ACROSS MOUNTAINS OF STEELE
By: H.F. Greene
First printed: More Red Holt Steele #8
Summary: Some free time in the Swiss Alps leads to some relationship exploration for Remington and Laura.
Disclaimer: This “Remington Steele” story is not-for-profit and is purely for entertainment purposes. The author and this site do not own the characters and are in no way affiliated with “Remington Steele,” the actors, their agents, the producers, MTM Productions, the NBC Television Network or any station or network carrying the show in syndication, or anyone in the industry.
Things were going according to plan. Well, sort of. Okay, not exactly. After they had completed wrapping up what amounted to a paper-shuffling case for an elderly French estate executor, Remington had casually proposed that he and Laura take some time for themselves to enjoy their environs. After all, what use is it going to the Swiss Alps if you're not even going to take the time to experience the Alps' pure grandeur. Of course, though, Remington had something more along the lines of romantic magic on his mind.
The office had been so crazy lately that he and Laura had all but put their personal lives on hold. In fact, he couldn't even remember the last time he and Laura had a personal life. And he didn't know about Laura, but he had reached the point that he was ready to do something about their relationship, something drastic to shake things up, as Laura had so effectively put it while they were investigating that swanky spa.
Their argument resonated in his mind long after the fact, and it got him to start thinking about other things that he'd so skillfully avoided up until now. Maybe, if they could get themselves away from the pressures of the office and pending cases, if they could just have some uninterrupted time to themselves, then maybe they could actually take some meaningful steps to figure out where their relationship was going. Remington knew quite well where he wanted it to go. Trouble was, he didn't know exactly how to get there.
Laura's half-hearted ambivalence had helped assuage his fears. Here he was, trying to steal away with the woman he'd grown to love for a few private, hopefully intimate moments, and he had to twist her arm to get her to join him. But, he consoled himself, she was here, wasn't she?
"You have to admit, Laura, that these Alps are magnificent," Remington prodded as they emerged from the train station at Zermatt, hoping to get more than a monotonous reaction out of her.
Laura breathed deeply, inhaling the fresh, unpolluted mountain air. "Incredible is more like," she agreed, finally starting to feel some of the tension in her neck disappear. She knew that she was treading thin ice, no pun intended, going on a skiing vacation with Remington like this, but they never had taken a real vacation together, and after all the recent craziness at the office, she couldn't deny that even her workaholic self needed a break. But what worried her, what occupied her thoughts the entire train ride up to Zermatt from Geneva, was that after being with Remington for a week, alone, at a ski resort, that there was something else that she wouldn't be able to deny. And once she no longer denied to herself the depth of her feelings towards the man she called Remington Steele, she was afraid of what might happen when her emotions became unleashed.
"That's the spirit," Remington answered her, unaware of the cacophony of thoughts running through her mind.
They took a miniature, six seat electric bus to the more secluded upper streets of Zermatt, stopping at a cozy chalet hotel. It seemed quite quiet and deserted. The setting sun shone brightly, reflecting off the snow-covered peak of the Matterhorn in the distance.
"This is a hotel?" Laura asked warily, surveying their accommodations as they entered the main room.
"Actually, yes, a small, six room hotel. The owner and I are old mates, so it was no problem arranging to rent the entire establishment for our use. I even gave Rondo a bit extra to take a room in town for himself and his wife." On her inquiring, impressed look, he added, "After all, the goal was for us to be alone, eh? No untoward interruptions," he moved closer, enveloping her in his embrace, "no cases," he kissed her forward, "just you," he kissed her deeply on the lips, "and me."
Laura sighed, torn between her rampant emotions and her logic-ridden brain. But his point was difficult to argue with. Besides, it wasn't like he'd tried to maneuver her into the same bedroom with him, right?
After each of the last two exhausting, fun-filled days on the slopes, Laura and Remington enjoyed a cozy, candlelit dinner for two at an impeccable Italian restaurant, followed by a moonlit stroll arm-in-arm back to their chalet in the mountains. And at after a nightcap by the fire, Remington had each night given her a goodnight kiss outside her door.
And yet, with each passing day, Laura felt more and more at ease--it was like they both were different people outside the office. She realized with a pang of regret how little time they had spent together in the recent months, especially time spent together alone, exploring their relationship. Their blow-up weeks earlier at the spa only underscored the conflicting, burbling emotions they each felt, and their mutual frustration as well. As the time blithely went by, Laura felt herself becoming totally at ease while around Remington, forgetting any of the existing doubts and insecurities, and only concentrating on how much she enjoyed his company, be it in the cramped quarters of a private cable car ascending into those magical mountains, while having lunch beneath the burning sun in full view of the Matterhorn, or during those evening strolls and after-dinner nightcaps. And he had been such a gentleman, too, not trying to rush into something she wasn't sure she was ready for, pausing even after some rather intense moments when their lips had locked as they sat by the fire and talked. She felt her defenses melting away, and realized it wouldn't take very much for them disappear totally.
About mid-morning on the third day of their stay, a storm system settled in the Zermatt valley, blanketing the area in a blizzard-like storm. They hadn't ventured out except for some supplies for the cabin, which was fortunately equipped with a kitchen.
The rest of the day, they spent in front of the fire, playing a round of Parisian Monopoly and then Scrabble, before the electricity went out just before dark. They then gathered by the fire, roasting marshmallows while sipping hot chocolate and sitting curled up in one anothers arms.
"I'm really enjoying this, you know," Laura said softly, looking up at Remington while pulling a gooey marshmallow apart distractedly.
"You are, are you?" Remington grinned and kissed her forehead. "I knew you'd come to see the wisdom of my ways." His arms tightened around her.
"Not just this—the vacation," she amended before she lost the courage to say what was on her mind. "Being with you. Just the two of us."
For the first time since they'd arrived in Zermatt, Remington felt encouraged that there was hope for them yet. "Laura, you know, there's something I've been meaning to talk to you about."
She looked at him puzzled, more at the fact that he initiated the conversation than the fact that there was something they needed to talk about.
He took a deep breath. "We've been together for four years now," Remington began slowly, "and we both want something, but neither of seems able to say exactly what it is we want. Exactly what it is that we want to say."
She nodded slowly, noncommittally. "Yes, I think you're right."
He continued tentatively. "We keep asking ourselves how to get where it is we both think we want to go, but we never come up with answers." She nodded again in agreement. "At this rate, we'll both be old and gray, and still without the answers."
Laura laughed softly, recognizing the truth in his words. "So what do you propose we do about it?" Suddenly, her lips were dangerously close to his.
"Hmmm, something on the order of this." In a swift move, Remington pressed his lips to hers in a lingering kiss filled with passion. His face was inches from hers when they parted. "We can't keep worrying about the future, about what will come after that magical moment. We have to take the risk that what we're both feeling inside will come to fruition."
Taken aback by his words, Laura was stunned into silence, not only by what he was proposing, but by the implications of his words. And by the fact that she found herself wordlessly agreeing with him, pulling him into an equally as passionate kiss that was coming straight from her heart, not her brain. Heartened by her responsiveness, Remington began to gently move his hand down her back, and when she didn't protest, he continued down to her thigh.
Suddenly, Laura's brain kicked in, realizing what it was she about to do, realizing that she was about to cross the point of no return. And they had to return. Things were happening too quickly, there was too much left unsaid...
Laura abruptly broke off his kiss and scrambled to her feet.
"Laura?" Remington said, his voice filled with concern that he did something wrong. Laura felt terrible that she was torturing him like this. If only he could understand her needs...
"It's not you, it's me," she said, her voice betraying her own frustration. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." She grabbed her coat and opened the door, only to be greeted by a four foot wall of snow that was growing by the hour.
Remington bounded up to his feet, quickly closing the door to prevent snow from drifting in. "Hold on, now, you're not going anywhere just yet." He instantly pulled her into his arms with a tenderness and humanity that caught her off-guard. "I'm the one who should be sorry. I never should have pressured you, rushed you into something you're not ready for, even if I am ready for us to take this step."
She broke out of his embrace. "What happens when two people make love is something so powerful," she began, "that I don't want us to take that step unless we're both clear on where we each stand with one another. Our relationship is complex enough, we don't need anything more to complicate things."
"What you want are guarantees?" he asked, although he already knew her answer.
"Guarantees I'm sure you're not ready to give," she replied, turning away from him.
He caught her arm in a strong grip, forcing her turn around and face him. "How can you say that? How can you be so sure of that?" His intensity surprised her. He let her arm fall away, as he walked over to his room and shut the door behind him, leaving Laura standing there, stunned, wondering if she'd just made a horrible mistake. And wondering just what it was that he meant by his words.
Laura retired to her room not long after that, but she couldn't sleep. She was too restless. Dammit, why couldn't she just tell him how she felt already? Why was it she was so afraid of being rejected by him, especially now, when she knew he harbored deep feelings for her. Silently, she cursed her insecurities.
It was early yet. The clock read only 11:00. Sighing, she realized this was going to be a long night, if she didn't do something about it. Glancing out the window, Laura noticed the snow had stopped falling. Putting on her woolen robe and slippers, Laura opened her balcony's doors and stepped outside to look out at the stars.
Instead of being captivated by the view of the mountains, when she turned around to her right, she noticed Remington standing there in his robe on his neighboring balcony. And there was something as a bright as the stars in the sky shining in his hand. Her heart leapt to her throat, blocking any of the incoherent words she might have managed to get out.
Remington looked over to her curiously. "Couldn't sleep, either?" He flashed one of his crooked smiles.
"Mmmm, no," Laura finally managed to say, her eyes transfixed by the sight of him standing there, looking so alone and forlorn.
He glanced at the glimmering object he twisted about in his hands. "Harry," he said simply.
She shook her head, confused. "Come again?"
"Harry." He looked across the balcony at her. "I may know little about my father, my real name, and where I came from, but Harry was the one name that followed me throughout my youth while I was shunted from relative to relative, none of whom would answer my innocent inquiries as to why I didn't have a mother, or a father, like everyone else."
Laura couldn't believe her ears, that he was opening up this much to her, here, now, after all these years, and in 25 degree weather no less. She leaned back on her balcony, facing him. "Go on," she prodded gently.
"I used to play at being someone else to escape my miserable, unwanted existence. I would come up with different names, different identities, different occupations -- anything to get away from the reality I was living in. When I grew older and realized I had a talent for, er, adapting to different situations, I decided I never wanted to be tied down to one thing, one place, one person. It was easier that way, no strings, no pain." He raised his eyes to meet hers. "That all changed the day I met you."
For the second time that day, Laura was stunned speechless. She approached the edge of her balcony, moving close enough to him to reach across and put her arm on his shoulder. "And now?" she asked, almost afraid to hear his answer.
"And now, there's nothing I want more than to continue where I am. The only thing is," he tried not to stumble on the words, "I want you to be a part of that--"
"But I am, now," Laura interrupted nervously.
"No, Laura, I mean I want to be with you. Every minute of the day. Right now, I have to look forward to going to work just so I can be with..." his voice trailed off as his hand reached out to cup her cheek "...with the woman I love."
This isn't real, Laura caught herself thinking. He really can't be saying this, right? But she had heard him say it, she knew well that she hadn't imagined it. The ice had been broken; there were few reasons to prevent her from responding truthfully. "Really?" she heard herself asking stupidly, just to make sure this wasn't a vivid dream.
"Really. I love you, Laura," Somehow, Remington found it relieving, and not confining to say.
"And I love you, too, Remington."
Remington was overjoyed that she chose to call him by what he had come to consider his real name, and for the first time, at that.
Laura tried to lean across the gap between the balconies to kiss him, but she couldn't bridge the gap. So she did the only thing she could do. In a swift move, she climbed over the balcony's ledge, reached across to Remington's balcony, and pulled herself onto it. His strong hands reached out to grab her waist as she landed on the balcony's terra firma.
Remington turned her around to face him, looking deep into her eyes while he ran his fingers through her thick hair. He could tell that the insecurities had been driven from her mind, and all that was left was just the two of them, out on that limb together, and more certain than ever that they were standing on a strong, old oak tree that could never be shaken.
Laura pulled Remington into a passionate kiss, her arms pulling his head even closer while her tongue tentatively tangoed with Remington's, tasting the sweet champagne from their meal so much earlier in the day. Remington held her as though he'd never let go; and indeed, he realized, now that he'd attained the respect of his jewel, he would never do anything to change that. As Laura's hands fell from his neck to his back and then lower to his hips, he deftly slipped something onto her finger.
Feeling something cold and metallic on her finger, Laura was distracted enough to reluctantly break their kiss. She slowly recovered her breath, only to quickly lose it again as she realized what it was she had felt on her finger.
"Remington," she murmured, entranced by the intricately cut blue stone that sparkled on her finger. She looked into his eyes for an explanation.
"Will you marry me?" he asked, his eyes pleading with her to give him the answer he so desperately wanted to hear.
She didn't even have to use her brain to think about this one. "Yes," Laura answered, her voice betraying her overwhelmed state.
"Yes?" Remington repeated, desperate to hear her confirm that.
"Yes!" she said with enthusiasm, as surprised at herself as he was. She quickly pulled him into another deep kiss. When they parted, Laura shivered, the night's chilly air finally getting to her.
"Are you cold?" Remington asked, concerned.
"No," she said, and that wasn't really a complete lie.
"Well, no matter," Remington said, rubbing his hands over robe-covered arms rapidly to help her warm up. "I think I know of a way to take care of that." He swept off her feet in a single movement, and opened the door to the cozy warmth of his fire-lit room.