Disclaimer: I am trying to find Dr. Krelmar's brain swapping device, so that I can kidnap Emma and live her life (staying with Steed, of course). Until I find him nothing having to do with The Avengers belongs to me.
A/N: In the episode "Two's a Crowd" Steed pretended to be a model named Gordon, hired by PVEVto kill and impersonate himself. He did not let the kidnapped Emma in on the plan. This is a post ep, because I wanted to see Emma's reaction to the events of the episode.
Huge thanks to the dear Cattylizzie for her help.
Steed want to celebrate, Emma wants a promise
"That, if you pardon the pun, was rather smashing." Steed grinned as he watched the smoke rise from the model airplane sized hole in the house. There was something poetic about using the Russian's weapon against them.
"It was marvelous," Emma said dryly. "Now if you wouldn't mind taking me home, I'm rather tired."
"You'll have to be the one doing the taking, Mrs. Peel. I haven't a car here. I was afraid they would be suspicious if Gordon drove the same exact car as I did, and arranged for one of the goons to give me a ride here."
"There's one little problem with that plan, Steed. Yesterday you dropped me off there for the party," she said, gesturing to the smoldering house. "So I am also without a car."
"That is unfortunate." Steed squinted his eyes thoughtfully. "Oh well, we'll just have to call a cab. This thing should work now that the cause of the interference is destroyed."
Steed used the portable phone to call the nearest cab company and ordered a car. Closing it up again he picked the box up in one hand and offered his other arm to Emma. They made their way to the end of the drive, and fortunately did not have to wait long before their ride arrived.
"Shall we go to your place or mine, Mrs. Peel?" he asked once they were settled in the car. "I'm in the mood for a celebratory glass of champagne, preferably of a better vintage that they served yesterday at the party."
"By all means celebrate, but please drop me off at my flat first. I'm not in the mood for champagne."
"Not in the mood for champagne?" Steed said with over-dramatic horror. "But that can't be true."
"I spent last night on a hard wood floor with my hands tied together, and subsequently got very little rest. The only thing I'm in the mood for right now is a hot shower followed by a good night's sleep in my own bed."
"You're right, I should have thought of that." Leaning forward he gave the cabbie her address. "We'll just have to save our celebrating for tomorrow."
When he arrived at her apartment the next morning the eye in the middle of the door remained stubbornly shut. He rang the bell, rapped on the door with the handle of his cane, and even rattled the knob, but there was no answer. He was just about to give up when footsteps sounded behind him and he spun around to find the very person he had been waiting for.
"Mrs. Peel, what perfect timing. I was just popping round to see if I could take you out for breakfast." She was carrying two paper sacks and he took one from her as he spoke, allowing her to unlock the front door with her now free hand.
"It's almost eleven o' clock Steed. Isn't that a bit late for breakfast?" Emma headed straight for the kitchen, not inviting Steed to follow her but not protesting when he entered the flat and closed the door behind him.
"An early lunch then. Tandoori, or perhaps some nice Italian food?"
"Thanks, but I'm not hungry."
"How about a fencing match, then? That should work up an appetite, and afterwards we can go to lunch." In fact, now that he thought on it a bout of fencing sounded like just the thing.
"Actually I was hoping to spend the day alone, Steed. I need to catch up on my reading and there is some business for Knight Industries I need to see to." Her voice was muffled as she leaned into the cupboard, putting away her groceries.
"But Mrs. Peel surly that can wait a few hours. We still haven't celebrated the success of our last assignment." Yesterday's plea of exhaustion had been understandable, but her behavior today had him perplexed. Though many people claimed that Emma Peel was a cold woman he knew differently; the don't-touch-me attitude she cloaked herself in was simply a defense mechanism, one that he saw through easily. Today, however, even he was feeling the chill.
"I don't particularly feel like celebrating." She was still turned away from him, and he didn't like not being able to see her eyes. Closing the distance between them with a pair of steps he placed his hand on her shoulder and applied a gentle pressure. She turned towards him, her chin tilted up, her face a mask of calm. Her eyes were a different matter, though. Emma Peel had the most expressive eyes he had ever known. She could lie with her words and her actions but never her eyes, and now the chestnut depths shimmered with unhappiness.
"What's this?" he asked, pressing the pad of his thumb to her cheek.
"I don't know what you mean," she prevaricated. She tried to take a step backwards, only to find herself trapped between Steed and the kitchen counter.
"Emma," he said softly. It was the use of her first name, which he so rarely used, that undid her.
"You let me think you were dead." Her voice cracked but she continued speaking. "It may have been set up as an elaborate hoax to bring PSEV out into the open but they weren't the only ones in the room listening to that little radio presentation of yours. I was there too, and when I heard those gunshots followed by the silence..."
"I had to keep you in the dark. The plan..."
"You didn't," she interrupted him, ire seeping into her voice. "How many times have you said 'be a school teacher, Mrs. Peel' or 'don't you feel like being a shopgirl, Mrs. Peel?' And every-time I've played the part perfectly. All you had to do is warn me about what you were planning and tell me to act shocked and I could have done it."
"They were listening in," Steed defended himself. "I knew they had at least one bug planted and there could have been more."
"You could have found a way," Emma exploded, pulling herself out of his grasp and ducking under his arm so that she was no longer pinned against the counter. Steed spun on his heels in a half circle, and even in her outrage a part of Emma admired the grace in which he moved. "A word, a note, something. Just before you, as Gordon, left the library you leaned over me and your back was turned to the others. A simple wink right then would have been enough. But no; instead you went out of your way to convince me that you were your own double, squashed any remaining doubt I had with your little speech. I do have to say that you're a better actor than even I gave you credit for."
Emma escaped from the kitchen, pausing a few steps past the threshold to draw in deep breaths. Silently she cursed, not knowing if the harsh words were directed at Steed or herself. She hadn't meant to say anything, had intended to laugh it off if the subject of Steed as Gordon was ever brought up, just as she always did when she and Steed escaped the jaws of death by a narrow margin. But he had pushed her and the fear, horror and sorrow she had felt the day before was still too fresh. On the table next to the couch a trio of scientific journals were stacked. When Steed left she would treat herself to a hot bath and an hour's reading. If she relaxed her muscles and exercised her brain perhaps she could ignore the tumult of emotions.
"I'm sorry." He whispered the words in her ear, and the fact that he had been able to get that close without her noticing was troubling, proof of how very out of sorts she was.
"I didn't know that word was in your vocabulary." She aimed for her usual sardonic humor but fell slightly short.
"I am sorry," he repeated, wrapping his fingers around her upper arms and pulling her into him. She resisted for a pair of heartbeats but then relaxed, letting him take her weight, leaning her head against his firm shoulder.
"If it had been true, and you..." She wasn't sure she how she would have coped with the grief. She remembered the inconsolable ache of loss when Peter died, and knew that loosing Steed would be just as painful. In some ways it might even be worse, because she wouldn't have the right of being his widow to protect her from society.
"But it wasn't, my dear." Not this time, at least, but he would never say that out-loud. They both knew what his job was, and the risks that went along with it. One day when the gunshots sounded it might be more than a recording or a dent in his bowler. "And I promise you that I will never again pretend to be a fashion model pretending to be myself."
"And no more fake deaths without telling me," she clarified, needing to hear the words.
"Next time I kill myself I will tell you first," he promised. "Now that we've cleared that up how about some lunch. I'm famished."
"All right Steed," Emma laughed, and felt the corresponding vibration where her back pressed against Steed's front. Not everything was as it should be, but it was better than it had been. "But remember that it's your treat."
"Indubitably, Mrs. Peel." He didn't make any effort to move, however. They stood there for a full minute, not speaking, breathing in the same rhythm, until finally Emma pulled away.
"French food, I think. It goes best with champagne." She held out her hand to Steed, and with fingers linked they left the apartment.