by J. Ferguson a.k.a. Timeless A-Peel
Disclaimer: I don't own The New Avengers, nor the characters of Mike Gambit, John Steed, or Purdey. They belong to The Avengers (Film and TV) Enterprises. Used for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.
Purdey pushed the door to the ladies'. It wouldn't budge. Locked. Purdey frowned. Her bladder was telling her it wasn't going to last through dinner. She checked her pockets for something to pick the lock—a piece of wire, anything. No dice. And she couldn't exactly take the Gambit approach—kicking in the door—in a five-star restaurant. Which left one alternative…
In the gentlemen's, Steed was washing his hands, and Gambit was about to use the facilities, when the door opened. Gambit turned his head slightly to look at the new arrival, and felt his mouth drop open. "Purdey!" he exclaimed, hurriedly zipping up his trousers. Steed looked up from the sink, and the third occupant, a young man combing his hair, caught sight of her reflection. He turned round very slowly, to look at her face-to-face. Surely if she had taken the wrong door, it would've occurred to her by now? He gaped at her. The blonde flashed him a charming smile.
"Hello," she said cheerfully.
"Hello," he managed, faintly. "Um miss, shouldn't you…?"
Purdey crossed her arms. "Yes?" she almost challenged.
The man shook his head. "Never mind." He looked to Steed and Gambit, who were obviously acquainted with the madwoman. They were looking at Purdey. He had the feeling they were waiting for him to leave. Good idea. He made a hasty exit.
Steed turned back to the sink. Gambit went over to Purdey. "Look," he began, turning her around and steering her toward the door, "I know sometimes you want to be one of the boys, but there are limits. And the loo is one of them. You might have noticed the little pictures outside? One will be wearing a skirt. Notice what you're wearing. Most women take that as a hint."
"I notice you're never this pro-segregation about the bedroom," Purdey commented.
"I'd just as well you weren't one of the boys in that case, too," Gambit told her, trying to wrench open the door with one hand while pushing Purdey through with the other. She turned around and came back in, letting the door swing closed once more. There was a soft thump, and a male voice said "Ow." Purdey hurriedly turned the lock as the unfortunate patron tried again. There was a sudden burst of knocking.
"Occupied," Purdey called through the door. The fact that it stopped was likely due more to Purdey's female voice than the command. She turned to Gambit. "You don't understand. I have to use the men's."
Gambit was looking a bit panicked. "No, you don't. I mean, we don't have to do everything together."
"No," Purdey hissed impatiently. "I had to come here because the other door's locked. It was either here, or you two can watch me squirm through dinner."
Gambit's mouth formed an "o." "You could've warned us, at least. You gave us a bit of a shock." He turned to look at Steed, who was currently straightening his tie, not in the least bit perturbed. "Well, gave me a shock, anyway."
"Speaking of shocks, I think the waiter's going to start wondering where table 3's gotten to if someone doesn't return fairly soon. I'll leave you to it, shall I?" Steed walked past his colleagues, unlocked the door, and quit the room. Outside, he found a young man nursing a slightly red nose. He gave Steed a half-annoyed, half-suspicious look. Steed smiled his most charming smile. "It'll just be a moment," he told the man. "Bit of an incident with the soap dispenser."
Inside, Gambit hurriedly relocked the door, and went to lean against the counter. "Right, then, you might as well get on with it," he told Purdey.
Purdey stood her ground. "I thought you were about to…"she gestured vaguely at the row of urinals, "when I came in."
"I can wait," Gambit told her, looking mildly embarrassed. "You can't. Ladies first."
Purdey looked to the stalls, and crossed her arms. "I can't with you standing outside listening."
"But you expect me to with you standing right there?" Gambit said, exasperated. He turned and cranked a tap on one of the sinks. The room filled with the sound of running water. "How 'bout that, then?" he asked her in a Cockney that didn't entirely sound put on.
"Much better, thank you." She smiled, and let herself into one of the stalls. Gambit counted ceiling tiles until she came back out.
"Yes, thanks." She went to the sink, and started to lather up.
"Never thought we'd end up here alone," he was musing. "Not for this reason, anyway."
"What do you…oh." Purdey raised an eyebrow knowingly. "Really, Mike Gambit. Here?"
Gambit shrugged with a glint in his eye. "Live dangerously. Besides, you never know when the mood'll hit."
"Well, it won't be hitting now, I assure you," she told him, throwing her paper towel in the garbage. "I'll leave you to it."
"Thanks so much."
On his way out a few minutes later, Gambit paused outside the ladies'. It seemed odd that they should lock it, and not the men's. He went over and tried it before returning to the table. "Purdey," he asked as he sat down, "the door. You said it was locked?"
Purdey frowned. "It is."
Gambit shook his head. "No, it isn't."
"But I pushed and it didn't budge."
"You may have noticed the men's opened outward. You have to pull, Purdey-girl."