Two Hours

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: AU. Anytime during the series will do. Be free, little fanfic!

Author's Note: Yes, more AU from the fic vaults. I wrote this one around the same time as "Odd Man Out" as a way of putting to paper some niggling ideas that wouldn't leave me alone. I'd planned to post it following "Odd Man Out," but when I finished it, I wasn't entirely certain if it had turned out how I'd planned, and put it aside. Recently, I just let a few people read it (you know who you are!), and they said "post it." Ergo, I'm posting. A tense little survival piece, it's better than I recall from writing (but then most things are when you have break from them). At the very least, it will serve as a little stop-gap as I work on the arc. Share and enjoy!

"Keep going!" Gambit yelled as they rounded a corner, ducking behind the wall, gun at ready. "I'll catch you up in a minute."

Purdey slowed slightly, torn between following Steed and staying behind with Gambit, but the senior agent grabbed her arm and urged her on. "If Gambit's willing to buy us time," he told her uncertain features, "the least we can do is take advantage of it."

Purdey nodded, picking up her pace and pelting off down the corridor, letting her body switch on to autopilot to free her mind. That meant she could think, and her thoughts turned to her colleague. She risked a glance over her shoulder to see how Gambit was making out, and just managed to catch a glimpse of him shooting a man who rounded the corner, gun ready to fire. He fell to the ground, and Gambit straightened out of his crouch and started running after them, gun still in hand. It was then that Purdey noticed the shot man wasn't dead, and his trembling hand was raised, still holding the gun, finger poised on the trigger.

"Gambit, look out!" Purdey screamed in warning, and Gambit twisted instinctively to the side. Too late, the gun fired, and Gambit collapsed to the ground, hand pressed against his side. Purdey froze for a split-second, then did an abrupt about-face and darted back to where he lay.

Gambit was gasping with pain, and Purdey could see the crimson stain growing against the white of his shirt. She bent over as she reached him, both hands clamping onto his arm and heaving with all her might. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Steed doing the same with the other shoulder.

"Leave it," Gambit choked, his voice sounding thin and strangled. "You don't have time—"

"Oh, shut up," Purdey snapped. She didn't need him wasting his strength on fruitless protests. "We're not leaving you anywhere. You can't think we'd let you miss all the fun?"

"The fun's right here," Gambit managed, loosing off a shot just over Steed's shoulder, and taking another henchman down with it.

"That may be," Steed broke in, grunting as he took Gambit's weight over his shoulder. "But you still owe me three pounds from last week's round of Solo."

Gambit laughed a laugh that quickly evolved into a cough. "I told you—we needed four for Solo, and Purdey went home after the second round."

"A bet's a bet," Steed chastised cheerily. "I consider it my moral duty to ensure you don't shirk on your obligations as a gentleman."

"I'm not a gentleman," Gambit wheezed. He had one arm each braced across Purdey and Steed's shoulders, and the three of them were limping down the corridor, doing their best to pick up the pace despite the fact that Gambit was steadily becoming dead weight.

"You said it, not me," Purdey quipped, even though she was panting with exertion. Gambit was heavy, even with Steed helping, and she didn't know how much longer she could keep their already much-too-slow pace up. "But we'll debate it later."

"Hope so," Gambit muttered, eyelids fluttering with fatigue. "We're not going to make it," he said after a moment. "We'll need…shelter…if we're going to survive the blast."

"I'd already considered that," Steed replied, glancing at his watch and doing his best to spur Gambit on, even though he didn't like the way the way younger man was breathing. "There should be a cell down this way. This was the quarters wing, wasn't it?"

"I think so," Purdey panted, casting a furtive glance over her shoulder. "Do you think we set enough explosive?" She looked to Gambit and saw the blue-green eyes flash with grim satisfaction.

"Yes," he replied, voice dipping lower in that particular way that made her bones shake. "Trust me. I've had a lot of experience with explosives."

"I should say so. You do have gunpowder in you right now," Purdey tried to joke, and Gambit treated her with a grim smile.

"Runs in my veins," he offered by way of a reply, then turned to look ahead. "There's a cell!"

Purdey saw the door, picked up her pace. "Come on, Mike," she urged, pushing him along. "You can rest in a moment."

Gambit's face was pale now. "Yes," he managed, just as they crossed the threshold into the cell. "Nice final resting place."

Purdey's head whipped round in alarm. "Gambit, no! You're not going to—"

It was then that the world exploded. Purdey felt the blast heat her back and throw her forward. The last thing she saw was the floor rushing up to meet her, before something struck her head, and everything went black.