Steele Trusted (First Season Story)
Date: Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Helen <>

Steele Trusted.

Laura nudged Steele, "Did you hear that?" she whispered.

"I told you. It's the obvious route."

They flattened themselves against the wall and waited. There were light
footsteps approaching, a stealthy walker in soft shoes. The passageway was
narrow. As the intruder came towards them, they both seized her. Steele held her
firmly while Laura turned on the light. The thief struggled to get free, then
froze, staring at Steele. "Fabrini?" she relaxed, "Thank God! I thought I was
caught." She sounded English.

"You are." said Laura, but she recognised the name and looked to Steele for
an explanation.

Steele was looking at their captive. "Kate?" He released her.

"What are you doing here? We can't both have planned the same job for the
same night. Did Dad send you?"

Steele looked her up and down. "No, but you know he wouldn't want you doing

"I know, but I had to. I'll explain later. We'd better get out of here.
Apparently they have good security."

"The best." said Laura.

Kate took Steele's arm, "Come on! One can wander around, three can't. I
don't suppose you've already got the necklace? I'd make a good offer for it. I
know this must be your patch and I have no right to be here, but I didn't know,
and I need the necklace."

"What for?" asked Steele.

"To settle a debt."

"We're the security." he said, sounding apologetic.


She looked at Laura. "I'm Paul's friend, I swear. Don't turn me in."

"We have no choice." said Laura.

She glanced at Steele, hoping he would agree. He frowned. "We have to get
her out. We can sort this out, but not here."

"We were here to catch any thieves."

"We were here to prevent a theft. We've prevented it. Do we really have to
sacrifice a young girl who's made one very bad mistake?"

"Our clients would say yes." said Laura, "And in six hours, I have to report
to them."

"Give me two hours." said Steele.

"To do what?"

"Convince you."

Kate hugged him. "I knew you'd help!"

Laura sighed. "Let's go back to my office and talk about this." She went
round the corner to Murphy, "Something's come up. Stay here and call us if
anything happens."

"Right." said Murphy.

Kate didn't attempt to run away. She walked quietly beside Steele. Once they
got into brighter light, she looked about eighteen.

Steele let Kate into the car first. As he was about to get in, Laura said,
"She's a bit young to be a former lover. What were you? Her babysitter?"

"Not exactly." he said. They got into the car. Laura started the engine.
Steele turned to look back at Kate. "Kate, is there a word for what I am to you?"

"Kidnapper?" said Kate.

He nodded. "I knew you'd know. That expensive education wasn't wasted after

Laura was horrified, but they both laughed.

"It's not as bad as it sounds." said Steele, "I'll explain at the office."

"Explain now!" said Laura, "Preferably in a way that makes it very clear I'm
not in a car with a man who abducts people."

"Oh!" said Kate, "Paul, I didn't mean to cause trouble for you."

"Well, perhaps you'll tell Laura what happened."

"How much does she know?"

"She knows enough that there's no harm in telling her the truth." he said.

"And you trust her?"

"With my life." said Steele. He looked at Laura and smiled.

Kate seemed happy with that. "Well then, there was a heist that went wrong.
Dad did it with all his best and most trusted friends. One of them decided the
reward meant more than friendship. Dad was arrested. It wasn't exactly a
first offence and he knew early release wasn't likely. My mother had died a few
years before, so I was sent to live with my uncle, who immediately sent me to
a boarding school in Surrey."

She glanced at Steele before continuing. He nodded.

"I hated it there. I only stayed because I had letters from Dad there and I
missed him. He couldn't say much in his letters, but we had a code. The first
letter of each word in the third sentence. Even then, he was cautious. He
never told me he was going to escape, but I guessed when he said things were
improving. For three letters, the message was the same, 'Trust Fabrini.' Last
thing he said before his trial was that he knew it wasn't Paul Fabrini who had
betrayed them. That was the only thing he was sure of."

"Why was he sure of that?" asked Laura.

"Fabrini couldn't do it. He'd never betray a friend. Besides, he could have
betrayed Dad many times over for far bigger rewards and never had. After the
shock of the betrayal, all that kept Dad going was his love for me and his
certainty that Paul had been a true friend. It drove him nuts at times, trying
to work out who had betrayed him." She looked around the car park. "We are
safe here, aren't we?"

"Yes," said Laura.

"If I get arrested, it'll break his heart."

"The time to think of that was before you broke in."

"I didn't break in, that implies a lack of finesse."

Laura saw Steele smile and realised that Kate must be quoting him. "You
taught her this?" asked Laura.

"No! Laura, what do you take me for?"

Laura ignored the question and nodded to Kate, "Go on with the story."

"One night, Paul got in through my window. The only good thing about that
school was that it had rooms, not dorms. There he was, standing by the window,
telling me Dad had sent him. I thought he was going to tell me Dad was out and
had left the country. 'Where is Dad?' I asked. He said, 'Heading for the
airport. Pack what you need and I'll take you to him.' I stuffed as much as I
could in a small bag and he put me over his shoulder and carried me through the
window and down to the ground. We ran across the grounds and then out over
the wall. It was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me."

"You stole a kid from a school to send her into hiding with her father?"
said Laura.

"You'd rather I'd let her lose him altogether? I couldn't do it." said

"He was wonderful!" said Kate, "A true professional. I was shaking, I just
kept thinking any moment we'd be stopped. I'd only be sent back to school, but
I was scared that Paul would end up in prison. I said he shouldn't take a
risk like that for me and he just smiled and said, 'We'll be fine.' He said that
even when we heard on the radio that I'd been reported missing and that
somebody had seen a man in the grounds. We changed cars twice. Paul was very
well-prepared. At the airport, I was worried they'd know my passport was a fake,
but Paul said, 'That was made by a friend of mine. It'll get you through.' He
turned out to be right."

"He's an artist, that man." said Steele.

"Is that where you got all your passports?" said Laura.

Steele said nothing.

Kate went on, "He took me to where Dad was waiting. I'd asked in the car how
much he was going to be paid and he said, 'I don't think your Dad can afford
to throw money at me right now.' Dad hugged me, then Paul and he said,
'Fabrini, I can always depend on you.' He gave Paul an envelope filled with money.
Paul just pushed it back into his hand and said, 'Buy me a drink sometime.'
Then he looked at me and said, 'You'll like Rio. Wonderful place!' That was
the last thing he said to me. I had such a crush on him." She blushed and
looked at Steele, "Still do, actually."

"I know what you're thinking." said Steele.

"I wouldn't bet on that." said Laura, who wasn't entirely sure herself.

"You're thinking our responsibility is to our client."

"That is how these things generally work."

"But this girl's father could have made things easier for himself by telling
the police about me. He didn't. He kept me out of prison. I owe him."

"Maybe, but I don't." said Laura.

"No harm was done. The necklace wasn't stolen. We did what we've been paid
to do. She's not a thief."

"Appearances are against her there." said Laura.

"Look, I can take her to her Dad, have a word with him. I can make sure she
doesn't try again."

"I won't!" said Kate, "Paul, you know I'd never have done anything if I'd
known this was your patch. Security or not, old rules apply. After all you did
for us, I'd never try to ruin things for you."

"You see?" he said to Laura, "A chip off the old block! She's just like her

"And this is supposed to reassure me?"

"She's not a bad person. Do you really want to send her to prison?"

Laura looked at Kate. The girl looked anxious. "No, I don't, but I'm a
private detective. There are rules."

"I know." said Steele quietly. He sounded as if he understood. He sounded as
if he hated asking this, but was going to ask it anyway. "Laura, in my old
life, there were also rules."

"Maybe the time has come to choose between your old life and your new one."

"No contest. I want to be the man you want me to be. Tell me, though, would
he destroy a young girl's life because it's more convenient than finding out
why she did something stupid?"

"You're using him against me?"

"Against you? No. I'm asking you to bend the rules instead of breaking a
life. If she goes to prison, do you think she'll come out a decent, law-abiding
citizen? Why make her a criminal? Why take away her chance to choose a better

Laura groaned and put her head on the steering wheel. "Why do you do this to
me? Why do I ever listen to you?"

He put a hand on her shoulder, "Because you're my friend."

"But not your accomplice. How many more people from your past are going to
turn up, asking me to bend the rules?"

He got out of the car and walked away. He went behind a pillar and Laura
turned to Kate. "I don't want to turn you in, but my job is not about protecting

"I know, but you're protecting Paul, aren't you?"

"We work together."

"In a detective agency. Does the boss know Paul used to be the best thief in

"Mr Steele knows more about Paul's past than I do." said Laura carefully.

"Then you're both protecting him. I'm glad. He's a good man." Kate looked at
her hands. "I know I shouldn't have gone after the necklace. I'm not a
professional. I only knew what to do because of my Dad's stories and a little bit
of education in picking locks. He taught me when I was a kid. It was just a
father-daughter thing. He never intended me to use it. I'm all my Dad has. If I
go to prison, he'll blame himself. Paul said to me that night in the car,
'You're all he's got left, don't let him down. It's a big, lonely world out

Suddenly, Steele was back. "Laura, what if I ..."

"Get in the car." said Laura.

He got in. "I can ..."

"We're going to the office. There we can discuss how we're going to deal
with this mess."


Kate looked around the office. "Nice place!"

"We like it." said Steele. He turned to Laura, "Maybe Kate could wait in m..
in Mr Steele's office, for a while."

"Can we trust her alone?" said Laura.

"Trust me. She'll stay there, won't you, Kate?"

"He's not going to come in, is he?" said Kate.

"No, right now it's just us."

She nodded and went into the office. Steele closed the door. "Laura, first
of all, I apologise."

"For what you've done, or for what you're about to do?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that you're Remington Steele now, not Paul Fabrini. You can't be on
both sides of the law. However much you like Kate, you know she was breaking
in to steal the necklace. She's not a little girl. She knows what she was
doing is illegal."

Steele sighed and seemed to be looking at something over her shoulder. "Her
father, Jack Martin, was a career criminal. He was good. Taught me a lot. To
watch him crack a vault was a privilege. It was poetry!"

Laura tapped his arm. "If you're trying to convince me you don't feel any
temptation to return to a life of crime, you need to work on your delivery a

"He was a crook, a thief, a breaker of laws. In terms of being a pillar of
the community, he fell short. You'd have disapproved of everything he ever did,
except for his family life."

"Where are you going with this?" said Laura.

"Kate was his only child. She was eight when her mother died of cancer. They
looked after each other. He talked about her all the time. He said she was
the only thing in his life he wasn't ashamed of. He yelled at her one day for
showing too much interest in some equipment. He didn't want her to get into
our line of work. I know you think she's probably just carrying on the family
business, but he did all he could to prevent that. She mentioned a debt. She's
clearly in trouble. Maybe I can help her."

"If you do, try to manage it without breaking the law."

"The fact that I have obligations to people I knew before doesn't mean I
have forgotten my obligations to you."

"I wasn't sure you thought you had any." said Laura.

He opened the office door and peered in. "Kate, do you want coffee or

"No thanks!" said Kate.

He closed the door again and smiled at Laura, "Good as gold."

"And possibly just as expensive." she said.

"This won't hurt you or the agency. You have my word on that."

"Is that Remington Steele's word or Paul Fabrini's?" she asked.

He kissed her, catching her off guard. As their lips reluctantly parted
company, he whispered, "Mine."

The telephone rang. Laura went to answer it. Steele stepped into the office.

In the office, Kate was sitting at the desk. She smiled as he entered.

Steele said, "Maybe I can lay my hands on enough money to pay back the debt."

"It's not that kind of debt." said Kate, "Paul, I know who did it."

"Did what?"

"Betrayed you all. I've found out."

It took a moment for him to realise, then he frowned, "Revenge?"

"I was going to hide the necklace in his case. I know where he's staying."

"He's here?"

"Yes. Paul, I know the hotel. I even know the room. I followed him. That
night in the car, I said I wished I knew who'd done it and you said if you found
out, they'd pay. Did you mean it?"

"Yes, I meant it, then."

"But not now?" she seemed disappointed.

"A lot has changed. The price of revenge can be very high."

"It could have cost you your life then!" she said, coldly.

"It didn't mean as much to me then."

"My father meant something to you then."

He sat on the desk. "Kate, listen, if it were just you and me, we could do
something to punish him, if we were stupid enough. Your father doesn't want you
to go after anyone. He didn't want you involved in theft, he's hardly going
to be thrilled if you get mixed up in revenge. Then there's Laura. You don't
know how much I owe to her and she has put far more faith in me than I
deserve and I try so hard every day of my life not to let that be the day when I
let her down. If I go after whoever did it, I'll be betraying her just as badly
as he betrayed your father. There's very little I wouldn't do for you, very
little that I wouldn't give up to help you or your father, but Laura is where
I draw the line. Sooner or later, I'm going to disappoint her, but it won't
be now, like this."

She looked at him, upset and angry and trying not to cry. She didn't speak,
but her eyes accused him of forty flavours of cowardice.

"Kate, I'm not who I was."

"Obviously." she said.

"It doesn't mean I don't care about what happened."

"Just that you don't care enough." said Kate.

"That's not fair."

She smiled a bitter smile, "What is fair, Fabrini? That Granger sold my
father and that he's now staying in a luxury hotel? Is that fair?"

"Granger?" he said, "Granger did it?"

She nodded. "Unexpected, isn't it? I saw the file. It was him."

"Granger?" He stood. "Where is he staying?"

"Going to offer him security?" she said.

"Don't go after him."

"You can't stop me, Fabrini."

"I'd rather see you arrested than dead. Do I have to call the police?"

"Would you do that?"

"You're young and you have no idea what you're doing and Granger will eat
you for breakfast."

"Then help me." she said.

"I can't."

She stood and looked around, "Doesn't Steele have any paper?"

"He likes his office tidy."

"No pens, either?"

"I could ask Laura for one."

She fumbled in her pocket and pulled out an eyeliner pencil. On the desk she
wrote an address. "That's where you'll find me. Dad would love to see you
again. Think about all this. If you decide you want to help, let me know within
24 hours."

"And if I don't?"

"I can't wait longer than that. If you don't, I'll do something myself.
Maybe the direct approach. I'll get a gun."

"And do what? Look him in the eye and shoot him?"

"You think I can't do it?"

"I hope you can't." he said, "Even knowing you'd thought a thing like that
would destroy your father."

"Can I go now, Fabrini?" she asked.

He opened the door. Laura came over and said, "Well?"

"I think we can send her to her father. I'll go and talk to him tomorrow,
well, later today." he corrected himself after a glance at his watch.

"Murphy's coming back, he can drive her home."

Laura went home. She slept for a few hours, but was about to head back to
the office when Steele arrived. "What's happened?" she said.

"Nothing. I'm going to see Jack." He looked at his watch.

"You came here to tell me that?"

He looked around for a moment, as if seeking inspiration, then he said, "I
came here for two reasons. The first is to tell you Kate asked me for help."

"To steal the necklace?"

"No, to punish the man who betrayed us on that heist."

Laura took a step back. "Why didn't you mention that last night?"

"I didn't know where to start. Plus, the whole thing came as a bit of a
shock. First Kate, then hearing it was Granger that was the informer! I
introduced him to Jack. I trusted him so Jack trusted him. I might as well have called
the police myself." He looked miserable. "My judgement isn't great, is it?"

Laura put her hand on his arm. "I could take that personally." she said

"I don't mean about you. You must admit, you've spent a lot of time pulling
me out of trouble my lack of judgement has caused."

"We all make mistakes."

"Mine was a blinder! It explains why she was so upset when I refused. She
probably sees it as my fault too. Then I wouldn't put it right."

"You made the right decision." said Laura.

"There was no decision to make. I gave you my word."

"You refused for me?" She was pleasantly surprised.

"Mainly. For you and for Kate, who has no idea what she'd be getting into.
For me too, because I do know what I'd be getting into. So, for all three of
us, I told her I wouldn't help, even though I once told her I'd make whoever
did it pay."

"You were right."

"I know I was right. So why do I feel like I've let Jack down twice?"

"Is that why you're here? Putting off the time when you have to face him?"

"No, Laura. I'm here to pick you up. I want you to go with me."

"A fugitive is unlikely to want to see me."

"He'll see you if you're with me." said Steele, "It would be less confusing
if you call me Paul while we're there."

"Paul suits you, but I've never been sure Fabrini does."

"I rather like it."

"Better than Steele?"

He opened the door. "That's what worries you, isn't it?"

"I know you had an exciting past."

"Well, parts of it set my pulse racing, but it gets plenty of exercise in
the present, too." he said. He fiddled with his tie.

"You're nervous."

"Yes." he said.

"Of seeing Jack Martin?"

"Of my old life meeting my new one and one or both of you deciding I'm not
the man you hoped. If Jack thinks that, it'll be a kick in the teeth. If you do
... just don't."

Laura seized the lapel of his jacket. "Commit this to memory, Fabrini!
Nothing I see or hear today is going to make me decide anything of the kind."

He put his arm around her. "Do you know what I love about you, Laura?"

"No. What?"

"Almost everything. Now, let's go."

"Do I need to change?" she asked.

"Don't ever change!" he said.

"I mean my clothes."

He looked at the cream suit she was wearing. "You look great."

"What's Paul Fabrini like?" asked Laura.

"I'll let you be the judge of that." he said.

Jack welcomed them both warmly. He was smartly dressed, but in a style about
five years out of date. "Fabrini! And this must be Laura. You're a detective
now, I hear."

"Yes, working for the famous Remington Steele." said Steele.

"Name means nothing to me, but then, I'm not local. He must pay you a lot. I
never saw you as the type to stick to a career."

"I like my work." said Steele.

"Good. And you, Laura, do you like the work?" He poured out glasses of
brandy and handed them one each.

"I love it." she said.

"And you trust Steele not to expose Paul? He's taking a big risk, keeping
Paul on the staff."

Steele sighed. "Jack, what are you trying to say?"

"From what Kate said, there are only three choices. One, your Steele is a
bigger crook than you are. Two, you made him up. Three, he doesn't know anything
because he's never around."

"All wrong." said Steele, "Laura made him up. I just stepped into the role
when I needed something to hide behind."

"So she runs the agency?"

"Beautifully." said Steele.

Jack saluted Laura. "You're an exceptional woman."

"Did Kate tell you what happened last night?" asked Steele.

"Yes, and believe me, I've told her what I think of what she did. I'm glad
she met you two."

"Did she tell you why she did it?"

"She told me she knows who sold us, but she wouldn't say who."

Steele glanced at Laura. She moved closer to him. As her arm brushed against
his, he said, "Jack, it was Granger."

"Granger? Well, I knew it was someone I saw as a friend. I'm sorry it had to
be your friend too."

"If I'd known ..."

Jack turned to Laura. "Fabrini's still the same as ever, still blaming
himself for everything. Listen, Paul, he fooled us both. The circles we moved in,
I'd have met him anyway, and trusted him. He was a good liar, that's all."

"I still brought him to you and said you could trust him."

"Months later, you also told me you thought someone had broken the brambles
behind the house. I seem to recall I said you were paranoid. If I'd listened
to you then, I'd never have been caught. We're both alive and both free. We
both seem to have fairly good lives. I went over and over what happened in
prison, and it was a worse cell than the one I lived in. Don't give Granger a
chance to haunt you. He betrayed us, but he didn't destroy us. It's over."

"Kate thinks I'm a coward."

"Kate's idolised you since you brought her out of that school. Don't worry
about things she said when you argued. She cared enough to pick the lock on
your boss's desk."

"I compromised myself and Laura to get her out of trouble last night. Now,
I'm not pretending I was in a great position integrity-wise before, but the
agency can't afford to have let someone go who then goes out and does it again,
and Laura doesn't deserve to suffer for my past affiliations. Talk to her,
please. Make sure she doesn't do it again, or go after Granger in any other

"Don't worry. I won't let her follow in our footsteps. It's not your problem
now, Paul, it's mine."


"Do we know where she is now?" said Laura.

"Shopping." said Jack, "That girl can shop for hours and still never think
she has anything to wear."

"I need to know where Granger is." said Steele, "Did she say anything at

"Only that whoever she thought it was was here, in LA. I don't know how she
knows anything."

"Maybe she searched other desks."

Jack nodded. "At times like this, I wish I'd been a grocer."

"Would he be using his own name? I mean, if he informed under his own name,
maybe it cleared a few of his own little crimes."

"She knew his other names. She'd recognise them."

"I can remember two, Ben Baxter and Joseph Dawe. I'll get Murphy to check
them out."

"To keep Kate away?" said Jack.

"Of course. What else?"

"Paul, if you'd been caught the night you brought Kate to me, you'd have
been locked up for years. There's nothing you owe me and I don't want you to go
near Granger. Remember, he was the one who always thought we should carry
guns. I bet he has one now. If you need to send someone, send this Murphy."

"I can handle Granger." said Steele, affronted.

"Yes, I'm sure you can, but can you handle Fabrini? He was never much good
at walking away from a fight if he thought a friend had been hurt."

"Don't worry. Granger isn't worth risking everything I have now."

Jack gave Laura a knowing look and grinned, "I can see that."

Steele looked out of the window. "Kate's just getting out of a cab. I'll go
and have a word with her."

When he'd gone, Jack said to Laura, "Paul Fabrini isn't his real name, you

"I know. Do you know what is?"

"No, but watch enough Bogart films and you get to know his main aliases.
It's no good asking him about the past. He always used to just laugh and say
that the past was over and there was no point in going back there. It takes a
lot of courage to put everything you've worked for in the hands of a man you
don't know, but I promise you, he may not tell you everything, but when you
really need to rely on him, he won't let you down."

"I know what I need to know." said Laura, "I'm not saying I'm not curious,
but whoever he is, I know I can trust him, most of the time, anyway."

"Do you think he'll go after Granger?"

"He promised he wouldn't. No, come to think of it, he promised he wouldn't
let this harm me or the agency."

"But he knows you'd be against the idea?"

"Yes, he knows that."

"Good. Fabrini was always hot-headed, but never an idiot. Thoughts of
revenge may tempt him, but he's been looking for you so long, he won't want to lose
you over this."

"Looking for me?" said Laura.

"The man who introduced me to him, Daniel, once said it was a pity that
someone with such a natural talent for making people believe in him had spent a
lifetime looking for someone he could believe in. Laura, I think he's finally
found one."

When Kate saw Steele, she hurried over to him. "I'm glad you came, Paul."

"I didn't come to plot revenge with you."

"I know. I shouldn't have asked you. I've always thought of you as the one
who rescued me from school and took me to the airport. You're a hero to me. I
grew up, but I didn't stop to think that if I've changed, so has everyone
else. Why should you care about us, when you have this new life? And I understand
the problem. Laura seems great, and she wouldn't want to be with a criminal.
Even if she could turn a blind eye, she'd probably lose her license. I wish
you were with me on this, but I don't blame you for choosing her over some
vague friendship from a past you'd rather forget."

"It's not that I don't care, and there is more than a vague friendship
between you, me and your father. I'll do anything I can to help you in anything at
all, except things like this. Kate, I know in the movies, wrongs are avenged,
but real life doesn't allow for revenge without a price."

"If I'm willing to pay the price, that doesn't matter."

"Your father told me he doesn't want either of us going after Granger." said

"He said that because he loves both of us. You can bet, if anyone hurt you
or me, he'd go after them."

"What if Granger kills you?"

"You're the plan man. How can I avoid that?"


"If you want to keep me alive, tell me how I can hurt Granger without risk.
I don't have your experience, or your genius. Dad used to say your ideas would
come like lightning from a clear sky. You don't need to be involved. Just
tell me what to do."

"Kate, I don't want you to do anything."

"I swear, I'll never tell Laura." she said.

"I thought you said you understood my decision."

"I do, but a bit of advice won't cost you anything."

"My advice is to forget the past. Granger can't touch any of us now. Don't
give him the way to destroy all our lives."

She shook his hand. "Whatever happens, we're still friends, Fabrini."

"Promise me you'll stay away from him." said Steele.

"I can't. I won't lie to my father's most loyal friend. All I can promise is
that I'll be careful."

"I can still call the police."

"You can't, Paul. That would mean they'd find Dad."

"Then I'll tell your father to lock you in your room."

"Lock me in? I can pick locks."

"I won't let you do something stupid."

She looked behind him, into the lobby. Her eyes widened, "Granger!"

"Where?" he turned to look, but couldn't see Granger. When he turned back,
Kate was running down the street. He ran after her, but she was fast. She
reached a cab and jumped in. He watched helplessly as it drove away. From the
look the driver gave him, she was already spinning a good tale about the man
chasing her.



Steele got to Jack's suite as fast as he could. "She's gone! We'd better
find her fast. She's determined to deal with Granger."

"Where did she go?" asked Jack.

"Into a cab, but she'll be out of it by now. I taught her the importance of
changing cars. I think she was paying a lot more attention than any of us
realised, but she's still not trained to go against a hardened criminal."

"He'll kill her." said Jack.

"I should have stopped her. I don't even know if she got a gun."

"Pray she did." said Laura.

"Pray she didn't." said Steele, "I doubt she knows how to fire one."

"As far as I know, she wouldn't know how to load one." said Jack.

Steele gripped Laura's shoulder. "We need Murphy. If anyone can find
Granger, he can. Get him to search all nearby hotels. He's looking for Ben Baxter,
Joseph Dawe ... Any others, Jack?"

"Alan Leith." said Jack.

"Right, Leith too. Tell him it's urgent. Tell him I said I need his help.
Tell him anything. Jack, does she have any friends she might try to pull into

"Not here. All our friends are in Rio."

"Go anywhere you've been in the last few days. Maybe she hasn't gone
straight after him. Check gun shops too."

Jack nodded and left. Steele looked at Laura. "Will you forgive me for this?
I'm dragging you into my past again."

"You don't seem to have much choice." said Laura.

"One more broken promise." he said.

"Not yet." she said, "I'll call Murphy. You check Kate's room."

As he had expected, Kate's room held no clue. She knew enough not to leave a
trail for anyone to follow. He and Laura returned to the office where Murphy
was waiting.

"I think I got him."

Steele patted his shoulder, "Wonderful! I knew you'd find him."

"So what do we do now?" said Murphy.

"We go and get Kate out of trouble."

"Murphy and I can handle it." said Laura.

"I'll just sit here, shall I, and wait to hear which of the three of you got
shot while I was hiding?"

"She could have set all this up to get you involved." said Laura.

"I know, and it's worked. I know Granger. That gives me an advantage."

"He knows you." said Murphy, "That cancels your advantage."

"He knows Paul Fabrini. He doesn't know Remington Steele."

"You're gonna look an awful lot like Paul Fabrini to him."

"Yes, but that's just going to make him think he knows what I'll do.
Advantage mine again."

"Do you know what you'll do?" asked Laura.

"I'll try, very hard, to keep all my promises. Here I go again, asking for
trust I've done little to earn. I'm not sure I'd trust me in your position."

"Good thing it's not you having to make the decision, isn't it?" said Laura,
"Come on. We'd better hurry."

Murphy drove them to the hotel. They ran to the desk. "We're here to see
Joseph Dawe." said Murphy.

The receptionist picked up the phone. Steele leaned forward, "Tell him Paul

"Mr Dawe?" said the woman, "There's a Paul Fabrini to see you. Yes, sir,
I'll ask." She looked up, "Mr Fabrini, he wants to know where the car broke
down. I don't know if that makes sense."

"Perfect sense." said Steele, "Druid's Bend, Brand's Hatch."

She repeated it into the phone. Then she nodded. "Go up. 512."

"That was easy." said Murphy.

"Hm." said Laura.

Outside the room, Steele said, "Wait here, Murphy, out of sight. Laura, you
come with me."

He knocked on the door. A man with thinning hair and a too-bright smile
opened it. "Paul, this is great! I haven't seen you since ..."

"Since the trial." said Steele.

"Yeah. We stuck with him, didn't we? Not like Laker and Rex."

"We always showed admirable loyalty." said Steele, "Tell me, did you ever
hear from Jack after he got away? Or his kid? What was her name?"

"Katie? Hey, did you hear he got her out of the country with him? I bet
someone was well-paid."

"Or they did it as a favour. Not everyone needs to be paid. There are some
things and some people, money can't buy."

"How did you find me, Paul?" said Granger.

"I heard a rumour. I was in the area, so I checked it out. I don't get much
chance to talk to old friends. We are still friends?"

"Best friends!" said Granger. He looked at Laura, "This your girl?"

"This is Laura." said Steele.

"Pretty." said Granger.

"Pretty close to perfect."

"Always the best, eh?" Granger was beginning to relax.

"Judge the odds and try your luck, but be sure you want the prize." said
Steele. He was smiling, every inch the friend enjoying the reunion. Laura could
hear the edge to his voice, but Granger seemed to be fooled.

"At least you didn't have to disarm an alarm system around her." said

"You'd be surprised how disarming I had to be." said Steele.

There was the sound of a scuffle out in the corridor. Granger and Steele
both froze. Granger looked suspiciously at Steele. "Brought any friends?"

"No. Why would I?"

"I'm still wanted. I assume you are too."

"I hope so." said Steele, glancing at Laura.

"Check what's happening out there."

Steele went to the door. Laura followed, trying to stand between Granger and
whatever was happening. Murphy was pulling Kate away with his hand over her
mouth. Steele went back into the room, closing the door. "Someone's having an
argument with his girlfriend."

Granger grinned. "For a moment there, I thought you'd turned informer."

"You know me better than that." said Steele, "You and I are friends. We
trust each other."

"Not like Rex. You know he was the one, don't you?"

"I wondered. You should leave, though. If I found you, so can others. Why
don't I book you into another hotel? Use a name Rex wouldn't know, just to be

"Good idea. He wouldn't know Michael Ross."

"Sounds perfect. Pack up. I'll have you in a safer place by tonight. Then we
can meet there, have a good long chat about the old days."

"Still fixing things for everyone, Fabrini?"

"What kind of man doesn't help a friend in trouble?"

They left. Murphy was waiting with Kate in the car. "Thanks, Murphy." said

Kate glared at him. "You warned him, didn't you?"

"Don't be stupid. You win. I'll deal with Granger, but you leave it to me."

"You promise?"

"You've left me no choice." said Steele.


First they took Kate back to her father. When she was out of their way, they
organised another hotel for Granger and a taxi to take him there. Then they
went to Steele's apartment. "You didn't mean what you said, did you?" said

Steele spoke sharply, "I never mean what I say, do I, Murphy? Just another
liar in a world full of liars! Just another faithless friend, who makes people
trust him because they're more useful to him that way."

Laura stepped between them. "Murphy, thanks for your help. Now you need to
go and see the clients about the necklace. Tell them nothing happened. Make
some excuse for my absence earlier."

"Right. Steele, I didn't mean to ..."

Steele went into his bedroom and shut the door. Laura frowned. "Go, Murph.
He'll be okay."

"He doesn't look okay. Call me if I can help."

"I will." she said.

When Murphy had gone, she knocked on the bedroom door. There was no answer,
so she opened it. Steele was holding a slender flick knife.

"No." she said.

He smiled. "Do I seem that convincing? I don't plan to use it on him."

"Granger's safe, Kate is safe. You don't need to go there." said Laura. She
reached out to take the knife.

He stepped back, closed the knife and put it in his pocket. "Will you come
with me?"

"Why go?"

"Because she'll keep looking until she finds him. It could be here, or in
Mexico or in Rio. Wherever it is, she'll go in there full of fire and fury and
come out full of bullets."

"He's wanted. We just have to tell the police where to find him."

"Wonderful idea, Laura!" he said.

"What's wrong with it?"

He looked slowly around the room, then finally back at her. "It wouldn't end
anything. I doubt they'd hold him long. Even if they sent him to England to
face trial, who knows if what he's wanted for is enough to keep him out of our
way for more than a few months. Kate would still want revenge."

"Would Paul?" asked Laura.

"Do you think this is personal?"

"Tell me it's not." she said.

"I don't want to kill him." said Steele, "I'm not going there to cut his

"Then give me the knife."

He shook his head.

"Why not? If you don't plan to use it, you don't need it."

"Laura, you haven't read the rulebook, have you? It goes something like
this: I do something stupid, you walk away. Trust me, it's worked for everyone
else. You've given me more chances than anyone else, so no blame attaches. I did
try, which has to count for something, but I can't play by your rules this
time. I know how Steele would play this and I know how Fabrini would and I
don't know which I am until I get there. I can't think clearly right now. I just
keep thinking of Kate dead."

"Why do you want me with you?" asked Laura.

"Without you, it's just him and me, and when he realises I know, he'll try
every trick he knows. Now, I can handle his tricks, but if he provokes me, I
want there to be a limit to what I can do. I want someone there to keep me

"You're afraid you're going to kill him, aren't you?"

"No, but I'm afraid I'll want to. You see, Paul would just inflict as much
damage as possible, Steele would give Granger the chance to defeat himself. I
want to do this Steele's way, but Steele isn't me, he's mostly you. I need you
with me, but if you don't come, you don't come. It may be time to cut your
losses and ditch me."

"Do you think I'd do that?"

He closed his eyes and sank onto the bed. Laura sat beside him. She took his
hand. "This rulebook of yours, it doesn't apply to me."

He opened his eyes. "On what grounds are you exempt?"

She squeezed his hand. "I happen to like you."

"I yelled at Murphy."

"I know."

"I'm behaving like an idiot."

"We all do, sometimes."

"I can't promise anything tonight."

"Then I'll have to live without a promise. I trust the one you made before."

"I'm the least trustworthy man you'll ever meet."

"That's not what Jack says."

"Am I Steele or Fabrini?" he asked.

"Either way, I believe in you." said Laura.

Steele stood. "I need a shower. It may clear my head."

Laura nodded. She left his bedroom and went to call Murphy, asking him to be
near the hotel Steele had arranged for Granger. After a while, Steele came
out to join her. "Are you ready?" he said.

"I think so. You?"

"I'm doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons. Is that better or
worse than the other way around?"

Murphy was waiting at the hotel when they arrived. Steele saw him standing
nearby. What's Murphy doing here?" he asked Laura.

"Back-up." she said.


"I trust you, you trust me, but a knife against a probable gun could still
use a bit of help. He'll stay out of the way, but if we need him, he's here."

Steele nodded, "Miss Holt, I'm starting to think this could work."

They went to Murphy. He took one look at Steele's face, which now looked
oddly calm and confident and said, "Anything in particular you want me to do?"

Steele thought for a moment. "Try to watch the window of the room. I'll make
sure I'm visible at the window for a while once we get in. If we need you,
I'll signal you, or send Laura."

"And you have a plan?" said Murphy.

"Yes, I have a plan."

"Wanna tell me the movie?"

Steele grinned, "After this, we may want to make one. Laura, I'll go ahead
and find out where he is. Reassure Murphy that I know what I'm doing."

He went in. Laura and Murphy exchanged a worried look. "Does he?" asked

"Possibly." she said.

"Just clarify this for me. Is he going to try to convince Granger he's
Fabrini, or Steele? Or is it Fabrini pretending to be Steele or Steele pretending
to be Fabrini or Fabrini pretending to be Steele pretending to be Fabrini? Or
is he trying to convince us he's Steele and not Fabrini?"

"I think, right now, he's trying to convince himself he's still himself. He
asked me to ditch him."

"He's had worse ideas. He is planning to come out of this alive, isn't he?"

"He's a survivor, Murph. That's one thing I do know about him."

"Even so, don't rely on his judgement of the situation. If things go wrong,
get me in there. He's not himself, whoever that is."

She nodded.

"And Laura, he starts talking like a movie, get me in there fast."

She nodded and went inside.

Steele was waiting. "I know I worried you before. I lost my grip a little. I
don't cope well with betrayal, especially when I'm the one doing it. Now you
see why I don't generally make promises. Conflicting circumstances can make
the most sincere promise a joke. I'm going to ask you a question now, and I
want you to give me the answer you think I want to hear, true or not."

"Then why not just assume I did?"

"I need to hear it. I'm pretty good at being Steele these days, aren't I?"

"Wonderful." she said.

He smiled. "A very good answer, Miss Holt. Now, what follows is going to be
a terrific performance. Just remember, they're only acting."


"Everyone." he said, "Elevator."

When they got to the room, Granger smiled his excessive smile again. "You
did me proud, Fabrini. This is a great place! Here, have a drink."

"No thanks." said Steele coldly.

"What's wrong?"

Steele walked to the window and looked out. "Nice view." he said, "Sorry I
couldn't get you a room higher up."

"This is fine. I don't like heights anyway."

Murphy waved. Steele turned away from the window. Granger watched him
uneasily. "Something wrong, Fabrini?"

"Just remembering old times. We were quite a team. Remember those obliging

"It's a gift." said Granger, "We took thousands that night."

"Could have taken more. Granger, we could cheat them out of anything!
Remember Daniel's suits? Remember those diamond cuff links that so readily
attracted pretty women to adorn his arms? The cars! Hotels better than this one where
we'd drink to the losers and to each other and laugh at how easy it all was."

"Great times, Fabrini."

"We cheated everyone but each other." said Steele, "I knew I could trust you
and Daniel."

"Yes, we could all trust each other." said Granger.

"It's the golden rule, isn't it? Honour amongst thieves."

"All for one and one for all." agreed Granger. He tried to move towards a
jacket hanging over an armchair. Laura guessed it concealed his gun. She moved
between him and it.

"Because," Steele went on, "There has to be someone you can trust. There has
to be somewhere that is safe. There has to be something that is real.
Otherwise, you'd go mad."

"Yes." said Granger, trying to move past Laura without making it obvious.
She moved deftly into his way again.

Steele smiled as if at some happy memory. "You know, in this room is just
about the only person who never repaid my trust with bitter disappointment. Some
leave, some die, some stab me in the back."

"You know I'd never do that." said Granger.

"Because we're friends, aren't we, Granger?"

"That's right." said Granger. He stopped trying to get to the jacket.

"And that's why I introduced you to my other friend, Jack."


"And he trusted you because I did."

Granger was wary again. "And he could trust me. Rex betrayed us, not me."

"Rex didn't know where the house was until we took the loot there. By then,
the police were already well aware of it."

"So you blame me? Your old friend?"

"Ex-friend." said Steele. He took out the knife.

"Fabrini, why the knife?"

"It's hard to cut a throat without one."

Laura watched his face, hoping for some hint that he was acting.

"You can't kill me! You were never a killer!"

"I've been on the run a long time."

"Why? I never gave them your name!"

"Keeping something in reserve?"

Granger realised he had confessed. He pushed Laura aside and grabbed the
jacket. As he fumbled around with it, Steele opened the knife and put it to his
throat. "Why did you do it?"

Granger dropped the jacket. Laura picked up the gun.

Granger said, "Self preservation! The reward was too high. One of us was
going to take it."

Laura pointed the gun at Granger and Steele pushed him into the chair. "I
wouldn't have done."

"Somebody would. At least this way, you and I were protected. I never
mentioned you, even when they said they knew there was someone else, I kept quiet.
I wouldn't betray you. We were friends."

"Jack was also my friend." Steele found some luggage straps by the bed. He
used them to bind Granger to the chair.

"Jack was a fool. He relied on our noble natures. The trick is to have more
on them than they have on you, then they don't dare betray you for any reward.
Someone was going to take the money, and it may as well have been me. It was
better than a cell at the Scrubs. Put the knife down, Paul. We both know you
won't use it."

"Are you sure?"

Granger looked at Laura, "Your girl's here, Fabrini. Kill me in front of her
and what's she going to think? Come on! When did you ever care about the

Steele stepped back. "You're right. I don't want Laura to see this. Laura,
go and wait outside, please."

"May I talk to you for a moment first?"

He looked disappointed. "Bathroom?" he said.

They went into the bathroom and closed the door. "Laura, I have no intention
of ..."

She kissed him. When he regained his breath he said, "What was that?"

"A statement of faith." she said, "It's quite a performance you have to pull
off in there. I thought it might help if you knew I still believe in you."

He backed her up against the wall and kissed her. "I thought that you
thought ..."

"I know Mr Steele better than you do. He'd never do that."

"I'm tempted to stay in here and let him sweat. What are you doing for the
next twenty minutes?"

"Keep your mind on the task in hand." she said.

"I'd rather kiss you than kill Granger."

"That's the sweetest thing you've ever said." she said lightly, "Now get out
there and do whatever it is you're doing."

"If anything goes wrong, get the police. Tell them as little as you can, but
get them here."

"I will."

They left the bathroom and Laura went out of the room. Steele went back to
Granger. "She's gone. Now I can do what I like."

"Have you ever killed anyone, Fabrini?"

"My life is littered with corpses."

"I don't believe you. You hated the idea of us carrying guns."

"Guns are no fun. I like the sight of blood."

Granger smiled. "You can't fool me, Fabrini. I know you too well. You have a
temper, but you couldn't kill in cold blood."

"My blood has been boiling since I heard it was you." said Steele.

"I'm tied up. Maybe you have become a murderer, but a coward?"

Steele smiled. "You're right." He undid the straps.

Granger jerked out of the chair and punched Steele across the jaw. As Steele
tried to recover from the blow, Granger said, "That's what honour gets you!"

Steele lunged with the knife, missing Granger's face by inches. He moved
quickly to the lamp on the table and smashed it. The room dimmed. Then he threw
the lamp at the main light and that smashed too. "You're mad!" said Granger.

"Don't insult a man with a knife!" said Steele.

Something hit him in the chest. He stumbled against the desk as the suitcase
fell at his feet. As he got up, he realised he'd lost the knife. There was
just enough light in the room to see the knife's white handle under the desk.
He reached for it and saw it snatched away.

"You're dead, Fabrini!" said Granger.

"I should warn you, my friends will have called the police."

"No they won't." said Granger.

Steele headed towards the door. Suddenly, Granger rushed him, pushing him to
the floor. Once he was down, Granger beat his head against the floor. There
was a loud bang each time, although two of the bangs sounded at the wrong
time. He tried to look at the door, but then felt the knife press against his
ribs. He wondered, briefly and irrationally, whether he was most upset by the
imminent death of Remington Steele or Paul Fabrini. He decided he was most fond
of Steele, and that Steele had ended up with far more to lose. "He was some
kind of a man. What does it matter what you say about people? Adios!" he

"What?" said Granger.

"Touch of Evil, Universal, 1958." said Steele weakly.

There was the sound of a fast punch and Granger fell sideways and was
replaced by Murphy. "Hey, Steele, you still alive?"

"I think so." said Steele.

"The cops are on their way."

"Then help me up. I think my tie is crooked."

"I'm not sure you could stand up right now."

Laura crouched beside him. "Was this the plan? Provoke him into trying to
kill you?"

He smiled, "You'd never have gone for it if I'd told you."

"I would." said Murphy.

"You saved my life." said Steele.

"Well, we all make mistakes."

The police arrived and Steele told an elegant story about being summoned
there in the night and finding a stranger with a knife waiting for him. He
assumed robbery was the motive and suspected the man might be wanted for other
crimes. His bruises were convincing and the knife was there for all to see.
Besides, he was Remington Steele. No-one doubted him.

Granger tried to defend himself. "He may call himself Remington Steele, but
when I knew him, he was Paul Fabrini, and a thief and swindler!"

Steele struggled to his feet and leant on Laura as he said, "What a
fascinating fantasy! That name is familiar, though. Didn't Humphrey Bogart play a
Paul Fabrini?"

"I believe he did." said Murphy.

"Bogart fan, are we?" said a police officer.

As they cuffed Granger, Steele left, supported by Laura and Murphy, turning
back only to add, "They Drive By Night, Warner Brothers, 1940."

The End

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