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Ω: Miss me?

B3XT3R: Tf were u?

Ω: Playing hide and seek

sIllysAllyXO: tell me you won you bastard

Ω: I don’t think it’s the kind of game that leaves room for winners, do you? 

 

 

Murderers are not monsters, they are men. And that’s the most frightening thing about them.

—Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

 

Vesper sighs. James has caught hints of it before. A deep, underlying sadness, not grief but something just as heartbreaking. He takes her hand into his, gently. He always moves gently these days, careful and aware of himself in a way that is foreign outside of battles and whistling bullets.

Her wrist is thin, and James knows he could snap the bones oh-so-easily.

“It’s nothing,” Vesper responds, to a question that hasn’t yet been asked. She does that sometimes.

James may love her for it a little. It gives him hope that some part, however small, of the man she sees in him is real.

“You can lie better than that,” he murmurs. Words that could be sharpened all too easily into something terribly, could start wars and end lives, but remain on the edge of teasing just long enough. It’s an act of balance, certainly, but James has found that most of life is.

They sit quietly for a moment, the world bustling around them. It is unexpectedly easy to be quiet with Vesper. Partly, perhaps, because he knows she will give in eventually. He can still read her clearly, and for that James is more thankful than he will ever admit.

“I miss them, is all,” Vesper states, too quiet as to be mistaken for a casual mention. There is a tension working its way through her jaw and tightening the skin around her eyes that reminds James of blinking numbers, counting down towards the inevitable explosion.

Once more he doesn’t ask. Because although bombs are hazards of the job, James has never been fond of them the way some of his colleagues, most notably 002 and 006, are. He is fond of peace, or as close to peace as a ceasefire ever comes, that much the past few weeks with Vesper have revealed to him.

“Tell me about them,” James requests instead. Keeps up a steady motion of his thumb on the back of her hand, gentle but calming in ways he rarely means to be. Absently he wonders if you can re-learn genuine affection again, or if it is a skill that, once forsaken, will never be within your grasp again.

The corners of Vesper’s mouth curve upwards. Despite conventional expectations, she appears sadder than he has ever seen her for it, fragile in a way that isn’t a trap used to reel in predators. A mask so paper thin, it can hardly be called protection at all. James responses to it instinctively, involuntarily tightens his grip, presses his thumb against the pale skin where he can feel her pulse beating steadily.

She is alive, James knows. But there is a ghost in the shadows lurking behind her eyes that he can’t fight, an intangible threat he can’t defend against. Neither her nor himself.

Then, as sudden as the darkness appears, it disperses into nothingness again as Vesper throws her head back and laughs, loud and deep. There is nothing delicate about the sound, nothing vulnerable in her eyes as she watches him with the cunningness of a wild wolf that knows himself out-matched but not beaten.

“They would like you,” Vesper gasps, in between the warm giggles spilling from her lips like barely felt raindrops on a summer’s eve. “My brothers.” She shakes her head, and if there are tears in her eyes, they are gone before James can identify them for sure.

“I’m not sure if I should dread the day you will meet or look forward to it,” she admits.

“Brothers?” James quirks his eyebrows. “How many of them do you have, exactly?”

“Three.” There is genuine fondness in Vesper’s face now, drawn into every gesture and every nuance of her voice. It is as pure an expression as James has ever seen on her, but it is not a pure one by itself. There are taints of pain and regret souring its edges, the kind he recognises all too well from families gone wrong, and cracks that all the love in the world can’t fix.

It reads like a warning.

“There are the twins of course, and what an absolute terror they would be. I can only imagine the kind of shenanigans they would drag you into…” Vesper’s voice trails off for a moment and her free hand absently plays with the unopened package of sugar next to her untouched cappuccino. “And Quin -- he is the youngest, you see -- he’d be so much worse. You’re not supposed to have favourites among your siblings, of course. But the twins have always been so wrapped up in each other that sometimes, I couldn’t help be jealous of the bond they share. Quin feels the same, I think, though we’ve certainly never talked about it. Yet it brought us closer all the same. Funny how these things work, isn’t it?”

She sighs again, a little soft and a little sad and a little thoughtful.

James wonders whether she realises what she’s just confessed.

By the time he pays the bill, whatever melancholy has overcome Vesper has been shrugged off expertly. Vesper’s smile is warm and playful, her hands steady, her words sure.

And if James was anyone else, he would have believed the illusion.


*

Q first sees James Bond on a fairly regular Thursday.

It’s during a routine check of the traffic cameras surrounding a Barber shop that is most definitely a front for something untoward (not that Q would know anything about that, of course) that the blonde man first catches Q’s attention.

At this point, Q is not yet Q, though he might as well be with how often he sheds his name to step into a new skin. Still, in a reality that is largely painted by the less-than-stellar debriefing reports written by two of MI6 most hazardous Double 0s, every tidbit of logical continuity is appreciated. As such, when Q first sees James Bond on a fairly regular Thursday during a routine check, Q is not yet Q. He goes by Ω, a name that has served him well thus far.

There is nothing particular about Bond that tips Ω off. Nothing that makes him stand out, even. Thirty-something, well-dressed men in expensive cars are hardly a rarity around this part of the city, and this one is still miles away from setting off even the most paranoid of perimeter alarms, but then, Ω is known to be thorough.

Besides he’s reached level 264 of CandyCrush and neither B3XT3R nor sIllysAllyXO are online -- meaning Ω is fast approaching the dangerous kind of boredom.

Best head that off before it goes out of hand. Ω is very good at making computers dance to his tune, but even a man of his calibre can only afford so much attention. In his line of work, attention comes attached with a bullet through the skull more often than he likes to think about.

And Ω, for all his unhealthy sense of adventure and self-confidence, has a practical approach to life: If you don’t want to feel the wrath of multiple agencies, don’t declare war on them.

Not that he has any particular reason to declare war on any agency, never mind several, but Ω has been known to make stupid decisions when bored. Everyone who personally knows him will attest to that.

Therefore it’s only for the best that Ω finds himself interested in the man on the screen. Maybe it’s simple attraction, shallow, superficial, and yet effective. Maybe it’s the sureness with which the man walks, projecting nothing but calm certainty. Maybe it’s the odd, niggling feeling in the back of his head, like there’s something there that isn’t quite right.

Whatever it is though, Ω finds himself observing the man. Or rather trying to observe the man.

Ω straightens in his uncomfortable seat, as faint interest is rapidly turning into genuine intrigue. For an ordinary business man, this guy shows up on surprisingly little security footage.

It’s impossible to not get caught on camera at all -- at least when you’re moving out in the open, and trying to not drawing attention to yourself -- but the average citizen gets their picture taken up to multiple times a minute, depending on the density of electronic supervision that differs between countries, cities and even areas.

This blonde man -- who is walking faster now, not running, but no longer the definition of calm and steady either -- appears on screen significantly less than the average citizen.

A half-formed grin tugs insistently on Ω’s lips, but he refuses to indulge it. He’s too busy typing, hands flying over the keys. It’s not even that Ω has made Bond as an agent.

No, at this point, he has no idea at all who the man is or where this trail might lead to. Ω follows it because he can, because he wants to, and because lately, decent entertainment has been hard to come by.

He can’t bring himself to regret it. Not even when the man starts killing Raymond’s men. And if Ω finds himself unlocking the electric lock and disabling the biometric scanner to keep blondie from getting trapped in his warehouse -- because any room Ω personally secures belongs to him, damn it -- well, that’s nobody’s business but his own.

And possibly Raymond’s, but it’s not like Ω is stupid enough to get caught.

It all ends with a few warehouses demolished to the point where it’s cheaper to discard them rather than try and salvage anything from the ashes, as well as quite a few dead henchmen Ω definitely won’t miss. Then the blonde man disappears off the screens for real -- as Ω had suspected him capable of, but it’s always nice to be proven right.

Still, Ω doesn’t think too much of it. He’s done impulsive things before. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, but usually nothing ever came of it.

Ω certainly doesn’t expect James Bond of all people to be an exception to that rule. Although if he had known that it was James Bond he was dealing with, he might have gotten an inkling.

*

It would be incorrect to say that Ω is caught off-guard when the same blonde man makes an appearance on his personal surveillance monitors approximately three months later.

He’s in Greece, at the stronghold of one of Raymond’s more successful smuggling operations -- weapons and guns, thankfully, because for all his slightly psychopathic leanings, Ω doesn’t have the stomach to dip his toes into the sex trade -- because apparently their activities have drawn unfriendly attention. Raymond has been most insistent that Ω rehaul the entire security system and give it his own special brand of deadliness.

Ω regrets his agreement more with every passing day.

For one thing, he lacks any appreciation for the heat typically for July in Greece. For another, ACs should not ever be an optional part of any building, especially not in Mediterranean countries. That arms dealers make for atrocious company is really just the tip of an increasingly unpleasant iceberg.

The appearance of an almost familiar face -- though alarming in its own right -- is therefore a welcome distraction. With his own, personal tools available this time, Ω wastes no time to run a facial recognition software that isn’t supposed to be accessible outside governmental usage.

(Ω may have liberated this particular piece of art under suspect circumstances. A part that no post-mission debriefing will ever mention, rest assured.)

He gets a match for a Walter Grahams, age thirty-three, British citizenship, Head of Sales of a security company Ω has never heard of. Out of sheer curiosity, Ω checks Grahams passport, as well as all commercial flights. As suspected, there was no Walter Grahams in Belgium three months ago. In fact, Walter Grahams was on a four day conference, as confirmed by session protocols, security footage, and even the odd tweet.

As far as cover stories go, it’s a great one. Too bad Ω is very good with faces.

Which leaves me with the following question: Who exactly are you, Mister Grahams?

As it turns out, Walter Grahams is the sort of one person arsenal that dismantles illegal smuggling operations. Whether in an official capacity or in his freetime Ω doesn’t know. He will care about it later, most likely, but right now, he’s too busy cursing Grahams to hell and back.

Because Raymond definitely doesn’t appreciate an enemy behind secure lines. And his wrath is nothing to scoff at, for all that the medium tall, slightly pudgy man with bushy eyebrows and greying hair doesn’t make for much of a intimidating picture.

Unfortunately, men like Raymond do not become more mellow with time.

Watching Grahams take out four of their men -- combat trained men used to working together, and with the added home advantage on their side at that -- Ω gives the operation up as a lost cause almost before his mind has finished running the numbers through.

Instead of building their systems up to new heights as was the plan, Ω shuts them down. He starts with the most crucial parts and spreads out from there. Even if he can’t ensure that all the data will be destroyed to the point where whoever Grahams is working for won’t be able to do anything with it, Ω can make damn sure that the files are too corrupt to be worth the hassle.

After all, this particular operation may have been lucrative, but it is hardly one of their best works -- or even their most central ones, for that matter.

Raymond would have never allowed him this deep into the network unsupervised if that were the case. The man is ruthless, not stupid.

Packing up his things with quick, efficient movements, Ω gets ready to evacuate the building. There is nothing here -- neither human nor mechanical -- he isn’t prepared to lose. Save for his personal laptop, of course, but that one is safely tucked away in his unassuming backpack.

He’s at the door of the control room, placed conveniently close to the underground garage that hasn’t been compromised yet, when a glance at the last still running monitor causes Ω to freeze.

On the screen, Grahams is locked into a deadly battle with three of the most unpleasant men on this base.

(And Ω can’t say ‘base’ without an underlying current of disgruntlement, much as Raymond has tried to cure him of it. There is nothing humorous in imitating cheap Disney villains, as far as Ω is concerned.)

That isn’t what causes Ω to hesitate though. It’s the fourth man, lurking just outside Grahams’ view, armed with a gun that most definitely won’t hit the market for another year at the very least. Ω would admire the sleek design -- oh, alright, he  does  -- but his interest is soured by the imminent death of Grahams.

Which doesn’t make sense. Except that it’s rare for Ω to meet anyone interesting these days. And by that he means truly interesting, which arms dealers and drug lords tend not to be. Much as popular fiction might think otherwise.

Regardless, Ω enjoys challenges. And Walter Grahams, who is definitely not Walter Grahams, is a challenge.

It’s a spur-of-the-moment decision that has Ω reaching for the nearest keyboard and type three final commands. Or so he will tell himself later.

Immediately, the monitor, as well as every light in the building, goes dark. Ω grabs a tighter hold on his precious backpack and stumbles his way towards the garage.

He has given Grahams the best advantage he can offer. Everything that happens from now on is up to the man himself. After all, if Grahams doesn’t survive this encounter, he will make for a poor challenge.

(After all, Ω has never been fond of this particular operation of theirs.)

*

Ω does not believe in coincidences.

It’s hardly surprising, considering the life he leads. Consequently his first assumption when he catches a glimpse of Grahams out of the corner of his eyes whilst on a quick run to the closest shop -- really, how come he doesn’t have minions who do these things for him? -- is that he is being hunted.

Seven weeks have passed since he left the man to handle four professional killers in a dark corridor, and Ω is honestly surprised by the surge of relief he feels at seeing the man alive and breathing. Thankfully, the embarrassing emotional response is quickly tampered down by the rightful panic at being hunted by an accomplished killer.

It’s a good thing that Ω works well under pressure. Against all odds and the oddly un-rhythmical thundering of his heart, Ω manages to keep his face void of any outward sign of distress. It is an old habit, born out of sheer necessity, considering he surrounds himself with people who treat a crack in his composure the way a shark might treat a drop of fresh blood.

Ω is well-trained in handling predators. He is less well-trained in fighting them to the death, which is an unfortunate oversight. Not that he can do much about it now.

So Ω does the only thing he can do: He continues on towards the shop without hesitation, keeps his expression frozen in the perfect mixture of bored and bland, and buys soda, Orangina, and gummy worms like he planned to do.

He is so focused on behaving normally, that it takes Ω until he’s almost back at their current base -- a small, but charming B&B that may or may not have two more cellar levels than the official building plans will show -- to notice that he’s lost his shadow. Or, considering Ω hasn’t done anything to lose anyone, figuring it a lost cause from the start, hasn’t been followed.

Only now does it occur Ω to consider that it might not be him Grahams -- and he really needs to find another name for the man, since it clearly isn’t Grahams -- hunts. Or, at least, the man probably doesn’t know that he should hunt Ω. He may not be able to kill a human in fifteen different ways with a pen, but Ω is very good at staying under the radar.

As a man wielding similar skills, Grahams seems the type to appreciate that sort of thing.

Not that such an appreciation will save Ω’s skin if it comes to that. The knowledge sits heavy in his stomach for hours, like a clay brick that has been dislodged of its original position, but remains unfortunately stuck where it is, digging into the soft flesh of Ω’s intestines. It is not a pleasant sensation.

Ω bears it with all the grace he can afford to lose. Which isn’t much. In an eery imitation of his stop at the local supermarket, Ω is too focused on not drawing any attention to himself, to give his upheaved emotional landscape much thought. Emotions never have been is first priority as it is.

Raymond would probably appreciate an advance warning of Mister Cedric Ackermann’s -- Grahams’ new cover is as detailed as the last one -- presence. It would certainly go a long way towards winning the man’s trust. As it is, Ω's position within Raymond’s organisation is still worryingly precarious.

But Ω is too busy situating himself in the room closest to his prefered escape route, and putting safeguards into place around the data they can’t afford to lose. Or so he will tell himself later. Because Ω, for all his many flaws, is never too busy to consider an angle that will bring him closer to his goal.

When the alarms sound, Ω is unsurprised. More importantly, Ω is ready.

After all, Grahams -- Ackermann truly is an awful choice of name -- may not be hunting Ω, but he is most certainly hunting SHADE.

Which is unfortunate, of course, except for the part where it is interesting.

*

Ω doesn’t find out who Grahams really is until the man finally catches Raymond’s attention. It’s unavoidable, seeing as Grahams happens to systematically destroy their organisation, but Raymond doesn’t catch on until one of his most favourable arm deals goes up in flames.

Literally.

The resulting burn scars do not make Raymond more handsome. They do, however, help to support the image of a maniacal fanatic hell-bent on revenge. Ω is not happy with this particular development.

(Although Ω would like to own a pool filled with flesh-eating piranhas. He settles for adding another note to Q branch’s official suggestion box. It is a truly fearsome box, as far as the Psych department is concerned.)

With Raymond fixating on Grahams, Ω has now all the excuses in the world, as well as some borderline violent encouragement, to find the man. And because Ω is Ω, he does.

James Bond. MI6 agent. Codenamed 007. Declared KIA four times. Fails more psych evals than he passes. And very, very dangerous.

“He is British military,” is what Ω settles on. “Well-trained, obviously, with a reputation for viciousness and utter lack of morales.”

He hands Raymond the official files, all suspiciously thin. Adds an apologetic, “If there is anything more, it’s most likely an old-fashioned paper trail,” for good measures.

Then Ω leaves Raymond to his scheming.

*

Two weeks later, when the elevators of an office building in Myanmar malfunction, and a carefully planned assassination of James Bond fails because of it, Ω doesn’t consider it betrayal.

He considers it a small thank you to the man who has given him an excuse to try his hands on one of the most challenging hacks Ω has pulled off in years. That is all there is to it.

*

Q first meets Alec Trevelyan on a particularly unremarkable Tuesday.

Alec Trevelyan is a tall, muscular man who moves his body like it is a tool, a well-oiled machine that is used precisely the way he intends it to. It’s that tightly-woven self-control, wrapped around Trevelyan’s skin like a barely noticeable layer of latex, flexing and adapting at all times, yet never tearing, that first catches Ω’s attention.

Trevelyan is pleasant on the eyes, if not a particularly pleasant person. Not that Ω can judge him for that -- pleasant people don’t end up in places like this one. Ω would know.

“You’re not needed,” Ω tells the stranger -- because that is what Alec Trevelyan is to him at this point -- pleasantly.

Even so, Ω takes in Trevelyan’s appearance more closely, well aware that his complaints have little impact on the outcome of this situation. Raymond has grown more paranoid, and with Bond proving remarkably resilient and very capable at sniffing out traps, Ω can’t blame the man. That doesn’t mean he appreciates the growing mistrust he finds directed at himself, no matter how justified.

Ω is very fond of staying alive.

A bodyguard, issued by Raymond himself and no doubt loyal only to him, ironically decreases his chances of staying that way significantly.

Blonde curls just a tat too long to fit the military hairstyle, taller than Ω, who is by no means small, strong built, favours his left side, though there is no visible sign of injury, Trevelyan poses the kind of physical threat even civilians recognise on instinct. Ω feels the strong urge to lock the man into a basement and throw the key away before those scarred hands have the chance to end his life for good.

It doesn’t help that Trevelyan carries at least three hidden weapons Ω can spot, and a smile too smug to count as friendly. His green eyes remain sharp and cold like chipped glass at all times. It signifies the kind of attentiveness that will cause Ω a lot of trouble, if he doesn’t find ways to get rid off his newest shadow as soon as possible.

Disregarding the obvious danger Trevelyan poses for the moment, Ω fixates his steady glare on the unassuming man at Trevelyan’s side. Raymond, as usual, doesn’t waver in the face of Ω’s ire. But that has never stopped Ω from expressing his displeasure.

“He’s not needed,” Ω repeats. There is nothing pleasant about his tone this time around.

Not that it will change anything. Ω knows that from the resolved expression on Raymond’s face alone. But damn if he won’t make his standing on the matter unquestionably clear. If nothing else, it will give him an excuse to be bratty and escape Trevelyan as often as possible later on.

“I will not change my mind, Ω,” Raymond states with finality. And he doesn’t.

The smile on Trevelyan’s face fades into utter blankness as Raymond addresses him, and though it isn’t acknowledged by any of them, Ω is well-aware that he hasn’t been assigned a bodyguard.

He’s been assigned a guard.

*

The very first thing Ω does once he is alone -- however short the reprieve may last -- is look up his personal guard. Forget Bond, forget fucking Raymond. No way in hell is he enduring the constant presence of a man he doesn’t know better than himself.

It’s not the first time Ω goes crazy, and it likely won’t be the last. Trevelyan’s story checks out on the surface. Born in Russia, immigrated to Great Britain as a child -- and really, what is it with British people and ending up in the middle of international criminal organisations? -- served in the Navy for four years before he was let go.

It’s a good story, especially when considering that Raymond prefers to hire ex-military. But Ω isn’t satisfied. Won’t be until he gets his hands on a hard copy of Trevelyan’s birth certificate -- which conveniently doesn’t exist -- or any other information you can’t change with the press of a few keys.

Sadly, Trevelyan’s backstory holds. It would have been too damn convenient if Ω could have gotten rid off the man by proving him a traitor.

*

Trevelyan turns out to be the worst kind of guard: a competent one. And Ω, who has always appreciated competence in all its various forms, curses it in all the five languages he speaks.

Giving Trevelyan the slip, if only for a couple of hours, is far more challenging than Ω is used to. Which is unfortunate, sinde Ω has an impractical weakness for challenges.

And by the delighted grin he sees more than once on Trevelyan’s face while the man hunts him down, he isn’t the only one.

It’s a cold comfort, considering it drives home just how out-matched by the man he really is, when Raymond will inevitably order him killed.

You’re not in this type of business to make friends, Ω reminds himself grimly. But there are better and worse enemies to have, and Raymond belongs firmly into the latter category.

And so Ω keeps updating and improving the cyber security of Raymond’s more rewarding operations. He keeps slipping away from under Trevelyan’s watchful eyes whenever possible. He keeps tipping Bond off every once in a while when he can afford to, if only for his own amusement. He keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop

And the dance -- between Ω and Raymond, between Bond and SHADE, between Trevelyan and Ω -- continues.

*

Inevitably someone slips. Unfortunately, it’s Ω who makes the first mistake. And an unforgivable one at that.

In retrospect, Ω knows that he’s gotten careless. The stress of the past few weeks, coupled with his latest success’ to get away from Trevelyan -- who is growing less vigilant, and even with the benefit of hindsight Ω can’t decide whether it was intended as a trap -- has given him false confidence.

Ω comes to regret this deeply when Trevelyan catches him red-handedly. Figuratively speaking, since Trevelyan actually catches him cutting video surveillance and unlocking doors for a certain Double-0 agent trapped in one of their deadlier hideouts in Nepal.

Still, even a computer illiterate would be able to recognise what Ω is doing -- and not doing, for that matter -- and Trevelyan has proven to be anything but.

For a long moment, Ω simply sits there, his hands frozen over the keyboard, staring at Trevelyan with near comical surprise. His guard’s expression gives nothing away, and for an eternal second, they are locked into a wordless staring contest that Ω can’t guess the outcome of.

(He can, of course. He’s just always had a habit of ignoring unfavourable odds at least convenient of times.)

Then Ω features harden. He starts typing again, so fast his fingers almost fly over the keys. There is an unfamiliar tension in the back of his neck -- the expectation of having it broken any second now, undoubtedly -- but Ω ignores it with the single-minded focus of a man on a mission.

If someone is to die today, Ω will make damn sure that he’ll be the only one.

*

A week passes. Ω is still breathing and still has his fingers as deep in Raymond’s security as always.

Nobody is more surprised about this turn of events than Ω himself.

A sentiment he has no doubt made quite clear to his guard, what with all the confused glances he’s been throwing Trevelyan lately. Ω has run the numbers a thousand times, but there is no reason for Raymond to keep a traitor within his ranks.

Even if he was trying to figure out whom Ω was working with, it wouldn’t be worth the damage Ω can do whilst left to run rampage over the man’s systems. No, if Raymond had even the faintest hint of proof, Ω knows he’d be dead already.

Which means Trevelyan hasn’t told him. Which means…

Yes. What exactly does it mean?

After eight long, sleepless nights spent guessing, Ω tires of the odd game they’re playing. Whatever it is Trevelyan wants, Ω would rather know now than live with a continuous sword of Damocles over his head.

Ω confronts Trevelyan in the privacy of his own room, where the systems have long been rigged to show only what Ω wants to be seen.

“You haven’t told him,” is all he says. Is as specific as Ω dares to be.

Trevelyan will know what he means in any case, and Raymond’s paranoia has reached new, unfortunate heights of late. No doubt encouraged by the continued survival of Agent Bond.

Trevelyan tilts his head in acknowledgement, another sign of the man’s cutting intelligence, hiding beneath a decent pretence of brute force.

“Why?” Ω tacks on when it becomes clear that, no, Trevelyan does not plan on making this conversation easy on either of them.

It gets him a reaction at least, even if it’s not one he expects.

“Why indeed,” Trevelyan murmurs, an unfamiliar accent -- or possibly the merge of multiple ones -- thickening his voice.

He’s standing far closer all of a sudden than he did just a moment ago, and Ω resents the fact that he has to tilt his head up slightly almost as much as the smoldering lust he reads in the other man’s eyes.

The heat in Trevelyan’s gaze is scorching, glides over Ω with all the force of a physical touch. Then, as suddenly as the man invaded his personal space, Trevelyan steps back and Ω can breathe again.

“I see,” Ω says -- to himself, since the door is already falling shut behind Trevelyan’s back.

But he doesn’t. He really, really doesn’t.

(Here, the post-mission reports will always diverge greatly. For though Q will firmly insist that Trevelyan has never shown a sign of genuine attraction and has, in fact, behaved completely professional for the entirety of the mission, everyone will know better than to believe such ridiculous nonsense. 006’ two page long poem on the firmness of Q’s behind -- that nobody better touch or else -- goes a long way in affirming that disbelief.

Q is exasperated with all of them.)

A few moments pass while Ω thoughtfully stares at the shut door. If not Raymond, whom do you serve, Mister Trevelyan?

*

In the end, Ω does what he should have done the second time he caught sight of James Bond. What he should have done at the very latest when Raymond told him to find anything there is to know about the man determined to destroy their work.

He hacks MI6. And this time, Ω doesn’t want answers. This time, he wants everything. So that is what he takes.

It turns out that Alec Trevelyan’s cover story is so good, because it is based closely on the truth, only tweaked here and there for convenience sake. Ω further learns that Trevelyan is the infamous 006 -- and really, what is it with highly-trained, British assassins getting dropped into his life? -- and has been on an undercover mission for going on fourteen months.

A mission that apparently demands he take down Bernhard Quentin, head of a smuggle ring suspected to have ties to several terrorist organisations. Which is true, Ω can personally attest to that. Of course, Quentin died in a rather explosive accident four months ago.

Having read Agent 006’s file, Ω has no doubt that the man’s death was Trevelyan’s personal handiwork.

It appears, though, that the agent has figured out the truth before Quentin’s demise: that his target was nothing more than a scarecrow, moving in plain sight to distract from the movements in the shadows. Trevelyan must have followed the money -- it’s always the money -- to Raymond, which explains his presence here.

It doesn’t explain why he hasn’t used Ω’s betrayal as a way to get closer to his target. That is what Ω would have done after all.

Agent 007’s file, similarly, turns out to be enlightening. While Bond is clearly hunting down SHADE’s most notorious businesses, his briefing implies that this is the means rather than the end. Bond has been assigned with bringing in or eliminating uroboros, a hacker who has made a name for himself with the simultaneous destruction of three secret military bases all over the world.

All of them were occupied by terrorists, but it’s blatantly clear from the mission briefing 007 has received that MI6 deems uroboros too big a risk to wait around for them to become a problem.

Preemptive measures truly are a thing of beauty, Ω thinks sardonically. And chuckles.

He can’t help it.

006 has been sent out to destroy SHADE.

007 has been sent out to find uroboros.

The irony of the entire situation is delicious, but as with all amusing things in Ω’s life, it leaves a bitter taste behind.

With two Double-0 agents in the game, Raymond’s paranoia increasing steadily, and Ω’s continuous hobby of helping Bond to cheat death, the game is becoming increasingly unpredictable. And as unnerving as losses of control always are, Ω can’t help but look forward to the explosive finale that undoubtedly lies in their future.

If nothing else, staying ahead of three wildcards is exactly the kind of challenge Ω loves to indulge in.

*

“Why are you here?” Trevelyan asks him one evening, in the relative safety of Ω’s bedroom.

He is nonchalantly leaning against the wall opposite to Ω’s desk. His hands are absently playing with a bright yellow gummy ball. Ω wonders whether Trevelyan could use the toy to kill someone with it. He wonders if he will see it happen.

“Excuse me?” Ω blinks startled, not having expected the man to address him. Trevelyan rarely acknowledges him, too deep in his emotionless bodyguard persona perhaps. Or maybe this is who he is. Ω doesn’t know, and he doesn’t much care either.

To his credit, Trevelyan doesn’t voice the underlying accusation. “Why are you here?” he simply repeats, calm and steady, and stressing the last word in particular.

Ω has a fairly good idea what 006 means to ask. He is less clear on what answer he is supposed to give.

Given his track record, Trevelyan will undoubtedly recognise any lie Ω might feed him. Not that he could do much about it, if Ω decides to tell them. Besides getting him killed, that is.

But then what answer is left to give?

The truth, one might say, but Ω has lived in the shadows long enough to know that the truth is a wretched, vicious little thing -- and never is it straightforward. This case is certainly no exception.

It pays better than IT,  Ω could say. I was bored, would be just as good a response. And though those answers aren’t the complete truth, they are true. Some days, Ω wonders what kind of person that makes him. Most days he knows better than to follow that line of thought.

“They killed my brother,” Ω says, and it is as much a truth as all the other answers. “In my family, that isn’t the kind of attack you leave unanswered.”

Trevelyan blinks and for a brief moment Ω can see the shift behind 006’ cold eyes as he processes the new information. Ω can’t help but wonder what Trevelyan makes of his response, what he sees in the actions Ω has taken in response to the offence.

It is not a normal reaction, Ω knows. Normal people don’t join international crime syndicates to find their siblings’ murderer. Normal people don’t commit an untold number of crimes to avenge a single offence. Normal people don’t burn the world around them just because it isn’t to their liking.

Of course, Ω’s family has never done ‘normal’.

After all, the first time Owen fell in love, Aaron almost killed someone. The first time Vesper fell in love, Quin did.

Ω voices none of this, of course, but Trevelyan nods anyways.

Everything that needs to be said, has been said.

*

With Bond’s growing shadow looming over their organisation, things escalate quickly.

Raymond loses more and more of his legendary calm, his temper constantly frayed these days. Their organisation, though far from falling, falters, slowed down by its leader’s growing panic and irrational decision-making.

Things are accelerating far more quickly than Ω planned. With Trevelyan watching his every step, and Raymond growing dangerously frantic, Ω is rapidly running out of time. And so he does the only thing he can to salvage his plan: he accelerates things even more.

*

Achraner Street 23

Tomorrow, 1600

 

You aren’t afraid of snakes, are you, 007?