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Starting Over (Co-Writen by Kirsty Welsh)

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Chapter 17  – the epilogue –By Kirsty Welsh-

For what seemed like the hundredth time, Hutch paced the corridor of the hospital ER department, waiting for news of his partner. His heart was in his mouth. Starsky hadn't regained consciousness since the shooting and as the paramedics had loaded him into the ambulance, the only casualty in the whole affair, he'd looked pale and was deathly still, although he was still breathing.

Throughout the journey to the hospital, Hutch chanted the same mantra under his breath

Don't die Starsk, please don't die. Not now ... Please don't leave me now.

But his chanting did nothing to alleviate his worry and as they unloaded his partner's body at the other end, he grabbed the payphone and telephoned Dobey. The Captain had already made arrangement s for cover and was on his way down to Memorial where Dr Jefferson was once more on duty.

As was usual, there was a long and deathly wait while the doctor examined the brunet behind the curtained cubicle and when at last he came out, it was to inform Hutch that fortunately the bullet had been a glancing bow, that the wound had been cleaned and stitched and that Starsky was still unconscious and on his way up to a ward.

Hutch followed the gurney, questions flooding his head and he sat down by the side of the brunet's bed to wait as the doctor tried to answer his questions.

Yes he was concussed.

Yes the bullet wound would leave another scar

No there shouldn't be any permanent damage apart from a raging headache when the brunet finally woke up.

Hutch looked at the clock 2;00pm. The middle of the afternoon of a day which had changed from elation at having got their first job to once again sitting in the hospital room. Hutch hated the waiting and he felt the need for something to take away the hurt more keenly than he'd ever felt it before. He fought against it with every fibre of his body and would have lost out f his Captain hadn't shown up, just as he was about to go see what sort of drugs he could wheedle from the nurses.

'How is he?' Dobey asked.

'Unconscious. Doc says he has another concussion. Good job it was his head. Where there's no sense there's no feeling' the blond joked. But the joke was mirthless as both men sat by the bed to wait.

Evening came and went, and with it, Edith. She brought the men an apple pie and some coffee, and while Dobey managed three or four slices, Hutch sipped at the coffee and waited, his mind wandering back over all the other times he'd waited in this same sort of room, sitting on this same sort of chair as he prepared himself fro whatever news there would be of his partner.

During the night, Starsky became restless, his arms and legs kicking out at the bedclothes so much that the doctor on duty was about to give him a sedative. The restlessness became more violent and in his sleep, Starsky moaned and his hands went to his head as though he had terrible pain there. But try as they might neither Hutch nor the doctor could get through to the curly haired man and it was hours before the seizures stopped and once more Starsky slipped into a relaxed sleep.

Dobey slipped away back home as the sun was coming up. Hutch had fallen asleep about an hour ago and he left a note that he would be back later on in the morning. And so neither man saw the beginnings of normal movements from the man in the bed.

Starsky had been in pain for most of the night, but it had felt to him as though he had dreamed the whole thing, the lancing pains in his temples, the psychedelic colours and the smells around him. All seemed to overpower his senses to the extent that he'd wanted to hide his head under the pillow to escape them and at one point he'd tried to cover his eyes to keep them out.

Now, he began to surface from his stupor. He realised that once more he was laid in a bed and he recognised the smell of antiseptic and other things he associated with the hospital. Shit! He was there again. He opened his eyes and stared into the darkness, then closed them again.

Hutch felt the movements and they shook him awake. Slowly he lifted his head from the edge of the bed and looked at the clock on the wall, its luminous hands pointing to 6:30. With a groan he stood, easing the kinks from his back and went to the window, winding back the blinds to let the early morning sun stream into the room. As he looked back at the bed, he saw that Starsky's eyes were open and the curly haired man had put his arm up to his head.

He crossed to the bed and gently took hold of his partner's wrist. 'Don't touch it Starsk. Doc said to leave it alone'.

Starsky gazed steadily back. 'You look like shit' he said slowly.

'Well, it's been a long night. You were thra…..what? What did you just say?'

'I said you look like shit' the rasping voice said.

'How can you…you can?….can you… can you see me?' Hutch asked, almost afraid of the answer.

But the grin on his partner' face said it all.

'Uh huh. I had those pains in my head all night. Kinda like it was gonna explode. And towards morning I put my hand up to feel my head and shocked myself coz I could make out a shape. Since then, it's been getting clearer and clearer. You're still kinda fuzzy, but I can see those beautiful baby blues'.

Hutch's face cracked into an enormous grin. 'Oh shit Starsk. I don't now what t'say. I'm so….'

'Happy? Yeah, me too. In fact happy don't begin to cover it. I'm over the moon. D'ya wanna go get Doc Jefferson? Soon as I can I want out of here'.

'Well it's good to see you're feeling yourself' Hutch said happily.

'I always did feel myself' Starsky said thoughtfully. 'The only time I didn't was when I went back to New York before the accident. Then I felt like someone else, but now? I never felt more like myself than when I couldn't see. It brought us back together and it gave us the opportunity to work together again. Can't have been all bad'.

'That's just what Dan said' hutch mumbled quietly.

'Did you see him too?'

'Yeah, but with the shit I was drinking, I didn't want to say anything. But he said it was all for a purpose. Maybe that was it. To get us back on a level playing field'.

'Well if there was ever a next time, let's hope he could find something a bit less drastic huh?' Now. where are my pants?'

'Doc hasn't said you can go yet'.

'You're stalling aren't ya?' Starsky said doubtfully. 'Where are my pants?'

'Sorry buddy' Hutch grinned. They cut them off of you. And this time, I don't even have your watch!'