Silver Steele
By Gilmoradict
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One possible picture of Laura and Remington, twenty-five years after their meeting.
Pacific waves rolled gently against the beach below the house as Laura walked across the back yard toward her family. She stood for a moment, watching the man who had strolled into her life twenty-five years ago, masquerading as Remington Steele. Twenty five years. It didn't seem possible that so many years had gone by since her life had been upended by the handsome con man who had danced her around the room while she fumed. Peals of laughter interrupted her reflections. The kids. They were such vivid evidence of the passage of time. Harry and the kids were playing with several potato cannon they had built from information off the internet. Typically Laura was in the middle of this kind of fun, but she was feeling nostalgic today. She settled back into the swaying of their hammock to watch her family, and remember.
For nearly five years after their first meeting she and Mr. Steele had circled one another in a confusing dance, which had finally led at last to their ridiculous marriage on a tuna boat. It was several more weeks, struggling through mishaps in Mexico, London, and Ireland, and Harry suffering the loss his friend, mentor and father, before they had finally begun a fairytale honeymoon in Ireland. Once the barriers between them had tumbled down, Laura and Harry had been almost desperate in their need to touch, small finger twining and longer, lingering intimacies. They sought one another's bodies with an insatiable desire that insulated them from all reality but the moment, blotting out more rational thoughts about the possible consequences of their coupling. Dylan had been conceived in those heady days in Ireland. Not until weeks after they returned to LA did the two finally tumble to the meaning of the symptoms Laura had been experiencing. Some sobering conversations followed, conversations that included Mildred. Laura smiled, thinking of Mildred. The red-tape wrangling ex- IRS agent had been at her best in that battle. Months of effort had finally procured the proper documentation which identified the great detective Remington Steele as 'Harrison Daniel Chalmers'. 'Laura Holt', and 'Remington Steele' became professional names, used for business purposes only. It was a far less publicly known Laura and Harry Chalmers who quietly welcomed the arrival of 'Dylan Patrick Chalmers' just before first anniversary of their marriage.
Dylan had arrived to other changes for the Chalmers. The familiarity of their faces had made going under cover increasingly difficult. Laura's morning sickness, and subsequent incapacitation, as well as Harry's concern for both Laura and the baby's safety similarly curtailed their effectiveness as private investigators. Brainstorming led to the evolution of Remington Steele Investigations into Steele Security Systems. Harry's talent for circumventing security systems, coupled with Laura's working knowledge of the electronics made this not only a safer venue for their talents, but a lucrative one as well. Still working as partners, and including Mildred's always valued skills, they were able to juggle Dylan's care with business, and even expand and hire a small staff to install the security systems they designed. Their relative fame brought them an upscale clientele. Holt and Steele still attended the occasional gala and symphony fund raiser, keeping their public presence alive. If the well known detectives missed the danger and excitement of their previous line of work, they consoled themselves with the knowledge that security experts were far less likely to be shot at, safety they treasured more than ever once their son was born.
Those years following Dylan's arrival were happy ones. Dylan resembled both parents. His dark, silky hair fell across his brow, constantly threatened to hide his dancing brown eyes. A deep dimple appeared when he smiled. His parents treasured those smiles, his first steps and first words. He showed signs of both parent's intelligence, as well as their athleticism. Watching him grow was a delight. Loving Dylan made them greedy for more, for a brother, or a sister for this amazing child.
Laura's heart constricted as she remembered the sorrow of three tiny lives begun and ended within months of their hopeful beginnings. She had begun to loath the body which failed her in its inability to nurture a second child. Grief and anger became an unwelcome presence in their household. Harry's assurances of his love, and contentment with Laura and Dylan as all the family he needed or wanted failed to console Laura, and she grimaced as she remembered her withdrawal from those who most needed her. One night after five year old Dylan was asleep; she had been listlessly watching the news. Harry's arms were wrapped around her as if trying to pull her back to him. A segment about a little boy in foster care seeking a 'forever family' somehow penetrated the fog of her dark thoughts. Harry sensed the change in her and softly spoke of being a boy looking for a family. Was it possible they could help one of these little lads?
Within a year, David had entered in their lives, filling a space that seemed to be waiting just for him. He had survived foster care relatively unscathed, and was a happy, sweet natured child. Four years old, with skin the warm color of coffee with cream, he had springy ringlets nearly the same color as Dylan's dark hair. The two boys became constant companions, perfect siblings, and perfect sons. Laura's heart began to heal.
Emilio came to the Chalmers a year later, but was exactly the same age as David, save a few days. Emilio had been born after his mother immigrated to California from Mexico. His mother proudly became a citizen, only to lose her life to a car accident, leaving a bewildered, lonely child behind. Laura held him, stayed close with gentle reassurances, and Harry worked hard to coax the occasional smile, as did Dylan and David. Though the Chalmers kept a framed photo of Emilio's mother on their mantle, the dark eyed child quickly came to love his new Mama, and Dad, as well as his two brothers. Dylan delighted in the confused look he produced in strangers when he introduced his twin brothers.
Some years later a caseworker, familiar with the success the Chalmers were enjoying with their little blended family, brought them Isaiah, hoping they might also help him. An angry little boy of 6, who had been passed from family member to ever more distant family member, Isaiah frequently dissolved into furious rages that left caregivers unwilling to cope with him. Laura was reluctant to take the child on as well, fearing the effect his outbursts would have on Dylan, David and Emilio, especially the latter, who had already known adversity. Harry's heart went out to Isaiah, remembering that he too had been filled with anger until Daniel had found him and taken him under his wing. Laura agreed to a trial period with the boy. Isaiah was sullen and subdued when he arrived, and although a year younger than David and Emilio, already taller than they, and heavier than all of the three older boys. Harry and Laura glanced at each other, Harry reading Laura's concern that it would be difficult if not impossible to restrain the child if he acted out. Harry invited Isaiah to come and play on the beach with he and the boys, then to explore the house and yard, and finally to swim in the pool. Isaiah grudgingly participated in their activities, without speaking a word to Harry or the boys, but was put to bed that first night, having exhibited neither tantrums nor anger. Later, as Laura was quietly playing a Gershwin melody on the piano Harry had given her so many years before, she sensed a quiet presence at the doorway. Isaiah crept into the room silently, almost reverentially, sitting on the floor under her piano with his eyes closed, soaking in every note played. The child remained for the whole of her recital, until Harry finally gathered him close and carried him back to his bed. The pattern repeated over many nights, the child creeping out to listen to music, eventually sitting next to Laura to watch her hands slip over the keys. Through the years coaches would seek out the height, breadth and physical prowess of Isaiah for baseball and football teams. but music remained his passion, and within just a few years of his coming to the Chalmers he was playing piano himself every evening.
Laura watched the four boys at play with their Dad. Harry was like Peter Pan, and she Wendy to their little band of 'Lost Boys,' Harry was as much a part of the adventures and antics as the boys, while Laura supplied the steady consistency of routine and affectionate discipline into their lives. They had purchased the prerequisite gas guzzling SUV to cart the troop into the mountains to ski in the winter, and hike in the summer. They spent hours playing in the ocean, learning to surf and snorkel. There were vacations to Ireland, France and Mexico. The boys were regulars at Wallace's Lost and Found Mission as well. Many Saturday mornings found the family serving breakfast, playing games of checkers and chess, and visiting with men and women who could not quite manage the details of modern society. Harry and Laura taught them compassion by example, and the boys accepted and considered a wide spectrum of people their friends. Certainly there were moments when the boys failed their parents and themselves, but Harry and Laura were loving in their admonishment, and quick to forgive, and the boys grew into young men their parents felt incredibly blessed to have had part of their lives.
As Laura lost herself in her musings, a tiny body flung itself into the hammock next to her.
"I'm going to be bigger than all of them someday." a solemn little voice declared.
Laughing, Laura tucked a wisp of light brown hair behind an elfin ear. "You will indeed keep growing for years after your brothers have stopped, Chloe." she assured the soon to be six year old. Harry glanced over apologetically from where the group was rough housing.
At the age of 44, the boys teetering on the edge of adolescence, Laura had found herself exhausted and struggling to keep food down. Concerned when she couldn't even drag herself out of bed several mornings in a row, Harry had carted her unceremoniously off to the doctor. Shocked to find she was somehow, due to carelessness or product failure neither quite knew, pregnant again. Not daring to hope that at her advanced age she would be any more successful carrying a child full term, they began none the less to walk on egg shells. Laura spent months in bed - hardly able, truth be told, to do otherwise. The boys, even if they didn't entirely understand what was happening, became her devoted slaves. Mildred, bless her, decided that it was time for her to retire from the security business, and once again found a way to help her kids out. She came every day to sit with Laura while the little chiefs were at school, even managing to smooth things over when the ever efficient Mrs. Holt breezed by to 'put things to rights' around the Chalmers' house. Unbelievably, twenty weeks passed, twenty-five, and then thirty.
Finally after thirty-one weeks, little Chloe slipped determinedly into the world. A fighter, she spent six more weeks in the NICU, Laura and Harry taking turns sitting near her, stroking her little arm, holding her small form close. Grateful for the gift of this new life, Harry left much of his work at Steele Security to Dan Piper, who was now working with them, as well as to Mildred's nephew Bernard, who capably covered many of the business details Mildred had handled for them. Finally Chloe came home, still sleeping much of the time, guarded closely by her four older brothers. Washing vegetables for a salad one evening some weeks later Laura turned in alarm when Isaiah called out to her with panic in his voice.
"Mom, come look at Chloe's eyes!"
Laura came running, taking in the sight of Isaiah locked eye to eye with little Chloe's unblinking gaze, deep brown locked with clear eyes that seemed to made of pieces of the sky. Gathering the shocked boy to her as he stared Laura began to laugh. "I have my four brown eyed boys, Isaiah; your Daddy finally has a blue eyed girl."
Chloe remained small for her age, but seemed otherwise strong and healthy. Laura told herself she would return to work as soon as she had a bit more zip, but gradually acknowledged that perhaps as one approached fifty zip was harder to come by. She and Chloe played and explored the beach below the house, went for bike rides with Chloe in a carrier, and attended the boy's various school functions, until last year when Chloe herself finally began school. Laura now did some computer work from home, and felt a little guilty about leaving most of the client contact to Harry, who only laughed and assured her he was only making up for the years she had done all the work, and he taken all the credit.
Smiling at this memory, Laura didn't hear Harry walk softly up to mother and daughter. Scooping Chloe up to nuzzle her neck, Harry was rewarded with the child's high pitched laughter.
"What are you up to over here Miss Holt and Miss Chalmers?" Harry questioned settling himself with Chloe next to Laura on the swinging hammock.
"Daddy - why do you call Mama Miss Holt?" Chloe asked seriously. "She's not a Holt anymore you know."
"Ah, Poppet, Miss Holt is a special name for your Mama that reminds me of the time we first met, many, many years ago." Harry declared using one arm to hold Laura close, and the other to run a finger across the freckles on Chloe's little nose. "Come now, your brother is taking you to Auntie Mildred's for movie night! Off you go now."
"Harry! What are you talking about?" Laura questioned.
The boys came up then, each of them leaning over to kiss Laura as they prepared to leave, grinning and congratulating themselves on keeping this secret from their mother.
"We have an anniversary to celebrate, and the children are having a party of their own with Mildred." Harry announced with a smug grin. "I think the movie tonight is 'Evan Almighty'. We've got everything packed in the car already. Dylan, make sure everyone buckles up, call us when you get to Mildred's if you would."
"No problem-o, Dad. See you tomorrow - Have fun! Don't let Dad make you eat snails Mom." Dylan joked as an aside, all the children familiar with their father's penchant for French cuisine.
Laura struggled out of the hammock to hug each, lingering especially with little Chloe, who trotted off happily with the boys, holding Isaiah's hand as she waved over her shoulder to her mother and father. "Harry, you are amazing. I had no idea you remembered the date."
"How could I forget the most important day of my life, Miss Holt?" Harry said, pulling her back to lay beside him on the hammock once more. A quick toot of the car horn signaled the children's departure. "We have the house to ourselves until sometime tomorrow morning - a rare and marvelous opportunity, eh?"
"Harry, all things considered, you DO make a delightful Remington Steele."
"What suits your fancy, Miss Holt? A walk on the beach, dancing on the patio, adult swim in the pool?" Eyebrow slightly raised, a smiling Harry gently pulled his wife to her feet, and wrapped both arms completely around her. As slender as ever, since Chloe's birth Laura had a more delicate quality to her - as if producing that scrap of a child had cost her a bit of her self.
Her arms trapped between her chest and Harry's, Laura looked up at the still handsome man who for half of her life had been her partner. His thick hair was now streaked with silver, and his face was less angular, more Irish somehow than in their early years together, he took her breathe away just as he had at their first meeting. "Why Mr. Steele, I like the way you think."
"Come, I want to start dinner, and show you something." They walked slowly into the kitchen, arms wrapped around one another's waists.
On the island in the kitchen were two matching photo frames, sterling silver if Laura was any judge. Picking up the first, Laura drew a sharp breath in. The picture inside had been taken during that first dance they had shared at Hunter's unveiling of the JetStar 6000. They were staring at one another, or perhaps Laura was glaring, but they were young and handsome, and though neither had admitted it yet, already in love. "How did you get this!?" Laura exclaimed.
"It wasn't too hard. There were flashbulbs popping all night - Mildred helped track it down. I had never known anyone quite like you. I've not been able to imagine life without you from that moment on." Harry leaned in to slowly and thoroughly kiss his wife. And then after a long, lingering gaze, "Here, there's another."
The second picture was even more precious to Laura. Posed on the beach in front of their home were all five children. Dylan, seventeen years old, only with them for one more year before college. Laura was sure he was every bit as handsome, as his father had been at the same age, if just a little taller. David, fifteen, grinning cheerfully, a soccer ball balanced in one hand, barely still even in a photo, one arm looped around Dylan's shoulders. Emilio, also fifteen, standing on Dylan's other side, bookend to David, twinkling dark eyes, arms crossed in front of his chest, a cheeky little blighter, as his dad might say. Isaiah, fourteen though he looked older, down on one knee to create a seat for Chloe with the other, his dark skin set off by the white expanse of his smile. Chloe, five, dwarfed by her brothers, delicate, yet somehow secure in her ability to possess the love of these four giants, her blue eyes shining, chin tipped up toward the photographer.
Tears filled Laura's eyes. Her familiar dimple creased her cheek. "It's been amazing, Harry. They're amazing, aren't they? You're amazing. We're incredibly lucky you know."
"I know I am," Harry whispered into Laura's hair.
The End

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