SOMEWHERE BEYOND THE STEELE
Summary: A 36-foot sailboat. Her. Him. And some pirate talkin' thrown in for good measure. Picks up sometime after "Corn Fed Steele." (Yeah. Seriously.) Written in response to the Written In Steele October Springboard to take the tag scene from any episode and fill in what happens next.
"So, let me guess," Laura called, "you used to be a pirate."
She leaned against the metal rail at the bow of the boat, watching as Remington lowered the mainsail.
They had sailed west for a long time; the coastline disappeared behind them hours ago. She had no idea where they were, aside from someplace in the Pacific.
As the boat gently bobbed in the open water, Remington only smiled at her and busied himself with the rigging. He bent to tie a knot in a line and she admired the way his white pants tightened around his backside. He knew how to sail. Yet another hidden talent revealed. He was always amazing her. She found herself smiling, despite the fact that she was supposed to be angry with him.
He had no right to secretly take agency funds to buy a boat. Between Mildred investing in pigs on the sly and Remington trying to acquire high-ticket luxury items, Laura wondered if she should just stuff the agency's funds under her mattress. She winced at the thought that the money would be safe there because, aside from herself, nobody ever went near her mattress.
At least in the case of this boat, the deal hadn't actually gone through yet. Marty, the salesman Remington was using, had agreed to suspend the sale and granted them usage of the boat for the weekend to help close the deal. Marty's generosity was questionable, though. His used car salesman smile couldn't hide the fact that he was probably only a couple steps above Weasel on the legitimacy ladder. Laura spent the first two hours of the trip expecting the Coast Guard to come cruising in and arrest them for use of stolen property.
Remington turned toward her, his unbuttoned shirt billowing in the breeze. Laura swallowed. He graced her with a dazzling smile as he loosened another line. She heard the splash of the anchor hitting the water and the zip of the rope sliding over the side as it followed the anchor into the depths.
"Here we are," he said, moving in, putting his hands on the railing on either side of her hips.
"Where exactly is 'here'?"
He closed one eye and bared his teeth. "Arr!" he growled. "We be in the ocean, me beauty!"
Laura laughed. "Come to plunder me treasure, 'ave ye, Cap'n?"
Remington opened his eyes and looked directly into hers. "If you let me."
Laura's mouth went dry. "I...uh..."
His lips closed over hers, cutting off her words. It was brief. Just enough to derail her thoughts for the second time in as many seconds.
"Relax, Laura," he said. "You get too worked up. We're out on the open ocean, not a soul around for miles. Enjoy it." He backed away, tugging his shirt from his shoulders. "I'm going for a swim."
He removed his shirt and kicked off his deck shoes. Laura watched as his hands settled on his belt buckle. He didn't continue. She frowned and looked up. He grinned and she realized she'd been eagerly staring, her eyes wide in anticipation. She averted her gaze and heard him chuckle. She cursed herself. Her balance was too far off today, and it had nothing to do with the boat bobbing on the water.
The sound of his belt hitting the deck proved too irresistible to ignore. Her eyes darted back up to catch a glimpse of his blue swimming briefs. Tight blue swimming briefs. Tight blue swimming briefs that left nothing to her imagination.
"Oh, hell," she breathed.
"Join me?" Remington asked.
Laura's eyes snapped up to his.
He jerked his head toward the edge of the boat. "Come on." He suddenly dove off the side.
A sprinkle of cold water from his splash touched her face, bringing her back to reality. Moments later, he surfaced near the bow of the boat and let out an exhilarated yelp.
"Brisk!" he announced. "Very refreshing."
Lacking a cold shower, a dip in the ocean would have to do. Laura slipped out of her sandals and her fingers rose to unbutton her blouse.
He was right, she knew. She was too uptight. Especially where he was concerned.
He was with her because he wanted to be. Just a few days ago he'd said he wasn't going anywhere, said he was glad they were together. It was as close to a declaration of love as she'd ever gotten out of him -- would probably ever get out of him.
She herself had gone halfway around the world to find him and told him that his lack of a birth name didn't matter, that his past was irrelevant. She hadn't done it because the agency couldn't survive without its figurehead. She'd done it because she couldn't imagine her life without him. When she signed the papers -- rather, forged his signature on the papers -- that officially gave him the name Remington Steele, that ended her days of acting like he was merely a business associate. Giving him Remington Steele was tantamount to giving him herself.
Despite all that, she was still reserved -- never allowing that last barrier to fall, never saying the words, never advancing emotionally, never progressing physically.
Laura looked down at Remington. He was treading water. Waiting. Watching.
She shifted her focus to the horizon. The late afternoon sky was clear. There was no land in sight. No other boats. Nothing.
Just a 36-foot sailboat anchored somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Her. Him.
Laura's heart fluttered. It was exactly what she needed...what they needed.
She removed her blouse and shorts and lingered on the deck a few moments to ensure Remington got as good a show as he'd given her before diving in the water next to him.
The shock of the cold...no, freezing...water constricted her lungs. She twisted her body upward, breaking the surface with a desperate gasp.
"This is brisk?" she demanded, her teeth involuntarily chattering. "It's like ice!" She wrapped her arms around herself and kicked with her feet to keep her head above water.
Remington swam to her. "It's exhilarating."
"Breath-taking is the word I'd use."
"You certainly are."
She arched an eyebrow at him. He reached out and enveloped her in his arms.
It was awkward with him holding her as she kicked. She desperately tried to keep both their heads above water, kicking harder than necessary to compensate for their otherwise-occupied arms. She repeatedly and painfully banged their knees together in her efforts to stay afloat.
It struck her that their whole relationship had been like this: together, but with her trying to be in charge of all the work. She was afraid to trust him to do his half, even though she knew she couldn't do it alone, knew that without his help they'd both sink.
But here he was, right next to her, holding up his side, supporting her as she supported him.
Like it always was.
She looked into his eyes -- eyes that were bluer than the water that surrounded them -- and warmth melted into her. He was solid and stable, even as the waves threatened to pull them apart.
Laura relaxed and deliberately slowed her kicking. Her frenzied effort to stay afloat calmed to a confident coordination of thrust and counterthrust.
The water was deep; the danger of drowning was immense. But they were united, each supporting the other. They wouldn't sink.
Warmed by that knowledge and a more basic, wonton heat, Laura moved her arms from around herself and slipped them around his neck. She threaded her fingers through his wet hair. Remington tilted his head, Laura advanced and they came together.
His tongue pressed forward, found hers, retreated. Laura gripped his head, pulled him forcibly back. She took what she wanted and demanded more. Remington's tongue penetrated deeply again.
Their bodies rose and fell with each wave, the unending motion carrying them away. He tasted familiar, yet salty. Laura sighed and Remington groaned. A wave suddenly crashed over them both. The unexpected explosion surprised Laura.
She coughed, choking on ocean water.
"We need to get back onboard," Remington sputtered.
Laura looked up to see that they'd drifted a good distance away from the boat. She coughed her agreement.
They released one another and swam toward the vessel. Remington climbed the ladder first then helped her up. He then disappeared below deck.
Seconds later he returned, a towel wrapped around his waist. He draped another towel over her shoulders and vigorously rubbed her arms. She shivered.
"Cold?" he asked.
He pulled her close. His icy skin reminded her just how cold the water had truly been.
"You should dry off." He rubbed the towel against her back. "Put on your clothes."
Laura wrapped her arms around his waist, her fingers loosening the towel there. "Or maybe..." The towel fell to the deck and she traced a fingernail around the waistband of his swim briefs. "Maybe you could give me a good reason for us to buy this boat."
Remington smiled. "You want to buy the boat?"
Laura took his hands and pulled him toward the stairs leading below deck. "I could be convinced, Cap'n."
Remington's eyelids lowered. "Well, shiver me timbers."
"I intend to."