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Equanimity

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"You must be joking, 007."

Q had been prepared for skepticism, expecting professionalism, guardedly hoping for a good working relationship. He'd made his initial contact with the resurrected agent in a heavily guarded public place in the usual fashion, dutifully taken him down the the armory to demonstrate the finer points of the gun and the radio, and snapped the case shut, mind already moving on to the next item on the day's list.

He certainly hadn't anticipated this.

"I did ask to have this conversation in private, if you recall."

Q ignored that. "If you're trying it on, you could do it the way normal people do. Invite me to dinner, show up with concert tickets, just ask outright. Of course, the answer would still be no, but --"

"It's a completely sincere request, Q."

"And if this is an attempt to harass me, I 'm sure I don't need to remind you that I have as much right to a comfortable work environment as you do, whatever your personal feelings about my sexuality may be."

"I haven't got any personal feelings about your sexuality," Bond said. "Your sexuality is not at issue here." He went to the gleaming mahogany display shelf and nudged a tracking device, turned over a small explosive -- busywork, something to draw him away from Q, so what was coming was probably going to be something even a double-oh would recognize as very strange.

And sure enough, Bond gave him a couple of seconds of intense and studied eye contact and then went right back to his mad theme: "I'm not asking you to service me, and I'm not asking you to rape me. But between those two extremes, there's a wide range of things I've got no experience of, things an attacker might use against me."

It began to dawn on Q that the man might have been sincere. Mad, arguably, but sincere.

"Do you do this often? Ask people you've just met to expand your extremely intimate comfort zone?"

Bond left the shelf and strolled among the lockers. "Are you afraid of lightning, Q? Heights, enclosed spaces, dogs, snakes, spiders? Most people have at least one disproportionately intense fear." He ran his fingers over the polished brass of the nameplates -- careless touches that made Q twitch with annoyance. "I used to have difficulty with scorpions. God knows why. Some book I read as a boy, probably. But I took care of it."

There was a pen in a velvet box on one of the display tables. It was a perfectly ordinary pen filled with UV security ink, but he picked it up and turned it over as Q clenched his teeth. "Did you think a double-oh's equanimity was something we were born with? Maybe we were recruited right out of the nursery because we didn't cry when Cook burned the toast? The ability to keep our heads is one more thing we work on all our lives. One more ability we rely upon to keep us alive."

He set down the pen and turned again to face Q. "As I never know when someone might try to push my buttons, I find it useful to know where they are."

"So eager to be part of your self-improvement scheme. I suppose it would be too much to ask whether you considered anyone else? I'm not the only queer man in MI6. Clarke in Logistics is --"

"An arrogant twat with perpetual halitosis?"

"Well." There was little to be said to that. And James Bond was vanishingly low on the list of people Q was keen to have sex with, but he already knew he was going to say yes. He never could resist an invitation to tinker with something until it worked better.

-----

"Nice place." Bond's hotel wasn't one of the three that agents usually chose, but it was an above-average grade with superior security. Two steps took Q just outside Bond's peripheral vision, and he unzipped his parka and dropped it, jingling, to the floor.

"What are you doing?"

Q had on a jacket under the parka. It made a rustling sound when he dropped it. His shoes and stockings followed. "Oh, I'm sorry. Did you ask me to make you uncomfortable in a way that doesn't make you uncomfortable?"

"Just wasn't expecting the striptease to start so soon."

Q dropped his necktie on the pile and walked into Bond's line of sight, turning up his cuffs. "Warm in here, I find." He moved slowly into Bond's personal space bubble, examining him minutely.

Bond aimed a vacant smirk at him. Q had had a drink or two with Eve after she killed him. "Somehow handsome without being handsome, do you see?" she'd said, and he did see; Bond was old and seamy, with a face like a leather boot, and yet he had an undeniable magnetism. Awareness of how very dangerous he was didn't weaken that; quite the opposite. Q wondered whether that was what drew the uncountable women he was said to have bedded. It couldn't be the challenge, as there was none.

"Are you just going to stare at me?" Bond said.

"If you want me to stop, you've only to ask."

That made Bond's eyes narrow. Good; Q's amateur psychology was thus far holding true. He walked around him again, taking up a position behind him. "I don't understand why you're focusing on the gender angle. Are you that confident you'll never face off against a woman? Say, a woman with a whip or a knife. Or one who expects you to wield the weapon." All along, he strolled around Bond, moving just inside his comfort space, making him aware of being looked at. "I should think you'd try this with one of them."

"Already have done," Bond said. He looked straight ahead, not trying to keep an eye on Q. "There was a very accommodating young lady at the field base in -- well, I suppose that's classified." He was smiling smugly as Q came back around. "I take my work very seriously, Quartermaster."

"I know you do, Agent. I believe, in fact, that your work is the only thing you do take seriously." He dropped his voice to an intimate murmur. "It's the only one that really knows you. It's the only answer you have for those questions that trouble a man's mind when he can't sleep. It's your job, and your hobby, and your family, and your lover." He cupped a tender hand over Bond's cheek, and Bond jerked his head away. A moment later, he had composed his face, but too late.

"There's a tell."

"I'm aware," Bond spat.

This time Bond kept his face still. Q drew his thumb down his jaw, brushed it across his mouth, and Bond blinked at him with every appearance of sleepy-eyed contempt. Perhaps this lack of connection was paradoxically appealing to his women; perhaps they flocked to him because he cared nothing for them, because they could sense that before the sweat had dried on his skin, his mind would be on to the next challenge. There was, Q supposed, a certain self-obliterating pleasure in that.

"And you've never touched another man at all," he mused, tracing Bond's eyebrow, his hairline, the rim of his ear. "No adolescent experiments, no barracks comfort, no curiosity at all?"

"Would you like to answer the same question about women?"

"Mm," Q assented, moving behind Bond and scratching up into his prickly short hair, which drew the smallest of surprised breaths. "I'm only interested in sex with people I like, and if I like a woman, I don't care to waste her time like that. I've always known what I am."

"I don't think there's a word for what you are." Bond sounded amused. His hair was so short that Q's fingers hadn't disarranged it at all. Q was annoyed with himself; he was putting Bond at his ease when he was meant to be doing the opposite. This encounter was not his style at all. So he was perhaps a little rougher than he intended when he pulled Bond's open jacket off his shoulders.

Bond cooperated. Q thought perhaps his smirking reply -- "Don't wrinkle it" -- was just a split-second too late and ever so slightly breathless.

Q took a moment just to admire his arms and shoulders beneath the dress shirt, and then it occurred to him that there was nothing standing in the way of touching, so he did. Bond really was an exemplary specimen of a certain kind of coarse-grained maleness. To Q's taste, a mind and body so inescapably grounded in physicality -- trajectory and force, the poetry of three dimensions -- was all very well but rather lumbering and inelegant to someone accustomed to the infinite, distanceless, frictionless connections of cyberspace. But Q could appreciate him for the big, healthy animal he was.

Hands on his lower ribs, just above the belt, got a subtle stiffening of his posture, a barely measurable quickening of his breath. "I'm not hurting you," Q said.

"That's not off the table."

One step brought his body flush against Bond's back. Q flattened his hands and curved them forward around Bond's torso, feeling his breath move shallowly. Bond smelled faintly, pleasantly, of light outdoor exertion, as if he'd taken a walk at lunch, or perhaps rappelled down the side of a building. Q angled his head so that his breath stirred the hair at Bond's nape. "But I am making you uncomfortable, as requested?"

He could hear Bond swallow. Another tell, another mistake he couldn't afford to make. "If you were trying to unnerve me, you would be succeeding admirably."

"Mm." He pressed a fraction closer to move their bodies tightly together and slightly adjusted the positions of his hands: one thumb an inch closer to a nipple, the other pinky barely dipping below Bond's waistband. Bond would be able to feel Q's cock beginning to swell just on the lower curve of his arse. This time Q's mouth was right on the flesh behind Bond's ear. "And if I were trying ... to arouse ... your curiosity?"

Q waited, breathing. After a moment Bond shivered lightly. His voice was rougher. "Go on."

He was probably expecting Q's mouth on his neck, and truthfully Q would have enjoyed tasting him, but Bond hadn't asked for help with things he'd find easy to predict. Q stepped away instead, walking back around to look at him.

"Do you anticipate an attacker might strip you?" Q spoke softly, but 'strip' was a whip-crack of a word, and Bond jerked microscopically. "Is that an eventuality you feel the need to prepare for?"

Bond's chin went up. "Could happen again."

Q raised his eyebrows and gestured with a headtilt: Get on with it.

Bond stood on each foot to remove shoes and stockings, put his wristwatch in his pocket, undid his cuffs, untied his tie, and then began removing garments and placing them on the chair -- all the efficient motions of undressing himself, just as if he were alone in the room. He paused for the briefest of moments before adding his vest and pants to the chair, standing nude. From the direction of his face, he had chosen the watercolor of a willow tree to focus his eyes upon. Luckily he wasn't an art lover, so he was unlikely to be offended by its banality.

Bond's skin was a lovely light tan, and his muscled shoulders looked as good as Q had imagined, and suddenly Q found himself profoundly annoyed to be in a hotel room with an attractive naked man and have his agenda restricted to mind games rather than a friendly wrestle to mutual satisfaction. "You know, this is not at all my sort of thing," he said irritably, and stepped up to draw his thumbnail up Bond's spine. Gooseflesh sprang up on Bond's arms, and he exhaled. Q walked around to look at his profile: chin tipped up, eyes shut, lips parted. "I like dancing, and cafes, and sex with blokes who like me. I mean, if you chose me because you imagined I'd enjoy these amateur theatrics --"

"I chose you because, of all the men I could afford to trust, you're the only one who neither hates me nor idolizes me." Bond rolled his head and opened his eyes, slowly, like a drunk. He was half-smiling, and Q's gaze swept down his body and found his cock entirely hard. "And what makes you think I don't like you?"

Possibly this boyish charm was what made the women fall into his arms? Q was not immune; he could feel himself smiling a little, against his will. "Undress me," he said in a voice that was hoarser than he wanted it to be, "and we'll get started."

Bond stripped him to the waist with no hesitation, but he had a little trouble with the fashionable and eccentric buckle of Q's belt, and then a little more with the touch of Q's cock as he undid the trousers. Q didn't offer to help, just stood looking at Bond's faintly pinkening neck and ears until at last Bond pulled off the trousers and -- gingerly -- the pants under them.

The look he cast on Q's naked body was unreadable. "Shall I tell you how to touch me?" Q said, and he meant it as a goad, but it came out silky and sensuous.

Bond wet his lips. "I think I can manage."

Again he started above the waist, with light strokes to Q's neck, ears, collarbone, that were effective but practiced, and rather spoiled by his expression of dispassionate curiosity, not at all as if it aroused him to make Q feel good. Q caught his hand where it was putting just the right almost-ticklish pressure where Q's neck met his shoulder. He held Bond's gaze and drew his hand down to his cock.

Bond blinked rapidly a few times and broke eye contact in favor of watching his hand. It took him a moment to adapt to the difference in angle; then the grip and speed he chose were such as would bring Q off in a matter of minutes. Q enjoyed it briefly and then grasped Bond's wrist. He was very proud of the steadiness of his voice when he said, "I am not a watch that needs winding, 007."

"Have you ever seen a watch that needs winding?"

Bond kept his hand on Q's cock. Q pushed into it, one slow, controlled thrust, and then he smiled. "I have some appreciation for classic antiques, however impractical."

He took Bond's hand by the wrist and drew it up to lick the dampness off his forefinger, a process that Bond watched raptly.

"I can't imagine that you'd have any qualms about letting another man suck you off. I could bring you off in my hand, I suppose. Or I could make you do it yourself --"

"No," Bond said, nodding back at the dresser. "The other."

Q followed his gaze and found a bag from the druggist's. "My," he said after a few seconds, "one might think you enjoyed being in over your head. Shall I put you on your face, 007, and have you like that? No," he went on, lowering his voice to a near whisper, tracing his fingertips down the side of Bond's neck. "No, because I'm sure you've very little to learn about how you react when someone makes you feel fear or pain." He touched Bond's adam's apple, the hollow at the base of his throat. "You chose me because you wanted someone to make you feel desire."

He stepped away, turning his head so Bond couldn't see the grin that threatened at Bond's sudden exhale: Q very much liked being right. "Pull back the cover and lie down," he said, and went to drop his glasses and rummage through the bag.

Condoms and quite a nice grade of lubricant; Q wished he could have been a fly on the wall when one of the deadliest men in the world was frowning over his lubricant choices. Would he have flushed when he brought the bottle to the cashier? Probably not. He had amazing control over his face.

Bond took a finger easily, with no sign of discomfort, physical or otherwise. "You've done this much before," Q said, adding another.

"Her fingers were smaller than yours," Bond said, and then: "Ah! -- shorter, as well."

Q was suddenly weary of games, of battering at what Bond called equanimity over and over and seeing it reconstructed each time. The opportunity of giving someone this sensation for the first time wasn't worth seeing that blandly smiling face again. Still, he had agreed to this charade, and he would see it through. He nudged Bond's knee with his clean hand. "Spread. I want to see."

Bond shut his eyes, frowning, and shifted his hips, and then he planted his feet and rolled his pelvis in a way that was beautiful to watch. Once, adjust hips, twice, adjust hips, and the third time made his head tip back and his hands go to fists in the sheets.

"Enough," said Q. Bond opened his eyes, with some apparent difficulty, and closed them again as Q finished rolling the condom on.

He stretched out beside Bond -- the sheets were very pleasant; Bond's hotel budget was well above his own -- and then slid an arm under Bond's shoulders and rolled him on top.

"I --"

"I know what you thought." Q slid his cock across Bond's hole, and again, feeling for the slightest softening, and pressed gingerly inward.

"That --" Bond began tightly.

"Just be patient, 007." His cock slid in another slow, ruthless inch, and whatever Bond's reply would have been, it trailed off in a hiss. He wasn't paying attention to Q at all now; his focus was entirely on his body. His thighs began to tremble with the effort of holding the half-kneeling pose.

It was fortunate, actually, that Q wasn't so overwhelmingly aroused that it would have consumed all his attention, because the minute flickering of expressions across Bond's face was fascinating as he registered all the sensations Q remembered from trying this the first time: the strangeness, the body's instinctive no, the burn and the release and at last the first deep pleasure.

When he was seated at last, breathing roughly and shining with sweat, he opened his unfocused eyes. "That is fucking peculiar, Q."

Q smiled. "You get used to it."

"Do you like it? In my place, I mean. Taking it."

"That's rather a personal question, don't you think?"

Bond rattled out a laugh, then hissed as his body moved on Q's cock. "It doesn't get much more personal than this."

"It most certainly does." Q raised his knees.

Bond grunted in surprise -- another new angle -- and then settled back, looking grateful for the backrest. "Haven't you got a name?"

"Of course I have. But call me Q; I've earned it."

That drew a chuckle, but before they could get into any more heartwarming revelations, Q moved minutely upward, and Bond exhaled hard.

"Tilt your pelvis," Q said. "Different angles feel differently." Bond began to do so, frowning in concentration. It felt very good. Q ran his hands up Bond's thighs, against the grain of the coarse hair there. Bond's cock was half-hard and lengthening; Q wrapped his fingers around it, enjoying the heft of it and the feel of it coming alive in his hand, and Bond stilled, looking down at him with an unreadable expression, and Q cursed himself; he couldn't seem to resist acting the lover.

"Apologies, 007," he said softly, looking at Bond's cock and the muscles of his torso instead of at his face. "I've rather lost sight of the purpose of the exercise. I could probably cause you a little discomfort in this position, if you like. Or I could impugn your manliness for taking pleasure in this, though I'd find that a bit personally distasteful --"

"For god's sake, Q," Bond said thickly, and he pitched forward onto his elbows, bringing their bodies together. "Has anybody ever told you about all work and no play?" He nosed against Q's face. "You're doing fine."

Q framed Bond's hips with his hands and managed not to sigh audibly with relief. "Have you ever kissed a man, Mr. Bond?"

"You know I haven't," Bond growled.

Q raised an eyebrow, haughty as he could manage with Bond rocking down onto his cock over and over. "Was there someone special you were waiting for?"

Bond laughed out loud. "You'll do," he said, and hooked his thumb into the corner of Q's mouth, and licked his way in.

God almighty. Q's ironic coolness, already sorely tested, deserted him all in a rush. Bond kissed him as if they were lovers long separated without hope of reunion, as if he had been yearning for Q's mouth in particular, as if no one had touched him for long, weary years -- this from a man who had, to Q's certain knowledge, bedded two waitresses and a corporate attorney in the past week alone.

Q was panting when the kiss broke, shoving his hips up with reckless disregard for Bond's inexperience, and Bond was rolling with each stroke, groaning before diving in for more kisses, and there. That was what drew them all. Not skill, not danger, but this hunger. It had to be what they wanted. Q wanted it like oxygen.

"Christ, christ," Bond said against his mouth. "Christ, I could almost -- Q." He fumbled up onto one elbow, grabbing for his cock.

"Yes," Q hissed. "Take what you need. Show me," and Bond reared back up, head thrown back, to let Q watch him paint his own chest with come.

"Fuck," he said gutturally, slowing but not stilling, "fucking incredible, it just doesn't stop," and Q flung his hands out to dig his fists into the sheets to stop him grabbing Bond.

He was so close, and Bond's magnificent chest was streaked shiny and heaving. "Bond --" he said, unable to keep the pleading tone out of his voice.

"Call me James," Bond said, smiling and breathless. "You've earned it," and he drew Q's hands back to his hips and wiggled a go-ahead, and Q frantically buried his cock in him, over and over, coming almost the moment their mouths touched.

Things went hazy for a bit. Q reconnected with reality when Bond began trying to disengage them, just in time to grab for the condom with one hand and vaguely pet Bond's thigh with the other. Bond grimaced at the sensation of Q's cock coming out of him, then flung himself down beside Q with a gusty sigh -- and then surprised him by edging over to pull him half onto his chest. "You're welcome to impugn my manliness now."

"I'm more concerned about your sense of self-preservation, but nothing new there." Q groped his arse. "Are you hurt?"

Bond didn't answer, sighing deeply. His body felt entirely relaxed. Q was proud of that.

"Did you get what you came for, Agent? Are you easy in your mind now?"

"Yes," Bond said drowsily. "My mind now works as flawlessly as any other product of Q branch."

"Well." Q cupped the side of Bond's head, scratching through his short hair. "Do try to bring it back in one piece."