The Alternate Link of Steele
Part 2
By Melanie

Disclaimers: This is an unauthorized, non-profit piece of work. All characters, lines, and concepts of the series of Remington Steele are the property of MTM. Any infringement of copyright property is unintentional, and if there is any problem, comments, or otherwise, you'd like to notify me with, E-mail me at . All feedback is really appreciated. I'm going to keep the rating at PG-13. Thanks to Adriana, who wrote a great Part 1 and Nancy for this awesome page.

Madrid, Spain 1987 Hotel España. 4 a.m.

Mildred stared at Miss Holt wide-eyed, as she was jerked out of sleepiness. "What?"

Her haunted gaze never met Mildred's. "He was there at the museum with Freddy tonight." Mildred's eyebrows came together in a frown. Mildred sat Laura down on the couch hurriedly. "Tell me what happened."

Mechanically, Laura began to recite the events of the evening. At the end of the story, as far as Mildred was concerned, Laura plunged ahead to the incident at the museum. The look on Mildred's face made her feel even guiltier for not confiding in her earlier. She nodded agreeing with Mildred's small frown. "Earlier that night, I'd seena woman he had known, but I never thought he'd be here as well."

"Oh, hon." Mildred put her arm around Laura's shoulder. Could she solely blame Miss Holt? A wave of possessiveness went over her, as if clutching Miss Holt tighter would knock a certain crook out of the younger woman's mind.

"What am I supposed to do, Mildred? Maybe we should leave"

"We can't leave! Murphy got shot remember? He'll need at least a week to recover, and we have to finish the case"

Laura "We'll find him then! He can't leave for at least another few days!"

Mildred heart froze as she stopped to reach across the table and put her arms on Laura's shoulders. Her eyes were filled with concern, for herself and the woman across the table. Her eyes brows raised ever so slightly.

"C'mon, hon. The past is done with, and you should leave it lie and move on. It isn't going to help anyone for you to chase a lost dream."

Laura opened her mouth to argue, but

"He left you, remember? After all this time, would it really be worth it? You don't know what his life has been like, and it could only confuse things even further." Her gaze searched out Laura's and held it for a while, almost pleadingly.

"I don't know, Mildred, it's like, everything'sdifferent now"

"Hey. Nothing's different." She looked away, then back at Miss Holt. Poor kid. Laura brought her eyes up to Mildred once more, and for one second Mildred imagined her the teenage daughter coming home too late. She started to smile, until her mind went back to reality. She sighed, "It's been a hard day. I think we both should call it a night, hmm? We'll figure out everything in the morning." She pushed a tired smile to the surface, and Laura smiled back. "Things'll turn out, so don't you worry."

Laura smiled as Mildred went back to sleep. What would she do without that woman? Laura sighed: she would go to bedanother 4 a.m. `night,' after all.

She wouldn't sleep though

Hotel Casablanca. 9 a.m.

Michael woke up with a start. He'd even dreamt of her. A full, Technicolored picture had formed itself of her in his unconscious mind. Her soft brown hair that fell lightly over her shoulders, her smile that lit up the darkest scenarios and had filled his dreams, those eyesno!

He'd made his decision a long time ago, with many very good reasons. He hadn't belonged in Los Angeles; he'd known that for a long time. She hadn't needed to confirm it for him. He was doing the right thing.

And he loved Felicia. Marrying her had been the best decisions of his life. He'd believed that. All his "very good reasons" has dissolved overnightWhat now?

Would she be looking for him? He'd seen the headlines: "Head Figure's Presence Questionable" "Remington Steele LostSecretary Mourns." No, she wouldn't have come all the way to Spain for him; there was no way she'd be searching after all this time. His eyebrows drew together in a frown.

Why was she here? He had to find out, had to make sure he wouldn't have to see herwhy? No, he didn't want to deal with that now. First, he would deal with the matters at handnamely keeping Hawkes quiet people like that were unpredictable.

******************* ******************* ******************
"I saw Mr. Steele tonight." Miss Holt's declaration had haunted Mildred throughout the night. If what Miss Holt had said was true, the chances of running into him were higher
than when they didn't know if he was still alive! The possibilities were endless. She didn't like it, any of it. Especially the look in Miss Holt's eyes whenever HE was mentioned. Did she think he was a god or something? Mildred shook her head at the distasteful idea.

Her eyes travelled to the bed across the room. It was empty. It was for the best, she decided, as she climbed out of bed and hopped into the shower. There were many things she wanted to say to Miss Holt. But they could wait until Mildred had woken up.

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

She found the younger woman in the hotel lobby. She held a coffee mug in her hand, taking sips invariably. Her hands were so steady yet the look in her eyes made Mildred cringe.

"Hey, hon." Mildred sat carefully, studying the younger woman's face. Her eyes were lined with lack of sleep, yet there was an outstanding set to her mouth.

Her voice was sudden and pained: "Why did it have to be now?"

Mildred was lost. "What are you talking about?"

"Mr. Steele, of course. Why did I have to see him now?"

"Oh, hon" Mildred moved to put her hand over Laura's.

Laura pulled away. "No, I mean, after all this time!"

Mildred grabbed a hold of Miss Holt's shoulders gently, but firmly. "Listen, hon. We came here to do the case, so that's our first priority. That goes especially because Murphy got shot." Her eyes dug meaningfully into Laura's. "Anything else comes later." Laura nodded and a pair of blue eyes flooded her memory. It was a minute before she noticed that Mildred had brightened and was looking at her eagerly.

"Well?? Tell me about the case!"

Laura smiled. Back on track. From what she had seen of Freddy, he was a nervous, insecure wreck, and it wouldn't be hard to break him. All she would have to do was to keep track of his movements, keep herself from his suspicion, wait for the Aztec Display in Mexico City a few weeks ago and then catch him at the act. His father would be able to take it from there. Easy. And that was that as far as Mildred was concerned. After wrapping up the case, she could leave.

Or she could stay.

Mildred's touch jerked her back to the present. "I'm going to go see how Murphy is doing."

"All right. I'm going to see about catching up with Freddy."

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

Michael waited until the young man turned the block, away from the Police Station, before rising from the bench. The sunglasses hid his face and his jacket clutched his neck, as he strolled conveniently in the same direction. The bulge in the man's jacket would answer his questions as to what exactly he'd been doing in a place one might think he was trying to avoid. Dealing with someone, who had just pulled off a major heist, this job was much too easy for Michael to pull. As Hawkes leaned over to peer into a window, Michael gently removed the folder from the other man's jacket to put it in his own, then to duck naturally into a coffee shop and peer out.

That's when he saw her. Across the street in a light shirt, one he remembered from years ago, she stood watchingthe city, he guessed, from inside a blue rental car. Dammit! Why couldn't she stay away from him? What was she doing there, just sitting around?

His must have been leaning forward, for he almost fell forward as a woman came out of the place.

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

In the dimmed lights, two lamps became one; then everything became clear. Murphy felt the pain in his leg first, then his head as he tried to rise. A gentle hand put him back down. He could recognize Mildred's face, better as the curtains were opened, and he was grateful for her presence. Any resentment towards Mildred who might have taken his place in comforting Laura washed away immediately.

"How do you feel?" Her voice was comforting.

"Like Hell." His head throbbed with each recollection of last night. His eyes gestured to the pain. "How bad is it?" It ached, and he winced, but he didn't want to touch it.

"If you mean surgery, there was none. The way I heard it, from Laura, then the doc, you got shot, fell unconscious, then you're here. You should be back within two weeks."

"Two weeks?" Murphy put his head in his hands: he couldn't believe he'd just asked Laura to finish the case alone by his condition. "How is she?"

"Miss Holt? She's all right. She went to find out about FreddyWhy?" Did he know? Wait! What kind of answer was that? He was concerned. "Oh, you mean if she was harmed, then no."

It had suddenly occurred to Mildred that there was little possibility that Murphy could know; he wouldn't have seen a "pair of Pacific-blue eyes," as Miss Holt had describedhmm. She said, "How much do you remember of last night?"

That question struck Murphy as odd. What was there to know? He hadn't hit his head, so there shouldn't be any doubt that what he knew was right. Unless there was something he'd never known"Well, there were two men, a woman and of course Hawkesam I missing someone?"

Mildred face took on a very odd look: "Miss Holt insists she saw" Mildred's phone suddenly went off and Murphy winced as the sharp ring. Mildred quickly quieted it. "Yes? Where are you? Oh, that's oddWhat? Oh! All right, I'll be there in a few minutes." She turned to Murphy who now looked concerned. "I'll fill you in as soon as I get back! Sorry I have to rush like this."

Murphy nodded. "Thanks for coming."

"No problem." From his window, he saw her run out of the hospital and flag down a cab with amazing speed. Remarkable woman, that Mildred.

****************** ******************* *******************
Downtown Madrid
2 p.m.

Laura waited inside the small motel room. She'd drawn the curtains and she'd locked the door securely. The set-up was too perfect with her here now.

Hawkes had come here just 10 minutes ago. She'd seen him come and go, and so she'd followed him in here to findThe ransacked desk was clear evidence that he'd been looking for something. The corpse in the adjoining room showed he'd found a suspect. The fact that it was still here was evidence he hadn't found the item. All she would have to do to get arrested was walk out of there. She could have also tried the police, but what could she tell them? She had no explanation, except that she herself had been seen mysteriously following a man. Orwhat she'd donecall Mildred, who might help her out of this particular jam.

She clutched herself against the increasing wind that came through the thin walls. A floor down the door sounded, and Laura turned to unlock the door for Mildred. She needn't have moved. The door flew open and in entered the blond Laura had just the night before taken the trouble to avoid.

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

Laura's mouth dropped. What, how? Felicia saved her the trouble with a casual wave of her hand and a casual `smile.' "I followed you and when you didn't come out, I came in." The slamming of the door echoed in the room.

She circled Laura once, slowly, coming to stop a little in front of her, like a predator inspecting its prey. Her voice had the same ominous tone as she said, "Little LisaI expected you to have changed since I last saw you." Her gaze shifted around the apartment to the corpse. "Well, it looks like you have yourself mixed up in more than one mess."

What was Felicia doing here? Secondly, what was she doing that would concern Felicia? Could Freddy mean so much to her? And what did she mean with more than one mess?

Felicia shook her head as if `pitying' a child. "Poor Lisa. I should have known about you and that innocent façade of yours." Her eyes flared at Laura's blank look. "Do you think I should look anywhere else for the tramp whose name was on my husband's lips this morning?" Felicia tilted her head in nasty smile. "Did you pay him to stay all those years while you tried to seduce him? Did he pity you so much?" Laura couldn't move as Felicia's words kept coming; she felt her mouth open in helplessness.

"Your husband? I never met himI don't understand. Freddy?" That didn't make sense, but who else?

"Michael, of course! Do you think it's not obvious? Do you think you have any right?" The rest of Felicia's words were lost on Laura. Her eyes settled on Felicia, yet their eyes never met. Oh my god. She was the one. The one he'd left her for, the one he'd married. She was the one he'd committed himself to. All those years, all that time, she'd never known, never suspected. "You don't know what his life has been like," had said the wise old owl

And who was she? The pain dug into her heart. She was just another tramp he'd left behind. She'd meant nothing to him ever. He didn't leave her; he was never hers. Never. How could she have ever thought anything more?? Laura felt her heart freeze over into ice.

Felicia's storm of words was still coming. Laura broke it steadily. "I have no right. Take him. He's yours." It was Felicia's turn to look blank. "Leave." Felicia stood still. "Leave!" When Felicia stood there looking at her, Laura pushed past her into the bathroom. A throaty "excuse me" escaped from her lips before she slammed the door.

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

A knock sounded at the door. She stormed to the door, ready to rip the wood apart. "Who is it?" she snapped, loudly.

"It's me, MildredMiss Holt?" The address was right, but

The door whooshed open. "Sorry, Mildred." Was she? The younger woman moved briskly into the room. Her voice was steady, yet"Thanks for coming."

"Sure, honwhat's up?" Miss Holt had sounded like something was really wrong, but now

Laura's eyes pointed to the corpse that could be seen through the open door. Mildred raised her eyebrows sharply she could have been listening to a realtor! "I saw Freddy come in and out. I think this man was the fourth man we saw last night. He didn't have what Freddy was looking for, so he was killed." Mildred cringed; Miss Holt continued briskly: "I think it was the book."

"But they stole it last night"

"Yes, and he had it, too. Someone else must have it, then." Laura ignored Mildred's obvious conclusion. "We came to get Freddy, and if getting it and luring him back to the US is the only way" Laura shrugged nonchalantly. Mildred looked at her. What had gotten into her? Laura ignored it. "Let's get out of here. Pretend I'm your daughter, you're worried, so you hurriedly drag me out: no one will question it."

Mildred nodded slowly. They succeeded in leaving without suspicion, then caught a cab.

"How's Murphy?"

"He's fine."

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

Across town, in the safety of his hotel room, Michael inspected the contents of the folder that he had made his that morning. That double-crossing bastard! He had underestimated Hawkes. He'd known their names and everything before they'd even known him. The pictures paper-clipped to a form captured last night's robbery, and he could recognize his own figure only too well. Who had taken these? In the background of the photo, behind a statue he saw a familiar brunette. His previous wariness turned to curiosity was she connected to Hawkes? Then why would she capture herself? It didn't make sense! The other man, the third one, Lucas, wasn't smart enough to manage any of thisneither had Hawkes been supposedly.

He went through all the papers. Wait a minutethere was a number and an address here for a place downtown. He'd check that out now. He took a look at the photo once more. She was hunched down, tense, as if she were waiting for someone. Another photo showed the entrance of a fifth man was that Murphy? He remembered that man. He'd always been all over Laura, and he had been a nuisance. If he recalled, Murphy had been shot last night.

He could find out without having to see her. He couldn't see her, not now. But he had to know. A small voice asked why he wanted to know, but ignored it. Because, he thought.
He opened a drawer, tucking the file in the secret compartment, putting it on top of Don Quixote.

******************* ******************** ********************
Hotel España

By the time they'd reached the hotel, Laura had cooled off. She wanted to evade the questions by just apologizing, but Mildred wouldn't give her the chance.

"You want to tell me what happened in the room?" the "room" being at the crummy motel. `Crummy' in more ways than one, Laura thought. Mildred came around the couch to sit across Laura.

"What do you mean?" As if Laura didn't know.

Mildred reached her hand to touch Laura's shoulder. "I know it's been hard this last day, but I need you to level with me." She waited until she had Laura's full attention. "You called me this morning. You were as good as could be expected. When I arrived, however, you were as frozen as an iceberg. Why?" Such a simple question, Laura thought.

"I guess the body upset me more than I realized. It's been a while, Mildred." Mildred's silence spoke volumes.

Laura shifted uncomfortably. She didn't have a good answer for this one. She couldn't bring herself to meet Mildred's eyes without giving herself away, but she didn't want to lie to her. As far as Mildred was concerned, though, "Mr. Steele" was just a past episode.
And to explain Felicia and all their previous run-ins would take forever. She said, "I had a run-in with this woman I saw at the partyand it wasunpleasant," she forced out of her mouth. Underestimate of the Year.

Mildred looked doubtful. Miss Holt wasn't lying, but"What had happened exactly?"

"She justshereminded me of him, and I guess itstartledand upset me." She nodded, as if agreeing with herself. Dead giveaway! Did Mildred notice?

Mildred raised her eyebrows. "Let me know if I can help you." Her eyes searched Laura's, but she let it go to Laura's surprise. Squirming again, Laura thought of something. She brightened: "I'm going to visit Murphy now."

Mildred nodded placidly, as Miss Holt took her leave. As soon as the cab turned, Mildred grabbed her purse, and stomped out the hotel like the IRS agent she still was. She was going to get to the bottom of this!

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



"I'm glad you came." Murphy looked up at her, smiling. She grabbed the chair beside and drew it up beside his bed.

She smiled. There was a silent agreement between them to not talk about the case or his injury. Good, Laura thought. That leaves out the museum.

"I've missed you, Laura. It's been too long I should have come visited you a while ago when I was in Arizona."

Laura nodded, but she smiled. "I'm happy for you that you found Denver. From what I heard, it's beautiful there."

Murphy nodded and he went on to tell her all about it. They exchanged stories of funny situations they'd gotten into during their work, and laughed together. She thought about all the time that she'd known him. Laura loved being with Murphy: she felt this closeness she didn't have with anybody else. She was comfortable with him, and she could discuss anything that didn't involve men. He watched out for her and he cared. When they were at Havenhurst, they'd gotten together studying, practicing, putting two minds to one task. Murphy had nice eyes: they were warm and comforting, and she had missed that. A warm feeling went over her and she almost wished she loved him. But she didn't. She smiled.

Murphy stopped. "What?"

"I'm really glad we're friends." She hugged him, but then he pulled back painfully. She winced in empathy.

"How's your leg?" For one second, he caught a glimpse of guilt in her eyes, and then it was gone, hidden. He said,

"Hey, I'm fine. This here," pointing to his leg, "is all my fault. I'm really sorry I got you mixed up in all this. We can go home if you want, and I'll pay you for your trouble."

Laura shook her head resolutely. The hard look in her eyes scared Murphy. "No. We'll finish this case. Then we'll go home after you get better."

A new voice surprised both of them. "I'm afraid that's going to be complicated, Señora," the police officer said. "I'm going to have to question his presence at the park last night before he goes anywhere." He circled the room, and Laura shivered at the memory of Felicia doing the same. Murphy looked at her, concerned. Laura raised an eyebrow at the Officer in question. "There was a robbery at the Museo del Prado, as I'm sure you've heard, and I'd like to question all those that were in a 2 mile radius that night." As in you think I'm a suspect, Murphy silently translated.

But Laura's face took on the appropriate solemn expression. "I'm sorry to hear that what was stolen?"

"A priceless First Edition version of Cervantes' Don Quixote." Laura opened her mouth to speak, but he cut her off. "Excuse me, I'm Officer Rodriguez." He looked at her. "You're the young woman that called for your friend, aren't you?" Laura nodded. "I thought I recognized you. Laura Elizabeth Holt, right?"

"Yes, that's right." She smiled: This didn't have to be a bad thing. She could use him to extract information without blowing their cover. But not now, not here, and not with Murphy.

Rodriguez looked at Murphy and then back at Laura. "I can see that now is not a good time. However, I'd like to question both of you within the next week." He took down Laura's number and the hotel of where she was staying.

Murphy's eyes followed him out. His presence had ruined the comfortable atmosphere they'd had He grimaced: "Just what we need."

Laura looked out the window, wondering if Murphy had noticed his pick-up location and if he would pursue it she hadn't told him that she'd moved him, the reason being she couldn't stand to be where HE had been. But she didn't want to discuss him. She was sure Mildred had given him an abridged version, sparing him the "Medusa look" she know she had emulated last night. Murphy deserved her side, but not now. She shivered.

"Hey, are you alright? You look pale." Murphy's eyes narrowed, and she knew he suspected that something was up. She knew he would find out, too, eventually, but until he did"Laura?"

She sighed, and she made an attempt to smile. "I'm okay I guess I'm still suffering fromjetlag." Liar.

Murphy knew it. "Will you look at me and tell me that?" Laura's head came up then, and her `smile' faded.

She shifted her shoulders into a decidedly `I'm telling the truth position.' "I'm sorry, I just" How to explain it "I guess it'ssomething about Spainthatmakes me uncomfortable." She shifted under his gaze. It wasn't an outright lie. It was better than someone.

Murphy nodded absently. He studied her face curiously. There was something about her, something different. Something that he distinctly didn't like. She wasn't this way last nightHe couldn't put his finger on it, though, and the look in Laura's eyes told him she'd challenge him if he mentioned it, and since he didn't have an explanation

Laura got up slowly. "Mildred will be wondering where I got to." She smiled. "I'm really glad we got to catch up again. Take care, will you?"

Murphy nodded and after she'd left, he looked at the place where she'd sat. "I'm really glad we're friends," she'd said. That was a good thing, and he could agree with that. Then what had just come between them? And what was with all that weird shivering?

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

She had been here. Above the stench of the corpse and cheap furniture, he could still smell her perfume. It made his heart wrench, but he shook that feeling violently off. Concentrate, he told himself.

An official form told Michael that there was no suspect for the murder. He could place Laura here at about two p.m., around the time of the murder, which would fit in with the other places she had been seen. Laura Holt had been very busy today. His mental list went like this:

So Hawkes was looking for the book. And somewhere Laura tied into all this. He had to get her away from this. Whatever that meant, he promised himself that she would be safe. A siren approached the building. He wiped his prints quickly, and he left via the window.

Would he ever stop running?

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

She fit the description Michael had given him: blond, plump, and he supposed nice, when she wanted to be. She didn't want to now.

He didn't know how she'd found him, and by the looks of it, neither did she. She didn't want to be here, but she pulled up a barstool and they started talking. She asked the questions the man expected, and because he knew, he gave her the longest answers and descriptions possible. He figured he could hold her for at least 2 hours.

******************** ******************** ********************
Hotel España.

Laura hoped that the hot water from the shower wash would away her anger and her hurt. She wasn't so lucky. In some ways, she was glad things weren't more complicated. In others, that was impossible.

Wrapped in a towel, she ventured out into the balcony. The stars shone and the mountains made a beautiful silhouette in the warm night. Below, a man-catered tangerines, and through town, she could see other balconies, lined with pink bougainvillea. Almost perfect, but not quite.

Once she'd stood here, like this, on his balcony. It was night again and the light from the overhead fireworks had cast itself over them. "I don't know what I'd do if my world suddenly fell apart like that," she'd said. "You'd go on," he'd replied. "Because that's the only choice any of us ever have." He was so right, and the fact that he'd said it made it worse.

In the shadows of the city, she saw figures moving about, and she imagined that one of them was him. Imagining the impossible didn't hurt, after all. He was coming for her, to sweep her up in his arms, like he might have done 5 years ago. She would lean into him, and he would whisper his love for her, and she would feel safe once more.

She clutched the robe against her body, feeling more alone that she ever had. She thought about him, where he really was, and a great sense to see him came over her, if only for a minute. Then it would be all right. She'd be able to move on with her life.

A noise from inside the kitchen drew her out of her reverie. Was Mildred back? A gut feeling told her that it wasn't Mildred. She pulled the robe closer as she peered in. The shadow in the hall was a man's and in the mirror's reflection, she could almost make out a face. Just inside the door was a vase. She grabbed at it, but her wrist was yanked in. She gasped, but her attacker pulled her whole body in the room.

There was something very odd about this, and she panicked, pulling away frantically. He caught her off balance and reached for her.

"Who are you?" she demanded, as he pulled her against him. She could smell his after-shave and she felt like she couldn't breathe, it was intoxicating.

He spun her around and her eyes crashed with piercing blue. "Don't you know?"

Suddenly Laura knew that she couldn't move on with her life.

End of Part 2

To Part 1 of "The Alternative Link of Steele"