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Regression

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Regression: from "The Fix"

Detective Sergeant Ken Hutchinson took a drink of coffee and made a face. He hated sugar in his coffee! He finished his candy bar and wadded the paper, throwing it carelessly on the floor with the other wrappers. He paced his apartment sporadically in an effort to quiet his jangling nerves. The clamoring of the phone made him jump and he snatched the offending instrument up, throwing it across the room.
"Go away!" He knew who it was. Starsky was the last person he wanted to see tonight.
Hutch continued pacing, taking long strides through his bedroom, back to the kitchen and around his living room. He clasped his hands together, wringing them unconsciously then yanking them apart and running them through his hair. If it were possible to literally jump out of your skin, that's what he was going to do any minute. The cravings had made another visit after all this time and had turned him into a quivering mass of Jell-O.
He paced faster, his shoes making a staccato rhythm on the floor. Finally, he ran into a wall and slid down in the corner and sat there like a child that had done something naughty. He brought his knees up to his chest and wrapped his trembling arms around them. He could feel the sweat running in streams under his armpits. A trivial fragment of memory from his childhood rose out of his muddled brain.
His parents had dragged him to yet another dismal party and had demanded he wear a suit. He remembered standing there in his dark blue suit and griping about how hot he was. When he complained that the sweat was running into his eyes, his mother had replied primly.
"Gentlemen perspire, jocks sweat."
He'd been tempted to point out the new letter on his sport's jacket, but wisely kept his mouth shut. His mother had her own preconceived sense of propriety and nothing he said would change it.
He giggled to himself. "Here's another one for you, mother. Cops perspire, junkies sweat!"
Hutch leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes, fighting the chills that wracked his body. A single line from an old song ran continuously through his head. "Night's in white satin." Or, was that "Knight's in white satin"?
Was that song about drugs? He couldn't remember for certain, but he thought it was. He hummed tonelessly for a moment.
"Hmmmm, how about 'White Knight on heroin'?" Oh, come on, Hutchinson. Some songwriter you are. That doesn't even rhyme.
As the gnawing hunger threatened to engulf him, he laid his head down on his knees. This time, the plea was barely more than a whimper.
"Go away."
He remained in the corner for a while, rocking gently back and forth as he rode the waves of crushing need. Eventually, he became aware of a presence kneeling in front of him. The blond didn't open his eyes. It wasn't necessary. He knew who his visitor was.
The concern in Starsky's voice broke through his fugue.
"Hutch, what are you doing in the corner? Are you sick?"
The high-pitched giggle didn't even sound like him. "Sick? You could say that."
Starsky's quiet sigh slashed through him like a knife. The brunet's voice was filled with concern.
"Why didn't you call me?"
Hutch scooted around until he was facing the wall. "I didn't want you to see me like this."
Starsky gazed sorrowfully at his partner then put on a cheerful voice. "Come on; let's get you over to the couch. Sitting on the floor has to be Hell on your bad back."
"Yeah, well, it will be right there with the rest of me, buddy."
Starsky helped his friend to the couch then ran to the bedroom, yanking the cover off the bed. He tucked it around Hutch's shoulders then went into the kitchen. He returned moments later with a glass.
"Drink this, Hutch. It's just water, but you need the fluid."
Hutch sipped slowly then dropped his head against the back of the couch.
Starsky sat close to the blond and repeated his earlier question.
"Why didn't you call me? Did you think I wouldn't understand?"
His eyes still closed, Hutch moved his head back and forth. "It's not that. I just didn't want you to have to go through this with me again. Going through this kind of Hell once is bad enough."
Starsky put his hand on his friend's knee. "We've both been through our own kinds of Hell, partner. You've made the trip with me many times. But don't you get it? We've always pulled ourselves out of it, because we were together. You don't have to go through this alone."
"I know, but it's not fair to you. I know how much it hurt you to watch me after Forest…after I got away. I was too strung out to realize it then, but after a while, I remembered what I put you through. You could have walked away, but you didn't. I never said it outright, but I owe you my life. I wouldn't have made it without you."
"That's what partners are for, Hutch."
The blond sat up and faced his friend. "I know, but I thought I was through with this. Why did this happen now, after all these years? Am I going to have to face this for the rest of my life?"
He looked away, dropping his head. "I'm scared, Starsk. What if someday, I give in?"
Starsky put his fingers under Hutch's chin, raising his head. "I don't know why it hit you tonight. Maybe you're just tired, or maybe we've been spending too much time in the sewers again. If you have to face this for the rest of your life, you won't be alone. And I know that you will never give in to it."
Hutch looked at the brunet with pleading eyes. "What makes you so sure?"
Starsky's blue eyes were full of determination, illuminating the room and soothing his tortured soul.
"Because I won't let you."
The tension left Hutch's shoulders as the gnawing hunger ran into the wall of love and faith that was David Starsky.