Steele Stainless (Part 3)
Date: Thursday, 01 April, 2004
"Kaye Hamrick" <>

I'm mortified not to have posted last night as promised (especially given
the recent email discussion). My computer--which I admittedly bought from
Wal-Mart over 4 years ago--decided that starting up was too much of a chore
yesterday. After replacing a $4 (thank God), it seems that I'm good to go
again. And to answer the question I know most of you are thinking: Yes, I
did have everything saved on a disk, but it was a zip disk and the other
computers in the house don't have zip drives. At any rate, to atone I will
be posting two parts today. I hope even those who don't read WIP's can
forgive me.

Steele Stainless (Part 3)

"What are you doing here?" Miranda was flabbergasted.

"Um…can we sit down?" Remington eyed the gun he wasn't entirely sure was

"I don't know," Laura quipped, "can you? Not afraid it would keep you in
one place too long?"

That stung, but he tried again, "I'd just like a chance to explain."

Laura's mind raced. Same impeccable dress, same thick hair, same clear
eyes. Oh, God. Same smell. He's aged well. She hoped he was thinking the same about her. Damn, Laura, stop that! You're angry with him she thought, but what she said was: "Miranda, can we have a minute?"

"You want me to call Sean?" Miranda looked from Laura to Remington and back

"No, I can handle Mr. Steele."

Remington didn't take his eyes off Miranda until she had closed the door
behind her. He then turned his full attention to Laura. "Please put that
down." She slowly laid the gun on the corner of the desk. He started to
sit behind the desk and thought better of it. Much better to go for a more
neutral area. He settled himself on the couch. "Will you come and sit with me?"

"I can hear you fine from here" Laura crossed her arms and planted her feet.

"All right," Remington tried to remember all the times he'd seen that pose.
"Why did you make her leave?"

"I don't want her to hear what you have to say."

"She deserves an explanation as well."

"No she doesn't."

"She's my daughter for heaven's sake."

"No. She's not."

"Laura, I'm lost here."

"She's not Miranda Steele; she just pretends to be. Has for two years now
You should understand the arrangement fairly well."

"But I could swear…"

"I know. It threw me as well."

"They have the same eyes" Remington stared in a daze at the closed door to
the lobby.

"Why don't you tell me something I don't know. Like where you've been and
what you've been doing since…oh, 1994."

"I've been looking for our daughter."

Laura's breath caught in her chest.

"I…I thought she'd found you" he put his head in his hands. "Laura, I don't expect you to forgive me--" he looked up at her again, "My god she looks
like Miranda."

"I think of her as my daughter. I love her as much as…" Laura trailed off.
"Do you know what's it's like to love someone more than yourself who reminds you so much of someone you hate more than anything?"

"Laura, I-"

"Do you know what it's like to love him, too?" Damn, Laura thought, get a
hold of yourself.

"I didn't think you could still love me."

"I don't think I can stop" Laura was immediately sorry she'd said that. Oh
well. If their years together had taught her anything it was that she
should say things instead of just thinking them.

He rose to move toward her and began to speak again but was interrupted by
Miranda coming back through the door. "I'm not leaving you in here alone
with him."

"I'm fine." Laura insisted.

"He picked the lock. I came in here and he was rummaging around in the
desk. I don't trust him. I'm staying." Miranda perched on the edge of the desk and folded her arms.

"I can explain that-" Remington began, trying not to smile at the gesture
that reminded him so much of Laura.

"Oh please do. "Laura was enjoying making him squirm.

"When I came in yesterday, everything seemed so different; all the old
furniture's been replaced, you took me out of the name. I wanted to see if
there were any traces of me still around."

"In the desk drawers?" Miranda was not convinced.

"I wanted to see if they were still empty." He looked at Laura with his
half-smile, "I'm glad to see they are."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Laura was still playing affronted.

"I think it's clear that you haven't replaced me."

"You might be surprised." Laura's tone and posture hadn't changed.

"Hello?" Came a man's voice from the lobby, "Is anyone in?"

Miranda quickly stepped in front of the gun on the desk and swept it into
the top drawer before a small man entered the office tentatively. "Oh,
hello." Said the elderly man in an expensive suit, "I was looking for Mr.

Remington glanced quickly at Laura, "I'm Mr. Steele," he said, rising, "How
can we help you?"


Miranda waited in the lobby until Sarah came in at eight.

"You're early." Sarah noted.

"Mr. Steele has returned and wanted to get an early start on the day."

Ever business minded, the unflappable Sarah asked, "Will he be taking

"I don't know. I suppose you'll have to ask him."

At that moment Remington, Laura, and the elderly gentleman came out of the
corner office. "Thank you, Mr. Steele, Mrs. Steele. I feel so much

"Not at all Mr. Carmichael." Remington replied, shaking the gentleman's

"We'll have someone call you as soon as we have any information." Laura

After the gentleman had left, Remington turned to Miranda and Sarah.
Realizing he didn't recognize Sarah, he said, "Good morning Miss…"

"Oh, please call me Sarah, Mr. Steele. Mrs. Steele assured me that you
wouldn't mind my being hired in your absence."

"Not at all, I have full confidence in Mrs. Steele's abilities."

"Yes, Sir. We have several clients who only want to speak with you
directly, will you be taking appointments?"

"Mmm, not until Monday, let's say. Give me some time to catch up on other

"Of course, Sir."

Laura shot him a look. "Indeed, perhaps we should discuss the pending
cases, now that you're home. Dear."

Remington looked at her just in time to catch the look. He put his palm
flat against his chest and said cheerily, "Miranda, darling, please bring
the pending case briefs." Laura and Miranda watched him in disbelief as he
strode back to the corner office.

Once the three of them were in the office with the door closed, Miranda was
the first to speak, "That was some snow job out there. You're almost as
good as I hear you are."

"Thank you, I suppose" Remington pursed his lips and smiled.

"Look," Laura said, "this doesn't mean everything can automatically go back
to the way it was. If you think you just get to waltz back into this office and take over again you're an imbecile."

"That's not what I'm trying to do. When have I ever taken over this
business? Besides, I don't have to; the business is ours. Legally we're

"It's been considerably longer than 7 years; I could have legally had you
declared dead."

Remington immediately recalled a movie with that plot but bit back the
citation. "Ah, but you didn't. And now I'm back. I'll be accepting
appointments beginning Monday. Wonder how long it'll take the press to come down for those family portraits they didn't get to take two years ago?"

Laura was beginning to fume when the connecting door to her office opened.
Mildred came in, already talking, "Laura, hon? Sarah said the craziest
thing to me as I came in-" She stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of
him. "Oh my God. It's true. It's you. Is it you?"

"Yes." He was hesitant, wondering if he would incur her wrath as well. He
was immeasurably relieved when she rushed into his arms.

"We thought you had been tortured. Then we thought you were dead!" she was almost sobbing with joy.

Damn, Laura thought, I should have done that.

Mildred pulled away and looked at Laura, "Does he know that she's-"

"Yes." Laura finished.

Mildred looked back at Remington, "Scary how much they look alike, isn't
it?" she said, referring to the Miranda in the office and the Miranda the
Steeles had lost.

"Dead Ringer. Bette Davis, Karl Malden. Warner Brothers, 1964" Miranda

Remington was astonished, "How did you know that?"

"The movies I knew. I just picked up the method of citation from you."

"Like father like…uh…" he made an ambiguous hand gesture.

"I think we need to get our stories straight." Miranda suggested.

"Yes. Who knows what about all of this?" Remington asked as he sat behind
the desk.

Miranda explained, "There are three levels of knowledge where our history is concerned: The lowest and most encompassing level is the press, general
public, the rest of the staff, and Mom's family. They understand that you
found me and we returned home for the happy reunion. However, you wanted to keep a low profile until we had time to "reconnect as a family" and could be certain that we were safe again. The press, however, got some shots of Mom
and I coming out of the apartment. We released a statement asking the press to respect our need to be alone for some time. Shortly after that, you were called away on urgent business abroad and have been jet-setting since."

"You came up with all that, Laura? I'm impressed." Remington interrupted.

"Actually," Laura had to admit, "it was all Miranda's concoction. She's the best PR we've ever had."

"Anyway," Miranda was eager to reveal the rest of her "impressive" plan,
"The next level of knowledge is only one person. His name is Sean and he's
my best friend. He knows the real story of Remington Steele. He knows that
I had a childhood very much like yours. But he doesn't know that I'm not
Miranda Steele."

"And you feel that he can be trusted with the information he does know?"
Remington propped his chin on two fingers.

"Implicitly." Laura said.

"And the last level is comprised of the people in this room then, is it?"
Remington concluded.

"Precisely." Miranda confirmed.

"Who know everything." Remington added.

"Almost." Laura added. "Now let's hear about the last 19 years."

Remington told them about his attempts to find Miranda. He revealed how
close he thought he'd come several times, "But as soon as I'd get to the
foster home, or orphanage, nobody knew her. I could usually make somebody
remember for a price and I had to resort to some extent to my…uh…former
profession to fund the search. You don't know how many times I've wished
we'd never gone back to the castle. Thought about how I should have been on my guard in a place where people from my past could find me so easily."
When he was finished, Laura's heart almost bled for him. Almost.

"So what's the plan now?" Mildred broke the silence.

"I think we should consult our PR representative." Remington shook off his
memories and looked to Miranda.

"I think you were right about those pictures." Miranda half-smiled. "The
press will want their story. But we can't just walk up and down the
sidewalk skipping and holding hands until a photographer comes along…"

"Oh yes. Tacky." Mildred agreed. "But how else are you going to set
something like that up?"

"We could call a press conference." Laura suggested.

"A little…showy" Miranda leaned up against the desk. "Selfish. Not really
the image we're going for. Besides, if he's just been 'out of the country'
why would we call a press conference now that he's home? Requires too many
more lies. Let's try to keep this as simple as possible."

"Of course, we'd need the photographs on our own terms…" Remington mused.

"Exactly." Miranda agreed. "We call the shots, no pun intended, and pass
off the image we've crafted."

"Turn it into good PR for the agency." Mildred was elated at the prospect of being a part of such a well-thought out plan.

"We need to look our best. Well-dressed, polished, happy. Together."
Miranda emphasized.

"Walking down the street in an evening gown will look even more selfish than a gratuitous press conference." Laura said. Becoming more and more
frustrated, she slumped onto the couch next to Mildred. This day had really already been too much. She checked her watch. 8:15.

"We need something…" Remington mused, "more…worthy. Some reason to be at
our best together in public. But what? No birthdays coming up. No
anniversaries or major holidays for a month."

"Worthy…" Miranda seemed to have an idea forming. "A worthy cause. A
completely unselfish act. A benefit." She looked at Laura.

"We've got the Agency's annual table at the 'Playthings for Pre-Schooler's'
Benefit…" Laura was beginning to catch on.

"When's that?" Remington leaned forward in his chair.

"Tomorrow night." Mildred filled in.

"And there will be a seat for me?" Remington asked.

"Usually empty. But not this time. This time we walk the red carpet
together and let them have all the pictures they want. The Steeles united
for a good cause." Miranda was pleased at the turn of events.

"It's perfect!" Mildred was ecstatic.

"It'll do." Remington smiled.


Though Laura and Mildred had to work on cases, Remington and Miranda talked
well through the morning. To her surprise, Miranda found that she liked
this stranger. She only had the vaguest idea of exactly what he had done to the woman she'd come to think of as her mother, but she certainly hoped
they'd get over it. Just before lunch, Laura interrupted them, "I've taken
the liberty of calling the staff into your office for a debriefing this
afternoon at three. It's time you met everyone and they met you." Laura's
"strictly business" tone surprised him after the, albeit brief, confessions
of the morning even though he realized he'd almost expected it.

"Everyone? Just how big has the agency gotten?" Remington looked to

"We've got your office, Mildred's, and mine in this suite with a small file
room in the back. Then next door we've got Miranda's office, the interns,
and extra file space for the old cases."

"I had no idea." He really was impressed.

"Well, we really only have space to keep the case files we're working on in
this office. My office looked like a paper hurricane had hit and we had to
keep the corner office empty to maintain appearances."

"At three o'clock?" Remington decided he could play business, too. "What do
I need to tell them?"

"Just the usual. Pat on the back, 'keep up the good work,' same old song
and dance."

"You said interns?"

"Yes. The 4 recipients of the Steele Scholarship for Studies in
Investigative Technology are just down the hall. You'll need to know them
before the benefit tomorrow night" Laura had turned professional and
impersonal again.

"Everyone's going?"

"We've got a table for 10."

"I'm with Mom. We need to present a unified picture." Miranda agreed.

"Very well, then. We will converge on this benefit en masse if that's what
you ladies want."

"Good.." Laura seemed relived but a little surprised that he was following
directions so readily.

"What do you do about lunch around here these days?" Remington asked
clapping his hands and rubbing them together.

"I'll order takeout. We're not ready for you to be seen in public." Miranda reached for the phone.


"Where did you learn how to use chopsticks?" Remington regarded Miranda with amusement.

"Would you believe a Greek shipyard?" She smiled almost sheepishly.

"Actually, I would." He debated whether or not to ask her if she knew a wiry little man by the name of Marcos.

Laura had been called away to the phone and they ate in silence for a
moment. "You?" Miranda returned his question.

He was quiet for a moment before saying, "My father taught me."

"Oh." Miranda looked thoughtful. "Speaking of fathers…I think we need to
decide on a name for you."

"Would you like an old one or are you more like Laura and prefer to make up
your own?" He smiled.

"No. I mean something for me to call you."

"In public."

"All the time actually. Mom and I decided at the start that it just makes
things easier. No worries about a slip-up when it really counts."

"Fair point."

The intercom buzzed and an ever-calm Sarah crackled over the line.,
"Miranda? A Mr. Marquez on line 1. My Spanish can't keep up."

"Send him over." Miranda picked up the phone. "Hola Señor. ¿Mi nombre es
Miranda Steele, cómo yo lo puedo ayudar?" Remington eyed her approval as
she discussed the preliminary details of the man's need for a security
system on his new Malibu home. "Usted está muy bienvenido. Tenga un buenas tardes. Adiós." Miranda hung up the phone. "Sorry, Sarah doesn't know
much beyond "hello," "goodbye," "enchilada platter," and "please hold."

"¿Dónde aprendió usted el español?" Where did you learn Spanish?

"Aquí y allá. Aprendo los idiomas fácilmente." Here and there. I learn
languages easily. Miranda decided that she liked this stranger quite a lot,

"How many languages do you speak?" Remington was intrigued.

"Um…Miranda looked at the ceiling, "Eight but really five."

"Comment bon est vos Français?" How good is your French?

"Aisé." Fluent.

"What are the others?"

"German, Italian, some Dutch and Norwegian and I've just begun Portuguese.
So five fluently and three are a bit iffy."


"I'd love to learn Gaelic but hardly anybody outside of Ireland speaks it.
So all I know is 'Na glac pioc comhairle gan comhairle ban': 'Never take
advise without a woman's guidance.'" She smiled. "That and dúmhál.

Remington smiled slyly, "I know that one."

"You would" Miranda smirked. "It's my horse's name, too."

"You ride?"

"Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. More often when I get the chance."

"And you named your horse Blackmail?"

"No. I named him Dúmhál. Practically nobody in America speaks Gaelic. And I usually just call him Hal. But you should know all of this; you bought
him for me last Christmas."

"Did I indeed?"

"Certainly. Who else would bring an Irish Draft all the way from Cork?"

"Playing up the 'homeland' bit, are we?"

"When it pays."

"And it did?"

"Certainly. The press had no pictures of the happy family. No proof of the loving father/daughter relationship we were pushing. This rather exorbitant gift certainly helped."

"You are good at this" Remington found himself impressed again.

"'Woman's guidance' and all."

"Speaking of a woman's guidance," Remington dug in his low mien, "what do
you think is the most suitable name for me?"

"Well, I've had to refer to you from time to time and I usually stick with
'Daddy.' It maintains the 'daddy's little girl' vibe and alludes to a
particular closeness. What do you think?"

"If Laura trusts your judgment then so do I."

Sarah knocked on the door. "Come in." Remington called out, standing and
smoothing his coat.

"Oh, so sorry to interrupt…" Sarah began.

"Not at all," Miranda said. "I was just going." She deposited her empty
carton in the trash and stood on tiptoes to kiss him on the cheek, "I've got an errand to run but I'll be back for the meeting at three." She walked
toward the door. "See you this afternoon, Daddy."

Remington hadn't prepared himself for the sting of that word after such a
long time. He sucked in his breath and managed a rather feeble wave with
his chopsticks as the door closed behind her. Sarah set a small stack of
files on his desk and exited quietly. He noticed his hands shaking moments
later as Laura entered through the connecting door. Seeing that he was
alone she very slowly picked up her now cold lunch. Remington eyed her
apprehensively. Finally he spoke, "Miranda's just left."

"Yes, she's very helpful when we get busy. She teases me about making her
work for her riding lessons."

"And the ridiculously expensive horse?"

"Yes. That, too, I suppose. We did have to maintain the appearance of your

"Oh, certainly."

"What else did you talk about while I was gone?"

"Her flair for languages."

"She's very bright." Laura managed between bites.

"And she's in school?"

"She's a senior at USC double majoring in International Relations and Art
History with a minor in languages."

"A senior in two years?"

Laura nodded as she swallowed a bite, "She entered as a sophomore and tested out of almost all of her minor requirements."

"I see." He cleared his throat, "Her mother's good looks and sharp mind."

"So she's told you about keeping up appearances?"

"Even when no-one's around."

"I think it's best."

"So she said."

Laura set her takeout carton on the coffee table, "I think we both know
about pulling something like this off-"

"An understatement." He interrupted.

"Then you'll agree that we have to be a family all the time."

"We are a family."

"You know what I mean."

"If you think it's best."

"Why do you keep saying that!" Laura exploded.

Remington's voice rose to the challenge, "What?"

"'If you think so' and 'whatever you want' and all the rest of the placating statements you've made today."

"Just trying to get along" his tone betrayed his irritation.

"I can't remember the last time you 'just tried to get along.'" Laura threw
her hands up in frustration.

"Maybe it's time for that then" Remington realized they were yelling again. What did I expect? he thought to himself.

"No, I can remember. I can remember several times you 'just tired to get
along' and they always involved some scam," Laura eyed him warily.

"People change" he was adamant. "What about this morning?"

She ignored his comment and, pushing her anger down, launched back into
'Business Laura', "We need to discuss the staff before they come in. Did
Sarah bring you the files?"

"On the desk I think" Remington replied, his hostility still just under the

"Good then," Laura launched into descriptions of everyone employed by the
Steele agency. "You've met Sarah, so on to the interns. They're all at
least sophomores at USC. Jessica Chu, Lisa King, Chase Livingston, and Alex
Porter. They assist on cases; legwork, paperwork, back-up. And they bring
more current knowledge into the office."

"And they'll all be in at three?"

"Yes. They'll brief you on the cases they're working on."

"And you'll be there."

"Right, I'd leave you alone with my staff" Laura scoffed.

"What do you think I am, a crook?"


Remington couldn't help himself, "His Girl Friday. Cary Grant, Rosalind
Russell. Columbia, 1940."

"Miranda likes that one."

"She has good taste."

"She's a Rosalind Russell fan. Rosalind Russell, however, will not be at
this meeting" Laura tapped the folders in her hand.

"What about Miranda's friend, Sean?"

"Mildred refers to him as the 'muscle'. He'll be there" Laura smiled in
spite of herself.

"Also at USC?"

"No. Sean's more of an artist. He's a photographer, he paints, writes

"And he's your 'muscle'?" Remington was incredulous.

"Wait until you meet him."

"What about Miranda? What are her duties?"

"She watches the front desk from time to time, she helps maintain the
computer files, goes over security systems and contracts, represents me…us
when we're not available, she and Sean take care of most of our surveillance cases, and PR of course."

"Of course."

"Gives that 'family business' feel" Laura didn't know why she was justifying herself to him.


The small silence was too much for Laura, "All right then, I've got some
more work to do before the meeting. Read over the staff files and I'll come get you at three." Then without giving him a chance to respond she turned
on her heel and went back to her office.


At an intersection several miles away, Miranda and Sean paused at a red
light. Sean extended his leg to keep the motorcycle balanced as behind him
Miranda checked a piece of paper again. "2321. Look, that's it to the
right" she pointed across the intersection to a squat building that had
certainly seen better days. Sean nodded and accelerated to a space in front of the building. They both dismounted. Miranda shook her hair out of the
helmet and brushed some of the road dust off her pants. "Now, just
remember, calm" she emphasized the last word.

"I'm always calm" Sean feigned astonishment and hurt.

"Just let me talk to him first. If he gives us the money then there's no
need for unpleasantness. Don't just go straight for his lapels."

"Has anyone ever just given us the money? Or the papers? Or the

"That's not the point. There's a certain decorum to these things. For
example, growling at someone is rude."

"Ok, that happened once and he was really-"

"Uh uh uh," Miranda admonished, "what about the other time?"

"What other time."

"You know what I mean."

"Oh c'mon."

"We don't want a repeat of that, do we?"


"See, it's decorum again. Pushing someone against a wall is a necessary
evil in these types of errands; beating their head against the
aforementioned wall--however lightly--is a bit much. I'll tell you when I
need you."

"And what am I supposed to do until then?"

"Just stand behind me and be visible in that special way that only you can"
she pinched his cheek playfully before turning to walk toward the building's entrance.

"And if he gives us any trouble?" Sean stretched his shoulders as he
followed behind her, putting on his 'tough guy' persona.

"Nail him to the wall" Mirada smirked. They entered the building and
approached a wall directory. Miranda looked back at the scrap of paper in
her hand and then at the directory. "Third floor." She and Sean rode up in the elevator and exited into another short but disserted hallway. They
walked to their left until they came to the correct door. Miranda knocked
politely but firmly. No answer. She tried again. When nobody answered the second time, Miranda stepped aside and Sean knocked a bit more forcefully
than she had. "We know you're in there, Mr. Sellars. We have a matter of
business to discuss with you" Miranda's tone was professional. After a
short moment of silence Miranda continued, "Mr. Sellars, if you do not open
this door I have a gentleman here with me who is more than capable of
opening it by force."

The door creaked open a few inches and a man's face appeared in the crack,
"Can I help you?"

Sean pushed the door open until it banged on the opposite wall. Miranda
shot him an accusing glance and he returned it with an apologetic one. "Mr.
Sellars," Miranda entered the room as the man retreated, "you seem to owe my
friend some money."

Mr. Sellars, a small, balding man stood behind his desk as though it was a
bullet-proof wall. He drew himself up straight, "I don't know what you're
talking about."

Sean started forward and Miranda put out a hand to stop him without taking
her eyes off Mr. Sellars. "Oh I think you do" she smiled. "You sold my
dear friend Thomas a product. This product was defective. Any of this
coming back to you?"

"I told you, I don't know what you're talking about" the small man put his
nose in the air.

Miranda sighed almost dramatically, "Henry?" she looked at Sean. "Please
help Mr. Sellars. He seems to have forgotten some crucial information."
Sean stepped forward and lifted Mr. Sellars off his feat by his lapels and
pushed him into the opposite wall. "Now Mr. Sellars-" Miranda realized that she was looking directly at the bottom of his tie. She tapped Sean on the
arm and he lowered Mr. Sellars to her eye level. She looked at him

"T...tu…Tuesday. Give me until Tuesday and I'll get it to you."

"Mr. Sellars, it's not me or Henry here that you've wronged. It's my dear
disappointed friend Thomas. He purchased a product from you in good faith
and you swindled him. Don't ask my forgiveness. Or mercy."

"I haven't got it right now. I swear to you."

"Ah, you see, my friend believed you and was cheated. Why should I do the

"You can search the whole office if you want. I've got nothing here."

"Mr. Sellars, can I call you John?" Miranda sat in his desk chair, pulled a
drawer open and propped her feat up on it.


"John, John, John. Now I've promised my friend that I would come down here
and act as courier between the two of you. We wouldn't want him
disappointed again, would we? Perhaps I should just put in a call to the
police. Or better yet, the IRS Fraud Squad" she reached for the phone.

"N…no" Mr. Sellars was sweating by this point. "In the ceiling tiles.
There's plenty of money up there. Take it all, just--just call him off."

Miranda swung easily onto the desktop and reached for a ceiling tile. She
succeeded in dislodging it and pulled down a stack of money in rubber bands.
"I believe $5,000 was the amount, wasn't it?" she looked at Mr. Sellars.

"Take it all, just get him off me!" the small man was beginning to panic.

"No, we only came for this. But I suggest you pay all the people you
cheated" she dropped gracefully off the desk and headed for the door, "or
we'll be back" and she exited. "Henry" she called from the hall and only
then did Sean release Mr. Sellars, giving him a smirk as he followed Miranda out into the hallway and the waiting elevator. As they emerged into the
bright sunlight again Miranda managed an "I'm thirsty" before putting her
helmet on.

Sean drove to a small sidewalk café and they sat within view of his bike.
"So how'd I do?" Sean sipped his soda.

"Quite well. You've learned much, Grasshopper" Miranda laughed.

"Thank you" Sean put his hands together and bowed in an attempt at an
Oriental style. "Can I have a better code name than Henry?"

"What's wrong with Henry?"

"I used to know a Henry I didn't like."

"Ok. Next time you can pick."

Sean nodded and sipped his drink, "How'd you know the guy had the money?"

"They always have the money, don't you watch movies?"

"Life isn't a movie."

"You know," Miranda sipped again, "I think that's been said so often in
movies that it's just passé at this point."

"Sorry about holding him too high" Sean rubbed the back of his neck.

"Eh, not really a problem" Miranda checked her watch, "We've gotta get back
to the office--big meeting at three."

"Oh yeah, what about?"

Miranda took a breath, "He's back."

"Who--no!" Sean sat forward and his tone changed to a stage whisper. "But I

"I know" Miranda maintained her usual tone of voice.

"But he-"

"I know."


"This morning."

"How long?"

"I don't know."

"You ok?"


"What's he want?"

Miranda shrugged noncommittally, "We'll see."


To Part 4