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A Ghost From the Past

Hutch opened the door to his grandfather's barn and a million memories rush in. For a brief moment he was ten, grandpa was smiling at him and the world was a kinder place. He and Starsky had come for his father's funeral and stayed to help settle his estate. Hutch knew deep in heart that even after five years he still missed his grandpa in a way he would never feel about his own dad. His sister Kathy put her hand on his shoulder and reality flooded back in.

Kathy spoke like an irritated child. "I don't know why Dad kept this old place after Grandpa died. It's so dark and dingy. I've always hated it. I guess now that Mom and Dad are both gone it will finally be sold."

"Kathy, I love this place; it holds my only good childhood memories. It was one of the few places I felt loved."

"That's a horrible thing to say. You know Dad and Mom loved you, Ken," Kathy snapped at Hutch.

He smiled at her slightly. "I know they loved us, but they never said it. Dad was always working, Mom was at the club, but Grandpa was always here in this barn when I needed him."

"Well, what do you want, to keep the farm? For Christ sakes, you live on the coast. Who the hell are you going to get to take care of it?"

"I know that. I just love this old farm," Hutch said while hugging Kathy.

Starsky was walking around the inside of the barn pushing his way through cobwebs. "This place gives me the creeps. The last time we were in a barn I got shot. Why is it whenever you read about people getting abducted by aliens it's always in the farmlands? Do you think they like creepy old barns, or is it just everyone living out here is nuts? Hey, Hutch, what do you say you take a walk down memory lane, and I'll see if there's any civilization in this hick town of yours."

Kathy shook her finger at Starsky "I'll have you know, David Starsky, we are not hicks, and there are plenty of things to do both on and off the farm. Hey, I forgot your friend will be back tomorrow; she'll be happy to see you and Ken haven't left."

Starsky looked at Kathy, puzzled. "I don't know anyone here, except the people you introduced me to at the funeral. Why would you think I know her?"

Kathy laughed. "You and Hutch sent her here to rent the guest house at Dad's place. Her name is Joan Dispirito. She's been here almost a year."

"Kathy, I don't know a Joan Dispirito. Do you, Hutch?"

"No, I don't know her, either. How could you rent out the house without calling me to check her out first?"

"Gee, Hutch, I'm not a big city detective, but she had pictures of the two of you and some other people I met when the kids and I stayed in L.A." Kathy sounded snippy.

Starsky looked at Hutch and their silent language was going on from one to the other.

Kathy looked at them for a minute then said, "What's wrong? You probably just forgot her. It's been over a year since you saw her. Dave, I know you date a lot of ladies, but I thought you'd have the decency to remember your conquest's names. Ken, you should have a talk with him."

The hair on the back of Starsky's neck stood straight up. "Hutch, we need to find out who this person is. I got a bad feeling."

"I know. Starsk. Kathy, can you get into the guest house?"

"Of course. She left me a key to water her plants. Hutch, whatever you think, she's a really nice person. She watches the boys all the time, and she volunteers at the rec center. She doesn't drink, and hardly ever goes out."

Trying not to scare Kathy, he calmly said, "Don't worry. I'm sure Starsky and I just forgot about her. We meet a lot of people in our line of work."

Starsky played along. "Yeah, we meet so many girls how we would possibly remember them all is beyond me. Kathy, we'll help you water the plants and you can remind us about Joan."

When the three arrived at the guest house, Kathy let the men in and went back to the main house to check on the boys. Hutch walked around the kitchen looking for clues.

Starsky walked into the living room and came to a dead stop, quietly called out, "Hutch."

Hutch saw the color drain from Starsky's face. Looking at the wall, he instantly realized why. The wall had a large portrait of Starsky, Hutch, and Terry smiling with some of her students.

There were several other pictures of Starsky and Hutch at the beach, Huggy Bear, Terry, Starsky and Hutch playing his guitar.

Hutch put his hand on Starsky's shoulder and squeezed. "You okay, babe? How did she get these pictures?" Starsky just shrugged. There was an album on the table and as Hutch flipped it open, Starsky grabbed it out of his hand, flipped through the pages and started shaking. "These are Terry's pictures, Hutch."

"Are you sure?"

"Hutch, I took most of them, and these are the ones Terry took while I was showing her how to use my camera. What kind of psycho is this chick, and how the hell did she get these pictures?"

Hutch walked over to the bedroom, followed by Starsky. Hutch opened the door and stopped in the doorway. "Whoa," was all he said, turning back to Starsky.

Starsky walked into the room and saw a teddy bear sitting on the pillow. It was the same style of teddy bear as Ollie, Terry's bear, but darker. On the nightstand was a picture of Terry and Starsky. Starsky picked the bear up and hugged it and sat on the bed.

Hutch watched as the memories of Terry flooded back into Starsky's mind. He sat down beside his partner. "Starsk, we need to focus on what the hell is going on here. Kathy and the boys could be in danger. If someone is out to get you, I don't want them hurt in the cross fire." Picking up the phone and dialing a long set of numbers, Hutch spoke. "Captain Dobey, please; this is Detective Hutchinson... Yes, I'll hold."

Starsky got up and started searching the room. In the bedroom closet he found an old shoebox filled with pictures. Some were of Terry as a small child holding Ollie; others were of her during college, and of her mom and dad, and what looked to be family and friends. He placed the box in Hutch's hand and took the phone.

Hutch skimmed through the pictures and looked at Starsky. "Where would someone get this stuff?"

"Terry's parent died before we met. Her sister died in an accident right after we met and she had no brothers. I have no idea. I had to go thru all of Terry's things when she died and I've never seen these. Why would... Yeah, Cap, it's Starsky; we need you to run a Joan Dispirito thru the computer and see if anything comes up. We're not sure. She rented Hutch's parent's guest house about a year ago. Our pictures are on her wall and she has some things of Terry's." His voice got shakey. "It's personal stuff; we don't know how she got..." He dropped the phone into Hutch's hand, staring into the corner of the room. Hanging on the dressing mirror was a gold chain with an oval charm with an angel painted on the front. He turned it over to see if the inscription was there. On the back was the inscription, "To our special daughter, love Mom and Dad. "Hutch she's been in my apartment. This was in Terry's jewelry box at my place. Her parents had it made especially for her the Christmas before they died. Have Dobey send someone to check out your house and my apartment; maybe she took more then just a necklace."

"Did you get that, Captain? Yeah, listen, when you hear something call me at my dad's number. It's the one I left in case of a break-in the Sanchez case. Okay, Cap, we will. I'll tell Starsk." Hanging up the phone, Hutch said to Starsky, "Cap says he'll check out both our places and run her thru the computer. He also said we are to watch ourselves; he can't afford to loose any good men right now."

Starsky laughed. "I think Dad misses us already, Blintz. Let's go make sure your relatives are all right." They headed for the door, Starsky clutching the necklace in his left hand.

Hutch and Starsky entered the main house to see the two boys playing on the floor and Kathy talking on the phone. "Joan, do you know what time the flight will get in? Are you sure you don't need us to pick you up at the airport? I understand why you couldn't be here for the funeral; it's a shame you missed Ken and his friend. They left this morning. We'll see you tomorrow. Good bye, Joan." Kathy hung the phone up and called Hutch over. "Ken, I hate lying to Joan, but after what you said in the barn, and then what Joan asked, it seemed to be the only thing to do."

Hutch and Starsky sat down and Hutch asked, "What did she ask you, Kathy?"

"Ken, she wanted to know what time you and David left for L.A., but it was the way she asked, almost like she was demanding to know. Now that I think about it, as soon as Dad died and you were coming home for a few days to attend the funeral, she made travel plans. Kenny, I'm scared. Do you think the boys, Bill, and I are in any danger?"

"I don't think so, Kathy. She's been here a year. If she were here to hurt you, she wouldn't have stayed so long and let so many people get to know her. What time is her flight due in?"

"She just said early tomorrow morning. She said she would take a taxi home."

"When Bill gets home tell him not to mention that we are here if she calls again, okay? It will be better if we surprise her. Don't worry, both Starsky and I will be here tomorrow morning, just in case."

"I'm going to take the boys home and start lunch. Would you and Dave like to come over, or is he still looking for civilization?"

"Thank you for the offer, but I promised to show him around town, and I'd like to check in with the sheriff. We'll grab something in town. Thanks, sis."

Hutch spent the day showing Starsky his teenage hangouts, and listening to Mayberry jokes about the sheriff's office and the small town. They arrived back at the house around nine. The night air was quite chilly for September, and clouds filled the sky with the threat of rain. The field leading to the barn was covered by a light fog.

Hutch called Dobey while Starsky went for a walk to get rid of the tension he was feeling. He put on his leather jacket, a hat, and wrapped a scarf around his neck and face to keep him warm. He tripped several times on his way to the barn and heard several different animal noises. "Damned hick town doesn't even have outdoor lights. You can't see where the hell you're going. This place would be great for a horror movie."

He could hear dogs howling in the distance and, convincing himself they were wolves, he headed back to the house. He noticed what looked like a person standing in the field at the edge of the woods. As he got closer, he could tell it was a woman. She was staring up at the sky and didn't notice him looking at her. He thought at first it was Kathy, but as he got closer he noticed the woman was much smaller then Kathy. As he got even closer, he noticed she had short brown hair and she seemed to be crying.

He stopped on the side of her and softly asked, "Are you okay, Miss. Do you need help?"

She turned to look at him and he froze. She backed up quickly into the darkness, but he stood paralyzed as he watched her disappear right before his eyes. He felt someone touch his shoulder and he jumped, turning at the same time.

Hutch also jumped and gasped for air. "For Christ's sake, you scared the hell out of me, Starsk. Who was that you were talking to?" Starsky just stood and looked into the woods. "Starsk, are you alright? You look like you just saw a ghost. Who were you with?"

"Hutch, it was Terry! I swear, it was Terry! She was standing right here, and then she vanished, but it was Terry."

"Starsky, Terry's dead; you couldn't have seen her. I know how much the countryside freaks you out, but you're too intelligent to believe in ghosts. You've had her on your mind all day, and the girl may have looked a little like Terry, but it couldn't have been Terry."

"Hutch, she was two feet in front of me, and it was Terry. I know it couldn't have been but it was. It was Terry as sure as you're standing here now. Terry was standing right there, and then she vanished."

"Starsky, you're scaring me. Let's go back to the house, have a beer, and we'll talk this over. You know, as much as you want to believe she's alive, you know Terry's dead."

"I know she's dead, and yet somehow she was here. Hutch, I feel like I'm losing my mind."

Hutch and Starsky went back to the house without another word being said. They drank several beers, then Hutch told Starsky, "I called Dobey. He said both our houses were secured. The doors and windows were locked, and there was no sign of entry. He said that Joan Dispirito has no record in California or any other state. Maybe someone is trying to drive you crazy. You are testifying in some pretty important cases."

"That doesn't fit, Hutch, because you're testifying in every case I am, so even if I were in a padded room, you'd still be able to testify. I don't know what's going on, but tomorrow we better get some answers from one Joan Dispirito."

"We will, buddy, we will. Right now I think we could both use a good night's sleep. I'll catch you in the morning. Good night." Starsky finished his beer and went to bed, but tossed and turned most of the night.

The following morning Hutch went for a run, while Starsky ate breakfast and tried to figure out what he really saw near the woods. Holding the necklace in his hand, he became angry that anyone could use Terry's memory that way. The more he thought, the angrier he got. He went out on the porch and noticed a cab pulling out of the driveway.

"Well, I guess Joan is back, and she has some explaining to do," he mumbled while heading for the guesthouse.

Hutch was just getting back from his run when he noticed Starsky at the guesthouse door. He headed over and watched Starsky walk inside. Knowing his hotheaded partner, he began to run to arrive before trouble could start.

When Starsky had knocked on the door he heard a familiar voice call, "Come on in, Kathy, it's open. Wait until you see the shirts I got for the boys."

He opened the door and walked slowly into the living room. He couldn't believe his eyes. Holding up a shirt that read, "A Friend Went to Florida So I Got This Lousy Shirt," was Terry. They both stood frozen; neither one moved.

Starsky moved slowly towards her and she sat down on the couch. Reaching out his shaking hand, he touched the woman as if to see if she were real. She looked up at him and he stared into her eyes. Somehow her eyes were different; the same color and shape, but different. "Who are yo,u and why are you doing this to me?" Starsky spoke softly and full of hurt.

The girl's eyes filled with tears, and she answered, "I won't hurt you for the world, Dave. My sister loved you more then life itself. I didn't do this to hurt you."

"Karen. You're Karen. But Terry said you were dead. How? Terry wouldn't have lied to me. She said you died in an accident. She went to Nevada to go to your funeral. She cried for the longest time, saying it was like a piece of her was missing."

"Dave, I couldn't tell Terry I was alive without putting her in danger. Mom and Dad had already been killed in that fire. I know they set it, because they told me if I went to the police they'd kill them. I was trying to help Johnny. They killed Mom and Dad and then Johnny. If they knew I was alive, they would have killed Terry. I couldn't let Terry pay for what my husband did."

Starsky shook his head. "Why would they kill your parents?"

Karen took a deep breath. "Johnny was an accountant for three Rio Grand casinos. The mob had him laundering money through the casino. Millions of dollars in drug money was cleared before he told me. I went to Dad and he said I had to go to the police. He knew someone from the F.B.I. Charlie Swanson. He got Johnny and I into the protective witness program after Mom and Dad were killed. Johnny was going to turn state's evidence and they killed him. Charlie faked my death so Terry and I would be safe. He kept me apprised of how Terry was doing and even got me copies of the letters she was writing Nana. That's how I knew all about you. After Terry was killed I agreed to testify in court. Jim Mallicone found out, and put a hit on me. Charlie was killed, and I've been on the run ever since."

"Mallicone! The head of the Vegas Crime family," Starsky said with a mixture of anger and fear. "Karen, why didn't you just call the F.B.I. and get back into the protection program?"

"Dave, Charlie told me that Mallicone found out through a leak in the bureau, and that there wasn't anyone I could trust. He said if anything happened to him, I was to come here, use the pictures of Terry, and keep a low profile. He had gotten into Terry's apartment while I went to the funeral, and he took her diary, some personal papers, photos, and her phone book." He got a list of everyone in it and ran a full check."

Starsky looked puzzled. "You were at Terry funeral?"

"She was my sister and I had to be there. I told the F.B.I. that I had to go or I wouldn't testify. They arranged for the blonde wig and makeup and told me to avoid talking to anyone. They let me in the funeral pallor before they opened so I could say goodbye in private. I couldn't go to my husband's wake because they said it was too dangerous, but I couldn't miss Terry's because she was my twin sister, and we were so close until the end. I had to let her know I was sorry. Dave, please believe I never meant for her to get hurt."

"Why didn't you just tell me this last night when I saw you in the field? God, I spent the night thinking either I was crazy, or Hutch's family home was the gateway to the Twilight Zone. What did you vanish like that for?"

"Dave, I had no idea who you were. Your face was covered and I thought you were one of Mallicone's goons." She looked up to Hutch who was still standing in the doorway with his mouth a little open, not moving, not saying anything.

She looked nervous, and when Starsky turned to see what she was looking at, he went over to Hutch, put his hand on his shoulder, and, smiling, said, "What's the matter, Blintz, you look like you've just seen a ghost. Intelligent people don't believe in ghosts."

Hutch still didn't move. He was looking at Terry; a woman he knew was dead, but was sitting on the couch. When Starsky shook him a little he managed to say, "What the fuck! Starsk, you can see her, too, right? She's real, isn't she?"

Starsky was smiling. "Now I know what I looked like last night, thanks to you, Hutch." He turned Hutch to face him instead of Karen and shook him a little more. "Hutch, it's Karen, Terry's twin sister. She's going to need our help because she's up against Mallicone and friends."

"Jim Mallicone, the head of the mob in Vegas! Starsky, he's the head of the biggest crime family in the country. How the hell did she get mixed up with him? Starsky, she and everyone within a hundred miles of her, are at risk. We have tell Dobey; we're going to need help. A lot of help."

Karen stood up. "You can't tell anybody. You have no idea who this man is. He'll kill me." She headed into the bedroom followed by Starsky. She grabbed the teddy bear and started rocking back and fourth. She looked like a scared child when she said, "Stanley, we have go again. It's not safe here anymore."

Starsky sat down on the bed on the side of her and put his arm around her waist and hugged her, placing her head on his shoulder. He put his hand on the teddy bear's ear. "Stanley, you and Karen are going to be just fine. Hutch and I will see to that." He remembered the way Terry used to hold Ollie whenever she was scared or nervous. He began to smile, then laughed. "Stanley and Ollie." He began to laugh even louder. "She told me that Ollie would listen to all her secrets and never tell anyone." He suddenly got teary-eyed and his voice got soft. "She said I was like Ollie and she trusted me with her life. I guess I let her down, but I won't let you down. I won't fail her again."

"Dave, you can't blame yourself for what happened to Terry. She never did. She loved you, and she knew you would have given anything to keep her safe. Her biggest fear after she got shot was that you would blame yourself. You need to read this, Dave. I think she would want you to know. Then there's something I need to tell you." She reached into the night stand and handed him a diary, then left the room.

When she walked into the kitchen, Hutch was on the phone. She noticed that her appearance unsettled him. He began to stutter, "Yeah a C...Cap, um, I need to, um, you back." He hung the phone up. "Is Starsk okay?"

"He's reading Terry's diary. I think he just needs some time alone. Are you okay?"

Hutch looked angry."I'm just great. In the last twenty-four hours I've watched my best friend relive the worst moment of his life, seen a ghost, found out that we are going up against the head of the biggest crime family in the country, and any minute now aliens should arrive to beam me up, Scotty. Outside of that, I'm feeling just great."

"I'm sorry; this wasn't suppose to happen. You and Dave were supposed to be gone before I got back. I know you're all freaked out, but I didn't have a choice. Charlie said if I came here and said I knew you, and had all the proof to back it up, no one would check. For the first time in a long time I was sleeping thru the night. I had friends and didn't have to hide. Now I have to go back to hiding, and hope whoever you told didn't pick up a phone and call Nevada."

"Hey, you wait one minute, lady. Starsk and I trust Dobey with our lives. He's about as good as a cop gets."

"I'm sure, but when he runs a check on me, somewhere down the line the wrong person will get the information. If they have contacts in the F.B.I. I'm damned sure there are some in that little department of yours. See, Mr. Hutchinson, if there's one thing I've learned from this, it's TRUST NO ONE! Not even the man I was married to for six years."

She turned to walk out the door, but Hutch grabbed her arm. "Look, lady, I know you're scared, but until we figure this out, you go nowhere without me or Starsk right by your side. Consider yourself under house arrest."

"You have no right to do this."

"Wrong, lady. When you used my family to hide, you put them in danger, and that gives me every right in the world. You better hope this doesn't come back to Kathy, her boys, or even Bill."

He stopped when he heard Starsky say, "What's all the yelling about? You two sound like Kathy's kids fighting over a toy."

Hutch let go of Karen's arms and turned to Starsky. "You okay, partner?"

"I will be, Blintz. Did you call Dobey?"

"Yeah. He wants us to bring Karen in. The Feds have been looking for her. He was told she could bury Mallicone's operation. She wants to leave, and I told her not without you or me with her."

"Hutch, how are we going to get her back to LA without getting caught? It's not like we can buy her a ticket on a commercial flight."

"Why not, Starsk? Listen you and I are scheduled to leave tonight, right? Well, if she buys a ticket and we buy three bus tickets under my name, we put her on the plane. They're not going to think we'd stick to our original plan."

"You may be right, but just to make sure, let's tell Dobey we are taking the bus; that way, if there is a leak, we're covered."

Karen suddenly jumped into the conversation. "I'm not going back to LA with you. I have friends in Florida and that's where I'm going."

Hutch, with a loud and firm voice, stated, "You look here, lady, Joan, Terry, Karen, or whoever in the hell else you are, you're under arrest, and you now have the right to remain silent. I suggest you don't give up that right at the moment, because I'm this close to putting cuffs on you."

Karen looked scared, so Starsky moved between the two. "Hey, come on, kids, we don't need to be fighting with ourselves. There are enough people out there to fight already. Look, Karen, Terry would want me to take care of this and I'm gonna, but I can't do it without Hutch. You two have to stop fighting until we get to LA, then, hell, I'll take you to Vinnie's gym and you can punch each other senseless, okay?"

"Starsk, I'm not going to box with the girl." Moving towards the other side of the room, he rubbed his forehead and very quietly said, "She has me spooked. I can't look at her and not see Terry. How the hell can you be so calm? Doesn't this whole thing freak you out?"

"At first, it freaked the hell out of me, but their eyes are different. Terry had warm eyes that made me feel loved. Karen's are cold, like a painting. I really can't explain it, but they're different. Look, Hutch, she's Terry's sister and I can't help her without you. If you really can't do it, I need to know now."

"Hey, come on, babe, you know you don't have to ask. I'll be there. Me and Thee." He looked back at Karen and shivered. "Man, it's like opening the flood gates to every memory I have of Terry."

"Tell me about it. I feel like part of me wants to believe she really is Terry just so the hurt will go away. This morning, when I first walked in here, I saw her and needed her to be Terry. I needed to believe that we didn't bury Terry, and that I still had a chance to be with her. When I looked deep into her eyes it was like burying Terry all over again."

Hutch squeezed Starsky's shoulder. "I wish I could say something to make it go away but I can't. I feel like the longer we are around her, the more you're gonna hurt."

"Hutch, she can't help the way she looks. She's scared and all alone. The people she did trust are all dead, and the Fed in charge of her is also dead, so if she doesn't trust us, I don't blame her."

The plane ride back to LA was uneventful. Karen sat between the two, never even saying one word. Hutch spent the time reading and signing the paperwork to sell the family farm and the rest of his father's large estate. Starsky couldn't help staring at Karen, and remembering every second he spent with Terry.

The ride to Bay City was not as calm. Hutch noticed they had picked up a tail upon leaving the parking garage. He lost the sedan on the freeway, but decided to head straight to the precinct when Starsky realized they still had a Pontiac following them.

"Could be the Feds," Starsky said, answered by Hutch's quick reply.

"Or the Mob. Either way, I'm calling in when we get closer to the station."

Starsky rubbed his shirt, feeling his chest scars, and said, "Yeah, make sure they put someone out front. If Gunther could put a hit in the police station, it will be a piece of cake for Mallicone. Hey, Hutch. Sorry you didn't have time to settle your dad's estate before we left. I know you weren't close, but he was still your dad and I know you..."

"Then you know I can handle it. Besides, you know how I love to throw myself into my work when I'm blue." He smiled at Starsky and picked up the mike. "Zebra-Three to control. Come in control."

"Control to Zebra-Three. Is that you, Hutchinson?" Mabel's friendly voice replied.

"The one and only. Listen, Mabel, we're coming into the station hot with a shark on our tail. Could you have some of the guys meet us out front, just in case?"

"What's your ETA, Zebra-Three?"

"About two minutes, Mabel."

"We'll be there ready for you, Hutch."

"I could always count on you, Mabel. Zebra-Three out."

They arrived at the station to a welcome committee of six uniformed officers. Starsky grabbed Karen's case out of the back seat. He ran into the building with Karen in tow, while Hutch and the other officers pulled guns on the Pontiac. Shots were fired, but the gunmen quickly surrendered. Pulling the four armed men out of the car, and finding them all heavily armed, the men were handcuffed and read their rights.

Hutch then joined Starsky in the squad room. "They weren't Feds, and they had enough ammunition to take on a small army. We need to find out how the hell they knew so quickly we had her."

Karen stood up and said, "You told them the second you called the station. For your sake, I hope next time I tell you something, Mr. Hutchinson, you'll listen."

Captain Dobey's office door opened, and as he started to yell, "Hutchinson! Starsky! Get in here! What do you think...." his eyes caught sight of Karen and he froze for three seconds before continuing. "You we're supposed to be on a bus that was hijacked this morning. I've been worried sick. And what the hell is going on out front? You're back one minute and the place is turned into a shooting gallery." He stopped yelling and just stared at Karen. His voice was soft and fatherly when he said, "You must be Karen. There are a lot of people waiting to talk to you about James Mallicone and Company. I have a friend, Christopher Cote. He's been with the FBI for twelve years, works out of LA, and I trust him. I've asked him to handle the case personally. Karen, you relize they found you this quickly because they have people in the Nevada FBI. We don't know who we can trust and who we can't there. I'm going to assign two of my men, Jones and Baker, to watch you."

Starsky cut him off. "No way, Cap. You're not pulling me off this case."

"Starsky, look at the girl. There is no way I can leave you on and expect you not to get personally involved."

"Cap, it's because she's Terry's sister I need to be involved."

"Hutchinson, will you explain to your partner I'm doing this for his own good."

"Sorry, Captain, but no one is going to take better care of her then us and you know it."

Karen looked at the two detectives and then asked Dobey, "Isn't there a way they can stay with me? I don't like him," pointing at Hutch, "but I trust him, and I know Dave won't let me get killed."

Hutch looked a little insulted at the comment, but added, "Look, Cap, we are staying with her, on or off the clock."

Dobey just shook his head, then said, "Look, you stick with her, but the first sign of trouble, you call for back up. No hero shit, you got it!"

Starsky chuckled. "Thanks, Cap, we'll be careful. Hutch, you take her to the cafeteria and get her something to eat while I arrange for a safe house and a meet with Christopher Cote. We may be together a while, and if you get to know each other you may even become friends."

Hutch rolled his eyes. "Okay, Dad, we'll play nice while you set it up. Come on, lady, I'll buy you lunch."

The cafeteria was almost empty when they arrived. They both selected a salad and sat down. The tension was so thick it could be cut with a knife. Finally, Karen spoke up. "How come you never smile, Mr. Hutchinson."

"Please call me Hutch, or Ken. I hate being called Mr. Hutchinson."

"Okay, Hutch, why don't you ever smile anymore? Terry loved the way you smiled. She wrote all about it in her diary. I believed she called it a flirty smile that could melt any women's heart."

Hutch giggled like a kid. "She wrote about me in her diary? That's sweet. Terry always was the sweetest person. She spent her spare time getting Starsk and I to teach her students how to play ball or take them to the park." Hutch had a full smile on his face. "I never felt like a third wheel around her. She would let us hang out and never got upset when we worked late on a case. She really was one in a million." Hutch suddenly looked sad. "I think her death hit me harder then my mom or dad's because it killed something inside Starsky. A spark that just vanished with her. He hasn't forgiven himself for her death. He realizes the Prudholm pulled the trigger, but the fact that it was to get revenge on him is something he just can't forgive himself for. He may never be able to forgive himself for that, and it really isn't his fault."

"Hutch, do you know why Terry was really killed?" Karen said, on the verge of tears.

"The man who killed your sister was very sick. He had already killed two police officers and was going to waste a carload of kids when Starsky caught him and sent him to jail. Then when he escaped, he shot Terry. Why? You were here for the funeral, so I thought you knew, but didn't any one tell you?"

"The FBI agent that was in charge of me was Charles Swanson. He had proof that the paper error that allowed Prudholm to get out was signed by a man named Sinclair. Hutch, Charlie said Sinclair was on Mallicone's payroll and that Mallicone knew I was still alive. Charlie was killed two days after Terry's funeral. You and Dave need to read Charlie's reports, because the real reason he let me go to the funeral was so he could follow leads to prove Terry was killed because of what I knew. Starsky didn't cause her death. I did." She looked down at the table. "I did by marring Johnny, and then going to the feds."

Hutch took her hand, and with his right hand he gently lifted her chin, and looked into her eyes. "Why didn't you tell us this at the farm?"

"Hutch, I'm the reason Mom, Dad, Johnny, Charlie, and Terry are all dead. I was afraid nobody would understand. I swear to God, I didn't mean for this to happen. Now there's a good chance I'll get you and Dave killed, too."

"Karen you're not responsible for what Mallicone did, and you don't know how resourceful Starsky and I can be. I know from personal experience we can only take blame for what we do. Otherwise you wallow away in guilt and self-pity."

"Please, Hutch, get Charlie's reports and have Dave read it. He's a nice guy, and he deserves to know the whole truth. When can I talk to the grand jury and get this mess over with?"

"Not for a little while. We need to keep you safe while they set it up, so finish your salad and let's head upstairs."

Starsky was on his way out of the office when Hutch and Karen arrived. "We got the safe house; Huggy's going to meet us at the Pits. We need to use Cap's car until Huggy brings us one. Hutch, we can't stop at home. Dobey says both our places are under surveillance. We're not using a police safe house in case the leak is at this end. The only one who knows where we are is Huggy. We intend to keep it that way. We'll have to call in every hour just to let them know we're okay, then hang up before they can trace it. Dobey wants a list of any files we'll need to send out with Huggy."

"I'll go talk to Dobey. Why don't you grab a change of clothes out of the lockers and I'll meet you out in the garage in five minutes."

"I'll keep Karen with me."

"Don't use the elevator. The stairs are being watched by uniformed police, just in case. Hutch, Dobey's going to have your car moved to the back lot before we..." A loud explosion could be heard from outside. Hutch pushed Karen down and covered her.

"What the hell was that?" Starsky said, pulling his gun.

"I think it was outside, Starsk."

Dobey came running out of the office with three detectives, calling out to Hutch, "Your car just blew up, with an officer in it. Get into my office. Stay there and don't let anyone near that girl."

"They blew up my car; those sons of bitches blew up my car." Hutch helped Karen to her feet; her whole body was shaking. He pulled her into Dobey's office and sat her down.

Starsky got her a drink of water and asked, "You alright?"

Trying to stop herself from crying, she said, "No, I'm half left."

Starsky and Hutch smiled, and Hutch said softly, "My grandpa use to say that. Hey, you know what the monkey said when he caught his tail in the lawn mower? Won't be long now!"

Karen began to laugh out loud and Starsky added, "What did one casket say to the other casket? Is that you coughin'?" The bad jokes continued one after the other.

The three of them were laughing hysterically when Dobey came back to his office. "What the hell could you possibly find to laugh at? I think the two of you have gone nuts and have dragged this poor girl along with you."

Karen tried to compose herself. "I can't help it, Captain Dobey, when I get scared I giggle like a fool. It used to drive Johnny nuts before..."

Suddenly the room was totally silent.

Starsky took her hand and sat down on the side of her. "Sorry, Cap, we're just tired and stressed. We didn't mean to insult anyone."

Dobey looked down at his desk. "I know. Jennson was killed when he started your car. I have to call his wife. You get to the safe house. Just to be sure, I have the bomb squad checking every car in the place. They'll start with mine. I expect a phone call every hour, is that clear? First call you miss, we come in, guns drawn. Get out of here."

The safe house was only twenty minutes from the Pits. It belonged to a friend of Huggy's who was out of town. The house was huge and fully alarmed. Starsky put the code in, and they all walked inside. Karen walked with Starsky and Hutch while they did a room-to-room search. Downstairs there was a huge kitchen, an office, a den, a full size bar complete with dance floor, movie screening room, and a large living room with a fireplace.

Heading upstairs, Hutch looked at Starsky and asked, "Who owns this place?"

Starsky shrugged and said, "I don't know. He said it belonged to a friend who was out of town for a while."

They opened the first bedroom door and Hutch, laughing, said, "Out of town for a while alright. I bet he got two to three years."

The comment struck Karen odd until she saw the room. It was a jungle theme with a lot of plastic bushes, leopard skin rug, a bamboo bed covered with fur skin blankets and a swing hanging over the bed. Karen was five shades of red and said, "You can sleep in here. I'll take one of the rooms down the hall." All five bedrooms had themes. The second was designed to look like a classroom complete with uniforms, the next was an S&M theme with whips, chains hanging from the ceiling, handcuffs and shackles on the bed. The last two rooms were a little tamer, one containing a heart-shaped bed with mirrors on the wall and ceiling, and a huge Jacuzzi. The last room looked like a regular bedroom, but upon closer inspection revealed two-way mirrors and photo equipment.

Hutch busted out laughing and barely managed to say, "Ladies first, which room would you like?"

Starsky broke into a full deep laugh and said, "Pick the first room, and we'll know you're a swinger."

"Funny Dave, real funny."

Starsky added, still laughing, "Hutch and I have our own handcuffs, so you could pick the kinky room."

Hutch had to add his two cents by saying, "You would look cute in that Catholic school uniform."

The doorbell rang and they all jumped. Starsky's gun was out like a flash; he was heading for the door.

Hutch was standing in front of Karen with his gun drawn, looking down the stairs.

Starsky called back to him, "It's Huggy; come on down." He opened the door and Huggy came walking in with bags loaded with groceries. Starsky grabbed them, and Huggy went back outside, returning with two suitcases.

Hutch grabbed the suitcases and headed for the den.

Huggy looked at Karen and stopped dead in the doorway. Karen introduced herself and held out her hand, but Huggy never moved. "Dave, your friend is freaking out, and if he keeps staring at me much longer he's gonna have to use one of those rooms upstairs."

Dave came back in the room, realizing he never told Huggy who they were protecting. "Huggy, you okay, man?" Starsky said, while slightly shaking him. "Huggy, this is Karen, Terry's sister. Huggy say something."

"Damn, I need a drink." Huggy headed for the bar. He poured Jack Daniels into a shot glass and began downing three shots, one right after the other.

Starsky, who followed him to the bar, took a cold beer and sat on a stool. "Huggy, I should have warned you, but things were a little crazy. You okay?"

"I just walked into a house of pleasure to fine a dead friend standing in front of me. What could be wrong?" He took another shot. "Are you trying to scare a few years out of my too-short life, my brother."

"I first saw her in a dark empty field and thought I slipped gears. It takes a while to get use to her looking like Terry, but she's cool. She needs our help; she's going up against Mallicone."

"You better have backup, because his hands reach all the way to the East Coast. That Family is into gambling, drugs, porn, and he owns half the stables in Nevada."

Karen and Hutch sat down on the stools on the side of Starsky. Karen asked, "What kind of horses does he have?"

Starsky and Hutch looked at each other and smiled.

Huggy, not realizing her innocence, replied, "He mostly deals with young fillies, sometimes as young as ten. He gets upward of one hundred dollars a night for his colts, but if you prefer fillies, he may charge you more for a single ride. But if you're willing to let a man share the ride, you could get a real deal. Hell, a fine filly like yourself, they may pay you for the ride."

"We're not talking about horseback riding are we?"

Hutch and Starsky both said, "No," and chuckled.

"You're talking about hookers. You think I'm a hooker?" Karen was looking mad and embarrassed, and Hutch tried to come to the rescue.

"I think Huggy was saying you're pretty, and he just didn't realize how sweet and innocent you are."

"Just because I'm not a hooker, doesn't mean I'm innocent. I was married to a very healthy man and, Mr. Hutchinson, I could teach you a trick or two inside every one of those rooms upstairs. I'm turning in; it's been a very long day." She huffed out of the room and stomped up the stairs.

Starsky got up and, putting his hand on Hutch's back, said, "You do have a way with woman, don't you, Blintz?" He grabbed his suitcase and headed upstairs.

Starsky found Karen sitting on the floor outside the jungle room, trying not to cry. Her eyes were filling up with water, and she was biting her bottom lip. He sat down beside her and began gently rubbing her back. "You've had a pretty awful day, haven't you? You know we didn't mean anything by it. When Hutch and I are on a big case, we always use humor as an outlet, like you did in the office. Sometimes we get carried away, and I guess you got caught in the crossfire." He pulled her head against his chest and gently ran his hand through her hair. "You know, it's okay to be scared, and to cry when you're with friends, and I hope you know Hutch and I consider you a friend."

"I just want this nightmare to end. I want to be able to walk back into my own house in Nevada and feel safe. I just want to feel safe again."

Starsky hugged her tighter. "I promise I'll keep you safe; I won't let them hurt you." With a big smile, he said, "Which bedroom do you want? You get a good night sleep, and I'll bet you'll feel better."

"Don't laugh, but I'm afraid to pick..." She smiled it him. "No matter which room I pick, I look like a pervert, so you pick for me."

"Well, young lady, I guess you're sleeping in the heart-shaped bed tonight." He walked her to her room. "Karen, if you need anything, one of us will be in the room next door to you, and the other will be on watch downstairs. You try and get some sleep." He kissed her on the forehead and headed downstairs.

Hutch took the first watch so he could go over the files Dobey sent with Huggy. Huggy took Dobey's car back to the station, and gave Dobey another list of items the guys would need.

Starsky checked the doors and windows before heading up to bed about midnight. "Goodnight, Hutch; wake me in four hours."

Hutch replied, "Sure." He was deep in thought, going over the files.

The room was pitch black when Karen was awakened by what sounded like someone talking. She grabbed her robe and began buttoning it as she moved toward the door, trying to make out who was talking. She opened her door and realized it was Starsky, and he seemed to be arguing with someone. Her first thought was, Mallicone's men have found us. She moved towards the voices, not knowing what she would do if her fear was confirmed.

His door was open so she went in and whispered, "Dave, are you okay?" She could see he was sleeping, but moving quite a bit.

He was mumbling, "She's been shot," and, "Gotta help her."

She sat down on the bed and gently touched him. It scared her how quickly he jumped up. He was still very groggy. While looking at her face, he pulled her into a tight hug and said, "I dreamed you got killed. Oh God, it was so real."

Karen pulled away a little and softly said, "I'm fine, Dave, I'm right here."

He pulled her close and kissed her on the lips. She kissed him back very passionately, allowing his tongue to enter her mouth. His hands began moving, tracing her body, and he gently laid her on her back, and his left hand began unbuttoning her robe.

The longer they kissed, the more he realized something was wrong. He pulled away and looked into her eyes. "Karen?" He looked puzzled, then scared. "Oh my God, Karen, I'm so sorry. Are you alright?"

Karen sat up and realized he was kissing Terry, not her. She felt hurt and embarrassed, but didn't want to hurt Dave. "I'm fine, Dave, are you all right? Do you want me to get anything?"

"No, I was just...just had a nightmare...a nightmare, that's all it was."

"Dave, should I go get Ken?" She could feel her body trembling.

"I'll be fine in just a minute. Hey, you're shaking. I really scared you, huh!"

"A little, I guess. I thought you were fighting with one of Mallicone's men."

"And you came in, unarmed, to save me. We're supposed to be protecting, you not the other way around. Silly." He could see she was still shaking. "Come' ere." He pulled her over to him, covering her with his blanket.

She laid her head on his chest. "I'm sorry. I'm so scared and that I'm putting you and Ken in danger."

"Hey, don't be silly. Most of the women I know would have been sedated by now if they had to go through this. Close your eyes and picture somewhere you feel safe. Now, you keep that picture in your head, and I'll be right here if you need me." He hugged her and rubbed her back until she fell asleep.

The next morning Starsky slipped out of bed, took a shower, and went downstairs. "Why didn't you get me to relieve you like we agreed?"

Hutch was stretched out on the couch, still reading. "I went up, but figured you had the situation well in hand. Besides, you need to read this report. She was right. Mallicone had Terry killed, and we never knew it."

"What the hell are you talking about? Prudholm killed Terry."

"Mallicone arranged to have him released. The feds have proof. Starsk, that's not all. Swanson found some evidence that Mallicone's right hand man in LA was Gunther."

"Hutch, I got a real sick feeling."

"We have to get her in front of the grand jury before Mallicone's goons find her."

"How quickly can the feds pull it off?"

"I don't know. I have to call in ten minutes from now. If Dobey's in we may get our answer."

"I'm going to make breakfast. Do you want to eat before you hit the sack?"

"No, I'll call Dobey and then turn in."

Karen came downstairs just as Starsky finished making scrambled eggs and bacon. She looked more relaxed and confident. "Dave, I need to run a few errands. Can I use the car?"

"You're kidding, right?" He smiled at her.

"No, I need to go out," she said with determination.

"Karen, there is no way you're getting outside until we know it's safe. Whatever you need, Cap will have a female officer get for you. There's no reason for you to go outside."

"Dave, I need to go to Terry's grave. There are some things I need to say and explain. You won't understand, but I need to go. Just ten minutes, please."

"I do understand. I read the reports and your sister would tell you to stay put if she could. Karen, the cemetery is the first place they'll stake. I promise, as soon as it's safe, I'll take you there."

"How can you even stand to look at me, knowing what I caused?"

"Come on; you didn't cause Terry's death. You're no guiltier then I am." Smiling, he added, "Eat your breakfast and I'll beat you in a game of Monopoly."

They passed the morning playing Monopoly, and then cards. Starsky called Dobey every hour, and by one they were both feeling quite bored. Karen made a late lunch and Starsky flipped through the T.V. channels about one hundred times. After lunch, they washed the dishes and went through the kitchen cupboards looking for something to do.

Karen went into the screening room and found a wall full of old films. "Dave, check this out. They have every Bogart movie ever made. They have Laurel and Hardy and the Three Stooges." She took out the movie, African Queen. "Do you know how to run this thing?"

Starsky did his best Bogart, "For you, sweetheart, I'll learn."

"I'll go make some popcorn."

Hutch came back downstairs at around 4:30 and found them sitting in the screening room, watching the Three Stooges, and laughing like they hadn't a care in the world. He fixed himself a health drink and joined them.

Karen made dinner and played another game of Monopoly with Hutch. When they called the precinct at 8:00, Dobey asked to speak to Karen. She listened for a moment than said, "It's in a locker in the Las Vegas airport. Johnny gave me the key. I'll send it with him tomorrow." She hung the phone up and, looking kind of pale, she handed Starsky the chain she wore around her neck. The chain contained a key with the number 1573. She walked into the bar took down a bottle of Captain Morgan, filled a glass half way with cola and the other half with liquor.

Starsky and Hutch had followed her and, in total amazement, they watched as she drank the glass empty, making a bitter face, coughing, and refilled it the same way.

"Karen, what did Dobey say to you?" Hutch asked, while Starsky pick the bottle up.

She drank down the second drink, choking it down, and filled the glass half with soda. Starsky pulled the Captain Morgan away, so she filled it with Jack Daniels.

"Karen, you don't want to mix drinks like that," Hutch said, while looking to Starsky for help.

When Hutch reached out for the glass, she held it close to her and said, "Charlie's boss was killed today. The copies of Johnny's accounting records were taken right out of his office at the FBI building. His two kids and Charlie's daughter don't have a dad anymore. Mom, Dad, Terry, and Johnny, are all dead because... I had to do the right thing. I couldn't listen to Johnny and keep quiet." She drank the Jack Daniels and Coke, choking it down slower then the first drink, and this time filled the glass with pure Jack Daniels.

Starsky grabbed the glass. "Karen, this much booze will kill you."

Hutch took the bottle of Jack Daniels and said, "I think you should sit down."

Instead, she grabbed the first bottle she saw, pouring Peppermint Schnapps into a shot glass, she said, "Look here, Mr. Hutch... I'm gonna keep drinking until I can't feel anything. I'm gonna be numb when I get you two killed...and you're not going to stop me." She drank the Schnapps and fell down. Holding the bottle, she said, "This peppermint stuff is really strong."

Starsky picked her up off the floor and walked her towards the living room.

"Are we going for a walk, Dave? Let's take him with us; he could get hurt staying here alone."

Starsky tried to get her to sit on the couch.

"Hey, I don't want to sit down. Someone said we're going for a walk."

Starsky pushed her down onto the couch. "Karen, you're not going anywhere. Hutch, what the hell are we suppose to do? She's got more booze in her than..."

Karen interrupted him. "Hey, I'm perfectly sober, and I'm going for a walk."

She tried to stand up, but Starsky pushed her back down and yelled, "Sit down and shut-up!"

Hutch was laughing and Starsky grabbed for the phone, dialed Huggy's number. "Huggy. We need you. Now." He hung the phone up and watched Hutch move towards the door blocking Karen's path.

Laughing, he said, "Come on, you know we can't let you leave." Looking at Starsky, he said, "She is a determined little lady." Hutch turned her around and tried to get her to sit down. "Karen, come on, where are you going to walk to?"

"I'm going home," she replied.

Starsky asked, "You gonna walk to Nevada?"

"I thought I'd walk to the airport and catch a bus." Both men were hysterically laughing, which seemed to confuse her. "What's so funny? Did I miss something? Come on, lets go for a walk." She grabbed Hutch's hand, and tried to pull him towards the door.

In one quick movement, he pulled her back, put his right arm against her knees and swooped her up. "Look, lady, you need to sit down before you fall down."

She looked at his face closely and said, "You have beautiful eyes and a killer smile. I can't believe Terry didn't date you. When we were young, she always picked the blondes. She would have us double and she always picked the blond, except Johnny. She never trusted Johnny; she use to tell me he would get me in big trouble one day. I wish he were here to get me in trouble now." She began talking louder. "Hutch, put me down. I have to get out of here. If you don't let me go, they'll kill you two just like everybody else. Put me down now!"

Hutch put her feet back on the floor, but held her waist in his arm. He pulled her into a hug and brushed her hair with his hand. "Karen, listen to me. This is our job. It's what we do. If we get shot, it won't be the first time. You have to stop blaming yourself for what other people are doing. The grand jury will meet soon and this whole thing will be over. I promise as soon as it's safe, Starsk and I will take you home. Right now I think we need to sober you up. I'm used to guys drinking the way you did, and I've never seen anyone your size consume that much booze."

"Hutch, why are we spinning? I don't like rides that spin; they make me sick. Where the hell are we going now?"

Starsky had grabbed her other arm and they were running for the bathroom.

Huggy arrived and found the three in the bathroom, waiting for Karen to be sick. Hutch told him everything she drank.

Huggy shook his head and told Starsky, "Put on a pot of coffee made with two extra scoops of coffee and some salt."

Karen was sitting on the tub holding her stomach.

"Hutch, we need to get that booze out of her, and now. Man, what the hell were you two thinking? Christ, that much booze could kill someone her size." Huggy stood her up. "Hutch, go help Starsky. I don't think she'll want an audience for this."

Hutch waited with Starsky for about an hour before a dripping wet Huggy came out. "One of you two gentleman mind getting me something to put on the lady?"

Starsky ran up the stairs and came back with her robe and nightgown. Huggy disappeared into the bathroom. Starsky went back upstairs to find clothes for Huggy. He grabbed a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt, and socks, and headed back downstairs. Huggy was just walking Karen out of the bathroom. Starsky took Karen's hand and gave Huggy the dry clothes.

"Hey, man, you better pour some of that coffee into her. She may not keep it all down, but force it into her." He looked at the clothes Starsky handed him. "Look at these threads. I gottta walk around town looking like a refugee box threw up on me."

Starsky sat Karen down on the couch and Hutch brought her some black coffee. "Karen, you need to drink this."

Her hands were shaking as she took the cup. She took a sip and her face scrunched up. "God, that's horrible."

"Drink it. Huggy says it will help. You know, you sure picked a fine time to take up drinking."

"Shh, the elephant tap dancing on my head might hear you."

"Wait until tomorrow; he'll have a few friends with him."

"Please tell me you're kidding. It can't feel worse then this." She suddenly started laughing as she caught sight of Huggy dressed in Starsky's clothes. "Man oh man, I was afraid that you were going to tease me about the shower we took together, but after seeing that outfit on you, I have no worries."

Starsky jumped in. "Hey, those are my clothes you're making fun of."

Huggy walked over to Karen. Kissing her hand he said, "My lady, you look wonderful without your clothes. It has been my pleasure to rescue such a beautiful damsel, but I need to get home and change before someone sees me in this getup." He turned to Starsky. "She's still pretty loaded. I wouldn't leave her alone for a while."

"Thanks, Huggy, we owe you big time. Oh, wait! I need you to take this to Dobey." He handed Huggy the chain with the key. "It's urgent, okay?"

Huggy smiled. "You got it, my man."

"Hey, Huggy," Karen called out. "Next time we use the bathroom in the jungle room, I'll teach you how to use that trapeze before you scrub my back again." She giggled.

Huggy just shook his head and smiled at her.

Hutch walked him out, listening to other instructions.

They sat with her about twenty minutes. Starsky poured more coffee into her cup, and Hutch offered her some saltine crackers, but she refused. She was shivering, so Starsky started a small fire in the fireplace. He sat in the middle of the loveseat near the fireplace and smiled at Karen. He found it strange how innocent she remained with all she had been through. In front of him sat a frightened little girl.

She smiled back at him and then stumbled over to him. "Hey, Dave, push over, I'm cold." her whole body was physically shaking.

He pushed over and helped her sit down. "Holy shit, Hutch, can you get me a blanket?"

Hutch grabbed a blanket and shook his head. "It ain't going to help. Huggy said she'd get the shakes when all the remaining booze hit her blood. I'll get a bucket. He said she may get sick again."

Starsky wrapped the blanket around her and rubbed her arms to help warm her up. "Christ, Karen, what the hell did you think you were doing? You don't drink, and suddenly you're mixing rum, whiskey and schnapps. What the hell were you thinking?"

Her voice trembled as she answered, "I...I...j...j...j...just w...w...wanted t...t...ta be numb. I wanted t...ta f...f...forget. N...n...n...not t...ta be sc...cared."

She stared to cry and Starsky held her tight. "Hutch and I are here, and we're not going anywhere. No one's gonna hurt us, so stop worrying. You're going to be fine, I promise. You're with friends. Let it all out; cry all night if you need to." A few minutes later, she stopped crying. "Try to get some sleep."

Hutch put the bucket down near Starsky and turned the lights off on his way out. He turned back to Starsky and said, "She's tougher then she looks right now. She'll be alright as long as they don't drag out that meeting with the grand jury."

"I hope you're right, Blondie. She's dealt with more than I could handle. Let's try to get Dobey to speed this up."

"You look beat; try and get some sleep. I'll call in and finish going over those reports."

Several times during the night Starsky was awakened to Karen's nightmares. The first two times, he calmed her down easily without waking her, but around 12:00 she was trapped in a dream he couldn't seem to get her out of. She was calling for Johnny and screamed, "No."

Hutch came into the room, gun drawn, and turned the light on. "Are you all right?"

Starsky was gently shaking her. "I think it's a dream, but I can't get her to wake up."

Hutch ran over and sat her up and shook her hard. He tried to stand her up, and shook her some more, and loudly stated, "Karen, I need you to listen to me." She was dead weight in his arms. "Starsky, we got to get her to wake up." He scooped her up in his arms and headed for the bathroom. He turned the shower on cold and held her under the water. It took about ten seconds before she gasped for air and started struggling with Hutch. She looked totally confused and scared.

"Karen, do you know where you are?"

Her eyes wouldn't focus. She could hear him, but couldn't understand what he was saying. "Johnny, how?"

Hutch grabbed her arms and shook her again. "Karen, it's Hutch."

She seemed to be more focused when she asked, "Hutch! Where's Johnny? He was here, but now he's not."

"Karen, tell me what day it is."

"I don't know; it's raining." She tried to focus, tried to think. "Why is it raining, and why I am here with..." Suddenly, fear hit. "Dave, oh my God, what happened to Dave?"

"I'm fine, I'm right here, I'm fine, see?"

She almost knocked him down hugging him. "You're not shot?" She looked him over. "And Hutch is okay?"

She turned back to Hutch to be sure he was okay. "I'm fine. A little wet, but fine. Are you okay? Do you know where you are, now?"

She smiled looking up at him. "If I haven't lost my mind, I'm in a house of ill repute, taking a shower with two men I just met."

Hutch looked at Starsky, laughing, and said, "Partner, I thinks she's back among the living. How's your head?"

"It hurts. That peppermint stuff must be strong."

Hutch shut the shower off and shook his head, laughing. "Peppermint, unbelievable."

Karen slept most of the next day. Huggy stopped by to check up on Karen, and drop off more files. That night was quiet and uneventful spent watching T.V. and talking about Terry. The next morning went by slowly, then the 1:00 call-in started the ball rolling.

Starsky hung the phone up and called to Karen, "Pack your bags, sweetheart, we're moving." He ran up the stairs and found Hutch sleeping in the Jungle room. "Oh, Blondie, if I had my camera." He moved right next to Hutch and loudly yelled, "Wake up!" Hutch jumped up and Starsky laughed. "Blintz, what are you doing in here?"

"It's called sleeping."

"Well, wake up; we've got to move in one hour."

"I'll be down in ten minutes."

"I never would have thought of you as the Tarzan type." Starsky laughed as he left the room.

Ten minutes later, Hutch came downstairs and placed his suitcase with the others. He poured a cup of coffee and asked, "What's the plan?"

"We need to get to the courthouse for 3:00. Cap got the paperwork this morning; he says it's dynamite. He can have a car meet us, but he wants the bomb squad to check out the courthouse before we go in. Jones and Baker are the two he assigned as escorts. The feds will take it from the courthouse. We'll stay on the main roads, and call in when we hit Jones and Baker. I want to check the car out first, just to make sure. Karen, you stay here and keep an eye on Hutch. I'll be right back."

"So, Hutch, you scared?"

"Only of Starsky's driving."

"I'm sorry if I got out of line the other night. I usually don't drink more then a glass of wine at a wedding. I guess I really went overboard last night."

"That's okay. I'll just call you Peppermint Patty from now on and we'll call it even."

"Do you think we'll make it to the grand jury?"

"If anything happens, do exactly what we tell you to, and stay close. We'll be fine. I'm going to pack some sodas and snacks, in case you get hungry. Don't eat or drink anything unless Starsk or I hand it to you. Not even if sealed, okay?"

"You don't think we're out of the woods, do you?"

"Look, I'm not trying to scare you, but if they're going to make a move, now would be the time. Once you tape your testimony in front of the grand jury, it's too late. The tape could be used in case of you accidentally falling off the face of the earth. Just stay close to us, and you'll be fine."

They packed three sodas, chips, candy bars, and carrot sticks into a bag and went back to wait in the living room. Starsky beeped the horn to let them know the car was safe and they could come out. Hutch opened the door and carefully scanned the area. He walked Karen straight to the car and opened the back door. The pair climbed in the back seat and Starsky headed for the courthouse. Hutch found the back seat uncomfortable for a man his height, but knew she would be safer in the back.

Starsky handed back a large blue item. "Karen, put this on; it may save your life."

"Sorry, Dave, but I'm not wearing a bulletproof vest." She looked at Hutch, who was holding the vest open, and said, "Charlie got shot in the head while we were wearing vests. Mine was like running in weights. I swore I'd never wear one again. If you two want to wear it, go ahead, but I can't." She quietly whispered, "I won't be the only one left standing again."

Hutch pulled her into a hug and whispered back, "It will be okay, Peppermint Patty. Starsky and I won't let you get hurt, and we'll be just fine." He continued loud enough for Starsky to hear, "The freeway is going to be busy, but I think it's our best bet. Where are we supposed to meet our backup?"

"Dobey has them sitting in the Taco King's parking lot. We are suppose to... Hutch, we have tail." Hutch pushed Karen's head down, then looked out the rear window to see a black sedan with tinted windows come up fast. He grabbed his gun and said, "Stay down!" He called back to Starsky, "Does he have any friends?"

"The car on the left made every lane change he made, and they have a walkie-talkie. I'm willing to bet he's not calling his momma."

"What's your plan?"

"I'll tell you when I think of one." Starsky scanned the road then yelled, "Hang on; I got an idea." He cut the wheel, making a sharp right hand turn into the next lane, and cut back to the exit. The two cars following them tried the same maneuver, but only the car behind him succeeded. He hit the gas and cut through the light at the end of the exit. The back window shattered when struck with a bullet. The car was struck again in the passenger side rear window and then in the rear passenger door.

"God, I miss my Torino," Starsky yelled while weaving in and out of traffic. He jumped back onto the freeway with the black sedan not far behind him.

Hutch called out, "Where the hell are you going?"

"I can't out run them in this car, and with them shooting the way they are, if I don't get help we're not gonna make it."

"How are you gonna get help? We have no radio."

"We have no radio, but the C.H.P. patrols heavy between two and five. Let's pray we can pick one up."

"Leave it to my speed-happy friend to know the patrols."

"If we're real lucky, it will be Linda or Debbie on patrol. You dated them both, so they should remember you."

"Lets hope it's Debbie. I never did call Linda back after that weekend in Mexico."

"Hutch, up on your right, and look, you're safe; it's a guy."

Hutch looked to see a police cruiser about five cars ahead. Starsky was blowing the horn, weaving in and out of traffic to get his attention. The black sedan was catching up fast. The cruiser finally hit his lights as Starsky pulled up along side of him.

Hutch held his shield out the broken window and yelled, "We need help! The black sedan is shooting at us."

Starsky pulled out in front of the cruiser then to the side of the road. The cruiser pulled in behind him. Hutch rolled out of the back seat, gun in hand, using the car as a shield. Starsky opened his door just enough to slip out and take aim. The patrol officer was standing by his cruiser with gun in hand. All three returned fire on the sedan causing it to loose control, hit the wall in the high speed lane, and flip over, skidding about twenty feet on its roof. Traffic came to a screeching halt.

The patrol officer ran to the sedan. Hutch jumped into the cruiser and radioed for help while Starsky checked on Karen.

"Hey, Karen, you all right?" When he didn't get an answer, he holstered his gun and climbed in the car. He lifted Karen off the floor and turned her to face him. "Karen, are you hurt? Are you okay?"

"Hutch was right," she said, shaking.

Starsky looked confused. "About what?"

"Your driving. He said that your driving was scary."

"Funny, real funny. Listen, we're gonna get into the cruiser and get to courthouse. I want you to stay down and don't move until I tell you to."

Karen reached up and kissed him on the lips and he kissed her back. She slowly pulled away and softly said, "That's for good luck."

He pulled her back and kissed her again. "That's just because I wanted to kiss you."

Hutch came back to the car. "You both okay?"

Karen answered, "We're fine."

Starsky smiled and said, "Let's move." He checked to make sure it was all clear, then led Karen to the cruiser. He went to put her into the back seat, but then threw her suitcase in the back and put her up front.

Hutch called over the car, "Wouldn't she be safer in the back, Starsk?"

Starsky shook his head. "There's no way for her to get out if we run into trouble."

Hutch looked back and remembered that cruisers can only be opened from the outside. He climbed into the front passenger seat and smiled at Karen. "Gonna be a little crowded, but he's right. Can you hand me that mike?" Karen handed him the mike and he called dispatch to put him through to Dobey.

Dobey's voice boomed over the radio. "What the hell is going on? Is the girl okay? You have the freeway backed up for miles."

"Cap, there's still at least one carload of thugs out there. Karen's fine, but we had to switch cars. Our E.T.A. is twenty minutes. Can you meet us out front?"

"Roger that," Dobey said in a more human tone.

"Starsk, you know what I'm worried about?" Hutch said, glancing at Starsky briefly, then watching his side of the road.

Starsky didn't look at Hutch because of the speed they were traveling. "The fact that they picked us up so easy, or the fact that the blue sedan is still ahead of us God knows where?"

"The fact that they had to have followed Huggy there last night means someone very close to Dobey is dirty."

"Dobey may know who; get him back on the radio."

"Control, this is Zebra Three. Come in, Control."

"Zebra Three, this is Control."

"Put me through to Captain Dobey." There was a brief pause.

"Captain Dobey, here. What do you got?"

"Cap, we need you to think hard. Who did you tell who found the safe house?"

"What are you getting at, Hutch?"

"Someone followed our friend to the house last night. We need to know who put a tail on him. Cap, we know it wasn't you, but someone gave us up."

"Hutch, don't meet with Baker; come straight here. Do you hear, Hutch?"

"Roger that, Cap, we understand." Hutch's voice was just above a whisper. "Starsk, we've know Baker and Jones for over five years. Who the hell can we trust?"

Starsky's reply came fast, but sounded hurt. "Me and Thee. Like always, buddy, just thee and me."

Suddenly Hutch seemed angry. "I'm not going to let them get away with this. They could have gotten us killed."

Karen leaned towards Starsky when Hutch yelled. She had never seen him this full of hate and it scared her.

Starsky realized the situation without taking his eyes off the road. "Karen, Hutch gets loud, but he knows how to aim his anger. He would never strike out at the wrong person."

Hutch realized what Starsky was trying to do and he softly said to Karen, "Don't worry; sometimes I just need to blow off steam. This hasn't exactly been an uneventful week."

Karen caught the sadness in his voice and suddenly realized she hadn't even acknowledged his father's death. "Hutch, I'm sorry I couldn't be at your dad's funeral. He really loved you a lot."

Hutch looked at her in disbelief, but didn't say anything.

"Your dad and I use to talk about you all the time. He would come to the guesthouse and look at your pictures and tell me how proud he was of you. He knew you wouldn't be happy in his office. He would say that was his dream, the two of you working side-by-side, but you were different from him. He told me that he felt earning money was his job, that he worked hard when you and Kathy were growing up to give you everything you wanted. It was his biggest regret not spending more time with you." She looked at Hutch and his eyes were full of tears. She smiled at him and continued, "Your dad told me about the little league games he missed, but especially the game against St. John's. You hit two home runs and when he arrived home you told him you didn't even expect him to show up. That's when you quit. He blamed himself for your not playing ball anymore. He said if he could have changed one day in his life it would have been that day. You know, that was the first night you went to bed without hugging him goodnight. He tried to say it was because you were too old, but he knew he let that little eight-year-old boy down. He just didn't know how to make it right. He called you from my place that night. I remember him being so nervous, he dialed the number wrong and then when you answered he tried to convince you to come home for a visit so you could talk. You were working on a drug bust and promised you'd visit soon. Hutch, don't ever doubt your dad loved you. He just didn't know how to show it the way you needed him to."

Hutch swallowed hard and stared out the window.

She looked at Starsky and realized his eyes were heavy with tears, like he could feel what his partner was feeling. She sank into the seat not knowing if she'd said too much.

The moment of silence was shattered by the radio. "Control to Zebra Three."

She handed the mike to Hutch. "Zebra Three here; go ahead, Control."

"Urgent message from Captain Dobey. I'll patch you in, Zebra Three."

Captain Dobey's voice boomed over the radio. "Hutch, we had to evacuate the courthouse. The bomb squad did another sweep and found a bomb. They are disarming it, but it may take a while. I need you to listen to me, and don't second-guess what I tell you. Go to the place I found you when Starsky got shot. I'll meet you there."

"Roger that, Cap." He handed Karen the mike and told Starsky, "Head for your place."

Starsky wasn't thrilled with the idea, which was evident in his tone. "Doesn't he realize they probably have both our places staked out?"

Karen cut in. "I thought you trusted Dobey."

He headed towards his house and said, "I do trust him."

When they reached Starsky's place it looked like Fort Knox. There was a SWAT team, the bomb squad, four police dogs, and six uniformed officers. They got out of the car and headed into the apartment. Dobey pulled up as they were walking in. Even though the apartment had been checked, both Starsky and Hutch walked through it, rechecking, closing all drapes, blinds, and double-checking locks.

Karen sat down on the couch and realized that the nightmare was not over, not by a long shot. She was trembling and suddenly felt very cold and alone. She couldn't get the thought of how much danger the detectives were in just by being with her, but she was refusing to cry. She knew she had to be strong.

Starsky caught her mood change in the corner of his eye and signaled Hutch. He walked into the kitchen and put on the kettle of water. He took out three cups, then added a fourth when he saw Dobey at the door. He took down a box of tea and went to work.

Hutch sat on the couch near Karen and Dobey joined them in the living room. He gently took her hand and asked, "Are you okay? Have my boys been taking good care of you?" He smiled at her and she half-way smiled back. He continued, "Karen, if you want to call this whole thing off, I wouldn't blame you. You've been through a lot and I know you must be tired. The SWAT team is staying here, and so are the police dogs. I had the cruisers removed so that it wouldn't attract too much attention. I figure there may be more bad cops out there, but with this many they can't all be bad." He looked at Hutch and continued, "They took Baker's wife and kids. Instead of coming to me, he panicked and told them about Huggy. We found Louise and the kids; they've been dead for two days."

Starsky put the tray on the coffee table and sat down on the arm of the couch.

Hutch asked softly, "Where's Baker and Jones?"

"Jones is at the station. He had no idea why Baker's been acting so nervous lately. He even brought it to my attention yesterday. Thought he needed a vacation. Baker's talking to the FBI, and I don't know whether he'll face charges, but he'll be taken off the roster." He looked at Karen, wondering if she understood what he had said. "Karen, can I get anything for you?"

She didn't answer and suddenly Starsky said, "She needs her suitcase. I threw it in the back of the cruiser."

Dobey left and returned with the suitcase.

Starsky poured the tea and handed it to Karen. She took it and sipped it without a word. She knew if she tried to talk she would break out into tears and she couldn't do that. She now had three more names to add to the long list of people who had died because she did the right thing.

Starsky looked at Hutch, and then looked at Dobey, who was saying, "Hutch, I need you or Starsky to come to the station to figure out our next move."

Hutch spoke up. "I'll go. She needs you here."

Starsky walked them out and squeezed Hutch's shoulder. "You be careful. She doesn't need anymore names on the list."

Dobey looked puzzled.

Hutch answered, "I'll explain it on the way. You be careful, partner. I don't wan't to break anyone new in." They stared at each other for a few seconds and then smiled.

Starsky relocked the door and went back to the living room, stopping to open the suitcase and take out Stanley. He handed Stanley to Karen.

She looked up at him and said, "Pretty childish, huh? I should get rid of this old..." She began hugging the bear, crying quietly.

Starsky knelt down in front of her and put his arms on her shoulders.

She looked into his eyes and said, "I promised myself I wouldn't cry, but I can't..."

Starsky hugged her tightly and said, "You cry all you want. It's just the three of us, and Stanley and I won't tell anyone."

She cried for about five minutes and then as she stopped, Starsky said, "Are you hungry? Do you want me to make you something?"

"No, just don't leave for a few minutes, please."

"I'm not going anywhere, Karen." He looked into her eyes and then he kissed her. She kissed him back and began to unbutton his shirt. He began to remove her shirt, and then stopped. He pulled away a little and asked, "Are you sure about this? I don't want to do anything you'll regret later."

She kissed him again then said, "Can we go to the bedroom? I don't want your security team walking in on us."

He took her hand and led her to his bedroom.


Hutch, Dobey and Agent Pomfret from the FBI went over the plans to get Karen to the grand jury. Hutch didn't trust Pomfret, and he made no attempt to hide it. After several comments that the captain let slide, Hutch took it too far, saying, "With the FBI's help, we should all be dead by noon."

Captain Dobey was tired and frustrated and let Hutch know it when he screamed, "That's enough, Hutchinson. If I wanted to deal with this type of juvenile behavior I would have taken Starsky with me. If you don't have anything productive to say, keep your mouth shut."

Agent Pomfret interrupted with, "Look, Hutchinson, I don't see what you're mad at me for. Baker was one of your men, not ours. It was your officers who let a bomb slip through and furthermore..."

Captain Dobey's voice boomed, "That's enough, damn it! I've had enough of the two of you. Mallicone has connections everywhere. Mistakes have been made by both teams. Now let's just figure out how to get this girl to the grand jury and home before she loses anyone else."

Pomfret said, "Her parents and sister hit her hard and when they killed Charlie Swanson she ran. The other agent covering her said Charlie had just found out the day before about her sister's death being a hit. Then Charlie getting shot and dying in her arms--no wonder the girl hid."

Hutch looked puzzled. "How come you didn't mention her husband Johnny dying. Charlie's files said he died in a car accident. Karen said she saw the car get hit."

Pomfret looked angry. "Are you telling me she doesn't know he's alive? He was in the accident; he was hurt bad, but he recovered. We let the death notice out to help keep him safe. We've had him in a safe house in Nevada trying to get more evidence on Mallicone. I assumed Charlie was told and let her know."

Hutch slumped down in the chair. "My God, she doesn't know her husband is still alive, and I think she and Starsky are getting real--" He realized he was speaking out loud. "Cap, I've got to talk to her and Starsky, and the phones are tapped, so I'm out of here. Can I use your car?"

Dobey didn't answer, just tossed him the keys.


Karen was lying in bed with her head on Starsky's chest. He was quiet and staring at her in the ceiling mirror. "Penny for your thoughts."

She looked up at him and smiled, saying, "Dave, it's the first time since Johnny died that I've been with someone. I don't regret it. I just feel like I don't know."

Starsky hugged her tightly and whispered, "Like you were betraying him and angry at the same time because he wasn't here to be with you."

She whispered back, "Yeah, that's it exactly."

Starsky ran his hand through her hair and said, "That's how I felt the first time I was with someone after Terry died. When I lost Terry I thought I'd never love anyone that way again. It hurt so much not to have her here. I've been with a few different women since, but even when it's been great there was still something missing. I think that's what you'll feel for awhile, too."

"Dave, be honest. Are you sorry we did it?"

"Not at all. Karen, I don't know what the future will hold for us, but this is a memory I'll always treasure." He looked in her eyes and kissed her again.

She chuckled and said, "Let me give you another memory."


Hutch knocked on the door, which Starsky found extremely strange. He opened the door, letting Hutch in. "Did you lose your key?"

"No. I didn't want to just walk in if you and Karen were, uhm, busy." He was blushing, looking around.

Starsky smiled. "Hutch, what the hell have you been drinking? You've walked in while I've had female company here before."

"Not married female company."

"What the hell are you talking about? Karen's husband's dead."

Starsky looked at Hutch who was shaking his head. "Starsk, Karen doesn't know, but Johnny's alive. The FBI has him stashed. I was hoping to tell her before you two got any closer."

"Oh, God, Hutch! She's in the shower. I gotta tell her." He looked pale and confused.

Hutch grabbed his arm. "Are you okay? I can tell her if you want. Starsky, are you falling in love with her because she looks like Terry, or is something else going on here?"

"Hutch, I'm not falling in love with anybody. I'm not some little kid who can't tell Karen from Terry. I don't know exactly what I feel for her, but it's more then friendship, and it's got nothing to do with Terry. Hutch, I'm not sure, but she may be falling in love, and I don't want her to be hurt."

Hutch squeezed his shoulder. "I think she's had feelings for you since the beginning."

Karen came out into the kitchen and, feeling the tension, she asked, "What's wrong? Is there something I should know about?"

Starsky led her to the couch and sat down beside her.

"Dave, you're scaring me. What happened?"

"Karen, the FBI has Johnny in protective custody. He's alive."

"That's impossible, Dave. He would have gotten word to me. I saw the car crash. I saw Johnny, and Charlie told me he was dead. Why would he lie?"

Starsky looked to Hutch for answers. Hutch took Karen's hand. "Karen, Agent Pomfret said that Johnny was hurt real bad and they let the mob believe he was dead to keep him safe. He thought you knew, and then you disappeared and no one knew where you were."

"Hutch, how do we know Pomfret's not lying? Maybe this is a trap to get me out into the open." She pulled her hand away and her voice was full of anger. "No! No way. If Johnny was alive he would have given them the locker number where he hid the paperwork. He would have testified, and he would have taken the heat off me, and Terry wouldn't dead, and I wouldn't have hidden, and my life wouldn't have been ruined. There's no way he's alive. He loved me! He would have... Hutch, you're wrong. You have to be wrong, because if he's alive then he never..." She knew it was true, but couldn't finish saying it. Just thinking it was awful, but to say it out loud would have reinforced that he never loved her, and everything she went through because of him was for nothing. All the people she loved died because of a man who didn't love her. Suddenly it was like she had no reason to go on. No reason to hide from the people who had tried to kill her. No reason to fight anymore; no reason to even keep breathing. Nothing mattered anymore.

Hutch and Starsky waited to see if she would finish the sentence, but she never did. She just sat staring at the wall, not crying, not speaking, just staring. Hutch signaled Starsky with his eyes to go to the kitchen. Both men got up.

Starsky said, "I'll be right back," and walked to the kitchen.

Hutch picked up the phone and dialed the precinct and asked for Captain Dobey. "Cap, is Pomfret still there?" He nodded to Starsky. "Ask him if Johnny ever told him about the locker where the paperwork was." He shook his head no. "Ask why Johnny never testified to a grand jury." He rolled his eyes and then said softly, "I don't know, Cap. I just don't know." He hung the phone up. "Starsk, he said he wouldn't testify until Karen did. He set his own wife up to save himself. What the hell kind of scum does something so cold?"

Starsky could just muster enough energy to say, "I don't know." He went back to Karen and took her hand. "Karen, why don't you go lay down? Hutch and I will be right here."

She looked at him for a second and then got up slowly. She looked at the front door and realized she was still in her robe. She walked towards the bedroom. She got dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers, and hugged Stanley, then laid him on the bureau near Terry's picture. She quietly went to the back door and stepped outside.

The police officer at the door asked her, "Are you suppose to be out here, Mrs. Walsh? It's not very safe. I think you should go back inside."

She smiled at him. "Dave said it would be okay if I got some air while he brings the car around back. We're moving out. You can go inside and talk to Hutch or go around front to see Dave."

The officer look at her questionably, then knocked on the back door loudly.

Karen sat down on the bottom step as Dave opened the door. "What do you need, Pete?"

Officer Peter Cote was pointing down at the girl.

Dave snapped, "What the hell are you doing, Karen?" He came down and grabbed her arm.

She looked up at him and said, "It works in the movies." She gave the officer a smile on her way in.

Hutch was standing in the doorway. "What the hell are you two doing outside?"

Starsky pointed at Karen. "Ask her." He said, leading her into the living room, "I can't believe you would do something so damned stupid. Do you have any idea how dangerous this is?"

"I don't care," she stated calmly.

"You could have gotten killed, Karen."

"I don't care, Dave."

"Look, you may not care, but I do. Damn it, Karen, you could have been killed. What he did sucks, and I can't make that hurt go away. He doesn't deserve your love, and he definitely isn't worth your life. Your husband sold you out so he would be safe. He saved his own ass at the expense of your parents, Charlie, and Terry. Don't let her die in vain. If you quit now, they will all have died for nothing."

"That's not fair, Dave. You don't understand. He used me to get the job to hide the money and then to stay out of jail. He used me, and I love him. Well, not anymore. This lady's done doing what everybody else wants, and that includes you and Hutch." She tried to pull her arm away from Starsky, and when he wouldn't let go, she slapped him across the face hard enough to leave a handprint. She flinched, not knowing what to expect, but nothing happened.

She opened her eyes, and Dave was smiling, saying, "Good, get angry, get tough, but get angry at the right people. Karen, use that anger to put Mallicone where he belongs, and maybe even Johnny, but for God's sakes, stop running. You deserve to live your life, meet someone worthy of you, get married, and have a dozen kids. Hell, you'd look great in a big house with a white picket fence and a swing set in the backyard."

He smiled and she smiled back, saying, "You forgot the dog, the tire swing, and I don't want twelve kids." She chuckled and looked at Hutch. "He really is a pain in the ass, isn't he?"

Hutch nodded and added, "But he grows on you. Karen, it is your decision. We'll be here if you want us, but we can't force you to talk to the grand jury. Nobody would blame you if you want to walk away."

She looked back at Starsky and, smiling, she said, "I'll stop running and I'll testify, but you owe me a night on the town, complete with dinner and dancing. Hutch, I want to hear you play that guitar. Starsky says you're really good, and that you even sing."

"So we got a deal?" Starsky asked, smiling.

"One more thing: I want to see Johnny." She looked back at Hutch. "Do you think it would take long to arrange? I just have a few questions, and I won't stay long. I just need some answers, and he's the only one I can get them from."

Hutch smiled at her like he was looking at a lost child. "I'll see what I can do, but it may take a while. I think he's still in Nevada."

The rest of the day seemed to last forever to Karen. The waiting for information was bad enough, but Starsky had called her Terry at least four times, and it was getting harder to pretend she hadn't notice.

The last time Hutch noticed and realized how hurt Karen was feeling. "Starsk, give me a hand in the kitchen while we go over the route for tomorrow."

Starsky jumped up with his usual flare and called back, "Terry, I'll cook dinner or he'll have us eating seaweed and liver extract."

Karen got up and headed for the bedroom and slammed the door.

"Wow, she must hate seaweed more then I do."

Hutch was giving him a dirty look, and Starsk asked, "What'd I do? She's been cold to me all afternoon."

Hutch shook his head and said, "You don't even realize you're doing it."

Starsky shrugged. "I'm doing what?"

"You keep calling her Terry. She's been trying to ignore it, but I can tell she's hurting."

Starsky slumped onto the stool at the breakfast bar. "God, I didn't realize. I look at her and sometimes I feel like the last year's been a bad dream and Terry's still here. I don't want to hurt her, but when I'm with her, I can't stop thinking about Terry. It not just the fact they're identical twins, but the way she moves, the things she says, that laugh, all says Terry to me."

Hutch squeezed his shoulder. "I know how much you love Terry, but you can't pretend Karen is her. It's not fair to Karen and it's not fair to you. I think she really has feelings for you, and you need to let her down easy before it's too late and she really gets hurt."

Starsky headed for the bedroom; he knocked on the door and went in, closing the door behind him.

Karen was sitting on the bed curled up with her knees pulled to her chest and her head resting on her knees.

He sat on the bed and softly said, "I'm sorry, Karen. I didn't even realize what I was saying."

She looked up at him and he could tell she'd been crying. She put her hand on his shoulder and said, "I hope Terry realized how lucky she was to have someone love her the way you did. Still do. When I first read her diary I was so jealous of what she had with you. I guess even back then I knew Johnny didn't real care about me. You made her so happy, and I just wanted to be her for a while. To see what it felt like to have someone love me that much. I know I could never replace Terry, but until today I thought you and I had a shot. Today I realized that even when you know I'm Karen, your heart sees Terry, and that's not going to change."

His eyes filled with tears. "Karen, when Terry died, part of me died. If it weren't for Hutch I don't think I would have made it. I can't let you believe I feel something I don't. I do like you a lot, but I don't love you the way I loved Terry. I may never be able to love anyone that way again, but I would love to have you as a friend."

She smiled slightly. "You already do, Dave. I guess it would be hard for you to get rid of me now."

Starsky laughed. "You really are something special. Hey, I hate soapy scenes. What do you say we go pick on Hutch?"


The following day they had to be in court at ten. The escort consisted of a SWAT team in the lead and two cruisers, which followed the Torino to the courthouse. The ride was uneventful and the courthouse was checked for explosives twice. They were escorted to a small room at the rear of the courthouse. Hutch checked the room and then, finding it safe, he walked out with Dobey to recheck everything. He and Dobey passed two police officers in the hall.

Dobey called out to them, "No one gets down this hallway until we come back."

One officer replied, "Yes, sir." The other stood at attention.

Dobey and Hutch disappeared down the hallway. The two officers moved quickly towards the room.

Starsky and Karen were sitting on a small couch when the door opened. Starsky pulled his gun, but lowered it when he saw the officers. He didn't recognize them so he didn't holster the gun.

The first officer said, "Detective Starsky, there's been a little trouble, and Officer Hutchinson has been hurt. Captain Dobey asked me to come get you."

Something registered as wrong and Starsky raised the gun back up and stood in front of Karen. He pointed towards the officer closest to the door. "You go get Dobey and tell him to come back here." He pointed to the other officer and said, "Put your gun on the floor and slide it over here easy."

Karen thought Dave had lost his mind. Stepping forward, she said, "Dave, Hutch is hurt. What you are doing?"

He stopped her with his right arm and whispered, "Something's not right. Don't move, Karen."

The officer slid the gun across the floor and Starsky carefully picked it up, and the other officer left the room. Five seconds later the door was kicked in by the same officer, who was now shooting in the direction of Starsky and Karen. The officer who stayed with them was reaching for a second gun he had hidden.

Starsky had already pushed Karen down before the first shot was fired. Starsky shot the officer in the doorway, but before he had a chance to turn his gun on the second officer, he felt the bullet hit his left forearm and his gun flew out of his hand towards Karen. He shot the gun he was holding in his right hand, and, leaped for cover at the same time.

Suddenly the room was filled with the sounds of gunfire that registered as his gun. Starsky looked up to see the second officer falling down the wall, leaving a trail of blood on the wall behind him. His first thought was: "Hutch to the rescue." He looked around to find Hutch, but instead saw Karen holding his gun, her finger still pressing on the trigger, aimed at the wall where the second officer had been standing. She didn't move or blink.

Hutch arrived at the door followed by Dobey and several other police officers.

Starsky tried to take the gun out of Karen's hand. "Karen, are you okay? Karen, listen to me; give me the gun. It's all over; you're safe."

She looked down at his hand and saw the blood pulsing out of his arm. "He shot you, and I didn't want him to shoot you again. I didn't want to kill him, but the gun just kept shooting. Dave, I killed a police officer. I've never touched a gun before in my life and I killed a man."

Starsky shook her. "Karen, he wasn't a cop. He was one of Mallicone's goons, and he would have killed us both. Karen, you had to shoot him. Do you understand me, Karen? Karen, give me the gun; you're safe."

She let go of the gun and collapsed like a rag doll.

He caught her and yelled, "Get an ambulance." He saw Hutch. "Thank God! I'm glad you're not hurt, Blintz."

Hutch grabbed Starsky's arm, which was now covered in blood. "Starsk, you've been shot and the way you're bleeding, they may have hit an artery." Hutch wrapped a handkerchief tightly around his arm above the bullet wound.

Starsky's face was white as a ghost and he was starting to lose his grip on Karen. "She saved my life Hutch. Shhheee..." He collapsed against Hutch with all his weight and Karen's.

Dobey helped Hutch lower them to the floor. He looked at the dead man and realized he was one of the officers they left in the hallway to protect the girl. "Hutch, we walked right by them in the hallway. How the hell did they get passed the security check?"

Starsky was still conscious. He was trying to tell Hutch something, but was having trouble. "He called me Detective Starsky. Even a rookie knows detectives need detectives for partners, but, Hutch, he told me Officer Hutchinson had been hurt. You're not hurt, are you, Blintz?"

Hutch chuckled. "No, I'm fine."

Starsky woke up at the hospital. His left arm was wrapped in white gauze and he had an IV in his right arm. Hutch was gently holding his left hand and Karen was sleeping in a nearby chair. He was trying to understand the familiar feeling of nausea and headache caused by anesthesia.

He tried to focus his eyes. "What happened to my stomach and head? I thought I got shot in the arm."

Hutch smiled. "Hey, glad to have you back. You lost a lot of blood. They had to operate to repair some damage the bullet did to your arm."

"Damage; what damage?"

"It's okay, Starsky. The bullet hit an artery and ripped some muscle tissue, but they repaired it. There was no nerve damage, thank God. In a few weeks you'll be good as new. If you behave, they may let you out in a day or two."

"Is Karen okay?"

"She's fine, Starsk. She fell asleep around midnight. She testified in front of the grand jury and a warrant has been issued for Mallicone's arrest for eight counts of conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, laundering money, bribery, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit destruction of a federal building, and a bunch of other charges. The feds took Johnny Walsh in when they realized he had the paperwork all along. Agent Pomfret said he'd like to see him in the same cell as Mallicone."

"Midnight...? What time is it?"

"It's twenty past three."

"In the morning."

"Yeah. You've been out for a while."

Karen spoke out softly. "Hey, you said you'd wake me when he woke up." She moved to the bed, yawning and rubbing her eyes "So, you gonna make it, Dave? You really had me scared. I thought you lost your mind when you pulled that gun on those men."

"Thank you, Karen. You saved my life."

"Forget it; I panicked, and lucky for you the gun was aimed the right direction. I have to stay around for a few days because Dobey said there'll be a hearing about the shooting, but it's just procedure. I guess the way you guys work, you must have a lot of these hearings. I'm going back to the farm. I'll sell my place in Nevada, and with the money the feds are giving me to relocate, I may even buy the place if the executive of the estate and I can reach a reasonable price." She yawned again. "Maybe you guys could come for a visit."

Starsky watched Hutch yawn. "Hutch, take her home so you two can..." he yawned, "get some sleep."

Hutch and Karen laughed at how quickly Starsky was out again.

Hutch took Karen's hand. "Come on Peppermint Patty. I'll take you back to Starsky's place. I'll take the couch, and you can have the bed."

Hutch looked back before leaving the room. "Night, partner. I'll be back before you wake up."

The End