Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Division
 
 
 Steele for Better or for Worse
Part 2
by
Debra Talley and Thekla Kurth

Laura was livid. "You say one word about a honeymoon and you're dead meat!" she muttered in Remington's ear.
 
"Whatever you say, Darling," Remington said, refolding the license and putting it back in his pocket.
 
"And don't call me Darling!" Laura threatened under her breath as she spiked his foot for added emphasis.
 
Remington couldn't help it; he yelped and grabbed his foot. Suddenly, the flashbulbs were once again pointed at the newlyweds and a million questions were fired at them. Laura felt faint.
 
Remington, seeing Laura's sudden paleness, quickly put his arm around her for support. "Gentlemen, please! My new bride and I would like to be on our way. We do have a honeymoon to attend to."
 
Remington knew it was coming, but there was nothing he could do to stop it. He just did his best to stifle a scream and kept smiling through the pain in his ankle.
 
"However, first we'd like to see our old friend Justice Albert Hall and tell him the good news. Could someone tell us where we might find him?"
 
"There he is!" exclaimed the bailiff, pointing to a short distinguished looking man around 65 with salt and pepper hair who was standing near the rear of the crowd.
 
Seeing the crowd turn in unison and stare at him caused Justice Hall to run for his life.

"Stop that Justice!" Laura yelled as she and Remington fought their way through the crowd and took off after their prey. Suddenly this case had become very personal.

 
Justice Hall ran out a rear exit, through an alley, over a fence and through a construction site. He was quickly out of breath and losing his lead. Laura and Remington both made a flying leap and tackled him, tumbling the three of them into a large puddle of mud and slime. The newly married detectives quickly gained control of the situation and collared their suspect.
 
"Well, Justice Hall or whatever your name is, what do you have to say for yourself?" Laura demanded angrily as she yanked on his collar.
 
Justice Hall grinned sheepishly and said, "Congratulations on your recent marriage?"
 
"Wrong answer!" Laura croaked as she shoved his head back under the muddy water in disgust, splashing herself and Remington even further in the process.
 
Remington, already covered from head to foot with muddy water and gunk, tried to brush the muddy sprinkles from his ruined suit. He then looked up at Laura and broke into a lop-sided grin. "Well, look at the bright side, Laura. At least you aren't wearing white!"
 
Laura seriously considered drowning him. Remington saw that murderous look in her eye and considered himself a lucky man that the police chose that moment to arrive.
 
********
Justice Albert Hall made a full confession at Police Headquarters. The real Albert Hall had died suddenly just two weeks after accepting his new position at the L.A. county courthouse. Because no one at his new office had seen him, two of his less than scrupulous cousins had agreed on a blackmail scheme.
 
Cousin #l had posed as Justice Hall and falsely married unsuspecting couples. Then Cousin #2 had notified the mortified newlyweds that their marriages weren't legal. For a monthly fee, the cousins promised to keep the illegal marriages quiet. Most couples were willing to pay rather than have it known that they had been living together without the benefit of a real marriage. Justice Stuart Bailey had been totally unaware of "Albert Hall's" unscrupulous doings and was merely filling in when his fellow Justice was delayed.
 
A tired and disgruntled Remington accepted a ride home in a police car later that afternoon. Laura was none too pleased with the arrangement. Even though she was sitting as far from Remington as possible in the back of the squad car, he pulled her close and put his arm around her shoulder.
 
She allowed him this privilege, but sat angrily with her arms tightly crossed. "I don't know why we couldn't have taken the Auburn," Laura argued.
 
"We just had the Auburn reupholstered, remember? Besides, this way we can sit back and enjoy the ride; maybe even get a head start on the honeymoon, eh?"
 
"Forget it, Buster!" Laura declared.
 
"Yes, of course. I guess you're right. We are a bit disheveled at the moment," Remington agreed. "What we need is a nice hot shower..."
 
"Wrong! What you need is a nice * cold *shower!" Laura countered as she held her arms even tighter.
 
"In the meantime, I guess I'll have to make do with the cold shoulder, eh?" Remington replied.
 
Remington caught Officer Harry Lime's grinning reflection in the rear view mirror. "Arguing is a big turn on for my lovely wife," he explained with a grin, quickly jerking his foot aside. But unfortunately Laura changed her tactic; she jabbed an elbow in his ribs instead.
 
Their police escort soon deposited a mud caked Laura and Remington on Rossmore Avenue in front of Remington's apartment building. Laura put up a front of being the happy bride until Officer Lime was out of sight. Then she quickly shoved Remington's arm from her shoulder, angrily turned and stormed into the building. Remington had to hustle to keep up with her. Neither of them spoke in the elevator or while Remington unlocked the door to his apartment. Laura quickly pushed past him with every intention of locking herself in the bedroom.
 
She was surprised when he grabbed her arm and pulled her back into the corridor.
 
"What are you doing?" she sputtered as Remington swept her off her feet and into his arms.
 
"I'm carrying my new bride over the threshold," Remington explained. "After all, the neighbors may be watching."
 
Once inside, Remington kicked the door shut with his foot and Laura quickly scampered out of his arms.
 
"We'll have to put out a Do Not Disturb sign," Remington said good naturedly.
 
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" Laura asked testily.
 
"Well, you must admit, it's a unique situation with, uh, interesting possibilities," Remington explained. "Puts an entirely different spin on the concept of mixing business with pleasure, doesn't it?"
 
Laura took a deep breath and threw up her hands. "I can't handle this right now. We'll talk about it later. All I want to do right now is take a shower and get into some fresh clothes."
 
"Hot shower or cold?" Remington asked.
 
"Wouldn't you like to know?" Laura asked as she turned and sashayed into Remington's bedroom.
 
He heard her rummaging through his closet before finally slamming the bathroom door. In an effort to placate Laura, he gave Mildred a quick call at the Agency and asked her to bring Laura some suitable clothes from her loft. Then, realizing he headache he hadn't even realized he had was getting worse, he took some aspirin and pulled back the covers on his bed. Spreading an old blanket from the closet over the sheets, he stretched out across the bed for a short nap.
 
A short while later, a refreshed Laura emerged from the bathroom wearing Remington's blue silk robe. She plugged in his hair dryer at his dresser and began drying her hair.
 
Remington awoke with a start. He crawled out of bed, deposited the muddy blanket on the floor and walked over to Laura.
 
"Oh, I approve!" he said seductively, a big grin on his face. "Just give me a few minutes to, uh, freshen up and we can start fulfilling a few fantasies. After all, this *is* our wedding night, Mrs. Steele."
 
"Mr. Steele, let me remind you once again. Ours is a purely professional relationship. The fact that we are married in no way changes anything. The only thing you're getting tonight is the cold shoulder, remember?"
 
"Umm, only too well!" Remington conceded dejectedly.
 
Laura stood, put down the dryer, placed her hands on Remington's shoulders and pushed him into the bathroom. She then returned to the dresser and resumed drying her hair. In the mirror, she saw the bathroom door open slightly as Remington's muddy clothes came flying into the bedroom. Noticing he had left the door ajar, she decided it would serve him right if he caught a chill.
 
She quickly dried and styled her hair. She was trying to decide which of Remington's clothes she should change into when the doorbell rang. She hesitated at first, but finally decided the only way to stop the irritating buzz was to answer the door.
 
No sooner had she opened the door than a horde of loud reporters and photographers forced their way into the
living room. Laura couldn't believe the questions she was being asked.
 
"How long have you and Mr. Steele been an item?"
 
"Why did you get married so suddenly? Is there a baby on the way?"
 
"Have you and Mr. Steele ever mixed business with pleasure during business hours?"
 
"Did Mr. Steele hire you for your secretarial skills or was he merely attracted to you sexually?"
 
The mob kept crowding closer and Laura kept backing away until finally everyone was standing in the bedroom
 
"What's all the bloody racket?" Remington hollered as he emerged from the bathroom clad only in a towel.
 
Laura turned several shades of red. The reporters suddenly realized they were standing in Remington's bedroom. Their eyes went from Laura, wearing Remington's silk robe, to the rumpled bed covers, and then to Remington, dressed only in a very skimpy towel. The implications were only too clear (though maybe not completely accurate.)
 
Everyone started talking at once as flashes of light filled the room, blinding everyone..
 
Remington quickly regained his composure. "Gentlemen, please, as you can see, my blushing bride and I are not exactly dressed for a press conference. So if you don't mind..."
 
Everyone started to grumble, but they did turn and head for the door.
 
"Wait! I have an important announcement to make!" Laura suddenly blurted out.
 
The mob quickly turned and anxiously awaited her news with baited breath.
 
"Wait, please! I have something to say. This morning, Mr. Steele and I..."
 
Remington suddenly dashed across the room and embraced Laura in a big bear hug, pinning her arms to her sides. "What my lovely bride means is that after years of working together on a very intimate basis, we decided to throw caution to the wind and tie the knot!"
 
Laura began struggling. When she managed to free her arms, she began hitting Remington's chest.
 
"Let go of me!" she yelled as she continued to struggle and attack.
 
Remington picked Laura up and threw her over his shoulder. She protested loudly, slapping his bottom. Remington laughed as he in turn affectionately slapped Laura's squirming bottom. The flashbulbs were still going crazy. Everyone was seeing spots.
 
"If you will excuse us, we still have a honeymoon to conduct!" Remington explained with a laugh. Still patting Laura's bottom, and making a valiant effort to ignore the fact that she was forcefully pinching his, he staggered into the bathroom and locked the door.
 
The mob could hear Laura yelling, "Put me down! What are you doing to me?" That was followed by a strange pounding noise.
 
Then the mob was distracted by a loud authoritarian voice.
 
"OK, you dirt bags-- out! And I mean on the double! MOVE IT!"
 
After a few shoves to show she meant business and a few threats to ram someone's camera down their throat, the mob did as ordered and exited on the double.
 
Mildred and a tall attractive woman in her early thirties were soon the only ones left in the apartment.
 
"I'm sorry, Miss Becker. They think that just because inquiring minds want to know, they can crash anywhere. The sleaze balls."
 
"I understand. I just appreciate you bringing me to see Mr. Steele on such short notice."
 
"I figure if Immigration wants to see the boss, it must be important," Mildred explained.
 
Mildred and Miss Becker stood staring at the locked bathroom door for several minutes. They could still hear the pounding sound.
 
"They appear to be, uh... right in the middle of... something," Mildred explained, embarrassed. "Why don't we wait in the living room?"
 
"Good idea," Miss Becker agreed quickly, relieved to leave the bedroom.
 
Mildred made sure she closed the door behind them.
 
********
 
Meanwhile in the bathroom, the pounding slowly ceased. Laura, standing behind the sliding glass doors of the tub, had grown tired of banging. Remington still held tightly to the door, afraid it might be a trick. His towel was by now slightly askew.
 
"Feeling better?" Remington calmly asked.
 
Laura ignored him.
 
"Promise to behave yourself if I let you out?"
 
There was a long beat before Laura finally said, "I promise."
 
Remington cautiously slid the shower door aside and offered his hand to help her climb out of the tub. She jerked her hand away and stood fuming, her crossed tightly over her chest.
 
Remington pushed her down by her shoulders onto the commode. "Now, I know we have a problem here. But just blurting out the truth to the press on the spur of the moment is not the solution. We fouled up by not being sure we had cornered the right man. Obviously, we let our personal feelings interfere with our professional judgment on this case."
 
Remington paused to assess Laura's reaction so far. She merely nodded.
 
He continued. "We need to carefully consider what to tell the press so that we don't come out of this with egg on our face. Agreed?"
 
"Agreed," Laura admitted reluctantly.
 
"Now, I suggest we get a good night's sleep and tackle this problem again in the morning when we're both fresh. How about if I fix us some dinner?" Remington asked. "Like maybe some rice?"
 
Laura picked up a handy bar of soap and threw it at Remington. Luckily, he anticipated her move and ducked in the nick of time. Grinning, he opened the door and walked into the bedroom.
 
Laura followed him, ready to extract some sweet revenge. "Uh, Mr. Steele, you're slipping," Laura explained with a sudden grin.
 
"What?" Remington asked, puzzled.
 
Laura pointed to his towel with a grin. He looked down and quickly adjusted the problem. Laura was delighted that finally he was experiencing some embarrassment. She greatly resented the fact that he actually seemed to be enjoying this disaster.
 
Just then the phone rang. Remington gave his towel one final adjustment as he crossed the room to answer it, but Mildred quickly picked up the extension in the living room and answered before he could speak into the receiver. After listening for a minute, he covered the mouthpiece and turned to Laura, who was standing beside him.
 
"It's your mother," Remington whispered.
 
"Oh, no," Laura muttered feeling sick.
 
"Mildred's telling her about our marriage," Remington explained further. "To say Abigail is thrilled would be putting it mildly."
 
"Oh, no," Laura repeated, feeling even sicker. She collapsed on the bed.
 
Remington listened a few seconds longer and then hung up. "Mildred promised we'd call just as soon as we have a chance," he explained.
 
Laura groaned.
 
Just then they heard a knock at the bedroom door. Remington sympathetically patted Laura on the back before crossing the room to answer it.
 
Mildred was standing there with Laura's suitcase. "Here are some of Miss Holt's clothes, Boss."
 
"Thank you, Mildred," Remington said as he took the bag. "Do we, uh, still have company?"
 
"Yes, you could say that. Her name is Estelle Becker and she's from the Department of Immigration and Naturalization. She heard about your wedding and called the Agency to speak with you. Said it was real important."
 
"Immigration and Naturalization?" Remington repeated nervously. "Do you, uh, know what she wants?"
 
"She wouldn't say. But I don't think it's just to offer her congratulations, if you know what I mean."
 
"Ok, tell her I'll be out as soon as I make myself presentable."
 
"Good idea," Mildred said. "I don't think she's the type of person you greet in a towel."
 
Remington forced a grin and closed the bedroom door.
 
A few minutes later, Remington and Laura emerged in more appropriate attire. Remington was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans. Laura had been less than pleased to find that Mildred had only packed four new, very skimpy negligees in the suitcase she had brought over. After quickly perusing Remington's extensive wardrobe, she had finally settled on a blue shirt and a pair of jeans, held in place by a striped tie. Remington had tried his best to convince Laura to let him handle Miss Becker by himself, but Laura had heard enough of his conversation with Mildred to know that this was one meeting she didn't dare miss.
 
They were their most charming as Mildred made introductions. Then Remington made one final desperate attempt to get rid of Laura.
 
"Why don't you fix Miss Becker some tea, Darling?" Remington told Laura. "Her throat must be gotten awfully dry after waiting for us to change."
 
Laura gritted her teeth, but managed to keep smiling.
 
"That's really not necessary, Mrs. Steele," Estelle explained. "But I do feel that what I have to say should be kept between the three of us."
 
Everyone stared at Mildred, waiting for her to take the hint.
 
"Oh, uh, if you'll excuse me, I have a very special wedding present to shop for," Mildred explained as she stood up. "I'll just, uh, let myself out. Don't bother to get up."
 
Speedy good byes were exchanged.
 
Remington swallowed hard and settled back on the couch, trying to prepare for the worst. Laura sat nervously beside him. He casually put his arm around her shoulder, unconsciously looking for support. Remington wouldn't admit it, but he was very nervous.
 
Laura sensed his uneasiness and moved closer in an effort to offer him the support he needed. She may have been upset, but the bottom line was that she cared very deeply for the man beside her.
 
"Now, Miss Becker, exactly how can we help you?" Remington asked.
 
"First, let me offer my congratulations on your marriage. I can't tell you how happy I was when I heard the news."
 
"I don't quite understand what effect our marriage could have on you, Ms. Becker," Remington said. "I don't believe we've even met before, have we?"
 
"That is true enough, Mr. Steele. But I was assigned to your case recently and though your marriage doesn't concern me personally, it does concern my job."
 
"My case?" Remington asked with great trepidation.
 
"Yes. You see, you were brought to our attention shortly after the Hapsburg Dagger case in Cannes," Miss Becker explained.
 
"Ah, yes! Cannes!" Remington said as he shot Laura a dark look. "I remember it well."
 
"The event received some publicity here in the States and our department ran a routine passport check. At that time, we discovered that Remington Steele had never left the United States--that instead, a Michael O'Leary had accompanied Ms. Holt and Ms. Krebs to Cannes."
 
Remington definitely felt ill. He had a sudden urge to run, but he was unable to move. He became aware of Laura's hand over his and drew some courage from her touch.
 
"Go on, Miss Becker," Laura encouraged, realizing that Remington was in no condition to speak. Her Man of Steele was definitely nervous--his hand was even sweaty.
 
"Further investigation provided even more disturbing news. You're not an American, are you, Mr. Steele?"
 
"Uh-no," Remington admitted.
 
"He's Irish, but he's spent a great deal of his life in England," Laura interjected.
 
"Mr. Steele, there is no official record of you ever entering this country. You never applied for nor received a passport. You do not even appear to own a passport in your own name. In other words, you are in this country quite illegally."
 
Remington felt his world crumbling. He could think of no response to Miss Becker's accusation. His hour of reckoning had arrived and he knew he was totally at Miss Backer's mercy. He felt Laura squeeze his hand. If ever he was grateful to have Laura by his side and on his side, it was now.
 
"Exactly how does this new knowledge about Mr. Steele effect us, Ms. Becker?" Laura asked. She realized there was no use in trying to deny anything. It was best to face the music in a straight forward manner and try to work out a solution.
 
"As you know, this is a very serious matter, Mr. Steele. You very likely could have found yourself being deported."
 
"Deported?" Remington croaked. "Surely there must be some other way to handle the situation..."
 
"Mr. Steele, I've been a great admirer of yours ever since you first opened your agency. You provide a great service for our
city. It would have given me no pleasure to see you deported. And that was a very real possibility, until today."
 
"Why did today make a difference?" Remington inquired. "I'm still the same person I was before."
 
"Yes, and no. Fortunately, you are now married to an American citizen. That puts quite a different slant on things," Estelle explained. "While Immigration will not accept a marriage of convenience in order to establish residency, your marriage appears to have taken place for all the right reasons."
 
The lump in Remington's throat was so large he couldn't have spoken if his life had depended on it. And for all practical purposes, it did. Laura looked at Remington, on the verge of collapse, and intertwined her fingers with his. She affectionately patted his hand and gave him her first genuine smile of the day.
 
"Miss Becker, I've loved Mr. Steele from the first moment I met him. He has all the qualities I admire in a man--honesty, integrity, compassion. Sometimes, he seems too good to be real. It's almost as though I invented him. I'll be the happiest woman alive if I can spend the rest of my life by his side."
 
"I think that's the most beautiful expression of love I've ever heard," Estelle admitted with a warm smile.
 
"It comes straight from the heart, Miss Becker," Laura assured her.
 
"And how about you, Mr. Steele?"
 
"Uh--words have always come hard for me-- At least, the words you need to hear," Remington explained awkwardly. Remington Steele, the flashy front man, was gone. "But I assure you, this is not a marriage of convenience. I deeply, deeply am in love with this young lady here."
 
Remington leaned over and gave Laura a very long and passionate kiss. Laura lost herself in that kiss.
 
"I'm satisfied for the moment," Estelle cheerfully remarked as she stood.
 
Laura and Remington broke their kiss and stood also, confused.
 
"What do you mean, for the moment?" Remington nervously asked.
 
"Oh, I'm satisfied that this is a real marriage, but Immigration will have to keep tabs on you for the next two years," Estelle explained. "Purely regulation, I assure you."
 
"Two years?" Remington asked in disbelief.
 
"What's two years out of our lifetime, Dear?" Laura cheerfully asked as she patted Remington's chest.
 
Remington just forced a weak grin.
 
"I'll write up my report and I'm sure there won't be any problem," Estelle assured them. "I had planned to make an appointment with you early next week. I was really dreading having to tell you that you were in danger of being deported. I far prefer the outcome of this meeting to the probable outcome of that meeting. It just goes to show that love will find a way. Right, Mr. Steele?"
 
"Indeed, Miss Becker. Indeed," Remington agreed as he and Laura escorted Estelle to the door.
 
"Well, I'll be in touch," Estelle reminded them.
 
Good nights were quickly exchanged and Estelle left.
 
Remington collapsed weakly against the door and took a deep breath. Laura knew that now was not the time to get into a serious discussion.
 
"It's, uh, been quite a day, hasn't it, Mr. Steele?"
 
"You've always had such a flair for understatement, Laura," Remington declared.
 
They stood in awkward silence for a beat.
 
Laura finally broke the silence. "Well, I think we could both use some time to ourselves. We've got a lot to think about."
 
"Uh, huh."
 
"Why don't I go to the loft and pack some clothes while you fix us some dinner? I'll swing by and pick up the Auburn on the way over," Laura suggested.
 
"Fine," Remington said unenthusiastically.
 
Laura wished there were something she could do to ease Remington's fears, but it was all she could do to deal with her own. Remington had almost been deported and the full implications of that fact were just beginning to sink in for both of them. His near deportation had suddenly put their unplanned marriage in a totally different perspective. They had much to discuss, but not now. Later.
 
"Well, I guess I'll call a cab and be on my way," Laura awkwardly said. "You sure you'll be okay?"
 
"Yes, yes; I'll be fine," Remington replied unconvincingly. "I'll just, uh, start dinner."
 
Remington pushed himself away from the door, sighed and slowly headed toward the kitchen. Laura sadly watched him walk away, his shoulders slumped. Then she quickly made her call and left.
 
To be cont... part 3
 

Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Div.
 
  
dtalley@mindspring.com
 
 
This story copyrighted 1982-2005 by Debra Talley. The characters of Remington Steele
are used without permission. It is purely for entertainment purposes.