Steve & Kayla—Dating Games (7)

Note: This is the seventh in a series. The series starts here: Steve Stalks Kayla

Steve and Kayla grew closer in the crucible of the Stockholm adventure, but as we’ve seen, Steve is at his best in a crisis. What happens when the crisis is over? This is what Kayla is struggling with. How does she turn the Steve she sees in moments of crisis, or enchantment, or desire, into the reality? This is a man who very well might have that “good side,” but still might be impossible to communicate with or depend on in the cold light of everyday life.

The next time she sees him after their first kiss, Kayla happily asks him to spend the day with her. But he is rude and snidely tells her nothing has changed between them and never could: “I like variety too much.” He tells her to be careful what she wishes for. He tells her she can’t handle him. And we witness Kayla’s frustration and hurt over this step backward.

But she isn’t ready to give up. If the old tactics don’t work, try something else. One morning she is reading the newspaper at Shenanigans when Steve comes in. He sees her and tries to slink away. “I won’t bite, you know,” Kayla says blandly. This is a new Kayla, not angry, not pleading, not hurt. Instead she’s cool, and challenging. And sexy. Can she dare him to be with her?

He takes the bait. He swaggers over, sits down, begins to make a suggestive comment, breaks off, and mutters, “Never mind.” Round one: Kayla.

Having hooked her fish, Kayla is expectant and eager to enjoy his company. She orders the same breakfast he’s having, without knowing what it is. When it turns out to be a beer with a raw egg in it, she downs it gamely. (Mary Beth Evans is delightful in these scenes.)

Steve calls her on her strategy. “You’re trying to prove we’re not so different,” he says. He’s obviously warmed by her attention, and while he insists, “We don’t have anything in common,” it is without the heat, and the cruelty, of the day before.

Having scored a victory, Kayla presses her advantage by showing up unannounced at the Cheatin’ Heart with the professed intention of shooting a few games of pool. She proves to be so inept that Steve is forced to give her some (very hot) lessons, putting his arms around her from the back to show her how to hold the cue stick and line up a shot. Afterwards, Steve walks her back to the loft, and she presses him to stay so many times, and in so many ways, it’s both comical and endearing. He’s drawn into the room almost without realizing it, and before you know it, he’s kissing her.

After, he finally says what we’ve suspected about his motives (but it’s nice to hear it). Ruefully acknowledging his own weakness where she’s concerned, he says, “I’m trying to do something that’s halfway right here, and you’re not making it very easy.”

And Kayla has the perfect response: “This is right.” Another kiss. An attempt to break off to make some coffee, but … forget it. More kissing. And … Timely Interruption #3. Dr. Tom Horton, calling with news of Marlena’s “death.” Steve stays the night, to comfort her and protect her in case Orpheus is again on the loose. But when Caroline sees him there the next day and expresses her disapproval, it sends him scurrying away again.

Next, though, for a refreshing change of pace, Kayla gets mad at Steve—for taking Max to the Cheatin’ Heart when he’s babysitting him. Steve turns her anger back on her (a very annoying tactic he was to use many times). “You see why I back off every time you say you want me?” This is a major issue they keep circling around. Their conversation about it runs something like this:

Steve: We’re too different.
Kayla: We’re not so different.
Steve: Oh, yeah? (points to some recent example of how different they are)
Kayla: That’s not what you’re really like.

Hee! How do you argue with someone like that?

Well, he tries. He says he’s just trying to protect her … they don’t belong together … he’s no good for her. But Kayla insists that he’s not trying to protect her, he’s trying to protect himself. She says they have something really special and it would be stupid to throw it away. She’s crying now. “I need you, Steve.” She challenges him to look her the eye and tell her he doesn’t care.

And he can’t do it. So he admits it, finally. “I care about you. And I want you.” The words sound so raw, like they’re being torn out of him.

None of their arguments get resolved. Steve is still convinced that pushing her away is the right thing to do. But as he says: “I can’t fight you anymore, Kayla.”

So they are starting … something. Maybe. A few days later, Kayla gives Steve a present, a pool cue, and he is completely flummoxed. “Hasn’t anyone ever given you a present for no reason?” Kayla asks. And Steve shakes his head, turns away, and just manages to say, “No.” He’s so touched, overcome, almost, he has no choice but to beat a hasty retreat. He admits as much when she asks him to stay the night: “If I love you, I don’t think I’d be able to leave.” This is as close as he’s come to admitting the fear he has of getting close to her, the fear she’s always accusing him of.

By New Year’s Eve, everything is going swimmingly. Steve initially turns down her invitation to a formal party, but then he shows up anyway in a tux. She puts on her formal dress, and before they leave she leads him over to the mirror, just as he did in Stockholm months ago. Just as he said then, she tells him, “This is reality.” He says, “No, it’s a fantasy … it’s my fantasy.” Like Cinderella, this is Steve’s night out at the ball. Also like Cinderella, he will end the evening in sackcloth and ashes.

They begin walking to the party. But everything is too perfect between them to spend their evening with a crowd of other people. They turn around and go back to the loft, to spend the night, alone, together, at last.

In front of the fire, they kiss and talk quietly. Kayla asks him why he kept her waiting so long. “Maybe I was … scared of you,” he says softly. Kayla is turning around to let Steve unzip her when there’s a knock at the door. (Timely Interruption #4.) It’s a messenger with a file for Kayla. Then a rock comes through the window, which sends Steve out to investigate. This gives Kayla a chance to open the folder that was important enough to deliver on New Year’s Eve.

It’s a collection of reports, neatly typed, of Steve’s shadowing job for Victor Kiriakis last summer.

When Steve returns, Kayla questions him: “Do you remember the first time you saw me?” And for once Steve lies to cover up the ugly truth. It’s excruciating to watch Steve here, so clueless, though he is in the wrong. It is grotesque to see him still in his tuxedo, disheveled from their makeout session in front of the fire. It emphasizes his dislocation and makes a mockery of their enchanted evening.

Kayla shows him the reports, and then puts the pieces together that he was the one who stalked her and trashed her apartment in Cleveland. Her shock, and hurt, throw him so completely off balance that he falls immediately back into cynical tough guy mode. “I guess someone did you a big favor,” he sneers, and worse, “Didn’t I tell you? Why didn’t you listen?” And Kayla cries, “Maybe I should have. But I listened to my heart.”

He hesitates a beat, but plunges on, saying, “I guess your heart played a nasty trick on you.” Just like in the emeralds fight, just like in the fight over taking Max to the Cheatin’ Heart, he’s throwing it back at her. It’s not my fault, it’s yours for expecting better.

But this time it’s too much. Steve’s reaction is so completely inadequate that it points up his inability to face, and deal with, the consequences of what he did. Yes, Kayla is shocked, but she correctly identifies the larger problem. “Why can’t you just tell me you’re sorry?”

He can’t. So Kayla, who started out the evening so sure, so confident (“This is reality”) ends by whispering, “I don’t know what’s real anymore.”

Then Steve does a curious thing: he tries to defend himself, a little. ‘It’s all real, Kayla,” he says, then tentatively, “the good parts … ” This is wiser than he knows, because generally it is he who cannot accept that “it’s all real.” He either wallows in his bad side, or he lives in denial of it. When he is with Kayla, he indulges in the fantasy that he is the man she believes in, but it all hinges on her belief. If she is angry at him, it means that good side doesn’t exist, that the bad side is all there is. And all he can do is say I told you so.

Kayla asks him to go, and he does. It’s midnight, and the ball is over.

We next see them at Shenanigans, where Kayla is eating with Max, and they assiduously avoid each other, until Max insists on Steve joining them. (Poor Steve and Kayla had only little Max to pimp their relationship at this point.) Kayla overhears Steve express to Max his regret over their fight. He takes the blame and says how much he still likes (loves) Kayla. Everything he wouldn’t say to her.

Later she attempts to confront him a second time. “You can solve all the differences between us by just opening up.” She says, “I am sick of telling you who you are, what you think, and how you feel.” She perhaps doesn’t recognize how much Steve depends on her to do exactly that.

So he refuses. “There are some things in my past that I can’t face,” he says.

So although Steve won’t apologize, she knows he is sorry. Though he refuses to talk, he at least gives her a hint at a reason. She also recognizes that his attempt a few days later to steal the evidence against her sister Kim (she’s on trial for murder) is a way of making it up to her, as is his attempt to put it back. For Kayla, that will be enough—for now, anyway.

But if the immediate lesson of New Year’s Eve is that the past always comes back to haunt you, the larger lesson—one that Steve hasn’t learned, one that he stubbornly insists he won’t learn—is that the only way to escape your past is to face it and deal with it. This issue will loom larger and larger in the coming months, because a much bigger skeleton is about to come tumbling out of the closet.

Go on to part 7 1/2: Happy Christmas

Go on to part 8: Adrienne

Go back to part 6

16 thoughts on “Steve & Kayla—Dating Games (7)

  1. “It all hinges on her belief.”

    I think this is the crux of their current issue as a couple as well. He might be pushing her away to protect her, but he’s absolutely dependent on her faith in him. There was a scene recently, after he comes to see her after her accident, and when she rejects his flirtation, he’s visibly crushed. She has correctly identified that he’s not really getting better, but you can see that he wants her to believe that he is.

  2. Another excellent installment of the S&K story. This interlude between Stockholm and the total intrusion of Adrienne is definitely one of my favorite parts of their story. I love that Kayla, the innocent one, is usually the aggressive party in their physical relationship. It’s such a break from the normal stereotype of the good girl who just wouldn’t dream of being the physical aggressor. I love that Kayla wants Steve and isn’t afraid to admit it or act on it.

    The NYE scene still kills me to this day. Steve is finally starting to believe that maybe Kayla’s right, maybe this can be something good and then BOOM! his past comes back to bite him (it’s not like that’s a recurring theme in their relationship at all). All Kayla really wants is the one thing he can’t bring himself to do — say he’s sorry and tell her everything has changed. Thank goodness for little Max.πŸ˜‰

    As julianscat points out, the echoes of this phase of their relationship can be seen even today. Not just his utter dependence on her belief in him, but also Kayla’s refusal to give up on the man she knows he really is. It doesn’t matter what he says or, to a certain extent, even what he does. She believes and, for her, that’s all that really matters. She’s always had enough faith for both of them.

  3. I loved this. My favorite line is at the beginning:

    How does she turn the Steve she sees in moments of crisis, or enchantment, or desire, into the reality?

    Perfect! Remembering that egg scene is one of my favorite moments too.

    If I may ask…are you going to cover Christmas? Because to me that was a pretty eventful moment too. *Worried* Forgive me if I went too far.

  4. I have been surprised, watching these 80’s clips at the same time as S&K’s story now, how often there are resonances between the two. Kayla’s belief in Steve, when everyone including Steve is telling her she’s out of her mind (bad choice of words, sorry), is one great example. I love your example, julianscat, of the hospital scene after Kayla’s accident. I also love how I’m getting the first appearance of Adrienne in 1987 and the reappearance of Adrienne in 2007 at the same time!

    esp, Kayla being the aggressor is definitely one of my favorite aspects of Steve and Kayla too. I loved it when, after he tells her to take him as he is or walk away, the next time she sees him she says she’s made her decision, and grabs him and kisses him. Then he says, “You wanna tell me that in words now?”

    Oh, Tripp, I was starting to realize that every installment of this story was getting longer and longer and more and more detailed. So I cut some things out for length. I was sorry not to write about Christmas, or—what really killed me—the day he helps her at the EC and makes her the curry dinner. Tell you what though, I did write most of it, so maybe I’ll look it over and post it one of these days!

  5. OH, we have to talk about those early dates, maryp!

    (Frankly, we could all sit around and analyze clip by clip and I’d be just fine. Really.)

    I love that particular scene you refer to–“You wanna say that in words?” Because their bodies were always ahead of their ability to communicate in words. And it’s a really, really hot kiss.

  6. I really enjoy these installments and being able to re-live the classic story of Steve and Kayla. Their story is still fresh after so many years.

    Thank you for doing these.

  7. Wow! Even I forgot about the Steve works at EC day! LOL.

    Those were great moments. I totally understand having to cut stuff though. LOL.

    But you are speaking to the person who would be fine if you recapped EACH and every episode of S&K. πŸ˜€

  8. I really love your post of the S&K-history, it’s so great to read and watch it again.

    The last few days I was watching the beginning of the Johnson-family-history with Adrienne ‘stalking’ Steve up to the rape and I would love to have Adrienne have a real long talk with Stephanie on the show right now. There are so many parallels between them. Adrienne who had this picture of the big-hero-brother Steve and was confronted with a angry and hostile Steve – the same goes for Stephanie right now, so maybe those two should talkπŸ™‚.

    Thank you for those posts!


  9. I could definitely join the “analyze each S&K clip” club.πŸ™‚

    I love the scene where she tells him what she wants by kissing him. I think part of Kayla’s aggressiveness was that it was her way of trying to convince him that she wasn’t that the fragile little doll that would shatter if he “just touched her” (from one of my favorite Stockholm scenes). If she couldn’t convince him with words, then she wasn’t afraid to try something else.

  10. I think, too, that Steve brought out a level of sexuality in Kayla that no man ever had before (or ever did afterwards), and she was like a kid in a shiny new candy store, wanting to explore every nook and cranny and getting a little frustrated when the candy store proprietor kept trying to slap her hands away from the jars.

    (I was going to say something about a lollipop but considered this crowd and refrained)

  11. Clip by clip analysis? You guys are trying to kill me!πŸ™‚

    I love your candy store metaphor, Paula! Very apt (and funny). I think you’re right, too, esp, about Kayla trying to prove she’s not fragile, or innocent, either, which Steve was always calling her.

    Thanks, daggerrose and Nike! And Nike, your point about the parallel between 1987 Adrienne and 2007 Stephanie is right on—I hadn’t thought of that. I’d love it if those two sat down and had a good long talk about it. What a great use of history that would be.

  12. Come on MP. Wouldn’t it be fun to have detailed analysis and discussion about every single S&K clip?πŸ˜› Or maybe it’s just me looking for another excuse to rewatch all the clips.πŸ™‚

  13. MP love your analysis. I always felt guilty back in the 80s watching DAYS and being so in love with S&K. Soaps were not exactly high brow entertainment. Now, after reading your analysis, I realize that I was really watching a modern day Shakesperean love story. Thank you – the guilt is foever banished!

  14. Thank you, Kathleen! I’m glad to banish any lingering guilt. It’s really incredible how well-executed their story was, and how well it stands up after all these years—mullets and all!

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