In 26

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.

The Last of the Cybernauts…?

"How's the head?" Steed inquired of Gambit as the trio picked their way through the debris into what remained of Purdey's living area.

Gambit set his now-empty can of plastic skin on the edge of Purdey's upturned side table and pressed a hand to the back of his neck. "Not as bad as the whiplash," he replied ruefully.

Purdey tore her eyes away from the cursing, frozen Kane and frowned in puzzlement. "What whiplash?" she wanted to know.

"I found Gambit unconscious in the street outside," Steed explained, bending to retrieve the two parts of Purdey's scattered telephone from the floor.

"What, again?" Purdey teased, earning a groan from Gambit. "Gambit, you really must stop drinking in the afternoon. You know it never ends well."

"That might have been a little more pleasant," Gambit grunted. "Kane crushed me between two cars."

"Rather unsporting, using a man's own transportation against him," Steed opined mildly, toggling the contacts on the receiver and smiling as the buzz of a dial tone reached his ears. "I do hope the marks will buff out."

"Off the car or me?" Gambit arched his back in a stretch and Purdey winced at the audible crack of bone. "It's funny. Usually when I'm on surveillance, I get a crick in my neck from staying inside the car."

Purdey's ears pricked up. "Surveillance?" she repeated, voice darkening dangerously. "Mike Gambit, is that why you were lurking outside my door earlier?"

Gambit paused mid-stretch, looking rather guilty. "I wasn't lurking," he defended. "I was…observing."

Purdey crossed her arms…crossly. "Is that what you call it?"

"Steed told me to keep an eye on you!" Gambit protested, pointing accusingly at the senior agent, who was busy dialling a number.

"Guilty as charged," Steed confirmed, then headed off Purdey's next question by speaking into the phone. "Steed here. I need someone sent out to collect Professor Mason and Felix Kane. That's right." He glanced at the still-motionless figure. "Yes, he's definitely alive, although no longer kicking."

With Steed otherwise occupied, Purdey turned her ire back on Gambit. "Why didn't you tell me?" she demanded.

"If Steed wanted you to know I was keeping an eye on you, he would've told you," Gambit countered, looking rather tired. "But he didn't, so I didn't."

"What made him think I needed keeping an eye on?" Purdey demanded, sullenly picking a piece of broken ceramic from her hair. "Why didn't he have me keep an eye on you? Or him?"

"Because I had a hunch that Kane would save me for last," Steed interjected, coming to the defence of the rather battered and beleaguered Gambit as he hung up the phone. "Of the three of us, I was the only one who'd ever met him, and his accident was the result of an operation I'd planned." He looked thoughtfully at the silhouette of the immobilised half-Cybernaut. "Given his malicious tendencies when he worked as a double agent, it seemed in-character for him to destroy you two first, as a way of making me suffer."

"He did say he wanted to make you suffer," Purdey mumbled, sounding rather annoyed that Steed had been proven so right in this particular instance. "But how could you know that he'd come for me first? Why not Gambit?"

"I didn't," Steed admitted. "Granted, he would have caused distress no matter in what order he chose to attack us." He looked conspiratorially at Gambit. "But there's a particular type of distress that comes with attacking a woman for whom two men care rather a lot." Steed and Gambit turned meaningful gazes on her.

Purdey, rather uncharacteristically, flushed beneath her recently-applied foundation. "Oh," she said softly, turning scornful eyes on Kane as a way of avoiding their gazes. "I resent my sex being used for emotional manipulation!" she snapped at Kane.

"First time for everything," Gambit murmured under his breath, but only smiled when Purdey turned narrowed eyes back at him. "Sorry about your place," he said instead, steering the conversation onto another track.

"Well, I have thought about redecorating," Purdey sighed, glancing around her decimated flat, and spotting her still-intact decanter. She crossed to it and set about filling three glasses. "I suppose this gives me an excuse to go furniture shopping."

"Always a silver lining," Steed said brightly, moving to take one of the glasses so Purdey could take the other to the still-concussed Gambit. "I'm sure the Ministry could see its way to buying you a few new objets d'art."

"And a new piano," Purdey added, clinking glasses with her colleagues before all three settled onto the still-intact couch. "I don't suppose they'll pay to have some tradesmen brought in to do a bit of painting?"

"That may be a bridge too far," Steed agreed.

"Hmm." Purdey pondered that thought a moment, then looked pointedly at Gambit. "How are you with a paintbrush?"

Gambit was resigned to his fate. "Do I have a choice?"

"After lurking? No."

"I wasn't lurking!" Gambit exclaimed, and Steed chuckled as an entire debate about the definition of the term 'lurk' unspooled between his colleagues.

Behind them, Kane was still swearing.