Chapter 1: Not so dead after all.
Chapter 1 - Not so dead after all.
James Bond was exhausted as he entered his apartment after attending M's funeral. He never thought that feeling pain could be so exhausting. He still beat himself about the fact that he had been unable to save her. It was crazy, unbelievable even; he could save the world from nuclear disaster, but he had been unable to save the woman he loved. Thanks to Olivia Mansfield, code name M, the world's greatest Double-O and notorious womanizer had learned what love truly was.
Bond had many regrets in his life, but his biggest regret was that he had not been able to tell her that he loved her, really loved her; as he had never loved any woman ever before.
Our time on earth isn't forever and yet we're arrogant enough to think it is.
A drink and a shower was what he needed right now, and as he went to the bathroom, images of M swirled around in his head. No matter how much James tried, he couldn't forget her. No matter how much he tried, the events of what happened at Skyfall haunted him.
As the hot water rolled down his back, he closed his eyes. As he knew it would, the images of her bleeding in his arms came flashing back in his mind. Why hadn't he been able to save her? He should have been able to save her. She was the reason why he wanted to wake up in the morning, and now she was gone. His right hand made a fist and he punched one of the walls in front of him so hard he bruised his knuckles. It hurt sure, but now at least it wasn't pain caused by the loss of someone he loved. Maybe it was time for him to end it all once and for all. Death would be a release. A bullet in his head… fast and easy. Yeah, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing… half of the espionage world espionage wants me dead anyway. The reason for me to move has been take away from me forever so why can't I just join her, he thought. As he stepped in the shower.
The thought stayed with him while he showered until he turned off the water before stepping out of the shower; until he finally he brushed it aside. She wouldn't want to him to do it. She left him her beloved Bulldog, she kept on her desk for he a reason, and it wasn’t for him to commit suicide. James put on his bathrobe and returned to the living room, and sat on the couch.
James was so lost in his thoughts, and the suddenly tempting idea of killing himself that he hadn't noticed the envelope on the floor near the door. It was only when he stood up to pour himself a drink and fetch his gun that he took notice of it.
He took the few steps to the door and bent down to pick up the envelope, before opening the door to see if the mysterious messenger was still somewhere around, but of course there was no one to be seen so, he closed the door again and looked down at the missive. At first sight there was nothing unusual to it.
When he flipped the envelope over to see if something was written on the front, he only saw his name written in beautiful and familiar handwriting. When he recognized it, his heart stopped beating for a moment; no this couldn't be. This was impossible. Then his heartbeat increased considerably as he felt a wave of rage course through his entire body.
Bond opened the envelope rather forcefully.
Meet me, you know where as soon as possible.
If this is who I think is, there is going to be some explaining to do! James thought.
He dressed without thinking. Yeah, he was still an Double-O, but the current M, Gareth Mallory, had given him a few days off. He said he couldn't use an agent in such a bad shape and state of mind; that he'd get killed at the first opportunity. It never occurred to Mallory that it was exactly what James was after.
So Bond put on a pair of blue jeans, a pullover and a pair of sneakers. Anyone crossing his path on his way to his meeting would never guess what he does for a living, let alone believe he was the great 007. He realized that he'd forgot to put on his jacket in his haste when the cold night air hit him. The cold air was a welcome freshness for his state of mind, because the more he approached the meeting point, the angrier he became.
If his suspicious were right, then he didn't really know what he would do. He would definitely be happy and relieved, but he right now, those two specific feelings were pressured down by a mountain of anger, sadness, and pain.
About ten minutes later, his suspicious were confirmed.
“I take it being dead wasn’t to your tastes after all.” Each one of his words was like a stab in the heart.
Of all the reactions she would expect him to have, none of them was this one.
"Knock it off, Bond. You've no right to snap at me like that."
"You're not my boss anymore. Gareth Mallory is my boss now."
"Why? How? You died in my arms for Christ’s sake, I felt your life leave you! It nearly killed me.”
"I had no choice."
"That's an easy answer."
"Really, Bond… I promise you, when I did what I did it was my only option."
James didn't respond, he just looked at her, suddenly aware that this was really real. was alive a standing in front of him. He's piercing blue eyes were suddenly shining with tears.
The sight before her broke her heart. Never in her life would she have thought she would witness a crying James Bond. She had to do something. She'd really hurt him a great deal apparently. For the first time since she knew him, Olivia Mansfield realized how much impact she had on the man.
"Oh, my dear boy, come here."
He approached her slowly, and she took him in her arms she felt him begin to cry the moment his head lay on her shoulder. No words escaped her, she just held him against her.
When his sobs subsided, she spoke in a soft voice, "I'm truly sorry, James, I never intended to hurt you like this."
"Then why?" He wasn't sure why the question escaped him. It didn't really matter why she had chosen to do what she had done; the deed was done. But that choice had left him with an invisible, open wound that would take a long time to heal; if it ever did.
"I need your help."
There she was again, a few minutes of tenderness and then back in hard bitch mode.
"Mallory gave me a few days off," he said dryly. If she could switch attitudes so fast, so could he.
"And why exactly should I help you, ma'am?"
"For Queen and country, Bond as always."
To be continued...
Chapter 2: I'm Game if you are
Chapter 2 - I'm Game if you are
"I will help you. But let's get something straight, shall we?"
Olivia narrow her eyes at him wondering what he was going to tell her. In a way she couldn't blame him. After all she had lied to him. She had always claimed that she trusted him, but she hadn't even bothered to tell him her plans.
"Alright, Bond, get it off your chest," she told him.
"Like I said, I will help you. But I'll decide what is to be done after you have told me what all this is about. Do I make myself clear?" Bond said, looking down at her sternly.
She held his gaze for a long moment, then nodded her head. "Alright then, I'm game if you are."
He couldn't help himself and smirked at her remark.
She didn't say anything in return, but he saw a sparkle dance in her eyes, and felt a warm wave rush through his body. He wasn't ready to admit it to her just yet, because he was still hurting from what she had done, but he was happy to see the colour of her beautiful eyes.
"Stay here I'll be right back. I have some phone calls to make."
She nodded again, and watched as he began to walk away. She called after him.
James stopped and turned around, looking at her questioningly.
He smiled, but didn't say a thing as he walked out of the room. Olivia hadn't told him anything yet about what was going on, but Bond had the sickening feeling that whatever this was about, they would have to be really careful. If they weren't, this thing, whatever it was, would blow up in their faces. Of that he was certain.
For whatever reason, she was asking for his help, and he knew it had to be serious, or she would never have come back from the dead. Not even for him.
But no matter what it was she was asking of him, he would do it. Because it was her asking.
He had fallen in love with her. He'd known it for a long time, but he wasn't certain that she loved him the same way. For now, though it didn't matter. He would wait and talk to her after this mission was over.
No matter the outcome, James decided M would know how he felt about her.
As soon as Bond was out of sight, M let out the breath she wasn’t aware she was holding. 007 was quite something in blue jeans; candy for her eyes. She'd always thought James was handsome and good-looking, a woman had to be blind not to see it.
She had always pushed him to use his charm to get what was needed to be able to accomplish a mission, but never before had his charms affected her personally. And yet, here she was, wondering if his body looked as beautiful and well-toned as it promised to be.
Olivia, get a grip, damn it! He's too young for you. A man like him would never be interested in a woman your age… if only…. Wait a minute, since when did she start thinking in such a way about her best agent? There was no time to wonder about that anyway. And I doubt he'd still want to see me after I tell him everything he needs to know about this mission.
James knew exactly where he would take her in case they had to leave London of course it all depended on what she would tell him. He was certain no one knew the place even existed, not even Kincaid. If needed, he could tell him that M was in fact very much alive, but he decided against it. The less people knew about this the better. If the day came, and he needed help, he would tell his old friend, as well as Eve and Bill, but for now they were own their own.
M was alive! Olivia was alive! He still couldn’t believe it. He had been angered and disappointed, but now that first rush of emotion was dissipating. He'd hurt for so long and felt so empty and now he was warming up again. She was alive it had all just been a nightmare after all and he was glad for it.
He frowned as he walked down the hall toward the kitchen, James saw that his front door was ajar.
Something’s not right here, he thought.
He’d closed the door when he’d entered his flat, of that he was certain.
Grabbing the door, he slowly pulled it open as he made a fist, ready to hit whomever might be there.
Bond poked his head out, glanced around, but saw no one in the immediate surroundings. As he stepped back in, and was closing the door, he heard a noise coming from the kitchen. Slowly, very slowly, he moved past the kitchen toward his bedroom first, where he kept his Beretta,. Grabbing it from under his pillow, he left his bedroom, heading for the kitchen.
As he entered the kitchen, he recognized the familiar silhouette and lowered his gun.
"What are you doing here?"
The woman standing with her back to him, jumped slightly at the sound of his voice.
"You startled me, James," she said, smiling at him.
"What are you doing here, Eve?" he repeated.
"Making myself a cup of coffee."
"I can see that, but why exactly? Has MI6 ran out of it?"
"No, James, the reason why I'm here is to make sure you are doing alright."
"I'm still alive, aren't I?"
"Don't be like that, James."
"Don't be an arsehole," she told him. "It's me you're talking to. Your friend, Eve Moneypenny, remember?"
He walked over to the counter of the kitchen and leaned against it, facing her.
"I'm sorry. I'm fine or at least as fine as I can be."
Eve nodded at his response. "I still can't believe she's gone. I still expect to hear her voice coming through comm, asking me to bring her a file, or mumble something about you being a pain in the arse." Moneypenny smiled, but her eyes were sad.
"I miss her," he said simply.
"Me, too. You loved her, didn't you? Really loved her, I mean. Not like a son loves his mother."
Eve heard him sigh in response. "That obvious, huh?"
"No. You're not a Double-O for nothing, James, it’s the small details. Your face was a perfect mask, but your eyes weren’t. There was a light in them, I'd never seen before, especially when she entered a room where you were. You were excellent at hiding that part as well from most people, but I happened to see the light shine in your eyes a couple times."
"Yeah, I loved her. I really did. I've never loved a woman like this before not even Vesper. It didn't do me any good though, did it? Now she's dead and she will never know…"
James felt a small twinge of guilt for lying to Eve about M still being alive. She was one of his closest friends, after all. But right now, that didn’t matter. The only thing he wanted to focus on now was M, and protecting her at any cost. He wasn’t about to lose her a second time.
"She knew; deep down she knew how you felt about her. I'm positive about that."
"Thanks, Eve," he said, pushing himself away from the counter, and took a step toward her, placing a kiss on her cheek, before leaning against the counter once more.
“Not to be pushy, and please don’t take offense, but I would like to be alone.”
Eve's heart broke at the sadness in his eyes. Mallory had done the wrong thing by giving him a few days off. James Bond wasn't a man that could be inactive and definitely not when he grieved. The new M was an idiot, she thought, but he would learn eventually that Bond wasn't the kind of agent you put in the corner.
Eve looked at him. "You sure?"
James nodded. "I'm a grown man."
"Yes, and that is exactly what I am afraid of," she said, smiling softly.
"Drink your coffee and get out of here. I don't think Mallory is going to like the fact that you came to check up on me."
"Don't worry about that." Was her answer to him as she picked up her cup of coffee and brought it to her lips.
Bond watched her as she did so, but he wasn't seeing Moneypenny standing in front of him, no… he saw M. Damn it, he really hoped that Eve wouldn't take too long anymore to drink her coffee because he really had some stuff to do before he could join Olivia again.
His hand suddenly itched with the urge to grab her arm, and push her out of his flat. But knowing the woman in front of him as he did, if he did exactly that, she would find a way to come every other day to make sure he wasn’t going to do something stupid.
When M saw him reappear finally, she sighed in relief.
"What the bloody hell took you so long, 007!" she snapped.
"Moneypenny," he said, simply.
She looked at him questioningly. The thought that crossed her mind couldn't be helped.
James looked at her annoyed by what she thought of him.
"No, I didn't sleep with her, M. She's my friend, and she came to see how I was doing. I know it might be difficult to believe given my reputation, but my so-called sleeping around is only during missions. Eve is a friend and that's all she is to me. She's afraid I might do something stupid since technically you are dead, and she knows that I care about you a great deal. Satisfactory explanation?”
M simply nodded in response.
"So, where are we going?"
"There is no need for you to know that now, milady."
To be continued…
Chapter 3: Old friend and shocking Revelations
Chapter 3 - Old friend and shocking Revelations
"I'm not in the mood, James," she said, in a tone most of her agents would have flinched at. On Bond however it had no effect.
"I'm not in the mood either, ma'am," he replied.
She narrowed her eyes at him, but didn't say anything.
The man hadn't changed a bit. He was even more handsome and sexy than in her memories, though he looked skinnier and tired, she thought.
When he started to move she followed him without a word.
Olivia followed him to a small house, and couldn't help but frown when she saw him knock at the door several times. The knocks were small and fast as if… as if it was the SOS Morse code, she thought.
The door opened.
"Hello, old man," James said.
"God almighty, James, you’ve grown since the last time I saw you! Come in!"
Bond gestured to M to enter first. She nodded, passed him and entered the house.
Always the gentleman.
Olivia looked over her shoulder and asked him. "Why are we here?"
She couldn't help but smile at his reply. Eating wasn't such a bad idea, and no one would think to look for her here and after all, she was officially dead.
Gino Pizzetti, James' old friend, accompanied them to a table in the back of the house and pulled out a chair for Olivia.
She smiled and nodded. "Thank you."
Pizzetti didn't speak with any Italian accent Olivia noted. He was probably born here in England, she thought.
Gino looked at Bond after he was sure Olivia was sitting comfortably.
James simply nodded.
Gino disappeared, leaving them alone. No words were exchanged for several moments.
"007, why are we here, really?" Her voice finally broke the silence.
James was about to answer her when Gino came back with a bottle of Barolo.
Momentarily forgetting about the question, she just asked the man sitting across from her at the table she said, "Now that is a fine wine I haven't drunken in years."
A faraway look came to her eyes.
James nodded, as Pizzetti took one of the two glasses he'd brought along with the wine, and poured some of the red rich liquid and handed it to Olivia. Bond watched as she brought the glass to her nose and closed her eyes as the smell of the grapefruit mingled with alcohol invaded her nostrils.
So many memories rushed through her head. Nigel…
They had been on a rare trip together to Italy, and had ended up in the small village of Barolo. It had been such a peaceful time then; just a few days away from chaos and the world itself. It had been almost like a dream come true, a second honeymoon. It was then she'd tasted the wine for the first time, and enjoyed it’s unique exquisite taste.
James observed her, marveling at how beautiful she was while lost in her memories. Memories of her husband he suspected, and suddenly wished he was the reason why she looked so amazing.
Get a grip, you have a mission to accomplish, though you don't even know what it will be. You cannot think of her that way, she's your boss, god damn it, he admonished himself.
His heart didn't seem to understand any of that, as it was beating fast, only by the sight of her. She had that something special no younger woman would ever have. And she was they only one that would put him in his place when he was going too far, when he crossed the line, or whenever he did something stupid or reckless, which in his book meant… constantly.
She suddenly snapped out her reverie when Gino reappeared with their dinner.
Pasta al Gino. Tagliatelle pasta with Gino's secret sauce and some scampi.
Olivia smiled; it smelled delicious. James had been right. Now that she was here, smelling the food, she realized she was hungry.
"Enjoy your meal." He addressed them both before leaving them alone again.
Bond watch his friend go back to the kitchen.
"He hasn't changed."
"How do you know him?" Olivia asked as she reached for her fork, looking down at her plate to make sure she was sticking a scampi before bringing it to her lips.
James watched as she put the fork in her mouth, waiting to see her reaction. He wasn't disappointed. Olivia closed her eyes again, as she let the delicious taste invade her mouth.
"You like?" he asked her, smiling.
"This man has been touched by an angel or he has gold in his hands. I’ve never tasted anything so good in my entire life. It’s obvious he takes his time to cook and definitely loves what he does."
"Always has," James answered her, then smiled as he remembered the hours he'd spent in the man's kitchen so many years ago. If it hadn't been for Gino, he would probably never have been working for MI6. He probably would have ended up in jail or worse…
"I guess that means you've known him for a long time."
"Gino was a friend of my father. From what I can remember of those days, before my parents died, they came regularly. And Gino took me with him in the kitchen, showed me things and taught me a thing or two about cooking. The man saved my life…" James' voice trailed off suddenly, lost in his thoughts, at the memory resurfaced.
"James, you alright?" Olivia asked him in a soft voice.
James Bond snapped back to reality. "Yes, I'm fine, just a trip to memory lane," he told her in the same tone. "We should keep eating before our food gets cold."
She nodded, resumed eating as did James.
From time to time they took a sip from their glass of red wine. When they were finished, about fifteen minutes later, Gino came and took the plates away, and asked them if they liked their food.
"It was excellent. Thank you," Olivia told him, smiling at the man.
"Perfect as always." Was Bond's reply.
Gino then asked if they want some dessert.
"Got some of your famous Tiramisu?"
The man nodded. "Of course, my boy."
"But could you please not bring it to us right away. Give us a few minutes."
"No problem. Give me a sign when you're ready and I'll bring it to you."
Gino disappeared in the kitchen once more, but before he did, he looked over at Olivia while James was busy doing something with his mobile phone. She looked at him intently, begging him not to say anything to the man sitting across from her at the table. Not yet.
James old acquaintance looked away from M when James put his mobile phone back.
Silence fell between them for a moment as both reached for their glass of wine, each eyeing the other over the rim of the glass they were sipping.
I need to tell it to him. He's opened the door for it, so why is it so difficult? Since when has it become so hard to talk to him? Why does the idea that he might not want to talk to me anymore, after what I have to tell him, bother me so much? Olivia wondered.
I come back from the dead to ask for his help, and suddenly the idea of telling him why seems to be an insurmountable problem. Why? Did she have the impression she'd hurt him too much already? That had never stopped her before… His blue eyes are so beautiful, she noticed, but so sad….
What's going on in that beautiful mind of yours, Olivia, James thought as he looked at her. What aren’t you telling me? Normally you would have told me already what was going on without even thinking about it. If it’s something I won't like, you'll know it. I might be pissed off at first, but don't you know I would help you no matter what? And if that something has to do with you, then Queen and Country be damned. You're more important to me than anything else.
James continued to look at her, his eyes penetrating hers as he felt the wine run down his throat, relishing the burning sensation.
She put her glass back on the table and took a deep breath. Her eyes never leaving his, she began to speak.
"I made a promise twenty years ago. A promise to your father. He made me swear to protect you if anything happened to him or to your mother. That's one of the reasons I faked my death."
It took some time for the meaning of her words to fully sink in. She saw his fingers curl more firmly around his glass as he put it back on the table.
"And I intend to honour that promise, even if it means I have to die for it."
"I won't let you," he told her in calm, dangerous voice that made other men flinch.
Olivia simply held his gaze.
"I know you're pissed off at me right now. When I made the decision at the time, it was the right thing to do."
"Why what?" she asked.
"Why didn't you tell me?" He questioned in that same calm, dangerous tone of voice.
"Tell you what? That I promised your father? That I knew him or that I'm still protecting you no matter how reckless and foolishly stupid you may act?"
"Would you knowing this change anything in the outcome? Judging by how old you were back then, I don't think so. Andrew and Monique knew the risks and they accepted them. From what your father told me, your mother and he decided not to have children. Now don't get the stupid idea in your head that you were not a wanted child, because you couldn't be further from the truth. They wanted you very much, but you just weren't planned."
She saw the sadness in his eyes increase and it broke her heart, but now that she'd started to tell him, she couldn't stop anymore.
"I'm not sure exactly… how it happened, but when the accident occurred…" she started, but he cut her off. "How come if I wasn't planned…" he clarified.
James suddenly felt like a little boy again and wanted, needed to know everything.
M nodded, and sighed. It was better to tell him everything she knew now. Or at least try to tell him.
"You know your parents were very much in love. As cheesy as it sounds it was true. From what your father told me, Monique and he had decided, with pain in their hearts not to have children due to their jobs and the dangers of it, but life had other plans for them and your mother got pregnant. They were very happy when they found out; for them it was a sign they’d made the wrong decision by not having kids."
"But how did you become friends with them?" he asked.
"Circumstances of life," she told him simply.
It wasn't entirely true, but, she wasn't ready to tell him about that yet.
"We had always been close. Though I knew a lot about them, there were parts of their lives your parents refused to talk about."
"That wasn't my question."
"I know, but I'm not ready to answer that particular question, James. I will eventually, but now is not the moment.
He frowned at her response. Why was she still holding back? How bad could the truth be that she couldn’t talk to him about it right now?
"You've got your reasons, I suppose."
"I do, yes."
"Who do you need to protect me from?"
"From the same people who…." Her voice trailed off.
"From the same people who what, M?"
Olivia sighed heavily, "From the people who killed your parents."
"What???" James exclaimed. I was always being told they died as a result of a skiing accident, and now, you're telling me they'd been murdered. How long have you been lying to me? How many people have been lying to me? Who knew the truth?" he asked between clenched teeth.
She simply looked at him, not saying word. There was nothing she could do or say to make him feel better after she just shattered his world.
"I trusted you," he said, before standing up, and storming out of the house, letting the door slam behind him.
Gino came out of the kitchen when he heard the door slam shut.
"What happened?" The man asked, as he approached Olivia.
“I just turned his world upside down.”
Chapter 4: Keeping a promise.
Chapter 4 - Keeping a promise
James couldn't believe it. All these years he'd been lied to. He knew some things had to be kept secret, but this… this wasn't something small. How could she do this to him? He trusted her more than anyone else with his life; even when he knew she wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice him if it was the right thing to do. And he was okay with that. It was his job, but this… this was... he couldn't even find the right word for how he felt about what she'd done.
He wondered briefly what else she hadn't told him the truth about.
"I would do it all over again if I had to, 007." He heard her say.
"I'm sure you would," James said between clenched teeth, not even bothering to turn to face her.
"I kept a promised to someone I respected."
M was slightly surprised when she saw James hands’ turn into fists. Was he really that angry because she had kept him into dark all these years? All she'd done was everything she could to protect him.
"I know you did. I do understand that, M. I feel betrayed nevertheless. I can't help it. You were the one I thought I could trust; the one I thought would never lie to me. People have been lying to me all my life and if they didn't, they were taken away from me brutally. You were, too, or at least you made me believe you were. And I know you think I'm simply your blunt instrument… you probably think I have no heart at all. Well, Mrs. Mansfield, let me tell you, I have a heart, and unfortunately no matter how hard I’ve tried to protect it, you've just managed to step on it. And with doing that, you broke it into a million pieces. But no worries, I'll do what you've asked me to do, but it'll be the last thing, I'll ever do for you," he told her calmly, very calmly; too calmly in fact.
He finally turned to look at her. His blue eyes shining with anger and sadness.
Olivia hoped her face didn't betray the hurt his words had caused her. All she'd ever done was try to protect him. Since the death of his parents, she'd been watching him in the shadows to make sure he was alright all these years.
Her heart ached at seeing him like this. She'd known he wouldn't take it well. She'd expected it, but she hadn't anticipated the level of disappointment and anger he'd have, and it was evident it was all directed at her.
"I'm not sorry, 007. I would do it all over again."
"That I have absolutely no doubt of," he told her dryly.
On the way back to his flat… that's where she assumed he was taking her... M felt like an ice queen and she hated it. Olivia Mansfield wasn't the kind of woman who felt bad because she deliberately lied to someone; not if it was to protect that someone, and yet here she was hating herself for what she had done to Bond, her best agent. The man had already been though so much in his life, lost so many people. They had all been taken away from him violently, and here she, the one person he'd learn to trust, had announced that his parents had been assassinated instead of killed in a skiing accident. She knew he'd protect her with his life, no matter his current state of mind, but she felt bad to have lost what they had. That easy going flirtation. It was all lost now. And the only one to blame was herself.
Olivia suddenly wished she was able to turn back time. She hated what she'd done to him. He was right, she'd betrayed him, had lie to him, and there was no way she was able to undo her actions even if they had been done for a greater good. There was a chance Bond would be able to see this but he would need time to calm down and let everything sink in first.
Then, and only then, would he be able to forgive her… maybe.
M snapped out of her thoughts when she heard a whistle sound close to her ear and heard James yell.
"M, get down!" She looked over her shoulder at him she saw him running toward her.
The sound was followed by a loud bang, and the next thing she knew she was wobbling on her legs. Her right shoulder hurt, then started to feel numb. Her left hand automatically went to her shoulder, Putting pressure against her shoulder, her fingers and palm were met with a sticky substance. When she pulled her hand away and brought it in front of her face it was blood red. She was bleeding.
Suddenly she was pushed on the floor. She heard a couple more shots, then suddenly nothing. Silence. Olivia was still held against the concrete floor, and it occurred to her, then, that James must be the one holding her down, trying to shield her. A hand was covering the back of her head as another gunshot went off, which were much louder this time.
Whoever was after them must have come closer.
"James? James!" she cried.
"I'm here, M. Sshh. It's okay, it's going to be okay, I promise. I'm here hold on."
Olivia didn't answer, she just lay still. She felt him move away from her, but this time, she did not say anything or protest. She trusted him.
Footsteps were approaching, but it wasn't 007's stride; that she knew for certain. She didn't know where he’d gone, but he would probably be observing the scene, and he would show whoever it was that was about to pull the trigger on her.
A shoe was kicking her side. It hurt, but she didn't move an inch. Once, twice more, then she felt herself being turned over. Her eyes were closed, and she kept them like that. Olivia heard the hammer being pulled back, and her heart was beating so fast in her chest she thought it was about to explode, and then she heard a loud bang. She laid there without moving.
"M, it's me. You can open your eyes now," James said softly.
She did an instant later; her blue eyes meeting his.
"I think one of them shot me in the shoulder,” she said, as she pulled herself up into a sitting position. Her left hand covered her shoulder again and she winced visibly in pain.
"Let me see," James told her, and gently took her hand from her shoulder. Looking, he realized, the bullet hadn't come out.
M looked at him expectantly. "Well?"
"The bullet hasn't come out. We need to get you to a hospital," He replied.
He looked up after a moment making sure all danger was gone. All he saw was just the man he'd killed. James got to his feet and checked the area. He couldn't sense any other presence anymore.
James helped her up, careful not to cause her any additional pain. She needed to get to the hospital, and her shoulder needed to be taken care of. Technically, he could take care of it himself, but he refused to. If he had ugly scars from stitching himself up he didn't care, but he wouldn't inflict that on her.
"Not a chance, Bond."
"Damn it!" James swore. All previous thoughts he’d had, and the words he had said to her earlier vanishing from his mind as he helped her up. "Stubborn woman."
"How do you think I became head of MI6?"
"M, your shoulder needs medical attention."
"I know, 007," she said simply.
"Well, then, let's go."
"No, I didn't go through all this trouble to fake my death to stay alive… and for you hate me, to end up dead for real the very second someone recognizes me."
"I don't hate you. I couldn't never hate you."
"That's not what your eyes told me earlier, James."
"I was hurt, M. I felt betrayed by the person I've trusted blindly in my life; what did you expect me to do? I'm not a robot despite what everyone might think."
"All I ever wanted was to protect you," she said in a soft voice.
"I know. Put some more pressure on that wound."
She did as she was told, but the task wasn't easy. Bond shrugged out of his jacket, let it fall to the floor, and then yanked at his left sleeve until the seam came undone. He rolled the sleeve, and nodded for Olivia to move her hand. James pressed the fabric against her wounded shoulder.
"Hold this in place. Any idea who those men were?"
"I suppose you don't think that what just happened might be an accident."
"That's what I thought."
"No one knows I'm still alive."
"Well, obviously someone does know you are still alive." James pointed out.
As much as she hated to admit it, her agent was right. Someone knew she was still alive and well.
How could anyone know she was still alive, they both wondered.
James had been careful, and he was certain M had as well, otherwise she wouldn't have been able to hold onto the charade for so long. So, what had happened? Where had it gone wrong?
"What do you want to do?" he asked, not really expecting an answer.
"You're going to take that bullet out of my shoulder."
"You heard me, 007."
"M, please tell me, you are kidding me. I couldn't possibly do that."
"Why not? You've done it to yourself on more than one occasion."
"That is something else entirely."
"And why is that?"
"M, I can't do that. I'm not a doctor, and it would leave an ugly scar…"
Her brows rose. “You're concerned about leaving me a scar? Don't you think, I have a few on my body already, 007? I did not become the head of MI6 without a scratch or scar…" she told him, before wincing as a wave a pain hit.
"I think we should go."
"Don't be a fool, 007, remove that bullet out of my shoulder!" M said in a tone, that he knew would not tolerate any further discussion on the subject.
James sighed in defeat.
"Alright," he said. “But not here.”
"Alright, then take me somewhere, 007."
"Yes, ma'am." James couldn't help smirking.
M rolled her eyes. "Really, James…"
"Come on." He helped her to her feet, before picking up his jacket.
There was no way in hell he would be able to extract the bullet from her shoulder, clean and stich the wound in their current location. A smile appeared on his lips as James knew just where to take her.
Something wasn't quite right. James had an uneasy feeling, and the feeling kept growing stronger with every passing moment. As he thought about it, the feeling had started the moment they'd left Gino's place.
How could it be that anyone would know she was still alive? He was certain they hadn't been tailed. He frowned and took his cell phone out, and took it apart just to make sure. No, there was nothing there. As he put it back together, James looked at the petite woman standing next to her.
"You’re certain no one could have tracked you down?"
"Yes, 007, and I would have no bloody idea who would know."
"All right then, let's go," he said, staying close to her as they walked back to the car.
About two and a half hours later, they arrived at their destination. They should be safe here. He'd brought M to a safe place he was certain no one knew.
The house once belonged to a longtime family friend. He'd thought about a thousand places he could take her to where he'd be able to take care of her wound. He had thought of various possibilities: an old barn, a cave and many others, but then he'd remember the house of Richard Attworth, a family friend, who now lived in Ireland.
Attworth had left the property to James a few years back as a thank you for what he had done for him, saying he could do whatever he wanted with it.
For a reason he couldn't explain, James hadn't been able to sell the house; as if it had some sort of sentimental value, he hadn't known about.
So here they were now. James stopped the car and killed the engine.
"Where are we?" she asked, looking at James.
"It was the property of a longtime friend of the Bond family who now lives in Ireland. He gave it to me, and said I could do whatever I wanted with it. I just couldn't sell it. So here we are. First, I thought to hide in a cave, but then I thought better of it."
"How thoughtful of you," she said, a hint of sarcasm creeping through her voice.
James didn't answer, he just smirked.
"Does this place have a name?"
He nodded, and said, "The Golden Egg."
M frowned. "I would have expected something more… more…"
"Elegant?" James supplied.
"Yes," she replied, wincing as pain shot through her shoulder.
"Come on, let's get inside so I can take care of your shoulder." He opened his car door.
"Yes?" he said looking over his shoulder at her.
James nodded briefly before exiting the car. He walked over to M's side of the car and opened the door. She was in pain, he could see, but of course she wouldn't say she was. Too proud and too stubborn to do so.
"Far be it for me, to tell you what to do, but you should hold your arm against your chest…" he started to say as he reached out to help, but stopped himself at the very last moment, and looked at her.
M nodded and only then did he touch her. He bent slightly and grabbed her good shoulder to help her out of the vehicle. They took a few steps forward before he closed the door.
"I'll come back to grab your stuff out of the car."
He slid his arm around her waist, and softly pulled her close so she was able to lean against him. M felt the arm around her waist move higher, and felt his fingers close around her upper arm, and like this they climbed up the stairs that led them to the front door of the house.
They stopped on the last step. "You're okay?"
"Yes, I'm as okay as someone who's been shot in the shoulder can be."
James reached into his trouser pocket and retrieved the key for the house, thanking whoever or whatever it was that made him think of going in search of the key before leaving his place earlier.
He inserted the key into the keyhole, then looked at M. It was obvious she was getting weaker. He turned the key and opened the door.
To be continued…
Chapter 5: Relative safety
Chapter 5 - Relative safety
M was sitting on a chesterfield, waiting for James to return from wherever he had gone in the mansion. The place was beautiful, a bit dusty, but beautiful, with lots of furniture around her draped under woolen fabric. One day she hoped to be able to see the place without any threat or danger lurking around the bend.
Olivia hoped that James would tell her more about this place. She also hoped that whoever was after them would not come here and destroy it, as had been the case with Skyfall. What happened there had broken her heart. Not because Silva had tried to kill her. She was used — well as used as anyone could get — to attempts on her own life. No, what had broken her heart was that the house James grew up in had been destroyed.
It was all supposed to belong to the past, but like often happened, it was brought back again by life circumstances and this was one of them. She had a bullet in her shoulder. She had done all this to protect James. And it had all been for nothing. In the end she still needed him to protect her, and to top it off, she'd hurt him once again.
She was fully aware that the man she was waiting for was still angry at her, and that he had simply buried it under his concern for her. She couldn't really blame him.
"Are you alright? You seemed to be miles away."
Olivia jumped slightly at the sound of his voice, and tilted her head back to find him standing behind the sofa, a tray in hand.
“What? Yes, I’m fine.” She smiled weakly.
James stepped around the chesterfield, and placed the tray on the end table, then reached out for the nearby chair. He positioned it in front of her before sitting down.
He noticed that M was once again lost in thought, her attention fixated on a spot somewhere over his shoulder, he reached out to lightly caress her cheek with the backs of his fingers.
“We will need to take your blouse off,” he told her softly.
M snapped out of her thoughts. “Sorry, 007, did you say something?” she asked in a distracted voice.
He nodded and repeated his words.
“Oh, yes, of course,” M answered, and began to work on opening her blouse. It was not an easy task using only one hand, as she quickly discovered. Her shoulder was still bleeding, and she was sweating.
James watched her struggle for a couple minutes, then he couldn’t take it anymore…
“Shall I help?”
Her hand fell to her lap, and she nodded. To her surprise, Bond did not speak, but simply reached out, and began to unbutton her blouse.
Suddenly she felt her heart begin to race. Her blood rushing through her veins, and it had nothing to with the pain she felt. No. It had everything to do with James’ nearness.
Oh, come on, Olivia, this isn't really the moment to start letting yourself be overwhelmed by your feelings. For Christ’s sake, you could easily be his mother, she told herself. And it's not as if a man like him would be interest in such an old lady. Oh God, I'm starting to be an old fool.
James was careful with unbuttoning her blouse. If he pulled a little too strongly, the fabric might brush against the wound and hurt more or worse, it could stick to it. That was something he didn't want to happen. Extracting the bullet would be difficult enough as it was.
Well exacting the bullet wasn't that hard a thing to do, but he wouldn’t be doing it on his own body. It was M's and if he wasn’t careful, she might end up with an ugly scar on her body. The thought troubled him, as, M was someone he respected and cared about, no matter their differences, no matter how pissed at her he might be for whatever reason.
They would need to have a discussion, but for now it didn't matter. What mattered was that he takes care of her and makes sure she was safe. Starting with removing the bullet. As he unbuttoned the blouse though, James couldn't help catching a glimpse of the swell of her generous breast, and he had to fight back a groan at the sight. Now was definitely not the time, he reminded himself. And he doubted that she would want to have anything with him; not with his reputation.
He wasn't sure what it was, but he was certain there was something going on between them. She seemed different. What happened at Skyfall had changed something. There had been a small shift in their relationship.
His fingers unbuttoned the last button and her blouse fell open. His eyes traveled over her breasts, encased in a plain cotton bra, for a few seconds before focusing his attention back at the task at hand. His fingers slid under the right-side of the blouse and pushed it very slowly and carefully off her shoulder. He helped her pull her arm out of the sleeve, then leaned closer to assess the wound.
"You alright?" James asked her, his eyes level with hers.
Olivia nodded. "How bad is it?"
The focus of his attention went back to the wound before he told her, “You were lucky. Whoever shot at you knew perfectly well what he or she was doing."
"What are you saying, 007? That the shooter hit me in the shoulder on purpose?"
"That's exactly what I'm saying."
"So, you think killing me was not his goal?"
"Oh, it probably is his goal, but I think he wants to play a little first."
"What makes you say that?"
"Good enough for me."
He sat back in his chair, then gestured to the tray. “Ready?”
He was thankful he'd found some disinfectant, and reached for the bottle on the tray. Next James took a compress, poured disinfectant on it and then looked at her.
"Want some Whiskey?"
"No, but thanks for asking." She smiled at him.
"Alright, let's get this over with."
Bond carefully dabbed the compress against the wound. Olivia winced.
"007, stop asking me if I'm alright, every five minutes for Christ’s sake. I'm not a doll who's about to break. I simply forgot how much it hurt when you get shot. That's all. Now get that bullet out of my shoulder!" Olivia ordered.
James didn't answer, and did as he was told.
Thankfully he managed to get the bullet out on the first attempt. M bit her lower lip when he removed the bullet from the wound allowing the blood to flow freely.
"It's out," he told her, holding the bullet with the pair of pointy pliers he’d grabbed to pry it out of her shoulder, and showed it to her before dropping it on the tray.
"Bloody hell!" she cried out.
"I couldn't have said it any better."
"I'm not only talking about that thing you took out of my shoulder," she told him.
James looked at her questioningly, and then realized her bottom lip was bleeding. A smirk found a way to his lips. That was the woman he knew for sure. Better to bite your lip to the point of making it bleed, instead of crying out in pain. The one she'd released just now was, he thought, more of surprise than one of actual pain.
Some of the men he knew could actually learn something from Olivia Mansfield, James decided.
"What are you thinking about, 007?"
"Nothing of importance."
"How about stitching me up, then?"
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied, reaching for the threaded needle he’d prepared earlier. "This is gonna hurt."
The woman he was about to stitch up glared at him. For some reason that escaped him, Bond felt the urge to roll his eyes.
Looking at the wound, James realized he should clean it again before stitching it up. He put the needle back on the tray, and grabbed the disinfectant and another compress. Pouring some on the gauze pad, he gently cleaned the wound before throwing the bloody compress to the side, then picked up the needle once again.
When she felt the needle dig into her skin, she made a face and was about to pull her lip between her teeth once more, when she remembered that it was bruised. Her hand grabbed the side of the chesterfield and she dug her nails into it.
Bond’s heart was beating faster, and he felt as if the needle was pushing into his skin as well each time it came in contact with hers. Luckily it didn't take him too long to close the wound. He cleaned it again, and then, examining his work, he decided he was rather pleased with what he'd done. He couldn't resist, and brushed his fingers lightly against her bare shoulder
Her skin warmed instantly under his touch, the warmth spreading through her entire body, and her heartbeat increased instantly.
Such soft skin, he thought, then reached for the bandages.
"I'm done," James announced, once he’d dressed the wound, his eyes locking with hers for a moment before they diverted to her bruised lip, without thinking he ducked his head, barely brushing her lips with his.
"I think I could use that drink now," M whispered.
"Good idea," James said, straightening up, then stood. “I’ll be right back,” he told her before walking out of the room to another where the drinks cabinet was. Something he’d discovered when he was looking for supplies earlier.
She closed her eyes and released the breath she hadn't realized she was holding. Her left hand came up, her fingertips caressing her lips where his had been just moments ago. Why was it that she suddenly felt like a teenage girl after only a ghost of a kiss?
“You silly old fool,” she told herself.
"Who's a fool?" he asked.
“Who’s a fool?” Her eyes opened at his question, and she watched him walk toward her carrying two glasses.)
James handed her one when he reached her.
She brought it to her nose, as she liked to smell the alcohol she was about to drink.
He smiled at her. "Richard Attworth loved Bourbon. I don't know how I could forget it. Now are you going to tell me who the fool is?"
"The fool would be me," the woman sitting on the couch told him.
"Why would you be a fool?"
"For stupidly believing this would be easy."
James took a seat on the chair, and narrowed his eyes, as he wondered aloud, "Now the real reason, please, Mrs. Mansfield."
"James, I'm telling you the truth, I really thought it was going to be easier."
"Don't tell me you seriously thought that coming back from the dead was going to be that simple. If you did, that would be really silly. Why the lie in the first place anyway?"
"I told you already; to protect you, James."
"I don't need protection. I can take care of myself." His voice raising in volume just a little.
"Oh, is that so, 007?" she inquired in the same tone of voice he just used with her. The anger that was just simmering below the surface was about to be released.
"Yes," her best agent told her as he drank up the last of his glass.
"Last time I checked, you had no problem faking your death. It didn't even occur to you that it might affect the people you work with, and those that care about you."
The man she was talking to laughed bitterly. "Six doesn't care about their agents. All they do is create killing machines, blunt instruments. Simply because we were orphans, trained to became killers, doesn't mean we are cold blooded killers all the time. It's exactly why I faked my death in the first place. When you told Moneypenny to take that shot, I felt betrayed. It felt to me as if you didn't trust me to finish the job you assigned me to do."
"You know that is not true."
"Telling Eve to take that shot was a tough decision to make."
"I have a hard time believing that."
At his words, Olivia gave him a look that would have any other man feeling very uneasy, but not James. If anything, it made him feel satisfied that he was able to make such emotion bubble inside her.
"Oh, that's how you wanna play it? Because if I chose to keep the truth from you, then, it means that all what I'm telling you now is a lie, right? If that's really what you think, 007, you shouldn't have come back from the dead. Why did you anyway?
"Your office exploded damn it!"
"I'm fully aware of that fact, 007."
"I had a job to do!"
"Technically you didn't anymore. Everyone thought you dead including me, so why?"
"Because you were in danger, and because…"
"What, 007? There are other Double-O agents who can protect me. You haven't the monopoly on that last time I checked. For your information, I wasn't in my office when it blew. I wasn't even in the building. I was with Tanner on my way there. The ice Queen is still alive, and I know it's annoying for lots of people."
"I’ve never called you that. I never even think of you in those terms, M. I'm grateful that you're not dead," James told her in a calmer voice, though his eyes were still shining with anger.
"I know. So why did you come back, James?"
"Because even if I wanted to, I couldn't stay away from you…" his voice trailed off. He wanted to tell her that he came back to her because he needed to make sure she was indeed alive and well. He wanted to tell her that he was sorry that he been such an idiot. He wanted to tell her how much she really meant to him, but in couldn't. Instead he said, “And because you're the only person in the world I really trusted. I trusted you with my life, M… and by the way, your other agents aren't as good as they think they are apparently; they didn't even realize there was a fucking bomb in your office. You could have been bloody killed!"
Olivia didn't answer this time, she simply looked at him. It took a moment, but then it all became clear to her; her agent's anger was not only directed at her, Olivia realized.
No, James was equally angry at himself for letting his emotions get the better of him after she’d told Eve to shoot. And because of his bruised ego, he’d stayed away, and in doing so had allowed Silva to get close to her.
"You're not responsible for Silva's actions," she told him in a softer tone of voice, though her anger towards him hadn't entirely dissipated either.
"No, I'm not, that's true. However, I'm responsible for mine." James sighed, then stood and walked away.
She watched as he walked out of the room, no doubt, to refill his empty glass. Once he was out of the room, she closed her eyes and sighed heavily before bringing the glass to her lips.
Why hadn't she seen it before? James was so angry and hurt that he hadn't been there to protect her. The anger she'd seen in his eyes she could deal with, but not the sadness hidden behind it. It broke her heart. Olivia would never have thought that her decision to tell Moneypenny to take that fateful shot would have so much of an impact on him.
Olivia knew he understood now, she could see it in his behavior towards her, but it was different. She hoped from the bottom of her heart that whatever had been broken between them wasn't beyond repair.
Her eyes widened suddenly as she remembered putting something in her coat pocket, something that had belonged to his mother. She stood, and winced at the pain that shot in her shoulder and swore.
"You shouldn’t be standing just yet, M," James said, as he stood in the doorway.
"I won't break."
"I agree, you won't, but may I remind you that you've lost a lot of blood. Tell me what you need, and I'll get it for you, but sit down."
"Oh, alright then," Olivia mumbled in frustration, sitting back down.
"What do you need?"
"My coat, please."
Bond took the few steps needed to get her coat, then walked back to her and gave it to her. "You cold?"
"No, I need to retrieve something in it, that's all."
He watched as she fumbled through the pockets, and watched a smile appear moments later.
"Found it?" James inquired.
Olivia nodded. "Could you please come and sit down, 007?"
James looked into her blue eyes for a few seconds before he sat on the chair. He took a sit of his drink and waited for M to speak. She looked in his eyes as she pulled her small hand out of the pocket of her coat.
"This belongs to you," Olivia said, and opened her hand.
"It's not mine," he informed her.
"I know, but it's yours anyway. It belonged to your mother, James."
He looked at M questioningly and watched as sadness clouded her eyes.
"Your mother didn't die immediately after her fall…" she started.
"Fall? I thought they died in a car accident," James said, surprised.
"You have to believe me when I tell you that the lying part wasn't my idea, I just agreed with it because I thought it in your best interest."
"What really happened to them, then?" he demanded.
James regarded her with cold eyes.
It was now or never. As much as she didn't want to hurt him even more, Olivia realized the time had come to tell him the truth about what had happened to his parents.
"What happened to them, M?" Bond repeated his question.
Olivia took a deep breath. "Your parents didn't die in a car accident. They were… murdered."
"What? How? Why?" he asked her in disbelief.
“They went to France on holiday, or at least that's what we thought. They wanted to climb the Mont Blanc.” The moment her words were out, she saw the question in his eyes. "We still don't know what they were doing there, James. I wish I could give you an answer, but I can't.
"Is there something you know that MI6 knows?"
Olivia wanted so much to reach out, hold his hand, comfort him. She almost wished she could tell him that this was in fact a huge lie, and that his parents were in fact still alive; but she couldn't. No, all she could do was cause him even more pain, and she hated herself for it.
How could they have lied to me for so long? I wasn't a child when mum and dad died, I was eleven years old. Old enough to understand, so why the lies? They weren't needed. James wondered if Six had recruited him out of guilt.
Olivia's voice snapped James out of his thoughts.
"When they found them, Andrew and Monique had scratches and cuts, which was to be expected from such a fall. It's only when they were brought in and the medical examiner took a closer look at the cuts and bruises, that the truth was realized. A few cuts your father suffered from hadn't been caused by his fall. Someone had stabbed him several times. Those cuts were too deep and regular."
It had been years since James had lost his parents and he didn't really remember much of them. Though sometimes, a smell could jog a memory of his mother or father. He had never thought much of their deaths as accidents happened, but now that M was telling him that they'd been murdered, Bond wanted to know more. He just had to know.
People didn't get killed just like that.
James opened his fingers which had curled around the locket M had handed him. It was a gold one, engraved with a rose on the front side; his mother's favourite flowers. A smile appeared on his lips at the memory; that was something he still remembered.
"She loved roses," James whispered.
His mother suddenly appeared in his mind’s eye; laughing and happy, standing in the middle of a rose garden with his father holding her close.
He flipped the locket over in his hand, and read the worlds imprinted there.
Yours always and forever, my darling Monique.
"My father gave it to her for her thirty-first birthday," he said in a small voice as he kept staring at the words on the back of the locket. More memories flashed in his mind, as if someone had given him the key to unlock a part of his memory he'd worked so hard to block.
"Yes, he did. Andrew and Monique loved each other very much. A love like theirs doesn't come around very often."
"How long?" he asked, meeting her eyes.
"I can't recall exactly but Andrew asked me to help him to find the perfect gift for your mother."
"That wasn't what I asked. I wanted to know how long you knew my father."
Olivia had known full well what James' question was, but she didn't want to give him an answer, not yet. Telling him now would simply open new wounds. Olivia couldn't bring herself to tell him the real circumstances in which she had met Andrew.
So, she chose to tell him a small lie. Taking a deep breath, she said, "I met him a year after your parents married. I had just received my Double-0 Status. On my first mission, I had been assigned to work with him…"
A small smile graced James' features then.
She was about to continue her story when she gasped in pain.
James stood at once and crouched in front of her. "You all right?"
She nodded, but it was obvious she was in pain. He could see beads of sweat forming on her forehead. He set the glass he was holding on the nearest table and looked at her intently.
She needed some painkillers, he thought. How could he have been so stupid to have agreed to take the bullet out of her shoulder, and not have checked for medication first. She'd need some painkillers at least and in the worst case, some antibiotics.
"Don't move. I'll be right back. I'm going to see if I can find any painkillers."
James stood, turned, then walked to the next room.
She heard him head upstairs, and listened to him move from room to room, then heard his footsteps on the stairs as he came back down.
Olivia opened her eyes when James entered the room.
"I'll have to go get you some painkillers."
Olivia didn't really like the idea of staying alone in the mansion, but she really needed to take some pills to ease the pain in her shoulder.
"Alright then," she simply said.
"It won't take long, promise."
He nodded, and then left the room.
After a few minutes she heard the front door open and close. Only then did she let out the breath she didn't realize she was holding. Not for the first time, since it all started, did she wonder if she had made the right decision. Was it all worth it?
Suddenly Olivia wasn't certain anymore. It would have been so easy to stay dead and let others do the job.
Who was she kidding? Of course she couldn't let anyone take care of the matter. The only person she had ever fully trusted was 007! She knew he would be able to pull off the job she had assigned him.
Wait and see…
Olivia waited a moment until the pain subsided, and decided to go on an exploration of the mansion.
"Well, how did it go?"
"Perfectly well, thank you."
"Did you kill her?"
"What? I thought your orders were to do just that."
"I intend to do so, but first I want to have some fun. Don't worry so much, no one will ever know I'm shooter."
"I wish, I had your confidence. Have you forgotten who's with her?"
"No, I haven't. But even the great 007 will have to meet his death one day, and the face it will wear will be mine."
"I hope you're right."
"I know what I'm doing. I've seen the man grow up and I knew his parents. But most importantly, I know his weaknesses."
"If you say so."
"I promise you, Bond soon will be history. Now drink up and leave. No one can see us together!"
"I know. You've told me that enough already."
"So get off your arse and make a go!"
James was on his way back to the Golden Egg. Getting the meds hadn't been as easy as he thought it would be. He couldn't find a pharmacy at first, and when he finally did find one, it was closed. So he broke in and took what was needed for M. He took some painkillers, antibiotics, some gauze bandages, and compresses. Everything he thought they would need.
No one would notice he had stolen the items, at least not until they made an inspection of their inventory. Only then would they discover that there had been a breaking and entering. James got in his car, dropped the medication on the passenger seat. The engine roared to life an instant later, and then he was back on the road leading to the mansion.
Looking at his watch, James was pleased to see it hadn’t taken too long for him to get in and out of the pharmacy. He hoped M was doing alright; that she wasn’t suffering too much. His thoughts wandered back to the shooting. Something about it bothered him. He couldn’t say what it was exactly; all he knew for sure was that it wasn’t right.
Threats on M’s life wasn’t new. James wouldn’t say it had happened on a daily basis, but it happened. Olivia Mansfield had been a woman of power. Lots of people, men, had envied her position. She had made lots of enemies during her career as the head of MI6. What he didn’t understand was why the game? Either of them could have easily been killed earlier, and he would have been powerless to do anything yet again. As the thought went through his mind, his fingers tightened around the steering wheel. Was it because it had been too easy a job to do? It could be a possibility; some people were real sick bastards.
His mind drifted to the moment he’d showed her the bullet he had extracted from her shoulder; something about it was nagging at him. Bond had the impression that part of what he needed to know had to do with that damn bullet. He accelerated. He needed to take a closer look at it.
Had the attempt on M’s life had something to do with her past or his? After all, she had worked with his father, and apparently, she seemed to have known him very well. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know to what degree. The anger he had felt earlier simmered back to the surface once again. Whoever was behind all this was still one step ahead. How could anyone know she had planned to come back from the dead when she wasn’t certain she would do it herself?
Questions. Bond had only questions, nothing more. He felt bloody frustrated.
They would need to play their cards close to their chest if he wanted to succeed at the mission she’d set him on, and to keep her alive.
When he arrived at the Golden Egg, James parked the car at the back.
James let himself into the house. Closing the door, he called her name. No response came. He called again, waited a second, but all that met him was silence.
He entered the living room where he had left her, and the medicine he had taken in with him, dropped from his hands, landing with a thud on the floor when he realized the chesterfield she had been sitting on was empty.
His piercing blue eyes scanned the room. Nothing had been disturbed. James felt a small measure of relief at the discovery.
His senses on high alert, James moved out of the room, and began searching the others on the main floor. He found no sign of her. Reaching for his gun, he made his way up the stairs.
The next time he had to go somewhere, he'd take her with him. Couldn't she, just once in her life, do as she was told.
Bloody stubborn woman, James thought.
The house was quiet; there seemed to be no sound coming from the first floor either. His heart beat faster as he walked up the stairs, saying a silent prayer to a god he didn't even believe in for Olivia to be safe.
Once upstairs, Bond raised his gun to the ready. All the doors appeared to be open, which was a good thing, he thought. He wouldn't have to take the time to open them, then. Not that he cared much for the house; all he cared about was M and her safety.
Now that she was back in his life, he would do everything in his power to keep her with him. No matter where it would lead them, and how difficult it might be.
If something should happen to her now, Bond wasn't sure he would survive. She'd always been the most important person in his life. He had always been aware of that fact, but did not realize until now just how much.
He put one foot in front of the other, creeping along very slowly, and he could feel his heart beating in his ears. As he kept walking through the hallway, holding his gun in front of him, Bond wondered where she might be.
He checked out the first room. Nothing, except that the sheets had been removed from a few pieces of furniture. He lifted an eyebrow.
The next room he checked was also empty, sheets removed as well. What was going on, he wondered. The third room he checked was the bathroom; there was no one there either.
Where the hell was she?
There was one room left to check at the end of the hall, and when he looked inside, he stopped. Putting his gun back in his holster, he leaned against the door frame and smiled. There she was; fast asleep on the bed.
M was fine.
She must have wandered around the place when he'd gone to the Pharmacy, and pulled the sheets from the furniture to see what they were hiding, and finally fell asleep here.
A sigh of relief escaped him.
Bond went back downstairs, picked the medicines up, and put them on a nearby table. He looked around and decided it to clean the tray, and after that he would go back upstairs to wake her so she could take some painkillers. James walked over to the chair where he'd left the tray, and his eyes immediately fell on the bullet.
Why was it bothering him?
James reached for the pair of pliers, and picked up the bullet. Next he reached for the disinfectant, poured some on a compress, and cleaned it free of blood. What are you hiding from me, he asked the bullet, as if he was expecting it to answer his question.
As he held it a little closer, his eyes widened, and he sat on the chesterfield.
“Son of a bitch!” Bond swore, his eyes narrowing. The bullet he had extracted from Olivia's shoulder was homemade!
The bloody bastard had sighed his bullet!
Initials, but whose? James searched his memory, but he couldn't come up with anyone with those initials. He hoped it wasn't an alias, otherwise it would be a long search. Was it someone from his past or hers, he wondered suddenly.
Dropping the bullet into his pocket, James stood abruptly, then picked up the tray, and went to the kitchen. He threw everything but the pliers in the bin; those he put in the sink.
He searched for a glass in one of the cupboards, then poured some water into it when he found one. He then headed back to the living room to fetch the painkillers before heading upstairs.
M was still sleeping when he entered the room. James sat on the bed, and smiled. She looked so peaceful, and beautiful. He placed the glass and medicine he’d brought with him on the nightstand. As he looked at her, James caressed her cheek gently with his knuckles. She stirred, her eyes fluttering open.
"Hi." She smiled, and answered in a rough, sleepy voice.
"How's your shoulder?"
"A bit less painful."
"Want a painkiller?"
Olivia nodded, then sat up in the bed, but moved too fast and felt dizzy. "Oh. Not good," she said, and reached for his hand.
He took it and asked worriedly, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. Just a little dizzy because I moved too fast. That's all."
"Here," Bond said, handing her the glass of water.
Olivia watched as he uncapped the container of tablets, and dumped two in his hand before handing them to her. She took them, put them in her mouth, and took a drink of water, emptying the glass, then handed it back to him.
James recapped the bottle, then placed it and the glass back on the nightstand.
"A beautiful place you have here." She smiled.
James nodded. "Unfortunately, I don't really have much of an opportunity to come here."
"True. Do you ever regret working for Queen and country?"
"No," he said, without even thinking.
His answer visibly surprised her. "This job has taken so much from you already."
"It has indeed, yes, but it has also offered me opportunities to see the world. Not like I wanted to see it, but I did see it. I like working in the shadows. It's not easy every day, but in the end, it's all worth it. The world is full of bastards and criminals, but it's worth fighting for," James explained.
M nodded, she knew exactly how he felt, as she often felt that way, too.
"Thank you,” she said suddenly.
James didn't reply, simply nodded, then asked, "Do you know anyone with the initials M. B.?"
M looked at him questioningly.
He saw her think for a moment before shaking her head negatively. "No, no one comes to mind right now. Why?"
"Since removing) the bullet from your shoulder something kept bothering me, and I couldn’t explain why. Something about it seemed strange, other than the fact that they missed you on purpose."
Olivia shifted slightly on the bed, and James helped her put a pillow behind her back. "Better?"
"Yes. And what did you find?" she asked curiously as Bond sat back.
Bond reached into his pocket where he had placed the bullet, and handed it to Olivia.
She looked at the now cleaned piece of ammunition. "That's audacious. It's also taking a risk."
"I agree. It's also why I'm starting to wonder if it's someone from my past or yours who is after you. Or it might even be from both our pasts."
She sighed. "I loved the job, still do, but I could do without the murder attempts on my life."
"Understandable. We'll stop whoever's behind this," he said firmly.
"We will," she stated.
To be continued…
Noise coming from her stomach made them both chuckle. "Someone seems to be hungry..." James remarked.
Olivia nodded, a smile still gracing her lips. "Oops"
James smiled. "It's a good sign. I'll go back down and see what I can find to fix us something to eat. Don't get it into your head to move, you hear me?"
She groaned in response.
"If you need something, just yell, am I making myself clear?"
"Bond, I'm not a little girl anymore."
He eyed her, said nothing, and then stood.
Olivia watched him walk out of the room and listened to his footsteps as he went down the stairs. He was the only man she really trusted, she thought. She then wondered about the initials on the bullet… why would someone take the time to engrave letters on a bullet? Send her a message maybe? Yes, it was a possibility indeed, but were the initials from the person who tried to kill her, or were they of the victims he had the intention to murder? The more she thought about it, the less she understood. Who would be crazy enough to do such a thing?
Her eyes opened wide as she thought of a possibility. The man was insane, but it couldn't be, he was dead; James had killed him himself. She'd seen it with her own eyes. And yet, she herself had faked her own death to protect Bond. No, the man was as dead as someone could be.
The painkillers were messing up her mind, and putting things into her head. It was the only plausible explanation for such a crazy idea.
Lost as she was in her thoughts, Olivia didn't hear her favourite agent reenter the room. The sound of his voice made her jump.
"M, is everything alright?"
"Yes I was trying to find an explanation to the letters on the bullet."
"And, did you come up with anything?"
"No. Not really, except for crazy ideas..."
"What ideas are they?" he asked, as he put a plate with two sandwiches on her lap.
"What's that?" She frowned.
“Fried egg sandwich,” James said.
"You heard me, Olivia. We're not exactly at the Ritz here, are we?"
"I know but..."
"Eat, it'll do you good, and when you're done, we'll have a long overdue talk."
Grabbing a sandwich from the plate, she rapidly took a bite, so she wouldn't have to respond. It was stupid, but suddenly she wasn't so certain if telling the all truth about his parents' death was such a good idea. No that wasn't it. The truth was Olivia dreaded to tell him the story about his parents because of the memories. It had happened such a long time ago and still she remembered it as if it was yesterday. Monique and Andrew were wonderful human beings. Sometimes she would wonder how the couple could see the world as such a wonderful place with the job they'd been doing, and yet that's exactly how they saw it. They loved life, and they lived each day as if it could be their last. What had happened to them was so unfair. Seeing Andrew’s lifeless body had been a horrible sight, but when Monique died, it had been worse because she had been with her until her last breath.
Those memories were still so vivid even after all these years. She had fled her memories, locking them in the deep recesses of her memory until recently. It was time to unleash the truth — all the truth.
While chewing on her egg sandwich, she looked at James, and something in his eyes held her attention. He seemed to be worried. Worried about how to keep her safe she had no doubt, but there was also something else behind it.
Olivia put what was left of her sandwich back on her plate and set it next to her on the bed.
"What's on your mind?"
"Nothing, I was still wondering about those initials. I can't recall someone I know and yet, I have the feeling that they belong to someone important to me, and for some reason I think it might be an acquaintance of us both."
"You might be right. Who could it be?"
"I haven't the slightest idea." Bond sighed.
~~ Meanwhile somewhere in London… ~~
"Where are they?" Caractacus Winston asked the man on the other end of the phone.
"I don't know that just yet."
"What do you mean, you don't know? I thought you managed to put a tracking device on her?"
"Easier said than done. This is Bond we are talking about. He's not just a simple bodyguard, he's not the kind you can bribe with a little money. The man is one of best spies in the world, damn it," the man on the phone said.
"As if I don't know that! Bond is a real pain in the arse, just like…"
"Just like whom?"
"It's none of your business," the man answered briskly.
"I'm not so sure about that. No job done. No money. The job has to be done preferably without making too much of a mess."
"I know. How could I forget about that? You remind me of that fact every single day but first I want to have some fun. The man took everything from me. It's time for someone to take away from him the only person that really means something to him."
"Bond has no one he cares about. There is a reason why MI6 recruits orphans in the first place." The answer came slowly in between puffs on his cigar.
"Nobody ever told you smoking is unhealthy?"
"Plenty of times, but I don't give a fuck about it."
"It's your health, your choice."
"Exactly! So, tell me, what's your plan to kill the infamous 007 then?"
"I'd rather not say, but you are wrong when you think there isn't anyone he cares about. There is someone he cares a great deal about."
The man sitting comfortably in his couch who answered to the name Caractacus Winston, was holding his cellphone to his ear in one hand and a smoking cigar in his other, suddenly wondered if he had made the right choice by hiring the man he was talking to for the task. His boss, who died a few months ago, had told him he was the perfect man for the job, but to be honest he himself had doubts.
The man who called himself 'The Shadow' seemed to have a serious grudge against Bond, which was good thing. But mostly, people who wanted to kill someone that badly don't want to play around first. All they want to do is kill their target. The chances of making a mistake increases in those cases.
So why take such a risk? No question about the reasons he might have. From what he had heard of him, half the planet, if not more wanted Bond dead. His boss, too, but he wasn't sure about the guy's methods. This wasn't going to be as simple and clean as he wanted. The man who called himself The Shadow didn't seem to be the most reliable man.
Winston had an awfully bad feeling about it all.
"I hope you know what you are doing, man. Remember one thing though, if the job's not done there is a particularly good chance your body will show up on your mother's door step, but she won't recognize you."
"No worries. No one wants Bond's death more than I do."
"What did the man do to you, then, that you wish he were dead?"
"Too long a story to tell. But my life will finally start the day his life ends. I think I'll even dance on his tombstone."
"You're the man, then."
"That I am indeed. Vengeance is a dish served cold. The day will soon come." The phone call was disconnected.
Putting back his cell phone into his jacket pocket Caractacus couldn't help but wonder again if his boss hadn't made the wrong choice by choosing "The Shadow". There was something in the man's tone of voice he didn't like. He had the feeling the man could endanger them.
Time will tell…
To be continued...
I'm so sorry for the wait… Life and health issues took over and muse was gone for a while.
James Bond will have the biggest surprise of his life. Soon. That I guarantee, the man who called himself The Shadow thought inwardly, bringing the glass of Whiskey to his lips. Yes, I promise you, Bond… you will suffer before dying.
I will kill you slowly with something I’ve reserved just for you.
After drinking the last gulp of liquid, he set the glass on the work bench, next to his latest creation. A signed bullet. This time the initials were in a beautiful font he had found on the Net. It had taken him a few days, but it was so worth the hours he'd spent engraving the letters.
When you receive this one, you'll also wonder whose initials they are. You're too stupid to figure it out. You belong to MI6 and you didn't even realize your parents' had been killed, and that the people around you don't do anything but lie to you.
I'm going to have so much fun making you suffer. Most importantly, you'll never know who I am until the very last moment of your life. Your parents have destroyed my life and I will destroy yours.
He couldn't help but laugh. His laugh didn't last long though, as he suddenly realized that he still didn't know where Bond was hiding. That realization made him angry, and he threw the glass against the wall, breaking it into pieces.
This wasn't supposed to happen like this. This wasn't supposed to happen like this, damn it! Placing a tracker somewhere on him, his car, or on her wasn’t an awkward thing to do, and yet nothing happened. Now what?
Ruminating angrily, he thought about what he would do next.
“I must find him! I really must find him!” he yelled.
Suddenly a smile appeared on his lips when he thought of something.
"Oh, I know how…"
~At the Golden Egg Mansion~
"Finished eating?" James asked her.
"How's the shoulder?"
"Better, thank you. It still aches and pulls, but nothing I can't handle."
She gave him a smile that warmed his heart. Whenever Olivia smiled at him, it always warmed his heart, James reflected.
"It's time for us to have that conversation, isn't it?"
"Yes. The longer we wait, the more difficult it'll…" His voice trailed off. Then something in his eyes shifted, and she knew he was onto something.
"What is it?" she asked him.
"I might have an idea of who those initials belong to. It might be farfetched, but I think it's a real possibility."
"Who? Do I know this person?"
Bond nodded. "Yes, you do. We both know her. Well, you knew her longer than I ever did."
"But who do we know that…" As she asked the question something in her mind clicked, and James knew the moment she had connected the initials to the right person.
"Oh, my god… If they are hers, they're not correct."
"You're right. They should have been M.D.B."
"If I'm right, whoever did this is so pissed at her having married that he left the initial of her maiden name out on purpose."
Olivia could see that what James said was a real possibility, but who would be sick enough to go to such a length? As she thought about it, she could not really think of anyone. All the time Olivia had known her, she'd only had eyes for one man; the man she had married. They were soul mates. She would never look at any other man the way she looked at her husband. One was very lucky to find such a love during one's life. Their kind of love was larger than life.
Then something struck her, and the realization made her blood run cold. She covered her mouth with her right hand, her eyes prickling as tears started to form.
James was instantly alarmed when he saw a mix of distress, fear and anger shine in her now watery blue eyes.
"What is it? Is it your shoulder?" he asked, sitting on the edge of the bed.
"I'm so sorry, Bond. It's my fault. Everything is my fault," Olivia said, in a broken voice, as she took her hand from her mouth.
"What are you talking about? How can all of this be your fault? From what you’ve told me, all you ever did was try to fulfil a promise you made to my parents," he told her, as all the anger and sadness he felt vanished into thin air seeing her in such a distressed state.
"It is my fault, James. All of this," she repeated.
Bond didn't know what he was seeing. In all the years he'd known her, he'd never seen her like this, and it was a very disturbing sight for him.
"Olivia, please. Calm down," James said, moving closer to her. He so wanted to take her in his arms. The strongest woman he knew seemed suddenly so fragile and petite. He couldn't understand why she kept saying it was her fault.
"I know who did this."
"You know who is trying to kill you?"
"Us, 007. Us."
"The Shadow. I don't know his name, and I can't be one hundred percent certain, but I have the strong conviction I know him. No one had ever heard of him before your father and mother met."
"Are you saying the lunatic who's behind all this could be one of my mother's spurned boyfriends?"
"It's crazy I know, James, and extremely farfetched, but the idea makes sense. For as long as I’d known Monique, the only man she ever talked about was your father. Except on one occasion, she told me about this one man she'd been with before your father. That's the only time she'd ever talked about him."
"Why was that?" he asked, surprised by the revelation.
"From what your mother said, the man she was with at the time, what was his name again…?"
It took her a few moments to recall the man's name.
She was about to tell him the name when she made a face he understood at once. Olivia's shoulder was hurting again.
"You should rest now," James told her.
"Don't be silly, 007! I'll have plenty of time to rest when I’m dead. There is no time for that now. Definitely not now that we might have the identity of who's behind this."
"At least take another painkiller."
"I'm fine, James," she said.
That woman was so pig headed sometimes, James thought. "All right, then. So, what’s this guy’s name?"
"Toni Gizzet. But then Monique met your father, and it was love at first sight. And let's just say that when she broke up with Toni, he didn't really take it well."
"So you think this… Toni Gizzet is The Shadow?"
" Yes. I saw him once or twice a few years after your mother left him. I was with them at a Gala, and from what I saw, Gizzet was a very resentful man."
"Enough to make a killer out of him?"
"What do you know about The Shadow?"
"The man is extremely dangerous. As dangerous as another agent of mine who made the mistake of thinking he was more important to me than any of my other agents." Her voice trailed off.
James could see what she was thinking. "He's dead, Oliva. I killed him."
"I know. But the world is dangerous and full of crazy people. Mussolini's dead and so are a lot of crazy dictators, but it doesn't mean people don't still believe in that ideology anymore…"
"Do we have anything on him?"
"Yes, but not much. All those who have seen him did not live long enough to tell anyone anything about him."
"I see. Well, I will live long enough to see him die. And that is a promise."
M moved to get out of bed, but James stopped her. "What do you think you're doing?" he asked her.
"Getting out of bed. We have work to do. I'm not going to sit here and do nothing. We need to stop that sick bastard," M answered firmly.
"M, your shoulder."
"What about my shoulder? It hurts like hell now, yes, but it's nothing I can't handle, 007! Now move that pretty arse of yours! We've got work to do. I'm not planning on staying hidden here forever, no matter how beautiful I think this place is."
He smirked, but said nothing as he stood up, and helped her out of bed.
To be continued…