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a promise from a burning bed

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i.

MI6 agents pride themselves on their resourcefulness and adaptability; they come prepared for any and every situation, already having considered ten different ways for every possible scenario to play out. As such, Bond walks into a bar in Moscow and thinks that he is prepared for the man that slowly walks up to him, the smile on his face nothing short of predatory. (He has no idea who he's up against, Bond thinks.) He knows this type of man, easily picking up the conversation that he instigates.

(“Easy job,” M had assured him, folder in hand and a noticeable crease between her brows. “In and out – engage the target in conversation, then retrieve the files without him noticing.”)

After an idle ten minutes of chatting, the man – Matthews, as much a stranger to the land as Bond is – gestures expansively at the door, quietly suggesting that he and Bond discuss their interests elsewhere. As they make to leave, Bond slides a hand down the man's side, discreetly checking if he can feel the outline of paper or a folder of some kind through the material of the tailored suit. He doesn't let it show how his pulse quickens at the lack of it. Matthews smiles again – his intent is clear, and Bond is hit with the desire to remove his subtle earpiece. He thinks he knows where the encounter is going and he doesn't want it to be broadcast across the open channel at headquarters for everyone to hear.

Of course the files would be in Matthews' room. Of course Bond has no choice but to follow the man to his luxurious hotel and not fight him when he's drawn into a kiss that's harsh and that leaves his cheek and chin scraped raw from the man's stubble. He is unflappable – doesn't draw attention to the way he maneuvers them around until his back is no longer pressed against the door and he has just about one inch on the other and he feebly attempts to use it to his advantage, wanting to gain control of the situation and turn it into a less uncomfortable and unfamiliar one.

It hardly matters. Matthews is strong, the type of man dangerous enough to be well-versed in hand-to-hand combat but clever enough to also carry a gun on him (strapped to his ankle, of course, Bond should have suspected), and Bond can't blow his cover by displaying his own strength or knocking Matthews out; he has orders to never alert the man to the fact that his files have been stolen.

There is absolute silence in his ear. Nobody speaks through the subtle, delicate earpiece; he suspects that the people backing him up back in London have been stunned speechless by the tirade of filth Matthews is murmuring into his other ear, and when he gets shoved towards the bed, shirt unbuttoned by experienced hands, he momentarily flounders. He doesn't know how to go about it; admitting his inexperience will undoubtedly leave Matthews uninterested, so he says nothing and reaches for his shirt. Sex is simple and far from something that Bond would ever back down from.

(This is what MI6 needs from him – what England needs from him. He has a job to do and he is very good at it; there are orders and there are consequences to disobeying orders and Bond will see this through, no matter the cost. The cost has always been irrelevant.

England needs this from him and Bond has long since forgotten to mind.)

He goes easily to his hands and knees after he's stripped of his clothes, body twitching when there are warm hands settling on his thighs. It's impossible not to squirm. His stomach churns and his breath hitches when a tongue laves across the inside of his right thigh, making Bond quiver all over, hands clenching into fists, fists clenching in the sheets. Matthews doesn't strike him as the kind of man to get straight to business, but it's a relief that he is. No need to drag it out any longer than necessary. Bond would prefer not to enjoy this, but Matthews strokes his cock and drags his tongue down his spine and he arches into it, releasing a breathy groan that reverberates around the room at the stimulation.

The silence in his ear worries him, but there is breathing, at least; he perceives it as angry, or at the very least frustrated and what is he meant to make of that-?

His shoulders are drawn up tight when slick fingers travel up his thigh, unable to help the way that he grabs Matthews' wrist, whispering a breathless “Wait,” to the other as he adjusts his weight. His gut is tight with anxiety that he thinks is entirely unwarranted. It is only sex, after all, but he can't seem to stop trembling.

Matthews murmurs “Take your time,” and a wave of relief floods through Bond. He steadies his breathing somewhat and hates the thought of how his harsh exhales must be echoing clearly through the one-way microphone hidden in a button on his shirt, mere inches away. He clutches at the sheets – they're smooth, soft ones and he's about to let a man fuck him on them. Biting back a raw sound when a finger presses forward, spreading an ache through him, Bond reminds himself to simply breathe. It's not so much pain as it is discomfort, but he isn't nearly relaxed enough for it to feel anywhere near good.

But then, suddenly, it does. Matthews presses forward and down and the flare of pleasure it elicits has Bond jerking with surprise, his deep-throated moan probably leaving some young, impressionable secretary flushing from the sound as it echoes through HQ back home.

Matthews murmurs something that Bond doesn't quite catch and his legs threaten to give out on him, the force of his quivering intensifying. He presses his face down into the luxurious pillow when a second finger makes him burn. He's glad that Matthews has stopped talking. The quiet helps him think more clearly, but he keeps losing his train of thought about the mission whenever Matthews presses forward again and a pitifully helpless groan is torn from his throat. Three fingers hurt quite a lot more than just the two and when they spread inside of him, part him for Matthews to see, Bond burns hot with shame and an ugly indignation. The ache has spread to his lower back and the soothing hand that brushes down his side doesn't do a thing to relax him.

He focuses on the breathing he can still hear, low and even in his ear. Probably some technician, he thinks, but there is a strange familiarity about it.

Then a mouth is on his shoulder and Matthews is pressing forward and inside and Bond forgets about the breathing and thinks for a moment that he can't possibly do this – but the push is unrelenting, harsh, and his body yields. Eventually, all things must yield.

It hurts, like he expected it to. He doesn't let that fact show.

He does make a sound that borders on a pained groan, biting into the flesh of his own arm to keep himself quiet. Each push in leaves him breathless and trembling and the drag out makes him shudder and clench, reduced to something helpless. Matthews seems to want him vocal and so he groans more, demands that the other man go harder. Relief doesn't come for over ten minutes.

When it is done and behind him and Matthews is asleep, Bond gets out of bed more slowly than he would like. There is still silence from the people in London – not even Q is chattering away and it unnerves him. He picks up his clothes, his gun, grateful that his wince is caught by nobody but his own reflection. There are blotchy bruises that range from red to deep purple on his right shoulder and he puts on his shirt first to avoid having to look at them for much longer.

Once he has collected the files, copied them and carefully returned everything in the room to how it was, he re-establishes the link to headquarters. “Files acquired,” he says, solemn and steady.

There is a scratchy quality to his voice and something of a tremble to it, but nobody seems to notice.

ii.

The second time is not as unexpected as the first had been. He has been sent to Dubai and there is a man of interest there that needs to be eliminated. He never lets his guard down except for when the beautiful men and women from his favorite escort service frequent his home on Friday nights. He is wealthy, dangerous and he has requested Bond for the night. He has been undercover for weeks, a new addition, exotic in the eyes of the people running the establishment.

Bond is nowhere near a professional (not like this), but the man seems fooled, letting him step into the lavish bedroom with an appraising smile. Bit older than usual, he'd commented when Bond came to the door, curiously letting his eyes wander down his body, but he had ultimately told Bond that he was exquisite. Not beautiful, but alluring; enticing in a way few people were, the man had praised, a certain nausea clenching in Bond's stomach at the commentary.

The difference between Moscow and now is this: this time, there are cameras, too, in the very corners of the room. Q must have had something to do with it, because Bond knows their precise locations, but he can't spot them.

The difference between Moscow and now is this: this time, he isn't allowed a place to hide.

He is told to strip, so he strips. The scars he has are of no concern to the man whose name Bond hasn't been given; it is common knowledge that the people working in the brothels and escort services come from rough pasts. The man just runs his hands over the scars, particularly the ones on his sides, as if he's interested in more than the skin he's paying to touch.

Bond's friends are watching. His colleagues, his subordinates, his boss, all of them watching. His stomach flutters with anxiety, but it is less prominent than last time. At least he knows what to expect, now. He takes comfort in that fact.

“Lie on your back,” the man says and Bond obeys. He stretches his body along the satin sheets, easily letting the man rest in the spread of his legs, but he gives a tell-tale twitch when fingers graze his abdomen and hip. He fears that this man will understand that Bond isn't a prostitute (and if not, well, he's not sure if he'll be relieved or offended), but all he says is “Not used to male customers?” and Bond nods, arching to offer himself shamelessly.

He had expected it to be rough, like the first time had been, but his target seems to be in no hurry and Bond wishes that he would just come closer and let him put his arms around his neck to snap it so very easily – but no such luck. He has to endure until the man lets his guard down, leaning in close enough that Bond can give him a quick death.

He grips the bed-sheets tightly when the man bites his hip, trailing his tongue down his cock before his fingers push Bond's knees towards his chest. He knows that there is a camera in the corner, and that it is obvious that he's hard, that he arches feverishly when the man teases his tongue along the inside of his thigh, that the guttural groan he utters in pure need must leave his reputation stained.

(His reputation is far from shiny but to be exposed in this way - it is unendurable.)

When the man finally eases inside him (first with his tongue, then his fingers, offering toe-curling sensations that leave Bond half-wincing and half-groaning), he shakes. It hurts, but he stays hard, clutching at the man's back and canting his hips down through the whole ordeal. The thrusts have him sliding back up on the bed, hands tight on his hips and a mouth leaving bruises down his neck, the sound of skin on skin drowning out everything else.

He snaps the man's neck when he comes and he doesn't think about the fact that there is a dead man inside of him for a full five seconds before he can manage to shove him off and away.

This time, when he returns home, he is offered sick leave for a few days.

He declines. He has a job to do.

iii.

It isn't necessary, the third time, but he lets himself be fucked out of something other than the necessity he's become accustomed to.

It's twisted, he's aware, but the pounding of his pulse and the way he goes light-headed at every rough, brutal shove of cock into him somehow makes him feel weightless.

Here, in a back-alley, he lets a potential ally fuck him and he feels more alive than he ever has.

This time, there is nobody watching or listening. He shoves down the vague disappointment that should by all means have been replaced with relief and he tells the man to hurt him. He doesn't know whether he acts out of self-loathing or a masochistic infatuation, but the fact is that it hurts in more ways than he can count. It's a hurt that grips him tight and demands to be fed and he is nothing short of obliging. Bond doesn't question why he does it. He doesn't question why he doesn't want it but does it anyway, as if maybe the next time he takes someone into himself, it might fill up a metaphorical emptiness.

Maybe it's a longing for something unnamed, something filthy that he can't admit to.

Maybe it's nothing at all.

iv.

He sits at headquarters and listens to Q explain how a new something-or-other gadget works to him. Bond notices that his eyes aren't as bright as they usually are and his movements aren't as vivid, nor are his facial expressions as animated. He must not have gotten enough sleep. Lately, nobody has. It's been two months since Bond was asked to sleep with someone for the job, but there is still tension following him wherever he goes.

He overhears the discussion between M and a thin, balding man in a suit and the glances that they shoot his way aren't nearly as subtle as they ought to be for people that work in the intelligence service. He thinks he knows what they're discussing and it sends something that feels like a thrill of pure energy down his spine.

(He tells himself that it is not dread. He will do anything for his job, but the line between what he wants and what his job wants from him is thinner now than it has ever been before.)

“M?” he inquires when she walks up to him, handing him a folder. There is an abrupt silence blanketing them when he opens it, scanning the files. The people around him pretend to not be looking. The words stare back at Bond, mocking. Male, late thirties, rich, dangerous and a sadist, he reads. He likes his men blond and tall and bloodied. Bond reads with a blank face and pointedly avoids thinking about the profound mixture of guilt and sorrow that M radiates. It's subtle, but after so many years, he picks up on it quickly.

“I'll do it,” he simply says. Behind him, someone seems to fumble and drop something. It's not important; the technicians have a neutral relationship to him at best and don't care much for Bond or what missions he accepts, but a vague feeling of unease stirs in his stomach at the thought.

He's in New York the following week and the only one speaking in his ear is Q. It's relaxing; just one voice that guides him, somewhat detached, as if he isn't interested in what he's telling Bond. As if he's distracted, maybe worried. Apprehensive, surely, because Bond isn't likely to walk out of this in one piece, and they can't afford to lose any more agents.

“To your right,” Q murmurs and Bond glances in that direction. The bright lights of the bar are nearly blinding but somehow comforting in their sharpness. It gives him an excuse to squint at the man who holds himself like he's more important than anyone else in the room as Bond subtly checks him over. No visible weapons, but he is dangerous enough with only his hands. He catches Bond looking and looks in return.

Bond is his type. Light-haired, physically strong, but not too broad to put the man off. He likes to overpower his partners and at first, they usually go with it, according to the file. Within hours, they're dead. It doesn't inspire much in the way of confidence.

Small comforts, nevertheless, Bond supposes, stroking the pad of his thumb along the rim of his glass of whiskey. If the man doesn't approach him, someone else will try the next week. Another week will let him get away with more crime, but the situation needs to be dealt with delicately. Bond isn't the prime candidate for these missions, but he is the best match and he sits obediently at the bar and sends the man an imploring look.

He comes over, predictably. Honey-smooth and seductive, handsome for his age. If Bond didn't know better, he'd be fooled by the wholesome (if slightly arrogant) image he exudes. “Care to buy me a drink?” Bond asks, and the man does. Buys him several and a couple of his own while Bond is careful to let the man think that he is drunker than he actually is. He leans into him and lets out a laugh that's just the right side of inebriated, acts like he doesn't notice the arm that winds itself around his waist.

It takes them seven minutes to get to the man's mansion. Lavish, but too flashy, in Bond's opinion, fine marble clashing with the modern paintings that hang on the smooth walls. There are guards at the entrance and several heavy doors that get locked between the foyer and the man's bedroom but Bond is a good enough actor to convince the man that he is just an accountant with scars from a car accident years ago. He isn't good enough, however, to convince the man to let him keep his hands untied.

He's cuffed to the bedposts by his wrists and simply gives a drunken giggle in response, tugging at them as if testing their strength when really, he knows how to slip out of them, or at the very least how to break the bones in his wrist to get the same result, in the end. The man laughs, too, stroking a hand down the length of Bond's torso and unbuttoning his pants.

Bond is reminded that people are listening by the breathing in his ear. It's more unsteady than his own. The oddest thing strikes him; the breathing is trembling.

“This is silly,” he says with a good-natured grin, cuffs rattling against the wood as he twists, giving the man a flash of bare hip to be distracted by. “Can't touch you like this, can I?” The man nods, as if considering it, but then he's moved across the room to pull things out from boxes that are hidden from view and the first hint of panic creeps into the very marrow of Bond's bones.

“I like to do the touching,” the man says and he nearly tears the clothes off of Bond's body in his eagerness. By now, the drunken act falters, but he still only laughs as if he doesn't recognize the danger and obediently opens his legs when he's told to, as if he's done this enough times to be comfortable with it.

The burn of the man's initial thrust is lesser than the times before, easier to handle now that it is almost familiar. Bond arches like he's meant to and finds himself hating it, because his moans are not all fake and the unmistakable heat in his stomach is spreading through him until his toes are curling.

The sex is good and the torture is bad. The man thinks a second round is in order and Bond comes both times, until he's pleasantly light-headed and with his vision fuzzing at the corners. He screams, of course, when the man removes three of his nails. It's unlike anything he's ever experienced, pain so sharp and precise that it makes him want to cry but the tears never come. A cigarette is snuffed out on his chest, but Bond endures. He must endure. The edge of a knife teases along a nipple, making a cold nausea tremble in Bond's stomach. He's two hours into this and he doesn't think the man feels like playing with him for much longer.

So he says “Please,” and chokes it out on a sob that he fears is real (not that he knows, he can't separate between what he's choosing to say for the sake of the mission and what he says because he's in pain). The man doesn't listen. The nails that he's left Bond with have needles inserted beneath them, and the agony makes Bond scream himself hoarse. He is a mess, by the end of it. As the man moves to get something, a gun, a knife or something else to end Bond's misery with, there is a sharp exhale in his ear.

He must be delusional, but it sounds as if someone is trying not to cry.

Anger wins out over the pain and when the man comes back with a saccharine smile and leans down to run a dagger along Bond's throat, he snarls and head-butts him. Gets his bloodied legs around the man's neck and chokes him, just like that, until he's blue in the face and the crunch of his vocal chords echoes around the room.

He shoves the corpse off the bed, but the pain nearly stops him from moving, initially. Nobody is going to get him out but him, so he focuses on not biting through his lip to keep from groaning when he twists out of the cuffs, wrists rubbed raw and bloodied. There isn't a single part of his body that doesn't ache and he can't stand to look at the bloody stubs of his fingers without wanting to dry-heave.

He is taken to medical once he returns to MI6, and he doesn't even protest the tranquilizer.

v.

“You can say no,” is the first thing Q says. Bond has just received a briefcase from the Quartermaster, containing everything he needs to know and several of the young geniuses' new creations. “You could have said no to all of those missions,” Q continues, eerily calm as he begins to shuffle papers and turns his back to Bond. “Say no to this one.”

He's had months to recover from the last time, more than he actually required, but there had been no hesitation when M presented him the choice between a dull mission in Spain and the one he had ended up accepting.

“I'm good at this,” Bond simply says. Q smashes a fist down onto his desk and Bond finds himself on the verge of a surprised twitch. The silence becomes tense, awkward and Q turns to him with a look that Bond refuses to identify.

“It doesn't matter if you're good at it,” Q says, returning to his regular calm, but Bond catches the disdainful curl to his lips. “They're asking too much of you.”

“They're not,” Bond says, and that's the end of it.

Q's voice is nothing but cold and professional when he guides Bond through the mission. It's simpler and shorter than all of the others. Same gist; act friendly, get intimate, obtain information and leave without arousing suspicion. He actually enjoys it and the man that calls himself Jonah lets Bond do his best to devour him. He's loud on purpose, knowing that Q is listening and he's angry enough to give the most obscene of moans without needing to fake a thing. This is the most he has felt in months – a fire that's helpless and trembling and that consists of pure misery pushes him on and he kisses the man like he wants to be swallowed whole.

The sex is quick and rough and feral and neither one of them holds anything back. Bond doesn't know nor care what reasons the man has for this; for craving the exquisite hurt that sears itself into both their bones, making them frenzied and slick with sweat as they move together for what feels like hours.

Bond comes; the clatter of something being dropped to the floor that echoes in his ear is, he thinks, his punishment.

vi.

There is absolute silence when he returns. The area where the technicians work has been cleared and only Q is dutifully typing away at his computer, but it seems forced, as if he's trying to convince Bond that he is working. In the dim light, his shadow is too long, stretching dark and spindly, like it's trying to reach the place where Bond is standing.

Bond places his mission report on the table that Q is working at. He doesn't look at him; when fingers grasp his wrist and dig nails in, as if helpless to stop it, he turns. Q looks wrecked – like a man who has been deprived, denied, for too long, now.

Bond finds himself unceremoniously pressed back against the desk. Q is breathing heavily, his head bowed, warm breath hitting Bond's neck. He shivers. The warm, wet drag of a tongue on his neck has heat blooming across his skin, his hands fisting in the back of Q's cardigan. It's soft-knitted beneath his fingers and that's what he focuses on. The details, textures and shapes. When nimble fingers slide to grasp the back of his neck and to open the button on his pants, he breathes deeply, focusing on the hair that brushes softly against his face.

Details. He keeps track of them. There's something languid about this, being kissed in the near darkness, savoring the sharp nip of teeth on his lower lip. He's not sure if there's blood when Q pulls back, but the taste is metallic, intoxicating. As it is, Bond lets it consume him. Hands in his hair, on his hips, sliding down the broad expanse of his back and resting on his thighs, warm, spreading heat through him. It's possessive with a touch of desperation and it warms him from the very tips of his toes, but it doesn't reach inside..

It's too gentle. Q doesn't do more than bite gently at the places where Bond remains sore, where the bruises are darkening. It's as if he is trying to override the roughness with something sweet that Bond doesn't deserve, something that makes him curl into Q and plead in a low voice that threatens to break when Q pushes inside him. It's like the emptiness is filled but replaced by a wholly different hollow niche. There is no pain and that's what has defined him for so long; Bond is unsure what he is without it. Q breathes warm and damp on his neck and moves like Bond is worth that kind of tenderness.

It doesn't last long. Q is the first to come, his forehead pressed to Bond's shoulder, the rim of his glasses leaving imprints on both their bodies. He shivers, licking the taste of sweat off Bond's collarbone and falling to his knees. Bond fists one hand in his hair and braces the other on the desk, nearly coming out of his own skin as he trembles through his release.

After, he moves away. Steps to a place where he feels safer. Where Q can't get to him with his kindness and his care, his eyes dark in the aftermath.

“Why do you keep accepting those missions?” Q asks him, quiet and solemn. He smells like Bond and Bond smells like back-alley sex and cheap alcohol, like all his accumulated sins wrapped up in the skin of a man with nothing to lose but himself.

He thinks about it. He can walk away and refuse to answer. It isn't any of Q's business and Bond doesn't want to tell him. He's dishonest at the best of times and when he's fixed with a look that is carefully blank, he's reminded of the time he fell off a horse and broke his arm.

Splintered his bones apart, he remembers. That's what the look feels like.

“I was asked to,” he settles on. It's a blatant lie. Part of it, maybe. Perhaps even the initial reason, when M had handed over those first folders that would feed something greedy and sharp in Bond. It doesn't matter why he's accepted mission after mission, in the end. There is no way to go back and undo it and he's become accustomed to craving what he initially despised.

“And if I asked,” Q says quietly. He studies Bond from beneath his bangs, eyes sharp and bright.

(And maybe it makes sense – all those times with Bond on his back, his stomach, that breathing in his ear. Had it been jealous, or worried? Furious? Had it been the breathing of someone who cared?)

“If I asked,” Q repeats, never looking away from Bond, keeping his eyes on him even as the fire in his eyes dwindles down and flickers. “If I asked you to say no the next time they tell you to spread your legs for England - what would you do?”

Why he does what he does, Bond doesn't know. He craves it, and he can't stop. It doesn't matter that Q is barely disguising the plea in his voice. Bond has a job to do.

Bond is hollow and the emptiness is consuming.

Silence reigns between them. He walks away, sure and steady, but pauses at the door. Fleetingly, he wonders how he's managed to ruin something he just became aware of, but then he pushes it down to where there is only darkness and desire.

“Good night, Q,” he says.

Glass shatters behind him.