Disclaimer: None of the characters contained in this story belong to me, sadly. I am only borrowing them.
A/N: This was written for jedipenguin, who hasn't seen the show yet but wanted "a shippy Mrs. Peel fic." It's not horribly shippy, but the possibility is there. Also, this is a vague crossover with the show NCIS, but makes perfect sense without knowing that show at all.
It had been almost six years, and he only saw her from the back, but he knew without question that the woman sitting on the park bench was Emma Peel.
"Good day, dear lady," he said as he walked up to her, doffing his bowler.
"Why Steed, what a surprise. What are you doing here?" The years had been kind to her; she looked almost exactly the same as she had that spring day he had last seen her. Her hair was the same rich brown, her eyes still glowed with humor and intelligence. There were a few lines around her eyes, but they were barely noticeable.
"Just out for a stroll in the park, Mrs. Peel." He gave his umbrella a twirl before joining her on the bench. "And you?"
"Abby and I are getting some fresh air before we go out for tea."
"Abby?" he asked, looking around but not seeing anyone.
"My monkey," Emma laughed, and Steed had the feeling he had missed out on a joke.
"I'm not a monkey, I'm an ornithologist looking for a new species of bird," a small voice called out from somewhere overhead. Steed looked up to see a little girl sitting on the lowest branch of the tree that shaded the bench. Her pale brown hair was in pigtails, her clothing was all black and she had a small pair of boots on her feet.
"Sorry love, I forgot," Emma blew a kiss to the child. "Would you mind coming down and meeting my friend, or are you too busy with your scientific discoveries?"
"I like meeting people." Steed watched as the girl scrambled down from the tree. Something in the vicinity of his chest tightened. Emma was in the park on a Saturday with a little girl. He shouldn't be surprised; she had left to be with her husband, and it was only natural that they would want to start a family. He'd always thought she would make a splendid mother, so why did it bother him to know that she was living the life she should?
"Steed, I'd like you to meet Abigail. Abby, this is an old friend of mine, Mr. Steed." Emma made the introductions and Steed solemnly shook the hand that was offered.
"Hello Mr. Steed. We're going to have high tea at The Ritz. Wanna come?" Abby asked.
"I'd be honored." He rose from the bench and offered his hand to Emma. "If that's alright with you, Mrs. Peel?"
"Of course. You certainly are dressed to meet their standards," she said as she surveyed his pale gray suit.
They walked across the grass, Abby running ahead of them darting from tree to tree as if playing a game of hide and seek with the sun's rays. Though they talked the entire time nothing of importance was said; the subjects of Peter Peel and the Department of Ministry were both carefully avoided. When they reached the hotel they were seated in the golden resplendence of the Palm Court. Steed maneuvered himself into the chair closest to the wall so that he had a view of the entire room. Though he wasn't officially on duty it was a matter of habit, and he was so busy studying his environment that he almost missed Abby's question.
"Aunt Emma can we have blue berry jam i and /i clotted cream for the scones? I like to mix them together."
"Aunt Emma?" he asked, almost before the girl had finished speaking. "But I thought..."
"Yes Abby, we may order both," Emma answered the child first before turning her attention to Steed. "What did you think Steed?"
"That Abigail was your daughter. The resemblance is remarkable and she seems to be about the right age if..." he deliberately let the sentence drift off.
"Do I really look like Aunt Emma? I want to be just like her when I grow up. I'm going to be a famous scientist and fight bad guys and dress however I want, not in stupid pink dresses like mommy want me to wear." Abby bounced in her seat as she spoke, a grin on her face.
"You're the splitting image of your Aunt, and I'm sure you'll do all those things," Steed replied with a smile to match the girls. He felt as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
"Yes, well talk like that and your mother will never let you visit again." Emma caught the eye of a waiter and waved him over to the table. She quickly ordered tea, sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and a single brandy.
"Yes she will," Abby answered with confidence. "She says that I have too much energy and you're the only one who has any hope of taming me." It was obvious from the way she parroted the words that Abby was only repeating someone. Sliding off her chair she whispered into her aunt's ear and ran off in the direction of the lady's room.
"Who would want to tame such a charming creature?"
"I believe she's rather a handful for my cousin and his wife," Emma said. "They had a second baby a few weeks ago and sent Abby out for a long visit. Did you really think she was mine?"
"I did, Mrs. Peel. I would have thought you and Peter..."
"Peter and I have been divorced for two years," she said matter of factly. "We didn't have any children."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"Are you really, Steed?" She cocked her head to the side and studied him.
"No," he answered honestly, shaking his head slightly. "But I am sorry if it hurt to have your marriage end."
"The marriage ended long before the divorce came about. We both tried, but it never was the same, after. We were both different people and couldn't return to who we had been."
"If it's any consolation I like who you are now. And speaking of the present what are you doing now when you're not casting little girls in your own mold?" Now that he knew he wouldn't have to bear any stories about her husband he was keen to catch up on her recent history.
"A bit of this and that. I still write the occasional scientific article. I have a manager for Knight's but I like to keep a hand in there. I travel whenever I have a whim. It's surprising how much free time one has when they aren't being chased by killers, tied up, or examining mysterious happenings."
"But that's what makes life so fun, Mrs. Peel. Don't you ever miss it?" i Don't you miss me /i is what he really wanted to ask, but he never would. He didn't want to hear a negative reply.
"Oh, there are a few things I miss." Her enigmatic half smile was enough for him to brave another question.
"Perhaps you'd like to come over one evening this week to discuss old times over some wine? I have a few rather nice bottles that would be perfect for the occasion." She shook her head and he thought the game was over. But then she quirked a single eyebrow at him.
"I can't very well leave Abby alone at night, but perhaps you'd like to come over to my flat?"
"I'd be delighted."
At that moment both Abby and the teacart arrived at the table, and the rest of the meal was taken up in discussing scones, baby brothers and the animals at the zoo that Abby and Emma had gone to earlier that day. Abby had seen a hippo for the first time and insisted on telling the story twice.
"I'll see you tonight, Steed?" Emma said as they walked out of the hotel.
"Tonight, Mrs. Peel," he said with a tip of his hat and a wave of his umbrella.