by J. Ferguson a.k.a. Timeless A-Peel
Disclaimer: I don't own The New Avengers, nor the characters of Mike Gambit, Purdey, and John Steed. Sadly. They're the property of The Avengers (Film and TV) Enterprises. This story is for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended
Timeline: Probably post-series, but it's not terribly important when it happens. It's just fluff. Don't strain yourself.
Author's Note: Starting the New Year off with a piece that's old--there must be some sort of logic in there, somewhere. Anyway, I have new pieces in the works which I hope to have finished in a timely fashion, but until then a little humourous fluff never hurt anyone, right?
"Are you ready for our debut?" Steed's voice filtered from up the stairs. Purdey twisted around in anticipation in her seat at the dining room table. She was clad in wraparound dress made up of a rich red tartan striped with black and thin lines of yellow, her shoes of the lace-up variety, often sported by dancers at the Highland Games.
"Definitely. Don't keep me in suspense," she called, a huge grin splitting her face. She'd been waiting all week for this, ever since the man at the shop had taken Steed and Gambit's measurements.
Steed appeared at the top of the stairs and descended to Purdey's enthusiastic applause, clad in Scottish formal wear, complete with waistcoat, lace cravat, short jacket, and kilt, pleats swinging merrily. His tartan was also red, but brighter and overlaid with moss green and a trace of white. He beamed at Purdey and glanced down to check that his wooly socks were still defying gravity. "How do I look?"
"Marvelous," Purdey enthused, eyes sweeping up and down his frame. "You wear it very well, like a native. You ought to do it more often."
"I am Scots, I'll have you know. On my mother's side. She was connected to the MacGregors, so naturally I was going to stay true to my roots." He indicated the tartan. "I've another from my days at Castle De'Ath with Mrs. Peel, but one can never have too many. They come in useful at family reunions."
"I'm sure," Purdey agreed, looking to the stairs once more. "What happened to Mike?"
Steed frowned and glanced up the stairs. "He was right behind me." He looked resignedly at Purdey. "I've a feeling he doesn't like this assignment."
"You feel right," came Gambit's gruff tones from beyond the doorframe. "Why can't we infiltrate a trouser-wearing group of assassins?"
"Because the kilt-wearing ones have wiped out three of our people in the past week," Steed reminded grimly. "And we've no idea how long this will take, so you had better get used to it."
"But it's a skirt," Gambit complained. "No matter what you call it. And I'm not even Scottish."
"You're Irish on your granny's side, though," Purdey informed. "And the Irish wore them first. You're getting back to your roots."
"I liked my Welsh, non-skirt wearing roots better," Gambit muttered.
"It's all right," Steed tried. "You look perfectly natural in it."
"Don't say that." He sounded horrified.
"Mike Gambit," Purdey said impatiently, tiring of his attitude. "If you don't come down I'm coming up with a camera, and I'll see to it that a nice colour shot ends up in the next interdepartmental memo."
There was a pause. "You wouldn't."
Purdey crossed her arms. "Try me."
"Oh, all right." There was a brief interval, and Gambit shuffled out, kitted out like Steed, only his plaid was light blue, crossed with orange and a hint of white. He trudged down the stairs like a condemned man, and came to a stop beside Steed where he crossed his arms self-consciously, obviously waiting for someone to laugh—someone meaning Purdey, of course.
The laughter never came. Instead Purdey was out of her chair, a hungry look in her eyes as she circled him appraisingly. "Mmm yes. They did a lovely job. You did say your grandmother's name was O'Carroll?"
"Yes…," Gambit acknowledged, with a hint of suspicion. "Why?"
"O'Carroll. Clan Cian. Not yet recognized by the Chief Herald of Ireland, but he did authorize this one. I did a little research. I mean, authenticity can't hurt in a job like this, and it was fun. Lovely shade of blue. Brings out your eyes." She reached out to finger the cloth and Gambit shifted uneasily.
"When did you become an expert in Celtic genealogy?" he challenged.
Purdey bristled indignantly. "I'm a Bryde, naturally. Clan Brodie. Motto: Unite. Dad was always keen on studying our roots." She gave a little twirl to display her own pattern. "I think if the ballet hadn't called he would have had me in Highland dancing."
"I'll have to show you my sword dance," Steed put in, but Gambit still didn't seem to share their enthusiasm. Steed glanced at Purdey, who gave him a look that said 'leave it to me.' He nodded imperceptibly, and announced, "I've a few calls to make before we leave. If you don't mind waiting…"
"Not at all," Purdey said quickly, playing along. "We'll have a seat."
Gambit snorted. "Easy for you to say. How am I meant to sit in this thing?"
"Very carefully," Steed suggested, and retreated, leaving Purdey to work her magic. There was a glint in her eye that told him Gambit wouldn't be tetchy for long.
Purdey turned back to Mike, glanced down. "You've got quite good legs, you know," she commented. "With the socks and everything."
"What I want to know is when the other shoe's going to drop," Gambit said carefully, eyes still betraying an underlying paranoia.
"Mike Gambit," Purdey chuckled, coming to stand very close to him so she could brush his lapel with her fingertips. "I'll have you know that I find a man in a kilt indescribably sexy."
Gambit's jaw dropped, his eyes doubling in size. "You're joking!"
"I am not. It is my heritage, and seeing you decked out, well…" She shrugged. "Anyway, how many compliments do I have to pay you before you believe me?"
"But…skirt?" he said weakly.
"Kilt," Purdey said firmly. "And you like the Scots more than you know. That's where my eyes came from, and you're always waxing lyrical about them."
"I never said I didn't like them. Just the wardrobe," Gambit replied, letting his hand rest on her waist. "But I'd never thought of it that way before."
"Trust me," Purdey assured, pressing closer.
Gambit actually grinned for the first time, Purdey's attention obviously propping up his injured masculinity. "That's never been my problem."
Purdey was gazing downward suddenly, frowning. "What have you got on underneath?" she wanted to know. "Not pants?"
Gambit made a face. "Of course I do. I'm not mad enough to go out unprotected. What if a wind came up?"
Purdey tsked. "You do know it's bad luck to wear anything under a kilt?" She paused, and her face split into a wicked grin. "I think it's my duty to my countrymen to straighten you out."
"Oh?" Gambit arched an interested eyebrow. "You'd see to it personally, would you?"
Purdey was running the lace of the cravat through her fingers. "I think I'd have to, just to make sure that everything else is shipshape. You'll never succeed undercover if all the details aren't right, will you? And I owe it to my ancestors to make certain everything's perfect."
"Well, we can't put the assignment in jeopardy," Gambit murmured close to her ear. He'd finally identified the twinkle that had sparked in her eyes when he'd emerged, and was feeling happier from the second. "Should we step upstairs for a minute?"
"I think it's best," Purdey said seriously, and took him by the hand.
When Steed returned fifteen minutes later, Gambit had a smile on his face and was looking remarkably upbeat about the whole affair. He'd even dared to sit, legs arranged a comfortable distance apart. "Everything all right?" Steed queried, even though he could guess the answer.
"Perfect," Gambit declared, gaze never leaving Purdey's face. "Ready when you are."
"Excellent," Steed said cheerily, indicating the door. "We'd better be on our way. I take it you've no qualms about going out in public, Mike?"
Gambit chuckled. "Not a bit. I've found there's one thing I like about kilts."
"Yes?" Steed was puzzled at this sudden change, wondering what Purdey could have done to reverse his opinion so quickly.
"Easy access," Gambit said cryptically, and winked at Purdey. Steed watched in minor bemusement as her cheeks deepened to match her dress. She hurried out ahead of the pair, leaving Gambit to follow, looking smug. Steed sighed. Whatever the reason, he was fairly certain he didn't need to know. When it came to Gambit and Purdey, sometimes ignorance was bliss.
"Lead on, McGambit," he murmured, closing the door behind him.
Author's Notes: Okay, I wrote it, punny title and all. It was fun, actually, as someone with Scots' blood. I'm into the heritage and the tartans and everything. And guys in kilts. Purdey's channeling my own preferences there. I certainly don't think it's just a "skirt." And it's true that it's wrong, even bad luck, to wear something underneath. Which is why guards wearing them are taught to faint forward in the heat so as not to give the visiting dignitary an eyeful.
I got to do some fun research here. Patrick and Joanna both have Scots' blood, but Gareth, naturally, is Irish. No problem—the Irish did originate the kilts. It's just not as tightly associated with them. Steed's MacGregor tartan is accurate to the one worn on "Castle De'Ath." Someone did some research, and it fits since the Macnees are connected to that clan. Joanna's a Weir, but Purdey's called Bryde in my fic, a nice Scots' surname, so she would be Clan Brodie (tartan accurate again). But Gareth was the most fun. I looked up Irish clans, and punched "Hunt" in as a surname to see if it came up. Lo and behold, Hunt is Irish (makes sense since his dad was the one with the Irish and dash of Welsh, whereas his mom was from the Isle of Man), and hooks up to the O'Carrolls—Clan Cian. Brilliant! Unfortunately, his clan wasn't recognized by the Chief Herald of Ireland until 1983 (and therefore the tartan didn't get made until then). That's why his is bright blue—the later ones use other colours that weren't available hundreds of years ago in dyes. But what if the Ministry pulled a few strings and got one made for the assignment, which was then used later on when things were made official…?
And Gambit gets to show off his legs, too!