Steeling Into the Knight

This truly ridiculous idea for a crossover struck me while I was in the
middle of a shower.  Try as I might, I couldn't get it out of my head -- it
demanded to be written.  Trust me, you can't think it any more absurd than I

Disclaimer (but I don't even know her!):  Neither show is mine, more's the

This story takes place somewhere in the second season of both shows.  Virtual
Thorazine to:

                                 Steeling Into the Knight
                   A Forever Knight/Remington Steele Crossover
                                      (Part One of Ten)

         But When Worlds Collide, said George Pal to his bride,
         "I'm gonna give you some terrible thrills."
                   -- Richard O'Brien, _The Rocky Horror Show_

"Fiji.  Maui.  The Bahamas.  Tahiti."

Laura looked up from her magazine.  "What are you talking about?"

Remington turned away from the airplane window and trained his
brilliant blue gaze in her direction.

"I'm listing all of the places where you _could_ have found us a case.
 Martinique.  The Virgin Islands."

"Careful.  I wouldn't have thought that last one held much appeal for

"A rose by any other name, Laura."

"Ah.  Well, perhaps it will arouse your interest to know that Robert
Blair is willing to pay us twice our usual fee for flying to Toronto."

He leaned in close, his voice dropping to a smooth murmur.  "Perhaps
it's not my interest that longs to be aroused."

She chuckled.  "Why, Mr. Steele.  One can always do with a little
_intellectual_ stimulation."  She pulled out a folder and handed it to him.
 "I have just the thing."

He gingerly accepted the file.  "And what am I to do with this?"

"Read it.  A brief history of the life of Robert Blair.  There's not
much there -- Mildred didn't have a lot of time.  He's a very successful art
dealer, moved to Canada from New York a little over a year ago for 'tax
reasons.'"  The corner of her mouth kicked up.  "You should have heard what
Mildred had to say about that one."

 "And what, precisely, has the generous Mr. Blair hired us to do?"

 Laura shrugged.  "We'll find that out once we get to Toronto."

 "Jamaica.  Puerto Rico.  Bermuda."  Remington blew on his hands and
clutched his coat tightly around his body.  "The Florida Keys."

 "I think this is the house," Laura said, pulling their rented car
into a space across the street.

Remington scanned the darkened windows.  "It doesn't look like
anyone's home."

She indicated a black Mercedes gleaming in the driveway.  "His car is
still here."

"Maybe he's asleep."

"It's only ten o'clock.  And he told us to come directly from the
airport."  She jogged up the steps to the front door, taking them two at a
time.  Remington straggled behind with noticeably less enthusiasm.

She pressed the doorbell.  No answer.  He arched a brow.  She grimaced
and pushed the bell again.

"Maybe he changed his mind," Remington suggested.

"Not likely."  She tried the doorknob.  It was locked.  "Would you do
the honors, Mr. Steele?"

He sighed.  "Delighted, Ms. Holt."  He removed a small leather case
from his suit pocket and extracted two long, smooth pieces of metal.  The
door was open in less than a minute.  Laura smiled.

"Nice work, Mr. Steele."

Together, they stepped inside the darkened hallway.

"Mr. Blair?"  Laura called.  "Are you here?"

"Take a look at this," Remington said, stopping in front of a painting
mounted on the wall.  He pulled out a small flashlight and shined it on the
surface.  "Unless I miss my guess, this is a Manet."

"Mr. Blair is a wealthy man."

"Yes, but -- a _Manet_, Laura.  Not one of the major pieces, but
lovely nonetheless.  Are you sure you wouldn't rather take the painting and
call it a day?"

She ignored him, her attention caught by an oak-paneled door.  "This
looks like a study," she said, peering inside.  The room was too dark to make
out much of anything, so she felt her way until she was able to find a desk
with a reading lamp perched on top.  The light barely covered the surface of
the desk, but it was enough for her to see the papers scattered across it.

"Mr. Steele.  It seems we're not Robert Blair's first choice for a
detective agency."

He joined her at the desk, flipping through the pages.  "Should we
take offense?"

"Apparently he's been looking for a man named Gregory Forrester.  And
none of these agencies has had much luck finding him."

"Well, now we know what we've been hired for.  All we need is our
client."  Losing interest in the papers, he began to wander around the room,
gliding his hands along the walls in search of a light switch.

"Now this is interesting," Laura said.  "One of the detectives he
hired tracked this Gregory Forrester to Toronto a little over a year ago."

"So much for tax reasons," Remington said, still feeling the walls.

 "Blair must want to find Forrester pretty badly if he moved to
Toronto just to be near him."  She tucked the papers into her jacket pocket.

"Aha!"  Locating the switch, Remington triumphantly flipped it on.

And the two of them stared at the body lying face down in the center
of the floor, blood leaking from its temples.

"Laura ... is that --"

"Our client," she finished for him.  "Yes."

A loud voice interrupted them.  "Step back and put your hands behind
your head."

Laura and Remington looked up to see several uniformed police officers
standing in the doorway, their guns raised.  As the two of them moved to
comply, Remington caught Laura's gaze.

 "Ibiza.  Crete.  Lisbon," he said firmly.

                                        End Part One

                             Steeling Into the Knight

              A Forever Knight/Remington Steele Crossover

                                 (Part Two of Ten)

"So you're saying that he called you, asked you to come to Toronto,
paid for your tickets, paid for your hotel room, all without ever telling you
what he was hiring you for?"

Remington and Laura were seated in the foyer while uniforms gathered
evidence throughout the house.  They discovered they had tripped a silent
alarm when they had broken in, and the police had been instantly alerted to
their presence.

Now a short, stocky detective stood over them with a notebook, asking
repetitive questions.

"Yes," Laura told him innocently.  "That's exactly what we're saying."

"And you didn't see anything unusual about this?"

"Of _course_ we thought it was unusual --"

"But you just couldn't turn down the money."

"Detective Schanke, our agency specializes in accommodating our
clients.  If Mr. Blair felt it necessary to wait until we arrived in Toronto
before discussing the details of the case, we would have no reason to

"Yeah, well, it looks like he couldn't manage to wait long enough,
could he?"

"Regrettable," Remington put in.

A gurney wheeled past them, a human outline visible beneath the white
sheet.  It was closely followed by a pretty, exhausted-looking woman in her
early thirties with frizzy chestnut hair.  She was holding a clipboard and
tapping at it absently with her pencil.  A tall, blond man in a black coat
came up behind her and laid a comforting hand on her back.  She glanced up at
him with a grateful smile.

"Natalie," Detective Schanke greeted her, his attention temporarily
diverted from his suspects.  "What have you got?"

"Male Caucasian, early fifties.  Struck from behind with a large,
heavy, round object.  T.O.D. around six or seven o'clock."

"That lets us out," Laura interrupted.  "Mr. Steele and I were on the
plane until about nine."

"Nick," Schanke jumped in, responding to the look the blond shot him,
"This is Remington Steele and Laura Holt, of Remington Steele Investigations
in California."

"And what are they investigating here?"  The question was directed to
Schanke, but Nick's eyes never left Remington and Laura.

"That's just what I was trying to find out.  They claim they don't
know why Blair hired them."

"Or why he was killed?"

"Or that."

"Terribly sorry," Remington apologized.

"If there's anything we can do to help --" Laura began.

"No," Nick cut her off.  "Don't help.  I'm sure you're very good at
... playing detective ... but I think we can manage on our own."

"That's why we get the big bucks," Schanke muttered.

"However," Nick continued, ignoring him, "I will have to ask that the
two of you remain in Toronto for the time being.  I presume Detective Schanke
knows where you're staying, in case we need to contact you again?"

"Yes," Laura murmured.

"Fine, then.  You're both free to leave."

And as the two stepped out onto the front lawn, they froze, a bit of
whispered conversation drifting out to them through an open window:

"... may be more complicated than that, Nat."

"You don't mean --"

"I'm not sure.  I'll call you later."

"Nick!"  A pause, a hint of laughter.  "Just get home before the sun
comes up."

"Not to question your judgment, " Remington said as the two slid into
their car, "but is there a reason why we're withholding information from the

"I wanted to give us a chance to do a little digging on our own.
 Blair is our client, after all."

"_Was_, Laura.  Past tense.  We don't have a client anymore.  Or are
you suggesting that our obligations extend beyond the grave?"

"I don't entirely trust Detective Knight.  I think he knows more than
he lets on."

"The man is in charge of investigating a murder case in which we are
two prime suspects.  He might have very legitimate reasons for not wanting to
share all of his information with us."

"Maybe," she conceded, sliding the car into traffic.

He sighed.  "Right now it's late, we're tired, and we're hungry.  I
suggest --" he paused meaningfully, and his voice lowered, "-- we find our
hotel ... check into our rooms ... order a sumptuous meal, and then ...."

Her lips curled into a smile.  "And then?"

His voice was intimate.  "And then ... we'll play it by ear, eh?"

"Sounds tempting, Mr. Steele."

"Well, then?"

She reached over and patted his hand.  "I'm afraid I prefer to get a
few answers first."

He pulled back, exasperated.  "Laura, it's one o'clock in the morning!
 Where, precisely, do you intend to find your 'answers' at this time of

She held out her hand, allowing him to inspect the small object
nestled in her palm.  "That's where."

He lifted the matchbook, turned it over in his fingers, then looked
down at Laura's plain brown sweater, and his own dark suit.  "Are you sure
we're appropriately dressed?"

                                   End Part Two

                          Steeling Into the Knight

           A Forever Knight/Remington Steele Crossover

                             (Part Three of Ten)

"Whoever referred to midnight as the witching hour had far too narrow
a conception," Remington remarked, surveying the patrons of the Raven.  He
and Laura stood in the club's doorway, their faces adorned with identical
expressions of bemusement.

"When in Rome, Mr. Steele," Laura said, her eyes following the
gyrations of a spike-haired, leather-jacketed person of indeterminate gender.
 She turned to Remington and smirked, brushing an imaginary bit of lint from
his shoulder.  "I'm sure that in your travels you've come across quite a
variety of characters."

He shrugged uncomfortably.  "Some."

"Care to share any of those stories with me?"

His brow wrinkled in consternation.  "Laura ... wouldn't you prefer to
concentrate on the case?"

"How diligent you are," she responded dryly.  Her gaze rested on the
tall, dark bartender carefully arranging several glasses on a waitress's
tray.  "Come on.  I have a sudden thirst."

They began to pick their way through the crowd.  Shoved and battered
by a variety of enthusiastic dancers, Laura seized on a barstool with real
relief, heaving herself out of the slithering pool of bodies.  Remington
followed a few feet behind, his attention captured by the sultry movement of
a skimpily-dressed blonde.  Laura's lips flattened into a line as she watched
the blonde run her tongue over her lips in unmistakable invitation.

"Mr. Steele," Laura said, making no effort to hide the edge in her
voice.  "If you would tear yourself away for a moment ...."

Reluctantly, he slid onto the seat next to hers.  "I'm merely pursuing
all possible avenues of information.  We _are_ supposed to be making ...

"I should have known you would dive right in with your usual
enthusiasm for a mystery."

The bartender interrupted before Remington had the chance to reply.
 "What will you have?" he asked in faintly accented English.

"White wine," Laura ordered.  As he slid a glass in front of her, she
took a small sip and offered him a smile.  "Have you worked here long?"

The bartender merely grunted and began to mix a daiquiri in response
to someone's request.

"Not very friendly up north, are they?" Remington murmured into her
ear.  Laura cleared her throat and took a breath for another attempt.

"I'll bet a lot of people here bend your ear back trying to start

The bartender glared at her.  "Not until now."

"Laura, I don't think he's interested in talking," Remington
whispered.  She ignored him and dug into her wallet, pulling out two twenties
and laying them on the bar.  "Ever get any conversation from a man named
Robert Blair?"

The bartender's lip curled in a menacing sneer.  "Maybe the two of you
should find another place to drink."

"Look, there's no need to --"

"Absolutely right, absolutely right," Remington said hurriedly,
grasping her arm.  "My thoughts exactly."  He scooped up her twenties and
replaced them with a few bills to pay for her wine.  "Come along, Laura.  I'm
sure we can find something back at the hotel."  None too gently, he tugged
her away from the bar.

"Just what was that all about?" she demanded as soon as they were out
of earshot.

"I was trying to save your neck.  That bartender looked like he was
about to take a bite out of you."

"I was in the middle of an interrogation!"

"I thought we might find someone more friendly."

"What are you -- ?"  She followed the direction of his nod and caught
sight of a garrulous young waitress, busily chatting with one of her
customers.  Remington lifted an eyebrow.

"More flies with honey, Ms. Holt?"

She turned her palm up.  "Lead on, Mr. Steele."

They squeezed into a table near their quarry and were rewarded a few
moments later when she came by to take their drink orders.

"What do you recommend, Molly?" Remington asked her, reading the name
off the gold necklace she wore.

"Miklos mixes a mean margarita," she suggested.  Remington grinned
widely, and she blinked from the sheer force of it.

"Two," he requested.

"Careful, honey," Laura said, patting his hand proprietorially.  "We
have to drive back to the hotel."

"Oh, are you from out of town?" asked Molly, on cue.

"California," Laura affirmed.

"I've always wanted to visit California!  To see all the movie stars
... but what made the two of you drop in here?  This isn't a usual tourist

Remington and Laura traded triumphant looks.

"Well ...." Laura drawled, "Actually, the Raven was recommended to us
by a friend.  Perhaps you know him.  Robert Blair?"

Molly's eyes widened in surprise.  "Your name wouldn't be Larry
Merlin, would it?" she asked Remington.  He flashed Laura a questioning
glance, and she shrugged.  He returned his gaze to the waitress.

"No," he said carefully.

"Oh.  I just asked because your friend is in here all the time, asking
about some guy named Larry Merlin.  Said he wouldn't give up until Larry

Laura's eyes narrowed.  "And did Larry ever show?"

"Not since I've been here.  Which isn't saying much; I just started
three weeks ago.  Maybe Larry came in before my time."

"And how do you like it here?" Remington asked.  She grimaced.

"It's a fun place, but there are some very strange people who hang out
here.  And you know what's really weird?  Half of them won't order anything
but red wine, the house vintage.  Now I've worked in a lot of places, but
I've never seen so many people who are such wine drinkers."


A voice, steel-sharp, satin-smooth.  Remington and Laura jerked their
heads in its direction.

"You are neglecting your other customers."

Almost as though she had materialized out of thin air, a tall, slender
brunette stood by their table.  She was dressed in lace and velvet, her hair
piled high on her head, a long cigarette holder dangling from gloved fingers.
 Her dark eyes rested piercingly on the waitress, who blushed and stammered.

"Excuse me," she said quickly, and scurried away.  The brunette
watched her go with an unreadable expression, then turned to smile at
Remington and Laura.

It was not a comforting smile.

"My name is Janette DuCharme," she introduced herself.  "I am the
owner of this club."

Remington stared.  "Ah ... Delighted to meet you, Ms. DuCharme."  He
rose from his seat, his blue eyes lighting seductively.  "Delighted.  I'm
Remington Steele, and this is my associate --"  He hesitated.

"Laura," Laura offered.

"Laura," he repeated.  "Laura Holt."

"I see."  Janette's smile never wavered.  "Associate in what?"

"We're private detectives," Laura explained brusquely.  "Of the
Remington Steele agency, in Los Angeles."

"Oh?  The 'Remington Steele' agency?"  Her eyes lingered on Remington.
 "How ... impressive."

He cleared his throat.  "Yes, well, I suppose most people wouldn't
find it easy, tracking thieves, solving murders, chasing dangerous criminals
across the globe ...."

Laura rolled her eyes.

"It sounds fascinating," Janette purred.  Remington's smile threatened
to split his face in two.

"This is quite a place you have here," Laura broke in.  "Very  unusual

"True."  Janette's mouth quirked as though she were enjoying some
private joke.  "Our customers tend to have rather -- unique tastes.  You must
avoid disturbing them, or my staff.  There is no telling how they might

"Molly didn't seem to bothered."

"Good help is so hard to find."

Remington puffed himself up.  "As private detectives, we specialize in
the unknown, and the unexpected.  After all, what is life without a
challenge, eh?"

"Indeed it sounds terribly exciting, Mr. Steele," Janette said
silkily.  "I do hope that you have a chance to relax and forget about your
work while you are here.  It would be a shame if some harm were to befall you
because you were not sufficiently rested."  She reached out with one long
finger and trailed it across his jugular.  "Yes.  Quite a shame."

With that, she turned and disappeared into the crowd.  Remington
followed the sway of her hips as long as he could before he turned to Laura
with an expression that was almost giddy.

"Well.  This is shaping up to be a fascinating case."

Nick stepped inside the Raven, both gratified and disgusted to see
that it hadn't changed in the months since he'd last visited.  Still loud,
dark, mildly sinister, and still catering to a crowd more immortal than

"Nicolas," a familiar voice greeted him.  Janette was resting against
bar, looking lovely enough to cause his breath to stutter in his throat.  He
leaned forward and caught her lips in a quick kiss.

"Aren't you worried about my corrupting influence?" she asked as he
drew back a few inches.  He grinned.

"I'll take my chances."

"Feeling risky tonight, are we?"


"I'm flattered that after eight hundred years, the bloom is not yet
off the rose."  She drew a teasing finger across his lips.  "And yet, mon
cher, I doubt that you came here merely for a social visit."

He caught the questing finger and laid a kiss in her gloved palm.
 "No," he agreed.  "I need your help."

"That should hardly surprise you."

"I came to talk to you about Robert Blair."

"Really?"  Janette blinked and pulled her hand back.  "Mr. Blair is a
popular topic of conversation this evening."

He focused on her with sudden intensity.  "Someone else has been
asking about him?"

"Over there."  She tilted her head towards Remington and Laura.  Nick
swore and ducked out of their line of vision.  Janette watched him curiously.

"Apparently you know them."

He nodded.  "Tonight they discovered Blair's body."

She brightened.  "He was murdered?  How charming."

"I thought that one of us might be involved."

Her teeth clenched in annoyance.  "And what will you do if that's
true?  Will you arrest the culprit?  Will you read him his rights?"  She
gestured towards the dance floor.  "Go on.  Question them.  You'll have no
shortage of suspects here."

"Janette --"

"You can investigate all you like, Nicolas, but you and I both know
that whoever is responsible for Blair's death did all of us a favor.  And I
suggest that you keep your intrepid Los Angeles detectives away from this
club, or they might encounter a similar fate."

He glanced back at them.  "Los Angeles?  Schanke didn't tell me they
were from Los Angeles."

As quickly as her anger had come, it faded away, leaving only an
enigmatic smile touching her lips.  "Los Angeles, Nicolas.  You recall Los
Angeles, don't you?"

Nick stared out at the sea of people, and remembered ....

Los Angeles, 1928

That's what Constantine had told him.  And certainly, no one could
find fault with his choice of accommodations.  The new, modern hotel was one
of the most luxurious in town, but just discreet enough to afford him the
privacy he required.

Stepping up to the front desk, he dropped his suitcase and rang the
bell.  Moments later, a young, fresh-faced girl dressed in a becoming blue
uniform stepped out from a back room.

"May I help you?" she asked sweetly.

"Nicholas Cross.  I have a reservation."

The girl ran one neatly manicured fingernail down the register.
 "Cross.  Room 213.  Sign here, please."

He accepted the proffered pen and signed his name in a flowery script.
 "This is a lovely place," he remarked as he slid the book back to her.  Her
smile was charming.

"Isn't it?  Just built.  I was lucky to find a job here; usually,
employers require people to have more experience in the hotel business."

"How much experience do you have?"

She laughed.  "None.  I just arrived here a few months ago, and I
needed a job quickly."

He looked at her in surprise.  "But you're so young.  What about your
parents, your family?"

"They're right where I left them, back in Wisconsin.  The moment I
turned eighteen, I jumped on a train and ... here I am."

"That's quite a journey.  What made you choose Los Angeles?"

"Are you kidding?  This is where the stars are."  Her look dared him
to laugh.  "I'm going to be the next Mary Pickford."

Her youthful innocence made him feel lighter than he had in a century.
 Or perhaps the feeling was due to his sudden freedom from his own "family."
 Whatever the cause, he was unwilling to let it disappear too soon.  Taking
her hand, he brushed his lips over the knuckles.  "Well, if that's the case,
I suppose I should I get to know you now, before you become famous.  Would
you have dinner with me tomorrow night?"

Her mouth opened in surprise, and pleasure.  "I'd love to.  Thank you,
Mr. Cross."  She gestured to the bellhop, who moved to claim the bag resting
on the floor.  "Here you are," she said, handing Nicholas his room key.  "Up
the stairs and down the hallway, to your left.  I hope you enjoy your stay
with us."

"I'm sure I will ...."


"How much do you suppose they know?" Janette asked, watching as
Remington and Laura finished their drinks.

"More than they're telling, or they wouldn't have come here."

"That is very bad, Nicolas.  For us, as well as for them."

                                   End Part Three

                           Steeling Into the Knight

               A Forever Knight/Remington Steele Crossover

                               (Part Four of Ten)

"Yes, Mildred," Laura spoke into the phone.  "Gregory Forrester.  With
three R's."

Remington paced around the hotel room with obvious impatience.
 "Laura, couldn't we deal with this in the morning?"

She held up a finger to shush him and raised her voice a notch.  "Yes.
 Exactly.  Any connection between him and Robert Blair."  She flipped through
the folder she had taken from Blair's study.  "Apparently, Forrester was born
in Ohio.  He's about twenty-five years old, and ten years ago he spent some
time in a juvenile detention center for stealing a car ... No, no, that's all
I've got ... Thanks, Mildred.  You're a wonder."  Smiling, she replaced the
receiver in its cradle.  "Tomorrow we'll pay a visit to Alan Grant, Blair's
last detective," she explained.  "Maybe he can give us a lead.  And hopefully
Mildred will come up with something."  She stopped and looked up at the man
glaring at her from across the room.  "You were saying?"

"I was saying that it is time we put down the mystery and went to

Laura shrugged.  "You go ahead.  I want to read through this file

He threw up his hands as he saw she had no intention of listening to
him.  Defeated, he joined her on the bed and picked up the telephone.  "I'll
order us some coffee," he said.  She watched as he dialed room service,

"Can I ask you something?"

He shot her a wary look.  "What do you want to know?"

"Now _there's_ a question."  She reached out and brushed a bit of hair
from his forehead.  "Would you really have taken that painting tonight, if I
hadn't objected?"

He was silent for a long moment, and his voice, when he answered, was
low and quiet.  "Old habits are ... hard to break."

"So the answer is yes?"

He exhaled slowly.  "I don't know.  Perhaps I only made the suggestion
because I knew you wouldn't agree."

Her eyes widened in realization.  "Then I'm Jiminy Cricket?"

"_Pinocchio_, voices of Dick Jones and Cliff Edwards, Disney, 1940,"
he recited automatically.


His eyes met hers.  "Maybe you are, in a way.  I'm not the same man I
was when we first met, Laura.  But how much is different?"  He shook his
head.  "I don't think I can answer that."

"Jiminy Cricket," Laura repeated, almost to herself.  "That's quite a
responsibility, being somebody's conscience."

"I suppose it was one you assumed when you agreed to take me on as
Remington Steele."  He grasped her hand, pressed it between his own.  "I
can't change the past."

"Or share it?"

There came a soft tap on the door.  Remington let out a long breath.

"Coffee," he said.

"Coffee," Laura sighed.

"Old habits are so hard to break."

At Lacroix's taunting whisper, Nick looked up from the bottle he held
cradled in his hand.

"It's not a habit," he grated, straightening to his face his visitor.
 "It's a curse."

"A gift," Lacroix corrected him.  "One most humans would be thankful
to receive."

Nick dropped the bottle on the kitchen counter in disgust.  "What are
you doing here, Lacroix?" he asked, striding towards the couch.

"Does a father need a reason to visit his son?"

"No," Nick shot back over his shoulder.  "A _father_ doesn't."

Lacroix waved his hand dismissively.  "Whatever else I may have been
to you, Nicholas, you cannot deny that I have always been a father."

"I rejected that relationship a long time ago."  He came to a stop by
the fireplace and stood staring into the flames.

"Come, Nicholas.  You could no more rid yourself of your relationship
to me than you could rid yourself of your hands or your feet.  I rather think
your hands and feet would go more easily; after all, they are joined to you
by a mere physical bond.  _Our_ bond is a part of your soul, forged by time
and blood, no matter how many statements you make to the contrary."

"I thought you told me we didn't have souls."

"I was speaking metaphorically, of course."

"Then or now?"

Lacroix faced his son squarely.  "Does it matter?"

Nick considered.  "Yes, I think it does."

"I did not come here to fence with you, Nicholas --"

Nick smiled bitterly.  "So this isn't just an idle visit."

"No, it is not.  There are ... matters we must discuss."

"What 'matters'?"

Lacroix spoke slowly, enunciating every syllable of the name.  "Robert

Nick stiffened.  "What do you know about him?"

"I know that he was a threat to us, with his continual harassment of
our Community.  It's a wonder that he survived as long as he did."

Nick blinked, taking a few steps towards his master.  "Are you saying
you know who murdered him?"

"Nicholas," Lacroix bit out impatiently.  "You should know by now that
such petty mortal intrigues hardly concern me.  What _does_ concern me is
that investigations after his death may prove as dangerous to us as his
investigations during his life."  He held up his hand when Nick would speak.
 "I know about the detectives who were at the Raven last night.  They must be
dealt with."

Nick stared.  "You're not seriously asking me to kill them."

"I am asking you to accept your responsibilities .  Or I will be
forced to intervene.  And I imagine my intervention would be a good deal less
... humane ... than your own."

Nick turned back to the fire.  "All right, Lacroix, you've made your

"Then I presume you will take care of the problem?"

"Yes, I'll take care of it."

"Good."  Lacroix looked up towards the skylight, preparing to leave.

"Wait," Nick called, approaching him.  "What is all of this about?
 Why was Blair so desperate to find Larry Merlin?"

"Didn't you know?"  Lacroix smiled, displaying his teeth.  "Blair was
one of Merlin's clients.  Merlin gave him a new life, a new identity."  He
paused.  "Perhaps Blair discovered that the past is not so easily forgotten.
 Good night, Nicholas."


"I hope you don't mind my making you sit through that," Madeleine
said.  Her real name was Martha, but she'd asked if he'd address her by her
stage name.  Dressed in what was apparently her nicest dress, with its
razor-sharp folds and fake-fur trim, she appeared even younger than she had
in the hotel.  She sat very straight in her chair, dabbing daintily at her
mouth with her napkin, obviously determined to be on her best behavior at the
fancy restaurant she found herself in.

"No, I don't mind," Nicholas told her.  "I don't often go to the

"'The first 100% all-talkie,'" she quoted the film's ad line.  "Wasn't
it marvelous?  Although I suppose now I'll have to hire a voice coach.  All
the studios will be making talking pictures now."

He laughed from sheer pleasure.  _This_ was what he had left Lacroix
for.  This kind of brightness, this kind of optimism, this innocence.

"Is something funny?"

"No, of course not," he said quickly.  "Finish your dinner."

Obediently, she forked another bite of spaghetti into her mouth, then
looked over at Nicholas's plate.  "But you've hardly touched your food!" she
exclaimed.  "Is something wrong?"

He shook his head.  "I'm fine.  I'm just not very hungry."

"It seems a shame to let it go to waste ...." She stared at his salad

"You're welcome to eat it yourself."  He pushed his plate over to her
side of the table.  "Enjoy."  He laughed as she dug in with unbridled
enthusiasm.  "You're a very small girl to have such a big appetite."

"That's what Mom used to say.  She'd make extra portions of
everything, just for me.  Dad said she was trying to fatten me up."  Her eyes
sparkled with the memory.

"Sounds like you miss them."

She took a sip of water.  "No," she said abruptly.  "It was boring, it
was ordinary."  She pasted a smile on her face.  "Did I tell you Mack Sennett
had dinner at the hotel last week?  I have the perfect position; I see
everyone who comes through.  Sooner or later I'm bound to be discovered."


The telephone rang.

"Knight," Nick answered.

"Howdy, pardner."

"Hey, Schanke.  What's going on?"

"We've been going through -- oh, hey, did you hear about the Toronto
Museum of Art?"

"I don't --"

"They're having trouble with their security system.  The alarm's been
going off every few hours, and the robbery boys have been racing back and
forth between the museum and the station all day.  They think it's a short in
the wiring."  He snickered.  "Really makes you appreciate Homicide."

"Schanke," Nick cut him off.  "I presume you called for a reason?"

"Yeah, yeah.  We've been going through Blair's financial records.  He
must set a new record for the most paper accumulated by a single person.
 Gotta wonder how many trees had to die so Blair could avoid cleaning out his

"The point, Schanke."

"We need you down here.  We've got a lead."

"This looks like the place.  Alan Grant, Apartment 3C."  Laura came to
a halt in front of the door.

"Not a very prosperous residence, is it?" Remington observed, taking
in the peeling paint and faded carpet of the hallway.

"There certainly won't be any paintings to steal."  She raised her
hand and knocked sharply.  The door drifted open.

Remington froze.  "Laura.  Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

She didn't answer him, just stepped quietly inside.  He followed
closely behind.

The room was a wreck.  The chairs had been overturned, and the floor
was littered with glass from a smashed lamp.  Books had been knocked out of
their shelves, spines cracked and pages scattered.

"Looks like quite a job was done on this place," Laura murmured,
looking around.  "What's that smell?"

"Over here," Remington beckoned.  He was staring at something behind
the upended sofa.  She moved to join him.

"Oh," she said softly.

For lying on the floor, his throat bruised and swollen, lay a corpse.
 It appeared to have been there for some time.

"Alan Grant, I presume,"  Remington said.

"It looks like he put up quite a struggle."

"Well, well," called a familiar voice.  They whirled around.
 Detectives Knight and Schanke were watching them from the open doorway.

"Mr. Steele.  Ms. Holt."  Schanke shook his head.  "This is getting to
be a very bad habit."

                                            End Part Four

                       Steeling Into the Knight

         A Forever Knight/Remington Steele Crossover

                            (Part Five of Ten)

Remington and Laura sat stiffly in their chairs, side by side in front
of the large table of the interrogation room.  Nick and Schanke stood on
either side of them, while Captain Amanda Cohen leaned against the wall, her
arms folded in front of her chest.

"Perjury."  The word fell from Nick's lips and landed with a thud.
 "Interfering with a police inquiry.  Evidence tampering.  Breaking and
entering."  He paused.  "Perhaps you haven't realized it, but we're trying to
conduct a murder investigation.  It makes things very difficult for us when
key witnesses withhold evidence."  He bent over them, fisting one hand and
resting it on the table.  "Now, would you care to make any revisions to your
statements from last night, or would you prefer to spend the rest of your
time here in a holding cell?"

"You've made your point, Detective," Laura murmured.

"Then I'm sure you'll be only too happy to give us your full

She gave Nick a long, considering look before saying, "Of course, it's
always better to be as open and honest as possible.  Wouldn't you agree,

He pulled back, uncertain.  "I would say so."

Her lips curved slightly.  "What we told you before was the truth.  We
were hired by Robert Blair, he did pay for our expenses, and he did refuse to
tell us what we were to do for him until we reached Toronto."

"But?" Schanke asked.

"But ... in his study, we found a file indicating that he had been
involved in a search for a man named Gregory Forrester for some years.  The
file showed that before he contacted the Remington Steele agency, Blair had
worked with Alan Grant."

"File?" Nick interrupted.  "We didn't see any file."

Remington shifted uncomfortably.  "No, we ...."  He cleared his
throat.  "We took it with us."

At that, Schanke held up a hand.  "Excuse me.  Could you run that by
me again?"

Remington sighed.  "We took it with us," he said clearly.

"You took it _with_ you?" Schanke echoed.  "Does Blair's house
resemble a library in some way I'm missing?  You felt you could just walk off
with something that looked like a good read?"

"Yes."  Remington gave Laura a meaningful look.  "Hard to believe,
isn't it?"

"Mr. Steele," Laura interjected sharply, a stiff smile pasted on her
face, "I'm sure the detectives aren't interested in our editorials --"

Cohen stepped forward.  "On the contrary, Ms. Holt, we're fascinated.
 But please, continue with your story."

"Yes, Ms. Holt," Remington added, grinning.  "Please do."

She narrowed her eyes at him.  "There's ... really not much more to
tell.  We decided to pay Mr. Grant a visit in hopes that he would be able to
provide us with more information.  And that's when we found him.  And you
found us."

"So you're saying that you removed crucial material from the scene of
a crime and deliberately misled officers involved in the investigation."

"As Blair was our client, we felt obligated --"

"We're talking about the deaths of two men, Ms. Holt," Cohen continued
dispassionately.  "If Detective Schanke hadn't found the canceled cheques
Blair paid to Grant, we might never have known of the connection.  As it is,
Grant's body was discovered twenty-four hours later than it would have been,
and we've lost a day that could have been spent searching for his killer."
 She shook her head, fixing both of them with a piercing glare.  "I suppose
it's too much to hope that you have this mysterious folder with you?"

"It's back at the hotel," Remington admitted.

"We'll send someone by to pick it up."  Cohen moved to the door and
held it open as Remington and Laura filed out into the greater office.  "In
the meantime, I'd advise you both to stay away from this case.  If you need
something to pass the time, you can try coming up with reasons why I
shouldn't charge you both with obstruction of justice."

As Nick and Schanke followed them out, the attractive brunette
Remington and Laura had seen at the Blair murder approached.  Sparing only a
questioning glance for the two of them, she turned to the officers at their

"Natalie," Schanke said.  "What brings you down here?"

"I've got the preliminary findings on the Grant autopsy," Natalie
said, handing Nick a manila folder.  "When you found him, he'd been dead for
about 60 hours."

"So he was killed before Blair?" Nick asked, opening the folder and
flipping through the pages.  She nodded in confirmation as Schanke leaned
over his shoulder to get a better look.

"By over a day, at least.  But this is where it gets interesting."
 She reached across Nick and turned to a particular page.

"The killer was wearing gloves, so I wasn't able to get a print from
the victim's neck.  But I did find an odd residue on Grant's skin.  Some
traces of oil and grease, the kind that might be found on heavy machinery.
 And a few microscopic particles of an industrial rubber."

Schanke looked at her.  "And the significance of this is ... ?"

"We found similar traces in the carpet at the scene of the Blair
murder.  And while I have no idea whether Grant had anything to do with
machines, I think it's a safe bet that Blair hadn't gone near one in years."

"So we're almost certainly dealing with the same killer," Nick
concluded.  "Maybe a mechanic, or a repairman of some kind."

"That's what it looks like."

Laura moved in closer, attempting to get a look at the folder.  "What
kind of rubber did you say you found?"

"Natalie, you remember Mr. Steele and Ms. Holt from the Blair scene,
don't you?" Schanke explained pleasantly.  "Coincidentally, Mr. Steele and
Ms. Holt were also the ones to discover Grant's corpse."

"Ms. Holt," Cohen answered her, "We appreciate your desire to assist
us, but I believe I just warned you to stay out of this.  Now I'm sure it's
been a long night for the two of you.  I'll have someone escort you back to
your hotel."

"Actually, Captain," Laura spoke up, watching Nick, "We were thinking
more along the lines of getting a drink."

"We were?" Remington asked out of the corner of his mouth.

"We found a matchbook with the name of a club --"

Nick stiffened.

"Fine,"  Cohen cut her off, beginning to walk away.  "As long as you
stay far away from this investigation.  Lapinsky!" she called out.  "I want
you to get me everything you can on a Gregory Forrester.  Knight, Schanke, in
my office."

"You were saying about a matchbook?" Nick asked when the others were
out of earshot.

"It was for a club called the Raven.  We found it in Blair's study.
 It seems he spent a lot of time there."  Laura's smile took on a distinct
cat-in-cream appearance.  "You wouldn't know anything about that, would you,

He made a choked sound in the back of his throat.  "Why should I?"

"I don't know.  I just have the feeling that there's more to this case
than you're admitting.  To us, or to your partner over there.  Will you tell
him about the matchbook?"

"It sounds to me like you have an overactive imagination."  He
hesitated, glancing back at Schanke, who was waiting impatiently by Cohen's
office.  "Now, the two of you weren't thinking of doing any more
'investigating' at the Raven, were you?"

"Not at all, Detective," Laura answered smoothly.

He stared at them, his blue eyes moving slowly from one to the other.
 His voice became low, deep, hypnotic, and suddenly Remington and Laura felt
as though the words he spoke came from deep inside their own hearts.

"You will not go to the Raven," he said softly.

Transfixed, they opened their mouths to speak.  "We will not --"

"Knight!" Cohen called, interrupting them.  She had ducked out of her
office and was now watching with barely concealed impatience.  "We're

Remington and Laura shook themselves, dazed, as Nick replied, "Just a
minute, Captain."

"Now, Detective.  I need you and Schanke to knock on every door in
Grant's apartment building, and I don't want the interrogations to have to
come to a halt in the middle because you need to get out of the sun."

"Come on, pardner," Schanke urged.  "The sooner we get out of here,
the sooner we can grab something to eat, because I am _starving_."

With an oddly animal-like growl of frustration, Nick turned and obeyed
Cohen's instructions.

"Hey, Nick," Schanke said as he approached, "You up for souvlaki?"

"No, thanks," he replied, looking slightly ill.  Schanke shook his

"How do you expect to keep up your strength if you don't eat?" he
scolded as they disappeared into the office.  "You're a growing boy, my
friend, you need more than whatever it is you eat on that diet of yours."

Remington turned to Natalie, who had been standing a few feet away,
watching the whole encounter.  "What did she mean, 'before he needs to get
out of the sun'?"

Natalie winced.  "Nick suffers from a rare skin disease that makes him
overly sensitive to sunlight."  She looked back at the office, an anxious
expression on her face.  "I'd better get in there.  Excuse me."  She hurried
away before he could say anything more.

"_Dracula_," Remington said when he and Laura were outside the
station.  She looked at him blankly.


"_Dracula_.  Bela Lugosi, Universal, 1931."

Exasperated, she ran a hand through her hair.  "All right. I'll bite.
 Why are we talking about _Dracula_?"

"Laura, surely you heard what just happened in there?  Detective
Knight doesn't go out during the daytime, refuses to eat ... and do you
remember what that waitress at the Raven told us?  Everyone drinks only
_red_wine_.  You must admit, this case has a number of parallels."

"You're serious.  You really believe there are vampires in Toronto."

"I'm merely remarking on some interesting similarities."

"Well, while you were pondering the supernatural mysteries of Nicholas
Knight, I was more concerned with the natural ones.  Did you see his reaction
when I mentioned the Raven?  I was right; he knows more than he's telling."

"Congratulations, Detective Holt.  My compliments on your instincts.
 But might I remind you, if that Captain finds out we're still working on
this case, we'll be treated to a first-class tour of the Canadian prison

"But Mr. Steele, I would think you'd be curious to see how these jails
measure up to the others you've undoubtedly seen.  Besides, you've had so
many -- dealings -- with the police, I didn't think such threats carried any
weight with you."

"Nonsense, Laura.  One must always take great care with the warnings
of law enforcement -- how else can you know what to conceal from them?"

She laughed.  "I see.  In this case, then, it seems we'll have to
'conceal' a little research into the life and times of Larry Merlin.  I want
to know why Blair was so eager to find him.  Maybe there's some connection to
Gregory Forrester."  She slid him a look.  "Do you think you're up to another
encounter with the Raven's owner?"

"Who am I to shirk the call of duty, Ms. Holt?"

"Nick."  After the meeting with Cohen, Natalie grabbed his sleeves and
pulled him aside.  "What's going on?  I heard that woman mention the Raven.
 _Is_ a vampire involved in Blair's death?"

"I don't know."  He shook his head.  "There's someone named Larry
Merlin.  He's a computer expert; when we relocate, he helps us find a new
profession, provides us with paperwork, background.  Blair was looking for


"Lacroix told me that Merlin had once helped Blair in the same way.
 Blair's knowledge of our existence, and of Merlin, made some members of the
Community nervous."

Natalie absorbed that.  "Do you think you can find out who Blair was
before he ... relocated?"

"I doubt it.  Merlin is very good at covering tracks."

"He'd have to be," Natalie agreed wryly.  "What are you going to do
about Remington Steele?"

"Chop, chop," Schanke called to them.  "Time is ticking away, Nick,
and we've got places to go, people to intimidate."

"I'll be right there, Schank."  He turned back to Natalie.  "They're
in danger, Nat.  They may be planning to go to the Raven tonight.  I need to
get over there before they find themselves in real trouble."

"Well, you can't leave now.  Cohen will have your head."

"I know.  I'll be there as soon as I can -- for now, all I can do is
hope that they have to good sense to stay away.  There's no telling what
might happen if they show up there again."

                                     End Part Five

                       Steeling Into the Knight

         A Forever Knight/Remington Steele Crossover

                            (Part Six of Ten)

Remington took a breath.  "'Once more unto the breach,'" he said,
opening the door.

It was Sunday night, and the club was quieter now.  The music was
slower, less frantic, while the lighting was, if possible, even dimmer than
before.  There were just a few dancers on the floor, and the tables were
mostly occupied with couples who, despite their avant garde appearance, were
engaged only in soft conversation.

Laura looked around, relieved.  "This is very different, isn't it?"

"Mr. Steele."  From out of the shadows, Janette DuCharme glided toward
them.  Tonight she wore a black gown with a tight bodice and flowing skirt.
 A black lace ribbon circled her throat and polished beads of jet dripped
from her ears.  "First last night, now tonight.  You are becoming quite a
regular, aren't you?"

He grinned widely.  "Ms. DuCharme, after once sampling ... what you
have to offer, how could I stay away?"

"You're a persistent man, Mr. Steele.  That could prove --
interesting."  She watched him for a moment, and then her dark eyes began to
sparkle with mirth.  "Come, join me for a drink."

"I'm a little surprised at your reception," Laura said as Janette led
them to the bar.  "Last night I had the impression that you would prefer us
to stay away from your club."

"But that was last night.  And you are here now, which makes all of
our choices so much ... easier."  Accepting a glass of red wine from Miklos,
she drank, closing her eyes, savoring the flavor so deeply that Remington and
Laura almost felt like voyeurs for watching.

Her lids lifted, and she caught sight of their riveted stares.  "Would
you like a taste?" she asked, holding out the glass to Remington.

He stared at the goblet's contents.  "Ah ... it seems a bit -- heavy
for me."

"How about you, Ms. Holt?  Just how far does your adventurous streak

Laura shook her head.  "None for me, thanks."

Janette watched her, a secret smile playing about her lips.  "Perhaps

Miklos leaned forward.  "What will you have?" he asked gruffly.

"Brandy," Remington ordered.  Miklos handed him a snifter and he took
a tentative sip.  "Excellent," he pronounced.

Janette nodded.  "Yes, we make it a point to stock only the finest

"Ms. DuCharme," Laura broke in.  "I wonder if you would be willing to
answer a few questions for us."

"I see ... you are here on business.  Go ahead, so long as I am to be
allowed to mix your business with my pleasure."

"Of course, of course," Remington assured her, smiling into her eyes.
 Laura looked disgusted.

"When we were here the other night, Molly told us that one of your
customers -- Robert Blair -- used to come here looking for a man named Larry

Janette wore a look of intense interest.  "Did she?"


"Then it must be so."

"You don't know anything about it?"

"We have so many customers, Ms. Holt.  I only give my personal
attention to a select few."

Laura looked around.  "Perhaps Molly could help jog your memory," she

"I'm sure she could, but unfortunately, Molly is no longer here.
 After you left last night, she decided that the Raven was not quite the
place for her."

Laura was momentarily speechless.  "Perhaps another member of your
staff --"

"I'm afraid my staff is usually far too occupied with their tasks to
socialize with the customers."

"If you don't mind, I'd rather find that out for myself."

Janette gestured invitingly towards the rest of the club.  "By all
means.  Explore to your heart's content."

Laura slid off of her stool.  "Mr. Steele?"

He did not reply, just continued to gaze at Janette with that
distinctly dazzled expression.

"_Mr._Steele_," Laura said again.  He jumped.

"Oh, go on, Ms. Holt.  I'm sure you can manage."  He turned back to
Janette.  "I feel it's important for my staff to acquire some experience on
their own, let them leave the nest, as it were."

Laura gritted her teeth.  "I appreciate your faith in me, _sir_."

"Not at all, not at all.  Go on, Ms. Holt.  Detect away."

"She seems a very able assistant," Janette remarked when Laura had

"Oh yes," Remington agreed readily.  "Very able, very diligent.  I'm
lucky to have her."

"No doubt."  Her gaze lingered on his throat, her stare so long and so
intent that a flush began to rise in his cheeks.  In a voice louder than
normal, he remarked, "This place is really quite interesting.  Have you owned
it long?"

With an agonizing slowness, she raised her eyes to his.  "Oh, it's a
bit -- long in the tooth."  She sipped at her wine.  "Built on blood and
tears, as they say."

Something in her tone struck him.  "_Your_ blood and tears?" he asked.

"Why quibble over details?"

Uneasily, his fingers toyed with the stem of his glass.  "Why indeed?"
 He downed the rest of his brandy with one swallow and pushed the snifter
over to Miklos.  "May I have another?"

Whatever else on might say about Janette DuCharme, she knew her

Laura had spoken to every waiter and waitress she could find, but none
of them could, or would, tell her anything about Blair, Merlin, or Forrester.

She had wandered through the entire length of the club when she
noticed one of the waitresses disappearing behind a small red velvet curtain,
only to reappear a few moments later with a tray of fresh glasses.  After a
quick glance around to reassure herself that no one was watching, Laura
pulled the curtain aside and stepped into a dark hallway.  With soft, careful
tread, Laura moved forward, feeling along the walls until her hand connected
with a cold doorknob.  She pushed the door open.

The room was almost as dark as the hallway, but Laura was just able to
discern a desk and a couch.  She was reaching out to find a light switch when
she heard a deep, rasping voice.

"Good evening," it greeted her.

"Nobody saw anything, nobody heard anything, nobody heard of Alan
Grant," Schanke muttered, shutting his leather notebook with a satisfying
snap.  "Once upon a time it was 'Love thy neighbor.'  Now it's 'Ignore your
neighbor because God forbid you should have to get involved with his dirty

"Come on, Schank," Nick urged, climbing into his car.  "Let's get

"What's the rush?" Schanke slid into the passenger seat.  "Our shift
doesn't end for a couple of hours, and we sure as hell don't have any hot
leads to follow.  I just hope Lapinsky came up with something on Gregory
Forrester, because if he didn't, we are S.O.L..  Hey!"  Schanke added,
glancing out the window.  "This isn't the way to the station."

"We're not going to the station."

"Oh, really?  And just where are we headed, O Wise Guide of the

"We're headed to the Raven."

Laura gasped.  "Oh!  Excuse me.  I was looking for the ladies' room."

"Of course you were ... Ms. Holt."

She froze, her eyes futilely searching the darkness.  "You know who I

"Nicholas has told me about you."

It took her a moment to place the name.  "Detective Knight -- you know
Detective Knight?"  She turned her head, trying to catch a glimmer of light,
trying to find some angle that would allow her to see the source of that
insidious whisper.

The voice that answered her now sounded faintly amused.  "Intimately."

"Are you -- a relative of some kind?"

She heard the soft rustling of cloth, and then the tap and creak of
footsteps on an uncertain floor.  She twisted her head towards the sound.

"Nicholas and I are -- old friends."

She turned again.  "And you are .... ?"

"Is the darkness troubling you, Ms. Holt?"

The question came closer than she had expected, and she caught her
breath.  But when she spoke, her voice was firm.  "I stopped sleeping with a
night light when I was seven."

"Brave of you.  But there are many kinds of darkness."

"A night light isn't much use against the other kinds."

"True enough."

She heard a soft click, and suddenly the room was dimly illuminated
with the light of a small Tiffany desk lamp.  Next to the desk, his hand
still on the lamp's stem, stood a tall, pale man, dressed entirely in black.
 His high-collared silk shirt and overlying jacket lent him an almost
priestly appearance.  He watched her out of ice-blue eyes.

"Lucien Lacroix," he introduced himself.

"Laura Holt," Laura said, letting out a breath and coming forward.
 "But then, you knew that already."

"Do have a seat."

Never taking her eyes off of him, Laura lowered herself onto the
couch.  He sat across from her at the desk, resting his hands on its smooth
surface and leaning forward in his chair.

"Are you enjoying your visit to our fair city?"

She smiled wryly.  "I haven't exactly been hitting the usual tourist

"Ah yes, of course.  Your 'case.'  And how is the investigation

She focused on him speculatively.  "Why don't you ask Detective Knight
that question?"

"Because I rather suspect that his case is not the same as yours."

"I've had similar thoughts myself."  She stood and began to walk
around the room, examining the various paintings and objets d'art that
adorned the walls and surfaces.  "Does -- Nicholas -- come here often?"

"When his control has been weakened."

At that, she looked at him sharply.  "What do you mean?  Does he have
a drinking problem?"

"Oh, yes.  Most definitely."

"Did he know Robert Blair before he was killed?"

"He knew of him, certainly."
 She stopped in the center of the room, facing him directly.  "And Larry

Lacroix went still for a moment.  "As I said."  He slowly rose to his
feet.  "Different cases."

He had made no move that so much as hinted of a threat, and yet Laura
found herself stepping back.  She caught herself before she could retreat any

"What does Larry Merlin have to do with all of this?"

"Tell me, Ms. Holt," Lacroix said, coming out from behind the desk.
 "Hasn't Nicholas warned you of the dangers of pursuing this investigation?"

"I don't scare easily, Mr. Lacroix."

With slow, measured pace, he came towards her, stopping only inches
from where she stood.  He looked down into her face, forcing her to tilt her
head back to meet his eyes.  "How ... gratifying."

"Are you trying to scare me?"

He circled her, coming to rest just behind her back, bending so that
his mouth was almost level with her ear.  "Now, why would I do that?"

"You tell me."

"This case is very important to you, isn't it?"

"Yes."  Her voice sounded breathless to her own ears.

"Why is that?"

"I don't like to fail."  The words felt like they were being pulled
out of her; she was powerless to stop their escape.  "I need to prove --"

"To prove that you can do anything a man can do?"

"... yes."

"And to whom must you prove this?"

It was becoming difficult to speak; her lips felt heavy, her tongue
thick, and yet the words continued to emerge.  "My family.  My colleagues."


"Yes," she whispered.

"Then perhaps you fear that you are not so capable, after all."

"No!  I've studied, I've trained --"

"To be the perfect woman?  Didn't you know, Ms. Holt, that the only
perfection to be found ... is in death?"

The moist coolness of his tongue probed delicately at the skin of her
neck, and involuntarily, she leaned into the caress.


There was a hideous snarling sound, and Laura found herself grasped by
rough hands and pulled from Lacroix's embrace.

"You told me you'd stay away from them!"

"And you told me you would keep them away from here."

It was Detective Knight, she realized slowly.  She was standing behind
Detective Knight, his blond head blocking her view of Lacroix.

"I will!" Knight grated.  "But only with no interference from _you_!"

"It seems that you are incapable of meeting your obligations without
my interference.  I warn you, Nicholas, this cannot be permitted to

"I said, I'll handle it."

"See that you do, Nicholas.  See that you do."

Knight turned around then, his blue eyes burning with anger.  "Come
on, Ms. Holt.  You've done enough detecting here today."

Remington swallowed another dose of brandy.  "So ... you miss Paris,
then?" he asked.

Janette tilted her head.  "At times.  The people here have such a
different flavor."  She moved forward, her mouth almost brushing his.  "But I
suppose one must always try new things."

He raised slightly bewildered eyes to hers.  "I'm in favor of new

"Are you?  That's very -- good."  Her lips parted.

"Leave him alone, Janette," Nick called out, emerging with Laura from
the back room.  He came to stand between the two of them.  Janette pouted.

"Nicolas, you really can be so ... dull."

"You've had your fun.  Now leave them be."

"Unfortunately, I have not yet begun to have my fun.  And now it seems
I must seek my pets elsewhere."

"Detective," Laura said, coming forward.  "I think it's time you told
us exactly what this is about.  I want to know what just happened back

Remington looked up.  "What _did_ happen back there?"

"Yes, Nicolas," Janette joined in.  "_Do_ tell.  Did the lovely Ms.
Holt make Lacroix's acquaintance?"

Remington's eyes narrowed on Laura.  "Who's Lacroix?"

"You knew she would," Nick said.  "You let her go back there."

"Something had to be done, Nicolas."  She glanced at them
significantly.  "Something still needs to be done."

"Something will be done."

"Who's Lacroix?" Remington asked again, an edge creeping into his

"Look at me," Nick commanded both of them.  Caught by his tone,
Remington and Laura turned their gazes to his face.  "You will not continue
with this case," he told them softly.

"We will not --" they began.

"Nick!"  Schanke threw open the Raven's heavy metal door.  "How long
do you think you can keep me waiting out in the car?"  He bounced his way
down the steps, then stopped as he glimpsed the people at the bar.  "Mr.
Steele.  Ms. Holt.  This is -- a surprise."  He turned back to Nick.  "What
the hell's going on here?"

"Yes, _Nick_," Janette murmured.  "Explain it to him."

Nick's jaw clenched as he looked from Janette to Schanke and back
again.  His breath came out in a long hiss.  "I was just suggesting that Mr.
Steele and Ms. Holt --" he shot them a malevolent glance "-- assist us in our
investigation of the deaths of Robert Blair and Alan Grant."

There was dead silence before Schanke found his voice.

"Nick, what are you talking about?" he yelped.

"Well, Detective, that is certainly an interesting proposition," Laura
said.  "May I ask what prompted it?"

"You want to solve the mystery, and I want to keep you out of
trouble."  He spoke as though the words were dragged out of him.  "This seems
like -- the best solution."

Schanke grabbed his arm.  "Are you out of your mind?  Cohen will have
our badges if she finds out!"

"She's not going to find out."

"And just how do you expect to keep something like this from her?"

"We accept, Detective," Laura said quickly.  Nick nodded.

"Then let's have a look at that file you took from the Blair estate."

"Nick, are you listening to me?!?" Schanke demanded.

"Trust me, Schank, it'll be all right."

"Good night," Janette said in a lilting voice.  "Mr. Steele, I'm sorry
we did not get to know each other better."

Remington looked at Nick as they walked out the door.  "She really has
teeth, doesn't she?"

"Tell me about it," Nick muttered.

                                      End Part Six

                         Steeling Into the Knight

          A Forever Knight/Remington Steele Crossover

                           (Part Seven of Ten)

The hotel room door flew open, banging against the opposite wall and
partially swinging shut again before Remington caught it with his fist.

"Careful.  I don't know if the agency budget can stretch to having the
walls repainted," Laura said, ducking under his arm and striding through the

"Ms. Holt," Remington bit out, coming inside, "Are you or are you not
going to tell me what transpired between you and this 'Lacroix'?"

Nick and Schanke followed him in, lingering by the doorway and
watching with fascination.  Schanke munched on something in a paper bag as
though he were a moviegoer with a popcorn snack.

"I already told you, it's all very vague before Detective Knight
interrupted us."

"Really?" Remington queried with extreme politeness.  "Interrupted

"Oh, this is ridiculous."  Noting the blinking light on the telephone,
Laura moved to the nightstand and lifted the receiver.  "Operator?  This is
room 425.  May I have my messages, please?"

"It took place not half an hour ago -- how could you have forgotten?"

She shrugged.  "I must have been tired."


"Yes ... yes," she said, turning back to the phone.  "Thank you."  She
hung up.  "It was Mildred.  She has news for us."

He did not respond.  She met his icy stare and sighed.  "I don't know
what happened," she stressed.

"What do you _think_ happened?"

She hesitated, brow furrowing.  "We were talking about the case.  And
--" her eyes darted to Nick "-- about Detective Knight.  And then ...." she
trailed off.

Remington pounced.  "And then?"

Her eyes became unfocused as she struggled with the memory.  "I think
-- I think he was _threatening_ me."

"You don't seem particularly concerned about that," he said, taking in
the heightened colour in her cheeks and the slight curve of her lips.  She
shook herself.

"Maybe I'm mistaken."

He looked about ready to explode.  "Then what --"

Schanke pushed another bite of food into his mouth.  "Is it just me,
or have we walked into an 'I Love Lucy' episode?" he asked, sotto voce.
 Hearing him, Laura glared at Remington, then took a deep breath and
stretched her mouth into a business-like smile.

"Gentlemen," she said, removing a sheaf of papers from the nightstand
and handing them over, "This is the file we found in Blair's study."  She
glanced at her watch.  "If you'll pardon me for a moment, it's only 11:00 in
California, and there's still time to return our secretary's call."

She sat on the bed and began to dial.  Remington stood impatiently at
her side before sighing and lowering himself down next to her.

"Mildred?" Laura spoke into the phone.  "It's Ms. Holt.  What have you
found?"  She pulled out a pad and pencil and began to take notes.

Across the room, Schanke and Nick bent over the papers Laura had
handed them.  Schanke pointed to a few lines.  "Forrester was first rumored
to be in the country in 1992.  Maybe someone in Immigration has heard of

"It's something to look into," Nick agreed.

Schanke pulled a bit of dough from his paper sack and held it under
Nick's nose.  "Garlic knot?" he offered.

Nick recoiled as though Schanke were holding a dead rat.  "Get that
away from me," he growled.

Watching them, Remington's lips parted and he nudged Laura.  "Did you
see that?" he whispered excitedly.  She held her finger to her mouth.

"Shhh.  Could you say that last part again, Mildred?"

A small sound of frustration escaped Remington's throat.  "Laura, you
don't understand --"

"Mr. Steele," she interrupted him sharply.  "Mildred, sorry.  Please

He threw up his hands.

"Got it.  Thanks, Mildred," Laura said, replacing the receiver in its
cradle.  She stood, tapping the pad with the eraser of her pencil.

"Did she have anything for us?"

"Have anything on what?" Schanke wanted to know.

"Biographies," Laura explained.  "Blair's and Forrester's.  Last night
we asked our secretary to do some research, and she just gave us her report.
 It's ... intriguing."  She glanced down at her notes.  "Mildred was unable
to come up with anything at all on Blair from before 1977.  It's as if he
suddenly appeared in New York City with no past, no family -- but enough
capital to start his own very successful art dealership."

Nick's lips pressed tightly together.

"But Blair must have been born a good thirty years before that,"
Remington pointed out.  "Aren't there any records of his birth?"

Laura shook her head.  "Nothing Mildred could find."

"And Forrester?" Schanke asked.

"Forrester's life is more straightforward.  He was born in 1969, in
Canton, Ohio.  Lived with both of his parents until he turned eight, when his
father, Gregory Forrester Senior, was killed in a car crash. Junior was
convicted of auto theft when he was fifteen.  After that, he mostly kept out
of trouble until he turned 18, when he left home.  He disappeared for a
while, then popped up in San Francisco, doing odd jobs.  He disappeared and
reappeared around the country for the next several years until 1988, when he
eluded the police after being sought in connection with a series of armed
robberies of galleries and jewelry stores in the Chicago area.  He vanished
again, and hasn't been heard from since."

"So what's the connection to Blair?" Schanke asked.

Nick exhaled.  "Maybe Blair was interested in getting his hands on
whatever pieces of art Forrester took from the Chicago galleries."

"Maybe," Laura murmured, looking at her notes again.

"What is it?"

"You know, it's funny," she said slowly,  "But Blair's life began at
almost the exact moment Forrester Senior's ended."

Nick's head came up.  Remington nodded sagely.  "_Seconds_."

"Excuse me?" Schanke asked.

"_Seconds_," he repeated.

Schanke grimaced.  "Man, it's all right.  If you have to go, we'll
wait for you."

"_Seconds_," Remington said a third time.  "Rock Hudson, Salome Jens,
Paramount, 1966."

Nick looked at Laura.  "What is he talking about?"

"Ah ... Mr. Steele sometimes finds it stimulates his powers of
deductive analysis to -- draw comparisons between our cases and certain ...
classic films."

Schanke snorted.  Remington ignored him.  "_Seconds_.  A middle-aged
man, bored with his life, fakes his death and begins again, only to find that
his new existence is not as satisfying as he'd imagined."

Laura's eyes widened thoughtfully.  "Fakes his own death?"

"Yes.  But he can't let go of the past."

Nick stared at the floor.


Hunger ate at him.

It had been four weeks.

Nicholas sat in the large armchair by the fireplace, his fingers
tapping impatiently on the rim of the cherrywood end table.  Madeleine, as
had become her habit, posed prettily on the floor, the flames reflected in
the blue of her eyes.

Four weeks.

"I had another screen test today," Madeleine said.

Nicholas did not reply, but the tapping fingers increased their pace.

"The director says I have loads of potential.  He wants me to come
back for a second reading in a few days."

Nicholas glanced at his watch, looked around the room with jerky
movements.  "Does he?"

She tucked her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around them.
 "He's asked me to have dinner with him."

At that, Nicholas heaved himself out of his chair and began to prowl
about.  "That should be nice."

"Nicholas!"  She jumped to her feet.  "You don't even sound excited
for me."

He stopped in the middle of the room.  "Sorry," he said flatly.

"This director, he could really help me out.  He says he knows a quiet
little restaurant where we could get together and talk about the part."

He eyed her shrewdly.  "And that bothers you."

"No," she said quickly.  "Why should it bother me?"

There was an edge of exasperation in his voice.  "Maybe because you
told me how the last time you went to dinner with a director you spent the
next day in tears."

Her jaw dropped.  "That was different, Nicholas --"

"Really?  How so?"

"I had just gotten here ... I didn't know what to expect.  I'm
practically a native now," she said, tossing her head with a worldly air.  "I
know the rules of the game."

He made a scoffing sound, which she tactfully did not hear.  "Want to
go to the pictures?" she offered.

"No!" Nicholas exploded.  "No, I do not want to go to the pictures!"
 The hunger racked him, digging in its talons, clawing him viciously.  "How
do you _stand_ it?"

She paled.  "Stand ... what?"

"This!"  He waved his arms wildly.  "The _sameness_.  Day in, day out.
 See another movie, read another newspaper, sit in the parlor ... when does
it _stop_?"

Her voice became very small.  "I'm trying to become an actress ... it
will take some time, I know, but in time ...."

"In time," he repeated with a harsh laugh.  "In time you'll be on a
bus back to Wisconsin."

She gasped, stricken.  "Why would you say something like that?"

"Because it's the truth.  Because you can't deny what you are."

"And what is that?" she asked faintly.

"A small-town girl."  His eyes raked her mockingly.  "You're no jaded
starlet, _Martha_.  And in the end, you'll return to the life you were meant
to live."  He could feel his control slipping away from him.  In another
moment, his fangs would be descending.  He grabbed for his suitcase, pulling
out the silver flask he had sworn he'd never touch.  "You'll go back to
Wisconsin," he said, unscrewing the top.  "You'll go back to Wisconsin,
because it's your _nature_."  And as she watched with a kind of dazed
bewilderment, he dumped the entire contents of the flask down his throat.


Laura pushed her pencil behind her ear and began to pace.  "Try this
for a scenario," she said, steepling her fingers.  "A man living in a small
town becomes disillusioned with family life.  Rather than continue on as he
has been, he pretends to die in a car accident and relocates to a big city,
where he begins a new life in a more glamorous occupation.  But as the years
go by, he finds himself regretting his choice to leave his family behind, and
he hires a slew of private detectives to find his son for him in hopes of a

"Only his son doesn't want to be found," Nick added.  "His son is now
in trouble with the law, and sees the investigation into his whereabouts as a
threat.  So he kills one of the detectives on his trail, and then kills the
man who hired the detective."

Schanke looked shocked.  "Forrester killed his own father?  Jesus."

"Blair wasn't a father to him," Nick said, his voice unexpectedly
hard.  "Not anymore."

Remington cleared his throat.  "Now all we have to do is find him."

"Wait a minute," Schanke began.  "This Gregory Forrester has already
killed two people.  We can't let --"

"Are you backing out on our agreement, Detective?" Laura asked
sweetly.  Nick put a hand on Schanke's shoulder.

"What did you have in mind for your next step?"

Laura considered.  "I think we'd like to visit with your coroner, ask
her some questions about the Grant autopsy."

"Fine," Nick said firmly when Schanke would have objected.  "That
sounds safe enough.  I'll set it up with Natalie.  In the mean time, Schanke
and I will follow up on the information here" -- he held up the folder --"and
see if we can get a line on what happened to Forrester when he first entered
the country."

"Good," said Laura.  "We'll be expecting your call."

The detectives took their leave, and Laura moved to the door that
connected her suite to Remington's.  "I suppose it's time we said goodnight."

He caught her wrist.  "Just a minute.  How, exactly, did this Lacroix
threaten you?"

                                      End Part Seven

                            Steeling Into the Knight

            A Forever Knight/Remington Steele Crossover

                               (Part Eight of Ten)

"I can't believe we're still discussing this."  Laura strode into the
morgue, Remington following closely behind.

"I am merely interested in developing a clear picture of the events
surrounding the man's threats."

"Oh, I see," Laura said in a saccharine tone.  "You're trying to
protect me."

"Protect you?  Hardly.  You're a woman of the world.  I'm sure you're
more than capable of defending yourself."  He looked at her slyly.  "That is,
assuming you want to be defended."

"And just what is that supposed to --"

The M.E. from the crime scene looked up from the corpse on the
examining table.  "Hello," she interrupted them, laying down her scalpel and
snapping off her latex gloves.  "Dr. Lambert.  Can I help you?"

Laura gave Remington a baleful glance before stepping forward, hand
extended.  "We were never formally introduced, were we?  I'm Laura Holt, and
this is Remington Steele.  We'd like to talk to you about Alan Grant."

"I know.  Nick told me to expect you."  In a smooth motion, she pulled
a sheet over the cadaver's head and moved to her desk.  "You'll have to
excuse me if I can't be of much help to you.  It's been a busy night."

"We'll try not to take up too much of your time," Laura told her.  "If
we could just have a look at the autopsy report ...."

Natalie handed it to her.  "Everything's in there."

"You obtained a skin sample from under Grant's fingernails," Laura

"Now all we need is a suspect to match it to."

"Mr. Steele and I hope to be able to provide you with one."  She
continued to read.  "Forrester must have extremely strong hands, to have done
such damage with his grip."

"That shouldn't worry you," Remington interjected.  "Apparently, you
find threats to be ... invigorating."

Laura closed the folder.  "Back to that, are we?"

"It's just that if I'd known you found threats so appealing, I'd have
begun issuing a few long ago."

Natalie looked at them in confusion.  "Does this have something to do
with Grant?"

"Why can't you drop this?" Laura asked, exasperated.  "I told you I
was tired, I can't remember it clearly ...."

"Let's just say I'm finding your reaction to him a bit unusual, given
your account of your meeting.  All of the blushes, and the stammers ...."

"And what about you?" Laura demanded with sudden anger.  "I saw you
with Janette DuCharme.  I wouldn't exactly say you were fighting her off."

He raised a brow.  "Laura.  I'm surprised at you.  I was trying to
glean information from a potential witness."

"Oh, is that what you were trying to glean?"  She clicked her tongue
against her teeth.  "It's always the same thing with you, isn't it?  'I want
this relationship to move forward, Laura.  I want to take the next step,
Laura.'  But one glimpse of a pretty face and it's, 'So long, Laura.'  You
just can't resist the adoration, can you?"

"Oh, so now we're back to the question of commitment, are we?  Really,
Laura, don't you get tired of having the same old arguments over and over

"Excuse me --" Natalie began.  When both Remington and Laura gave her
sharp looks, she backed away, hands raised in surrender.  "I'll just ... do
some work over here," she muttered, retreating to her desk.  Laura continued
as though she hadn't spoken.

"Don't you get tired of proving me right over and over again?  I'd
think if you were really interested in this relationship, you'd make some
kind of effort --"

"'Effort?'" he echoed, his voice rising in disbelief.  "What the hell
do you think I've been doing for the past two years?  This is the longest
I've ever stayed in one place in my life!"

"But how can I know you'll be here tomorrow?" she asked passionately.
 "Your past, your damned past, it always stands there like a wall between us!
 You won't share it, you can't let go of it -- how can I be sure that the
next time one of your old buddies shows up you won't disappear without so
much as a goodbye kiss?"

He let out a long breath, his jaw clenching.  "It all comes down to a
question of trust --"

"Why should I trust you?" she half-accused, half-pleaded.  "I've seen
what happens when a man decides there are better things for him elsewhere --
ask my mother.  For  God's sake, ask Robert Blair!"

"So what you're saying," -- his voice shook with the effort of
remaining calm -- "is that you're willing to sacrifice the present to live in
the past."

"And you're not?  You're so bloody afraid of being tied down, you're
so scared of it -- why don't you just go now, instead of delaying the

He looked as though he'd been struck.  "If that's what you want."

"There's the door," she said, pointing.  "Leave any time."

"Fine," he said flatly.  "You can continue this case on your own."
 Without giving her another glance, he slammed out of the room.

When he had gone, Laura turned away, breathing heavily.  She lifted a
hand to shield her eyes.  "I'm sorry," she said to Natalie, her voice
muffled.  "That was -- terribly unprofessional."  Her laugh was bitter.  "To
say the least."

Natalie was silent for a moment, as though debating something with
herself.  Eventually she said, "It's hard, isn't it?"

Laura looked up.  "Excuse me?"

"It's hard.  Needing those kinds of promises.  And knowing that if you
have to ask, they're not worth the paper they're printed on."

Laura stared.  "You understand."

Natalie's eyes closed briefly in wry acknowledgment.  "I've ... had
some experience in this area."  She shrugged.  "Sometimes I think there's
something between us.  Sometimes I don't know what to think."

"He says ... he says that the fact that he's still here is proof of
the depth of his feeling.  But I don't know if I can accept that."

"Join the club."

As the door slammed behind him, Remington felt his anger drain away.
 Shoulders sagging, he sank onto the bench across the hallway.

"Natalie inside?" a voice asked from above him.  He looked up into the
face of Nick Knight.

"Oh ... yes," he answered, distracted.

Nick looked at him curiously.  "What are you doing out here?"

He sighed.  "Ms. Holt and I had a -- disagreement.  I thought it would
be best if I rested my feet for awhile."

Nick hesitated, torn between the desire to make a quick escape and the
other man's obvious distress.  Finally he sat down beside him on the bench.
 "I take it you and Ms. Holt are more than just -- business associates?"

"We're ... trying to work that out, actually."

"I -- uh, _overheard_" -- Nick's lips quirked -- "your argument over
Lacroix last night."

Remington almost smiled at that.  "Yes, well, Lacroix isn't the
problem.  The problem is that Ms. Holt is the type of woman who needs
assurances, and I'm not the type of man who can give them."

"That's a tough one."

Remington ran a hand over his face.  "She doesn't understand that the
past ... it's inescapable, it's what shapes you, it's what makes you who you
are.  She doesn't understand what it's like to imagine yourself staying in
one place, one _existence_, after a lifetime of constant movement."

"A life where the only thing that doesn't change is ... the fact that
everything changes?"

Remington looked at him, startled.  "Yes.  Exactly."

"You try and you try," Nick continued carefully.  "But it's as though
they have -- an image, an ideal of what they want you to be.  And you _want_
to be that ideal, but ...."

"They create a fantasy of the perfect man," Remington finished for
him.  "And no matter how hard you work at living up to their expectations,
you're always doomed to fall short of the mark, aren't you?"

"So what do you do?" Laura inquired earnestly.  "What do you do when
one of the things you -- care -- about in a man is the very thing that makes
it impossible for the two of you to be together?"

Natalie sat on the edge of her desk and folded her arms.  "You are
asking the _wrong_ person."

"I try to look at the situation rationally, to step back and gain some
perspective, to get control --"

"And sometimes that means controlling him, as a way of controlling

Laura nodded.  "I _hate_ that.  I hate hearing the words come out of
my mouth, knowing there's no way to stop them."

"It's not that I'm not grateful," Remington said.  "I _am_ grateful,
for everything she's done, and everything that she continues to do for me.  I
_want_ to change, I've asked her for her help --"

"But at the same time, there's a part of you that wishes she would
tell you ... there's no need to change.  That you're fine as you are."

"_Yes_.  Because I have no idea -- no idea, really -- whether she
wants to be with me, or whether she only sees the ... Remington Steele ...
she created."

Nick flashed a half-smile.  "Her own Galatea."

"_Pygmalion_, Leslie Howard, Wendy Hillard, 1938 ... sorry," he added
in response to Nick's look.  "Force of habit."

"You can't help but wonder, when the change is complete ... what will
be left?"

"It's like -- I'm afraid," Laura admitted.  "I'm afraid that if I
relinquish control, if I throw caution to the winds and just go with the
moment, I'll lose myself in him.  I'll be swallowed up, consumed, until
there's nothing left."  She looked at Natalie.  "Do you know what I mean?"

Natalie pursed her lips.  "I think so."  She brought her hands down on
the desk decisively.  "If you want my advice, you should keep at it.  It
doesn't matter what the problems are, how great the risks.  If you want to be
together, you'll find a way."

"I wish I could believe that."

"It's just a matter of having ... faith.  I think you should go to
him.  Of course, he may not be around now.  He seemed pretty determined to
leave after that last blasting you gave him."

Laura grimaced.  "You don't know Mr. Steele."  She laughed.  "I've
been trying to get rid of him for two years.  He won't leave.  He never
does."  She froze.  "He never does," she repeated softly, wonderingly.

Natalie's eyes kindled.  "Problem solved?"

Laura hesitated.  "No."  Then she smiled.  "But -- it's a start."

Remington looked down at his hands.  "I suppose ... it all comes down
to how badly you want to change.  How badly you want what she offers."

"There's nothing I want more," Nick said slowly.  "What she offers is
... salvation."  He got to his feet.  "You know there may come a time when
you'll be forced to move on."

Remington met his eyes.  "But that day's not today, is it?"

"It isn't for me.  Not yet."

Remington stood.  "Thank you, Detective," he said sincerely.  "It's
been ... enlightening."

Nick indicated the morgue.  "Ready to go back inside?"

"As I'll ever be."

They opened the door to see Natalie and Laura standing silently by the
desk.  Remington looked at Laura.  Laura looked at Natalie.  Nick looked at
Natalie.  Natalie looked at Nick.  Laura looked at Remington.  Remington
opened his mouth to speak.

Schanke walked in, hunched over with his hands in his pockets.  "Hey,
Nick," he said.  "The Captain told me I could find you here."

They all dropped their gazes.  Nick was the first to recover.  "What's
going on, Schank?"

"I have the great honor of informing you that Immigration has come up
with zippedee doo-dah on Gregory Forrester.  Looks like that well is dry as a
bone."  He threw a questioning glance around the room.  "Come up with
anything here?"

Laura stared blindly at the report in her hands.  "We were just going
over Dr. Lambert's findings."  She turned to Natalie.  "You, uh, say that you
found machine oil on the body?  And a heavy kind of rubber?"

"Yes.  And it was the same at the Blair scene."

"Like the kind that might be used as insulation for electrical

Natalie shrugged.  "It could be."

"Laura ... what is it?"

Instead of answering him, Laura turned to Schanke.  "I saw something
in the paper yesterday ... an article about the trouble they've been having
with the security systems at the Toronto Museum?"

"Yeah.  The alarms are constantly going off, and no one can figure out
why.  But they've gone over the building with a fine-toothed comb and there
are no problems with the wiring, if that's what you're thinking."

"But what if he's not in the building?  He's picking up enough oil and
grease to track it to two murder scenes ... what if he's under the building,
underground, tapping directly into the cables that provide the power for the
whole system?"

"_How to Steal a Million_," Remington announced suddenly.  "Audrey
Hepburn, Peter O'Toole, 20th Century Fox, 1966.  A man attempts to break into
a museum by tripping the alarm so many times that the guards turn it off just
to have some peace."

Nick stepped forward.  "You think he's planning a heist."

"Why not?" Laura asked.  "We already know that he's a prime suspect in
a series of art thefts back in the United States ... and Robert Blair was an
art dealer, wasn't he?"

"Like father, like son," Remington said.


He adjusted his cuffs as he came down the stairs, slowing as an odd
sensation flitted through him.

"I must say I commend your choice, Nicholas," a familiar voice

He froze, staring at the man and the woman standing before him.  He
could smell the power in their blood, and hunger slammed through his body.

"Los Angeles has such ... possibilities," Lacroix continued.
 "Although rather too much sun for my liking.  Let us not make a scene," he
warned, when Nicholas was about to bolt.

"How did you find me?"

"I shall always find you, Nicholas.  Let's just forget all about this
little episode, shall we?  I wouldn't like to hold it against you."
He held up his hand, and Nicholas recognized the small silver object that
dangled in front of him.  "I believe you ... misplaced this.  I'm so happy to
be able to return such a prize to you."

Wordlessly, Nicholas reached out and took the watch, numbly reading
the inscription scripted inside the lid.  _Forever_.

"I've taken the liberty of having your bags packed," Lacroix remarked
as a bellboy approached with a small suitcase.  The boy set the suitcase down
at Lacroix's feet, and Lacroix smiled as he read the name stenciled in
leather.  "'N. Cross,'" he read aloud.  "Nicholas, I'm touched.  It's so
heartwarming to see a boy take after his father."

A young woman with gold hair and cornflower eyes walked past them,
bags in hand.  Sparing his family only a momentary glance, Nicholas darted
towards her and caught her arm.

"Madeleine ...."

She shook herself free of his grasp.  "Martha," she corrected him.
 "Didn't you tell me it would always be Martha?"

"I said -- I said a lot of things ...."

"Yes, you did.  Forgive me if I don't want to hear them again."

He bowed his head.  "I'm sorry.  I was wrong.  You can be anything you
want, if you want it enough."  He looked at her bags.  "Where are you going?"

"Home," she said, surprising him.  "You weren't wrong, Mr. Cross.  I
was never meant to be Madeleine.  I'm Martha, plain old Martha from
Wisconsin.  You can't change who you were born to be."  Her eyes were like
ice.  "But don't expect me to thank you for pointing it out.  Goodbye, Mr.

Then she was gone, and Lacroix's voice was rough in his ear.  "A wise
young woman," he said.  "Very wise.  It's time for us to go, Nicholas.  This
game has gone on long enough.  You would have returned to us eventually, you
know that.  Blood will tell, after all."

And as Lacroix and Janette led him out of the hotel, back to his old
life, one emotion raging through him overpowered all of the others.



"They plan on bringing in extra guards and shutting down the alarm
systems tomorrow night for a thorough overhaul," Schanke was saying.  "We
have to warn them."

"No," Nick stopped him.  "Let them shut everything down as planned.
 Let Gregory Forrester make his move.  And we'll be right there to catch

                                    End Part Eight

                          Steeling Into the Knight

           A Forever Knight/Remington Steele Crossover

                              (Part Nine of Ten)

"I don't like this," Schanke muttered.  "Nick, this has to be one of
the most hare-brained schemes ... just how do you think Cohen's going to
react even if we _do_ make the collar?"

He and Nick were approaching the Toronto Museum from the rear, their
voices low so as to avoid detection.  The museum was situated on the edge of
a park, the night and the trees providing excellent cover.

"Come on, Schank.  If too many people know about Gregory Forrester, we
might drive him underground for good.  And I doubt the museum curators would
be happy to see their collection used as bait.  The plan we have is better.
 Security has been alerted to let us through, but they've been told as little
as possible about our plans."

Schanke stopped and faced Nick.  "Yeah.  Just how did you manage that,

Nick kept walking.  "I ... pulled a few strings."

Schanke hurried to catch up with him.  "And what do you think will
happen to us if Forrester gets away?"  He shook his head.  "No back-up, no
support team ... if Forrester does manage to rip off some of that
million-dollar bric-a-brac, we'll be busted to just below 'Meter Maid.'"

"A cadre of black-and-whites would certainly scare him off.  And the
more plainclothes detectives we put on the scene, the more chance of one of
them being made.  Besides," he tugged at his collar, "we do have back-up."

Schanke snorted.  "You mean Scarecrow and Mrs. King?  I'll take my
chances with Forrester.  And just how do you expect us to find him, anyway,
considering the size of this place?  We don't even know what he looks like."

"Here's a tip, Schank: If you see a man dressed in black cutting
paintings out of their frames, arrest first and ask questions later."

"Oh, what a funny guy."

"Here we are."  Nick rapped sharply on a small, unadorned metal door.
 An aging guard opened it and peered out at them.

"Can I help you?"

They quickly flashed their badges, giving the guard a brief glimpse of
gold.  "Detectives Knight and Schanke," Nick explained.  "We're here to
inspect your security measures during the alarm system overhaul.  I believe
you were told to expect us."

"I know who you are," the guard told them.  "The director described
you.  One tall and blond, one short, stocky, and balding.  Come in," the
guard continued, ignoring Schanke's look and leading them inside.  "I think
you'll find that we've taken every possible precaution.  You know we've
brought in over fifty extra men ...."

Remington held binoculars up to his eyes with one hand and a
walkie-talkie to his mouth with the other.  "They're entering the building
now," he said, watching through the huge bay windows of the museum.  "One of
the guards is leading them to the main hall."

Laura's voice crackled back at him through the radio.  "Will they have
a chance to look around on their own?"
      "Their guide appears to be leaving them alone, if that's what you mean,
 but they're not exactly 'on their own' -- there are three others stationed
around the foyer."

"It's the same from this side, too.  The place is littered with guards
and technicians.  How on Earth does Forrester expect to get around all of

"You can be sure he has a plan to evade them somehow -- ah, they're
moving again.  You might be able to see them soon, they're heading up the
stairs to the second floor ... passing a lovely 12th century panel of the
Crucifixion ...."

"Steady, Mr. Steele," Laura told him dryly.

Remington started as Nick sharply turned his face away from the
painting.  "Laura," he said urgently, "did you catch that?"

"No, what?"

"Detective Knight's reaction.  He --"

She cut him off.  "Let's just stick to the case, shall we?"

Remington shook his head, frustrated.  "That's what I like about you,
Laura.  Your single-mindedness.  Wonderful trait.  So sober and

"As opposed to flightiness and irresponsibility?" she asked

He was silent for a moment before saying seriously, "Is that really
how I seem to you?"

"Do you really think I'm sober and businesslike?" she countered.  He

"Laura ... we need to talk."

There was a static-filled pause before Laura's voice floated through
to him.  "I'm listening."

"I thought about what you said," he admitted, raising a thermos of hot
coffee to his lips.  "About my fear of being ... tied down."

"Well, we both said some things that --"

"No," he interrupted.  "You were right about that."  He hesitated.
 "It's difficult to explain ... when you grow up the way I did, with no home
except the place you happen to sleep that night, you begin to take comfort in
whatever advantages you can find.  'It's all right,' you say.  'I have
excitement, I'm beyond the needs of the ordinary person.'  And that kind of
thinking can be ... rather addictive."

 From her hiding place in the bushes, Laura laid her cheek against the
cold metal of the radio and spoke softly.  "When I was a little girl," she
said, swallowing, "I lived in the perfect house.  The perfect neighborhood,
the perfect yard, the perfect fence.  But on the inside, it wasn't like that
at all.  When my father left ... he took all of the laughter, all of the
happiness with him."  She was silent for a moment.  "I used to lie to my
friends, tell them he sent me presents, that he came to visit, because I was
too ashamed to admit the truth."  She shrugged.  "I don't want to live like
that again.  So you were right, in a way.  A part of me is still looking for
that -- perfect house."

"I want to be honest with you, Laura."  He laughed a little.  "I know
I don't say that very often.  I want us to be together, but I don't know if
I'm the one to give you your dream."

"Sounds like we both need to let go of our childhoods."

"Excuse me," hissed Detective Schanke, startling Laura and Remington
into drawing back from their walkie-talkies.  "But do you think you could put
this conversation on hold for a while, or at least use a different channel?
 Because the guards tend to get a little suspicious when they hear voices
coming out of our overcoats."

"Sorry," Remington apologized.  "We can use channel 3."

"While we're talking," Schanke said, "Have you seen anything?"

"Nothing, Detective," Laura told him.  "Everything seems fine from our

"Great.  Just great.  Forrester's going to get away with a priceless
batch of tchotchkies, and we're going to get booted off the force."  As
Remington and Laura watched, two guards strolled into the room with Schanke
and Nick.  "Out," Schanke whispered hastily, tucking the radio back under his

Remington scanned the windows, his binoculars slowly traveling the
length of the building and back again.  Laura's voice came through to him,

"Perhaps we're going about this all wrong," she said.  "Maybe there's
something we're missing.  He could be expecting to tamper with the alarm
system in another way, maybe trigger it to malfunction some other time, when
he can come back and pull off his heist."

Remington froze, his gaze trained on one corner of the museum.
 "Laura, if you were going to break into a museum on a night when many new
security guards were working, none of whom knew each other very well, how
would you do it?"

"By disguising myself as one of the guards," she said instantly.

"The guards have been moving in patterns, haven't they?  Complete
circuits of the entire floors?"

"That's what I've seen."

"Then why would a guard wander back and forth between only two rooms?
 Into one, then to the next, then back again."

"I don't know ... unless he was trying to stay in the vicinity of
something in those rooms, and he wanted to give the appearance of movement to
the other guards," she realized slowly.  "We've got to alert the detectives!"

"We can't, they're surrounded by people -- if we try to get their
attention, everyone will hear us."  He paused.  "I'm going in."

Laura spoke quickly into her walkie-talkie.  "I'll meet you at the

The old guard who had greeted Nick and Schanke looked at Remington
suspiciously, brandishing his gun.  "Who did you say you were again?"

"Inspector Remington Steele," Remington said, deadpan.  "And Inspector
Laura Holt.  We're with the detectives you admitted earlier."

"They didn't say anything about any inspectors joining them."

Remington laughed amiably.  "Merely an oversight, I assure you."

"And what did you say you were doing here?"

"Special field liaison from Interpol.  Studying the methods of you
Yanks -- fascinating stuff, really.  On the cutting edge.  The Louvre should
be advised of your innovations."

"I'm sorry," the guard said slowly.  "I'm going to have to check you
out."  He moved to the telephone.

"Uh -- just a minute," Remington stopped him.  "I want to apologize."

"For what?"

He shrugged.  "For this."  Quick as lightning, his fist swung out and
connected solidly with the other man's jaw.  Laura caught him as he fell,
gently lowering him to the ground and removing the gun from his limp fingers.

"Let's hope we avoid assault and battery charges," she murmured as the
two raced down the hallway.  "Do you expect to cold-cock every guard we

"Of course not.  There are far more sensible methods."  Zipping up his
jacket to conceal his dark clothing, he and Laura entered the main hall.

"Carry on, gentlemen," he said as the guards turned to look at him.
 "Excellent work.  Excellent work.  Come along, Ms. Holt."  He brazenly
brushed a spot of lint from one of the guards' shoulders as they passed.

"Sir --" the guard called out as they made their way to the second
floor.  "I'll need to see some identification, please."

"You've done it now," Laura muttered.

He grabbed her arm and guided her along.  "Keep walking, Laura, keep

"Sir!" the guard said again, beginning to follow them.  They tensed to

"It's all right," came the disparaging voice of Detective Schanke.  He
and Nick had appeared at the top of the stairs.  "They're with us."

The guard dropped back, and Schanke turned to Remington and Laura.
 "And what are you doing here?"

"We've spotted him," Remington said under his breath.  "In the last
room at the end of the hallway.  He's dressed as a guard.  Blond hair, about
5 feet, 10 inches.  Thin, narrow shoulders."  He glanced around to make sure
no one was listening.  "There's an entrance to the room to the east and to
the north.  I suggest we each cover one exit."

"No," Schanke contradicted him.  "_We_ each cover one exit.  You two
can amscray."

"Don't be a fool, Detective," Remington argued.  "We don't have a lot
of time, and you need all the help you can get."

"He's right, Schank," Nick said.  "Let's go."

Remington and Laura circled around the floor to approach the
exhibition room from the north while Nick and Schanke headed for it directly.
 They burst into the room at the same moment.

"We're too late," Schanke groaned.

For there, in the center of the room, hung an empty frame.  Squinting
in the darkness, Remington read the tag on the wall next to it.  "Caravaggio.
 _The Sacrifice of Isaac_.  On loan from Florence."  He shook his head.  "We
should have guessed it."

"He can't have gotten far," Nick said.  "We'll still be able to catch

"But if he didn't go through the doors, how did he get out?" Schanke

A slight movement in the corner of her eye caught Laura's attention.
 Almost hidden in the dimness, a ladies' room door swung slightly.  She
dashed towards it, the men hot on her heels.

The restroom was dark and quiet.  Laura flipped on the lights but
could see nothing out of the ordinary.  All of the stalls were open, and
empty.  She looked up.

"The vent!" she exclaimed.

From behind her, Nick gave it a measuring look.  "That's too small for
someone to crawl through."

"Not for the man I saw," Remington contradicted him.  "Tall, but

"Well," Laura said firmly, removing her shoes and climbing onto the
sink.  "It looks like I'm elected."  She levered herself up as Nick made a
futile grab for her leg.

"Where do you think you're going?" he called after her.  "He broke a
man's neck with his bare hands!  There's nothing you can do!"

"I can tell you where he is, and I can slow him down.  But not if we
stand here arguing about it."  She began crawl out of sight.  Nick turned to

"Talk to her!"

Remington looked at him in disbelief.  "Me?"

"This is our only chance, Detective," she told him as she disappeared
from view.

The restroom door swung open and three guards burst inside.  Nick and
Schanke flashed their badges.

"Metro Homicide," Nick said.  "The man who took the painting is also
wanted for two murders.  He's crawled through the vent -- I want to know
exactly where those tunnels lead."

The guards hesitated and Nick glared at them.  "Now!" he demanded.
 They scattered.

She could hear him up ahead as he slid along the cold metal.  She had
no idea of whether he was aware of her presence; all she could do was try to
be as quiet as possible.

Her fingers tightened on the handle of the pistol she had taken from
the security guard.

"Okay, here's the story," Schanke said, running up to Nick after
talking with the chief security officer.  "There are vents in each of the
bathrooms -- four in all.  After that, there are openings in the boiler room,
the main hall, and at several points in the ground floor storage areas.
 They're already assigning men to cover each of the openings, but it's going
to spread them thin."

"Call for back-up."

"Already done, Nick, but we don't have a hell of a lot of time."  He
glanced down at his notes.  "They need people to cover storage rooms B and

"I'll take B -- you and Steele can take C," Nick said, already moving
towards the stairs.

"Me and him?" Schanke called after him.  "What are you trying to do to

"We can't have him go on his own -- one lone ranger-private eye is
plenty."  He was out of sight before Schanke had a chance to respond.  He
turned to Remington with a disgusted look.

"Listen here.  If we find him, _I_ call the shots.  You got that,

"Detective, I would be honored to follow your excellent lead and have
the opportunity to learn from your vast experience," Remington answered
solemnly.  Schanke nodded, mollified.

"Good.  This way."

There was a light at the end of the tunnel.

Laura watched as Forrester's moving shadow rippled patterns in the
beams that lined the floor of the vent.  There was a loud bang and crash as
he kicked away the grating.

It was now or never.

She moved forward and held up the gun.

"Stop right there," she warned him.

His head whipped around, giving her a view of glinting, cold green

"Well," he said quietly.  "A detect-ette."

She nodded towards the long tube he had strapped to his back.  "You're
going to hand me your gun, and the painting.  And then you're going to remain
perfectly still until the police arrive."

"Am I?"

She cocked the pistol.  "I think so."  With her free hand, she pulled
out her walkie-talkie.  "Mr. Steele?" she spoke into the microphone.  "I've
got him.  We're still in the tunnel, and there's an exit nearby."  She peered
outside.  "We're in some kind of ... basement room.  There are crates here,
and some statues in glass cases.  Egyptian, by look of them."

On the receiving end, Remington looked up at Schanke.

"Egyptian?" Schanke responded to the unspoken question.  He flipped
open his notebook and glanced through it.  "That's room C.  Where Nick is

"Laura, hold on," Remington told her.  "We're on our way, and
Detective Knight should be there soon."

Laura lifted her gaze to the young man crouched in front of her.

"You heard that?" she asked him softly.  "It's over.  Hand me your

He looked down, shaking his head ruefully.  "Not yet."  He laughed,
and then he lunged.

She pulled the trigger.

The shot rang in Nick's ears.  He felt his fangs descend and his eyes
turn gold with anger and fear.  Growling, he rushed towards the sound.

The bullet ricocheted off the metal walls, grazing Laura's arm before
burying itself in the floor.  Mercilessly, Forrester raked his nails across
the wound, eliciting from her a gasp of pain.  The gun skittered across the
floor as his fingers wrapped around her throat and squeezed.

Desperately, Laura clutched at his hands, working to pry his thumbs
free before he could crush her windpipe.  He would not budge.

She began to die.

Her body writhed and bucked under his grip, her knee coming up sharply
between his legs.  He dodged it with a slight chuckle,  but not the next
blow, her pointed toes ramming into the vulnerable tendons of his knee.  He
groaned and released her, scurrying back.  She reached for her gun, but he
dropped out of sight, hitting the floor below with a dull thud.  She
scrambled to follow.

Nick caught Forrester as he fell to the ground.  Grasping his neck, he
lifted him several feet in the air, his eyes burning feverishly.

"What.  Have.  You.  Done," he snarled.

Petrified, Forrester spluttered in Nick's hands.  He pulled his gun
from its holster and fired directly into Nick's chest.  And then he screamed.

"What are you?" he choked out.  Disgusted, Nick tossed him clear
across the room.  He was unconscious when he hit the floor.

A moment later, the place was flooded with people.  Schanke,
Remington, and a bevy of guards rushed inside.  "We heard shots," Schanke
said, out of breath.  "Are you -- ?"

"He missed," Nick said simply.

Remington just said a single word: "Laura -- ?"

A slight scraping sound caught their attention, and they raised their
eyes to see Laura Holt looking down at them from the vent overhead.

                                          End Part Nine

                       Steeling Into the Knight

         A Forever Knight/Remington Steele Crossover

                           (Part Ten of Ten)

Outside the museum, it was a madhouse.  Reporters, cops, guards, and
museum officials all swarmed in the parking lot, trying to ascertain what,
precisely, had taken place.  Nick stood surrounded by the Toronto Museum's
Board of Trustees, calmly explaining why he had not seen fit to warn them of
Gregory Forrester's plans.  "It was your idea, you talk to them," Schanke had
told him.  Anxious to avoid the confrontation, Schanke and Remington led
Forrester to a waiting police car.  Laura trailed along a few paces behind,
her gaze resting thoughtfully on Nick.

"All right, all right," Forrester said sullenly, staring at the
ground.  "I took the painting, okay?  But I'm not a murderer."

Schanke snorted.  "Well, why don't we leave that judgment to our
coroner?  She took some skin samples from one of the victims -- if you match,
you're dead in the water."  He came in close until his chin was inches from
Forrester's.  "Do you think you're going to match?"

Forrester pulled away.  "If I did, I'd be a fool to tell you, wouldn't

"You're already a fool.  You proved that when you killed Robert

"Detective --" Remington warned.  Forrester looked at Schanke

"What do you mean by that?"

"Nothing." He opened the police car door and, grasping him by the
head, pushed him down and inside.  "Not a thing.  We'll talk about it when we
get you to the station."

Nick finished with his explanations and approached them.  "The Board
seems satisfied, for now," he said.

"Well, pardner, that must have been some fancy tap-dancing.  What did
you tell them?"

From inside the car, Forrester let out a sharp gasp.  "Hey," he began,
"Hey, wait a minute --"

"I just told them that we felt that it was in everyone's best
interests to limit the dissemination of information."

"I know that guy," Forrester said, urgent now.  "I know --"

"Shut up," Schanke commanded before looking back at Nick.  "So that
really worked, huh?"

"I know that guy!" Forrester repeated.  "I remember, I --"
He screamed then, a loud, high-pitched wail, that turned the heads of
everybody in the lot.  "Get him away from me!  Get him away from me!  He's a
monster!  He's got eyes -- and teeth -- get him away!"  He kicked back in his
seat, thrashing against his bonds.

Laura's eyes darted to Nick and Remington gave him a curious look
before Schanke leaned inside and caught Forrester's arms.  "Man, you must
have hit your head harder than I thought."

"I saw!" Forrester insisted, panicked.  "I _saw_ him!"

"You were knocked cold," Schanke sneered.  "You didn't see anything
but stars."

"You'd better get him out of here, Schank," Nick said quickly.  "The
reporters will be on him in a minute."

"You're right.  Come on, Gregory, there's a nice cell waiting for
you."  He closed the door and walked around to the driver's seat.  Forrester
was still struggling as the car pulled away.

"It will be hard on him," Laura observed, watching them go, "when he
finds out who Blair was."

"He has to live with the consequences of his actions."  Nick's tone
was merciless.

"He never had a chance," Laura protested.  "Once his father left him
... his fate was sealed."

Remington turned to her.  "But he could have tried.  He could have
fought against the mark it left on him."

She met his eyes.  "Could he?"

The corner of his mouth lifted.  "It's ironic, isn't it?  Blair tried
to escape his past, and he ended up being killed by it."

"Or, you could say that he died because he was unable to let go."  She
paused.  "I wonder what Blair was thinking.  When he saw who it was who
wielded the weapon."

Nick looked as though he'd been struck.  "Not every child is scarred
because a parent leaves.  Sometimes the scars can be left ... when the parent
stays too long."


Nicholas clutched Janette to him as they tumbled to the bed.  How he'd
needed this, hungered for it.  It had been far too long ....

His fangs buried themselves in her throat, and the sharp, wild taste
of her blood flooded his mouth, flooded his being.  Dimly he was aware of her
gasps of pleasure, but they did not concern him.  His whole world had
narrowed to the feel of her, the smell, the taste, and the glorious tide
coursing through him.

"This is what you are, _Nicholas Cross_," she whispered against his
ear.  "This is what you will always be, no matter how many times you try to
leave us.  You will always return, Nicolas, you cannot live without this

He swallowed desperately, his tongue frantically lapping at the twin
punctures he'd left in her neck.  A breathy laughed escaped her, and then
another voice, a darker voice, whispered in his ear.

"Good boy, Nicholas.  Good boy ... my son."


"'Blood will tell,'" Nick quoted.  He shook himself before turning
back to Laura.  "Ms. Holt," he said flatly, "we need to talk."  He took her
hand and led her a few steps away.  "Just how much did you see?"

"I --"

"And how is my favorite police officer this evening?" came Natalie's
voice.  They turned to see her striding up to them.  At her approach, Nick
dropped Laura's hand and pasted a welcoming smile on his face.

"What brings you down here?  We don't have any bodies for you this

"So I hear.  Good work."  She shrugged.  "I heard you might have some
evidence for me.  Ballistic evidence," she added meaningfully.  Nick gave
Laura a wary glance.

"I may," he confirmed.

"And speaking of ballistics ...." She focused on Laura's arm.  "Looks
like you had a run-in with a bullet yourself."

Laura looked down at her wound, surprised.  "I had forgotten about it.
 It doesn't even sting any more."

"I'd better clean it out, just to be safe."  Natalie pulled a few
antiseptic swabs from her medical bag and bent over the scrape.  "It's still

Laura's gaze flew to Nick's face and she took a few steps back.  "Is

His eyes narrowed at her reaction.  Oblivious, Natalie proceeded to
efficiently clean and bandage the wound.  "That should do it," she said when
she had finished.  "Although the sweater is a bit worse for wear."

"That's all right," Laura told her absently.  "Thank you."

"Ms. Holt," Nick said.  "Look at me."

As though drawn there, her eyes met his.  She felt herself being
pulled inexorably into the deep blue pools.

"You didn't see me capture Forrester.  Did you?"

The voice echoed irresistibly in her head.  "I -- I didn't see --"

"Knight!"  Captain Cohen's voice, booming across the parking lot, cut
across the spell he was weaving.  Ignoring her, he reached out and grasped
Laura's shoulders.

"Listen to me.  You didn't see me capture Forrester, did you?"

"I ... didn't see you --"

"Detective!" Cohen called again.  "I want some explanations.  Now."

Swearing, he released Laura with such force that she staggered.  She
shook her head slightly as he bounded across the lot.

"What was that about?" Remington asked her out of the corner of his

"Nothing.  It was nothing."  She watched as Nick jogged to his
captain's side.  "We should get going."


"Now," she said firmly.  "Thanks again for your help, Doctor," she
called as she tugged on Remington's sleeve.

Remington shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  The flight attendant,
noting the movement, bent over and fluffed his pillow.

"There you go, Mr. Steele," she said, smiling warmly.  Her perfume
tickled his nostrils and he flashed her a brilliant grin.

"Thank you," he said, his voice caressing.  "You're very good with ...

"Practice makes perfect," she told him, her smile becoming an
invitation.  "Would the two of you like anything to drink?"

"Yes.  Yes, indeed.  Ah ... champagne for me, and for the lady --" He
turned to Laura, noting her set expression "-- ice water."

The flight attendant handed them their drinks and moved down the
aisle.  Remington tasted it cautiously.

"Inferior vintage," he commented, "but when in Rome ...."  He
hesitated.  "Laura ... what Forrester said about Detective Knight --"

"What about it?" she interrupted sharply.

"I was just wondering what you thought."

Her eyes widened innocently.  "I thought he was delusional, of
course."  She peered at him.  "Why?  What did you think?"

"I -- don't know," he stammered.  "I mean, I wasn't entirely serious
about the vampire references, but ... you have to admit, there were an awful
lot of coincidences."

"And that's all they were," she assured him.  "Coincidences."  She
laughed lightly.  "You're not going to tell me you believe in vampires, are

"No -- no, of course not."  He flipped a few pages in a magazine.
 "You know, we never did discover the role of Larry Merlin in all of this."

"Somehow, Mr. Steele, I think there are some questions ... better left

"I see."  He opened his mouth as if to pursue the subject, then
thought better of it and took another sip of his champagne.  "Well, Ms. Holt,
now that this case is completed ... what would you say to a short jaunt to
the south of France?"

Laura just looked out the window, and smiled.

Back at the station, Natalie waited impatiently until Nick and Schanke
emerged from Cohen's office.

"Well?" she demanded.  "How did you make out?"

Schanke hunched over and buried his hands deep in his pockets.  "For
bringing along two 'civilians' in direct defiance of her express orders,
we're both working double shifts for a next month."  He glared at Nick.
 "Thanks a lot, pardner.  Hope I get a chance to return the favor."  With
that parting shot, he hurried away.  Natalie laid a comforting hand on Nick's

"It's not so bad.  You kept Mr. Steele and Ms. Holt away from the
Raven.  You kept them alive.  That's the important thing."

"It wasn't that much of a success, Nat.  Ms. Holt was watching when I
captured Forrester."  His voice lowered a notch.  "I'm pretty sure she saw

Natalie's lips parted.  "Oh.  So that's what that little scene in the
parking lot was about.  Is there anything  --"

"No.  By now, they're long gone.  There's nothing I can do."

"Well," she offered encouragingly, "maybe she won't say anything."

"Yeah, maybe."  He looked glum.  Natalie took a breath.

"And ... who knows?  They could show up again.  You just might get a
second chance."