STEELE 'O MY HEART, PART XV: STEELE REMEMBERED
By: Susan Deborah Smith
First printed: More Red Holt Steele #13/14
Summary: Laura presents Remington with something he's been looking for all his life.
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 had done her research thoroughly. In a bored moment when she hadn't had anything else to do, she had jotted down the few known facts Remington had told her held learned about his parents.
Since no grandparents, aunts or uncles had stepped forward to claim him as a baby, it was obvious that either none existed, or that the scandal had cut his mother off from her family.
Acting on the assumption that an unmarried woman with no one to fall back on would decide to have her child in a big city where her condition would excite less comment, and where employment was easier to find, Laura concentrated her investigation in Dublin. It took time, investigating over this distance, but there was unlimited petty cash with which to send packets by courier, and messages by telex, and documents by fax. And since Remington didn't know what she was up to, and since nothing really depended on it, the amount of time it took didn't matter.
She had a secret file, tucked away in her office, marked "Statistics, 1950 - 1988." If ever he decided to open a file drawer and do some work, that heading would discourage him from ever looking into that folder.
According to London police records, Daniel Chalmers had been incarcerated for a year for fraud, starting in mid-December 1951. At that time, according to Chalmers' story, he hadn't known his lover was pregnant. Laura assumed that, if they'd been as close as he claimed, she couldn't have been more than three months pregnant at the time, and probably less.
She spent an afternoon browsing in a bookstore, reading books about pregnancy, chapters on viability of premature babies and normal lengths of gestation. Then she sent a letter to the Hall of Records in Dublin, requesting information on all male children born in Dublin between April and November of 1952, to unmarried women who died during or due to childbirth.
She was shocked that the list was as long as it was. She'd thought it would be easy from that point, only a few names, easy to narrow down by hair color and eyes. Maternal mortality hadn't been low, in those days.
Every child with brown eyes was crossed off, every child with red or blonde hair. Of the resulting names, all could be accounted for, either adopted and traceable, or raised by relatives. All but one -- Male Child Daniels, sent to a foundling home, later adopted and vanished.
A tingle went through Laura. Assumed names were often easy to recognize, and this Mary Daniels had all the marks of a woman on the run. She sent another document to Dublin, and her suspicions were confirmed.
The government insisted on confidentiality; yes, they had a next of kin on the mother of Male Child Daniels, but they couldn't release those records. So Laura wrote to the unnamed parents of the woman known as Mary Daniels, in care of St. Mary's Lying In, with the assurance that the hospital would deliver the letter, if it were deliverable.
The letter was short and to the point. "As a licensed private investigator, I've been asked to locate the family of the mother of a gentleman living in Los Angeles," it said. "He is about 35 years old, raised to adolescence in Ireland. He has black hair and blue eyes, and his handprint matches that of a child born to your daughter in Dublin in 1952.
"I hope this inquiry will not resurrect unhappy memories of family misery. The gentleman in question has no desire to intrude. If, in fact, you have no wish to make contact, I shall tell him that I was unable to find his family. The decision is yours; however, I would in any event appreciate a response.
"This letter is written in the strictest confidence; your answer will have 'client status', i.e. it shall not be divulged if I am so instructed."
A week later, by express mail, came a letter from County Waterford.
"Dear Miss Steele," it read, "your letter came as a shock, but a glad one. You can't know what a relief it is to hear that our Mary's boy is all right. When we heard she was dead, we tried to find him, but held been adopted out, and, we discovered, to people of suspicious quality. We had to give up; they told us it was hopeless."
It was a touching letter, carefully worded, but filled with the lasting unhappiness of bad decisions and sharp words regretted.
Laura wrote again at once. "I was very glad to receive your letter. The gentleman in question, Remington Steele, is my husband and business partner. He only lately learned the identity of his father, who unfortunately died before he was able to tell him much about your daughter and their relationship. All we do know is that Mr. Chalmers, at the time he was separated from your daughter, did not know of her condition, and that upon his release from prison he made every effort to locate her, and their son. What has happened since is a long, improbable story; I'm sure my husband will be happy to relate it to you. I know he'll be anxious to meet you; would it be convenient for us to visit?"
She included a photo, her favorite, of the two of them at the door to the agency.
A telegram was soon received: "Come at once. Kathleen Riordan."
Laura took the file out of her desk. Opening the door to his office, she leaned in. "Got a minute?"
He looked up from a stack of paperwork. "Now I know why I was so glad to let you take care of all this."
"Stooped under the burden, are you?" She came in and sat on the desk.
He tried to read her expression. "Well, then?"
She gauged his mood. This could be tricky. Finally, she said, simply, "I have a telegram from your grandmother. She wants you to visit."
He stared at her. "Eh?"
"I told you I'm twice the detective I think I am." She held out the telegram. "I found your mother's family."
"Laura -- " he said.
"You have a grandmother, two aunts, an uncle, plenty of cousins, and they all can't wait to meet you."
Tears ran unnoticed down his cheeks. "What was her name?" he whispered.
"Mary," she replied. "Mary Rose Riordan."
He read the telegram, and then the letter, filled with a grandmother's long-pent concern.
"Is he healthy? Is he happy? Does he like his job, does he have a good wife?"
He looked up at her. "When did you do this?"
"On and off, ever since I was sick."
"You did this for me," he said.
She took his hand. "I thought it might be something you'd like." She looked at him closely. "It is, isn't it?"
"You've taught me a lot, Laura," he said. "I'd have tried it myself, except I was --" He closed his fist on the telegram. "-- I was afraid of what I'd find out." When he met her eyes, he knew that if it had been bad news -- all dead, or not wanting anything to do with him -- she'd have put the file away, and said nothing more about it.
"Do you know what this means?" he asked.
"I've got in-laws?"
"It means there's somebody else." He shook his head. "You've been my only family for so long -- you, this agency, Mildred. I don't know how to react."
"I don't mind sharing you," she said. "A little bit."
She was smiling. She was so happy that she had been able to do something. That was it. She'd have been glad to help him with that Immigration mess, if held only been man enough to let her, and held had to let her, in the end. She'd done this for him, for the joy of doing something for him. It was difficult to absorb; it was a new way of living, one that she'd taught him, bit by bit, over the years. Everything he did for her, for her happiness, was intangible: being loyal, faithful and true, night after night, day after day, giving her pleasure, being hers. But this, this gift, depended on skills that weren't his. He was bluffing; as much as she'd taught him about the P.I. biz, he doubted if he could've gotten results like this. He could never, he thought, do anything for Laura that could be as great a gift as this.
He told her so.
"I think," she said softly, "that I'm the best judge of that. You've made it safe," she went on, "for me to love you. You don't know what that means to me."
He took her hand and pulled her into his lap and kissed her. "What did you tell her?" he asked.
"That we had only a tiny little clue to go on, and that the hospital where you were born wouldn't tell me anything, but I'd tell them everything, in case they wanted to know."
"I was born in a hospital?"
"St. Mary's, Dublin."
"I have a birthday?"
She smiled. "When do we usually celebrate?"
"September 6. But you just made that up."
"Must've been a little intuition, too. Actual date: September 10, 1952."
He thought it over. "I like the first better," he said. He wrapped his arms around her. "Did you tell her I have a good job?"
"That I have a good wife?"
"As modestly as I could."
"That I'm deliriously happy?"
"So what's left for me to say?"
She slid off his lap and kissed him. "Whatever you like." In the outer office, she instructed Mildred to hold Mr. Steele's calls, and went down to Harry's for a tiny champagne cocktail to toast her success.
Remington wrote to his grandmother in the best way he could, a formal letter, describing how he had come to know his father, and the little bit the man had told him of the girl who was his mother. He described his present life with Laura, and sent along a copy of their wedding portrait. He also suggested some dates for a visit, and put the whole thing in the hands of the courier.
On the way home, he sat in the car and watched the scenery go by.
"Ever since you've been sick?" he said suddenly.
"Sorting through the records of every baby whose mother died in childbirth."
"Pretty depressing stuff."
She considered. "A bit, yes."
He gazed out the window. "Perhaps we shouldn't try to have children."
This came out of left field, as far as Laura could tell. "What?"
"I mean, if it's such a risky business."
She reached over and took his hand. "I think you're borrowing trouble."
"Did they say what killed her?" he asked. "Besides me, I mean."
Abruptly, she hit the brakes and pulled to the curb.
"Listen, Steele," she said, turning to face him. "This is no time to go morbid on me. She died, and that's very sad, but it was thirty five years ago. You can't do a thing about it, except mourn her in a real way; that's perfectly natural. But you can't blame yourself for her death, because you didn't ask to be born."
"No," he agreed.
"All kinds of things could've happened, couldn't they? She could have lived, and walked out of the hospital with you in her arms and been hit by a truck."
He looked at her, puzzled.
"Right?" she said.
"Yes, well, I suppose it's possible."
"Or walking to the hospital, pow!"
She put the car in gear and pulled out into traffic. "She had a rheumatic heart," she added quietly. "She just wasn't strong enough."
"What about you?" he asked.
"There's nothing wrong with me," she assured him. "Let's go home and make love, whaddaya say?"
He could never resist her; her logic and her lusty nature overwhelmed his dark mood, and it was really all they could do to keep their hands off each other until they were safely parked in the garage. Given the way his father had spoken about her, Remington was quite sure his mother would understand.