Five Things That Never Happened to The New Avengers...and One That Did
Did: The Morning After
by J. Ferguson a.k.a. Timeless A-Peel
Disclaimer: I don't own The New Avengers, nor the characters of John Steed, Mike Gambit, Purdey, and Thomas McKay. They belong to The Avengers (Film and TV) Enterprises. This story is written for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note: And finally, to wrap the whole little saga up, the "did" part of the series. After the various, not always cheery, happenings of the last five bits, I thought I'd round things off with something light-hearted. If you've been reading along, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. And so, without further ado...
Dawn broke over the serenity of the English countryside. A tranquil vista of rolling green hills and sheep-dotted pastures was broken, surprisingly, by a column of grey smoke billowing up into the clear, blue heavens, its source what was no doubt once a beautiful old family estate, reduced just over an hour ago to a crumbling ruin. About a mile or so away, three figures tramped along, mounting each hill with a slow, steady pace. A closer look would reveal that they consisted of two men and a woman, she slightly ahead in what had probably once been a very expensive evening dress, but was now stained and frayed beyond repair, and the men in suits, also distressed, but somehow less the worse for wear. As they walked, a voice rang shrilly over the landscape, shattering the peace and serenity.
"I can't believe we were attacked by the only diabolical mastermind who lives in a place with no other buildings in a five-mile radius," she ranted, trudging unevenly over the landscape.
"It wouldn't have proved a problem if the phone lines hadn't gone out in the explosion," one of the men, the older one, pointed out mildly.
"And whose idea was that?" the woman challenged.
"Yours," the other man asserted.
The woman let out an indignant gasp and whirled round. "It was no such thing! I seem to remember you lit the fuse, Mike Gambit."
The younger one—Gambit-shrugged. "Yes, but you were the one who decided an explosion was the distraction we needed, Purdey."
"It was a desperate situation. They were after us. We would have been caught," Purdey justified.
"It doesn't matter," the other man—Steed—cut in, before Gambit could retort, "who thought or did what at this point. What does matter is finding a way to contact McKay, and having him send someone out to pick up that batch of enemy agents we left boxed up."
Gambit swept his arm grandly over the rolling countryside laid out before them. "My kingdom for a pay phone."
Purdey snorted, turning away again to resume her journey. "I've seen your 'kingdom.' I'd be very surprised if someone was mad enough to move heaven and earth for a terrible pseudo-Greek statue and a pile of shag carpet."
"Now Purdey, that's not very charitable," Gambit rebuked unconcernedly. "You left out my very valuable collection of etchings."
"Etchings?" Purdey exclaimed. "Mike Gambit, if you're serious, you really are the most terrible cliché of a bachelor who ever walked the planet." But when she wheeled around to look at him, he was grinning broad enough to be seen from Dover, and she cursed internally at walking into his bad joke without a second thought. She shook her head in annoyed disbelief as Gambit's laughter reached her ears. "Etchings," she muttered. "Honestly, why I listen to a word you say..."
"Because of my sparkling wit," Gambit offered.
"Try again," came the retort.
"Because no one else'll listen to what comes out of that mad brain of yours," Gambit tried again, earning himself an over-the-shoulder glare.
"I'll keep my thoughts to myself from now on," Purdey huffed, picking her way around a rather deep rabbit hole, and debating whether to warn Gambit, or let him fall in of his own volition. "I wish you'd done the same before you came out with 'etchings.' No one has etchings anymore."
"I'll bet Steed does," Gambit said mischievously, glancing sideways at the senior agent's poker face.
"I refuse to answer," Steed told him, quite seriously.
Gambit's face split into a grin. "On the grounds that it's incriminating?"
"Because a gentleman has certain confidences he simply must keep," Steed corrected, then allowed himself a small smile. "Though it may interest you to know that my Auntie Penelope was an avid collector of all sorts of art, much of which she passed on to me..."
Gambit's grin broadened. "Some families have all the luck."
Purdey wheeled around angrily. "Am I the only one concerned with finding a way to get us home?" she demanded. "How on earth can you two be so damned cheerful?"
Gambit produced a flask from inside his jacket, and waggled it with a touch too much enthusiasm. "Liquid cheerfulness, Purdey-girl. Been getting weary travellers over the bumps in the road for hundreds of years."
Purdey's jaw dropped. "You're drunk?"
Gambit frowned, as though insulted. "Not drunk," he clarified. "Just pleasantly tipsy. Don't look at me like that. Steed's the one with the bottle of Scotch."
Purdey's eyes swivelled around to fix on the senior agent, who guiltily produced a bottle from the pocket of his topcoat. "I'm sorry, Purdey, but it was a very long night, and it promises to be an equally long morning. I needed something to cut the chill."
"We would have offered you some," Gambit added, "but you struck out ahead right from the off, and didn't seem to need it."
"Need? Need? What I need are two sober colleagues!"
Gambit looked around vaguely, as though expecting to see someone else, but found no one. "Sorry, they're not here. Will we do?"
Purdey ground her teeth.
"What are you in such a mood about?" Gambit inquired, holding out the flask. "Here, you can have some of mine."
"I'm in a mood because we're stuck out here, in the middle of a field, miles from civilisation, with a house full of slightly charred and bound enemy agents behind us, and no way to call for transport, or a clean-up crew. On top of it all, I've broken my heel, I'm covered with mud, and my dress is ruined. I was promised an evening off, and instead I was dragged from the disco to the countryside, where I was bound, gagged, threatened, freed, forced to fight off half a dozen armed guards, jumped off a balcony, drove a car through the front door, was nearly blown up, and to cap it all off, I've been awake for nearly 40 hours." She turned around and stalked off, muttered, "That was, without a doubt, the worst date ever in the history of human interaction."
Gambit's ears pricked up. "What was that?"
"You heard me."
"Date?" Gambit was running now, moving to catch up with her. "That was a date?"
"That was an evening of hell, Mike Gambit."
"But before that. That was a date? Why didn't you tell me?"
"Shut up, Gambit."
"Hang on, you're the one who said it, not me. I'm just trying to get the facts straight."
"I'll straighten something else if you're not careful."
Observing from a safe distance, Steed smiled and took another sip of Scotch, turning his eyes up to the sky. It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day.