More Bonds of Steele
Part 1

Time: After Bonds. I couldn't help myself and I joined the ranks of the many.
Summary: Like I said, just another postscript to Bonds. I saw the episode and was sitting at the computer, and was in a depressed mood to boot. Feedback is welcome, though this isn't exactly the epitome of talent. I'm not sure whether to add more or let it stand on its own where you can make up the rest; you tell me. Whether or not I finish depends on feedback.

Laura groaned and hit her head softly against the wall. It was hard to imagine that only two weeks ago, she'd been sitting right over there on her sofa, kissing him after an evening spent in idle chit chat and another one of his scrumptious meals. Then, just two days after that...and she still remembered the entire debacle in painfully stark detail. If she'd just been paying as much attention at the time as she did now, maybe she would have noticed what a wreck he was when it looked like he'd be deported for lack of a bride. Later on the boat, he'd tried to joke about it, and that was all she'd paid attention to. The idea that he could just toss out a flippant laugh when her agency -- and her partner -- was circling the drain. Why hadn't she seen through it? She'd known for four years that humour was his defense mechanism; it should have kicked in. But she was just too worn out and angry. And scared. Scared that it wouldn't work out, scared that they'd be caught. Scared most of all that two years would end, and he'd go back to his apartment, and it wouldn't mean anything, he still wouldn't love her.
She didn't tell him that, no. She told him it was the worst day of her life. After they got off the boat and to her loft, where she insisted on staying even though he had to stay too for the appearance, she delivered a burning harangue to him. Every time he tried to get a word in edgewise, or calm her down, she struck him -- both verbally and physically. In the recesses of her mind, she knew she had to stop and be rational, but she refused to let it surface. Anger was all she wanted to think about; on the shallowest levels of her mind she convinced herself that she hated him and wanted him to know in every way. Small voices screamed at her to stop, stop shouting and hurting him, stop convincing him she never felt anything real for him, and she ignored them with abandon. Finally she'd gotten into the shower, still yelling for a few minutes more, just because she felt like it and didn't want to care about him. Then she'd headed straight to her bed without even checking to see if he was sleeping on the sofa or whatever.
Laura surprised herself by actually falling asleep. Part of it was that she wouldn't let herself be wakeful, refused to let him keep her awake. The other side was that she really was flat out exhausted. That, plus one of the nagging emotions she didn't let herself think about -- that she really was hurting, and had hurt him more than she could have dreamed. She couldn't bear to let it sit on her chest. That was why, when she woke up two hours later to see her alarm clock silently beaming 2:02, she'd decided just to give up. Maybe she wouldn't actually apologize, but she could make up with him under the pretense of figuring out how they were going to handle two years of marriage. Fake marriage, actually. If he'd asked her before...but no. He'd told her he wouldn't have. He didn't love her. That was a dead end; the smart thing to do -- the rational thing -- was to go out there and see if he was awake and ready to set up a plan.
The couch, however, was empty. And so was the kitchen he'd spent so much time in, the dishes drying on the counter as though he'd just put them there. In a way they were really more his than hers; only he knew how to garnish them with any sort of worthy viands. She'd checked everywhere else, even gone outside the loft to see if he'd gone for a breath of fresh air. Calling his apartment and the office did little good, and Fred was on a much-needed vacation that Steele himself had insisted he take.
Finally she'd fallen onto her couch, exhausted from searching for any clue or sign of him. Terrible, lonely thoughts were speeding through her brain so quickly she could only make out impressions of them before another one jumped in behind its fading shadow. She didn't even bother trying to reassure herself that he'd gone to the apartment to get something and didn't hear the phone, or that he was only taking a walk. The emptiness in the room seemed so final and forbidding. She could look into a chair he'd sat in or a place he'd once stood, and couldn't even conjure up the image. It was as though they were there, but the room itself, and everything she'd shouted at him, was in a race with her memory to lock them off, and was always one image ahead of her. Everything was exactly the same as it had been the night before, no trace of his being there tonight remained. The sofa seemed unused, the kitchen ceased to recall him, the table was clear...except for one folded piece of paper.
She'd unfolded it slowly, knowing that it would be a bill or a solicitation, nothing more, yet not wanting to deprive herself of this one chance. She gaped as she read it, and went a bit dizzy.

Dear Laura, it read in his crabbed, slanted handwriting, I'm sorry about everything that happened.
After that came a cross-out. The whole paper was full of them, every few words.
I know I've made a mess of things. I just didn't know how badly until you told me. I thought maybe we could make this work. I realize now that you only did it out of obligation, and so maybe it's better if we don't even try. You're right, we shouldn't. It'll only break our spirit and our commitment to each other...I would tell you it'd break my heart, but that happened already, when you told me you would have said no. I tried to tell you about the problem  with Immigration at first, you have to believe me. But I thought about it for a while, and I realized that you couldn't help me, and in asking you to I might jeopardize our (scratched out and replaced with your) Agency. I could never do that to you. I know it means more to you than anything else, certainly more than I do. I love you, Laura. I was just too stupid to realize it wasn't a mutual feeling. I don't blame you for not wanting to be with me, or for anything. It's been painfully obvious for the last four years that you don't love me, and so I should have left the first time Estelle Becker summoned me. I'm sorry to be responsible for the worst day of your life, but don't worry, I can fix it for you. I'm going to go ahead and leave, like I should have, and I'll leave a letter explaining to Ms. Becker what's happened, and another one announcing Remington Steele's passing on of the Agency to Miss Laura Holt, who he recommends highly as a detective. You can change what you want, and mail them when you like. I'm just sorry I can' t do any more for you like you've done for me, and I wish that you'd never have met me. Maybe then you would be the one in the limelight, where you deserve to be, and will be soon. I look forward to reading about you someday, even if I can't be with you myself. 


Two weeks later, back in the present. Laura glanced down at the paper again. It had been creased and re-creased, almost to the point of falling apart. She'd tried over and over again to contact anyone she knew who was connected to his past. Daniel, Monroe, the lady at the bowling place who knew pickpockets, Weasel from the pool bar, even, a couple of times, Felicia. Those last calls were always made with dread. So far, none of them was quite sure where he was. Felicia insinuated that she did, but Laura doubted it, since she'd talked to Monroe and he'd said Mick didn't really talk with her anymore. Daniel didn't know, or wasn't telling. Last night, though, he'd called and said he might have a lead, from an old friend in Italy.

Laura turned. The clock read 6:27. Her plane left in an hour and a half. She put down the note and grabbed her bag, and started to walk out the door. But before she left, she turned back around and picked up the note, contemplating it for a moment before gently slipping it in her pocket and walking out the door.
End Part 1?

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