Fire in the Disco!
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.
"Mike Gambit, I can't take you anywhere!" Purdey exclaimed, struggling to be heard over the roar of the dance music blaring out of the speakers.
"Me? I invited you, not the other way around!" Gambit shot back, hunched on the floor beside her behind the disco's bar.
"Then I should know better than to accept," Purdey retorted, and Gambit realised he'd walked right into that one, long before they'd even set foot in the building.
Several hours earlier…
"What are you doing tonight?" Gambit inquired, bracing his back a little more firmly against the shuddering door.
Purdey assessed the rattling doorknob with an expert eye. "Assuming we don't spend it locked up in a crate sinking to the bottom of the Thames?"
Gambit clucked his tongue in reproach. "Negative thinking, Purdey. Isn't that what you're always telling me? Besides, we've been in worse scrapes than this."
"At the moment they don't spring easily to mind," Purdey said wryly, as the door thrust forward alarmingly, causing her to momentarily stagger back.
"Well, assuming we don't end up at the bottom of the Thames," Gambit amended, "do you fancy trying out the new disco tonight?"
"What new disco?" Purdey wanted to know. She grabbed a nearby chair and dragged it toward her, wedged it under the doorknob, hoping that it would serve the same barricading function it did in the movies.
"The one not far from our neighbourhood. It only opened last week." Gambit watched the chair tip over as the knob rattled violently, then shot Purdey an ironic look.
"Oh, don't look at me like that," Purdey snapped. "It's not as though you had any bright ideas."
"What do you mean? I'm the one who suggested it."
Purdey looked heavenward. "I'm talking about the chair, not the disco."
"Ah," Gambit said distractedly, reaching into his jacket for his gun. The door was starting to bend alarmingly, as though being set upon by a superhuman force.
Purdey peered through the crack in the door in hopes of catching a glimpse of their attacker. "We'll be having dinner first, of course?" she wanted to know.
Gambit spun the chamber of his Smith and Wesson and snapped it shut, then grinned cheerily at his partner. "I know better than to take you out without feeding you. I'd rather take my chances with what's on the other side of this door than make you skip a meal."
"How flattering," Purdey quipped, then flung herself out of the way just in time to avoid a large fist as it punched through the door. "Oh dear. I think we've made him angry." As one, Purdey and Gambit backed away from the door, ready to face whatever lay beyond.
"Pick you up at seven?" Gambit inquired, easing back the safety on his gun, eyes never wavering from the doorway.
The doors buckled alarmingly. "Better make it seven-thirty," Purdey amended. "I have a feeling that the report for this assignment is going to be…difficult."
"I'll do the report if you tell Steed what happened to his car," Gambit offered.
"Deal," Purdey declared just as the doors burst open, and as one Purdey and Gambit dived into the fray.
Back in the disco, a large bottle of champagne exploded in a hail of gunfire above Purdey's head, and the pair dodged aside just in time to avoid the fizzy shrapnel raining down from above.
"In my defence, this is the first disco I've taken you to that turned out to be the cover for the headquarters of a diabolical mastermind," Gambit pointed out.
Purdey shook the champagne bubbles from her hair and thought about this for a moment. "What about that place in the West End?"
"That was just bad management," Gambit dismissed, then waggled his eyebrows and added, "Criminally bad."
The bad joke earned him a 'tsk' from Purdey. Gambit sobered up, then winced as another champagne bottle exploded above his head. "That's a waste of good champagne. Steed's not going to be happy about that."
"If we ever manage to contact him," Purdey pointed out, opening her purse and extracting a small pearl-handled revolver. Gambit watched her with a small smile playing over his features, then retrieved his Smith and Wesson from his shoulder holster. Purdey caught his eye. "What's going on in that mind of yours?"
"I'm wondering what it says about the sort of people we are that we both brought our guns on an evening out," Gambit mused.
"That's very profound coming from a man who also carries handcuffs," Purdey said brightly, smile the picture of innocence.
Gambit pulled a face. "Try to draw their fire."
Purdey's smile disappeared. "Don't get tetchy. If you don't want people to draw their own conclusions from the contents of your pockets, you should leave the cuffs at home."
"What kind of man do you think I am?" Gambit asked in disbelief.
"Do you want an honest answer?"
"Just do it," Gambit grumbled, getting onto his knees. Purdey sighed, leaned around the bar and, mindful of her ammo, loosed off two shots, then ducked back under cover as return fire splintered the bar around her.
"I count seven," she gasped, then looked back at Gambit and discovered that he had snatched a bottle of whiskey from the shelves above the bar. "That's not the answer," she reprimanded Gambit as he unscrewed the cap. "Despite what you may think, we can't drink all our problems away."
"Maybe not," Gambit conceded, taking a swig. "But it can't hurt." He offered the bottle to Purdey, who regarded it for a moment, then took it and knocked back a larger measure than Gambit had.
"Bracing," she agreed, as the liquor burned its way down her throat, "but not quite worth nearly getting my head blown off." Gambit took the bottle back. "I didn't say I was finished!" she exclaimed indignantly.
"It's not for drinking," Gambit explained. "Well, not only for drinking." He pulled his handkerchief out of his jacket and stuffed it down the neck of the bottle.
Purdey watched him uncomprehendingly. "What on earth are you…? Ah!" The light dawned as Gambit took out his lighter and flicked it open. "A distraction."
"Hopefully a bit more than that, if my aim is good," Gambit murmured. "Might take a couple of them out, even the odds a bit."
Purdey beamed. "Mike Gambit, sometimes you really are brilliant." She leaned in and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.
Gambit looked extremely pleased at this turn of events. "Any chance you could repeat that when I'm in the position to appreciate it?"
"On whether you do something else to deserve it," Purdey said coyly.
"I'll bear that in mind," Gambit almost purred. "But right now, I'm going to give this to our friends. Surprise special delivery. I'll toss it, you take out the lights. It'll add to the general confusion. Ready?"
Purdey nodded in agreement. Gambit flicked open the lighter and moved to light up the handkerchief.
"Wait!" Purdey exclaimed suddenly, causing Gambit to nearly lose his grip on the bottle.
"What?" he asked in concern, casting around for the source of Purdey's alarm.
Purdey nodded to the speakers. "I like this song."
Gambit wanted to look surprised, but couldn't. "I'll buy you the album," he promised.
"I'd rather have the 12 inch," Purdey informed, then caught Gambit's look. "And before you say anything, I don't mean your twelve inch."
"You said it, not me," Gambit pointed out with a grin.
Purdey rolled her eyes expansively, but took aim at the disco's ceiling. Gambit leapt up and threw the bottle in a far-reaching arc over the dance floor, toward the two men hunched near the coat check. The bottle smashed, sending liquor across the floor, up the wall, and onto the men themselves, where it quickly caught fire. The flames, coupled with the screams and frantic attempts of both men to put themselves out, successfully distracted their colleagues, who were too busy shrinking back from the blaze to notice that the lights were gone and Purdey and Gambit had left the cover of the bar, guns in hand.
The fire having brought the total of their opponents down to five, Purdey and Gambit arranged themselves back to back, covering one another and moving in sync as they automatically sought out their targets. Gambit took aim at the man behind the turntables, who seemed quicker to recover his wits than his colleagues, and loosed off a shot that caught him in the shoulder of his gun arm. The man immediately dropped his weapon to clutch at the wound. He fell forward across the turntables, knocking the needle aside and bringing the song to a halt with a scratch that set everyone's teeth on edge. Gambit sensed the tightening of Purdey's shoulders. "Sorry," he apologised, both for the abrupt end to the track and the unpleasant sound effect.
"Spoilsport," Purdey pronounced, gripping a handful of Gambit's sleeve and swinging him around in a dance of their own making. In doing so, she not only pulled him from the path of a bullet, but lined up a particularly nice shot of her own. She took aim at the mount of the disco ball spinning merrily overhead, squeezed the trigger. The bullet neatly severed the ball's only defence against gravity, sending it on an unerring trajectory straight for the man who had just taken a shot at Gambit. The ball landed with full force on the man's cranium, and he pitched forward, looking stunned. The disco ball bounced heavenward, using the thug's brain as a trampoline, before depositing itself on the dancefloor with a crash. Purdey and Gambit raised their arms automatically to shield themselves from the spray of tiny mirrored pieces of glass.
"That'll be enough bad luck to last a lifetime," Gambit quipped, then added at Purdey's bemused expression. "All those mirrors."
Purdey pulled a face. "I'm already committed to a lifetime of your bad jokes. I don't think it can get much worse."
"The fact that you're anticipating a lifetime of anything with me is hopeful." Gambit treated her to a saucy wink.
"Finally, some positive thinking," Purdey shot back, allowing herself a small smile, then felt a hand on her shoulder that definitely wasn't Gambit's. "Watch out!" she cried, kicking backward automatically, gleaning some satisfaction from her foot connecting with something solid. She swung around, bracing her back against Gambit's, to face a man giving her the evil eye, doubled over from her blow. She suddenly realised Gambit and herself were surrounded by the remaining three men, who circled them menacingly.
"I'm out of bullets," Purdey confessed softly.
"So am I," Gambit replied grimly. "But I'll bet they aren't."
"Unlike most of your bets, the odds on that one are quite good," Purdey sighed.
"Purdey," Gambit murmured out of the corner of his mouth, "party trick number three."
Purdey nodded slightly, automatically reached back to link arms with Gambit. As the three men closed in, Gambit suddenly bent at the waist and pulled Purdey up onto his back. The action freed both of her long legs, which shot out and connected with two of the men square in the chest. They went flying backward, but Purdey was already flipping up and over Gambit's back, legs held firmly together to connect with the third man's head. He went down like the proverbial sack of potatoes, hitting the ground just as Purdey's stilettos returned to the dance floor's polished surface. Gambit straightened up in time to see Purdey smooth her gravity-ruffled hair, and was treated to a winning smile. "Why, thank you, kind sir," she said, treating him to a curtsy.
"My lady," Gambit replied, sweeping her an elaborate bow. Then they were off, splitting up to take on their last two opponents.
Purdey took up first position, waited for her man to make the first move. Luckily for her, he was impatient, charging at her with little finesse. Purdey effortlessly pirouetted to one side, raising one elegant leg as she did so to slam her man across the back and send him stumbling toward the wall.
Gambit chanced a look at Purdey's handiwork, mouth quirking upward on one side in an admiring smile. His opponent scowled at Gambit's levity, which cost him the fraction of a second he could have used to protect his neck from the blade of Gambit's hand as it landed an expert karate chop.
Purdey's man turned just in time to receive a high kick to the chin. Before she could decide on her next move, Gambit stepped in to grab his man by the lapels, spun them both around and then let him go. The dazed heavy collided with the wall next to his unfortunate compatriot. Gambit arrived at Purdey's side in pursuit, cast her a quick sideways glance. "Everything okay?" he asked off-handedly.
Purdey wrinkled her nose. "Not really. My partner has two left feet. He can't keep up with me at all."
"Well, don't hold it against him. Not every man knows his way around the dance floor as well as I do," Gambit said cockily. Purdey was prevented from making a cutting retort by the sudden, simultaneous recovery of both of their opponents, who pushed away from the wall and advanced, looking very annoyed indeed. "Whoops. Time to swing your partner round and round, Purdey-girl," Gambit observed as the two agents stepped back in unison and linked arms. They spun around, kicking out as they went, sending both men staggering.
"And switch!" Purdey called out, releasing Gambit's arm in tandem so that they were now facing off against one another's opponents. A few well-placed karate blows and a killer right hook later, and both men were sinking to the floor, down for the count.
Purdey surveyed the carnage, including the felled heavies, and then looked at Gambit and smiled beatifically. Gambit grinned back, and the pair shared a long look before the fire from Gambit's earlier incendiary device set the fire alarm going, and the proverbial heavens opened up as the sprinkler system went to work. Purdey's expression drooped in tandem with her hair as she was slowly soaked through. Gambit looked heavenward, sighed, and, before Purdey could say a word, slipped off his jacket and handed it over as a makeshift umbrella. "You find a callbox and ring Steed," he said resignedly, anticipating Purdey's orders. "I'll find the off switch."
Holding the jacket over her head, Purdey's smile returned. "Do you know something? For a man who doesn't claim to be a gentleman, you do an awfully good impersonation at times." She stepped in and kissed his now-very-wet cheek. Then she was hurrying through the faux rain for the door, leaving Gambit alone in the downpour. Despite being thoroughly drenched in ice-cold water, a warmth spread from his cheek to the rest of his body. He smiled to himself and set out to find the sprinkler system shut-off.
Later, Steed regarded the two unequally-sodden agents on the pavement in front of the club with a mix of amusement and incredulity. "I'd heard rumours that the pair of you occasionally went for wild nights out, but this is taking things to extremes."
"It was all Gambit's idea," Purdey defended, then seemed to catch up with Steed's comments. "What rumours?"
Steed smiled enigmatically, but Gambit's comment prevented any need for him to make a reply. "I just saw that it was open. Purdey's always saying she wants to go somewhere new."
"When I said 'new', I didn't mean with an added criminal element," Purdey countered, and Steed had to step in quickly to prevent the pair from engaging in one of their infamous bickering sessions.
"Regardless of whose idea it was, it's a very happy coincidence for our people. We'd had word that a new headquarters for this espionage ring had opened up somewhere in the city. We're extremely lucky that our own people stumbled upon it."
"I don't suppose this counts as overtime?" Gambit inquired, looking cautiously optimistic.
"Gambit!" Purdey groaned, unimpressed.
Gambit was undeterred. "I'll even settle for putting the dinner on expenses. Do you know how much it costs to keep her fed?"
"Gambit!" Purdey repeated, this time in a decidedly more outraged tone.
Gambit raised a sceptical eyebrow at her. "Don't look at me like that. Your appetite puts most blokes to shame."
"I'm not going to justify my perfectly normal calorie intact," Purdey shot back.
"And you shouldn't have to. But you could offer to pay once in awhile," Gambit pointed out wryly.
"And I didn't realise you were so mean mean mean you'd begrudge a girl her dinner," Purdey accused, turning to the senior agent for support, but Steed seemed uninterested in diving into the culinary fray.
"I'll leave the epicurean arithmetic to you, and take over the clean-up, shall I?" Steed demurred, looking from one bedraggled agent to the other. "I imagine both of you want to go home and put your feet up."
"At this hour?" Purdey exclaimed incredulously. "It's not even eleven. Gambit promised to take me to the disco."
"Technically, I did take you to the disco," Gambit pointed out. "We just wound up doing a different dance than planned."
Purdey sniffed. "You're not getting out this that easily. You made me a promise, Mike Gambit, and you're always going on about how you keep your promises."
Gambit looked tiredly at Steed. "I do keep saying that."
"Amongst other things," Purdey said triumphantly. "So we're going to go home and get changed, and we'll be back on the dancefloor in half an hour." Her eyes were sparkling now. She was a woman on a mission.
Steed regarded the half-drowned Gambit with something akin to sympathy. "On second thought, I can always leave Gambit here to see things through to the end, and run you home, Purdey," he offered, in hopes that this would buy the younger man a reprieve. To his surprise, Gambit shook his head slightly.
"That's all right, Steed," he said, turning eyes that were just starting to dance to Purdey, who was pretending, unconvincingly, not to notice his gaze. "I did make Purdey a promise."
Purdey looked infinitely pleased. "And this time I'll pick the disco." She flashed Steed the brilliant smile of someone who had just gotten her way in spectacular fashion. "See you tomorrow, Steed."
"I sincerely hope so," Steed murmured, glancing at Gambit. "If there's anything of either of you left." But Purdey had taken Gambit's arm and was already leading him off. Despite the evening he'd had, the younger man was smiling. He winked conspiratorially at Steed before he was whisked away, and Steed knew he didn't imagine the jauntiness of his step. Steed watched them go with a bemused smile, then shook his head.
"Love is a many-splendored thing," he quoted from memory. "And also very odd." Then he opened his brolly and ventured inside the disco to assess the situation.