Found Steele

Author's note: This story is the result of a challenge from my friend Laura. She noticed a common thread that goes through most of my RS fanfic: That Daniel Chalmers is Remy's father and that his name is Harry. She wanted to know if I could write a story where Daniel WASN'T his father. This is it.

For the purposes of this story, "Bonds of Steele" and the unfortunate fifth season NEVER HAPPENED.

Remington Steele entered the front door of Suite 1157 with his usual cheery "Good morning, Mildred!" He was in front of the desk before he realized that the woman wasn't there. He stopped. "Mildred?" he called softly, looking toward the coffee room. She wasn't there.

He opened the door to Laura's office. "Laura, where's-" Her chair was empty as well. "Laura?" He stopped, frowning, then smiled in relief as he heard voices coming from the other office. Crossing to the connecting doorway, he stepped into his office. "Good morning, ladies," he said brightly, then paused as he considered his best option for retreat.

There were stacks of file folders everywhere, it seemed. The table in the conference area and his desk were both almost hidden by them. Remington took one step backward.

Laura must have read his intent, because she rose quickly. "Hold it right there," she ordered, crossing the office in his direction. "I was beginning to think you weren't going to join us, Mr. Steele," she said, smoothly taking his arm to lead him toward the desk. "And after you promised to help us update the case files."

He sat down in his chair, giving the files a wary eye, as if fearing that they might fall on him at any minute. "I know I promised to help, Laura, but-"

"You gave you word, Chief," Mildred reminded him.

"Yes, but-"

"And everyone KNOWS that Remington Steele's word is his bond," Laura said sweetly, thrusting the first folder toward him.

Sighing, he took it. "How like you, Miss Holt, to use my own words against me." Laura patted his shoulder and moved back to where she had been sitting on the other side of the desk. "I'm merely concerned for the image of the agency," he began. When both women looked up at him, he continued. "How will it look to a potential client if they walk in here and find Remington Steele up to his elbows in- paperwork like-like-" he broke off, deciding that silence might be the best course of action.

"Like a secretary?" Mildred finished for him, lifting one eyebrow in that way she had that made him feel as if he were ten years old again and had his hand caught in the candy jar. He winced.

Laura picked up a folder from the stack in front of her. "They'll be impressed that the great Remington Steele is SO dedicated to his work," she told him.

Remington sighed once more and opened the file. There was no way out of this, so he might as well make the most of it. "Very well. I'll do it," he announced, then fixed Laura with his blue gaze. "IF you'll have dinner with me tonight."

He knew he was in trouble when he saw Laura smile. "That's a wonderful idea, Mr. Steele. Where shall we go, Mildred?"

"Oh, I don't-I mean-I've got plans already," Mildred said hurriedly, glancing at Remington as he shot her a look of gratitude.

"Really?" Laura asked. "I didn't know you were seeing anyone."

"It's not a date or anything," Mildred said. "The Dragon Ladies are playing in a tournament this weekend. Have to practice."

"We wouldn't want to risk Mildred's letting her bowling team down, would we?" Remington asked Laura.

"No, I suppose not," Laura said. "All right, Mr. Steele. Dinner it is."

"Excellent," Remington said with a smile and began to read the file before him, lifting his head as soon as Laura's was bent to send a wink in Mildred's direction. The receptionist smiled and shook her head at him, then returned to her own reading.

They were all engrossed in the cases when the voice came at the doorway. "Excuse me. Am I interrupting something?"

Laura rose quickly, and Remington stood, turning down his shirt cuffs. He noticed that the man looked startled momentarily as their eyes met. "Not at all," Laura told their visitor, going forward with her hand outstretched. "Just doing a bit of housekeeping. Laura Holt. I'm Mr. Steele's associate. How can we help you?"

The man shook Laura's hand, but his eyes returned to Remington. "Mr. Steele?" he asked, and this time Remington was certain there was surprise there.

Lifting his jacket from the back of the chair, Remington came around the desk to Laura's side. "Yes."

Mildred was sitting, watching the scene as the man nodded. "My name is Harvey Rutherford, of Rutherford, Gainey and Beame," he informed them in a clipped British accent as he held out a business card.

Remington read the card as Laura held it. "London solicitor. How may we help you, Mr. Rutherford?"

"I've recently discovered that your office is attempting to locate a missing person who was born in Ireland around 1953."

"We are?" Laura asked at the exact same moment that Mildred's stack of files slid to the floor at the woman's feet.

Rutherford nodded solemnly, opening a notebook that he took from his pocket. "The request was made through a private investigator in Dublin by an- M. Krebs working for Remington Steele Investigations."

Laura and Remington both turned as one to look at the woman who was smiling nervously. "I was trying to surprise you," she told Remington.

"So you're this- M. Krebs?" Rutherford questioned.

"Mildred Krebs," Remington said. "Is there some problem with her search, Mr. Rutherford?"

"Not at all. In fact, it's made my job easier, as a matter of fact."

"Your job?" Laura asked.

"Yes. You see, my firm represents- or I should say we represented the estate of Avery Harlinger." His eyes found Remington again. "Does that name mean anything to you, Mr. Steele?"

"No more than it would to anyone who's followed the art world," Remington told him. When Laura looked at him in confusion, he went on to explain. "Avery Harlinger was well known as a patron of various museums and artists around the world. He owned an extensive collection of all kinds of art which he loaned out to museums on a regular basis. He died a few years ago, didn't he?" Remington asked Rutherford.

"Yes. Almost five years ago. After a long illness. His will gave us five years to find his heir before the entire estate was placed up for auction to the highest bidders. We had all but given up on finding that heir until Miss Krebs set her search in motion. May I ask- who is the client that you were working for, Miss Krebs?"

"Well, there's not a client," Mildred began, but Remington stepped in.

"That we can tell you about anyway," he said quickly. "Confidentiality. You understand."

"Quite." The man took a breath. "Mr. Harlinger was, as I'm sure you're aware, virtually a recluse during the last years of his life. He had no known family, no close friends."

"You mentioned an heir?" Laura asked.

"Yes. Unknown to anyone, Mr. Harlinger was married- albeit briefly- when he was young, while in Ireland on business for his father. But when Mr. Harlinger returned to England upon his father's death, he was alone. He was unable to return to Ireland for a year, and when he returned alone again, he became more and more reclusive. It was only after his death and the reading of his will that any clues were revealed as to the reason for his actions."

Remington forced himself to breathe as he felt Laura's fingers grasp his hand. "And what were those clues?" she asked.

"The entire estate was to be held in trust for a period of five years from the date of his death, during which time we were to search for his son." Rutherford's grey eyes found Remington again.

"He had a son?" Mildred said.

"The result of his brief marriage while in Ireland. In Mr. Harlinger's Bible we found a letter written to him by the young woman he married. It was mailed from Navan, County Meath, in Ireland. The missive informed Mr. Harlinger that he was going to be a father, but that she still refused to leave her homeland for England. According to the letter, the child would have been born in the spring of 1953."

"And- did you find this woman?" Remington asked, finding his voice at last.

"We managed to trace Eileen Harlinger to a convent that took in young women in her condition with no family to support her."

"What about her family?" Remington asked. "Surely they would have taken her in."

"From what little information we've been able to gather, her family disowned her for marrying an Englishman to begin with, for some reason," Rutherford commented, his tone saying that he simply couldn't understand the reasons for that happening.

"What happened to her?" Laura asked now.

"She died in childbirth," he said, watching Remington, who turned away to move toward the windows that overlooked the street below. "Her child was placed for adoption."

"Without contacting his father?" Laura asked, her anger growing.

"Eileen Brendan Harlinger told the sisters that her husband was dead, and they had no reason to doubt her word." He held up the briefcase he was holding. "Is there somewhere I can place this?"

Laura moved some files aside on Remington's desk, glancing at him as she did so. Remington could feel her eyes on him. "Here."

"Thank you." He opened the case and withdrew some papers. "The nuns filed a certificate of birth," he said, and Remington turned around again. His birth certificate? He held out his hand.

"May I?" He scanned the writing. "There's no first name. Simply Baby Boy in that spot."

"As I was saying, the nuns felt that an adoptive family should be the ones to give their new child a name, so they left that open for the new parents to fill in. Somehow, that never happened. There were never any official adoption papers filed or filled out for that certificate." Rutherford held another paper. "Mr. Steele, I simply must ask: are you the one Miss Krebs was doing the research for?"

"Why?" Remington asked, handing him the certificate.

"Because you bear a- remarkable likeness to Mr. Harlinger in his youth." He held out the second paper- an older colour photograph of a smiling, dark haired man with sapphire blue eyes. "It's one of the few photographs of Mr. Harlinger taken after his final visit to Ireland. It was taken for the cover of a book he wrote on art but was never published."

Laura and Mildred both moved closer to examine the photograph. "You DO look like him, Mr. Steele," Mildred agreed.

"Mr. Steele, I must ask again," Rutherford began.

"Yes, Mr. Rutherford. Miss Krebs was attempting to locate my roots, as it were. I'm an orphan."

"Born in Ireland?"

"To the best of my knowledge, yes. I lived there until I was ten when I relocated to England."

"And your name-?"

Remington felt Laura's unease at the question, and now it was his turn to touch her hand in silent support. "I've used many names during my life, Mr. Rutherford, some of them at the whim of whatever family I was with as a child, others to suit myself. I don't really know my name."

Rutherford studied him for a moment. "Do you happen to know your blood type?"

Remington started to answer negatively, but Laura responded. "He's A positive," she said. When he looked at her, she shrugged. "Thought it might come in handy some day," she told him.

When Rutherford began to study his notes, Remington grasped Laura's hand in a tight grip. Finally Mildred was unable to stand it another moment. "Well?"

"Mr. Harlinger's blood type was A positive as well. I could ask you to submit to a blood test," he mused, narrowing his gaze in Remington's direction. "But I don't think there's any need of that. I'm more than satisfied that you're the man we've been looking for."

Mildred sniffled suspiciously, and Remington thought he saw a glimmer of moisture in Laura's eyes. "You're telling me that Avery Harlinger was my father?"

Rutherford nodded. "I am. And that you are the sole heir to his entire estate. I'll need you to sign some papers for me-," he said, holding out a pen.

Remington hesitated a moment as he looked over the papers. Affidavits, assurances that he was who he claimed to be, legal documents giving him full ownership of - he stopped, glanced at Rutherford, and started to sign his name. "Uh- Which name would you prefer?"

Rutherford smiled, looking like a man releived of a heavy burden. "Remington Steele will do. It is the name you've gone by longest, is it not?"

"Yes," Remington agreed, then wrote the name with a flourish on all the necessary papers.

Rutherford gathered them up. "Here are your copies, once I file these, everything will be quite legal. Congratulations, Mr. Steele. If I can ever be of any service to you, just call."

"Oh, I shall, Mr. Rutherford," Remington agreed, "I shall."

"Mildred, would you show Mr. Rutherford out, please?" Laura asked, and Remington saw the silent request that they be left alone for a few minutes. He picked up the will.

"This list of art is fantastic, Laura. And there's a house on the outskirts of London. Ten acres, lovely place as I recall. Of course, it's been some time since I saw it."

She watched him, saw how wound up he was. "I guess this means you'll be leaving now," she said quietly.

Remington stopped, turning to face her. "Leaving? Why?"

She shrugged, drawing circles on the surface of the desk, unable to look at him. "You've found the pot of gold. Why would you want to stay here and be Remington Steele anymore?"

He reached out, lifting her chin with a finger. Holding up the papers, he said, "This doesn't change anything, Laura. Not in that way, at least. I went to England to try and find myself, remember? To have something to give you- the one thing you've always hounded me about. A name. Who I REALLY am." He picked up the birth certificate that Rutherford had left. "Here it is. Oh, I know it's not much, but it's a start. And as for why I want to stay here- there's one VERY good reason for me to stay."

"What's that?" Laura asked.

"Because this is where the most important person in my life just happens to be. Oh, Laura, if it means losing you, then I don't want any of this," he said, tossing the will onto the desk beside the certificate. "I don't need another name. Rutherford was right: I've been Remington Steele longer than I've ever been anyone else. And you know what?"

"What?" she asked with the beginning of a smile.

"It feels good. Right. I'm comfortable with it. Before, a name was just something to be used and discarded when it was no longer useful. But this one, the one you gave me, it means something. I've tried my best not to let that down. And I think- most of the time, anyway- I've succeeded. Haven't I?"

The smile appeared. "Most of the time," she agreed.

Remington's arms went around her as he pulled her close. "Like now?"

"Definitely now," she said as his lips found hers.

Laura's arms slid up around his neck, returning his kiss with more passion than she'd ever shown him. She had no idea why, but it was as if he had finally picked the lock on all the things she had kept hidden in her heart, freeing her to accept him, to recognize the look in those incredible blue eyes for what it was. Like he was looking at her now. "I know the words have never come easy for me, Laura, and this isn't exactly the way I'd planned to say this-, I'd always pictured a roaring fire, champagne,- The setting might not be right, but it's definately the right time. I love you."

"I love you, too," she replied, and found herself in his arms once more, his lips on hers.

Mildred opened the door as quietly as possible, and peeked inside. Seeing her two "kids" in each others' arms, she closed it just as quietly. The files could wait. Right now, they needed to be alone. Mr. Steele had finally found himself- and so, apparently, had Miss Holt.

The End

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Original content ©1999 by Nancy Eddy