Steele Keeps Getting Better

Author's note: Thanks, Linda and Anne for letting me put my own spin on your idea about how Steele might react to getting older.-N.E.

Laura Holt Steele finished telling six-year-old Megan a bedtime story, then went to tell Patrick that it was time to turn out his light and go to bed. "But Mom," the thirteen year old whined, sounding very much like his father, "it's only ten. Everyone else I know gets to stay up much later."

"Well, you're not everyone else," Laura reminded him, turning off the VCR and TV in the middle of 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.'

"Mom, can't I finish the movie?"

"You've seen it a hundred times, dear," she said in a patient voice that suddenly flashed her back to her own mother. Laura froze. Good God, was she turning into her mother? Heaven forbid! How many times had the two of them had this same argument? Resolutely, Laura picked up the remote and turned the machine back on. "Once it's over, lights out, okay?"

"Sure," Patrick said, eyeing her warily. "You okay, Mom?"

Laura gave him a quick kiss on the top of the head. "I'm fine," she insisted. "Did your Dad come in to say goodnight?"

Patrick nodded, but his attention was already focused on Harrison Ford's daring exploits. "A long time ago," he said.

Laura sighed and went to the door, pausing to look back at the dark-haired, blue-eyed little boy --- who really wasn't a little boy anymore, she supposed. And he was too much like his father for his own good at times, she thought, smiling as he recited line for line the dialogue in the movie. Leaving him to his entertainment, she closed the door and went down the hall toward the master bedroom, expecting Remington to be waiting in bed for her.

But the bed was empty, and the bathroom door was closed. "Hey there," she said through the wood. "Are you coming to bed tonight, Mr. Steele?" She heard soft swearing and the sound of cabinet doors closing quickly.

"Oh, damn," Remington swore louder this time, and with a frown, Laura opened the door.

"What's going on in here?" she asked, her sharp eyes picking up the attempt to hide something behind his back as he stood before the sink in his bathrobe. He looked --- different somehow. Younger. And with her recent realization, her fear that she was turning into her mother, that bothered Laura for some reason.

"Really, Laura, a man's toilette---" he began, but Laura pinned him with a look.

"What are you doing? What's that behind your back?"

"Oh, nothing," he insisted, turning and tossing the item into the nearby trash and moving to grab the waste basket. "Tomorrow's trash day, isn't it? I suppose I'd better empty this---"

Laura closed the bathroom door, and leaned against it, arms folded across her chest. "Today was trash day. And Patrick emptied all the trash last night, remember?" She held out her hand. "Give."

"Really, Laura, you act is if I'd stolen the Crown Jewels or something. Such distrust.  And after almost fifteen years of marriage, of watching each other's backs on a daily basis-"

"I trust you. But whenever you start hiding things from me, I tend to get a little paranoid. Now please explain what you're doing." Remington sighed deeply, then held out the wastebasket for her to inspect. She reached inside and pulled out a box that still contained a bottle of something. "Grecian Formula???" She started to laugh.

"Really, Laura," Remington said, sounding a bit wounded. "I'm delighted that you find the thought of my getting old so amusing."

"Vanity thy name is Steele," Laura paraphrased. "I haven't noticed any gray hairs," she told him, peering at his head.

"Believe me," he assured her darkly, glancing into the mirror, "there's a veritable forest of them up there. Not to mention whenever I refrain from shaving for any length of time---" he shuddered.

"That's why you've been shaving twice a day. I wondered why." She ran a hand over his smooth chin. "I had gotten rather used to that manly stubble on the weekends. And you weren't going to tell me about this?"

"Well, I mean, how would it look? Remington Steele being positively middle-aged?  Gray hair, graying beard. I mean, what's next? A middle-aged paunch?" he asked, sucking in his stomach as he examined his profile in the mirror.

Laura smiled again, sliding her arms around him. "On you, a paunch would look good," she reassured him. "And I happen to think gray hair on a man is incredibly sexy."

He looked at her, uncertainty in his blue eyes. "Really? You're not just saying that to --- build up my fragile male ego?"

"Mr. Steele, have I EVER given you a compliment that you didn't deserve?" she asked him.

"You are a bit --- frugal in that area at times," he admitted slowly.

"I love you. Not because you're good looking, but because you're you. And no gray hair is going to change what's in here," she told him, pressing a kiss to his chest over his heart, noting that there were more than a few gray hairs there as well. How had she managed to miss those, she wondered. "You're a wonderful partner, wonderful husband, wonderful father. Even if you were to lose every hair on your head-"

"Laura, don't even THINK it!" Remington begged, glancing again into the mirror.

"It wouldn't make any difference to the way I feel about you." She felt him relax a bit, and pulled his head down to hers, running her fingers through his still damp hair. "You didn't stop loving me when I started going gray, did you?"

"Of course not." He'd been supportive, agreeing that if she wanted to have her hair coloured, then it was fine with him. Whatever would make her happy.

"Tell you what, I'll stop hiding my gray if you will," she suggested.


"I think the best part of growing old, Mr. Steele, is doing it together," she told him, untying the belt of his robe as she spoke.

"Hmm," he said. "You might be right at that." He lifted her into his arms with a soft grunt. "But it does make things devilishly hard that used to be so much easier."

Laura grinned. "Home, James," she said, reaching down to open the bathroom door for him.

"Tomorrow I find a gym," he decided, carrying her to the bed. "That's at least one thing I can control." As he set her onto her feet, he paused, listening. A glance at the clock beside the bed caused him to frown. "It's after ten. Shouldn't Patrick be sleeping?"

Laura pulled him down to her. "I told him he could finish watching the movie," she said quickly.

Now it was Remington's turn to pin HER with a look. "YOU extended his bedtime?"

"Why is that so difficult to-"

"I seem to recall one night a couple of weeks ago when Patrick and I were watching "Star Wars" and you marched him off to bed in the middle of the attack on the Death Star," Remington reminded her. And had earned the nickname "Darth Vader" from their son, he almost added.

"I suddenly realized that I'm being too hard on him. He's a good boy --- we can trust him."

"The way your mother never trusted you?"

"Saw right through me, eh?" she asked, sliding her arms around his neck.

"Like glass, Mrs. Steele," he said.

"Umm. Well, I guess the mystery is gone, then."

"Never, Laura. Never," he promised with a light kiss. The sounds from the room down the hall fell silent, and there was a soft "click" as Patrick turned off his light. Remington smiled. "See? You were right to trust him."

"You don't think I'm becoming my mother?" she asked.

"Good Lord, no. Perish the very thought. You're no more like Abigail than I'm like  Daniel." Laura looked at him. "Let me rephrase that comment."

"I understand what you're trying to say," she told him. "Speaking of Daniel, you never told me what Dr. Martin told you when you went for a check up." When an old friend of hers had fallen victim to a sudden heart attack, Laura had panicked. Upon discovering that her friend's father had also died from similar circumstances, Laura had insisted that Remington pay a visit to their doctor to make sure that Daniel's heart problems hadn't been passed to his son.

"Everything's fine. He said that as long as I watch what I eat and get enough exercise, I shouldn't have any problems like those that were responsible for Daniel's death. Of course, when I spoke to Daniel's doctors in London, they told me that his heart problems hadn't been inherited. They were mostly the result of his having- over indulged over the years." He forced himself to think about the good times with Daniel, and not those last few hours before his father's death. A slow grin spread over his face. "And since we're on the subject of exercise ---" he moved a leg over hers.

"Umm. I like the way you think, Mr. Steele," Laura told him, pushing the robe from his shoulders as he reached over to turn out the light.

The End

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Original content ©2000 by Nancy Eddy