The Past Steele Holts Its Danger
Part 4
by Wolfgang Walter

Author's notes etc.
This is a sequel to "Holt with nerves of Steele". I think it can stand on its own, but it probably helps to know what happened in the predecessors.
I can't say that all ideas I used are my own ones, but who can say that anyway? We're all influenced by things we read, hear and see. But I think I can say that the way I linked these ideas are unique. I took many liberties especially on the medical sector, so if anyone thinks the whole thing is terrible wrong I'm glad to listen and willing to avoid the same mistakes if I'm ever going to write about the same thing, but I won't rewrite it now [;-)], perhaps later. I also never have been to California, so I hope my interpretation of the map was right.
Special thanks are for Susannah who patiently answered my questions as long as I was bombarding her, Nancy for her patience (worthy of an angel) and naturally for my beta reader Jacqui who probably still has to recover from this strenuous work, and those who encouraged me to write it. I also have to thank Adriana for her criticism, both positive and negative, both were constructive.
This story was never intended to be written in parts, so maybe I didn't cut them at the most appropriate places.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of Remington Steele and Laura Holt. I just borrowed them for entertainment. Any resemblance to any existing person is purely coincidental.

Part 4
Daniel had given Laura the general direction. He was sitting in the back with Harry discussing different points of Harry's *newly discovered life*. Laura listened and started to wonder how anyone could bother about such absurd details until she realized that success sometimes depended on the details.
After some minutes Laura became uneasy. A car seemed to follow them. She confirmed her suspicion driving around three blocks and still having their fan behind them. "We're being followed," she announced.
Both Harry and Daniel looked up and then turned around.
"It's the red van," Laura continued. "Do you know anything about it - Daniel?"
Daniel shifted uncomfortably. He didn't like Laura's accusing tone. He also didn't know if Laura had talked with Harry about his revelations last night, but he suspected that this hadn't happened because Harry behaved in his usual manner. That made his answer all the more tricky. Harry would certainly want to have an answer, too, and he could hardly involve Laura right now in it. "Lin- ah, Laura, you certainly know that men of my profession do not only make friends. There's always the possibility that someone develops the human desire to renegotiate -"
"Are you going to tell me that you don't know anybody in particular who could be interested in observing you?" Laura cut him short through clenched teeth.
"Yes, I think you could say it this way. I'm sure that the subjects who had been involved in my last scam," he hoped Laura would get the point, "don't have the means to pursue me."
"Your last scam? Tell me about it," Harry inquired.
"Perhaps later, my boy. We have more important things to discuss."
"Do you mind taking a detour?" Laura asked after she didn't succeed in shaking off their follower. She hoped that she could lose their tail after leaving the outskirts of San Francisco.
While she was able to keep him distant in the plains it became impossible when she had to drive through the hilly landscape. She wasn't used to driving a heavy car through curves, and their shadow caught up.
Laura cursed under her breath. She wished she was driving her Rabbit, at least she knew how it would behave. She couldn't use the power the car provided her with. She had tried it, but two times she had only avoided steering it down the hillside by sheer luck. Then she felt a hard jolt. She wondered how she could have kept the car in control. Another jolt. The driver of the van meant business. He wished them to leave the street immediately, and the slope was very steep here. Laura braked. The van crashed into the Mercedes giving it a head start that Laura tried to use to get out of eyesight. The tires were screaming through the turns while she desperately tried to keep their follower distant.
After a very short time she could admire the van in its full beauty in the rear-view mirror - again. Another jolt - and the car was breaking through the guardrail. From afar she could hear the hooting of a truck. Laura desperately tried to steer the Mercedes straight down so it wouldn't skip. Fortunately the slope wasn't too steep and she managed to lose some speed - then she crashed into a rock - and everything went dark.
Laura slowly awoke when someone was calling frantically 'Laura' in her ear. Who was this Laura? And who was calling? Why did her head ache so terribly? Her chest was aching, too. She tried to move her legs, but they hit a sharp edge and Laura moaned. Slowly memory started to set in. She was Laura. The voice that was calling her name was familiar - Mr. Steele - Harry! She remembered being chased - and then nothing. She slowly opened her eyes. Harry's tone became desperate. She had to calm him. "I'm all right," she managed to whisper hoarsely. It seemed like a miracle to her that Harry could make it out, but the relief in his voice was obvious when he said, "thank Goodness."
Laura slowly moved her hand to unfasten her safety-belt. She found it difficult to coordinate her movements. Suddenly she had to vomit.
After the burst of nausea had gone she looked at the mess in front of her. The steering wheel was much nearer than it was supposed to be, the angle was also unusual and parts of it were covered with blood - probably hers she realized - and with the content of her stomach. The windshield was shattered. The front of the car seemed to have wandered into the passenger-side of the car. She cautiously tried to move her legs again. They immediately hit another edge that caused another wave of nausea, but they seemed to function normally. She tried to turn around, but her legs crashed into another sharp corner, and she winced. Realization set in: she was trapped. Frantically she tried to free herself, but she only succeeded in hurting herself. A strong hand was laid on her upper arm, and in her panic, she tried to remove it, but the hand tightened its grip and suddenly a voice came through - she realized that it had talked to her for quite a while, she just hadn't registered - Harry's pleading voice. "Calm down, Laura, please! We WILL get you out of here!"
Laura felt ashamed, then another wave of nausea overcame her and she vomited again.
The grip on her arm prevented her from hitting her head against the wheel again - when did she manage to unfasten the safety-belt she wondered.
"Okay, Laura, listen to me. We will lay down the back of your seat and pull you out of it. All you have to do is stay calm. Do you hear me?" Harry asked.
"Yes, I hear you," Laura croaked.
She felt the back of her seat lowered and she felt sick again, but her tummy was already empty, so it didn't cause much harm. Two pairs of hands were grabbing her shoulders and started to pull her gently out of her predicament.
"Okay, we will turn you to the left so we can pull you out of the car. Do you understand me?" Harry asked her.
It took her some time until she realized what he was talking about. She tried to nod her understanding, but it only made her feel sick again, so she whispered, "yes."
"Don't move!" Harry ordered her and left the car. If it hadn't been for the second pair of hands holding her shoulder she would have panicked again. Laura closed her eyes. All she wanted to do now was sleep.
Daniel's hands suddenly left her shoulder. Harry was climbing into the car and grabbed her under her shoulders. Daniel entered the other side of the car. He should make sure that Laura wouldn't be caught by some edge while Harry was cautiously dragging her out. Both were talking to her reassuringly, and they finally got her out of the car. Harry carried Laura cautiously into the shadow while Daniel took the first-aid kit and a cover. In the distance he could hear a siren. He looked up and saw a man approaching them. For a moment Daniel felt panic rising, then he realized that this man wasn't the van's passenger. He sighed in relief, then he hurried to Harry and Laura.
While Harry tended Laura's injuries Daniel turned towards the newcomer. He introduced himself. "Hello, my name is Bob Lane. I've seen how your car was pushed from the street. I've called the police. I also got the license number of that van. Can I help you? Is anybody hurt?"
"Well, thank you very much. No, I don't think you can help in any further way I'm afraid. My friend's fiancée probably got a concussion... unless you know how to tend such an injury... How were you able to call the police? I haven't seen any wires."
"Oh, that's easy. My truck has CB-radio. I had to drive a short distance until I got some reply, then I returned immediately. Do you know why you've been pushed?"
"It probably was a madman. He'd been following us since San Francisco. Perhaps he doesn't like foreign cars." Daniel shrugged his shoulders indicating he didn't know anything.
The sound of sirens didn't increase anymore. They looked up and saw the Sheriff's car stopping. Two uniformed men approached them cautiously. They interrogated them briefly, then one of them climbed back up the hill. The other one went to Harry and Laura, but then changed his mind when he saw them comforting each other. He had the feeling he had seen the man before and racked his brain because of it. He realized that he had only asked for the names of Mr. Chalmers and Mr. Lane. He approached the wreck. The signs that it had been pushed were evident. He closed the distance and started to sniff. No smell of gasoline, a good sign. The car wouldn't blow up suddenly. He looked into the car and winced when he saw the mess and became aware of the acrid smell of vomit. Everything seemed to be C&D: A car chased another one and pushed it down the hillside. If they were lucky enough they found the van plus driver. Motive? Heaven knows.
He headed back towards Harry and Laura when he remembered why he knew this man, it was Remington Steele. That made the question of motive almost obsolete. There were enough people who held a grudge against him, even some former members of the SFPD. He vaguely remembered the scandal of corruption that had happened about one and a half years ago.
He looked at the pale woman and felt sorry for her. Her head was bandaged. He didn't want to interrupt their intimacy, Mr. Steele was holding and caressing her hand, he whispered soothingly to her - he couldn't understand anything - but he had to interrogate them, at least him. From experience he knew that the paramedics, as soon as they arrived, certainly would say that she wasn't fit for interrogation, and this time even he would believe it.
He heard the sound of a siren and looked up. The paramedics. It was about time. The woman looked as if she would pass out any minute, and he wasn't sure if he remembered enough of treating concussions, it had been quite a while that he had attended the course.
Sure enough the paramedics took a good look at her and then brought her to their van. They also took a look at Harry and Daniel, but both had been very lucky, they were only affected by shock.
When Harry started to follow the paramedics to accompany Laura the sheriff stopped him. So Harry asked the paramedics where they would take Laura, and after a short dispute concerning their health insurance they agreed to take her to a private hospital.
The rest of the day seemed to be a nightmare to Harry. The sheriff took both of them with him where they had to make their statements. After what seemed an eternity he provided them with the possibility of returning to Frisco. Harry wanted to see Laura immediately, but at the hospital they wouldn't let him. She indeed had a concussion, and some of her ribs were cracked but not broken. They still had to run some more tests to be sure that there was no further damage, but they were quite optimistic about it. She had shown no signs of amnesia which was considered as a good sign. Perhaps he could visit her briefly tomorrow afternoon, but that depended on the results of the tests.
He left the hospital reluctantly and returned to the hotel where Daniel was awaiting him. Daniel was asked to stay for a few days in case additional information was needed. Daniel wasn't too thrilled about this request although he hadn't had any intention to leave Harry during his ordeal.
Later that day Harry informed Abigail and the Pipers about their accident. It didn't surprise him that Francis took the news after the initial shock much better than Abigail. Abigail was completely hysterical, and Harry whose nerves were on edge as well, none too politely hinted that in her state as a nervous wreck she would do better by staying home than visiting Laura and aggravate both their mental states. This of course wasn't in the least bit suitable to calm Abigail down, and after the exchange of some more pleasantries Harry ended the call quite abruptly.
After regaining his composure, which took him quite a while, he phoned again with the Pipers and was lucky to get Donald on the phone. He told Donald about his failed call with Abigail and that he felt the urge to apologize but was in no state of mind to call himself to deal with her. If it was possible that Donald could... and naturally Donald accepted the task. He knew Abigail long enough to know how to deal with her and her different states of mind.
Then he called Mildred who also insisted on paying a visit immediately. She addressed Daniel with some of her colorful expressions, and though Harry also thought that Daniel was partly responsible for this disaster he defended him indicating that there was no proof. He also declined Mildred's offer of a visit, instead he asked her to stay in LA for various reasons: They were awaiting their new secretary on Monday, and it was Mildred's duty to show her in. He also wanted her to cancel all meetings on Monday, he was sure they were only updates. The most important reason was that he wanted Mildred there if he needed some digging. Mildred finally accepted.
Harry felt like a caged tiger and paced up and down. Daniel couldn't bear this picture of frustration and kept him occupied during the rest of the day by working further out Steele's identity.
During the afternoon they got two phone calls. Donald informed him that he had talked to Abigail. He hadn't been able to prevent her from coming to San Francisco, but he had delivered the apology which had been accepted by Abigail who had in return also presented one.
The other one was from the police. They informed him that the car had been found - it had been stolen, the license number had been forged. They had been able to retrieve some finger prints, but it would take its time to check them. Interpol was informed about them.
After a miserable night full of worries and self-accusations Harry was almost a nervous wreck. There were no more fingernails left he could chew on, and he looked very down. Daniel had never seen his protégé in such a state of mind. He hadn't seen Harry after the faked death of Anna, but he was sure Harry had dealt with that affair better. He had canceled all his visits for the next few days, he didn't want to expose himself. He wasn't convinced that the driver had been after him - Laura and Harry had made more than their share of enemies during the past years - but it was really too much of coincidence that someone started to go after them while he paid a visit in the States.
His attempts to distract Harry failed miserably. Working on Steele's identity proved to be also a waste of time. He was relieved when Harry left for the hospital, perhaps he could sort out some things of his own. He went to the telephone.
At the hospital Harry met Abigail. Both apologized for their behavior the day before and then they fell in uncomfortable silence not knowing what to say. Both of them awaited anxiously the doctor's visit with Laura. It took them both almost every ounce of self-control not to rush in with the doctor, and the following quarter of an hour seemed to be one of the longest periods of time they ever had faced. When he finally left the room both immediately bombarded him with questions. He raised his hands as if to say 'slow down', then he said, "given the circumstances she's doing well. There seems to be no further complications, but after accidents like that... well you never can be too sure so we have to be careful. I will grant her one visitor, more would be too strenuous. Of course a nurse will stand by too make sure you won't exhaust her too much."
When both Harry and Abigail headed for Laura's room the doctor stopped them. "I said one visitor." He watched them arguing for a short time, then he lost his patience. "If you don't come to an agreement there will be no visitors at all today. You are both much too agitated for her good." When they both turned sharply to argue with him, he raised his hands once more. "Okay, okay, we do it by the book. I know you are Mr. Steele, who are you?"
"I'm Abigail Holt, Laura's mother."
"That settles it." He addressed Abigail. "You can go in, five minutes."
Abigail immediately headed for Laura's room. Harry tried to argue with the doctor, but he cut him short. "Sorry, but that's the rules. You are no relative."
"But we're engaged. We're going to marry -"
"That still means that you are no relative - yet." And then, with more sympathy in his voice: "I do understand you, but you have to understand my position."
A very crestfallen Harry surrendered. He watched as Abigail opened the door and went in. He winced when he could hear Laura's voice asking, "mother! What are you doing here? Where's Harry?" He couldn't make out more because Abigail was shutting the door, but that changed soon. He clenched his fists when Laura's high-pitched voice rang out to the corridor. "I want to see Harry! Why is he not here?" After a short pause in which Abigail probably tried to soothe her, another accusation cut right through his heart. "He left me, didn't he? You're just trying to comfort me!"
He almost ripped the door open. He didn't care for the doctor's orders, he just wanted to calm Laura. He went straight to Laura, not bothering to close the door and totally ignoring Abigail and the nurse. Laura looked at him first incredulously, then in plain relief. He didn't know what hurt him more: the fact that Laura still believed he could leave her or the fact that she was still afraid of this possibility. He didn't feel inclined to reflect about that. He took her hand and gently squeezed it. "I'm not going to leave you, you know that, Laura!"
Laura had been almost crying when Harry finally entered the room, now she didn't hold the tears back. 'He was still there', was all she could think of. Then she started to retch. It took her some time to calm down, she could hear Harry's reassuring voice repeating 'everything's gonna be all right' over and over again. She looked at him closely and saw that he had had a very rough time. She felt guilty about her accusation and tried to apologize, but he cut her short and said, "it's okay."
"I missed you," she finally managed. She tried to hug him, but it was difficult with the IV in her arm.
"I missed you too," he admitted, "I missed holding you, the smell of your hair, the smell of your freckles..."
She thought for a moment she had misunderstood him. She laid back and looked at him, then she saw his wry smile. Obviously he was pulling her leg. "Freckles don't smell," she stated wondering what he was up to.
"Yours do," he returned and leaned forward to kiss her lips. "I love you," he continued.
"I love you too." She looked up distracted from the noise of the door closed by the nurse. When the nurse approached them to end the visit Laura blurted out, "you have to talk with Daniel. It's your father who was chasing us - or someone he hired. Daniel knows all about it. You have to talk with him!"
'What the hell is she talking about?' Harry wondered, but when he realized she became agitated again, he assured her saying, "yes, I will talk with Daniel. We'll take care of everything. I promise." This seemed to have the desired effect, Laura looked calmer now.
The nurse cleared her throat. "I'm sorry, but time's up."
Harry laid his other hand on Laura's free one and squeezed it gently again. "I see you tomorrow, I promise." He let her hand go and leaned forward again to seal his promise with a cautious kiss she also carefully reciprocated.
After they parted she answered smiling, "I look forward to it."
Harry went out. After he had closed the door he leaned against the wall and heaved a sigh of relief.
Abigail was waiting on the other side of the corridor, not being too pleased by the way the nurse had treated her, but after calming down a bit she had realized that she had been the source of Laura's agitation. She also wondered what Laura had suspected when she had accused Harry of deserting her. Obviously there was much more running between them than she had ever thought. Harry! She couldn't help but think that it had sounded like a poor excuse when she had asked them about it. Remington's second name. Why should he use it when Remington sounded this nice? She shook her head and approached her soon-to-be son-in-law. "Remington, how is she? And what did she mean by saying you'd left her?"
Harry tried to calm himself. He wasn't prepared for a long discussion with Abigail. "Laura seems to be all right so far. And the other thing - to make a long story short, she has been afraid that I could leave her like her father or Wilson did - something I never intended to do. I don't know what I can do to convince her that I will stay with her..." He sighed in frustration.
Abigail went to him. She felt tired, but she could see that Harry was in worse state. She felt uncertain what to say. Laura had always been difficult to deal with as long as she could remember, but she had never suspected that the leaving of Laura's father had had such an impact that it still lasted. She remembered guiltily her reaction concerning the failure of the relationship between Laura and Wilson. She hadn't been too understanding.
She laid her hand on Harry's shoulder, and he looked up. "You will find a way." She didn't know what else to say. She hoped that she was right.
He patted her hand. "I have to talk with Daniel. I hope you don't mind if I leave you now."
"Daniel? As in Daniel Chalmers? So this was the friend you were visiting. Why didn't you tell me yesterday? Oh, sorry, you had other things in your mind." Abigail remembered Daniel fondly. She didn't mind that he had lied to her about his name - was it three years ago? She had never asked what it had been all about. She had figured out that he was an old friend of Remington. He was undercover to uncover a murderer so he had to play his role. It had been quite confusing. She knew that Laura wasn't too fond of him - obviously everything had happened behind Laura's back, and that was something that Laura never had liked. Later they had spend some beautiful weeks on the French coast, and they both had agreed to keep their friendship light, no budding romance allowed. She smiled. Later they had kept light contact, they had only written for birthdays and Christmas. She wondered why he hadn't told her about his trip to the states.
"Yes, the very same."
"Do you mind if I come with you? I haven't seen him for a while. Do you think he'd mind? I wonder why he hasn't told me about his visit." She couldn't resist some probing.
"I don't know, but you can accompany me. I only know he had a very tight schedule, but after this incident everything is in disorder. But I have to talk with him first - privately." Harry still had to reflect about what Laura had told him. Daniel knew his father. Since when? What was about the Duke of Rutherford? Had he known that the Duke wasn't his father? Had he manipulated him all the time? Slowly anger started to rise.
To Be continued...

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