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The Inevitability of Time

Chapter Text





When they meet for the first time at the National Gallery, Bond has a strange sense of deja vu.

He is sitting in front of The Fighting Temeraire and thinking that this is one of the worse places to conduct clandestine introductions when a boy sits down on the bench next to him and begins speaking about the inevitability of time. His voice is soft and has a poetic quality to it, as if he spent the entirety of his school years learning to read Shakespeare's works in perfect iambic pentameter. The syllables are fluid, like the words are a melody of a long-forgotten song. Bond feels something in his chest and wonders what exactly it is he cannot remember.

"What do you see?"

When Bond looks at him, he can only think that the boy is far too young to be MI6's new Quartermaster. But there is something about him that makes him seem wise beyond his years. Bond cannot quite put his finger on what it is, wondering if it's his wit and audacity, or the deceptively strong, warm grip of his handshake. But maybe it is in the way he says 007 with nothing but familiarity, as if they've known each other their entire lives.

That feeling lingers and Bond thinks that they must have met before, even just in passing on a bus or train or plane, because he knows this boy.

"Have we met before?" Bond asks, and his Quartermaster smiles like he has a secret.

"No, I don't believe so," he says, "but I've been told I have one of those faces."

But that is the thing: he does not have one of those faces. Bond is familiar with those kinds of faces, the ordinary ones that can blend into a crowd in almost any country in the world. The boy beside him is the complete opposite, because he is striking in a way that is not quite beautiful, but unconventional, memorable. Bond tries to remember when and where their paths have crossed, but he cannot. The boy-Q-smiles again: all lip, no teeth, just a quirk of his lips, and it's not quite dangerous, but definitely not harmless. Bond feels a pull of something like arousal in his belly and thinks that he might be in trouble.

As Q presents him with his identifying paperwork, Bond takes in details with a calculating eye. The planes of Q's face are pleasing, symmetrical, and Bond can only think in terms of architecture to describe him, because he is comprised of nothing but lines and angles. In fact, the only softness to him is the soft curl of his fringe over his forehead and the curve of his lips. Bond is staring and knows it, but cannot manage to look away, even when Q meets his eyes. They are a striking shade of grey-green behind his glasses. It makes Bond think of the colours used in the painting upon the wall, characterising the way the water in the Thames sometimes appears on early winter mornings.

Bond does not know why it makes him think of eternity.

He brushes it off as sentimentality-a common characteristic of the aged and ageing-and watches Q leave.

"Brave new world."