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Resurrection is a Hobby

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Bond woke up suddenly. The dream had been so real, so vivid… He swallowed a few times and staggered over to the sink, washing his face off and looking up into the mirror.

Thank God that garbage about mirrors and cameras wasn’t true–wasn’t ALWAYS true, anyway. He had to admit it was… useful… being able to fade from the security cameras sometimes, but if he never showed up at all? Life in the modern world would be impossible.

He scrubbed his face with the washcloth and sighed. The biggest drawback to living this long was losing all your friends, true–of course, with the life he tended to lead, he lost people pretty frequently anyway–but there were also so many more memories.

So many more.

Not all of them pleasant.

He took a quick shower and contemplated breakfast–nothing he really wanted. He considered carefully: Yes, it HAD been too long since I’d fed, probably why the lack of interest in ordinary food and the nightmares. Well, the sure cure for that was an assignment. Bond hated hunting in London: vampires were territorial, and he wasn’t here often enough to try to defend a claim.

He walked into MI6; people scattered out of his way, mostly; a few stared at him in surprise–word must not have gotten around yet.

“Hullo, Eve.” Bond tried to stay back a bit: Eve was one of the most beautiful women he knew, and right now he had far too much of the predator running close to the surface.

“James?” She stared at him. “But you… you quit?”

He frowned. “Didn’t M tell you?! I know we had to play it close, but…”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, James,” she shook her head. “As far as anyone knew, you were gone and not coming back.”

Bond clenched a fist hard and forced his mouth closed. When he could speak without losing control, he simply said, “I will speak to M… now.”

Eve opened and closed her mouth a few times and then just nodded and called into the office, “Sir? Commander Bond is here; I’m sending him in.” She just nodded shakily at the door. He heard her breathe and fall into her chair when he left.

“Mallory.” Bond stood an arm’s length from the desk and frowned at him.

“Commander Bond?” Mallory was frowning and looking confused. “I… don’t understand what you are doing here?”

“What the hell do you mean? This is the day I was scheduled to report in! I’m not even late!”

Mallory stared at him and finally said, “Can you please sit down, Commander Bond? I think there has been some sort of misunderstanding, because I was under the impression you had resigned… understandable, given the injuries you had sustained…” he frowned, “although you seem much better…”

“Of COURSE I’m much better,” Bond gritted out through clenched jaws. “I needed the time off to heal. I got back into London four days ago and reported in as scheduled.”

Mallory waved at him to take a seat and called out, “Ms. Moneypenny? Please fetch Commander Bond’s file?”

“Why are you asking for THAT?” Bond frowned. “It won’t have the…” He stared at the man. “You DO know you have a lot of files that are Eyes Only, right? The ones only M can access? Including my secured file?”

Mallory frowned, “Well, yes, but why wouldn’t I just… are you saying there is current information in them? I had understood that to be an archaic system with no computer access?”

“No outside computer access at all,” Bond nodded, and then went cold as he began to understand, “which is why it’s used for the highest level of security… You never looked, did you?”

“I saw no reason to go through archaic files,” Mallory cleared his throat. “I was briefed that the files existed… but…”

Bond sat back in his chair. “So everyone thinks I ACTUALLY just ran out on them? Ran off with that girl and a bunch of MI6 equipment?” He looked horrified at him. “Do you mean to tell me Q… you didn’t brief tell him… he just handed me that car…?!”

“Since as far as I knew you resigned, and left with Doctor Swann…” Mallory sighed, “Very well, can you inform me of what was actually going on?”

“No, I bloody well WON’T! Not until you read my secured file… None of it will make sense…” Bond stood up. “I have to go try to salvage a working relationship and a friendship. Go read your damn files and do your JOB Mallory.”

Bond stormed out, furious. People didn’t just scatter out of his way: they fled. He pulled himself back together and took several deep breaths to calm himself before walking into Q branch.

Q was facing away, directing some project: standing there in… well, one of the more subdued ensembles, Bond supposed. At least it wasn’t garish, just… he shook his head and walked forward.

Q noticed the usual noises being replaced with the kind of hushed buzzing that indicated a problem. Out of the corner of his eye he saw at least one minion go white, and then the people working on his project one by one went silent and stopped working.

“You would think you lot were seeing a ghost!” Q snapped. He turned expecting to see some visiting politician, perhaps, but he never, ever, expected Bond to be standing there.

“Q,” Bond said in that whiskey-over-peat voice that made his knees go weak even now, “I’ve just been told that you weren’t informed to expect me back today.”

That snapped him out of it. He forced himself to stand still, keep his hands by his side and speak levelly. “I didn’t expect you back at all, actually–not after… what are you doing here?”

Bond sighed, “Well, first of all, I actually managed to bring the car back–more or less intact–but as to the rest? Can we speak in your office?”

Q looked at him. He looked… far better than he had, actually–the rest must have done him well–and he was standing there looking almost apologetic… Q nodded and walked into his office.

As always, he jumped when he turned around and found Bond right behind him. “Can’t you learn to… I don’t know, scuff your feet?”

Bond smirked, “After all the years I spent learning NOT to?”

Q just muttered and started turning on baffles and signal blockers. “There. If anyone can hear us in here…” He stepped away from Bond and crossed his arms over his chest. “Why would I expect you back today… or ever?”

Bond sighed, “I should have checked that… I got used to M… I…” Bond sighed again. “There is a separate Eyes Only set of files that M, and ONLY M or a handful of others, are supposed to have access to–no outside computer contact, mostly paper files…”

“I am aware of it,” Q nodded. “It’s archaic… but we had orders not to digitize those files: security.”

“It’s not archaic… it’s how I sent word back to M when a mission was too hot to let anyone else hear it–too high a security risk…” He sat down on the rather battered sofa Q kept in his office for naps. “It’s also where the missing information in my files is, of course… well, probably in a lot of people’s files.”

Q frowned. “And this has to do with…” His eyes widened. “You… sent word back to M… that this was a MISSION?!”

“Yes. When you just gave me the keys, I assumed he’d briefed you–or at least told you something.”

Q slowly walked over. “You didn’t quit? You didn’t…”

“Run off with someone who has been hip deep in Spectre since before she was born?” Bond looked at him thoughtfully. “When there was obviously a lot of power games going on, and someone had already tried to damage my memories?”

“Oh…” Q looked him over again: really, he looked quite well. “So… what happened?”

Bond smiled tiredly, “I MAY be able to tell you, but… I need to have rather a lot of words with Mallory first… after he reads my unredacted file.”

“So you’re back then… You…”

“I wouldn’t have treated you that way, Q. If I was actually quitting, I would have at least come in properly to say thank you and wish you luck with the new double oh seven… at least.”

“Oh… You’re staying, though?” Q hated how desperate he sounded.

Bond blinked and looked at him, and then Bond carefully considered the scent: he’d been angry and hurt… mostly hurt… and now hopeful…

Oh… Oh, no… That was a VERY bad idea… “Q…” Bond had the overwhelming urge to throw him on the sofa and let him find out just how disastrous an idea it was, but with an effort he pulled himself together. “First, let me find out what Mallory’s reaction will be… and then…” He hesitated and said cautiously, “Do I get the idea that you might want to get together out of the office?”

Q tried for studied nonchalance and failed, “I had rather thought we were… friends at least… until…”

“At least that, Q.” Bond smiled tiredly. “I don’t actually have many friends. I was furious when I found out you hadn’t known… I may have snarled at a few people.”

“Oh… um…” Q grinned suddenly. “I’ll have to go look at the cameras.”

“Do that,” Bond grinned. “People were throwing themselves against the wall.”

“You do have that effect sometimes.”

“Yes, well… there’s a lot about me you don’t know–far more than you can be thinking–and… to be fair, even being friends with me outside of work would mean having a long chat about some of it.”

Q looked puzzled, “I don’t see how–”

“I know,” Bond nodded. “That’s the problem: it’s nothing you could know about, and it’s not the usual kind of problem–so let me go talk to Mallory and get that dealt with.” Q nodded.

“If…” Bond considered carefully. “Its possible Mallory will… not react well. If that happens, I’ll have to lay low for a while…”

“I’ll give you my non-work email.”

“Errr…”

“Dear God, Bond, you DO have email?”

“No?”

“No wonder you wreck all of my equipment, you…” Q pressed his lips together and looked furious for a moment. “If you don’t even have email how can I get in touch?”

“I was trying to think of that, actually.” Bond shrugged, “You could try coming by my flat? But I might not be there…”

“Here…” Q scribbled an address. “It’s a club I go to once in a while. If anything goes wrong, meet me there Friday night.”

A club… Well, likely it was a neutral hunting zone… “Alright. But hopefully I’ll just be back down here tomorrow.”

“It… it is good to see you… and you look a lot better.”

“It’s good to see you too, and I feel a lot better.”

Q let them both out of the office and Bond slowly made his way back up to Mallory.

Chapter Text

Mallory read through the file, and then read through it again… and then threw it down on the desk and glared at Bond. “What sort of ridiculous prank is this?”

Bond just looked at him.

“This is utterly ludicrous!”

Bond sat back casually in the chair and just kept looking at him. Mallory tried to out-stare him and eventually looked away.

“…it’s complete nonsense.”

Bond finally asked, “Are you done complaining? Or…?”

“According to this you were first recruited to MI6 before you could have been BORN, 007!”

“Mmmm… yes?”

Mallory sat back and fixed a level glare at Bond. “Convince me.”

Bond smiled thinly, “Most of the showier things I can do use up a lot of energy–energy I do not casually waste.”

Mallory interjected, “Because you can’t possibly–”

Bond simply continued talking. “There are only a handful of reasonable ways of demonstrating what I am, Mallory, and you wouldn’t like any of them.”

“Then why should I believe you?”

Bond sighed, “Alright… but I want you to write this down first: ‘I asked for it.’ YES, I am quite serious, Mallory: write it down.”

Mallory glared at him, took a paper and wrote “I asked for a demonstration” and looked up. “Will that do?”

“Yes.” Bond sighed and walked over–he was far too tired, and far too hungry, and it had been a miserable day capping off a miserable week: if he tried any of the other methods to demonstrate what he was, he would likely lose control and end up doing this anyway.

He smiled politely with his lips closed, and then he moved suddenly: Mallory started to react–too slow–and found his head pulled back by his hair, baring his throat.

Bond sank his fangs in before Mallory could protest. It had been too long, but Bond managed to pull back soon enough. He carefully placed Mallory’s limp form into the chair–his eyes glazed and body pliant…

Bond licked his lips and wrote a note underneath Mallory’s scribbled admission: “I need more than that right now, and I expect you need to re-read the files. I will report in to work Monday. – J. Bond.”

He carefully checked for traces of blood on his suit and turned to leave.

“That…” Mallory whispered.

Bond turned in surprise. “Mallory? That’s… actually rather impressive,” he admitted. “Most people don’t recover that quickly.”

Mallory was clearly fighting the effect, blinking his eyes rapidly and trying to shake his head with uncooperative muscles. “The… movies…”

“Are interesting fiction,” Bond said flatly. “M wrote out what she understood in the files–I think she was wrong about a few things, but… my one rule was no tests. I didn’t live this long to end up in a lab somewhere.”

“Is… it… always…?”

“No,” Bond sighed. “It can be a rather horrific ordeal–or very, very pleasant,’

Mallory managed to sit up, holding onto the edge of the desk. “Both.” He cleared his throat. “That was… both.”

Bond smiled rather viciously, “Yes, I rather expect it was: I was upset. As I said, I need more than that, and I expect you need time to recover–although truthfully, I am impressed with how rapidly you are recovering–so… I will be back on Monday.” Bond nodded and turned to go.

“Bond?”

“Yes?” Bond asked without turning back.

“You’re quite right: I asked for it,” Mallory said very tensely.

Bond smiled slightly–Mallory continued to surprise him. “You did… but in truth, sir, I’m on a rather short fuse… what with the misunderstanding.” He looked back over his shoulder and nodded.

Mallory just nodded slowly, his knuckles white on the desk.

Bond walked out of his office, back to the car and left.

~

Mallory pushed the button under his desk that locked the door; he was beginning to understand why his predecessor had it installed. He called out to Moneypenny, “Hold all calls except for emergencies, please?”

“Yes, sir… Are you…? James seemed a bit…”

“Double Oh Seven was… understandably upset. Put the paperwork in motion to have him restored to active duty, please.”

“…Yes, sir.”

He shut down communications and shuddered. Mallory didn’t normally drink in the office, but… he looked at the bottle of expensive alcohol that was kept to help lubricate the occasional political meeting…

I was a fool. Mallory thought to himself as he sipped quietly at the scotch. If I’d had any idea what Mansfield was dealing with, I never would have given her so much grief…

He sighed. I never would have believed it.

He looked at the files again, and then got up and walked over to the safe in his office. He pulled out the letter–he hadn’t looked at it since the first time he read it–and read it over again.

               

I am leaving this in my office safe, since it seems likely that things will get worse before they get better. If you are reading this then either I am dead–or incapacitated–or you have broken into my safe in the hopes of finding something useful.

Good luck with that.

Since it is likely that you are trying to take command of this upturned anthill:

Tanner is utterly trustworthy, but lacking in creativity. If you need someone to carry out orders, and make good field evaluations under most circumstances–he’s your man. He is capable of being politic, but will be best in use trying to get your people organized.

It’s possible Tanner is trying to manage this–and thus reading this letter–in which case… as soon as you get the security managed, you need to get one of the more creative thinkers on your side and helping you run things. Bill, you just don’t have what it takes to keep some of these people in line for long–I suggest Q… the new one, yes.

The Quartermaster looks like an under-experienced young man, but should be left strictly alone to manage his department. Give him whatever support he asks for in an emergency and get out of his way. Once the emergency is over, however…

He’s still fairly cocky. He has enough talent that his ego hasn’t gotten him in trouble enough to learn better. He has a lamentable problem of thinking he can do everything himself: you’ll want to watch that.

Eve Moneypenny was a good field agent, and is a much better aide de camp and bodyguard–and she IS a bodyguard. Keep her close by. It’s possible she was removed by whatever took me down, in which case you will want to find someone else to watch your back–because you need to watch your back.

The politics are brutal and as soon as we show any weakness various factions will begin fighting for our resources–yes, even in a crisis. Double your personal security and keep a bodyguard.

Now as to James Bond…

Once you have access to his files it will make sense, but… Bond is a superlative bodyguard–for short periods of time. He is FAR too prone to going off actively hunting trouble to remain a guard for long. I have left him some personal instructions, which will doubtlessly supersede any orders you give.

He’s relentlessly loyal, but… your rank will not suffice. I earned his loyalty and he mine, you will have to do likewise. Until then, tell him what the objectives are and let him manage it.

M

P.S. Any equipment you give Bond will be destroyed. The man cannot be trusted to keep anything in one piece except possibly his clothing–possibly.

 

Mallory laughed to himself: he’d seen the damage Bond left in his wake. Then he shuddered and brought a hand to his neck… He got into his shaving kit and finally found the mirror… nothing. Perhaps the faintest pink area? As if he’d rubbed at it…

He shuddered again. God, that… that was devastating. If drugs were like that… He began to see how people got addicted, but for himself he wanted to run screaming and order Bond taken down at range.

He shuddered again–not enough scotch.

When he could stop shuddering, he reopened the file–Eyes Only: James Bond.

Recruited by Olivia Mansfield back when she was a junior field agent–according to her notes here, he’d assisted on a mission as a civilian and she had argued for recruiting him… She hadn’t been able to find him again to recruit him.

Until she had run into him several years later–by which point she was an experienced agent, with an impressive résumé. She left no notes–not even in the Eyes Only file–as to what happened, but she had come back to MI6 with James Bond in tow.

His intake photo was in the file, in black and white… he looked almost precisely like the man who had just left his office: somewhere between thirty and forty, fit…

And according to this file he’d looked more or less the same for the past thirty-some years.

The files showed him looking older, tired, injured… and then back to thirty or so in peak health… after a vacation… or after going dark on long missions.

Like going off with Doctor Swann…

I’ll need a debrief on what happened, Mallory realized. I have no idea if she’s alive or… God if he did that to her? He rubbed his neck again and bit his lip.

More scotch… He shuddered and swallowed enough to feel the burn take some of the shivers away.

No formal testing, he’d said… no blood tests–Bond had always avoided the medical staff, but it didn’t stand out because most of the Double-Ohs did–no experiments… but Mansfield had kept careful notes.

He was damnably hard to kill. Given time and… blood… he could recover from almost anything. Sunlight weakened him down to near human levels, but at night or… underground…

She outright stated that the bite could be addictive–according to her it was psychological, not physical, but…

According to her own notes, the closest they’d come to ‘testing’ was on herself: he’d bitten her to cause pleasure–apparently she’d documented that with ruthless objectivity… Mallory tried to read it and his nerves started singing–he turned the page.

He had, at her request, bitten her to cause agony–she documented that too: comparing it to torture she’d undergone in the field. Apparently Bond had been shocked she had ever spoken to him again. Mallory read that description over again and mentally apologized for underestimating the woman.

According to Bond, he could occasionally manage to bite in a way that had a numb sensation, but it didn’t work reliably. He’d stated that other vampires…

Other vampires… Mallory shuddered again and poured a second glass of scotch. He took the bottle and moved it away.

After considering, he took the file and locked it in the safe for tomorrow… or maybe the next day.

He went home early to his wife, and tried to forget what it had felt like to have his life in Bond’s hands… and mouth…

Chapter Text

Bond drove to one of the private clubs run by another vampire in London. This one was… well, they were territorial–but in a peculiar way. They ran the club, and considered every patron–and especially every employee–part of their own personal fiefdom, but… if you could pay their tribute you could buy dinner. The problem was they rarely wanted something as simple as cash.

It was better than dealing with the other blood dealers, anyway.

They had live music tonight, and the place was packed for a weeknight. Bond quietly let the staff know he needed to talk to Helene.

He sat at the bar and tried to keep the flirting casual. He was certain she left him out here waiting just to whet his appetite and weaken his bargaining position.

Eventually he was sent back to her office.

“Helene…” he nodded politely. She was an ordinary looking woman, objectively, but of course charisma and power–and wealth–had a way of increasing your attractiveness. She had a more conventionally attractive woman sprawled across the floor at her feet–lost in a feeding haze.

“James, darling… it’s been ages!” Helene’s husky voice already sounded smug.

“Surely not ages,” Bond kept his voice light. “As usual, I come and go from London rather rapidly, and thought I would stop in.”

“Mmm…” She waved and one of her guards picked the woman up off the floor and carried her out.

Bond waited for the door to close. “I need a night’s hunting, of course.”

“Obviously,” she raised an eyebrow, “and what else?”

“I need to know if a club is privately owned or open.”

She smiled, “If you spent more time in London, you would already know.”

“True, but if I spent more time in London I would have my own territory and we would hardly see each other… that would be a pity.”

“Flatterer!” she laughed. “Alright, which one?”

He told her the name of the club Q had mentioned and her eyes widened–never a good sign.

“Back in town so recently and you home in on THAT club?”

“Apparently. Who owns it?”

“He’s new to London… I don’t know what name he uses, but he already carved out a territory… including that club; it used to belong to Cecil.”

Bond couldn’t help but be alarmed: Cecil had been extremely combat capable, if perhaps lacking in finesse. “What’s the new fellow’s stance on… say… meeting someone at the club?”

“I don’t know,” Helene admitted. “The only people I’ve heard about going in were challenging types… so…”

“Wonderful.” Bond rubbed his forehead. “Just wonderful.”

“I have an idea that may suit us both…” Helene smiled rather broadly, “You pay me in cash for tonight–bargain rates–BUT you also tell me any details about our mysterious new vampire who is powerful enough to take out Cecil and everyone else who has tried to challenge him.”

Bond considered. “I may not find out ANYTHING.” Especially since I plan on avoiding any encounter with him.

“It’s a risk,” she shrugged.

“I may be bound under hospitality…” Unlikely, but possible.

“In which case, you can certainly tell me that you met under hospitality," she smirked, “which will be a first… and therefore valuable information anyway.”

“Very well,” Bond nodded. He paid her and went back out into the club.

Blonde first, Bond thought with a smile as he cut his way through the crowd to the giggling schoolteacher who had been flirting with him, brunette later and let’s see if I can find a redhead for dessert…

~

Q wondered exactly what had happened. Bond had left directly after his meeting with Mallory, and Mallory had cancelled all his meetings and holed up in his office… and then left early–for him.

Bond… had been on a mission. He had! He hadn’t… he hadn’t left with her… he even… he wanted to meet?

He said there were complications…

Of course there are: it’s Bond.

Q fretted over what could be so complicated… Q already knew he was a Double Oh, that was complicated right there.

He got next to no sleep that night, and was distracted and agitated the next day at work… Bond wasn’t due back until Monday–R told him. So they were going to meet Friday–Oh God, that’s tomorrow!–at the club…

Which I haven’t been to in… Q cringed, over two years. Maybe I should go tonight and… do some reconnaissance.

He dressed a bit more blandly than he normally would for clubbing–he didn’t want to have to shake any interest off–and headed off early to get a look around nice and early on a Thursday night…

Q stood outside what HAD been a typical club called BeatBox… and was now freshly painted, and apparently called The Firing Line; it was apparently pretty popular, judging from the line to get in at opening.

Shit… well, at least I gave him the address, and clubs changed names often enough… He paid his cover and went in.

Ooooh, this was very different. There was smoke–fog, anyway–and some glass pillars with… shit, is that a Vandergraff generator? And the lights were incredible…

Holy! That was fire? Had to be a special effect…

Q was staring around and had just turned his head to watch the light show over the stage… and walked into someone.

“Oh! Oh, I am so sorry!” Q sputtered. “Thank heavens I didn’t have… my… drink… yet…?” Q looked up into an amused grin under a scruffy beard and tousled hair… Oh, hell…he looked like trouble… good looking trouble.

“Well, we’ll have to fix that!” the man rumbled; his voice was pleasantly deep and had a touch of an accent. “Let’s get you that drink then…” And he slid an arm through Q’s arm and steered him to the nearest bar–apparently there were several more than there had been.

“I really am sorry! It’s just that I haven’t been in in years and… it’s all changed!”

“For the better, I hope?”

“Oh my, yes!” Q flushed. “I told someone to meet me here… tomorrow… and realized I hadn’t been in ages, and…” He blinked in confusion as the man pressed a drink into his hand. “I haven’t used my cover drink yet, you didn’t have to–”

“A pretty boy runs into me–literally–in the club his first time here in years?” the man rumbled a laugh and Q felt that familiar sinking feeling… He was trouble, and he was muscled, and he had a scruffy elegance about him… and HELL he was just my type.

“I’m not a boy…” Q snarked back.

“You’re not a girl…” the man smirked. “Lucky me.”

Ooooooooooh shit shit shit. “I’m… uh… meeting a guy I’ve had a thing for–for ages and … he finally noticed? Tomorrow?”

The man leaned forward. “You snooze, you lose? What took him so long?”

“Well… we… uh…met at work… and…” Q hated how ill at ease he was and tried to pull himself together. “We got off a bit on the wrong foot.” He narrowed his eyes. “Among other things, he wasn’t very flattering about my competence because I was a lot younger than my predecessor,” he muttered. “Rocks were younger than Boothroyd.”

“I have no idea about your… competence.” The man made it sound lewd. “I only know about mine.” He grinned, “Alec, by the way… in case you wanted to know.”

“Err… Alan.” Q gave one of his club pseudonyms–his ID had that on it, anyway.

“So… you are trying to get this fellow to be serious about you even though… he hasn’t been?”

Q muttered, “He said it’s complicated.”

“Isn’t it always?”

Q found himself trying to defend Bond, as much as he could without explaining that they were both spies. “Work kept getting in the way… and then… well, our boss died, and he was close to her…”

The man’s face softened just a bit., “Yes, losing people is always difficult.” Then he smiled, “So… how do you feel about giving the man some incentive? A bit of competition?”

“You have a very odd way of flirting… and I don’t cheat on–”

“You aren’t going out with him yet, so you can’t be cheating… and you certainly haven’t promised me exclusivity.” Alec grinned wickedly, in exactly the kind of “I am trouble with a capital T” style that always got Q in over his head. “Although give me a chance and I might convince you.”

Q couldn’t help but flirt back just a bit, “You certainly are my type… I suspect if you and James were ever in the same room…”

“James? Oooh, there’s an ill-omened name!” Alec laughed. “My brother’s name was James–well… foster brother, you would say. Always racing about up to no good. I should know, I was usually up to no good with him!”

“Why is it ill omened?” Q grinned, “Although it certainly sounds like the style of my James: always racing about up to no good… or good… or something.”

“James was never happy.” He shrugged. “He… just wasn’t.” When Alec smiled, it was a bit tired looking, “I miss him, but… I can’t say I was surprised–he threw himself at death.”

Q blew out a breath, “Damn… that… I guess it’s true what they say about names…”

They both sat there quietly for a little while. Eventually Q asked, “So what’s in this drink? Because it’s tasty but…”

“It’s non-alcoholic. For our signature drinks, we have two versions. When you come in, you can ask for the dry wrist band; then you can order anything and the staff will give you the non-alcoholic version.”

“Really?” Q blinked down at the drink. “That’s brilliant! Lots of folks can’t drink because of… well, work, or medicine, or habits…”

Alec smiled, “So… since I know you haven’t had anything to drink, care to head upstairs and give your James something to try to live up to?”

Q looked at him and smiled slowly. “I’m not that... Honestly, I think I would like to, and I think I would rather not be with someone for any reason other than… them? If you understand?”

He put a hand over his heart and feigned being distraught. “Sob!” Then he smiled, “Yes, actually. I hope you forgive me that I am hoping your James is as insufferable as mine was? I ended up with a lot of people in my bed after he turned their heads and then ran off…”

Q laughed, “I… actually think I would like to get to know you on your own merits, you know? Isn’t that the way it goes, though? Nothing for ages and then two incredibly hot guys asking me out–maybe.”

“Maybe? I am definitely asking you out! You’re not only adorable, you’re intelligent! Too often the pretty boys in here are just…” he waved his hand in a gesture Q didn’t recognize.

“And you are clearly very intelligent, dangerous and…” Oh shit, did I say that out loud?

“Oh HO!” My little moth has a taste for fire?” Alec smirked. “Should have known from you staring at it all.” He waved around the club.

“Ah... well… yes, a bit.” Q found himself blushing. Dear God. “I meant ‘maybe’ because I’m only meeting James to discuss IF we are going to try to go out, or just stay friends.”

Alec leaned forward and spoke quietly in his ear, “If he’s so blind that he can’t already picture you panting and flushed, with your eyes gone dark and the blood racing in your veins… can’t imagine you twisting in his arms and begging for release… can’t hear you crying out his name as you hang between ecstasy and oblivion? He’s not worth your time.”

Before Q could regather his wits, Alex kissed him gently on the cheek and said, “I will be here tomorrow–a little competition brings out the best in a warrior…. or a lover.”

And he was gone–vanished in the crowd…

Q went home in a daze, and his dreams were incredible.

Chapter Text

Bond couldn’t sleep. He was meeting Q Friday night… Oh God, I don’t even know his NAME! Bond resisted the urge to bash his head against the wall. Did he still have cats? How could I have never asked his name? Shit, I can’t go into the office and look…

Bond paced around and pulled out a suit–no, too formal. He pulled out a different outfit–too casual. Of course it was a club that belonged to a territorial bastard that no one knew… and he had no way of contacting Q to get him to change locations…

Oh hell, if that vampire even so much as looked cross-eyed at Q I’m going to go off at him…

And I don’t even know his name.

Shit.

He lay back on his sofa with the Scotch–wonderful stuff, scotch–and stared mournfully at the china bulldog…

~

James had been minding his own business, drinking and chasing girls… well… flirting–he had no interest in leaving his seat or his drink–when a familiar figure walked hurriedly into the bar. He hadn’t seen her since he’d helped her shut down that bunch of brigands–terrorists or something, they called them now. She’d been lovely, and young, and trying so hard…

Now she was stunning, and mature, and terrified but hiding it well. She was trying not to look behind her–looking to lose herself in a crowd…

James raised a glass toward her and called out in the local language, “{About time you showed up…}”

She looked over–her hand twitching toward a weapon–and her eyes widened in shock, then she came over and slid into the seat next to him. “{I’m so sorry, darling…}”

She moved into his arms and kissed him, murmuring quietly, “Can you help? They’re armed and very dangerous…”

He just smiled into her lips–she smelled of fear and of blood but her voice was steady–“Of course.” And then a bit more loudly, “{Let’s go find someplace a bit more private?}”

He’d taken her out, wrapped in his coat and pulled into his arm. They made it past the first group, but just a bit away they’d been spotted.

They were surrounded–ten men armed heavily to the two of them, and her already wounded–and taken prisoner. James had known better than to try his luck with guns aimed right at him, so he’d played along… the girl–woman now, really–was looking stoic.

“I have a few tricks up my sleeve, just… stay alive long enough to let me use them,” he’d whispered quietly to her. Then loudly, “{Who the hell are they! What’s going on?}”

She’d sneered back, “{Just because I let you paw me for cover doesn’t mean you get anything more!}” and shoved him away, looking disgusted–he saw the flash of hope in her eyes. She was an excellent actress.

They shoved her into a van and left two men holding him. He heard the boss give them orders to get rid of him.

As they walked him away into an alley, he tried to ‘reason’ with them, feigning innocence… one of the two looked uncomfortable and said quietly to the other, “{Just make it quick, for God’s sake!}”

The other man pulled a knife and looked a bit too gleeful…

James took them both down hard. “{Do you know where they were taking her?}”

“{No…}” the first man said in a terrified whisper. James did him a kindness and made it quick.

The other man didn’t hold out for long–James had the address and some of the layout before he let the man die.

It took him until morning to get to the place. It was heavily guarded in a way that he couldn’t get past in daylight. The part of him that was careless of his life, such as it was, wanted to run in–blood singing and death calling to him–but she would die then, and in his heart he’d already sworn an oath…

He broke in that night–long after the hour when a human would need IR goggles or lights–quietly removing guards as he went. He found her…

She was still conscious–God alone knew how–and he was wishing desperately he had managed to get to her earlier. He took her down out of the chains as gently as he could and cradled her in his arms. “My brave girl…” he said quietly.

“Stop pitying me,” her voice was hoarse and weak. “The information I had… it’s more important…” She coughed and winced as ribs shifted. “Promise me you’ll take it… take it back to London…”

“Never pity,” he smiled. “But you’ll have to survive to come with me–I have no idea what it is or where to take it.”

She gritted her teeth and tried to stand up.

He held her still. “No… I can heal you… a bit… but… there’s a risk to it.”

She swallowed hard and looked him in the eyes, her own eyes hard and unblinking. “The mission… always… first...”

He shook his head slowly, “Duty over everything? You remind me of myself, when I was young and still believed…” He bit his wrist open and held it to her mouth. She stared at him, at the fangs, at the blood on his wrist… He saw when her eyes widened and she understood… She closed her eyes, then, just for a moment–pale and afraid and determined–and drank…

He held his hand over her mouth, smothering any screams from the bones knitting together and moving–it wasn’t needed: she simply gasped and turned a bit green. When she finished shaking and her breathing steadied, he helped her up.

“A… risk you said?” Her voice was rough but steady.

“You might have turned–become what I am.”

“I’m not?”

“No…”

“Then it can be discussed later…” She took a deep breath. “Thank you… and I mean that… but my life is less important than the pendant I was wearing–it has microdot information–”

“I have no idea what that is, but I don’t think it could have left here yet…”

“Good.” Her eyes narrowed and she pulled herself as tall as she could and very straight. “Then I can still retrieve it and complete my mission–and hopefully pay a few men back for their treatment.”

Duty and vengeance… an old, old song and he knew it well. “I never did get your name…”

She pursed her lips, “Call me Hermia.”

He smiled, “Though she be but little, she is fierce?”

She nodded with a flickering smile.

They left nothing but death behind them.

~

Bond smiled fondly, remembering: he’d held her much the same way at Skyfall as she died.

She’d long ago told him she didn’t want to risk turning… He’d never wanted so much to go against her wishes as he had in that moment.

Only the memory of his own despair had kept him from selfishly trying to keep her…

Chapter Text

“Alan” walked into the club early–Q had almost pulled out a different identity by mistake; the cats got an earful of him calling himself an idiot–and asked for the dry wristband; the lady on door duty smiled and gave him one. She reminded him that it could be dark in the club, and the bartenders could make mistakes; he smiled and thanked her. It was nice that they were cautious: too many places weren’t these days.

It was still early and the club wasn’t anywhere near peak, but it was already busy. Q was off to the side of the club, as close as he could get to the special effects–admiring the flames, and the electric arcs, and mentally mapping out the circuitry and safety switches needed–when a strange woman spun him around.

“Hello there!” She was laughing in his face and Q tried to pull away.

“Excuse me, I believe you have me mistaken for–”

“No, you’re exactly what I was looking for.” She smiled in a predatory fashion and all the alarms in Q’s mind started going off at once.

Q knew that most predatory people counted on the reluctance of their victims to make a scene, so he yelled, “LET GO OF ME!” as loudly as he could while trying to pull away. He was cursing the fact that he only had one defensive weapon and it wasn’t reachable with her holding his arm.

He expected her to laugh it off, to make fun of him for making a scene, but unfortunately she got even more aggressive. “I was going to make it FUN for you…” she snarled, and then she pulled him in–she was scarily strong, probably on PCP…

He was dragged even further into the dark corner near the Van der Graaf generator. She grabbed his hair and yanked his head back. Suddenly there was a sharp flash of pain and then… there was a moment of pleasure and then he wanted more, and more, and some part of his mind was screaming desperately because he didn’t WANT this and he didn’t understand…

He came to muzzily on the floor. His glasses had been knocked aside and everything was a blur. There was an odd pressure on his neck.

“Take her to holding,” a familiar accent said, but he sounded angry. “I’ll get this cleaned up.”

“He’s going to need handling…”

“He’s my problem, deal with her.”

“A-alec…?”

“Hey, there pretty boy… we have a problem.” Alec’s voice was softer and close by his ear. “I need to fix you up…”

Q tried to get up and the pressure on his neck increased–pressure… and wet… “I’m bleeding?”

“Not for long, beautiful.”

Q felt a mouth at his neck and he floated into ecstasy again–it was still wrong, somehow, but he didn’t have the energy to resist and he let himself drift on a pleasant haze….

~

Alec had been alerted when Alan checked in–after all, if Alan’s James wanted to be “just friends” then Alec would have to console the poor boy…

…and if he was on the fence about it, a bit of competition might just make his mind up.

Shara, one of his best bartenders, had seen him wandering off toward the equipment. From anyone else he would wonder but the boy had been fascinated by it before. Alec saw one of his bouncers across the room moving fast in the direction Alan had gone in–he broke into a run.

Minos had pulled the vampire off the boy without letting her close the wound; Alec was furious with him until he realized how very pale Alan was. One of his human’s was already applying pressure but he looked grim.

“Sir? He–”

Minor shook his head–he was holding the bitch while one of the other humans got out the good cuffs–“Dump him with a cut throat?”

“No!” Alec snapped,. “I’ll handle it.”

He took over holding the pressure–luckily, she’d struck low; a bit higher on the neck and he’d be dead by now–and giving instructions, when Alan actually spoke. It wasn’t very clear but it sounded like his name…

He tried to reassure him, but they only had moments and the temporary screen they’d set up wouldn’t hide things for long…

Alec began licking the wound, getting the damn bitch’s saliva out of his system and replacing it with his own. It wasn’t a clean wound, thanks to pulling her off, but Alec got the deepest punctures closed, while the boy trembled in his arms… He carefully picked him up and took him downstairs to his own rooms.

He was holding him carefully, licking the last of the wound closed, when his medic Brandon came in.

“Do you know his blood type?” Brandon asked as he set up a clear bag of fluid for an IV.

“No,” Alec sighed. “I only met him once before; it wasn’t something I asked.”

“It’s a thing now, dating by blood type,” Brandon said as he pulled Alan’s wallet out, “and diet by blood type… you can actually get away with asking.”

“I’m still getting used to the idea that there is a type,” Alec grumbled. “Well?”

“His wallet is all wrong–probably a fake ID, although it’s a good one. No medical card, nothing.”

Alec looked dubiously at Alan lying on the bed–it was unlikely in the extreme that between the loss of blood and the feeding haze that he would be coherent enough to answer soon. “Can you do anything?”

“Depends on if one of the crew is O negative…” Brandon muttered. “In the meantime, I’m going to give him fluids to help.”

Alec was about to say something when he got a text message alert: several more intruders had been spotted in the bar.

“Take care of him,” Alex said as he ran out.

“Wonderful,” Brendon sighed. “I don’t suppose you know your blood type?” he muttered at the man with the unfocused eyes.

“A… positive…” Q managed to say–he’d been trying for a bit but it just seemed so hard to speak.

“You…” Brandon blinked a lot. “Answer me again: what is your blood type?”

“…A positive… and… where…” Q brought his hand up to his face, or tried.

“Good! I have a bag of A positive. Lie still, don’t move, don’t stress, I’ll be right back.”

Alec headed upstairs at speed and took in the situation: five more intruders moving through the crowd like sharks. “Get our people out, and start up the smoke.” Alec turned and headed for the back door.

~

Bond stood in line to get in at the club. It must have changed names since Q had been here. It was apparently quite popular, and Bond was observing: the girl two in front of him had gotten a different colored wristband? When he got to the door he smiled and asked.

“Nonalcoholic,” the woman smiled at him. “Some people are designated drivers, or just don’t drink–although we do warn people that in the dark club the bartenders can misread your wrist band.”

“Oh, wonderful idea…” He gave her his best smile. “As it happens I don’t need it tonight, but it’s good to know.” Any further comment was cut off as the sounds of a fight started to reach him. “What?”

A vampire burst out through the doors, arms over his face. He was covered in something like hives and his fangs showed as he turned to run.

Bond should have let him go, but too many–far too many–years of training kicked in and he hit him low at the knees.

Once Bond took him down he realized the problem: public, and a vampire showing his nature? There was a bouncer moving up…

“Damn wannabe goth druggies!” Bond snarled loudly enough for the nearby crowd to hear. “This is that new gang thing, isn’t it?” Now to get him away from the bouncer… Damn, I might have to let him go?!

“Good cover,” the bouncer said quietly as he leaned down. “I assume you aren’t with them?”

“No… you…. know…?” Bond kept the vampire pressed face down into the concrete.

“I have silver cuffs on me,” the man said very quietly. “Don’t make me use them on you?”

Bond couldn’t help but grin, “You’d never get them on me, mate. You might want this fellow, but he’s covered in spots.” Come to that, he had started bleeding in a few places.

“Silver nitrate in the smoke machine–works a treat.” The bouncer sounded amused.

Bond chilled… that was… that would hurt, at the very least. The bouncer got the cuffs on the man who screamed–Bond rather reflexively slammed his head into the pavement. “Oh… uh… sorry?”

The bouncer helped Bond haul him up. “You rugby players…” the bouncer said with an amused grin, “all the same.”

There were security people moving the crowd back, and a few polite announcements about “trouble with the smoke machine, people will be let back in momentarily…”

The bouncer helped Bond haul the fellow, directing him to a side door–Bond hesitated and the man said, “It’s safe… positive air pressure and we keep the fog out of this room until it clears.”

Kids these days… damn. When they hauled the vampire in, there were two other bouncers–human–and a vampire NOT in handcuffs, cuffing a vampire to a chair…

The vampire in the club clothes looked up and snarled, Bond raised his hand–the one not hauling in the troublemaker.

“Not him,” the bouncer with Bond said quickly. “He took this one down.”

“Could still be with him,” the dark skinned vampire growled. He nodded to the other humans who helped haul the captive vampire to another metal chair.

“I was waiting my turn in line,” Bond said holding out his wrist. “I’d just gotten my wrist band when this fellow came flying out–took him down by reflex…” Bond paused. “You aren’t the mystery owner.”

“No. Who are you and why were you coming into our club?”

Bond held both hands up politely in front of himself, “A human invited… I travel, I’m not in London often enough to have a territory. A human friend asked to meet me here–well, I think it changed hands, he used the old name.”

One of the bouncers asked thoughtfully, “He doesn’t know?”

“God, no… I was… I might have told him if things went on a bit–I’m shocked to find this many of you know anything…”

The vampire chuckled, his teeth VERY white against his darker skin, “Well… I’m afraid you’ll have to meet him on another day–my sire will be in a piss-poor mood.”

“Understood,” Bond sighed. “If someone is looking for me, can you pass word that–”

“Oh, we’re closing the bar for the night.” He nodded, “One of these hoodlums started a fire–I think that’s the story–so you’re covered. The humans will all be sent home with free drink chits. Since you’re not a trouble maker I could introduce you around I suppose, once the smoke clears. I’m called Minos, incidentally.”

“James.”

Minos actually stepped back with a stunned look. “Oh no, no no no, no way do I introduce you to my sire today.”

The bouncer that helped Bond haul the vampire in just groaned, “Oh God, no way! He’ll spend the whole night over a bottle and then he’ll sulk for a week…”

“What?”

The man shrugged and rolled his eyes, “He lost someone called James. On a good day, he just gets maudlin–on a bad day? Like with people interrupting his business and attacking the patrons?”

“Ah… Yes, well…” Bond felt the pull of the scotch himself and said quietly, “I’ve lost far too many people, myself. I understand.”

Minos clapped him on the shoulder, “You seem a decent sort, not like most of the locals. I’m sure he’d love to meet you when this settles out a bit.”

“As I said, I travel… but I should be in town for a while…” One of the bouncers got a card out and handed it to him. “That’s the office phone. The regular managers are on there, and yes they all know–so do most of the bouncers.”

A woman in a club t-shirt added, “And a few of the bartenders.” She was standing well away from Bond, or even Minos. “The boss voluntarily hires a lot of folks who have had bad run-ins with the vamps.”

“Voluntarily?” Bond raised an eyebrow.

One of the bouncers sighed, “I used to be a hunter.”

Bond almost choked: vampire hunters were killed immediately–too many disasters with vampires keeping them as playthings. “That’s… um… odd,” he said carefully and glanced at Minos.

“Yeah, I know no one else does that,” Minos shrugged. “Fight him on it.”

Bond just looked at Minos and then at the former hunter. “As long as you aren’t causing a problem, I don’t see any reason to mention you to anyone…”

Minos nodded, “Come back…” he glanced at the two vampires, now gagged and cuffed to the chairs, “maybe during the week?”

“I would be pleased to meet your sire, and do assure him I have no intent to cause trouble–I was strictly here to meet someone.”

As he was leaving the bouncer who had helped drag in the vampire he caught handed him a card. “You seem a reasonable sort…”

Bond smiled at the card, which advertised a grocery delivery service. “Any kind of groceries, eh?”

“To some folks,” the man laughed. “I’m David.”

“Police are here!” one of the staffers said. “Took them long enough!”

Bond shrugged, “Most of the police have locals pulling the strings–at least enough to delay a response. It gives us time to get the problem evidence cleaned up.”

Minos blinked, “Is that why…? I thought it was hostility…”

“More likely they just don’t want a vampire in lockup again–last time that happened was a mess.”

“Oh. Huh… Well, let me show you out quietly… and… thanks for the help.”

Bond slipped back out the side door, and while the staff kept the police busy out front he left. Well, at least Q wouldn’t think he stood him up, not with that mess.

Chapter Text

Brandon hooked up the bag of blood–‘Alan’ or whoever he was had passed out again. It took a while before anyone else came back down.

“Hey… Oh! He made it?” Shara asked.

“It’s a bit touchy still, but his odds look better.” Brandon looked her over, “What happened?”

“Pack of the bastards; we had to use the silver smoke.”

“Shit! Where’s the boss?”

“Dunno… but he went out the back, last anyone saw.”

“Great… just great.” Brandon sighed, “Well, nothing we poor muggles can do about it…”

“True. Can I get you anything?”

“In an ideal world I’d get another bag of A positive, and I’ll need another bag of Ringers no matter what.”

“I’ll see what I can rustle up.”

~

Alec had tracked the only pack member to make it out the back of the club. He’d attacked a random human on the street to get himself back on his feet and then headed off. Alec called in an anonymous tip–assault–and kept following him. He eventually ended up across London at a restaurant–he’d gone in the back: Alec settled down to wait.

Once he was certain they weren’t moving anytime soon, he called back to his people. Minos answered quickly–a good sign.

“About time you called in… sir.”

“How did it go?”

“Captured two more of the pack–one because a local vamp helped us.”

“What?”

“Local-ish. Said he traveled a lot and didn’t keep a territory even though this was home base–hadn’t known about the place changing hands, from what he said. He… seemed alright. Polite anyway.”

“Huh… Well, keep an eye out in case he decides to cause trouble, but… if he’s reasonable I’ll want to meet him.”

“I suggested he come back during the week. We blamed a fire on the ‘gang’ that was causing trouble.”

“Good call.” He paused, because honestly he didn’t want to hear bad news.

Minos, as usual, wasn’t fooled at all. “The kid looks like he’ll pull through, although Brandon says it’s touchy.”

“…good.”

“You have no idea how he’s going to take finding out about this all…”

“I’m betting on a good outcome.” I’m hoping for one anyway. “Anyway, I tracked one of the bastards back to a restaurant. I need a few of my things.”

Minos snorted, “You can’t burn it down from supplies on site? You’re slipping.”

“Don’t sass me, pup,” Alec laughed; Minos hadn’t changed one bit when he turned… not like some. He gave him a list of the things to send along and waited.

A few of the boys showed up not long after–including his hunter, Eric, naturally–and they moved into the place. There were two human guards on the first floor, but up on the second? Well apparently the vampires weren’t expecting an attack–stupid of them–because even the uninjured ones were asleep.

The bastard who’d been at his club was sleeping in the hall–looked like his boss hadn’t liked his report from the extra damage: he never had a chance to wake up before Eric beheaded him. Alec kicked the door in and got one of them before he got off the bed–after that it was a fight…

Not much of one, though. Just the pack boss and two other vampires, as well as some poor human woman that looked half drained.

Alec glanced at Eric, “Your call,” as he nodded at the human.

“Can we try?”

“Might as well, I have someone the pack attacked at my club who might make it, too. Alright, get her out and call Brendon.”

Eric got one of the other boys and they took her away. Alec and the rest dragged the humans’ and vampires’ remains down into the kitchen. Alec took pride in his work–he was pretty sure that by the time they got the fire out no one would be able to figure out much of anything.

“Hey boss?” Simon waved toward the walk-in. “Before you push the button on this… can we take some of the food? Be a pity if it went to waste…”

Alec laughed, “Better leave SOME so they don’t get suspicious, but sure–watch your prints, the walk-in will survive the fire better than some places.”

His humans whooped and high fived and looted the best cuts of beef and a few fish… while Alec, deciding that it wasn’t a bad idea, went to study their alcohols…

Which is how he found a young girl cowering behind the bar.

“Hey… Hey, I’m not going to hurt you… It’s okay…” Alec tried to make his voice gentle. “But there’s going to be a fire, sweetheart, you can’t stay here.”

“I have to stay or my mama will be hurt,” she whispered.

“Your mama?” He thought about the woman in the bed with the pack boss. “Did she have blonde hair?”

The girl nodded, “Mister Harold was angry… she’s upstairs with him.”

“No, we rescued her,” Alec was suddenly damn glad they’d tried and hoped the woman would pull through. “Come on, I’ll take you to her.” He picked her up and grabbed her teddy bear and coloring book.

The rest of his men got very quiet when they saw her. “Call back to Eric,” Alec said as he shielded the girl from seeing the bodies, “that was her mama we pulled out.”

“Died too damn fast…” Sean growled.

“Yeah,” Alec nodded. “But look at it this way: at this rate, we’ll end up owning London. Come on…” He put the girl in the car and sent them on their way before he turned on the burners in the kitchen. The pack boss was healing rapidly, but it wouldn’t be fast enough.

“Vampire flambé… might be the new house special.” Alec laughed and kicked the guy once for good measure and slipped out the door.

He could hear the explosion even several blocks away. By the time he got back to The Firing Line, the fire raging at what had been a highly rated restaurant was top of the news.