'Starsky, Hutchinson, in my office now' Dobey bellowed across the squad room at the two named officers, his face a darker shade of purple than they'd ever seen before.

Obediently, Starsky got up and limped round the desk to help his ailing partner to his feet, raising his eyebrows at his golden haired partner and wincing as he knew what was to come. Hutch had his right arm in a sling and sported a bruised eye and cut lip. His groaned slightly as he stood, the huge bruise across his back protesting the movement. He leaned heavily on his smaller partner and together the two injured cops made their way into Dobey's inner sanctum and sat down heavily on the chairs there. They heaved sighs as their Captain gazed steadily back at them. There was no concern in his eyes, just a steely determination to get to the bottom of his problem as swiftly as possible.

'We're gonna go over these expenses one at a time, an' you're gonna account for every single dime' the big black man blustered as he waved a huge wad of invoices at the two cops.

Hutch tried to put up his right hand to silence his chief, grunted and changed to the left hand as pain flared across his back. 'Now just wait a minute Cap' he started.

'Don't "wait a minute Cap" me' Dobey yelled, shaking the papers further. 'You two got a lot of explainin' to do'.

'An' we will, if you'll just let us' the brunette interjected, his eyebrows raised in appeal. 'We told ya it was the wrong assignment for us, but ya wouldn't listen. It wasn't our fault. We weren't equipped. We needed backup and there wasn't any'.

'Wrong assignment? I'll say it's the wrong assignment' Dobey ground out. 'This is half the national debt we're taking about. The President'll be referring to this in his next state of the national address!'

'Oh now Cap, that's takin' it a little far, don't you think?' the blond retorted, a hurt look in his eyes. 'We said at the outset that sending us undercover there was wrong. An' you agreed, if I remember right, but you said you had no-one else. So it's not our fault if things went a little....erm.....crazy'.

'A little crazy? Crazy ya say? $12500 worth of crazy! That's what it is Hutchinson. That's how much you an' your partner here have cost the department. Now I take some responsibility and I do agree that I should have pulled Mullins and Cowdray off their job. God knows they've got enough dogs, cats an' horses between 'em to restock, but Jeez. Did ya have to destroy the whole pet shop?'

Again Hutch looked hurt. 'Wasn't the whole pet shop! Things just escalated. An' we did warn ya. After Louise the guinea pig, I thought you'd have realised that my partner is not the best when it comes to animals. It was a recipe for disaster'.

'Hey, who ya callin' a disaster. Wasn't me who sat on the Canary' Starsky pouted.

'It was a Budgerigar, dummy. An' I didn't sit on it. It flew under me as I fell'.

Dobey was thumbing through the invoices. He picked one out and laid it to one side. 'So that explains the Budgy. That's $10 accounted for. Ya want to explain the rest of the $12490?'

Starsky leaned forward and took the sheaf of papers from Dobey's desk. He started to look through then, pulling some out and laying them to one side. He paused, gazing at the piece of paper in his hand.

'Hutch, did you know the Python cost over $300?'

'No! Wasn't worth that much' the blond agreed. 'An' it did a good job of cleanin' up. It ate the Budgy no problem. We didn't know it was allergic to feathers. Who's ever heard of a snake with allergies? Like it'd slither round the jungle sayin' no to anythin' that flew!'

Hutch took some of the papers from his partner. 'Hmm, the fish were expensive too' he observed dryly

'Well that definitely wasn't my fault' Starsky spluttered. 'Have you ever tried getting 'em into those little plastic bags for the customers to take 'em home? It ain't easy! He kept sayin which fish he wanted and the little bugger kept swimmin' away. I caught six of 'em before he got mad at me. In the end I thought it'd be logical to scoop it out with my hand instead of that damned net. Then it wriggled an' made me jump an' it fell on the floor. They don't bounce ya know'.

'I don't think it was that that brought the bill up to $200 Starsk. I think it was the fact that you were scrabbling about under the ladder to get the fish back an' toppled it over'.

'And your point?' the brunette countered.

'Well I was up the ladder tryin' to catch the Budgerigar that I'd accidentally let out when you wobbled the ladder. I fell into the aquarium with the Budgy underneath me and kinda smashed the glass and the Budgy an' all the fish escaped'. Hutch massaged the bruise on his back from the fall off the ladder.

'Yeah. But look on the bright side. The python had a good last fish meal before it choked on the Budgy. It died a happy snake Hutch'.

Dobey had been listening to all this with a growing sense of concern. 'Its like listening to somethin' from Laurel and Hardy' he said in disbelief. 'You'll be telling me next that you let the dogs into the cat cages by mistake'.

'Wasn't a mistake! I thought that one through very carefully' the brunette objected. 'When Hutch couldn't get the Canary....Budgy to come down from the top shelf where it was perchin' I thought if we got a cat, the Budgy'd think it'd be safer in it's cage, an' fly back home. So I opened the cat's door, but the stupid thing wouldn't come out. Just kinda looked at me'.

'I really don't want to know where this is going' Dobey said, head in his hands, but Starsky continued.

'So I thought, what'll make a cat move better 'n' anythin'? A dog! So I got one of the puppies. It was only a tiny little thing, and I shoved it into the cat's cage'.

'And?' Dobey asked resignedly.

'The cat came catapultin' out of the cage alright, but it didn't go for the Budgy' the brunette explained. 'That was the slight flaw in my plan. Ya see, I thought all cats climbed up things to get way from dogs, so it'd climb up the shelvin' towards the Budgy an' the bird would fly home'.

'Followin' ya so far' the black man said uncertainly.

'Well they do climb, but it's the first thing they come to that they climb up an' they use their claws when they do it' Starsky finished apologetically.


Hutch stood slowly and pulled his shirt up revealing scratches and puncture marks in two lines up his chest. 'I was the closest thing! But by then the cat was goin' wild an' all the puppies were barkin' and jumping out of the cages. We had a hell of a job getting' 'em back'.

Dobey sighed, knowing the end was not yet in sight.

Starsky took over. 'Ya can't blame us for what a customer does Cap. It most definitely wasn't our fault that the customer left the door open and all the puppies ran outside. But we ran after 'em an' we got 'em all back. So all the dog lovers were happy. 'N' the cats went back into their cages on their own'.

'Don't see where the rest of the money comes from then' Dobey sad thoughtfully looking at the rest of the invoices. 'What happened about the remaining $11000?'

Hutch coloured and looked distinctly uncomfortable. 'Ah, well. Ya see. The python obviously felt sick and slithered away to die on its own. It found a very nice lady's shopping bag and it was quiet in there an' dark. She went back to her car and as she was pulling out into the traffic, she reached into her bag for her sunglasses. They were Lacoste sunglasses - the ones with the little crocodile logo, but she didn't expect a long scaly reptile for real, and the shock made her collide with the parked car in front. She's fine' he reassured his captain, 'but her car's a write off!'