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In The Hands of a Mad Man



Starsky had just turned onto Chester Street when the call came over the radio. "Control to Zebra Three. Come in Zebra Three."

Hutch picked up the mike and replied, "Control, this is Zebra Three. What have you got for us?"

"Captain Dobey wants you in his office immediately."

"Roger, Control." Hutch hung the mike up and looked at Starsky. "I think we're gonna be real late for dinner. You better call Joan when we get to the office. This is the third time you postponed your special dinner. How you ever got such a nice girl to stick with you this long, I'll never figure."

"If you don't call Gwen and let her know we'll be late, you'll never see three weeks, let alone six months."

"I've just about had it with her complaining about my job, the hours, the danger. It's like being with Van."

"Why don't you just stop seeing her if she's making you so miserable?"

"Because she's very persuasive in the bedroom, and every time I say we need to have a serious talk she takes her clothes off and we never talk."

"I know! Wait until you're out in public, then tell her."

"I tried that last week. I don't think they'll ever take a reservation under the name Hutchinson at Le Café again." They both laughed as they turned into the precinct parking lot.

Hutch called Gwen and was waiting for her to stop complaining when he heard Starsky say, "Hutch and I will meet you at my place when we're done... I'll call before we leave... Me too, bye."

He turned to Hutch who was covering the mouthpiece of the receiver. "Joan's cooking a special dinner at my place, so it doesn't matter how late we are. She said she figured it was safer then making new reservations. She said, call when we leave so she can put the lasagna in the oven and start desert." Taking the phone away from Hutch, Starsky listened for a few seconds then spoke into the phone. "Hutch has to go; the captain's pulling him into the office as we speak. He'll call you about dinner later." He hung up before she had a chance to respond. They headed to Dobey's office.

Joan was a beautiful looking woman with long shapely legs and an hourglass figure. She had long light brown hair that she wore loose down her back, and a face that could have easily been used to sell makeup, which she rarely used. Her full lips and high check bones were highlighted by her stunning dark brown eyes. She was busy cooking dinner around 6:30 when the phone rang. She picked it up expecting to hear Starsky's voice. "Hello," she said in a soft sexy voice.

The distorted voice at the other ended sounded nothing like Starsky. "Hello, Joan."

"Who is this?"

"It's me again."

"Look I don't know what kind of sick joke this is, and how you know who I am, but it's not funny."

"It's not supposed to be funny Joan. I know all about you. Where you work, live, and even what time you jog in the morning. I watch you all the time. What happened to Terry will be considered calm when I'm done with you."

"You're lying. You don't know anything."

"You live on the second floor of 240 Maple Street and you have the cutest little carrousel on your night stand. This morning you wore your blue jogging suit. I prefer the black one. And right now you're wearing a white apron and holding a wooden spoon."

The wooden spoon fell to the floor.

"You'll have to wash that spoon now. Germs, you know."

The phone went dead, and at the same time Starsky and Hutch walked thru the front door.

Joan jumped, let out a small scream, and hung the phone up. She was as pale as her apron.

Starsky moved towards her. "Hey, you okay? We didn't mean to scare you."

She threw her arms around Starsky, and he could feel her shaking.

Starsky looked at Hutch puzzled, and Hutch asked, "Who were you on the phone with?" as he picked up the spoon.

Karen pulled away from Starsky and quickly went over to shut the curtains. She came back and said, "He knew what I was wearing and that I dropped the spoon."

Both men ran for the door; they walked around the deck of the house, and the phone rang again.

Starsky ran back into the house as Joan picked it up. "Hello," she said shakily. Starsky was standing beside her, sharing the phone.

The same voice came back on the line. "You sleep tight because tomorrow the game starts."

Starsky grabbed the phone. "Look, you sick pervert, I don't know how you got this number but..."

He was interrupted by the voice saying, "Detective Starsky, it's not nice to listen to other people's conversations." The phone went dead.

Starsky hung the phone up and took Joan to the couch. Hutch poured her a drink, wine, and brought it over.

Starsky asked, "Honey, what did he say to you before we got here?"

"He told me my address, what I wore jogging this morning... He, um, said he knows where I work, and, um, they'll consider it calm when, um, when I'm done with you." She looked at Hutch as if asking for help.

Hutch knelt down near her and said, "Joan, I know something got you really freaked, but we can't help unless we know everything. What else did he say? What would be considered calm?"

"He knew about the carousel I keep in my bedroom and he said..." She looked back at Hutch and then stared at Starsky and said, "I don't want you to feel hurt."

Starsky asked her, "What would be considered calm?"

She trembled when she said what she knew was Starsky's only weakness. "Wh-what happened to Terry when he was done with me."

Starsky held her tight, and she held back the tears.

Hutch grabbed the phone, called headquarters, and told the person on the phone, "I need a check done on a prisoner in maximum security: Prudolm, George P-R-U-D-O-L-M. Tell them I need them to physically check to make sure. Yes, I'll hold." A minute later-- "You're sure. Okay." He walked back into the living room. "He's in his cell. Do you think it's a hoax?"

Starsky looked back at Joan. "Have you gotten any other strange calls?"

She nodded her head. "Three times. The first was last week when I got home from our date at the Pits, and twice at work."

Starsky looked a little angry. "Why didn't you say something, Joan?"

"Because I didn't want to worry you. I thought it was just some phone freak until tonight. The first time he called, he said I needed a new dance partner, that the one I had was gonna hurt me. When he called at work all he said was, 'You look nice today.' He never described what I was wearing or anything. Dave, you're under enough stress at work, and I thought it was something I could handle. Then, tonight, he started telling me things he should be able to know and I got scarred. When I heard the door open I thought it was him because you were going to call so I could... Oh God, my lasagna! Dave, dinner's gonna be ruined."

She got up and went into the kitchen; she removed the glass pan from the refrigerator and placed it in the oven. She pulled out a large bowl containing lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers and dropped it on the floor. She started to pick it up and Starsky came over. He picked the items up and put the bowl in the sink and hugged her, running his fingers through her long brown hair.

He whispered into her ear, "S' Okay ta cry."

She looked at him with determination. "Then he wins. Whatever sick game he's playing, if I break down, he wins." She thought about the carousel comment and softly said, "Do you think he's really been in my place?"

"How about if, after dinner, Hutch and I take you home, and check the place out. I'll bring a change of clothes and I'll drop you off at work in the morning on my way to the precinct."

"Dave, we talked about this before and," she turned five shades of red when she looked up and remembered Hutch was still there.

Starsky chuckled and said, "I'm not saying what you think. I'll sack out on the couch. Joan, it may be someone out for revenge on me. It's not safe for you to be alone, and I'm not looking for anything more to feel guilty about. It's your place or mine, sweetheart."

They arrived at Joan's apartment at 11:00, and Hutch helped Starsky check the doors and windows. Hutch checked the fire escape and walked around outside to see if anything looked out of place. When he reentered the apartment he had a few facts to help Joan feel safer. "Someone had accessed the fire escape which has a view of the bedroom. Most likely, they had never entered the apartment. They did leave behind an empty pack of cigarettes, which I'll have checked for prints, and I called in to up the patrols in the area. A black and white will be by at least every half hour."

"Thanks, Ken, I really appreciate this." She gave him a kiss on the cheek and turned to Starsky. "I hope you realize what a great partner you have, Dave."

"I do, and I hope he realizes he never called Gwen back about dinner," Starsky said, laughing.

"Oh God, she'll never stop yapping about this one," Hutch said, rubbing his forehead.

"If she doesn't, just tell her you need to talk and that should make you smile."

"Good night, Joan. Enjoy the couch, Starsk," Hutch called on his way out. "I'll be back at 8:00,"

Starsky and Joan sat on the couch, but she looked a little nervous, so he put his arm around her and said, "It's gonna be fine; no one's gonna hurt you while I'm around." He kissed her on the lips, and then pulled away for a second to smile and kissed her again. His tongue felt so good against hers she began to get lost in the moment, laying back onto the couch with Dave on top of her, and playing with his chest hair. He reached inside of her blouse and she froze.

He sat up quickly and said, "I'm only human, and if you don't get off this couch and into the other room, we're gonna be going a lot farther then you want right now."

"I'm sorry, Dave, I must seem like the biggest tease in the world. Why do you put up with me?"

"I don't know," he said, smiling, then with a real serious look, he said, "I really care about you, and I think you're worth the wait." He put on a devilish smile and said, "Just don't make me wait too long. I am only human, you know." He gave her a quick kiss and lead her to the bedroom. Kissing her on the hand, he said, "Get in there before I change my mind."

Joan was lying in bed awake at 2:30 when she heard Starsky mumbling and stirring on the couch. She went into the living room and approached the couch. She could hear him call out to Terry. She gently touched him and softly said, "Dave, wake up; you're having a bad dream." She shook him a little, and he woke up, looked at her and said, "You okay?"

"Dave, you're the one that was having a nightmare." She chuckled.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you up."

"It's okay, I haven't been able to get to sleep. You want to talk, it might help."

"Just a nightmare; I used to have them all the time."

"You were calling for Terry."

"I'm really sorry, Joan."

"Don't be silly; you don't have to be sorry for having a nightmare. Dave, you loved Terry, and she was taken from you in a horrible way. I would never ever ask you to forget about her, or get mad because of a nightmare."

"You're really some thing special, you know that."

"It's nice to hear every once in a while. I know I'm not the easiest woman in the world to date. I don't wear the right make-up, or fancy labeled clothes, I don't have the greatest job, and I don't put out."

"Joan, you're beautiful. Don't you know that?" She looked down, but he put his hand under her chin lifting her head. He continued, "You really don't know how beautiful you are, do you? Joan, you don't need makeup or fancy clothes. God, you'd look great in a potato sack. Don't you own a mirror? Come with me." He walked her into the bedroom and stood her in front of the mirror. "What do you see?"

"Just me and a very handsome man who needs to comb his hair."

"Be serious. Even with no makeup on, you have the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen. You have those cheek bones models pay plastic surgeons for, and the cutest little ears." He kissed her earlobe and then her neck. "I've been with women who look stunning all made up and in expensive gowns, and the next morning when they wake up, it's pretty scary."

"Just how many women are we talking?"

"A few; my reputation is a little exaggerated."

"Great. So, you've been with all these beautiful, experienced women, and I've got no experience at all." She would do anything to take back the last part, but it was too late.

He looked at her blushing face and said, "None? You mean, you're still a virgin at your age?"

She pulled away, thinking, Oh great, here comes the jokes. "Don't say it like it's a dirty word, or like it makes me weird."

"Hey, I didn't mean it like that. I just can't believe someone as beautiful as you made it through high school, let alone college, without every guy trying to get you into the sack."

"Dave, I was fat in high school and college. I had exactly two dates before I turned 28. One was with a nerdy friend who was getting the California Technical Communication Society Award, and the other was with a blind date that left me in the restaurant with the bill. I had two boyfriends since then: one who dumped me on the sixth date because I wouldn't put out, and the other is in need of a comb because his hair is a mess." She handed him a comb and walked back into the living room.

He came in to join her with his hair neatly combed. He sat on the side of her, put his arm around her shoulder and said, "Sorry if I insulted you back there. Hutch says I should use my mind before my mouth. So what did they say when you went back for your high school reunion?"

"I never went back. For me, high school and college held nothing but bad memories, and who wants to remember that? Dave, I have to ask you something, kind of a favor."

"Sure, what?"

"Don't tell Hutch. I don't want him looking at me like I'm weird."

"Hey! Hutch and I don't discuss everything. I wouldn't talk to him about something this private, and I don't think it makes you weird. It is unusual, but it's nice. Just something else to like about you. One of the first things I noticed after your smile was how sincere and genuine you are. Then I noticed your legs and my heart was yours."

"The first thing I noticed about you was your eyes. I've never seen blue eyes like yours."

"Hutch has blue eyes. He met you three seconds before you met me."

"But his are different. Yours are like a window to your soul. Warm and friendly and a little sad." She stared at his eyes. "That sexy little smile of yours and the fact you have the cutest butt in town didn't hurt, either." She watched him slightly blush and smile. "You're a mystery, David Starsky. Sometimes you remind me of a little kid and other times you're this big tough cop, not afraid of anything. There are times, like tonight, you're the perfect gentleman, and times I think you're absolutely insane, like when you're at the Pits, or when you're pulling pranks on your boss. All I know for sure is, I like everything I've seen so far." She yawned and put her head on Dave's shoulder. He wrapped his arm around her, covered he with the blanket, and kissed the top of her head.

Hutch arrived just before 8:00 the next morning. Starsky and Joan were just finishing breakfast.

Joan asked, "Would you like something to eat, or coffee?"

Hutch shook his head no, and said, "Thanks. I had breakfast with Gwen at 6:00. Was everything quiet last night?"

Starsky was just finishing his coffee when he replied, "Not a peep. Probably just some nut with a lot of time on his hands. I'd like to know how he got my number. I'm gonna check out a few things when we get in and let Dobey know what the nut said just in case. How'd you meet up with Gwen after you left here?"

"She was waiting at my front door when I got home."

"Let me guess. You said you were tired, and she took off her clothes."

"No. She showed up wearing nothing but a raincoat. Did you ever try to tell a beautiful naked woman you're tired? She just doesn't take no for an answer."

When they arrived at Joan's office, they were greeted by the site of two cruisers and Captain Dobey who was having them paged. "Control to Zebra Three. Come in Zebra Three."

"Zebra Three, come in, Control," Hutch replied over the mike.

"Zebra Three, meet Captain Dobey at the District Attorney's office, corner of Fifth and Main."

"Control, log us in and at the scene." Hutch returned the mike and followed Starsky and Joan to where Captain Dobey was standing.

Starsky had his arm around Joan's waist, which threw Dobey into a yelling fit. "You brought a date on a call? Starsky, I've seen you do some stupid stunts before, but this tops them all."

Starsky, in a loud voice, replied, "Cap, she works here. I was bringing Joan to work when we got the call. What happened here, anyway?"

"Are you the assistant D.A. Joan Pomfret?" Dobey asked quietly, hoping he was wrong.

"Yes. Why?"

"I'm sorry. Your secretary, Linda Mitchell, was murdered last night, and your office was vandalized." Dobey looked at Starsky then Hutch and added, "I think maybe someone should take you home until the office is cleaned up."

Joan pulled away from Starsky and headed toward her office. She stood just outside the office and the smell made her gag. She looked into the office to see red painted letters that spelled out, "You picked the wrong one; your blood will flow soon."

She noticed two folded sheets covering two lumps on the floor. She lifted the one of the sheets and saw a human arm. She jumped back up as Starsky and Hutch entered the room.

Starsky pulled her into his arms, covering her head. Hutch covered the arm back up.

She heard Hutch say, "Starsky, that's blood," and everything turned black.

Starsky carried her out into the hallway and placed her on a bench while Hutch checked out the office.

She could hear Starsky calling her name, but he sounded far away. She felt a slight tap to her face, and his voice got louder. "Joan, can you hear me? Joannie, come on, honey, wake up."

"Dave," she started to stir, "who would do this? Linda's only nineteen-years-old. She's getting married next month. Who would do this?"

"I don't know, but I'm going to find out. Listen, Joan, I'm going to take you to the precinct, and I'll have your files pulled. It may be someone we both dealt with. It's a start."

Joan was sitting up now. "You think this has some thing to do with your police work?"

"Wouldn't be the first time."

"Hey, Dave, before you take a ride on that guilt trip, remember what I do for a living. You may bust them, but I'm the one who sticks them in that hell hole of a prison. I knew my job was dangerous long before I met you."

Suddenly Dobey's voice broke in. "You okay, Miss Pomfret?"

She replied, "Yes. Where's Linda? Does Jack know? He's her fiancé. Captain Dobey some one should call him."

"Linda was murdered at home. Her arms were brought here sometime last night. The autopsy isn't finished yet. Jack Wilson is in the hospital. He was hurt in the attack. Starsky, you and I can talk about this later." He didn't want to upset her any further.

"Captain Dobey, I've worked on murder scenes before. My job sees the ugly side of mankind every day. I think I have a right to know what happened."

Captain Dobey took a deep breath. "Miss Mitchell was raped, then partly dismembered." He watched her already pale face lose the rest of its color, but continued, "Her boyfriend was in the room, tied up, with a bullet in his back. He's in severe shock, but the doctors said the wound isn't life threatening. If he saw what happened, that could be the reason for the shock. I'm sorry. D.A. Holmes said you were close to both of them."

"I set them up on their first date. Jack and I went to college together." She spoke just above a whisper. "He was my best friend... I need to see him, even if he's not awake. I'm going to the hospital, and I'll catch up with you later... I don't have my car... Dave drove me in this morning." She suddenly remembered the caller saying, "The game begins tomorrow." She looked up at Dobey and in a professional manner said, "She was killed after midnight." She looked at Starsky and said, "'The game will start tomorrow,' isn't that what he said?"

Dobey looked puzzled. "Who said, and what game?" He looked at Starsky who was obviously shaken up.

"Cap, some nut has been calling and following her. Last night he called her at my place and said what happened to Terry would be considered mild compared to what he would do to her. He called back and said, 'Sleep tight; the game starts tomorrow.' Hutch and I were on our way in to tell you; when we dropped her off, you were already here."

"Call and find out if that nut case Prudolm got out again," Captain Dobey was yelling.

"Hutch checked last night; it isn't him."

The phone in Joan's office began to ring, and Hutch picked it up, but didn't talk. A man's voice on the other end could be heard saying, "The game's just getting started. Joan, we'll play again." The line went dead.

Hutch looked up to see the captain, Starsky, and Joan standing in the doorway.

Joan stepped inside trembling. "What did he say, Ken?"

Hutch took her hand and said, "Come on. We'll talk outside."

She pulled away. "No. He'll call back. He always calls back a minute later."

The room was silent until the phone rang. Joan put it on speaker and said, "Hello."

The voice laughed and said, "Joan, everyone you touch will die until he pays for what he did. I'll take you the way I took Linda, but I will have you." The line went dead.

Captain Dobey said, "Starsky, get her to my office now. I'll wait here for the crime lab. Have my secretary call R&I and get every case you've ever worked on my desk before I get there."

Dobey arrived at his office at 9:30; he had Officer Jill Watson with him. Jill Watson was a twenty-eight-year-old woman who filled her uniform out like catalog model. Even with her hair tied up in a bun, it was easy to see how pretty she was.

He yelled at Starsky "Get your feet off my desk, Starsky. What have you got so far?"

Starsky put his feet on the floor; sitting up straight, he answered, "About a hundred possible suspects, and that's just from the last two years, Cap." He looked over at Joan and winked, and she returned a forced smile.

Captain Dobey looked at Joan and said, "Joan, this is Officer Jill Watson. She's going to take you home and stay with you. I'll have another officer posted at your door, and we'll have a black and white outside at all times."

Officer Watson shook hands with Joan and said, "Nice to meet you. I have a car right outside. I'll wait in the outer office while you get ready." She turned and winked at Hutch who was smiling at her.

Starsky chuckled and softly said, "Gwen won't like her." He moved over to Joan. "We'll be by as soon as we get off. You take care of yourself and stay close to Jill." He bent over and kissed her lightly on the lips gave her his best smile, and winked. He then walked her to the door and returned to his seat.

Captain Dobey in a calm voice asked, "How long you two been dating?"

"A little over six months." He flipped through another file. "She was assigned to a few of our cases and I liked the way she wouldn't back down or plea bargain."

"She looks pretty special to you. How close are you, Dave?" Dobey asked more as a friend then as the captain.

"As special as anyone could get after what happened to Terry." He smiled and added, "We're taking it slow, Dad," and chuckled.

Jill entered the apartment first, leaving Joan with Officer Bernie Jackson outside. She did a room-to-room search before calling Joan in.

Joan said, "Make yourself at home I'll make some tea, or would you prefer coffee?"

"Tea is fine. This is a nice apartment, and it's a safe part of town."

"I love it here. It's quiet, but close to everything. So how well do you know Ken?"

"Not as well as I'd like to."

"He should be here for dinner, if you'd like to stay."

"That's nice of you, but I wouldn't want to impose."

"Don't be silly. Besides, I saw the way he smiled when you came in the room."

"How long have you known Starsky and Hutch?"

"Dave and I have been dating about six months, and you can't know Dave without knowing Ken."

The phone rang and Joan jumped, and walked over to the phone, picked it up and said, "Hello."

The voice on the other end said, "Joan, did you like my paint job?"

She quickly hung the phone up. She looked scared and shaky.

Jill stood up and put her arm around her shoulder and led her back to the couch. The phone rang again. Both women watched it as it rang two more times. Jill picked it up and in a stern voice loudly stated, "Officer Watson speaking.... Look, you sick pervert, why don't you get a real life?" She hung the phone up, and then, picking up the phone again, she dialed the station.

"Captain Dobey, please, this is Officer Watson... Captain Dobey, he called again, twice. He said that she'll watch two more before she dies. No, she's pretty scared, but she's tough and--"

Suddenly, there was the sound of popping, then shattering glass, and Jill fell to the floor.

Joan ran over to her. There was blood coming from her neck and chest, and the living room window was shattered into a million pieces.

Officer Jackson opened the door, came rushing in, and dragged Jill away from the window area. Joan followed trying to apply pressure to her neck.

The male officer could hear Captain Dobey yelling on the phone. He carefully retrieved the phone and said, "We need an ambulance! Officer down! She's been shot."

Dobey called for an ambulance, and for back up to the apartment.

Starsky and Hutch were already out the door.

They arrived at Joan's apartment to find Officer Watson laying dead on the floor and Jackson trying to open Joan's bedroom door.

Starsky looked at the broken window and asked, "Where's Joan? Is she hurt?"

Jackson replied, "I don't know if she's hurt; she freaked when Officer Watson died. I tried to see if she was hurt because she's covered in blood, but she screamed, 'Don't touch me!' and locked the door. She won't answer me and she not making any noise."

Starsky banged on the door. "Joan, it's Dave; open the door." He got no answer and after five seconds kicked the door in. He found Joan sitting on the floor against the wall rocking; the front of her clothing was covered in blood.

Hutch followed him into the room.

Starsky bent down and reached for her.

She pulled back and yelled, "Don't touch me. No one can ever touch me again."

Starsky's eyes were full of tears as he turned back to Hutch.

Hutch remembered the phone call. "Starsky, remember the voice said, 'Everyone you touch will die.' Babe, she's trying to protect you." He sat down near Joan. "Joan, Starsk and I have to make sure you're not hurt. Is it your blood, or Officer Watson's?"

She looked confused. "Blood?" She looked down and noticed the blood for the first time. She gagged and pulled at her shirt. "I hav'ta get her blood off me. Get it off." She began gagging and Hutch reached for her, but she pulled away and screamed, "Don't touch! Please, I can't let you be next! Please, I can't." She began vomiting in the waste paper basket. She could feel someone rubbing her back and the thought of being touched made her throw up even harder.

When she finished, she realized she was being held by Starsky. She buried her head into his shoulder and just kept saying, "I'm sorry, God, I'm so sorry."

Hutch got up and left the room.

Starsky looked at her. Trying to get her attention, he said, "I'll bet I'm gonna have to pay for that door."

She looked at the door, noticing the frame was broken. She chuckled a little. "My landlord's going to have a fit."

Starsky kissed her on the top of her head. "You want to get cleaned up here, or would you feel safer at my place?"

"I'll do it here. I want to get out of these clothes, okay?"

He helped her up and went to find Hutch. He found him in the living room talking to Captain Dobey.

Hutch looked at Starsky and, squeezing his shoulder, asked, "Is she okay?"

"Yeah. It's Watson's blood."

Jackson interrupted. "Excuse me, Detective Starsky, but I thought you should know, she tried to help Jill by applying pressure to her neck wound. She stayed calm until I tried to touch her. I've known Jill for four years, and, well, she tried. Tell her thanks." He left the room.

Starsky let out a breath and shook his head. "How the hell did this happen with a black and white right outside? Hutch, we have ta nail this nut before I get her killed."

Hutch looked back at Starsky and in an angry voice said, "Hey Gordo, don't do this to yourself or to her. She feels guilty enough without you adding anything to her plate. Did you see how scared she was to even let someone touch her? Damn it, Starsk, she doesn't need you going off on a guilt trip."

Captain Dobey added, "If you can't handle this case, I'll put Taylor and Rogers on it."

Starsky perked up. "I wouldn't let Rogers watch my dog, let alone my girl."

Dobey smiled at him. "Why don't you take her back to your place? I'll have a unit posted out front and we'll tap your phone. Hutchinson and I will finish going over the files, and I'll check on what the crime lab's come up with. You be careful. That nut's not just after the girl."

Joan walked out of the bedroom and the phone rang. She picked it up slowly. She could barely get the word, "Hello," to come out of her mouth. She looked relieved as she saidm "No, Paul, I'm fine. It's a police matter; just job related... I don't think I'll make it lunch, but, um, we'll do it next week. I promise... Bye." She hung up the phone and realized she was the center of attention. "It wasn't him." No one said anything so she asked, "What?"

Starsky stayed quiet, but Hutch put a devilish grin on and asked, "Who's Paul?" and looked at Starsky.

Joan looked at Starsky, who just shrugged his shoulders, and she said, "The nerd who won the communication award."

"I didn't know you were still seeing him."

Joan started to smile, realizing that Starsky was looking just a little jealous. "I'm not dating him. He and I have been friends for years, and besides, you're a much better kisser." She looked at Hutch, who was now wearing a full smile.

As Starsky added, "Why were you meeting him for lunch?"

"Because I get hungry around noon, and the nut I am dating doesn't take lunch. He scarfs down burritos in between cases."

Dobey grabbed Hutch, who was now laughing out loud, and said, "We have work to do. You can tease each other later."

Starsky and Joan spent the day making a list of all the cases they shared. It was a short list because they had only worked on twelve cases together. They also talked about cases Joan was working on that had prior arrests that may have involved Starsky. They found six good leads and called them into Hutch.

He arrived around 4:30 with a box full of files. "Cap says you should go over these and he'll send some more when you're done. I didn't realize how many people we've busted in the last five years," he said while taking a beer out of the fridge. "What are you cooking--smells good?"

Joan replied, "Chicken soufflé, so don't touch the oven. Your partner doesn't have normal groceries so it's the best I could do."

"If a soufflé is the best you could do here, you really have to cook at my place. No telling what you could make."

Starsky chuckled. "What can you make with liver extract and seaweed?"

Joan whacked him on the arm and called back to Hutch, "How do put up with him?"

Starsky moved over on the couch and started tickling Joan until they both fell off the couch and were laying on the floor laughing.

The phone rang and the room went silent.

Hutch called out, "Keep him on the line so we can trace the call."

Joan picked it up. "Hello."

The voice made her stomach turn. "Joan, why are you trying to hide from me?"

"I'm not hiding. I'm on a date with Dave."

"If you let him touch you, I'll kill him next."

Her eyes filled with water. "Please, don't hurt him. Why are you doing this?"

"He made me hurt you, Joan! Dave made me do it."

"Dave would never make anyone do that."

"You think he loves you, but he doesn't. He's using you, and when he's done he'll throw you away like the rest."

"That's not true. You're wrong."

"He told the others how ugly you really are, and told them the secret. He's going to use you for conquests then throw you away."

A single tear fell down her cheek. "You're lying. He didn't tell anyone. He won't."

"Then how do I know you're a virgin?"

Tears started falling down her cheeks. "What do want from me?"

"I want you to dance with me, just me, and maybe I'll let Hutch live, too."

She looked at Hutch and then closed her eyes. "Please, stop. I'll do anything if you stop."

"If you meet me tomorrow, I'll let them live."


"I'll let you know tomorrow. I love you, Joan." The line went dead.

She hung up the phone. Starsky and Hutch were staring at her when she opened her eyes.

Starsky asked, "You're shaking. What did he say to you?"

She stood quietly, waiting for him to call back. The phone rang and she picked it up. "Hello."

"If we don't meet tomorrow, they both die." The line went dead and she hung the phone up.

Starsky asked her again. "What did he say?"

She wiped her eyes. "Nothing. He didn't say anything. I'm going to lay down, I'm tired."

Starsky reach for her, but Hutch grabbed his arm. "Let her go; she just needs time, and we need to call Dobey." Hutch picked up the phone and called the precinct. "Captain Dobey, please. This is Detective Hutchinson. Cap, did they get a trace on the last two calls...? He told her what...? Can you play the tape...? Starsky, you should hear this."

They held the phone between them and Dobey played the phone conversation.

Starsky punched the counter top when it was over and yelled, "How the hell did he know what we talked about in her apartment?"

Hutch was still on the phone with the captain. "Cap, is there still an officer at Joan's apartment...? Send the crime lab out there, and then here, to check for a wire and hidden cameras. Captain, I think we've been chasing our tails. He's someone from Joan's past. I doubt he's ever met Starsky... Call me back as soon as you hear anything."

Starsky took two beers out of the fridge and handed one to Hutch. "Did you hear what that twisted pervert said to her? She didn't even tell us he wants a meet. What the hell is she thinking?" He punched the counter again. "Damn it!"

Hutch picked up the phone and ordered a large pizza.

When he hung up, Starsky said, "You do know that Joan's making a soufflé that she worked on all afternoon."

Hutch opened the oven door to a fallen mess. "You do know that you can't punch a counter when there's a soufflé in the oven, don't you? I'll clean up this mess, give her ten minutes, then you can take care of the mess that phone call made. Now finish your beer. Starsky, she's probably a little embarrassed, so go easy on her."

Starsky knocked on the bedroom door before he went in and closed the door. He sat down on the bed. "You okay?" he asked softly.

She turned her head away and wiped her tears. "I'm fine, just tired."

"Joan, they're checking your apartment to see if it's been bugged."

"Bugged? What are you talking about?"

"It's the only way he could have heard what we talked about the last night. Dobey put a trace on my phone, and they are recording all my phone calls to catch this nut. I heard what he said to you. Joan you don't believe him, do you?"

"I believe he's gonna kill you and Hutch unless I go with him." She sat up in the bed. "I hate the fact he knows how to get me scared. What to say to hurt me. I'm scared and I hate feeling scared. I just can't let anyone else get hurt."

"Joan, you're not meeting with this nut. You heard what he said in the office, what he was gonna do to you."

"Dave, if it's between me getting raped, or you and Hutch getting killed, there's no question what I'm gonna do."

"Do you even hear what you're saying? For God sakes, you can't trade your life for mine and Hutch's. Do you think we could live with that?"

"Do you think I can live with the fact that I'm the reason you and Hutch are gonna get killed?"

Starsky got up and opened the door. "Hutch, can you come in here? Now!"

Hutch walked in the bedroom at looked at Starsky, whose eyes were full of tears. "What's up?"

"Hutch, talk some sense into her," he yelled, and slammed the door shut. "She thinks she's gonna meet with that nut to save our hides."

Hutch sat on the bed to Joan's left, took her hand, and said, "There's no way we're letting you sacrifice yourself for us, so come up with a different plan."

She lifted her knees to her chest and in a little over a whisper said, "There isn't any other choice."

Hutch put his arm around her and said, "We'll think of something, I promise." He kissed the top of her head and added, "That big lug over there needs you more then you could possibly know."

Starsky sat on the right side of Joan. He took her right hand and said, "Don't you know I love you? Please promise you'll let us handle this."

"I promise, but don't you dare go get yourself killed."

Starsky kissed her on the lips and there was a knock at the door.

Hutch said, "Dobey came in right before I came in. I forgot he was out there."

Starsky called, "Come in."

Dobey opened the door and looked strangely at the three sitting on the bed. "Are you okay, Joan? Starsky, why are you all sitting in here, and what is that thing in the sink?"

Hutch answered, "That was Joan's soufflé, until Starsky here beat up the counter top."

Joan hit Starsky in the arm. "You killed my soufflé."

Dobey said in a booming voice, "They need to check this room for a wire and camera. Joan, your apartment was bugged, and there were surveillance cameras in the living room and bedroom."

They had just finished dinner when the phone rang. Dobey told Joan to get it. The regular phone had been replaced by an office phone. She hit speaker and said, "Hello."

The voice said, "Joan, I know he talked you out of coming tomorrow, so I'm sending you a present. If you don't come tomorrow alone, I'll send you another."

"What have you done?"

"I brought you an old friend from college."

"What are you talking about?"

"All the people you've touched. You made your choice."

"What do you want from me?"

"You were supposed to be my dance partner, not his."

"Why do you keep talking about dancing?"

"If you're not there, he dies." The line went dead.

There was a loud knock at the door. Joan dropped the phone and breathed in so deeply she made a gasping noise.

Hutch opened the door and a uniformed police officer handed him a package, saying, "This was dropped off at the station with a note that said urgent, and it was to be brought here. The lab has the note. They're checking it for prints. The outer package was checked, but just the delivery man's prints are on the outside."

Hutch brought the package in. "Joan, your name is on it, but I think I should open it."

She nodded her head yes.

Hutch opened the package and turned his head. "Geez. It's a hand with a ring on it."

Dobey took the box, holding it with a handkerchief. He stared at the ring. "Joan, do you know anyone who wears a college ring on their left hand? It has a large red stone."

Her face went pale. "Paul Cayman."

Dobey called the officer back in. "Get this to the labm and see if they can match it to a Paul Cayman. I want a rush put on it." He walked over to Joan. "Think really hard. Have you ever been dancing with anyone, have you ever refused to dance with someone?"

"Paul and I danced at the awards banquet. Dave and I have been dancing. I danced with Hutch once, and Huggy Bear. There is nobody else."

Hutch picked up the phone and called The Pits. "Huggy, it's Hutch. Listen, you may be in danger. I can't explain. Is Tiny there...? Good... Put him on... Tiny, it's Hutch. Listen, there's a chance Huggy's in danger. Can you keep an eye on him for me...? He's already killed three people... We owe you, big time. Bye." He hung the phone up. "Tiny will watch Huggy."

Starsky turned the stereo on. James Taylor's "You've Got A Friend" started playing, and Starsky took Joan by the hand into the living room and started dancing. Five songs later, Hutch took over dancing while Dobey talked to Starsky. They took turns dancing until Hutch had fallen asleep on the couch. Dobey had gone home earlier.

Starsky took Joan into the bedroom and danced her around the bed. She reached over and shut the door and began kissing him more passionately then ever before. She slowly unbuttoned his shirt and dropped it to the floor. He leaned her towards the bed and gently laid her down. She reached over and turned off the light. Starsky began removing her blouse then her bra.

He felt her tremble and stopped. "Joan, if you're not ready, I can wait. I've already told you that."

She kissed him again. "I need you to make love to me."

He smiled at her. "Are you sure?"

She replied, "Dave, I need to be with you tonight. I've never been surer about anything."

The next morning, Starsky woke up at 7:30 to the smell of coffee and bacon.

Joan and Hutch were dressed, sitting in the kitchen laughing.

Starsky walked in and kissed Joan. "Why'd you sneak off on me?"

She kissed him again. "I wanted to make Hutch and you breakfast before you went to work."

"Hey, I'm not leaving you here alone."

"You're not leaving me here alone; there's an officer right outside. Dave, you need to catch this nut and you can't do it from here. Eat your bacon and eggs." She kissed him again. "Then go get dressed for work and maybe tonight I'll give you a surprise." She winked at him and he tilted his head and smiled at her.

Starsky and Hutch stopped off at the Pits to check on Huggy. He told them Sweet Alice was looking for them about Starsky's girl. They stopped by her apartment and Hutch was noticeably upset to see her face all bruised.

He gently touched her face and asked, "Who did this to you?"

In a soft voice she said, "You all need to be real careful, Handsome Hutch. This man hates you and Starsky more then old Janos did. He claims you stole his woman, Starsky, and he said you all gonna pay. When I told him I knew you, he started to hit me. If Earl hadn't come i,n I think he would've killed me."

Starsky looked at Hutch. "She can I.D. him." He looked back at Alice. "Can you come down to the station and help us I.D. this nut? Sweet Alice, he's already killed three people, and he's trying to get to Joan."

She nodded at him. "For you and Handsome Hutch I'd do anything."

Joan was watching T.V. when the phone rang. She picked it up. "Hello."

The voice said, "I'm here, and you're all alone."

She hung the phone up and ran to the door to call the officer inside. She was met at the door by Paul Cayman holding a needle. She tried to shut the door, but he pushed it open. She ran towards the bedroom, throwing down the stools from the breakfast bar in his way. He kicked the bedroom door and began punching her face and stomach. She was still conscious as he stuck the needle into her arm. She began to get very dizzy, then everything turned black.

Starsky and Hutch had just walked into the squad room when Alice looked at the case board, which contained pictures of the crime scene and all the victims. "Hutch, that's him." She was pointing at the picture of Paul Cayman.

Dobey opened the office door and was holding his jacket. "Come on. There's trouble at your place." As they ran down the hall, he explained, "There was a call and we can't raise the officer. Your phone is off the hook, Dave. He told her he was there, and we could hear a fight going on in the background."

When they arrived at the apartment they found the officer dead on the outside stairs. He had been shot at close range. The door was left open and the stools were still on the floor.

Seeing the bedroom door frame made Starsky's stomach churn. He looked in, seeing blood on the floor and no one in the house. He leaned on the wall and sank to the floor. "Where would he take her? The answer has to be here. Where would that nut take her?"

Hutch sat down beside him and thought for a second, then snapped his fingers. "Where did he take her dancing?" He got no response and repeated louder, "Starsk, where did he take her dancing?"

Starsky shook his head. "I don't know."

"Think where she said they went."

"Some kind of an award ceremony, um, it was, um, some technical award in communications--some kind of nerd award." He closed his eyes and thought. "The California Technical Communication Society Award, but I don't know where it was held."

Dobey's voice cut in. "Barrington Hall. That's where it is every year."

Hutch looked at him in amazement. "Are you sure?"

"We provide security every year. It's real high tech stuff. That would explain why we couldn't trace the call, and the wires we found at Joan's apartment."

Starsky jumped up, followed by Hutch who was telling Dobey, "We need back up, but tell them to come in quiet. We don't want to scare this nut."

"I'll tell them to try and wait for you before they move in."

"Thanks, Cap."

Joan was starting to become aware of the fact she was being held and swaying to music. She could hear Paul's voice, but couldn't make out what he was saying. She felt his hand slap her face; the pain made her head clear a little.

She could hear him ask, "Remember this song?" Sshe could barely make out the music, but could hear him sing, "There never seems to be enough time to do the thing you want to do..." She could feel him slap her face again. "I said, remember this song."

He began to shake her until she said, "Time in a bottle." She tried to pull away, but he held her tighter. Without thinking, she mumbled, "Let go you freak." She was rewarded with a punch to her stomach. She was thrown to the floor and dragged across the room.

Paul tied her right wrist to a beam with some rope. He slapped her again. "That was our song, you bitch. We danced to it the night I got my award." He slapped her again and forced her to her feet. "We should have made love that night, but you refused. I've been there, listening to you cry about the world being so mean. I've taken you to lunch every week and listened to Dave this, and Dave that, hoping you would realize he would hurt you, but you were blind to his evil."

He kissed her, but she pulled away, hitting him with her left arm. He laughed while squeezing her neck, releasing her just short of her passing out. He let go and kissed her again. Her right wrist started bleeding under the rope from her attempts to get away. She never felt the pain of the rope cutting through her hand, she just needed to get away.

Paul kissed her again and reached for her breast. She kicked him in the groin and he dropped to the floor. She tried to get away, tugging on the rope. Paul kicked her feet out from underneath her, sending her flying to the floor, landing on her back and banging her head against the beam. She was stunned, but still conscious. She tried to catch her breath, but it seemed almost impossible.

She suddenly felt Paul climb on top of her and kiss her again. She turned her face and tried to scream, but nothing but a wheeze came out. She felt him punch her stomach again, causing her to loose what little air she had. In the back of her mind something said, stop fighting or you'll die, and her body went limp.

This time when he kissed her, she didn't pull away. He kept kissing her for several minutes and she never moved. She could finally breathe at an almost normal pace. She knew she needed time.

She quietly said, "Paul, could we dance please?" He helped her back up on her feet. The song "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" was playing. He left her hand tied to the beam, but started swaying to the beat of music. The song ended and the music stopped briefly.

He kissed her again and began to unbutton her blouse. He put his hand inside her bra, exploring her breast. He moved his mouth down and began sucking on her nipple. His left hand moved down inside her pants and began rubbing her vagina. His fingers entered her, and the song, "You've Got a Friend" started to play.

She pulled away, not thinking of anything but Dave Starsky. She began to hit him and trying to kick, but he grabbed her right arm and pulled it behind her with all his might. She heard a strange popping sound and felt a huge pain run through her. She screamed and fell to the floor.

He quickly realized he had dislocated her shoulder and laughed. "See that, bitch. If you didn't fight, you wouldn't be hurt." He threw her arm to the side, causing another wave of pain. She realized she couldn't move without feeling pain.

He again began unbuttoning her blouse, and she begged him, "Please, don't. Paul, if you really ever cared, you won't do this."

He seemed to calm down for a second, but then, pulling a small gun out of his pocket, he became angry again and tore her shirt open. He climbed on top of her, put the gun to her head and said, "I loved you and you used me. You never cared at all. Dave will pay through your pain. If he hadn't come along, you'd be mine."

The Torino pulled into the parking lot at Barrington Hall and parked beside two police cruisers. They were met by Officer Malone, who informed them, "Jackson and Baker are inside and we have an ambulance on route. We can hear music coming from inside the main hall."

Hutch asked, "Any sign of Joan Pomfret?"

Malone replied, "We haven't seen her, but Jackson just moved inside when he heard a women scream."

Hutch looked at Starsky and said, "Bernie's one of the best; she'll be fine."

Starsky smiled slightly, but never replied.

They headed into the building. Inside they caught up to Jackson, who was just kicking in the door to the main hall. They heard him holler, "Freeze, police," followed by another voice calling back, "Move pig, and she dies."

Hutch signaled Starsky that he would go around back.

Starsky yelled in, "Paul, it's Dave Starsky. I'm coming in alone."

He signaled Malone to give him his gun, which he tucked down the back of his jeans. He motioned for Jackson to step back, and he moved into Paul's view.

Paul sat up and pulled Joan up against him, putting her in front of him. He called out, "Throw your gun on the floor and kick it out of the way."

Joan called out, "Dave, get out. He'll kill you."

Paul shoved his knee into her shoulder, causing another wave of pain. Her whole body jumped.

Starsky moved forward and Paul pushed the gun into her neck, causing him to freeze.

Paul moved his left hand across Joan's bra and said, "Maybe I'll let you watch. I can teach you what she really needs."

Joan tried to push his hand away, but couldn't use her arm. The movement caused more pain. She stared into Starsky's eyes and began to cry. "Please, Dave, get out. Please, before--" She received another knee to her shoulder and couldn't finish.

Starsky caught sight of Hutch trying to make his way through the hall. There was no cover if Paul turned around. Hutch wouldn't have a chance. Starsky knew he would have to keep Paul's attention. He began to talk to Paul.

"Listen, Paul, it's not too late to stop this. You don't really want to hurt her, do you?"

Paul looked down at Joan and quietly answered, "I didn't hurt her; you did. You tainted her, and now she has to die." While Paul was looking at Joan, Starsky looked at Hutch and then at the wall to his right.

Hutch picked up a chair and hurled it at the wall. At the same time, Paul shot at the wall. Starsky pulled the gun out from his back, took aim and fired. He hit Paul in the right arm, causing his gun to fly out of his hand. Hutch tackled Paul, knocking him away from Joan, but pulling her left arm with him.

She felt like her arm had been ripped off, and she screamed out in pain. Starsky was by her side as she went limp.

Hutch handcuffed Paul as Jackson, Malone, and two other officers ran in with the paramedics. Hutch handed Paul to Jackson, and scooped Starsky's gun off the floor.

Starsky saw Joan's left arm twisted the wrong way. He covered her with his jacket, and was trying to untie her right arm from the beam without moving her too much.

When her arm was free, it wrapped around him with a vice grip. She was clinching her teeth tightly, trying to control the pain. The paramedic was moving her arm around and she buried her head into Starsky's chest and arms as if to hide from the pain. "Oh, God," was all she managed to get out. She felt a needle go into her arm, and a moment later the pain seemed to fade away to a dull ache. She pulled away from Starsky, and, feeling groggy, she asked, "Are you okay?" She touched this chest, looking for bullet holes. "I thought he shot you. Where's Ken? Did Ken...? Where's Ken?"

She suddenly heard Hutch say, "We're fine, but you look like you put up quite a fight."

She looked at Starsky, who was just starring at her, not saying anything. His eyes were filled with tears and she said, "It's okay, Dave. Hutch and I are okay and--" She seemed to be confused by the painkillers. "I couldn't dance to that song with him... He's not the one I'd call should the sky turn dark and full of clouds...winter spring summer or fall." The paramedic tried to put her on the gurney but she held onto Starsky for dear life, so he placed her on the gurney and kissed her.

He turned to talk to Hutch when they heard a shot, and pulled their weapons.

The paramedic had Jackson remove the handcuff from Paul's right hand, and cuff his left hand to the gurney so they could stop the bleeding and patch his arm. He was lying still as if unconscious when he suddenly jumped. Grabbing Jackson's gun, he fired at Jackson, hitting him in the stomach, and turned the gun towards Starsky.

Hutch and Starsky both fired. Paul flew off the gurney, flipping it over. He had been shot once again in the arm and in the chest. He was alive, but barely.

Joan was off the gurney when Starsky and Hutch turned around. The paramedic was trying to get her to lie down. "She shouldn't even be awake with the shot I gave her. It's got to be an adrenaline rush."

Hutch saw she was trying to focus her eyes and replied, "You better sit down, Joan, because you fall on that arm, it's gonna hurt."

She stumbled over to Starsky. "I want to go home, Dave. I want to go home, to go dancing."

He laughed and said, "When you get out of the hospital, I promise, I'll take you home and dancing. Okay?"

She shook her head and said, "No. I'm not going anywhere until we dance. He made me dance, and I don't want that to be my last dance. Please, Dave."

She lost her balance, but Starsky caught her. He began to listen to the song that was playing, and picked her up in his arms. "Color My World" was not his favorite song, but he smiled and danced her back towards the gurney. She was out cold by the time he laid her down.

X-rays taken at the hospital showed she had two cracked ribs, and a small fracture in her left wrist. Her shoulder was dislocated, but there was no damage to the bone. She would have to spend the night in the hospital because of a concusion caused by her head hitting the beam.

When Dobey arrived at the hospital, he wasn't surprised to see Starsky and Hutch in her room. What did surprise him was the fact that Starsky was lying in the bed with her, and Hutch was sitting on the chair with his feet up against the bed. He knocked Hutch's feet to the floor, and handed Joan some flowers. "These two clowns get your statement, Miss Pomfret?"

She looked at Starsky, then at Hutch, who were both remaining quiet. They didn't tell Joan they were supposed to get the statement, because Starsky was concerned about what happened before they arrived. He and Hutch had even talked about the possibility she was raped.

"Captain Dobey, I was wondering if I could give my statement to someone else."

Starsky and Hutch stood up, both looking surprised.

She looked down at the bed and started fumbling with the sheets.

Dobey put his hand on her hand, and, quietly, asked the question on everyone's mind. "Joan, I have to ask--were you sexually assaulted?"

She didn't answer so he added, "There are test that you should have done."

She looked at Starsky and Hutch for a second, then looked down again. "Can you...get them out, please," she said just above a whisper.

Captain Dobey said loudly, "Wait outside for a few minutes."

No one moved until Joan said, "Please, Ken, take Dave outside." She was still looking down, but he could see tears streaming down her face. He took Starsky's arm and led him outside.

Starsky began pacing in the hallway, hitting his right hand with his left fist. "Why won't she talk to me? Why won't she just tell me what happened?"

"Starsk, she been through hell for the past few days. She's worried sick about you, and she may not think you can handle it."

"I don't know if I can. Hutch, I just can't stand the thought of that creep on top of her."

"If you love her as much as I think you do, you'll find a way. Babe, she didn't ask for this nightmare, and she's gonna need all the friends she has, but mostly she needs you."

"What happened to her doesn't change the fact I love her."

"Maybe she needs to hear that from you." Hutch gave Starsky a hug.

Thirty minutes later, Dobey came out. He closed the door and held his hand up. "Give her a minute, Dave."

Both men looked at Dobey. Finally, Hutch asked, "Should we send for a rape kit?"

Dobey said, "She was sexually assaulted, but not raped."

Starsky let the breathe out he was holding. "Thank God."

He looked at Dobey, who said, "Dave, she thought he was going to kill her, so she stopped fighting for a few minutes and he got pretty far before she decided to fight again. She feels guilty letting it go as far as it did."

Hutch interrupted, "What do you mean? How far did he get?" He realized what the question would do to Starsky too late to take it back.

Starsky looked at Dobey. "We're talking second degree sexual assault, aren't we?" When he didn't get an answer, Starsky added, "Cap, can you call the crisis center? She may not have been actually raped, but with second-degree assault, she going through most of the symptoms. Nightmares, withdrawal, fear of intimacy, and self doubt, to name a few."

"She asked me to call them." He put his hand on Starsky's shoulder. "She started fighting back when she heard some song you danced to. She said she would have rather died then let him touch her during that song. That's when he dislocated her shoulder to stop her from fighting. Her face bruises are from being punched in an earlier fight. He slammed her head into the beam; that's how she got the concussion. She got the rope burns and fractured wrist trying to get away. She put up one hell of a fight, but doesn't realize it yet. Dave, she's worried about you and Ken going after Paul."

He couldn't believe Hutch when he said, "I hope to God he dies, Cap, for everyone sake."

Starsky added, "Cap, I hope he dies, too. But if he lives, I hope he spends the rest of his miserable life rotting in jail."

Starsky went back into Joan's room alone. She asked where Hutch went, and laughed when Starsky said, "He's got a date with Gwen. He says he breaking up with her, but we'll see her tomorrow night."

"What's happening tomorrow night?"

"If you're up to it, dinner and dancing." He watched for a reaction but got none. He sat down on her bed and asked, "You want to talk about it?"

"About what?" she said, looking down at the blanket pattern.

"What happened with Paul before I got there?"

"I'm sorry I should have... I got scared and let him... I should have."

Starsky took her hand and said, "You stayed alive; that's the main thing. Joan, if you would have been killed, I don't think I could have handled it. To relive what I went through with Terry would have killed me inside." He lifted her chin up. "I know it's selfish and cruel, but I would have preferred you let him do anything to you to keep you alive. I love you, Joan Pomfret, and I want you around when I'm old and grey."

"The way you eat, you won't see forty."

"Hutch has brainwashed you. There's nothing wrong with my diet."

"Dave, you eat peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, and I've seen you eat sardines for breakfast."

"Peanut butter is protein. Can I ask you a question?"

"If you want to know if I was raped, the answer is no."

"What was the song?" She looked puzzled so he added, "Cap said you started fighting when a song started playing. Which song was it?"

"It's nothing special; just a James Taylor song we danced to it last night, and at the Pits jone night."

He was trying to remember what she was saying back at the hall about clouds, winter, spring, summer, and fall, and smiled. "You've got a friend. That wasn't just some song. Last night I danced with you to that song because it was the first song we ever danced to. You thought I forgot. You had on a sexy white dress and those high heels I love. You said you liked the song, and I asked you to dance. It was our first date."

"Dave, that dress is not sexy."

"On you it is." He reached over and kissed her.

She pulled away at first, but then kissed him back. He climbed into the bed on top of the blanket and hugged her. She put her head on his shoulder and fell asleep.

She was alone in the room when she saw Paul walk through the door. He was carrying a gun and was covered in blood. "I've killed Dave, and now I've come for you."

She screamed and sat up quickly. Her head was pounding and her ribs hurt from the quick movement. She was trying to catch her breath when Starsky asked, "Bad dream? Are you okay?"

She grabbed him as tightly as she could. "You're okay."

He smiled at her. "I'm fine. You're the one that got hurt, silly. You're shaking. What did you dream?"

"He killed you, and he was here, standing in the doorway."

"Honey, it was a dream. Paul's not going anywhere; he's still in ICU. Do you want me to get the doctor?"

"No. Dave, why did he do this to me? He killed all those people and shot Officer Jackson."

"Joan, he's a very sick man. Captain Dobey said his last two dates were reported missing. Homicide has been trying to connect him with some other disappearances. Jack Wilson committed suicide this morning. The note said he couldn't live after seeing Linda cut up like that."

"I hope that bastard dies. Do you know what will happen if he lives? He'll get a lawyer, and they'll claim insanity. He'll be out in three years." She began to panic and tried to get out of bed. "He'll kill you, and Hutch, and he'll hurt everyone I love. Dave, I have to leave. I can't see you anymore; he'll hurt you."

Hutch came in the room and Starsky said, "Get a nurse, quick." He turned back to Joan. "You can't get up. Calm down and listen to me. I'm sorry I told you about Jack I don't know what the hell was I thinking?" He was holding her tight, trying not to hurt her, but she was struggling out of his arms. "Joan, trust me, I promise I won't let him near you."

She kept struggling and began to cry.

Hutch came back into the room with a nurse and a doctor, who ordered Starsky out of the room. He wasn't leaving, so Hutch pulled him into the hallway and started yelling, "Starsky, what the hell were you thinking? She's a kidnap victim and you were holding her down. A first year rookie wouldn't have made that kind of mistake. What caused the panic attack?"

"She had a nightmare and was upset, and then when I told her about Wilson..."

Hutch grabbed his arm. "You told her what? Are you trying to push her over the edge? Starsk, what the hell were you thinking?"

"I don't know what I was thinking." He leaned against the wall and began rubbing his forehead. "God, Hutch; I held her down and the fear in her eyes was so... Man, the more scared she got, the more I panicked and did everything wrong."

Hutch pulled Starsky into a hug and said, "You dumb lug. When's the last time you slept or had anything decent to eat? We have to be on duty in an hour, and you look terrible."

"Those clowns from IA are gonna want to talk to us about the shooting, and I haven't done the reports this whole mess. I just want to see her for a minute, then we can head in."

The doctor came into the hallway and approached them. "I have no idea what upset her, but she's been sedated and should be out for at least four hours. I don't want her disturbed, is that clear?" The doctor was looking at Starsky. "Is that clear?"

"Yes. Would it be okay if I stopped by later?"

"That should be okay, but don't say anything to upset her. Her ribs need time to heal, and the more she moves the longer that will take. You look terrible. When's the last time you slept, or had something to eat?"

"I ate a candy bar earlier, and I napped a little."

The doctor shook his head. "Eat something before you fall down, Detective."

Starsky and Hutch spent the morning filling out reports, and talking to Internal Affairs about the shooting. They made it clear they were aware of the personal relationship between Starsky and Joan, and he and Hutch were to stay away from Paul. While Hutch was being interviewed by IA, Starsky pulled Joan's statement taken by Captain Dobey and read it.

When Hutch came back, Starsky was sitting at his desk, which was covered in unfolding paper clips and broken pencils. He noticed the file sitting in Starsky's lap as he snapped another pencil. Hutch reached over picked up the file and said, "I read it last night. I think that's why I came down so hard on you this morning, buddy. She really went through hell." He put the file away and picked up the waste paper basket. He cleared the clips and pencils off the desk with a few sweeps. "Dobey will have a fit if he sees this mess. You know how he is about supplies."

Captain Dobey came out of his office. "Get back to the hospital now; there's been some trouble."

"What happened, Cap?" Hutch called as they headed down the hall.

"That psycho, Cayman, woke up in ICU and killed the guard watching him. He took a nurse hostage and, Dave, he's got Joan. The man has three bullets in him and over powers a guard. I don't think he's human."

Starsky and Hutch were running to the Torino, leaving Dobey far behind. Hutch put out the mars light and held on as Starsky weaved in and out of traffic.

The hospital looked more like a police station from the outside. There were eight black and white units and several detectives' car with the mars light still on the roofs. Starsky pulled up and ran into the hospital, leaving his door open. Hutch was right on his tail. The second floor had been evacuated and the hallway was full of police with their weapons drawn.

The detective who seemed to be in charged was Jim Baker. He and Starsky had worked together while Hutch was on sick leave, and he had worked with Hutch after Gunther had Starsky gunned down. He had seniority over both officers, but knowing them as he did, he waved them over.

"That psycho has Assistant D.A. Pomfret hostage. He shot the nurse in the head when we tried to move in. He wants a meet with you, Starsky. He says if you don't come in unarmed, he'll kill the DA. You and she are pretty tight, I hear."

"We are," Starsky said, and he moved towards the door.

Hutch grabbed his arm to stop him. They exchanged a long silent look and Hutch let go, knowing nothing he could say would change his mind.

Starsky stood in the doorway. Hutch leaned against the wall just before the door. Paul was shaking, holding a gun in his left hand. He had taken it from the dead guard, and was holding it to Joan's head. She had her eyes closed and was holding her side, breathing short deep gasps. Paul was sweating severely, and Starsky could see a large wet red stain on the white gauze covering his chest. His right arm was wrapped to his body.

Starsky stepped back away from the door. He whispered to Hutch, "He's in rough shape, and is trying to shoot left-handed. If I can get him distracted, it will give you a shot."

Paul called out, "Dave, come in and join the party."

Starsky handed Hutch his gun, and moved back in front of the doorway, saying, "I'm unarmed." He held his shirt open, and started to step into the room.

Paul called back to him, "Take the shirt and holster off, and the turn around."

Starsky quickly removed the top shirt he wore to cover his holster, and then removed the holster. He slowly turned around with his hands in the air.

Paul said, "Take the other shirt off. I want to make sure you're not hiding a weapon."

Starsky removed his blue t-shirt, and turned his jean pockets inside out to prove he was unarmed. He stayed close to the wall and moved to the other side of the room. He quietly asked, "Joan, you okay?"

There was no answer.

Paul grabbed a handful of her hair with the gun still in his hand, and pulled hard, causing her to jerk backwards. "He asked you a question; answer him."

She gasped and softly said, "Dave... Get out... Please."

She felt her hair being pulled again, and heard Paul yell, "I said, answer him. Tell him you're fine." Paul let go of her hair and hit her stomach with the gun.

"I'm f-fine," she called back. She could see Starsky move forward and she shook her head no. Their eyes met, and she tried to smile.

He stepped back, knowing he had to be as far away as possible for the plan to work. He slowly stepped towards the window, trying to get the door out of Paul's sight. He watched Paul's eyes for signs of blurry vision, but saw none. He could see the dead nurse lying on the floor and tried to get Paul distracted by saying, "Can I see if she has a pulse? She may still be alive."

Paul looked towards the nurse and slid the gun back into Joan's ribs. The pressure made her wince, and he seemed to enjoy it, so he shoved the gun handle into her ribs hard, causing her to lose her breath.

Hutch was now in position, and Starsky could see he needed to move so he called out to Paul, "Do you really think you can live with the fact that she loves me? It must be eating you alive to know we made love. She was really great, too." Starsky could see it was working. Paul was becoming furious. "Paul, you know as long as I'm here, she'll never love you. You'll never have her as long as I'm still breathing."

Paul pulled the gun away from Joan and aimed at Starsky, who was diving to the floor.

Hutch took aim and fired his Beretta, hitting Paul in the head, sending him flying off the bed and to the floor, taking Joan with him.

The room was flooded with police, and then medical personnel.

Starsky grabbed Joan and put her on the bed; she was gasping for air, trying to talk, but no sound was coming out.

The doctor came rushing over and placed his stethoscope on her chest. He called the orderly over. "Get her to the O.R., STAT." He turned to Starsky. "I believe her rib punctured her lung. Nurse, have Dr. Mellor paged to the O.R. Detective, I'll send word when I know."

Hutch felt Starsky lean on him as if he would fall, not just physically, but emotionally. Hutch led him down the hallway to the waiting room outside the O.R. He sat him down in a chair and brought him a cup of water. "She'll be fine, buddy."

Starsky took the water, but didn't drink it. He looked at Hutch. "She's racking up more hospital time then you do. Between the two of you, they'll start charging me rent."

Hutch grinned at him, knowing Starsky always used humor when things got tough.

Baker and Dobey walked in, and Starsky stood up. Dobey looked at Starsky, slightly grinning. "Cayman's dead. Hutch, when you have a minute, IA is gonna want to talk to you. I guess this morning when they told you two to stay clear of Cayman you misunderstood them. Starsky, they want you too, but I explained you'd be busy for the rest of the day. How's Joan?"

Starsky rubbed his head. "I don't know, Cap. They think her lungs have been punctured. She couldn't breathe."

Hutch put his arm on Starsky's shoulder. "She's tough; she'll be okay." He smiled. "Besides, she's gonna set me up with that new assistant DA. You know, the one with nice legs."

Starsky laughed. "Gwen won't like her."

Baker gentle punched Starsky's arm. "You did real well in there. I have to go back to the station, but let me know how she's doing."

The doctor came out several hours later and explained to Starsky, "She's one tough lady. Her left lung collapsed when a rib pierced it. Her spleen was ruptured and there was some internal bleeding. She has two broken ribs and three more have been fractured. We've repaired the damage to the lung, but she has a long recovery ahead of her. Barring no complication or infections, she should make it. You go get something to eat and get cleaned up, and I'll let you see her when she comes out of post op."

"Thanks, Doc, but I'm not hungry."

"That's an order, Detective. You eat something healthy, or I won't let you see her. She'll be out for at least a few hours." He looked at Hutch. "Make sure he eats something other then a candy bar."

Starsky and Hutch visited Joan every chance they had for the two weeks she was in the hospital. Starsky would stay way after visiting hours were over.

Hutch was getting to know Shirley from the DA office. Joan introduced them, as scheduled, from a hospital bed instead of over dinner.

The day Joan was released, Starsky had a small welcome-home party that included Hutch, Shirley, Captain Dobey, his wife Edith, Huggy Bear, and his date, Lola. Hutch brought his guitar and played, while everyone sang and danced. He had learned two songs for the occasion: 'Something In the Way She Moves," and, "You've Got a Friend." He saved both songs for when the Dobey's, and Huggy and Lola had left. They all sang "Something in the Way She Moves," but when it came to "You've Got a Friend," Hutch sang solo while Starsky and Joan danced.

Starsky kissed her several times during the song, and when it was over, he kept dancing and asked, "Joan, will you marry me?"

She stared at him, wondering if it was a silly joke, until he pulled a ring box out his pocket.

He got down on one knee and asked again, "Will you marry me?"

She looked around the room and realized Hutch and Shirley were gone. She looked down at Starsky and said, to his surprise, "Are you sure you want to be stuck with me for the rest of your life?"

He stood up and kissed her again and said, "I'm positive. I want to have kids and grow old with you, Joan."

She said, "Yes," and they kissed again.

Starsky knew he was the luckiest man in the world.

The End