John, I'm Only Dancing
By J. Ferguson a.k.a. Timeless A-Peel
Disclaimer: I don't own The New Avengers, nor any of the associated characters. They belong to The Avengers (Film and TV) Enterprises. I don't own The Avengers, either, or any of its characters. They belong to Canal+ (Image) International. This story is written for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note: Last chapter to wrap things up. I hope you've enjoyed this little AU tale as much as I enjoyed writing it. See the end for an additional, spoilerish disclaimer.
It was late by the time Steed returned to the stud farm, but he arrived in a considerably better mood than when he had left. After all these years, all the people who had passed through his life, someone had chosen to stay. And not just for any reason. Because of him. He'd found himself wondering in recent years if it wasn't time to cross over himself. He'd been grooming Purdey and Gambit as a team for precisely that reason, so there would be someone to continue at least part of his work when he was gone. But now he had a renewed conviction to stay on and face further trials. As long as there was someone else to lend an ear and a shoulder, who knew how long he could soldier on?
And that was probably just as well, he realised as he pulled into the driveway and stepped out of the car. Given how things had looked when he left, his legacy could easily be leaving before he did. Purdey had been profoundly affected by what she'd learned. Gambit seemed to be taking things with a little more equanimity, but where Purdey was involved, nothing was certain. Gambit was loyal to Steed, but the younger man's heart belonged elsewhere, and Steed had a feeling he'd follow it right through that door if need be.
Steed sighed as he opened the front door. Even with Emma staying on, he would be sorry to lose Purdey and Gambit. He'd grown very fond of them, and what had begun as a professional partnership had blossomed into a very dear friendship. They'd only had two years together, and the idea of losing them so soon saddened him deeply. But he would have to respect their decisions, whatever they were. They were in charge of their own destinies, as he was of his. With a deep breath, he stepped inside, ready to face the music.
He was understandably quite surprised when, upon entering the living area, he found his two young colleagues draped over the furniture. Dirty dishes on the coffee table were accompanied by a half-finished bottle of wine and a pair of glasses. Purdey's heels were scattered over the floor, and the girl herself was stretched out on the couch reading what appeared to be the evening edition of the Times, while Gambit had commandeered an armchair and was doing the same. His booted feet were on the coffee table. For once, Steed resisted the urge to knock them off. Somewhere in the background, the radio was softly playing that Bryan Ferry fellow that everyone seemed so terribly interested in lately.
Purdey glanced up from her paper and treated him to one of her signature bright smiles. "Steed! We were wondering when you were going to get back."
"We, uh, had a late dinner," Gambit added, lowering the paper. "Sorry, but we ransacked your fridge." He glanced back at the paper. "Oh, and your cricket team lost. You owe me ten pounds."
"Gambit!" Purdey scolded. "Don't bring that up now!"
"Why? A bet's a bet," Gambit defended, then remembered where his feet were. "Oh, sorry," he apologised, and quickly removed them.
Steed looked from one to the other in disbelief. "Ten pounds? You're not planning on leaving?"
"Well, we thought about it," Purdey allowed.
"We took a drive," Gambit chipped in. "Had a look at the stars."
"And we thought about it," Purdey finished. "And we decided that, while being killed is definitely not something either of us would wish to repeat, being dead has actually proven to be...Gambit?"
"Not without its perks," Gambit supplied. "Though I think Purdey just can't stand the idea of us having fun without her," he added, with a wink at the blonde.
Purdey tsked. "I feel I have a responsibility. There'll be nothing left of this place if I leave the two of you to have your way with it."
"You're quite certain?" Steed inquired, feeling a smile tug at his features. "You want to stay?"
"Well, there's no telling what the future will hold," Purdey allowed, "but just now, we'd rather not cross over. We're quite content with how things are now."
Gambit was eyeing him. "Unless, of course, you want us to go..."
"I think I can make use of both of you for a little while yet," Steed replied, finally allowing the smile. "Though not if you're going to make a habit of eating me out of house and home."
"That was Purdey's idea," Gambit defended. "You know her. Best undead appetite this side of purgatory."
"Oh, hush and help me with the dishes," Purdey grumbled, gathering up the plates, "before I help you along to the other side with a swift kick."
"That's not a very charitable thing to say to the man who just put heaven on hold for you," Gambit gently chastised as he followed her back to the kitchen.
"Heaven?" Purdey scoffed. "How do you know you're not bound for the other place?"
Steed smiled to himself as their voices faded with the closing of the kitchen door, then made for the phone on the side table. Purdey's questions about the death of her mother, uncle, and step-father haunted him still, and if she was going to stay on, he felt he owed it to her to answer them. That meant contacting one of the other enlightened souls on this plane of existence. He sat on the couch and dialled a number from memory. It rang twice before a woman's voice answered.
"Hello, Phyllis," Steed greeted. "Carruthers here. Put me through, please."
Phyllis didn't bother with a reply, just made the transfer. Five rings later, a gruff Northern voice answered. "Hunt."
"It's me. Carruthers."
"Oh, Steed," the voice grumbled unenthusiastically. "Why are you still bothering with that Carruthers bollocks? You've been using the same bloody codename for fifteen years. You don't think someone's worked it out by now?"
"What I choose to call myself is none of your concern. I need a favour."
"Hold on." Steed heard the thunk of the receiver as it hit the desk top, then the squeak of a door in need of a good oiling, and faint music. "Tyler!" Hunt bellowed. "Tell Christopher that if he doesn't turn that bloody Status Quo down this instant, I'll shove it so far up his jacksie, it'll displace what he had for lunch! Got it?"
There was an inaudible response as 'Tyler' returned his boss' ill-humour before Hunt reasserted himself.
"Never mind who I'm talking to! Do I ask about what you and Cartwright get up to in the stationary cupboard? Now piss off and find me something to put that nonce away for the rest of his natural life!" Steed winced as Gene returned to the line. "They'll be the death of me, this lot. So, favour eh? Give me one good reason why I should help a manipulative spook like you?"
"I'd like to think that you'd do it out of professional respect," Steed began, hearing the snort of derision up the line, "but if that doesn't motivate you, I'll see to it that your rather sizeable tab at the Railway Arms is paid down, with a generous credit added to boot. It would be effective immediately, of course. You know Nelson and I are on very good terms."
There was a pause, then a shuffling of papers. "All right, you smug bastard. What do you need?"
Steed grinned. "I'm going to give you some names. Take these down..."
Author's Note: I know that last bit will mean nothing to you if you've never watched Life on Mars, but I just had to get Gene in there. Steed had quite a lot to do with the cops in the Keel era (and was known to phone them up for assistance under the name "Carruthers"), so why couldn't he have run across a young policeman who was also well-aware he was dead and working to roughly the same ends? Hey, I can dream...
Also, please note I have nothing against Status Quo, lest I alienate some Avengers/Quo fans. -) All the songs I've heard from them I've quite enjoyed. But Gene never seems to be entirely thrilled with "modern music," and I needed a seventies band for him to pick on. They just happened to come to mind.
Disclaimer: Life on Mars and all associated characters are property of Kudos Film & Television Ltd. This story is written for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.