Actions

Work Header

How Q Hacked Online Dating

Chapter Text

When Q arrives – almost punctual – at the small bistro on the ground floor of The Riverside, Eve is at their usual table.

“I already ordered for you,” she says without looking up from her phone where she is probably composing an email that will stop an international incident or something equally heroic.

She might say she’s just a simple Personal Assistant but Q has his suspicions. She’s too scarily efficient. Besides, he’s seen her handle a steak knife and take out a mugger with three well-aimed hits – his leading theory at the moment is superspy posing as a PA on an undercover mission. Q did a background check during a lull at his high-paid, gradually growing less-than-challenging corporate job, and found nothing out of the ordinary, however.

“You’re a goddess,” Q breathes reverently, and he must have sounded as exasperated as he feels since his best friend raises her eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s Monday.”

“Which doesn’t usually make you look like someone drowned your cats.” Eve pauses. “Your cats are fine, aren’t they?”

“Turing and Linux are perfectly all right in their feline glory…” Q props himself up on his elbows, resting his head on his hands as he huffs.

Eve merely quirks an eyebrow at his dramatics, so Q cuts to the chase.

“That bloke I was telling you about? Mr Second Date This Weekend?”

A smirk spreads across Eve’s features and she prompts, putting her phone away, “The one who bored you to tears but looked like an underwear model?”

Q returns her smile – more like a grimace, he’s sure – before pointedly slumping his shoulders. “Cut our date short because we both knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere. I invited him to my place so we could end on a positive note, and we were snogging on the sofa when he started sneezing uncontrollably.”

Eve winces in sympathy. “Allergies?”

Q nods.

“At least Linux didn’t try to bite his penis off,” Eve remarks – which is obviously the moment their waiter appears to take Q’s order for drinks.

Once his face feels less like he could boil an omelette on his cheeks, Q aims a miserable glance at Eve.

“Why does this keep happening to me?”

Eve rolls her eyes at him. “Shush you. Just because you had one bad date doesn’t mean –”

One bad date?” Q scoffs. “May I remind you of, I don’t know, any of the men I’ve gone out with in the past year?”

“If you’re so bad at it, why not stop dating for a bit? Enjoy being single. Like me.” Eve aims a cheeky grin at him and Q throws his napkin at her.

“Unlike you, I’m turning 30 in five months. Do you know what that means?”

“Finally attending 30 plus parties and not feeling out of place?”

“Ha-bloody-ha.” Q straightens for the minute it takes their waiter to place his water bottle on the table and pour some in his glass before reiterating what he told Eve approximately four-point-five times (the point-five being interrupted by Eve’s boss calling her at 11PM on a Friday – ‘just a regular PA’, my arse, Q reckons). “I might as well turn invisible. If I want an actual life partner, I have to find him soon.”

“You can’t force love.”

“I can bloody well try.” Q doesn’t pout, but it’s close.

“You just have to keep looking, then,” Eve teases, eliciting a drawn-out groan.

“It’d take too long! I need something more efficient.”

He watches Eve’s brows furrow. “What’s wrong with going out and talking to people?”

There goes his promise of not admitting to the calculations he did that weekend after his date ended so terribly. Q takes a deep breath and meets Eve’s questioning stare head-on.

“There are 8.6 million people in Greater London. If we assume an equal distribution of sex, then that’s 4.3 million men. I’m looking for someone between 25 and 40, which is only twenty percent, bringing us to 860,000 eligible individuals in the Greater London area.”

By now, Eve is blinking at him with her lips agape. Q figures he’s lost any and all coolness points he ever scored with the woman at a point long, long ago during their two-year friendship, and barges on.

“Depending on which statistic one believes, between two and seven percent of people aren’t straight; let’s play it safe and assume the number is 4.5 percent, which leaves me with 36,980. Minus ten percent for cat allergies, then roughly another ten percent of people who, for reasons that shall baffle me until I’m in my grave, hate cats, and we’re down to 29,584 men. I’ll spare you the algorithms I’ve used, but suffice it to say I’m not taking the tube for two sodding hours just to meet up with some bloke in Twickenham, and while I’m not shallow I also have a type –”

Eve snorts, but Q ignores her.

“So all things considered that leaves me with 469 possible candidates that I could possibly date in all of London.”

When he considers his friend, she’s unsuccessfully suppressing a laughing fit, but their food arrives before his glares can do any lasting damage.

“You’re saying, in your own, nerdy way,” Eve prompts, “that you’re going to spend the next five months dating 469 people?”

Now it’s Q’s turn to laugh. “Don’t be absurd. Even one date per day would only suffice to cover 150 before I turn 30, and I can’t possibly incorporate two dates into my daily schedule.”

Admittedly, even one date a day would be a challenge, seeing as Q is the first to arrive at the Applied Science division of Keating Consolidated and the last to leave.

“What’s your genius plan, then?” The twinkle in Eve’s eyes is definitely teasing.

“Well, obviously I have two choices – take the risk and hope that I’ll maybe bump into that one out of 469 blokes who’s right for me… or I could try online dating.”

At first, Eve seems doubtful, though then she tilts her head and grins. “Twenty-something genius, closeted nerd who loves his cats more than his sister, looking for suave hunk with more brains than brawn to enjoy nights spent programming instead of going out, because a brilliant idea hit that might revolutionise the world?”

Q opens his mouth to argue but, sadly, that is a rather apt description of him.

Expect maybe the cats vs. sister part. It’s more of a tie, really…

Eve’s words still echo in his head eight hours later when he runs a quick search for dating site options. Some specs for the new prototype are rendering in the background, a stack of documents he needs to read before the meeting on Wednesday is hidden by the locked screen of his tablet but still niggling at the back of his mind, and both Linux and Turing seem to have decided they need to redecorate by pushing at various items about his flat.

In other words – he’s busy. He’s too busy to come up with witty descriptions for the blank boxes that stare at him from his laptop screen, identical ones waiting one tab over.

“It’s like applying for a job, isn’t it?” he asks the room at large.

Neither of his cats replies. He takes this as silent endorsement and copy-pastes parts of his CV into the appropriate boxes.

“You did what?!” Eve practically screeches when he tells her the next time their lunch breaks overlap and the hour they get finds them at their favourite restaurant.

“Well, in the descriptive part up top I said I’m the youngest graduate that Cambridge’s computer science department has ever seen, that I dabble in structural and mechanical engineering as well and for the hobbies I talked a lot about Linux and Turing and coding…”

He fears Eve might crack a rib from attempting to hold in her laughter.

“What did you put as ideal date?” she chokes out after gulping down half of her tab water.

Q shrugs. “Drinks after work and him not minding if I jot down notes on my tablet from time to time.”

“You’re going to die alone, Q.”

“Oh, I doubt that,” he argues. “There are plenty of men who’d like to date me.”

The fact that the websites’ algorithms apparently found a sea full of likely matches doesn’t keep Eve from interrupting the rest of their lunch with fits of laughter, yet Q just sneers since he is going on date number one later tonight.

Date number one is dreary, to say the least.

The man is Steve, an I.T. guy at a local university, and the algorithm matched them given their love for computers, math, data, and science fiction series. He’s handsome enough, Q finds as they meet for drinks at a pub. The only problem is that there’s a game on and Steve is an enormous rugby fan, so his attention is mostly on the flat screen nearest to their place at the bar. After ten minutes proved enough to gauge that anything Q says that exceeds basic networking principles would go straight over Steve’s pretty head, Q produces his tablet with a sigh.

Steve gets to enjoy the game; Q gets some more work done.

At the end of the night, the tosser has the gall to ask, “Wanna come back to my place, babe?”

Q up and leaves, saddling him with the bill he intended to split originally.

Serves him right.

Only Steve doesn’t remain an isolated mishap.

CutieFrank82 takes him to a Mongolian barbecue even though Q told him – once, in his profile – that he’s a vegetarian, and refuses to see a problem since, you know, there’s salad.

QueerCrusader, despite his nickname, doesn’t speak up immediately when a group of tearaway teens at the Costa table next to theirs start taunting and trolling them, and looks at Q like he’s barmy when he pulls out his phone and hacks their neighbours’ devices, causing a mass panic.

JustARegularHunk, while utterly charming and modest via email, turns out to be the most conceited pillock Q has ever met. They meet up for brunch – points for creative first date idea, I admit – but Q insists on choosing the restaurant in the wake of the BBQ disaster.

It’s his sister’s shift, so Q signals Jessica and then proceeds to act rather rude to her.

JustARegularHunk fails to defend the waitress. The prick even joins into Q’s criticisms, which have been anything but warranted since Jess is actually a brilliant waitress, and Q eventually asks her to change the arsehole’s order to takeaway.

“Already done, brother dear,” she says with a wink for him and a stink-eye for the other man.

“She’s your sister?”

His date goes spare, and leaves in a strop. Q sniffles into his dish and bemoans the declining standard of British men.

“You’re just being too picky,” Jessica volunteers without prompting. “Sure, that bloke was a right wanker, but just cause someone made you eat salad doesn’t mean he’s categorically bad.”

At least Eve is slightly more sympathetic to his pain – after hiding her grin behind her hands, that is.

His colleagues, on the other end… not so much.

“Fine, you know what?” Q announces to the sniggering herd of co-workers who are usually such smart, considerate people until you introduce gossip to the mix. Even Sam, Eve’s ex and the reason she and Q met, is sneering.

“From now on I’m going to have a template with me on every date and I’m going to collect information on all these data points during the dates, and once I can empirically prove to you all that these dates are horrible, you’ll see reason.”

*

Q continues to go on dates, only now he is tracking daft, awkward, racist or sexist remarks, bad vocabulary, or the number of times a man stumbles over the simplest technological concepts.

After four weeks, Q ends up with a lot of numbers. He extrapolates a few correlations, like for example that men who drink Heineken are into kinky sex.

(Not that he tests the truth content of their claims with every single bloke… just a few. He hasn’t had such a fulfilled sex life since university.)

The date that causes yet another re-evaluation of his approach to life starts out rather promising. Jason is Idris Elba levels of attractive and down-to-earth despite his obvious successful career.

First minus point: paint ball as a first date.

“Aw, don’t pout like that,” Jason tells him, gripping his shoulder. “Although, it does make you look pretty cute,” he adds with a wink.

Second minus point: bad puns.

That’s what he gets for telling someone to call him by his one-letter nickname ten minutes into the conversation instead of the awful name his parents saddled him with. He will never understand what moved them to put Quincey on his birth certificate.

At the end of the day Q is too exhausted to put much effort into pulling, yet the frustration does spark sudden inspiration. Thankfully, it’s Friday so he has all weekend to pursue it.

Thirty-six hours later, Eve finds him buried within stacks of notes in his living room, his two whiteboards put up and covered in equations, and in pyjamas he might have been wearing since yesterday morning.

“Q… Is this the psychotic break I’ve been placing bets on?”

“What? No! This is science!”

Maybe that sounded a tad manic.

His eyes fall on the paper bag and cups Eve brought with her that emanate a very distinctive smell. “Wait, what happened? You only bring muffins when the world almost ended. If ‘the world’ means the microcosm of your office, that is.”

Eve flops down on the sofa and screams into a cushion.

“That bad?” Q asks.

Eve’s reply is muffled by the fabric, but it sounds very much like “Worse.”

“Here, drink your caramel latte and tell Dr Q what’s wrong.”

“I’d mock you if I didn’t know the lie in that sentence is that you really have two doctorates.”

He aims a smug grin at her and cuddles up to Linux and Turing, who adjust their positions on the sofa in obvious annoyance. The joys of feline love.

“It’s nothing major; my boss’s favourite employee just bollocksed up big time. He’ll make it right, like every single time. Just until he does, I get to deal with the fallout at the office.”

Q hums in sympathy. Every office seems to have that one person who keeps screwing up – at Keating Consolidated it’s Alana in Administration.

“Now,” Eve says once their muffins have been consumed, “tell me why you’ve gone all Beautiful Mind on me here.”

“I resent that reference,” Q grumbles, but explains. “I determined what the problem is. I mean, the men those sites suggested aren’t bad guys per se – they’re just bad for me. The algorithms behind those matches aren’t necessarily bad either. Simplistic, and lacking any real levels of sophistication, granted, but not bad.”

“Then what’s the issue?”

“As loath as I am to say this,” Q sighs, “but the problem is that we’re dealing with people. When confronted with blank windows, we aren’t always completely honest and quite frankly, I don’t care if my potential life partner likes horror films or 80s music, which is what so many of these sites rely on. It’s all just too superficial for my purposes.”

“How does that lead to…?” Eve waves her hand at the mess behind Q’s back.

Q feels his expression morph into a sly grin. “I have a new plan. I’m going to stay on these dating platforms, but I’m going to treat them as databases. Rather than waiting for an algorithm to set me up, I'm going to try reverse-engineering this entire system.”

He waits for the impressed gasp his idea warrants.

Eve merely cocks an eyebrow.

Q’s theory of superspy-hood intensifies.

“Anyway,” he barges on, “knowing that there’s superficial data that’s being used to match me up with other people, I’ve decided to ask my own questions instead, about every single possible thing that I can think of that I’m looking for in a mate.”

“Mate?”

“Life partner, whatever,” Q shakes his head. “Do you want details or not?”

“Oh, please, carry on,” she allows with over-the-top magnanimousness.

“I’ve amassed seventy-two different data points. I’m looking for someone who’s atheist, but tolerant – I mean, he’s going to be confronted with my mother one day, so he better be fine with other people’s beliefs – and someone who’s working hard, who’ll understand that my hobbies are mostly just additional projects for work with the occasional binge of a series or a few films thrown into the mix –”

“Hang on,” Eve interrupts. “Seventy-two criteria like that?”

“I know, it’s a lot,” Q concedes. “Which is why I prioritised the list. I broke it into a top tier and a second tier of points, and I’m raking everything starting at 100 going all the way down to 91, so I’m balancing the most important aspects with others that are important but not necessarily deal-breakers if someone doesn’t meet them.”

Eve seems torn between awe and shock. As it happens, that is a common reaction to Q’s ideas.

“I’ve also built a scoring system, though the programme I wrote to help evaluate profiles is still rendering… I reckon a possible candidate needs a minimum of 700 points before I agree to message or email someone. And 900 is the date threshold; relationship-wise I’m thinking 1,500.”

Eve blinks, then shakes herself. “You’re mental, Q. Anyone ever tell you that?”

“My sister. Repeatedly,” is his dry reply, and they share a laugh as they finish their beverages.

*

“Miss Moneypenny, would you set up a meeting with Human Resources as soon as they’re available?”

Eve’s hand is already on the telephone before her boss finishes his request, yet she pauses when she sees the man. Mallory, usually the paragon of composure, looks decidedly ruffled.

“May I enquire as to why, sir?”

He stops on his way into his office and turns until his body is angled towards her again.

“Major Boothroyd wants to retire, says it’s a younger men’s game now. Meaning we’ll have to look for a replacement.”

“Do you already have anyone in mind, sir?” slips from her lips before Eve can stop herself. After all, she’s been counting the days until the grandpa throws in the towel, or whatever metaphor works for engineers who have surpassed their prime.

“Our agency’s not exactly swimming in technological prodigies at the moment,” Mallory drawls, raising that judgmental eyebrow of his that never fails to make Eve cringe.

“Apologies, sir.”

She makes a show of picking up the phone and Mallory disappears into his office. His exasperation is understandable – given the imminent upheaval, MI6 has lost some of its appeal to new employees. Why the Committee thinks pooling both MI5 and MI6 into one big agency is beyond Eve.

She arranges the meeting for an hour later, courtesy of some creative reshuffling, and keeps the intercom on.

Mallory is perfectly aware she is listening in to certain conversations; it’s not like the blue light on his own telephone set is hard to miss, really. So if he had a problem with it, he’d have said or done something long ago.

As things are, Eve gathers enough intel to conclude that Q would be perfect for the job.

She’s still snickering to herself about how ironic it would be if Q actually started working as head of Q-Branch when James Bond materialises in front of her desk.

“No,” she says without missing a beat.

“Eve.”

“No.”

“Please.”

Damn that man’s bloody voice and daft blue eyes. Eve can feel her resolve crumbling the longer she considers him.

“What do you want this time?”

James’s smile widens, increasing his charm tenfold. “Heard a rumour about a new mission in the Caribbean. Thought you might nudge Tanner in my direction.”

Eve smirks. “What gave you the impression that’s in my power? I’m just a PA.”

The agent doesn’t respond right away, holding her gaze with an amount of smugness that would look standoffish on anyone except for him.

“Everyone clever enough to see knows you run half the agency, Miss Moneypenny.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere.”

“How about a bribe?”

Eve squints at MI6’s most notorious agent. “What kind of bribe?”

“I leave it to you to decide.”

“You’d give me carte blanche, Mr Bond?”

007 raises a hand. “Within reason. But yes.”

Eve’s lips are curling even before she has consciously made her choice, and judging by the glint in Bond’s eyes, he noticed.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“You’re a goddess.”

“That seems to be the prevailing opinion.”

Chuckling, James Bond sweeps out of her office with a spring in his step.

His comment would have made her think of Q if her thoughts weren’t already on the boffin, and how she has barely seen him in three weeks due to some conference he needs to prepare for. If she recalls correctly, the event concluded today, so hopefully she’ll find him at his flat.

He had a key made for her soon after they officially reached best friends status, and Eve isn’t hesitant about using it. The sight that greets her that evening is only a step up from the slightly mental impression Q gave off when he explained his two-tier system. There are fewer papers scattered across the flat, yet Q’s tunnel vision as he types away on his laptop on the sofa is eerily similar.

“Do I want to know?”

He startles viscerally, sending Turing off the cat’s spot next to his owner with an angry meow.

“Competition, Eve!” Q gripes, apropos nothing. “How could I forget the bloody competition!”

She walks into the kitchen, only a few steps away due to the open floor plan of the flat, and flicks the kettle on. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

And since Q secretly lives off air, tea, and showing off, he dives headfirst into an elaborate explanation.

“I found the perfect man, only to be outwitted by SmileyBoy1988! I never even calculated for the possibility that the perfect man might not like me back, which in retrospect is a grave oversight on my part. Daft, really. So I’ve set up an experiment during the conference – went splendidly, by the way – and created ten fake male profiles matching exactly what I’m looking for.”

Eve feels her brow furrow. Q must have seen her scepticism, for he immediately qualifies his statement.

“Not to catfish or whatever it’s called, no – I just need to do some market research. See what kind of competition my ideal candidates lure in, collect data on the type of men interested in the type of man I’m going to end up with. I didn’t reach out to anyone, Eve, stop looking at me like that and pour me a mug as well, will you?”

Eve indulges him, if only because she fears he hasn’t been hydrating well enough. He can become a tad obsessive when he’s ‘in the zone’.

“I’ve been analysing the profiles of lads who messaged those fake accounts,” Q continues, flapping his hand at a few of the papers strewn across the coffee table, “And I’ve gathered two different data sets. I have qualitative data, like what’s the humour, the tone, the voice, the communication style that my competition has in common, and quantitative data, like how long do they wait between messages, average profile length, and so on.”

Now Eve begins to understand. “You want to improve your own profile according to your results.”

“Exactly!” Q adjusts his glasses, eyes returning to the screen of his laptop. “As it turns out, there might be some room for improvement.”

He says it like he didn’t treat it like a job application.

“I could’ve told you that,” Eve teases, taking her usual seat and starting to caress Linux with one hand while holding her mug in the other. Q’s mug remains ignored.

Her friend scowls at her. “Well, smart people generally write a lot, so I believe that was an honest mistake.”

“And what about the popular ones?”

“97.”

“Pardon?” Eve quips. She spies a blush rising in Q’s cheeks. Making him flustered is such a fun pastime.

“97 words,” Q repeats through gritted teeth. “They’re very concise and rather vague in terms of language, and full of optimistic vocabulary. I’m afraid I haven’t seemed the most approachable in my presentation online.”

“You don’t say.”

“Someone who’s stealing my tea shouldn’t make snide remarks, Miss Moneypenny.”

“I bought you this tea because you’re always out and then you’re miserable,” Eve points out.

Q acquiesces.

“What else?” Eve probes. “I’m sure that can’t have been all you’ve done wrong.”

The question earns her a glare but also a grumbled admission that the photos Q used were no match, none at all for the fellow predators prowling the depths of online dating websites.

“You used the photo from Halloween, oh my gosh!”

“Stop laughing; I owned that costume.”

Eve swallows another laugh to blink at her friend. “Q, you went as Data. Even I know he’s the least attractive Star Trek character to ever have existed.”

She doesn’t catch his reply and decides to go easy on him.

“So now you’re creating a super profile?”

Q leaps at the change of topic. “Yes – still me, but optimised for this ecosystem. The update went live two hours ago.”

His flair for the dramatic might be charming if Eve weren’t used to Double-oh agents.

She balks nevertheless because Q’s patience is legendary, asking, “And?”

Like flicking a switch, the man breaks into an enormous grin and hurries over to sit next to her, angling his laptop so she can see his bursting inbox.

“Impressive, dear sir! So how soon are you going out?”

Q tilts his head at her. “I’m not. None of these have passed my minimum 900 point threshold yet.”

“Well, it’s only been two hours,” Eve says at length, instead of giving into her impulse and hitting him over the head with her mug to knock some sense into him.

She has an ulterior motive, however.

“Ignoring your mad scientist levels of dedication to online dating for a minute –”

“I’m being thorough.”

“- I was wondering how your job is going.”

Of course Q is too darn clever for any kind of subtlety to work, and after some back and forth, Eve resolves to show her hand.

“I might know of a position that’s soon opening up that you might be suited for. It would be a challenge, that’s for sure.”

“At your export company?” Q snorts, derision dripping from his very word.

“Oi, don’t knock it until you’ve been interviewed.”

“What even makes you think I’m interested in changing career paths? I’m perfectly all right at Keating Consolidated.”

“You’re getting bored,” Eve argues. “And after only eighteen months. I doubt supplying an international corporation with patents will become any more interesting in the future.”

“Well, one word and Google’s flying me to California. They’ve been after me since I hacked their servers. In my pyjamas.”

“Hardly,” Eve scoffs. “You’re too patriotic to work for the Americans. Besides, it wouldn’t take two years before you’re considering other offers. Mine’s better.”

Q’s gaze turns calculating. After a beat, he breathes, “I knew it.”

She feigns ignorance. Q is too smart to continue his line of questioning. While she is fully aware her friend doesn’t believe her cover story any more than she believes it wasn’t him who introduced the virus that deleted everything to her ex-boyfriend’s computer, they both understand that she cannot tell the truth even if confronted.

“So do I have your permission to throw your name into the hat?”

“Please tell me your employer has more sophisticated techniques of determining an applicant’s suitability.”

Eve just smirks. His interest is peaked; she smells victory.

*

As it turns out, said victory is twofold.

Tanner did send Bond to the Caribbean, where the mission almost turned into a huge cock-up because the Double-oh thought seducing the mark’s wife was a splendid idea.

“I swear on the Prime Minister’s knickers,” M grouses, “one day London will be in ruins and we’ll have 007’s libido to blame.”

“I believe such a betting pool is already in place, sir,” Eve quips, though instead of laugh her boss only scowls more.

“What that man needs is a relationship,” Mallory announces. “The world will be infinitely better off once Bond has access to regular dalliances of a romantic persuasion.”

Thankfully, Eve already has an idea in that regard. Mallory’s endorsement offers the final push, and as soon as she’s back at her desk, she pulls up the fake profiles Q created and cross-references them against what she knows about James Bond.

It could genuinely work.

Eve starts counting down the hours until James is back from getting shot at in tropical weather.

The agent returns to English soil the same day Eve hands over Q’s CV along with her recommendation letter and a cupcake to Jamal from Human Resources. She intercepts Bond during his escape from medical.

“You’re in no condition to drive home,” she insists.

It’s not even a lie – 007 cracked two ribs and suffered minor burns before completing his mission. He’s in too much pain to be allowed behind the wheel since the stubborn berk refused pain medication.

Grumbling, James relinquishes the keys to his Aston Martin. His flat in Pimlico barely has any furniture, let alone any sort of homey feel to it.

“I love what you’ve done with the place,” Eve teases, allowing James to remove her coat.

He is a lot less gentlemanly once she has explained how she’s going to cash in her favour.

“Online dating?” he sneers. “My perfect match is just a click away?”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Eve says, opening the man’s laptop. “I’m not talking about finding you a wife or husband. But a steady relationship might do you good.”

“I’m fine on my own.”

Eve pointedly traces her eyes across the Spartan décor. James argues for another fifteen minutes, yet in the end his debt to Eve outweighs his aversion to the plan. Bond pours them both some scotch and sprawls out next to her on the sofa as she creates an account for the man.

“I’m almost 44,” James points out when she puts his age as 39.

“Be glad I’m not using your mental age,” is all Eve says, ignoring his protests. It’s not her fault if Q’s upper age limit forces her hand. “What’d you want me to write for occupation? Slayer of thugs, breaker of hearts?”

At least it elicits a laugh from James.

“I’m typing, 007,” she threatens, moving her fingers at a glacial pace.

“Put ‘arctic baby seal hunter’, for all I care.”

Huh… Q might find that amusing.

“Clever,” Eve declares. “I like it.”

That has the man lean up. “You’re joking.”

In response, Eve fills in ‘arctic baby seal hunter’ where the template asks for occupation.

An hour and a half later, most of which James spent reading a thick hardcover, the profile for ShakenNotStirred is complete. Eve is grateful she actively listened when Q explained how this particular website’s algorithm works to match users to each other. She’s even more content about her impeccable memory that allows her to recall most of Q’s two-tier criteria, enabling her to adapt James’s one-phrase replies into descriptions that will earn her colleague 700 points at minimum.

“Now all I need is a picture and your promise that you’ll take at least one of your matches out on a date, which you’ll treat with the appropriate gravitas.”

“If I do, will you let me finish my book in peace?”

“I solemnly swear.”

Eve makes James sit in the lonely chair in the corner of his living room, still in most of his suit but without a tie and his shirt open at the collar. Earlier that day, she scoured the depths of James’s file and found two other pictures, taken during an undercover assignment as a model, which she adds to the profile’s gallery.

“I have your log-in details, so I’ll know whether or not you’re complying with my terms.”

James holds out her coat with a huff. “I do know how to change a password.”

“You enjoy my meddling too much to actually do that, though.”

“Goodnight, Miss Moneypenny.”

Eve sends him a parting smile and leaves him to his evening entertainment. She has done her share – the rest is up to the magic of algorithms.