copyright 1987, 1998 by Conner McBride
DISCLAIMER, et al---see Part 1
Remington glanced up as Mildred threw a file
on his desk. "Here ya go, Boss."
"Thank you Mildred. Ummm...might I ask you something."
Mildred stopped in midstride, turning around to give Steele an amused smirk. "If you're gonna ask do I think you
overreacted with Miss Holt and maybe Mr. All-American really <I>is</I> just a friend of the family, then my answer
would have to be yep, you blew it this time around."
His eyes widened in amazement before he burst into a hearty laugh. "Good Lord Mildred. Am I really that transparent?"
The portly secretary shook her head, grinning from ear to ear. "Nah. Let's just say it was the most obvious case. Why
don't you do the honorable thing and grovel for forgiveness?"
Remington nodded. "I think I shall. Thank heavens Laura can never stay mad for too
"Later Boss." The door shut behind her.
Remington picked up the phone and dialed Laura's number. One ring, two rings, three ring...by the fifth ring, he was
growing rather annoyed. Where the bloody hell was she? /Probably showing her old boyfriend around town./
Remington was rather surprised by his burst of jealousy. Laura had said Lee Stetson was an old family friend and she
had never done anything which would make him have reason not to trust her, unlike some parts of his rather infamous past.
Still, it couldn't hurt to check up on this Stetson character. He still had a few aces up his sleeve. Remington checked
his desk clock. Three o'clock. Laura would surely be home tonight. He'd make it a point to stop by and apologize.
His mouth curved in an appreciative smile. Making up could prove to be rather fun too.
Laura screamed as freezing cold ocean water
was dumped on her. "You creep!"
Playfully, she pitched sand at Lee as they sat on the pale sand of the California beach. Lee chuckled as he reclined back.
"God, remember when we were kids. I must have been about twelve and you were six; and your mother was dying because
I had you on my surf board with me."
She shook her head, laughing at the memory. "Yeah, and all my father could say was that you weren't teaching me proper surfing form."
She squelched the feeling of sadness the memory brought back. Those had been fun days. Endless summers with not a care in the
world. Laura stared at Lee, who was gazing out at the sun hovering over the Pacific blue like a golden ball.
"So, why don't you like Amanda whatever-her-name-is being your partner?"
Before he could open his mouth to answer, she jabbed him in the chest with her index finger.
"And do tell me it's because she's a civvy housewife! You've worked with civilians before."
Lee groaned. He should have known Laura would bring the subject of Amanda up again.
/Like a little chiuhuahua with a bone./ He fished for an explanation. "Because---"
"Oh, there's a reason!"
Lee tried again. "Because she has no experience in this sort of thing and because she's always turning everything upside down and because--"
"And because <I>you</I> have a crush on her!" Laura interrupted his tirade.
"I do NOT!" Lee sputtered, although somehow he didn't sound as convincing as he would have liked.
Laura cocked her head knowingly. "Then why are you getting so mad Lee? It was just a simple question."
He glared at her. "I am NOT getting mad!"
"Sure Lee." Laura's tone suddenly became very innocent.
Sheepishly, he shrugged. "She's a nice, average housewife. Okay?"
"A nice, average, <I>attractive</I> housewife?"
He couldn't help matching Laura's devilish grin with one of his own. "You don't play fair, you know that?"
Laura smirked. "True. C'mon! Let's hit the waves!"
They both ran out on their boards, hitting a huge crest and riding it in like
riders on the storm.
Remington Steele's Irish temper was slowly working up to a slow boil. He had called every hotel in town, from the Beverly Wilshire
to the sleazy little charge-by-the-hour places down on Sunset. Not one of them had a Lee Stetson listed as a guest. He had also
had a very interesting conversation with the owner of the Sheraton. Apparently, according to the man, Lee Stetson had been registered
there earlier that morning but had checked out early in the afternoon, saying he had found other accomodations. Remington was beginning
to wonder if the name of those new accomodations was Chez' Laura's.
He was growing extremely annoyed. /Old friend is it, Laura?/ He would definitely be stopping at her loft tonight.
He got out of the limo. "Should I wait
for you, sir?" Fred stuck his head out of the window. Remington
"The answer to that question, my dear man Fred, depends on how angry Miss Holt is. Just stick around for a few minutes and I'll call
down to let you know."
Remington walked up the stairs. /A modern girl, yet she can't live in a place with modern elevators./ He was practically gasping for
breath as he reached her door. He raised his hand to knock---and stopped in midair. He heard deep, male laughter mixed with Laura's
silvery laughter. /You work fast Stetson...and you work even faster, my dear./ He banged on the door, his eyes turning a decidedly green color...
Their laughter was silenced by the heavy banging on her door. Lee whistled. "Man, I didn't think we were being that loud. You got some pretty
touchy neighbors, babe."
Laura shrugged, jumping off the couch, putting her beer bottle on the coffee table. "Well,
whoever it is better have enough money to pay for a new door. What?! Oh, Mr. Steele! What
are you doing here?" For indeed, there was Remington Steele leaning on the wall, looking
decidedly annoyed and...angry? "Mr. Steele, what are you doing here?"
Remington let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding. Laura was dressed in a tee shirt and sweat pants and her hair was pulled
back in a ponytail. Stetson was sitting on a couch dressed almost the same way. Laura's giggling hadn't been what he thought it was.
"Mr. Stetson." He nodded in Lee's direction, before redirecting his attention back on an extremely annoyed Laura. "I've been trying to reach you
for the better part of the day Laura."
Laura felt her Irish start to rise. She knew exactly why he had been trying to reach her all day. She didn't miss his snide appraisal of Lee either.
"I told you Mr. Steele, I was taking the next two days off. That still doesn't explain why you're trying to beat my door off its hinges."
Her irritation was growing by the minute.
Lee stood up, watching the scene with interest. He knew exactly what Steele was here for. To check up and make sure he really /was/
an old family friend. /Though if he doesn't know he can trust Laura, there's no hope for this guy./ "Hey Steele. That was my fault--"
"It's okay Lee," Laura quickly interrupted. "I'm sure Mr. Steele has a perfectly reasonable excuse for being here." Her brown eyes sparked in challenge.
"And I can't wait to hear it."
Steele smiled at her, the cold, charming smile of a seasoned con. "I'm sorry for disturbing you when you are entertaining company Miss Holt, but I was wondering if I might have a word with you outside."
Laura bit her lip. Steele could see she was trying to keep her gunpowder temper in check and barely succeeding. She stalked outside, practically dragging
him with her. Once the door closed behind them, she turned around, hands on hips and feet planted apart. "Okay. Now what the hell are you here for?"
Remington's own temper was growing hot at her indignation. "What am I--listen luv, you don't even so much as call the office to let Mildred and I know
you're alright and you want to know what the bloody hell I'm here for?"
The lift of one finely sculpted brow showed her disbelief. "Thank you for your concern over my safety. Now why don't you try telling the truth?"
He glared, stepping towards her, forcing Laura against the wall. "Alright. Why the bloody hell is Lee Stetson staying here instead of at the Sheraton?"
He noted with instant satisfaction how her jaw dropped. "How did you---"
"I had an excellent teacher in the art of detection."
Laura was more furious with him than she could remember. "How dare you! What right do you have to spy on me? Or Lee, for that matter?"
His blue eyes bore into hers. "What right have you to lie to me? Old friend? Where's he going to sleep tonight, Laura? In your bed?"
Laura paled, unbelieving of the accusation which he had just thrown at her feet. Tears pricked at her eyes. She bit them back, refusing to give
Remington Steele or whatever-the-hell his real name was the satisfaction of knowing he had hurt her. She backed away from him, looking away.
"Oh no, you don't!" Remington forced her chin up, forcing her to look him in the face. The only woman he'd ever given a damn about was not
going to stand here and lie to him. "I want an answer Laura!"
She stood there, her pride and anger making her grow, taking on the regal air of a queen. She grabbed his hand by the wrist and pushed it away
from her face. "Believe what you want, but when, for God's sake, have I ever lied to you?"
Ducking under his arm, she went back into her loft, slamming the door behind her, leaving him standing there drowning in heated anger. He kicked the wall.
"Damn you Laura." /If this is the way you want to play Laura, just remember you made the rules./
He couldn't shake her quiet words from his mind though.../have I ever lied to you?/
As soon as Laura slammed the door, she closed
her eyes, taking a deep breath, trying to calm herself and force the tears
back into the pit of her stomach
where they belonged. Maybe she should have just told him about their rather unusual "family" relationship the minute Lee had walked through the door, but she always figured he'd just trust her. Heaven knows how many times she had trusted him, and his past was ten times murkier than hers had ever been. She opened
her eyes. Lee was standing there, the concern in his hazel eyes as warm and knowing as ever. "Honey, you okay?"
He came over and pulled her against his chest. "It's okay, Laura. Let it out." He rubbed her back as she cried, the whole story tumbling out. His anger at
Steele grew, not so much at the man's jealousy of him as the hurtful things he had said to Laura. She was the closest thing to a sister he had and he wasn't about to
let some Irish con break her in half because he wasn't secure enough to believe someone like Laura could actually love him. "Shhh...it's okay baby. It's alright."
She looked up at him, the fury and hurt evident on her face. "What right does he have to assume anything? I've trusted him when his old girlfriend showed
up to blackmail him into stealing, I've trusted him when his mentor was trying to get out of trouble, and he can't trust me with you?"
Lee sighed, knowing full well it was better to just let her temper explode. Laura had never been very good at keeping it under control and she would probably
get ulcers if she tried. "I know honey, but it's not like you've ever mentioned me. He'll get over it." /And if he doesn't, I'll pound him until he does./
Laura shrugged. "I don't feel like dealing with it right now. So, you wanna finish watching the game?"
Lee grinned. "Hell, we're ahead by fifteen points! Absofragginlutely, dammit!"
She smirked, grabbing her beer. she could deal with Remington Steele later. Right now, she just wanted to enjoy Lee's visit and wonder why the rest of her
family couldn't be like this.
Sitting next to her, Lee made a mental note to have a little chat with Steele when he got a chance.
He chuckled as he looked through the telescope. She rested her head on his shoulder as he sipped his beer. Then they were talking and laughing, throwing popcorn at each other. It had been a long time since he had seen that face. And now the perfect opportunity was presenting itself. Not only was Scarecrow here, but apparently he was visiting his little girlfriend. How utterly, perfectly suitable.
Remington Steele slammed his door, uncaring
of how many other tenants would hear. Damn her! How dare she treat
him like some faithful puppy, playing with him at one moment and then telling
him to run along because she had found a new friend. He poured himself
a glass of whiskey, flopping on the couch to sulk.
His anger was beginning to cool. Her words still ate at him. Laura was right. She had never once lied to him.
/And I've always lied to her. I can't even be man enough to tell her I don't know what my name is./
He sighed, thinking of those slanted dark eyes, with that spark in them that was uniquely Laura. Why was he so consumed with jealousy all of a sudden?
Remington knew why. Laura had been closing herself off these last few weeks since Cannes. He rubbed his eyes in exhaustion, glancing at the clock. It would be daytime in London. He needed to talk to Daniel. Badly.
Daniel sighed as he picked up the phone. Bridie had said
Harry sounded rather annoyed on the phone, practically yelling at her to
get Daniel. The old con had a pretty good idea of what was on Harry's
mind---a young woman with a fiery temper and a razor-sharp tongue named
Laura Holt. If he were honest with himself, Daniel truly liked Laura,
loved her in a sense, if for no other reason that she had made Harry unbelieveably
happy; not to mention he rather admired her spunk and tenacity and enjoyed
their frequent verbal sparring matches. However, he loved Harry dearly,
and tended to be rather protective of him, particularly when it came to
Laura's rage over something Harry had or had not done.
Picking up the phone, he grinned. "Harry my boy, to what do I owe the pleasure of this call?"
Harry's annoyance came through the phone. "Nothing much. I'm just ready to commit bloody murder."
Daniel rolled his eyes heavenward in amusement. "And what has Laura done this time?"
Grumbling on the other end of the line, Remington answered, "Oh, nothing much! She just has an old friend visiting her, that's all."
The older con didn't miss the way Harry had said 'old friend.' "An ex-lover, you mean."
Remington snorted in disbelief. "Not according to Laura. To here her speak, he's only an older brother! Never mind that she's following him around like a
puppy and looks at him like he hangs the moon...the way she doesn't look at me," he added quietly.
Daniel didn't like to hear the loneliness in Harry's voice; a loneliness he had put there. Still, by the same token, he didn't like to think the brutally honest Laura
Holt would lie. /If I am wrong in giving you the benefit of the doubt, my dear girl, I will break that pretty little neck of yours./
"Harry, she's probably telling the truth. Heaven forbid Linda be anything but honest!"
"Then why is he staying at her apartment," Remington snapped.
That one took Daniel by surprise. "Excuse me?"
"Yes. He is staying at her aparment instead of a hotel. I want to know why!"
"What has Laura said?"
"That it's nothing and none of my business."
The older man was truly at a loss as to what to say. By all indications, it would seem as if Laura Holt was reuniting with an old lover, and it wasn't like
Harry had been honest with the girl about his past lovers. Still, Daniel was wont to grow very annoyed with anyone who would deem to hurt the tender-hearted young man he had mentored, even if Harry adored that person. On the other had, this type of behavior didn't sound like the young woman he had met and heard
so much about, and, being a consummate conman, Daniel considered himself an expert on character. He truthfully didn't know what to tell Harry.
"Well, Harry, why don't you ask her upfront and not accuse; but, my boy, if she is playing you like a violin, you know you are always welcome to come back."
Remington sighed. "I know Daniel. I just have the feeling she's leaving me out of something again. I'm tired of it. Anyway, I'll let you go."
"Alright Harry. Take care of yourself."
"You too, mate."
Daniel hung up the phone, frowning in concern. It wasn't like Harry to be so down, even in his worst moments with the girl. Yet Daniel knew Harry lived in constant fear that someone "who deserved her" as he put it, would take Laura away from him. Something still didn't add up. This didn't sound like something Laura Holt would do.
He climbed up the stairs, trying to figure out which apartment
was hers. He knocked on a door. A middle-aged woman answered.
The man smiled his best smile. "I'm sorry. I'm at the wrong place. I'm looking for someone; perhaps you could help?"
The woman merely blew smoke from her cigarette in his face. "Yeah? Who're ya lookin' for?"
"Ahhhh..." He didn't know her name. "Well, I don't know her name. You see, I'm delivering a message to her from someone. She's petite, dark hair..."
The woman rolled her eyes, creating a scary effect with the heavy blue eyeshadow she wore. She laughed harshly. "Oh, that one! Aww, she lives next door." Her voice dropped to a secretive whisper. "Y'know, she's got this new guy in her apartment tonight. Usually, she's seein' blue eyes, but I guess they had a fight."
She leered. "Yeah. Real cute. Football player-type. Nice butt, too ;)"
"Ahhh...and she lives next door, you say?"
"Yeah. Right there."
He grinned, his small eyes glinting like a snake's. "Thanks."
She leaned against the door, her leer growing wider. "I know another way you could thank me, Toots."
He smirked. "Maybe later. 'Bye."
Walking towards the young woman's door, he grinned. So Scarecrow's girlfriend lived here. Funny, he had thought the other one was his lover. Maybe he
and this one had had a fight and Delana had just been a way to make her angry. Apparently though, they had made up, if what he had observed through the
window was anything to judge by.
Laura and Lee were whooping and hollering at
Stanford's victory over Arizona. Lee let out a loud "Woohoo!"
which had caused Laura to stare at him. "Woohoo, Lee?"
He blushed, unsure of where that had come from. Delana had teased him about saying that too, except during a more intimate moment. A shadow crossed
"Lee?" Laura turned off the television, studying his face. He looked older, sadder, and, for a fleeting moment, lost. "Lee? Are you alright?"
Her voice pulled him out of his revery. "Huh?"
"I said, are you alright?"
Lee Stetson shrugged. "Been worse, been better. Just thinking about something."
"Someone is more like it. Lee, we've always shot straight with each other. Tell me." Laura touched his arm in childlike trust. There had never been any
other way she had looked at Lee because he had never done anything but be there, sometimes if only to catch her when she fell. Now it was her turn.
"This is me, remember?"
He opened his mouth to respond, but a loud banging on the door stopped him.
Laura turned around, glaring at the door. Lee tried to make a joke. "Maybe Steele's here to save your honor."
She shot him a look to the effect of 'it better not be him.' Pulling the door open, she blurted out, "Is there any particular reason why you're ba---oh, I'm sorry! I thought you were somebody else. What can I help you with?"
Laura did her best to swallow her suspicions. She just didn't like the looks of this guy.
Lee stood up. "Who is it?" He stopped in his tracks as the man at the door cackled in laughter. "Hello Scarecrow! Lovely to be seeing you again."
Laura yelped in pain as Lee pulled her away from the door to stand behind him.
"What the hell do you want, St. John?" He was seething with pain and rage. He could hear Delana's screams as the fire from the explosion consumed her in
Caleb St. John merely grinned. "Come now, Scarecrow. Is that any way to greet an old friend? And here I was hoping you would introduce me to this delightful little creature."
Lee pushed Laura further behind him. "Stay the hell away from her, or so help me, I'll-"
"You'll what, Scarecrow? Try to kill me?" St. John laughed as if he had just heard the latest joke. "That's an interesting thought. Actually, I just stopped by to
let you know I'm around and not to get in my way." His eyes bored into Laura. "'Tis a pity about Delana. I'd hate for your new little bedmate to end up the same way."
"You sonofabitch!" Lee grabbed Caleb by his coat. "I WILL prove you were the one who set up Delana and me! And then you're going to fry, 'cause I'm gonna prove what a gutless traitor you really are! For Delana!"
Laura stood there, afraid of the hate and pain in Lee's voice. She watched, transfixed as Caleb St. John pulled Lee's hands from his coat. "There's nothing to prove. Face it, you and that gypsy whore couldn't pin me and you've got nothing. I just wanted to say hello. Have a nice night." He smirked, saluting Laura as he walked away.
Lee stood there, as tense as a caged animal and just as dangerous. Laura layed her hand on his arm tenatively. Lee brushed it away, slamming the door on its rollers and moving to stare out of the kitchen window. She walked up to him, surprised to find his eyes wet. "Lee?"
He stared at her, the grief on his face tearing at her heart. She took a deep breath, not wanting to ask until he was ready. Lee finally broke the silence. "What do you want to know, Laura?"
"Nothing if that's what you want."
He grinned shakily at her. "Thanks."
Her smile was all he needed. "Lee?"
Remington sat in his apartment, a whiskey in
his hand. It wasn't like him to drink away anger, but he needed something
to dull the pounding of his heart. He wasn't sure who he was more
angry with: himself, for throwing around accusations he had no business
making, Laura, for her nonchalance about Stetson's presence, or Lee Stetson
himself, with his easy charm and the strange influence he had over Laura.
Studying his glass, he frowned, as if trying to divine some answer from the amber liquid of forgetfulness. A decision came to him, one he had been putting off since October 1, 1982. If Laura didn't chose him here and now, he would move on.