The Dance

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 Note: Just a little something for Valentine's Day.

When she was a little girl, Purdey danced. It wasn't "real" dancing—there were no steps that would be recognised or taught by an expert. But it was dancing nonetheless, whether she moved to the music from the radio or the rhythms in her head. By the time she was school age, her parents saw the writing on the wall and enrolled her in proper classes. The moves became more sophisticated, but the joy and exuberance behind them remained the same.

She danced when she was happy, when she was sad, when she was angry, or for no reason at all. No matter what the world threw at her, there was nothing that couldn't be made better by submitting to the sheer power of her body and letting it move in whichever direction the music took her. It was her comfort, untouched by the world around her. It swept away the taunts of the schoolyard bullies who called her skinny, even if she did make them live to regret their words. It brought her solace when her father died. It took her to the Sorbonne, because where else could she go to school except the country that had given her the art of ballet? It paid her rent when she finally left home. It brought her the Royal Ballet and applause and acclaim and promises of a bright future.

It also brought her Larry.

She thought that if her passion for dance could survive the death of her father, it could survive anything. But after the break-up, dance became more of a painful reminder of where she had met the man who hurt her than a refuge. And then there was the dreaded call to her instructor's office. She'd known that she was getting too tall for some time, but her fragility after the wedding was called off seemed to be the last straw. For the first time, the tumult of her personal life served to undermine her coordination, rather than improve it. Within a matter of months, she found herself without a fiancé or a job. It was a one-two punch that left her reeling, and it cast a pall on her favourite pastime, tainting it with the spectre of failed dreams and old mistakes.

She tried to replace it with school, but her studies never provided the escape she'd achieved with dance. When she'd finished her degree, she tried travel instead. She told her mother she wanted to find herself, and that was true. But if she was going to do that, she needed to find dance again.

She found it in Peking, in a roundabout way. She started studying martial arts with half an idea of following in her father's footsteps and entering his line of work. Self-defence had steps and moves and stances. It wasn't unlike dance that way. And the better she got at it, the more she started unconsciously incorporating her dance training into her lessons, and before she knew it, she was dancing again, and she loved it just as she had before. There were many factors that led her to join the Ministry, but that return of something she had thought she had lost was a major one.

For all her love of dance, it had mostly been a solitary pursuit. She never really danced with anyone with any regularity. She had with her father when he was alive, in the living room, but that was more about his smile and their laughter, the time they shared, and less about the dance itself. Boys at school were less-coordinated than an inebriated cow, and they didn't improve much with age. Larry was only capable of the simplest things, and didn't have the skill or the desire to keep up when the moves became more complicated. So Purdey was left to her own devices, and she didn't particularly mind. Dancing was hers, and hers alone. She didn't need anyone else to enjoy the sheer poetry of motion that came with a good dance.

The first person who'd ever proven capable of keeping up with her was Gambit, much to her surprise. Due to their line of work, she had soon found out that he could move, but it wasn't until they'd gone down the disco a few times that she realised he could move like that.

They danced all the time, really. Working in the field was a dance, a particularly deadly one that could go south very quickly if one put a foot wrong. Having a partner was a dance. The endless back and forths as they tried to unravel their latest mystery involved their own strange sort of coordination. And that wasn't a patch on the other dance they were known to do, the coy little one of teasing and flirtation, all set to music only they could hear. Sometimes it was a waltz, sometimes a tango, but they never missed a step.

Sex could be a dance, she knew. The placing of hands, the rhythm of hips, the entwining of bodies. She just hadn't experienced it that way until very recently.

She'd been dancing with Gambit all day. They'd done the dance in the field, and caught themselves a double agent. They'd done the metaphorical dance over dinner, and then done the literal version at the disco. And they'd had a very good dance on Gambit's retractable couch not three minutes before.

She was lying on her side now, one of Gambit's hands entwined with hers on the pillow above her head, the other tracing sensuous lines on her hipbone with his thumb. She could feel his lips, damp with sweat, brush her shoulder as he mouthed words against her flesh.

"You've gone quiet," he said lazily. "What are you thinking about in that wonderful brain of yours?"

Purdey smiled to herself. "You."

She'd been dancing all her life. But now she finally had a partner.