Well, this is it! Final chapter. I wish to thank all of you who have read and reviewed both this story and "One Hell of a Road to Christmas" (and of course all my other stories). I received so much encouragement and positive feedback on and off FFN that my only goal now is to go on and try to improve my writing as I go along. You really made my day - day after day - and I'm thankful for being part of this wonderful community of S&H fans! All the best to all of you.


Chapter 11

Dr Miracle was damn right. I'm supposed to travel back to the West Coast in two weeks and he has put the most precious gift of all in my luggage: the results of all the exams I've been through, with or without smiles and patience, but it was worth it. He says that the nerves are slowly mending and the spine is gonna need some careful medical attention for a long time, but I should be able to stand up in a few months and to walk alone – with a cane – sometime next year.

Gee, I feel like crying again, but this time, the tears would wash away all the pain and fear I've endured over the last nine months. I feel young again, full of dreams and plans, ready to think about the new job I want to do. My life as a cop is definitely over, but I've thought of something close enough to feel useful and to drag Hutch along with me. He is surely gonna like this. I have explained my idea to Alex and she said it was a great idea.

Blondie and I, serving the society, being helpful, in a different way, with no danger of being hit this time.

I can't wait to tell him!

I have never packed so fast. Only this time, there is a lot more to consider. Dr O'Brien called his counterpart in Bay City to explain my background in details and the medical attention I'm gonna need in the near future. He also found a rehab' center where I can go on exercising and being taken care of until I can manage a hundred percent on my own. I feel I can do most of it already, but it's good to know there are people over there too to help, should I need a hand. Hey, what do you think? Being dependent is not so degrading after all. So many people have saved my life, in all the right senses, that I will never be able to thank them all.

So instead, I'm gonna be grateful to all of them at the same time by being grateful to life and doing the best I can to overcome what could have been a real tragedy.

"Are you OK?" says Alex, who is busy in the kitchen, preparing one of her fruit cocktails which I have become insanely addicted to.

"Never been better!"

"I can see that. You're positively glowing. All smiles for the last five minutes, like angels are singing to you."

"Actually, I was thinking about Hutch, and where I came from and where I'm going to."

"Stop. You're gonna twist a muscle!"

"Alex?"

"Yes?"

"Huh... nothing."

She comes close and hands me a glass filled with a pale yellowish mixture.

"I know." she replies, knowing what I was gonna say.

°.°.°.°.°.°.°.

OK, going back was a good idea, but I never imagined it would drain so much energy from my body to go to the airport, get in the plane, try to get some sleep – which I could not, too nervous for that – get off the plane, get in the ambulance, get settled in the new center that is gonna take care of me for a few days, to check nothing unexpected has happened to my back during the journey.

I'm so exhausted now. Alex called the hospital where she has found a job, to ask whether she could postpone the beginning of her contract for a week or two. This will allow her to find a more practical and suitable place for both of us to live than my apartment with so many stairs to climb.

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°.°.°.°.°.°.°.

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After a good night sleep, I called Anna to get Hutch's new address. He has abandoned Venice Place and found a small bungalow near the beach. She told me he had been through hell over the last few weeks, trying to get rid of the mess he got himself into. Attaboy!! That's my Hutch! Hang on, Buddy, I'll be right there to give you a hand.

I hope the magic between us is still alive and well and that I'll be able to help him.

I have something to offer him: me, alive and well, and soon on my feet. Well he won't see that just yet, but I can make him understand. And I need to explain to him the idea I have for us to work together again. I'm sure he is gonna love this.

I just hope he will listen to me. God, please, don't let it be too late to reach him and get him out of his sorrow.

...

°.°.°.°.°.°.°.

...

Alexandra has rented a car, a big one, big enough to put the chair in it. In my hands I hold the little piece of paper on which I wrote Hutch's address; it's all wrinkled now. I'm so nervous. Alex is following the directions I give her and from time to time, she turns her head and looks at me. She can feel I'm anxious about what I'm gonna find at the end of my journey.

"Do you want me to wait for you in the car while you go and talk to Hutch?" she asks, very softly.

"No. We'll find plenty of time to be alone, him and me, later on. Right now, to see you and me could be the best kick in his butt. When I called earlier, he sounded so surprised, you know, and I did not want to explain anything on the phone. I guess it's gonna be one hell of a shock to him."

"For you too. You have not seen each other for months! That's why I thought I should stay behind for a while."

"You know what?" I'm almost laughing at the idea. "Him and me,... we sound like two lovers who have been separated for ages. Do you think this sounds stupid?"

"No... I don't find this stupid at all. After all you've told me about him, I feel you've got a special friend there and I can't wait to finally meet the man."

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°.°.°.°.°.°.°.

.

Well, here we are.

The house is so close to the ocean. Figures! Blondie has always loved the ocean. That's only right he would choose such a place to recover. And a bungalow. Just peachy! No stairs; way to go, Hutch, thanks, good idea!!

Alex parks in front of the house, gets the chair out of the car. I can take it over from there. Get in the chair. Get my feet on the footrests. And I'm on my way, rolling to my friend's place.

Alex pushes the doorbell and we wait. The moment lasts for so long that I start to tremble.

I'm afraid.

I'm happy to be here.

I feel like my heart's gonna explode.

And suddenly the door opens.

There he is, Blondie, my Buddy, my friend.

He looks tired, he's lost some weight, and there is an incredibly astonished look on his face.

Oh man, how I've missed you! You'll never know. I've been fighting like a tiger to make it back to you, to home and now that I see you, I am speechless. Though I got so much to tell you. I missed you! How's that?? I missed your presence, your smile, your blond hair, your voice, those blue eyes, everything about you. Don't you just stand there! Say something!! Even that you blame me for going away for so long!

But Hutch falls to his knees and grabs me like he's finally found his safety net.

It feels so good to feel him against my heart.

I wish that the moment would last.

I can feel Alex is standing a few steps behind.

The world recedes leaving just this soft and precious moment... just the two of us... me and my Buddy... Me and Thee.

Now I can finally say:

"I'm home."

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The End