A Hard Day's Steele
Date: Monday, July 02, 2001
Ilsa Lund

Hello all,I'm trying to write one thing and other things keep coming out instead, LOL! Huge thanks to my beta reader/editor Lauryn - I'm always guaranteed a corker of a line from her and so it proves, once again. What's it all about Alfie? Read on . . ..

By Ilsa Lund
Feel free to pass on any feedback



Aboard a full Pan American jet that left London's Heathrow Airport at 11:05 GMT, flying non-stop to California. It's scheduled to touch down at Los Angeles International at 14:15 hrs - a travelling time of 11hrs 10mins. A mix-up in the tickets has resulted in a fast asleep Mildred sitting four rows behind Laura and Steele. Laura has the window seat - she's reading a book. Steele's eyes are glued to the screen as tea and coffee is being served.

Stewardess: Coffee?

Laura [raises her head from her book]: Yes please.

Stewardess: Sir?

Steele: Ah, tea please.

Stewardess: I'm doing coffee but my colleague will be along with tea in a minute.

Steele: Thank you. [returns attention to in-flight movie; after a couple of minutes, pats jacket pocket]

Laura [eyes in her book but a knowing tone]: It's not going anywhere.

Steele: Beg pardon?

Laura: Your passport. [looks up and points to his jacket pocket] It's not going anywhere.

Steele: Nothing gets by you, eh Laura?

Laura: You've been doing that since we left London. [beat] Four hours ago.

Steele: It's the only passport I've got now. Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase `travelling light'.

Second stewardess approaches

Stewardess: Tea?

Steele [smiles]: Yes please. Lemon, no milk.

Stewardess [pouring]: Anything else I can do for you sir?

Steele [smooth as silk]: Not right now. Thank you. [showing all his teeth].

Stewardess: If you need anything -

Laura [evenly]: We'll be sure to let you know. Thank you.

Stewardess departs

Steele: Remarkable service, eh?

Laura [blase]: How difficult is it to pour tea Mr. Steele?

Steele: Still, I'm most impressed with the way she squeezed my lemon. [steals a glance at her; she's still immersed in her reading matter] But nobody squeezes it quite like you do . . . the grip of your fingers . . .

A couple of beats; she's trying to ignore him but the speed she's flicking through the pages gives her away

Steele: . . . as they apply just the right amount of pressure [lowers voice to a murmur] . . .. squeezing . . .. until . . ..

Laura [uptight]: I get the picture Mr. Steele!

Steele: Stimulating isn't it? [raises cup to mouth with a grin]

A couple of minutes pass

Laura [musing]: What would you have done?

Steele: Eh?

Laura: Without that passport. [points to his jacket pocket] What would you have done?

Steele: Broken into Scotland Yard of course. [wiggles eyebrows]

Laura [resignedly]: I should've guessed.

Steele: But it's a moot point now, thank heavens. [beat] And thank you. Again.

Laura [hides a smile]: You're welcome.

A couple of minutes pass

Steele: Remington Steele. My most tangible identity. [beat] If I can't find out who I really am, he's as good a substitute as any I suppose.

Laura [raises her head and looks at him]: What are you talking about? You're you.

Steele: I'm not sure I know who that is anymore.

Laura: Well I do.

Steele: You do?

Laura: Yes.

Steele: Go on then. [crosses arms] Who am I?

Laura [smugly]: The most frustrating man I have ever met in my life, that's who.

Steele: Oh really?

Laura: Yes really.

Steele: Do you know what you are?

Laura [coolly]: No. But something tells me you're going to tell me.

Steele: If there's a more stubborn, obstinate woman walking this planet, I've yet to meet her.

Laura: Takes one to know one.

Steele: Are you saying that I'm stubborn and obstinate?

Laura: Recognise the description, Mr. Steele?

Steele: Just trying to keep up with you Miss Holt.

Laura: I'm not finished.

Steele: You mean there's more?

Laura: The biggest scaredy cat too.

Steele: Such quaint expressions you Americans have.

Laura: I think you'd rather walk on fire than be open about your feelings.

Steele: What's that old saying about a pot and a kettle?

Laura [frowns]: Wait-a-minute! Are you implying that I'm a scaredy cat too?

Steele: If the meow fits.

Laura: Hah!

Steele: I beg your pardon Laura?

Laura: I flew 6,000 miles to find you.

Steele: I flew 6,000 miles to find me.

Laura: Why do you think I came all this way?

Steele: Why do you think I came all this way too? And why do you think I'm flying back again?

Laura: I didn't ask you to leave. All I said was that we needed time apart.

Steele: I told you why I left. It wasn't just for me.

Laura: No note, no call, no -

Steele: I explained why Laura.

Laura: If you'd thought about me, you'd have -

Steele [irritated]: What are you going on about, eh? Of course I thought about you. That's one of the reasons why I left. [raises voice slightly] If you'd thought about me, you'd never have proposed time apart in the first place!

Laura [angry]: You're being unfair! For your information, I thought about you so much that I left William and - [breaks off suddenly]

Steele: Left William? [frowns] William who? [beat] William
Westfield? You and William Westfield?

Pregnant pause

Laura: There wasn't a me and William Westfield. [deep breath; looks away then faces him] But there could've been.

Steele [shocked]: I see.

Laura: No you don't. Nothing happened.

Steele: You just said something almost did.

Laura: I also said that I left him. I went back to Rossmore but you weren't there.

Steele: And I suppose that makes it alright?

Laura: I beg your pardon?

Steele: What were you doing with him in the first place?

Laura: I wasn't 'with him!' Might I remind you Mr. Steele that we were conducting business involving William? [beat] Westfield. He was very kind and understanding and I appreciated his assistance with the case. That's all.

Steele [dryly]: How magnanimous of him.

Laura: It's in the past so let's just forget it.

Steele: You get involved - [spots her glare and quickly changes tack] - you nearly get involved with someone else and I'm supposed to forget it?

Laura [firmly]: Yes.

Steele: Just like that? [snaps fingers]

Laura: Yes.

Steele: You're asking an awful lot of me Laura.

Laura: You asked just as much of me when Anna Simpson came back.

Steele [testily]: What's Anna got to do with this?

Laura: You had a history with her and you made it clear that I should give you the space you needed to work it all out. I respected that, didn't I? Nothing happened between William and me: we have no past, we have no present and we have no future.

Steele: Put yourself in my shoes for a moment. It's all rather a bolt from the blue. You and another man.

Laura: Don't make it sound like that.

Steele: Like what?

Laura: Like some sordid affair. That's not what it was.

Steele: What was it then?

Laura [sighs]: I don't know. Maybe a distraction.

Steele: From what?

Laura: From things.

Steele: What things?

Laura: Exactly.

Steele: Eh?

Laura: 'What things' indeed Mr. Steele. Things like, what were we? What were we doing? Where were we going? Was it just the agency keeping us together? Or was there more to us than that? Or less? When I was with William, those questions didn't come up. Being with him stopped me from thinking about us. For a while at least.

Steele: You sought refuge from [beat] things, that way?

Laura [indignant]: What way? Nothing happened!

They stare at each other for a moment. Laura returns to her book. Steele, the film

A long pause


Intercom: Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. [Laura and Steele stop what they're doing to listen to the announcement] I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome you once again to Pan Am flight 293, non-stop from London to Los Angeles. We are travelling at our cruising altitude of 33,000 feet, the weather ahead is good and therefore we should have a smooth, uneventful journey and not too much turbulence. Now, please sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. Thank you for choosing Pan Am.

At the end of the message, Laura carries on reading. Steele
concentrates on the movie

A long pause


Laura [closes book]: It was what I needed at the time. [sighs] Maybe I was fooling myself. There was always going to be a point where I had to face up to things. Not hide behind William. I've made that so clear. Why can't you accept it?

Steele [hesitant]: Because I thought we were - to my mind, we had - I know we weren't perfect, but [gesticulates helplessly] it was - to me, I'd never known, I'd never had - [deep breath, then breaks off]

Laura [soothingly]: Mr. Steele, we were going through a bad period. [sighs] More so than usual. But it still wasn't enough to make me go through with that trip away in - to force me to give up. To just let us go our separate ways. Don't you see?

A pregnant pause

Steele [brooding]: Time Laura. Give me time to take this all in, eh?

Laura: Sure. But there's nothing to -

Steele: I know. I know. [places a hand over his heart] Bruised ego and all that.

Laura: I'm on this plane. [pointedly] It's not your ego that's bruised Mr. Steele.

A long pause


Steele [looks at her]: So. [smiles] I'm the most frustrating man you've ever met, eh?

Laura [pretends to think it over]: Easily. And I'm the most stubborn woman?

Steele [feigns contemplation]: Inordinately. Quite a pair, eh?

Laura: Yes.

They stare at each other for a moment. Laura returns to her book. Steele, the movie.

Another long pause


Steele: What have I missed? Business wise, I mean.

Laura: Not much. A couple of cut and dried cases but so much of my time, and Mildred's, was spent looking for you.

Steele: That's good to know.

Laura: Your tailor called. I collected your suits. I - uh, at first, I kept them with me at the loft, [beat] but then I - I hung them in your closet. [beat] A couple of weeks ago. Just in case.

Steele [blankly]: Ah, wonderful. [tugs earlobe] Which ones?

Laura: A blue one and a grey one.

Steele: You refer to my superfine cashmere worsted suit, woven in Biella, Italy I might add, and my classic English worsted, medium weight blue on blue, high-twist - suits that combine optimum freedom of movement and maximum crease-resistance - as merely, 'a blue one and a grey one'?

Laura [wearily]: Mr. Steele, I hardly think -

Steele: All these years and the learning has only flowed in one direction. I'm disappointed Laura.

Laura: You may have picked up a few things from me, but legwork isn't one of them.

Steele [playfully]: Tsk, tsk, tsk. Have you forgotten the rules Miss Holt? You do the work, I take the bows.

Laura: You know very well that that isn't how we do things anymore.

Steele: You're right. Now it's, we do the work and I take the bows. [grins]

Laura: And you take them so well Mr. Steele.

Steele: No need to thank me Miss Holt. It's a role I was born to play.

Laura [glances at him]: Yes Mr. Steele. [beat] I'm really beginning to believe that.

Steele: It appears I've believed it far longer than you have.

They stare at each other for a moment. Laura returns to her book yet again, Steele, the film.

Another long pause


Steele: I hope the Earl of Claridge finds his son.

Laura [raises her head]: I hope so too Mr. Steele. [briefly rests her hand on his] I'm sorry. [sincerely] I'm sorry it wasn't you.

Steele [vacantly]: Yes. Well. [false cheer] Can you honestly, truly see me as a peer of the realm?

Laura [plays along]: A member of the aristocracy?

Steele: Sitting in the House of Lords?

Laura: Servants at your beck and call?

Steele: Doing the London season?

Laura: Lord of the manor?

Steele: Crest of arms?

Laura: Having tea with the Queen?

Steele: Obliged to produce an heir? Although [wiggles eyebrows] I rather like the sound of that. [spots her rolling her eyes] Duty, Laura. Duty.

Laura [smiles]: I can't see it. It's not you.

Steele: Still, it's a pleasant flight of the imagination.

Laura [snaps fingers]: A nice fantasy.

Steele: A castle in Spain.

Laura: A pie in the sky.

Steele: Such stuff as dreams are made of.

Laura: A fairy tale.

Steele: A stretch of the imagination.

Laura: A fallacy. Too bad we live in the real world Mr. Steele.

Steele [genially]: That's what I love about you Laura. You're so pragmatic. Where's your sense of whimsy, eh?

Laura: Remember that figment of my imagination from a typewriter and a football team?

Steele: Ah yes, the paragon of virtue with the matinee idol looks.

Laura: My sense of whimsy is so modest.

Steele: I take the bows, Miss Holt.

Laura: And I go back to being 'unidentified woman'.

Steele: A role you were born to play Laura.

Laura: Watch it.

Steele chuckles then focuses on the film. Laura returns to her book yet again.

Another long pause


Steele: Imagine the Earl of Claridge putting Daniel in charge of his security.

Laura: I'd rather not.

Steele [shifts to look at her]: It's only been three years Laura. He'll grow on you.

Laura: What is it with you two? Buy one, get one free? Me and my shadow?

Steele: Odd.

Laura: What is?

Steele: You two.

Laura: Us two? You mean, [points to herself] me and Mr. Chalmers?

Steele: Hmm. So different -

Laura [under her breath]: Thank God.

Steele: - and yet you both induce the same feeling in me.

Laura: What feeling?

Steele: An unerring impulse to apologise to one, for the other.

Laura: You don't have to justify me to him, I've done nothing to be sorry for.

Steele: I'm not talking about your moral superiority complex Laura.

Laura: Oh?

Steele: No. It's something else. It goes deeper.

Laura [closes her book]: Go on.

Steele: Well, I can't quite put my finger on it.

Laura: On what?

Steele: Why things are the way they are between you and Daniel.

Laura [knocked for six]: Mr. Steele haven't you taken in - don't you see that the - [hesitates] Look, we don't see eye to eye on . . . something. [looks down at her hands] Something of interest to us both.

Steele: I know what it is.

Laura [wide eyed]: You do?

Steele: Of course I do. [thoughtfully] I'm not asking you to approve of our inglorious past but rest assured, it's just that - in the past.

Laura [cautiously]: It's not just about your mysterious past.

Steele: Well, what is it then?

Laura [mulls something over]: It's . . . it's difficult to explain.

Steele: I'm not going anywhere Laura.

Laura: You mean you won't be taking one of your occasional side trips Mr. Steele?

Steele: Not for the next six hours. No.

Laura: So when Mr. Chalmers turns up to recruit you for one of his harebrained schemes, what then?

Steele: Now that the Earl of Claridge has offered Daniel a position . . . a position of responsibility . . . well . . . there's every possibility he'll also be treading the straight and narrow.

Laura: Every possibility? Hedging your bets over Chalmers, Mr. Steele?

Steele: You want guarantees?

Laura: And you can't give them.

Steele: If I recall, we were talking about you and Daniel. Not me and Daniel. I'm just curious as to why things are always so strained between you two.

Laura [considers it]: Mr. Steele?

Steele: Yes?

Laura: Can we talk about this later?

Steele: I owe Daniel a great deal and he'll always be my friend. I just need you to know that.

Laura: I do know. I'm aware of it.

Steele [smiles]: And Daniel realises that I feel the same way about you . . . well not quite the same way. After all, you'll discover things about me that Daniel never will: my staying power, for instance. [wiggles eyebrows; she rolls her eyes] What say we discuss my prowess over a hot bubble bath afterwards, eh Laura? Sip some champagne . . . put the tub to good use . . . test its sturdiness.

Laura: That experiment won't hold water, Mr. Steele. I'm planning a quiet night in alone.

Steele: Ah. [beat] Think of me as a lost, cute little puppy Miss Holt. If I follow you home, [leans closer to her] will you keep me?

Laura [firmly]: Down, Doolittle.

Steele [murmurs]: There's room on that bed for two. I could roll over, sit up and beg. And if you ask me nicely, I might even lick your face.

Laura [cool as a cucumber]: Mr. Steele, I take lost, little puppies straight to the pound.

Steele: Spoilsport.

Laura: Hmm. Doolittle. What an apt name for someone with your aversion to legwork.

Steele: As I recall, that particular mutt was very good at legwork. His aim was uncanny.

Laura [laughs]: He only had eyes for you Mr. Steele.

Steele: Wonderful. I'm irresistible to a dog but have to employ a ruse just to get you alone in San Francisco.

Laura: I'm not an easy woman, Mr. Steele. You've said it yourself. Often.

Steele: Indeed, Miss Holt. [beat] Time alone together. That's what we need. [catches her scepticism] To help me recover from the trauma of not turning out the son of an Earl. Mauritius? Jamaica? Sri Lanka?

Laura: You and your wanderlust.

Steele: You know me Laura.

Laura: Ever the intrepid explorer, Mr. Steele.

Steele: With a burning desire to conquer uncharted territory, Miss Holt.

Laura: You haven't lost your gift for adolescent passes.

Steele: On the contrary, when one makes a pass, when one flirts, by definition one isn't being serious. Whereas, when I make a pass at you, I'm being completely serious.

Laura: Mr. Steele, I really think -

Steele: You think too much Laura.

Laura: An unexamined life isn't worth having Mr. Steele.

Steele: Live on the edge Miss Holt. Just for once. Be spontaneous - act on the spur of the moment.

Laura: Let me think about it.

Steele: And do what?

Laura: Who knows? I may surprise you.

Steele: I doubt that very much.

Laura: What are you saying?

Steele: I've known you long enough to know what you're capable of.

Laura: Oh really? And just who was it stunned into silence when they found out about my fan dance?

Steele: You still haven't shown it to me.

Laura: I'm waiting for the right time.

Steele: How about eight o'clock tonight?

Laura: That's not what I'm talking about and you know it.

Steele [crosses arms]: What do you want Laura?

Laura [carefully]: I want you to tell me what you want.

Steele: Ladies first.

Laura: Age before beauty.

Steele: If I know what you want, it might help me to clarify what I want.

Laura: Fine. I want to know where we're going.

Steele: LAX last time I checked.

Laura [restrained]: With our relationship.

Steele: Well, we're continuing it. Aren't we? Isn't that what London was all about?

Laura: I just thought you might want to get something off your chest, that's all. Maybe say something to me.

Steele: Say something? [tugs earlobe] Say what?

Laura: If you don't know, Mr. Steele, I'm not going to tell you.

Steele: Women. The biggest bloody mystery in the entire solar system.

Laura blows an exasperated breath and opens her book yet again. Steele harrumphs and returns to the movie

Another long pause


Steele: I'm glad you came. [smiles as Laura meets his gaze] It was - uh, I missed your - nagging.

Laura [expression softens]: I missed - having someone to, errm - nag.

They stare at each other. Deeply. No words needed. It's a silent, mutual question and they both answer it.

Long pause


Steele [points]: Interesting book?

Laura: Not really. Good film?

Steele: So-so. 'Flashdance'. 1983 I think. Not one I saw in the cinema but then - [breaks off as Laura sighs] What's the matter?

Laura [rubbing her neck]: I'm exhausted. I want to sleep. But I can't.

Steele: Why can't you?

Laura: I don't know. Maybe I'm too tired to sleep.

Steele: Grab your pillow, lean on me, and close your eyes.

Laura: Mr. Steele, I hardly think that's -

Steele: Perfectly innocent Laura. Try it. [he watches as she plumps her pillow, and moves closer; she arranges it so that a part rests on his shoulder, the remainder, his arm; then she wriggles into position] How is that? Better?

Laura [getting comfortable]: Much. [exhales deeply] This flight is taking forever.

Steele: I know it's a long journey Laura. And it feels like we're not moving forward, that we're not making any progress. [kisses the top of her head] But the fact is that we are. And we'll get there in the end.