Mates All The Way 1/1
Date: Monday, May 08, 2000
Pat Gonzales <>

Author's note: While I try and figure out if there's something I can come up with for the challenge story, I thought I'd send everyone a story I wrote between the next-to-last and last RS episodes when they aired. I dashed this off in a few days and got it in the mail to a few people to read before "Steeled with a Kiss" aired. So it's basically not been seen outside of a small circle of RS fans.

I was hoping that this was on disk -- and it was -- but, as I mentioned on the SteeleWatchers group, all my RS stories that had been on disk are all at least 14+ years old or older and none of the current word processing applications will open the files. So I have to dig out the old programs (if I can!) and try and save the files as text, in order to open them in current programs and, hopefully, save them.

I doubt that Sally would mind if I sent the second "challenge" story we did, the one Debra T. asked if I'd done the sequel to. (No, Debra, I haven't. :-) Maybe someday. )

I've got to go to the part-time job -- here's the story. Remember, this is between the second and third two-parters of the "extra/fifth" season, so you may have to stretch the old memory back a bit.

Pat G.

(A segue between "Steele Hanging In There" and "Steeled with a Kiss")

The packet of Rothmans Specials weighted Remington Steele's inner pocket. His hand moved toward the cigarettes, then dropped again. He had conquered the habit with Laura's help three years ago, but since his stint in the Los Hadas jail he had started smoking again. Or was it since Anthony Roselli's intrusion into their lives?

Steele looked over at the man in question, sitting at the other end of the padded bench from him. Roselli was hunched up in the corner, arms folded,head resting against the wall of the train. But now Steele noticed that the man was not sleeping, as he had thought. Roselli was quite awake. And
he was staring at Laura.

She lay on the bench across from them, still in slumber. Her head rested on a pillow, and a blanket covered her body from her chin to her feet. There was nothing for the man to see, except her face. . . . But that was quite enough, Steele realized. Laura in peaceful repose was as exquisitely beautiful as she ever was.

And no matter what Laura said, what Laura felt, Roselli had *no* buggerin' reason to be there.

Steele rose. "I'm going for a drink," he announced to Roselli. "Join me."

Roselli looked at him. "No thanks. I'm not up for a drink right now."

Steele glared at him. "Join me," he said, quietly but insistently.

The ice in his tone got through to Roselli. With a last look at Laura the agent got stiffly to his feet and followed Steele out.

As they made their way to the drinking car Steele asked a passing porter to make sure that Mrs. Steele was not disturbed. He put a particular emphasis on his reference to Laura, hoping that Roselli would intelligently pick up the subtle cue. The bar car was smoky and half full. He pulled out the Rothmans Specials as he slid into a seat at the bar. "Scotch rocks," he told the hovering bartender as he jerked a cigarette out.

"Make that two," he heard Roselli say.

Steele lit the cigarette and watched the glowing tip. The scotch came. He set the cigarette aside for a healthy swallow of the liquor, enjoying the way it stung down to his stomach. He puffed again on the cigarette. "I thought we had a deal."

"Yeah. . . I brought Shannon Wayne's deposition."

"Not that."

Silence followed. Steele turned his head to look at the man. Roselli looked at him forthrightly. "I only came to bring the deposition on my way to --"

"You were escaping the police. Why?"

Roselli quickly turned back to his drink. "Something . . . went wrong," he finally said.

"Too bad," Steele said without sympathy.

"Laura didn't seem to feel that way."

"Laura helps little old ladies and stray ragamuffins off the street. She feels compelled to aid people in trouble. That's why she's a private investigator."

"Who happens to work for you."

"Who *happens* to be my wife." The cigarette tasted flat. He crushed the remaining half-length into shreds of tobacco in the ashtray and took up the glass instead. "One more time, *mate*, and the last." He turned his head and pinned the man with a cool blue look. "Stay away from Laura."

Roselli suffered the gaze for a longer time than Steele would have given him credit for. And when he turned away, to sip at his near-full scotch, he retorted. "Or what?"

"Or else." Steele took another swallow of liquor. He waited for a reply, a response, but none came. They sat in silence for a few minutes. Steele lit another cigarette, but let it burn unsmoked in his fingers.

When Roselli spoke at last, his voice was tinged with the shaded doubts of the bluffing man. Steele knew those tones intimately. "Why don't you let your . . . wife . . . decide what *she* wants?" he said. "What's the matter, you afraid you'll come up second best?"

Steele smiled as he looked down at the melting ice in his glass. Wilson Jeffries; Murphy Michaels; William Westfield; *they* had all been second best. *He* had faced each challenge, and won. Even Tony was second best; Laura had said as much on the plane to London. //Nothing happened between Tony and me on the beach, because I didn't want anything to.// He had nothing to fear. He just didn't want Laura bothered by . . . other matters. . . when they were about to share the last intimacies two people could experience. "Hardly," he replied. "Laura is indeed her own woman. She chooses what to do, and with whom." He downed the last of his scotch in two gulps. "After almost five years," he added nonchalantly, "I should know." {Let the bastard chew on that!}

He got to his feet. Roselli made as if to follow. Steele grasped his shoulder and forcibly kept him in his seat. "Three is a crowd," he warned.

"Where am I supposed to go?" the agent asked.

"You're a resourceful chap. You'll think of something." Steele removed a bill from his wallet, tossed it to the bartender, and left.

In the sleeping car, Laura was sitting up, staring out the window at faraway lights. The blanket was a tangled mass in her lap. She turned to him as he slid through the door. "Where were you?" she asked pointedly.

"Went for a drink." He slid onto the seat next to her.

"What happened to Tony?"

Steele despised the small spark of fear in her eyes. "He went with me."

"Where is he now?"

"I left him at the bar."

Laura jumped to her feet. The blanket fell to the floor, forgotten. "You *what*?? You left him *out there*?? What if they left a constable on the train? He could be spotted!"

She took only one step for the door before Steele had her wrist and yanked her into his lap. "He can handle himself," he told the squirming woman.

"You can't just leave him out there to the fates!"

"Why not?" he asked matter-of-factly.

Laura stopped twisting and stared down at him strangely. "Because without his help your 'friend' 's deposition would still be in the hands of immigration and we'd be fighting to keep you from being deported right now. And I believe he *did* save your life at Paddington Station."

"And he nearly got me *killed* at Paddington Station!" he growled back.

She turned her head to look at a far off point. "I think Tony is innocent of whatever they want him for. And I think he deserves a chance to prove it." She brought his gaze back to him. "Let's help him get away, just as far as Ireland. Okay?"

She went so far as to kiss him, a gentle, persuasive kiss. Her lips hinted of the greater pleasures soon to come. So he succumbed. "Very well, Mrs. Steele. I shall retrieve our traveling companion."

He set her on the bench, rose, and went to the door. To his shock, Roselli was leaning against a nearby wall, arms folded over his chest. The man straightened as Steele caught his eye. "Laura . . . fears for your well-being. Do come in."

The agent grinned mockingly at Steele as he passed into the compartment and took his spot on the bench across from Laura. "Thank you, again," he told her.

"Once you get to Ireland, you're on your own," she told him as Steele sat down extremely close to her.

"Fair enough."

Silent minutes passed. Steele watched Roselli watching Laura. She soon became uncomfortable under the other man's persistent gaze and wriggled like an impatient child. For something to do she retrieved the blanket from the floor and set it aside. Then she slid out of her shoes, tucked her legs beneath her, curled her hands around Steele's arm, and leaned her head on his shoulder. "Did you want to lie down?" he asked in a murmur.

"No," she whispered back. "I'm sure we're not too far from the ferry."

He reached around one-handedly for the blanket and maneuvered it over her legs. At one point Roselli leaned across to help, but one dagger-sharp look put the man back in his place.

The train slipped smoothly along to the coast. Steele looked down at Laura, now dozing. {We're almost there, darling}, he told her mentally. {Nothing will disturb us, nothing will stop us. . . . I love you, Laura. I truly do.}

He covered one of her hands with his, and looked up at Roselli. He was still staring at Laura, but somewhat disconcertedly. Steele allowed himself a tiny smile that bothered the pseudo-suitor all the more and lasted until
the slowdown into the train station on the coast.