By: Karen B.

Summary: A SR recovery story. Who needs the therapy more--Starsky or Hutch?

Thank you CC: For you know so much and are so willing to share your knowledge with me. And -- for putting up with -- my hypen -- happy -- self --LOL! You rock!

I found myself flat on my back, warmth leaving my body. Turning my head, I saw Hutch kneeling next to me.

"Hold on, buddy," he said, with a scared look on his face.

I heard Dobey screaming for an ambulance and turned my head to see him kneeling on the other side of me, both his hands on top of my chest and applying pressure. Beyond him, people were scurrying around in one giant blur, making me feel sick.

My eyes began to shut and I gasped for air.

"Starsky!" I felt Hutch's breath, a rush of panic in my ear. "Keep your eyes open. Come on, partner. You've got to do this for me."

Turning back toHutch, I tried to say his name but words wouldn't come; only a warm wetness came bubbling to my lips.

"No…no…no…don't try to talk." Hutch's voice was muffled. "Help is coming. Just stay with me."

A sudden severe pain in my chest and back made me arch up off the ground. My left arm went numb, yet I felt Hutch squeeze my hand.

The parking lot faded away to the image of a long black limo driving through black wrought-iron cemetery gates. The driver was Huggy, and next to him sat Hutch.

My dream changed gears again. Something was wrong. I felt strange, like I was holding onto the edge of a cliff about to losemy grip. But I wasn't hanging from a cliff. I was standing next to a mound of dirt, dressed in a dark blue suit wearing a red and white striped tie. Hutch was there standing next to me, but I couldn't get his attention. All I could do was watch his shoulders shake in crippling, uncontrollable sadness.

I tried to talk but a screeching ear-piercing sound brought me to my knees. I was hurt, scared, begging for every breath, and Hutch didn't even twitch a muscle. Just stood ram-rod straight, arms at his sides, fists clenched, and stone faced.

Then the sky opened up to a bright light and a set of steep stairs appeared. Something happened to make the pain stop. I was numb, a river of ice flowing through my veins. I had the urge to climb the stairway and never look back.

Slowly, I climbed to the seventh step, but something pulled at my heart, causing me to hesitate on the eighth stair. I abruptly turned to look back at Hutch, and the pain came back. I felt dizzy, stumbling, falling, then floating, the bright light fading into darkness.

My last thought was I was glad it was me -- not him.

The floating feeling left, and I felt myself getting real heavy. I gasped and my eyes flickered open. Realizing I'd been dreaming of what Hutch and I had come to call 'that day' -- the day an automatic weapon pointed out a police cruiser and specially delivered three bullets to my chest. I quickly closed my eyes, debating if I should go back to sleep. I lay very still, trying hard to remember what it was I'd just remembered about that day.

My flashbacks and dreams were random, like a cracked kaleidoscope, surreal, and mixed-up. You'd think the events of the shooting would be permanently engraved in my mind, yet I couldn't remember much of anything, and Hutch refused to talk about the event in any amount of detail.

My dreams were vivid enough, but the moment I woke up, most of what had happened faded into the woodwork. I always thought 'what if' I could change my dream world in my subconscious -- therefore changing my real world -- so that the shooting never took place.

All I could remember was laying flat on my back on the police parking garage ground. Lying in my own blood, cold, and in pain, and the scared look on Hutch's face, but that was as much of my memory as I could grasp.

All I wanted to do now was to get back to my fighting weight, and fill in that huge blank white spot in my head. One minute I was laughing and licking my lips in anticipation of my free dinner -- the next I was lying in a hospital bed with tubes sticking out of places where tubes were not meant to be, and watching Hutch dance the jig with some nurse.

One minute I was up, moving, feeling the best I'd felt in years -- the next -- I was a prisoner and I hadn't even done anything wrong. I couldn't eat, drink, dress, or use the bathroom alone. One minute I was hearing good job, Starsky. At-a-boy, Starsky. Congratulations, Starsky. The next, I was hearing healing takes time, Starsky. The pain will go away, Starsky. You need to take these pills, Starsky. And if one more person told me how lucky I was -- I might have to commit myself to Cabrillo for electric shock treatment. Hell, I know I was lucky. I just wanted my life back. The way it was. The way it should be. I wanted my partner back. The way he was. The way he should be.

I wasn't so sure I liked this 'new' Hutch. Overprotective, edgy, pain pouring silently out ofhis pale blue eyes.

When I was in the hospital I had repeatedly asked Hutch about that day. He wouldn't talk to me about the shooting. Said he wanted to block out the memories. I could always read Hutch's mind across ten-thousand miles of ocean, desert, mountain, or telephone. It was obvious he was blaming himself. I had to get it through his head shit happened and you just sort of happened with the shit. That day was no one'sfault.

For me, the whole incident felt like more than a lifetime ago. In reality, that day was only four short months ago, yet I still found myself flat on my back. Only this time I didn't lay upon the cold pavement, unable to properly breathe, shot up like a paper target and bleeding my life away.

Instead, I fond myself in a small house made out of simple sticks, only one huff and one puff away from a misplaced storybook character blowing the whole damn cabin down. Okay, so I was exaggerating. The area did have a peaceful quality, surrounded by a forest of tall trees, a small pond to the left, and to the right sitting dead center of a bug infested grassy field, a large pile of stacked logs waiting to be cut.

Hutch insisted we needed a getaway from well meaning friends, newspaper reporters, and doctors. Something with a spectacular view. Something away from big city lights, big city sounds, dirty ghetto alleys, thick smog, blood, gunfire -- and his own pain, I assumed. What I don't think Hutch realized was you can't escape what's inside of you. That'd be like trying to detach from your own shadow -- ain't gonna happen.

We ended up here in a small cabin up in the foothills, where your closet neighbor was a family of fury creatures chattering in the pines. This log home was much nicer than the Dobey place, I had to admit. No kitchen sink leaks, faulty light switches, or cold showers because the hot water heater needed to be repaired, and most importantly, no Satanic witch doctors in red-hooded cloaks.

Besides all that, this cabin was only six miles down the gravel road to the nearest town; which just happened to be the home for one of the best hospitals in California. Hutch wanted all the comforts you find in the woods. Pinecones, water, trees, bugs, bushy tailed rats, and droopy-faced moose. All not far from modern day man. Just in case I should take a nose-dive and try to step out on him again.

Hutch got exactly what he wanted -- and he got it in spades.

Where the Dobey's place was a small one bedroom cabin, with a tree in the backyard as an outhouse, this cabin was large and nearly brand new. So new you could still smell the freshly cut pine logs. There were two queen-sized beds, located in two separate and neatly decorated bedrooms that shared a main bathroom. Hutch's favorite room was a well-stocked gourmet kitchen.

My favorite room -- if I had to choose one -- was a spacious living area with a large stone wood burning fireplace, a colortelevision set and stereo with turntable. All the furniture in the cabin was overstuffed, the color scheme earth tones, greens, browns, and reds. I sighed. Outside, was primal and rustic, the back to nature stuff Hutch loved. Inside was warm and finely decorated. Even I was impressed. I dubbed it: The Beverly Hillbilly's meet Daniel Boone -- after 'Ol Jeb became a millionaire.

Hutch was especially happy about the private bubbly hot tub, saying how I could relax and loosen my tight sore muscles. Private, he called the Jacuzzi.The glass enclosed back porch was surrounded by woods and wildlife -- how private could that be? I didn't need some peeping deer, bear, or moose taking notes of all my 'Starsky' amenities.

Hutch had cleared the 'getaway' with my doctor. Doctor Jamison said the fresh air and quiet would do me good. As long as I didn't overdo things and kept up on my regimenof rest, pills, exercise, and healthy food. That is if you called sipping orange juice and mashed potatoes through a straw healthy. Seems my stomach couldn't handle toomuch else yet.

I hadn't seen Hutch happy in a long time, until he started to plan this little shindig. He said life didn't get much better than being in the great outdoors, calling our getaway 'wilderness therapy.'

I just called it, 'sick.' Yet, if fresh air and pinecones ministered to my partner's mental recovery, and I could skip a few physical therapy sessions -- those two facts alone made the trip all seem worth while.

I knew it was morning when I peeked open one eye and looked out the window to see the mist curling around the tree trunks and drifting up off the small pond just outside my window.

That first morning stretch was still a doozy. I had gotten pretty good at hiding my pain in a great big strong box most days. I collected each twinge, stab, jab, and skipped heartbeat like I was collecting bottle caps or marbles. Stuffed the pain deep inside my box, and sat on the lid when the worst of the hurt tried to bust out. My plan worked terrific with the poking and prying doctors. Got me out of the hospital two weeks earlier than expected.

My partner was another story. If I could read him over ten thousand miles -- he could read me from another universe, galaxy, or deepest darkest black hole.

I sighed and rolled to my side. The queen-sized bed was one of the softest I'd ever slept on, much softer than my hospital bed. Still, the mattress didn't ease my morning pain. Shifting onto my other side caused a sharp stabbing to shoot throughmy left shoulder. I clinched the sheets in my right fist producing several loud grunts.

"Take it slow." A quiet voice to my left drew my eyes slowly open.

Hutch was already awake, sitting in a chair in a far corner of the room sheepishly smiling at me.

"Any slower and I'd be dea --" Seeing the smile fall from Hutch's face, I bit my lip. "What's for breakfast?" I changed the subject, trying to show a sizeable interest by licking my lips, but really not feeling hungry at all.

Hutch had been trying to pork me out for weeks now, and still, I hadn't even gained an ounce of my previous weight. I could tell this frustrated and worried him, but most days my stomach was like a meat grinder chopping itself up, and eating was the last thing on my mind.

"Oatmeal and juice." Hutch stood and walked over to my bedside.

"Terrific." I felt the corner of my lip curl in disgust. Would I ever have a taste for real food again? No more cold pizza and root beer for me.

"It's good for you." Hutch tousled my hair with his free hand, juggling a sketchpad with the other.

Hutch had brought along his art supplies. From blank canvases and charcoal pencils, to watercolors, and an assortment of brushes.

"What were you doing?" I gestured toward the sketchpad he flipped closed.

Hutch looked at me a moment with those big baby blues that can capture you and pull you in. "Nothing," he finally said, stuffing the sketchpad under his arm. "Orange or apple?" he asked.

"Apple." I slowly scooted against the headboard.

"Coming right up." His smile was back as he gently placed a pillow behind my back and quickly left the room.

"Mmmmm," I half groaned. "Nothing, huh? We will see about that, blondie."