Back in the Saddle Again
"Hold still, Hutch. Everything's gonna shake loose if you keep movin'."
A hand moved across his face in the dark and on an instinct he had yet to think about, he turned into it. The palm hesitated
and a finger strayed over his eyebrow. Once, twice...
A ridiculously small gesture for the lump he then swallowed down.
"Nothing bad's happening, Hutch. Huggy knows we're here, he'll get word out. You wanna move that arm for me?"
"Yeah, well, if you will open cellar doors with your collarbone, tough guy."
"Should... should've made them use your head instead."
Hutch knew that the awkward silence which followed had nothing to do with his words, and everything to do with how long it
had taken to say them. A pair of arms tightened on him as the silence stretched, and his eyes stung from the novelty of being
held and worried about by another man. It hurt a little, but in the dark he smiled. He'd really had no idea what he was getting
when he'd accepted that handshake from the bouncy guy four rows down at the Academy.
"I tell you about Gene Autray and Champion, Hutch?"
For one thing, he got a film nut with the worst memory ever for names.
"It's... never mind."
"He was forever falling off Champion and busting his arm. Then he was always climbing back up and singing away in no time."
"Back in the saddle again, huh?"
"You betcha, pal."
And for another, he got a partner who seemed to go out of his way to make him feel better with theories that worked, and yet
defied any logic Hutch had ever known.
He took an experimental breath in and appreciated that it did hurt a little less. He fumbled for and patted the arm that held
his busted one firmly in place across his chest.
"You just keep thinking, Butch, that's... that's what you're good at."
For that he got another squeeze and, of all things, a kiss, pressed somewhere near his right temple.
He bit his tongue with the desire not to ruin with words whatever it might mean and squeezed back instead.
Back in the saddle?
Piece of cake.