By: Karen B.

Summary: Pet challenge snippet. Humor.


Knock, knock!

"Starsky, you in there? Open up will you, I forgot my key."

Hutch got no response and tried knocking again. He knew Starsky was home, the Torino was parked just outside.

"Damn it, Starsky I gotta pee, and we're going to be late to the Policeman's annual clambake. Come on --"

Hutch stopped his ranting when he heard a loud crash come from inside the apartment. A large lump formed inside of him, and flared to life as he instinctively drew his gun. Whatever , whoever might be in there, he wasn't taking any chances with his partner's life. Moving several steps backward, and only pausing a moment to take a breath, he ran full force, lifting his right leg and kicking the door off its hinges.

Hutch stood in the broken doorway staring in disbelief. Starsky's apartment was trashed. The couch was turned upside down, and furniture was scattered out of place. Curtains were ripped from their rods, a pile of miscellaneous items had been stacked up against the front door, and in the center of it all was Starsky on hands and knees.

"What the hell?" Hutch yelled. "Are you hurt?" Hutch called out to his partner, scanning the room with his weapon ready to shoot anything that moved. "You alone?"

Starsky looked equally stunned by Hutch's forced entry and stood. "I'm fine. Didn't you hear me? I told you I'd be there in a minute."

Hutch stepped over the blockade, and moved further into the room, his pulse racing. "You alone? Who did this?"

"Yes. No, I'm not alone, and Freddy did this." Starsky's voice held a note of irritation. "Can you please put your gun away, dummy?"

Glancing at the right and to the left, Hutch saw no one.

"Hutch! The gun, now!" Starsky waved a hand.

"Oh." Hutch looked at his gun almost forgetting it was there. He took a breath, getting his hand to stop trembling, and shoved the weapon back in its holster. "Starsky, are you going to tell me what's going on here?"

Starsky went back to turning his apartment on its head, tossing pillows and looking under furniture. "Freddy, he's escaped," he said in a winded voice.

Gritting his teeth, Hutch bent over and righted a chair. "Who the hell is Freddy?"

"Freddy, the frog I caught in the canal last week."

"You're not serious, are you? You mean to tell me that amphibian you've been keeping is running loose?"

"Frog, Hutch. Freddy is a frog. And he ain't running anywhere. He's hopping."

Hutch could feel the heat rising in his cheeks. "How stupid of me --" Hutch slapped a hand to his forehead. "Right, the frog you plan on using in today's frog jumping contest. A contest that is restricted to ages 12 and under, Starsky?"

"I've been conditioning him for Cal. We're contest partners." Starsky pointed out calmly.

The fearful lump that had lodged in Hutch's chest disappeared turning into a tight ball of frustration. "Do you realize, that your police partner, thought someone was in here ransacking the place, maybe murdering my best friend? I pulled my gun on you. Good Christ, Starsky! How do you think it would look in my report to Dobey, if I had to type up how I shot my frog hunting partner in the back?"

"Hutch, you're overreacting." Starsky shrugged, moving toward the back of the apartment.

"I can't believe you!" Hutch growled, following right behind.

"I gotta find him." Starsky sounded panicked.

"Starsky, it's a frog, one of a million. Not worth getting twisted up about, or trashing your apartment over. What you need to do, is come back to my place and catch another one."

"Hell, no -- little guy can out jump every frog from here to New York City. That fifty bucks is as good as mine -- and Cals."

"Starsky, your cut of the prize money wouldn't put a dent in your car loan."

"Freddy has to be here somewhere." Starsky continued searching high and low. "I blocked all the entrances. He couldn't have gotten outside, this is so strange," Starsky muttered, stepping into the bathroom.

"Yeah," Hutch said under his breath, following right behind. "Strange." He leaned against the vanity.

Pulling the shower curtain back, Starsky turned around. "Hutch, maybe you could help instead of belly aching about --"

"Starsky!" Hutch stood at attention. "There goes the poor little fellow," he yelled, pointing a finger at the green blur jumping out of the tub.

"Holy crap!" Starsky cried out in a state of panic, trying to grab Freddy, but missing.

"Partner, I hate to inform you, crap isn't holy. Oh, uh, hey, there he goes, on the sink!"

Hutch struggled past Starsky in the small confines, trying to nab the frog, but Freddy was too quick and swiftly hopped away.

"Slippery little sucker," Hutch snickered.

"Damn frog." Starsky lunged at him, and cornered him behind the door. "I got him. I got him."

Dusting off his hands he bent down to pick up Freddy, but the frog was too quick, and he darted between Starsky's legs and scrambled out of reach.

Before Hutch knew it, Freddy had he and Starsky going in circles, and twisted up like a couple of pretzels. "W-where'd he go?" Hutch asked out of breath.

"There," Starsky said, pointing to the top of the toilet tank. "Freddy, freeze!"

"Oh jeez, Starsk, you going to read him his rights next?" Hutch asked in exasperation. "Look." He clapped a hand to Starsky's shoulder. "You go right. I'll go left. We'll box him in."

"Okay." Starsky nodded his agreement. "Nice and easy."

As he neared Freddy, Hutch leaned forward, palms up, readying to capture the frog should he leap his way.

"This is ridiculous," Hutch said, deciding to move things along faster, as he lunged toward Freddy. Before he could nab him, Freddy plopped into the toilet bowl.

Starsky dropped to his knees. "Freeeeddy!" he screamed, reaching a hand down to scoop him out.

"Starsk, let me help," Hutch said, just as he reached out a hand he slipped on the tiled flooring. He tried to catch his balance, but instead his fumbling fingers caught the lever of the toilet flushing the bowl.

"Oops," Hutch uttered, watching Freddy swiftly swirl out of sight. He looked up into Starsky's shocked face. "Oops," he repeated.

"Oops? Oops, Hutch? That's it?"

"Partner, I'll find you another frog."

"Why? So you can kill that one too?"

"S-Starsk, I didn't mean to -- I'm sorry, pal." Hutch raised a fist to his lips, and coughed into it, desperately trying to hide his smile and snickering laughter.

"Stop it, Hutch."

"Stop what?" He cleared his throat.

"I can see you're laughing. It's not funny"

"Buddy, I know it's not f-funny." Hutch squared his shoulders, and cleared his throat again. "I -- I am not laughing."

"Yes, you are."

"No." A snicker. "No, I'm not." Starsky's eyes were wide, and he looked angry. "Buddy," Hutch got serious. "Really, I'm sorry. I was trying to help. You mad at me?" No response. "Starsk?"

Starsky shoved up off his knees, and glanced around with a wild and crazy look in his eyes that scared Hutch. "What? Starsky, talk to me? Where you going? I swear to you, I am not laughing."

Starsky reached around Hutch's waist, producing a -- "Plunger," he announced, grabbing the wooden handled devise, and thrusting it into the toilet bowl. "Want to help?"

"No," Hutch said in disgust. "I'm going to go fix the door." He stepped out of the bathroom. "Least the damn frog could eat what bugged him," Hutch mumbled

The end.

Note: No frogs were actually flushed during the writing of this story.