Two Holts for the Price of Steele

by Mrs. Peppler
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makall5 @ (remove the spaces)
Author’s Note: I just borrowed the characters. I don’t make money off of them. All rights, etc. belong to MTM. No posting without my permission. Occurs after Season 5.

Many thanks to Victoria and Wilma for beta-reading my first fanfic!

Buried in paperwork, Remington fumed as he signed contracts, made notes on others and wrote case notes for Mildred to input into the computer. Five days after returning from Ireland, Laura was nowhere to be found and Remington was covering for her pretty little bum in the office.

Last night she was distracted; he could hardly keep her attention on the dinner he had lovingly prepared for her. This morning she had rolled out of their bed and was out the door without a word. What was the problem with her? He arrived at the office just in time for her to brush a kiss on his cheek and wave on her way out the door. She mentioned something that sounded like “see you tonight,” but the door slammed on the last word.

He started to go after her, but Mildred reminded him of the ten-thirty appointment waiting in his office. For the remainder of the day, each time he hoped to get free, Krebs stuck another file under his nose or sent a client into his office. He would accuse her of colluding with his wife, except that he knew that most of this paperwork and half of these clients were Laura’s. He was merely cleaning up the mess she’d left when she bolted out of there.

At five o’clock, Mildred popped into his office with a reminder about the dinner he was to attend for the Society of the Spotted Owl. He nearly skipped it before remembering that he was the keynote speaker. Great. An hour-and-a-half of small talk and bad chicken Marsala so that he could speak for twenty minutes. Maybe he could make it make it ten and be out of there by nine-thirty.

At ten-fifteen, he poked his head in his empty flat. No Laura. He stepped inside and telephoned her loft, but only got a busy signal. He took three minutes to strip out of his suit and change into jeans and a sweater before diving into the Auburn parked in the garage. Where the hell is she? He thought they were past all this secretive nonsense after they had declared themselves in Ireland.

Twenty minutes later he parked in the street below her loft and sprinted up the three flights of stairs. He had noticed the lights blazing from her windows and the sounds of raucous music blasting. He touched the door, only to have it slide away unhindered.

Whatever Remington was expecting to see, this wasn’t it. He took in the scene with shock.

Remains of champagne and margaritas were everywhere. The empty bottle of his favorite Dom Perignon he had stashed in Laura’s loft and an equally depleted margarita pitcher sat side-by-side on the coffee table. Flutes and glasses were strewn around on tables and tumbled about on the floor.

And dear God, Laura was sprawled half-naked across Murphy on the sofa. The blond man was shirtless, and she was clad only in a bra and tiny shorts, with a stunning brilliant-cut engagement ring adorning her limp hand.

Furious, he nearly shut the door and walked out. First Tony, now Murphy? Why the hell did he bother staying around at all?

His hand touched the door again when his anger flashed into a blinding rage. Who was she to push him away, now after all they had been through? Pivoting, he rounded the coffee table to yank Laura off Murphy and land a good one on the sleeping man. He pulled up short when he nearly stepped on . . . Laura? He eyeballed the woman sleeping on the floor. Her hand was still holding the receiver of the phone by her side. His eyes nearly crossed as he took in the lovely lithe brunette curled up in Murphy’s lap along with the identical one passed out on the floor. Only, the one on the floor was wearing her pretty platinum and diamond wedding band and was fully dressed.


Remington sat down abruptly on the coffee table, staring at his wife while his thoughts stuttered along in disbelief. Absently, he picked up a stray margarita glass and downed the remainder. He grimaced; the stuff was practically pure tequila. If they had been drinking like this all day, no wonder they were all three sheets to the wind by ten-thirty. He quirked a brow at his snoring wife. Good Lord, she had some explaining to do.

He turned off the music and turned down the lights. He pottered around the loft, washing dishes and tossing out lukewarm foodstuffs before pouring himself a decent glass of wine and sitting down to watch the trio sleep. It wasn’t long before the twin on the floor stirred. She stared at the receiver in her hand for a long time, as if trying to remember what it was for. She winced as she put it to her ear and punched the buttons.

“Answer the phone, Mr. Steele,” she mumbled, only to hear the phone ring again and again. “What time is it anyway?” She leveraged herself up on one arm to peer at the clock on the wall when she saw Remington sitting in the chair, waiting patiently. She winced again as she dropped the receiver onto the handset with a clatter. She tried to stagger upright, but settled instead for crawling to Remington and settling in his lap. “You’re here.” Whatever else she muttered was lost as she began to snore.

Steele chuckled at his drunken wife while he carried her to her bed. He kicked off his shoes and pulled his sweater over his head before crawling in beside her for the night. Tomorrow would be time enough for answers.

* * * * *

The next morning, Kathleen nearly devoured Murphy on the sofa before she realized they weren’t alone. She peered over the back of the sofa and saw Remington winking at her from Laura’s bed. “Good Morning,” he called out.

Oh God, what must he be thinking. Kathleen knew that Laura wanted to have a private reunion before she introduced Steele to her sister. Or rather, reintroduced them. But Murphy had surprised them both at the loft and promptly dropped to one knee and proposed to Kathleen. Of course they had to celebrate with champagne. And when they ran out of that, Kathleen had mixed a pitcher of margaritas. She remembered interrupting her sister a half a dozen times while Laura tried to dial Remington’s number, before her sister gave up and shimmied with her on the coffee table, dancing and gyrating about in her inebriation. Murphy called them the ‘Doublemint’ twins and appreciatively wolf-whistled at the show while Kathleen attempted to strip off her clothes.

Kathleen crawled off her fiancé and stumbled to the bathroom as Steele pretended not to notice. Deprived of her warmth, Murphy stirred as well, looking about in bleary-eyed confusion.

Laura rolled over to stare at the clock as she took in the noise of the shower and someone making a pot of coffee. Who was here? Why was she dressed in yesterday’s clothes? Why was her head screaming for mercy? She collapsed onto her pillow, only to notice an arm wrapped around her waist. Remington? She rolled over again, briefly closing her eyes against the throbbing pain, only to open them to laughing blue ones. Definitely Remington.

“Good morning, love. Sleep well?” he couldn’t help teasing her as he pressed a kiss to her temple. She winced and rolled out of bed, looking for the coffee that she could smell in the kitchen.

“Murphy!” she stopped abruptly at the sight of her old partner in her kitchen. He handed her a steaming cup and a pair of aspirin that he had found in the cabinet, which she gratefully downed. Kathleen snuck up behind her and hugged her back, wet hair and all. Laura turned to embrace her sister while Remington and Murphy looked on from opposite sides of the kitchen. The girls giggled as they remembered the night before and bumped hips in memory of their outrageous dance before their sore heads insisted that additional jarring was not necessary. Giggling turned into outright laughter and the two men couldn’t help smiling along with the girls in their delight.

Remington hesitated to intrude on the family scene, so he slipped into the shower while it was free. When he turned the water off, Laura was brushing her teeth at the tiny sink. She smiled in the mirror as she tapped out the brush. “You look wonderful. Can I ask you a favor while I get clean and then I promise we will tell you everything?”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Make breakfast.”

Slightly irked, Remington frowned at her. “This better be good.” He dropped a kiss on her shoulder anyway. Too many freckles beckoned to be tasted for him to ignore them.

Laura sighed in relief as he dressed and left her bathroom. All her careful plans for yesterday were tossed out the window when Murphy showed. She felt awful that she had forgotten all about the banquet last night. She had planned to tell Remington before the dinner and introduce him to her sister afterward.

Seconds after Laura had opened the door to the bathroom, Murphy ducked in and could be heard complaining loudly about the lack of hot water. She and Kathleen exchanged identical shrugs. The poor water heater just wasn’t up to four adults in one morning. Laura made toast and poured orange juice for everyone while her husband sautéed vegetables for the omelettes he had in mind.

Kathleen set the table and all of them finished their various tasks as Murphy strolled out of the bathroom.

“Nice of you to join us,” Steele rumbled.

“Hey, I made coffee!” Murphy shot back.

“Thank God!” the girls chorused, collapsing into giggles again.

“I take it breakfast won’t be needed then?” Remington sounded like an uptight butler.

“Don’t threaten us like that!” squealed Kathleen. “Your cooking is incredible!”

Remington slowly turned around, his face absolutely unreadable. “And how, may I ask, would you know?” He set the plates on the table.

Laura laid a hand on his cheek and looked him straight in the eyes. “Because a year-and-a-half ago, she took my place at the agency for nearly three months.”

It only took him a moment, “The agreement at Cannes?” He sat at the table.

“The agreement at Cannes,” Laura nodded as she sat next to him. “Just after you had joined the agency, the CIA contacted Murphy and me about a case. It involved one of the biggest banks in LA and a scheme for enticing young newlyweds to smuggle counterfeit money into the U.S. It took them years to collect the evidence that they needed. We were one of several teams that infiltrated the network and helped break it from the inside.” Laura took a bite of her omelette.

Murphy put down his fork and picked up the story, “The CIA needed more young women capable of going under cover, and they contacted several detective agencies to find them. Obviously, Laura was one, and at that time, I was to go under with her whenever they were ready.”

Laura continued explaining, “Originally we were going to have two detectives, friends of ours at Havenhurst, do some moonlighting to keep the agency covered. But when you and Mildred came along, we decided that if Kathleen was willing, it was possible we could pull this off.”

“I thought it was a lark and a nice break from playing in the dirt all day,” Kathleen put in.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Remington asked softly.

Laura cocked her head at him, “Is there any way you would have let me go to Rio de Janeiro under cover for three solid months and not insisted on going with me?“

“No,” he admitted.

“And I didn’t want the CIA getting too close to your shady background, nor was I in a position to change partners at that point in the case anyway.”

“Besides,” Murphy put in, “I trusted you to protect someone else.” He shot Steele a hard look.

“It was Kathleen I caught you kissing in Laura’s office that day, not Laura,” Remington said in surprise.

“Yes. We had been testing Kathleen to see if she could pull off the detective bit, especially with you.”

“Why did you really leave the agency, Murphy? I always thought it was because of Laura and me.”

“No, Kate’s got a professorship in Denver now. I wanted a head start on getting my agency up running before she finished with her dig.”

Remington looked at Kathleen, “A professor? What do you do?”

“I’m an archeologist. I’ve been working on a dig in Thailand on and off for the past three years. I was on hiatus when Laura has asked me to double for her while she went undercover. I just got back yesterday. We just wrapped up the dig and now I’m home for good. Well, to Denver anyway.” She smiled at Murphy. “He waited almost two years for me to finish.” She waggled her ring, “I guess it’s safe to say he missed me.”

Remington muttered something sarcastic about Holt women leaving their men hanging about for years on end.

Laura patted his hand and picked up the story again, “We were notified the day that we left for Cannes that it was time for us to go undercover. I didn’t want Kathleen to be put in a difficult situation with you, so . . ..” She hesitated.

“You came up with the Cannes agreement so that we wouldn’t mix business with our personal lives.”

“Yes. And since you two weren’t ‘dating’ much, it gave Murphy and me time to coach Kathleen from the phone whenever we could. The CIA helped her as well, but honestly, you and Mildred were much better than any of us could have expected.”

Kathleen spoke up, “I knew that Laura really liked you, so I was trying to walk a fine line between not encouraging you and putting myself in a compromising position, and not discouraging you so that Laura could have a chance when she got back. You cooked me dinner a time or two.”

“But what about the fire in the loft? Malta? And Ireland?”

“I left the day after the fire. Kate went to Malta both times and to England. We all held our breath but either Daniel didn’t catch on or he kept his mouth shut. I wouldn’t dare make a guess either way. I did break cover long enough to fly to Ireland with you. I knew what it meant to you and felt I had to be there. Murphy told everyone my grandmother was on her deathbed,” Laura admitted.

“I had fun in Malta though. I will say, Remington, I was happy that you and Mildred were there. I couldn’t admit to being completely in over my head at the time,” Kathleen added.

“How long were you back at the agency after we had broken the agreement?” Remington asked Laura.

“A week? Two, tops. I couldn’t keep my hands off you.” Laura admitted. “I scared myself when I realized how much I missed you.”

Steele leaned back. “So let me get this straight. You,” he jabbed a fork in Murphy’s direction, “You didn’t have a crush on Laura; you loved Kathleen. You really did think of Laura as a little sister.”

Murphy nodded.

“You,” he jabbed his fork at Laura, “You didn’t trust me enough to tell me the truth. Instead you ran this enormous deception on me for three months.”

“Love, I trusted you with my agency. Can I say more than that?”

“Why didn’t you tell me the truth afterwards?”

“How? I didn’t want to make you angry. We were just getting our footing back when we had the whole mess with losing the license and you going to England.”

Remington stood and paced across the apartment. “So you waited until we were married to fill me in? Does Mildred know?”

“Yes, I waited and no, Mildred doesn’t know. I wanted to tell you first.”

“So let me get this straight. You, your sister, Murphy and even the rest of your family who kept Kathleen a secret, have scammed me for nearly four years. I can’t believe your mother was in on this, too – I remember her commenting once about you being a middle child, but she never mentioned anyone other than Frances after that. And you accuse me of being a con artist?” Remington sounded furious and stalked to the front door.

Laura and Kate both ran after him. Kate blocked the door while Laura ducked between them. They both had tears in their eyes and Laura threw her arms around him. “Please don’t go, Remington. I didn’t know how to tell you. Not with everything else . . . I’m sorry.” Remington froze and Laura cautiously peeked up through her lashes to gauge his reaction.

He couldn’t help it. A broad grin lit up his face. He shifted Laura to one side and pulled Kate into their embrace. He kissed each of them on the forehead and Laura on the lips. “I think Daniel would have been terribly proud of both of you.”

* * * * *

Later, after the tears were dried and many kisses exchanged, Remington dragged the two girls into the morning sunlight by the window.

Laura and Kate were identical in every way. The similarities didn’t stop with their looks. Every gesture, every quirk of their mouths, even their wry sense of humor was the same. They both wore their hair long and wavy today. If not for their rings, an outsider would never tell them apart. But Remington could. He couldn’t explain it, but he knew he could pick out Laura blindfolded. With a single finger, he brushed her hair back.

“Good Lord, even your freckles are the same. Murphy, we could have a field day with these ladies in my old line of work.” Kate and Laura laughed. The idle thought crossed Remington’s mind that he had never seen Laura look quite so . . . free. He glanced up at Murphy, “What’s with these Holt girls that a pair of nice Irish lads like us can’t keep their hands off them?”

Murphy let out a snort and headed for the refrigerator. Despite the morning hour, he rooted around for a moment before coming up with two bottles of Guinness that Remington kept in there. He popped off the tops and handed one over. “What I can’t figure is how I ended up with you as a brother-in-law. Or will anyway.”

Before Steele could think of a retort, the doorbell rang. Laura opened the door. Abigail and Frances both shrieked and made straight for Kate, while the children and Donald brought up the rear. Frances’ two girls joined in with their own high-pitched giggles as they ooh’ed and aah’ed over the twins’ rings.

Donald sidestepped all of them as he spied the bottles of beer. “Got another one of those?” His son shot the girls a dirty glance, hunkered in a corner with his handheld video game and ignored the lot.

Murphy passed out another beer, and the three men propped up the counter companionably in the kitchen while they watched the show in the living room. “That’s a Holt lot of women,” remarked Steele. Then he winced at the identical elbow jabs from the men beside him.

Abigail fluttered around her three girls, admonishing Kathleen not to deprive her of a wedding as Laura had. Laura winced and muttered something about “Mom getting her due, anyway,” while Kate rolled her eyes. Frances admired both rings and shot a raised brow at Donald.

“Crap. You two are going to cost me a fortune. Our anniversary is coming up and now I have to get her something that looks at least as good as what the twins have.” Donald poked at Remington’s shoulder with a finger.

“Perhaps I can get you a good deal somewhere,” Steele said absently. He didn’t hear Murphy’s remark about making sure they were bought and paid for because a funny warm feeling was spreading inside him as he realized he was flanked by his new brothers and surrounded by family. It expanded when his nieces finally made it to the kitchen and hugged “Unca Murphy” and “Unca Remy.” Lord knew the girls were the only ones who could get away with that appellation.

He excused himself and rummaged around Laura’s nightstand for a sketchbook he had left there several months ago. The image of Laura and her twin that he had in his head begged to be put to paper. He resumed his spot between his brothers. With pencil in hand, his fingers flew across the notebook and in no time at all, Remington produced two sketches – one of the happy girl party in the living room and one of Laura and Kate.

Murphy brushed his fingers over the last sketch. “I don’t know how you did it. Those girls are perfect twins . . . but,” he pointed to each in turn, “that’s Kate and that’s Laura.”

Remington tilted the picture to Donald, who agreed.

Steele nodded, “How did you know?”

Both men shook their heads. Whatever it was, Remington had managed to capture it on paper, and even he didn’t have an answer. He stared at it for a moment longer and then realized that there was someone missing from their little celebration.

Remington found the telephone. “Mildred? Can you come to Laura’s? Yes, yes, her family is here. There’s someone she wants you to meet. Can you come?”

Thirty minutes later, Mildred shrieked, “Twins??”

The End

Author’s Note:
I took a few liberties with “To Stop a Steele.” With a little stretch of the imagination, one can think of Kate & Laura swapping places throughout the episode and Murphy playing “big brother” to Laura as he worried about Remington’s influence. It’s not perfect, but the concept contributed to this short story.

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