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Note: Text between ** indicates nonverbal communication between Starsky and Hutch
After a month of long shifts and six-day workweeks, Starsky and Hutch were numb. Too many missed meals and lack of sleep had been taking their toll. Sometimes this scenario led to fights and strained feelings, but not this time.
Earlier in the week, Starsky had pulled a muscle in his bad shoulder, then the next day Hutch was hit on the head by a suspect trying to escape. Now both men could add achy to tired and overworked. The result was that the two of them had almost completely stopped talking. This didn't mean they were not speaking to each other. They had just nearly ceased verbal communication. Two days into their silence, their coworkers began to notice.
Hutch was trying to type a report, but the ache in his head was causing him to feel unfocused. Starsky looked up at his silent struggle, went to the water cooler for a cup of water, and returned with it and some aspirin for his achy partner. Hutch took them gratefully, a silent look passing between them. When the report was finished, they needed to run out and conduct some witness interviews. Hutch glanced at his watch and looked up at Starsky. His partner reached into his pocket, retrieved his car keys and tossed them to Hutch. Again, no words passed between them.
Hutch stood and walked toward the door, turning at the last minute as if to say something, then Starsky nodded and turned back to retrieve Hutch's forgotten jacket before following his partner outside. When they reached the Torino, Hutch opened the passenger side door for Starsky, who slid in without comment, much to the amazement of two other detectives who were entering the precinct as they were leaving. Starsky almost always drove.
Before continuing on their errands, the two detectives stopped at a local coffee shop frequented by Metro employees. Starsky ordered for both of them, speaking almost so quietly the waitress couldn't hear him. As he was ordering Hutch's food for him, his partner looked up from the menu he was trying to read and interrupted Starsky with just a glance.
"Oh, and hold the mustard on that, Annie. Just mayo." He said to the pretty, red-haired waitress. As she walked away, Starsky noticed that a couple of the other detectives who were also in having their lunch were watching them. "What?" he asked.
"Nothing at all, Starsk." The reply was unconvincing. Starsky was too tired to pursue it. He looked up at Hutch, who smiled and shrugged. When their food arrived, they ate in silence, passing items to each other without being asked and sharing the food on each other's plates without remark.
When they returned to the precinct, Dobey wanted to talk to them. They went into his office and plopped down wearily in his comfortable leather chairs.
"You two okay?" the captain asked.
The two younger men looked at each other quizzically, a nonverbal conversation taking place between them.
** What's up with him? **
** Dunno, maybe you'd better ask. **
** Too tired, you ask. **
** 'Kay **
Starsky spoke up for the two of them. "Yeah, sure, Cap, why?"
"Why?" Dobey bellowed. "Do you realize you haven't spoken two words to each other in almost three days?"
They looked at each other again – yet another rapid-fire conversation happening in front of their captain's eyes without a word spoken.
** Geez, what'd we do? **
** Not sure, but he's sure mad about it. **
** Your turn. **
** You got it, partner. **
Hutch answered, "Cap'n, what are you talkin' about?"
"See what I mean? Quit that!" he roared.
Hutch's head still hurt and he winced from the decibel level their captain was generating. Starsky walked over to the water cooler and retrieved a cup of water for Hutch. He tossed Hutch the aspirin bottle he still had in his pocket. Hutch caught the bottle as if he had been expecting the toss. Dobey had seen both of them do this in the past, reaching out to take care of each other without any discussion. This week had been exceptional, though, and a few of the other detectives had come to him about it. Although they were impressed with the way their fellow officers worked together as a single unit, almost in symbiosis, this was too much. They were afraid someone was going to get hurt if their two friends didn't get some rest. How far could their almost psychic connection go when they were so tired already? If they got into a dangerous situation on the street, what if they forgot to speak to each other when they needed to in a critical moment? Now Dobey had seen it for himself and he was convinced. He needed to give his men some time off before something happened.
"That's it, you two," Captain Dobey continued. "Go home now. Go home and don't come back for a couple of days. You both need some rest and you're driving everyone around here crazy."
The two detectives were dumbfounded.
"How?" Starsky asked.
Captain Dobey softened his tone and replied, "Just trust me. Don't look gift time off in the mouth. I'll see you on Friday."
Starsky and Hutch looked at each other and shrugged. They stood up to leave and Hutch said, "Thanks, Cap. 'Night." Starsky smiled and turned to Hutch on the way out the door.
** What was that all about? **
** You got me, Starsk. **
** Two days off in a row? **
** Yeah, let's get outta here before he changes his mind. **
Starsky stuck his head back in the door and said, "Goodnight, Cap." When he closed the door behind him, his stunned captain just shook his head and said to himself, "Those two are responsible for every gray hair I've got."