A Bad Day To Be Late.

Murphy had started the morning whistling as he waited for his coffee. The Hunter case had been quite a coup for the agency and Remington Steele now had a face; okay, it was a face you wanted to punch, but it was still a face. So long as it wasn't next seen coming out of some window followed by a sackful of diamonds, it could be useful.

The good mood hadn't lasted. He'd spilt the coffee on his shirt and he'd had to change. That had been an irritation. He should still have had ample time to get to work, but then he had been two cars back from a teenager when she happened to lose her concentration and drove straight into the car in front at the traffic signal.

With both drivers in a state of shock, he had felt he had no choice but to stay and help. By the time both were in safe hands, he was very late, and if there was one thing Murphy hated, it was being late.

He got to the office. Bernice came over right away. "Murphy, you won't believe what ..."

He raised a hand. "Just a second, Bernice, I left my notes in the big office." He headed to the office where the fictional Mr Steele plied his esoteric trade.

"Murphy!" said Bernice.

"I'll be right back." he said.

He opened the door and went in. Steele looked up and said, "Please, don't apologise. You performed magnificently in the matter of the royal lavulite, a little lateness is perfectly forgivable."

"Well, I ... " said Murphy.

"Not another word! You're conscientious to a fault. One tiny lapse is nothing." Steele waved his hand in good-natured dismissal.

"Well, thanks, but ..."

"There's something else?" said Steele.

"I left some notes." said Murphy.

Steele checked his drawer. Murphy frowned. It wasn't Steele and it wasn't his drawer. "Ah, here they are!" said Steele, "You want me to take a look?"

"May I ask you a question?"

"Please." said Steele.

"What the hell are you doing here? You are not Remington Steele."

"Have you seen a newspaper today?"

Laura came in from her office. "Murphy, there's something we need to discuss."

"I can see that, and I'm voting no." said Murphy.

"A walking, talking Remington Steele." she said.

"A thieving ,conniving crook."

"A face to fit the name."

"On how many wanted posters?"

Steele who wasn't Steele leant forward. "Murphy, I'm sensing ambivalence."

"In a minute, you'll be sensing a broken nose." said Murphy.

Laura stood between them. "It could work."

"It will work." said Steele, "Your brains, my looks, Murphy's ... qualities."

"Who are you?" said Murphy, "What's your name?"

"Steele, Remington Steele."

"No you're not." said Murphy.

"If I'm not, who is?"

"You blundered into the role, so just blunder back out again." said Murphy.

"Maybe I like it here." said Steele, giving Laura a look that made Murphy want to strangle him with his own tie.

"I know it seems crazy ... " said Laura.

"This is way past crazy, this could look back and wave to crazy as it vanished into the distance." he said.

"We can make it work." she said.

"You're sure you're not just ... "

"What?" she said, and she looked so lost that his heart melted.

"Nothing." he said, "Just remember, when the guy robs a bank or something, that I was against this from the start."

Ersatz Steele was all indignation. "I never robbed a bank in my life." he said.

"You wanna put a few more crimes on the list of things you never did?" said Murphy.

There was the smallest shake of the head.

"Thought not." said Murphy. He glanced at Laura and she shrugged. Temporary, probational - odd how apt that word sounded - Steele smiled the charming smile he was already growing to loathe.

The End.