It's a Small Steele
by Nancy Eddy
Contribution for the Fic Challenge on the RSFic list at YahooGroups.

Kevin Masters was sitting at his dining room table, poring over a set of blueprints, when the knock came at the door of his house trailer, and the small terrier who had moments before been laying quietly at his side began to bark.

"Quiet, Dolittle," Kevin said, picking the dog up as he opened the door. "Well. Mr. Steele. This is a surprise."

"Just thought I'd drop by," Steele said. "See how you were doing."

Kevin stood there, looking at Remington Steele as the dog growled once more. "Mind your manners, Dolittle," he admonished the animal. "Mr. Steele saved your life."

The younger man eyed the dog warily. "Can I come in?"

"Of course," Kevin said, stepping back to allow the Steele to enter the trailer. Closing the door, he saw the blue eyes focusing on the papers spread out on the table. "Just keeping a hand in," he said. "Would you like some tea?" He put Dolittle down on the floor.

"Don't go to any bother," Steele said, studying the plans himself, his head tilted in thought. "The skylight's not the best access to the place," he noted. "I'd suggest the air shaft."

Kevin smiled as he moved into the kitchen. "I was just making a cup for myself. No problem making two. You're right about the plans." Steele nodded as Kevin poured two cups of tea. "Black, right?"

"You remembered," Steele said, taking the cup and saucer from him. "Thank you."

"Details are important," Kevin told him, indicating that they move into the living area and sit down. Dolittle began to growl again, tugging at Steele's pants leg as Steele sat down. "Lay, Dolittle," Kevin commanded, and the dog did as it was told, but only an inch from Steele's shoe, where he would be able to attack should Steele move at all.

"I still don't know why he doesn't like me," Steele sighed. "I usually get along with dogs."

"It *is* odd," Kevin agreed, sipping his tea. "Dolittle's usually very friendly. Too friendly sometimes. Only known one other person that he took that much of a dislike to."

"Really?" Steele asked, one cautious eye still on the dog as it lifted its head to look up at him as he spoke.

"An old friend from my army days," Kevin said. "Ran into him after almost thirty five years just before I left London for the last time five years ago. Dolittle attacked him just like he does you. Funny thing, though, is that he had a dog of his own. Cocker spaniel. He and Dolittle got along fine. It was the dog's owner Dolittle couldn't stand."

Steele laughed. "A friend of mine has a Cocker. Wonderful dog."

"This one had a strange name. Something out of Shakespeare, I think."

Steele paused, looking at him over the rim of the cup. "Shakespeare?"

"Monty or- something like that-"

"Montague?" Steele asked.

"Yes. That's it-" Kevin stopped. "How did you know that?"

"That's the name of my friend's dog. This- old mate of yours, - what was his name?"

"Daniel Chalmers," Kevin identified. He saw the look of surprise on Steele's face. "Don't tell me- "

"I've known Daniel for almost twenty years. He's never mentioned that he knew le Renard," Steele said, using that tone of voice that Kevin had noticed on previous occasions- a tone that sounded like he was talking about a childhood hero.

"He didn't know that I was le Renard," Kevin pointed out. "He and I lost track of each other after the war." Kevin chuckled. "As I said, we met during the War. I was there for Uncle Sam, Daniel for the Canadian Army-" He saw surprised in Steele's blue eyes again.


"You didn't know that's where he was from?"

"No. Not really. I mean, he's never really said much about his life before we met up. I knew he'd been I the army. I always assumed it was for the British."

"He was a Sergeant," Kevin explained. "'Can-Do Chalmers', we called him. If you needed something- anything, Daniel was the man who could find it for you. At a price, of course."

"Of course," Steele nodded, smiling.

"Daniel was a first class scrounger and con man back then. Wasn't anything he couldn't sell. Until he was cashiered out for selling -"

"A general's jeep," Steele finished, nodding as he recalled the story. "I've heard it many times. "Spent a few months in the stockade for it, too."

"That's how we lost track of each other," Kevin explained. "He was still in jail when the war ended. I started my life of crime, and didn't see him again until I was in the Park walking Dolittle, thinking about whether or not to retire when I heard a familiar voice and Dolittle started to growl and took off."

"And you didn't tell him about-"

"That I was an infamous jewel thief wanted by Interpol and that Dolittle was my unknown accomplice?" Kevin asked, and then shook his head. "Not likely. For all I knew, he'd gone straight and would have turned me in."

"He didn't tell you what he was up to, then, I take it?"

"No. All he said was that he was self-employed and doing very well. That he'd taken in an apprentice and that he had to get back to his flat to wait for 'Harry'- yes, that was the name- to call." Kevin looked at Steele. "You're Harry- aren't you?"

"Guilty as charged," Steele admitted, putting his cup on the table before him. "I remember that day. I'd already called twice and gotten no answer by the time he finally picked up. Apologized and told me that he'd run onto an old mate in the park while walking Montague."

Kevin shook his head. "It's a small world, as they say."

"Hmm. Daniel's not going to believe it when I tell him that you're here in Los Angeles."

"Mr. Steele, I'd just as soon Daniel not know that I-"

"Don't worry about it, Mr. Masters. Daniel's in no position to judge."

Kevin's gaze narrowed, and then he looked into the dining room, where the blueprints lay waiting for him. "You know, I was surprised at how easily you accomplished stealing the Jennings Diamond, Mr. Steele."

Steele waved his hand dismissively. "With the plan of someone like le Renard to work with-"

"It was more than that and you know it," Kevin countered, meeting that blue gaze. "You'd done that sort of thing before, hadn't you?"

"Once or twice," Steele admitted, tugging at his earlobe.

Kevin shook his head. "You took one look at those plans and picked out something that it took me almost a week to work out. I'd venture to say it was more than 'once or twice'."

"Enough that Interpol once thought I might be le Renard," Steele said.

"That was you? I knew that they thought they were on the scent once- heard that they had some kid in their sights. A talented newcomer, from the things I'd heard. Never heard a name attached, though."

"I used several back then. Whatever was handy for the moment."

"Did Daniel know?"

Steele laughed softly and picked up his cup again. "Who do you think taught me the tools of the trade?"

"Daniel?" Kevin asked.

"Of course, he's always been a much better con-man than a thief. But he's had his moments."

"Why that old-" Kevin started to laugh. "How did you meet him?"

"I'm an orphan. Well, to the best of my knowledge, anyway. I think there might be a few cousins in Ireland, but- nothing to hold me there. So when I was ten, I made my way to London."

"Ten? Alone?"

"I'd been alone most of my life," Steele said with a dismissive shrug. "It wasn't anything new. Four years later, I was living in the attic of a fleapit, doing odd jobs, lifting a wallet here and there for money. That's how I met Daniel." He grinned. "I picked his pocket."

Kevin laughed, shaking his head.

"Really. He chased me down, took it back, but instead of turning me in, he took me home with him, gave me hot food and a warm place to sleep- became my mentor. I owe Daniel more than I can ever repay," Steele noted quietly.

"I don't doubt it," Kevin agreed, wondering when the man he'd known during the war, the selfish, self-centered anything for a buck Daniel Chalmers had changed enough to want to take a homeless young man under his wing. His old friend hadn't been big on responsibility. "So. Apparently you know quite a bit about me- or, rather, about le Renard-"

There was a grin again- and the tug on an ear that revealed embarrassment. "I kept a scrapbook. Some kids collect stamps, I collected larcenies. Le Renard had an entire section all to himself. You were the master that I could only hope to be someday."

"Heroes are dangerous things, Mr. Steele," Kevin warned. "They either tend to reveal feet of clay or are forever in danger of being knocked off that pedestal they have to stay on." Steele nodded. "So. What have you done?" Seeing Steele's surprised look, Kevin smiled. "You know just about everything I've ever taken- turn about's fair play."

"Well, let me see. The "Five Nudes of Cairo"-"

Kevin whistled. "Curse and all?"

"I didn't believe in it- until the insurance company we stole it for decided not to pay us."

"Insurance companies can be as fickle as a woman. If you don't cross all the "t's" and dot all the "i's" to regain their property, they're just as likely to tell you to go jump off a bridge. What else?"

"Hmm. The Marchesa Collection-"

"That was you?" Kevin questioned. "I'm impressed, Mr. Steele. I would have thought a far more seasoned thief to have pulled that one off- not once, but twice."

Steele gave another tug at his ear at the compliment.

"So, tell me, how did an accomplished art and jewel thief end up in Los Angeles as Remington Steele?" Kevin asked.

"Now *that* is a story," Steele sighed. "I suppose you've heard of Royal Lavulite?"

"What do you think, Mr. Steele?"

"Do you remember when it was to go on display here in Los Angeles a couple of years ago?"

"I do indeed. Planned a neat little heist- but I'm not sure I could have carried it off."

"I could have," Steele announced. "Easily. That's why I came to Los Angeles: to steal the gems - with the intent of returning them to the South African government, of course."

"Of course," Kevin agreed. "So what happened?"

"In two words? Laura Holt."

As he sat there listening to Steele's recounting of the incident which had resulted in his becoming Remington Steele, Kevin found himself shaking his head in disbelief. When the younger man finished with, "And there you have the entire story of how I became Remington Steele."

"And you're strictly on the straight and narrow now?" Kevin asked.

"It's a bit- restricting occasionally," Steele admitted. "And admittedly I've fallen short of the mark a time or two, but I do my best not to let Laura down."

Kevin smiled. "Sounds to me as if you've got it bad, my friend."

Steele paused as he picked up the fresh cup of tea that Kevin had just poured. "I suppose I have. Certainly, I've never stayed in one place this long before."

"Does she know how you feel?"

"I've never actually said the words," Steele confessed, "but-"

"Do you want some advice from someone who's been there, Mr. Steele?" Kevin asked, his eyes locked on the rim of his cup as old memories surfaced. "Don't put it off. Life's too uncertain. Especially in your line of work."

"I've never been very good at telling people how I feel," Steele said. "It's too easy to say the words and not mean them."

"How does she feel about you?"

"I think she cares- Laura's rather- prickly. Her own history doesn't lend itself to trusting easily, either."

"So you and she have never-?"

"Uh, no. Not for want of trying on my part, I'll warrant," he said with a grin that Kevin returned. "She wants the words."

"And you can't give her those words."

"Oh, it's not just the words, Kevin," he sighed. "She wants guarantees. Guarantees that I don't think anyone can give. Wants to be reassured that I won't leave her the way her father left her mother- or the way an old boyfriend just vanished from her life without a word. I keep thinking she'll realize that I've been telling her what she needs to know by staying, but- she just doesn't seem to *get* it." He sighed again. "It's all rather frustrating."

"But you're still here," Kevin pointed out.

"Hmm. Afraid so. I've thought about packing up occasionally- but- then I think of her and I can't do it."

"She must be quite a special young woman, your Laura Holt."

"Oh, she is that," Steele acknowledged softly.

Dolittle had been sitting at Steele's feet, his head lifted, tilted as though he were watching the stranger. Suddenly he leapt into Steele's lap and curled up in his lap. "Dolittle looks like he's made up his mind at last," Kevin noted, chuckling as he watched Steele's hand move over the animal's fur.

"Apparently. Guess he took pity on me. Eh, Dolittle?" Steele asked, lifting the dog toward his face, only to earn a swipe from the animal's pink tongue and a wag of his tail. Steele laughed softly, and then returned the dog to his lap.

"Does- Mildred know?" Kevin asked. "About your past, I mean?"

"Oh, no. I'm sure the day will come when she'll have to find out the truth, but until that time, I'm not going to rock the boat. "

"I was grateful that she thought Blaylock crazy and didn't believe him when he told her I was le Renard," Kevin admitted. "I liked Mildred."

"Then why did you stop calling her?" Steele wondered, and Kevin wondered if he realized how much like a protective son he sounded.

"I thought she could do better than a broken down ex-jewel thief with no prospects," Kevin pointed out. "It's different with you. You're still young, you can still make a difference, make up for some of the things you've done. It's too late for me."

"Nonsense, Kevin," Steele insisted. "It's never too late. I'd give her another call."

"I'll think about it."

"As much as I'd like to stay and continue this, Kevin, I think I'd better go. Laura and I have an early meeting tomorrow with a client- and then we're on our way to Europe for a few days."


"Laura's part of the Stanford Alumni Glee Club. They're doing a quick tour of several European cities. She didn't want to go, but I thought she needed a break from routine. And I have an old friend there that need some help-"


"Another time, perhaps," Steele said with a secretive smile. "We'll be stopping in London for a few hours- if I see Daniel, I'll make sure to give him your number- if you don't mind."

"Mind?" Kevin repeated as he rose from his chair to take Dolittle from his guest. "Of course not. I'd like to see him again. Catch up on old times- the real old times, not like before."

Steele shook his head again as he took Kevin's hand. "He's not going to believe it. Thanks for the tea- and the conversation."

"You're welcome anytime, Remington. I don't get many visitors that I can talk about the old days with. And I'll be looking forward to hearing from Daniel."

"I'll tell him."

"Give my best to Miss Holt."

"I will. And call Mildred, eh?" He released Kevin's hand. "G'bye, Dolittle," he said, patting the dog's head in farewell. Take care of him."

Dolittle yipped, panting, as if agreeing, and both men laughed.

Kevin stood in the doorway, watching as the white car pulled out of the driveway and disappeared into the darkness before looking at Dolittle. "Well, old friend, that was interesting, wasn't it?" He put the dog down and closed the door to return to the blueprints. Steele had been right. The air vents were the best way to enter the building.

Dolittle barked, getting his attention, and Kevin turned to look at the dog, finding him in the chair beside the telephone, staring at it. "You know, Dolittle," Kevin sighed, going over to the phone himself, "sometimes, I think you understand too much." He dialed a number and waited for the line to pick up on the other end.

"Hello, Mildred? It's Kevin Masters. I hope it's not too late for me to call . . ."

The End

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Original Content © Nancy Eddy, 2002