Laura Holt-Steele stepped into the apartment and looked around. She began to re-evaluate her life at the present moment, as she looked around the room. How had she gotten to where she was now? And where exactly was she now? She wasn't happily married, she wasn't even "married" at all, despite the name change. She wasn't a happily independent woman of the 80's either; she wasn't even in the spotlight of the agency that she had started. He was. That's what it all boiled down to, Him. Everything in *her* seemed to be touched by or involved with *him* somehow. He now even domineered her thoughts. She flopped down of the sofa and grabbed one of the larger pillows there, hugging it to herself tightly. Her mind drifted and she wished it were his body and not a pillow. Deliberately, she brought her mind back into focus. A new thought popped into her head, where was he anyway. You'd think that being the great Remington Steele would teach him some punctuality at least, but alas, he was late. Laura hoisted herself up and walked into the kitchen, his kitchen. The only place where he was as organized and as controlling as she was about the office was in this room. She stepped up to the cabinets and pulled down a glass, a wine glass, and poured herself some wine. It had been a long day and she needed so desperately to relax, something that, unlike what he thought, was not unknown to her. Laura padded back into the living room and sat down in her same spot, sipping the wine and closing her eyes. She began to unwind, mentally and physically, and soon entered that existence between waking and sleep. Even in her semi-consciousness, her thoughts still drifted back to him. She faintly heard the door open, but as soon as he entered the room, she was on edge. Every sense in her body seemed trained upon his every movement. She didn't miss one step he stepped or one breath he breathed. She realized that she had always been this way when he was around, so perceptive to his presence. Still, there was no reason to alert him to her conscious presence yet.
Remington stepped over her briefcase, and laid his jacket atop hers on the chair. He slowly moved about, quietly trying to avoid disturbing her restful appearance. He couldn't help but think how lovely she was, sitting there, head back, eyes closed. He deftly pulled her wineglass out of her hand and placed it on the coffee table in front of them, before moving behind the sofa and her head. His fingers brushed her hair ever so slightly as it lay across the back of the sofa, and soon he moved his fingers to her temples. He rubbed them gently, slowly, knowing that it had been a hard day for her. One too many clients had called her "just some secretary", and he had to barricade her in her office to keep her from lopping someone's head off. Secretly, he loved it when she got so worked up over stupid peoples oversights. It showed her fire, her drive and ambition, all the things he had come to admire in her lovely character. He heard her murmur slightly and slowed down his motions further.
"Not slower, harder." Remington wasn't sure she had even spoken; her appearance remained the same as it was before. Following what he had heard, Remington moved his fingers harder in a clockwise motion over her delicate features. He heard her murmur again, only this time it was accompanied by a small smile. Remington slowly leaned over her face and kissed her smiling lips, all the while his fingers never left their spot. "So you're home at last," Laura stated as he moved to sit in the chair. She opened her eyes, peering at his features and noting their handsomeness. Her "husband" seemed tired. "Are you okay? You seem quite the picture of exhaustion." Laura got up and moved back into his kitchen, again getting out a wineglass and pouring the scarlet liquid into it. She came back out to find him in much the same position she had just been in. Head back, eyes closed, he drifted into his own semi-conscious rest. She moved toward him, careful to be quiet and slow as she placed the wineglass in his hand. He took a sip as she moved to return the favor he had bestowed upon her moments ago. She started out as slow as he had taken it, moving her fingers over his temples in a slow, repetitive movement. Soon she moved her fingers into his luxuriously dark hair, rubbing his head and neck. She kneeled behind the chair and moved her head next to his. She may not be legally married to the man, but she couldn't resist acting a little like she was. She continued rubbing his neck as she kissed his face. She kissed his temple and eye, slowly moving downward. She kissed his cheek and the side of his lips, before moving to his jaw line and neck. He muttered soft groans much as she had, and Laura knew that he had begun to relax.
"Oh Laura, I can't thank you enough for this. Especially after the day I've had." Laura stopped her ministrations and moved to take her place on the sofa again. "You don't know what stress can be caused by being and internationally renowned Private Investigator. All those press meetings and luncheons can take a lot out of a person," Remington teased her. She rewarded him with a glare. "Now, now, before you go and hurt me, I would like to tell you something. I had an especially interesting visit from a woman today," Remington was saying as Laura gave him a perplexed look. "It came from one Estelle Becker of the INS." Laura looked changed from fear to a mixture of worry and wonder. "She wanted to explain some things to me, and regretted missing out on 'the presence of your lovely wife' as she put it."
It was Laura's turn to speak. "What in God's name does she want now? I thought we already went through the necessary procedures to keep you here. What more is there to do?" She looked across the room to where Remington stood before the windows. Watching his back, she sensed there was something he was reluctant to discuss with her.
"Laura, Estelle wanted to let me know that, although *she* sees our marriage as legal, there are some above her who don't quite share that opinion. This is all thanks to an unkown informant. Apparently, someone who we have made very mad at us has been making a rather large fuss about our "marriage" to the higher-ups in the INS. Estelle came by to let me know that, and to suggest some ways to make our marriage look every bit as real as it's not."
"So what are we talking about here? Forced vacations to touristy locations? Having other tourists take our picture in front of romantic settings, while we share affections or kisses? Go out to romantic locations and be publicly affectionate with each other? Because, if that's what it takes to keep my agency afloat, we can book our vacation right now. We can head over to Che Rive and be publicly "in love" this minute. Whatever it takes," Laura was ranting. Remington had turned to look at her, his mouth gaping. Was everything she did a result of what was good for the agency? Wasn't this one thing she could do with only him in mind? Apparently not.
Laura had been asking him a question he didn't hear. What were some of the ways Estelle had mentioned? Remington turned his back to her, not responding just yet. By the look of the tension in his back, Laura figured that he was nervous about telling her something. "Laura, Estelle briefly mentioned things like you had said: vacations, romantic dinners, public displays of affection, pictures. There is something else though, something that could and will very well change our lives. She suggested that we think about," Remington swallowed hard, "having a baby." Remington did not turn to face her, but he heard her small intake of breath. He knew she was shocked, as silence enveloped the room.
Laura had trouble registering what he had just said. His last phrase played repeatedly in her mind. Having a baby having a baby the words seemed so foreign in her vocabulary. She knew the words separately were quite innocent, but together they formed a phrase so dangerous to her. A baby Laura a mother a baby with him? She looked up at his back and wanted him to face her. Instead, she found enough of her voice to ask him one thing: "What did you say?"
He turned to her, tugging his ear as he always did when he was nervous, and shrugged. "I couldn't think of anything *to* say. She mistook my silence for thought, not what it really was," Remington told her.
"And what was it really?"
"Shock, utter and absolute shock. A billion things ran through my mind and nothing at all. None of it made sense, the thought just seemed to resonate there. Then you popped into my head, and I couldn't even imagine what you would say when I told you this. I even thought about *not* telling you this, but decided that would be unfair to our partnership. I figured I had to tell you, good, bad or no reaction at all."
She stared up at him, and shook her head, half amazement, and half habit. "Remington, I don't think I could. We're not even married for real, and there's nothing to hold us together. I can't use a baby to do that. If *I'm* not even part of this relationship officially, I'm not going to make a *baby* part of it. I just can't." Laura got up, picked up her glass of wine, and moved into the dining room. Remington followed her with his gaze. She placed her wine at her seat and moved into the kitchen to get herself some food. Coming back holding a small plate of salad, she sat down and looked at him. "Are you going to join me or do I eat alone?"
Remington was angry now as he walked over to the table. "So that's it, eh Laura? No discussion, no talking, nothing at all, except a simple no from you. What if I had said that I wanted to have a baby? What if I told Estelle that I had thought about it too, and that I would discuss it with you before getting back to her? What would you have said to me then?" Remington's eyes flared as he looked at her, sitting there, eating her salad with no emotion. She finally looked up.
"I would have said 'No.' There's nothing to discuss here, no questions to answer. I can't say that I know what you want, whether you think this is a good idea or not, but I know what I think. I think it's a bad idea, one we'll regret later, and I don't want to be a part of it. I can't say that I haven't thought about what it would be like to marry you, legally, and have a family, but that's all it was: a thought. Not something to act upon," Laura replied. Remington fumed.
"So it's your decision? I have no say whatsoever? I don't bloody think so. As long as I'm here, acting out this part as your husband and boss, then I think I'm entitled to a say in what happens around here. You can't just brush me off, Laura, it takes two people to make up a marriage!"
"That's my point! We're *not* married, we're not lovers, we're not even really friends anymore. Something has changed between us, and as long as we're acting out parts, then I'm acting like a wife. Seeing as how it's *me* who will carry this baby for nine months, I think my thoughts outweigh yours!" Laura looked away from his face. She concentrated on her food, her hands, anything to keep from having to look directly at him.
"End of conversation? Fine, okay, whatever you say, Laura, but I want you to know one thing. If this all falls through and I'm deported and your precious agency shuts down, it's because you wouldn't have a baby, not me!" With that final statement, he stomped off into the kitchen.
"I think its time I went home," Laura said to the empty room. She knew he heard her, and she knew that he was upset. "Goodnight, Remington." There seemed to be a hint of sadness in her voice, but had he said it aloud, she would have denied it instantly.
"Dammit, Laura, this is your home! Not that bloody loft, not anymore. It may not be legal, but as long as this "marriage" exists, then dammit, stay here where you belong. And it bloody well isn't a good night!" Remington yelled that all from the safety of his kitchen, one place he knew she would never dare confront him in, married or not. His arguing proved in vain, as moments later he heard her try to leave quietly. "God, that woman will kill me yet!"
Laura slid open her metal door, and moved to her bedroom. She undressed slowly, taking the time to think about what had transpired earlier that evening. Remington had gotten so upset when she told him she didn't want to have a baby. Laura began thinking: "Why? Is he upset that I won't help him stay in the country? Or is the real reason he's upset, the fact that I don't want to have a baby with him?" She rubbed her face and sat down heavily on the bed. Laura had a secret and she didn't know how to tell him. Remington had been so good to her lately, ever since the fishing boat. He seemed to be taking this marriage more seriously than even the INS. Laura lay on her back and chewed her bottom lip, a sure sign that she was nervous. They had finally consummated their relationship a month and a half ago, once in Ireland and again one rainy night here in Los Angeles. Laura laid her hands on her abdomen; the doctor could be wrong, but she had asked her to recheck the test results numerous times. At all times the answer remained the same: positive. Laura had been shaken terribly when Remington had mentioned having a baby, she thought he had found out her little secret. She wasn't even married to the man and yet she was having his baby. Laura couldn't think; she didn't want to trap him here with her, on account of the child, but she never relished the thought of him leaving her. That night as Laura lay drifting in and out of consciousness, she came up with a simple solution: she, herself, would leave him.
To Part Two