Steele Crazy After All These Years-an addition
Part One
by Andrea

Author's note: This is a work of fiction and is intended for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement on characters and situations owned by MTM Productions is intended. This story is rated NC17 in some places, so if you are too young to read this, or offended by this type of material, click on "BACK" now!

This addition takes place at the very end of the episode and presupposes that Laura might accept Remington's compromise deal of six months of his life for one night of hers. During the episode a reference is made to an ancestral ghost in Remington's family, who re-appears at the end. A reminder that this episode was only the 16th episode aired, and so many other characters, situations and events familiar to RS fans have not been introduced into the ongoing plot. I owe thanks to Jax, Nancy, Fodor travel guides and `Wine For Dummies' for their research assistance.

Your feedback is appreciated!

Laura and Remington sat by the fire, sharing a bottle of champagne that Laura thought seemed even better than usual. Funny how a few months ago she wouldn't have even accepted champagne if it were offered to her. She was enjoying the crackling blaze, although it did seem like the room was getting a little too warm for her. Her thoughts wandered as she tried to decide how Remington had put his share of the clues together successfully, and they had essentially solved the case simultaneously.

"How do you suppose a delicate creature like that managed to drag all those bodies around?" Remington mused.

"I have no idea. But you know what they say about a woman obsessed.'

"Hell hath no fury likeno. That's a woman scorned, isn't it?" Laura laughed. "Or a woman defeated, perhaps?"

Laura looked at him. "Defeated? Surely you're not suggesting"

"As I reconstruct the events in my mind, I was the first to identify the murderer."

"Ah, but we found her at the same time, thus making our little wager"

"A draw?" he suggested.

"'Fraid so."

"Tsk, tsk, tsk," he sighed. "I knew you had your heart set on learning a bit of my colorful past," he said, inching closer. "Not to mention a weekend in Paris."

Not so fast, buster. "Some other time, perhaps?"

Remington poured it on. "Yes, but we worked so diligently, so tirelessly. Two sleuths, hurling themselves into the unknown, desperately seeking to learn the truth behind a baffling"

Laura cut him off. "Are you building up to something?" she asked suspiciously.

"A compromise. Six months of my life for one night of yours." He moved closer to kiss Laura when the room suddenly darkened. They turned to see that the lamp had blown itself out spontaneously.

"Your ancestral ghost?" Laura suggested.

Remington looked heavenward. "If it is, good show, old boy," and winked. He turned his attention back to Laura and kissed her again.

Laura held their kiss for just a moment longer than she thought she should. This was getting too easy, and much too enjoyable to be safe. Laura began to think that perhaps it was time to go home, and broke their kiss.

Remington smiled at her. "Well?"

"Well, what?"

"What do you think about my compromise?"

Laura laughed. "I thought you were joking."

"Laura," he said, suddenly serious. "I never joke about us, or my past."

"You're serious."

"Yes, I am."

Laura held his gaze for just a moment, then had to look away as she felt that peculiar floating feeling come over her that was happening with more frequency lately. It didn't take much effort for Laura's analytical mind to decide that the more Mr. Steele focused his attention on her, the more frequently that feeling came around.

If pressed, Laura might admit that being alone with Remington like this scared her a bit, but at the same time it also felt incredibly daring. She had never let someone as dangerous as Mr. Steele get under her skin. Although she readily admitted that she loved excitement, Laura had always thought that that meant action on behalf of a client, not allowing risks in her personal life.

"Are you going to give me an answer?" Remington pressed, taking her hand.

Laura snapped out of her inner thoughts, and some of her bravery dissolved. "I'm not sure" she said softly.

Remington would not be put off. "Not sure? Well, what about another compromise, then? Say, perhaps, three months, for an afternoon at the High Nooner Motel?" he cajoled good-naturedly.

Laura couldn't help but laugh.

"Or what about one week, in exchange for three of your buttons but I get to decide which three."

Laura wondered if perhaps this man could charm the paint off a board. When she finally stopped laughing, she gently squeezed his hand and said, "I'm not saying yes or no just yet. I just want to know, how will I know you're telling the truth, and not just making it up as you go along?"

Remington sounded wounded. "Laura, really now. When you have asked, have I not been totally forthright?"

Laura looked at him skeptically. "The unembroidered, unembellished truth does seem in short supply."

"I'll admit that on a day to day basis I may hedge a bit now and then, but as far as my past is concerned-"

"You're not too quick to volunteer information," Laura finished.

"True enough. But how often have you asked me a direct question, and I not given you an answer? A truthful answer?"

Laura mentally admitted that when she had asked specific questions, she had gotten a straight, if brief, answer. Unfortunately, most times when she thought she could learn a little more, her opportunity was spoiled by a security guard, a telephone or a bullet. Laura operated on facts; they were the life blood of her work, and she needed more information on this man. But was intimacy with him, however desirable it seemed, too high a price to pay for more facts?

Laura mentally weighed what she needed to know versus what she wanted to know. She needed to know more about his past, but what if that revealed something she'd wish she didn't know- a vengeful victim of a con job? An irate art collector? A woman waiting for him to return when he got tired of playing Remington Steele?

Laura took another sip of champagne and tried to figure out how to change the subject to buy herself some more time. It occurred to her that this champagne seemed different, maybe better, based on her limited knowledge.

"This a different champagne you're serving tonight?"

"Why, yes, that's very perceptive of you. It's a 1979 Laurent-Perrier, a bit more expensive, so I save it for special occasions."

"And this is a special occasion?"

"Anytime I'm alone with you it is, Laura," he said quietly, fixing his blue gaze on her.

Laura felt her whole body warm significantly. She could not even begin to figure out how to keep her thought processes in line when he looked at her like that, but she did suddenly realize that perhaps she had just hit upon a safe subject, one that might tell her something without getting her into dangerous territory.

"So how is it that you know so much about champagne?"

"Oh, an old dear friend who shared his knowledge very generously," he answered casually.

"Is that something that took six months?"

Remington's expression brightened. "Why, in fact, that was one of the most interesting six months of my youth." He studied her face carefully. "Does that mean we've got a deal?"

"A lot of it will depend on whether you've decided you'll tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

"Laura, I think you will find this six months of my life too interesting to be fictitious."

"I'll be the judge of that."

"Very well. Late in the spring, just after my 18th birthday, my mentor decided it was time to direct my education to some of the finer things in life. He had taught me a great deal about the trade, but he wanted to hand me over for a while to an old friend of his who could give me some appreciation of fine art, fine wines, haute cuisine, and anything else he thought appropriate.

"This friend was retired military, and they had known each other in the Royal Air Force. Colonel Archfield Stanton Cowperthwaite."

Laura made a face at the ostentatious sounding name.

"I quite agree. You see why everyone referred to him as just "The Colonel". As it was, the Colonel made a career of the military, and after the war he taught in Flight School for several years. Upon his retirement, his teaching skills did not escape the attention of the Home Office, and so he was asked to be a special attache to the diplomatic corps. They sent him to almost every British embassy in Europe over a period of 15 years. His job was to instruct young embassy employees on diplomatic procedures, local customs, civility and all that, so as to hopefully keep some inexperienced young buck from creating an international incident. He was very good at it, and made many friends and acquaintances throughout the Continent."

"So he was well qualified."

"Most definitely. We made a contract that he would take me everywhere he thought appropriate for six months, and then return me to my mentor ready to go on to the next step."

"Grand larceny? Or con jobs?"

"Ah, well, we won't go into that right now not relevant. I was packed and ready to go that day, happy at the prospect of seeing something more of the world. But the Colonel had our itinerary all planned, and I ended up unpacking, for a few days at least.

"My very first day began inauspiciously at the barbershop. This was certainly not where I expected to start my education and to say I was unimpressed would be an understatement. Even so, I was not anxious to go."

"What was wrong with a barbershop?"

"Laura. I had just turned 18. I thought I knew everything. I was a fairly skilled pickpocket, starting to get the hang of safe-cracking, and therefore rather full of myself. And I didn't think there was anything wrong with the way I looked."

"But the Colonel thought otherwise."

Remington nodded. "He told me that if this tutorial was going to be a success, I had to do what he said I must do, when he said it. He was accustomed to being obeyed when he gave orders. So the first order of business was a haircut."

"A little shaggy, were you?"

Well, remember this was London in 1970. Longer was better, but not in the colonel's military mind. So off it came, and my first attempts at a beard, too."

Laura had to smile at the thought of the clean-shaven Mr. Steele looking scruffy.

"Then we were off to the tailor not Saville Row, mind you, just someone the Colonel had done business with for years. Very traditional, not trendy. He insisted that if we were going to travel together, I was going to dress right. That meant coat and tie almost every day. Well, I wasn't going to stand for that."

"Cramping your style?"

"Indeed. But I was reminded what the rules were, and the Colonel promised me that after my suits were ready, I would have proof positive that he knew what he was doing. After I cooled off he asked me to indulge him, so I thought I'd see what happened. I was intrigued by the `proof' he thought he'd have.

"In the meantime, the etiquette lessons began in earnest. Table manners, deportment, social conventions, all were covered. It was rather intense at first, and continued throughout our time together more casually after the initial phase. I was still a rather sullen student, but the Colonel ignored my attitude and plowed on.

"A few days later we went back to the tailor to pick up my suits. The Colonel insisted that I put one of them on, shirt, tie, the whole lot. I must admit I liked what I saw in the mirror. Then he sent me off to the car to wait for him while he paid up.

"Well, it happened to be the noon hour, and so there were many people out on the street. As I sauntered to the car I noticed several young ladies look me over appraisingly, and one or two turned to watch me go down the street. Suddenly it occurred to me how calculating the Colonel had been, and his motives became clear to me then. There was no argument from me about dress codes after that."

Laura thought that undoubtedly she would have had the same reaction as those London women if she had passed him on the street.

"The other thing we worked on from the very start was my speech."

"Too much of an accent?"

"Not so much that as too much time talking tough. I was full of fighting words and street slang. In every conversation I was made to start a sentence again and find some better words to express myself. I also was made to indulge the Colonel's love of fine literature and poetry by reading aloud to him while he drove. Yeats, Shelley, the Brownings, I read them all."

"Remember any of it?"

"Not really, seeing as at the time I could never fathom his reasons. And my attitude kept getting in the way. But I do remember `A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness; but still will keep a bower quiet for us, and a sleep full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.' That's Keats."

He smiled when he finished. Laura blushed.

"It certainly expanded my vocabulary, as we often discussed what the words meant metaphors, allusion, all that. Since most of my formal education had been rather scatter shot"

"Why was that?" Laura interrupted, hoping to get a bit more significant information out of him.

"Oh, well, uhthat's another piece of history all together, and certainly more than six months' worth," he hedged. He glanced at his watch. "Laura, if I continue this story on a day to day basis we're going to be here until next week."

"I have nothing but time," Laura said sweetly. This was getting too interesting, and every detail was essential to Laura.

Remington smiled weakly. "Perhaps I could summarize it a bit, some generalities?"

"Are you in a hurry to get this over with?"

"Not at all," he lied. Actually, he was anxious to see if, and how, Laura kept her part of the deal.

"I suppose you could keep this on a country by country basis," Laura conceded.

"Very well." He paused to refill their champagne glasses and took several sips. "After 10 days of preparation, we headed out in the Colonel's car and took the ferry across the English Channel to France. Have you ever been to France, Laura?"

"No. The farthest I've ever gone is Acapulco."

Remington nodded thoughtfully. "That's one place I've never been. Interesting town?"

"Yes. Quite lively," Laura said evasively.

Remington studied her for a moment. "Anything else I should know about it?"

Laura shook her head but would not make eye contact. She started another sip.

"Well, perhaps we could go there sometime soon and you could show me the hot spots." Laura's champagne was halfway down when it threatened to come right back up again. She clenched her teeth and forced herself not to cough. Remington looked at her with concern and patted her back gently, wondering what there was about Acapulco that had caused her reaction.

"Are you all right?" he asked. Laura waved him off and took a deep breath. He paused for a moment to make sure Laura had recovered. "Now where was I? Ah, yes, France. What better place to begin one's oenological education than the Loire Valley? Muscadet, Tours, Pouilly-Fumeso many delights for the palate. And such wonderful food, too."

"So you and the Colonel saw Europe half-crocked?"

"Oh, on the contrary. The Colonel taught me the finer points of tasting, and we never had too much. We talked about vintages, vineyards, bottling, fermentation it's a wonder I retained any of it.

"After that we went north to the Champagne region. Taittinger, Pommery, Moet and Chandon. The Colonel even had a friend who introduced us to the great Madame Bollinger. That was quite an honor. Even this cynical 18 year old was impressed."

"Madame who?"

Remington was taken aback. "You've never heard of Lily Bollinger? She kept her family's Champagne vineyards going after her husband's death, and was quite the well known figure thereabouts. A local legend. She was rather elderly when I met her."

Laura didn't respond. "Oh, it's all right Laura, one is sometimes the student, sometimes the teacher."

He continued. "Then it was on to Burgundy, then the Rhone Valley, then Bordeaux. After a few days I began to take notes at a furious pace, hoping to keep my Burgundies straight from my Beaujolais.

"And all this time, the Colonel lectured on every aspect of French geography, culture, dialects. After six weeks in France, my overflowing brain grudgingly acknowledged that for an old codger perhaps he did know a thing or two.

"The time we spent in Germany could have been devoted to wines again, which I would not have objected to, but instead we visited the finest museums and art galleries in the larger cities. The Hamburg Kunsthalle, the Kupferberg-Museum in Mainznot as many as in other countries we would visit, but certainly worth the time.

"In this way my education in great works of art began. In each museum the Colonel separated the gold from the dross as it were, as we identified the most valuable paintings in each collection. And from time to time the Colonel would surreptitiously point out different peculiarities about the museums' security systems.

"He didn't steal paintings, too, did he?"

"Oh, definitely not. He wouldn't ever endanger his career by getting involved in that. But he had great powers of observation, and spending time with my mentor had tuned him in to these kinds of things."

Laura attempted to stifle a yawn. Almost half a bottle of champagne after a long day was taking effect.

Remington did not miss her attempt. "That's not boredom I'm seeing is it?"

"No, not at all. I just need to get up and move around for a minute."

"Then before we go on to Austria, let's take a break. I can't sit on this floor any longer. I'll just take our glasses to the kitchen. Can I get you anything else?"

"Maybe some ice water."

"Splendid idea. All this talking is making me dry." Remington disappeared into the kitchen.

Laura walked around the couch for a few moments, studying the movie posters and reflecting on Remington's story so far.

Laura moved to the couch, her feet up and a throw pillow on her lap. She wondered whether or not she should believe this extended travelogue. If he was making this up as he went along, he was the most skilled liar she'd ever met. Somehow this Colonel person seemed so real, and Remington's recollection of details too vivid for this to be manufactured. She knew he could stretch the truth and think fast on his feet in front of clients, but somehow this story seemed genuine. Still, she would withhold judgement until he finished.

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