BY: xffan_2000

SUMMARY: Family holiday traditions: embarrassing or necessary?

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.


"I don't know about you two, but I don't ever want to see another Santa," Mildred sighed. She turned to her desk and started gathering half-empty eggnog glasses. "What a mess," she grumbled.

Remington and Laura turned away from the door as their last holiday guest disappeared from sight.

"Leave it, Mildred, we'll hire a cleaning company tomorrow," Laura said. At the secretary's slightly raised eyebrows, she continued. "It's Christmas. We've been here all night. Go home. Enjoy what's left of the holiday."

Mildred smiled. "Thanks, Miss Holt." She immediately put the glasses down and picked up her purse. "I should have just enough time to clean up before I have to be at Bernard's for dinner. And, boy, do I have a story for him!" Mildred bustled past her employers. "Merry Christmas, kids!"

She was gone before either could say good-bye.

As they turned from the door once again, Remington draped his arm over Laura's shoulders. Surprisingly, she leaned into him as they walked to his office.

He glanced at his watch. It was still before ten in the morning. "Don't we have an appointment for dinner as well?" he questioned. He could feel Laura's muscles tense.

"I don't relish the idea of trading one hostage situation for another," she muttered, attempting to pull away from him for daring to remind her of the obligation.

His arm tightened, keeping her near. "We were invited and we accepted."

"*You* accepted."

"It was the polite thing to do," he reminded her, steering her toward the sofa.

"You don't have to be polite," she said, "it's just my sister."

"Laura..." he scolded.

"Fine. We'll go." Laura's backside made defeated contact with the cushions. "But they just moved in. The place will be nothing but boxes, bubble wrap and take-out food."

Remington simply smiled at her. "Sounds marvelous."


"That's it," Laura said, pointing to a white and brick house in the middle of the block.

Remington pulled the Auburn to a stop in the driveway. He glanced at his hair in the mirror then removed his sunglasses. "I'm a bit surprised we only had to drive in three circles before you decided to tell me which house it was."

Laura frowned and crossed her arms over her chest. "So I was getting hungry," she said defensively.

Remington chuckled and patted her hand. "It can't possibly be that bad."

"Yes, it can."

He exited the car and made the long trip around the front to open Laura's door. "Your mother isn't even here," he reminded her.

"Doesn't matter," she said, still sitting and looking forward, prepared for departure.

Remington cocked his head. "Why are you so unwilling to do this?"

Laura looked him square in the eyes. "Why are you so willing *to* do this?"

He held her gaze for a moment then looked away with a sigh. For one exhilarating second, Laura thought he was about to open up and reveal something. Instead, he crouched next to her and appealed to her practical side. "The sooner you go in, the sooner you can leave."

Her cheek muscle twitched in an involuntary tick. She looked down at her feet, then back up to his blue eyes, but she made no move to get out of the car.

Remington leaned in and kissed her gently. "Let's go in," he coaxed.

Laura reached up and pulled his head back to hers, meeting his lips. She pressed further, engaging his tongue. Awhile later, when she broke from him, Remington blinked. "Let's go to your place and have our own Christmas party," she suggested in a tone throatier than normal.

An encouraged eyebrow crawled upward slightly before he realized her tactic. A smile tugged at his lips. "Nice try, Laura, but it won't work."

Slyly, she glanced downward at him. "I think it did."

Remington rotated his head, slightly embarrassed. "Yes, well..." he cleared his throat, unable to believe exactly what was going to come out of his mouth next. "...perhaps later. Right now we have a prior obligation."

He stood, made a slight adjustment to his trousers and extended his hand down to Laura.

She couldn't fight the victorious grin. He might have succeeded in getting her to her sister's, but she'd succeeded in flustering the normally unflappable Mr. Steele. It was enough of a win to outweigh the torture of a family Christmas. Feeling slightly less doomed, Laura snagged the small bag of presents and bottle of wine at her feet and got out of the car.

After closing the door, Remington relieved her of the wine bottle and took her free hand in his as they walked to the porch. The rare gesture seemed oddly comfortable, even though a small part of her brain told her to keep it professional in front of her family.

Remington pressed the doorbell. As they waited, he leaned in next to Laura's ear. "That private Christmas party...I am going to hold you to it, Miss Holt," he growled.

Laura could see movement through the window. Her brother-in-law was nearly to the door. "I hope you do more than just hold it to me," she said very seriously.

Out of the corner of her eye she could see Remington blanch and pull at his tie. She knew he wanted to respond, but Donald opened the door. Laura smirked.

"Laura! Mr. Steele!" Donald greeted. "Merry Christmas!"

Laura hugged him. "Merry Christmas, Donald."

Remington, fully recovered, extended his hand. "Good to see you again, Donald."

"Good to see you, too, Mr. Steele," he agreed.

"Please, call me Remington."

"Sure," Donald tried on the name, "Remington." He stepped back and gestured them inside. "Forgive the mess, we just moved in a couple days ago."

When they stepped into the living room, a perplexed glance passed between Laura and Remington. It was fully decorated and neat as a pin, save for the newly opened toys and gifts spread about the floor near the tree.

Then, it hit them, the warm, delicious smell of turkey roasting in the oven. Laura couldn't help but relax at the familiar, homey scent. Her shoulders lowered an inch and a vision of her life as a ten-year-old flashed in her mind.

Remington closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. Like one of Pavlov's dogs, his mouth started to water. A homemade meal, that wasn't by his own hand, was a welcome and novel idea. He tried to remember the last meal that wasn't prepared by either himself or a restaurant and could only come up with Laura's raw-yet-burned attempt at filet mignon a month prior. The turkey smelled far better and there was no blue smoke hanging in the air.

"Come on, you're just in time," Donald said. He stepped between them and proceeded toward the kitchen. "I just have to lift that bird out of the oven for Frances."

Remington glanced at Laura and was pleasantly surprised to see the scowl gone from her face. He placed his palm at the small of her back and urged her forward. Amazingly, she walked without him having to push. She deposited the bag of gifts on the sofa as they passed and they continued to the kitchen.

Frances was fussing around the stove as Donald hefted the golden turkey from the oven with a bit of a wobble.

"Don't drop that, Donald!" Frances scolded.

"I won't!" he insisted, shoving aside various items on the stovetop with the side of the roaster in an attempt to find a resting place for the heavy pan. "There," he announced, putting down the pan and pulling off the oven mitts.

In a practiced dance, Frances presented him with two over-sized forks and held out a platter. Donald took the forks and gingerly lifted the turkey from the roaster. Frances quickly slipped the platter under it. A shuffle, and the forks were in Frances' hands and the tray was transferred to Donald, who set it on a clear spot on the counter.

"Perfect," he commented, admiring the bird. "Excellent job, dear." He pulled Frances to him and planted a kiss on her lips. She giggled.

As Steele watched the marital moment, a pang of wistfulness pulled his heart.

Frances noticed their audience and turned to them. "Merry Christmas!"

Laura was embraced in a quick hug. Then, to his amazement, Remington found himself in Frances' arms.

"I'm so glad you could join us," she said, a genuine smile on her face.

Swallowing the sudden lump in his throat, Remington nodded. Oddly, he didn't know how to respond.

Frances pulled back and took the wine bottle from him. She passed a perplexed glance over the unlabeled bottle, but didn't mention anything. She returned to the turkey and slapped Donald's fingers away from the drumstick.

"It'll be served in a minute," she said, handing off the wine bottle to him. "Go get the kids. I think we're ready."

"Sure thing." He kissed her cheek and scurried away.

Frances picked up a large bowl of mashed potatoes and a full gravy boat then turned to Remington. "Would you mind...?" She gestured to the turkey platter.

"Certainly," Remington answered, squeezing past her as she exited the food preparation area.

"Laura, the rolls, please?" Frances tossed her glance back at a basket sitting on the counter before heading for the dining room.

Laura picked up the basket of warm rolls and waited for Remington to join her. She thought there was something positively domestic about him carrying a 20-pound roast turkey, yet he stood next to her not seeming to mind the implications at all.

"Not too bad so far, eh?" he commented.

"We haven't even gotten started yet," she warned.


It was as traditional as any Holt Christmas dinner had ever been. Frances stuck to the script perfectly.

And Laura was utterly embarrassed at the lack of class her entire family apparently had for so many years. She cringed at the sight of canned yams with marshmallows, green bean casserole made with condensed Campbell's soup and "ants on logs" celery sticks.

Sure, she thought it all tasted scrumptious and it brought back happy memories, but the thought of a gourmet cook being forced to eat jellied cranberry sauce still in the shape of the can made her long for the expected take-out dinner.

Remington filled his plate a second time. "This is delicious, Frances," he complimented. The potatoes were fluffy, the turkey was moist and the gravy wasn't lumpy. "Where did you learn to cook?" He passed a glance across the table to Laura who pointedly ignored him.

"Nowhere," Frances replied, tipping her wine glass toward Donald who refilled it. "Just comes naturally."

Remington smiled at Laura.

"Culinary skills aren't genetic," she informed him.

"Remington," Donald interrupted, "where did you get this wine? It's...amazing."

"A grateful client," Remington replied, "with a private vineyard."

Laura suddenly recognized the plain bottle and the taste. He'd had a secret stash of the monks' wine for three years?

"Held onto it for a special occasion," he continued, raising his glass, "and I think this qualifies as a special occasion."

Donald and Frances both lifted their glasses. All three kids joined in the toast by raising their milk glasses. Reluctantly, Laura raised her wineglass.

"To family and traditions," Remington offered.

"To family and traditions!" the Pipers agreed and started clinking glasses together.

Laura just stared at Remington as her glass was knocked about. He winked at her as he sipped his wine. She hated when he did something so outwardly normal, yet so heavily laden with personal meaning for them.


With the meal over, leftovers packaged and dishes cleaned in an assembly-line fashion, the group retired to the living room. Laura distributed the gifts she brought to her nieces and nephew, and the paper and bows flew. Frances and Donald opened their gifts more reservedly. Everyone seemed pleased with their take, particularly Laurie Beth, who bashfully thanked her aunt and Remington for the Barbie doll.

On Remington's questioning look, Laura leaned in and whispered into his ear. "I added your name to the tags."

The lump suddenly reappeared in his throat.

"Here you go," Donald said, presenting a small package each to both Laura and Remington.

Laura's package contained a hard-bound copy of "A is for Alibi."

"It's autographed," Frances said.

Laura flipped the cover open. Indeed, it was autographed. "To Laura. Merry Christmas. Sue Grafton."

"It's a series of books," Frances explained. "'C' is supposed to come out next year, I think. I suppose she'll eventually make it to 'Z'. They're really good. Being a detective, I thought you might like it."

"Thank you," Laura said, amazed that her sister actually showed a modicum of respect for her profession.

She looked to Remington who still held his unopened package. "Aren't you going to open it?"

He blinked then nodded. Receiving a gift was unusual for him. Of course, Laura got him something every Christmas, and Mildred insisted on giving him a present for his "birthday," but otherwise, he didn't receive wrapped packages. Carefully, he ripped the paper and opened the box. He extracted a booklet of gift certificates. It was for his favorite theater that showed classic movies.

"Those are good for tickets or popcorn or whatever," Donald said. "Laura said you liked going to the movies at that theater."

"I do," he confirmed, still looking at the gift. "Thank you." He looked up at Laura's relatives. "Thank you."

Frances must have noticed the crack in his voice, because she quickly moved the activities along. "Mindy, Danny, why don't you two play that song for us you were working on for your lessons?"

Danny groaned, but got to his feet and trudged up the hallway. Mindy suddenly became very mature and stood up straight. "Certainly, Mom." She went over to the baby grand piano and sat down.

"I wanna do a song, too, Mommy!" Laurie Beth whined.

"Which one, sweetie?" Frances asked.

"Jingle Bells!" she announced.

Frances looked to her older daughter. "Mindy..."

Mindy's shoulders sagged and she made a face. "But, Mom!"

"Accompany your sister."

Mindy turned to the keyboard with a muttered, "Fine. You ready, twerp?" With a single finger, she started plunking out the melody.

In more of a yell than an actual singing voice, Laurie Beth belted out her song. "Jingle Bells! Batman smells! Robin laid an egg! Batmobile lost its wheels and the Joker got away!"

Remington's eyebrows raised. Apparently, there was a new version of the old classic that he hadn't heard before. He and Laura cautiously clapped and Frances made a large fuss over her daughter.

"That sucked," Danny said as he returned with a snare drum on a short stand. "Move it." He shoved Laurie Beth out of his way and placed his drum next to the piano. He bent and raised the stand up high enough so he could play comfortably from a standing position.

"Drum lessons," Donald groaned to Remington. "When signing a child up for band, never, *ever* let him near the drums."

"Okay, Mindy," Danny said, his drumsticks in position.

She nodded and he tapped out the count. Together they played a fairly solid rendition of "Little Drummer Boy." When they finished, both Remington and Laura were duly impressed and clapped their legitimate approval.

"Laura!" Frances suddenly burst, "I have a great idea!"

Laura's face lost all its color. Any idea of Frances' was probably anything but great.

"Let's do our song!"

Laura looked at Remington's curious and expectant expression and shook her head. "No. I don't think so. Let the kids do another one."

Frances got up and pulled on Laura's hands, forcing her off the sofa. "It'll be fun! We haven't done it in years."

Remington looked to Donald for some indication.

"They're really very good," he admitted to Remington quietly.

Smiling, Remington gave Laura a light pat on the seat of her pants. "Go on, Miss Holt, let's hear what you've got."

The color returned to Laura's face and over-compensated, tinting her red. Frances dragged her closer to the piano.

"Fine!" Laura finally acquiesced.

Remington fully expected a singing duo, and was surprised when Mindy relinquished her seat at the keyboard to her aunt. Laura flipped through the Christmas music book, scanned a few pages and then closed it.

"Danny, you can join in, too," Frances instructed, clearly excited. "Ready?"

Laura played a tuning chord and Frances hummed on pitch.

"This is fantastic," Frances smiled.

Laura concentrated on the keyboard for a moment then strongly started playing "Sleigh Ride." Danny's face lit up instantly and he started clicking his drumsticks on the rim of his drum. After the intro, Frances began singing. Laurie Beth, thrilled by the performance, ran to the tree and snagged a cluster of bells. She shook them in time to the music.

Enthralled, Remington leaned forward and watched intently. The children were having fun, Frances was right on key - and an amazingly good singer - and Laura's fingers flew over the keys in effortless motion.

With a flourish, the song ended. Remington rose to his feet and applauded the group. "Excellent job! Wonderful!"

Frances blushed at the compliment.

Remington looked at Laura, who seemed uncharacteristically relaxed, considering her situation. "And here I thought your piano was just for decoration," he commented. Truthfully, he had only ever heard her play one time before. He knew she possessed a musical talent, but he didn't know how gifted she really was. Apparently, he mused, musical talent *was* genetic.

Laura coyly smiled at him.

"Will you play a song with me, Aunt Laura?" Mindy asked.

"What would you like to do?"

Mindy opened her music book. "This one. It's written as a duet. But I've never had anybody to play it with before."

Laura perused the music. She glanced up at Remington with a grin then turned back to her niece. "Okay."

Remington tilted his head. Now she was just showing off. He returned to his seat.

Mindy announced the song to the small audience. "Carol of the Bells."

The two began. Slowly the song built and built and built until it almost looked like a competition between the two. With great fanfare, they ended, their hair slightly mussed from the effort of the song.

Remington was impressed with Mindy's ability. But he was absolutely flabbergasted that Laura could play so perfectly, without practicing and barely reading the music. What was she doing being a detective? She should have been a pianist, he decided.

As the family's applause died down, Frances announced dessert and disappeared into the kitchen with Donald.

Laura excused herself from the piano, but suggested Mindy continue to play more songs. Slightly winded from her active keyboard pounding, she took her place once again next to Remington.

He pulled her close and kissed her temple. "That was astounding," he said sincerely. The brilliant smile she gave him in return made his evening.

Soon their hosts returned with two trays, one with plates of pumpkin pie and the other cups of coffee and glasses of milk.

During dessert, Laurie Beth stole off to her room. Awhile later, after some rather suspicious thuds, she came back with a thin, oversized hardback book. She presented the book to her father.

"Read it to us?" she implored.

Donald glanced at his guests. "How about you ask Remington to read it," he suggested.

Laura had to stifle her laugh. She and Donald were always on the same page, it seemed. He knew she'd been embarrassed by Frances and that Remington had enjoyed her discomfort. He was just returning the favor. And Laura appreciated it.

Laurie Beth turned to Remington and presented the book to him instead.

Fully expecting "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," Remington was puzzled when he was handed a Dr. Seuss book. Cautiously, he cracked the cover and flipped through the pages of colorful illustrations.

He made himself more comfortable and cleared his throat. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," he proclaimed, then began with the story, "Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot. But the Grinch, who lived just North of Who-ville, did not."

Laura watched his expressions change dramatically throughout the reading as he took on the various characters in the story. He would often act out the proceedings, like drumming his fingers or patting Cindy-Lou Who on the head. He had an engaging flair to his narrative. And it was a unique presentation, as Laura was quite certain he'd never seen the TV special.

When he was finished, Laurie Beth flung her arms around his neck and gave him a hug.

"That was far better than I've ever done," Donald told him. "Guess you have the job from now on."

Laura's stomach clinched at the implications of her brother-in-law's words. But a trill of possibilities ran through loosening everything back up.

"Time for bed, my dear," Donald said, peeling Laurie Beth from her strangle-hold on Remington's neck.

For the first time that evening, Remington felt uncomfortable. Not at the thought of returning year after year to read about the Grinch, but at the thought of disturbing a long-held tradition. "Donald, I don't mean to..." Remington began.

"No, really, Remington, I'm *bad* at reading that story. Just ask Frances."

Frances grimaced, but nodded in agreement.

"It's a relief to pass the torch," Donald admitted.

Anxiety dispelled, Remington relaxed once again.

"We hate to go," Laura began, "but it's getting late." To her own bewilderment she actually was disappointed to put an end to the evening.

"Yes," Frances agreed. "I must admit I'm pretty tired." She approached and hugged her sister. "It's a lot of work to move and do Christmas in the same week."

Laura suddenly had a modicum of respect for Frances' lifestyle. She hugged back with more pressure than she'd used in years. "Thanks for everything you've done, Frances," she said. And for the first time in her life, she meant it.


Remington parked the Auburn in front of Laura's building and looked at her in the darkness.

For some reason, it seemed odd for them to go their separate ways, even though it was their custom. "Would you like to come up for awhile?" she asked.

He responded by shutting off the ignition. He then leaned very close to her. She anticipated his lips on hers, but instead he reached over to open the glove compartment from which he pulled a small paper bag. On the return trip, he gave her a quick kiss between her raised eyebrows, right on the crinkle.

He quickly exited the car. Unlike earlier, she didn't wait for him to drag her out.


Once inside the loft, Laura grabbed Remington by the lapels of his jacket and pulled him to her, their noses nearly touching. "I believe we have a private Christmas party to attend."

"I believe you're right," he agreed, tilting his head slightly and descending on her.

She met him halfway, willingly and somewhat desperately. Her arms slipped around his neck, pulling her up and pressing her full against him. As before, she engaged his tongue in a battle for control. And this time, when she felt the desired results pressing against her stomach, she didn't find it amusing. Instead, she found it stimulating.

She pulled from him slightly and murmured against his lips. "I seem to have left your presents at the office." She kissed him, her fingers threading through his hair, but broke from him again almost immediately. "But I do have something else I can give you right now."

"Yes," he agreed, "you do." He kissed her hard, then started backing her further into the loft.

When Laura's back made contact with the piano, Remington's lips moved to her cheek. "Play something," he whispered.

Laura opened her eyes and pulled back from him. She couldn't have heard him correctly. "Excuse me?"

"Play a song for me," he clarified, his lips now on her neck.

She pushed him away far enough so she could look him in the eye. He was serious.

"You play beautifully," he told her.

She was flattered. "You think so?"

He nodded and gave her a nudge in the direction of the seat.

She sat and opened the keyboard cover. "Anything in particular?"

He shrugged. "Something Christmasy."

Laura studied him awhile, deciding what to play. He leaned casually against the side of the piano, waiting. Slowly, she started a melancholy version of a familiar song. Much to Remington's utter shock, she also began to gently sing the lyrics.

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let yourself be light. From now on our troubles will be out of sight."

Remington slid his eyes shut and listened intently to her. Every inflection of her voice, every tone of the piano, even the chill that skittered up his spine as she sang "hang a shining star on the highest bough" was committed to memory.

She closed on a few tinkling notes and the room fell silent. A long moment passed, and Remington didn't open his eyes. Laura watched as a never-before-seen serenity relaxed his entire body.

"What are you thinking?" she whispered in the quiet.

His first reaction was to hide behind the obvious movie reference of "Meet Me in St. Louis." Judy Garland. Margaret O'Brien. MGM. 1944.

Instead, his blue eyes opened and he looked off at nothing. "Today," he answered. "Today was unlike anything I've ever experienced."

"Is that a good or bad thing?" She hoped she knew the answer. Because even though she'd expected a complete disaster, the day hadn't turned out anywhere as awful as she'd anticipated.

"I felt..." He paused, trying to put a word to his feelings. "...accepted. Like I was part of the family. Like I was..." He looked down to Laura, the raw truth burning in his eyes, even though the thought of it still baffled him. "...loved."

His words caused her heart to clinch. She felt the need to assure him and her mouth engaged before her brain caught up. "You are loved."

A sparkle lit his eyes.

"I mean..." She wanted to clarify - to not compromise her position with him, to say that it was her sister and brother-in-law that thought he walked on water, that her nieces and nephew thought he was fun - but she didn't. She didn't want to dim the light, didn't want to hurt his feelings or ruin his day. Instead, she restated. "You are loved."

Remington smiled at her lack of backtracking, knowing it took a lot for her to not cover herself. "I have something for you," he said. He quickly retrieved the paper bag he'd brought in with him. He'd dropped it to the floor by the door when Laura pounced on him.

He returned to the piano and from the bag he withdrew a long, shiny object. He presented the tube to Laura.

Hesitantly, she stood up and took the tube from his hand. It was very lightweight and the two ends were open. It seemed like an odd wrapping job.

"It's a Christmas cracker," Remington said. On Laura's blank look, he continued. "It's an English holiday tradition." He turned the cracker sideways in Laura's palm and wrapped her hand around one end. He grasped the other. "Two people pull and it comes apart to reveal small trinkets."

"I didn't realize you had any holiday traditions," she admitted hesitantly.

"Laura, just because I don't take part in traditional holiday activities, doesn't mean that I don't know about them. Daniel did teach me more than just which jewelry stores are least guarded on Christmas."

The thought was amusing, yet, somehow, Laura couldn't see Remington and Daniel sitting at a holiday table pulling at paper tubes.

"Ready for a go?" he asked.

Laura shrugged.

They both tightened their grip and pulled. The cracker made a weak snap and a few tiny items fell to the top of the piano.

Remington snatched the yellow paper, unfolded it and placed the paper crown on Laura's head.

"Nice," she muttered.

"Very fashionable," he agreed, handing her a tiny slip of paper.

Laura read the words aloud. "What do you do with dogs when you go shopping? Leave them in the barking lot." She frowned. "That's terrible."

"It's all in the delivery."

Laura then fingered a tiny plastic frog. When she pressed its backside, it jumped in the air.

"This is a very strange tradition," she informed Remington as she picked up the final item that fell from the cracker: a tiny sealed envelope, not more than an inch square. The small bump in the center of the envelope felt hard, almost marble-like. Laura ripped the envelope open and upended it into her hand.

A large, round diamond landed on her palm. The facets of the clear stone sparkled even in the fluorescent light of her loft.

Laura looked up to Remington, confused. The anticipation she saw in his eyes made her reservedly hopeful. "Somehow," she began calmly, "I don't think this is what one usually finds inside a cracker."

"You have to know where to shop," he said with a relaxed smile.

"It's very nice." Laura fingered the diamond. "Do I want to know where you got it?"

"There is a story," he admitted, remembering back to the man who gave him the stone as a reward for recovering several million dollars worth of gems. It was one of his more legitimate heists, but probably one Laura wouldn't appreciate hearing about. "But nothing exciting," he added.

She still looked at him skeptically.

"You can keep it loose or have it set," he said noncommittally, trying to change the subject.

Realizing the story would have to wait to another day, Laura turned her attention back to the gem in her hand. "Set? Like into a necklace or a bracelet?" Somehow, she knew that wasn't the direction he wanted her to go.

"Yes." Remington shrugged as though it didn't really matter one way or the other. "Or a ring," he suggested, trying to sound as off-handed as possible.

Laura studied the diamond, desperately trying not to smile from ear to ear. "A ring?" She looked up at him casually. "I could do that, I suppose."

"Or I could," he offered hopefully.

Laura finally smiled at him. "Yes." She paused, looking him in the eye. When she saw the realization hit him, she continued, "I think you should do that."

She placed the diamond into his hand. She then slid her arms around his neck once again. Thinking back to the gift boxes at the agency, Laura admitted reluctantly, "I didn't get you anything quite as...monumental."

Remington reflected on the day, the woman in his arms and the diamond in his palm. "Actually," he said, leaning in for a kiss, "I think you did."


AUTHOR'S NOTES: Okay, so I have a "thing" for having Steele propose at Christmas time. Don't exactly know just seems to work out that way. I thought about him giving her earrings or a necklace, then thought "nah!" Besides, I'm not a big fan of "Bonds of Steele" or the fifth season. So, any excuse to ignore those is okay in my book.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: Obviously, I didn't write "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." That was Dr. Seuss. It was his text Remington was reading and I was quoting. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was written by Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane for "Meet Me in St. Louis."