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If I Can't Have You

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“You try to leave me again, I’ll make sure no one can have you.”

When Rick cocks the gun Q feels himself move past simple fear into something else, something cold and clear and certain. God, I don’t want to die. It’s a ridiculous sentiment, especially when Q is so absolutely certain of the outcome. He is going to die and it will be his fault. “Please!” he begs. “Please, I’m sorry. I’ll do anything. I didn’t mean it!” He claws pathetically at Rick’s leg. “I’m sorry.” He hates himself for it, somewhere deep beneath the terror, but the need to survive is all-consuming.

Rick’s lip curls in disgust. “Look at you. You’re disgusting.”

“I know,” Q gasps. “I know. I’m so lucky to have you. No one else would want me.” Tears and snot are running down his face as he grovels on the floor.

“Bloody right.” Rick looked vaguely mollified. He tapped the gun against Q’s temple. “You just make sure you remember that.”

“Yes. Yes. I will. I promise.” Q has a moment of hope where he thinks he might survive after all. Then Rick raises the gun again and Q is crying and screaming and he’s pretty sure he’s pissed himself from fear. It doesn’t matter, because the gun is getting closer and he knows that this is the end. He closes his eyes. For a second there is pain exploding across his temple and then everything goes black.

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

Q wakes up sometimes later. It’s dark and he’s alone in the flat. He lies there for a moment, shaking and breathing hard. He should have left months ago, before this got so far. What’s the policy for dealing with MI6 agents stupid enough to get into an abusive relationship? Will M even let him keep his job? He is supposed to be above all this; too smart and too certain of himself to be caught in this mess. He closes his eyes and tries to slow his breathing. Panic won’t help him now. Whether anyone will believe it after this or not, he is a professional. He will deal with this like one. He struggles slowly to his feet, hissing in pain as the bones in his ankle grind together. Broken ankle, broken ribs, concussion…He’s cataloging the list of damages to himself as he drags himself to the toilet. The first thing he does is change his trousers. It’s a bitch to do with his broken ankle, but he’ll be damned if anyone finds him sitting in his own piss. Once that’s done, he needs a break. He sits on the toilet lid, flinching away when he catches sight of himself in the mirror. Snot and dried blood are crusted over his face and his left eye is swollen shut. The thought of even touching his face at the moment makes his stomach roil. Giving in, he pulls out his phone.

-In a spot of trouble. Could use your help. My flat.

Message sent, Q leans his head back against the wall. He’ll try to clean his face up in a moment, so he doesn’t look quite so much like raw meat. Right now, he needs to rest. Just for a minute...


He comes to when his door is kicked in, leaping to his feet before he remembers his broken ankle. The pain makes his eyes water but he gets to the door of the toilet and locks it before he collapses. He doesn’t know what’s happening. The last thing he remember was Rick coming home drunk and then…..

“Q? Are you in there?” A voice calls from the other room. “I’m giving you five seconds to answer me and then I’m breaking down that door.”

“No!” he manages to gasp, memories flooding back. “No,” he says again, louder, “don’t. I’ll…come out.” He’s reaching up to undo the lock as he speaks. “I just…” He finds himself frozen, afraid to move. Going out there means there is no turning back. You can still go back to him. He probably won’t kill you if you don’t try to leave…

“Q,” the voice was gentler now, “there’s a lot of blood out here. If you don’t come out I’m afraid I’m going to have to come in.”

“Okay.” He takes a deep breath. “Okay. I’m sorry.” He uses the doorknob to pull himself to his feet, careful to keep his weight off his left ankle. He keeps his eyes fixed on the floor as he opens the door.

Damn.” Footsteps move quickly towards him and hands are under his arm, supporting him. “I’m going to call in for backup.”

“No,” Q says quickly. “Please don’t. It’s not work. It’s…personal.” Even as he says it, he realizes how ridiculous this whole thing is. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. I shouldn’t have called you. You’re a double-oh agent. It’s not professional.”

“Q, stop,” Bond says softly. “Just tell me what you need.”

“I…”Q is horrified to realize he is crying. “I don’t..”

“Easy,” Bond soothes. “Let’s start by getting you cleaned up.” He leads Q gently back into the toilet and sits him down on the edge of the bath. He wets a cloth and gently starts to wipe the grime from Q’s face. “Sorry,” he mutters when Q flinches in pain. “Faces are the bloody worst, aren’t they?”

Q can’t help the laugh that bubbles out of them. “I hardly think that’s a true statement given your line of work.”

Bond offers him a quick smile. “True. But they’re certainly not pleasant.” He sets the cloth down and looks at Q with a critical eye. “You’re going to need stitches.”

Q looks away. He knows he needs a hospital; the broken ankle alone ensures that. He just can’t face it, not right now.

Bond sighs and settles back onto his heels. “Was it Rick?”

Q closes his eyes but nods, miserable. He thinks he might die of shame. “I’m was so bloody stupid!”

“None of that,” Bond says briskly. “You’ve been through enough tonight. No need to beat yourself up as well. Just walk me through what happened.” His voice is so calm and even, but he’s taken his gun out and is checking the chamber. Q imagines this must be what he’s like in the field. It’s surprisingly reassuring.

“He…he caught me looking at ads for flats,” Q stutterers. “Thought I was going to leave him. He went wild. He pulled a gun on me.” He swallows heavily. “I didn’t even know he had a gun. He put it to my head, told me if he couldn’t have me, no one else would.” He closes his eyes. “I thought he was going to kill me.” He puts his hand to his temple, remembering the feeling of the muzzle against his skin. “I didn’t fight back. I begged. I told him I’d do anything. Said I was lucky to have him.” Tears of shame are rolling down his face. “I pissed myself.”

“Okay.” Bond is pulling him gently into his arms. “It’s okay. You did the right thing.”

“But I-” Q protests.

“No.” Bond silences him. “You’re alive. That’s rule number one; you do whatever it takes to stay alive. Whatever it takes,” he added when Q tries to protest. “Now, let me call this in.”

Q shakes his head miserably. “If I let a bloody civilian do this to me, then what happens when it’s someone who knows what they’re doing? It’s an inexcusable security breach. I’ll be sacked immediately.”

“Q,” Bond says softly, “Do you think you’re the first one to run into trouble with a lover?” He offers Q a wry smile. “At least you had the sense not share any crown secrets with him. And in any case, you might be the most irreplaceable person in MI6. They’d be fools to let you go.”

Q shrugs miserably, unsure of what to say. He is good at his job, but he’d hardly call himself irreplaceable. Especially now that his flaw in judgement had been made so…public.

As if reading his mind, Bond’s expression softens. “I know this is hard, Q. I know how utterly humiliating it is to trust someone and be publicly kicked in the teeth for it; metaphorically or otherwise. After Vesper…” he sighs, “I’ve never felt so damn stupid in my life. But we’re only human. If we close ourselves off, we’ll end up no better than the ones we hunt.”

“It was my fault.” Q says miserably. “I knew he was drinking. I should have stayed at work.”

“Don’t try to pull that on me.” Bond says sternly. “The people who do these things...they’re calculating and smart in ways you never see until it’s too late.”

“I won’t make a statement.” Q says, knowing it’ll be taken as the surrender it is. “There’s a camera in the bookshelf. No network connectivity and a memory that’s purged every forty-eight hours.”

Bond nods. “Will you be all right on your own for the moment while I make the call?”

Q nods and closes his eyes, letting himself slump against the washbasin.

Chapter Text

“Q.” Q comes back to himself slowly. Bond is standing over him, holding the quilt from his bed. “They'll be here in a moment.” Bond says as he wraps the blanket around Q’s shoulders.

“Who?”

“Jefferson from medical. Tanner. Eve.”

“Okay.” Q let his head flop again. That was all right. About as good as could be hoped. Tanner was an inevitability and Eve was reliably discrete. Even still, when the knock on the door comes, Q can’t help but pull himself back into his blankets. He feels himself flush with humiliation. They’re all going to know.

Bond gives his shoulder a squeeze before getting up to answer the door. “It’ll be alright.”

No, it won't, Q wants to say, but it seems like too much work so he says nothing at all. The next thing he knows, Jefferson is kneeling down beside him. He takes Q’s pulse and checks his pupils with a torch before pulling an IV out of his kit. Q barely even flinches at the pinch of the needle.

“Can you tell me what day it is?” Jefferson asks.

“January…fifth?”

“Close enough.” Jefferson smiles. “It’s half gone one in the morning of January 6th, actually. Do you know how long you were out?”

Q shrugs, wincing as it pulls at his bruises. “A couple hours?”

Jefferson’s lips tighten and he leans in to carefully inspect Q’s temple. “That’s a long time to be out. We’re going to have to get you a CT back at HQ.”

There is a cry from the main room and both men jerk to attention. They’re watching the tape, Q realizes as he hears a second cry, followed by the meaty thump of a boot on flesh.The blood leaves his head in a rush. He shoves at Jefferson, desperate to leave the room which suddenly feels so small and short of air.

"I have to go. I can't..." Q gasps. His vision is going dark around the edges.

Jefferson jerks to attention and grabs him before he tips over. “None of that Q,” he says briskly, pulling another syringe from his bag and injecting its contents into the line in Q’s arm. The sharp edges around Q soften and he is able to breathe a little easier.

"All right?" Jefferson asks when Q's breaths have slowed to a more normal rate.

Q nods, not trusting him to speak. The noises from the tape have faded to a background hum and he closes his eyes in an effort to block them out. He's vaguely aware of Jefferson snapping angrily at someone, but it is distant and fuzzy. He doesn’t pass out, exactly. Just…leaves for a while. At several points he is vaguely aware of moving; first on a stretcher, then in a vehicle. Neither concern him enough to open his eyes. Opening his eyes means questions and it’s easier just to close his eyes and pretend he’s somewhere else.

When Q comes back to himself, he’s in medical at MI6.

“Back with us?” Jefferson asks, settling an oxygen mask over his face.

Q nods slowly, peering around the room. Eve is standing next to the bed, typing away at her phone with enough fury it’s a wonder she hasn’t broken it yet. Bond is stone-faced, leaning against the door. Q looks away, not wanting to face them now that they’ve seen the tape.

“We’ll find him.” Eve says. “You don’t have to worry, Q.”

The problem isn’t finding him, Q thinks irritably. Rick is a civilian. Q could find him in no time. The problem is that there is a need to find him in the first place. He’s about to say so when Bond gives him a sharp look from the door. He settles with saying “I know” and closing his eyes until he hears them leave.

R comes in later. She’s as cool and professional as always. She doesn’t say “sorry” or comment on the state of his face and for that Q is thankful. She just sets down her briefcase and starts laying equipment on his lap. Q recognizes the standard kit he developed for other high profile MI6 agents.

“You should have issued this yourself six months ago.” R slams the last piece onto the tray. “That was sloppy, Q.”

“I know.” Q admits. He’d held back on the security measures for fear of what prying eyes might see. No point in holding back now; it is written in black and blue across his face.

“We’ll have to beef up security at your flat as well,” R adds. At least when she injects the tracker into his arm the painkillers have kicked in enough that he hardly feels it. “Don’t think you’re getting off this easy,” she warns him. “I’m just waiting until you aren’t high as a kite to yell at you.”

“Okay,” Q says agreeably, letting his eyes drift shut. Maybe when he wakes up things will look better.

Chapter Text

Bond struggles to keep hide his discomfort as he leans against the door to Q’s room in medical. He’s always been better at breaking hearts than mending them. Seeing the terror on Q’s face in the tape, seeing it now, when he is safe at MI6, makes him feel utterly adrift. He is furious at himself for not seeing this earlier and desperate with the need to do something to fix this.

“We’ll get him.” Eve tells Q and Bond latches on to that like a life raft. He can’t fix Q’s broken bones, but he can make damn sure this doesn’t happen again. He waits until the painkillers kick in and Q drifts off again before he quietly slips away.

“Don’t kill him.” Eve has followed him out.

Bond scowls. “I’ve killed other men for less.”

“Yes, well, this isn’t about you,” she snaps. “Q would never be able to live with himself. He’ll want a trial, which means everything needs to be above-board.”

Bond sighs. “Very well. I won’t kill him.”

“You can’t beat him half to death either.”

“Shall I bring him roses and invite him to dinner then?” It’s unfair, he knows, but he can’t stomach the thought of treating Rick with any sort of decency when Rick had been so utterly indecent to Q.

“Don’t be an arse,” Eve snaps back. “MI6 didn’t just hire you for your aim. We do expect you to think, on occasion. And on this occasion, I would like you to find Mr. Richard Foreman and inform him, in detail, of all the ways in which he has jeopardized national security.” Eve’s smile is dangerously sharp. “Just think of all the terrible things that could have happened to him as a result. He could have been shot, or interrogated as a terror suspect, or even captured by a genuine terrorist organization.” Eve raises an eyebrow. “This list goes on quite a ways.”

“Ah.” Some of Bond’s irritation dissipates as he understands what Eve is suggesting. “I suppose it would be my duty to explain to him how very lucky he is?”

“Of course.” Eve agrees.

Now it is Bond’s turn to smile. “It would be my pleasure.”

“And Bond?” Eve calls after him. “Feel free to take your time. There’s above-board and then there’s above-board.”


Finding Rick is pathetically easy. Bond simply returns to Q’s flat and waits. It’s a quarter past ten in the morning when there is the scrape of a key in the lock. Rick is still half-drunk, and pinning him to the ground with a gun to his head is barely a moment's work.

“Jesus Christ.” Rick whimpers. “Whoever you are, please. Don’t kill me.”

“Not so fun when you aren’t the one with gun, is it?” Bond growls, aiming a kick at Rick’s kidneys.

Rick’s eyes widen. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Right.” Bond squats down beside him, gun steady in his grip. He pulls out his MI6 ID with his spare hand. “Let me tell you exactly what sort of mess you’re in.” He dangles the badge in front of Rick’s face, smiling as Rick goes white with fear. “According to the Official Secrets Act I can lock you in a hole so deep no one will ever find your body. Of course,” he snaps the badge closed, “I doubt you’ll get that lucky. My superiors are very concerned about the possibility this being a terror attack. They’re setting up the interrogation room as we speak.” Bond presses the gun harder into Rick’s temple. “They’re usually very good, but I’m a bit concerned about their professionalism at the moment. Your boyfriend is a favourite of theirs.”

“Please,” Rick whimpered, “I’m not a terrorist. I just lost my temper, that’s all.”

Bond’s laugh holds no humor. “You expect them to believe you beat an MI6 agent nearly to death by accident?” He shakes his head. “Ah well, they’ll enjoy getting the truth out of you. ” He feels Rick twitch under him and makes a show of checking his watch, letting his gun drop as he did so. “Five minutes left before you disappear forever. How would you like to spend it?”

There’s a moment's pause as Rick’s alcohol-addled brain processes the information and then Rick is up and running. “Excellent choice,” Bond murmurs, sighting down the length of his gun. “I was hoping you would run.”


Eve just raises her eyebrows when she sees the gunshot wound.

“Made a run for it.” Bond shrugs.

Later, when Rick has been handed over to the proper authorities, she leans in close. “You’ll have to tell me how you got him to run.”

“I have no idea what you’re getting on about, Miss Moneypenny.”

“Of course not.” She pats his arm. “Well done, double-oh seven.”

Bond knows he should go home and get some rest while he can. Instead, he finds himself in medical, staring down at Q’s sleeping form.

“If you really were as heartless as you like to think you are, you wouldn’t get hurt so often.” Bond looks up to find Eve leaning against the door, smiling at him. “Normally this is about the point where I’d give you a lecture on falling in love. What was it the old ‘M’ used to say?” Eve twists her face into a frown. “ ‘And for God’s sake Bond, don’t fall in love with her!’ "

Bond’s laugh is hollow. “No need for that here.”

Eve pulls a face. “Oh don’t be so bloody stupid, double-oh seven. I’ve taken you for a lot of things, but never for a coward.” She pushes herself away from the door with a sigh. “It’ll work out, I suppose. He’s going to need some time. It’ll give you a chance to pull your head out of your arse. “

Bond considers lying and discard the idea almost instantly. “You don’t think it’s too late?”

Eve shrugs. “There’s only one way to find out.”

Chapter Text

Q is in medical for three days and when he’s released, he doesn’t leave his office for another three days. He tells R he’s just trying to catch up on missed work, but in reality, the thought of going home makes him break out in a cold sweat.

“Enough,” R says eventually. “We have your flat wired up with more security than M’s. You’ve got two panic buttons, a tracker and a gun. Time to go home and sleep on a real bed before you drive yourself back into medical.”

“I’m going.” Q waves her away. “I just need to finish up the changes to the new firewall.” R stares at him dubiously and he sighs and rubs at his eyes. “I’ve got a car booked for 9.” It’s a lie, but her area of expertise is tech, not people.

“All right then.” She relaxes. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

 

Q wakes up to smack of his jacket against his desk. He jerks upright, wincing at the crick in his neck.

“Come on, Q,” Bond says, tossing him his coat. “I’m taking you home.”

Q freezes in panic, hand halfway to his glasses. “I’m afraid I can’t leave just yet. I still need to-”

"If you insult me by trying to lie to me I will be rather disappointed,” Bond interrupts him. “My life often depends on my ability to read people and you’re a shit liar.”

Q winces. “Sorry. I just…” He rubs at the bridge of his nose. “I keep thinking he’ll be there, you know? Whenever I think about going back to the flat, I think about how angry he’ll be with me and then..” He shrugs. “It’s easier just to stay here.”

The look Bond gives him is surprisingly gentle. “Not when you’re nearly passing out from exhaustion, it isn’t. I’m sure Eve could arrange for a new flat…”

“No,” Q says quickly. “I won’t let him have that too.” He pushes himself to his feet and reaches for his crutches. It's hard to feel brave when he's hobbling around on one leg, but he'll do his best. “Let’s go.”

Bond nods and heads towards the door. He pauses when he reaches it. “You have my word he will never touch you again.”

“I know.” Q smiles wryly at him. “I suppose the fact that I need you to tell me that is why you’re in the field and I’m in here.”

Bond shakes his head. “We all have our demons, Q.”

“Time to face mine then, I gather,” Q sighs, hobbling through the door. “Right then. Let’s get this over with.”

It takes far shorter time than Q expects to arrive at his flat. For a moment, it's as if nothing has changed. Then the door is opening and he finds himself paralyzed, terrified that Rick is waiting for him inside. Bond takes the opportunity to slide past him through the open door. “Clear,” he says after a moment, as if Q’s fear is the most legitimate thing in the world.

Q tries to swallow around the lump of humiliation that has formed in his throat. “Well, I should hope so,” he says lightly, forcing himself to step into the flat. “After all, you did assure me that Rick was safely locked away.” He finds his eyes skipping over the living room in front of him, refusing to focus. There is a suspiciously shiny section of hardwood next to the table that he is terrified to inspect too closely. The room suddenly feels suffocatingly heavy, the air greasy on his skin. “I need a shower,” he says abruptly. When Bond’s eyes tighten he forces a smile. “I’m sure I’m more than a little rank. Thank you for taking me home. I won’t waste any more of your time.”

“Oh, I’m not leaving,” Bond says evenly, leaning back against the wall and crossing his arms.

“What? Why?” Q is sure Bond must have a thousand better things to do than babysitting him.

“Because you slept in your office for three days rather than go home and you’re looking everywhere but there.” Bond nods significantly to the spot next to the table.

“I don’t need your pity!” Q snaps. “And MI6 doesn’t bloody well need you swanning around wasting your time with me when I am perfectly fine!” Q whirls around and stalks as well as he can into the toilet. The effect is ruined slightly by the fact he hasn't quite mastered the crutches. He compensates by slamming the door behind him. “I expect you to be gone when I come out!” He shouts through the door.

At least the cast is waterproof. He turns the shower up until it is burning against his skin and wills himself not to leave to check the lock on the door. Bond might be an ass but he isn’t an idiot. He won’t have left the door unlocked. Still, Q stands facing the door, keeping his eyes open even as the soap makes them burn. He can’t fight the feeling that if he closes his eyes for a second he’ll find Rick in front of him. “Shit,” he mutters as he fumbles the soap with shaking hands. He finds himself irrationally wishing that Bond had stayed. You’re an MI6 agent, not some school girl, he thinks. Pull yourself together. Giving up on the shower he turns the water off.

He is still trying to still his shaking hands when the shrill whistle of the kettle carries through his panic. Q feels himself relax a little. Bond hasn't left then. He feels some of his earlier irritation with the man burbling up again, but it can't compete with the relief on knowing he isn't alone.

“Tea?” Bond asks when Q emerges. When Q nods, he passes him a steaming mug. “I made some decorating changes. I hope you don’t mind.” He gestures behind him and Q finds that the incriminating patch of floor is now covered by a rug. “Eve picked it out.”

“Ah,” Q stammers, “it’s fine. Thank you.” He can’t meet Bond’s eyes.

“It’s all right if you aren’t, you know.” Bond says gently.

“What?”

“Fine. It’s all right if you aren’t fine. I wouldn't expect you to be. Not after something like that.”

“Oh.” Q keeps his eyes fixed on his tea. It’s patently obvious that he isn’t fine, but he can’t bring himself to admit it.

“You should get some sleep,” Bond says after a moment. “You haven’t slept in a real bed in almost a week.”

Grateful for the change in topic, Q doesn't argue. "I'll see you in the morning then," he says to Bond as heads to his bedroom.

He doesn’t expect to sleep, but the knowledge that Bond is between him and anyone who might come through his door allows him relax enough to close his eyes. Within moments, he is asleep.

He awakes to the shrill sound of his mobile. Sunlight is streaming through his window, and he realizes he slept the whole night through. He’s so shocked he nearly forgets to answer his mobile, snatching it up at the last moment.

“Q?” Eve says in his ear. “I’m terribly sorry to bother you, but we have a situation in Mumbai…”

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

“I never got a chance to thank you,” Q says as he passes the last pieces of equipment to Bond.

“Nothing to thank me for.” Bond slides the gun and radio into his briefcase. “I’m just glad you’re still with us.” He pauses for a moment, then shakes his head and starts for the door. “Take care, Q. I’d hate to lose you.”

Q snaps his head up. He can’t mean… “I’m sure they’d find another Quartermaster in no time.”

“I’m not so sure they would,” Bond says softly, “but that wasn’t what I was talking about.” He turns around and walks back to Q. For a terrifying moment, it looks as if he might try to kiss Q, but he stops himself a foot away. “I’ll wait as long as you need. When you’re ready, come find me.” There’s the brush of lips against Q’s temple and then Bond is gone.

Alone in his lab, Q takes a deep breath.”When you’re ready…” It might be a very long time. Then again, Bond is a very patient man.

It's not perfect. But it might be enough.