It was a dance. Never formally choreographed, but there was flow and rhythm. Synchronized actions with a downbeat of violence. The melody line was he and Starsky, stepping in to control the mayhem. Hutch felt the pattern of their movements in a way he never did on the disco floor. Here he knew what came next, where he should be, where Starsky would be.
He went high and Starsky went low, surging into any situation fluidly, able to anticipate the other’s whereabouts.
Until the day it changed.
The discordant scrape of metal on metal grated on the ears. An explosion of bullets.
“Starsky!” Hutch’s gun was in his hand before thought took over. He shot high, over the roof of the Torino, expecting to hear the syncopated beat of Starsky’s pistol harmonizing with his.
Instead, the engine of the stolen cruiser roared and the assassins raced out of the parking lot, spraying bullets in their wake.
Hutch stood, jangly and flat-footed. Fear drowned out the expected duet. Where was Starsky?
He found his partner, arms and legs limp, blood draining from his damaged body. Hutch couldn’t breathe, but he knew the steps. Knew the moves of their new dance as if he’d been waiting all his life to perform this particular ballet.
He went to his knees, positioned his hands precisely, and inhaled. There was no melody, just an internal metronome to keep him on the beat.
One breath in to fill the lungs, lips pressed firmly against Starsky’s. Push down on the chest fifteen times. Maintain the circulation swirling through his body, listen to the downbeat of his heart.
He felt Starsky take his part, straining to stay alive. A pas-de-deux for survival. “Dance with me, babe.” Hutch took his partner’s hand.
Blue eyes opened, accepting the challenge.