Steele not licensed to Steele 4/4
Date: Monday, July 03, 2000
Wolfgang Walter <>

Steele not Licensed To Steele 4/4

After the police had taken care of Hunter and the paramedics of Murphy who suffered from a concussion, Laura and 'Steele' were standing in the waiting hall of the airport, both unsure of what to say. Laura finally started, "I'm sorry you missed your plane."

"I'll take the next one. Thankfully everything's arranged." He paused for a moment. "Why did you believe I took the gems?" he asked curiously.

"What was I supposed to do? Immediately after your departure Murphy told me that someone knocked him off and took the gems. And you told me that you were after them," Laura replied defensively, not sure why she felt this way.

"But I gave you my word," he reminded her, hiding the gleam in his eyes very well.

"Do you think I would have become a successful PI by believing any crook who gave me his word that he was innocent?" she retorted.

He started to smile. "I guess you're right." He hesitated for a moment. "Were you serious about your remark yesterday?"

Her mind went blank. "What are you talking about?"

"You saying I was a delightful Mr. Steele."

"Oh!" she laughed nervously. "Well, I think I was serious that moment," she evaded, then she asked worriedly, "Are you going to steal the diamonds in San Francisco?"

"I promised I wouldn't steal them as long as they're under your jurisdiction. I don't think that it extends to San Francisco. Are you going to turn me in? Think about the bad publicity."

"That's something I'm concerned about. Imagine you being caught in flagranti while trying to get them..."

"What do you suggest? Shall I wait until they're out of the country?"

"It wouldn't be the worst solution."

"But I still could get caught, but this time it wouldn't involve Mr. Steele," he stated, then he shook his head. "It's always risky to steal such things. If I see a chance I will take it. All I want is your word you won't warn the authorities there."

"And you would take it?" she asked, amused.

"Given that you have a definite interest in me not getting caught, yes, your word would be enough for me."

She laughed out loud. "Well, then I hope they won't get you. And I also hope we will never stand on opposite sides. The next time I will turn you in," she added in confirmation, then stretched out her hand.

He took it to kiss the back of it as she had expected him to do. "So do I." Then as if he had suddenly an idea, "Why don't you come with me? You've got talent, a sharp mind, imagine the things we could accomplish, think of the possibilities."

She shook her head. "I'm sorry, but I can't consider it. I've got responsibilities here, and I can't leave them behind. And I have built up something I can be proud of, no, as tempting as your offer is, I have to decline it."

His smile showed her that he had expected her answer. "So this is a goodbye. I hope your dreams will fulfill themselves, Laura."

She smiled sadly. "Yes, I think it is." They shook hands. When he turned around to leave she added, "and take care!"

He faced her again. "So do you!" Then he vanished in the crowd.

The following morning Bernice and Laura were in the elevator. Bernice, holding a newspaper, read the headline aloud. "STEELE PURE GOLD," then she continued, "Remington Steele and unidentified woman -" She looked at Laura in sympathy, "that's you, rescue rare gems."

"Poor Mr. Hunter. He wasn't a thief. Just a man who saw his dream going down in a sea of red ink." The elevator doors opened and they exited as Laura continued, "he wanted to use the gems to finance production of his automobile." Laura shook her head sadly. "He never thought about making the gems to money, or how difficult it would be."

They entered the office and found a man waiting. "Good morning," they greeted.

"Lester Giddons. I have a nine o'clock with Remington Steele," the stranger replied.

Laura heaved a sigh. "I'm afraid Mr. Steele was called away on - urgent business in - San Francisco." Bernice only smiled and shook her head hearing the variation of the all too familiar lie. "But we can use his office." Giddons went to the door of the office when Laura turned to Bernice again. "If - anyone should call -" she began hesitantly.

"He won't," was Bernice' firm response.

Laura opened the door for Mr. Giddons and ushered him ahead of her. She stopped dead when she heard him saying, "Mr. Steele. I thought you were in San Francisco."

Laura glanced at Bernice, she then peered into the office to see 'Steele' turning in his chair.

He smiled at her as he rose. "I was, but suddenly there was nothing for me to do up there." He closed the door behind Laura and came to stand beside her. "Now. How can I help you?" he asked as Laura returned his previous smile.

Once the door closed behind Lester Giddons, Laura watched as the man she had first met as Special Agent Ben Pearson, and who now called himself Remington Steele, returned to the desk across the room. "Okay," she asked. "What's you're angle?"

He smiled up at her, his blue eyes alight with some inner fire that reminded her of the blue gems that had brought him into her life. "I told you. I'm a man who enjoys impossible challenges. What better challenge than to take on the role of Remington Steele?"

"Why?" she asked suspiciously. "So you can find a new score since you lost the Royal Lavulite?"

"I didn't lose them. I decided to leave them alone. They didn't even increase security measures after the last events, obviously thinking that they're quite safe now, so it would have been a child's play."

"That still doesn't explain why you're here."

"Well, I thought the role of Remington Steele was quite amusing, even you agreed, so why not continue it?"

She was still suspicious as she moved to the look out the window. Turning at last to look at him instead, she asked, "And what do YOU get out of it?" Mistake. She knew the second she uttered the words that they were a mistake.

Those incredible blue eyes revealed humor, and curiosity - and desire. "That depends on what you're willing to offer, Laura," he suggested, his voice soft, with a hint of an Irish lilt. He rose to stand close to her, not touching, but near enough that Laura found herself curling her fingers into a fist to keep from reaching out. "You've built a very impressive operation here. But you need a front man. Someone to glad hand the clients, to reassure them that there really IS a Remington Steele in the background, overseeing everything."

She forced herself to take several deep breaths. Another mistake. Her lungs seemed as full of him as her senses were. She looked away. "I - I don't think this will work. You're not a detective. You're a -"

"Cheap con-man?" he supplied, using her own words. Laura turned back to look at him again. He seemed sincere as he told her, "Laura, if you agree to this, then I give you my word that I'll not do anything to bring disrepute or scandal to the agency."

"Your WORD?"

"I kept it regarding the gems," he reminded her.

"Only because someone else beat you to them."

He shook his head. "If I had wanted to steal them the night before their departure I would have done so." He paused, thinking how he could convince his stubborn vis-a-vis of his sincerity. "If you DON'T agree to this, Laura, what happens the next time a client like Gordon Hunter insists on meeting your elusive boss?"

"I guess I would turn down the case."

"Like you did with Hunter?" he countered.

"That was an - unusual case. I couldn't afford to let it -"

"And the next one?" he asked, pressing his advantage. "Laura, I'm not trying to con you. And I'm not asking for much. A place to stay, room and board - a few minor expenses -"

She looked at him. "Minor expenses." She glanced at the cut of his suit. "IF we do this, and its still IF, we'd need to get some things straight. You wouldn't handle any cases. You'd let me or Murphy handle any questions -"

"Agreed - for now. But what will happen if I ever decided to become a real detective?"

She looked at him incredulously. "I think we could give you the formal training, but I don't think we can handle both you becoming the head of the agency and a real investigator right now."

"That's okay with me. What else?"

"You give me your word no cons -"

He held up his hand. "I promise." He took her hand in his. "I understand how important the agency is to you, Laura. And believe me, I would never deliberately do anything that would cause you any trouble."

"If I found out you did I would get you - and tear you into pieces!" She showed with her index finger and thumb how small this pieces would be.

"Next point: Minor expenses. You may know that the agency is not this profitable for the moment. You will get a salary for starters and we'll have to talk about the amount. You can use the condo we hired in the name of Steele. I think it fits even your tastes. Sometimes it will be necessary to use you as distraction or you will have to keep someone busy. In that case you are allowed to use agency funds - within boundaries of course. As soon as we find out you're too generous we will close your checking account."

"What do you consider 'too generous'?" he asked bemused.

"Well, I don't think you will be able to afford a magnum of Champagne on a daily basis," she answered, and then shook her head. "I can't believe I'm considering this. I must be crazy."

"Not at all. You're an intelligent, capable, lovely young woman."

"This is NEVER going to work," she sighed.

"We'll give it trial, then. Say, six months? If it doesn't work out, then Remington Steele will again become a figment of your imagination, and I will be on my way."

Laura considered her options. There was something about this man - even knowing that he was a con man, a thief, and probably worse - something that drew her to him like a moth to a flame. It would be dangerous, she knew, maintaining the pretense of his being Remington Steele. But would it be any more dangerous than the tightrope she had walked for the last half year, when there hadn't BEEN a Remington Steele at all? She wanted excitement, didn't she? Well, this man reeked of excitement - and a lot more. Holding out her hand, Laura made a decision. "We have a deal. Murphy and I will do the work, and you'll take the bows as Remington Steele. No direct involvement in a case - you function best in an advisory capacity. Learn that by heart because you're going to be saying it a lot."

He took her hand, smiling. "I'll remember."

"To avoid your jumping in cold, you will have to go through our case files. I'll ask Bernice to pick out the more important ones for a start. It's essential for you to know what you have been working on. No slips allowed.

"By the way, there's the official bio, learn it by heart. It's your bio from now on. Then you will have to practice your signature, we don't want any clerk becoming suspicious from a change of handwriting, do we?"

"This is a mistake, Laura," Murphy Michaels interrupted her from the doorway. His eyes fell on the man who still held Laura's hand in his. "I thought you were leaving?"

"I decided to stay," Steele told him.

Laura ran to Murphy. "And I thought you were supposed to stay home in bed today? The doctor said you had a bad concussion."

Steele moved to sit behind the desk, watching them. Laura's concern for her friend was no more than she might show for a brother, he reasoned. He'd seen no sign of anything more, and that was no surprise because she was still the girl friend of this Wilson. Murphy was another story. Did he know something he didn't?

"I was going to, until I looked at the newspaper and saw HIS picture in it. I wanted to remind you that if he went to San Francisco and got into any trouble, it might come back on the agency."

"Well, I didn't go to San Francisco, did I?" Steele said. "So you can just put that concern right out of your head, Murphy -"

"Stay out of this," Murphy told him. "This is between Laura and me."

"I don't think this is the place or time to discuss this, Murphy," Laura insisted.

Steele picked up his sunglasses. "Don't let me disturb your discussion," he told them. "I have some things to attend to. I'll be back later -"

Laura frowned. "Where are you going?"

"I'm going to fetch my luggage. I don't think that the condo is equipped with the right things."

"The condo?" Murphy repeated after 'Steele' had left the room. "Laura, you're not letting him -"

"Calm down, Murphy. I agreed give him room and board as compensation -"

"Room and board? What IS it about that guy? He comes in here, and the next thing I know he's buying YOU a magnum of champagne, convincing you to let him be Remington Steele - Laura, we KNOW he's a con man and jewel thief - there's no telling what else he's done. I say we cut him loose and forget all about him."

"We can't, Murphy. As you just pointed out, he's been identified with the name. If we let him go, and he -"

"Kills someone?" Murphy suggested.

"Does something outside the law, then it COULD reflect badly on the agency. Don't you see? If he's here, we can keep an eye on him, make sure he keeps to the straight and narrow -"

"You're asking for trouble, Laura. He's a wolf in sheep's clothing. And that's never gonna change."

"He gave me his word, Murphy. And it's only for six months. If we decide it's not working out, we'll go our separate ways."

"But by that time he'll be so identified with Remington Steele that he won't be able to make a move without it coming back on us. Do you really think you can keep him in line, Laura? One look from him and you seem to lose all common sense -"

Laura smiled with more confidence than she felt. "Things will work out, Murphy. You'll see. He's really almost perfect for the part. Handsome, charming, someone to make the public think that Remington Steele really does exist. Think of the publicity. You know how neither of us likes to take time to attend all those boring luncheons and dinners - well he can." Murphy was shaking his head again. "Don't fight me on this, Murphy."

"Look, I know it's YOUR agency, Laura, but - I just don't want to see you hurt, okay? And I really think this guy could hurt you. And not just professionally."

"Nonsense. I can handle our Mr. Steele, Murphy."

"I hope so, Laura." He opened the door and took a last look at her before leaving. "For your sake as much as anything else."

Laura heard the door close behind him, and sat down in the chair behind the desk. "I hope so too, Murphy," she whispered. "I hope so too."

After two hours 'Steele' returned to the office, carrying a suitcase and a bag.

Bernice had prepared about ten case files for him to read through, 'his' bio and some papers where Laura had written something in 'Steele's' handwriting for him to practice.

Laura had awaited him impatiently. She called Fred and they went down to meet him. They drove to the address of the condo and went up. Laura gave him the keys so he could open the door. After they had entered the apartment Laura asked him if it was fine.

"Yes, I think so," he replied and inspected all the rooms. He also opened the fridge and the wardrobes. He made a mental list of what he would have to buy. The inspection of the clothes was no great affair, accidentally they didn't need much change to fit him perfectly. The shoes were another thing, they were too small. The underwear wasn't to his taste, but that was a minor problem. He also intended to give the rooms a more personal style, but this could wait.

Laura was relieved to know that they could use at least some things, so this investment wasn't a complete loss. She had some things to attend to so she said goodbye promising to step in later.

"May I invite you to dinner?" he asked before she left.

She hesitated for a moment, and then she agreed. They debated shortly for the time, than they agreed that Laura would come to fetch him at eight while he would make the reservations.

Later at home Laura was glad that Wilson wasn't there. It would have been hard to explain that she was going to a business dinner in the dress she had chosen to wear. It certainly wasn't conservative, provocative was a more apt description. During the afternoon she had decided that she just wanted to enjoy the evening, she was too tired to be always on the guard. She knew that she was playing a dangerous game, but she thought the odds weren't that bad. Her Mr. Steele didn't seem to be this conservative - like Wilson - and it was only fair to let him know what he would have to expect. Perhaps everything would run in her favor, and she was more than ready for a change.

Fred fetched her on time. They arrived with plenty time, and Laura ordered him to wait. She went up. At the door she checked her make-up, then she rang the bell. When he opened the door the smell caught her totally unprepared. "You - you are cooking?" she asked in a not very intelligent way.

He also needed some time to recover from the sight she was. "Well, I thought we could save some money this way. I don't think you will be disappointed, though. Won't you come in?"

"Yes, yes, of course." Still shaken she entered. "Oh, we have to call Fred, he's waiting downstairs."

"Can't we phone him?" Steele asked.

"Oh, yes, sure." While she called Fred he made the final preparations for their dinner and put on some soft music on the stereo.

She also took her time to inspect the condo for the changes he had made. She was surprised about how he had managed to give it his personal tone. She hadn't expected him to do this, but she liked it.

Over dinner they took their time to get to know each other better. It didn't take her long to find out that he didn't like to talk about his past, but she also realized it wasn't because of the things he had done. He had been quite frank about some of his cons, and she was intrigued. She found herself more than once wondering how one could live this way, it certainly seemed to have its funny sides.

After dinner he suddenly asked, "Do you have some plans for the evening?" His eyes gleamed wickedly when he continued, "I don't think that you chose this dress just for dinner."

Laura blushed and became nervous, but then she took all her bravado together. "Well, I thought about dancing. You do like dancing, don't you?"

He flashed a smile. "Yes, I do like dancing."

She started to smile enigmatically. "Do you like exotic dances?"

That caught his attention. "I happen to be a connoisseur of exotic dances, but I'm sure I haven't seen everything yet."

"Ever seen a fan-dance?"

The end