Disclaimer: I don't own The New Avengers, nor the characters of Mike Gambit, Purdey, and John Steed. They're the property of The Avengers (Film and TV) Enterprises. This story is written for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Notes: This was written as a bit of fun and inspired by Catherine Buckley's brief stint as the designer and provider of Joanna Lumley's fashions for The New Avengers. Many of the clothes Buckley provided required careful handling and were impractical for the rigours of filming on location, and, coupled with an inability to supply enough outfits to keep up with the shooting schedule, resulted in Buckley only providing fashions for the first four episodes of the series. The label read by Purdey in the fic is the actual label attached to the patchwork skirt Purdey wears in the episode House of Cards during her visit to Suzy Miller (played by Annette Andre).
"Mike Gambit!" The indignant exclamation came as the man in question was lying stretched out in bed, covered only by a silk sheet, his left arm draped over his eyes. Having heard said namecheck, Gambit stirred slightly, but did not remove his arm from his eyes. "Hmm?" came the dozy, if somewhat muffled, reply.
It was at this point that Purdey, whose flat and, consequently, bed it was, came bursting into the bedroom in a flurry of beaded curtains, brandishing a large piece of multi-coloured fabric. "Don't 'hmm' me, Mike Gambit. Do you have any idea what kind of damage you've done?"
Gambit, sufficiently roused, finally shifted the arm that had heretofore impaired his vision. He was rewarded with the sight of Purdey, standing framed in the doorway, resplendent in a silk dressing gown tied tightly at the waist. Even in his half-somnolent state, Gambit noted appreciatively that the garment showcased her slim, toned figure and, courtesy of the large slit created by the fabric overlapping at the front, her long, shapely legs. This rather offset the face like thunder and angry stance, Purdey's mood betrayed by the hand on her hip and the way she was gripping the piece of fabric with rather more force than was warranted. Gambit idly observed that he still found Purdey inordinately attractive even when she was angry, although not so much that he was willing to risk annoying her further by vocalising that particular opinion.
"You're not talking about the mess I made of that double agent's nose this morning, are you?" he said instead.
Purdey's scowl deepened. "You know perfectly well that I'm not."
"Then you'll have to enlighten me."
Purdey thrust the piece of fabric toward him accusingly, still clenched tightly in her fist. "This."
Gambit propped himself up on his elbows to get a better look, and a look of recognition spread across his face. "Isn't that the skirt you were wearing earlier?"
"While I'm very glad that your powers of recall are unimpaired," Purdey countered between clenched teeth, "look closer."
Gambit arched an amused eyebrow. "That's a tall order when you're all the way over there. Unless you expect me to turn into a giraffe in the next ten seconds."
"That might be an improvement," Purdey muttered, looking even sourer, and a short standoff ensued, during which the two agents attempted to wait one another out by refusing to meet in the middle to enable Gambit's inspection of the garment. Eventually, Purdey was forced, much to her chagrin, to close the distance between them, as she was the party who had the most to gain, whereas all Gambit had to lose was the comfort of the bed and silk sheets-and, possibly, the pleasure of Purdey's company for the next week or so, in every sense of the word, but Gambit was feeling particularly true to his namesake at that particular moment and chose to risk it. Realising this, the blonde marched over to the bedside and thrust the offending object under Gambit's nose. It was at this point that Gambit noticed a medium-sized tear right down the middle of one of the squares of fabric that made up the patchwork skirt.
"This," Purdey explained accusatorially, "is an original Catherine Buckley skirt. I'll save you the trouble of reading the label." She flipped the garment over and pulled out the tag, which she proceeded to read aloud with increasing ire. " 'This garment is made from a jacquard material woven between 1905 and 1935. Because of its age, please handle with great care.' " Returning the skirt to its original position, with the tear visible, she continued, "This-" Her fingers waggled angrily through the hole. "-is what happened when you took it off me this afternoon."
"And how," Gambit countered, "did you expect me to know that?"
Purdey bristled. "You might have asked."
Gambit arched an unrepentant eyebrow. "You want me to ask after the care of your wardrobe before I undress you? Is this some new dating trend I don't know about?"
Purdey pulled a face. "It's a courtesy."
"Oh." Gambit considered this. "Might kill the passion in the moment."
Purdey seemed to realise this posed a problem, but never one to back down from a debate, came back with, "Well, I thought at the very least it might have occurred to you. After all, most of your clothes need careful handling."
"Not that careful." Gambit took a handful of the fabric and rubbed it between his fingers. "This skirt may as well be made of tissue paper. I'm surprised you'll wear it anywhere, let alone in the field."
"That's not the point," Purdey cut in, clearly not liking how the conversation was going.
Gambit regarded her expectantly. "What is the point?"
"The point is, you owe me a new Catherine Buckley original." Purdey crossed her arms and pointed her chin up defiantly, as though that was the last word on the matter.
Gambit lay back and folded his arms behind his head. "All right."
Purdey blinked. "All right? You're not going to argue about it?"
Gambit made a moue and shook his head. "No point. I wrecked it. It's my fault. I have to pay for my actions."
Purdey was taken aback by this development. "Oh," she said, unsure of how to proceed. "That's all right then."
She was just moving to the chair in the corner of her bedroom to drape the damaged skirt over the back when Gambit added, "While we're keeping score, there's a waistcoat and a few shirts of mine that suffered when you got a bit, uh, overenthusiastic."
Purdey spun around in outrage. "Mike, you're not saying—"
"Well, it's only fair," Gambit went on, pondering the ceiling from his reclined position as though he didn't have a care in the world. "Those were Savile Row, after all. I don't know how much a Catherine Buckley original is worth, but it ought to be at least somewhere in the same range."
"And while we're at it, you've knocked over and broken a few things at my place. Those legs of yours are lethal weapons, you know," Gambit went on, sitting up suddenly and rummaging in her bedside table. "There was that lamp I brought all the way back from the Maldives when I was in the navy. It was one of a kind."
"Thank goodness," Purdey muttered, arms crossed defiantly. "It was so hideous that there being even one of them in existence was a crime against good taste. I did you a favour."
"And the coffee table?"
Purdey smiled innocently. "No comment."
"Funny how the display cases survived," Gambit observed, extracting a notepad and pen from the drawer.
"I like the display cases," Purdey opined.
Gambit raised a suspicious eyebrow. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you're using our clinches to strategically redecorate my flat."
"Don't be ridiculous," Purdey scoffed. "If that were true, that painting in your guest room would have been the first to go."
"Hmm." Gambit didn't sound convinced. "What else? Oh, yes." A wicked grin spread across his face. "You broke my bed."
Purdey tsked in exasperation. "Jamming the mechanism does not constitute 'breaking your bed.'"
"Doesn't it?" Gambit's grin was unwavering. "I couldn't sleep in it."
"You like the idea of it," Purdey said knowingly. "It appeals to your ego."
Gambit shrugged. "Just making an observation. And quit trying to change the subject." He waved the pen and notebook at her cheerily. "This is about damage caused during the act. Should we tot it up and see who owes whom?"
Purdey had both hands on her hips now. "Mike Gambit," she began, shaking her head in disbelief. "You do beat all."
"I hope so, where you're concerned," Gambit said wistfully. "And I don't know about you, but if you're in my arms I'd rather be focussing on you than your drycleaning instructions."
Purdey sighed and padded over to the bed, daintily lifted the dressing gown so she could climb up onto the surface and gracefully straddle him. "I hate it when you make sense," she grumbled, then leaned down to kiss him.
"It's been known to happen," Gambit murmured, after kissing her back. "Anyway, I thought you were liberated and could buy your own skirts? Or did you just want me to come along on your next shopping trip so you could model the new one for me?"
"I'm not modelling anything for you, Mike Gambit, unless I get the same privilege," Purdey declared, and felt Gambit chuckle beneath her.
"You're welcome in my dressing room anytime. But first, let's get you out of this." His hands moved to the knot of her dressing gown. "I promise I won't bruise the fabric."
"On this old thing?" Purdey dismissed. "Never mind. I was going to buy a new one anyway." She knew the mischievous twinkle in Gambit's eyes was reflected in her own. "But first, I'm going to take back my sheet…"