STEELE INSEPARABLE , PART I: Steele in Perspective

STEELE INSEPARABLE , PART I: Steele in Perspective

AUTHOR: Madeleine Gilbert

SYNOPSIS: Daniel's death provides the impetus for Remington and Laura to declare their love for one another. But does that mean everything is resolved? Also, the newlyweds face a new threat from an unexpected quarter. Set the morning after "Steeled with a Kiss Part 2", with integration of scenes from same.

DISCLAIMER: This story is not for profit and is purely for entertainment purposes. The author does not own the rights to these characters and is not now, nor ever has been, affiliated in any way with Remington Steele, its producers, its actors and their agents, MTM productions, the NBC television network, or with any station or network carrying the show in syndication.

ABOUT THE RATING: I don't have anything against explicit love scenes. I'm just not very good at writing them.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Unlike most RS fans, I didn't completely dislike "Bonds of Steele"or the premise for Season 5. I thought both had the potential to develop into interesting stories. However, I was horribly disappointed by how Season 5 actually aired for the same reasons as many other fans were. The innovation I hated most of all was the introduction of the character of Tony Roselli as a rival for Laura's affections. 20 years later, I'm getting my revenge: turning Roselli into a villain while at the same time repairing the damage done to the characters of Remington and Laura in season 5 and taking them past "Steeled with a Kiss".

(1)

Remington Steele awoke from a sound sleep, blinking in the sunlight flooding in through open drapes. Irish sunlight: so radically different in its gentle diffuseness from the harsh glare of southern California. He would recognize it immediately, even if he'd been away from it for a hundred years. But he didn't need it to orient himself, for he knew exactly where he was. Ashford Castle's master bedchamber, with the canopy of the massive four-poster curving above him. And, in his arms, his best friend, business partner and long-time object of his affections, Laura Holt.

They'd fallen asleep curled together, spooning, and they were still lying that way, his arms wrapped around Laura from behind, her fingers entwined with his. Beneath their clasped hands, he could feel the rhythmic rise and fall of her breathing. Savor the moment, old man, he told himself, so he lay watching the room slowly brighten, just holding her, not wanting to break the spell.

At last she stirred a little, yawned and stretched, and he lowered his lips to her ear. "Awake, Mrs. Steele?"

Mmmm," she answered, while he softly kissed her earlobe and nuzzled her neck. She snuggled down, fitting herself more closely against him for a while, and then, with one of her brisk movements – she was just as decisive in bed as out of it, he'd discovered - flipped over so that they were eye to eye. She beamed at him. "Good morning, Mr. Steele."

He gazed back at her. He said nothing, but his face lit up in an answering smile, one of the few he'd been able to muster since Daniel Chalmers' sudden death three days before.

She caught her breath at the sight of it. They'd done it at last, they really had: opened the door, taken the step forward, turned the corner – all the awful euphesisms, as she'd once said to him, that people use for going to bed. And this they owed to Daniel, the very last person she ever would have expected.

For, strangely enough, it was his death that had enabled them to clear away much of the misunderstanding that had been smoldering far too long between them. Certainly it had put things into perspective. In the face of such a loss, the emotional tit for tat they'd been playing since well before their fishing trawler wedding looked exactly what it was, childish and petty. Who wanted to carry a grudge about stupid stuff when they had such a fresh reminder before them of death's capriciousness and irrevocability? Why stubbornly refuse to forgive and forget at the risk of losing another loved one?

Remington's grief had also done much to erase the distance between them. They'd both been startled by its intensity. Probably it was the two shocks in such quick succession: discovering Daniel was his father and then losing him, all within 24 hours. Or maybe it was realizing that the circle of those he loved and trusted, never wide to begin with, had contracted. Whatever the reason, his normal self-possession had crumbled and, as a result, he had reached out for Laura in a way he never had before.

That was the amazing thing. She knew from experience how he usually coped with emotional stress – moody silence, withdrawal – and had long ago accepted that beneath her Mr. Steele's sunny exterior lurked plenty of shadows. Once she was satisfied that his chosen escapes were unlikely to land him in jail or the morgue, she'd learned to deal with his moods by leaving him alone. She'd expected to follow the same strategy this time. But that wasn't what he wanted. He wanted to try and talk it out, and she was the one with whom he wanted to share it. How heart-wringing that had been! All the years he'd been telling her he didn't know the words, he hadn't been kidding. But somehow his broken sentences, his silences and hesitations, told her more than hours of smoothly flowing conversation would have done. In the same way, at the same time, he'd sketched for her his early life in Ireland before he'd met Daniel. Now she understood, as she hadn't before, just how loveless and lonely his childhood had been, and what a testimony it was to Daniel's determination that his son had turned out comparatively healthy, emotionally speaking. Her respect for Daniel had increased accordingly.

In the meantime, they waited two suspenseful days to hear whether Remington's plan to expose Stirling Fitch had succeeded. Finally they heard from Marisa Peters about the disposition of the three coffins. Fitch was in the hands of the M5; Kemadov had arrived safely at Andrews Air Force base in the U.S.; Daniel's body was lying in state in a closed coffin at the Kremlin. The BBC was to air a report on the evening news, if Remington and Laura were interested.

They were interested. Last night after dinner, they'd settled off the main hall in a small parlor they'd begun to favor, and killed time before the news broadcast by watching re-runs of The FBI and 77 Sunset Strip. The fact that Remington didn't insist on searching for a movie instead was to Laura convincing proof that he was barely aware of what was on. Personally, she was struck by the resemblance the lead actor in those shows bore to Daniel, but she kept her observations to herself. Remington probably wouldn't appreciate them in his current mood, anyway.

He'd been very quiet all evening; as the news began, he stopped talking altogether. She almost thought that he'd forgotten she was beside him until he put his arms around her and pulled her to him. It was an action that spoke more clearly than any words of his loneliness and need. She settled in his lap with her head pillowed on his arm and hoped that her presence was doing him some good.

In silence they listened to the voiceover as the footage of two funeral services unfolded on the screen. They had to read between the lines, of course, but the report told them everything they needed to know about Daniel's final resting place. In London he had been knighted for heroic service, and there would be erected a monument for him there; in Moscow, his body would lie in a grave marked with the name of Sergei Kemadov.

It was over. Remington aimed the remote control at the TV set and the screen went dark. For a time they were quiet, lost in their separate thoughts. Then Laura shook her head, her smile tinged with an admiration she'd never shown Daniel in life, and which would have amused him exceedingly if he'd been there to see it. "Only Daniel could have managed to be buried as a hero in both London and in Moscow."

"It's the ultimate con." A long sigh slipped from Remington as he added, "He deserves nothing less."

Among he regrets he'd poured out over the last few days was the impossibility of giving Daniel a proper funeral and the prospect of never knowing just where his father's body lay. Maybe this glimpse, brief as it had been, would comfort him a little. At least it was some kind of closure, Laura thought.

"You're a good son," she said, reaching up and gently squeezing his wrist.

"Yes, well…" He stared across the room without really seeing it. "I only wish I'd spent more time with him."

"On the other hand, you spent twenty years with him."

He thought about that for a moment and then with a grunt tossed away the remote. Gathering her more closely into his arms, he said softly, "One thing's for certain. I'm not going to lose any more precious time in showing people who are close to me how I feel for them."

She turned to him; he dipped his head slightly in invitation. When she raised her face, their mouths met and opened to one another. Steele brought his hand up to brush the hair back from her ear and she leaned her cheek into his caress.

It was she who broke away by slipping out of his arms and off the couch. He looked disconcerted at first, but his face cleared when she held her hand out to him. "Care to elaborate, Mr. Steele?" she asked.

He took her hand. "Well, we have the castle to ourselves - " he rose and in one smooth motion swung her up into his arms – "Mrs. Steele."

He headed towards the door, and Laura smiled at him. Being carried off to bed like this was a first for her; none of her boyfriends had ever tried it, and she'd never encouraged them. Privately she thought that, good as it looked in the movies, it would probably be awkward, even comical, in real life. But she had to admit that Remington was managing it with his usual style and aplomb. In fact, he made it pretty romantic.

Continuing through the door, he pushed it shut and gracefully maneuvered her through the diminishing gap into the main hallway. Though it seemed deserted, Laura gazed around in suspicion. "Where are the servants?"

"Out celebrating. I've decided to give them the castle."

"That was awfully gracious of your lordship."

"The act of a desperate lord, I assure you." He looked deeply into her eyes, but Laura wasn't yet satisfied.

"Where's Mildred?"

"Out celebrating as well. I've decided to give her Mikeline."

"You mean - " At the delicious thought, a smile curved Laura's lips. "There's nothing between us and the bedroom door?"

They were at the foot of the stairs; for answer, he bent to his head to kiss her, which was the cue, it seemed, for the hall telephone to peal shrilly in the castle's silence.

Laura slid out of his arms again. "I'll get the phone, you turn down the covers." She pressed a kiss on his lips.

Remington looked from her to the phone and back, nodded and began to climb the steps two at a time. Making a cocked pistol out of his thumb and forefinger, he aimed and fired at the phone as he went.

"Well, they finally released me," Tony Roselli announced without preamble when she picked up the receiver.

If he was waiting for some kind of demonstration of relief on her part, he was disappointed. She was preoccupied with the sound of Mr. Steele's footsteps as he moved down the upstairs hallway, picturing with an anticipatory shiver his destination, where she would join him once this conversation was over. "I never doubted it for a moment," she said.

"I still think Steele's plan was a little risky."

She felt a stab of irritation. Who was he to complain when Remington had pretty much saved his butt? "Kemadov cleared you, didn't he?"

Demonstrating quicker perception than she'd given him credit for, Roselli countered her acerbic tone with an intimate one. "Laura…what we talked about earlier still stands."

"Laura?" Remington's voice echoed from the upper regions of the castle. "Bed's turned down."

Into the phone, Laura said, "This really isn't the best time to discuss this, Tony." Over her shoulder she called, "Coming!"

"When can I see you?" Roselli insisted.

She was surprised to find that she wasn't the slightest bit tempted to plan a rendezvous. In fact, she only wanted to get rid of him. "I gotta go," she said impatiently.

"Plumping up the pillows!" called Remington.

"Laura, I'm not giving up on you!" his rival exclaimed.

Did the romantic words disguise a threat? She couldn't be bothered to think about it. "I gotta go - right now. Bye." And she put the receiver back in its cradle with finality.

Running lightly up the stairs, she met Remington on his way down. He paused on the landing, watching her progress in silence.

Laura didn't hesitate. She came right to him, intending to pull his head down for a kiss.

The phone began to ring again.

The moment seemed fraught with layers of meaning. Remington scanned her face, his expression unreadable. He glanced aside at the ringing phone and then back at her.

She met his gaze steadily. "Let it ring," she said, and rose on her toes, put her arms around his neck, and kissed him full on the mouth.

He pulled her to him then, pressed her hard against him, and kissed her back. As swiftly and easily as the first time, he caught her beneath the knees so he could pick her up in his arms. He needed his breath to climb the stairs, so they broke apart, but Laura kissed his mouth again and again as he gained the top of the staircase and carried her down the hall.

At the door of the master bedroom, he leaned down to turn the knob and bore her inside. He nudged the door closed with his foot and stood for a moment, holding her.

Did he put her down, or did she drop to her feet? They would never really be sure. Wrapped in each other's arms, they faced each other, as silent as they'd been on the landing below. But this time, Remington's eyes held a depth of tenderness and desire that had been missing then, and it held Laura mesmerized. Of all the moods she'd expected from her Mr. Steele on this occasion – cocky, self-confident womanizer, smirking victor in their battle of wills – this was one that had never occurred to her.

He was the one to break the spell that held them. "Ah, Laura," he sighed. He took her face in his hands and lowered his mouth to hers. She cupped her palm behind his neck to bring him even closer.

The habit of restraining what they felt was so deeply ingrained that it took a minute or two for it to sink in that, this time, there was no need even to try. No Mildred to intrude, no fires to put out at the agency, no reason for either one of them to pull back because of doubts about the other. No reason to put off what Remington had facetiously called "the magical moment" any longer. Finally it was here.

And there was magic, marred only briefly, when the hall telephone began to ring, shattering the silence that enveloped them. Remington, who heard it, tensed and withdrew his mouth an inch or two from Laura's; Laura, who truly didn't hear it, and would have ignored it if she had, simply clasped him more tightly and started kissing him all over again.

When they separated, breathless, disheveled and unsteady on their feet, she smiled up at him. "Up, periscope?" she suggested.

His teeth gleamed in the gorgeous grin she loved so well. "Let the chips fall where they may," he agreed.

"Then come with me, Mr. Steele." Taking his hand, she turned and led him toward the massive four-poster, looking back at him over her shoulder. "I believe we promised each other an Irish honeymoon."

She drew him down onto the bed with her; together they sank deep into the feather mattress and velvet coverlet. Sometime later, Remington got up to turn off a lamp they'd left alight. After that, there was nothing to interrupt them in the discovery that there were, after all, answers to the questions that had posed a seemingly insurmountable barrier between them; that there was no disappointment lurking in the fulfillment they'd anticipated for so long; and that the best foundation of all for physical love was the trust and affection they'd slowly built over the past four years.