Cold Steele Honesty
Written January 2008 After watching S1-S5 DVDs (Merry Christmas to me).
Authors Note: I was a huge fan of Remington Steele back in the day. I remember when it looked like it was going to be canceled and that PB was going to get Bond. I remember when all that was called off and we wound up with Timothy Dalton as Bond and six eps of Remington Steele that I could have lived without. I remember some shows being sweet and sexy (in the beginning) but as the show wore on it just became silly (while I like the Screwball Comedies as much as the next person, it was boring to me week in and week out).
What I was reminded of as I surfed through Season 1-5 was that as bad as things got on the show (silly plot driving shows, poor ratings and threats of cancellation); that SZ and PB were professionals on screen and their characters were not destroyed; they may have gotten flatter, but they were not destroyed – that is my opinion as a show watcher not from any information that I have from what actually happened behind the scenes. I can speak to at least two other shows – again only speaking from what was ON SCREEN - where that was not the case (but let's not DWELL). I also was reminded that I used to believe that PB was the sexiest thing on two legs and that he was made to wear clothes – from a tux, to a suit to leather and jeans … OMLG. Praise be to Hollywood that those years were captured on video.
I do remember not liking the last ep of Season 4 when it was first aired and all the eps in S5, but this time around I was not as affected. Maybe because I have seen other shows hit their end in more painful ways or maybe I realized that it was just a TV Show and the writers were trying to do something different – some of it worked, most of it didn't. I will never understand why when it is clear that a show is approaching it's last, that the writers can't do what they have been fighting against doing for so long – wrap it up intelligently and nicely. It is done on some shows, not most.
In any event, I was sorry about "Bonds of Steele". Talk about a total character reversal of what was being done in S4. For example remember the scene in "Forged Steele" where he and Laura talk after he has been released from jail. He openly, honestly, calmly and gently starts a conversation about her fears, listens to them and then tells her that he is glad they are together and is not going anywhere. Very mature! Compare that to the entire premise of the sham marriage to a prostitute in "Bonds of Steele". I don't believe it would have happen, at least not the way it was written. I also didn't like the last scene of the series with them finally deciding to be together and the phone ringing. I couldn't imagine a future for them. Were they supposed to go back to Los Angeles and continue on? Would Tony always be trying to get in the way? Would they choose to legally get married? I just couldn't see the future and when a show ends, I like to be able to let my mind wander over 'what's next' – even if I don't get to see it on my TV every week and if I did it would be materially altered from what I was used to seeing. But again, that is probably just me.
So, since I have taken to writing FanFic for other shows, I thought I would take a stab at rewriting those personal scenes from "Bonds of Steele" – taking out the fake marriage deception and putting in something more realistic – IMHO - and then leading it to a different end/future for our heroes. We might have been able to skip S5 altogether and have gotten two more Bonds with PB and SZ could have made the leap to movies (did you know she was up for RoboCop and lost it do to S5?) I realize that this does not have the kinetic energy that that show had, but honestly, if this were to be the last ep … there was no need for screwball chases, bad hair days and mud fights – at least not the way it was done. Again, JMO. Enjoy or not … this is a one off and there will be no sequel … with love and thanks to the actors, writers and creators of Remington Steele.
Thanks for reading.
"Thank you … yes … ok, see you then … bye-bye." He tucked the phone back on its cradle and exhaled the breath he had been holding.
It was done – or about to be done. The game he had been playing for the past four years was over. He hadn't lost, but he couldn't say that he had won either. A new game would start and the goal was to maintain the players. He wondered – after all was said and done - if it would continue to be a game worth playing.
Maybe he should run, cut his losses and go back to his old ways. Years ago it was nothing to move on, reinvent himself every month or so, start an entirely new chapter with entirely new characters. It was his life, his choice and no one else was hurt by it – at least that it what he told himself. This time there was no denying that someone else would suffer; someone who he cared very deeply for would be hurt if he just left – or even left with an explanation. There was no doubt that she would survive, go on, reinvent her self if he did go. There were times when he tried to convince himself that she would be better off without him. Yet he chose to stay. If he would be truly honest with himself – he wasn't staying because of her, he was staying FOR her and the life they had created together – and that was very new to him. Scared the hell out of him.
He had set a plan in motion that would effectively keep things status quo at least on the surface. The plan would work – it could be made to work – but it was desperate, wreckless and could blow up in his face. I could fix one problem but would more than likely create another, bigger issue. After a considered 12 hours, there was no other way - at least none that he could think of in the amount of time he had left.
He sunk back into his chair and looked around the office. He loved being Remington Steele. It was the one role he had in his life that really felt good, felt right. It was the best of all possible worlds – good money, a little danger, challenging, helping people rather than scamming them. It had kept his interest like nothing before ever had. If anyone had told him playing detective would have been so fulfilling he would have laughed in their face as he picked their pocket. Of course it was not only the detecting part that kept tickled his fancy – it was the lifestyle that came with it: limos, champagne, nice suits, and the status … what's not to like?
He had told himself after the first … what? ... season? After Murphy and Miss Wolfe left that he had stayed for Laura, stayed for her conquest. There was an element of truth in that – sometimes more than others. But it wasn't entirely true. If she were just some woman – some notch on his headboard, he could have taken her years before. She might deny that but there was no doubt in his mind. It would have been an affair to remember – quite possibly the one that he remembered and regretted on his deathbed. It would have been so easy to tell her what she wanted to hear whether he meant it or not. It wouldn't have been the first time he had talked a woman into bed, even with a woman he cared for. But he didn't. He chose not to say what she wanted to hear and he allowed her to believe it was because he felt too little for her or wasn't prepared to commit or whatever it was that she told herself. That was the game they were playing. There was only two ways out of that game, they either each had to fold, or they both had to lose. It was really too bad that they couldn't have viewed it as both winning.
"Oh Laura …" He said quietly to himself.
He looked down at his notes: blood tests, marriage license and a minister. It would all be over by late afternoon. Would he need to tell her? She would surely find out. If there was one thing he had learned – she always found out. He was a firm believer that it was easier to apologize than to ask permission, and 9 times out of 10 that worked even with her. There was always a price to pay but eventually she came around. She might even come around this time but that was a long shot.
However, there was an outside chance that she might finally call it quits. It wasn't out of the realm of possibility. She created him; she could just as easily destroy him (woman scorned and all of that) – well not him (perse); Remington Steele. If the best he could honestly hope for would be that she would call it quits personally, but not professionally – then maybe being honest and upfront was really the best angle to play. He would still get to be Remington Steele and that might be enough. It had been for four years of professional, but with out the possibility of something more … he had to wonder if it would be as enjoyable.
Laura came breezing in to his office talking about a case. He didn't listen to her words – he often didn't. He just enjoyed watching her deducing, working out the clues, thinking out loud. He did love her passion, her tenacity, the thrill she got out of solving another mystery. She was so good at it and she worked it so intensely. He was caught up in her enthusiasm – that was that lure that attracted him and kept him coming back each day. It wasn't about her looks or her resistance to his immeasurable charms. It wasn't the chase that had hooked him – not entirely anyway. The truth was that whether or not they were sleeping together – he wanted to work with her. She was exasperating, exacting and could be down right shrewish at times, but she had a fire in her belly that would not be doused. She had a passion, an energy, a lust for work that he had always wanted to have about anything. That was what kept him around, showing up every day, playing the game. What would his plan do to her passion? He would claim he was doing it for her, but he knew it was mostly for him. He had to do all he could to not lose her in his daily life.
She hadn't noticed that he was only making minimal responses. She hadn't noticed that he was completely distracted. She hadn't even noticed that he kept checking his watch.
"Laura." He repeated for the third time.
"We are close, Mr. Steele." She told him. "I can feel it."
"Miss Holt … something has come up." He said evenly still not sure if telling her was the right plan.
"About the case?" She turned to him quickly. "Why didn't you tell me … did we hear from ---."
"Not about the case." He cut her off but did not continue.
"What then?" She put her hands on her hips. "Can it wait?"
"No." He slowly stood up and buttoned his coat, adjusted his tie and took a deep breath. "We have a problem." He stated.
"Problem?" She asked. "WE have a problem?"
He came around the desk and leaned against it. "We do … I was thinking that it was my problem … and I have a solution … but in the spirit of … well … honesty … something I have never been on first name basis with … I have to say that … yes … it is OUR problem."
"Go on." She prodded in that guarded way of hers.
"Well …" He gave her a puzzled look wondering how she would take what he was about to say. "It seems that our friend Keyes is a better investigator than we gave him credit for."
"Keyes?" She really didn't like that man. "What has he done now?"
"Well, actually … you started it with your contract with Vigilance."
"Me?" She took offense.
"Seems Keyes was perfectly happy ignoring me … us … Remington Steele until he found out that he would need to report to me … us … Remington Steele on the big cases."
She shrugged. "So?"
"So … Keyes has discovered that I am in the country illegally, thinks he can prove that my passport is phony, called INS and is working to have me deported."
Laura was not prepared to hear that. "Oh." She sighed and sunk down onto the chair. "I see."
"Yes … well … " He studied her for a moment. "I don't want to let that happen." He told her plainly.
They had been working at getting closer for months – since London and the search for a clue about his past, since their big blow up at that Sensitivity Spa. He was being as honest as he could be with her and letting her get comfortable with that and getting comfortable with himself. It – the relationship – was work, hard work, and for the first time in his life it was work that he wanted to do.
"I don't want to let that happen." He repeated.
She looked up at him. "No?"
He flashed her a smile. "No."
That was enough for her. She stood up and started pacing. She was thinking out loud again. "So we will get Mildred on it …" She started thinking fast and pacing faster. "We will get you a VISA … do what we have to do to … you own a business – they can't just put you on a plane and ---"
"Laura." He stopped her. "There is no time for that."
"What do you mean?" She turned to face him.
"The hearing is tomorrow morning." He told her.
"Tomorrow?" She was annoyed. In the back of her mind a thought festered: was he just allowing them to do this because it was a way for him to leave without making him the bad guy? "When did you find out about this?"
"Yesterday … last night … it was my six o'clock." He told her. "I'm sure that was Keyes' plan. To give me 24 hours to run."
She was silent for a moment. She had always known that this day would come. The day he walked out of her life and all her hard work would be flushed down the drain. She had long since decided that she no longer needed to hide behind Remington Steele professionally. Society was changing. She was her own woman and could start her own agency with her own name and be successful. At least she would make a living. Lord knows with a line on her resume that said Remington Steele Investigations how could she lose? But she had changed since he had arrived on the scene. She liked having a partner – even if the work was not split 50/50– he was still her partner – professionally and personally. She didn't want to lose him. For the first time in her life she didn't feel like she was alone in the world – and that was huge for her. It was her neurotic fear that he would make a fool out of her that kept them from completely mixing business and pleasure. Outwardly she acted like she needed a verbal commitment from him; but in her heart she knew he was as committed as a man like he was could get. That was the game she played.
"Laura?" He prompted her from her thoughts.
She studied him for a moment. His mood was subdued, defeated and down. He was not the slick, devious, conman working the next big grift. That scared her more than Keyes' threat. "You said you have a solution?" She asked tentatively.
He nodded. She felt her stomach tighten; clearly she was not going to be happy about his plan.
"The easiest thing to do … the quickest … the most expedient …" He didn't want to say it out loud. "I need to marry a US citizen by tonight and they can't deport me."
She was confused. Was that a marriage proposal?
"I have asked Clarrisa to take the job." He said quickly like removing a band aide.
"Clarrisa?" She couldn't place the name at first. "The hooker?"
"It would be a marriage in name only." He explained. "Clarrisa understands … she's a professional."
Laura felt the anger creeping up her spine. "A professional?"
"Nothing has to change Laura." He defended weakly.
"Nothing has to change?" She did not believe what she was hearing.
"We put on a show for a time – get the INS off our backs and everything can go back to the way it was." He shrugged.
"How long would you need to stay married?" She couldn't believe she was even entertaining this cock-eyed scheme.
"Two? Years?" She stood up and moved away from him.
He knew she would be unimpressed with his plan, but at least this was informing her prior (if not asking for permission) rather than giving her an apology after. He was trying.
"That is the stupidest plan you have ever had." She turned and glared at him. "Not only is it illegal and wrong … Keyes would never buy it … and it could wind up sending you to jail for five years." She mumbled something under her breath.
"Excuse me?" He pressed.
"I said," She almost yelled. "I would rather have you deported than in jail."
"I'll risk it." He stated triumphantly. He really thought that it proved his loyalty and affection to her.
"It's not YOUR risk to take." She told him. She didn't want to say what was in her heart even if she could find the words to say it. She said the first thing that came to her mind. "Remington Steele is my creation … everything I have worked for … if you go to jail in his name … What do you think I will be left with?"
"Look, Laura." He was getting very tired of her claim to Remington Steele. "Remington Steele may have been your idea … but I think I have risen to the challenge more than a few times in the past four years … putting a face to YOUR CREATION gave you more credibility than some mythic boss who no one ever met or talked to that 'acted in a purely advisory capacity.'"
"Yes, yes … I know that … but –"
"But nothing … This is MY life we are talking about as well as YOUR agency." He stood up to be on equal ground with her. "Where do you think I could go now and NOT be Remington Steele?"
"I'm sure you will survive," was her less than sympathetic response.
"That is hardly the point." He tossed back at her.
"What is the point then, MR STEELE?" She shouted.
"The point is something has to be done if we are to continue this … this …." He shouted back sick of the age-old argument. "This arrangement … And …"
"I would have thought you would be a little more supportive."
"Supportive?" She repeated. "SUPPORTIVE … of you marrying another woman?" She shrieked. "How the hell do you expect me to support that?"
He crossed his arms over his chest and grinned. "You can't tell me that you are jealous about this?" He was mocking amusement. He was anything but amused.
"I am not jealous … I'm angry." She threw up her hands. "What do you really think you will accomplish by marrying her?"
"I get to come to work every day." He gestured to her.
"What about the rest of it?" She yelled.
"Nothing has to change." He stated as if it were true. "Status quo."
She was appalled. "Do you honestly think we can go back … hell, do you honestly think we can move forward after this?"
"Laura … this thing with Clarrisa is just a …" He looked for the right words. "A business arrangement."
"A business arrangement? … HA!" Her anger boiled over. "Just like ours!!!"
Mildred knocked and walked in. "Miss Holt … Allesandra Henry is on the ph…." The tension in the room nearly bowled her over.
Laura couldn't stand the sight of him. She didn't know what she was feeling, but she knew she had to get away. "Congratulate Mr. Steele, Mildred." She stated. "He's getting married. Be sure to send a bottle of champagne to the honeymoon suite for the happy couple with our compliments." With that she turned on her heel and strode out.
Mildred looked at him. "Boss?"
"Merely a technicality, Mildred." He assured her. "But that doesn't leave this room."
"What is going on?" Mildred asked.
He was in no mood to deal with her as well. He checked his watch. "I need to go."
"Now wait just a minute here …" She scolded him.
"Not now Mildred." He told her sternly, but then relented. "Don't worry … everything will be fine."
He started to walk past her and she stopped him with a gentle touch to his arm. "I don't know what is going on, but if you're getting married … technicality or not … and it's not to Miss Holt … then it won't be fine."
He patted her hand, nodded and left.
Laura drove to UNIDAC trying to keep her mind on the case, but she was distracted and angry.
Her mind was spinning with questions – questions with no good answers. How long before it came out that Clarrisa was a call girl? How much credibility would Remington Steele have with that kind of woman as his wife? How would Laura fit into the picture at all any more – personally or professionally? Even if Clarrisa weren't discovered, his propensity for the spotlight would surely include his wife: dinners, awards, public appearances. His wife would always be there – right next to him. How could Laura pursue any kind of relationship with him publicly married? She would be relegated to 'other woman' status and with Keyes watching them like a hawk they would never have a moments peace.
"THAT MAN!!" She scolded.
She tried to tell herself that she shouldn't have expected anything more from the king of deception himself. Everything about him was a sham, a fake, a phony … why not his marriage? Did she honestly think that he had changed? The answer to that was a resounding YES. Yes, she did think he had changed. Yes, she did think that she had had an impact on his life – at the very least on the choices he made in life. And yes, she felt like a fool for thinking that.
The other nagging question at the back of her mind was why he didn't discuss it with her the night before. He very easily could have told her of his meeting with INS, they could have talked like the rational adults they were and made a plan … made a better plan than marrying a hooker. But he hadn't. He had canceled dinner with some spurious excuse about a friend who had to leave town suddenly (which she figured was a lie at the time, but chose not to pursue it) and hatched this whole scheme. At least he had told her about it before it was all over. It wouldn't have been out of character for him to go through with it hoping that she would not find out about it. About as short sighted as a fake marriage – Keyes would never buy that.
She took a moment to try to see it from his side. Regardless of his feelings for her – whatever they were – if he wanted to stay then the quickest and easiest way was a marriage. On that part he was correct. She couldn't figure out what annoyed her more: that he would marry someone he didn't love or that he wouldn't marry someone he did. Of course that was a huge assumption on her part – that he loved her – but why else would he put up will all the other crap? Surely he wasn't staying solely because of the life he got to live. So why would he even bother to try to stick around at such an exorbitant price? If it wasn't love then it was as close as he ever got. There was some solace to take in that – sort of.
Laura hated to admit to herself that the marriage part was really bothering her. She had never expected that she and he would get married or have any kind of normal life with 2.5 and a dog. She was ok with that. It was OK that he wouldn't marry her, because he wouldn't marry anyone – it was nothing personal. Hell, she had no intention of getting married either – to him or anyone else. For all his lies and all his deceptions and all his mystery, she never expected to find a wife in his past or his future. Somehow for her, he was about to cross a line that would divide them permanently, unless …
Laura was hatching a plan – well a plan and a back up … she would need Mildred's help and she need to clear up the case of Allesandra's dead boss. She needed to get to work.
He followed her into her apartment. She hadn't shut up about the case on the drive back from UNIDAC. He knew she was avoiding the subject, but at least she was talking. He had found her in the wind tunnel and literally saved her life. She wasn't as grateful as she could have been – she was still mad at him and was madder still because someone had tried to kill her.
"We have to go back to the office." She did an about face to try to leave. "I need Mildred to -"
He blocked her way. "Look at yourself Laura … you need to take five minutes … get your bearings – brush your hair – and then we can get back to it."
"I don't like it when people try to kill me." She tried to get around him.
His hands went around her waist and he pulled her back in front of him. "Nor do I." He told her.
She pulled out of his grasp and stepped back. "Don't you have a wedding to prepare for?" She snapped.
"Tabled." He announced.
"Excuse me?" She stood facing him ready to fight.
"This case is now more important." He said sincerely although he had canceled the wedding before he went to UNIDAC. "Someone tried to kill you … in my book that takes priority."
She scoffed. "So what … "
"What nothing, Laura." He bellowed. "If they choose to deport me tomorrow … so be it."
"I thought you didn't want to leave." She snapped.
"I don't … and I'll find a way to get back … not going to let a little thing like the US Government keep me away from what I want."
"What is it you want?" She didn't really understand what he was saying.
"I think I have made that pretty clear." He barbed back.
"Tell me anyway."
"I want this." He opened his arms wide. "I want cases and detecting and sparing with you and trying to win your affections – as well as your respect."
"My respect?" She sneered. "Marrying --."
"The wedding is off!" He silenced her. "It was a reckless idea that probably wouldn't have worked … not to mention what it would have done to us."
"Us?" She was about to inquire if there really was anything between them.
"Laura we have come too far to turn back now." He voice was stern and even.
"Have we?" She was just being stubborn.
"I have never met anyone like you." He laughed. "For good and bad."
She looked away.
"You chased me down less than a year ago and dragged me back to this … this life."
"You wanted to come." She defended.
"I never wanted to leave." He told her sincerely. "But I was looking for something to offer you as proof of my commitment." He shrugged. "I never found it … but I thought we had found something else … I thought … when you gave me that passport that we had turned a corner."
"Then how could you …?" Her words trailed off and she held back the tears.
"Short sighted … scared … who knows." He stepped toward her. "Desperate men take desperate actions."
The wind had been completely taken out of her sails. She sunk down onto the couch. "So what happens now?"
He smiled. "You'll think of something … I'll think of something … branch office in London, Paris … Timbuktu … we'll figure it out." He took another step toward her.
"You called off the wedding?" She asked weakly. She couldn't believe it.
"I did." He sat down next to her on the couch. "No time anyway … we have a case to solve … the stakes just went up considerably." He reached for her hand.
"Right …" She was snapped back to work mode. "The case … UNIDAC … we need to get Mildred …" She was up and moving again. She kept talking and he just watched her as she changed, tried to pull a brush through her hair and work all the clues. "No one knows about this Omega project." She stated again. "No files, no paperwork, no room … nothing … as if it doesn't exist."
"Like someone made it up." He got up and moved to the door slowly disappointed that they weren't able to really connect about his change of plans.
She stopped and turned to him. "You have done it again, Mr. Steele."
He nodded. "But who? And for what purpose?"
"That is where we need Mildred and her computer." She slipped on her shoes and started for the door. He pulled it open and stepped aside. She paused when she got even with him. "Mr. Steele …" She lost her words.
"Miss Holt." He responded gently.
"We'll think of something." She stated no longer talking about the case.
He shrugged a nod. "I know you will." He pulled her into a tight embrace. "I just hope it's quick." He whispered. "Not sure I can trust you out of my sight for long." He kissed her cheek.
She squeezed her eyes shut tight and hugged him hard. He never did say the words she expected, but he still made her feel very important. As long as he wanted to stay, she was not going to let him go. That was a fact and Keyes would just have to deal with it.
"Come on." He said releasing her. "I'll drive … you can do something with your hair on the way." He gave her a twinkled smile and preceded her down the stairs.
He and Laura walked out of the president of UNIDAC's office. Laura was filthy – rolling around in mud puddles with killers will do that. He didn't look much better.
He checked his watch. "Well done Miss Holt." He told her. "What do you say … we shower and dress and I will take you to the finest dinner in town."
She looked over at him sadly. "A last supper, of sorts?"
He shrugged. "Call it a farewell feast … until next time." He wrapped his arm around her and led her back to the car.
The limo phone was ringing when they got there and Laura rushed to answer it. "Hello? Yes Mildred … nothing? … did you try … and still … nothing?" She thought for a moment and scanned him up and down. "Well, then it's Pan B, Mildred. … Please … right … we'll see you there." She reached back into the car and hung up the phone. "Mr. Steele … at the moment, I am stumped."
"About?" He wasn't sure what subject they were talking about.
"I've had Mildred working on this for a while now … she called in every favor she could think of and even promised a few that would have cost us a pretty penny."
"We can't secure you a VISA … at least not by 9AM tomorrow." She leaned against the car. "I have every intention of fighting this … but it will be in court and you know how slowly the wheels of justice turn."
"Glacially." He concurred. "Plan B?" He prompted.
"Actually … a version of your plan A." She averted her eyes.
"Oh?" He bent down to try to catch her eye.
She steeled up her strength to say what she had to say. "While I didn't exactly get you into this … never asked you to step into this role … not at first … but you did … and I am grateful for that."
"And we did get you that passport …" She continued. "So it is my responsibility – at least partially – to help you out."
"Help me out?"
"It's in my best interest." She continued.
"Best interest?" He pursed his lips amused by her tripping over her words.
"Personally as well as professionally." She added.
"Go on." He prompted.
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Will you marry me?"
His heart immediately softened. He couldn't believe that she was offering to be part of his ploy. "I can't let you do that, Laura." He told her. "I won't drag you into a sham marriage just to save my lousy hide."
"First of all." She hated it when he got gallant; felt that every comment he made ended with 'honey,' baby,' or 'sweetheart.' "Remington Steele is my secret to keep … and second of all … whether I like it or not …you - who ever you really are - are Remington Steele." She looked up at him. "Finally, who said it would be a sham?"
He was stunned. "Laura?"
"I asked you a question … may I have an answer?" She dismissed his concern.
"I really don't think this is going to be that simple … I really don't think that we can make this kind of decision under this kind of pressure … I really don't think that –"
"Our plane leaves for Vegas in just over an hour … there is a minister waiting for us the moment we land … we can be back here by midnight in time to move my stuff to your apartment – or yours to mine - and be at the hearing by 9AM."
"Laura … that's very generous of you, but --."
"It's not about generosity … it's about what needs to get done." She softened her resolve. "It's about both of us getting what we want."
"A marriage?" He asked.
"Time, Mr. Steele." She responded. "It's about giving us more time." She took his hand. "I promise that you can have an annulment… no questions asked … in two years or whenever you like."
He smiled at her wryly. "That is a hell of a thing to promise a man you are about to pledge to love, honor and cherish until death."
"We'll work on the vows on the way." She stated. "So?"
"Wait … an annulment?"
"If the marriage is never consummated, …" She offered.
"Oh Laura …" he whined.
"Status quo, Mr. Steele." She smiled and put our her hand for him to shake.
He thought for a moment. "Alright, Miss Holt." He took her hand in his and shook it slowly. "Status quo." He pulled her closer to him and pressed his lips to the back of her hand. "Status quo." He repeated but was thinking that going forward would be anything but.
It was close to 2AM when they were finally ready to call it a night and get some much needed sleep. Mildred had gone with them to Vegas and acted as a witness/chaperon/videographer. Keyes was also there wrecking as much havoc as he could. It was unromantic, and very stressful. They never had a moment to speak in private about what a marriage would mean or any of the other little details that go along with 'acting married'. The only thing Laura was grateful for was that the minister was not dressed like Elvis, and he was grateful that it was short, sweet and that he actually meant the vows he made – to a point.
"Mr. Steele …" Laura laughed at herself. "Well, I guess I can't call you that anymore." She sunk down on to the bed and shook her head. She was freshly reminded about the crux of their issues. "So what do I call you?" She asked.
"Nothing wrong with the name you gave me, Laura." He leaned against the doorframe.
"What, I am supposed to call you Remington? Or Remmy?" She didn't like either of those. "What about when we are alone like this?"
He didn't have a response.
"Dammit!" She got up to go into the bathroom.
He came in behind her but gave her space. "You know that I would tell you if I knew." He said gently.
"I know." She nodded but still didn't like it. Something occurred to her. "Maybe that's what's wrong."
"Why don't you know?" She asked rhetorically.
"Laura, we have been through this …"
"No, I'm serious." She turned to him. "We are detectives for God's sake … why can't we solve this case … solve it together … we can find out who you really are … get your paper work in order, including a name change to Remington Steele and people like Keyes and the rest of them can all just go to hell."
"You're tired … it has been a long day … you take the bed." He started to walk out.
"I am serious." She grabbed his arm. "Why not?"
"We are talking about my life Laura … MY ROOTS … not some damn case." He restrained a yell. "I am not sure I want you digging around --."
"Afraid about what I will find out?" She asked.
"Quite frankly, yes." He told her though the real answer was that he was afraid about what HE might find out.
"So you think I will cut and run when I find out that you're the bastard son of a thief or a con man or you are not the son of an earl?" She tossed at him.
"Laura!" He scolded.
"I married you … doesn't that mean anything?" She asked.
"Married me to save your business." He said with little force. He knew it wasn't true.
"I think you're afraid of what you will find out." She stayed on track. "I think you could have found out years ago, and chose not to."
"Maybe." He shouted. "Maybe I could have … but isn't that my prerogative."
"Yes, it is." She barbed back. "But you can't hide from it all your life." She walked past him back into the bedroom.
"What do you want from me, Laura?" He stood in the doorway.
"Same thing I have always wanted … honesty."
"Done." He stated and walked out to the living room.
She followed him. "Done? What does that mean?"
"It means, from here on out … you will get nothing but the truth from me – as I know it."
"Anything?" She prompted.
"Anything." He slapped the pillow down on the couch. "Warning: be careful of what you ask for MRS STEELE."
"Why did you agree to this … this …" She fought to find the word. "This arrangement."
"Honestly?" He thought. "I thought I knew, but now I am not so sure."
"You call that honesty?" She was annoyed.
"I would have done anything to stay here … with you … more time, Miss Holt?" He reminded her. "Status quo???"
"You regret your decision?" She asked.
"At the moment I can't see how this will play out." He stated.
"Then I guess I should give you my wedding present." She reached for her purse and pulled out the documents that she had Mildred get drawn up. "Here." She tossed them toward him.
He looked puzzled and opened them slowly. "The annulment – of course." He folded them back up. "Do you imagine they are to protect me or you, Laura?"
"What are you asking?"
"Truth?" He prodded.
"As I know it." She retorted.
"Do you regret this … arrangement?" He asked.
"No." She steeled her spine.
He shook his head and held up the papers. "Why do you always draw the line at the bedroom door?"
"It's not just me." She reminded him.
He thought for a moment. So she did know that he held back. "Maybe not … then why do we?"
"Timing?" She offered weakly.
"Not bloodly likely."
"Scared about what will come next?" She stated.
"What does come next?" He asked.
"You tell me." She challenged.
"Honestly?" He asked. "I haven't got a clue."
That wasn't enough for her. "But?" She prompted.
"I don't think the status quo will be enough to get us through."
"What are you saying?" She asked.
He held up the annulment papers. "I don't want these." He tore them in half and tossed them into the fire. "And I don't want THIS if it is going to continue to be a test every day."
She sunk down on to the arm of the couch.
"I think I have passed most of your tests." He stated. "When do I graduate?"
She nodded and sat for a long moment before she spoke.
He was getting uneasy waiting. "Laura?"
"I have trust issues." She said eventually. "I don't mean to test you … I really don't … I just … it's just that …" She looked up at him. "I can't …" She didn't know how to say what she needed to say.
He took pity on her. "Laura …" he laughed and crossed over to her. "We are quite a pair, you and I." He pulled her up and into an embrace.
"You can't trust and I am untrustworthy." He hugged her tightly.
"A match made in heaven." She added. "And I never called you untrustworthy." She said softly.
She looked up at him. "What about you?"
"Me?" He asked.
"What holds you back?" She asked.
He thought for a moment. He knew the answer; he just didn't want to say it out loud.
"Mr. Steele?" She prodded.
"Well …" He stumbled out. "I worry … I wonder if when we finally lift the veil on that last bit of mystery that is left between us …" He looked at her quickly. "That … well … that there will be nothing left holding us together." He glanced back to see her reaction. "And you will send me on my way."
She smiled. "You think I am only attracted to your mystery?"
He shrugged. "It does keep you guessing, does it not?"
"It does." She agreed.
"For the record." He started. "I didn't marry you just so I could continue playing detective."
"I didn't marry you just to save my – our business." She responded.
"I didn't marry you just to annul the marriage down the road." He countered.
"I didn't marry you to maintain the status quo." She leaned in and kissed him deeply, which took him a little by surprise.
"Well that certainly is not the status quo." She had just confused him again. He had no idea what the next move should be. He chose to take the safely trodden path. "Yes ... well …"
"So where does that leave us?" She asked sincerely.
"I don't know." He stood up. "But tomorrow is a big day." He pulled her up. "Let's get some sleep."
She nodded and moved toward the bedroom. He had done it again. He held back. She was again disappointed. She stood in the door for a moment watching him fuss with his bedding on the couch. She had to do something – he clearly wasn't.
"Can I ask you something else?" She said to him from the doorway. "Honestly?"
"As I know it." He tossed over his shoulder. "That's the new policy."
A sly smile crept across her face. "Do you really want to sleep on the couch tonight, Mr. Steele?"
He turned toward her and caught her smile. "No, no I don't … Mrs. Steele."
She reached her hand out to him. "Bring your pillow."
He took her hand, led her to the bed and pulled her into his arms. "I don't think I have said this and even if I have … I haven't said it enough. Thank you, Laura."
"Welcome." She kissed him. "Thank you."
"In the spirit of our new … relationship … and agreement to speak only the truth to each other …" He directed her down onto the bed. "I think I should tell you …"
"How about we just stop talking?" She cut him off and reached over and turned out the lights.
"Bold move, Mrs. Steele."
"I'm learning, Mr. Steele."
He was still dressing when the knock came on his door. "Laura!" He called to her. "This is not the kind of thing where we should show up fashionably late." He yanked the door open. "Mildred." He smiled straightening his tie. "Punctual as usual."
"What are you two doing?" She stepped in quickly. "I have been downstairs for 10 minutes."
"This is not going to work." Laura called from the bedroom. "I can't find anything … Where are …" There was a loud crash. "Damn it!"
He tried to contain his glee. "We got a late start this morning, Mildred."
"Oh?" She grinned back at him. "How's married life?"
They heard another crash and Laura's muffled grumblings.
"Up and down." He owned cryptically. "Mostly up."
Laura came out with two different shoes in her hands. Her hair was still damp but she was essentially dressed. "I think I have another pair just like these at my apartment." She was not laughing.
"Miss Holt." Mildred started. "We have to go."
He walked past his bride taking the shoes from her hand. "Allow me, my dear." He disappeared into the bedroom.
Laura smiled at her loyal friend and employee but didn't know what to say. There were no words to describe her feeling that morning - or all too many words.
"So, how is married life?" Mildred asked again.
"We have some things to work out." She said but the expression on her face belied the words coming out of her mouth. She was clearly happy. "We will be right along, Mildred."
Mildred nodded and went back to make sure Fred hadn't moved the limo.
He came out of the bedroom with a matched pair of shoes for her. "Here you go."
"My hero." She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him. Clearly her mind was not on the hearing, it was on getting back to the activities of the night before.
He loved that she was so happy and more than enthusiastic. "I think we have created a monster." He kissed her back.
The phone started to ring.
They groaned. "Remember where we left off." He told her.
"You know I will." She turned toward the door. "Come on ... let's get this over with."
Laura sat motionless as the commotion around her swirled at a frenzied pace. People were shouting and running in and out of the room. Reports were coming in from various places. Still she did not move. Someone was shouting at her, but she wasn't listening. She was trying to recall the chain of events.
They got to the hearing late. The judge (or who ever she was) was not amused. Keyes had been filling her ears with his venom. When presented with the evidence of the marriage it was thrown out. Keyes had convinced her that the passport was a fake – or at least suspect. If the man known as Remington Steele couldn't prove his identity, then how could his marriage be legal? She - the judge - had ordered him into custody. Before Laura had even had a chance to speak, they were putting cuffs on him and hauling him away. What happened next was confused. Laura was arguing with Keyes and the judge. She wasn't paying attention to anything else. Suddenly, there were gunshots and people screaming from out in the hall. One of the officers came running back into the room to say that Steele had escaped. Keyes ran after him and the wrath of the judge was focused on Laura. She was demanding to know where he had gone, if his escape was planned. Laura had no answers. She couldn't think. He never said it and she never asked, but she knew that it was too much to expect him to go to jail for her. Keyes was building a case against him and like a pit bull with a bone, would never let go. She understood that he was only doing what he needed to do to survive, but in the end - he had run. The only solace she could afford herself was that he hadn't run because of another woman or another heist – he ran because he could do nothing else.
"Miss Holt." Keyes blew smoke in her face when he came back empty handed. "Or should I call you Mrs. Steele." He cackled. "Come on lady … you had to know that he would run out on you first chance he got - that kind of leopard will never changes his spots." He cackled again.
She looked up at him with hatred and anger in her eyes. Never in her life had she wanted to beat a man within an inch of his life as badly as she did right then. The judge had ordered Laura to surrender her passport too. That annoyed her too. How was she to get to him in another country without her passport?
"I'm going home." She stated defiantly.
"He's not getting away from me, lady." He held up the passports. "We'll drag him out from whatever rock he decides to crawl under."
"I'll see you in hell before I see you put Remington Steele behind bars." She spit at him.
"Is that a threat, Miss Holt?"
"Call it a ... an observation." She turned away.
"Don't you leave town either." He told her. "And don't think we won't be watching your every move – so when your devoted husband tries to contact you – SNAP – we are going to nab him."
"Go to hell, Keyes." Laura turned and walked out of the room with Mildred in tow.
Laura sat quietly in the back of the limo. They were headed back to her apartment. She couldn't bear the idea of going to his. Three short hours before they were so happy; they had the world by the shorthairs. How could it all have gone so wrong?
"He'll be back, honey." Mildred said soothingly. "Don't worry."
"I don't think so, Mildred." She said calmly.
"Come on." She pressed. "After all you two have been through … after last night?"
Laura leaned her head against the back of the seat. "Yeah … last night." She chuckled to herself. "Seems about right." She had always believed that he would leave once they crossed that line – and apparently she was not wrong.
"We just need to clear his name." Mildred tried to be rational.
Laura laughed at that. "He doesn't have a name to clear."
"So you are just going to give up?" Mildred asked.
Laura looked at her for a long moment. "I am going to let him go, Mildred." She said as if she were just deciding at that moment. "It's the least I can do for him."
"What if he doesn't want to be let go?" She asked back.
"I don't want him in jail, Mildred." She said. "And neither do you. Keyes won't rest until he gets exactly that."
Mildred understood her rationale. "Then we have to help him."
"Mildred, if he comes near me – or you – he is in danger of getting caught." She looked back out the window. "No, he is on his own now … he was always better on his own." She sighed. Sadly she believed it.
"Begging your pardon, ma'am." The driver said. "But I think your wrong about that."
Laura recognized her husband's voice immediately. She turned her head to see if they were being followed. "Are you crazy?" She accused.
Mildred couldn't contain her grin. "Boss!"
"Easy Mildred." He told her. "Mustn't tip off any onlookers."
"Do you see a tail?" She asked.
"No so far … but it is not like this boat can get lost in a crowd."
"You have to get out of here … you have to go." She told him. "This is crazy."
He pulled into a parking structure in a part of Los Angeles that Laura didn't remember ever being in. He found a corner to park in. They were both watching and decided at the same time. "No tail."
"They are probably waiting at your apartment … or mine … or the office." She stated.
They got out of the car and moved behind a pillar and kept an eye on the entrance. Mildred gave them some space. They embraced quickly and kissed.
"I'm sorry … I never would have … I'm sorry." She was nearly in tears.
"Hey … I knew the risks." He took her hand. "We rolled the dice … we lost … it happens."
"This is very dangerous for you." She stated. "You shouldn't have come to say goodbye."
"No, Laura … I didn't … I don't know how to ask you this … but … come with me."
She was shocked. It would be so out of character her for her to even consider such a notion and she thought he knew that.
"I am serious … come with me." He pressed.
"I can't …" She said.
"What is left for you here?" He asked. "The agency will close, you might lose your license … do you really want to start over working for someone else or on your own?"
"My family … my … my …" She was actually hard pressed to think of anything that she would have that was worth staying for.
"Go Miss Holt." Mildred interjected. "Go now … don't think … just go."
Laura felt like she was being ganged up on. "It means I can't come back." She said evenly.
"You can … I can't." He told her and then said again. "Come with me."
"I'll slow you down." She told him.
"Not likely … we are better together, Laura." He was sincere. "Come with me." He commanded again.
"Where?" She asked.
He laughed. "Anywhere … the world is our oyster." He felt her resolve caving. "But we have to go now … I mean right now … no time for a phone call or to pack."
"What will we do?" She was thinking too much. "How will we live?"
"Laura … all of your questions have answers, I promise … but not now."
Laura looked at Mildred.
"Go honey." The older woman told her. "I'll cover for you … might get you at least a 24 hour head start."
"We can't ask you to do that, Mildred." She still felt responsible.
"Call it a wedding present … go." She stated.
Laura hugged her hard. "Thank you."
Steele stepped up to Mildred.
"Take care of yourself." The woman told him. "And her … boss."
"You have my word, Mildred." He kissed her cheek. "We'll be in touch."
Hand in hand they disappeared down the stairwell. Moments later a gray sedan screeched up from the lower level. It paused briefly to let Fred and a woman Mildred had never seen before out. The woman was wearing the jacket Laura had on moments before and a long brown wig. It could very easily have been Laura. The car waited for them to all pile in the limo and head out.
Mildred knew she would hear from them again but wondered how long it would be and under what circumstances.
"Right this way." The captain said in his broken English. "The honeymoon suite." He laughed a great big laugh. "I am so glad it was available … we had a cancellation just this morning."
The Steeles were directed into what could only be called a storage room with a tiny port window high on the wall. It was full of crates and boxes with very little room to move.
"Very nice … very nice." He said. "Perfect. And when are we shoving off?"
"Half an hour … two hours to international waters … we should be rendezvousing sometime after dawn."
"Thank you." He took the key to the storage room. "Thank you very much."
The captain scanned the two of them up and down and laughed. "My wife would have killed me if this were our honeymoon." He left laughing.
He locked the door behind him and started to look around.
"A fishing boat?" She asked.
"Who would look for us here?" He looked out the port side window to the dock. They were clear.
"Rendezvous with what … or who?"
"Freighter headed for the South Seas." He told her.
"And then what?" She wasn't complaining she was just asking.
"Then I thought we could sit on a beach for a few weeks." He pulled her into his arms. "And see what happens …" He kissed her.
She felt something in his breast pocket. ?" She pulled two passports. "And how long have you had these?"
"First lesson … always have a back up plan ready to be executed." He kissed her again.
"Nick and Nora Charles?" Laura asked. "The Thin Man. Myrna Loy and William Powell –"
"MGM, 1934 … a former detective and his rich, playful wife solve cases mostly for the fun of it." He drew her into his arms. "Seemed apropos."
"That doesn't answer my question." She pretended that she didn't like his attentions but did nothing to pull out of his embrace. "How long?"
"Since we came back from London." He pursed his lips playfully. "Come on Laura … you don't think I could live with just one name?"
She held up hers. "You knew I would come?"
"I never know anything when it comes to you … part of your mystery." He kissed her neck. "But … like I said … you need to be prepared."
"Never knew you were such a boy scout."
"You might find that there are a lot of things you don't know about me."
"I am counting on that." She pulled out of his arms and looked around. "Well, if we are here until morning, we better make it a little more comfortable." She shoved a box out of the way.
He pulled a blanket off the shelf and put it down on the floor.
She sat down on it with her back against one of the crates.
He sat down next to her. "It won't always be like this … but time was no on our side … with proper planning …"
"Don't worry … Nick." She laughed. "I'll let you make it up to me." She kissed him.
There was a quick knock at the door. They both shared a look.
"Captain sent me." Came a soft voice.
They opened the door and there was a kid of about 14 standing there with a bottle of champagne, two glasses, a bag of food and an armload of blankets. He pushed his burden at them and left quickly.
She smiled. "The captain, huh?"
He shrugged. "Good to have friends in high places." He popped the champagne and poured out two glasses. "Here's looking at you, kid."
She didn't drink; she leaned in and kissed him. The moment deepened and both got serious.
"You gonna be OK?" He asked.
"I don't know." She told him honestly. "But I am here." She smiled.
"Yes you are." He brushed some hair away from her face. "Trust me, Laura … I won't let you fall."
"Too late." She smiled. "Head over heels."
Mildred checked out her living room window. The man was still there – just waiting and watching. She looked back at the morning paper. The pictures of her ex-bosses were splashed across the headlines.
The article beneath it was more disturbing. They were being accused of the murder of one Norman Keyes. Of course Mildred didn't believe it, but she wondered where they would be when they found out and what it would do to their plans. Laura would surely want to come back to clear her name, but it was hard to say what the boss would do or how much influence he had over Laura.
Mildred's phone started ringing. She knew it was going to be a long couple of days. First she had to answer for the bait and switch they did with Laura. But she didn't regret their decision to leave, or her complicity in that regardless of what it cost her. They were on their next big adventure – an adventure built for two.
"Keep your heads down, kids." She smiled at their pictures and picked up the phone. "Hello? … Yes, this is Mildred Krebs … No, I don't know where Mr. and Mrs. Steele are … ."