Fandom: The New Avengers
Timeline: some time during the series
Cast: Purdey, Gambit
Summary:Just wondering about some things ... ;)
Disclaimer: The only thing here that's mine is the story idea. Everything else belongs to those wonderful chaps who came up with the Avengers and the New Avengers, Sydney Newman and Brian Clemens.
Part 1: Purdey
"You know - I always meant to ask you -" Gambit looked away from the house they were watching and at Purdey.
"Ask me what?" Purdey popped another marshmallow in her mouth. She offered the bag to Gambit but he declined.
"Well - how does a girl end up with Purdey as her first name? Why not something normal, like Jane or Mary - or Elizabeth?"
Purdey laughed. "That's because of my Great-Uncle Henry."
"Your Great-Uncle Henry?" Gambit shifted his position in the driver's seat a bit. They had been sitting here for hours, watching the house and he was starting to feel it. Oh what he wouldn't have given to be able to get out of the car and stretch is legs. Just a bit. But Steed had been very insistent on that they mustn't be seen.
"Yes. He was a bit - weird. I think. I only know him from the stories Mum and Dad always told me and judging from that he was a real eccentric. He died shortly before I was born. He was very rich." Purdey smiled. "You'd probably say stinking filthy rich."
"Well, when my Mum was about six months pregnant, Great-Uncle Henry called my father - his nephew. He told him that he'd leave all his money to my family, but on one condition only: If the child were a girl, he wanted her to be called Purdey and if it were a boy - Winchester."
"Winchester?" Gambit tried hard to keep a straight face but failed. "You're kidding me, right?"
"No. Dear Great-Uncle Henry liked guns and rifles. He was mad about them. He had a huge collection." Purdey frowned and ate another marshmallow before she went on. "I think most of them went to a museum after his death."
"Winchester." Gambit shook his head and grinned. "I bet you're glad you're a girl."
"Oh, Dad didn't agree to the deal. In fact, Mum told me he got very angry and told Great-Uncle Henry where to stick his money." Purdey chuckled. "I'd really have liked to see that. He was always very strict about the use of swear words in his house. Anyways, my Aunt Edina got all the money. My Dad's cousin. I only call her aunt because she insists." Again, Purdey chuckled. "Her son's called Wambaugh."
Gambit frowned. "That's not a rifle. Nor a gun."
"No, it's simply ridiculous. Aunt Edina really wanted the money. Mum said, for her, it was a dream come true. She always wanted to be rich." Purdey rolled her eyes. "Of course, her money entitled her to meddle in all our affairs. Dad didn't let her buy us a house but she did pay for my school. And of course, it had to be the very best - nothing else would do for her niece. As for whether I wanted to go there -" She shrugged and munched another marshmallow.
Gambit returned his attention to the house for a couple of minutes. Then, he turned to Purdey again.
"What I don't understand is - if your father told Great-Uncle Henry to stuff it, then why are you still called Purdey?"
"My mother liked the name. So much that she insisted on calling me Purdey. And when she sets her mind on something, she usually gets it."
Gambit nodded. "I see."
There was another short silence while they both watched the house.
"Must have been hell at school", Gambit said, "I mean, with such a name -"
"Oh, nobody laughed at it while we were still living in India and Hongkong. And back here, when I was sent to boarding school, I went by my other name."
"Your other name?"
"Yes. My parents had the good sense of giving me another, normal name so that I could choose by which one I wanted to go."
"And what's your other name?"
Purdey smiled. "Maybe I'll tell you, one of these days. But not just now." She pointed at the house. A man was just leaving and walking to a car parked by the entrance. "There he is. We better get going."
Part 2: Gambit
"You know -" Purdey popped a marshmallow in her mouth. "I always wondered -"
They were sitting in Gambit's car, observing a house and Gambit suddenly felt a sense of déjà vu. As if they had had this conversation before.
"Well - Gambit." Purdey chewed on her marshmallow. "That's an odd name."
"Not any more so than Purdey." Gambit flashed her a smile and a "Look who's talking" kind of look.
"You know what I mean. I mean - of course I know what a gambit is. It's a chess move where you sacrifice one piece to distract your opponent from another. It's not REALLY a name ..."
Gambit laughed. "Seeing it like that, neither is Steed. I guess you know what a steed is."
"Of course. But Steed - he's just Steed."
"And I'm just Gambit."
"Yes, but -" Purdey gave an exasperated sigh. "You obviously didn't get that name from your Irish Gran."
Gambit smiled. "Right."
Purdey looked at him expectantly for a while, then, when he didn't say any more, shook her head and ate another marshmallow.
Gambit kept smiling. He knew Purdey was dying to find out about his name. It was pretty unusual, after all. But as she still hadn't told him her second name - the one she had used at school - and so he figured she could wait a little longer now.
"It's from my great-grandfather's side of the family", he said after a while.
"Your great-grandfather?" Purdey lowered her bag of marshmallows and looked at him.
"Yes. He was Italian." Gambit smiled "Alfredo Gambetti."
"You got an Italian great-grandfather?" Purdey grinned. "No one hearing you try to speak Italian would ever believe it."
"Well, when he moved here, he decided to become a proper Englishman. So he changed his name to Alfred Gambit and married an English girl named Betsy Moore."
Purdey frowned. "So - you actually might have relatives in Italy!"
"Did you ever visit them?"
"Why not? Maybe you should."
"Maybe." Gambit grinned. "Or I could just wait till they come to town next month."
"What, they're coming here?" Purdey stared at him. "And you never said a word!"
"Well, you wouldn't have believed it."
"Of course I would!"
"No, you wouldn't." Gambit's grin broadened. "Look."
He pointed across the street, at a colourful poster.
Purdey squinted her eyes and tried to read the writing. "Circus Barelli presents - the -" She turned at Gambit. "The Flying Gambettis?"
Gambit shrugged. "Why not?"
"Gambit." Purdey frowned at him. "You're leading me on."
Gambit grinned. "Maybe. - Ouch."
Purdey had punched him in the side. Not really hard but hard enough for him to feel it.
"Alfredo Gambetti. Really, Mike Gambit, one of these days ..."
Part 3: Jane
Gambit stopped and stared at the building.
Purdey rolled her eyes. "I told you I went to a boarding school."
"Yes, but not what kind of boarding school." Gambit gestured at the assembly of Victorian buildings. They looked ancient, as if they had been here for centuries. Ivy had crept up the grey stone walls, right up to the roof.
"Very handy when you want to get out or in after lights out", Purdey pointed out. "There, behind that window - that was my dorm."
She pointed at a second-floor-window by the corner of the house. Right next to a drain pipe.
Gambit grinned. "So that's where you learned to scale up and down those things." He took another good look at the buildings. "You know, that looks like Little Oxford or something."
Purdey shrugged. "Aunt Edina insisted. She had no girls of her own, only a boy, so of course her niece had to go to her old school. She paid the fees, so my parents couldn't say no. Mum always thought that school was too posh."
While talking, they had approached the main building. Now, they entered through huge carved double-doors. Gambit stopped again in the entrance hall and took a good look around, then, hurried after Purdey. They went down a short corridor to the right of the hall and entered another, even larger room.
"The assembly hall", Purdey whispered at him. "Used for school assemblies."
The impression Gambit got was that of a beehive, buzzing not with bees but with voices. Female voices.
"How many girls did you say were in your class?" he asked.
"Twenty-five, but they invited other classes, too. Five years, ten, fifteen and twenty years out of school."
Gambit nodded. "I see."
He scanned the room. Groups of women, some younger, most of them older than Purdey, were gathered in small groups, chatting and laughing. He also spotted a small group of men in the far corner of the room. They looked just as lost as he felt.
"I hope they serve drinks here", he murmured. "I sure could do with one."
"Well, you needn't have come." Purdey frowned at him. "I told you that, most likely, you wouldn't like it."
Gambit grinned. "Purdey-girl, you know exactly why I came."
Purdey chuckled. "Yes, and I did tell you that you won't find out my second name as easily as that."
Just then, a young woman of about Purdey's age spotted them. Her eyes widened.
"Jane!" she called out and waved at Purdey, almost slapping another woman in the face who happened to pass her just then. "Hey, Jane!"
Purdey giggled. "Marsha. Just as clumsy as always."
"Jane, huh?" Gambit looked at her. "Purdey-Jane. I like that."
Purdey frowned. "Uhm, Gambit -"
"Reminds me of that Stones song, 'Lady Jane'."
"Yes, I think I really like that." He grinned. "Jane."
He raised his eyebrows at her.
"First of all, don't hyphenate me", Purdey said. "It's Purdey Jane, not Purdey-Jane. And second - I'm very sorry for you but that's not my second name."
"Oh, it isn't?" The look on his face made it clear that Gambit didn't believe her.
"It isn't. It's my nickname."
"Nickname!" Gambit frowned. "Jane's no nickname. Why can't you just admit I found out."
"Because you didn't. It is my nickname. Right, Marsha?" Purdey turned to her school friend.
"Right", Marsha agreed. "Lizzy and Jane." She grinned.
"My best friend Linda", Purdey explained. "Our favourite novel was Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'. We kept reading it over and over again." She frowned. "I think it was you who brought it up, wasn't it?"
Marsha shook her head. "No, it was Lucy. She pointed out how much you were like Jane and Linda like Lizzy." She turned to Gambit. "And that's what we kept calling them. Mind you, her real name's -"
"Err, Marsha, have you seen any of the others, yet?" Purdey quickly grabbed Marsha's arm and steered her away from Gambit.
Gambit looked after the two and shook his head, still grinning. "One of these days, Purdey. One of these days ..."
-- End --