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: Post-series, I suppose.
Author's Note: One more from the prompt files. This one came courtesy of brunhilde_1013, who requested, "Gambit/Purdey, found out." So we have...
John Steed considered himself a reasonable man. Perhaps a bit ruthless when the situation called for it, but not devoid of sympathy in the face of the inconveniences and realities of life. So when Purdey and Gambit took to spending more and more nights at the stud farm, as opposed to making the long drive back to London at three in the morning, he wasn't about to complain. It was his choice to live out in the country, after all, and since he was in charge, he had the power to request them to come to him, instead of the other way around. So if they were going to stay up to the wee hours hashing out some particularly difficult problem related to one of their assignments, it would have been hard-hearted to throw his two young colleagues out into the evening chill.
Naturally, if they were going to stay the night, they would have to be fed the next morning, and Steed certainly didn't begrudge a hardworking agent his or her breakfast. He didn't even mind sharing the morning papers, despite the fact that Gambit and Purdey made a habit of filling in the crosswords before he'd had a chance to so much as glance at them. He was even able to (mostly) swallow his ill-humour when Purdey monopolised the bathroom for long stretches in the morning, and forced him to trek downstairs to use the facilities, or when Gambit's XJS blocked him from driving out his own car out of the garage. They were friends and colleagues and guests, after all. A modicum of tolerance was in order.
But every man has his limits, and Steed's came the day he stalked up from the wine cellar brandishing a dusty bottle. He waved it menacingly at Purdey and Gambit, who were ensconced on the couch reading the morning paper before him. Again.
"Would you care to explain," Steed asked pleasantly, though there was an edge of steel to his voice, waving the bottle before their suddenly-saucer-sized eyes, "why this bottle of champagne, a particularly rare vintage might I add, has somehow relocated itself into a bottle nearly half a century too new, and now tastes of flat ginger ale?"
Purdey and Gambit exchanged worried looks over the tops of their newspapers. "You're sure you have the right bottle?" Gambit offered weakly.
"No. That's rather the point," Steed replied tersely. "I have been waiting the better part of a decade for this to age to perfection, so imagine my surprise when I took a trip down to the cellar, and found it in another bottle entirely, one, I might add, that was covered with a rather uneven coat of dust, and which, as I said, appears to be missing half of its contents, which, by the taste, I can only infer have been topped up with ginger ale." He looked sternly from one to the other. "I feel I'm owed some sort of explanation."
"I told you he'd notice," Purdey muttered, elbowing Gambit in the ribs. "You said he wouldn't."
"I didn't think he'd look at it anytime soon," Gambit defended. "Or if he did, I thought we could flee the country before then."
Purdey pulled a face that suggested she was less-than-impressed by this plan of action, and turned beseeching eyes on Steed. "We're very sorry, Steed," she apologised. "You weren't here, and we were thirsty. It was an accident."
"Purdey," Steed said levelly. "I've always believed a man's home is his castle, though dear friends are always permitted entry. Normally I would not protest, but a man's wine cellar is his sanctuary, so I'm afraid your visit has come to an end."
Gambit's jaw dropped. "Don't tell me you're kicking us out?"
A few minutes later, the front door slammed behind Purdey and Gambit, who stood on their colleague's doorstep looking rather forlorn, hastily-packed overnight bags clutched in their nerveless fingers. "He kicked us out," Gambit murmured dazedly.
"I don't blame him," Purdey sighed, stepping off the front step and starting toward her TR7. "We should have told him when it happened."
"Do you really think he would've taken it any better?" Gambit said sceptically.
"I suppose not," Purdey conceded, opening the TR7's boot and tossing her bag inside.
"I guess we should be grateful he didn't find out how it got broken," Gambit opined. "That would have made it even worse."
"Worse for you, maybe," Purdey retorted, slamming the boot shut for emphasis. "It was your fault after all."
"My fault? You were there, too."
"Yes, but you were the one who thought it would be a good idea to try things on against one of the wine racks," Purdey countered.
Gambit raised an eyebrow. "Funny. I remember it being more of a mutual decision at that point."
Purdey blushed. "Well, it doesn't matter whose fault it was," she decided, effecting a rapid about-face. "Steed's certainly not letting us back in, so we have to go home."
"You don't have to," Gambit contradicted, voice dropping an octave, and Purdey recognised the glint in his eyes. "You could always come by my flat. And I promise you can break anything you want in there, so long as it's not one of my bones."
Purdey was regarding him with interest. "Anything?"
"Anything," Gambit confirmed.
Purdey's smile was small and secretive. "I just might hold you to that, Mike Gambit."