Humane Steele [Part 3/3]
Date: Monday, March 20, 2000
Janice Skyers <email@example.com>
[Remington reveals a "smidgen" of his past to Laura]
Author's Notes: Just a reminder that this story takes place in the first season. Enjoy!
"Ready," he confirmed.
"You got the list?"
"I do," he responded, inserting his hand inside his breast pocket. Earlier they'd made a list of all the animal shelters in the area, part of their master plan in searching for Nero. The list was secure in place.
"Let's go then," she suggested with a very serious and determined look on her freckled face, She took his hand, pulling him along with her, but he remained glued to the spot.
"What is it?"
"What are you going to do?" he asked vaguely.
"Go out and find Nero isn't that what" she said, finishing up lamely.
"That's not what I mean," he explained, setting a serious blue gaze on her.
"What did you mean then?"
"Well before you resort to punishing him for running off, remember he's a cat-"
"Nevertheless he should be taught right from wrong," she began sternly. Her voice weakened however seeing a look of disapproval in those blue eyes.
"And what would be your definition of wrong Laura?"
She was rampant. "Wrong is escaping through the back door the moment my back is turned. Wrong is running off to heaven knows where and putting me through hell, me being here not knowing if he's hurt or worse,"
"He's a cat Laura and ever so often he needs to run free and scamper about in wide open spaces-"
He returned, an annoyed expression written on that handsome face.
"He's free to run about in the backyard when I'm here to oversee..." Her voice weakened, seeing a look of disapproval re-surfacing in those blue eyes.
"Well yes," he said slowly, studying her face carefully, knowing fully well that he might get his head lopped off for what he was about to say. "But it's a bit restricted don't you think?"
"Well yes" she answered in a hesitant voice.
"Hmmm," he said, wiping the corner of his mouth with his finger. "So what you're saying is that he can have fun so long as it's under your terms and he sticks close to home so you can keep a tight rein on his movements,"
"Well yesI guess so," she admitted, although hesitantly. It sounded terrible to hear him actually say it out loud.
"Kind of the way you'd like to see things at the office Eh," he murmured under his breath but she heard every word.
"If you don't like it, you can always leave," she snapped, reacting off his comment, and sooner regretted her words. "I'm sorry," she started apologizing. "I really didn't mean that,"
"Didn't you Laura," he wondered, not quite ready to forgive her.
She almost forgot what a sensitive soul he can be at times.
"I didn't mean that," she said sincerely.
"And if I DID LEAVE how would that make you feel," he asked tightly, looking very serious.
She sighed in exasperation.
"Would you feel relieved that I was no longer a part of your life and not here to grab the spotlight away from you, or would you be riddled with guilt since you were the one who prompted me to leave-"
Laura sighed tirelessly.
Her response was quick, wanting to get the subject over and done with and back to the matter at hand. "You're not very big on forgiveness, are you- I said I was sorry" she halted, seeing the hurt in his eyes she'd put there. "Sometimes I react without thinking, haven't you realize that by now," she added, softening her tone. "As usual my temper got the better of me,"
Okay, he'll buy that. "Well I suppose you didn't really"
"Apology accepted," she asked softly, interrupting him.
"Accepted," he said, touching her face gently with his fingers, his handsome features lighting up with a smile.
"Let me ask you this Laura," he began turning the conversation around, "If Abigail did that to you how would that make you feel?"
Laura's face suddenly took on a look of confusion. Did she fall asleep in the midst of this conversation?
"Did what to me?"
"Let's say you were all set to go out with your friends and your Mother walked in and announced, 'You're not going anywhere young lady', how would that make you feel?"
"I suppose I'd hate it," she said, shrugging.
"Has it ever happened- Abigail forbidding you to"
"It has," she said quickly. "Now let's go find Nero," she said, tugging at his arm.
"But did you go ahead and do those things nonetheless-"
Talk about persistent.
"What is it with you- now's not the right time to play psychologist,"
"And," he continued, brushing off her remark. "When Abigail's back was turned no doubt,"
He's going to delve isn't he, she thought mentally.
"So I was a rebellious kid but it's no secret. I'm sure Mother told you that too," she said in defense.
"Well she did," he told her, chuckling softly. "Did you really hide away in the laundry hamper?"
"I'll never tell," Laura said, smiling wickedly. Then her face took on a serious look. "I just didn't want him to end up getting hit by a car, or getting into any cat fights, or"
"So you kept him close to home in order to protect him from being hurt. Well that's understandable," he paused, taking a seat, settling back on the sofa, crossing his legs. "I knew someone who tried to do the samewanting to protect me from the big, bad world-"
"Obviously it didn't work," Laura couldn't resist saying.
"Perhaps," he said quickly, a fond smile on his face. "Our paths crossed when I was thirteen years old, I had no place to call home until this kind stranger rescued me from the streets after I tried to pick his pocket of course. But when he took me into his home, he'd set down certain rules, very strict ones I might add, that he wanted me to follow while I was living under his roof. I was very stubborn and rebellious in those days and just refused to do things his way. I knew it was for my own good but I wasn't use to having anyone control my life and telling me what I should and shouldn't do. So even though I was living in a nice house, wore expensive clothes and shoes, and didn't have to worry about where my next meal was coming from or where I'd lay my head at night, I still wasn't happy,"
"Did you know why you weren't happy?"
"He never allowed me to socialize with my friends- those lads I use to hang out with before he rescued me from the streets. He forbade me to see the people I'd considered family. We'd been through so much together and watched each other's backs while trying to survive on the streets. He just didn't understand why I couldn't give up on my mates, cutting them loose, erasing them totally from my life,"
And who is this person and where were you at the time he took you into his home? She wanted to ask him, but she figured she'd have better luck pulling teeth, than get a response to that question.
One of these days, she might have to resort to Chinese water torture to get him to open up about his past and if that fails, perhaps an injection of truth serum might do the trick. Well at least he was allowing her a tiny peek into his past.
"And then one day he left for a business trip- went to Paris I think- and that's when I decided to make my move"
"What did you do?" Laura asked, smiling coyly.
"I ran away, returning to my friends and to that life I had before he decided to transform me into someone that I didn't recognize when I looked in the mirror. Somehow I expected him to come looking for me once he returned from Paris and discovered that I'd run off-"
"But he didn't," Laura realized.
"No. Either he was just as stubborn as I was and refused to come looking for me, or maybe it had dawned on him that it made no sense dragging me back into a life I wanted no part of. His world was very foreign to me- well we did have one thing in common- still that wasn't enough to let me overlook the fact that he wanted to control my life, keeping me under his thumb. Sometimes I'd just lash out at him for no good reason at all. If he so much as made eye contact with me, I'd accuse him of spying on me. In retrospect, he certainly didn't deserve to be treated that way, but I suppose being young, brash, and arrogant, I didn't stop to think about his feelings, and as a result I treated him shabbily- well in the early stages of our relationship anyway. So he probably thought, what's the use of tracking him down Eh, dragging me back into his world when I made no secret of the fact that I was unhappy. So I just hung with my mates, getting into a little mischief here and there"
"A little mischief?" Laura questioned in a teasing voice.
"Perhaps a lot of mischief," he admitted honestly, a devilish grin on his face. "Making up for lost time I suppose. One day I picked this man's pocket" He went on, a wistful look in his blue eyes.
"And what happened?"
"There I was thinking that I was the great success story of the century. 'I'm an artist at what I do', I use to brag to my mates. I was a bit cocky in those days you know-" Laura smiled tightly. It didn't require too much stretch of her imagination to picture her blue-eyed gentleman exactly that way as a youth.
"I'd just extracted this chap's wallet from his pocket and felt very proud of my accomplishment as I walked over to my friends, holding my prize. He sure had a lot of quids in that wallet. 'Hey mates, take a look at what I got', I said, a broad, very satisfying grin on my face. Then suddenly I felt someone grabbed me from behind in the choke hold position, threatening to squeeze the daylights out of me if I didn't hand over the prize. I couldn't breathe and I felt scared to say the least-" Laura shuddered slightly. "I thought this was it, my life would be cut short at the age of thirteen. And this bully wouldn't think twice about strangling me to death if I didn't hand over the wallet but I was determined not to give into his demands, no matter how scared I was," He paused for effect, clearing his throat. "Then suddenly I got this idea"
"Kicked him in the shin just the way I saw Humphrey Bogart did it in one of his movies, and I heard him groan. But he still had his hands around my neck, adding more pressure to my throat. So I kicked him again, with more effort this time. I heard him groan pathetically. Poor chap was in excruciating pain since I was wearing cowboy boots, with heels about three inches thick with pointed toes, but he got what he deserved,"
Laura tried picturing him in those cowboy boots, and was thinking that John Wayne might have played a major role in his decision to wear those boots, movie buff that he is.
"It was then that he removed his hands from my neck, and I took the opportunity and ran like hell, carrying the wallet of course, and I never stopped running until I got to that house- the one that seemed almost like a prison to me at one time."
"Didn't your friends try to help you?" Laura wondered.
"No," he told her, his eyes conveying disgust. "They ran away when that bully arrived on the scene. So much for family and good friends Eh,"
"What did he say when you went back to his house?" Laura asked, a faint smile on her face.
"Not what I expected him to say-"
"I was so certain that he'd chew me out for running away when his back was turned, and he'd tell me how ungrateful and unappreciative I'd been after all he'd done for me, but he didn't. Instead he told me that he was glad that I decided to come back, and despite the fact that I was stubborn, rebellious, arrogant, and just plain difficult, he missed not having me around. When I asked him why he'd missed having someone around that acted that way, he said that I was the exact replica of him when he was my age, and so he understood my moods. Then he went on to say, he understood my thirst for fun and excitement and if mingling with my friends was a way of quenching that thirst, then that would be okay with him. Of course I knew that deep inside he was hoping that I wouldn't hang out with those lads anymore, but I could see that he was desperately trying to meet me halfway and doing just about anything to stop me from running off again,"
"Sounds like a very special person whoever he is," Laura realized.
He nodded thoughtfully, agreeing with her.
"And that night after I was safely tucked away in a warm and comfortable bed I swore that for as long as I live, I'd never pick another soul's pocket, not ever again."
"Thank goodness you were able to defend yourself and escape from that bully before he made good on his threat."
"Oh dear," he said, looking slightly embarrassed. "There I go running off at the mouth about the good old days Eh."
"I'm glad you shared that with me," she said softly, sounding sincere. "And I also understand what you're saying about Nero and"
"You did nothing wrong Laura. He's a house pet who for the most part prefers to stay indoors, but maybe every once in a while he might have this urge to venture outdoors to mingle with other cats to partake in some fun, whatever is considered fun to a cat,"
"I know you're right. Don't worry I'll be fair and"
At that moment they were interrupted by a knock on her front door.
Quickly she hurried over to the door, pulling it open. "Hey Charlie," she greeted the mailman. "Haven't seen you around this neighborhood in a while," Laura said with a smiling face.
"That's because they transferred me out," he told her.
"How's it going so far?"
He let out a weary sigh. "Ohso, so,"
"It will get better Charlie,"
"I suppose it will."
"So you thought you'd pay a visit to the old neighborhood-"
"Well I do miss it but I'm here for another reason,"
"I got something here that I think belongs to you," he said, reaching into his bulky mailbag.
"Really what's that Charlie?"
And like magic pulled out a black cat that looked very familiar.
"Nero!" she shouted happily. "Where did you find him?" Laura said, retrieving her cat from the mailman, immediately stroking his black silken hair.
"I was delivering the mail on my new route when I saw the little fellow wandering around. I figured he was trying to find his way back home but didn't quite know how to get here,"
"Thank you so much Charlie," Laura said gratefully, sounding and looking relieved.
"Yes Charlie, thanks so much," Remington put in, now standing behind Laura. "We were quite worried about him. Thank goodness he's safe and sound,"
"Yes thank goodness," Laura said excitedly, stroking his black silken hair again.
"Now if you folks will excuse me, I have a mountain of mail to deliver before quitting time."
"Bye Charlie and thanks again."
Remington waved goodbye to the man, just before closing the door. He turned to face Laura and observed that she was busy separating the cat's hair with her fingers. "Well no scratches,"
"Well that's good isn't it," he figured. She didn't look very pleased or relieved.
"I suppose," she said slowly, "But I'm going to take him to the vet and have him checked out nonetheless,"
"That sounds like a good idea," he had to agree.
"And I think I should have him de-clawed while I'm there."
"Well I think that's best. But what if he runs off again and gets into a cat fight, what will he use to defend himself,"
"Something tells me that he'll never do that again- run away. Will you Nero?"
"Meowmeow," Nero confirmed.
"Welcome home mate," Remington said, patting the cat's head gently.
"So Nero's back and all's right on the home front Eh," he said, spinning her around the dance floor.
"Yep. I really did miss him-"
"He's been your faithful companion for a long time,"
"Yes, but he has to learn how to share,"
"He couldn't help himself Laura," Remington started explaining. "Slipping out the back door when you weren't looking,"
"Oh so you were thinking of doing that as well?" Laura wondered, half-joking.
"Only if I was convinced that there'd be no reason to stick around any longer Miss Holt," he told her honestly.
"Good answer Mr. Steele," she said, while he escorted back to their table. "One question before we order dinner,"
"Okay, go ahead,"
"You said that you and that gentleman who rescued you from the streets had something in common..."
"HmmMmm," he said, his gaze dropping to the table, finding the menu. What took her so long? He wondered. She's not as quick as she used to be. It's been two days since he allowed her a small glimpse into his past.
"Care to tell me what that 'SOMETHING' was?"
He lifted the menu from the table, allowing his slender fingers to do the walking.
"Well?" She asked, when he was slow to answer.
"I'm thinking Miss HoltI'm thinking," He said quickly, his eyes fixated on the menu.
<For Heaven's sake, where's that bloody waiter when you need him?>
Since he could do with an intervention right about now.