More Bonds of Steele
Part 3
by Jen

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.

Sandra was getting a little worried. She tapped her fingers impatiently against the kitchen wall in Daniel's London flat, hoping that someone would pick up soon at Salvatore's villa. The brunette that had been stubbornly refusing to move from the living room kept sending her suspicious looks, and while Sandra wasn't exactly sure what a private investigator wanted with her tenant and occasional acquaintance over tea, it probably wasn't anything that would be good advertising for the apartment house.
She hung up the phone with a click louder than intended, and the woman -- Holt, she was fairly sure -- snapped her head up.
Sandra winced at the sharp tone. "I'm sorry, Miss Holt; Mr. Chalmers' friend doesn't seem to be picking up."
"What friend? There was an address? Who did you just call?" The rapid-fire questions seemed almost to have an air of desperation in them.
"Er, well, when Mr. Chalmers left, he told me that he wouldn't be back for a few weeks because he had to see some chap in Italy, and he left this number for an emergency…" She looked worried for a moment, remembering his instructions. "But he did mention that I wasn't to give it to anyone who came looking, no matter what, on account of that it was…well, I don't quite remember that bit."
"While I understand your apprehensions, I'm an old friend of the family, and I really don't think it would-"
Be firm, Sandra told herself. Don't want to lose a paying customer like Daniel Chalmers, and such a gentleman too. "Look, Miss Holt, I'm terribly sorry about this but I do have a certain respectful relationship to retain with all my tenants, and I'm sure you're the dearest chum their family has ever known, but I'm afraid I can't give you this number." She placed the slip of paper back on the mantel. "Is there anything I can get you before you leave?"
Miss Holt looked about to refuse, then suddenly smiled at Sandra for the first time. "Why yes, actually I would really appreciate a drink, just whatever's there…"
When Sandra returned to the living room with a generous cup of tea, Miss Holt took a very small sip and politely thanked her for her time, leaving in a seemingly much better mood.
Odd, thought Sandra. Those private investigator types were always like that, though. At least, the ones on all the late channels. But at least she'd been firm, like Eric was always on her about, and not given away Mr. Chalmers' private information. She turned to bring the unwanted tea back to the kitchen, and paused on her way to pick the telephone number off the mantle. There was another odd thing, she mused. She could've sworn she'd left it face down, and it wasn't anymore. Just old age creeping closer again, she supposed. Better make another appointment…
"Alright, I'll take that and call. What have you?"
"Full house, queens over threes."
"Two pair. Damn, I can't believe I'm losing to an eleven year old."
"Well, you shouldn't have taught me, then. Up for another round, Harry?"
Chiara, overhearing the exchange on her way to the deck, scolded her. "Corinna! I tell you often, address elders with some respect!"
Harry intervened on behalf of one of his favorite "nieces". "Chi, it's alright, I told her it was ok to call me Harry, so don't-"
"And you! You are teaching my children English curses! You may not do that if you wish to eat tonight, you know."
Harry looked meek. "Ah, sorry Chi, won't happen again. Anyway, Italian curses are worse than anything we English could ever think up, you know. That one that the old man two streets down was yelling the other day…"
"You are contradicting me?"
"Absolutely not. NO. Forget it."

"Good. Supper is in five minutes, so finish soon." As soon as she turned the corner she broke into a huge grin and tried to keep from laughing. Rather unsuccessfully, prompting Daniel to pass by and look her up and down, arms akimbo.
"Anything in particular, my dear, or has the stress of trying to head an enormous family of Italian rascals finally gotten to you?"
"It's just that Harry-. That poor boy is always so worried he'll do something wrong in my house. I just tease him, you know. I'm glad he is so much better, though."
"No, it's just that he's positively terrified of you. Awe, I think. And I'm glad too; he's certainly not recovered, but he's at least a fourth of the way towards being able to act completely normal. Nice to see him occasionally playing with the children. He's rather more fond of them than he admits, really; I wouldn't be surprised if he ever mentioned wanting some of his own."
"If that woman ever treats him right again, no?"

Daniel sighed heavily. "Yes, that's pretty much the case."
"Good. It is easily fixed. We find her, bring her here, and if she doesn't love him immediately, we will force her to eat my brother's cooking, eh?"
"Good Lord, don't tell me he made any of the dinner tonight! I don't think I could stand the sight of the table!" Both of them laughed, and then Chiara shoved some plates into his hand and so recruited him for table-setting before he could protest.
"Magdalena! Go ring the supper-bell for the men on the boats!" Chiara presided over the kitchen, directing the numerous family members and others to different jobs bringing out the feast. In the midst of it all, the telephone rang, barely noticeable over the intense clamor. Chiara made her way to it with more than slight effort, and picked it up with a quick greeting. She repeated herself, not sure if she heard anyone speaking.

"Are you there? Who is this?"
Very faintly, she heard a woman trying to make herself understood, but all she caught was something about a man and a city in America. She continued to try and hear her for a moment, then her two-year-old boy knocked into the phone cord and pulled it off the counter. It disconnected with a crash, and she shrugged and put the whole thing back before scooping up her baby and leaving for the dining room. Whoever it was, they didn't have any good manners anyway. Who on earth would have reason to call right at the start of suppertime in Italy?
More than a country away, a near-desperate woman sank into an impersonal hotel sofa and put her head in her hands.
End Part 3
To Part 4

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