Actions

Work Header

some guys just can't hold their arsenic

Work Text:

Motherfucking - goddamn - fucking shit!

“Good lord, Q,” Bond says from behind him with no small amount of amusement. “You’d think you’d never been in a quarantine before.”

Q turns away from the glass wall, giving Bond a murderous glare. Bond just snorts in response, which is fair enough, given that he’s dressed in too-big hospital scrubs and his hair is still damp and wild from the decontamination shower. He imagines that he doesn’t make a particularly intimidating picture at present.

Still, that doesn’t mean Bond has to laugh at him. So he just scowls and goes to sit on his bunk, across the room from Bond’s. He leans against yet another glass wall, pulling his knees up against his chest.

“I haven’t, actually.”

Bond hums consideringly. “I suppose you’ve got a lot of life experiences left to check off. You’re what, twenty-one?”

“You know damn well I’m in my thirties, Bond,” Q snaps, unsure if he’s more frustrated with the other man for making yet another jab at his age, or with himself for rising to the bait again. It’s a testament to how pissed off Q is that he responds to Bond’s light-hearted comment with more than an eyeroll.

Someone’s in a mood,” Bond teases, evidently entertained by Q’s aggravation.

Someone had plans tonight,” Q responds. At least they’d given him his phone, so he can send a text off and explain himself. When Bond starts to look curious he glares again. “I’m not telling you what they were, you nosy arse.”

Bond comes over and sits next to Q, leaning against the wall next to him. Q locks his phone and throws it on the bunk, determined not to let him snoop. “You have your own cot, Bond. Over there.”

“Yes, but sleepovers are more fun if you’re not across the room from one another.” When Q just rolls his eyes, Bond smiles. He glances around their surroundings thoughtfully. “You know, this isn’t all that different from the cell they kept Silva in. It’s bigger, obviously but…”

Q feels himself stiffen, feels the all too familiar fear that seeps into his chest on those rare occasions when Silva is brought up. Before Bond can notice, or at least before he can comment, Q changes the subject.

“I hope whoever sent that bloody letter is being flayed alive by MI6 interrogators.”

Not even two hours earlier, Bond had strolled into Q Branch with the half-melted shell of his walther, only one of the three pieces of tech Q had given him for his mission to Prague. Q had thought, inwardly, that this was an improvement from not bringing back anything at all, but he hadn’t been about to tell Bond that.

R had placed an envelope on his desk as she passed, told him the mail cart had missed one earlier in the day, and Q had thought nothing of it. Bond had been once again leaning into his personal space, no doubt trying to fluster the younger man (with mild success), and Q in his irritation had perhaps been a bit too violent with the letter opener, and a cloud of ominous white powder had flown into the air, all too close to two men’s faces.

He’d slapped a hand over both his and Bond’s mouths, and cursed inwardly, because the last thing he’d needed was to spend an indeterminable amount of time in quarantine with the blasted man.

Which was, of course, what had come to pass.

R had pressed the biohazard alarm, which has led Q to where he is now, sitting on a vaguely uncomfortable cot and plotting to murder one of his agents.

In the short silence after Q’s vindictive wish against their attacker, Bond decided to lunge across his legs to try and get a hold of his phone, which is now being held above Q’s head.

“Are you kidding me, Bond?”

Bond smirks as he turns over, his head now resting in Q’s lap. “What can I say? I’m a curious man.”

“I hate you.”

“No you don’t,” Bond replies smugly, and that really is the crux of all of Q’s problems, isn’t it?

Because Bond’s completely right.

He doesn’t hate him.

Not at all.

 

 

*****

 

 

It has been two hours of quarantine, and Q is bored out of his mind. He doesn’t want to use his phone, doesn’t want to have Bond sprawled on top of him (and oh, isn’t that a lie) again in an attempt to invade his privacy. So his main source of would-be entertainment is sitting in his pocket, and he’s left to simply stare at the wall or try to sleep, neither of which is particularly tempting.

He’d investigated their little room within the first fifteen minutes: four glass walls, two cots, and a small cordoned off area with a shower, sink, and toilet. The bathroom area rather ruins the sleek, minimal aesthetic of their little cell, but he supposes doctors aren’t much preoccupied with that sort of thing.

Bond has been doing push ups and sit ups with his shirt off for the past hour, and Q has been refusing to look because he is a professional and he will not ogle one of his coworkers.

It’s a losing battle, but he’s only human, and he’s trying his best.

He finds, after Bond has showered and thrown on one of the sets of scrubs they’ve been left under each cot, that he almost prefers the relative silence of the man’s workout, prefers the boredom, to having all of Bond’s attention on himself.

“So. Date?” Bond asks, sitting once again on Q’s bunk next to him instead of on his own, which is not even ten feet away.

Q sighs exasperatedly. “Bond, I’m not going to talk about my personal life with you.”

“Date, then,” Bond concludes, a smug look on his face. “Do you like him?”

“What makes you so sure it’s a him?” Q asks, and damn, he walked right into that one, didn’t he?

“Ha! I knew it.”

Q doesn’t think his arrangement with Hector is the sort of relationship that really calls for dates, per se, but having casual sex regularly with a friend does normally involve drinking or food before (or after). So Bond is right, in a way.

“Congratulations, Bond. Your deductive skills are truly unmatched,” Q responds dryly, shooting the man an unimpressed look.

“What’s his name then?” Bond asks, and oh no, that’s quite enough.

Bond doesn’t get to break his heart and then not five months later ask him about his love life as if they’re friends, as if Q hadn’t cried for days after he’d left.

“We’re not doing this, Bond.” Something in his tone, or maybe his face, seems to be enough to make Bond drop the subject for now, but Q has no doubt that it will come up again later when the agent gets bored.

“Alright then,” Bond says, and he moves to mirror the way Q is sitting, until they’re both cross-legged and facing each other. “What were you thinking about?”

“When?”

“While I was exercising. What were you thinking about?”

About how goddamn attractive you are, Q thinks. “Oh. I don’t know really. What projects I’ve left unattended, how the branch is running without me, if Tanner’s going to remember to feed my cats - ”

Bond interrupts him. “Wait, you actually have cats?”

Q gives him an incredulous look. “Of course I do.”

“I thought you were being sarcastic or something.”

“You thought my telling you about my cats and mortgage was some sort of little quip?” Q asks, bemused.

Bond shrugs. “You’re a quippy fellow, Quartermaster.”

“Well, I do have cats. Peter and Wendy.”

“What, like Peter Pan?” Bond says with a laugh, no doubt about to comment on Q’s decision to name his pets after a children’s story.

“Hmm, yes. The boy who wouldn’t grow up. Sounds a bit familiar, don’t you think?” Q says, giving Bond a pointed look from over the rim of his glasses.

“You wound me, Q. Do you have a picture?”

Q is not so easily fooled. “Nearly every photo on my mobile is of my cats, but if you think I’m going to let you get that close to it when it’s unlocked you’re an idiot.”

Bond gives him a wide eyed look, the picture of innocence. “Why Q, I don’t know what you mean.”

He raises a brow, unimpressed. “Oh, so you weren’t planning on snatching my mobile and looking at my text messages, then?”

A guilty look flashes across Bond’s face before he can smooth it out, and Q smirks. There’s movement out of the corner of his eye, and Q glances through the glass wall to see Tanner walk in, giving them a little shake of his head.

No news, then.

“You know, Q, you didn’t say you were thinking about that powder, or how long we might be stuck here,” Bond says, looking over at Tanner as well.

“That would be because I’m doing my very best to think about anything else.”

 

 

*****

 

 

At hour four Bond starts to confuse the hell out of Q.

They’ve spent the past few hours doing essentially what they would have done had a mysterious envelope not derailed their afternoon: debriefing on the Prague mission. Normally the debrief would take only ten minutes or so, but both men were desperate for entertainment, so Bond’s been going into great detail over every minor incident. Bond was reading a book about aliens in the Wild West, and the Czech flight attendant kept interrupting him just as he got to the good parts; the bartender at the hotel made terrible martinis and should be fired; the mark was wearing really quite hideous shoes… Q has found himself enjoying these little things Bond’s sharing. It feels like he’s getting to know Bond a little better.

Bond moves on to telling Q outrageous stories from his early days as a double-oh.

“Holly Goodhead? You’re having me on. That cannot be her real name.”

“And to think, I haven’t even told you about Pussy Galore.”

“No fucking way.”

Ten minutes later, Q is still giggling about Pussy Galore, but his laughter fades when he notices Bond staring at him, all traces of humor gone.

They’ve long since moved to lean against the wall, side by side, so Bond has really only been looking at the right side of his face.

“Bond?”

“When did that happen?” Bond asks, and Q sends him a bewildered look. The agent reaches forward, taking Q’s glasses from off his face and placing them on the cot. He traces a finger along the top of Q’s cheekbone just under his eye, then above his brow.

Ah. The scars. His glasses covered them most of the time.

“It was just before we shut down Nine Eyes. We were in the car, and some broken glass from the window hit me. That’s all. Nothing too thrilling.” He replaces his glasses on his face, covering up the small scars once more.

“You see? This is why you shouldn’t go out into the field. It’s too dangerous, Q.” It’s an old argument, one they haven’t had in ages, not since before Spectre. If he hadn’t been so distracted by Dr. Swann and L’Americain, Bond surely would have berated him the second he’d seen Q at that clinic in Austria.

Q waves him off, unconcerned. “It’s not nearly so bad as what would have happened if those thugs in Austria had…”

He trails off at the look on Bond’s face. He’d never told him about the ski lift.

Shit.

Shit, shit, shit.

“Thugs?” Bond asks, and oh, his voice is way too level, this does not bode well.

Q turns to face Bond fully his hands up in a placating manner. “It really wasn’t a big deal, Bond. I got away. No harm, no foul.”

“Thugs?”

“It was more embarrassing, than anything. The Quartermaster of MI6, snatched off a gondola, of all things. Eve never would have let me live it down.”

“Thugs?”

Q is rambling, he knows, but Bond looks borderline murderous, and they’re in an enclosed space. “That’s how I knew, really, that you were right about Ober - Blofeld. I really am sorry about that, by the way. I shouldn’t have doubted you.”

You’re sorry?” Bond stands at this, and - oh God, he’s pacing. “I knew I shouldn’t have gotten you involved. God, you could have died, Q. Because of me!”

Q bristled at this. “My decisions were my own, Bond.”

“Q - ”

“No. Enough of this martyr nonsense. You didn’t hold a gun to my head, you didn’t force me to help you, I did it because I trust you, and because I - ” They don’t really do this sort of thing, but in for a penny… “Because I care about you.”

All the fight seems to go out of Bond at this, and he sits on his own bed, his arms crossed over his chest petulantly.

The lights in their little cell go out suddenly, and Q just about jumps out of his skin. He checks his phone and - oh, it’s midnight. When did that happen?

“I suppose that’s a hint,” Q comments, just able to make out Bond’s scowling face in the dim light from his phone. “I’m going to sleep, then. Good night.” Going to bed is as much an attempt to get out of the conversation as it is to get some rest.

He doesn’t understand why Bond’s so upset. It’s not like anything actually happened.

He crawls under the covers of his uncomfortable cot, and tries to ignore the sound of Bond sighing in frustration.

It’s a long while before he falls asleep.

 

 

*****

 

 

He wakes up to Bond staring at him from way too close, and he almost falls out of bed as he flails in alarm.

“Bond, what the fuck.”

The agent makes no apologies for his lack of personal boundaries. “You look much younger without your glasses,” he comments, before handing said glasses to Q.

“Yes, I know. Hence my lack of contacts.”

“I always thought you couldn’t be bothered with them.”

Q considers it. “Well, that too. They’re a hassle.”

He sits up fully, yawning widely until he hears his jaw click. He looks around blearily: everything is exactly the same, and there are no bloody doctors anywhere. No changes, then.

“You’ve got a text from someone called Hector,” Bond says, holding out Q’s phone. He chuckles at Q’s scowl, and lets the younger man snatch it from his hand with no fuss. “I tried to read it, I’ll admit, but I couldn’t unlock your mobile.”

Q glares at him until Bond moves back to his own bunk to give him some privacy. He opens the text and lets out a snort at the message.

 

[From: Hector; 6:08 A.M.]

The bloke I picked up wasn’t nearly as good at giving head as you. Fucking quarantines.

 

[To: Hector; 8:36 A.M.]

I’d take a sub par blowjob over twelve hours in quarantine any day.

 

[From: Hector; 8:37 A.M.]

I never said it was sub par, just not as good as yours.

 

He laughs out loud at this, and Bond is at his side in seconds trying to read the text over his shoulder. The phone is in his pocket before the other man can get a good look.

“What was so funny?” Bond must be really desperate for entertainment. Or maybe he’s just that much of a snoop.

“We were just complaining about quarantines.”

Bond’s eyebrows shoot up, incredulous. “You told him about this?”

“He’s got the right clearance, don’t worry. He’s MI-5,” Q answers without thinking, only to freeze.

Fuck.

Bond’s eyes narrow. “I only know one spook from MI-5 called Hector. You wouldn’t be texting Hector Madden, would you?”

Q knows he looks like a deer caught in headlights: he’s not awake enough to try and put on a good poker face. “Er…”

“Q, tell me your boyfriend isn’t the London Section Chief of MI-5.”

“He’s not my boyfriend.” And oh, that was not the right response. God, he’s a rubbish spy in the mornings.

“Q!” Bond sounds absolutely scandalized, and it would be comical if Q weren’t bemoaning his inability to lie to the man.

“What? I’m encouraging inter-organizational cooperation.”

Bond just shakes his head disapprovingly.

Q decides to ignore Bond, and walks over to their little bathroom area, pulling the curtains closed behind him a bit more forcefully than necessary. He pokes his head out briefly to shout, “It’s none of your business, anyway!”

Then he’s back in his little sanctuary and looking at the small mirror they’d been left. His stubble is already getting darker; if they’re stuck in here for a few more days, he’ll start to look a scruffy mess.

He’d grown a beard in the few months after Spectre, after Bond left. Eve had said it was his heartbreak beard. R had said it was distinguished. Hector had said it was sexy.

He'd heard the word 'hipster' one too many times, and so he’d shaved it.

Well, he’ll get Bond’s opinion on his beard soon enough, he supposes.

He takes a shower, bangs his head against the curtained wall, and reminds himself that it’s frowned upon to throw things at his coworkers.

Bond is staring again when he comes out, a towel wrapped around his waist, hair messy from where he’d rubbed it dry. Q gives him a pointed look, and Bond seems to shake himself from whatever thoughts he’d been lost in, because he smirks teasingly, before turning away to give Q some privacy as he dresses.

Q’s only just pulled his shirt down when Bond faces him again, giving Q an amused look. “Your hair looks like an ice cream cone or something.”

Q lifts his hand to his hair, and sure enough it’s swirled into a fluffy monstrosity on the top of his head. He pats it down. “It does that sometimes. It has a mind of its own, really.”

“It always looks so soft, though. Sometimes I just want to - ” Bond cuts himself off, clearing his throat awkwardly.

Q sighs. He has an inkling where Bond was going with that. “I know; Eve’s always badgering me about getting a haircut.”

Bond gives him an odd look, before he apparently decides to move onto more pressing matters. “So. Hector Madden, huh?”

Q groans, flopping onto his bunk. “Bond, the only reason I even humoured the hair talk is because I thought you’d moved on from that.”

Bond ignores him, crossing his arms and looking highly entertained by Q’s discomfort. “You know, I’ve never actually met him.”

“I know. If you ever did meet, he’d probably punch you in the face,” Q responds absentmindedly, cataloguing all the things in their little cell that he might be able to throw at Bond. He wishes he still had his shoes.

“What? Why?”

Q pauses in his observations, replaying what he’s just said.

Hector would absolutely punch Bond, because he, along with Eve and Tanner, had witnessed Q getting drunk off his tits and then crying for three hours the night after 007 came back for the Aston Marton and broke his heart all over again. Hector was a good friend, like that.

Eve had actually hit Bond on Q’s behalf when he came back, though the agent probably thought it was a generic ‘Fuck You For Leaving’ punch.

“Well, I do complain about you an awful lot,” is what he settles on.

 

 

*****

 

 

It’s been eighteen hours, and Q’s surprised that they aren’t at each other’s throats.

Everyone has their quirks, he knows: Eve cracks her knuckles; Tanner bites his nails; even Mallory has a tendency to fiddle with his suspenders. Q himself taps his foot incessantly, jiggles his leg when he’s bored or worked up or nervous. He also tends to click pens when he’s thinking, a habit that nearly led to mutiny after his second month as branch head, until he’d promised to only use pens with lids or boring old pencils.

Q’s also been told that sometimes when he’s caught up in his work he hums to himself. He won’t believe it until someone shows him video evidence.

Bond doesn’t seem to be bothered by the tapping, or his restless legs, or the way he beats meaningless rhythms against his thighs with his fingers. Or, if he is bothered, he’s not quite at the point where he’d yell at Q for it.

Bond has his own little tics, too. He scratches at his stubble absentmindedly; and he’ll give out little grunts when he stands and sits, probably from all the wear and tear his body’s been through. Those are just the few Q’s noticed, but then it’s only been eighteen hours.

Q supposes that there are a few perks to being hopelessly, irrevocably in love with your unattainable colleague: namely, that you don’t mind so much when you hear the scraping sound of him rubbing his chin for the hundredth time.

They’ve mostly kept to themselves, with the exception of some casual conversation over lunch (which had taken fifteen minutes to make its way through the quarantine procedures). Q’s been messing around on his phone and Bond's reading his book.

It’s only after dinner has passed that Bond crosses back over to Q’s side of the room, sitting next to him and leaning against the glass wall, his feet hanging off the side of the bunk. Q wonders when Bond became so comfortable with him.

“You got awfully tense when I brought up Silva,” Bond says conversationally, as if he hasn’t just casually brought up the man who’d killed the closest thing 007 had had to a mother, who bombed MI6 while Q was still in the building. “See? There it is again.”

Bond nods his head at Q’s hands, which are white-knuckled and clutching at the knees of his oversized scrubs. Q doesn’t respond, but he does loosen his grip. He hadn’t realized he’d been doing it.

“No one blames you, you know. For the whole,” Bond gestures vaguely, the technical terms lost on him. “Malware hack thing. It could have happened to anyone, and you were new, and under a lot of pressure.”

Q swallows, looking back at his hands as he fidgets with a loose thread at the hem of his shirt. He is still angry about that, will always blame himself for letting Silva hack him, for letting the madman get away and risk the lives of hundreds of people on the underground. When it comes down to it, Q thinks he shares a lot of the blame for M’s death.

But that’s not what makes him break into a cold sweat when Silva’s name is brought up, and Bond’s so frustratingly perceptive about these things, and -

“Oh. That’s not it, is it?”

There it is.

“It’s nothing,” he says, and Bond gives him an unamused glare, which is a little justified, to be honest. How many times has he yelled at Bond for answering his questions with ‘it’s nothing’?

Of course, to be fair, Bond’s ‘nothing’ is normally a broken arm, or a stab wound or something.

Q’s is just embarrassing.

“He frightens - frightened - me. That’s all.” At Bond’s surprised look, he rambles on, as if trying to justify his fear. “It’s silly, I know, and juvenile, but he just… He was so… He had this look in his eyes, like he knew all your worst, darkest fears and insecurities and he knew just how to use them, and he would smile but it was so hollow, so - so lifeless, and his voice was so soft and threatening and sickly sweet, it made me want to throw up, and…” He trails off, pulling his knees up against his chest. “Anyway, he frightens me. That’s why I ‘tensed up.’”

“I hadn’t realized you’d met him,” is all Bond says, his gaze oddly assessing, as if Q hasn’t already told him what he wants to know.

“Mallory wanted me to ask about the hack on Vauxhall, because I was the most qualified to understand what he did from a tech standpoint. He could have just spoken nonsensical technobabble to a regular interrogator, was the thinking.”

“And he didn’t do that with you.”

Q shakes his head, and he winces when he notices that his hands have once again gone white from how hard he’s clutching the fabric of his trousers.

“Q…”

Q hasn’t talked about this with anyone, not even Tanner, who’d been there.

“He kept calling me pretty. Over and over. You’re a pretty little thing, such a pretty boy, what a pretty mouth… It was creepy, but I’d heard the same from blokes in bars, you know?” Bond nods, and Q doesn’t fail to notice that the agent has scooted closer in case he needs a shoulder to cry on or something equally humiliating. “When I didn’t respond, he started to call me a twink, and a cocksucker, and things like that.”

Q shudders, ploughing on through the memories. “Eventually he started saying these horrible, graphic, obscene things, talking about what he’d do to me when he got out, about how - how I’d look when I - ” He cuts himself off, shaking his head as if to rid himself of the memories. “Tanner got me out of there almost as soon as Silva started getting aggressive, but he’d already said so much.”

Q had told Tanner, as he’d been led into a small conference room where he could calm down, that if all the baddies were like that then he wasn’t sure he wanted the job after all. Tanner had said that they’d never dealt with anyone like that before. It hadn’t been particularly reassuring.

Q’d had nightmares for months after Silva’s death, his subconscious somehow convinced that the man was somehow alive and would come back and make good on his threats while Q was defenseless at home.

He startles at the feel of Bond’s arm coming around his shoulder, pulling him close until his head is resting against the older man’s shoulder. Q speaks again, because apparently once he gets going there’s no stopping him.

“And I know - I’ve read your mission reports, I know that he was… predatory with you, too, and what he did to you was so much more invasive, and - ”

Bond shushes him, and Q falls silent, mostly because he can’t remember the last time someone actually shushed him. “I’ve had training, Q, and more than my share of experience with that sort of thing. Besides, he was more interested in turning me against M than anything else, despite how….lecherous he was. And -  I’m not saying this to be unkind, or to make fun of your age,  - you were young. You seemed even younger than you were, and you were so very green. Silva probably thought you were an easy target.”

Q sighs. “And he was right.”

“In a way. It was easier to get under your skin than it was to get under mine or M’s or Mallory’s, because we’ve all been playing the game longer than you. But being frightened doesn’t make you childish.”

It’s the most Q has ever heard Bond speak in one go, and he’s oddly honored that it’s on his behalf.

“I just - he’s been dead for so long, and I still - ”

“I don’t like to go swimming, anymore,” Bond cuts him off, which - what? “I used to go on missions that involved scuba diving, or long boat rides, but I requested to be taken off those kind of assignments. Not since Istanbul. Not since Skyfall. Does that make me weak?”

Q eyes go wide in realization, and he rushes to reassure Bond. “Of course not. You almost drowned , it’s only natural that you would be hesitant about the water - ”

Bond pokes him in the chest. “Then it’s only natural for you to be frightened after a bloody lunatic threatened you.”

Q’s eyes narrow. “Well played.”

Bond gives him a smug smile. “I thought so.”

They move on, because there’s only so much emotionally draining conversation they can take in one go. They talk about this and that and ‘why did you name your cats Peter and Wendy, Q? until the lights go out.

Q isn’t surprised when he wakes up panting and shaking at 3 A.M. He’d spent a good while talking about Silva: it makes sense that he’d have a nightmare afterwards.

What does surprise him is Bond poking him, climbing in and maneuvering Q until he’s practically on top of the other man in the tiny cot, until his head is on Bond’s chest and he can hear the agent’s heartbeat.

“I dream about him too, sometimes,” Bond whispers, and that’s all the explanation Q needs as he drifts back to sleep, feeling safer than he has in months.

 

 

*****

 

 

When Eve and Tanner come to wake them, they don’t make a single comment on the way he and Bond are practically spooning. There isn’t a smirk, or a teasing jibe, or even a raised eyebrow.

This is not promising.

Q prepares himself for the worst, and yet he’s still completely blindsided when Tanner comes on the intercom and tells them they’ve been exposed to the plague.

It’s a testament to how unexpected the news is that Bond’s cool facade breaks long enough for Q to see a look of pure alarm cross his face.

They’re sending in the doctors again to take more samples, Eve says, because for whatever reason MI6 medical hadn’t even thought to check for something that is almost completely eradicated.

Q wants to scream, wants to tell them that the almost is reason enough to test for it, but he can’t think past what he already knows: the first 24 hours are crucial in treating the plague, and they’re well past that.

Bond asks which plague, and oh, Q hadn’t even thought of that. They’re told pneumonic, and Q thinks, slightly hysterically, that at least they won’t lose their good looks to black pustules as they die.

No, instead they’ll cough up blood until their lungs give out.

The doctors come and go, and they’re eventually left alone to process the news.

Q doesn’t even blink when Bond comes to sit next to him on his bunk, although if it’s because he’s become used to the man invading his space or because he’s still in shock, he couldn’t say.

They sit there, silent, for what feels like an age.

Finally, Bond speaks, making Q jump at the sudden noise. “I suppose we should give our last confessions. Ask for forgiveness, and whatnot.”

Q snorts. “I hereby forgive you for taking advantage of me and being a bloody wanker during the Spectre bullshit,” he says sagely, making a vague cross with his hand as if he’s a priest telling Bond to do ten ‘Hail Marys’.

Bond gives him an incredulous look. “‘Taking advantage’ of you?”

“Oh, let’s not get into it now, Bond. I’ve just absolved you,” Q says, repeating the silly gesture again to further his point.

“How did I take advantage of you?” Bond sounds a bit insulted, which is hilarious.

Q levels him with an unimpressed glare. “You knew about my - my thing - and you used it to your advantage. However, I’ve just forgiven you on my deathbed, so I wouldn’t feel too bad if I were you.”

Bond is looking at him as if he’s spouted seven heads. “Your thing?”

“Don’t make me say it,” Q responds, looking down at his hands, because now Bond’s being intentionally cruel, it feels like.

“What thing?”

Q sighs. “That I - ” He waves his hand in Bond’s general direction. “You know.”

“That you what?” And oh, Bond’s being a right arse. Maybe he wants to hear one more pathetic creature tell him they love him before he dies.

Well, Q supposes there’s no point in denying him that.

“That I love you, obviously.”

Dead silence.

“...Bond?”

He finally hazards a glance in Bond’s direction, and the man looks like he’s been punched in the gut.

Huh.

So he didn’t know after all.

Well then, Q’s been angry with him for all the wrong reasons, apparently.

He’s oddly not all that embarrassed, probably because he’s going to die soon and it won’t matter in the end.

Bond’s still staring at him, but the thunderstruck expression has slowly morphed into one of awe, like he can’t believe what he’s just heard.

“Say it again,” Bond says in wonder.

“… I love you?”

Bond smiles then, really smiles, the kind that makes his crow’s feet crinkle and his dimples deepen and his eyes light up and - Oh.

“You - you too?” It’s not the most eloquent of questions, but Q’s been thrown for a loop, here.

Bond, still grinning, brings their foreheads together, closing his eyes and letting out a sigh. “Me too.”

He goes to press their mouths together, and there is nothing Q wants more in possibly the entire world, but he suddenly remembers and jumps back with a yelp.

“Plague!”

Bond gives him a baffled look.

“Plague! If I’m infected, and I kiss you, what if I give it to you?”

Bond grabs Q’s hand, lacing their fingers. “Q, if one of us was infected, surely by now we’d have already spread it to the other.” He gives Q a warm, fond look. “And I don’t want to die without having kissed you at least once.”

Q can feel himself melt a little, but when Bond leans forward again -

Plague!”

“Fine,” Bond yields, resigned. He pulls Q down until his head is resting in the agent’s lap. Bond starts to run his hands through Q’s hair. “But I am going to play with your damnable fluffy hair. Call it a dying wish.”

They stay like that for almost an hour, Bond stroking his hair while Q holds the man’s free hand, running his fingers over the callouses and freckles and scars. When Bond’s hand pauses in its path along Q’s head, he looks up questioningly.

“I love you, you know. I realized I didn’t actually say it.”

Q actually feels like his chest might burst. He hopes it isn’t the first symptom of disease.

“This is so unfair. I really want to kiss you, but - ”

“I know. Plague.”

 

 

*****

 

 

A doctor comes in around hour two of Bond and Q essentially snuggling. They both leap to their feet, walking up to the glass anxiously.

Eve and Tanner are behind the doctor, beaming from ear to ear, because by some stroke of luck, by some miracle, they’re both clear.

Bond wastes no time and lunges for him, nearly toppling them to the floor in his desperation to get his mouth on Q’s.

Their first kiss is an adrenaline filled, rushed, biting, mess of a thing and Q can’t help but laugh when Bond actually picks him up and spins him around like something out of a romance novel.

Q’s fairly sure he’ll be spending at least the next twenty-four hours still in close quarters with Bond, and he finds that he doesn’t mind in the slightest.

Personal space is overrated.