Cover Story

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 weather was filthy, chucking down with abandon. It was the sort of weather that Mike Gambit, if he were Scottish, would have described as 'dreich'. But Gambit, as he steered his Range Rover through the torrential downpour, windshield wipers just barely keeping pace with the sheer vision-altering wetness, had yet to hear of any Scots blood tying into what he cheerfully called his melting pot of a family tree. That didn't mean there wasn't any in there, of course—there was Irish and Welsh, after all, and so plenty of room to add yet another nation to the tally—but so far, he had no evidence of any Scottish relations. And so he stuck to calling it filthy weather and left the 'dreich' to those currently residing in Edinburgh.

It didn't matter, in any case, because despite the foulness of the weather, Gambit's mood was anything but. The clouds might have been dark, but the tune he was whistling cheerfully to himself, as he navigated the washed-out roads with ease, revealed a lightness of heart that outshone the gloom outside the cab of the Range Rover. Weather or not, he had a lot to be happy about. He was back in London following a two-week undercover assignment. That the assignment had gone well would have been cause for celebration in and of itself, but that was not the reason for Gambit's jubilant mood. That he had finally been allowed to return home, to his own bed in his own flat, was also a relief, but again it wasn't the reason that he practically skipped the vehicle into a very familiar neighbourhood. No, the reason for Gambit's almost effervescent mood was, quite simply, that he was about to be reunited with Purdey, who had been needed in London while he was away. It was the first time he and Purdey had been apart for any extended period since the beginning of their new romance, and Gambit was looking forward to their reunion very much indeed. That reunion was now nigh, hence Gambit's very sunny demeanour as he parked the Rover squarely in front of Purdey's flat and, without pausing to consider the deluge emanating from the heavens, he opened the door and stepped out into the rain.

It wasn't, technically, that far from the street to Purdey's front door, but in a torrential downpour, each of those infamous 21 steps earned him an extra gallon of water dumped over his quickly-sodden head and shoulders. It also added to the perilousness, each of the long, steep surfaces sporting a slippery layer of raindrop-pocked water. Though he made it to the bottom alive and intact, he wound up absorbing a few more litres of liquid as he dallied at Purdey's front door, desperately trying to root out his keys from the pocket of his soaked mac, then peering through the deluge as he attempted to locate the key to her flat on the ring, a task made more difficult by his sudden half-blindness due to the rainwater trickling into his eyes.

Somehow, finally, against all odds, and before he drowned on her doorstep, he found the key and his way inside. The next thing he knew, he was standing on Purdey's welcome mat in the dark, his own heavy breathing in his ears, backgrounded by the comfortingly-muffled sound of rain lashing against the exterior walls, all while he proceeded to drip an ever-widening puddle onto the space around the rug.

Gambit sighed with relief and wiped his dripping nose with his sleeve, then scowled when the cloth only transferred more water to his skin. Knowing better than to traipse through the whole of Purdey's living area like the world's (second-)largest drowned rat, Gambit set about unpeeling the soaked-through mackintosh from his waterlogged frame, then bent to unzip the boots that squelched unpleasantly every time he shifted his weight. Inside, he discovered his socks were in a similarly wretched state, and pulled them off with an unpleasant sucking sound.

Barefoot and walking gingerly to prevent as much water as possible from dripping onto the floor, Gambit picked his way into the kitchen carrying his sodden things, night vision on high alert for any errant sticks of furniture that might leap out of the shadows and trip him up. He dumped the two small lakes out of his boots and into the kitchen sink, then wrung out the mac and socks, too, mindful that using the bathtub would probably rouse the sleeping Purdey. Not to mention the damage he'd do to her carpet on the way. Shaking the worst of the water off his suit jacket's sleeves, he continued his midnight tour with a quick stop at Purdey's radiator, where, after a quick bout of furniture rearranging, he managed to position mac, jacket, socks, and boots in front of the heat source at what he judged to be a safe distance to keep them from bursting into flame, burning clothes being something he doubted Purdey would appreciate waking up to. He knew Purdey was unlikely to be keen with his rearrangement of her living room, either, but of the two, at least the latter gave them a better chance of survival. For Purdey, at least—all told, Gambit wasn't entirely sure he wouldn't fare better against the fire.

Having successfully redistributed his damp garments throughout Purdey's living area, Gambit crept quietly toward the bedroom, pushing the beaded curtains aside with great care as he slipped through to minimise the way they clattered together. He stood uncertainly at the foot of the bed, looking at the lump outlined in the middle of the covers, just visible through the smudged moonlight pushing through the downpour and into her window. He didn't want to wake Purdey, but it had seemed like an agonisingly long time since he'd seen her, and his enthusiasm to be reunited with the woman he'd been—'pining' sounded a bit desperate, but Purdey would probably use the word just to satisfy her own ego—yearning for over the past week had overcome common sense. Now, shivering slightly in a shirt and trousers that were damper than he'd realised, he wondered if he wouldn't have been smarter to leave Purdey be and go back to his own flat for a hot bath and a night in his own clean, dry sheets. He was just about to beat a silent retreat and leave Purdey in peace when the woman in question shifted beneath her bedclothes, propped herself up on a shoulder, and peered inquisitively into the dark at the silhouette at the foot of her bed.

"Gambit?" came the question, in a voice thick with sleep. "Is that you?"

"The fact that you have to ask," Gambit began, rounding the bed, delighted in spite of himself that he hadn't had to leave without talking to her, "makes me wonder who else you might be expecting. Taken up with another lover while I've been gone?"

"Several," Purdey quipped drowsily as he settled onto the edge of her bed, sounding just as pleased that he was back as he was. "But you're my favourite. Or at the very least in the top three." She groped for his hand in the dark, and he saved her the trouble by using his more well-developed night vision to curl his fingers around her palm. "I thought you weren't coming back for another day or two."

"Steed pulled some strings and got me released early for good behaviour," Gambit explained, grinning so broadly at being reunited with Purdey that he felt like his face might split. "Why, are you disappointed? Did you have plans?"

"I was thinking about going to the ballet tomorrow," Purdey said idly, sitting up and curling an arm around his shoulders to draw him closer. "But I suppose having you back is rather nice as well—Mike, you're soaked!"

"I, uh, had a bit of an impromptu shower on the way here," Gambit confided, as Purdey's hand felt its way up into his damp curly hair, which had seen some of the worst of the weather. "If you think my shirt's wet, you should see the two layers I had on top of it."

"You'll catch pneumonia if you're not careful," Purdey tutted, combing sodden curls back from his forehead.

Gambit leaned in, cupping her chin in the dark. "Even if I did, you'd be worth it."

"That's very romantic, if rather misguided," Purdey murmured, nose nuzzling his own. "I suppose the least I can do in return for such a valiant sacrifice is to warm you up again."

"Purdey, you read my mind," Gambit purred, just before his lips were otherwise occupied. Kissing Purdey, especially after being apart for so long, was absolute heaven, and Gambit felt himself warm from the inside out as he submerged himself in the pure, unadulterated bliss that only being in Purdey's arms could bring.

That state of ecstasy lasted for approximately two seconds before Purdey made an odd noise, sputtered, and broke away with a mildly distressed, "Gambit, what on earth-?"

It was terrible—or excellent—timing that the lightning chose to strike at the exact moment Purdey pulled away, illuminating Gambit's visage for the first time in classic horror movie style. Purdey let out an ear-splitting screech in response, completing the effect, causing Gambit to nearly fall off the bed in surprise. He was still wiggling a finger in the ear that had taken the full brunt of Purdey's octave-bothering exclamation when she switched on the bedside lamp and goggled at him in horrified disbelief. "Purdey, I know we're in a high-risk profession, but on the off-chance I do live to see forty, I would still like to be able to hear out of both my ears," he muttered crossly, giving his earlobe a final rueful tug. It was only then that he noticed Purdey gawping at him like he'd just arrived from another planet. "Purdey, what is it?"

Slowly, with great effort, Purdey lifted her arm, petrified expression enough to make Gambit's blood run cold. She pointed a trembling index finger straight at Gambit. "What…" she began, in a hiss so low that he had to strain to hear her over the roar of the rainfall. "…is that?"

"What is what?" Gambit frowned in puzzlement, rubbed his chin bemusedly, then felt realisation dawn. "Oh, you mean my beard?"

"Is that what you call it?" Purdey said icily, sullenly crossing her arms. "No wonder I felt as though I was kissing a wet dog. Mike Gambit, what on earth possessed you to grow a beard?"

"I needed it for the assignment," Gambit replied, a touch defensively, sitting back and matching her arm for crossed arm. "It was part of my cover."

"Oh." Purdey's hunched shoulders eased back, and she relaxed noticeably. "That's all right, then. And you haven't had a chance to shave it?"

"Actually," Gambit said carefully, and with a touch of trepidation, "I was thinking of keeping it."

Purdey's eyes went wide with horror, as though he'd just told her he was keeping a man-eating snake in his bathroom. Which, as far as she was concerned, would have been preferable. "Gambit, you're not serious?"

"Why not?" Gambit looked slightly offended by her reaction. "I took all the trouble to grow it. Seems a shame to just get rid of it again."

Purdey blanched, eyes almost comically wide. "What on earth would possess you to wear that…thing for any longer than you had to?"

"I don't know," Gambit admitted with a shrug, running a thoughtful hand over his now-fuzzy cheek as though searching for the answer. "Might be fun. At least it makes for a change."

Purdey regarded him sceptically. "Have you joined a Tom Jones tribute act and forgotten to tell me?"

"What's wrong with Tom Jones?"

"Nothing, if I was interested in you for your stirring rendition of 'Delilah'." Purdey climbed out from under the covers to assess Gambit's furried features from another angle.

"I can always take a crack at it if it helps." Gambit waggled his eyebrows at her cheerfully, in the vain hope that it would, in combination with the joke, defuse the situation.

"It won't," Purdey said firmly, and Gambit watched her eyes narrow as she assessed his newly-acquired facial hair from every angle, prowling the surface of the mattress like a particularly judgmental cat. "I prefer my men clean-shaven."

"If you keep bringing up other men, I'm going to start getting worried," Gambit said wryly. "Where are you hiding them all? Under your bed?"

"Don't give me any ideas," Purdey said darkly, lips pressed into a thin line.

"Come on, Purdey," Gambit wheedled, putting on his most charming smile. "What's wrong with it?"

Purdey arched an eyebrow. "Do you really want to know?"

"Try me."

Purdey sighed, tilted her head to one side, and regarded him inquisitively.

There was a prolonged silence.

Gambit looked at Purdey. Purdey looked at Gambit. Although 'at' might not have been strictly the right word. She seemed to be looking past, through, in front, and at him at the same time. Her expression was unreadable and, eventually, unmoving as well. Gambit resisted the urge to wave a hand in front of her seemingly-unblinking gaze. It was unnerving, to say the least. "Purdey?" he asked eventually, when the suspense became too much, just to check that her consciousness hadn't ascended to some heretofore unknown plane of existence.

Purdey blinked and seemed to remember herself. "What?" she asked tersely, sounding both annoyed and slightly embarrassed.

Gambit swirled a finger in front of his unshorn chin. "You were going to tell me why you hated my beard?" he reminded.

Purdey blinked again, more rapidly this time, and squirmed a little, though Gambit couldn't work out quite why his question unnerved her so much.

"It's corny," she finally declared, albeit a bit weakly.

Gambit was unimpressed with this pronouncement. "That's all?"

Purdey scowled. "Isn't that enough?"

Gambit shook his head very slowly. "My jokes are corny, but you don't make me stop telling them."

"That doesn't mean I like them," Purdey justified, tucking her legs under herself self-consciously.

"You know you do," Gambit said good-humouredly, giving her a friendly eye. "If only because you like telling me how bad they are. Try again."

Purdey's mouth twitched as she considered what else she could say, another criticism to level at Gambit's facial hair. "Well, I'm going to go mad from it going up my nose," she grumbled. "And that's leaving aside the way it scrapes my cheek."

Gambit still looked incredulous. "You've kissed me with stubble."

"There's a difference between stubble and full-on mountain man," Purdey said primly.

"Which is?"

"Stubble is ruggedly sexy. A sort of artfully dishevelled version of your usual look," Purdey differentiated patiently, warming to her subject. "A beard is—well, a commitment to another look entirely."

"One that you don't like?"

"No."

"So there's no chance I can keep it…?" Gambit asked hopefully.

"Only if you want to enter a period of enforced celibacy."

"Okay." Gambit held his arms up in surrender. "I know better than to try to out-argue you on things like this. I give up. I'll shave it off."

"Oh, no," Purdey contradicted, waggling a reproving finger under his nose. "I don't trust you to do the job. I'll shave it off."

"I do know how, you know," Gambit protested tiredly.

"Yes, but it's been so long since you used a razor, you might be out of practice," Purdey said sweetly. "Or perhaps you've forgotten how to do it entirely. And even if you haven't, I don't trust you to not think of a way to put it off. Come on," she summoned, vaulting out of the bed with purpose. "Let's get on with it."

"Now?" Gambit tore his eyes away from her legs, on full display in her short nightie, as she swung them over the edge of the mattress. "Can't it wait until morning?"

"No," Purdey said firmly, grabbing Gambit's arm and dragging him to his feet. "We're going to do it, and we're going to do it now."

"I love it when you say that."

Purdey ignored him and tapped her bottom lip thoughtfully as Gambit regained his balance from being yanked violently upright. "Let's see. I think you left a razor here a few weeks ago. I can use that."

Gambit regarded her with a touch of trepidation. "Are you in the right frame of mind to be handling sharp objects?"

"My frame of mind isn't going to get any more positive if I don't do something about that thing," Purdey said through gritted teeth, marching Gambit to the bathroom. She switched on the overhead, and the disparity between the dim light of Purdey's bedroom lamp and the full-on glare of the overhead, wreaked merry havoc with his night vision.

"Purdey, I don't want to sound critical, but when I came to see you tonight," he managed, eyes squeezed shut against the painful brightness, "I didn't expect to be deafened and then blinded in short succession."

"That's not all that'll happen if you don't get rid of that thing," Purdey muttered, and Gambit cracked open an eye to find her unbuttoning his shirt with quick, nimble fingers. She caught the beginnings of his pleased smile and added, "If you must know, this is to save your shirt. Or do you fancy wearing shaving cream as part of your attire?"

Gambit's eyebrows turned sceptical. "And that's all?"

Purdey sighed in mild irritation. "All right, and it'll let me look for any injuries you might have acquired on assignment, and may have failed to mention."

Gambit's mouth was turning upwards slightly at the corners, amused. "And…? No other reason?"

Purdey's lips were mirroring his. "I don't what you mean," she said coquettishly. "Now come on, off off, before you catch cold. From the state of this shirt, I'm starting to wonder if you swam all the way here."

"As touched as I am by your concern," Gambit murmured, eyes cracking open the rest of the way as Purdey pulled the garment off his shoulders, "do I actually get a say in how my makeover plays out, or are you going to hold me down and do the deed?"

"Of course it's your decision," Purdey said brightly, putting the plug in the sink and cranking on the water, then rifling through the medicine cabinet before coming up with a bottle of shaving cream and a razor. "Just as it's my decision not to kiss you as long as you have it. So you can make up your own mind as to whether I have the final say as I wield the razor." She twisted off the tap with a certain amount of finality and turned expectantly to Gambit. "Well?"

Gambit pouted. "That's blackmail."

"It's reality." Purdey shook the can of shaving cream as if she were preparing for battle. "I am not kissing any more wet dogs."

"All right, all right, I surrender," Gambit grumbled, nearly swallowing a glob of shaving cream in the process as Purdey depressed the nozzle and set upon him with vigour. She lathered him up in record time, then brandished the razor with a glint in her eye that made Gambit slightly nervous. "It's not too late to let me do that, you know," he pointed out. "You can stand here and supervise."

"Oh, hush, I'm not going to cut you," Purdey clucked, swiping a clear space along his chin with an expert flick of her wrist before he could protest. "I do shave my legs, you know. It's the same principle."

"Yeah," Gambit muttered, nervously holding still under Purdey's enthusiastic razorwork. "But your legs aren't anywhere near your jugular."

"Really, Gambit. You're a highly-trained agent who makes a habit of coming home with bullet wounds. A tiny little razor is nothing in comparison," Purdey dismissed, flicking a blob of cream into the sink. "Look, I'm already a third of the way through. It'll be over before you know it." She returned her attention to his chin, frowned quizzically. "That is, if you don't regrow it as fast as I take it off. That thing sprang up alarmingly fast given your general lack of body hair. You didn't have it when you left, and you've only been gone two weeks."

"If I let it go, it sort of takes on a mind of its own," Gambit explained out of the corner of his mouth, stretching his top lip down over his teeth to enable Purdey to shear the area under his nose without taking the lip with it. "I think it's a survival mechanism courtesy of my Welsh forebears."

Purdey actually snickered as she rinsed the razor. "Well, it's very encouraging to know that if you ever do relocate to a Welsh mining town, you'll be able to fit in with the locals."

"That's my escape plan," Gambit joked, as Purdey started in on his other cheek. "If I ever really annoy Steed, that's where I'm going into hiding."

"For what crime?"

Gambit made a moue and considered. "Selling secrets to the other side?"

Purdey shook her head. "Not serious enough. But if you put a cricket ball through Steed's china cabinet, you'd be lucky to escape with your life."

Gambit shuddered dramatically. "There'd be no running from that. You'd stop by one day and find Steed burying me in the back garden."

"Don't be ridiculous," Purdey clucked, blowing on the razor to clear away a clump of shavings. "Steed would never put a body somewhere so blatantly obvious. The intelligent choice is under the stables."

"Should I be worried that you've given this some thought?"

"I'd be more worried that you haven't. Hold still." She ploughed a furrow on his chin, then added, "Anyway, you'd have to go farther than Wales if you didn't want Steed to track you down. I'd go at least as far as the Bahamas."

"To work on your tan?" Purdey didn't need Gambit to tell her to know he was picturing her in a bikini. "That sounds even better than Wales. Can I come?"

"Maybe. If you're very good," Purdey said pertly.

"I'm always good," Gambit quipped. "You know that." Purdey grinned a little but didn't say anything, concentrating on her work. They stood in silence for a moment, Purdey shaving, Gambit holding still, his eyes distant with thought. Eventually, Purdey could take no more.

"All right, Mike Gambit," she said, no-nonsense, rinsing the razor once more. "Out with it."

Gambit's face was the picture of innocence. "Out with what?"

"You have that look," Purdey almost accused. "The one where you have when you're miles away and pondering the mysteries of the universe. There's something you want to say, so you might as well get on with it and say it before we both die of old age or this beard regrows, whichever comes first."

There was a pause. And then, "Why do you hate it?" Gambit said softly. "And don't say it's because it's corny or it tickles."

Purdey emitted a sigh at the question, but it sounded more shaky than annoyed. "Well, if you must know," she muttered, using the rinsing of the razor as an excuse not to meet his eyes, "it's because it makes you not look like you."

Gambit smiled uncertainly, not quite sure what to do with that answer. "What do you mean? Purdey, it's still me."

Purdey did look up then, really looked, squinted even, as though trying to decide if she could find him through the overgrowth. She held up the hand holding the razor and used it to shield the bottom part of his face from view. "Half of you is," she confirmed softly. "The top half. But when I look at all of it, together…" She dropped her hand, looked at the whole picture, then shook her head. "It isn't you. Not the you I know."

Gambit regarded her for a moment, cleared his throat uncomfortably. "I, uh, don't suppose this is your way of telling me you miss my rugged good looks?"

Purdey, for her part, didn't even manage a huff of reproach, which told him more about how upset she was than if she'd delivered a right hook to his jaw. Instead, she levelled her gaze at him, and said, with remarkable steadiness, "If you must know, it goes back to when I first joined the Ministry."

Gambit regarded her with interest, sensing something deeper was at work. "Okay..."

Purdey was fiddling with the razor, expression pinched. "I'd been through a lot by then. I didn't trust very many people, certainly not anyone I'd just met, and the Ministry was full of strangers who seemed friendly enough. But I didn't feel safe with any of them. Not really." She bit her lip, suddenly uncertain. "Then I met you."

Gambit rested a comforting hand on her shoulder, grinned reassuringly at her. "Don't stop now. Now that I'm involved, it's suddenly become really interesting."

"I thought it might." Purdey's mouth quirked up on one side in a sad little smile. "The thing is, I quite like your face, Mike Gambit. Yours was the first face I trusted for a very, very long time. Because you've always been my partner, in every sense of the word. And whenever I see you, see your face, everything feels a bit better. That's why I don't like to be without you." She sighed heavily, glad to finally have that out. "And that's why I don't like the beard."

Gambit looked as though he was on the verge of tears. "Purdey," he began, in a voice that shook with emotion. "You don't know what that means to me."

"Also, you have a rather nice jawline, and I'd rather see it than what looks like your impersonation of a Shakesperean background player when I first wake up in the morning."

Gambit grinned a rueful grin through unshed tears. "I should have known that was coming."

Purdey laughed a little in spite of herself, but there was the note of a sob in it as well, a sign that she was releasing some pent-up tension. Her eyes were suddenly downcast. "You should have. But you've made me feel guilty now. I know you'd never try to dictate how I look. It's your chin. I shouldn't tell you what do with it."

"You're right. It is my chin," Gambit agreed, and Purdey winced a little. He gently tipped her own chin up until she met his eyes, smiled softly. "But I'm glad you told me. Because now I want to get rid of it, too."

"You do?" Purdey's eyes lit up a little. "But why? You were so excited about it."

"I was," Gambit confirmed. "But it was only meant to be a bit of fun." He dipped his head to move his face closer to hers. "And you, Purdey, are much, much more than a bit of fun." Mindful of how she'd reacted to a kiss on the lips, he planted one on the bridge of her nose instead, then wiped away the shaving cream the act left behind. "So if it's all the same to you, I'd like you to finish what you started."

He could actually see the relief flood through her body, and she set to work with purpose. When she'd shorn away every single, solitary black whisker, she nodded with satisfaction and laid the razor aside. "I think I caught it all. Wash your face and we'll see if there's anything left that needs to be cleaned up."

Gambit did as he was told, rinsing his face in the sink, then took the towel Purdey offered him to dry himself. The second the cloth fell away, Purdey began her inspection, regarding him with a critical eye. Gambit waited patiently as he felt her eyes skim over his features systematically, every curve and contour, every eyelash and pore. When she finished, it was clear she could hardly contain her delight, so she didn't try. She placed a hand on each freshly-shorn cheek, leaned in, and said, with unvarnished joy, "There you are, my gorgeous man."

"Clean up all right, do I?" Gambit teased, earning a laugh from Purdey.

"Beautifully," she pronounced.

Gambit's lips—now mercifully no longer framed by black hair—turned up at the corners. "Well enough for a kiss?"

"More than one," Purdey promised, with a glint in her eye. "With you being away, I have some catching up to do." She arched an eyebrow, coy. "If you don't mind."

"I think I can oblige," Gambit said huskily, before she kissed him hard enough to make his head spin.

They carried on for a long moment, Purdey's fingers wending their way into his dark curls, hair that she found altogether more welcome and pleasant than the scratchy whiskers she'd just removed. When she surfaced before he passed out from sheer lack of oxygen, she added, "And if it wasn't clear, I did miss you, Mike Gambit, and I'm very happy to see you again. All of you."

"The feeling's mutual," Gambit assured, brushing her blonde hair back from her face to get the full effect of her toothy grin, and regarding her inquisitively.

"What is it?" Purdey wanted to know, feeling concern seep into her consciousness.

"Well, before we get too busy," Gambit began, mock serious, and Purdey knew she was about to be teased. "I was wondering whether you're now going to try to have the hair on the top of my head changed, too."

Purdey laughed with relief. "I can honestly say, Mike Gambit, that beard aside, there's nothing I'd change about you, follicularly speaking." She ruffled the ebony curls playfully. "I have told you to never cut your hair, remember."

"That's good to know," Gambit said with mock-relief, pleased grin stretching his lips. "Not only is it going to save me a fortune in barber's fees—"

"That would be your first concern. You really are mean, mean, mean."

"-but it means I have time for other, much more interesting things that I've been missing since I went undercover."

Purdey arched an interested eyebrow. "Such as?"

Gambit voice dropped in pitch. "Is that offer to warm me up still good?"

Purdey's grin turned sly. "Oh, it's definitely still good, Mike Gambit. And what's more, I'd anticipated that."

Gambit quirked an eyebrow. "Psychic vision?"

Purdey shook her head, unfettered delight spreading across her features, unable to resist the quip that appeared in her mind, fully formed. "It was written all over your face."

Gambit groaned. "I thought bad puns were more my line."

"I have my moments," Purdey purred, hands dropping to the waist of his still rain-damp trousers. "Now, then, I think it's time I got you out of these wet things…"

End


Author's Note: This story was inspired by a 1975 newspaper photograph of Gareth Hunt sporting a beard (possibly for his role as Gildenstern opposite Albert Finney in a National Theatre production of "Hamlet", the run of which overlapped with the production of the early episodes of "The New Avengers"), as well as his bearded performance as Thomas Woolner in 1974's "The Love School", released a few months ago on DVD. I couldn't help but wonder what Purdey would think if Gambit ever turned up with a similar crop of facial hair!