Author's Note: Since I can't stand the fifth season or "Bonds of Steele," let's just assume that--as Yar told Data--"It Never Happened."
Summary: Somebody finds something she wasn't meant to see.
Disclaimer: This "Remington Steele" story is not-for-profit and is purely for entertainment purposes. The author and this site do not own the characters and are in no way affiliated with "Remington Steele," the actors, their agents, the producers, MTM Productions, the NBC Television Network or any station or network carrying the show in syndication, or anyone in the industry.
It was just before Christmas 1988 when he left without a note, a word or a collect call.
Apparently he'd been in some sort of danger, but since he didn't bother to contact anyone, nobody knew for sure. That assumption, however, was a fairly logical conclusion to draw, since only a few days after his departure, the office was visited by a well-dressed man who had a deep, ugly facial scar on his left cheek running from his jawbone to under the eye patch he wore.
The man tersely asked for Remington Steele. Obviously, Steele wasn't available. The man asked for Paul Fabrini. Fabrini was nowhere to be found, either. The man asked a third time for someone, but it wasn't a familiar name. The answer was again negative.
The man quickly left. But obviously he returned later that night because the next day the office was found in complete shambles, as was Steele's apartment.
That was the last anyone ever saw of the scarred man.
* * * * *
It wasn't until many years after the disappearance that I found the journal. It had been hidden at the bottom of a box, stashed within a pillowcase. The book was very thick and had unlined pages so the author could write unrestricted. The pages were filled with neat long-hand and the dates indicated it covered many, many years.
There was no regular pattern to the entries, just whenever the mood struck the writer, I supposed.
But even lacking a regular pattern of dates, I was more than able to follow the plot of what sounded like a life of risk, romance, excitement and loss.
The empathy I felt for the author surprised me. I'd spent literally years building up resentment against the man who snuck out in the dead of night so long ago. The words in the journal flowed over me again and again as I reread it almost as soon as I'd finished it.
My resentment melted away as the text on the pages revealed a deep love that I never knew existed.
I had to find Remington Steele.
* * * * *
It took almost five years before the lead I needed came in.
It shouldn't have surprised me, but it did. Perhaps it wasn't so much the location as it was the fact that Steele was apparently still alive. I seriously had my doubts about his survival.
It took another week and a half of staking out all the rundown movie theaters in the seediest sides of Dublin before I came across a double feature of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "It's a Wonderful Life."
Something inside me leapt. Even though I had absolutely no interest in the old movies, I somehow knew he would be there to see the show. I moved to a nearby corner and there I stood, almost hidden, where I could easily see people approaching, but it was hard to spot me.
Obviously, not many people were interested in really old American movies, because only a tiny handful of people entered the theater. I checked my watch impatiently. It had been almost an hour since I had arrived and the movie was due to start in less than two minutes.
Frowning to myself, I crossed my arms and sulked. Another wasted day.
That was when I spotted a man limping toward the box office. He wore a tattered tweed suit and he moved slowly. He favored his left leg but he didn't use a cane.
I felt my heart beat kick up a notch. Even with glasses perched on his nose, his profile was disturbingly familiar to me.
From my vantage point, I could tell that even though he could stand to use a haircut, he looked pretty much as I expected him to look. Graying and slightly wrinkled, but unmistakably Steele.
He paid for his admission with a slowness born of exhaustion or boredom, I couldn't tell which.
Then he turned to enter the theater.
I was afraid my sharp gasp would draw his attention. The sight of the left side of his face horrified me. Like Two-Face in the Batman comics, half of Steele's face was ruined. Apparently he'd been burned because the skin was oddly misshapen and pulled tight over his bones. His glasses contained one clear lens over the right eye and a blackened one over his left eye.
Either unaware of my presence, or unconcerned I was even there, he hobbled into the theater.
Dear God, I never expected that. He'd had such a gorgeous face. Now it was permanently disfigured.
Slowly I removed my hand from my mouth. I think I put it there to stifle my impending yelp of shock, but I'm not sure. I am fairly sure I stood there for another five minutes before I finally came back to myself. I replayed in my mind the snapshots I had of the man from years ago. He was so different. So very different.
But it was him and I couldn't lose him now. I purchased a ticket for the double feature and went inside to keep him in sight. I wasn't sure now how to approach him, or if I even should. But I certainly wasn't backing out yet.
* * * * *
When the movies were over, Steele rose to his feet. It looked as though he was fighting rigormortis, but eventually he was mostly upright.
I let him shuffle past me. Still he didn't see me. Or maybe he did and just didn't want to see me. He exited the theater and I waited a few seconds to give him a good head start. If he didn't know I was following him, I certainly didn't want him finding it out just yet.
When enough time had passed, I nearly bolted from my seat at the back of the theater. I was out of the lobby in a couple seconds and on the street.
He was gone.
How could someone so broken-down move fast enough to disappear so quickly?
I refrained from stomping my foot, but I did curse under my breath.
Grousing to myself, I trudged off up the sidewalk. I decided to try again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. However long it would take for him to come back, I'd wait.
I'm not sure why I was waiting, though, since I hadn't decided if I really wanted to speak with him or not. I think I just wanted to know if he was still on this earth. The journal I had found and read made me desperately want to find him. But to what end? That I part hadn't figured out.
Suddenly, there was a splitting pain in the back of my skull. No, that's not quite what happened first, though it was the first thing that registered. I was first grabbed by my shoulders and yanked into an alley. I was then thrust against a brick wall, where I slammed my head hard.
The first thing I noticed after that was that my feet weren't touching the cement anymore. The second thing I noticed was that I couldn't really breathe as there seemed to be a forearm crushing my trachea. That same forearm was also serving to lift me from the ground.
The last thing I noticed, just before my brain had enough time to process the information and give me a good dose of adrenaline-laced fear, was that I had apparently turned into the hunted.
Steele's single blue eye pierced right into me. The anger I saw on his face was what scared me the most. Well, that and the fact that I was running out of oxygen and I figured I'd be passing out very soon.
"Who are you?" was all he said, low and deadly.
I opened my mouth and tried to force out the words, but all I could get through my voice box was "H--olt."
He apparently understood it enough because he pressed harder on my throat. "You're not a Holt," he told me.
I gurgled a bit and tried to nod my assurance. "-- am --"
Finally he backed off a little. "Who are you?" he asked me again.
I gasped for some air. "I'm--" I coughed. "--Laura--"
My breath was cut off mid-gulp.
"You are not Laura Holt!" He pressed me harder into the bricks.
My eyes started to water. I wasn't crying. Really, I wasn't. I think I was dying, though.
I mouthed the only thing I could think of. "Mom."
Instantly, I could breathe again and I was lowered to my feet. I nearly fell over trying to recover. Steele's hands, which only seconds before were about to squeeze the life out of me, were supporting my shoulders, not letting me fall on my face.
Eventually, I gathered myself together enough to straighten up and look at him. He looked frail again. Where had he gotten the energy to assault me like that?
He was studying me. He checked my hair, my eyes, my nose, my hands, everything right down to my feet.
I studied him right back, frowning a little at the awful wreckage of his face.
He suddenly smiled brightly when he saw my expression. It certainly wasn't a reaction I expected.
"What?" I questioned.
"You are her daughter, aren't you?"
I raised an eyebrow at him, wondering what he meant.
"She has the same crinkle in her brow when she frowns, too."
I immediately broke eye contact with him. That was not a conversation I was prepared to open with him right at the start.
"What's the matter?" The smile faded from his features.
How was I supposed to tell him?
"Is Laura okay?"
I must have twisted my head a little to the negative, because he pressed on.
"What happened to her?"
Sadly, I raised my eyes back to him.
"Tell me!" he demanded, his grip on my shoulders becoming painful.
"She died," I finally said. "Ten years ago, when I was fifteen."
Before that moment I never exactly understood what people meant when they said someone was "crushed." I now have a crystal-clear example of watching someone's life end in a split-second.
"She was only--" he whispered, then stopped. He looked back up at me. "She was only forty-nine."
"Aneurysm," I told him, "very quick." Like that would make him feel any better.
He bit his lower lip and looked off over my shoulder for a few seconds. I could see a tear run down the left side of his face. I don't think he could feel it, though.
"So," he said as he loosened his grip on me and brushed me off a bit. "I suppose your father took good care of you after that. You seem to have turned out well."
"I went to live with Aunt Mildred for awhile before college."
He perked up at that. "Mildred?" Damn him anyway.
"Yeah, my father left Mom a long time ago." I didn't want to turn the conversation this way, but I wasn't about to tell him Aunt Mildred made it to 84 years old but no more. "I was really young when he left."
"That bastard," he muttered.
"That's what I used to think, too," I told him. "But not anymore. I understand his reasons for leaving. It's okay now."
"There's never a good reason for a man to leave his children," he told me.
I know for a fact that Steele was abandoned by his father. I have no idea if he ever found him or not. So I understand his position on the subject.
"Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances," I said.
He looked at me dubiously, squinting his eye at me. "Do you know your father?"
"Yes," I answered firmly. I knew exactly where he was heading with his questioning. "Yes, I do."
"Oh." He tilted his head a little to the right. "Then why bother to find me?"
I smiled at him. "Because of this." I reached into my bag and pulled out the old journal. I handed it over to him. "I found it in a box of stuff after Mom died."
He ran his finger over the cover then opened the book to a random page. "Laura's?"
I nodded. "She talked about you a lot in there. A whole lot, actually."
"I was just curious," I said with a shrug.
He raised his eye to meet mine. "Did you find who you were looking for?" he said sardonically.
"Yep," I smiled. "I did."
He exhaled a small laugh then returned to looking at the journal.
"Do you mind if I read this?" he asked.
"You can keep it."
The expression on his face was worth more than all the royal lavulite in the world. I do believe I made his millennium.
"Thank you," he whispered.
I tried to smile at him, but the tightness in my throat made it difficult, and it wasn't from being nearly strangled a few minutes earlier.
"I should go," I finally managed to say.
I think his question was more of an automatic response, since I don't think he really expected me to stay.
"I've got to get back to work. You know, that kind of stuff." I handed him my business card. I'm not in any sort of exciting work, I just answer phones right now. But I'm getting my master's degree in business administration. I plan to open my own business someday.
"Marilyn?" he read. There was more to his tone of voice than just reading my name for the first time.
"Atomic Man's--" I started to explain.
"Female sidekick," he finished.
"Yeah. But I go by Mari."
"Mari," he repeated.
I patted him on the shoulder. "I'm going to go back home now."
"Call me, if you want."
He raised his lips to a half-smile. I don't think he had any intention of ever making contact with me.
"Bye," I said.
"Thank you," he responded, raising the journal.
I turned and left the alley and Remington Steele behind. I seriously needed some aspirin to help counteract the lump on the back of my skull. I also think I needed a drink to help me deal with the day's events. Of course, it would help if I had a taste for alcohol, which I don't. Oh, well.
I decided I'd go back to the hotel and book my return flight to L.A. I also decided I wouldn't tell Aunt Frances that I found Steele. She'd ask too many questions.
I do, however, think I'll hear from Steele again. Especially after he reads page one-fifteen in Mom's journal. That's the page where Mom wrote that she'd found out she was pregnant with me.
I told Steele I was very young when my father left. I just didn't specify how young.