She watched as Dave snagged a magazine, flipped
through it, and dropped it back down onto the small waiting room table, only to pick it up again a moment later. There was
something odd about his movements, beyond general restlessness. It took her a few minutes of observation before she realized
that she had been seeing several of the subtle ways he had of compensating for the lack of dexterity in his left hand.
Rather than pick a magazine up directly off
the surface of the table, Dave might shove it off to one side of the pile, until it literally dropped into his other hand.
Or else he would grab it by the spine, and then give it a small toss so that it fell open in his palm. In order to turn the
pages, he would lick the thumb of his right hand, and drag it across.
He gave her a quizzical glance and she arched
an eyebrow at him. What are you looking at? He shrugged and went back to mangling
Since he was aware of her scrutiny, she tried
to find something else to occupy her interest. There were a few other women seated on chairs nearby, but the last thing she
wanted to dwell on right now was someone else’s pregnancy. The room was a typical hospital waiting room with the usual
bland prints on the walls, and everything had been painted that soothing pastel pink that always made her want to scream.
Well, it probably wasn’t entirely fair
to blame that last impulse on the walls.
only married me because of the baby.
That was true. If not for the chance meeting of sperm and egg, they would have gone on simply as lovers. Their relationship
might have lasted. It might have become something more, given time. Or it might have fallen apart, and she would have become
nothing more a brief footnote in his life. Without the baby… He was too responsible
a man to leave her, if the baby died. He wouldn’t. But without the baby, what was their relationship founded on?
Dawn didn’t like where this line of
thought was heading. It was safer to scrutinize Dave.
Starsky could feel her eyes on him. After
their brief conversation in the car, she’d dried her eyes, repaired her mascara, and fallen silent. He had made the
mistake once of inquiring if she was okay, only to receive a look that clearly asked him what kind of stupid question did
he think that was?
He had noticed that she shivered sometimes,
rubbing her arms as if she felt chilled. But when he had tried to offer her his jacket, she glanced at him scornfully and
asked if he didn’t think she was already enough of a walking fashion disaster.
So, clearly she didn’t want to talk
anymore, and that was fine. Hey, it was understandable, even. But he did wish she would stop being so unfriendly about it.
He wondered if she was sitting there, resenting the fact that he was here instead of Hutch. Geez, lady, it’s not as if I don’t wish he was here, too.
Dawn shifted in her seat. Her bladder felt
as if it was on the verge of meltdown, the cramps coming in waves. The doctor had said . They had been here at sharp. So, why
was it now ? She glanced around at the other women in the room,
but none of them looked anywhere near as uncomfortable as she felt. She was seriously debating going up to the front and giving
them a piece of her mind, when the woman behind the desk looked up and said, “Mrs. Dawn Hutchinson?”
Dawn stood, “Over here!” Finally!
about time, thought Starsky, climbing
to his own feet and following her. He’d just been considering having a few words of his own with the folks who would
keep a cranky pregnant woman waiting. And force him to sit next to her.
The receptionist was an elderly woman with
unrealistically blonde hair. She ignored Dawn to smile at Starsky as they approached. Dawn scowled at her. What, just because I’m pregnant, I no longer count as a sentient being?
“So, Mr. Hutchinson…”
Starsky interrupted the receptionist hastily,
“No, no, I’m not Hutch. I’m his partner. I mean, I was his partner. We’re cops. Or, rather, he was,
is, I mean…” He stopped, realizing that he was most likely only confusing the woman further. Sticking out his
hand, he plastered a desperate smile on his face and said, “I’m Dave Starsky.”
She ignored his outstretched hand, frowning.
“And your relationship to Mrs. Hutchinson is…?”
“He’s a friend of the family,”
said Dawn. The statement made her blink, as she realized the surprising truth of her own words. My family.
The receptionist pursed her lips slightly,
as if finding the presence of a man who was not the father rather irregular, and said, “Very well then, Mr. Starsky,
why don’t you sit down over there.” She nodded at a row of orange plastic seats lined up against the wall of the
waiting room. “Mrs. Hutchinson, if you will proceed through this door here? The technician will be in shortly to assist
Dawn folded her arms. “He’s coming
with me.” Family.
The look of shock on Dave’s face was
priceless. In different circumstances, Dawn would have found it amusing. Predictably, he began to protest, “Uh, Dawn,
that’s okay. I can wait here. It’s no problem…” He stepped back, gesturing at the waiting room.
She turned and grabbed a fistful of his shirt,
ensuring that she had his full and complete attention. “I am not going in
He stared down at her, as she continued to
speak, quietly and intensely. “There are many, many other people I would prefer to have with me. You aren’t my
first choice, but right now you’re the only one I’ve got. I’m not going to go in there by myself and have
the doctor tell me that the baby’s dead or deformed or God knows what else!”
Her voice rose slightly on those last few
words, and several of the women in the waiting room looked up, alarmed. The receptionist made a disapproving noise. Dawn,
however, simply hung on and waited for Dave’s response, brown eyes locked on blue.
Starsky looked into her face and saw the
terror she was trying to hide. The thought crossed his mind suddenly that she hadn’t been trying to be deliberately
mean to him earlier. She had been trying to protect herself. She needed to be strong, which meant that she couldn’t
afford to talk about her feelings or accept help from others. It wasn’t how most women dealt with things in his experience,
but it was certainly something he could understand. If anything, he was rather grateful that she wasn’t the weepy sort.
After a minute, he nodded carefully and said,
One word, but it carried volumes of meaning
for Dawn. Yes, I understand. Yes, I’ll be there for you. She released his
shirt, embarrassed by her loss of composure.
“Good,” she said, before turning
back to the receptionist, indicating her readiness to continue to the ultrasound room. Hopefully this wouldn’t take
too long. Two glasses of water had been too much, especially in combination with the additional half hour they’d spent
sitting in the waiting room. She moved carefully, painfully conscious of how dreadfully ugly her overalls were. Even cinching
the back with a clip hadn’t helped much. All she needed was a straw hat and some hay to chew on. No wonder the receptionist
had been looking at her funny. The receptionist probably thought she’d married her cousin.
She glanced at Dave again, thinking that
it would be an odd family that could produce both him and her, and an even odder family that would include a man as blond
as Ken. Between the three of them, they covered nearly every genetic type in the world, except Asian.
As Starsky reached past her to hold the door
open, he suddenly froze and said in an alarmed tone, “They aren’t going to make you get naked, are they?”
He looked over at the receptionist. “She
doesn’t have to get naked, does she?”
His head swiveled back to focus on Dawn.
“Because I don’t think Hutch would be very happy about that.”
The receptionist sniffed disapprovingly.
“All she will be required to expose is her stomach.”
Dawn rolled her eyes, “Dave, grow up.”
Starsky gave her a quick glance. Okay, he thought. Two can play this game. “You should be glad
that I am grown up,” he said. “Otherwise you’d have been cabbing it here.” He gestured for her to
precede him through the door.
“There’s more to adulthood than
getting your driver’s license, you know,” she said, scornfully, as she passed him. The fear in her eyes had been
lightened with the slightest hint of amusement.
“At least I’m not still in bib
overalls.” Hey, this is kind of fun. A quick glance around the room showed
a large bank of machines against one wall and an examination table in front of them. He found himself a chair, as Dawn lifted
herself up to sit on the edge of the table.
“I’m not the one who picked them
out!” She sounded outraged, but she was smiling.
“Ya want some cheese with that whine?”
He stopped, and tilted his head back to look up at her. “You know, this is a sick, sick relationship we got goin’
Starsky gave her a quick wink as the technician
entered the room.
“Ah, Mrs. Hutchinson?” said the
woman as she checked her clipboard.
“Yes, that’s me.”
“And I presume you must be Mr. Hutchinson?”
Both Starsky and Dawn together chorused,
ignored the receptionist’s protests, barreling past her as soon as he heard his wife’s voice call out, “We’re
He quickly took in the scene in the small
office. The doctor was behind a desk with a file open, and Dawn was seated in a chair in front of him. Starsky stood near
the door, having been in the process of pushing it open when Hutch had yanked it out of his hand.
In two steps, he was beside his wife, reaching
for her but hesitating a fraction before touching her. He was afraid.
“Dawn? Are you okay? What happened?”
She was looking at him strangely, and he wondered what that meant.
“I’m fine,” she said, her
voice shaking slightly and her eyes wide. “What happened to you?” She
reached up to touch the side of his neck, just behind his ear. When she drew her hand back, there was the red gleam of blood
on her fingertips.
Starsky abandoned his cane by the door, stepped
up behind him and put both of his hands on his shoulders. “Hutch,” he said, “You’ve got to sit down,
man. You look a little wobbly.”
Hutch shook his head, but the motion intensified
his headache and made the room swim around him. He landed rather gracelessly in the chair Starsky had drawn up behind him.
“Just tell me what happened!”
The doctor leaned across his desk, handing
a box of Kleenex to Starsky, saying, “Your wife had a brief episode of bleeding this morning…”
“Bleeding?” Hutch’s voice
Dawn was surprised to see that her husband
could turn whiter, after all. The bruises on his face stood out in livid color, contrasting the pallor of his skin. Starsky
stopped dabbing at the trickle of blood running down the back of his neck, and leaned over Hutch’s shoulder to pat his
“Hutch, Hutch, relax,” he said
soothingly. He gestured urgently at Dawn, and she quickly passed him the small black and white printout from the ultrasound.
“Look at this. Ya see this?” He stuck the picture under Hutch’s nose. “That’s Baby Hutchinson.
You should’a seen him, buddy! He’s doing just fine, flippin’ all over the place. Dawn bled a little, and
that was scary, sure, but she’s doin’ great now and so’s he.”
“That’s him?” Hutch took
the picture and turned it around, examining it closely. He couldn’t make head or tails of the image, but he wanted to
believe what Starsky was saying.
“Isn’t he the cutest thing?”
said Starsky, proudly, just as Dawn pointed out, “It could be a girl.”
“Yah,” said Starsky, “The
technician said he was kinda shy. It looks like you’ll have to wait a little longer to find out whether you’re
decoratin’ in pink or blue.” Leaving the picture with Hutch, he returned to inspecting his friend for signs of
The doctor leaned back in his chair and said,
“All indications point to a normal pregnancy, at this point.”
Hutch’s head came up, his forehead
creased worriedly. “But, but she was bleeding?”
Starsky extracted a piece of glass from Hutch’s
collar and passed it to Dawn. She raised her eyebrows at him quizzically, and he shrugged.
“Well, this type of event isn’t
unheard of in the second trimester of pregnancy, though it is undeniably frightening for everyone,” said the doctor
calmly. “It’s entirely possible that this may have been a single isolated incident. Dawn, I’ve scheduled
you for an internal exam this Thursday, until then I want you to take it easy. Rest, get your sleep. Stay off your feet. Absolutely
no lifting! Ken, you can handle some housework, can’t you?”
“Wait a minute,” said Dawn, as
Hutch began nodding. “What about my job?”
“Well, what do you do?” asked
“I’m a waitress.”
“I strongly recommend you take the
week off,” the doctor said, his tone brooking no argument. “At least until we know for sure what we’re dealing
“Huggy will understand,” said
Hutch. “Beside, you were going to have to quit eventually.”
Dawn’s chin firmed, a stubborn expression
settling on her face. She couldn’t help recalling his statements a week ago about the two of them having more children.
“Maybe I will, and maybe I won’t. Maybe I want to keep working!”
Ken met her eyes, and the unyielding granite
in his expression more than matched her own.
She saw him soften, however, when she added,
“But, I don’t want to do anything to risk harming the baby. I’ll take the week off.”
Dawn knew that this was an issue they would
need to get out into the open, and soon. Unfortunately, this was neither the time nor the place, and there was something else
she needed to address first. She glanced up at Dave and then over at the door.
He understood. Retrieving his cane, he said,
“Excuse me, I’ll just wait for you guys outside.”
Dawn waited for him to leave before turning
back to look at the doctor. “I need to know,” she said. “Are there other restrictions besides no lifting?
Did this happen because we had sex?”
“What?” asked Hutch, blankly.
“Intercourse is usually perfectly safe
in pregnancy,” said the doctor. “However, yes, it is possible that you triggered the bleeding when you had sex
this morning. I’m sorry, but you should refrain from further such activities until after I’ve had a chance to
establish a cause.”
“Y - you mean I did this to you?”
asked Hutch. He slumped, his chin sinking into his chest. Oh God.
Dawn reached across and patted his hand,
reassuringly. “As I recall, you weren’t the only one participating. And you heard what he said. It’s usually
safe! We couldn’t have known.”
The doctor studied the man sitting across
from him, noting Hutch’s pallor and his general unsteadiness, as well as the clear evidence of older injuries. He turned
to address Dawn. “When you exit our clinic, turn right and follow the red line. It will take you straight to the Emergency
department. I’m sure someone there will be more than willing to take a look at your husband.”
“What?” asked Hutch. “I
“Sweetheart, have you seen yourself?”
Dawn touched the back of his head. “You’re all scorched, and I don’t think it’s because you were trying
to give yourself a home perm. Don’t argue.”
She stood up, and offered him her hand, intending
to help him up onto his feet. She was surprised to find herself suddenly enfolded in a desperate embrace. He was trembling
as he buried his face in her shoulder. She grabbed the back of his shirt and pulled him close. Her attention entirely focused
on her husband, Dawn was only vaguely aware of the doctor quietly excusing himself and leaving the room.
“I was really scared,” said Hutch,
“Me, too,” Dawn said her voice
barely more than a whisper. “I missed you.” However, even now she couldn’t help but wonder if he had been
more scared for her or for the baby.
They held each other in silence for a few
minutes, and then she pushed him back and inspected him at arms length. Smiling, she said, “Now, let’s get you
down to Emergency before you fall on your face.”
He returned her smile, thinking, She’s really okay.
doesn’t matter, she thought.
Even if he wouldn’t have chosen to marry her, even if his concern was primarily for the baby, she would love him any
way she could have him. She couldn’t help herself.
was trying to get the candy machine to take his money, when they came out of the clinic. He straightened, abandoning the project,
and eyed Hutch critically.
“So are you gonna tell us what happened,
or are you gonna keep us in suspense?”
“Hm?” Hutch was looking at Dawn
with a silly grin plastered on his face. She’s okay, and the baby’s okay,
were the only thoughts on his mind at that moment.
“You!” said Starsky with an impatient
gesture that took in the whole of Hutch, from singed hair to scuffed shoes. “You left this morning all shiny and clean
for your court date and here you are now looking like your mother doesn’t love you.”
“Oh.” Hutch gave Starsky a vaguely
puzzled look, as his focus shifted away from his wife. “Dawn’s car blew up.”
car?” exclaimed Dawn.
Hutch winced. “Yeah, I’m sorry,
“Your car blew up?” asked Starsky.
Of all the things he’d expected to hear, that wasn’t among them. “Hutch…”
Hutch’s training as a cop came to the
fore, marshalling his scattered thoughts. “There were three, maybe five sticks of dynamite and some kind of timer, next
to the gas tank.” He stopped and looked over at his wife, apologizing again, “I’m sorry, Dawn, the car’s
a write off.”
“So what?” she asked sharply.
“I don’t care about the car! I care about the fact that someone just tried to blow you up!”
He threw his arm around her shoulders and
pulled her close as he turned back to his friend. “Starsky, that tan sedan you saw at the funeral, was it a, a…”
The words weren’t coming as easily as they should, his thoughts slightly confused. “A Chevy… four door…
with a dented rear right fender?”
Starsky frowned, trying to picture the car
in his mind. “Yes… yes, I remember the dented fender.”
“That’s the same car that ran
down the Kaminski woman.”
“Then you’ve got the license
number!” Starsky’s eyes lit up.
Hutch nodded. “Yes, I do.” He
gave Starsky a sideways glance, one eyebrow quirked. “Do you forgive me now for losing it earlier?”
“Dummy,” said Starsky, pleasantly.
“There was nothing to forgive.”
The intern in the emergency room diagnosed
Hutch with a mild repeat concussion, explaining that his brain was more vulnerable to injury at the moment, having been knocked
about rather severely two days prior. The fact that he hadn’t lost consciousness was pronounced irrelevant. Despite
what Hutch had always believed, it was apparently quite possible to give oneself a concussion without ever passing out. He
was given a prescription for his headache, and told to go home and rest.
“And try not to bang that head of yours
again any time soon,” said the intern, a glint of amusement in his eyes. “Or you may find yourself a few IQ points
Starsky called Dobey from the hospital lobby
and filled him in on Hutch’s condition, and on the necessity of having him take the rest of the day off. When he replaced
the phone, he found Hutch looking at him with a pensive expression on his face.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I’m jealous!” said Hutch,
with surprising heat.
He waved the black and white printout from
the ultrasound machine. “Starsky, you got to see my baby! All I got was this lousy picture.”
Starsky grinned. “Yeah, well, you should
have been here, instead of trying to get your ass blown sky high.” He patted him on the shoulder and said, “C’mon,
Dawn’s waiting for us.”
As they made their way across the room to
where she was standing, Hutch was surprised to hear Starsky comment, offhandedly, “You know, you’ve got yourself
a pretty fine lady, there…” But when he tried to get Starsky to repeat what he’d said, his friend gave him
a deliberately uncomprehending look and denied knowing what he was talking about.
Hutch wondered what had occurred between
the two them that morning.