- by SteeleChic
- Time: A
fourth season story, set after "Sensitive Steele" but
before "Bonds of Steele".
- Note: Working
under the guise of the fact that Laura says she's 27 in season
1, and in season 2 (ie when Laura is 28) Frances says she and
Donald have been married 15 years, we find out in season 4 that
Frances got engaged 6 months after Mr Holt left, so 28 less 15
years and 6 months, leaves us with an approximate age of 13.
Laura and Remington had been building up to a spectacular argument
all day. Constantly griping and snapping at each other, they
had forced poor Mildred into skulking around the office, barely
venturing more than two words at a time to either of them, but
now it was 4:30 and she'd already left for the day to go bowling
with her league.
It had been a long and harrowing week, a particularly bothersome
case had kept them busy from go to whoa, and now, late on Friday
afternoon, Laura was busily trying to complete the necessary
paperwork so that she could forget about it and enjoy a quiet
She didn't know what Remington was doing in the other office,
but a glance at the lit up telephone told her that it probably
wasn't work. Every time she'd looked around this week, he'd been
on the damn phone.
Laura sighed. She was tired and fed up and, on top of that, she
was hormonal. She guessed it to be a matter of days before that
time of the month, although she really couldn't be certain, but
more than a couple of tell tale signs were present. She was emotional
and high strung and her libido was raging.
It didn't help matters any that she and Remington had spent a
wonderfully romantic evening a few nights ago. That is, until
Laura, as per usual, had allowed her head to win the battle with
her heart and had gone home, a fact that had left her confused
and very, very frustrated.
She was not in the mood to go out to Tarzana for dinner with
Frances and Donald, but Frances was insisting that it was ridiculous
for them to see each other no more often than they did when she
lived in Connecticut, especially since she now lived a mere 20
minutes away. Laurie Beth's pleading on the phone had been Laura's
undoing. Of course, Laurie Beth had also been asking for her
Uncle Remington, but Laura didn't want to burden him with her
She didn't know he'd entered her office until she felt his hands
on her shoulders and his lips on the nape of her neck. Shrugging
him off in mild annoyance, she got up out of her chair and moved
away. When would he learn that sometimes he couldn't simply kiss
His hands fell back to his sides in an action of dejection and
frustration combined, "SO we're back to that are we?"
he asked her bitterly.
"Back to what?!" Laura screeched, rounding on him,
his simple but accusing question all the motivation she needed
to vent her pent up emotions.
"Back to us pretending that we don't mix business with pleasure,
back to you holding the reins in this relationship, back to square
one," he fired at her, "What happened to the other
night? I thought we made some progress?"
"The other night was the other night," Laura lied airily,
trying to dismiss him.
"What goes on inside that head of yours, Laura?" he
wondered aloud, clearly baffled, "I've said it before and
I'll say it again, you are, without a doubt, the most ridiculous
woman I've ever met. Why are you so afraid of change?"
"What?!" she shrieked, unprepared for his psychological
"You're terrified of moving forward and yet, equally so,
you don't want us to go back," he accused, "So we're
constantly trapped in limbo, and I refuse to believe that this
endless swinging makes you happy."
Laura knew there was no point denying it, so she chose instead
to turn the tables and launch a counter attack.
"Me?" she argued, "What about you? You're just
as afraid to change as I am!"
She was, of course, referring to his difficulty in making a commitment,
and this had not escaped his attention, but, just as she had
been unprepared for his accusations, he was equally as unprepared
"There!" he feigned victory, "You see what I mean,
here we go again, covering the same tired ground. You want guarantees,
but how do I know that they'll erase your fears if I give them
She stood dumbfounded, hot angry tears welling in her eyes, but
she blinked them back, refusing to let him see her cry.
He wanted nothing more than to go to her and take her in his
arms, but he wasn't sure he could take another rejection. His
voice softened as he asked her the one question whose answer
he truly needed to hear,
"How do I know it still won't be enough for you, Laura?"
His question had her reeling. She needed time to herself, time
"This isn't getting us anywhere," she ventured, "We
both need time to cool off, to think..." she trailed off
as she collected her purse and coat.
"Fine, Laura," he told her, disappointment evident
in his tone, "Go. Run away. I'll still be here on Monday
Regretting it instantly, she turned her back on him and fled
the office in a rush, tears blinding her as she tried in vain
to keep them in check. She knew it was dangerous to drive while
crying but she didn't seem to be able to stop them falling. They
still flowed as she stood under the soothing spray of the shower
until she forced herself to get it together.
Laura did the best she could with her make up but her red rimmed
eyes did not escape her sister's attention, much less the fact
that, tonight, Laura seemed to be little more than a hollow shell
of her usually chipper self. Sure, she went through the motions
of pleasant dinner conversation, listening to Danny and Mindy,
playing with Laurie Beth and politely asking Frances about school,
but, with the practised eye of a mother, Frances could tell her
sister's facade was only skin deep.
Actually, Frances was looking forward to testing out some of
the things she'd learned. Instead of studying to be a dental
assistant like she'd originally intended, Frances had decided
that, having been a mother and wife for so long, her skills as
such had left her rather well suited for child psychology. Granted,
her sister was no longer a child, but, Frances has just bought
a book on teenagers, in anticipation of Danny's thirteenth birthday,
and, for one reason or another, she had a sneaking suspicion
that, deep down inside, Laura still harboured the pain of a hurting
Frances was tactful enough to wait until they were alone before
she said anything. Laura had been so good to her when they'd
first moved to California, she could at least try to return the
favour. She waited until Donald had gone to put the children
to bed before she went out to the porch, where Laura was nursing
a mug of coffee.
"Laura?" Frances began, placing a hand on her sister's
shoulder. Laura nearly jumped out of her skin, "Penny for
"What?" Laura played dumb, "Oh, no, it's nothing."
and she waved her hand in the air for added emphasis.
"Laura, I don't believe you," Frances' voice was filled
with concern, "What's wrong? Please let me try to help you."
Laura looked at her sister carefully. Growing up, they'd never
been particularly close. Apart from the six year age gap, there
had also been their mother's continual comparison of her to her
older sister Frances, the paragon of virtue, she who could do
no wrong, or so it seemed to a child.
On the other hand, Laura didn't have all that many people who
were close to her. There was Remington, at least most of the
time, there was Mildred, although Laura had a fair suspicion
that Mildred's loyalty would lie stronger with her `Mr Steele',
Murphy was too far away, as was her mother, but the two of them
had never been close either. Come to think of it, Frances was
about the only person Laura could think of who should be guaranteed
to be on her side.
Frances eased down onto the porch swing beside Laura, still looking
at her with a mixture of love and concern written on her face.
Laura opened her mouth to speak but instead she started to cry,
tears once again flowing freely down her cheeks.
"Laura, my God! What is it?" Frances was more concerned
now, she had never seen her sister like this before.
"I know you think I have all the answers," Laura choked
out, "But I don't!"
"Oh, honey, you know I didn't mean that," Frances said,
putting her arms around Laura and offering her a comforting hug.
She felt a pang of guilt over the old accusation but, at the
time she had been a little stressed and, straight afterward,
she and Laura had shared a conversation that Frances thought
had helped bring them closer to each other.
Laura returned her sister's hug gratefully, still crying softly,
but, after a moment, she pulled back, laughing a little through
the tears and sniffles.
"You know, it's funny," she said with a wry smile,
"The last person whose shoulder I cried on like this, was
Mr Ste-" she took a deep breath, "Steele," she
finished shakily and fresh sobs began.
Oh great! She thought to herself. She couldn't say his name without
bursting into tears, she couldn't have him touch her without
going up in flames and she couldn't go a day without battling
her constant feelings of fear and confusion.
Haltingly, Laura told Frances about their week, their date and
how their week had culminated in their screaming match earlier
"OK, so what?" Frances asked, "So you had an argument.
Can't you just apologise?"
"It's not the argument, Frances, we bicker all the time,
it's just how we are," Laura told her, "It's what we
said. And the way we seem to keep saying it."
"Well, what did you say?" Frances prompted.
Laura relayed their heated conversation, word for word, to her
"Oh, Laura," Frances sighed sympathetically.
"What?" Laura sniffed.
"Oh, Laura," Frances said again.
"What?!" Laura demanded,"Frances what does that
mean? `Oh Laura'?" Her tears subsided and she began to bristle
at her sister's vague remarks.
"What do you want from him?" Frances asked her, already
reasonably sure of the answer and formulating an opinion.
"I want to know he's not just staying around until we -
uh - you know, experience the ultimate moment," Laura
said, mentally shuddering at the tacky euphemism.
"Honey, no man would stick around for four years just for
that," Frances replied.
"How do you know?" Laura argues, growing more heated,
"You and Donald waited until you were married."
Frances laughed, "That's what you think. Remember the first
convention I went to when we'd just gotten engaged?"
"Ah, yes!" Laura exclaimed bitterly, "The one
Mother never found out about. You're still Little Miss Perfect
in her eyes!"
"Do you love him?" Frances asked quietly.
"Yes, of course!" Laura snapped and then she gasped.
Frances smiled, mission accomplished.
Laura's head was spinning. It was the first time she'd admitted
that to herself.
"That's not fair!" she accused, "You tricked me
into saying that."
Frances shook her head with a smile, "I didn't force you
to say anything you don't already feel," she told Laura.
Laura pulled a face. It was supposed to be a glare but her heart
wasn't in it, she was too busy still pondering her own admission.
"Now, tell me what you want for you, Laura?"
"I want him to make a commitment, to me, to us, to this
life," Laura said in a small voice.
"Do you really?" Frances queried gently, "Have
you made one to him? Maybe you're afraid to commit, too. Deep
down you have this fear that all relationships are painful and
that they don't last. First our parents and then Wilson."
"Frances, what is this?" Laura cried, a little incredulous,
"You were supposed to be on my side!"
"I am on your side," Frances told her, "I'm
trying to help you get what you want, but in order for me to
do that, I need you to shut up and listen."
Laura blinked, taken aback by her sister's attitude, "OK,"
she squeaked out.
"Oh, Laura," Frances sighed, her tone softening. She
took her baby sister's hand, "Daddy leaving hurt you so
much more than me. I was older, I had Donald....You were still
so young, so vulnerable."
"I was thirteen," Laura said.
"Just barely," Frances added, "Daddy meant the
world to you. I'm so sorry Laurie, I should have been there to
help you through it. God knows Mother was no help, she never
even faced her own feelings, how on earth was she supposed to
help you deal with yours?"
"Don't say that Frances, you had your own life to lead,"
Laura told her.
"Did I?" Frances asked, "Sometimes I wonder if
I am living my own life. You don't know how much I envied you
Laura, your freedom to be who you wanted to be, do what you wanted
"Me?" Laura repeated, "All I ever heard was why
can't you be more like your sister Frances. I was never good
enough for Mother."
"I suppose, but I was so busy trying to make Mom happy after
Daddy left, I forgot what it was that I really wanted,"
Frances explained, "Oh, Donald makes me happy, and I wouldn't
trade the kids for anything in the world, but my psychology course
is so interesting, little things that make me think what if...or
maybe I could've..."
Laura sat in silence, gazing compassionately at Frances.
"But enough about me, we're talking about you. You keep
telling me that you want him to commit to you but what would
you do if he suddenly did, if he told you that he loved you or
even if he wanted to marry you? It wouldn't change anything Laura,
you'd still be waiting to wake up one day and find him gone.
Mom and Dad taught you that there ARE no guarantees, so how can
you ask him for them?"
Laura digested the information her sister had presented her with,
so eerily similar to the question Remington himself had asked
her that afternoon. But Frances was far from finished.
"You need to see that it's not just him standing in your
way," Frances told Laura softly, "That it's you, your
fear of abandonment and your distrust of men."
"But, it's what keep me from being hurt!" Laura objected
strenuously in her own defense.
"No Laura," Frances said firmly, "It's what keeps
Again Laura was struck by the similarity between what her sister
was telling her and what Remington himself had said in the past.
Hadn't he told her at the Sensitivity Spa that it was her inhibitions
that stood between them? Hadn't he accused her of projecting
her father's faults onto him?
"Do you really think so, Frances?" she asked, her voice
wavering, "Is it really all my fault?"
"Of course not, honey," Frances exclaimed, "I'm
not saying he has no faults, no demons, but you need to face
your own first. It's not fair of you to lump him with all the
blame. Now, I don't know your Remington Steele all that well,
but, just like there's something in your past preventing you
from committing to him, did you ever stop to think that there
may be something similar in his?"
Laura was stunned and just a little ashamed to realise that she
hadn't thought of that at all. What did she know about his past
really? Not that much.
"I'm not saying you're the only one at fault," Frances
went on, "I'd say it's pretty clear he fears commitment
too, but, like you, he probably has a very good reason. Isn't
knowing that he wants to commit and that he wishes he could,
a step in the right direction?"
Laura's eyebrows dipped as these words broke through her foggy
mind with startling clarity. She raised her clear gaze to Frances.
"I didn't know he wanted to commit," she told her sister
carefully, "How did you?"
This surprised Frances a little and, as she answered Laura, she
wondered if she was giving too much away, but, she'd come this
far, and there was no point in stopping now.
"Remington told Donald that he envied Donald's commitment
to me and the family. He pretty much admitted that he wished
he could do the same."
"He admitted that to Donald?" Laura repeated, more
to herself than to Frances, "But not to me?"
Frances stood up, her job was done, it was up to Laura now to
take the information and put it to use. Touching a hand to Laura's
shoulder, she said quietly,
"Maybe you just needed to give him the chance." And
she disappeared back into the house.
Laura set the swing into gentle motion as she finished her coffee
and thought about what Frances had said. She jumped when she
heard Donald's voice.
"Everything all right out here?"
"Fine, Donald," she answered softly, "I think
everything's fine." She stood up and placed a vague kiss
to Donald's cheek, "Thanks for dinner."
A baffled Donald followed his sister-in-law back into the house
and watched as she collected her purse and coat and said goodbye
"Goodbye Frances," she said, hugging her sister tightly,
"And thank you," she whispered.
Frances watched her little sister leave in a rush, only the knowing
smile on her face assuring Donald that everything was OK.
Laura spent the drive home from Tarzana in silence. At least
a dozen different questions flooded her mind as she wondered
what WOULD change if he told her what she thought she needed
Was Frances' amateur psychological evaluation right? If Laura
was brutally honest with herself, she would have to admit that,
in all likelihood, it was alarmingly accurate.
Did she trust him? Well, this one was harder to answer but, either
way, it certainly wasn't his fault. She did trust him enough
to believe that he would never intentionally hurt her.
Did she love him? This one was easy, a resounding yes. Laura
had never been so sure of something in her life.
Was she satisfied holding him at arms length? Of course not.
She desperately wanted to be able to release her fears, to hold
him close and to become partners in every way.
And finally, was she happy? Well, no, but she knew a way she
Abruptly, Laura changed her course and headed for his apartment.
She never had a second thought the whole way there and, only
when she stood in the hallway and had already pressed the buzzer,
did her resolve begin to weaken. Laura realised that, although
she now understood her fears and what was driving them, being
able to put them aside was another matter altogether. She balked
at laying her heart bare to him, at being the first to open up,
in case her fears were actually well founded. What if he didn't
feel the same? Could her fragile heart cope with another rejection?
No, putting her fears aside was definitely something that would
take time to achieve. She only hoped he would be there by her
side to help her do it.
Before she had a chance to back down, the door swung open slowly
and he filled the doorway, staring down at her.
She gazed up at him with a mixture of hope and apprehension as
he stepped aside silently, swinging his arm wide, motioning for
her to enter. She watched his face, hoping it would hold some
indication of what she could expect or of how he was feeling.
It was a foolish hope because Laura knew he was just as adept
as she at concealing his true feelings. His expression was difficult
to read. Calm? Sure, and his eyes were clear and steady, she
saw no anger in them at her earlier behaviour, merely open expectation
as he waited for her to break the almost oppressive silence.
Laura walked into the apartment and dropped her purse and coat
onto the couch, but she didn't sit down, she kept pacing around
the coffee table until she stood in front of the fireplace.
She turned to find him watching her intently as he stood leaning
with both hands onto the arm of the sofa before him. The silence
was killing her but she knew it was up to her to break it. She
had come to him.
"I...ah..." Laura began hesitantly, "I realised
I never answered your question this afternoon."
His penetrating gaze would have unnerved her if he wasn't so
damned attractive. In the time since she'd last seen him, he'd
removed his jacket and tie and undone the first few buttons of
"You really want to know why I'm so afraid to change what
we have?" It wasn't really a question but he nodded in response.
In truth, Laura was glad he didn't speak, fearing she would lose
her nerve at the slightest interruption.
"The only two major changes in my life occurred when a man
that I loved walked out of my life," she said quietly, "First,
I watched my father walk away from our family when I was only
thirteen, then, years later, I came home to find that Wilson
had packed up his things and left me. Two unrelated events that
hurt me, much more than even I realised, and left me with some
irrational idea that relationships are painful and don't last,"
Laura paused, "I know you're not them, I KNOW that, but...they
left cuts so deep....fears so well entrenched, irrational though
they may be, but they're still there and I need to try and overcome
them, I'm ready to try and overcome them but..."
She swallowed and licked her lips, bringing a hand up to her
forehead in a gesture he recognized as signaling her confusion
and inner turmoil. He watched her carefully, his heart ached
to see her struggling with her inner demons but at the same time
he was aware that it was something she needed to do by herself.
While he wanted nothing more than to go to her there and then,
he knew better than to interrupt her.
She went on, "I suppose what I'm trying to explain, is that
I'm terrified of loving and losing one more time," her voice
cracked. She crossed her arms around herself in a protective
gesture and turned her head away, fighting to keep control.
"Oh, Laura," Remington sighed. That certainly seemed
to be the catchphrase for the evening, "It seems we're more
alike than you realise." His mouth twisted into a wry smile
as he ruefully shook his head. He straightened and shoved his
hands into his pockets. Moving away from behind the couch, taking
only a few steps, he stopped in front of the coffee table.
When she would have asked what he meant, he went on, "Since
you answered my question, I think the least I could do would
be to answer yours," he began, "You want to know why
I'm afraid of change? Laura, everything I've ever known has been
change, nothing in my life has been stable until now. As a child,
I was bounced around from place to place, if I ever got the chance
to put down roots, they were quickly ripped away from me,"
he paused, slowly coming to a few realisations about himself,
"I suppose it was for that reason, later in life, that I
chose not to put down any roots at all, to never stay in one
place longer than a few months, sometimes no more than a few
weeks. I never found anything, or met anyone, who made me want
to. Until I met you Laura," he waited a moment, giving her
time to take in what he'd said, what he was trying to say, before
he came to the crux of his argument, "I'm afraid this is
too good to be true. So you see, I too, am afraid to love and
She drank in his response eagerly, finally getting a glimpse
into his soul, but there was still so much she didn't know. She
felt freer than she had in a long time, like the shackles had
finally been lifted from her heart. She decided to take their
moments of complete honesty a step further, it was only fair
that he knew exactly what it was that kept her tiny flicker of
"But there's more," Laura told him, "I'm afraid
of the unknown, of what your past might bring. I mean, maybe
you have a wife and kids stashed away somewhere, maybe you're
wanted for some crime in some other city, maybe there's another
Anna, someone to drop into your life and take you away from me,
someone who has a greater claim on you than I do."
"No-one has a greater claim on me than you, Laura. How can
you even think that? You created me, my whole existence as I
know it, I owe to you. You changed my life, you saved my life,
you ARE my life," he told her passionately.
"I only changed your name," Laura said quietly, "And
I don't even know what it was before I changed it. Sometimes
I get the feeling I don't really know who you are." There,
finally she had come to the root of her fears.
"How can you say that Laura?" he asked her, "I
am a man who enjoys impossible challenges. A man who isn't afraid
of your wild side but who is afraid you'll never trust his intentions.
A man who, over the last four years, has changed his whole life
and learned more than he ever thought possible. But above all,
I am a man who loves you to distraction and has done since the
day he met you. Laura, if you don't know me by now, then you
Laura watched him from across the room. She gulped and opened
her mouth but no words came out. Had he just said what she thought
He was right, of course. She did know him. He was Remington Steele,
her Remington Steele, everything she'd envisioned when she created
him and more. And what did it matter what was in his past so
long as his present, and his future, were here, with her?
"Laura?" he questioned gently, for this was her show.
He waited for some indication of what to do next. He'd just bared
his soul to her and the woman was standing there in silence.
The chasm stretched between them and it felt like an eternity
as he waited for her response, waited and hoped, hardly daring
even to hope that she might love him in return. Part of his concern
over the last four years had been his inability to trust that
someone, even someone as wonderful as he knew Laura to be, could
love him, the scars left on a young boy who had never been loved
by anyone. How could one who had never been loved, except perhaps
by Daniel, be expected to show love in return. He hadn't had
experience to teach him how, he'd had to muddle through on his
own, and he was suddenly afraid that he'd made a right royal
mess of it. He watched her carefully as tears began to slide
down her cheeks, but through them, she smiled.
"I love you," she said simply. Relief flooded him.
He was across the room in two strides, clasping her face in his
hands and kissing her sweetly.
Flames. Laura sighed against his lips, wrapping her arms around
him and opening her mouth to his kiss.
"I'm tired of being afraid," she whispered when they
paused for breath, "I love you and I want to move forward."
"We'll do it together," he promised her before reclaiming
Their passion ignited quickly, the way it always did. Remington
lowered his hands from her face down to her back and around her
rib cage and he waited for the instinctive stiffening of her
back that always preceded her retreat from him.
It never came. Instead, she arched closer to him, her own hands
splaying firmly and moving down to tug at his shirt.
Moving deftly, Remington swept Laura up into his arms, carried
her into the bedroom and lowered them both gently onto the bed.
He rained tender kisses over her forehead, eyes, cheeks and nose
before returning to capture her lips passionately.
Remington lifted his head to look down at her, "This will
change everything," he whispered, giving her one last chance
to back out. He didn't want to force her if she wasn't truly
ready to take the next step.
Laura smiled. Looking up at him lovingly, she touched her fingertips
to his cheek, "Do you promise?"
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