A Very Skeeziks Christmas
Date: Tuesday, December 19, 2006
"Lori" <LLanham@fuse.net>

Thanks to Debbi, for asking for an S1 Christmas story. <g> Thanks to
Catherine and Lea for your guidance and suggestions. (There is a
Zinger line or two in here... I'm gonna get her to write her own story
yet! <G>)

Permission to archive


Merry Christmas, everyone!


"A Very Skeeziks Christmas"


"Good Morning," Laura said with a smile as she walked into the
brightly decorated offices of Remington Steele Investigations.

"Speak for yourself," the receptionist grumbled from behind the
packages on her desk.

"Oh come on, Bernice," Laura replied, her voice much too cheerful for
Ms. Fox's liking. "Get into the holiday spirit."

Laura smiled as she looked at the gifts that filled the desk. She had
to admit she was enjoying the attention, but her friend was right. It
was getting out of hand.

"Seriously Laura," Bernice said, "This has been going on for over a
week. There's still another week before Christmas, and it just keeps
getting worse. First Murphy brings in a gift, and then Skeeziks brings
in a bigger one. Then Murphy has to outdo him and so on and so on… You
HAVE to make them stop!"

As flattering as it was, Laura knew she had to do something. Murphy
was her best friend. She didn't share his romantic interest, and she
didn't want to encourage him. Mr. Steele, on the other hand, was a
different story. He, she was most definitely interested in--- but she
wasn't sure she wanted to encourage him, either. She did, however,
know that neither of them should be spending that kind of money.
Murphy couldn't really afford it, and Mr. Steele was probably using
agency funds.

"I'll handle it," she said. "Is he in?" she asked, nodding toward Mr.
Steele's office. The look Bernice shot her reminded Laura how
ridiculous her question was, as if their titular head would ever show
his face before noon. "Right," she answered. "Send him in as soon as
you see him." She turned and left for her office.


Bernice looked up from her desk to see Remington Steele entering the
offices carrying a huge red poinsettia.

"Oh, that's it!" she exclaimed. "I can't take anymore!"

"Why Miss Wolfe," Steele said, feigning hurt. "You cut me to the
quick. I only wanted to spread a bit of holiday cheer."

"You're spreading something, all right," Bernice responded with a roll
of her eyes.

"Well, if you're not of the holiday mind," he said, holding back the
plant, "Perhaps Miss Holt would like these…"

Bernice quickly looked up to meet Steele's eyes. "Wait," she said.
"You didn't buy that for Laura?"

"No, Miss Wolfe," he answered. "I realized that while Miss Holt's
collection of gifts continues to grow, the other beautiful woman of
the office has been neglected." He set the plant down on the corner of
her desk and gave her a wink.

Despite herself, Bernice felt her animosity for the man slipping, but
just a little. She remembered how infatuated she'd been with him that
first day, although her feelings quickly changed. She hadn't been able
to look at him the same way after she found out he was a fraud. It
didn't help that Laura seemed to be interested in him. She had been
worried about her friend getting hurt by the smooth con man, but she
was slowly changing her mind on that score as well. She called out to
him as he turned toward his office. "Laura wants to see you."

Steele nodded, but continued into the larger executive office. Closing
the door behind him, he smiled as he walked toward the connecting door
that led into Laura's office. He knocked softly and then opened the
door, just enough to stick his head in.

Laura looked up from the file she was reading and smiled at the sight
of him. "Come in," she said. She indicated for him to sit in the chair
opposite her desk. As he did, she continued. "We need to talk."

She had smiled at him, and that was a good sign. He enjoyed the fact
that she was generally glad to see him, but her tone was ominous.
"What about?" he asked innocently.

She sighed. "While I'm happy that you and Murphy seem to be really
embracing the holiday spirit, this little competition of yours has got
to stop."

"Laura, I have no idea what you're talking about," he said, giving her
his best look of wide-eyed innocence.

"Let's not play this little game for once," she said, glaring at him.
"I came to you because I need you to stop. Murphy is going to keep in
step with you measure for measure. Look, I know you enjoy torturing
him, but I'm asking you to stop. For me. Please."

He couldn't resist her when she looked at him that way. What was it
about this woman? He sighed softly before answering, "Okay, but on one

"What is it?" she asked.

"Have dinner with me tonight," he replied.

Inwardly, she was delighted at his suggestion, but she refused to let
him see that. "All right," she answered. "But you have to take the
gifts back."

"All of them?" he asked.

"All of them," she answered, nodding.

"But it's Christmas," he protested. "You have to have at least one

She thought about this for a moment. She had already bought a gift for
him and one for Murphy, as well. She supposed it would be all right to
keep just one of their gifts. "Okay," she answered. "You can leave
one. But the rest have to go back." She stopped him just as he opened
his mouth to reply. "And I'll tell Murphy."

"Whatever you say," he replied as he stood. He turned to the door to
the outer office. "I'll just go get started on returning those gifts."
He opened the door and noticing Murphy talking to Bernice, he turned
back to Laura. "I'll pick you up at seven."


Laura hung yet another dress back into her closet. She'd changed her
clothes no fewer than five times. Nothing seemed to be right. She'd
quickly discarded the red dress she'd worn to the Hunter ceremony, and
the white dress she'd worn to the dinner party with the Dillons. She
wanted something he hadn't seen her in. Though she hated to admit it,
she was looking forward to her date with Mr. Steele.

She had been finding it harder and harder to keep him at arms length.
Her attraction to him was growing by the day. It wasn't that long ago
that she had been ready to "cross that line" with him in the Devil's
Playground. Then there was the fact that he was taking his detective
training seriously. The longer he worked with them, the more she
realized that he might actually make a good detective one day. She
thought that he seemed truly interested in it, and that softened her
to him all the more.

She didn't know where he was taking her, but she knew his taste, and
she'd seen his credit card statements. She decided on a slinky black
beaded evening gown. It wasn't her usual taste, but Bernice had
insisted she looked great in it. When she bought it, she never really
thought she'd have an occasion to wear it. She wore her hair down. It
looked softer than when she wore it up, and she loved the way he
looked at her when it fell down softly across her shoulders.

She looked at the small, beautifully wrapped package sitting on her
nightstand. She picked it up and put it in her evening bag. She picked
up the diamond necklace she'd splurged on after the completion of the
agency's first big case, and held it behind her neck. She'd just
finished clasping it when the doorbell rang.

She walked out to the living room, past the beautifully decorated tree
and opened the front door, with Nero rubbing at her ankles. She had to
fight to remember to breathe when she saw him. The man she called
Remington Steele was incredibly handsome, and she was sure that no one
wore a tuxedo quite the way he did. He looked even better bathed in
the twinkling lights of her Christmas decorations.

"Good evening, Miss Holt," he said as she invited him in. "You look
lovely this evening."

As he stepped into the foyer, he realized she was standing directly
under a sprig of mistletoe. He leaned in and gave her a gentle kiss.
When she looked slightly startled, he pointed up. Nero practically
glared up at Steele, and then stalked away.

"Thank you, Mr. Steele," she answered, still blushing from not
remembering she`d hung the mistletoe. "You're not so bad, yourself."
She wasn't sure how long he planned to stay at the house, and she
hesitated over her next words, "Can I get you a drink?"

He looked at his watch, apparently considering her offer. "Our
reservation is for eight thirty," he said. "It will take a little
while to get to the restaurant, but I think we have time."


They had enjoyed an easy conversation over a glass or two of wine
before leaving Laura's house. Now, they were sitting in the back of
the limo cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway.

"So, were you able to take back all of those gifts?" she asked.

"Most," he answered honestly. He'd decided to hold on to a few pieces
that he'd picked out specifically for her. There would be other
occasions, and someday he would have the chance to give them to her.
The fact that he'd even contemplated a future with Laura in it was not
lost on him. It actually made him much more nervous than any con ever
had. He didn't want to think about it just now. "How did Murphy take
the news?" he asked.

"As well as could be expected," she answered. "He didn't like it, but
once I told him you'd already agreed, there wasn't much he could do."
She didn't really want to talk about Murphy. She looked out the
window. "Where are we going, anyway?" she asked.

"A little place I found just outside Malibu," he answered. "It's
called `Mia's', I think you'll like it."

She was sure she would. The man had exquisite taste, so much so that
she began to wonder about the gift she'd placed in her bag. Would he
like it? When she'd chosen it, she was sure it was perfect for him. So
why was she so nervous all of the sudden?

He watched her as she continued to look out the window. She was
beautiful, but so unlike the women he'd known in his past. There was
something about her that attracted him in a way that he'd never felt
before. After having spent the past few months pursuing her, he
realized that this woman was more than just a conquest… and that left
him with an uneasy feeling.

What's the matter with you "Old Sport?" Steele thought. He had even
gone out and bought a Christmas present for the first time in his
life. He wasn't sure that it was to take up the gauntlet that Murphy
Michaels had thrown down, or because he actually wanted Laura to have
something from him for Christmas. What's happened to you? he thought.
Dare I say you are getting into the Christmas spirit? No, it wasn't
the Christmas spirit he felt when he looked at Miss Holt.

He patted the envelope in his pocket. She'd made him settle for giving
her just one gift. He'd never been one that was big on holidays,
especially Christmas, but he could see how much the holiday meant to
Laura and he wanted to give her the perfect gift. He hoped he'd chosen
the right one.


After dinner, they had gone for a walk along the restaurant's pier. It
was warm for December, and the setting was calling to them. They were
alone on the long pier that was decorated with twinkling lights. The
reflection of the lights on the water almost matched the stars that
floated above them. Laura had always loved the ocean, and tonight it
seemed even more beautiful. She chalked it up to the company. She was
pleasantly surprised at how well the evening was going… and even more
surprised that she didn't want it to end.

He watched her as they walked along the pier, she seemed more content
than he'd ever seen her. He had to admit to feeling something similar
himself. He wasn't ready for the evening to end, and he still hadn't
given her the gift. He wanted it to be tonight, when they were alone
and not in the office. It wasn't the most personal of gifts, but at
this stage, that was probably a good thing. He noticed her shiver as
the wind picked up over the ocean. He took off his jacket and
draped it over her shoulders.

"Perhaps we should be heading back," he said, putting his arm around
her shoulder. He expected her to pull away, but she didn't. She simply
nodded in agreement as she leaned into his embrace. They walked in a
comfortable silence that carried on as Fred drove them back to Laura's

When Fred pulled the limo up in front of the house, Remington got out
and extended his hand to help Laura out of the car.

"I'll get a cab, Fred," he said, leaning into the passenger window.
"You can go on home," he added before tapping twice on the roof.

He walked alongside Laura as they approached her front door. When she
withdrew the keys from her bag, he reached out for them. "May I?"

She nodded and handed him the keys. A moment later, he was following
her into her living room. She took his jacket from around her
shoulders and handed it to him. He laid it over the back of the sofa.

"How about a nightcap?" she suggested.

"Sounds wonderful," he said with a smile. He knew she was nervous, but
he was happy that she seemed to be allowing herself to let go a little
and enjoy the moment. He sat down on the sofa as she poured them each
another glass of the wine they drank earlier. He patted the sofa next
to him as she approached. She sat down next to him and handed him a

"Laura," he said softly "I had a lovely time this evening."

"So did I," she answered, before taking a sip of her wine.

He set his glass down on the table. "There's something I wanted to
give you," he went on, reaching behind her to remove an envelope from
the breast pocket of his jacket. "Merry Christmas," he said as he
handed the envelope to her.

Despite herself, her hands were trembling as she took the envelope
from him. Why did he have this affect on her? Slowly, she opened the
envelope and pulled out two tickets. They were VIP box seats for the
ballet. Her eyes drew open wide as she continued to read.

"The Nutcracker?" she asked, disbelieving. "On Christmas Eve." She had
always loved that particular ballet, and it had been years since she'd
seen it. There seemed to be something magical about seeing it on
Christmas Eve. "Thank you," she said, her voice barely more than a

"You're welcome," he answered, pleased that she seemed genuinely
touched by the gift. "I hope you'll allow me to accompany you," he said.

"Of course," she said, smiling. She wouldn't have it any other way. "I
have something for you, too." She got up and walked over to the table
at the front door where she'd left her handbag. She opened it and took
out the small box. She walked back over to the sofa and sat down
beside him. She handed him the box.

"It's beautiful," he said, admiring the wrapping.

"Open it," she said, sounding very much like a child on Christmas

He tore off the beautiful paper and flipped open the lid to find a
pair of gold cufflinks that were set with the most beautiful blue stones.

"They're sapphires," she said. They reminded her of his eyes, she
didn't say. "I couldn't find Royal Lavulite."

Her words and the idea behind her gift touched him more than either of
them could have realized. She had chosen a gift to commemorate their
meeting, and they both knew that it meant she hoped he'd stay around,
and it meant even more than that to him. He'd gotten gifts from women
before; beautiful, expensive things that he could unwrap before moving
on to unwrap the giver. But this was different. This was Laura.


Monday morning, Laura was sitting at her desk when Murphy walked in to
her office.

"Hey Murph," she said, looking up.

"Hey," he said quietly. "Did you have a good weekend?"

"Yeah," she answered. "You?"

"Mm-hmm," he nodded. He wanted to ask about her date with Steele, but
he couldn't bring himself to do it. Instead, he reached into the
breast pocket of his plaid shirt. He pulled out an envelope and handed
it to her. "I know we don't usually exchange gifts until Christmas
Eve," he said, "but this can't wait."

"Oh Murphy," she said, taking the envelope that he handed her. "I
didn't bring yours. It's at my house, under the tree."

"It's okay," he told her. "I'm the one who changed the rules. Go
ahead, open it."

Laura opened the envelope to reveal two tickets.

"The Nutcracker," she said, hoping she didn't sound disappointed. "On
Christmas Eve."

"They're in the back of the orchestra," he said. "But these tickets
were almost impossible to get. I know how much you love ballet," he
went on.

Before he could continue, there was a knock on the connecting door.

"Come in, Mr. Steele," Laura called.

Murphy didn't try to hide his disappointment, or was it disgust?

"So, Laura," he said, never taking his eyes off Steele. "What time
should I pick you up on Christmas Eve?"

Steele looked at Laura, knowing that Murphy was obviously unaware of
their plans.

"Murphy's just given me two tickets to The Nutcracker on Christmas
Eve," she said to him with pleading eyes.

"Well then," Steele answered. "Let's make it a foursome."


"I can't believe it," Murphy said, pacing the office. "I find her the
perfect gift and he has to do me one better. Box seats! How did HE get
box seats?" Murphy continued to pace as he tugged at his bow tie.

"Relax, Murph," Bernice said. "They'll be here any minute. Just try to
have a good time, okay?"

"And that's another thing," he said, stopping to look at her. "Why did
HE get to pick her up?"

"Because they're on a date," Bernice answered with a sigh. "She likes
him, Murphy. And he did ask her first. Face it, you're stuck with me.
Let's just try and have a good time…"

Bernice was interrupted by the sound of Laura's laughter as she and
Remington Steele entered the office. Laura looked beautiful in a
flowing white, off the shoulder gown and Steele definitely knew how to
wear a tux.

"Merry Christmas!" Laura said to her friends.

"Yeah, Merry Christmas," Murphy repeated. "Let's get going."

"Not so fast, Murph," Laura said, stopping him from walking to the
door. "We've got plenty of time, and I want to give you and Bernice
your gifts."

"There's something I need to check on in my office," Steele said,
excusing himself. "I'll be through by the time we're ready to leave."

Laura smiled warmly as he looked at her. He knew she needed time with
Murphy. He had been pleased that she'd agreed to keep their date,
knowing how Murphy would feel about it. Murphy's feelings for Laura
had not gone unnoticed by Steele, or anyone else for that matter, but
it was obvious that Laura did her best to hide from the situation. He
walked into his office and closed the door behind him.

Murphy visibly relaxed as the door closed. He even smiled as Laura
handed him a brightly wrapped box.

He tore into it like, well, like a kid on Christmas. He looked at
Laura in disbelief. "A flannel shirt?" he asked. He had searched high
and low to find her the perfect gift, and she gives him a shirt? So
caught up was he that he didn't notice the look of amusement on
Laura's face.

It took her only a minute to dissolve into full blown laughter.
"You're too easy, Murph," she said between giggles. "Look under the

He lifted up the shirt to find an envelope. He opened it and pulled
out five small cards. "Guest passes to White Oaks?" he asked.

She nodded. "You've always wanted to play there, right?"

"You know it!" he answered, practically giddy.

"You've got five rounds, all eighteen holes," she answered. "But you
have to take me at least once."

"I can't think of anyone I'd rather play with, Partner," he said,
closing the distance between them. "Thank you!" He picked her up and
held her close. He was just about to kiss her when Bernice cleared her


Murphy glared at her, but she just nodded toward Steele's door. Even
if Murphy couldn't see it, she knew Laura and the mystery man were on
a collision course. Whether or not it was love she wouldn't dare
speculate, but she knew something was going on between them and she
didn't want to see Murphy hurt anymore than he already was.

"Come on, Murph," she said, pulling him away from Laura. She led him
over to her desk as Laura followed. "I've got a gift for you, too."
She picked up the shopping bag from behind her desk and handed Murphy
the larger of the boxes. "Open it," she said.

Murphy tore off the paper and pulled back the lid of the box to find a
new pair of hiking boots. They were exactly the pair he'd been looking

Laura and Bernice exchanged gifts. Bernice had gotten Laura a
beautiful soft pink cashmere sweater, and Laura gave Bernice the
latest designer handbag she'd been coveting.

Murphy gave Bernice a pair of gold earrings that Laura had picked out.
She took off the ones she was wearing and put them on. They went
perfectly with the deep red gown she was wearing.

The three friends were laughing and enjoying their gifts when they
heard the office door open.

"It's about time to leave," Steele said, tapping his watch. "The
restaurant is right across the street from the theatre, but we need to
get going if we're to make our reservation."


Over dinner, Murphy finally let himself relax. The foursome laughed
and had a good time. Murphy found himself watching Laura, and though
he was loathe to admit it, she seemed happy. And when he wasn't busy
hating him, he actually found Steele to be a likable guy. He'd never
admit that out loud.

Bernice watched Murphy as he concentrated on Laura. She thought he was
finally seeing what she'd seen all along, but she couldn't be sure.
His features seemed to soften, his glare had gone and his signature
goofy grin had returned. She really looked at him, maybe for the first
time. He was an attractive guy, and much cuter when he wasn't mooning
over Laura. He wasn't rich, but he was a pretty good catch… strong,
and steady, handsome, reliable, good at what he did. He was athletic,
and took great care of himself. She began to think that maybe she'd
been looking in the wrong place all this time.

As dinner ended, the foursome stood and prepared to walk to the
theatre. Steele held out his arm to Laura. She took it as they
stepped out to lead the way.

When Laura and Steele were a few steps ahead, Bernice wrapped her arms
around Murphy's. "Come on Murph," she said with a wink, "Let's go."
Then, licking her lips, she looked up into his eyes. "Have I ever
told you how much I LOVE Sugar Plum Fairies?"

Murphy's jaw dropped as he looked at the beautiful brunette on his
arm. This might turn out to be a great Christmas, after all…


The end