Laura Holt Steele studied her reflection in the mirror. She had to admit this costume was a killer. Even with her thick brown hair hanging loose, she felt transformed by the tight-fitting spandex blend fabric that shrank her torso to nothing and the padded bosom that accentuated her modest bra size.
"Whoa, this is really 'out there', isn't it?" she murmured aloud, wondering at the miracle fabric that could erase any hint that she'd had two children.
Still... she cocked a critical eye at the glass. She did look a bit short. The hem of the pant legs dragged on the floor. She would have to wear her highest heeled boots to make it work, and it crossed her mind that Caitlin could probably pull this outfit off much better. Tall, and long-legged, Laura's sister-in-law seemed every inch a model instead of the mother of five. Laura chuckled at Skip's odd logic that had given her and Remington these costumes, while Cait and Andy were going as Nick and Nora Charles.
She stuck a few bobby pins in her mouth and started pulling her hair into a French Twist.
"My goodness, Laura, you're not seriously going to wear that?" a familiar British voice broke into her concentration.
Laura whirled to see her husband eyeing her disapprovingly. World renown Remington Steele's dark good looks were accentuated by the black Armani tuxedo he wore so casually on his slim, well-muscled body.
"This is what Skip assigned us," she reminded him, taking the pins out of her mouth. She suddenly registered what he was wearing. "You're not going in costume?" she observed, suddenly embarrassed by what she had on.
"No. I'm not going all the way to San Diego dressed as if I was attending a Star Trek Convention!" he replied in irritation.
Laura restrained her temper at his lack of enthusiasm. Instead she tried another tactic to spark his interest. She smoothed her hands down her sides and over her hips in an obviously sensual manner. "You don't like it?" she asked seductively.
If anything, Remington only frowned more darkly. "I didn't think you were going as Catwoman!"
Now he was just being difficult. "It's not Catwoman," she stated with a sigh of exasperation. "It's Barbie of Borg!" To his totally uncomprehending stare, she added, "You know, the Star Trek thing-y girl with the metal stuff on her face. Brian told me all about her."
"Seven of Nine," their pint-sized son added from the doorway. "Looks pretty good, Mom. Joey's mom couldn't wear that in a million years."
"What on earth possessed Skip to suggest you dress up like Catwoo - uh, the Number Nine? It's positively..." he waved his hand in her direction as he searched for the right word, "...indecent!"
"Seven of Nine, Dad," Brian corrected.
Laura's eyes flashed. "What do you mean indecent?"
"Well, look at you! You're a mother, Laura."
"This is Halloween. What happened to fun?"
"Fun? The press will be there." He cleared his throat discreetly. "A bit more decorum, don't you think? Especially after that last caper. Those photos will never die." With that he stalked down the hall. "Fred will be here with Caitlin, Andrew and the children at seven."
Laura felt a flash of anger and bit back the retort on the tip of her tongue. Whatever pleasure she'd felt in her costume and the prospect of the party was gone. She had hoped tonight would bring back some of the playfulness that had seemed lacking of late. Remington had been distant recently and she'd hoped to sweep him off his feet with this outfit -- rekindle the old flame. It had been way too long since she felt... She looked at herself sideways in mirror once more, and the humor of the whole situation pushed her disappointment aside. She began chuckling over the costume's double D chest. Well, maybe it was a little over the top.
She turned to find their son lounging in the doorway. "Brian, what are you still doing up here? You're supposed to be getting your room ready for your cousins."
"They won't be here 'til seven, Mom," came the bored response. "I've got plenty of time." He paused for a moment. "I think you should wear it."
Laura contemplated her reflection, whirling round for the tenth time and viewing herself from every angle. "You think so?"
Brian's face exploded into a bright grin, his metal braces gleaming in the lamplight. Like so many kids, he had picked ones with blue plastic in them, and it made his smile eerie. "You betcha. Don't worry 'bout Dad, he's just in a bad mood. His stocks dropped 200 points or somethin' today. When they make the Star Trek: Voyager movie some day, well, then he'll know who Seven of Nine is -- and the studio and the year. Just watch." He winked at her.
Laura rolled her eyes. This last year Brian had begun to exhibit his father's penchant for quoting movie dialogue and trivia. Although the younger Steele had by no means mastered the art, between the two of them, life was occasionally trying.
Brian pressed harder. "Wear it. Knock 'em dead, Mom. 'Sides, Uncle Skip'll feel bad if you don't."
Laura sighed. "Your Dad's right about the Press." She should be unzipping the costume and finding something else to wear, but somehow she couldn't. Brian was right about Skip. He'd worked hard to put this soiree together and plan it at a time when Andy and Cait would be in town. It appeared Remington was going to be a spoilsport and not come in costume. At least one of them should get in the spirit of things. She hesitated, obviously undecided.
"What're they gonna say?" Brian persisted. His hand flattened against his chest and his face became pinched as he said in his best British accent, "Mrs. Steele was stunning in her Catwoman costume. No, wait, Mom, Mrs. Steele looked smashing. Smashing! That's it."
"Get out of here." Laura laughed. He sounded just like his father, and he knew it, too, the little imp. Brian bounced down the hall, leaving her alone.
* * *
Daniel Jackson peered down at the two pieces of plastic that were once his eyeglasses and grimaced. He brushed a stray lock of fine, straight, sun-streaked hair out of his face and turned to his companion. "You think you can fix them? I know you can fix anything, but..."
His friend, older, with graying hair and strikingly boyish good looks, turned his attention from the road ahead for a moment. "Yeah, I think I can fix 'em. What I'd like to know is what you were thinkin' when you leaned outta the jeep like that?"
"I was trying to read the hieroglyphs, Jack," Daniel complained.
Jack O'Neill made a noise that sounded remarkably like harrumph. "On a ride at Disneyland? Daniel, you're nuts."
"I was intrigued. It was the entire hymn to Amon-Ra. They did a good job."
"It was the Indiana Jones ride, for Pete's sake! Not some ancient tomb in Egypt! An' it's India -- not Egypt. For cryin' out loud, didn't you hear the 'keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times speech'? Did they really need to add head and body too? You coulda been killed! Amend that -- we coulda been killed."
"You've mentioned that -- a few times," Daniel said remorsefully. "You told me to enjoy myself -- I was. It was nice." His sparkling blue eyes implored Jack to understand. "Sorry I got you thrown out of Disneyland."
"Barred for life!" Jack exaggerated, then relented. "Yeah, I'm sorry too." His face was grim. "That was my favorite ride. How often do we get some free time? I finally pry you away from UCLA and Dr. Hawass long enough to have some fun..."
"I said I was sorry."
"Yeah, yeah. Can you see anything at all?"
Daniel rolled his eyes. "Of course, I can. Reading is just a little fuzzy." He squinted at the map and then up at the building Jack had pulled the rental car in front of. Daniel studied the large red and white bull's-eye centered on the building. "Is this a hunting store?"
* * *
The phone rang three times before Laura picked it up. "Hello."
"Laura? Is that you?" A hint of Irish brogue came through with the words.
"Caitlin? Aren't you supposed to be here in a few minutes?" She glanced at her arm where her watch should be, but there hadn't been room for it to squeeze under the spandex. She blew out an exasperated breath. "Fred left here quite a while ago to pick you all up."
"Laura, is your TV on?" The quavering voice on the other end of the line set warning bells off in Laura's head.
"Channel 4 news!"
"Hold on." Laura carried the phone into the sitting room. "Are you all right?" She found the remote quickly and clicked on the set built into the wall.
"Do you see it?"
Images on the TV screen showed police in flak vests. They were standing in a parking lot with weapons drawn. A building in the background bore the big red "Target" sign of the giant retail chain.
"Something's going on at a Target somewhere?" Laura verified.
"Andy's in there," Caitlin stated quietly. "He went there to pick up a few things for our trip home in the morning. It's my fault. I was trying to save us some time ."
Laura gasped. "I'm sure he's okay. Where are you?"
"Still at the Hotel. I was just getting the kids ready to come over." Her voice broke. "This whole thing is my fault."
"Don't be so hard on yourself."
"It is, though. The only reason we're still here is because Andy was determined to give me an expensive, romantic evening out before we go home." She paused briefly. "I've told him I don't need any of that, but you know how he is..."
"Caitlin," Laura began, trying to calm her sister-in-law. "I'll get Remington. We'll be right over."
"I'm going down to Target right now. I've sent the kids with Fred in the limo. They should be there any time." With that, the phone in Laura's hand went dead.
"Caitlin? Caitlin, don't.. " Laura cried. "Mr. Steele! We've got a problem!"
Flicking off the television, she paused only to pull on her high-heeled boots, before grabbing a jacket off the chair and running from the room in search of the her husband.
* * *
"Superglue is in aisle 3," the red-aproned employee pointed out helpfully. "Next to the school supplies."
The two men wandered through Housewares in the direction she'd indicated.
"Superglue? You're just going to use Superglue?"
"It should work."
"Can't you MacGyver it with some tiny screws or..."
"Or what? Duct tape? Is it some occupational hazard or do you just love lookin' geeky?"
Loud sounds coming from the front of the store interrupted before Daniel could reply. Both men hit the floor in unison. "Oka-a-ay, the reflexes still work," Jack whispered.
"That sounded like gunfire," Daniel said. He motioned with one finger against the bridge of his nose, as if to push his non-existent glasses back up, realized he wasn't wearing any and quickly scratched his eyebrow instead, self-consciously.
"I think that's affirmative Danny-Boy. Over here, lady," O'Neill cautioned the woman in the denim shirt and jeans at the end of the aisle crouched low beside her shopping cart.
There were a few more sporadic bursts of staccato noise and several screams from somewhere at the front of the store, before the woman hit the floor beside the two. Somewhere in the distance a bell started ringing. The woman's brown eyes widened. "Robbery?"
O'Neill held a finger to his lips and nodded. "Stay with him, stay low and find cover," he said quietly, barely audible above the din. "I'll check it out." Then he slowly made his way to the center aisle, peeked around it and was gone.
The dark-haired woman turned to Daniel with wonder. "Is he a cop or something?" she asked.
"Or something. You okay?" he asked quietly.
"Just scared. You?"
"My glasses broke." Daniel attempted to lighten the mood. "Otherwise I'm fine." He smiled reassuringly at her and awkwardly held out a hand. "I'm Daniel."
"Pleased to meet you, I'm sure," the woman whispered as she shook his hand. "Are we in any danger?"
Daniel grinned. "Probably."
* * *
Laura picked the rest of the pins out of her French twist as they sat in the limo. Her hair curled luxuriously about her shoulders and down the back of the charcoal grey Star Trek Voyager costume. The jacket she'd grabbed was not as concealing as she'd hoped and every time her husband glanced over at her during their long ride, she could have sworn she saw a scowl on his face. His own long coat covered any sign of the more proper tuxedo he wore.
"It's a hostage situation. Six or more gunmen. Apparently a robbery gone bad." Remington shared the information he'd just received.
"Poor Andy, in the wrong place at the wrong time," Laura gulped.
"And my intrepid sister running right into the middle of it." Remington regarded his beautiful wife and sighed. "I don't think we'll make Skip's party."
"I can tell you're broken up about it."
"Really, Laura, a two and a half hour drive south, photographers, vapid reporters, bad food, worse wine, a collection of beer-drinking oddballs in costume and another two and a half hour drive back."
"With your wife at your side," she countered. "And you'd have a good time, if you weren't in such a bad mood. Skip always throws a great party."
"Laura, he's a lunatic," Remington argued.
"A loveable lunatic," she defended. "And he's your friend."
"I'd rather see our kids having their Halloween fun."
"There was a time you enjoyed getting in costume just as much as they do."
"Let's not have this argument now, Laura..." Remington stopped in mid-sentence as his cell rang. "Steele here..."
"Are we there yet?" Laura murmured, feeling a bit out of sorts. She had been looking forward to Skip's party. She stared out the window of the limo without really seeing the freeway beyond. The spandex suit was digging into her waist, the pins in her hair had given her a headache. She massaged her head absently, finding another bobby pin in the process. This was going to be a long evening.
He hung up the phone. "You should have at least changed," Remington said grumpily, continuing their conversation as though the telephone interruption had never happened.
"There wasn't time. Do you know how long it took me to get into it?"
"I can only imagine. It fits like a glove."
Yes, it does, Laura thought peevishly. And the least you could do is be turned on just a teensy weensy bit. She tried to shake that thought from her head. Andy was in a lot of trouble right now and she needed to concentrate. Out loud she said, "Um-hum, what did the police say?"
"Why did you wear that costume tonight?"
She was surprised by the gleam in Remington's eyes as he turned towards her, ignoring her question.
"We've already been through" Her brittle retort was cut short as the famous detective Remington Steele's lips met hers. "Oh," she managed at length, trying to push her handsome husband away.
"You've been driving me crazy for hours now, Laura," he murmured hoarsely, "...for days," he corrected as he nuzzled her neck.
"I have?" Laura said in a puzzled voice. "I doubt" She stopped as her fumbling hands caught in his coat and pulled the collar away, revealing the black and deep maroon of a Starfleet officer's uniform. She gasped in surprise. "But I thought you weren't going to..."
Remington quirked a smile and shook his head to chase away her words. "All I've wanted to do for what seems forever was get you alone." He kissed her quickly, and continued. "Instead I've had to deal with business, kids, dogs, Skip's party and gangsters."
"Really?" Laura gasped. He peered into her eyes resolutely and kissed her once more with a passion that took Laura's breath away.
"We will save the day, rescue the lad," he stated matter-of-factly. He straightened, moving reluctantly away from her to sit up and once more arrange his coat, hiding the costume from view. "Then," he continued, "-- we seize the day." He grinned suggestively -- a smile and a promise Laura hadn't seen for quite a while.
* * *
Caitlin Travis bit her lip as she ignored the police barricade and gunned the engine, swinging the battered Ford Aerostar with the New Mexico plates and the crumpled right fender, into the rear of the Target parking lot. It seemed crazy that after all she had been through and survived in her life, something like this should happen! She had finally found her anchor, her savior, her Andy. He had made what was once a miserable life worth living. More than that, he made every day living meaningful and so -- so wonderful. She choked back more tears. She couldn't lose him now. She heard gunfire as she turned off the engine.
An uniformed officer jogged over to Caitlin's vehicle and closed her door as she tried to open it. "You'll have to leave the parking lot, ma'am. We've got a situation here." He stared curiously at her severe 1940-style suit. Then his eyes slid over to the stuffed animal on the seat next to her. A pin in the toy dog's side said, "ASTA". His mouth quirked into a smile, which Cait ignored. If Nora Charles was the worst he saw on Halloween, then he would be lucky.
"My husband's in there," she declared. Her beautiful face was tear-streaked, but her expression was resolute.
"Sorry, I can't let you go in there."
"My husband's in there," she repeated determinedly.
Someone was barking orders into a megaphone. Across the street to the side of the store, a news van was setting up shop. No less than three news helicopters circled above, adding more noise to the scene.
Seeing the stricken look on the woman's face, the man relented. "There's an officer in that police van -- he'll get your name, a statement, and keep you informed. Just be sure you stay where they tell you to."
"Thanks." Caitlin flew out of the car and hugged the man with relief, then ran towards the trailer as quickly as the tight, calf-length skirt and high heels she wore would allow.
* * *
"Six men that I could see -- probably more," Jack reported. "Ski masks. Heavily armed. They've got everyone at the front of the store on the floor. The police are keepin' a couple of 'em busy on the phone, but at least one's searching the aisles and two're guarding the back exits and storeroom entrances."
Daniel nodded gravely. "We can't stay here."
"We might have a better chance in sporting goods," the woman next to them on the floor voiced helpfully. "There should be some stuff we could use to protect ourselves with."
"Good idea," O'Neill agreed. "What do you think, Daniel?"
"I'm with you. How far is it?"
"About four aisles down and six aisles over," the woman supplied. "I just came that way from the DVD and CD department."
"Let's go. Keep low," O'Neill ordered, standing to his feet, and hunching so as not to be seen over the displays.
"Keep low," the woman chuckled, drawing herself to her full five-foot height. "No-o-o problem."
* * *
Andy Travis loved the chilidogs at Target, but they certainly did not love him. He exited the men's room tentatively, hoping he could make it through checkout before he needed to go running back. Well, he reasoned, he was getting too old to eat like that. He probably shouldn't have eaten four of them. Four was excessive, but sometimes ya just needed four. One was never enough, two would not quite fill you up, but today with all the running around getting ready for Skip's party, he'd never gotten lunch and he had just needed four -- needed to feel that greasy chili sliding down into his innards. His stomach growled again in protest, but the cramping had stopped for now. He frowned a little, counted the items in his shopping basket, then counted the items on the list Caitlin had given him. He was missing something.
For the first time Andy Travis glanced around and noticed that the store was almost empty -- the front door security alarms he'd thought had gone off while he was occupied seemed to be more like a fire alarm, ringing a steady, annoying blare in the background. "What the...?" he managed before a gun was shoved into his back and he was led to the front of the store, forced to sit on the floor with about fifteen other people.
* * *
"Fred, maybe you should take a cab home -- Maggie might need you, with all the children there." Steele began digging into his pocket for money to give his employee to try to keep him out of danger. "I'll make sure the limo gets home."
Fred stopped his boss with an outstretched hand. "I might be able to help -- you two are a little conspicuous." He motioned to Remington and Laura's 23rd century attire.
Remington cleared his throat and pulled his coat a bit more tightly around him. He smiled his understanding and thanks.
The chauffeur tossed his hat and jacket onto the seat beside him and exited the vehicle. Through the backseat window, Laura watched him disappear into the crowd at the strip mall across the street from the besieged Target. From their position in the side alley they could see well without the limo causing too much fuss by its presence.
She eyed Remington critically. "Do we go through the sewers or break in through the back and see what we can do?"
"First we find Caitlin, then I believe checking in with the local authorities might be more prudent." He opened the door and got out, then offered his hand to his wife. "Come along, Miss Nine."
Laura grinned and took the offered hand. "I'm right here, Captain Kirk."
Remington rolled his eyes at her lack of knowledge. "Wrong century," he murmured.
"How do you know that?" she asked. "I thought you weren't familiar with Star Trek?"
"Brian's a good teacher," he explained. He led the way across the street. "Never give up. Never surrender, Mrs. Steele!"
"Oh, dear," Laura managed, chuckling.
* * *
Daniel eyed the glass-encased gun racks, ready to stop Jack if the frustration crossing his face should turn to action. There was no way to get into the cabinets without alerting the bad guys to their presence. So far they'd managed to avoid them, but it was just a matter of time. Daniel almost tripped, but caught the two baseball bats Jack had armed him with before they fell to the ground.
"A simple, little zat gun would be nice," Jack muttered under his breath. He searched the immediate area for any ideas. He hefted one of the baseballs they'd snagged when they'd found that nice tent for their new friend to hide in. She'd wanted to help but had admitted she'd probably be more of a hindrance since she threw and batted like a girl, but Jack had hoped to make that a moot point by arming themselves better.
"C'mon." The Air Force Colonel motioned for Daniel to follow. Jack looked around the giant display of batteries. "You string the fishing line down the aisles while I spread that clear soapy stuff we found. Just remember which rows are booby trapped."
"Right," Daniel reluctantly agreed, still unsure of the plan they were ad-libbing. He began unrolling the almost invisible thread, attaching it to anything close to the ground that would allow it.
* * *
Andy Travis fidgeted on the floor. He swore that if he got out of this in one piece Damn those chilidogs. He suppressed a burp, guiltily avoiding the eyes of his fellow hostages as his stomach gurgled loudly. He wondered who he might get to help him rush the robbers. Yeah! That's what he'd do! Surprise would be on his side and he'd Caitlin's beautiful face crossed his thoughts and he stopped. Getting himself and everyone else killed was not a good idea -- he drew in a deep breath as quietly as he could manage and concentrated on his family, hoping that would curb his rash nature.
All he needed was a distraction. That was all. If only the cramping in his stomach would stop. Andy quieted the moan that tried to escape and scanned every inch of the store within his view, hoping for just one little distraction.
* * *
"Remington Steele," he introduced himself to the officer in charge. "Laura Holt, my associate." His famous face and confident manner had gotten them through the police barricade without incident.
Captain Peldar gave the detective and his cat-companion the once over. "I don't remember calling for a private investigator, Mr. Steele." He frowned, obviously annoyed at the intrusion of some glory hound at his crime scene. His scowl deepened as he stared more closely at Laura.
"And we're not here to step on your toes, Captain," Remington explained smoothly. He'd made sure his coat covered his own outfit and he'd decided to act as if nothing was out of the ordinary with Laura's. "Our presence is more of a -- personal nature. My brother-in-law is one of your hostages."
The policeman seemed to relax. "I see."
"Though I'm sure you're quite capable, I fear I have to at least try to offer assistance," he soothed. "My sister is also present in the crowd somewhere and we'd like to find her."
"Right. Right." Peldar turned and pointed to his left. "Any family members are over there."
"Thank you." Remington shook the man's hand and motioned towards the indicated direction.
Half way to the vans, Fred slid up beside them from the crowd. "There are 6 to 8 armed men," he informed them. "Maybe a dozen or so hostages. It's a bet there may be some guys in there who are loose. The police have spotted strange activity in a couple of the aisles using a camera they snaked down through the roof. If there are any people who have avoided the gunmen's notice, they might just be waiting for a distraction."
Laura stopped, jerking her husband back to her side. "If they're needing a distraction..."
"Oh, no," Remington protested. "No, that's not going to happen." He tried to restrain his wife but she was halfway back to Captain Peldar and gaining speed.
* * *
Jack heard the noise first. Next aisle over, there was a definite squeak of a rubber shoe on freshly polished vinyl. He mimed the quick, military motions to his companion.
Daniel walked his fingers across his palm and pointed wildly to confirm he couldn't quite get what he'd been instructed to do.
Jack tried not to roll his eyes at the response. With all the languages Daniel knew, Jack just couldn't figure out how his friend couldn't get simple military code. Jack finally just nodded and they skulked quietly around the displays and floor models.
Not daring to look, Jack heard the robber enter one of their "special" rows. A sharp curse and the slight thud of someone hitting the ground triggered him into action. Swinging the bat, he rounded the corner and took out the man with one swift blow.
Daniel had circled to the other side as backup, his own wooden club held high. He winced as he saw Jack had everything under control.
"The walkie-talkie," Daniel whispered, pointing to the man's belt.
Jack nodded agreement, and grabbed the two-way radio and earpiece. He pulled the unconscious man's hands behind his back and tied them, and then gagged him.
"Yo, Jimbo," a voice called lowly from near by. "Where're ya?"
Jack stood quickly and hopped through the string towards Daniel, motioning a new plan. The archaeologist held the bat tighter, following the Colonel's direction.
* * *
"How the hell'd you find that out?" Captain Peldar yelled, scowling and scanning his men for the informant.
"Doesn't really matter." Laura ignored the tone. "You need a distraction -- she dropped her jacket to the ground. "I think I have one for you."
"No way" Peldar sputtered. "Even if you"
Remington interrupted. "You can argue with her, but she'll do what she wants," he explained. "I believe the word stubborn doesn't come close to describing my wife."
Peldar thought for a moment. "We've just learned there are two guys in there taking out the perps." He ran a hand through his hair in exasperation, unbelieving he was about to share this information. "It's only a matter time before they realize they're losing people."
"Then we need to act now," Laura declared.
* * *
"Three down -- five to go," Jack stated satisfied. "It's only a matter of time before they realize they're losin' people." He watched the remaining men at the front of the store from the safe nook they'd found near the snack bar.
"We need to act now," Daniel agreed.
"We need a distraction." Jack gripped his baseball, getting a feel for the weight and how to throw it. "Kinda cliché, but" He stopped mid-sentence, his attention attracted to a sudden commotion.
A woman, wearing a painted-on leotard barreled through the front doors, the criminals too startled to stop this unexpected type of assault. Jack listened to her cry that her husband was inside and she couldn't let him die. That was all they needed.
Knowing Daniel would be beside him, Jack leapt from their hiding place and tackled two of the gunmen while Daniel went for another. Guns clattered noisily to the floor where other hostages, encouraged by what they were seeing, picked them up and put them out of harm's way. Laura swirled and high-kicked the fourth while Andy sprung at the last one, desperation aiding his strength.
It was over quickly. The police surged into the store, and the gunmen were quickly rounded up. Laura moved towards Andy, but he was already pushing past the crowd in a beeline for the men's room.
"Laura, I love you," he yelled across his shoulder gratefully. "I'll be back in a minute!"
* * *
Remington held his sister's hand as they watched the SWAT team go into action. Caitlin strained to hear every word coming over the police radios.
"The area's secure, the hostages are safe," the radio staticed.
Caitlin finally breathed a sigh of relief. She watched hostage after hostage escorted out of the building, fear building up in her every time it wasn't Andy. Finally, she caught sight of her husband's sandy blond hair. A few seconds later he rushed into her arms at the makeshift police headquarters.
"Caitlin! I'm okay," he assured her, brushing the drooping feather from her pert little hat out of his way to kiss her over and over again.
"I was so worried." She grabbed him tight, planning to never let go.
"I promised you an evening you wouldn't forget," he teased. "Not exactly what I'd planned"
She slapped at him playfully, pulling out of his embrace only far enough to give her brother a peck on the cheek and to squeeze Laura's hand.
A SWAT team member interrupted to shake Andy's hand. "Your husband took out one of his captors, ma'am. You should be proud."
Horror crossed Caitlin's face. "Andy!" she cried in admonition. "What were you thinking?"
"Well, uh" he stuttered. "I kinda had a problem uh chilidogs, and I"
"My hero," Caitlin grinned, knowing what had happened. She slipped him another kiss. Tears of gratitude filled her eyes as Captain Peldar's men led them off to get Andy's statement.
* * *
Jack O'Neill sat on the fender of one of the emergency vehicles, squeeze-bottle in hand."
"With all due respect, Jack, I doubted you, but it really worked," Daniel said as Jack handed him his mended glasses.
"You'll still need new ones, but they'll do for now." He popped the lid on the tube with a flare and stuffed it in his pocket.
"Thanks." Daniel stopped and glared at Jack. "When did you pay for that?" he asked, frowning.
"Daniel, I think they owed us," Jack declared. "We saved the day, got the bad guys and rescued the damsel." He nodded to the young woman they'd had the adventure with. She waved to them as she entered the squad car for the ride to the station. The cops were signaling to them now for their turn.
Jack rolled his eyes. "C'mon, let's get this over with."
* * *
"Well, Mrs. Steele," Remington began after what seemed like weeks spent answering questions and hugging relatives and strangers. The two men who'd been picking off the bad guys had I.D. from the Cheyenne Mountain military complex. Remington could well believe the one was an Air Force Colonel, but the other was decidedly non-military. Regardless of who they were, all involved were grateful for their help.
They said their good-byes back at the Target parking lot. Andy and Caitlin climbed into their the Aerostar, content to let the Steele family keep their children overnight. Other hostages were finding their cars and leaving as well.
"See you in the morning," Caitlin called, waving out the window as the van left the lot. Behind them, it appeared that the store had reopened. Things were already back to normal.
"Mrs. Steele." Remington held the door of the limousine invitingly open for Laura to get in. "Fred, I do believe we've missed our gala in San Diego. Please take us home."
"Yes, Sir," Fred answered cheerfully as he closed the door behind his boss.
"Mrs. Steele," Remington repeated. He former dark scowl had been replaced by an impish grin.
"Yes, Mr. Steele." She snuggled close, brushing her lips against his cheek as she answered. "Mm-m-m," she sighed. Even after all they'd been through he managed to smell wonderful. She would have to write a letter to the company that bottled his after-shave -- someday -- ooh -- much later.
He fumbled a bit as his long fingers searched for and finally found the release for her costume. Laura's sighs turned abruptly to giggles.
Fred got into the driver's seat, immediately raising the privacy shield. It'd been a long time since he'd seen them that -- frisky. He grinned.
The glass window clicked into place, but not before he heard Remington Steele whisper.
"To infinity and Beyond, Mrs. Steele. "To infinity and Beyond."