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Out of Place

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“This is... not what I expected.”  Q turned slowly in place absorbing everything about the gleaming glass, metal and leather interior.  He hardly dare touch anything for fear of leaving fingerprints all over the glossy surfaces.  PerhAps it was Bond’s deliberate attempt to deter tampering.

Bond prowled from the kitchen area - the whole flat apart from the bathroom was one huge open plan space - and flopped onto one of the immense black leather sofas.  It squeaked with newness, not yet accustomed to agents lounging on it.

“No?  I rather like it.”  Bond screwed the cap from a bottle of single malt and poured a generous three fingers into his glass, then let it hover over the other on the mirror-like coffee table.

“Oh god, less than half that for me, ta.” Q waved a hand in the general direction of his drink but continued his slow circuit.  His shoes, normally muffled, clicked with every careful step on whatever odd surface covered the floor.  “Is this so no one can sneak up on you?”  Q pointed at his feet, looked up and jumped as he glimpsed a figure.  He gave an embarrassed chuckle when he realised it was a reflection of himself.  “I’d be a nervous wreck living here.  Soundless ghosts popping up all over the place.”

“Keeps me on my toes,” Bond grinned.  “I haven’t shot ‘myself’ yet.  Come and sit.  Toast to my new permanent home and to no longer cluttering up your sofa.”

Privately Q thought he would miss Bond for all Q’s grumbling about his flat being organised by an invading neat-freak.  He still wasn’t accustomed to finding things in their proper place.  It was unnatural.  Like he’d been overrun by house elves.  It would be... nice... to return to comfortable chaos.  Maybe.

Q stopped at the table and took a sip of his drink.  He needed a coaster.  Putting it back onto that immaculate surface seemed so wrong.  Not that Bond, surprisingly, seemed to care.  Q fished his pocket handkerchief out, folded into a neat square and replaced his glass.

On straightening something odd caught his eye.  Peculiar, colourful and very out of place in this futuristic feeling flat.  He wandered closer and stood for a few minutes contemplating the picture.  Bond watched him, giving nothing away.

Eventually... “why the bloody hell do you have a painting of dead ducks?”

Bond smiled and there was a touch of sadness to it.  “I went back to Skyfall recently.  Not much left of the old place but I wanted to bring something back to make this feel more like Home.  That caught my eye on the way out.”

“No sweeping landscapes or haughty family portraits?  Just... dead ducks.  Shot, bleeding and hung upside down.  Very homely...  adds just the right note of comfort to this place.”

Q finally sat, perched on the edge of the other sofa, leaning towards Bond with a curious expression.  “Explain, please.  I’m puzzled.  And slightly weirded out by this entire flat.”

Bond drank quietly, remembering...  “not sure it will make you feel any better Q, but I shot those ducks myself.  I was ten years old and my father had given me my first shotgun a few weeks earlier.  He was so proud of me.”

Q stared at the painting, relaxing into the creaking leather.  “He must have been to commission a painting!  I suppose it’s a countryside thing...”

Bond smiled and for the first time in months Q saw a softer, happier man for a brief moment.  “My father was the artist, Q.  I never appreciated that picture truly until I saw it hanging on the wall of our destroyed family home.  It’s so much more than a couple of dead ducks to me... it’s a tangible link to a childhood I rarely let myself remember.”

“Then it’s the perfect choice after all,” Q returned his smile and raised his glass.  “To the best memories of Home.”

“Whatever it may look like to us.”