LASREVER A - T'NOD UOY WON, TI ELEETS UOY WON
Summary: Another RSFic Challenge. This time, Remington and Laura change places in a scene/scenes from a show.
Thanks: I owe Peg a note of thanks here.
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.
Chewing on a piece of gum instead of his fingernail, Remington looked down at the name of the ship slowly bobbing in the water. He smiled, realizing his gaffe from earlier when he spoke with Fred Bigelow. Obviously, Whit Sterling was not having an affair with Marla Rakubian.
His attention was drawn from the boat when two men, hefting a large steamer trunk, made their way to a nearby truck.
"Gentlemen," Remington said, lacking a better title for the shifty-looking duo. "You haven't, by chance, seen a woman around here?" He fanned his fingers at his neck. "Long, brown hair..." He flattened his palm out at approximately five and a half feet above the ground. "About so tall. A bit obsessive?"
The men eyed him. "Nope," one responded, promptly ignoring him again. The two proceeded to sling the large trunk up, into the truck bed. With scowls on their faces, they climbed into the cab.
Remington watched as they pulled away from the dock, his eyes lingering on the trunk. He shooed off a twinge of apprehension that flitted about. He needed to find Laura.
Laura had no idea where she was or how she got there. All she knew was her head hurt like hell. She could hear a man's voice. It was vaguely familiar, but she couldn't place it. She tugged at her hands and realized they were bound behind her back, attached to a chair.
Slowly, she slid her eyes open. Though blurry, she could make out Grace Kelton standing before her and behind Kelton paced Leopold Majak. No, Laura reminder herself, it was the man who *claimed* to be Leopold Majak.
"Stupid, stupid Chester," the phony Majak was complaining. Chester? The name rattled around in her brain. Chester? Oh, yes, the man who referred to himself in the third person...the one she was running from. Laura frowned. Obviously he caught her.
Majak turned to see Laura staring at him. He made eye contact with her. "What were you doing on the Rekubian, Miss Holt?"
Laura didn't respond, mostly because she wasn't quite able to figure out what the Rekubian was. Maybe she knew, but with the splitting headache she had, the name didn't fit into place.
Kelton slapped Laura hard across the left cheek. "Tell us!" the woman yelled.
Pain exploded in her head and Laura tried to blink off the unexpected impact. The blow certainly didn't help her concentration. At least, Laura thought bitterly, Majak had the decency to not hit a woman himself.
"Why were you on the ship?" Majak prodded.
Kelton followed up his question with a slap across Laura's right cheek. The woman had one hell of a backhand.
Wincing, Laura looked up at her captors. To her surprise, Remington was standing behind Kelton. A smile quirked the corner of her mouth. Saved, she thought.
"Do you really need to know my real name?" Remington asked calmly.
"Wha...?" Laura groaned. What was he doing just standing there asking questions? Didn't he realize what was going on?
Kelton slapped Laura again.
"What were you looking for?" Majak probed, immediately followed by another hard slap from his lackey.
"Don't you know why I'm staying around?" Remington questioned, his head tilted to the side.
Kelton's palm impacted again.
"What did you find on the ship?" Majak continued.
"Do you really care for me?" Remington queried, as though the idea mildly intrigued him.
Laura anticipated the backhand, but could do nothing about it except absorb the impact.
"How much do you know?" Majak asked.
Remington leaned forward slightly. "Do you know that I love you?"
Another slap to the left side.
Utterly confused, Laura looked up at Remington. "No," she answered.
Kelton flung her knuckles back across Laura's cheek. "No, what?" Majak questioned, leaning in closer.
"Do you love me?" Remington asked.
Through pain and watery eyes, Laura looked up to Remington, bewildered as to why he wanted to discuss it now. "I...I think so."
"You think *what*?" Majak demanded.
She tried to focus on Remington as best she could. "I love you."
Kelton and Majak exchanged perplexed glances.
Laura felt a final blow fall on her face, causing her head to loll forward. Passing out would have been welcome. Unfortunately, blackness didn't come. The foggy gray stayed instead.
Scowling, Majak stepped away to knock on the door. A moment later, Chester to entered.
"She must have found something," Kelton told her boss. "Why else would she be snooping around the ship?"
Chester raised Laura's head up by her hair and patted her bruised cheek. "Chester'll make her talk."
Majak took Kelton's hand in his and started rubbing to sooth out any injuries she may have received from the beating. "Chester, dead people don't talk."
"What'll we do with her?" Chester asked.
"We can't let her go," Kelton said.
"When she comes to, we'll try again," Majak informed them.
Nausea washed over Laura at the thought of further torture, but she had no energy to fight back. She felt Chester untie her hands and lift her from the chair.
When she was dropped face-first onto a dirty cot, a chill ran through her. Perhaps Chester had other plans for her. She clenched her fists and focused as much strength as she could gather into fending off an assault.
She heard the door close. Then silence. Laura's entire body sagged in relief.
For several minutes she lay motionless, attempting to recover and clear her mind. Eventually, she decided...delusions and ripping headaches aside...she had to escape.
Remington sat on the sofa in his office, his feet up, a rather ugly-looking figurine in his hands. He examined the tiny statue as Mildred shuffled papers on his desk. A small part of his mind was formulating theories about the case, but the majority of his thoughts were on Laura. He hadn't been able to find her at the docks, at her loft or anyplace else he could come up with that would possibly be related to the case. He hated sitting and waiting for her to call.
"You know, Mildred, it must be that the phony Majak found out Sterling was smuggling antiques into the country and was blackmailing him," he commented to his secretary, trying to focus his mind away from Laura.
"That's a sharp piece of deduction, Boss," Mildred complimented. She turned to him and looked almost sheepish. "And I'm the last person in the world to throw any cold water on it, but..."
Remington met her eyes. "But what, Mildred?"
Mildred approached the seating area, a folder in her hand. "But if that's true, why would the phony Majak kill Sterling? Isn't that kind of biting the hand that feeds you?"
Remington grinned and shrugged at his theory. "It's a little murky at the moment."
"Now, I know we ruled out suicide," Mildred continued, "but maybe there's something we don't know about. I mean, maybe Sterling was sick. Maybe he didn't have much time left and decided to end it all before the goop hit the fan."
Smiling broadly, Remington nodded. He had to admit, he liked the way Mildred's mind worked. He sat up, putting the statue on the table where his feet previously were. "If it *was* suicide," he supplied, "then we could mark the case closed and move onto something else."
Mildred proudly opened the folder she carried and pulled out several colorful travel brochures.
"Excellent work, Mildred," he said, flipping through the brochure for Hawaii.
"I know you're really concerned about Miss Holt's emotional -- and physical -- well-being," Mildred smirked.
A pang of foreboding tugged at Remington's heart again at the thought of Laura being incommunicado for so long.
Mildred placed the brochures on the table. "The hotels on Fiji have a hot tub in every room," she added with a waggle of her eyebrows.
Remington grinned brightly. The thought of him and Laura snuggled together in bubbling water lifted his spirits considerably.
"I'll check on Sterling's medical report," Mildred said, turning for the door.
"It certainly couldn't hurt, Mildred," Remington agreed, dropping the Hawaii brochure and going for the one for Fiji.
Laura opened the office door and stepped inside. "That's easy for you to say," she announced, gripping the doorknob for support.
"Miss Holt!" Mildred gasped at her bedraggled appearance.
"Dear God, Laura." Remington jumped to his feet and dashed to her side. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her upright.
Laura seized Remington's lapels and dragged her eyes up to his. She saw intense concern for her there, but just below the surface, she could see a fury starting to brew. That rage gave her comfort. "You really here this time?" she asked.
Remington clutched her tighter, not sure what she was talking about. "I'm here, Laura," he assured her.
She smiled. "Good." Her eyes glazed over and her body went limp.
Terror seized Remington's heart and he shook her slightly. "Laura?" Panicked, he shook her harder. "Laura!"
Gradually her eyelids cracked open.
Remington's shoulders relaxed. "Mildred," he said as he scooped Laura into his arms.
"I'm on it, Chief!" She hustled to the bathroom.
Remington placed Laura on the sofa. He then lifted her head to put a pillow under it.
Laura blinked away the haziness; coming to focus on Remington who was hovering only inches from her face. Her heart skipped a beat at the sight of him. The memories of her ordeal were confusing and jumbled, but an odd feeling of clarity came through, making her want to grab him and not let go.
Smiling dreamily at him, she reached up and pulled him down to her. Their lips barely met before Remington yanked himself back.
He saw disappointment in her features. And while she seemed positively stoned and perhaps completely immune to any pain, he had no desire to add to her bruising. Instead, he reached up and kissed her forehead.
"I don't want to hurt you," he whispered, smoothing his knuckles gently over her cheek.
"You're not," she assured him. With a coy smile, she added, "You feel very good."
Remington quirked an eyebrow at her.
Mildred returned from the bathroom balancing a glass of water, aspirin and an icebag. She handed off the water and pills to Laura, and Remington helped support her while she swallowed them back.
He took the icebag and gently held it to Laura's left cheek. She winced at the pressure and the cold. As he started to pull back, she placed her hand over his to keep the bag -- and him -- in place.
Mildred shook her head disapprovingly. "What have you been doing, Miss Holt?"
"Well, let's see," she said, settling herself back onto the pillow, Remington's hand still clasped in hers. "So far, I've been beaten to a pulp, crammed into a steamer trunk, locked away in an abandoned warehouse, drugged, tortured, but, otherwise had a really good time."
"All because of that tacky statue?" Mildred asked, pointing to the offending item on the table.
"I thought something like it might have been smuggled in on that shipment last night, but it cleared customs without a hitch," Laura grumbled.
"Then why were they so determined to stop you from getting a look at it, eh?" Remington questioned.
The wheels in Laura's head started to turn. Painfully at first, but then it got easier.
"I think that cargo bears closer scrutiny, Mr. Steele," she said, sitting up suddenly. She got to her feet and only swooned slightly as she headed for the door.
Remington and Mildred frowned at one another.
"Laura!" Remington said, finally taking off after her. "Laura, wait!"
She was already gone.
On the trip to the Sterling-Bigelow warehouse, Laura's head cleared considerably. Whatever drug they'd given her didn't seem to have any long-lasting effects. Her cheeks, however, were throbbing and she had quite a lump on the back of her skull where Chester hit her with...well, she didn't know what Chester hit her with.
Remington had vehemently protested their even being there, saying she should be at a hospital. Or at the very least, the police station.
She'd countered his argument telling him there was no way she was going to let the phony Majak and his cronies get away with whatever it was they were trying to get away with. It wasn't often the need for revenge burned in her gut, but this was one of those times. She would be the one to bring them down. Unfortunately, nothing was making sense with the case.
As she and Remington sat amidst an array of open crates, unwrapping antiques, she finally had enough. Angered, Laura wadded up a ball of packing paper.
"Do you remember how frustrated we were when we couldn't figure out who killed Myron Flowers, the breath spray king?" she asked, looking at Remington who still fiddled with a mahogany box.
"I believe I referred to it at one point as Steele's last case," he said as he put aside the antique and focused his attention on Laura.
She'd re-tucked her shirt and released her hair from its fallen style, but she still looked terrible...tired and battered. Though he was glad to see the drug-induced shine gone from her brown eyes.
"Well, this just might be Holt's last case." She crushed her ball of paper tightly. "I can't figure out what's going on. I have a hat full of clues and I have nothing to string them together."
Remington nodded in understanding. He had no other theories to add to the mix. Besides, he was too busy concentrating on sitting passively next to Laura instead of hunting down Majak and ripping his head off.
Laura stole a glance at Remington and could see the ire within him. Once again, she found reassurance in the thought that he wanted to protect her; that he would avenge the wrong done to her. Her knight in armor of Steele. The thought made her smile.
It was then that it hit her. It wasn't the cover he used, but the inside that really mattered to her. She tried to recall the specific visions of Remington she experienced during her interrogation that lead her to the realization, but only fuzzy emotional impressions remained. Those disturbingly vague notions, however, managed to chase away her usual nagging misgivings. And she knew, without a doubt, he was there because he wanted to be.
She also knew something else, something that caused her smile to fade into a wistful gaze, something she'd buried deep inside to avoid being hurt.
She loved him.
And for some elusive reason, she knew he loved her in return.
Strange, she thought, that while she owed Majak any number of torments, she also owed him a thank you.
"You know, Laura," Remington said, drawing her from her thoughts, "we've been so caught up in our cases lately, I wonder if they aren't the only thing stringing us together." He noticed an unusual glint in her eyes when she looked at him.
"I don't think so," she said, moving almost imperceptibly closer.
Remington was caught off guard by her response. "You don't?"
"No." She leaned in. "Won't you be gone in a few days anyway?"
He was perplexed by the contrasting actions to words. Generally, when she talked of him leaving it was with an accusatory tone. Remington responded cautiously. "With a bit of luck."
"Reclining on a beach somewhere," she suggested, her eyes drawn to his lips. "Azure seas." She inched closer, returning her gaze to his eyes. "A long, cool pina colada."
"And a wonderful young lady by my side," he finished for her.
Laura kissed him briefly. "Anyone I know?" she teased.
"Intimately," he told her.
"Intimately?" She smirked. "I like the sound of that." She tugged on his jacket and he readily came forward for her to take his lips again. This time she wasn't gentle. She worked her mouth over his in a way she'd never done before...pressing, probing, demanding. Soon she discarded the wad of paper she held in favor of threading her fingers through the hair on the back of his head. She pulled him down with her into the packing materials.
Suddenly, she shoved him away and sat up.
"That much of a let-down?" Remington mused as he watched Laura retrieve the crumpled ball of paper.
"This paper," she told him, as she unfolded it.
Remington sat up. He was used to her switching from on to off in an instant, so there was no point in trying to coax her back to their previous activity. "What about the paper?" he asked.
"It's not the same paper I saw onboard ship," she said excitedly.
Remington cocked his head at her puzzling discovery. Maybe the drugs hadn't worn off as much as he thought they had.
Remington's eyes were closed as he thought about the various twists and turns of the case. A major counterfeiting ring out of commission. A locked-room murder solved. And a whole rash of baddies behind bars. Not bad for a few days' work.
The only regret he had was he didn't have time to properly repay Majak, Chester and Grace Kelton. Of course, he never would strike a woman, so Kelton got hauled away by the police unscathed. Though, he was quite convinced that if he hadn't been standing between her and Laura, that Laura would have let a fist or two fly. Majak cowered behind Kelton, so Remington was forced to deal only with Chester. A couple well placed blows to the mid-section and face and Chester was flat on the ground. The bright smile he saw on Laura's face almost made her bruises disappear.
"You seem to be sailing somewhere without me," Laura commented.
Remington opened his eyes and looked across the hot tub. Though the water churned and bubbled, it was still clear enough for him to make out her naked form beneath the surface. With predatory intentions, he slid across the tub to press his bare body to hers. Tongues met, limbs entwined and hands groped. He moved from her mouth, to her still-bruised cheeks and kissed each of them gently.
As he turned his attention to the soft spot below her ear, Laura sighed, "I really like Fiji."
Remington chuckled. "What changed?" he questioned into her ear, even as his palms cupped her breasts.
Laura played her fingers through his hair as she pondered his question and enjoyed his ministrations. Something definitely changed. She had a new perspective on herself and him -- one she'd waited years for. "When I was being..." she paused, knowing he didn't like the thought of her being slapped around, "...interrogated, it was almost as if...well, in my delirium...it was almost as if you were there asking the questions."
Remington stopped his actions and pulled back to look her in the eyes. He was positively stricken. "What kind of questions?" he asked tentatively.
She smiled up at him, hoping to relieve him of any guilty feelings. "I don't really remember now," she answered honestly. And that was the single problem she had with the whole thing. She couldn't quite figure out how she'd arrived at her new view. Her fingertips trailed across his jaw, down his throat and out to his shoulders as she reflected on their situations -- both past and present. Of course she couldn't help but be pleased with the turn of events. With a falsely demure smile she added, "But I get the feeling that the answers might surprise both of us."
Remington considered her response. "Then I suppose," he began cautiously, "some questions are best left unanswered."
Laura nodded in agreement, her left hand slipping below the waterline. "And some answers are best left unquestioned," she said, guiding him home again.