Steele of Honor

Rating: PG (some violence)
Pairing: Laura/Remington (of course. You thought Mildred/Rem? <G>)
Series placement: I figure this ep could have happened during the end of Season 4, not long before "Bonds".
Disclaimer: I don't own them. At the moment, I think FOX does. I promise to return them after I'm finished.
Archiving: RSFic List and my sites. Anywhere else, please ask first. I like to know where my stories end up.
Summary: Remington Steele is missing - and so is a valuable painting that the agency has been hired to protect.
A/N: Thanks to Michael for the beta. I know, I don't usually use one, but it's been awhile since I wrote a regular RS fic, and I wanted to make sure I had it 'right'. Enjoy!

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

The gallery was dark - but he didn't need much light to reach his goal. It was in a room on its own - the centerpiece of a showing of little known artists of the Renaissance. Easily disarming the doorway security system - thanks to a bit of help from inside - he entered the room, being careful to keep away from the floor directly in front of the painting. Slipping on a pair of dark glasses, he found himself smiling as he contemplated the best way through the maze of light beams.

The sound of an outer door closing echoed through the building, sending him scurrying back outside of the room to hide behind a piece of statuary, waiting to see who had come back to the gallery in the middle of the night.

He smiled when he recognized the familiar set of the man's shoulders as he stopped at the alarm control box - and noticed that it wasn't set. The man stood in the doorway, peering inside, which gave the thief the opportunity he needed to slip out from his hiding place and come up behind the man to bring the flashlight in his hand onto his head, causing him to collapse to the floor.

Kneeling, he pressed a finger to the man's neck, and once satisfied that he was still alive, the thief returned to the room and worked his way through the light beams without breaking them. "Come to Papa, girls," he said to the three daughters depicted on the canvas as he lifted the frame from its stand and lifted it over his head to navigate the beams once more.

At the door, he propped the frame against the doorframe and bent to the unconscious, Remington Steele, lifting him over his shoulders in a fireman's carry. Once Steele was situated, the thief again picked up the frame with his free hand, and left.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

"I'll *kill* him."

Mildred Krebs watched as the petite brunette paced back and forth in front of her, alternately muttering to herself and making dire predictions about the murky future of one Remington Steele. "You don't really believe that he did it, Miss Holt," she said, and immediately drew back as Laura turned to face her.

"What else am I to think, Mildred?" she asked. "A painting worth *conservatively* a quarter of a million dollars, a painting that Mr. Steele practically salivated over and *admitted* that he had once planned to steal, is missing - and *so* is Mr. Steele!"

"Oh, honey, I know it looks bad, right now, but there could be all kinds of reasons why Mr. Steele's not here."

"Name *one*," Laura said in a firm tone, fixing Mildred with a pointed glare. "I'm waiting, Mildred."

"Uh, uh, maybe he - ran into an old friend and they got started talking and he - lost track of time?"

"Oh, I'm sure he *did* run into an 'old friend'," she snarled. "One of his friends from the old days who convinced him to steal that painting and disappear!"

"You know he wouldn't do that, Miss Holt," Mildred said.

"Do I?" She indicated the headline in the newspaper on Mildred's desk. "Famed PI Sought in Connection with Theft". "I'll be lucky to be able to salvage *my* reputation out of all this."

"Is that all you're worried about?" Mildred asked.


"What are you more concerned about, Miss Holt? The Agency or the fact that Mr. Steele might be out there somewhere, injured or -"

"Probably living the high life in Monte Carlo," Laura said. "Laughing with his friends about how gullible I was."

"Miss Holt if he'd wanted to do something like this, why now?" Mildred questioned. "He's had ample opportunity to do it and make a bigger score in the last four years. The Mercy Diamonds, the Royal Lavulite -"

Laura exhaled loudly. "You're right, Mildred. I know you're right."

"So what are we going to do?"

"We're going to find Mr. Steele - and the painting so that we can return it and clear his name."

"Where do we start?"

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

He could hear voices. Angry voices.

"I *still* don't understand why you wanted him here, Jamie," a female voice said, and Remington tried to place where he'd heard it before.

"Because with him *and* the painting missing, the police will be looking for him, not for us," a man responded. "It's all part of my plan, Barbara. Trust me. We have the painting, don't we?"

As he slowly regained consciousness, Remington struggled against the pain in his head, but remained totally still. He was tied in a chair, his chin on his chest.

"Why do you think I suggested that you have your employer contact that particular agency to provide 'security' for the painting?" he asked her. "With both the painting and the great Remington Steele missing, everyone will be looking for him, not for me."

"For *us*," Barbara reminded him.

The woman was Barbara Malcolm, personal assistant to the woman who had hired him and Laura to protect "My Daughters", a lovely work by a lesser-known artist of the renaissance period, depicting the artist's three daughters as they sat gossiping and doing needlepoint. Remington had always admired the work - and had made the mistake of telling Laura that he had once planned to steal it when it had been owned by an elderly gentleman in Paris.

Apparently Malcolm was party to the theft of her employer's painting - no doubt for the insurance money - and this Jamie was her partner. God, his head hurt, and he wondered momentarily what Jamie had bludgeoned him with. The last thing he remembered before everything had gone dark was going back to the gallery after receiving a telephone call from Miss Malcolm saying that she was at the gallery finishing some work and that she had heard noises but didn't want to call the police and look foolish if she was wrong. Remington *thought* he recalled hearing gunfire - at least a single shot, but wasn't certain when it had happened, since he'd been unconscious.

Idly he wondered how long he'd been wherever he was - and if Laura believed he was guilty of stealing the damn painting or if she was out there trying to find him.

"I have to go," Ms. Malcolm told Jamie. "The police wanted to speak to me again about the robbery."

"We'll be waiting," Jamie assured her, and then there was silence for several moments before Mrs. Malcolm left.

Deciding it was time to 'wake up', Remington shook his head and groaned at the bout of nausea that the movement created. "Decided to wake up, Mr. Steele?"

Eyes narrowed and trying to focus, Remington peered up into the face, noting the red hair liberally mixed with gray. The lines around his mouth and eyes told a tale of a life spent in dissolution and self-indulgence. "Who are you?" Remington quizzed, trying to move his arms. "What the bloody hell -"

The man bowed. "Jamie Biggs," he said, watching Remington carefully, as if expecting some kind of reaction.

As he searched his mind for the name, Remington saw the painting sitting on a stand across the room. "You stole it."

"That I did. But everyone else thinks that *you* stole it, since you're both missing."

"No one will believe that I stole that painting," Remington insisted, hoping that he was right.

"Oh, of course," Jamie declared broadly. "The great detective Remington Steele, a man of honor and integrity." Jamie studied him for a long moment as his lips curved into a frightening smile. "People change. Everyone can be tempted for the right reasons." He touched the frame of the painting. "Great beauty. Money. Principles are cheap."

"Why involve me at all?" Remington questioned. "Why not simply steal the painting and leave?"

"Because they'd be onto my trail too easily. But if I give them someone else to chase - a bit of redirection, as it were -. Barbara told the police all about how interested you were in the painting - and that you were the only one who knew how to disarm that system so easily."

"Barbara?" Remington asked, remembering that they had believed him to still be unconscious when the woman had been there.

"Your client's assistant. Barbara Malcolm."

"Ah." Remington winced. "What the devil did you use to hit me? My head feels as if it's been split wide open."

"Sorry. I used the first thing that came to hand - my flashlight." He moved to examine Remington's eyes. "You'll recover."

"You're forgetting one thing, my - associate. Miss Holt. She won't believe -"

Jamie sighed again. "I'm afraid she does, Mr. Steele. Miss Holt refused to speak to the press - and I've heard that the licensing board is doing a review of the Steele Agency's license as a result of this incident. And when you don't return, the cloud of suspicion will effectively destroy the agency that bears your name. Unfortunately, Miss Holt, although she's simply an employee, will suffer as well."

Realizing that Jamie Biggs intended to kill him, Remington struggled against the ropes that bound him to the chair. "You won't get away with it. Getting that out of the country is impossible. Every customs agent will be looking for it."

Jamie's smile sent a chill down Remington's spine. "You just let me worry about that, Mr. Steele." He glanced at the expensive wristwatch he was wearing. "And speaking of - I have an appointment to make."

"The least you could do is untie me," Remington said. "With this headache, I doubt I'll be able to escape easily."

Jamie laughed. "I hope you didn't expect me to fall for that, Mr. Steele. Ciao."

Remington took a deep breath and began trying to work his way out of the ropes that bound his wrists to the sides of the chair, ignoring the painting that had caused all of this trouble. From now on, he was off art. Totally.

Of course, if he didn't find a way out of this, it wasn't going to matter one way or the other…

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

"Let's go over it again, Mildred," Laura said tiredly. "When was the last time you talked to Mr. Steele?"

"When I left the office yesterday," Mildred replied. "He was here at his desk, going over the plans for the security system at the gallery.

"You said he seemed distracted?"

"A little. He barely said goodnight when I told him that I was leaving so that I could make it to my bowling league tournament. And that's not like Mr. Steele."

"No," Laura agreed.

"When did you last talk to him?"

"Right after that, I think," she said.

"I called in to the office on my way back from Encino." She'd gone to talk to a possible client. "We were supposed to meet for dinner at my place, but he never showed up -" she looked up as LAPD Lt. Jimmy Jarvis appeared in the doorway.

"Jimmy. What brings the LAPD's best homicide detective down here?"

"I just got word about something you might want to hear from a friend, Laura," he told her. "Hello, Mildred."

"Jarvis," Mildred nodded in reply, still not totally at ease with the detective.

"What have you heard, Jimmy?"

He took a deep breath, released it, and then scratched his head, obviously trying to put off speaking for as long as he could. "Mr. Steele's Auburn was found at the airport a few minutes ago," he informed them. "According to the timestamp on the parking stub, it's been there since around midnight last night. The department's checking the flights out of the country, but so far there's no sign that he was on any of them."

"Fingerprints?" Laura asked, refusing to let the information get her down.

"Still checking."

"You won't find any. Whoever set this up would have been clever enough to make sure they didn't leave anything that would lead back to them."

"You think it's a frame?" Jarvis questioned.

"Of course it's a frame, Detective," Mildred declared. "Mr. Steele would *never* steal a painting - or anything else."

"He's still missing, Mildred. And so is the painting."

"One may not have anything to do with the other," Laura said, and Jarvis turned to look at her.

"Do you really believe that?"

"No. But neither do I believe that Mr. Steele is guilty of stealing that painting. He was concerned that there might have been a 'chink' in the system, Jimmy. He spent most of yesterday afternoon going over and over those plans -" seeing his look of interest, Laura sighed. "Jimmy, he *designed* that system. If he was planning to overcome it, do you really think he would have had to study the plans?"

"No, I suppose not," he had to admit. "So where is he?"

"I wish I knew. Mildred's doing a computer background check on everyone who works for the gallery and for Mrs. Carson -"

"That reminds me," Mildred said, rushing back out to her desk, where the printer was spitting out reams of paper. Tearing off what had already finished, she started looking through it while Jimmy and Laura continued to talk.

"When did you last see him?"

"He was here when Mildred left yesterday. I spent the afternoon in Encino with a potential client - who called this morning to tell me that he'd decided to go with another agency."

"I guess I'll tell you that I did check up on Descoine - he's still in prison. No sign of his daughter, though."

"I don't think she could pull something like this off," Laura said. "It had to be someone who knew that Mr. Steele -" she stopped, remembering at the last moment who she was talking to.

"Knew that Mr. Steele - what?"

"Is a connoisseur of fine art," Laura finished, amending her original comment.

"Anyone who reads the papers would know that," Jimmy pointed out. "Mr. Steele's appearances at various galleries and openings always make the society columns." He considered her for several moments. "Mrs. Carson's assistant, Barbara Malcolm claims that Mr. Steele seemed to be - 'extremely interested' in the painting that the agency was protecting."

"Mr. Steele had seen that painting before," Laura informed him. "Several years ago in Paris. It's a lovely work, very rare."

"Yes, it is," Jimmy agreed. "You know that the licensing board is going to suspend the Agency's license if he doesn't show up soon with the right answers."

"That's why we're trying to find him, Jimmy. So that he can prove he's not guilty."

"Well, you'd better find both him *and* the painting. And not necessarily at the same time."

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Remington Steele was thinking the exact same thing as he gave up trying to free his hands from the ropes. If he did manage to escape with or without the painting, he would still be under a cloud of suspicion. But if he captured Jamie and his partner in crime, it would allow him to clear both his name and the agency's reputation.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Steele," Jamie said in a self-satisfied tone as he returned. "And how are you doing?"

"I'd be doing much better if you untied me," Remington pointed out, watching as Jamie placed the framed oil into a portfolio case.

"All in good time, my boy. Almost ready to go?"

"What about your partner? The lovely Miss Malcolm?"

"Oh, she'll be here momentarily -" he looked up as the sound of a door opening. "Ah, there she is now."

The tall, long-legged blonde smiled as she approached Jamie to give him a kiss before turning to Remington. "Mr. Steele."

"Ms. Malcolm. Please forgive me for not standing up."

"I'm really sorry about this, Mr. Steele," she apologized. "But Jamie insisted that this wouldn't work without you being our scapegoat."

"Your own disappearance so soon after the theft will arouse suspicions as well," Remington reminded her.

"Oh, we're not going anywhere yet," Barbara said, and Remington glanced at Jamie, watching as he pulled a gun from inside of his jacket, -a handkerchief around the grip - and pointed it at the woman.

"No," Remington said, trying again to free his wrists. "Miss Malcolm -"

"We'll stay in the area until things cool down. Isn't that right -" her blue eyes widened as she saw the gun. "Jamie?"

"Sorry, darling," he told her and pulled the trigger, hitting the woman in the chest.

"Ja-mie?" she cried out in shock as she fell to the floor at his feet.

Remington continued to struggle, certain that he was next on the list as Jamie knelt beside the body, pressing fingers against her neck. "Oh, well. I've always worked alone anyway." Laying the gun nearby, he rose and moved behind Remington. "Hold still, Mr. Steele. This won't hurt -"

"You're insane. Why are you doing this?"

"You really don't remember me, do you, Mr. Steele? Biggs? You probably knew my father, though. Archie Biggs? Archibald Biggs." He came back around to stand in front of Remington, something in his hand.

The name was vaguely familiar, but not enough that Remington could pluck the memory out of his mind. "I'm sorry -"

"Right after you opened your agency you investigated the theft of several priceless objects d'art from the Clarkson Museum."

Of course. After the incident involving Major Descoine, Remington had made an effort to skim through the other cases that preceded his arrival on the scene. He remembered the Clarkson Museum case because one of the items that were stolen was one that he himself had once stolen. "Miss Holt handled that case. Back in those days, I was less involved in the day to day operations -"

"Oh, Miss Holt might have been the one who made the accusation, but she was acting on your orders. My father was sentenced to twenty years in prison, Mr. Steele," Jamie informed him, kneeling beside Barbara's body as he held up one of Remington's custom-made cufflinks. They had been a gift from Mildred for Christmas - with the initials "RS" emblazoned in gold. Jamie pressed the cuff into the open palm of Barbara's hand before closing her fingers over it. "Even if you manage to escape, you'll have to answer for her murder."

"My cufflink in her hand isn't enough to convict me of murder," Remington said.

"No. But they'll test you for gunpowder residue - and when they do -"

"I didn't fire that gun."

"Not the fatal shot, perhaps. But while you were unconscious - before Barbara arrived, I put the gun into your hand and pulled the trigger, firing it into a pillow."

"Your father wouldn't want you to do this, Jamie -"

"My father's *dead*!" Jamie yelled. "He was killed six weeks ago. And you want to know the kicker, Mr. Steele? He was innocent. He didn't steal those things."

"You did."

Jamie's jaw tightened as he pulled a second gun from his pocket and picked up the portfolio before moving around behind Remington. "Too bad you didn't figure that out ten years ago, Mr. Steele. My father might still be alive." He untied Remington's hands. "Untie your feet," he said, appearing again with the gun and the portfolio.

"You could have come forward, kept him from going to prison," Remington pointed out evenly as he bent forward to free his legs.

"I was already out of the country by the time he was arrested and convicted. But if *you* had done your job, that wouldn't have happened."

Remington rose to his feet, making a movement toward the man, but Jamie's grip tightened on the gun. "Killing you won't really change anything, Mr. Steele. They'll just say that you stole the painting with Barbara's help and then you and she had a - lover's spat. I've already planted some of her things in your apartment to make it appear as though you and she were involved. Whether you die here of a bullet wound now or later - makes no difference."

"It would seem that you've thought of everything," Remington said. "Except how we're going to get out of the country."

"Oh, I've already thought of that. Let's go, Mr. Steele."

Remington came out of the building into a dark alleyway to find a sedan with dark tinted windows waiting. He recognized it as Barbara Malcolm's car. Jamie nodded toward the door. "Open the door and get behind the wheel. You're driving."

The keys weren't in the ignition, which meant that he couldn't start the engine and pull away before Jamie got inside. When the other door opened, Jamie ordered, "Hands on the steering wheel where I can see him."

Remington placed his hands on the steering wheel as ordered, waiting for the other man to get into the car.

Jamie held out a set of keys. "Start the engine and let's go."


"I'll let you know once we're going."

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

"Your people say that he didn't leave the country on a flight," Laura said to Jarvis.

"Not we've been able to tell."

The telephone rang, and Mildred picked it up. "It's for you, Jarvis."

"Have you found anything, Mildred?" Laura asked.

"Nothing, Miss Holt."

"What's the address?" Jarvis asked whoever was on the phone. He wrote something on a note pad that he took out of his jacket pocket. "On my way." He looked up at Laura. "Barbara Malcolm's body was just found in an abandoned warehouse. She'd been shot."

"I'm going with you," Laura said.

"What about me, Miss Holt?" Mildred asked.

"See what you can find out about Barbara Malcolm, Mildred. I'll let you know if we find anything."

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Warehouses had a generic feel to them. All of them, no matter what they'd been used for over the years, looked alike. Laura had lost track of how many warehouses that she'd been in while investigating cases.

The coroner was just leaving as she and Jarvis arrived at the scene, but the white tape outline on the floor revealed where Barbara Malcolm had fallen. Laura was never prepared for these scenes, but she always toughed them out, putting on her game face for everyone to see.

"What have we got, Neal?" Jarvis asked the coroner's assistant.

"Shot once at close range." He held up a plastic bag containing a .38 caliber pistol. "This was found beside the body. And this -" he held up another bag containing something small and gold that looked like some kind of jewelry. "This was clutched in the victim's hand as if she tore it off of her assailant's sleeve in a struggle."

Jarvis took the second bag, and then held it out for Laura to inspect. "RS," she read from the cuff link.

"Does Mr. Steele own a set of cufflinks like that, Laura?"

"He owns several of them. It's a - gag gift. Mildred gets a new set for him every Christmas. He always wears them." Seeing the expression on his boyish face, Laura said, "Just because that's here, it doesn't mean that Mr. Steele shot Barbara Malcolm, Jarvis."

"No, but it does make it appear that he did."

"Maybe that's exactly what someone wants you to believe," Laura countered easily.

"Thanks, Neal," Jarvis told the assistant, handing the evidence bags back to him. "Over here, Lieutenant," an officer called, and they moved to an easel.

"Looks like someplace that a person would put a painting doesn't it, sir?"

"Yeah. That's exactly what it's for," Jarvis nodded.

Laura, meanwhile, was inspecting the rest of the room, finding the chair sitting across from the painting. Ropes were still fastened to the chair, as if someone had been tied there. "Jarvis, what do you make of this?"


"Yeah, Lieutenant?"

"Check out those ropes - Looks like blood on this one -" He indicated one of the ropes tied to the back of the chair.

"The victim might have been tied up there before she was shot, Jimmy," Neal suggested.

"Were there any abrasions on her wrists?" Laura questioned.

"N-no, there wasn't."

"Then she wasn't tied there," Laura declared, telling the detective Remington's blood type. "I think you'll find that the type of blood is a match to Mr. Steele."

"Then where is he?" Jarvis asked again.

Laura paced across the room to where the empty easel sat. "If you wanted to get out of the country without attracting attention, or having to present your passport - how would you do it, Jarvis?"

"Sneak across the border, maybe," Jarvis suggested.

Laura shook her head. "Too risky. Same with trying to drive across, especially with a painting worth a quarter of a million."

"Private airplane?" Jarvis said.

"You'd have to hire someone to fly it."

"Unless you know how yourself."

"Think about it. You've got a prisoner - Mr. Steele - who knows you're not going to let him go before you kill him. You've got that painting. How are you doing to control that aircraft *and* keep an eye on Mr. Steele while protecting the reason you're doing this to begin with?"

Jarvis considered the scenario. "Okay. So what would you do?"

"I'd go by boat. A small craft could easily slip out of a harbor and head south toward Mexico, come ashore in a remote area where you have transport waiting - and make your get away with no trouble."

"You'd still have to deal with Steele."

"A boat is larger. More places to fasten someone up so they can't get to you."

"There are a lot of marinas in the area, Laura. They could be anywhere. That's *if* you're right and Steele didn't do this."

"I know I'm right, Jarvis," she insisted. "Shooting someone in cold blood isn't exactly Mr. Steele's style."

"I'll make sure that the marinas are covered - and that they know to keep an eye out for Steele." He looked at Laura. "He doesn't by any chance own a boat, does he?"

"No, but he *has* rented one on occasion," Laura recalled, already moving toward the car. "Come on."

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

The marina manager was talking to one of the slip tenants when he saw a boat moving out, away from the dock. "Hey!" he called out. "What are you doing?"

"Just thought I'd take it out for a spin, Mr. Carlisle," Remington Steele called back from his place at the controls. "Won't be long."

"Wasn't that Remington Steele?" the man that Carlisle had been talking to asked as they watched the cabin cruiser pick up speed once it cleared the other craft.

"Yeah. He has a standing rental agreement for the Mary Lou - Why?"

"You haven't been watching the news? He's been all over the place lately! They say he stole a valuable painting from a client."

"No. Not Steele. I mean he -" Carlisle's eyes followed the boat's progress before he ran back into the office and grabbed the phone to call the police. "Yeah. You guys are trying to find Remington Steele? . . ."

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

"Very good, Mr. Steele," Biggs said as he rose from his position, the gun still in hand.

"Where are we going?"

Biggs gave him a heading. "Just follow that until I say otherwise."

"You know that the marina manager will no doubt alert the authorities that I've taken this boat and they'll have the Coast Guard out to intercept us."

"By the time they find it, you won't be on it - and neither will I."

"And where will we be?"

"I'll be sitting back enjoying margaritas. You, unfortunately, will be swimming with the fishes."

"Just going to set me adrift? I'm a strong swimmer."

"With a bullet in your leg?" Biggs questioned. "And the blood from the wound will attract the sharks. By the time they find what's left, there won't be much to identify."

Remington repressed a shudder at the idea and glanced at the controls, wondering if he were to suddenly shift into reverse -

"I wouldn't try it, Mr. Steele. If I'm jarred off of my feet, the gun might go off."

"You don't expect me to jump overboard without a fight, I hope?"

"Of course not." He indicated the gun. "But I think you'll see the sense in cooperating."

"I'm sorry about your father, Mr. Biggs, but -"

"Spare me, Steele. You screwed up. You pointed the police at the wrong man. Sent the wrong man to prison."

"I didn't put him into prison, Biggs. The courts did that. If you were so concerned about your father, you should have come forward and confessed to the crime yourself."

"Shut up." He looked behind the boat. "Okay. This is far enough, I think. Kill the engines."

Remington pulled back on the throttle and grabbed the key from the ignition, tossing it into the water.

"No!!!!!' Biggs yelled, turning to backhand Steele with his free hand. "You stupid -"

Remington ignored the pain in his cheek as he sat on the deck. "I hope you know how to hotwire one of these things. It's a bit difficult.-"

Biggs pointed the gun at him. "I should just shoot you right here for that -"

"I wouldn't. If they find my blood on the boat, they'll know I was injured and know that someone else was on board. And - if we're both going to have to swim back to shore, I don't think you want to have to worry about attracting sharks now, do you?"

Biggs tightened his hold on the gun. "I can always shoot you and toss you overboard, wait for someone to rescue me. I can tell them that you forced me to come along with you after you killed Barbara. We struggled for the gun, and you lost, falling overboard. I'll lose the money for the painting, but I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you're dead."

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Laura and Jarvis got into the helicopter and buckled in as it took off again. "I hate these things," Laura called out to him.

"Right now it's the only hope we have of getting to Steele before it's too late."

Someone else on the docks had seen a second man get onto the "Mary Lou" with Remington, and had called to report seeing Remington Steele, no doubt hoping for a share of whatever reward might be offered. Laura had given Jarvis a look of vindication. "Now do you believe me?"

He smiled. "I never had any doubts."

He had arranged for a police helicopter to meet them and fly them out to locate the cruiser. "It's a big ocean, Lieutenant," Laura pointed out.

"We're not the only ones looking, either, Miss Holt," he replied. "The Coast Guard is in on this as well. Do you know the boat he's on?"

"I've been on it a few times. We went to Catalina last month."

"Than that's a 'yes'?"


"Then start looking for it."

"I think that's it!" Laura called out a few minutes later to Jarvis, pointing to the cabin cruiser floating alone on the ocean below.

Jarvis leaned forward to tap the pilot on the shoulder. "Take us down as low as possible, Stan!"

The pilot nodded.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

"Say good-bye, Mr. Steele," Biggs said, his finger slowly tightening on the trigger, only to stop and look up as he heard the sound of a helicopter's blades slicing through the air.

Seeing the LAPD painted on the side of the aircraft, Remington sighed with relief - until Biggs fired two rounds at the helicopter. Remington tackled the thief from behind, sending him to the deck, and the gun flew from his hand onto the lower deck.

Biggs squirmed away from Remington, dropping down the ladder onto the lower deck, obviously trying to retrieve his gun. Remington followed, tackling him again, but this time Biggs came up with the gun and had Remington in his sights once more.

Seeing the struggle going on below, Laura leaned forward. "Can you get this thing low enough so that I can jump out into the boat?" she asked. She saw him glance at Jarvis as though wondering if she was serious.

"Do it, Stan!" Jarvis called out.

Laura watched as the skid of the helicopter was nearly touching the stern of the boat, and then opened her door, dropping the four feet to the deck and rolling to hide behind the cabin when she heard a gunshot.

"This is it, Steele," Laura heard the man say, and peered around the corner to see that he was holding a gun on Remington.

"You can't possibly hope to get away with this now, Biggs," Remington said, and Laura frowned. The name was familiar. Right after she had opened the Agency, she'd taken a case for a private museum - and discovered that the caretaker, Archie Biggs, had been the culprit. This man was too young to be Archie Biggs, though. "The police are here - there are witnesses. If you kill me, you'll end up in the electric chair."

"It'll be worth it, knowing that you're already dead, after what you did to my father -"

Laura glanced around to see Jarvis leap onto the deck behind her, his gun out and ready. "Biggs!" she called. "Mr. Steele's not responsible for putting your father into prison! I am!"

"He tried to tell me the same thing, Miss Holt," Biggs replied, but remained where he was, his gaze and gun both locked onto Remington. "It was his name on the agency. It was his responsibility. But since you're here, you might as well join us, Miss Holt."

"Sorry. I don't think I can do that," Laura said, moving around the front of the cabin, moving around on the other side to create a diversion. Once she was in place, Laura called out, "Biggs!" and ducked beneath the side as Biggs turned to fire once at her.

Remington rushed the man, sending over the railing, catching onto Remington's hand at the last second. "Come on, mate," Remington said. "Give me your other hand."

Laura helped get the man back onto the deck, where Jarvis took him into custody for the theft of the painting "My Daughters" and the murder of Barbara Malcolm.

"We're going to need a tow," Remington informed Laura.


"I - tossed the ignition keys into the water."

"You did *what*?"

"Tossed the keys," he repeated, nodding toward the expanse of ocean. "Seemed like a good idea at the time. And it did buy me enough time so that you and Jarvis got here."

"Couldn't you hotwire it?" Laura suggested, not really sure she wanted to be out here on this boat with Remington, Jarvis, and Biggs for however long it took for a tow to arrive.

When Jarvis sent Laura a look of disapproval, Remington copied it. "Really, Miss Holt. I'm shocked that you would suggest such a thing."

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Later, in Remington's apartment, they sat before the fireplace, glasses of wine in hand. "Laura, when you first heard that the painting and I were both missing - did you think that I - might have done it?"

Laura's eyes falling to her glass were the answer he'd expected. "I thought as much."

"It didn't last long," she insisted, looking up at him again. "And you can thank Mildred for making me see how stupid the idea was to begin with. That woman has more confidence in you than anyone. Even *knowing* the truth about your past."

"I know. I just wish that other people could find as much faith as she does."

"Meaning me."

"It's not that I'm not grateful that you pushed Jarvis into finding me, Laura, it's -"

"Just that you wish I'd been out there from the start doing it." She smiled at him. "It would help if I - knew a little more about your dark and murky past, Mr. Steele," she told him, putting her wine down on the coffee table and leaning back against the sofa. One of her hands slipped under the edge and came into contact with something soft and silky. Pulling it out, she lifted the pair of red silk panties for inspection. "Yours, Mr. Steele?" she questioned, barely restraining her smile.

He grabbed them and tossed them into the fire. "Biggs said that he'd planted some things over here to make it appear that Barbara Malcolm and I were - involved."

"Well, she *was* your usual type," Laura pointed out. "Tall, blonde, larcenous."

Remington put his glass next to hers, turning to face her as he moved closer. "That might have been my 'usual type' at one time, Laura," he admitted. "But my tastes have changed."

"Really?" she questioned, sounding slightly out of breath as he moved ever closer. "Do tell, Mr. Steele."

"I'd much rather show you, Miss Holt," he countered and pulled her into his arms for a long kiss.

The End

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Original Content © Nancy Eddy, 2004