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A Brief Expression of Grief

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Half-awake, James rolled over on the bed automatically expecting to feel the body of his younger lover next to him. But Q wasn’t there. It had taken Bond’s drowsy mind a while before he realised there’s something wrong. Q should be in bed.

Suddenly on alert, he opened eyes and scanned the bedroom. There was no sign of Q except for his clothes scattered all over the floor. James frowned. He was certain that Q was in bed with him when he fell asleep. He stretched out his left arm to find Q’s side of the bed still warm.

The agent got up. He carefully listened to every quiet sound in their flat. No furious typing, no cat’s meowing or purring, no kettle boiling and especially no monotone humming of computers. Somehow, the lack of these familiar noises concerned him.

Bond silently retrieved his gun from the nightstand and left the bedroom. The living room as well as the kitchen was empty. The cats were watching him lazily from the sofa with an apparent indifference. Then, James opened the door to Q’s study.

He exhaled with relief and lowered the gun. The sight of Q sitting by the table and reading a book seemed to be absolutely innocent compared to Bond’s previous fears.

“Why are you up?” the agent asked quietly. The younger man looked a bit confused as he turned to James.

“Ehmm…just insomnia kicking in again,” the quartermaster answered and tried to smile. It was obvious that there was something wrong, but Bond decided not to push it.

“Do you want a company?” James put the gun on the desk and sat on a chair next to Q.

“You must be tired. I’ll be fine on my own,” James nodded and look around.

“The computers are off, Q,”

“I know, I turned them off,” the quartermaster said as if it was completely normal for him to turn off all of his precious devices. Bond touched Q shoulder slightly.

“What’s happened?” there was a hint of worry in the agent’s voice.

Q took a long breath. “Stephen Hawking died,” the quartermaster murmured. After seeing Bond’s confused expression, Q rolled his eyes.

“He was a famous physicist and-,” Q tried to explain, but James interrupted him.

“I know who he is, Q. I just don’t understand why you turned off the computers and why-,”

“Sentiment. I wanted to do something rare to make myself remember this,” Q simply said. Bond took the book Q had been reading and inspected it closely. It was an old copy of ‘A Brief History of Time’ that seemed to be quite ordinary at first, but then, James spotted a handwritten, scrawled signature of Stephen Hawking himself.

“Did you know him?” the agent asked astonished by the situation.

“No,” Q said, his voice trembling a bit. Bond was silent for once and watched the teary-eyed quartermaster smiling faintly. “He’s my hero, I’ve always looked up to him. I can’t believe he’s actually dead which is illogical but I can’t-,” Q sobbed quietly, but calmed down immediately after. “Sorry, this is just stupid,”

James embraced him firmly. “It’s alright, Q. Would you like to tell me about him?”

And Q smiled. “He was remarkable, a genius with a phenomenal mind,”