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
Timeline: Post-series, fall 1977.
Author's Note: The "Sweet" half of the Sweet & Saucy Valentine's Day Double Bill. Written in an intentionally spare style to capture the quiet, reflective mood.
He does not.
Not because he is not tired. On the contrary, he would welcome sleep. He is worn out. Fatigued. Exhausted even. He has been on his feet all day, chasing those who would do the nation harm, aiding in their capture before their malicious plans could be put into effect. They are all in custody now, their network dissolved, their equipment taken away by the people in the Ministry's science department. The fact that he is partly responsible for his country's safety this eve would be more than enough of a reason for him sleep soundly. And yet, he cannot bring himself to close his eyes. Because it would mean he could no longer look at her.
She sleeps, her face turned toward his, her golden hair spilling across the pillow, shining in the moonlight. She is beautiful, serene in sleep, and she takes his breath away, just as she did the day they met. He cannot fathom it, cannot understand how she can still have this effect on him, and yet he is still enraptured by her, his heart still pounds, his tortured lungs gasp for air. But it is understandable. She is everything he has ever wanted. Ever needed. Ever dreamt of.
He loves her.
He always has, but he has not always been able to express it, to show it as fully as he wished. There were complications. So many complications. All standing in the way. But they are gone now, swept aside.
In many ways, it is still hard for him to accept that he is here, now, with her. That she has welcomed him into her life, her heart, her bed, and graces his with her presence. That she reciprocates his love. That he can touch her without her pulling away. That he can tell her all the things he has longed to for so many months. And yet, he knows he is here. He can smell her skin, her hair. The taste of her still lingers on his mouth, a slight ghost of a sense dancing over his lips. He can see her breathe, the gentle rise and fall of her chest. It mesmerises him, enough to keep him from sleep, even as she dreams.
He has dreams, too. Waking dreams. Wants, really. Flights of fancy. He thinks of, entertains, toys with the idea of marriage, of asking her to be his wife. He knows this is what he wants. He has never felt this way about any other woman. His heart belongs to no one else. He wants to be her partner in life as he is on the field. He wants to father her children, to "creep quietly into the twilight of his years" with her by his side. He wants her face to be the last thing he sees before he slips away from this place. He wants to tell her all of this, to fall to his knees, vulnerable and exposed, and ask her to make him whole. And yet, he dares not. Their fledgling romance is too new, weeks old, though it already feels like years since he told her he loved her and made her face light up. Since she told him the same. There is no doubt in his mind that they fit, that they were made for each other. But it is too soon. And he knows all too well of her past commitment to another man whose ring she took, of the pain he caused her, and how it kept her from returning his love. He does not want to rush things, to ask her too soon and potentially jeopardise their relationship. Perhaps it will never happen. Perhaps it is impossible. But he thought the same of any romance between them, and here he is now, with her. Miracles happen, and he is not keen to press his luck. For now, he is content. He has more than he could ever have hoped for. Tomorrow will look after itself. Today he will look after her.
She sleeps, oblivious to his longings. He smiled at her peace, reaches out to brush a lock of hair aside from her cheek. She stirs, and he pulls away, but her eyes open and she smiles at him across the pillow.
"Mike Gambit, don't tell me you're still awake?"
"It's half past one in the morning. You're going to be exhausted at the meeting if you don't sleep soon."
"I know, I know."
"Is something wrong? Can't you sleep?"
"No, no, I'm fine. I was just…thinking."
She smiles. "About what?"
"I'm very flattered. But you need to sleep now." She leans forward, kisses him. His heart sighs.
"Now I will."
She says nothing, simply snuggles back into the bed clothes and against him. "Good. Good-night, Mike."
He puts his arms around her. "Good-night, Purdey." He feels himself relax against her as happiness washes over him.