SUMMARY: So, instead of the Earl of Claridge telling Steele his eyes were the wrong color, it turns out they were the correct color after all. Go figure. :o)
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.
He jerked awake, his blue eyes popping open with fear. He sat up, looked around the moonlit room and was utterly confused. The last fragments of his nightmare scattered from his mind, and he began to assimilate his surroundings.
Heavy antique furniture decorated the room and ancient tapestries hung from the walls. He pulled the ornate bedclothes up tightly against his sweating chest when the chill in the air caused him to shudder. The fire had long-since burned itself out.
He relaxed slightly as his heart rate slowed and he recalled the situation.
He was in the castle.
He'd found his father.
He had a name.
Sean James. Son of the Earl of Claridge.
He stared into the near-darkness. It didn't seem possible. How could an abandoned street urchin end up as royalty? It seemed too far-fetched to be believed.
His eyes traveled down his bare arm to the fading bruise on the inside of his left elbow. Perhaps it wasn't true. Perhaps it was all a mistake, just an odd set of circumstances that would soon prove false.
While he had been welcomed with open arms, the Earl insisted on testing to confirm or deny the truth. Both he and the Earl rolled up sleeves to a private nurse three days prior.
Normally, standard paternity testing would take a few days, but the Earl wanted to be completely certain. He shelled out several thousand pounds to have the latest technology compare the two samples. A DNA test would reveal the ultimate truth in two weeks.
In the meantime, he was the Earl's guest, free to do whatever his heart desired, all expenses paid.
Sighing, Sean James reclined back into the pillows. He turned his head to the side and stared at the empty space beside him. Unfortunately, his heart's desire was 6,000 miles away.
Laura had left almost immediately after he and the Earl met. She seemed pleased he'd found what he'd been looking for. Yet, at the same time, she seemed oddly...nervous.
She insisted she'd spent far too long away from the agency--naturally--and had to get back to work. She told him to call her, if he wanted. She refused his offer to take her to the airport. Instead, she awkwardly kissed him good-bye and shoved herself away from his embrace. She didn't look back as he waved to her.
When he did call her, she didn't answer her phone. When he called the agency, Mildred seemed happy to hear from him, asked how he was, and almost acted like she'd forgotten about his multiple passports she'd stumbled across. Laura, however, was nowhere around. Out on a case. Mildred would have her call back as soon as she got in.
But Laura never called.
At one point he thought he'd send her a letter, but after looking at a blank sheet of paper for an hour, he gave up. He didn't know what to say to her. He didn't know what she wanted to hear. And, frankly, he didn't know how to sign the damn thing.
He crossed his hands behind his head. He was in a once-familiar limbo; a time between personas.
Who was he?
He didn't seem to be Remington Steele anymore, yet he wasn't exactly Sean James.
At that moment in time, he felt like nobody.
A few hundred extra pounds from the Earl, and the lab was encouraged to deliver its results before the two-week deadline.
The man who was only days before a famous L.A. detective was suddenly being called "your lordship" and was being welcomed by all.
He called the agency again, forgetting the early hour. He told the answering machine that he'd try again later.
Oh a whim, he called her number. It was two in the morning across the pond, and he was both pleased and surprised when the phone was picked up.
"Uh?" a groggy voice mumbled.
There was a long pause. He could hear covers shifting as she repositioned herself, then nothing.
"Are you there?" he inquired, hoping she could hear him.
"Good," he said, relieved.
"How have you been?" he asked.
"Good. Fine." She hesitated. "You?"
"I'm all right," he lied. He knew there was something nagging at him, but he hadn't been able to put his finger on it. Something just wasn't exactly correct. He felt as though he was on the outside of his life, watching someone else live it.
When she didn't speak, he continued. "I thought you'd like to know the test results came back."
"Paternity test," he clarified. "The Earl is my father."
"Oh," she responded, her voice hollow. "Congratulations."
"I'm happy for you," she said.
Stunned, the words fell from his mouth before he could catch them. "You are?"
"Yes," she said. He could hear the frown. "Of course I am. This is what you went looking for."
"I'm sorry, Laura, I didn't mean to sound boorish." He could visualize her nodding in understanding. When she continued to not say anything, he licked his lips and filled the silence. "I should go. Let you get some sleep."
Belatedly, she responded. "Okay."
"Good night, Laura" he said.
"Night, Mr. St--" She stopped; then restarted. "Good night."
"I miss you, Laura," he told her softly. And he honestly did. He'd been away for so long--over three months--and he'd barely seen her when she was in London. There was an enormous void in the center of his chest, one he wasn't familiar with. But speaking with her made it slightly less empty.
"I miss you, too," she responded, barely audible.
His void suddenly filled, and for the first time in days, he smiled. "Come back to London," he coaxed.
"I...no. I can't." Again, she paused. When she spoke again, he could hear the forced smile in her voice. "The agency...we're so busy right now. You understand."
He didn't understand at all. "Yes. Well...I'll talk with you again sometime."
"Yes. Certainly," she agreed. It, too, seemed forced. "Bye." She disconnected the call.
"Bye," he said to no one.
He sat at a lavish dinner--every meal was lavish--his father at one end of the long table, his step-mother at the other. It was a difficult concept to wrap his thoughts around. He had a step-mother.
The Earl had explained to Katherine about Sean. She took the situation gracefully, kissing his cheek and welcoming him back into the family. She was a lovely, proper, kind young woman.
But that was the sticking point. She was young; younger than him by several years, younger than the Earl by several decades. He found it uncomfortable.
He tried not to think about how his step-uncle, if that was actually a true relation, was a serial murderer. There certainly wasn't one of *those* in every family.
Of course, the Earl had his dark side as well. Sean was all too familiar with shady pasts. But never in his life had he laid a hand on a woman. The Earl, however, managed to get drunk and beat up defenseless women on a regular basis.
Sean hoped the Earl's love for Katherine would keep him in check as far as she was concerned.
The Earl told Sean of his mother and produced black and white pictures of the young woman.
He looked like his mother.
Never before in his life had he seen his resemblance in another's face. It was eerie and disconcerting.
The Earl spoke highly of the servant-turned-lover, even though sadness filled his voice. He recalled the tale of their forbidden love, the unexpected pregnancy and her shameful expulsion from the estate.
He told of the one time he saw Sean as a baby, how his blue eyes stuck him. They were exactly like his mother's. The Earl explained how he desperately wanted to bring her back to England and how his family wouldn't allow it.
The Earl concluded his story with details Sean wished he hadn't heard. That his mother, short on money, had turned to prostitution; that she died at the hands of one of her "clients."
Sean found himself physically ill, and excused himself.
He heard the outer door unlock. He saw the lights go on. He heard papers being shuffled.
He said nothing.
When she entered the large office, she had her attention on the files in her hands.
He rose from the desk chair.
Laura screamed and papers went flying.
He smiled crookedly at her.
She had one hand over her heart and the other up as a defensive shield. Her shoulders rose and fell rapidly. She frowned at him. "You scared the hell out of me!"
"I'm sorry," he said, leaving his place and approaching her.
Calming, she looked at him. "What are you doing here?"
"I work here," he said simply.
"You're royalty," she reminded him. "You don't need to do this anymore."
He closed the space between them and embraced her tightly. "I *want* to do this."
She hugged him back just as forcefully, but her words contradicted her actions. "You belong there."
He pulled back, gazing into her eyes for the first time in weeks. "I belong here."
Her crinkle started to show. "But you have a family. A name. A home."
"Yes, I do," he confirmed as he lowered his lips to hers, "right here."