February 5, 1978

The lady downstairs had let him in.

Eyeing him warily at first, then after deciding that there was enough of a family resemblance, she produced a key from her pocket.

She hadn't said much but then again, neither had he. He wasn't here to make acquaintances and he had no desire to make small talk with strangers.

After silently unlocking the door to the upstairs apartment, she had told him that she didn't care how long he stayed but had asked him to lock up on his way out. He had agreed politely and she left him to his own devices.

Upon entrance, the man was assaulted with a sudden feeling that he shouldn't be there. Not quite a sense of unwelcoming, but he certainly didn't belong here. And wouldn't have been, except for the circumstances.

The apartment was small but clean. The layout open and inviting. The bathroom and single bedroom just to the right of the front door. The living room flowed into the dining area and the kitchen took residence behind it. There appeared to be a greenhouse behind the kitchen; it was filled with flourishing plants.

The apartment itself, was clutter less, although there were a few personal items: magazines, books, and a guitar. 

The man paused taking in the space.  Suddenly overwhelmed by the fact that he would never again see the man who called this place home.

He stood, numbly without tears. And yet, a part of him wanted to scream. Wanted to cry out how to god how unfair this whole thing was and how he should have gone first.

A son should never die before his father.

A father should never have to bare the knowledge that his son passed away under such painful and tragic circumstances.

- -

The tragic call had come, in the way that such things normally do, at the worst possible time.

Dr. Richard Hutchinson was on call and it the midst of notifying a set of parents that although he had tried his best, but their son was never going to be able to have normal cognitive functions again.   The parents had reacted as expected and the way the way that normal parents do, with tears and morning.

And he had done what was expected, a hand reached out in sympathy, accompanied with words of support and encouragement. No this was not the end of their son's life. He was brain damaged but with their love and support, he could still live a happy life.

A sad smile followed by the names and numbers of a few family therapists. It would be hard work but they could get through it.

His duty done, he excused himself to the privacy of his office. There were correspondence to write and patient referrals to be attended to.

There as his desk, his head buried in a patient file, his phone had rang.

"Dr. Hutchinson." He had answered gruffly, slightly annoyed at the interruption.

"Dr. Hutchinson, my name is Captain Harold Dobey of the Bay City police department-"

"Yes. What is it?" He had snapped, not immediately making the connection.

"Sir, your son is a detective under my supervision-"

"Yes?" He repeated, interrupting again, his heart suddenly dropping to his knees. "What is it?" He pressed.

A pause then a deep shaky breath. The deep voiced man sounded like he was trying to hold back tears, "Sir, I regret to inform you that your son has been killed

- - -

Richard made his way outside to stand in the small greenhouse, suddenly feeling suffocated by the memory. He suddenly felt too old and too exhausted to be facing this pain alone.

His wife, Catherine, hadn't felt well enough to make the trip to Bay City. Too emotionally fragile to be expected to face the city her son had called home. Their daughters, Katherine and Mallory, hadn't spoke of Kenneth since his funeral.

Richard had insisted that his son's body be transported back to Duluth, so that he could be laid to rest in the family plot. His eternal resting spot next to his grandfather, who had been Kenneth's favorite person in the world.

Richard had been surprised at the handful of people that made the trip from Bay City to Duluth to attend the funeral. His son's superior, Captain Dobey, and his wife, Edith, a tall dubious man by the name of Huggy, and of course, his son's partner, David Starsky, had all attended.

The four of them had stood in the back row, holding hands with each other, silent tears streaming down their faces. It was at that moment, through the pain of these people, that it had hit Richard just how incredibly loved his son had been.

Richard busied himself, watering the plants with a half full watering can he found on the floor. The plants appeared to be well cared for. He had the sudden idea that his son must have spent a great deal of time in here. A welcome retreat for when the terrors of his job touched too close to his soul.

Dead. His only son was dead. Taken not by any natural circumstances but by the hands of a person. A monster, really.

The majority of the details were kept quiet and not announced to the public, pending a full police investigation. He did know that the body of his son was found along with another young man, by the name of Michael Bennett.

Michael had been lucky, if one could call him that. Although, he had sustained a traumatic brain injury and he lay in a coma with little hope of ever regaining consciousness, he was alive.

The official cause of Kenneth’s death had been listed as a gunshot wound to the head and while that had been accurate, the truth of what his son had endured was so much worse than that. Dr. Hutchinson knew because, as a physician, he was able to obtain a copy of the coroner's report.

He had sat alone, late one night, in the privacy of his study at home, with a full bottle of bourbon and the report, complete with all gruesome details and photos of his son's dead body.

The full bottle of bourbon had quickly become a half, as he read and then re-read every excruciating detail. Richard had cried over what his son had endured and his heart ached with so many unanswered questions.

Why? Why would someone commit such a senseless, horrible acts? And who was Michael Bennett and why was he left alive while his son had his life so violently ripped away?

Richard turned his attention to weeding one of the plants. He gently tore at the dead leaves, dropping them carelessly on the floor.

The details were almost too much to bear. His son had been taken and held for over two weeks. He had been tied up, tortured relentlessly, and finally shot at point blank range.
Richard didn't think he was ever going to be able to get the pictures out of his mind.
The marks, the bruises, and the horrible image of the gunshot wound. His son had been unrecognizable; his features distorted by the wound to his face.

His level of anger had shocked Richard as first. How could this have happened? How could someone have done this to his son? He was angry at the perpetrator but most of all he was angry at himself. His baby boy. His handsome strong, capable son, was gone and now they would never have a chance at reconciliation.

 Their joint alienation of each other had been silly. Richard had flat out refused to support his son when he decided to become a police officer. He had stupidly told him that if he followed through with his intent, not to come home again.

It had been Richard's ridiculous attempt at manipulating his son's future and it had blown up in his face. Kenneth angry, and rightfully so, had retaliated by moving away and cutting him off completely.

Returning to the kitchen, Richard washed his dirty hands. He moved to wipe them on the towel hanging off of the fridge handle when a set of photos on the fridge door caught his eye.

They were both of Kenneth and his partner, David Starsky. The first, one that was taken a lifetime ago. A black and white of the pair, young and bright eyed, dressed in police uniforms. His son was smiling carelessly. God he looked so innocent, so young.

The other, Richard figured, must have been more recent. Both men were older and dressed in casual clothing. Starsky in a dark blue windbreaker, Kenneth in a green flannel shirt. Kenneth's hair was longer than Richard ever remembered seeing it and he had grown a mustache.

They were standing next to a pool table and the lighting was dark; a bar maybe? Their arms thrown around each other, a beer in each of their hands. Their eyes twinkled in slight inebriation and they smiled broadly, lovingly at each other. It suddenly occurred to Richard that there was so much more between these two men besides friendship and his heart ached to know just what.

Richard reached his hand out and touched his son's face in the picture. It seemed like only yesterday he had been a blonde haired, blue eyed toddler. Where on earth had the time gone?

"That was taken a month before he disappeared." A man’s voice from behind Richard startled him.

He removed his hand but didn't turn. He didn't have to, he knew who the man was.

"When did he decide to grow a mustache?" He asked. There was so much he didn't know, he realized sadly.

He heard the chuckle from behind him, creaks in the floorboards as the man approached the fridge.

"About eight months ago." Came the soft answer.

Richard turned to find his son's partner standing by the kitchen table.

The boy looked rougher than he had at Kenneth's funeral. His face was tired, his eyes deep with sadness, his clothes wrinkled, and his shoes untied. He looked like hadn't slept or shaved in a month.

Seemly uncomfortable with the silence Starsky spoke again, "Hutch's sister called me. Said you were in town to- uh." He stopped his voice failing him. He looked down, cleared his throat deeply and continued. "Clean out. Asked if I would check up on you."

"That's very thoughtful of you, but I don't think that will be needed-"

"Please, you don't understand." Starsky interrupted a desperate note to his voice. "Hutch was..." He paused, struggling with his tears and the appropriate words. "He- well he was my life. Let me help you. I need to help you."

Richard thought about rejecting the offer for a moment but there were took many burning questions and Starsky was the only one who could provide any answers.

He shook his head in compliance before whispering, "Who were you to each other?"

Tears flowed freely down Starsky's face as he choked out the answer, "I think you already know."

Fighting his own tears, Richard suddenly felt like he was the outsider and that he should be the one asking for permission to stay.

"You loved him." He stated simply.

Starsky struggled to reply. "He was everything to me. I built my life around him and now he's gone."

Richard nodded knowingly, not trusting his own voice.

Both men stood. Neither looking at each other, tears falling, both trying to grieve a life that had ended much too soon.


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