First Position

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.

Timeline: Irrelevant. Could take place at any time during the show

Author's Note: Another short born out of a prompt, this time one from kaberett. The prompt was "Purdey: she'd never thought her childhood ballet lessons would be so useful." This is what my brain did with it...

When Purdey had signed up for her Ministry training as a would-be agent, she'd never doubted for a moment that her ballet training would prove to be an asset. She was probably more athletic than most of her classmates, certainly more flexible, with a great degree of poise and control of her body, a high tolerance for pain, and above-average endurance. Years of watching her instructors and imitating their positions meant she could do the same with her self-defence teachers, allowing her to easily mimic the positions of hands and feet alike, and to replicate movements that weren't unlike dance steps. She'd even managed to marry the two together, melding the ability to inflict damage with her penchant for high-kicks. But of all the ways she'd anticipated drawing on her childhood ballet lessons, she'd never once imagined she would ever find herself in the position of instructor, replicating her old lessons from memory.

"That's very good," she praised her solitary student. "Now, back to first position."

Mike Gambit looked up from his feet and treated her with an ugly scowl. "I bloody hate first position."

"I never would have guessed," Purdey said sweetly, watching with no small amusement as Gambit rearranged his feet into something resembling first position. "You've been so terribly positive about it so far."

"Sarcasm isn't going to make me like it any better," Gambit snapped back. "Look, do we have to do this?"

"Yes," Purdey said simply. "We can't investigate that foreign ballet troupe without raising suspicion unless they think we're the artistic directors of the venue, and they'll expect trained ex-dancers in that role. And trained dancers, even retired ones, move a certain way. You walk like a sailor."

"I am a sailor," Gambit pointed out gruffly. "I've been walking like I'm aboardship for twenty years now. A couple of afternoons of me wrenching my ankle and knee joints out of their sockets isn't going to change that."

"We can try," Purdey said optimistically. "It's not completely unlike karate. Just a matter of putting your feet in the right places at the right time."

"I don't remember karate lessons being this humiliating," Gambit said dryly.

"I thought you'd be happy to learn. You always seem very interested when I'm exercising at my barre," Purdey reminded, smiling beatifically.

"Yeah, but it looks better when you're doing it," Gambit quipped, treating her with a wink. "I'm not built for it, and neither are these trousers."

"I offered you something a little more flexible," Purdey reminded, pointing her chin at the duffel bag cast off to the side of the living room.

"I'm not putting on the leotard," Gambit said firmly. "I saw the camera in that bag. Next thing I know, it'll be up on the office bulletin board. I'm on to you."

"Gambit, you're becoming paranoid," Purdey chastised.

"Am I?" Gambit said ruefully.

"Yes," Purdey asserted, but her smile told him otherwise. "We're wasting time. First position."

Gambit glanced over his shoulder. "Does Steed have to be here?"

Steed glanced up from his newspaper, treated Gambit to an encouraging smile. "I'm here for moral support."

"Mine or yours?" Gambit wanted to know.

"We need an audience," Purdey said simply, placing her hands on her hips. "If you can't fool Steed, how are you going to fare up against professional dancers who might just put a bullet in your brain if they find you out?"

"At least they'd put me out of my misery," Gambit said miserably. "I don't know what's in worse shape—my pride or my knees."

"Gambit." Purdey's tone was warning this time.

"I know, I know," he sighed, resignedly looking back at his feet. "First position."