- 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,
"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
"This one had a strange name. Something out of Shakespeare,
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
"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
"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
"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
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,
"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,"
"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,
"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."
"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
"And you're strictly on the straight and narrow now?"
"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
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,
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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 . . ."
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