STEELE OF APPROVAL--AN ADDITION
By: Melissa Jones
First Printed: More Red Holt Steele #3
Summary: What would have happened in "Steele of Approval" if Laura had arrived at Remington's apartment a few minutes earlier and caught him before he left.
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.
Laura exited the elevator with nervous anticipation. She approached the door to 5A and rang the doorbell eagerly. Laura gripped the door frame and sighed deeply, trying to calm her nerves. She finally knew, without doubt, that this was what she wanted. He was what she wanted. No more doubts, no more fears. Not tonight. Tonight, once and for all, she would know how he really felt about her, and he would know how she felt about him. Laura rang again.
The door flew open, and a surprised Remington Steele stood gaping at her.
"Laura," he said in a shocked tone, swallowing nervously.
"Hi," she said, her mind unable to provide anything clever for the moment. "May I come in?"
"Uh, well..." Remington said skittishly. He stepped to the side and gestured in toward the living room. "Sure. Come in."
"Thanks," Laura said, entering the apartment. She set the overnight bag she was carrying down just inside the door, and stepped into the living room. Remington closed the door, staring at the bag.
"What's with the bag?" he asked, walking slowly toward Laura.
"Oh, nothing really," Laura said, debating whether or not to tell him the truth.
"Nothing?" Remington probed. Laura stared at him guiltily and sighed.
"I was planning a little trip, that's all," Laura said. "To... Mexico City."
"No," Laura admitted reluctantly. "I was planning on going with William Westfield."
"I see," Remington said tersely, averting his eyes from Laura so she couldn't see the pain in his face. His aversions came too late. Laura winced at the knowledge of hurting him.
"It was innocent enough. Separate hotel rooms and everything," Laura assured him.
"Ah," Remington said, obviously not comforted by her words.
"Besides, it doesn't matter, because I couldn't go," Laura said, trying to focus on her reason for coming.
"Oh? Why's that?" Remington asked casually, glancing up at her with forced indifference. He paced behind the couch, opposite of Laura, who paced in front of it.
"I realized that I couldn't leave. Not without knowing the truth," she admitted, pacing toward the fireplace and Remington's open bedroom. "Not without trying once more..." Laura's voice trailed off as she glanced into the bedroom, expecting to see her reflection in the closet's mirrored door. Instead, she stood staring at the open closet, stripped bare of all its clothes.
Her mind reeled, questioning the sight before her. She glanced over to Remington, who stared back in nervousness. Laura's stomach knotted in fear. Her throat closed itself off from any questions that she wanted to ask, and her chest felt as if it had been crushed by a great weight. She could feel the color draining from her cheeks as she stared between the closet and Remington, who looked at her guiltily.
Without a word, she sped into the bedroom, desperate to find an explanation for the bare closet other than the one spinning in her mind. Remington followed her in silence.
Any explanations that she could think of were dismissed with one glance around the bedroom. Besides the open closet, other evidence screamed at her as to Remington's intentions. The cabinet doors of his dresser were wide open, and a few drawers hung open, all empty.
But the most compelling evidence sat haphazardly on his bed. His suitcase sat gaping, filled with rapidly packed clothing. The meaning was more than obvious.
Laura turned slowly to Remington, who averted his guilt-ridden eyes from her pained stare. He was breathing rapidly, opening his mouth as if trying to find the right words to say to her.
"Laura," he began. Laura refused to let him lie to her again.
"I'm sorry," she said, trying to sound strong, even though she felt her heart being wrenched from her chest. "I didn't realize I interrupted your packing. You're obviously very busy, so I'll leave you alone, Mr. Steele." Her voice cracked as she spoke his name. She had to leave now, before she completely lost it in front of him. She wasn't going to let him see how much he was destroying her. Laura whisked past him and out of the bedroom.
"Laura, wait!" Remington called, chasing after her. He caught her behind the couch, grabbing her by the elbow and spinning her to face him. He grabbed her by the forearms, pulling her close to him. It was more than Laura could bear.
"Let go of me!" she cried, tears clouding her vision as she struggled to free herself from his strong grasp.
"Let me explain!" Remington protested, keeping his grip on Laura despite her struggles. "It's not what you think."
"Not what I think?" Laura shrieked, stopping and looking him in the eyes, the tears falling down her face. "You've packed every stitch of clothing you own into your suitcase, and it's not what I think? Are you saying you weren't planning on leaving tonight?"
"Laura, please try to understand," Remington pleaded, loosening his grasp slightly for fear of hurting her physically. It was bad enough he had hurt her so much emotionally.
"Understand what? That you're leaving me after three years?" Laura ripped herself free from him and stepped back. "I mention the fact that it hasn't quite worked out the way we wanted it to, and rather than bothering to stay and fight, you turn and run. As usual! How could I mistake that?" Her tears flowed freely from her now, as did all the anger and frustration she was feeling. "I guess some things just aren't worth fighting for, are they?"
She turned toward the front door, determined to walk out on Remington Steele forever. He didn't give her the chance. Once again, he grabbed her and spun her around to face him. This time, his face was filled with anger.
"Do you honestly believe you mean that bloody little to me? After three years?" he yelled, gripping her arms tightly and staring into her eyes. Laura struggled again, but his grip tightened to the point of hurting.
"How dare you ask me that when you're packing to leave?!" Laura countered. She began hitting him on the chest with her fists, determined to hurt him physically as much as he had hurt her emotionally. He adjusted his grip on her arms, trying to keep her from hitting him, but she managed to still make contact with his torso.
"Why?!" she screamed. "Why did you stay for so long? Why didn't you leave three years ago, when it wouldn't hurt as much? Why did you stay? Was the free ride so important?" She could barely get her words out through her sobs.
"The ‘free ride’ means nothing to me!" Remington answered angrily, trying to control Laura's tantrum with little success. "I could get the same anywhere in the world!"
"Then why did you stay? What the hell is so important? What's so different about me? Why have you pursued me for so long? Why? Why?!" Laura screamed.
"Because I love you, damn it!" Remington yelled back furiously.
Laura stopped struggling at his words, and slowly lifted her eyes to meet his. He stared back, obviously as shocked by his admission as she was.
"What did you say?" Laura whispered, her heart beating in anticipation. She prayed she hadn't heard him wrong, and that he meant what he had said.
"I said..." he began, his breath rapid from fighting Laura. He swallowed hard, trying to calm his nerves. "I said...I love you." He dropped his hands from her arms and stared at her, searching her expression for a positive reaction. Laura stared at him in pure shock, still holding her arms in the air between them.
"Why..." she breathed heavily, trying to regain her cognitive thinking. "Why didn't you tell me before?"
Remington sighed and hung his head. He turned away from her and began pacing, circling around the couch.
"God knows I wanted to. I couldn't earlier because I just recently admitted it to myself," he admitted, refusing to look at her.
Laura dropped her arms and continued to stare at him.
"When?" she asked softly, the tears still running down her cheeks. Her mind cleared slightly as she remembered a past conversation. "The counterfeiting case. When you were tortured and interrogated. You said you thought I was asking the questions, but you wouldn't tell me what they were. Later, you kept trying to tell me something, but Mildred came in. That was it, wasn't it? That was when you knew?"
Remington looked at her painfully, and finally nodded. Laura managed a half-laugh, half-sob at his admission.
"Why didn't you tell me?" she asked.
"Would you have really believed me?" Remington countered.
"What?" Laura asked, confused.
"If I had told you, would you have really believed me? Without any doubt in you mind or heart, despite my lack of honesty in the past?"
"What are you talking about?"
Remington sighed, folded his arms, and began pacing again.
"That's why I was planning on leaving tonight," he explained. "Look, I mean, I know you've never completely trusted me. Not that I blame you; I've given you plenty of reason not to, the most important of which is never telling you my real name. That’s our major stumbling block, Laura. It's what's always kept us apart. I realized that tonight when we were talking about taking a little time apart. I realized that you would never truly trust me unless I could be honest with you about my real name. Only I can't be honest with you about it because..." He swallowed again and looked up at her, "because I don't know what my real name is."
Laura opened her mouth to speak, amazed at his confession, but he cut her off with the raising of his left hand.
"Please, let me finish," he said. "I planned on leaving tonight to find my father. All I have is the watch, but it's a start. I thought if I could find my father, I could find out my real name. Then, I could come home, tell it to you, and then tell you how I really feel about you, and you wouldn't have to doubt my honesty. You'd have reason to really believe me."
Laura shook her head, her tears flowing again.
"But don't you see?" she protested. "I don't care what you're real name is. You can make one up as far as I'm concerned. Without you here, it doesn't matter what I call you. Besides, as hard as I know it is for you to admit anything related to your feelings, I could never doubt your confession of love for me. I don't doubt it now."
"You don't?" Remington asked in surprise.
"No, I don't," Laura said, walking around the couch to stand before him. "I believe you. I believe everything you've told me. It hurts me that you were planning on leaving without saying good-bye, but I understand your reasoning. Even though it wasn't completely accurate."
"You don't doubt me?" Remington asked, his own eyes watering in intense emotion. Laura smiled.
"No. In fact, I'm glad you've finally told me. You see, that's why I came back tonight. I came to tell you how I feel about you." She stepped closer, until they stood a few inches apart.
"You did?" Remington asked, amazed.
"Yes," Laura said. She took a deep breath. "I came to tell you that...that I love you, too."
Remington closed his eyes and choked back a sob of joy. He hung his head to compose himself, but the effort was futile. He looked again at Laura, tears flowing down his face.
"You really love me?" he asked, trying to convince himself that it was real.
"Yes, I do," Laura laughed through her tears. "But that's not all I came back for."
"It isn't?" Remington asked. Laura shook her head. "Well, what else did you come back for, Laura?"
Laura looked down and took a deep breath. She looked up again at Remington and smiled softly.
"I came back to ask you if...if you would make love to me tonight."
Remington stared at her with a mixture of relief and joy. Suddenly, he grabbed her face in his hands and kissed her passionately. Laura, taken aback by his sudden movement, slowly recovered and put her arms around his shoulders. Remington lowered his hands to her waist, pulling her as close to him as possible.
They kissed passionately, holding tightly to one another. Remington released Laura long enough to pick her up in his arms and carry her into the bedroom. He put her down beside the bed, and they both glanced at the filled suitcase still lying there. Remington grabbed the suitcase and dropped it on the floor next to the dresser.
"No trips. Not tonight," he said breathlessly, pulling Laura to him and kissing her again. Laura responded eagerly as they collapsed together onto his bed, entwined in the joy and comfort of each other's arms.
Laura sighed as she adjusted her head's position on Remington's chest. He wrapped his arms tighter around her, kissing her on the top of her head delicately. Laura turned her head upwards to look into his eyes. She smiled at him as he stared back at her.
"Now aren't you glad you stayed?" Laura teased. Remington smiled and chuckled softly.
"Yes, I am," he whispered, kissing her forehead. "What about you? You're not regretting leaving William Westfield and Mexico City behind, I trust?" Laura laughed and squeezed Remington's torso affectionately.
"Not a chance," she said. "Nothing could make me regret being here with you like this." She snuggled herself deeper into his arms, but stopped at the sound of his sigh. Laura looked up at Remington, and noticed a troubled expression decorating his handsome features.
"What is it?" she asked curiously. Her stomach twisted in concern. "You don't regret this, do you?"
"What?" Remington asked, snapping his attention back to the present. "No, no of course not." He grasped Laura's face carefully in his hands. "I could never regret making love to you, Laura. Never."
Laura felt relief washing over her, but his eyes told her something still troubled him.
"Then what is it? What's bothering you?" she probed. Remington sighed, and looked at her sheepishly.
"Laura, you said you believed me when I told you that I love you, right?" he asked.
Laura sat up, pulling the sheet up around her, her concern growing into fear of whatever unpleasantness he was about to impart to her. "Of course I believe you," she assured him.
"And you know that there's no one I'd rather be with than you. And that I don't ever want to leave your side. I want to commit to you completely," he said nervously. Laura felt the same fear as before welling inside of her.
"What are you trying to tell me, Mr. Steele? I mean, if I didn't know any better, I'd swear this almost sounded like a good-bye speech," she said, trying to make it sound like a joke, but failing miserably.
"No, not good-bye," Remington assured emphatically. "Just... more like...see you later."
"What do you mean?" Laura said, scooting away from him. He grabbed her wrist, sat up, and moved close to her again.
"Laura, listen to me," he said softly. "I've thought a lot about this, and it's the only way. I have to go on that trip. Soon. I have to find out who I am. Otherwise, my past will always be able to come between us. I don't want that. I do want to commit to you. Completely. But, I can't do that until I put my past behind me once and for all. And the only way to do that is to find out who I really am. Do you understand?"
Laura smiled softly. "Of course I understand. You have every right to find out who you are. I realize how important this is to you. I don't want anything coming between us either. In fact, I'll help. I'll go with you, and together we'll find out who you are."
"No," Remington said strongly. Laura stared at him with curiosity and concern. He sighed and patted her hand softly. "What I mean is, I have to do this on my own. I don't know how long it will take, or where it will take me. Considering some of the places I spent my childhood in, this could potentially be a dangerous trip. I don't want to expose you to anything like that. Besides, someone has to stay here to run the agency. You're the detective, so you need to stay."
"But...we're a team. We can finish this faster if we work together. We..." Laura protested desperately. Remington stared at her worriedly.
"Laura, you almost sound as if you don't trust me," he said, only half-jokingly. Laura was taken aback at his suggestion, and at the fact that he seemed to be right.
"I do trust you. Really," she assured him, along with herself.
"Then believe me, Laura," he said, placing his hand on her right cheek and turning her face delicately toward his. "I promise, I will return to you as soon as I possibly can." He searched her eyes hopefully for belief. Laura smiled, relieving his fears.
"I believe you. I'll never stop trusting you," she said. "But I want to go with you. Please," she pleaded. Remington sighed in surrender and smiled softly.
"All right. We'll make the reservations tomorrow," he said. Laura smiled happily. Remington stroked her cheek delicately, and kissed her. She returned his kiss eagerly. Laura fell backwards to the bed, pulling him with her. She wrapped her arms around him tightly as she felt the weight of his body press over her, and the warmth of his lips caressing hers.
Laura stirred grudgingly from her deep sleep, her arms clutching the pillow close to her face. She opened one eye and stared at the clock on the bedside table next to her. Seven-thirty. She smiled as she remembered the previous night's events. Remington's admission of love for her. Her admission to him. The passion of their lovemaking. The warmth of his arms as he held her while she slept.
Laura turned over to wake the man she loved, her eyes still closed with glorious fatigue. Her hand touched the cool surface of cotton sheets. Laura's eyes flew open, and she lifted her head. She stared at the empty pillow next to her. Laura sat up, staring around the room. Everything was in order. The closet was closed, as was the dresser.
"He must have unpacked," Laura whispered to herself, trying to quiet the nagging doubts she could feel emerging in the back of her mind. She rose from the bed, pulling the sheet up with her and wrapping it around her unclothed, lithe frame. She went to the dresser and opened it, expecting to find the drawers in perfect order. Her eyes met only bare wood. Her panic began again.
She quickly crossed the room to the closets, flinging open the mirrored doors. The only things left in the closets were a couple of bare hangers, hanging forlornly in the large, empty space. Laura glanced around the room, her eyes falling on the carpet in front of the dresser. A rectangular impression still faintly remained.
The suitcase was gone. Remington Steele was gone.
Laura moved to the bed, sitting down slowly on it's edge. She wrapped the sheet tighter around her, feeling her nakedness all the way to her soul. She remembered his words last night. His promise.
"He'll be back. I must trust in him. I must," she whispered, trying to keep the tears from falling as she stared around the silent, empty room.