Summary: Different viewpoints on a sensitive subject.
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.
Laura slid the door to her loft open and was surprised to see her date standing in the hallway, a good four hours early. "Mr. Steele?"
"Not interrupting anything, am I?" he asked, leaning in to kiss her cheek.
"No, I..." She wiped her hands on the towel she carried. "You're early. I'm not..." She gestured to her appearance.
Remington smiled at her jeans, tennis shoes and Stanford sweatshirt. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She looked positively edible. "I was just in the neighborhood," he commented. "Thought we could start our evening early." He waggled his eyebrows at her, and wrapped his arms around her waist.
When he leaned in to kiss her more fully, he caught a whiff of a strange odor. He pulled back and actually sniffed her, trying to identify the smell.
Amused, Laura looked up at him, her hands still wrapped in the towel. "It's cleaning solvent," she supplied.
"Ah," he grinned, kissing her quickly. "Tidy Bowl Woman."
Laura giggled and stepped out of his embrace. "Not exactly." She motioned for him to enter; she then shut the door.
"I have to finish this up," she told him, stepping over to her kitchen table. "Then I can clean up and then..." she eyed him up and down. "...we can get started."
He followed her to the dining nook. The table was covered in newspaper. Various rags, bottles and metal parts sat scattered about.
"Reassembling your carburetor?"
Laura took her seat and selected one of the metal parts. "No." She picked up what looked to be a small bottle brush, which she jammed into the metal tube.
Suddenly, Remington recognized what she had disassembled on her tabletop. A chill ran down his spine at the sight.
"Laura, you..." was all he managed to say.
She put down the brush and wiped the part with a tiny cleaning pad. "What?"
Cautiously, Remington took a chair across from her. "That's not the agency gun," he observed. While he'd not seen the agency gun very often, he knew it was a silver revolver of some sort. Not a very large, very black semi-automatic -- the parts of which were strewn across the table.
"No," Laura agreed, sliding the muzzle back together with the handle. "This is one I use at the range and for home security."
He watched silently as she assembled all the parts, ran a polishing cloth over the entire thing, then checked to make sure it was unloaded. She offered the butt-end to him "It's a nine millimeter semi-automatic Ruger."
He shook his head, not accepting her offer.
She shrugged and set it aside, then repeated the assembly process with a second, smaller gun. As she worked, she rattled off information regarding the weapon. "This one is a twenty-two Beretta. Semi-automatic, like the other one." She checked to confirm it, too, was unloaded then offered it to Remington. "The ammunition for a twenty-two is much cheaper, so I use this one to practice speed and using my right hand."
Again, he refused to take the weapon. This time, Laura carefully placed the gun in a hard plastic case and clicked it shut.
Even though she was a trained professional, even though he knew there was a gun at the agency, even though they'd both held guns on Inspector Vouvray in Cannes, the thought of Laura actually squeezing off a live round never crossed his mind. And the thought that she practiced it -- practiced it often enough that she could do it quickly and with either hand -- left him rather numb.
He couldn't suppress a swallow when Laura took out a box of ammunition with his "name" emblazoned across the lid.
Methodically, she slipped shiny brass bullets into a clip. She clicked the clip into the gun, loaded the chamber and flicked on the safety. She then slipped the gun into a holster. She excused herself and he watched as she placed the gun in her nightstand drawer.
Remington's eyebrows raised. Laura was locked and loaded? His thoughts of sneaking into her loft late one night to surprise her dissolved with the mental image of getting a hole blown in his gut.
When she returned, she disposed of the trash then packed away the gun box, ammunition and cleaning materials in a duffle bag, which she stored away in a cabinet next to the kitchen.
"You okay?" she asked him, noticing for the first time he didn't look quite well.
He snapped his attention up to her. She stood next to him, the concern evident. "Yes," he answered too quickly. Realizing his gaffe, he forced a relaxed smile to his face. "Why wouldn't I be? I'm with you."
She frowned at him slightly, not buying his cover. "Seriously, what's wrong?"
Remington wrapped his arms loosely around her waist and pulled her closer. "I'm fine. Just anxious to get on with the evening."
Dubious, Laura bent and gave him a quick kiss. "Well, then, you'd better let me go get cleaned up so we can leave."
He let her go free, glad the smell of gunpowder and cleaning solvent would be washed away and they could share their evening peacefully.
They were walking side by side through an open-air mall. The movie had ended awhile earlier and Remington suggested a short stroll in the cool evening. Laura took him up on it, her arm draped through his.
As they finished walking the length of the mall and turned to retrace their steps, Remington finally broke the companionable silence.
"How often do you go?" he asked in a low voice.
Laura glanced at him, perplexed. "How often do I go where?"
"The gun range."
Laura shrugged. "Every couple of months or so. Sometimes more."
He nodded, but didn't look at her.
"Would you like to go with me next time?"
"No!" Again, he'd answered too quickly. "No, thank you," he repeated sheepishly.
She eyed him sideways. "I think you should."
"I have no desire to go," he stated flatly.
"It's good to practice," she informed him.
"I can handle a gun," he snapped.
Laura arched an eyebrow at him.
He scowled at her, knowing perfectly well she'd seen him with the agency gun on more than one occasion. He proceeded to name off a few instances. "Remember Descoine's daughter? Raymond Meleau? Agnes Fowler? Inspector Vouvray?"
"You didn't seem very comfortable in any of those instances," she observed.
"I was fine," he lied, shrugging her off a bit.
"I'm not saying you need to be Dirty Harry," she said, tightening her grip on his arm, "but you could stand to relax a bit with it. Practicing will help."
Remington stopped, causing Laura to stop, too. He looked down at her icily. "I don't ever want to be comfortable with a gun," he stated unequivocally.
Laura's grip on his arm slackened and he slipped away from her. He was several paces ahead of her when she started after him.
"Mr. Steele!" She snagged his arm and pulled him to a halt. The hard look she expected to see in his eyes wasn't there. Instead, he just looked haunted.
He looked away from her, watched a few people pass by, studied signs in the shop windows, anything to keep from looking at her.
"Tell me," she implored, hoping he'd answer without being given a specific question.
Remington's view turned inward as he recalled the night so many years ago. He visibly shuddered causing Laura's fingers to tighten around his arm. A decade had passed, yet he could still remember the night as though it were yesterday.
His name was Eddie then, and it was a Saturday.
The evening started out like many others. A little drinking, a little gambling, a little womanizing. Nothing involved and nothing special. He'd won a few pounds at cards and spent a portion of it buying a round for his mates. He'd also turned down more than one offer of paid companionship -- and even one he could have had for free -- because there were plans for the next morning. A brazen, broad-daylight heist from a shady priest -- not his preferred target, but this particular "priest" would deserve everything he got.
Not wanting to stay out too late, he excused himself around ten. One of his cohorts, Gil, joined him for the walk back to the hotel. As they strolled down the dark streets of Uxbridge, they laughed loudly, plotted how they'd spend their portions of the finder's fee, admonished their target for doing just about everything a true priest shouldn't, and generally had a good time.
Being two over confident, brash young men, the merriment didn't end when a small man stepped from a doorway into their path. He and Gil laughed when the man demanded their wallets. They could, after all, take the mousy man down without even breaking a sweat.
The little man restated his demand for money.
Gil responded glibly, "What'r ya gonna do about it, pallie?"
Eddie was still laughing when the shot rang out. The man ran into the darkness as Gil fell hard onto the wet sidewalk.
Remington took a deep breath then faced Laura. "A friend was murdered," he said. "Shot." He tapped a finger between his eyes, indicating the location. "I was there."
"Gil was dead before he hit the ground. And the man..." Remington stared intensely at Laura, "...the man was *very comfortable* using the gun." His expression hardened. "I see no good *at all* in the things."
He turned and continued walking, not caring if she followed or not. Arriving back at the parking lot, he got into the Auburn and waited. He knew Laura was only a few yards behind him. A moment later, she joined him in the car.
"I'm sorry about your friend," she said softly.
Remington started the car. "Me, too."
As he drove, he expected her to lecture him about walking away from her or nag him about going to the range. She did neither. They sat in silence all the way back to her loft. He pulled to the curb and waited for her to exit the car.
She reached for the door handle, but hesitated. Instead of leaving, she turned toward him. He wouldn't make eye contact, but she looked at him anyway. "A few years ago, my house was broken into."
Remington glanced over to her, afraid of how it connected to their previous conversation.
"I was still at Havenhurst, still with Wilson. I got home early one afternoon and found a man in my bedroom. I surprised him."
Remington was sure his heart stopped.
"He had a knife and he thought I was just a helpless female."
"Did he...? Were you...?" Remington couldn't even bring himself to put words to the images spinning through his mind. The idea of Laura facing down a knife-wielding intruder turned his blood to ice. The urge to avenge the wrong done to her so many years ago leapt to the forefront of his mind. If the man so much as laid a hand on her, Remington would hunt him down.
Laura allowed his thoughts to bloom, then said, "Working at Havenhurst, I was required to carry a gun. I used it."
"You killed him?" Remington breathed.
Laura shook her head. "I didn't even have to shoot. Just showing him the weapon caused him to run. He dove out the window. The police caught him later...cut up pretty badly from the glass. He got a couple years in prison."
"Would you have?"
"Shot him?" Laura questioned. "If he'd come for me, I wouldn't have hesitated. And he knew that."
Remington lowered his eyes, thankful Laura wasn't harmed, but unchanged in his opinion.
A month and a half later, dressed once again in her grubbies, Laura returned to the firing range.
She hadn't bothered to ask Remington if he wanted to join her since they hadn't discussed the subject any further. She had no desire to open old wounds for him, nor did she relish the idea of getting into a debate. If he didn't want to use a gun, she certainly wasn't going to force him.
The range manager inspected her weapons, took her fee, assigned her a lane, sold her an extra box of nine millimeter rounds and a handful of paper silhouette targets and sent her on her way.
Laura stopped before entering the sound proofed room to don her safety glasses and ear protection.
Once inside, she arranged her .22 and 9mm rounds and her handguns on the counter. She then clipped up the target and powered it back on its automated track to fifteen yards. After a few moments of loading clips, she was ready to fire.
The silhouette target never stood a chance, even against its right-handed opponent. Laura plugged it repeatedly with rounds of .22s without taking time to aim. When the clip was empty, she flicked on the safety, placed the unloaded Beretta on the counter in front of her and surveyed the damage. Every shot hit the paper, some a little more off than others. But she was, nonetheless, pleased. It was, after all, done with the wrong hand and without aiming.
With her left hand, she picked up the Ruger and flicked off the safety. This time she lined up her shots before squeezing off five rounds. The recoil was considerably more powerful than the previous weapon, and she controlled it well, her shots all ending up in a close cluster around the silhouette's heart.
Laura lowered the gun, reset the safety, released the clip and began to reload both weapons. This time, she used the Ruger with her right hand. One shot rang out and the silhouette had a hole through its head.
Her stance was confident, her aim true, and Remington was glad he wasn't standing in front of her.
He stood behind the bullet-proof Plexiglas of the observation room. Laura's back was to him, so he got a clear view down her lane to see her marksmanship. She was good, he admitted to himself. Amazingly good, actually.
He watched as Laura repeated the reloading process. The large, black gun looked too big for her small hands, yet she handled it as though it was an extension of herself. Each shot caused her body to move ever so slightly, but she was never off-target with the following round. She was comfortable.
Reluctantly, he allowed his mind to wander back to their conversation. A gun ended the life of someone he cared about. And because of that he carried around a deep-seated revulsion for the things. Sure, he'd picked one up and brandished it around when the occasion called for it. But to actually shoot...to pull the trigger and potentially take a life...he didn't think he could do it.
His eyes returned to Laura's form as she busied herself packing away her gear.
A gun had also saved the life of someone he cared about.
He hated to imagine what could have happened to her had she not been armed. An intruder with a knife, a woman caught off-guard, a small area. Remington shuddered at the implications.
"Mr. Steele?" Laura questioned when she exited the range, surprised to see him.
"Hi," he smiled.
"What are you doing here?" she asked. She pulled off her earmuffs and safety glasses and stuffed them into her duffle, eyeing him suspiciously the entire time.
He swallowed, but didn't answer. He just reached out and caressed her cheek.
Laura leaned into his palm, smiling. Cautiously, she looked up to him. "Do you want to give it a try?" She tilted her head back toward the range.
Remington shook his head. "No. I don't think so."
Laura's eyes narrowed slightly as she studied him. A long moment passed where they both felt the edges of an argument pushing in. "Okay," she finally said with a shrug. She reached up and took his hand from her face. Tangling her fingers with his, she started them toward the exit. "I'm starved. Where are you taking me?"
Remington pressed his side tightly against hers. "Anywhere you'd like, Miss Holt." He didn't mind the smell of gunpowder on her anymore.