By: Karen B

Dedicated to my Ol' friend Pooh Bear. Happy Birthday!

Summary: Hutch goes undercover with a rookie cop. Will the young kid save the day or slay it?

Thank you Pooh for your belief in me, and all your help!

And Hutchlover--thank you for your extra deep dusting and sweet support. You're good people!

Chapter one

There was a definite chill in the night breeze, one that whispered the ever present black and white mantra of a cop's life:

At any given moment, in any given place, at any given time, you could be called upon to put your life on the line.

Hutch felt a cold sweat break out over his body. Or maybe that was the light drizzle of rain. All he knew for certain was that one wrong move and they'd both be dead. Just because he was a cop didn't mean he never got scared. You saw things, things that brought all the bad stuff in the world right up into your face. Tonight he and his fellow officers would be put through that test once again. Standing on Pier One under a floodlight, Hutch scanned the two men in front of him.

"You two alone?" Harper, the largest man asked, taking one last drag of his cigarette, he breathed smoke out his nostrils, dropping the butt to the pier, and crushing it beneath his foot.

Hutch looked over his shoulder to check on the man standing right at his back.

Brad Turner was a young wiry officer with plenty of enthusiasm. His bleach blond hair only added to the boyish face of inexperience. Yet, there was a slick intelligence and with most of the department out with the flu, Starsky had been unable to go under, as he'd busted Harper four years ago while Hutch was out of town. It may have been risky and foolish, but Brad wanted the chance so badly, he screamed for the opportunity to partner up with Hutchinson, and Dobey ok'ed it. There was a heart tugging way the kid had of pleading his case for the chance to do some real undercover detective work.

Hutch really didn't feel secure having a rookie cop for an undercover partner. The kid wasn't incompetent, just inexperienced This wasn't a classroom full of chalkboards, desks, and wastepaper baskets. This was the hard-core streets of Bay City with its shadowed doorways, dark stairwells, and rickety old piers, where drug deals were made and lives were lost.

"We're alone," Hutch said, looking back at Harper and the burly goon who stood by his side.

Harper was the point man for a stellar jewelry hawking ring that had been set up in Bay City. It was a new gig. The master plan and Harper's motto:

'You never get what you pay for.'

Some of Harper's clients suddenly seemed to disappear after the buy. They'd order their merchandise, pay full price, then the trouble would come. The man was clever. If he didn't hit them on the spot, he had a car hiding in the shadows ready to follow the buyer and burn them when they least expected it. Having his cake and eating it too. Most of the dirt heaped on Harper was supplied by Starsky and Hutch's trustworthy friend, and snitch Huggy Bear.

"Harper's one smooth package, a sweet roll with a side of chips." Huggy had informed. "And when he's done here he's moving on to the next town."

Huggy was right, the guy was all that and more. Hutch watched over as Harper opened the case of fine jewelry, spotlighting his most recently acquired merchandise.

"That all you got?" Hutch asked sharply.

"That's right. Now show me yours," Harper snarled.

Hutch stepped closer. "Soon as I verify the merchandise," he said, reaching for a sparkling diamond studded necklace."

Harper snapped the lid on the brief case shut. "Let's see the money!" he growled.

Hutch glanced over at Turner. Sweat dripped down the young officer's face and his eyes were wide. He looked like he was scared, like he might snap. Maybe reach for his gun, or make a run for it.

"You're wasting time, Harper," Turner said, his voice holding strong, but Hutch could see the slight shake in the young officer's hand as he opened the duffle bag he'd pulled off his shoulder. "Here you go." Turner handed the bag to Harper's goon who began to count the money.

Hutch started to worry his partner was right about the kid. He recalled the way Starsky shot out of his chair in Dobey's office at the very mention of Turner accompanying him on the sting instead of a more experienced officer.

"You knew about this?" Starsky questioned Hutch. "Shrewd, Hutch. You were going to keep it a secret until show time, huh, buddy?"

"Starsky. It'll be okay." Hutch gave a small nod.

Starsky shot a glance around the room. All and sundry seemed to be on the same page but him.

"Terrific. Everybody loves the clambake--except the clam." Starsky sarcastically mumbled under his breath."Look, kid, I know you want to go with this," Starsky had said. "But you don't have the skills to manage this operation. If this isn't done right, you and Hutch could end up dead. Captain," Starsky pleaded.

"Sergeant Starsky, " Turner nosed his way in. " It's not my fault we are short staffed or that you have a sizable fan base on the streets, keeping you from going under. I can handle this."

"So you think you can dance? "Starsky's expression was hard to read. "Maybe you can do the merengue or the salsa or even the jitterbug, but what goes on out there--" Starsky jerked a thumb over his shoulder toward the door. "Out on the street. It ain't so well choreographed, you dig?" he argued on. "This ain't no kiddie show, kid." Starsky glared at Dobey hoping he'd see things his way.

"Captain Dobey," Turner said in a calm voice. "I know this isn't a kid's show. There are no magic hats, no white rabbits or doves. It's the real deal. One that can blow up in your face if you don't play it right. I may be new, but I promise you; I'll come up aces!" Turner was all hope and promise.

Starsky could tell there was no bullshit with this kid. He could see the will in his eyes. He crossed his arms, one foot tapping on the floor, completely uninspired. Starsky couldn't let the kid know he was getting to him; only half-convinced by the kid's flashy words.

"Awe, come on Starsk, he's kinda cute," Hutch wise-cracked.

Starsky shot Hutch an evil glare. "Cute-- my ass."

"Starsky, your ass has nothing to do with it." Starsky narrowed his eyes at his smart aleck partner. Hutch grinned. "Kid's like a bouncy new puppy in training. Don't worry buddy, I'll keep him on a short leash."

"Don't get your feelings hurt here, kid--" Starsky said, advancing toward Turner. "But we need a higher ranked officer on this."

Brad stared Starsky down, sensing what was coming, but prepared to take it. The two detectives before him had made a deep impression on him from the first time he met them when he joined the department four months ago. Right off he sensed their friendship and the huge bond with one another. The way they always had each other's back. Even in the simplest of things, like sharing one another's lunch.

"Turner, I'll be damned if I'm going to trust my partner's life in the hands of some rookie cop who's only looking to get his foot off the bottom rung of the ladder," Starsky snipped, causing Hutch to cringe at his partner's fly off the handle words.

"Whoa!" Brad interrupted, feeling hurt by Starsky's mean-spirited backlash. He took two steps forward, standing toe to toe with the offending man, and looking the heated officer right in the eye.

Hutch had to smile. The kid was young, but intelligent. Confident, aware and determined to do things right. He was a fighter. Anyone who could stand up to his partner's protective anger without flinching or batting a lash, was a real scrapper in his book. Hutch had his doubts about the kid too, but was fully aware this had to be done.

"Starsky! Cool it!" Captain Dobey flared, never one for the soft shoe and tap numbers. "You're sitting back on this one." He pointed the eraser end of a pencil in his detective's direction. "I don't have a choice here." Dobey softened. "This is going down tonight or it's not going down at all. I have too many officers out with the flu, and--"

"Just so you know Sergeant Starsky--" Brad Turner jumped back in to plead his case. "I may be a rookie cop, but I'm not stupid. I'll be as loyal to Sergeant Hutchinson as any. Doing what he asks me to--within the confines of the law, and backing him up. Trust me on that."

"Trust?" Starsky eyed the kid before him. He wasn't sure he'd trust his own mother where Hutch's safety was concerned.

None of the arguments were solid in Starsky's eyes. Yet, deep down, he held a certain respect for the young officer. Brad Turner had heart, but when push came to shove would he really give up his own life if it meant saving his partner? Turner was one of the hardest-working in the department and one of the youngest. There wasn't anything the kid wasn't willing to do or learn. He was respectful, and came with high praise from his co-workers, but he was fresh as a daisy in springtime, and that was enough to make Starsky shudder.

"How many pairs of eyes you got, huh, kid?" Starsky asked, a weasel of a smile on his face.

"Pft--one," Brad swiftly answered, with honed boredom, as if it were the dumbest question in the world.

"Wrong!" Brad gave Starsky a quizzical look. "You have three." Starsky pointed to the kids' eyes. "This pair sees through that bulge in a jacket before the gun is ever pulled. This pair--" he jabbed two fingers on either side of the kid's head. "Sees the victims and innocent civilians on the street." Starsky slowly walked behind the kid, jabbing his fingers into the back of Turner's head. "And this pair here, keeps your partner safe.

Starsky walked over and leaned against Dobey's desk, making eye contact with the heavy set man. His captain obviously trusted Turner. Trusted him to learn on the job. Trusted Hutch to oversee his every move. It didn't make him feel any better, but deep down Starsky knew his Captain didn't have much choice.

"Starsk," Hutch stepped into the ring, not wanting his partner pitted against their acting superior. "The kid is blind with loyalty. I trust him. Don't worry, I know how to be a big brother, this is going to get done right." Hutch knew the signs of a scared partner, striking out with fear. What it came down to was the job needed to be done, and they all worked for the good guys. Starsky was just testing the kid. "Come on Starsky. Dobey's okay with it."

Starsky frowned not taking his eyes off their captain. "Your partner isn't."

" Stars." Hutch came to stand next to Starsky giving his shoulder a pat. A look of mutual trust flew between the partners' eyes. "Me and him," Hutch gestured with his head toward Turner" We'll be fine."

"You and him, huh?" Hutch detected a note of jealousy in his partner's tone. "I don't see no suit of armor on your back, Hutch," Starsky cautioned. "And him--" he jerked a thumb Turner's way. "He ain't got pearly white wings. Trust is one thing. Experience is another."

"Hey, don't forget, we'll have you and Dobey backing us up in the Torino. Under your watch what could go wrong?" Hutch smiled.

"What couldn't?" Starsky breathed out, seeming to back down and relax a bit.

Hutch wasn't certain Starsky bought that argument fully, wasn't certain even he bought it. All Hutch knew was he had confidence in his partner's ability. Starsky would bust tail to get to him when and if Hutch needed him to.

"Come on partner, I'll owe you one. Let this slide." Hutch winked. "It's like learning to play the guitar, or doing your multiplication tables, Starsk. Can't get any better at it if you don't practice.

"This isn't a homework assignment." Starsky raked a hand through his thick curls deep in thought. "Yeah, okay," he said taking a step back from the desk. "But if this goes down wrong--" his eyes darted between Hutch and Turner. "You two are gonna owe me a couple tickets to the World Series."

Brad's face lit up. His smile not screaming promotion, but of the high respect he had for these two seasoned detectives and the chance to learn and work by their side. "I'm your man," he said with pride, "I won't let any of you down."

"See that you don't," Starsky grumbled, giving the kid a firm pat to the back.

A stronger breeze came off the harbor, along with it the rain grew heavier. It quickly soaked through Hutch's flannel shirt, bringing his thoughts from Dobey's office, back to the now rocking pier. The goon before him had just finished his count of the money, and zipped the duffle bag shut.

"It's all there," the man smiled, but something in his eyes made Hutch uneasy.

Harper handed the jewelry case over to Turner. "Pleasure doing business."

Hutch shuddered, thinking if this did go sour, Starsky would own the guilt for the rest of his life. They turned to leave. Hutch searched his right, the darkness blinded him, but he knew his partner and Dobey were there. Watching, readying to move in. Suddenly something slammed into the back of Hutch's head, and he lost his footing. The impact forcing him to his hands and knees upon the wooden deck.

"Where do you think you're going?" Harper said.

His rough textured hand grabbed Hutch's hair and jerked his head back up, pressing the cold nozzle of a gun into his temple. Hutch was dazed, but out of the corner of his eye he could see Harper's goon draw his weapon, and aim it at Turner. The kid hardly had the chance to get his hands dirty when the deal careened out of control, going bad faster than a carton of milk sitting in the heat of the desert sun.

"Some treasures are better left buried," Harper laughed, nodding a signal to the goon next to him.

"You can watch the kid die first, then you're next, Blondie." Harper laughed, giving the signal to his hired hand to pull the trigger.

"Why you lousy--" Turner started, when the goon with the chrome pistol pointed at him, pulled the trigger.