by J. Ferguson a.k.a. Timeless A-Peel
Disclaimer: I don't own The New Avengers, nor the characters of Mike Gambit and Purdey. Sadly. They're the property of The Avengers (Film and TV) Enterprises. This story is for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended. Darii and Emily Gambit are mine, and I'd prefer it if they weren't used without permission.
Timeline: Post-series. Very post-series. Post-, well, now really. By my calculations, this should take place in 2033! I should have thought to include some flying cars.
Still part of the arc timeline, but obviously quite a bit farther along. For reference purposes, the reader may like to know that I've fiddled with Purdey and Gambit's birth years to make them slightly younger than their respective actors. For my purposes, Gambit was born in 1943, and Purdey in 1948. (Purdey has always seemed younger to me than Joanna Lumley actually was when she played the part). This might prove useful when reading this and other stories of mine.
Author's Note: On March 14, 2007, Gareth Hunt, the actor who portrayed Mike Gambit in The New Avengers, passed away after a very quiet, very brave two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. I was devastated. Gareth and Gambit were both significant parts of my adolescence, and continue to mean a lot with my continuing involvement in the Avengers fandom. A year after he died, to mark the date, I wrote this sad little piece, which I've chosen to put here this year. I did say these stories were leading up to something. This is it. A way to remember Gareth and the character he created. I hope it does him justice.
The woman stood in the cemetery, unaccompanied. There were no fellow mourners, no one to offer comfort. This was not to say that she had no one to turn to. On the contrary. She wanted to be alone. Alone with him.
She knelt gingerly in front of the grave, in order to place the flowers. Advanced in years, she still possessed a slim figure, her body that of a woman 20 years younger. The hair was sliver now, worn short but stylish. The eyes, blue and filled with unshed tears, were the most arresting feature, still bright and deep. They lingered lovingly on the tombstone as she reached out to trace the name, etched on the stone as it was on her heart. A name that wasn't spoken nearly as often as it had been so many years ago. Perhaps that was why she'd deviated from the moniker she adopted so long ago. She no longer requested that acquaintances address her as 'just Purdey.' That part of her had died with him.
She was only Mrs. Gambit now.
The name, even said in her mind, made her twist the wedding band on her finger, as though the gesture would summon him back and chase away the hollow in her heart.
She knew Gambit had been lucky, really. During the course of his career—indeed, his whole life—he could have met his end a hundred different ways, all long before his time. The fact that he slipped away at the grand old age of 85, peacefully, in his bed, with her hand in his, was a miracle in itself, a precious gift granted to them both. He wished it that way, had made a point of reiterating the words he'd spoken to the pretty French pathologist in the days before she had let herself love him. He had crept quietly into the twilight of his years, gathering happy memories of life, and seemed quite content for the beautiful women to send him on his way to be his own daughters. He'd actually had the gall to grin at her not long before his last breath, and it made Purdey smile through her tears. She'd seen the same spark then, untainted by years of living, just as it had been the day they met, that gleam in his eye that had drawn her to him from the start. He was happy when he passed. That was to something to be grateful for.
But Purdey couldn't shake the grief, not even five years later. She'd spent so many years after losing her father, and then Larry, isolated and preparing to spend her days alone, and Gambit, all flirt and wicked humour, had quickly, and mercifully, turned her world upside down. That she ultimately found happiness with another agent after fleeing to the Ministry was delicious irony, and the bond that formed was soon stronger than that with any ex-fiancé. After all, most wives didn't defy death and battle diabolical masterminds with their future husbands, didn't gain an indescribable intimacy that no tryst could forge, one that could only be bestowed by placing one's life in another's hands. Taking the vows had only added a new layer, adding wife to friend, lover, and partner.
She bore his children. "The Scruffy Five" they called them, from the eldest, Darii, fittingly called after an argument, to Emily, the baby, and every bit as unpredictable as the automobile that had been her namesake. And the son, the boy that had been the spitting image of his father, growing more like him with each day. She remembered the way Mike had fussed over both her and children alike, quick to step back from the field to savour his growing family. He'd been a good father, kind and understanding, and somehow knowing just what to say on the days she had been at a loss. And at the end of the day, he always made time for his Purdey-girl, even when she quipped wryly that the "girl" label was woefully out-of-date. It never made a difference. Even after she turned eighty he was still bestowing the youthful endearment without a hint of irony.
She sighed. Five children and more than fifty years of marriage. How could she possibly move on with her life when so much of it had passed with him by her side?
The girl behind her was tall, with a mane of black hair, and large eyes of a distinctive blue-green. Behind her was a cluster of Purdey's raven and flaxen-haired offspring, and the solitary redhead who owed something to her father's grandmother. The leader smiled sadly. "I thought I'd find you here."
Purdey straightened up, smiled at her daughter, the eldest, the first to be entertained by her father's tamer sailor's ditties. "I can't help it, Dar," she said softly. "I've been away from him too long."
Dar nodded. "I know," she said wistfully. "I miss him, too."
Purdey brushed her daughter's hair from her eyes. "He loved you very much," she murmured, "all of you."
"I know," Dar repeated, smiling a little. "He never wanted to leave you, either, Mum. I don't blame you for wanting to be reunited. None of us do."
Purdey bit back tears. "You understand, then?" she quavered.
Dar was holding back tears of her own. "We always have. It'll be all right. We love you, Mum. We want you to be happy."
Purdey lost the battle, and the tears spilled out unbidden. "Thank you," she addressed the group at large, embracing each in turn. "Thank you."
They spent the rest of the day remembering, sharing both laughs and tears. But the time came for Purdey to say good-bye. And that night, when she climbed into bed, as an afterthought, she removed the engagement ring that Mike had slipped onto her finger so many years ago and had never left her since. She watched it sparkle in the lamplight for a moment fondly, before setting it on the nightstand. Then she lay back in her empty bed, and let her eyes slide closed, let the sleep take her.
She awoke into a world of light and fog, blind and disoriented. But her ears were clear, and the simple phrase that echoed from behind made her heart leap with joy.
She whipped around, shrieked with happiness at the man she saw. He was young again, looking just as he had in those heady days of espionage. And he was smiling.
Purdey rushed toward him, threw herself into his arms, realised belatedly that she was young, too. She inhaled his scent, and let the warmth of genuine happiness flow over her like a golden wave.
"Oh, I missed you, Mike Gambit," she whispered, tears flowing again.
"So I see." He held her at arm's length, thumbed away a tear. "You didn't have to leave yet, you know. I would have waited as long as it took."
She shook her head. "I waited too long as it was, Mike. You know as well as I do that I wasn't cut out for the 'merry widow' role. The children will be all right. Now I am, too."
He grinned. "Well, I'm nothing if not glad," he told her. "I get lonely, you see."
Purdey smirked. "They ought to have dogs here."
"Oh, they do," Gambit said mysteriously, holding out his hand. "Want me to show you?"
Author's Notes: As I said above, this was written to mark the one-year anniversary of Gareth's passing. It sort of speaks for itself. I just wanted to write a fitting end for the character. Only other thing I can say is Darii, their eldest, was named after a logical syllogistic argument. I thought that'd figure.