Date: Wed, 02 Aug 2000
Lauryn Poynor <lpoynor@zebra.net>

Takes place during the fourth season after "Steele in the Running."

This is in response to the current list challenge.


by Lauryn

Laura Holt was unusually cheerful as she rode the elevator up to Steele's apartment. She had continued a modified workout schedule even after her recent tri-athalon competition and found it helped energize her for the full workday. But today wasn't a workday. At least, not for her. A slow smile began to creep across her face. After skillfully evading her attempts to prod him into a regular exercise routine, Steele had finally agreed to a compromise of sorts of playing tennis with her on weekends. She'd never seen the man near a health club or even exercising on his own although he wasn't out of condition. Still, a little discipline wouldn't hurt him. Too much.

Laura knocked on the door to his apartment, rocking back on her heels with a bit of impatience when several tries produced no response. She let herself in with the agency key. She walked through, not seeing him and called out "Mr. Steele"- then heard the sound of the shower running. So much for that wakeup call. How like him, she thought. She had been up for her morning jog two hours ago. Hearing her voice he called out over the sound of the water "Won't be a moment, Laura." "Would you get my tennis racket out of the hall closet?" "Should be up on the left, top shelf."

She went to the closet and looked up, seeing the handle of the tennis racket visible in the far corner. Stretching , she pulled it free along with several nearby items. Among them an overturned box containing an assortment of charcoal pencils and pastels and a small sketch pad. The pad lay partially open where it had fallen. She picked it up
intending to put it back on the shelf. It opened to reveal something which froze her in mid stride.

It was a charcoal drawing. Unmistakably her. Unmistakably nude.

Dazed, she gathered all the items and wandered over to the sofa and sat down. Her pulse racing, she turned the pages. Nearly all the subjects were of her. Some were head shots, some were figure studies. Several of those were nudes.

She studied them intently. They were very like her yet strangely different. Although obviously not drawn from life, the proportions and features were accurate, the lines sure, skilled, and lively. Her self in pencil seemed incredibly sensual and beautiful, certainly more so than she believed herself to be. Even to her untrained eye Steele's
intuition was uncanny. It was as if he knew her, or some undiscovered part of her, better than she did herself.

How long has he been seeing me like this? Imagining and waiting for this other Laura? She tried to picture it in her mind. Him sketching. Perhaps at odd hours at the office. Perhaps alone at night, lounging in bed, conjuring her body. This last thought caused a sudden flash of heat through her veins and she ran a steadying hand through her hair.

She slowly turned the pages, noticing that the backs of some of them were marked with dates. The date of the first nude jumped out at her.

October 1, 1982. That day, long ago, that he had walked into her life as Ben Pearson. Even then? Suddenly her breath left her. She should be angry, she decided, but that wasn't what she was feeling. She wasn't quite sure what it was.

A familiar voice intruded on her thoughts. Startled and guilty, she quickly closed the sketchbook and looked up. "Well Laura, ready for your tennis lesson, I trust?" "I'll try to be gentle with y--" He broke off as he realized what she held in her hands. He was dressed in his robe, his black hair still damp from the shower. How could she be angry with someone who looked so damned gorgeous, she thought distractedly.

"This fell out of your closet accidently." " I was just um..looking,", she finished lamely.

He seemed unfazed. "Oh, I've been doing a bit of sketching lately. Old hobby of mine", he said casually. After the
words left his mouth, the other shoe dropped. Those sketches. Shock and embarrassment colored his face.

After an awkward silence, Laura continued, "more than just lately it seems." "By the dates on these you've been at this for some time. Since the day we met actually."

He looked at her uncertainly as if trying to gauge her reaction. " I know it must feel strange to you," he began, "and I can understand that. If you're angry I understand that, too. But I can't apologize. I had only the best intentions."

Curious, she looked him in the eye. "Care to explain them?"

Not directly meeting her gaze he thought for a moment. "That day I first walked into your office, when I first saw you, I couldn't get you out of my mind. When I went back to the hotel that night all of my nerves were on edge. I wanted to
follow through on my original intent to steal the jewels but you had thrown a severe hitch in my plans. I didn't want to admit it at the time but somehow I knew the jewels really weren't as important to me as something else. I went through all of the possibilities in my mind, trying to find a way not to involve you. I was tired as hell but I couldn't sleep. I couldn't get your image out of my mind. So I put it
on paper. It was way of exorcising those demons I suppose. A way to get you out of my head." He took a breath, gathering his thoughts. "After I became Remington Steele it grew to be something else. A way to close the distance when you were away. To keep you close." He stopped abruptly, his face withdrawn from her, wondering if he had revealed too much.

"I see," Laura replied smiling. "So few forms of true intimacy left."

He remembered the words. "No need to quote me so accurately, Miss Holt." Smiling himself now, he pulled her to him.

She looked at him thoughtfully. "These drawings, they're really wonderful you know." " "A bit of a shock at first - but wonderful." "One of these days I'll discover all of your hidden talents."

"I'm an open book, Laura," he replied nibbling her ear. Not bloody likely, she thought. Well, maybe a bit more open.

On a sudden decisive impulse she slipped out of his grasp. "Well, I'm off," she said.

Confused, he saw her heading for the bathroom, pulling off her sweater. "Isn't it a bit cramped in there for tennis?"

"Not what I had in mind." She explained, "I know you have your vivid imagination to rely on and I'm no expert, but don't most artists work better from life?" "Sharpen your pencils, Mr. Steele."

Lauryn has written more of this story. You can find it here.-Krebbie