An ex girlfriend had once asked him teasingly if he'd ever give her his real name. "Call me Nemo," he'd said, lack of sleep and excess of wine making eyelids and voice heavy. She had laughed, and he smiled with her, inwardly relieved that she hadn't caught the slip--'no one' was close enough to hurt.

(No truth to someone you would meet again, and never let anything close enough to hurt. He had learned his lesson a long time ago.)

He tried to take satisfaction in the game, in the heady success of winning out over a situation or person, but sometimes--a lot of times--he wondered if it was really him being pleased, or the current mask he was wearing. Does a chameleon know what it is, or is it just an extension of whatever branch it's climbing that day?

Putting on Remington Steele was easy. He had done smooth, elegant, and intellectual charmers many times before (and wondered about that scrappy runt in Brazil, or the silent teen on a Greek ship) and this was just one more; ready made and as comfortable as custom-made shoes.

And then--she came in, with her freckled face and sharp tongue. He felt a certain respect for this clever woman who'd made his job so easy, although she was wiry and small-breasted and brown-haired and in a thousand other ways not his type. There were many excuses for why he hadn't made his escape at the first opportunity, and he'd run through many of them in his head: from being tired of the nomadic life to wanting to see how well he could play a single role.

Maybe that was it. But he didn't think so.

He wasn't Remington Steele; that was a ridiculus name for a machine-chiseled image of detectively perfection. But he knew that he was less than Laura wanted him to be, and more than she thought he was, and almost exactly what she needed. That narrowed down the search enough to triangulate a rough image of what he actually was.

Her strident voice was rapidly approaching his office door as she stormed in, doubtless to chew him out for some incident or another. He straightened his cuffs unnecessarily and smiled at himself in the mirror. "Delighted to make your acquaintance," he said lightly.

"You are the world's most exasperating man!" she said vexedly as she banged through his door, and his grin widened.

"Do you know, I think I am."