think there's something wrong? Where was the van going?"

"It's the direction to the port... very strange."

Now both officers were in cop mode. They decided to finish their snack before checking about a stolen laundry van...

It was very sticky and Starsky could hardly breathe. He was covered with something white, it had weight -- could it be laundry? He tried to move his hands to shift the layers aside but his hands were tied behind his back. But there was something behind him. His hands could feel a shirt and the warmth of a body. He leaned into the person behind him and knew it was Hutch. Very slowly the memories came back. He had to know how his partner was. He tried to turn around and at that moment there was movement, an engine was started and he realized they were in a car. He changed his position till he could face his best friend. Hutch was still asleep, damp curls hanging on his forehead. His mouth was taped and when Starsky wanted to open his mouth he noticed it was the same with him.

Nevertheless, he was relieved that they were still alive. Where were they going? Had they been drugged?

He wanted Hutch to be awake and he nudged him with his leg. Finally Hutch began to moan and his eyes opened very slowly.

Their eyes locked and they started their silent communication.

Hey buddy, how are you? I'm so happy that you are alive.

They drugged you, didn't they? And they drugged me, too.

Maybe it was only something to sleep.

We should try to escape.

Suddenly the van stopped and they could hear what the two Chinese men were talking about.

"That's one of your better ideas. Let's get rid of them right here. Our boss doesn't need to know what happened in our office and this way the van will disappear, too. And you are telling me that you know how to handle a scrap baling press?"

The voices were fading and Starsky's and Hutch's eyes widened in shock. Before they could react the van was lifted in the grip of something huge, the windows burst and Hutch was pushed against Starsky. For a moment the vehicle swung in the air, then it was put down again.

And then the screeching noise of a machine was heard and both sides of the car were staved in. Starsky immediately felt the broken metal of the car in his back.

The two friends were looking into each other eyes. Was this the end? They couldn't talk to each other, but their glances spoke volumes. There was still fear about the pain they would suffer, but on the other side they would be together when came to the end.

They had been together through so many hard times. But there was also the laughter and the joy they had shared. Starsky felt tears sting his eyes. When there was another crash and more metal burst Hutch curled against him.

"Stop it! Don't you dare use my machines! Come here at once!"

A shot was heard. The scrap baling press stopped. Then there was silence.

The owner of the scrap yard approached the van to have a look at it. He didn't trust his eyes and couldn't believe it, that two men were in the damaged car and he had come just in time.

Fifteen minutes later the two detectives, still in shock, were rescued by the paramedics. The police arrested the two Chinese and Captain Dobey who was informed that his best detectives had been found, hurried to the hospital.

One week later...

"Have you ever tried my new creation, the 'Huggy Special'? It's priceless!" announced Huggy proudly. The Pits was crowded with friends of Starsky and Hutch to celebrate with them their recovery. The two detectives were enjoying the company, in between exchanged glances...

We made it again. Always Me and Thee...

Later in the evening when some of the guests had already left, Starsky saw somebody sitting at a table near the window. The lady seemed to be somewhat familiar to him though he was sure that he didn't know her.

When he returned from the bathroom he passed by her table, smiled at her and invited her to the bar.

"I'm David and I want you to meet my best friend Hutch." Hutch shook her hand and asked:

"Have we met somewhere?"

"I don't think so," she smiled. Then she asked Huggy if she could have a burrito and Starsky felt more and more comfortable with her. They were laughing together and when he wanted to know about her hobbies she said:

"Can I tell you a secret?" He nodded and leaned towards her. Her beautiful face was in front of him, her brown curls were tickling his cheek... they both took courage and their lips met for a tender kiss...

The end


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