It’s a stunning jacket.
It's one of those baseball jackets (even if he doesn’t play for the baseball team), navy and grey for the university colours, with Bond stitched across the back in swirling lettering above an equally beautiful 007. From the moment Bond gets hold of it, he never seems to take it off. It's like he's glued to it, and, even when he’s not wearing it, you can guarantee it is somewhere close by, draped over the back of his chair as he sleeps his way through a Thursday lecture.
Of course, this is always dangerous, because Bond is one of those people who likes to meddle, and sometimes people meddle right back. This is proven when Q sails past his seat in the aisle and sweeps up the jacket without any word of warning. Bond lets out an indignant huff, because no one touches his jacket, but Q is already slipping his arms through the sleeves that are a few sizes too big, and the thing hangs off his skinny frame, over his choice of ugly cardigan for the week (right now, an eyesore of plaid and green).
"Didn't your mother ever teach you not to touch people's things?"
“Didn’t yours?” Q replies, with that look he always has when he isn’t taking any shit from those around him, and perhaps, with the amount of times Bond is prone to leaning over the back of his chair and poking at Q’s things like he owns them, he's justified.
So Bond lets him wear the jacket.
It’s sort of Q’s jacket too, now.
Whenever Bond isn't wearing it, which is mostly during a match, the jacket is left in the safe hands of his classmate, draped around Q’s shoulders as he sits and pretends to watch. He always claims that he watches every second of every game their university team plays, but Bond knows he's staring at his laptop most of the time and only looks up to see which team is winning towards the end, in case he gets questioned on the final score.
It’s fine. Bond can deal with that. He has Madeleine to give him an in depth review of his performance. She never misses a match, even if it falls on the same day as swimming practice, which is how Bond has learnt to spot her in the crowd - her hair is more often than not tumbling to her shoulders in damp blonde waves.
They’re both sporty people, and she’s usually quite critical of everything he does (which Bond actually likes, because compliments don't tell you how to improve), but, on this particular day, after a particularly impressive win, she’s simply smiling, and she throws her arms around him in a tight hug, despite the fact that he's sweating and is in desperate need of a shower. He knows that Madeleine will claim it was solely down to her expert advice later, over a victory martini each, but right now he's too busy running on adrenaline and exhilaration to care.
Even Q congratulates him - before he throws the jacket at him.
"I suppose you'll be needing this back," he says, as Bond catches it, not sounding particularly thrilled about the events of the match, but there's a curve to his lips as he speaks, a soft smile he reserves only for his friend.
Bond pulls the jacket on. It still smells faintly of Q. He decides he quite likes it.
I can't believe you're going to waste your Friday night on that thing is the end of a conversation Bond picks up at the end of a seminar the following Thursday. One glance behind him shows that Q is talking to Tanner, one of his fellow sportsmen, and he's holding a flyer for something.
"I wouldn’t call it a waste," Q says with a sniff, and Bond wonders if he's thinking about the Friday night Tanner is going to spend watching the football. His friend has never been particularly sporty in any sense of the word. "It's a convention of technology."
"Only you would go to something like that," Tanner says, not exactly unkindly, but the way he says it doesn't sit quite right with Bond.
"I'll go," he says, before he can really think about it, inviting himself into the conversation.
Tanner raises an eyebrow at the interruption, but Q’s eyes light up and he presses the flyer into Bond's hand for safe keeping. Sure enough, it's a technology convention, held in central London the following evening, and, sure, Bond might have automatically planned to go out and join Vesper or Felix at their usual bar, but what’s one week of sobriety?
Apparently, no one else seems to think it's so insignificant. Madeleine's eyes are so wide when he tells her that it's almost comical.
"Am I hearing this right?” She says, as she perches on the kitchen table and watches as Bond cooks dinner for them. “James Bond, the man who is infamous for taking three tequila shots in seven seconds, is abandoning drinking plans to go to a technology convention?"
"It's not that much of a shock,” Bond says, in the middle of his hunt for the paprika. “Do calm down."
She does not, as he suggests, calm down.
“I just can’t believe you actually have plans for a Friday night that don’t involve almost drinking yourself into a coma. Who is this date of yours and why are they so special?”
“It’s not a date. Q wants to go and no one else would go with him, so I said I would.” Her silence makes him momentarily abandon his search for seasoning and turn to face her, because silence often means that she’s busy trying to evaluate him (she is a psychology student, after all).
“It’s not a date,” he says again, just for good measure.
“If you say so,” she says, but her mouth twists into a half smile and her eyes shine like she knows something he doesn’t.
The technology convention isn't exactly exciting. Bond has little to no interest in a lot of it, and is almost beginning to wonder why he dragged himself all the way from zone six for this, but Q gets a firm grip on his hand and drags him all around the exhibition hall like he's a child that has been let loose in a sweetshop. It's almost endearing (it completely is, but Bond isn’t going to start admitting that to anyone, least of all himself.)
By the time they reappear from inside the hall, Bond's stomach is growling, and, since he didn't drag himself all the way to Central London sober to not eat, they stop for dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. Q’s excitement is almost infectious, to the point where Bond doesn’t mind that their dinner conversation is solely technology based, not even when the conversation follows them out of the restaurant and towards the tube station, where the commute home awaits them. Despite the early spring evening, there’s a chill in the air, and Bond soon notices Q trying to pretend that he's not shivering as he talks, no doubt too prideful to mention the fact that the temperature has dropped.
"Didn't you bring a coat?" he says when he can get a word in edgeways, before shrugging off his usual 007-embossed jacket and passing it to Q, rewarded with a grateful smile.
He's halfway home before he realises he forgot to ask for it back.
"You're quite fond of him, aren't you?" Madeleine muses, when Q comes up to Bond after sports club the following Monday and returns the jacket in one piece.
"Of course,” Bond says, as he pulls it on, trying not to make it obvious that he’s breathing in the scent that still clings to it. “We're friends."
"Friends?” She repeats, and then chuckles. “James, darling.”
“You took him to dinner, and then gave him your jacket because he was cold.”
“Was I supposed to let him freeze in the middle of the street instead?”
“No.” Her smile is mirthful. “But you don't exactly give anyone else your jacket."
He doesn’t really have a comeback for that.
Perhaps, if these events were one-time occurrences, Bond could get away with the argument that they’re just friends.
Unfortunately - or fortunately, depending on what angle you are looking at it from - he starts becoming Q’s go-to person for things like this. He seems to have some kind of inside knowledge on all of the underground events in London, from poetry nights (Bond makes a mental note to distract Madeleine with tales of how surprisingly poignant the poetry turned out to be when he recounts this story to her later) to simply wandering around the National Gallery (Q buys him a postcard version of Turner’s Fighting Temeraire, and Bond tucks it into his pocket for safe keeping).
“Where’s that god awful jacket of yours?” Felix asks one Saturday when Bond is available to join them for some drinks at their usual place. “I thought you’d gotten surgery to make it an extra body part.”
“The dry cleaners,” he says, the lie falling easily from his mouth, and tries to ignore the way Madeleine snickers into her glass of southern comfort, because they both know it’s somewhere in Q’s flat, probably being used as a cat blanket by now.
The whole just-friends thing is starting to become a bit of an issue.
"Are we dating?"
The question falls from his mouth rather abruptly, disrupting the comfortable silence that had fallen over them in the past couple of minutes. He's in Q’s kitchen, sharing the table space with a rather large tabby cat, studying over dinner - studying, he can almost hear Madeleine’s voice say, since when does James Bond willingly study? - and Q only pauses whatever he’s doing for a split second, before the motion picks up again.
"I don’t know,” he says, just as Bond is trying to think of a follow-up question to diffuse the situation he’s just dropped himself into. “Do you want to be?"
"I think so," Bond says, and then nods. "Yes, actually."
Q glances over his shoulder then, and regards him for a long moment, as if to see whether or not he’s being serious, before his face softens and that soft smile is back, infused with fondness.
"Well, then,” he says, gesturing to his jogging bottoms and faded t-shirt, “I guess I should dress nicer for dinner."
"It’s okay.” Bond matches his expression with a smile of his own. “You can borrow my jacket."