A TOUCH OF SILENCE

Summary: Silence Hutch. A challenge story.

Episode related: The Fix

By: Karen B.

Note: I do not own the characters. I do not get paid to unleash 'the' imagination. Thank you dearly for your time in reading

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After dropping Forest off at the station and personally booking him, I drove Hutch back to my place. There was this empty hollow silence that lingered in the air, broken only by the rumbling engine of my car.

Neither of us had spoken a word since we left the parking garage, and my 'partner' senses were on high alert. Looking across the seat at Hutch, he was so weak. I watched sadly, as there still was a slight quiver in his body, left over from being strung out. I could tell by my partner's glassy eyed stare, he had placed himself in an apparent void, that he just kept filling with nothingness. I guessed we were both handling things in our own way.

Me, I was fire-breathing mad, and he, he was trying for utter stillness.

I took a breath, and concentrated on driving, accepting his silence, trying to think of anything other than Forest and his screwed up bunch. I thought of glittering sandy beaches, of the first day I laid eyes on my sweet red car, thought of Mom's hot apple pie, and the day Hutch almost bowled a 300 game. Maybe on any other day all those thoughts would have worked to distract me, but not today.

I couldn't help but look over at Hutch again. He had lowered his lashes, his eyes squeezed shut. My gaze fell to his long shaky fingers, that were absently stroking the crook of his arm. The spot was still inflamed, and had to be causing him agony in more ways than one. I couldn't get the image of those puncture wounds out of my mind, one could only fathom how it felt to actually wear them.

Hutch opened his eyes and glanced my way. He looked so crushed and broken, sagging further into the seat. Suppressing a shudder and blushing white, my partner quickly stopped touching the spot, shoving his hands into his pockets.

Hutch scrutinized me a moment more, then turned away, and pressed his nose against the passenger side window. He was trying to hide it all, but he couldn't. I heard him, as he softly moaned his pain, and my stomach clenched tight feeling the flames inside me rising higher. I wanted to do a U-turn. Head back to the station, go into Forest's cell, and kill him. But we were home now, and instead of committing blatant murder, I simply parked my car, and without a word, we both got out.

Twice, Hutch stumbled before we even got to the entranceway, and I wondered if he could make it up the staircase.

My temptation to help him was great, but I let Hutch climb the stairs to my apartment on his own, even though he looked like he'd been gobbled up by the devil, and spit out of hell. He was having a hard time of it, as he took each step slowly, one hand griping tight to the rail. I couldn't help but notice, each step made it appear that my partner's shoes were made of cement. Seeing him like that, shook me deep inside.

I know my buddy, and I know he will rise above the rubble, it will just take time. But Jesus, what he had gone through -- it will haunt me forever. I couldn't stop thinking of Hutch being blindfolded, and at first not knowing what was coming. Then when he did find out what was coming -- it only made things worse for him. He couldn't stop it. Couldn't do a damn thing, as his hands were tied and they pumped his veins, the stuff shooting through them like flashes of white lightning. That crap they gave him, took away his capacity to understand what he was doing, as the information they wanted leaked out his mouth. The junk had stolen all his cop's sensibilities, sending his human emotions running ramped. His body and brain had separated from one another, and he was unable to control what they kept forcing in him. All the struggling, gasping, and fighting, couldn't and didn't help.

After those bastards got what they wanted from my partner they tossed him in the backseat of a car. Hutch had told me how he laid there cowering in a fetal position, and he didn't have to hear his kidnappers talking about wasting him, to know they were going to. His senses were on overload from the drug, and he could feel the creeping doom of death enter his bloodstream, as fast as the heroin filled syringe had.

Pretty scary stuff, even for a seasoned cop.

But Hutch was still with it enough to think and act upon one word-- Run! Get out of the stupid car, and run. Thank god he was spotted stumbling in a drunken frenzy down that alley. If he hadn't been -- who knows where he'd be right now? Maybe wearing those cement shoes after all.

Hutch still hadn't said a word, as we reached the top of the stairs. He looked like he'd come down with some horrible sickness, his face was beet red, beaded with sweat, and he swayed a little on his feet. I quickly unlocked the door. Hutch shuffled over to the couch and plopped himself onto the cushions, and I went to the refrigerator to get us a couple of sodas. Handing him one, I waited for him to say something, but he just nodded his thanks, as I plopped down next to him.

There was a million things I could say, but I just sat there, and nonchalantly slipped closer so that our shoulders touched. Hutch looked over and gave a weak appreciative smile.

I opened my mouth about to say one of those million things, "Babe, it's all going to be--"

I stopped, dead -silent when Hutch's smile turned into a frown, and he hastily looked away from me. He didn't need words, words wouldn't take the pain away. Swallowing the rest of anything I might have said, I clamped my lips shut with my teeth, gazing toward a cobweb in a far corner of the room.

What could I say, anyway? I knew there would be no mystical words to make Hutch feel right again, at least not tonight. The wound was still too fresh.

He'd been through a nightmare. The pain he was feeling now was unavoidable and unrelenting. He wasn't feeling the pain of the withdrawal, but the pain of reality. Of what happened. Of how it happened, and why. You know there are various levels of pain. The burn of a matchstick vs. the burn of a bomb blast. The slice of a paper cut vs. the severing of a finger. The wave of pain that comes from being forced to do something against your will, as his body suffered, along with his mind.

A touch of silence was what we both needed now.

We sat there for a long while, just drinking our sodas and staring off into space, just me, my best friend and silence all around. The silence permeated everything we felt, and sent every thought dancing around the room. It hung freely, not needing to be said out loud.

The silence contained it all, nothing was hidden, all my fire-breathing rage, and his overpowering guilt and new reality was as transparent as plastic wrap.

Cocking a critical eye at Hutch, watching his face, I could see his mind turning over and over. His thoughts were punching holes in his heart, as he slugged down a mouthful of soda and swallowed hard. I could see the tough street cop, a proud and strong man, pushing himself to accept what had happened, and to deal with it the only way he could; head on.

A trickle of soda slipped out the side of his mouth, and I couldn't help but notice the shaky hand that raised up to wipe the drops away. With a shivering sigh, Hutch sat forward and set his bottle on the coffee table. Suddenly, right before my eyes, the grown man disappeared, replaced by the look of a timid child. He leaned heavily back dropping his head to rest against the couch, and placed both hands flat upon his thighs.

For a split-second, I could see his baby blue eyes reflecting innocents, the small part of him that remained untouched by Forest and his goons. Then those eyes danced with the light of a single birthday candle, while strands of bleach blond hair softly swept around the face of inexperience. Sadly, the baby-face had hardly had a chance to show itself, when it suddenly disappeared behind the tightly pressed lips, and the world-weary blue eyes of the more than experienced man.

It broke my heart to see my best friend that way. To be suffering through such hardship. I moved my hand over to cover one of his. Hutch flinched when I touched him, and curled his fingers into a tightly clenched fist. He seemed to get very angry at the action, and his anger pulled his hand out from under mine and brought him to his feet.

I tensed, watching him impatiently pace around the room. Sitting up, and placing my bottle next to his on the coffee table, I felt worried. Would he still want the junk? Or would he not? How much of the cravings remained? What pain still remained?

Hutch was walking a tightrope, and he barely was hanging on, his body near collapse. I could feel the tension he threw off reaching inside me, stirring those flames again, but I doused them. Hutch needed me to stay calm, anchor him. He stopped pacing a moment and teetered on his feet, racking his fingers through his hair. Rest wasn't going to come to him easy, his conscience torturing him. He needed to wash up, try to get some sleep, but he wouldn't give in to those demands without some prompting on my part. I had to break the silence for a moment to accomplish that feat.

"Hutch," I whispered his name so softly, but he cringed anyway, like a startled animal. "Easy, buddy, you okay?"

Hutch answered only with a small flutter of his eyes, wrapping his arms close around himself, telling me not to touch. "Hey, why don't you go take a hot shower, huh?"

He thought for a moment, then responded with a small shrug of his shoulders, surrendering to my idea with a heavy sigh. Following him with my eyes, I watched, as he disappeared into the other room.

I busied myself with tackling the cobwebs around my apartment, while waiting for the shower to turn on, but it never did, and finally had decided to go see why not. Stepping into the bedroom, the room was dark, and the flickering lights from outside were splashing shadows on the walls. One of those shadows was my partner. He was standing near the open bedroom window and peering out into the night, his cheek resting against the pane. The bright cheery Hutch I'd seen days ago, had been melted down to a waxy candle stub, and I hardly could hold back a sob, but did. The wind gently plucked at his hair, and he pressed closer to the glass, shivering and trying not to slip down to his knees.

I didn't know how he still had enough strength left in him to remain on his feet. I silenced another whimper that wanted to escape my own throat. My best friend looked like a vulnerable wobbly legged lamb, and I was the bad shepherd who couldn't keep him safe. I knew he was mourning a lot of things. Jeannie. His innocence. Another piece of his soul, that had been taken by all the hurt, all the fear, and all the shit we have to go through in this job.

I knew what he was feeling. Shame. I knew what he was thinking. Doubt. He wasn't sure he was the same. That somehow the drug had stolen from him his heart, the person he was before the needle. I wanted to make it all disappear in the wink of an eye. I wanted to say something, anything, but couldn't, there was nothing.

There was enough words floating around in both our heads, and they just didn't need to be said.

I moved over toward him, stood real close so he could feel me by his side, and stared out into the night with him.

We just stood there…

Breathing...

Stopping the words...

Stopping our thoughts…

Stopping time…

Just me and my best friend, feeling the silence, feeling what is always there..

Feeling me and thee..

The end