Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Division

Steele Warm as Toast
by
Debra Talley

This story is set in the Brendan Universe

Monday, Nov. 10, 1986
 
"Finally finished with the paperwork on the Heston case, Boss?" Mildred asked as Remington breezed by her desk, headed for the outer door of Remington Steele Investigations.
 
"Indeed, Mildred, indeed," he said, pausing in front of her desk to adjust his tie. "We really must speak with our Ms. Holt about fabricating needless paperwork; I mean, hasn't she heard that our forests are in danger of extinction? Think of how many trees the Steele Agency could single-handedly rescue if we...if we..."
 
"If we what, Boss? Did all of our paperwork on the computer?"
 
"Well, it's about time the bloody things proved useful for something," Remington griped.
 
"If I'm not mistaken, that 'bloody thing' saved your neck a few years ago when Jarvis was out to cook your goose," Mildred reminded him.
 
Remington grimaced. "Yes, but that's in the distant past. Perhaps it's time for them to prove themselves again, eh?"
 
"You *know* Mrs. Steele won't let me put the Agency records on the computer. And even if we *did* computerize the paperwork, you'd still have to *write* the case summaries before you could input them."
 
"Yes, I know," he sighed. "But I *do* wish Laura wouldn't inform me out of the blue that she's going home early and that *I'll* have to finish the paperwork before I leave. We're having dinner with her family at 8:30, for heaven's sake, and I've got things to do!"
 
"I thought you *wanted* her to take it easy now," Mildred reminded him.
 
"I *do* want her to take it easy! If I had my way, she wouldn't even *be* working while she's pregnant!"
 
"So what's the problem? You want her to take it easy; she's taking it easy."
 
"Yes, but I thought the two of us would be taking it easy together!" he complained.
 
"Boss, you know Mrs. Steele and her Bulldog Terrier Syndrome. You should consider it a compliment that she trusts you enough to leave things in your capable hands."
 
"Thank you, Mildred," he said, giving her a quick peck. "Only you could make mindless drudgery seem like an honor to be cherished."
 
"You better hustle," Mildred ordered. "You and the missus don't want to be late for dinner."
 
Remington smiled and headed for the door, but then suddenly turned back around and asked, "You *are* still meeting us at the restaurant, aren't you?"
 
"I'm, uh, still waffling, actually," she admitted. "I mean, you're having a family dinner, and I'm not..."
 
"Mildred, you are family to Laura and me--and our child-to-be," Remington explained with sincerity. "Truly, we will be hurt if you don't join us. We're anxious for Frances and Abigail to get to know you better."
 
There was a long pause while Mildred reconsidered.
 
"Please?" Remington asked, his blue eyes pleading.
 
"Oh, alright. I guess it's time all of us battle axes got to know each other better."
 
Remington's grin would have made any battle ax blush. Rushing back to Mildred's desk, he gave her a kiss on both cheeks and was gone again before she could open her mouth to speak.
 
************
As Remington exited the elevator and began the walk down the corridor to his door, he couldn't help but notice the wonderful aroma coming from...Coming from where? It seemed to be coming from his apartment, but he knew that was highly unlikely. After all, he and Laura were meeting Mildred and Laura's family for dinner at the Piper's favorite restaurant. Puzzled, he took his keys from his pocket, unlocked the door and pushed it open.
 
"Laura?" he asked hopefully, looking anxiously around the room for his wife.
 
Even though they had been now been married for 6 months, Remington still experienced a thrill every time he saw Laura. If anything, the thrill was greater each and every time he laid eyes on her. He couldn't imagine what it would feel like after they had been married for a year...10 years...25 years....50 years...He couldn't imagine, but he was looking forward to the feeling.
 
Taking a few sniffs to confirm his suspicion, he deduced the wonderful aroma was indeed coming from their apartment. Calling Laura's name a few more times and still receiving no answer, he followed his nose into the kitchen. Even though Laura wasn't the gourmet cook Remington was, she had proved to be an apt pupil and was quite capable of putting a tasty meal together. Of course, she would have made even more progress if they could only keep their minds on the lessons at hand.
 
They usually prepared their meals together, but for some reason still unknown to Remington, Laura had decided to cook this meal by herself. Turning on the oven light, he looked at the perfectly browning meat loaf and smiled, noting that it would go beautifully with the baked potatoes and tiny English peas which were still cooking. The counters and sink were always a disaster whenever Laura cooked and tonight was no exception, but the pride Remington took in his partner's cooking far outweighed any mess she made in the process.
 
As he stood by the oven inhaling the delightful scent, he couldn't help but wonder what was going on. Why would Laura cook his favorite dinner--by herself, no less--when they had reservations to eat with her family?
 
He was so caught up in his own ponderings, he didn't even notice when Laura walked up behind him and said, "About time you got home."
 
Her remark was so unexpected that Remington screamed and jumped, knocking a pitcher of iced water off the counter. "Laura, please! Don't sneak up on me like that!"
 
"Sorry," she said, giving him a kiss. "I thought you heard me come in."
 
"Yes, well, I probably would have, if I hadn't been so baffled about why you're cooking dinner."
 
Smiling at him, Laura kissed each of his eyelids and then the tip of his nose.
 
"Ummm. If I had known that my doing paperwork was such a turn-on for you, I'd have stopped complaining about it years ago," he admitted.
 
"We're not going to the restaurant," she informed him.
 
"We're not?" he asked, puzzled.
 
"We're having a home cooked meal tonight."
 
Remington sniffed deeply again, moaning in appreciation. "Obviously. But I'm not sure you've prepared enough for everyone..."
 
"As far as I know, everyone else still has reservations," Laura enigmatically explained.
 
"Laura, are you going to tell me what's going on, or am I going to have to call your mother and ask her?"
 
"I just decided I didn't want to share you tonight," she explained. "After all, how many times will we celebrate our six month anniversary?"
 
"Laura, we've already talked about this, and we decided to join the family for dinner and then celebrate by ourselves later tonight. I mean, it's not your mother's fault that she's in town and the only night Donald could get reservations for all of us was tonight."
 
"Yes, I know all of that," Laura said. "I just changed my mind. Do you really mind?"
 
"Laura, that's not the point. We've both decided we want this baby--and his future brothers and sisters--to have a loving relationship with its grandmother and aunt and uncle. And toward that end, we have to spend time with them and allow our own relationships with them to grow..."
 
"Don't worry about Mother and Frances," she explained. "They were very understanding when I explained things to them. Besides, their dinner won't be a total loss. It'll give them an opportunity to get better acquainted with Mildred. I mean, our child's grandmother and godmother need a chance to bond, also."
 
Remington smiled and gave Laura a kiss, saying, "You seem to have covered all of the bases, Mrs. Steele, so I guess there's no harm done. Besides, how could I be disappointed about spending the entire evening alone with you, eh?"
 
"You go ahead and shower while I finish up dinner," Laura told him. "You can help me get things on the table when you're done."
 
Remington pulled Laura close for another series of kisses. "Mmmm....You just keeps things simmering in here. I'll be back before you know it."
 
*********
When the dishes had been placed in the dishwasher, the two of them sat down on the couch near a roaring fire and sipped their water. Laura had given up all alcoholic beverages for the duration of her pregnancy and Remington had gallantly decided to follow suite. Thus, water had become the Steeles' favorite drink.
 
"I know our wedding day was the worst day of your life, but these past six months haven't been the worst months of your life, have they?" Remington quietly asked.
 
Laura took Remington's free hand in hers, saying, "To the contrary, Mr. Steele. These past six months have been the *best* months of my life. I wouldn't trade them for all the lavulite in the world."
 
Remington smiled at her, placing both of their water glasses on the coffee table. Then tenderly rubbing his thumb under her chin, he kissed her.
 
Right on cue, the phone rang. They ignored it at first, but it simply kept ringing. Finally giving a shrug, Remington rose and answered it.
 
"Steele here...Mildred, can't this wait?!...What?!...Mildred, for heaven's sake, woman, slow down!...That's better. Just breathe for a minute....Now, tell me again...No, Laura's not sick. She's looks...wonderful, actually...Yes, Mildred, I'm sure...Okay, just hang on a minute and I'll check..."
 
Walking over to Laura, Remington placed his hand on her forehead and felt her neck. Then returning to the phone, he resumed his conversation with Mildred, saying, "She's cool as a cucumber, Mildred, and her neck feels perfectly normal to me...No, I'm not a doctor, but I think I can tell when my wife...What!?...Wait, wait! Could you please repeat that?!"
 
The longer Remington listened, the more nervous Laura became.
 
"I see. Now let me see if I've got this straight...Laura told Frances she was "under the weather" and that we wouldn't be able to join them for dinner tonight? And now Abigail is on her way over here to take care of her?...That's ridiculous, Mildred. Even if Laura were sick, I could certainly take care of her...I see...Indeed, what do new husbands know about nursing their sick wives?...Yes, Mildred, I realize you're only repeating what Abigail said...When did you say they left?...I see. Well, I'd say it's been lovely talking with you, but honesty prevents me...No, Mildred, I'm not mad--not at you, anyway. Yes. Good night."
 
Remington replaced the receiver and turned to face Laura, who was trying unsuccessfully to disappear beneath the couch cushions. He didn't say anything; he just stared at her. Realizing she was cornered, she finally sat up straight and squared her shoulders.
 
"Okay. So maybe I didn't exactly tell Frances the real reason we didn't join them for dinner," she confessed.
 
"*Maybe* you didn't? Laura, really, at least own up to your little deception."
 
"Okay. I lied to Frances. I didn't want to spend the evening with my family--I wanted to spend the evening--the *entire* evening--with you."
 
"Laura, why didn't you just tell them the truth? They're not exactly monsters, these relatives of yours. They might not have liked it, but they would have accepted it. They were newlyweds themselves at one time."
 
Laura wrinkled her nose and shuddered, saying, "Somehow, I can't imagine my parents as newlyweds."
 
"Well, be that as it may, I think that in this situation, a little honesty would have gone a long way," Remington explained.
 
Just then the doorbell rang.
 
"Oh, no!" Laura gasped. "It's Mother!"
 
"Well, Laura, I'd say you've got 2 choices. You can either further your little deception by pretending to be sick, or...you can tell her the truth."
 
The doorbell rang again, several times in succession this time.
 
Laura sighed. "Are you sure there isn't a third choice?"
 
"Afraid not."
 
Abigail finally resorted to banging on the door.
 
Taking a deep breath, Laura headed to the door, declaring, "Coming, Mother!"
 
As soon as the door was opened, Abigail quickly stepped into the apartment and put her arms on Laura's shoulders.
 
"Why didn't you tell me you were sick, Laura?" she asked as she felt Laura's forehead and looked at the whites of her eyes. "You can imagine how distraught I was when Frances told me."
 
"Actually, Mother, I'm feeling much better now..." Laura began. The sound of Remington clearing his throat, however, caused her to reconsider. "Actually, Mother, I owe you an apology..."
 
"Nonsense, dear. You can't help it if you're 'under the weather.' Just let me feel your forehead one more time..."
 
Abigail felt Laura's forehead again and quickly began shaking her head. "Well, you don't seem to have a fever, but then you never had a fever when you were sick as a child, either."
 
Remington knew Laura hated to be rescued, but he suspected she would forgive him this time.
 
"Abigail, Laura and I were just talking about you," he said, moving across the room to stand beside Laura.
 
"And just why isn't Laura in bed?" Abigail asked, turning her attention to her son-in-law. "It's obvious how ill she is... Come on; help me get her into bed."
 
Abigail placed one of Laura's arms around Remington's neck and draped the other around her own.
 
"Mother, please, I'm fine!" Laura insisted.
 
"Stop trying to be brave, dear. You're pale as a ghost and your hands are like ice," Abigail declared as she led the way to the bedroom. "Remington, help me get her under the covers."
 
Laura gave Remington a look which said, 'Do something!'
 
"Abigail, really, this isn't necessary," Remington insisted as his mother-in-law led them to the bed and began pulling back the spread and covers. "Laura is no more sick than I am!"
 
"Take her shoes," Abigail instructed, pushing Laura's head down onto the pillow.
 
Remington stood by the bed, speechless.
 
"Never mind; I'll do it," Abigail finally said when her son-in-law didn't move fast enough to suit her. Quickly slipping Laura's shoes from her feet, she handed them to Remington, who just stood there, holding them.
 
"There you go, dear," she said as she settled the covers under Laura's chin. "Warm as toast."
 
"That's what you used to say when I was little and you would tuck me in," Laura recalled fondly.
 
"Yes, I suppose it is," Abigail said. Then noticing Remington was still holding Laura's shoes, she said, "Remington, dear, you can put her shoes down now."
 
Remington blinked a few times and then shook his head in an effort to clear it.
 
Abigail looked at him carefully, asking, "Are you feeling alright? You look a little pale."
 
"I'm fine, Abigail," he assured her, bending down to scoot Laura's shoes under the bed out of the way.
 
As soon as he stood up, Abigail felt his forehead the same way she had felt of Laura's earlier. "You feel a bit warm. Oh, I do hope you're not coming down with whatever it is Laura has."
 
"I assure you, I feel fine. In fact, I've never felt better..."
 
Abigail ignored him and felt his neck, saying, "Just as I suspected."
 
Remington moved his hands to his neck and felt for himself. "Abigail, my glands are not swollen."
 
"Whatever you say, dear, but I'm a mother and a mother knows 'sick' when she sees it. Why, it's obvious you're just as sick as Laura! Now you crawl in that bed beside Laura *right now*! Go on!"
 
"Mother, really...we've been trying to tell you something!" Laura declared. "If you could be quiet for just a minute, we might be able to clear this all up!"
 
"Indeed, Abigail, just give us 5 minutes of your time..."
 
Abigail pushed Remington onto the bed before he could finish his sentence and began pulling off his shoes.
 
"Abigail, really..."
 
Abigail held a finger to her son-in-law's lips, effectively silencing him.
 
"Not another word," she demanded. "You two are going to stay right here in this bed for the rest of the evening and that's that. Now, don't worry about me. I'll just sleep on the couch; that way, if you need anything during the night, I'll be right here."
 
Then gently settling the covers under Remington's chin as well, she said, "There you go, dear...Warm as toast."
 
Laura and Remington looked at each other and then at Abigail. They both opened their mouth to speak, but Abigail gave them a warning look which caused them to hold their tongues.
 
"Not another word. Remember?"
 
They looked at each other and shrugged as if to say, 'What can we do?'
 
Abigail smiled and turned on the bedside lamp before heading to the door. "Good. I'm glad we understand each other. Like I said, I'll be in the living room if you need anything. Good night."
 
And with that, Abigail turned off the overhead light and closed the door behind her.
 
Laura and Remington looked at each other in shock.
 
"I think Hurricane Abigail just blew through here," Remington said.
 
"Tell me about it!" Laura exclaimed.
 
"I must admit, though, I rather enjoyed being tucked into bed by your mum. It's quite a pleasant feeling, being warm as toast."
 
"Yes, that's a nice memory I'd almost forgotten," Laura said. "I just hope our own children will have some equally nice memories of their own."
 
"Of course they will," Remington assured her, putting his hand on her swollen belly.
 
"I haven't exactly told you this, but..."
 
"But what?" Remington asked. Receiving no answer, he tenderly lifted Laura's chin with his finger and looked deeply into her dark velvet eyes. "Laura, please tell me what you're thinking."
 
"It's just that I'm...afraid...that I'm going to bungle motherhood," she admitted quietly.
 
"No chance of that, luv," he assured her.
 
"How can you be so sure?"
 
Remington smiled and kissed her forehead. "Because the best parents are the ones who love each other, and that means we already have a head start. We'll just take it one day at a time."
 
"Do you think I'll make my children as crazy as my mother makes me?" she asked with a grin.
 
"Oh, I'm sure of it," he said with certainty. "It's what mothers do best."
 
As they looked deeply into each other's eyes and leaned forward for a kiss, the bedroom door suddenly opened and the overhead light came on, causing them to sit up in bed.
 
Abigail was standing in the doorway, smiling. "Next time, Laura, dear, just tell me when you and Remington want to celebrate an anniversary. Believe it or not, I was a newlywed myself, once upon a time-- as were Frances and Donald."
 
Laura, for once, was silent.
 
"I'll just let myself out," Abigail informed them. "And I meant what I said! I expect you two to stay right here in this bed for the rest of the evening!"
 
"By all means, Abigail," Remington said with a grin. "Whatever you say."
 
"Laura?" Abigail asked.
 
"Uh, certainly, Mother. We'll be...warm as toast."
 
"Well, good night then," Abigail said, turning off the bedroom light and shutting the door behind her.
 
As soon as Laura and Remington heard the sound of the front door closing, they both broke out in laughter.
 
"I had planned a wonderfully romantic anniversary celebration for tonight, but nowhere did it include your mother tucking us into bed," Remington declared.
 
"Well, it certainly makes me see her in a whole different light," Laura confessed.
 
"And here you thought she wouldn't understand," Remington reminded her.
 
"I guess I really bungled things pretty badly this time, didn't I?" Laura asked sheepishly.
 
"Yes, well, if you remember, I've bungled a few things myself through the years."
 
Laura sighed and eased herself closer to Remington, who welcomed her into the cradle of his arms. "You know, sometimes I still find myself haunted by doubts about--the future."
 
"I know," he said, squeezing her shoulder. "But I also know that those times of doubt are becoming fewer and farther between."
 
"Yes, they are," she admitted, almost surprised by the realization. "And I've got you to thank for that."
 
"No, Laura. You've got *us* to thank for that."
 
"*Us* is such a lovely word, isn't it?" she said. "It makes me feel...secure...and loved...and..."
 
"...and warm as toast?"
 
"Yes, warm as toast."
 
"What say we turn off the light, Mrs. Steele?"
 
"Indeed, Mr. Steele; I thought you'd never ask."
 
The End
 
 

Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Div.

 
dtalley@mindspring.com
 

This story copyrighted 2000 by Debra Talley. The characters of Remington Steele
are used without permission. It is purely for entertainment purposes.