Winter Warmers

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. This story is written for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.

Author's Note: Here we are, as promised-Christmassy fic! Or fic set around the Christmas/winter period generally, I suppose. These are just some fluffy little vignettes for the season, each set in a different year with a focus on a particular relationship within the triumvirate. There are four in all, and I'll post one a day in the run-up to the big day. Hope you enjoy them! I recommend reading with something warm to drink and some festive music in the background. :-)


1976

Purdey manoeuvred herself into the Ministry's break room, and sank into one of the chairs at the table with a sigh of relief. Outside, in the corridor, the burble of voices and din of Christmas music continued as the Ministry's office party rolled on without her. This being an institution responsible for national security, things weren't permitted to get too crazy, but people were doing their very best to dance just this side of the boundary between 'acceptable' and 'suspension.' Inevitably, there was alcohol involved, and for Purdey, the flirting from her fellow agents had been stepped up a notch, much to her annoyance. The first hour was tolerable enough, but once the drink had really started flowing, things had started to take a turn for the worst, and Purdey found herself in desperate need of a break from the passes and not-so-subtle meaningful glances. She was liable to start stomping on in-steps otherwise.

Purdey leaned back in her chair and let the tension leave her shoulders, finally felt in a position to enjoy her eggnog in peace, when the break room door creaked, and she heard footsteps behind her. Purdey sighed in exasperation and twisted around to give whoever it was that had followed her in a piece of her mind, only to find a friendly face smiling benevolently back at her.

"Oh, Steed," Purdey said, not bothering to hide her relief. "I thought you were one of the others."

"Others?" Steed inquired, coming over to take the seat across from her.

"Others. Our vast stable highly trained, efficient agents, who magically lose the ability to understand the meaning of the word 'no' after a few laced eggnogs."

"Ah, I see," Steed replied knowingly. "No one's overstepped the line too egregiously, I hope?"

"Not yet," Purdey told him. "If someone had, you'd know. He'd be the one lying on the floor with his back broken in three places." She couldn't help but smirk when Steed laughed in response to the line. "Don't think I wouldn't," she added.

Steed's eyes widened disingenuously. "I don't doubt you for a moment, my dear. Rest assured, I'm not here to accost you in any way, shape, or form. I shall keep my hands strictly to myself."

"Oh, you I trust," Purdey dismissed. "Even if I know you're not quite the gentleman you'd have everyone believe."

"Dear me. Who told you?"

"I worked it out for myself. I've had a whole year of close observation, after all. 1976 has proven very enlightening when it comes to John Steed."

"Really?" Steed looked intrigued, eyes dancing mischievously. "Do tell."

Purdey had no intention of giving her hard-won information away that easily, but she might have thrown him a few tidbits if at that moment the door hadn't flown open. Mike Gambit burst in, quickly slamming the door behind him. Purdey and Steed regarded him in bemusement as he pressed his back to the door, a panicked look in his eye. His tie was askew, and there was a smudge on his face that looked suspiciously like lipstick, though whoever the original wearer had been, she'd missed her target, as the smear was at least an inch away from his mouth. Purdey looked from him to Steed, and raised an ironic eyebrow.

"While we're on the subject, I've been learning a fair bit about someone else, too. Mike Gambit, what on earth are you doing?"

"It's that girl from C5," Gambit hissed. "Someone must have invited her, because she's been here an hour, and hasn't let me out of her sights once."

Purdey looked thoughtful. "Is she the one with buck teeth?"

Gambit nodded frantically. "That's her."

"She's been trying to get her hands on you for months," Purdey exclaimed, not even bothering to contain her amusement at his predicament.

"Yeah, well, with the magic of Advocaat she's finally managed it," Gambit muttered ruefully. "Several hands, actually. I'm going to be finding bruises in uncomfortable places for days."

Purdey's laugh of delight was joined by Steed's chuckle, and Gambit's face turned a shade of red that complemented the lipstick.

"Thanks for the sympathy," he said sarcastically. "Now shut it before she hears—damn!" The doorknob was already turning, and there was no lock. Gambit looked frantically about the room for an escape route, but there was none. As the door eased open, his only option was to hide behind it, shuffling along as it moved and hoping she wouldn't peer around it and catch him in the act. Purdey and Steed soon found themselves faced with the infamous girl from C5 on one side of the door, and a very worried Mike Gambit on the other. The girl peered around the room vaguely, seeking out her target, before turning her attention to Purdey and Steed.

"You haven't seen Gambit around, have you?" she wanted to know. "I could swear that I saw him come in here."

"Um..." Purdey was desperately trying not to laugh as Gambit gesticulated wildly at them, shaking his head and drawing a finger across his throat for emphasis. It was so tempting to leave him to his fate and watch the show, but she wasn't that cruel. "No. Sorry. Steed?"

"I'm afraid not," Steed agreed, taking pity on his younger colleague. "Perhaps he went down to Files. He spends a fair amount of time there."

The C5 girl cheered up at this revelation. "Thanks!" she enthused, and dashed off to continue her search, closing the door behind her. Gambit slumped against the wall and sighed with relief before moving to join them at the table.

"She nearly had me," he told his colleagues, loosening his tie as he sat down. "Some bright boy decided to put up some mistletoe, and I ended up backed into a corner. I barely escaped with my dignity intact."

"I wouldn't rely on that," Purdey giggled, pointing at the smudge with her chin. "I think she got you."

Gambit wiped at the smudge and groaned. "Near miss," he muttered, and extracted a handkerchief to clean it off.

"Well, at least I'm not the only one being chased," Purdey said, taking the handkerchief and wiping the stain off herself.

"Eh?"

"Purdey's been receiving more than her share of unwelcome advances," Steed explained. "She's come here seeking refuge."

"Oh," Gambit managed around the handkerchief. "Sorry. I forgot this is your first Ministry Christmas party. I should have known they'd be all over you."

"I've managed somehow," Purdey said with a sigh, finishing with the handkerchief and handing it back to its owner. "But I would enjoy having at least one drink without having to dodge any more wandering hands."

"Or lips," Gambit muttered ruefully.

"That can be arranged," Steed said with a smile, rising from his chair. "If you retrieve your coats and convene in front of the building in ten minutes' time, I think I may be able to arrange for a table for three for dinner."

"And a drink or two?" Gambit looked hopeful.

"Of course."

Gambit met Purdey's eyes, saw the same spark of enthusiasm in his reflected in her own. "Come on then, Purdey-girl. We'll have to make a run for it."