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THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

by: dnjlwilson

Chapter 1

The red Torino rolled into the small town of Duncan, California, on a beautiful spring morning. It stopped in front of what looked like a 'Mom and Pop' diner. All small towns have one of these, he thought to himself. Starsky was hungry and he didn't see any need in duty getting in the way of eating. He could do both at the same time. He was, afterall, a pretty talented guy.

Duncan didn't look anything at all like what he expected. This town, if you could call it that, actually had two gas stations. Where did he get the idea that this was a 'hole in the wall'?

The county District Attorney, Ben Wilford, had called an old friend, Captain Dobey, about a problem he was having with this 'town'. It seemed several people had complained about speed traps, unjust traffic tickets, and police brutality. Chet Logan, the sheriff, had assured Wilford it was not true and had witnesses for the occasions mentioned. That seemed too convenient to Wilford, so he decided to look into the matter a different way. He hoped his friend could help.

He and Dobey had come up with a simple plan. Send someone in and see first hand. Naturally, the first person Dobey thought of that could be smart ass enough to rile the small town cops was, of course, Starsky. He also had the sporty car and could take on the persona needed with little, if any, effort at all.

Breaking the news to Starsky and Hutch went as he expected. Starsky took it quite well. Hutch, on the other hand, wasn't sure about it until he heard more about it. His first concern was for Starsky's safety, as always. But, after Starsky got all excited about getting to play 'James Dean', Hutch relented. He could never say no to Starsky. And, after all, it was just for a few days. Starsky wouldn't be alone for long and they could set everything up to minimize the danger.

Starsky had the role down pat, and everything was set in motion. He would come to town, get arrested, call his lawyer, which was really Dobey's dedicated phone line, get smart, get slapped around, and get out. Simple as that.

So, here he was in the big town of Duncan, California, walking into the diner. It smelled like heaven. Whoever was doing the cooking was second to none. Starsky couldn't wait. Climbing onto a stool at the spotless counter, he was served by a beautiful brunette that had eyes he would dream about, no doubt, for a long time.

"What can I get for you?" she smiled, handing him a menu.

Her smile threw him for a second. Stammering, he replied, "Coffee, for starters." Then, getting his bearings, he waggled his eyebrows and gave her his best smile.

"I'm married." she said flatly. "To him." She pointed at the very large man whose T-shirt wasn't quite big enough to cover his large girth. He was sitting at a booth drinking a gallon of milk and eating a chocolate pie. A whole chocolate pie.

Starsky swallowed hard and looked at the beauty apologetically.

"Yeah, I'm sorry too." she snapped, reading his expression.

She had to admit, though, this guy was a handsome devil. Obviously pick of the litter. Sometimes she got lucky and life sent somebody like him her way. She would enjoy the view while she could and have someone to fantasize about for a while. Her knight in shining armour would now have a face, whenever, that is, she had the time to daydream.

Coming back to reality, she got his coffee. "Sorry I was rude." she apologized. "What would you like to go along with that coffee?"

"What would you recommend? I'm pretty hungry." Starsky replied, trying hard not to set her off again.

She looked at him and smiled, making chill bumps run down his spine. Did she know how beautiful she was when she did that? He hoped that big lug treated her good.

Taking the menu slowly from his hands, never breaking eye contact, she said, her voice dripping with honey, "How about some of the best Chicken Fried Steak you've ever put in your mouth, with some scrambled eggs, and biscuits and gravy?"

"That'd be great!" Starsky replied enthusiastically. His empty stomach was doing cartwheels just thinking about it.

Then, she softly touched his hand and said, "Dessert's on the house. Whatever you want." She looked at him with those eyes and whispered, "My name is Vera. Just let me know if you need anything at all." She emphasized the word anything.

Staring at her with his mouth open, Starsky finally managed to clear his throat. "Apple pie will be fine, thanks." He was suddenly glad she was married. What a turn around that was!

He finished his delicious meal and asked for the check. Vera handed him his check and as he payed the bill, he handed her a ten dollar tip.

"Why thank you!" she smiled.

Keeping his smile toned down considerably, he said, "It was my pleasure."

Looking at him 'that way' again, she replied, "It coulda been." Then, looking him up and down, she added, "Coulda been mine too." She then turned away with his dirty dishes and never looked back.

Feeling a sudden urge to get the hell out of there, Starsky bolted toward the door. Once outside, he took a deep breath and thanked his lucky stars he got out of there in one piece. He hoped he would be so lucky for the rest of his stay in Duncan.

Walking toward the Torino, he was thinking about the best way to get arrested. These small towns were notoriously friendly and the thought occured to him that this job may not be as easy as he thought.

He was wrong. Standing at the back of his car, with his foot on the bumper, was the Sheriff himself, writing a ticket. This was too easy.

"Sheriff," Starsky began his protest, "what's the problem. What did I do?"

The Sheriff continued writing. "Speedin'." he answered without even looking up. "Nice car. Bet she's real fast."

"Speedin'!" Starsky cried. "Where?"

The Sheriff slowly raised his head to look at Starsky. Peering over his sunglasses, he replied, "When you came into town. The limit's 15 mph."

"That was 45 minutes ago!" Starsky yelled, figuring volume would get things moving.

He was right this time. "Don't raise your voice to me, boy." the big Sheriff said menacingly, walking toward Starsky. "Let me see your driver's license."

Starsky reached into his back pocket to retrieve his wallet. This was going as planned. Hopefully he'd be on his way soon, maybe just a little worse for the wear. "Enjoy." he said as he tossed his license toward the man.

The Sheriff didn't even try to catch the tossed item. He let it hit him in the chest and watched it fall to the ground. He raised his head slowly to look at Starsky who had the best expression of impudence you've ever seen. It was the gift he had that had gotten him this assignment.

That look accomplished it's goal. The Sheriff was enraged. Who did this punk thing he was? "Pick it up." he snarled.

Starsky was in true form. "Why should I hafta pay just 'cause you can't catch?"

That did it. With lightening speed that surprised Starsky, the big man's fist was buried into Starsky's abdomen, causing him to bend forward, and fall to his knees, gasping for air. He could feel that delicious steak coming back for an encore.

"Since you're down there anyway," the Sheriff laughed, "you may as well pick up your license and put it in my hand like a good boy."

Not wanting to take this too far, Starsky slowly complied. He already had enough evidence. A ticket and what felt like a hole in his stomach.

"That's better." the Sheriff said with a tone of voice that was beginning to worry Starsky. Maybe this wasn't gonna be so simple.

He was right again as the Sheriff's large knee came up quickly, connecting with the side of Starsky's head, sending him sprawling to his back. Looking up at the Sheriff, who stood over him smiling, he knew he was in trouble.

"Afraid you're under arrest." the Sheriff said with satisfaction. He always could get a rise out of these city punks.

"What?" Starsky cried, earning him a swift kick to the ribs. He was definately gonna lose that steak.

"Get up and put your hands on your head." the Sheriff ordered.

Painfully raising to his feet, Starsky slowly put his hands over his head, never taking his eyes off of the Sheriff. He was roughly turned and slammed into the side of the Torino.

"You can be a good boy when you want to." the big man laughed.

This was definately enough evidence. Starsky was beginning to worry about having too much evidence before this was over.


Chapter 2

"He should have called by now, Captain!" Hutch was worried. The plan was for Starsky to call his 'lawyer' as soon as he was arrested. His 'lawyer' would tell him he had to wait until Monday to get some help. That would give Starsky plenty of time to gather what evidence he needed. The call would also let them know Starsky was in and okay.

But, he hadn't called. He should have been in Duncan three hours ago. Hutch knew it shouldn't take that long for Starsky to rile some one, especially if he was trying.

"Let's wait a little longer." Dobey said, using a very calm voice. He didn't want Hutch to know he was worried too.

"Maybe we should change plans." Hutch suggested. "I'll go down there and say I'm supposed to meet my buddy."

"No, too many things could go wrong." Dobey said, shutting Hutch down.

Hutch stormed out of the office, slamming the door. Something wasn't right. He could feel it.


After Starsky was searched, he was shoved across the street to the sheriff's office, hands still on his head. His mind was trying to take in the layout of the town, storing that knowledge for later use, if necessary. His skin still crawled from the Sheriff's hands being on him and his ears still rang from the knee kick.

The deputy who opened the door for them jumped out of the way as the Sheriff strode through the door. He had seen that look on his face before. This poor guy had really pissed the Sheriff off.

"Do I get a phone call?" Starsky asked, still holding his hands on his pounding head. He desperately needed to contact Hutch. He had a feeling this was going to get ugly.

Looking at Starsky, the Sheriff replied, "You get what I give you, boy." Then, he struck out with his hand, slapping Starsky across the face. "How's that?"

Blinking back tears caused by his stinging face, Starsky was surprised when the Sheriff moved the phone close to him.

"Make your call." the Sheriff laughed.

Trying to focus on the dial through the tears, Starsky carefully dialed. When he was finished, the Sheriff grabbed the phone from his hand and listened how it was answered.

"Taylor and Taylor." the voice said.

Logan threw the phone back at Starsky, apparently satisfied.

Starsky let out the breath he had been holding. "Yeah, this is David Starsky. I need somebody to come bail me out."

Hutch asked quickly. "You okay?"

"Monday!" Starsky yelled into the phone. "I don't want to wait 'til Monday. I've been in this shit hole town long enough!"

Hutch got the message clearly. "I'm on my way. Try not to get into anymore trouble. Lay low, okay?"

"Yeah, thanks!" Starsky yelled into the phone before hanging it up. "Don't bother." He hoped the act was good enough to fool them. Hutch was on his way. It was good to hear his voice.

The Sheriff walked around the desk to Starsky. "So, you don't like our town?" he snarled.

"No offense." Starsky replied, looking at Logan.

"Offense taken." the Sheriff said as he drove his big fist into Starsky's kidney.

Starsky stayed on his feet, believing it was better than what they could do to him on the floor. The kidney punch was followed by a left fist across the mouth.

Starsky tasted blood in his mouth as lights exploded and swam across his vision.

The Sheriff grabbed Starsky by the collar, pulling him face to face. "Look you punk. You think you're so much better. I'll show you better!" He drove his fist into Starsky's body once more.

"Damn!" Starsky yelled as he bent at the waist and shrugged out of Logan's collar hold. He never thought about how precious air was before. He gasped, trying to fill his lungs.

"Where ya goin', boy?" The sheriff laughed as he grabbed Starsky by the arm and spun him into another slap.

Starsky snatched his arm from Logan's hold, trying to curb his temper. He knew he had no chance against all these men. He just hoped Logan would wear out soon.

"You wanna fight, boy?" the Sheriff taunted, and shoved Starsky into the desk.

Starsky tried to appear as nonthreatening as possible. The man was out of control. He knew any answer he gave would be wrong, so he chose not to say anything. He just turned to face the enraged man, making eye contact.

Logan was taken aback for a moment. This man was not afraid of him. Well, he would change that! "You belligerent bastard!" he yelled as he backhanded Starsky, knocking him to the floor, just where Starsky didn't want to be.

Starsky rolled away quickly, evading the kick Logan had launched. It only infuriated the man more. He grabbed Starsky and yanked him to his feet, shaking him like a rag doll. Logan began pummelling his prisoner, landing punch after punch of the body and face. Exhausted, he dropped an unconscious Starsky to the floor. He then began kicking him repeatedly until he was stopped by the deputies.

"Chet! Stop. He can't feel it anyway." Deputy Miller pleaded.

Breathing hard from his rampage, Logan looked down at the helpless man, then at the deputies that stood around him, shocked at what they had just witnessed. "He'll feel it tomorrow, by God!"

"Chet." one of the deputies said timidly. "This is gonna get us in bad trouble."

Logan just smiled, hiding his momentary panic. He had lost control and gone farther than he wanted to. "No, it won't. He hit me!"

"Chet." another man said.

"No." Logan interrupted. "Look. He broke his hand punchin' me." he said as he stomped Starsky's right hand and ground it with his boot, causing only a slight whimper from his unconscious prisoner.

Bending down, he cuffed the injured hand and drug Starsky into a cell. "He won't cause us no trouble." he hissed as he cuffed Starsky to the bars. "Let him sleep it off."

"Chet, you gotta stop this." Miller said. "One day we're gonna tangle with the wrong guy!"

"Maybe one day, but not today." Logan said. "Charge him with Drunk and Disorderly, Resisting Arrest, and Assaulting a Police Officer. And make up one of them phoney breath test things." Very pleased with himself, Logan said, "Naw, he won't cause no trouble."

"Hope you're right." Miller said, doubtfully.

Logan grabbed him by the tie and jerked him toward his face. "You just keep your mouth shut. You got that?"

"Got it." Miller said as he was roughly released.

"Alright, let's clean this mess up. Don't want blood on the floor, it ruins my appetite." Logan laughed as the looked at his battered knuckles. "I think I just worked one up! I'm gonna get me some breakfast."

Miller walked back to the cells and looked at the still man. His conscience bothered him. It always did when this happened. Why didn't he have the guts to stand up to Logan? A small part of him hoped this would be the wrong guy. Then maybe this insanity would stop. He didn't become a police officer to be involved with something like this.

Gathering his courage, he decided to stand up for the man, as much as he could. "Chet?"

The big Sheriff whipped around to face him. "What?"

Nervously, Miller suggested, "Maybe we oughta let the Doc take a look at him."

Smiling wickedly, Logan replied, "You sweet on him or something? He don't need no doctor. I'll be back." he said as he walked toward the door. "Somebody move this hotrod. It's takin' up parkin' space at the diner." The door slammed behind him.

The smell of Vera's cooking drifted from the diner, stoking his appetite. Logan thought of Vera, slaving over a hot stove. One day, he might just take more than Vera had on the menu, but as yet, he hadn't let himself go that far. He did have some conscience, after all.

Before he reached the diner, Miller yelled, "Chet! Come here, quick!"

Angry at having his lewd thoughts interrupted, Logan strode back to the office. "What now!"

Bodie Cargill stepped outside. He was always late for work and today was no exception. "You got trouble, Boss."

Laughing, Logan replied, "What trouble?"

"You ain't gonna believe this, Chet." Miller said.

"Believe what?" Logan yelled.

The deputy hesitated then blurted, "Bodie says that guy's a cop!"


Hutch was out of the office and on the road in no time, but it still wasn't fast enough. Starsky's distress signal was very clear. He just didn't know how much trouble Starsky was in. He was at least two hours away and that was under the best circumstances. It didn't account for city traffic.

"Hold on, Starsk. I'm coming." Hutch said out loud.

Once out of the city, he made good time and arrived in Duncan in just over two hours after Starsky's call. Hutch was worried about what he might find. Bounding up the stairs to the Sheriff's office, he fought down the bad feeling he had. He had to keep his head clear.

Taking stock of his surroundings, he was greatly worried that the Torino was not in sight. He entered the building determined to keep to his plan and not let his fear run away with him.

Smiling his most exhurberant smile, Hutch asked, "I was wondering if you could help me?"

A young deputy turned slowly to him and tried to match his smile. "What can I do for you?"

"My sister told me my buddy might be here. See, she works for this fancy lawyer named Taylor and she said my friend called this morning needing bail money." Hutch was trying to confuse them with too much information. Judging from the look on the deputy's face, it seemed to be working, so he continued.

"My sister's kinda sweet on him so she was real upset when the old man told him he wouldn't come get him. She sent me to see if I could help him. He gets in trouble all the time and frankly, I'm tired of trying. You know what I mean?"

The deputy was speechless for a moment, then ask, "What's your friend's name?"

"David Starsky." Hutch answered, watching the deputy intently for even the slightest reaction. Hutch saw a nearly imperceptible panic in the man's eyes. Then nothing. This kid was good.

"I don't know that name." the deputy lied. "When was he here?"

"This morning, like I said." Hutch answered, trying to remain calm. He hadn't expected this.

"Just a minute." the deputy disappeared into the hall.

Quickly, another man appeared. A very large, rough looking man. The smile on his face did not reach his eyes as he held out his hand to Hutch. "I'm Sheriff Logan. What can I do for you?"

Hutch didn't hear the question. He was too busy looking at the man's bloody knuckles. He hoped to God it wasn't from what he thought it was.

"Can I help you?" Logan repeated, a little louder and not as friendly.

"Uh, y...y...yeah." Hutch stuttered like he always did when he was stressed. "I was looking for my buddy."

"Name?" Logan asked sharply.

"David Starsky." Hutch said quietly.

"Oh, that boy. Well, he left about an hour ago." Logan lied. "Posted bail and I cut him loose."

Hutch couldn't breathe. This wasn't good. He knew the man was lying, yet he couldn't press too much until he knew where Starsky was. Finally getting himself together, Hutch replied. "Well, that skunk! Here I drive all the way down here and he's already gone." His main concern now was getting out of there in one piece. It wouldn't do either one of them any good if he got thrown in jail too.

"Thanks, fellas." Hutch smiled. "I'll take this up with him later." He turned and walked out the door, holding his breath. Were they really going to let him leave?

Once outside, Hutch breathed deeply. "Where are you Starsk? And what shape are you in?"


Chapter 3

Logan watched the man cross the street and head for the diner. "Bodie!" Logan yelled. "You sure that guy's a cop?"

"Yeah, I'm sure." Cargill replied, then explained. "I told you, him and his partner gave a speech at the Academy when I graduated. Told us to forget everything we were taught." he laughed. "The guy that just left is his partner."

"You got a good memory." Logan sounded skeptical.

"What I remember more than those guys is that car. I remember thinkin' how sweet is sounded when they drove off." Bodie was very pleased with himself. He had scored big points today. Maybe his luck was changing. If he had to be stuck in this small pond police department, he could at least be a big fish. Maybe he couldn't cut it with the Bay City PD but he could at least do good here. He and Logan were alot alike.

"Okay." Logan replied, nodding his head, thinking. He was not going to panic. With a little thought, this situation could be handled. No sweat. "Keep an eye on that guy for a minute." he pointed toward the diner. "I'm gonna have a little chat with our guest."

Starsky opened his eyes slowly. Did he hear Hutch? He reasoned, given his condition, it was only wishful thinking. Very wishful. Although, now he wasn't sure he wanted Hutch here alone.

As his mind became more focused, he became more and more aware of the pain he was in. That big jerk must have had a field day with his body. Specific body parts began screaming. His head was killing him, cracked ribs, split lip, and the pain in his hand was excrutiating. The warm, sticky feeling on his face was, no doubt, blood from the gash in his head. How he got it, he couldn't remember.

He realized he was lying flat on his back on the concrete floor of the cell. Turning his head slowly to prevent an explosion, he looked at his right hand. It was cuffed to the cell bars at the floor, making it impossible to get up. Swollen and blue, Starsky wondered just what that hand had gone through.

Cautiously scooting closer to the bars, he took pressure off the cuff. It was very tight and with the swelling he was worried about circulation in his injured hand.

The sound of footsteps made him forget his assessment. He tried to get into a more defensible position. The way it was, he had no chance of fending off any assault.

Logan unlocked the cell and glared at the man. Seeing he was trying to rise, he rushed over and stepped on Starsky's throat, stopping all movement. "Why didn't you tell me you were a cop?" he snarled, increasing the pressure.

Keeping his wits, Starsky said, "You didn't ask." He wasn't going down easy. He was rewarded with crushing pressure to his throat, cutting off his precious air. Lashing out with his free hand, he tried pushing the big boot up but only succeeded in relieving the pressure slightly.

Logan allowed Starsky's defense, knowing he could crush the man at anytime, hand or not. "What are you doing here?" he asked.

"Just passin' through." Starsky gasped, barely audible.

"Why don't I believe you?" Logan laughed as he removed his foot.

Starsky rolled to his side, gagging, holding his throat.

Logan took the opportunity and kicked Starsky's unprotected back several times.

Gritting his teeth to keep from giving Logan the pleasure of him crying out, Starsky fought for consciousness.

Satisfied with the damage he had done, Logan turned to his men. "Take him to Ned's cabin and wait 'til I get there. Go out the back."

"Yes, sir." Cargill smiled. He also got some perverse pleasure out of Logan's antics. The thrill of power was intoxicating. He wished he had the guts to go for it like Logan did.

Logan looked at Miller, "Where's that car?"

"I put it in the police garage." Miller was thankful he hadn't left it on the street.

"Good." Logan replied. "Get this guy out, now. I'm gonna push the other one into an arrest. We'll take care of them one at a time." Logan ordered, satisfied with his plan. He then noticed the worried look on Miller's face. "Don't worry." he said as he popped Miller's arm. "Nobody will ever find out."

Miller thought to himself, That's what I'm afraid of.


Hutch walked into the diner and immediately knew Starsky couldn't have resisted stopping in here. Even for a health nut like Hutch, the aroma was mouth watering.

Sitting at the counter, he noticed a beautiful brunette through the kitchen window. "No, Starsky couldn't have resisted that!" he chuckled.

Vera saw the man sit down and was amazed at her good fortune. Two in one day. Although the curly haired prince really melted her butter, this one was no slouch. The only problem she had with him was that he looked like her husband, Emmit, both blonde, and fair skinned. As she got closer, she found the comparison stopped there. Wow. What blue eyes.

"Hey, Handsome, what can I get for you?" handing him a menu.

"How about coffee, for starters." the man smiled, waggling his eyebrows.

Oh, brother! she thought. Don't men have more than one line anymore? Maybe she wouldn't be too quick to shut this one down, though. She regretted not playing with the other one a little more. There was nothing wrong with having a little fun. Was there?

"What would you like to go along with that coffee?" she flirted, leaning over the counter, highlighting her very blessed bosom and batting her beautiful eyes.

Wondering if Starsky had been treated to such service, Hutch answered, "What do you recommend?"

Vera was amazed and came to the conclusion that all men were the same, no matter what they looked like. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing. "I'm sure I can handle anything you have in mind." she cooed.

How did Starsky get passed this? he thought to himself. "How about some information?" Hutch said as he pulled a twenty dollar bill from his pocket.

Confused, Vera asked, "What kind of information?"

"I was wondering if my friend was in here today." Hutch said, folding the bill into a neat square.

Vera was getting an inkling about what was going on. Her curly haired prince was this guy's friend. That is why they were so alike. She decided to play it as long as she could. Maybe she could get more than a twenty dollar bill out of him.

"And just who is your friend?" she smiled seductively.

"Tall, dark, curly hair, driving a fast red car with a white stripe." Hutch described Starsky, never taking his eyes off of her face.

Yep, that was her prince alright. "He was here. Ate a big breakfast and left." she sounded disappointed.

Good boy, Starsk, Hutch thought to himself. "Do you know where he went? I heard he got arrested."

A look of horror shadowed her beautiful features. "Arrested?" she asked.

"Yeah." Hutch replied, concerned with her reaction. "What's wrong?"

"This is the last place you want to get arrested." Vera said. She was worried about Prince Charming.

"Why?" Hutch asked, trying to pry more information from her.

Vera lowered her voice as if she could be heard all over town. "Sheriff Logan, that's why."

"He that bad?" Hutch smiled, trying to ease more from her. She was obviously frightened.

"He's very bad. If Prince... ur... your friend got arrested, you better get him out of there as soon as you can!" she whispered.

"I tried." Hutch explained. "They said he left. Did you see him leave?"

Vera's attention was drawn away from him. Through the diner window, she saw the Sheriff heading toward the diner. "Look." she looked back at Hutch. "Get out of here while you can." She began wiping the counter and headed quickly for the kitchen.

Surprised by her sudden departure, Hutch rose from the stool. He was kept on his seat by a night stick placed on his shoulder.

"That your heap out there?" Logan asked him.

Playing innocent and a bit dumb, Hutch replied, "Why, yes sir, it is! Not much to look at but she's paid for!"

"It's parked in a tow away zone." Logan said flatly.

Hutch realized right away what was happening. Maybe he should play into the Sheriff's hands. That could be the only way to find Starsky and wrap this up. As it was, he couldn't call for help until he located him. If he called in the calvalry, they might never find him.

"Tow away zone?" he said loudly. "I didn't see a sign!"

The Sheriff moved within inches of the flustered man's face. "You callin' me a liar?"

Hutch figured he would go for it. Get it over with. "As a matter of fact, I am!" standing to his feet.

Logan's response was a whack on the blonde head with the night stick. "You're under arrest, boy!" He spun Hutch around and pulled his gun. He wasn't taking any chances. He then marched his new prisoner across the street to the jail, hoping they had gotten what was left of the other prisoner out.

Vera watched sadly as the man disappeared into the Sheriff's office. She looked at Emmit and said, "How did our town let this get so out of hand?"

Emmit walked over to his wife and pulled her into his arms. "Maybe it's time we did something about it."

Vera looked up into his face, seeing for the first time in a long time something she could be proud of.


Chapter 4

Starsky was finally uncuffed from the bars. Gently cradling his injured hand, he stiffly climbed to his feet. The pain in both sides made him bend at the waist giving him little relief. He had trouble breathing and standing at the same time. He hung on to the bars for support while he waited for his head to stop spinning.

"Come on, get moving!" Cargill yelled, shoving him out the cell door.

"Where we goin'?" Starsky asked.

"You just keep your mouth shut and keep moving." Cargill snapped.

When Starsky delayed a little too long, Cargill threw a wicked punch into the injured man's abdomen, knocking him to his knees fighting for air.

"Don't start, Bodie!" Miller said.

"Just letting him know who's boss." Cargill laughed.

"Don't touch him again or I'll tell Logan." Miller threatened.

"He won't care." Cargill replied.

"He will if we don't get him to Ned's." Miller answered. "We don't have time for this."

Looking down at Starsky, Miller reached down and grabbed his arm, helping the man up. Starsky still couldn't straighten up or breathe properly but he could walk and that's what he did. He hung as close to Miller as he could, avoiding Cargill.

'Hell of a mess' didn't even begin to describe the situation he was in. He had no idea how they knew he was a cop, and Hutch was walking unsuspecting into the blown operation. He had to warn him somehow. The only break he could possibly get was if they didn't cuff him. He might get the opportunity to bolt before they got him too far out of town and into unfamiliar territory.

He was led to a squad car and not too gently pushed into the back seat. He swore as he banged his aching head and bumped his sore hand.

Miller surprised Starsky and apologized for the roughness, then added, "This wasn't my idea."

"That won't matter to a judge." Starsky was going to play on Miller's ethics and sympathy. This kid seemed different than the rest. That observation might come in handy.

Miller looked back, making sure Bodie Cargill was out of earshot. "I know this ain't right. I don't know what I can do."

Starsky was going in deep now. "If Cargill gets me out of town, there won't be a helluva lot to do." Starsky saw he was making headway with the young cop. "You know that, don't you?"

"You don't understand!" Miller said through clenched teeth. "Logan is insane."

Starsky held up his smashed hand, "I understand completely. This has gotta stop."

"Is that why you're here?" Miller asked, point blank.

Starsky hesitated before answering, weighing this kid. "Yeah. I'm a cover cop."

"Had a feelin'." Miller said softly, hanging his head.

"I've also got backup coming." Starsky added.

Miller looked up at Starsky, "He's already here. Logan arrested him just a minute ago."

"What?" Starsky asked. His stomach clenched at the thought of Hutch being at Logan's mercy.

"You've gotta help me out." Starsky said. "I would square it with D.A. Wilburn."

"Look," Miller pleaded, "I got a family."

"You can't take care of them if you're in prison." Starsky answered, hoping stark reality would sink in past the fear. "We can do this together." he added, softly.

Miller suddenly realized he could trust this man. He had to trust him, for the town, for his family, and for him.

The conversation was cut short by the slamming of the alley door. Cargill walked toward the car. "Let's move! Hey, why ain't he cuffed?"

Starsky looked at Miller. He could tell the kid was considering all that had been laid on the table, battling with his fears.

"I'll do it!" Cargill said, tired of waiting on Miller.

"No!" Miller said, a little too loud. "I'll ride in the back with him. He's in no shape to run, Bodie."

"Suit yourself." Cargill laughed.

Miller looked at Starsky and nodded his head. Starsky gave a silent 'thumbs up' with his good hand. Whatever was going to happen, it would have to happen quickly. Starsky just hoped he could act when the time came.


Hutch was cuffed, then walked quickly across the street. Heads popped up when he and Logan entered.

"Clear." one man said.

"Good." Logan answered then turned his attention to Hutch. "Well, Blondie, want to call your lawyer?" Logan laughed.

"I would." Hutch answered.

"Sorry." Logan said as he backhanded Hutch. "It'll have to wait."

Logan led Hutch to the cells. At least the other one was gone. One down, one to go. But first, he would have a little fun.

Entering the cell, Hutch noticed the fresh blood on the floor. It was, he had no doubt, Starsky's. God, Starsk, what are you going through? He had a feeling he was about to find out first hand.

Logan entered behind him and spun him around. "I'm only gonna ask you once, so you better give me the answer I want." Logan paused, letting his warning sink in. It was all he could do to restrain himself. He wanted to take this guy apart just like he had the other one. But first, he needed information.

Hutch waited for Logan to continue. His mind was working double time to come up with something. If that blood was Starsky's, and he believed it was, he had to get to him fast before he was too late.

A hard punch to the midsection brought Hutch back to his present situation. With his hands cuffed behind his back, he was in no position to defend himself. When he could straighten up, he looked Logan square in the face. "Tell you what?"

Logan reached out quickly and grabbed the bound man's shirt, bringing him in very close. "I know you're a cop. I also know the guy you came looking for is your partner."

Keeping his panic in check, for the moment, Hutch broke in, "Where is he?"

Another punch to the abdomen bent Hutch forward. The blow was followed by a big knee to the face, throwing Hutch back into the cell bars. Before Hutch could hit the ground, the big man grabbed him again, "I'm the one with the questions an' you're the one with the answers. Got it?"

Logan didn't wait for Hutch to answer. He jerked Hutch forward. "Why are you here?" he yelled.

Knowing their cover was blown, Hutch decided to be direct. He had to buy time until he could make a move. "I came for my partner."

Logan threw Hutch backward into the bars once again. "I know THAT! Why was he here?"

Hutch could see the man was losing control. He had to get the edge somehow. "He was undercover." Hutch blurted. "You are being investigated by the county for complaints of police brutality and unlawful arrests. I suggest you let me go and take me to my partner. Your cooperation could help you."

Logan, seemingly unaffected by the confession, pulled Hutch to within inches of his face. "You know what you can do with your suggestion?" Logan tightened his grip, cutting off the prisoner's air. "They got no case against me. There ain't gonna be any witnesses. Your partner has already been taken care of and now all I have to worry about is you."

Logan began throwing punches at Hutch, letting his rage take control of his actions. He wasn't gonna be taken down by the likes of this city cop. He continued his rampage until he no longer had the strength to punch. "Damn, that felt good! Come get this trash and throw him into the same hole his partner's in."

When the assault began, Hutch felt none of the blows. All he could think of were the words, Your partner has already been taken care of. "God Starsk." Hutch whispered as he sank into oblivion.


Chapter 5

Vera and Emmit watched the blonde stranger disappear into the Sheriff's office. She leaned on her husband for support.

"Don't worry, Baby, I'm gonna do something this time." Emmit said as he gently squeezed her.

"What can we do? Logan might hurt you!." she answered, fear in her voice.

"You know, Baby, sometimes you gotta forget what might happen and do what's right." he smiled down at her.

She returned his smile. In her own way, she loved Emmit. He wasn't as dashing as Prince Charming, but he was gentle and kind and, these days, that was hard to find. "Okay. What do we do?"

"We don't do anything." he said sternly. "I'll figure out something."

"You better not leave me out of this, Emmit." she matched his stern tone. "I live in this town too!"

"Okay." he laughed and pulled her into a tender embrace.

Oddly, Vera didn't resist. She actually wanted him to hold her. She was beginning to see him in a different light.

"I think I'll drive to Brawly, see who I can find to talk to." he said. "You sit tight 'til I get back." he kissed her nose.

"Hurry, okay?" she asked.

"You know I've never let you down before." he pointed out.

He was right. She just hadn't given him a chance lately. He had never let her down. Any problem she had was her own. "I know you haven't. Go, and be careful." She kissed him goodbye.

Vera watched her husband leave. Her heart raced just to think about this whole ordeal finally being over, to have their lovely town back. Her mind came back to the present and she started the rolls for the dinner 'rush'.


Starsky was driven out of town. Cargill had turned the radio on loudly and was drumming the steering wheel in rhythm with the music, paying no attention at all to the two in the back seat.

Starsky looked at Miller, silently pleading for action. When Miller looked away, Starsky decided to start the ball rolling himself. Hopefully Miller would catch on, if he didn't back out.

Grabbing his head suddenly, Starsky screamed out as if in excrutiating pain. Spurred into action, Miller cried, "Stop the car, Bodie. He's dyin'!"

Out of reflex, Cargill slammed on the brakes, throwing both passengers into the back of the seat. Drawing on the last of his reserves, Starsky lurched forward and grabbed Cargill around the throat, holding his tight grip until the deputy's body went limp.

Miller just sat frozen, unable to move. "God, did you kill him?"

"No." Starsky laughed. This kid was as green as grass. "He's just takin' a little nap."

"Okay, okay." Miller responded. "Just get out of the car."

Starsky climbed stiffly and slowly out of the car. He still wasn't certain how Miller was going to play this.

"Hit me." Miller said.

"What?" Starsky asked.

"Hit me. Hard." Miller repeated.

"Why?" Starsky asked.

Miller grabbed hold of Starsky's shirt and pulled him closer, causing a painful grimace to come from his prisoner.

"Oh, sorry." Miller let go quickly. "Look, if this thing goes south, I want my ass covered. Now hit me!"

"But..." Starsky stammered.

Miller's panic got the best of him. "Hit me right now or I swear to God I'll haul you right back to jail!"

Starsky smiled. He knew this wasn't easy for the young deputy. He was genuinely afraid of what he had gotten into. "Okay. Don't panic, kid."

"My name is Jamie." Miller said.

"Okay, Jamie." Starsky answered, offering his hand. "Call me David."

Miller took the proffered hand and shook it. "David, we gotta hurry."

Starsky went to Cargill and grabbed his gun. He saw Miller's eyes widen. "Don't worry. I won't use it unless I have to." He then cuffed Cargill to the steering wheel of the squad car.

Miller nodded silently. His whole body was shaking.

Starsky squeezed Miller's shoulder. "It's gonna be okay. I got help comin'. It will all be over soon."

Miller looked at him, "You talkin' about your partner?"

Starsky's heart stopped beating. "Yeah." he nodded.

"He's already here. Logan arrested him as we were takin' you out." Miller said, watching Starsky's face.

"No!" Starsky whispered. His stomach turned as he thought of Hutch in that mad man's hands. Time was of the essence now. He had to move fast but he didn't want to scare this kid. Easy does it. "You ready Jamie?"

"Ready as I'll ever be." Jamie answered.

Starsky nodded. "How many men are back at the jail?" he asked, making his plan in his head.

"Just Logan and Scotty." Miller answered. "I'm not sure how Scotty will go. Just don't hurt him, okay?" Miller knew the kind of man he was dealing with. He figured Starsky must have had experience in situations like this. He was probably a dangerous man. Jamie had seen the look on his face when he told him his partner was in trouble. He knew right then that he didn't want to be the one in Starsky's way.

"I hate to do this, Jamie." Starsky said as he playfully turned Jamie's face so he had a clear shot to his jaw. He patted the exposed cheek. "I don't know how hard I'm gonna be able to hit ya."

Miller looked at him and smiled. "It don't have to be all that hard, you know. Just leave a mark."

Smiling, Starsky replied, "Here goes. This is probably gonna hurt me worse than it does you!" He swung at Jamie and connected solidly with the deputies jaw. Jamie's eyes rolled back and he dropped like a rock to the ground.

Bending over to relieve the pain in his side, Starsky shook his hand, trying to stop the burn, "Terrific!" he spat.

When he could stand upright, he checked Cargill's gun for ammunition. It was fully loaded as was the clip he had taken from the man's belt.

"I'm comin', Hutch." Starsky said as he headed back to town. He estimated it was probably about a mile. That was about 5200 feet too far for his battered body.

Driven on by sheer determination and the thought of Hutch being at Logan's mercy, he finally arrived back in town forty-five minutes later.

Moving into the alley across from the jail, Starsky leaned heavily on the wall, trying hard to get a decent breath. Thinking was nearly impossible with his pounding head, but he knew he didn't have time to waste. With just two men at the jail, he figured now was the time to move.

A noise in the alley jolted him. "God, what now?"

A door began to open. He jumped behind it and prayed he hadn't been seen. He wasn't sure who would be friendly and who wouldn't.

Vera was taking garbage out to the diner's dumpster. Suddenly, someone grabbed her from behind, putting a hand over her mouth. "Please don't scream." a breathless voice said in her ear.

With all her might, she swung an elbow into her assailant, then turned and hit him with the other one.

Starsky let go of her as he fell to his knees, holding his middle.

"Oh, my God!" Vera cried. "It's you! I'm so sorry." she tried to help him up. "Oh, my God, you're hurt!"

Starsky sat back on his feet and looked up at her, trying to clear his blurred vision. Vera bent down to him, "Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry!"

Starsky couldn't respond. He was too busy trying to stay conscious.

"Say something!" she yelled. "What can I do?"

Starsky looked up at her, " Remind me... never... to do that... again!"

"Let me help you." Vera pulled him to his feet with great effort. "Come inside."

"No!" Starsky said quickly, then softened his voice, "I don't want you to get into trouble with Logan."

"It's okay. Emmit went for help." she said proudly.

"I can't wait. My partner's in there." Starsky replied.

"Partner!" Vera gasped. No! she thought.

"We're cops." Starsky answered, knowing immediately what conclusion she had jumped to. It wasn't the first time that had happened.

"What can I do? What can I do?" Vera asked.

Grabbing her ticket book out of her apron, Starsky wrote the number to Wilford's office down. "Call him and tell him the shit has hit the fan. Call Dobey and get here quick! Can you do that?"

Vera nodded and looked down at her feet.

Noticing she was trembling, Starsky asked gently, "Hey, you okay?"

She looked up at him, smiling weakly. "Yes. It's just kinda funny."

"What is?" he returned her smile.

"The other day I was complaining about never having anything exciting happening in my life." she laughed. "I'm not sure I'm cut out for exciting."

"Oh, sure you are." Starsky said, putting his good arm around her. "You're gonna do just fine."

Backing up from her, he looked at her, making sure he had her full attention. "Now, you call this number, then stay inside. Don't come out until it's safe. Okay?"

"Okay." she said quietly. God, his eyes are beautiful. she thought.

"Promise?" his question snapped her out of her fairytale.

"Promise." she smiled.

"Get in there." he ordered. "And lock the door!" he added, hoping she could hear him through the closed door.

Now. All he had to do was figure out how to get to Hutch and hold off the Indians until the Cavalry came.


Chapter 6

Hutch lost all sense of time after the first several blows to the head. One good thing, though, he didn't feel the others. He was drifting in and out of reality. How did he get here? Where was Starsky?

Finally, it all stopped. He felt himself hit the floor and everything went black.


Starsky looked across the street toward the Sheriff's office. He saw no action, which was not necessarily a good thing. Hutch was in there with that monster.

Taking a quick assessment of his physical condition, Starsky hoped he could use an element of surprise in his favor. He was in no shape for a fight. He was sure he had a concussion along with some cracked, if not broken, ribs, and then there was his hand. It was swollen to nearly twice it's normal size and throbbed with every heartbeat. Thankfully, it was his right hand. It would be of no use to him.

Seeing no one as he looked up and down the street, he determined it was now or never. He thought it odd that there were so few people in town on a Saturday. Logan's brutality was killing this town. Maybe in a few hours, it would all be over. This was probably a nice little town before Logan took over.

He walked toward the Sheriff's office, careful to stay out of the view of the two front windows. The last thing he needed was to be seen. He peeked into the lobby window and saw there was only one man at the desk. Jamie had said there would be only Logan and Scotty. Hopefully, he was right.

Taking a deep breath, Starsky quickly opened the door and stepped in. A startled Scotty froze as he suddenly found himself looking down the barrel of a large caliber pistol.

"Good boy." Starsky whispered as he took the deputy's gun. "Don't make a sound and you just might live to see another day."

"I figured you'd be back." Scotty said, holding up his hands. "I'm not gonna be any trouble."

Starsky smiled. "I wish I could believe that, but I can't take that chance." He picked up a set of cuffs from the desk and held them up to the deputy. "You Scotty?"

Surprised, Scotty answered, "Yeah. How'd you know?"

"Jamie told me." Starsky replied.

"You didn't hurt him, did you?" Scotty asked.

"Not a scratch." Starsky answered. "Now cuff yourself to the desk. I want to hear the click."

As Scotty complied, Starsky asked, "Is my partner in there with Logan?"

"Yeah." Scotty answered, looking away from the intense blue eyes. "I didn't touch him, I swear."

"How bad is he?" Starsky asked, nearly choking on his words.

"Not bad. Yet." Scotty replied, then added, smiling, "He ain't as smart-assed as you, though."

"You don't know him very well." Starsky laughed.

"I'm sorry for all this." Scotty said seriously.

"It's gonna be over soon." Starsky replied, confidently. "You boys better decide where your loyalties lie quick, 'cause I'm gonna make damn sure Logan goes down."

"I'm not gonna back him up." Scotty said plainly. "He's been a bully since day one and I've never liked him."

Starsky placed a hand on the deputy's shoulder. "You and Jamie could make a good start here, make a difference."

Scotty just looked at him and nodded. He was ashamed at how things had become. This man before him gave him hope that maybe things could be good again.

"Scotty." Starsky said. "You keep quiet now, okay?"

"I could help you." Scotty offered.

"The best place for you is right where you are." Starsky replied.

"They're in the last cell." Scotty said.

"Thanks." Starsky replied, then added softly, "It's gonna be okay."

"You know," Scotty answered, smiling, "I believe you."

Nodding, Starsky looked toward the jail door. The small window afforded a view down the hallway, but he couldn't see Hutch. The solid walls between the cells obstructed his view.

Slowly opening the door, Starsky quickly entered and spread himself along the cell wall. He could hear Logan's muted voice.

"Wake up you pansy city cop." Logan snarled. "I ain't done with you."

Reaching the back cell, Starsky said, "Touch him again and I'll kill you right where you stand."

Logan froze. Starsky's tone of voice sent shivers down the big man's spine, but he wasn't finished just yet. With lightening speed, Logan grabbed Hutch and spun around, putting Hutch between him and Starsky.

Hutch groaned in pain from the strain on his cuffed arms, but he smiled as he opened swollen eyes and saw Starsky. "Hey, what took you so long?"

"That's my line, Partner." Starsky laughed.

Logan was infuriated by their banter. Increasing his hold on Hutch, he grabbed his gun and pointed it at Starsky. "Drop it, or I'll blow you and Blondie here away."

Keeping his cool in spite of his fear for Hutch, Starsky replied, "You got no chance, Logan."

"I got the drop on you, Punk!" Logan hissed. "I think I got a damn good chance."

Starsky slowly lowered his gun. Hoping Logan's eyes were focused on his weapon, he wiggled his swollen fingers trying to get Hutch's attention. His partner's eyes immediately went to the movement and saw three puffy fingers. Hutch nodded imperceptibly, knowing what Starsky had in mind.

"Logan," Starsky began, "the state police are on their way." He dropped one finger.

"I don't give a damn!" Logan yelled. "If there ain't no witnesses, what have I got to worry about?"

Starsky dropped two fingers. "Your deputies will testify against you. It's over Logan."

"The hell you say!" Logan screamed.

As Starsky dropped the last finger, Hutch spun out of Logan's grasp. A surprised Logan shot and missed Starsky but the steady, accurate aim of Starsky's hit it's mark. Logan's hand shattered as the bullet slammed into his pistol, knocking it from his hand.

Starsky was immediately on the large man, forcing him to the floor. "Hurts like hell, don't it?" he couldn't help but smile. "Get out of here, Hutch."

Hutch complied and was quickly followed by Starsky, who closed the cell door, locking Logan in his own jail.

Starsky moved to Hutch and lifted his friend's face to get a better look at the damage. Both eyes were nearly swollen shut and a stream of blood from a gash on his forehead ran down between his eyes and mixed with the blood from his battered nose.

"We're a pair, aren't we?" Starsky smiled.

"You okay, Buddy?" Hutch asked, seeing Starsky's bruised face and swollen hand.

"Piece of cake." Starsky answered.

"I thought you were dead, Starsk." Hutch locked his tear-filled eyes with his partner's.

Starsky gently pulled Hutch into an embrace. "You oughta know by now I've got nine lives."

Hutch pulled back to look into Starsky's face, raw emotion sweeping both of them. "Starsk?" Hutch whispered.

"Yeah?" Starsky answered.

Hutch moved closer and said, "Get these damn cuffs off me, will ya?"

Before Starsky could answer, Jamie and Emmit, along with several state police deputies barged in with drawn guns.

Starsky painfully raised his hands and moved between his helpless partner and the rescuers. "Don't shoot! We're the good guys."

Jamie laughed, "Looks like you've got everything under control."

Lowering his arms, Starsky replied, "And it looks like you've got your town back."

"Starsky!" Hutch yelled.

"What!" Starsky snapped back.

Hutch turned his back and wiggled his cuffed hands.

"Oh, yeah." Starsky smiled. "Jamie, you got keys to these things?"

Jamie unlocked the cuffs and Hutch stiffly brought his arms around and stretched them out. "That feels good!"

D.A. Wilford entered the jail. "You boys did a good job. We've got enough to blow this whole department out of the water."

Starsky replied quickly, "Hey, Jamie and Scotty had no part in this." He smiled and nodded at Jamie.

"Just put that in your statement and it will be taken into consideration." Wilford replied.

Starsky walked over to Emmit and held out his left hand. Emmit took it and smiled. "We owe you, mister."

"No, I owe you." Starsky answered. "You folks took on alot today."

"We've been sittin' on our thumbs too long." Emmit replied.

Starsky bent close to the man and whispered, "Jamie would make a great Sheriff."

"I was thinkin' the same thing." Emmit answered. "I'll see to it."

"You do that." Starsky replied as he looked around for Hutch.

As if knowing Starsky's thoughts, Hutch sought out his partner."You ready to get outta here?"

"The sooner the better." Starsky answered. "There's no place like home, they say."

"Who's they, Starsk?" Hutch teased.

"The people who know everything, Hutch. Jeez!" Starsky answered. "Hey, have you seen my car?"

Hutch couldn't help the meaness that came to him. "Oh, Starsk, you know they are gonna have to hold it for evidence until after the trial."

"There's no way in hell I'm leavin' my car here!" Starsky said adamently. "Leave your car here." he added as he walked out the door.

Outside, Starsky found himself face to face with Vera.

"You're not leavin' without sayin' goodbye, are you?" she purred.

"Uh... no!" Starsky faltered.

"Well, I guess we won't see you again." she said.

"I'll be back for the trial." Starsky answered.

"Oh, good!" Vera smiled. "You sure brightened up this town."

"Vera, you don't have to stay here, you know." Starsky said. "There's a whole new world out there."

Vera looked directly into his eyes, causing little chill bumps all over his body. "Oh, no. I couldn't leave." she said, almost sadly.

"Why?" Starsky asked.

Smiling, Vera replied. "I belong here. Besides, they say there's no place like home."

Starsky looked at Hutch with his best 'I told you so' look.

"There is one thing, though." Vera said.

"Name it." Starsky replied.

"I was just wondering if maybe you could... uh... maybe one little kiss." Vera stumbled over her words. "Just so I won't always wonder what it would have been like."

Hutch rolled his eyes and walked off. "Oh, brother!"

Starsky smiled. "My pleasure, Vera." He kissed her gently but thoroughly, then backed away from her. Her eyes remained closed for several seconds then she shyly looked at him and smiled.

"Well?" Starsky asked. "How was it?"

Vera slowly shook her head. "Sugar, you're just gonna have to wonder about that." She turned away and swished her way back to the diner.

Hutch walked up to his speechless partner. "Well, Lady Killer, you ready?"

Starsky clicked his heels together and began chanting, "There's no place like home! There's no place like home!"

finis

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