His mission was supposed to be simple. Find Geoffrey Boothroyd’s son, who had developed a reputation for being quite the fearsome inventor, and convince him to come to MI6 to serve as quartermaster. He was given an address, a description, and a starting salary figure so high that he seriously questioned all his past career decisions. He was assured that Frederick Boothroyd was intelligent, practical, and yes, maybe a little prone to shooting people, but only if they insisted on disturbing his work. Altogether, simple.
James Bond knew better though. They didn’t send him on simple missions.
The address was predictably wrong, the description matched a local drug dealer with a propensity for gnawing on strangers, and the mission brief utterly failed to mention that not only was Frederick Boothroyd an excellent shot, he was rather more trigger-happy than the report would suggest. Only years of training, significant experience cheating death, pure instinct, and sheer good luck prevented James from having his head blown clear off after he politely introduced himself after he had picked the lock to the front door.
Years of training, significant experience cheating death, and pure instinct were also the reasons why James could now be found pinning the young man to the wall, after a struggle that was surprisingly difficult considering how damned skinny Frederick was.
Given their circumstances, Frederick was taking it quite well, his voice calm (if slightly muffled by the wall he was being pressed against) as he said, “Well, this is all very compromising.”
“That’s why you shouldn’t shoot at people,” James replied unsympathetically, still a little sore over the use of deadly force. He briefly entertained breaking a limb or two in retaliation (M would probably be upset if he broke an arm, but less so if he broke both legs), but if he went about causing physical harm to every person who shot at him, half of MI6 would be on disability.
Frederick huffed, equally unsympathetic. “Coming from the person who tried to break into my home, I think I am justified, thank you very much. Besides, haven’t you ever heard of knocking?”
“And give you the opportunity to shoot me through the door? I think not.”
The young man turned his head as best he could to glare at him. “MI6, I presume.”
James wasn’t too surprised; he was Major Boothroyd’s son, after all. “You presume correctly.”
Frederick squirmed, which only prompted Bond to tighten his grip. The young man quickly got the message and stopped, his head drooping resignedly as he said, “Has she ever considered just sending an e-mail instead of an agent? This is really quite tiresome, and I thought she would have got the message after I poisoned the last one of you to show up uninvited.”
James’s automatic response was to frisk his captive for needles, causing Frederick to yelp in protest at the blatant invasion of his privacy. But James didn’t have the luxury of worrying about privacy when he had a job to do, so upon confirming that his captive didn’t have any other obvious weapons, he allowed the man to turn so that they could address each other like civilized beings.
“Mr. Boothroyd,” he said. “Your country needs you.”
Frederick let out a sharp, slightly hysteric laugh at the thought of that. “Does it really? Good for it, but I don’t want to. And don’t-” he continued, before James could open his mouth, “-bother trying to appeal to my sense of loyalty to Queen and country. I can assure you that I do not have any.”
James couldn’t help but feel slightly perplexed at that. “Your father-”
“I am not my father,” Frederick cut off sharply. “And you will do to remember that.”
That was true, although there was something about the young man that reminded him sharply of the Major. Despite the rather short (and hostile) nature of their meeting, Frederick Boothroyd clearly shared the same intelligence and intensity that his father had, and would accomplish great things if given the proper resources and appropriate goals to focus it. He should have been jumping at the opportunity, not recoiling from it, which might have been why James said what he did, although in his defense he did realize his mistake a split-second after the words left his mouth. “I knew your father.”
Frederick was beyond unimpressed by this revelation, his expression almost incredulous that James would say such an idiotic thing. “Good for you. That’s more than my mum and I could say.”
“Is that what this is about?” he demanded before he could help himself because the thought of that outweighing something as important as duty to England was simply astonishing. “Resentment and daddy issues.”
“That is part of it,” Frederick said with a small shrug. “No use in denying it, so I won’t. But it certainly is not all of it. I’ve seen the lives your lot have, Mr. Bond. I cannot say the ever-present prospect of torture and grisly death appeals.”
“The quartermaster is a different matter entirely.”
“And yet I seem to recall a certain funeral having to be closed-casket because of the state he was left in.” The words were harsh, yet the young man’s expressed softened ever so slightly as he took in James’s expression. Frederick wasn’t the only one who remembered the Major’s funeral, and attended with regrets for his ugly fate. “You may live for the glory of Queen and country, but that doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way. That doesn’t mean everyone else is able or even willing to make the sacrifices that you are.”
James stared at Frederick, the words echoing in the now silent room. He didn’t know how to respond because this wasn’t the reaction he tended to get. Upon discovering that he was an agent, most people (the ones who didn’t immediately try to kill him, at least) were impressed, wanting to hear stories of epic adventures with beautiful women and dangers around every corner. There were always a few who reacted with disgust at imagining the atrocities he had committed to protect their home, suspicious of what he had become after dirtying his hands so, but he’d never received something so like… sympathy.
Sympathy was not something he was used to. MI6 rarely had the time for it, and their enemies even less so. He didn’t know if he appreciated it, but at the same time, it convinced him of one thing, and one thing only.
It took a while for the man he had already dubbed “Q” to realize what James saying, but once he did he immediately shook his head. “No. No, I don’t-”
“I’m not leaving until you agree to come with me,” he cut off calmly, letting go of the skinny limbs. Q was too much in shock to realize that he was being freed, staying where he was against the wall as he watched in horror as Bond made his way to the wardrobe.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Q finally demanded, the words high and panicked.
“Moving in,” he answered, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. It wasn’t the most conventional of negotiation tactics, granted, but he did have a reputation for wearing people down in the end. He had the feeling (and likely M had agreed) that this was the only option that might work, as the young man had to be convinced, not bullied or forced. Also he knew that if he left now, he would never manage to get through that front door again (or any of the windows, since Q seemed like the type to booby-trap his windows).
Q was outright gaping at him now, barely managing to sputter, “You most certainly are not!”
“Try and stop me,” James challenged, pleased to find that the wardrobe did contain what he wanted and pulling out the spare blankets before tossing it onto the sofa. It didn’t look very comfortable, but it would have to do since he doubted Q would be willing to share the bed.
(He wouldn’t mind if the other man had been willing to share.)
Q stared at him helplessly, face contorting between rage and confusion at the thought of having a MI6 agent as his new, completely unwanted flatmate. But then he finally settled for shaking his head, snapping, “Fine, do whatever you want. See if I care. It hardly matters; the first national emergency that arises, you’ll be on your way, thanks to patriotic duty.”
“It’s not like those come up every other day,” James pointed out with far more confidence than he actually had. “We’ll just have to see who manages to hold out longer.” He could only hope that England could stay out of trouble long enough for him to convince the young man to accept MI6’s employment offer.