Steele Missing a Link
Part Three
by Adriana
The Characters of Remington Steele and Laura Holt don't belong to me, I'm just borrowing them. This is just a bit of fun and tribute from the SteeleWatchers.
So please don't sue us!
Original content Copyright 1999-2000 SteeleWatchers and individual authors.
Permission to reprint required.

Hotel España. 8 PM

His voice hung in the night air for a few seconds, but finally Laura turned to face him.

"Who are you?" she had shouted in fear.

"Don't you know? " he had asked.

She looked into his eyes, unable to read them anymore. Was he angry? Was he amused with all this? Was he just plain tired as she was?

" No, I don't" she heard herself answer.

He had to look away. He didn't want to see the disappointment in her face; he didn't want to hear her hurting voice. He just wanted to crawl under some huge rock and never have to confront any of this again. To his own surprise, he started to laugh.

At first Laura thought he had gone mad. What the hell is laughing about? She wondered. But she didn't say a word. The fact was that she didn't know this man anymore. Maybe she had never known him at all. He had busted into her room, just like he had busted into her life years ago, without a warning, only to put everything upside down. She was seeing him in another light tough, for all she knew he was a criminal. He had taken part in the murder of at least four men. Hadn't he? But Laura did not fear him. For once, she was unafraid.

"What are you laughing about!?!" she shouted in anger.

He was still laughing when he turned to face her again. His sad, bitter laugh echoed in the small dark room.

"I don't believe you, Laura," he chuckled without humor "You just don't let it go, do you? You will never let it go."

She stared at him blankly. What was he talking about? But as she was about to speak again, he interrupted in a far more serious tone. All traces of laughter vanished.

"I don't fucking know who I am, so why should you?"

Again Laura was startled. He had just said he didn't know who he was? Who was he kidding? HE was whoever he wanted to be. However, he had sound sincere, and maybe even hurt. Could it be he didn't really know?

"I don't care who you are, I just want to know why you're here right now. You have no right to be here."

He started moving towards her. Laura started to back away.

Out of sheer bravado, she somehow found the strength to continue: " what's more, I think you should leave before I call the police."

He was just inches away.

Shut up,! - He thought, - Please let me look at you in silence. And then he saw her eyes again. It was hard to see her in the darkness of the room, But her eyes shone with a strange light I them. He had seen this look before, and he hated himself for being the cause of it.

"Are you frightened of me?" He asked, his tone unbelieving "Are you scared of me Laura?"

"Of course I'm not" and as she said that. She stepped back again.

"Even if you don't know who I am?" He challenged, again approaching her.

She backed up again "No," she lied. She was terrified of him.

"Right" he said, not believing her for a minute. "Sorry to have disturbed you, Laura. You were right. I'd better go now"

He turned around and started to leave. She stood where she was, unable to speak or move, and saw him close the door behind him. The slam of the door finally brought her up from the dark place between fear and longing she had been lingering on the past minutes.

"So why did you come?" she shouted to the wooden door. And suddenly her chest felt too tight, and her eyes too hot, and she couldn't stop the tears. She brought her head to her chest and started sobbing quietly. Her head was spinning. She felt angry, confused, and lonely- like an abandoned child. She didn't even hear the door opening again, or his heavy footsteps on the hardwood floor, or his painful sigh as he saw her agony.

He looked at her not knowing what to do. He only knew ha had to make it better, but he didn't know how. He should say something, but what was there to say? Maybe he should just hold her, or maybe he should just take that lovely face in his hands and - He reached out to her, gently cupping her face between his hands and brushed her lips tenderly with his own. He tested her salty tears and then deepened his kiss. He was surprised that she didn't push him away, that she was returning his kiss, even if she was still crying. He felt her hands entwined in his hair, grazing his scalp. And all he could think of was that maybe this was a huge mistake. But maybe, just maybe, this was the rightmost thing he could have ever done. -Could this be any harder?- He asked himself.

Laura, on the other hand, didn't want to think at all. She only wanted him to stay where he was for a little longer. God, she had missed his lips! But as suddenly as he had returned, he was gone again, and she was forced to open her eyes and look at him through the mist of her tears. He was holding his hands in the air, as if making an invisible wall between them, and shaking his head in denial while intensely gazing into her dark eyes. And once again his stare seemed to say to Laura this was a final goodbye, a definitive end to what they had once shared. It was the same look she had seen in his eyes when they had reencountered at the museum. And it was he who baked away into the shadows this time.

"I'm so sorry" he said, barely in a whisper.

She nodded and said nothing.

"I'm so sorry, Laura" he repeated. He knew he had heard him the first time, but he wanted her to know he had meant it.

"Just__ Just go. Please."

"Yes I have to go home, I" his voice trailed into silence again. He shouldn't have come here in the first place.

All of a sudden Laura remembered Felicia, and Freddy Hawks, and the dead guards, and Murphy lying in bed in the Hospital, and her closed detective agency, and Mildred without a job, and it was all because of him. This man standing in front of her. This man that she hated, this man that she loved.

"I know you have to go back to your wife, don't you?" She accused. And the minute she said it she wished she hadn't.

Again, that draw a sad smile from him. It was amazing that she knew. How could she know? Nobody knew, only Daniel and themselves. But of course Laura Holt would find out. Nothing ever escapes Laura Holt, he thought without rancor.

"How did you know?"

"Easy enough, Felicia paid me a visit this afternoon. She told me to get away from you, since she had a prior and rightful claim on your life. By the way, I suppose you two should consider making a hasty retreat from Madrid seeing the way things are right now. You are accomplices of murder, thieves, and fugitives of the law. Not to mention Freddy Hawks is after you because you have Don Quixote, and you betrayed him." She explained, keeping her face matter-of-fact. Her voice bore no apparent emotion.

Her words struck him as daggers in his heart. They were angry words, bitter words, and truthful words. He couldn't deny any of them.

"I didn't betray him. He shouldn't have killed those guards. It was a terrible thing to happen, but it wasn't my fault. Or Felicia's"

"You are both accomplices, whichever way you want to look at it."

He knew he was trapped. And she was right, they were guilty, and they had betrayed Freddy. But, once more he looked into her eyes, hoping to find redemption. He found none. He could gamble a last card, though.

"Can you prove it?"

She felt silent, and gazed at him for a long time. She knew she was right, and that she didn't need any proof. The look in his deep blue eyes gave him away completely.

"No, I can't," she admitted.

He merely coked his head, as if saying: "there you go." However, deep inside he knew her lack of proof didn't mean anything. He was guilty as charged.

"How's Murphy?" he wanted to know.

It was Laura's turn to laugh bitterly now. "As if you would care at all."

"I didn't want to see him hurt. I was an accident."

"No it wasn't!" she angrily replied, "Freddy shot him quite deliberately."

Tired of it all, he sighed deeply, and shook his head again.

"He's not dead, is he?"

"No, he's in hospital now. He'll live; it was merely a flesh wound on his thigh. He should be up and about in a few days"

Laura actually saw his relief at her words.

"Well, I guess I'll be going now. Goodbye Laura," he said finally and started walking away once more.

"You won't get away with it that easily, you know. I'll have that book back whatever the cost."

He turned around briefly, with a cocky grin in his face.

"Oh, really?"

"You bet" she challenged, her face resolute and her eyes shinning.

He strode back to face her. He took possession of her lips again. It was a long, lingering, passion filled kiss. Finally they both came up for air. Flushed, their hearts beating too fast.

"Whatever you say, Miss Holt." He whispered, and then, with a final goodbye, he disappeared behind the door.

********************** *********************** ****************************
Downtown Madrid minutes later.

His mind was spinning as he walked through the cobble stone streets of Madrid. He hadn't returned home at all. He just couldn't face his wife right now. "Your wife" Laura's words kept ringing in his head as an endless loop. -I must get rid of that book- he told himself. "Laura Holt is too dangerous." He was sure she couldn't find him even if she tried. But she knew all about him well, almost all- and she could have his face, and his past, on every paper and every police station all around the world if she wanted to. He wouldn't have considered that she would do this before. But, now things had changed. She was directly involved, and there as a murder charge to be settled. Perhaps she would do it now. Would she?

He was so absorbed in his own personal turmoil that he didn't notice the man following him closely behind. In normal circumstances, he would have been much more careful and alert. But he was in no condition to pay attention to faraway shadows lurking in street corners tonight.

Freddy Hawks stopped walking and pressed himself to the safety of the darkened wall. "Was O'Leary finally going to come back, after all?" he wondered. Another half hour went by and he was not making any progress. Freddy decided he had better come up with a different plan if he wanted to get the book back. It was obvious that O'Leary didn't have in on him, nor had he given it to the young lady he had seen before. Freddy wondered what kind of game O'Leary had going with the woman. -Was he double-crossing his own wife over the book?- he wondered. Surely he wouldn't. Or maybe he would. Maybe he was smarter than he had given the man credit for.
Freddy looked one more time at his prey, and made sure he wasn't heading home just yet. -Good,- he thought. "This is far from over, buddy Oh so far from over."

***************** ************************************** ************************

Hotel España- Lobby- 12.30 pm.

Laura was sitting in one of the lobby's couches, drinking cool cider as she stared blankly into space. It wasn't until Mildred tapped her on the shoulder and called her name that Laura snapped out of her reverie, and smiled at the older woman.

"Oh, hi Mildred, I didn't hear you coming"

The portly woman smiled at her and sat down on the opposite couch: "Morning hon," She replied, and then, immediately sensing Laura was upset about something, she added: "How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine Mildred. I wanted to talk to you"

"Sure honey, shoot" she said, as she sat down and ordered a glass of apple juice form one of waiters that had come to their sitting area.

"Well, Freddy Hawks doesn't have the book, but we still need to get him. I know the police are working on this right now, and, well. Even Murphy and I are suspects. But I think we should split our efforts for the time being. One of us must go after Freddy, and the other one must go after the book."

"Miss Holt" said Mildred; trying to be the less blunt as possible "Don't you think we should get out of this as we still can? I mean, Murphy will be released from hospital today, and in my opinion, this whole thing is only going to make things worse for his agency"

"Mildred!" Laura exploded "You're not seriously suggesting we drop the case, are you?"

Mildred only gave her a sheepish smile.

"Miss Holt, excuse me for being so blunt, I know you are feeling very upset, after seeing Mr. Steele again, and Murphy getting shot, and everything else, but I sincerely think we should better go back to L.A and leave this the local authorities."

" Mildred, he has the book. And he is going to vanish. Believe me, I know he will."

"Let him go, honey" Mildred said, trying to get some sense into her. "Just this once, let him go and get it over with."

Laura looked at her with fire in her eyes. "You know I can't do that, Mildred."

Mildred just shook her head. Laura was so stubborn that nothing could make her change her mind. She knew that full well.

"All right, then" she finally conceded, "what do you suggest we do next?"

Laura smiled her gratitude "First of all, I'm going to the Hospital to check on Murphy. I want you to go to my room and get all my notes and meet me there. We'll talk to Murphy and tell him the whole situation. Then we will figure out the best course of action."

"Gotcha." Mildred said with a wink. Then she stood up and went to the elevator.

*************** ***********************************

Hotel Casablanca. Two hours earlier..

He answered the phone at the first ring, but waited until the other man spoke.

"O'Leary, is that you?" Freddy asked.

"Yes," he answered rapidly, and then with deliberated calm he asked "Is she ok?"

He had returned home almost at dawn, tired, confused, tired, tired, tired. All he wanted was a few hours sleep. He had entered the room quietly, not waiting to wake her. He had come to her side of the bed, wanting to see if she was asleep or awake. Either way, he knew she'd be mad as hell with him. But, he didn't find her in their bed or in the bathroom. - Where the hell was she?- he asked himself. Suddenly his mind had flown to the book in the safe. With nervous fingers he had opened the hidden safe inside the closet. The Book had been there, and so all his papers. He had sighed in relief, and then cursed himself for thinking she would have left him high and dry.

"She's fine" he heard Freddy say, "Can we discuss business now? I have your wife, you have my book. It is really very simple O'Leary"

He remembered he had found the note, a small piece of cheap paper on her dresser. It didn't say much, only to wait for the call, or else. So he had waited. Rage and impotence eating him alive. None of this would have happened if it hadn't been for Laura Holt. Sure the guards would also be dead, but he would have fixed things with Hawks, and Felicia would have been safe. But no, Laura Holt had to pry on every little secret, scratch every little corner Damn her! He hated that woman so much. He loved that woman so much it hurt.

******************* *******************************************

Hotel España. 12.35 pm.

Mildred opened the door to Laura's room with the keys she had given her and let herself in. At least she thought she had, for the sheer shock of seeing him there stopped her right in her tracks.

He stood up from the bed very slowly. And attempted a conciliatory smile. He didn't quite succeed, though.

"Hello Mildred. I didn't expect to see you here."

Mildred opened her mouth but nothing came out. He gallantly took her arm and offered her a seat.

"You can say that again." Mildred finally said, and after she recovered herself form the initial shock, she looked at him with analyzing eyes. He looked very tired, and disheveled, but other than that, he looked almost the same as when she had last seen him two years ago. Only that his face seemed more seasoned, more weary.

"You haven't changed much," she told him.

"Is that good or bad?" he allowed himself to joke. Somehow he felt very at home around Mildred. It had always been like that. But seeing the expression on her face, he could sense she was in a no-nonsense mood. His eyes lowered to the protection of the floor "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that." Then he looked at her again saying "You haven't changed much either."

His attempts to soothe her were futile.

"What do you want?" She asked

He sighed deeply, and looked at Mildred straight in the eyes. She saw all the pain there, but refused herself to be moved by him.

"I wanted to see Laura," he said simply.

"That's obvious. Why did you want to see her, is what I want to know"

"I need her help" he said, his eyes on the floor again.

Mildred had to laugh at this. He couldn't be serious. "You can't be serious!" She exclaimed.

"Oh, but I am. I am most serious. Believe me Mildred," He pleaded, as her laughter subsided "Believe me I wouldn't have come seeking her help if it wasn't for something of the uttermost importance."

"Trust me, you don't want to see her now, she's ready to deliver your head in a plate. She knows you have the book". She said, not without a touch of sadness in her voice.

"I know. But she won't turn me in".

"Really?" she said, "What makes you say that?"

"I know Miss Holt, Mildred"

"You knew Miss Holt buster, she's changed since you last saw her. Your leaving her hurt her more than you could ever know." She accused him.

He let his head fall over his chest. Of course Mildred was right. But she couldn't be any worse tat he had been. And he had survived, and he hadn't changed. Had he?

"I don't think so Mildred. Miss Holt is a strong woman," he declared, in a nonchalant tone, trying to convince himself of what he was saying, "She's got her precious little agency, she's got you. Why, she even has Murphy back on her side! I bet the pair of them have been working quite closely" he spat the last sentence with disgust.

That was more than Mildred could stand from him. She rose from the bed in one fluid moment and slapped him in the face. The same way she would have done to a son that had misbehaved, if merely to snap some sense into him.

"Take that back, at once!" she shouted.

Mildred expected at least a little reaction, but he just looked at her blankly, holding his throbbing face with his hand. For an instant, Mildred thought he was about to cry. His eyes were shinning in a most suspicious way.

He looked at Mildred through misty eyes.

"Why should I?" he croaked, finally finding his voice, and then he cleared his throat, embarrassed. He could tell Mildred was nearly at the end of her rope now. He had never seen the woman so angry. What was that all about? He still couldn't believe she had slapped him across the face, like in a cheap soap opera. It was so astonishing that he even found it amusing. "That was so out of character with you, Mildred " he reasoned.

Mildred turn to face him, fire in her eyes, and her voice so harsh it could have cut through and iron wall.

"Miss Holt had to close the agency a month ago, because she spent the last two years looking form you! She thought something horrible might have happened to you. Obviously what happened to you is even worse that either of us ever imagined! You are a murderous, cheating, conning bastard! And I wouldn't move one finger to let you out of this one bugger. Now I understand why Laura said she couldn't let you get away with it this time!"

All of Mildred's accusations, however, were lost on him. The only part he had heard had shaken him to the core of his most intimate being. Laura's agency was closed, and because of him. He had taken away from her everything she had valued in her life. But he still needed her help. What could he do?

He didn't realize he had been silent for five minutes, or that Mildred was looking at him with the phone in her hand. He looked up and saw her saying something. However, her words didn't register.

Mildred was really getting tired of this.

"I said I'm calling the police unless you get out of this room at once, do you hear?" She stared at him expectantly. -What's with him? Is he on drugs too? No, Mildred, - she told herself,- that is simply ridiculous. She repeated her threat once more, and this time he seemed to have heard. But he didn't say anything, he just waved a hand in the air and fell back on the bed, exhausted.

"I'm calling the police!" Mildred said one more time. Seeing he didn't intend to move, she started dialing.

"Stop that Mildred, please."

"Miss Holt?" Mildred said, taking the receiver from her ear.

"Laura?" he said at the same time, swiftly sitting upright on the mattress.

Laura stood two inches away from the door for a few seconds, and then she finally strode in.

"What are you doing here? I thought you'd be gone by now." She said to him, unemotionally.

He was in his feet in a split second.

"Laura, I'm so sorry, but" he began, only to be interrupted by a very put off Laura, who shot him an ice-cold glare.

"I'm sick and tired of you being sorry, Mr. St-" She stopped before it was too late.

"Go ahead and say it," he pushed.

"You don't deserve it."

"Even so, what else can you call me, eh?" he said, knowing he was going to win this one.

"Oh, I can think of a number of things!" Mildred chimed in.

The look form both of them sent her a silent massage to but off of this one. It would almost seem as the old tNo, wait she thought again this is nothing like the old times. The phone receiver in her hand started looking more and more like the best answer.

"Very well," Laura said, "You win, Mr. Steele," But her words showed such contempt that they were the greatest insult he could have ever received.

He smiled anyway. At least that was a step forward.

"So," she continued, "for the purpose of your visit, I suppose it is not a social call, is it?"

"How perceptive of you, Miss Holt. No it isn't"

"Well then?"

He took a pace forward and forced her too look at him in the eyes.

"Before I say anything I want to say I'm sorry about the agency. Mildred just told me. I had no idea"

"I seem to recall telling you can stop being sorry about me". She said, and as she did, she shot a murderous glance at Mildred, who was looking at their exchange with great concern.

"Yes, well The reason I came to see you is well, it's hard for me to tell you, in the light of the recent events, but nevertheless, there's no one else I can turn to and-" Again he was interrupted.

"Spit it out Mr. Steele, I don't have much patience right now," She warned him.

He looked at her with pleading eyes, baring his soul as he did.

"Laura, I need your help". He finally confessed. And sat down heavily, waiting for the answer.

Laura could have sworn her mouth had dropped open. How does he dare? "How do you dare!?!" she yelled.

Steele took her answer with as much strength as he had. He needed to get Laura to help him. He then saw Mildred giving him an I-told-you-so look that spoke volumes.

"It's not what you think, let me explain"

"Well hurry up, buster!" Mildred say, again getting their scolding stare.

Laura was looking at him. Waiting. Not trusting herself to say another word. "Well?" She finally asked.

"Freddy Hawks' kidnapped my wife He wants the book. I don't think he will honor his part of the bargain if I gave him the book. I need you to help me chase him down" he said in a rush. He noticed the palms of his hands were sweaty, and his heart seemed to be about to leap out of his chest. He looked at them, willing to convey the sincerity of his plead.

Both women were staring at him in complete bewilderment. Mildred was still mouthing "his wife?" with a completely amazed look in her plump features. Laura, on the other hand, was almost feeling the steam coming out of her ears.

"How do I know you're telling the truth!?!" Laura exclaimed. "This could be just another one of your cons to get away with the book once I nail Hawks."

"It isn't a con, Laura. He's got Felicia, and he will kill her unless we stop him"

Mildred still couldn't speak, and now was mouthing: Felicia? His wife? Felicia??????????

"Not so fast on the We, Mr. Steele," she remembered him. "You do realize you have just provided me with all the evidence I need to put you in prison for at least twenty years, don't you? Mildred here can be my witness."

At this Mildred came out of her own reverie, and shook her head yes. "Right!"

"Oh, but you won't" He gambled once more.

"How can you be so sure?" She challenged. And as he stood up again, she backed off.

"Why haven't you called the police already? Why aren't they here now? Because you know what I'm saying is true. Because you know Felicia's life is at stake, and because you know it wasn't me that murdered those men in cold blood. I am not a murderer, and you know it!"

Laura was paralyzed at the intensity of his words, but Mildred had already picked up the receiver, and started dialing.

"Well, I don't." She said, "I think you're a murderous, cheating, conning bastard!"

"You said that already Mildred," He said, calmly looking at her, "and besides, you don't count. This is between Miss Holt and myself why am I feeling a strange sense of déjà vu here?

Mildred put down the receiver and looked at him, enraged.

"We played this little scene years ago, with Murphy" Laura clarified

Steele remembered. Oh how well he remembered! She had believed in him then, she had trusted him at least enough to let him prove himself by her side. They had been great team, yes they had. -And why had all of it ended?- Because of his cursed past, because of her cursed insecurities, and because of their cursed fear at what might have been. Well, he was fresh out of that kind of fear now. The terror that lurked over his head came from a completely different source. That source had to be eliminated once and for all. And he needed Laura Holt's help to do it. But would she help him?

He looked at her, seeing only disgust in her lovely face. Two years ago, he had left her to try and give her his past, and he had failed. And it had been so much easier to stay around Daniel and Felicia! Felicia had demanded nothing, and she had given herself freely to him, as she always had. But this time he had realized she did it out of love. There had been no scam involved, no con had been planed. It had just been the two of them. He knew she had been in love with him for a long time, and maybe it had been time he had stopped running and accepted what he could take. Maybe he and Laura had never stood a chance. And he had been so tired! even more tired than he was right now.- He had been so tired of fighting, so tired of being judged, so tired of not being trusted. Life was less difficult away from Laura, and given enough time, he had come to accept Remington Steele was no more. He had been a coward and he knew it. But could he really be blamed for being disappointed, heart-broken, and lonely? He was only human after all, and humans make mistakes. Now he could only hope all his stupid mistakes wouldn't cost Felicia's life. All he needed was- - He raised his eyes to hers- He saw her frown and breath heavily, clenching her fists, obviously furiously debating whether she should help him or not. He distractedly put his hand in his pocket and opened the golden watch he had been carrying for the last two years. The watch was supposed to be a gift from his father, but he had been unable to get much out of it, but a dead man in an Irish funeral. However the sound of it had become a reassuring item for him, it used to soothe his nerves. His fingers opened the lid without thinking. The sound of the sweet melody, muffled by the cloth of his pocket, was loud enough to fill the tension-filled silence of the cramped room. He was instantly grateful by the music, and suddenly felt some of his emotional strength returning.

Laura, however, was suddenly surprised by the music ringing in her ears. He looked around wanting to find the source. It seemed to come from him. -Didn't he hear it,?- she asked herself,- or am I going insane?.- The puzzled look on Mildred's expressions told her she was right.

"What's that?" she asked, curiosity getting the better of her.

At this, Steele seemed to acknowledge the music at last, but he snapped the watch closed, and left the room in silence once more.

"Nothing," he muttered, not wanting to get into that right now. Then, seeing that Laura had lost a little balance, he decided to push his luck.

"Well?" he asked. Laura's silence gave him a little hope.

Laura turned around, showing her back towards him, her fists still tightly clenched. "I'll need to talk to Murphy first, and I'll need fool-proof evidence that you're not lying"

Steele gaped. " You really mean it? You'll help me?"

"I'll only help you if what you said is true, only if Murphy approves, and only if you promise to deliver the book to the authorities once Hawks is in prison."

"I'll put that book back in the very marquee is was taken from, I promise." He brightened at the prospect. "If the book is back, there's no crime."

"You seem to forget four people were killed."

"I didn't kill them, for god's sake!" he exploded, exasperated.

Laura made no comment, but she was far from being satisfied with that.

"So," he said, relaxing a little. "It's the three of us again, isn't it?"

"And Murphy," Laura added dryly.

"Of course, and Murphy," He amended, putting one arm around both women. Laura shrugged him off at once.

"The three of us - Mildred looked at him issuing a silent warning and good old Murphy. Just like in old times" he added.

"No," Laura clarified, " it's nothing like old times"

Steele simply smiled at them. He knew it was going to be rough, and he certainly knew Laura was right. This was nothing like old times. But, for both their mental health, he was at least willing to pretend.

End of part 3

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