The Alternate Link of Steele 9
Date: Saturday, August 19, 2000
Adriana <>

Thanks to Debra for always helping me so much!

The Alternate Link of Steele 9

By Adriana

Riverside Manor, Kensington, London. 11.46 PM

"You will not go and that's final!" Daniel Chalmers exclaimed.

His voice sounded so dangerously low and icy that it would have turned anybody's blood cold. The woman in front of him, however, didn't seem to register the unveiled threat his eyes sent her.

Felicia's equally cold blue eyes told Daniel she was as determined as he was, and that it would take much more than a simple warning to keep her from walking out. If it wasn't for the fact that Daniel knew she had no immediate means of making a hasty departure, he would have considered tying her up in a chair.

*I might have done stupid things in my time, Felicia,* Daniel was thinking, *But I'll be damned if I'll let you put my son's life in more danger that it already is.*

"You can't stop me, Daniel; Michael needs my help," Felicia said, her manner unwavering.

Daniel sighed.  Persuasion wasn't going to work this time, but maybe the truth would.

"You'd be putting him in more danger than you think, Felicia.  It's a miracle you made it this far without the CIA smelling your trail," he told her wearily. Then seeing the confusion in her elegant features, he added, " Freddy Hawks belonged to the Agency. If you were to find Harry, and they were to find you...Well, we both know Harry would take the fall with you." The shock in Felicia's face told Daniel he had a tiny advantage over her in this struggle. He managed a weak smile, his eyes pleading for her to understand, "And neither of us wants that, do we?"

He took Felicia's arm and carefully led the way towards the cozy living room, where the sparkling embers of the already dying fire glowed in the heart of the fireplace. Daniel helped the troubled woman to a comfortable sofa, poured them both a much needed brandy and sat himself opposite her. He knew the inevitable questions that would follow would take some time to be answered, and it was Daniel's motto to make a strenuous situation more bearable if it was in his power to do so.

Felicia, on the other hand, was so immersed in her grief that she hardly noticed the older man in front of her anymore. *CIA?  How could that be possible?* she asked herself over and over.  She didn't believe for one minute Michael had known; he would have certainly told her about it.

But,* Felicia reasoned, *maybe Michael didn't trust me as far as I thought.* He had not told her about the other contact or the final destination of their trip.  She had been happy thinking he had kept the information from her in order to protect her in case one of them were caught, but now she had her doubts.  Had Michael ever trusted anyone completely? And would he ever be able to?

Felicia knew he hadn't trust Daniel with his plan this time, either, and that led to an even more unsettling question.  She eyed the gray haired man that was now quietly sipping his brandy, also lost in thought.

"How did you know Freddy was CIA? Michael didn't mention you knew Freddy at all." she said finally, her words carried such amount of hatred they made Daniel shiver.

Daniel Chalmers took another sip of brandy as he considered how much information he should give the woman. Finally, he decided he would tell her as little as possible, but enough to keep her and her followers away from Harry.

Daniel looked at Felicia, liking her.  She had become a remarkable woman, and he was sorry she had come to murder to save Harry's life. But even so, he now thought he perceived a small change in her, a slight difference in the way she talked and behaved.  She seemed more detached, colder. She seemed more like the young Felicia he had met so many years ago.

*Maybe it's only the stress of the situation,* Daniel hoped. *Or maybe this has to do with that Holt woman.* He winced at the memory of Laura Holt, thinking of the countless times he had come so close to losing Harry because of her.  Still, though, it had been also her stubbornness that had brought him back to his side.

Looking at Felicia then, Daniel realized that the hatred she must feel for Laura Holt would be even greater than his own. *Jealousy is one of the most dangerous things a man can face, * he thought, involuntary letting out a small smile as he lowered his eyes to the brim of his crystal glass. He looked at and the blond, beautiful woman in front of him and wondered how far would her jealousy take her. *A rejected woman's unleashed anger could so easily be directed back to the cause of that rejection,* he surmised. If his time to stand up for Harry came, he wouldn't hesitate for a moment, no more than Felicia had.

"I think we both will have to stay low for a while, my dear," Daniel said almost to himself. "You will agree that it's best if we keep away from our acquaintances and usual places until Harry is safely back and the danger is obliterated."

"How did you know Freddy was CIA?" Felicia repeated, her voice steady and increasingly threatening.

Daniel stared into her cold blue eyes and knew he most certainly had a new enemy... An enemy he had to keep safely by side. *I'm sorry, my dear,* he wanted to tell the sapphire eyes glaring at him, *but Harry is all I have left in this world, and  I'll do whatever it takes to keep him safe.*

He thought and frowned deeply as he realized what that meant.

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

Center for Social Research, Main Hallway.  5.42 AM

Arkadi leaned on the wall, scratching himself wistfully as he contemplated the warm bath that awaited him at home once his shift was over. He looked at his watch and nodded in content. Only one more hour or so, and he'd be heading home.

This night in the Research Center had been uneventful, as it was every other night. That was one of the reasons he had asked his uncle, who had a high position within the Security Committee, to assign him to this particular position.  Arkadi was definitely not a violent man, and now that he had a young beautiful wife and two small children, he was through playing hero in the militia.

That was why, as he saw the dark figure rapidly closing the space between them, weapon in hand, he barely muttered a "Stoi!" as he lifted his machine gun to level with his assailant's chest.  The heavy blow came from his back rather than his front, where he'd seen the threatening figure coming from.  The last thing Arkadi thought before the lights went out on him was that the assailant was rather small.

Steele heard Arkadi grunt and his hand immediately went to the man's mouth. Seeing the soldier was unconscious, he gently laid his head on the floor and proceeded to search him for weapons.

Laura was looking at him from the darkness, her improvised "weapon" - a ruler she'd found on the desk and wrapped in dark cloth from the blankets - dangling lazily from her right hand.  A few minutes earlier she had been telling Steele her suspicions about Felicia being in danger, and now here *she* was, involved in the possible murder of a KGB agent. This wasn't looking so good.

"Here; hold this for a minute," Steele told her as he threw the machine gun towards her.

Still in shock at the precise violence Steele had displayed on the man's neck when knocking him, Laura caught the gun almost on a reflex.

"Is he alive?" she asked, fearing the negative response.

"Yes," he said noncommittally.

As he finished searching Arkadi, Steele produced the soldier's wallet and looked through its contents.  As he tucked the small knife he'd found in the soldier's jacket into the back of his belt, his eyes traveled through the black and white pictures of Arkadi's wife and child. Steele's eyes darkened and he bent over the man again and put the wallet back in its place.

"Tsieluyitye dietieyi," he told him with a sad smile as he stood up and started towards the next corridor.

Laura followed him uneasily, the fact that he seemed to know his way so easily bothering her. As she watched his lean figure sliding into the shadows with the grace of a panther, she realized she was not altogether happy with the idea of Steele calling the shots.  Even so, she knew she had to trust him. She wanted to trust him.

"Was he KGB?" Laura asked in a whisper as she followed him into the hallway.

"No, just a soldier," he replied.

Then seeking the protection of the wall, he peered into the next corridor. Moving rapidly in the darkness, he urged her to follow him. Looking back, he saw that she was still holding the machine gun in her hands.

When they stopped on the farthest corner of the corridor Steele turned to her, with frightened eyes.  "What are you doing with that?" he scolded her as he looked objectionably at the weapon.

Laura looked at her hands and noticed the gun there. She opened her mouth as if to answer, but she couldn't think of anything to say. She hadn't even realized she had been carrying it, but now the cold, deadly metal seemed to weigh tons.

"Never mind," he assured her. "We'll return it on the way back."

They ran along the narrow hall until Steele finally reached the door he apparently was looking for. The Cyrillic characters on the plastic plate above it gave Laura not one clue.

"What to you mean 'on our way back'?" she whispered, quite out of breath after the long run.

Steele motioned for her to remain silent as he began working on the lock.

Laura, however, was having none of that. "Are we returning to that room?" she asked.

"Of course. We don't want Kira to get angry with us, do we?" he replied, knowing full well it was no use trying to escape from there. Not yet, at least.

"But that soldier. He-"

"He didn't know what hit him. Quite literally, I assure you," Steele replied, smiling briefly as the lock finally gave way and he opened the door.

They moved inside the murky room, which looked very much like an office. There were file cabinets on three of the four walls, a small window with drawn blinds, and two desks, each covered with disarranged piles of paper. There was no computer, but there was an electronic typing machine.  Everything seemed to be more or less in order, but the room was so cramped and cluttered, that the order seemed quite baroque.

"What is this place?" Laura asked, looking around an then up, where she saw an old roof fan with enough dust on it to suggest it hadn't been used for at least a year.

"It's pretty obvious, Laura.  It's an office," he told her with an innocent smile.

"It was a rhetorical question, Mr. Steele," she replied, quite dryly.

His grin widened smugly in response as his eyes quickly scanned the place. He saw the phone he was looking for on the old wooden desk opposite the files cabinet on the right wall and began to move towards it.

Laura's yank on his arm, however, prevented him from going too far. Steele stopped and looked back at her. She was just staring at him with questioning eyes, silently demanding an explanation.

"I need to call Daniel and see if he's heard from Felicia. I have to warn them, Laura," he told her, his tone almost apologetic.

But when she smiled back and pressed his arm reassuringly, Steele knew she hadn't doubt him. He smiled to himself and began moving again.

"Wait!" Laura whispered again, the light in her eyes flickering warmly at him.

Steele stopped in his tracks once again. "Yes?"

"What did you tell him?" she asked, as she frowned with curiosity.

Steele looked confused. He glanced at Laura, then at the phone, then back at Laura again. "I haven't spoken with him yet," he told her, quirking an eyebrow in perplexity.

"No... to the soldier. You told him something in Russian," she explained, her eyes searching his in the darkness. "What did you tell him?"

Steele smiled again and went back to her side, leaning with his back against the door. He looked her in the eyes and then lowered them to her lap, to hide his shame "I think I hit him herder then I meant to," he said.

"You apologized?" she asked, her surprised tone making Steele think she didn't consider him capable of doing such a thing.

"Apologized? Remington Steele?" he replied playing along, the old routine making him feel as if he had returned to a long lost home.

Laura swallowed a laugh, his mock insulted tone and hurt face reminding her of the old days when everything was so easy. Well, sort of, anyway. The light in her eyes was dancing with merriment as she asked, "So what did you tell him, then?"

He suddenly grew serious as he looked straight at her and drew a small sigh before answering. "I told him to kiss his children for me," he said quietly. Then he smiled.

Laura smiled back.

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

Outskirts of Saint Petersburg, farm house, 6:30 AM

Two strong arms grabbed Murphy's shoulders and forced him up. Confused by the sudden and rude interruption to his already troubled sleep, it took him a few seconds to recognize the face of Sergeant Grechko looking at him from the frame of the door. The man grabbing him so insistently, Murphy supposed, was a police officer of lesser rank but more strength, no doubt.

"I'm up, I'm up. Let go!" he told the officer, quite annoyed.

The grip of the policeman, however, did not lessen for a second, and his half questioning and half stern expression told Murphy the man didn't understand English-- and he didn't like the people who did.

Grechko moved forward and ordered his man to let the American go, then said, "Good morning, Mister Michaels. I trust you had a good night's sleep?"

Murphy shook free from the Russian's strong hands and jumped at Grechko, but the Sergeant had anticipated his move and ducked swiftly, avoiding Murphy and sending him crashing against the door with a loud thump. Grechko lifted his hand to stop the other officer from reacting.  Then he looked down at Murphy, who was sprawled on the floor and cursing under his breath.

"What do you want?" Murphy asked, his tiredness evident.

Grechko motioned for the guard to help Murphy up. The man pulled the american to his feet as if he were light as a leaf.  "Sadyetes!" - Sit down!- the Russian told Murphy in a less than friendly tone.

Murphy looked at him icily and didn't move a muscle. Then with a great amount of self-control, he looked past the guard's eye level as if the man wasn't even there and stared at Grechko.

"Ya nyet gavariyu pa-russkii," he told the guard slowly, spitting out the words distastefully.

The guard merely answered by pushing Murphy onto the bed, as if to make his point clear.

Grechko, standing behind him, laughed.  "I see. But you've learned enough to tell us you don't speak it, haven't you?" he told Murphy with a sneer. His eyes, however, showed a little more respect for the American.

Murphy sat on the bed and frowned, trying to ignore the policeman in front of him. *He's not important,* he reminded himself. *Just focus on Grechko; he's the one that counts.*

"What do you want?" he repeated in a no-nonsense tone. Murphy felt very much at the end of his rope now. He was sick and tired of all this, and he wasn't about to let two Russian apes trash him around as if he was a damn criminal.

Grechko smiled at him. Then moving forwards towards the bed, he motioned for the guard to go outside.  Once the two of them were alone, Grechko sat on a chair opposite Murphy and moved a hand to his eyes, rubbing them tiredly.

"What do you know about Miss Holt, Mr. Michaels?" he asked in a polite tone, not wanting to push the American further, since he had seen the rage that lurked in his hazel eyes.

At the sound of his friend's name, all of Murphy's senses stood on alert. *What should I say? How much does he know already?* he wondered, wishing he wasn't in the dark about what was going on and that he knew what they were involved in.

"What do you mean, Grechko? Where is she?" Murphy asked. Seeing Grechko shrug, Murphy began to feel that something was really wrong. "She's been gone for two days. What did you do with her?"

"Does the name Mikhail Anatoli Novikov ring any bells for you?"

Murphy shook his head negatively. He had no idea what Grechko was talking about, but if it was connected in some way to Laura, he was sure going to pay attention.

"Where is she? And who in earth is that guy?" Murphy demanded to know.

Grechko sighed; this meeting wasn't going well. Michaels seemed to be ever more at a loss than he was. Even worse, he was sure that the KGB had heard all that had been said; he couldn't risk getting caught with more information than he was supposed to have. He looked around to see if he could spot the bugs planted in the room, but then shook his head in sad denial *If the bugs were so visible, Michaels would have got rid of them already, * he reasoned. *The man isn't stupid.*

He saw the anxiousness in the young American's eyes and wondered if he shouldn't leave this whole mess to the KGB and take a well deserved vacation. They owed him three months of vacation already, if he dared to ask. *Keep on dreaming, Grechko. You wouldn't take a vacation even if they offered you a whole month in the mountains. Face it, commarade; you're addicted to your work.*

Grechko eyed Murphy again, trying to decide whether he should trust him or not. The young man looked honest, but you could never be sure. He could very well be a CIA agent. *Well, I'll have to risk it anyway. There's not much else I can do, is there? *he thought as he stood up and began to leave.

"Where are you going? Answer me, dammit! What did you do with Laura?" Murphy yelled. He was tired of this game and he had taken enough from the taunt Russian.

But Grechko didn't answer; he merely took a small piece of paper from his coat and handed it to Murphy. He then left the room and locked the door behind him.

Murphy stared down at the paper, almost wishing to tear it into a million pieces and forget all the spy nonsense they were pulling on him. *Why can't they just be direct?* he thought sourly as he looked down at the cultured hand writing on the paper. He went through the message twice, to see if he had made any mistakes, but he hadn't.  The second reading had been just as demoralizing as the first.

The paper read: "We can't talk here: the room is bugged.  I'll find you at 6 PM today. Don't try to contact me by any means; you're being watched. It's a matter of utmost importance-- I'm afraid your friend is in grave danger."  There was no signature and no names mentioned anywhere.

If it hadn't been for their previous conversation, Murphy wouldn't have known who they talking about, or who 'they' were. Grechko must have written it that way as a precaution, in case the paper had gotten 'lost'.  But everything was quite clear to Murphy. Laura was in danger ,and by the looks of it, Grechko was the only one who had any idea why.

End Part 9
To Part 10