Actions

Work Header

An Exchange Of Power

Chapter Text

An Exchange Of Power. Banner Art by Chestnut Nola.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1997.

“Jonathan Fitzsimmons,” extending his hand. “People call me Jay.”

“Dr Spencer Reid,” the teen replied. “People call me Doctor.” He looked at the hand like it might bite his own off. “Um. Sorry. Not really fond physical contact…”

Jonathan raised an eyebrow while lowering his hand but was not offended. Spencer broke into a wide grin followed by a silly, nervous giggle. “Sorry. I’ve only been here for a few weeks and there’s so much pomp and posturing…” he trailed off.

“I like your accent,” Spencer offered, attempting to salvage a situation he felt was slipping away. “Where are you from?”

“England,” Jonathan replied a little cautiously. “Beds…”

“Beds?” Spencer enquired, his brow dipping into an adorable frown, lips slightly slack, skin smooth and flawless, unusual in a lad who couldn’t have been more than sixteen years old. Jay took in all these elements in a millisecond.

“As in Bedfordshire,” he clarified. “It’s a county in England.”

“Oh,” Spencer said with a smile, taking his turn to absorb the sharply intelligent eyes and the dark-haired, chiselled features of the slightly older student. “I’ve never been.”

Jay contemplated their situation for a few seconds. He was at MIT for one term, all he needed to qualify for having study experience on foreign soil and a nice add-on to his MSc to boot. He didn’t see any reason to deny himself the possibility of enjoying some extra curricular activities during that time.

“Maybe I can tell you about it. Over a cup of tea?” he said, tilting his head in a gesture of invitation that Spencer did not fail to miss.

The responding blush was adorable. The young man was obviously completely oblivious to his own attractiveness and wasn’t accustomed to dealing with any kind of interest demonstrated in getting to know him better, Jay thought to himself.

“I— I think I’d like that,” Spencer replied, surprised at his own bravery. But there was something very alluring about the older student.

Geniuses that they were, it wouldn’t take either of them very long to figure out that the beauty ran far deeper than skin.

Two Weeks Later

“I thought British people were supposed to be models of repression and conservatism?” Spencer felt rather than heard the soft chuckle from where Jay’s lips trailed softly between his shoulder blades, tasting and savouring smooth skin with soft, swollen lips.

“That whole stiff upper lip thing is merely a ruse. To lull our enemies into a false sense of security before we pounce!” said Jay, playfully nipping his neck, eliciting squirms of pleasure and laughter from Spencer. He climbed out of bed and slipped on his jeans with the intention of relieving himself in the dormitory loo down the hall.

Spencer sat up and sighed, watching him. “I can’t believe you’re only here for one term.”

He had just pulled on Spencer’s MIT’s sweatshirt before diving onto him again, pinning him with his welcomed weight, determined not to think that far ahead. He kissed him, and for a few blessed moments, they both could forget.

Twelve Weeks Later

Spencer stood in the pre-departures area while Jay checked in. He was looking down at the floor, an expression like a kicked puppy on his face.

He smiled, slinging his messenger bag over his shoulder while strolling away from the check-in desk towards him. He took his chin between his thumb and forefinger and tilted his head up. Spencer astutely avoided his gaze.

“Look at me, Grand Master,” Jay said firmly. And Spencer couldn’t help but meet his eyes then. He rolled his eyes at the applied endearment of his favourite game.

“Not yet,” he said firmly.

“But one day soon,” he replied, pulling him into an embrace and allowing his lips to caress Spencer’s ear with the words.

“We’ll keep in touch, won’t we?” Spencer said hopefully, pulling away and shoving his hands into his pockets, rather than fiddle them aimlessly against each other.

“For as long as we can. I promise,” Jay replied. Spencer nodded. He understood his long-term goals. He wanted to serve his country. The threats to national security were becoming more sophisticated with every new attack. A new wave of genius would be needed to safeguard against the abuse of online intelligence. After spending three months in a more than satisfying relationship - both physical and sapiosexual - with him, he couldn’t think of a better person equipped to fill that role.

No mushy, teary or heartfelt goodbyes. They had said all that needed to be said that morning, wrapped in each other’s arms.

Spencer watched him all the way up the escalator to departures. And though he felt a small sense of loss as the Englishman turned and waved before disappearing, the empty part of him that Jay had filled during their time together was enough to remind him that the experience had been more than worth it.

He smiled to himself as he turned to exit the building. He was nothing if not optimistic that maybe, just maybe, they would be lucky enough to meet again.

Schiphol Airport, Present Day

Hotchner didn’t particularly enjoy being away from home soil, but these were extenuating circumstances. As soon as word had come down from the upper echelons of the British and US Intelligence of the intent to collaborate on this latest threat to plague both their nations, and Reid had been earmarked as the mind that would represent FBI interests on European soil, Hotchner had insisted he accompany him for the exchange.

He was a lynchpin in his team. The least he could do was ensure a smooth handover.

It was the early hours of a Friday Spring morning when they landed and headed for the Arrivals lounge. Both men had slept during much of the jet flight, waking up an hour or so before landing to go over some details.

The devil was in the details after all.

Airports at junctures like these were always busy regardless of time of day, which could be a blessing or a curse, depending on your perspective. Hotchner watched his subordinate, a little more jittery than usual, disembark the FBI jet, stumbling on the last step before feet hit solid ground. He quickly shot his hand forward to steady him.

“You OK, Reid?”

“Sure, sure. Fine. OK, Hotch, really.”

Hotchner didn’t push his mild concern. He understood, up to a point, the reasons for using Reid in this particular case and his invaluable skill set, but did wonder sometimes at the personality quirks that revealed so much about him and if they might compromise him. Regardless this was not his decision, and the best he could do under the circumstances was play his part in ensuring a speedy conclusion to Reid’s time away from the BAU.

Their walk through arrivals was uneventful, passport control and customs officers not even sparing them a glance. It was just easier this way; to move and blend with the crowd rather than set up some “special meet.” That sort of thing could sometimes flag unwanted attentions.

Hotchner spotted the dark-haired, slender, bespectacled man waiting for them in the same moment Reid did. Reid was walking several feet ahead, and though Hotchner couldn’t see Reid’s face, it was obvious from the MI6 Quartermaster’s expression that they were beaming at each other.

The embrace was mutual, welcome and comfortable. He took in the body language as he strolled passed them and deeper into the lounge area. He was so intrigued by this sudden change in Reid, germaphobe and shunner of human physical contact, he didn’t register the blond man tracking his movements away from the pair.

He took a seat at a bar, strategically opposite a mirror, and ordered a coffee.

The Quartermaster - Jonathan Richards (an alias no doubt) - and Reid following to sit at a table moments later. They placed their identical messenger bags side-by-side at their feet. Aaron sugared his coffee, glancing up occasionally at the relaxed ease with which they interacted. He vaguely wondered about the agent’s security detail while sipping his drink, when a blond man in possibly the sharpest cut of suit he had ever seen, sat two stools down from him. Their eyes met, fleetingly, but it was long enough.

Aaron spared his peripheral vision to watch him order a martini. He tried not to frown. If this was to be Reid’s caretaker, what the hell was he doing drinking high alcohol spirits at 2am in the morning?

Less than five minutes passed before Reid and Richards stood, lifting each other’s bags from the floor without missing a beat. A brief embrace and both men headed off in their designated directions, inserting exchanged earpieces as they walked.

“Welcome to Great Britain, Dr Reid,” Bond’s smooth purr drifted over their now shared comms device.

“We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we, 007,” came the murmured reply. Bond was briefly surprised at the cheekiness before he chuckled. Definitely hints of Q, he thought to himself. He was going to miss the cheeky-mouthed little arse, he mused, keeping his eyes trained on his new charge.

He took a breath before exiting the arrivals area into the cool air where Spencer Reid stood waiting, looking up at the night sky with a wistful expression.

“I’m sure you’ll be back home before you know it. And I know the Quartermaster,” said Bond, grabbing his suitcase. “Let’s go, Dr Reid.”

And as one unmarked vehicle pulled out of the car park to make its way to the heart of British Intelligence, a jet sped up the Heathrow runway and into the night sky, chased by dawn all the way back to Washington.

Chapter Text

London

“Ah 007. Where’s my car, you sodding menace? And if you say it’s at the bottom of some European river, I’ll be sending you after it. With a minimal oxygen supply.”

Q looked up from his bench then, the agent standing in his usual nonchalant relaxed pose several feet away, watching him.

“Good as new, Q, parked in the MI6 garage. Not a mark on her.”

Q rose and circled the bench to place himself before Bond.

“Glad to hear it.”

They took a few appraising moments to study one another, each reflecting the calm, cool, unreadability of the other.

Q conceded first. A small concession, but a concession nonetheless.

“It’s good to have you back, 007.”

Bond decided to ignore the warmth blossoming in his chest. “I know.”

“Prick.”

“I know that too.”

But by then, it was too late for both of them. And both of them knew it.


Two Months Later

Mallory hung up the call and sat back in his chair, folding his fingers thoughtfully in front of a steely frown.

Moneypenny knocked briskly once.

“Come.”

She sat down opposite him, smoothed her skirt and poised her pad on her lap, awaiting instruction. A call direct from the Director of FBI to the Head of SIS couldn’t mean good news for either side of the Atlantic.

“Rally the troops, Moneypenny. And get Bond and Q up here.”

“Spectre’s back…” he muttered, the sullenly resigned tone not lost on Moneypenny. He stood up and stepped over to his window to take in the calming vista of his favourite city.

Moneypenny joined him. “I doubt they ever really went away, Sir,” she said sagely, knowing whatever it was they had planned would be globally damaging, unless the powers-that-be could stop them.

“No, I don’t suppose they did…” he replied.

*****************

Later that day

Q could feel his eyes slipping shut and was half contemplating getting Moneypenny to call him a cab when he felt the body slide into the booth next to him. As Eve had vacated it only minutes before to go to the loo, he naturally assumed she had returned.

“’M drunk, Miss Monkeypants…” he slurred. “an’ it’s my barfday, ’n’ I’m being shipped off to the US for goodness knows how long, ’n haven’t been properly snogged in like furbloodyever…”

“Well,” said a low slung baritone voice. “I can assist with at least one of those predicaments.”

And before Q’s addled senses could bring him up to speed on the situation, James was helping himself to the Quartermaster’s lips, gentle and uninvasive and all the more wonderful for that.

“You’re not Monkeypants,” he murmured hazily, breaking contact.

James smiled down at him. “Fuck but I’m going to miss you, Quartermaster…”

It was then Moneypenny did return assuming the seat opposite.

“I hope you’re not taking advantage of our Quartermaster in such a vulnerable state, James,” she said, sliding a tumbler of Scotch in front of him.

“Moneypenny. How can you think so little of your favourite agent?” he softly retorted before sipping his drink. The head now resting on his shoulder began releasing soft snores.

Eve gave him her “gosh he’s so adorable look” before knocking back her own drink. “Home?”

“Excellent suggestion,” replied Bond.


Washington

"I don't believe that intelligence can be accurately quantified, but I do have an IQ of 187, an eidetic memory, and can read 20,000 words per minute. Yes, I'm a genius." 

He didn’t let it out very often but Hotchner allowed himself a small smile at his young colleague’s matter-of-fact tone about his own brilliance. He’d seen enough evidence of it firsthand time and time again.

*****************

Hayley was dead. Aaron was alone and he had been for months. He needed to break the cycle. The isolation was starting to affect his performance. Rossi hadn’t pulled any punches on that score, but he’d planted the seed. It was time for the change to take root. Aaron stood at the top of the bullpen and looked down on the team. The people he trusted most in this world, busying themselves with paperwork. His gaze lingered for a few seconds more on Reid, currently catching up on some reading.

“Drinks tonight,” he boomed across the room. Everyone looked up. None bothered to hide their momentary surprise at the invitation from their boss. “I expect to see all my team there. No excuses accepted.” He retreated back to his office and shut the door.

“Well it’s about damn time,” muttered Garcia.

*****************

"Actually, there aren't that many scientific errors in Star Trek, especially considering how long ago it was made. There are certain improbabilities, but not that many outright errors." None of the dinner guests could hold back their laugh. Dinner at Rossi’s was always a pleasure, a place of sanctuary from their work where they could just be themselves for a little while. And Rossi was always more than happy to accommodate.

Reid glanced over at his beaming SA. It made him feel good that he could make him laugh. If only for a little while.

*****************

Maybe the embrace was a little too long to be professional. But in that moment, when he held the young genius to his chest, he felt the realisation wash over him like a balm of relief. Reid meant more to him than he had previously dared to accept to himself. More than a colleague, a brother-in-arms, a fellow agent that worked by his side, doing what they could to balance the wrongs with their own brand of right. Spencer buried his head gratefully into Hotchner’s shoulder, breathe heavy with the release of stress pouring from his body. Hotchner gladly bore it for him.

They broke the embrace and Spencer took an unsteady step back, seemingly unable to meet that dark, searching gaze for longer than the most fleeting of moments.

Hotchner decided to ignore the warmth blossoming in his chest.

But by then, it was too late for both of them. And both of them knew it.


Two Years Later

“Of course I’ll do it.”

Hotchner hadn’t expected any other response, but he was obliged to ensure Reid was voluntarily content to take on the task.

“You are perfectly within your rights to deny the transfer, temporary as it is. It’s an unorthodox request and really the CIA…” Hotchner continued from behind his desk.

“But the CIA don’t have anyone like me in their ranks, do they. And we live in unorthodox times, Hotch. We have to think outside the box if we are to have any hope of staying a step in sync with the threats.”

Spencer took the seat against the wall opposite his desk. “So this guy… Blofeld?”

Hotchner tapped his keyboard to bring up the file. “Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Currently in the custody of British Secret Service. Evidence from that $12 million haul of drugs seized last week by the DEA points to links with his former terrorist group, SPECTRE. We don’t know what yet, but they don’t do things on a small scale so this could only be the tip of the iceberg.”

“And you want me to go interview him? See if I can gain some insights into the situation?”

“As I said, Reid. You don’t—“

Spencer stood, squared his shoulders and smiled. “I’ve never been to England…”

Six Months Before The Exchange

“Keep the glasses on,” Q said, pushing his old, personal laptop to the bottom of his bed before leaning back into the pillows. “We should have candles you know. It being your birthday.”

"Actually, candles were originally used to protect the birthday celebrant from demons for the coming year. As a matter of fact, down to the fourth century, Christianity rejected the birthday celebration as a pagan ritual…” 

“Good grief,” barked Q through a laugh, “it’s like witnessing the fastfoward evolution of the geek. Good thing I’ve got such a sapiosexual kink.”

“Admit it. You think it’s cute.”

Q nodded. “It’s fucking adorable. Permission to continue granted, Dr Reid.”

The securely encrypted call they shared twice a year on each other’s birthday was something to which both men looked forward. A mutual release shared to ease the tensions of their jobs, though the full details of those jobs neither had revealed to one another. It kept things less complicated.

Q’s eyes were trained on the screen, the soft light from his bedside table cast his pale skin in a golden glow, his hand moving with steady purpose down his chest, stomach to caress himself, imagining it was Spencer’s hand. Meanwhile in Washington, the same thoughts flooded unabated through Spencer’s mind. It was difficult to keep his eyes open, watch the beautiful body—

“You get more beautiful every year, you know,” Spencer’s soft words cutting through his pleasure and stitching it together even tighter than before.

“Happy Birthday, Dr Reid…”

“Always a pleasure, Dr Fitzsimmons…”

Chapter Text

Q had closed his eyes and was concentrating on his breathing. Hotchner had planned on using some of the flight to get to know their intelligence exchange liaison but the man was acting very distracted, fidgeting in his seat, frequently glancing out the window in a way that suggested he hoped they either never took off, or were right now landed and he’d just woken up.

When the wheels lifted from the Heathrow tarmac, he thought Q was going to rip the armrests off the seats, his knuckles were so white.

It didn’t take a profiler to figure out what was wrong. Not that Hotchner needed to figure anything out. He’d read the man’s file after all. He unbuckled his belt and headed to the back of the plane, returning a few seconds later. He placed the bottle of pills and a bottle of water in front of Q.

Q opened his eyes and frowned at the items. “How did you know?”

“Not everything in your file is redacted. Saw you rummaging about in your bag, heard the muttered curse. Figured you must have forgotten your own.”

Q opened the bottle and immediately swallowed down two.

“Knock yourself out,” said Hotchner. “We’ll talk when we get to Washington.”

Q smiled gratefully, letting his eyes close again, knowing sleep would come soon.

“You’re a funny chap, Agent Hotchner.”

Hotchner just raised an eyebrow and said nothing, allowing his thoughts to drift amongst the clouds below.


The first ten minutes of the drive back to MI6 were silent, Spencer quietly absorbing his surroundings. Bond was the first to break the silence.

“So. You and the Quartermaster know each other.”

Spencer kept looking out the window. “Was that a question, Mr Bond? It wasn’t framed like a question.”

Bond knew nothing of the young genius, other than his speciality in the BAU was the embodiment of a walking minefield of endless, useful information and quite the opposite of Q in that he utterly shunned the technological age. Bond was a traditionalist too. He wondered if there was enough common ground.

“Yes. It was a question.”

Spencer continued to choose not to look at him for a few moments. He allowed himself a brief sigh, shifting his body slightly towards the agent, before speaking.

“I’ve heard a lot of things about you, Mr Bond. You’re interesting as an UnSub, as a person. I imagine your job means you don’t have many - if any - friends… I don’t have many friends either really, except my BAU colleagues. They’re awesome. But I think you’re even less fortunate than me? It’s just a guess, a supposition. Q tends to attract people like that. Lost. A little… isolated? Less through choice, more by design? I mean, no one chooses to lose their parents and end up working as an agent, do they? No one chooses to be a genius whose mother is also a genius and get to watch her be consumed by Alzeimher’s. We are all victims of circumstance Mr Bond—

“What’s an UnSub?” Bond interrupted with a casual air that belied the intent behind the question.

Spencer furrowed his brow, momentarily thrown by the curveball query.

“An unknown subject. Someone not yet identified in an investigation but we’re aware of their existence and work towards building a profile that will help us to capture them.”

Bond was silent for a moment, absorbing the information. They were on a straight stretch of road. He turned towards Spencer, eyes bright in the blooming light of the London dawn.

“Good luck with that. Dr Reid.”

“Luck has very little to do—“ Spencer turned his gaze back to the road. He was beginning to understand what Q meant about dealing with the Double Os.


England. MI6 Secure Undisclosed Location.

He liked enclosed spaces. But not those of which he had no control.

When you’re alone, isolated, with no access to anything or anyone, it gives you a lot of time with your own thoughts; Time to think about where perhaps you went wrong in life.

Well. That last part was obvious. Not acting sooner to thwart the relationship between one’s biological father and the bastard foster brother that came between you and he. There’s a… humdinger? As some might call it?

Mistake number one.

And the author of every de facto decision made up to this point. It wasn’t painful. There was no love between him and his father.

No. It was the resentment that when presented with an option, water was thicker than blood.

And that fact, made his father weak in his eyes. And weakness had no place in his world.

Ernst sighed, unfolded his legs, closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the pillow. It wasn’t as though demands perceived as needs were not being met.

Fucking British Intelligence. An oxymoron of the ages. He'd gotten so close.

But now... Now he was closer than he had ever been.

They think they know how to pacify those who simply wish to enrich their world and make their lives worth living.

They want to sink their faces into soft pillows and the breasts of whores?

Weak.

Weaknesses can be exploited.

And exploitation?

Is what I, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, do best…

Chapter Text

Q felt a little like a dolphin who had strayed into a shoal of fish and was currently being subjected to their wide-eyed studious scrutiny while they tried to figure out the intent of this unfamiliar intruder. He further concluded it was in his best interest to keep his blowhole covered.

For the time being.

He had felt an instant connection with the man who had come to meet them at Dulles airport. Gideon introduced the young boffin to the team.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you all,” said Q.

JJ smiled, Garcia looked suspicious, Morgan haughty, Emily curious. Hotchner, remained closed off of course, distant but professional throughout their interaction. But Q understood closed off better than most. He may like the tech world more than the human one but experiences with the Double Os had forced him out of that comfort zone.

Garcia had spent a large portion of the morning staring blankly at the image of MI6’s Quartermaster on her main screen. She threw a scowl and a mock growl at his face before sitting back in her chair with a resigned huff.

That was how Morgan had found her.

“Feeling a little threatened, Garcia?”

She pivoted around in her seat to face Morgan. “Of course not!” she flustered. “Just missing Spencer is all.”

“We all are, baby girl.” He moved up beside her to look at the scant details of the man alongside the image.

“But you heard, Gideon. The UnSub’s profile is a perfect match for his, and we need one to catch one…”

“So Gideon says you and Spencer have history?” Garcia had spirited him away from the bullpen to her inner sanctum to show him her setup. Which was arguably quite impressive.

“Yes,” replied Q, dividing attention between the lines of code in front of him and the hovering cross-armed form of Derek Morgan looming nearby.

“MIT?”

“Correct,” he said, over the sound of tapping.

A few heartbeats passed. “You don’t give much away, do you?”

“You work for the FBI, Agent Morgan. I’m sure if there’s anything you want to find out all you have to do is know where to look.”

“I do. Your files are sealed, MI6.”

Q felt another presence approach.

“Morgan.” Aaron Hotchner gave away even less but was no less intimidating a presence for that. “Can I have a word?”

“Sure, Hotch,” he replied, pushing himself away from the wall with a teasing parting, “now you play nice with my baby girl, MI6.”

“Oh I’m sure we’ll get along famously, Mr Morgan,” Q replied stoically.

Morgan laughed. “If your accent isn’t the death of her first,” he replied, shutting the door behind him and a following Hotchner back to his office.

“Derek Morgan! So help me…!” Garcia called after him. The blush was slight but there, Q pulling up a chair to position himself beside her. “Don’t worry, Agent Garcia. Your integrity is more than safe with me. Shall we get started?”


*KNOCK!KNOCK!*

“Can I come in?”

Q looked up from his laptop with a tight-lipped smile at SSA Hotchner who was standing in the door. He’d been assigned a small office next to the man so there was literally no escaping him.

Him or his complete want of a sense of humour. Never thought I’d miss Bond this much, Q thought to himself.

“Of course, Agent Hotchner,” replied Q. “Can hardly tell you to bugger off now, can I?"

“Burger… Off?” blinked Aaron, with a confused frown.

Q adjusted his glasses. It was going to be a looonnggg six weeks. “What can I do for you?” Q asked.

Hotchner stood by the window, arms crossed. “We have a lead. Garcia found a digital signature on a recent online bank heist that matches the one supplied to us by British Intelligence.”

“Oh that is good news. I may have to see if I can get her to defect to us. She is rather good.”

Hotchner gave him a sideways glance to check if he was joking. His humour gauge wasn’t always well aligned, especially in the work environment and he didn’t have much experience with the transatlantic version.

“You can try,” he replied deadpan, “but it won’t end well.”

Q smiled and rose to stand next to him. “So what has your resident boffin genius discovered?”

“We know the UnSub is British or, at the very least has held British residency during his most formative years. He has also worked in the Intelligence Community…”

“Agent Hotchner?” It was a brave soul that interrupted the SSA when he was in zone.

“Yes?”

“Why are we assuming the subject is male?”

Where’s Reid when you need him, thought Hotchner to himself. “Statistically…” he began.

And as though Q could read his mind pattern of thought, he interrupted. Again.

“In the US perhaps, but odds are even, our he is a she.”