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Q-Branch and The Mystery of the Missing Minutia

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Q was standing at R’s desk frowning at the once nearly full bamboo plant that she had been growing for over a year now. In the last month, however, the leaves have been, well shall we say disappearing. If Q had not known any better, he would have thought that one of his own cats had been there and were up to some shenanigans themself.

“I don’t know, Sir. They just keep disappearing. I can’t make anything of it.”

As Q was about to mention setting a trap for the curious culprit, one of the other Q-Branchers, Agent Wilson, came over and was looking at R’s rather sad looking bamboo.

“Are you talking about the missing stuff?”

Q frowned as he turned and looked at Agent Wilson.

“Yout too?”

“Yes. For me it’s...well some of my tea filter bags have gone missing.”

“And my pens...” Someone else shouted out from their desk.

“I can’t find some of my sticky notes....”

“And highlighters...” Though Q was wondering what Agent Todd was doing with highlighters. Q-Branch’s reports were always done on computer. Q was all about conservation and trying to do their part for the planet. But, he wasn’t going to argue, if Todd needed highlighter for a reason, then he trusted the Agent.

“There’s been a lot of things missing, but all of is rather....well...mundane.” R stood and went round the other desks and started taking a list of things that were missing.

“If it was really important stuff, I’d blame Bond or Trevelyan. It’s not like the other 00’s to take anything that is truly important.”

“And what would anyone want seashells for?” Gwen piped up from her desk in the corner.

Q frowned even harder, but didn’t say anything as he turned on his heels and went to his office shutting the door. This was all together strange and he wanted to work out how to get to the bottom of it.

“You look pensive.” The voice startled Q who looked over at his small couch and saw his lover sprawled out with his tablet on his lap.

“Are you actually working, or are you playing Bond?”

“For your information, I am working. My reports are filed and I am just waiting for you to go home.”

“I can’t yet.”

Bond raised one blond eyebrow and stood up to walk towards Q. He sat down on the edge of Q’s slightly cluttered desk, not caring what it was he was actually putting his ass down onto. Q sighed like a man with a long suffering problem. He snorted to himself that the problem was right in front of him.

“And why not.”

“Because I have a mystery on my hands.”

“Oh, really?” Bond perked up and smiled a knowing smile.

“It’s nothing you need to concern yourself over James. It’s all rather strange.”

“Tell me about it, I may be of some use you know.”

The boffin sighed as he leaned back in his chair and shamelessly put his now stockinged feet up on Bond’s lap. Bond automatically started to rub Q’s feet which elicited a very filthy moan from Q.

“You continue doing that and I may keep you around for a while.”

Bond laughed as he dug into those spots that always gave Q problems when he stood too long at his computer stand.

“Now, little boffin, tell me what’s going on.”

“It’s nothing really, James. Some stuff has gone missing around Q-Branch. But, it’s nothing overly important. Strange things, like pens, highlighters, bamboo leaves. That sort. But, none of us can figure out just what the hell is going on.”

“Have you tried a good set of traps? I seem to remember a rather nasty set of them when I broke into your apartment the first time.” Bond grinned foolishly as he continued with the glorious foot rub.

“I think those are a bit much, Bond. But, I may have an idea.” The boffin’s smile had even Bond worrying just a tad.

________________

“Well for fuck’s sake what do you mean none of the traps were triggered?” Q stood in the middle of Q-Branch looking around at his people noticing that nothing they had set up the night before had been triggered, yet more things were missing.

“I don’t know, Sir. But Gwen, Todd and I all came in and noticed that all the traps were still in place, but Gwen is missing another seashell.” R stood next to her boss with her arms crossed over her chest.

“Q?” A voice behind them asked making Q actually jump. It was rare that anyone got the drop on him, but when he looked who was there he let out a sigh.

“009, when did you get back?”

“Actually last night, but I needed to get home to get some sleep. What’s going on?”

“Come on, I’ll check in your tech and explain.” Q led 009 to the tech room so that he could check in whatever tech the agent still had left. Which was usually almost everything as he was one who tried to bring everything back. It also didn’t hurt that 009 was also his cousin.

“Okay, Ashcroft, what is going on?”

“Its stupid really. Mundane things around the office have gone missing. R compiled a list. Things like tea bags, pens, bamboo leaves, and highlighters...” At the word highlighters 009 lifted his head up sharply and stared wide-eyed at Q. “Its confounding really. Aaron, what’s wrong?”

“Did you say highlighters?”

“Yes, why?”

“Anything else?”

“Aaron?”

“Ash!”

“What do you know?”

“Nothing.”

“Right. I don’t believe you.”

“Honestly, Ashcroft. It’s nothing. Now, Mum would like you over for dinner and Jack wants to see you as well.” Aaron started to walk out of the tech room and headed towards his own office.

“Oh no you don’t.”

“Q, really...”

“Un un. You know something.”

Aaron was tight lipped as he turned and walked to his office then shut the door in Q’s face. He heard talking on the other side of the door, but it was muffled and he couldn’t make it out. Q had given up long ago bugging his cousin’s office, the man was almost as smart as Q himself. He found the damned things every single time. Aaron, with M’s permission of course, had sound proofed his room. He had needed to because his aura was rather strong and would often leak out and affect others. They had discovered, quite by accident, that sound proofing could double as a magical buffer.

Oh, this is where it should be said that MI6 had a magical division which was headed by Aaron and one Jackson Grimes was the head of tech for it. But, Aaron often needed things from Q for non-magical missions that he was dispatched on. Yes, magic was real and had been exposing itself to the world little by little since the someone had reactivated the ley lines that ran just under the earth’s surface.

Q came out of his musing and tried to put his ear to the door, but he still couldn’t hear a thing. Frustrated he walked away to get on with his day. There were more important matters than trinkets and bobits missing from the desks of his employees.

__________________

“There you are, Ashcroft.” Jackson had found Q working in his shop on some new tech that combined magic and mundane technology. It was a pair of glasses that looked like they came right out of an HG Wells book. “Those look great.”

“Here, try them on.” Q handed them to Jackson who slipped on the spectacles. Q went to grab one of his mini phillips head screw drivers and frowned when he couldn’t find it in any of his kits. “Shit.”

“Ashcroft?” Jackson was the only one who got away with calling Q Ashcroft. Mainly because the man was his mentor. The two could often be found with their heads together debating many things from quantum entanglement to the explosion of magical tech.

“I swear I had it here.”

“Something I can help you find?” Jackson was looking through the goggles and smiling. “These are fantastic. Aaron and his team are going to love them.”

“Speaking of your lover and my frustrating cousin, what was going on in his office earlier today?”

Jackson pulled the goggles off of his face and stared at Q for a moment too long.

“All right, tell me now, Jackson, what the hell is going on.”

“I have no idea what your talking about. These are great by the way, I’ll get started on the patent immediately.” Jackson left and headed out of the work room leaving a once again confused and befuddled Quartermaster behind.

_________________

Things kept going. Little things kept going missing, the newest was paperclips. Though could one ever truly be missing paperclips? Q almost laughed at that. He often wondered if paperclips somehow magically replenished themselves because frankly they were the bane of his existence. He would get rid of a bunch of them, only for there to be even more in his desk than he had before. But, he was looking down at 008’s desk and saw that a box of new paperclips was almost completely empty.

“And coffee.”

“I swear, you and Aaron. Ever since that stupid agent exchange with the Americans, you both became utterly addicted.”

“I’ve seen you enjoy a cup or two, Ashcroft, so don’t give me that. Anyway, R said to tell you if anything was missing from my desk. That’s what’s missing is paperclips. I know because I buy ones that are like this,” 008 held up a spiral shaped paper clip. Well, that put that to rest as to how 008 new paper clips were missing, because really Q wished time travel were real so he could go back and prevent the sodding prick from inventing the stupid things in the first place. But, even the best magic around couldn’t be made to do time travel.

“Fine, I’ll add it to the list.” Q walked away feeling rather dejected that he couldn’t solve this infernal mystery.

One night it all came to a head.

It went like this you see, Q had a new set of traps laid out all over the offices. He warned everyone first before he did them. Most were rather harmless, just a jolt of electricity, or a small can or bucket of water in the face. Some were more ingenious than others. But, he was at his wits end.

Sighing, Q flopped down into his chair in his office as Bond was on another mission and Q stayed put so that he could be there when Bond needed him. Getting up, Q made his way through the trap infested office to make himself a fresh cuppa and pilfer the rest of the scones from earlier in the day.

That was when he heard the scratching of nails. But, the nails weren’t like a cat’s nails sounded, these sounded thicker and the scratching was like a larger entity was trying to walk quietly.

Cup and plate in hand, Q eased out of the kitchen and stopped cold in his tracks.

“Bloody fucking hell,” he blurted out as he watched the scene unfolding before him. Q was not believing his eyes and if magic had not come back into the world, he would have said that he was hallucinating from lack of sleep and long hours.

There was a bloody fucking dragon.

In his Q-Branch.

Getting past every bloody fucking trap.

Stealing!

Q stood transfixed as he watched with fascination. When the dragon was done, it hopped down off the desk he had decided was his target for the night and started towards Q.

“Oh, hello. I didn’t see you.”

Q dropped his cup, but the dragon was quick and caught it in one of it’s taloned feet.

“I think you dropped this.”

“Buggering hell....” Q’s mouth dropped open at the quickness of the creature. And, yeah the fact that it talked to him was making Q’s brain shut down.

“I think this is where I should explain.” Aaron once more got the drop on Q who swirled around so fast that he almost dropped his plate as well.

“I think you damn well fucking better, Aaron Michael Paddington!”

Aaron laughed at Q as he took the plate, bent down to get the cup from the dragon, then held out his arm for the creature to fly up to and sit on Aaron’s shoulder.

“Come on, let’s go to my office.”

Q followed and watched man and dragon as they walked back to Aaron’s office. Q sat down and Aaron handed him the plate and got a fresh cup of tea for Q who had spilled his when he dropped his cup.

“Ashcroft, this is Spencer. Spencer, this is my cousin Ashcroft.”

“Hello.” Spencer jumped off Aaron’s shoulder and dropped down onto the desk.

“I don’t understand.”

“Spencer is my bonded familiar. We were waiting for him to get fully acclimated to England before we introduced him to the rest of MI6. M was already appraised of the situation when we got back from America. You see,” Aaron sat down and pulled a bag of fruit out from his desk and laid it out on a paper towel for Spencer. “When Jax, myself, and Alec were in the United States for the agent exchange, a call came in to investigate an international trafficking group that trafficked in magic and magical creatures.

“Spencer’s egg was hatching when we arrived. There were four others and by the time we had the people arrested and found good homes for the other creatures Spencer had already bonded to me. He’s also growing very, very fast. The other eggs we brought with us and have them in stasis.”

Spencer swallowed a grape then turned to Q.

“Those are my siblings. I know they will hatch soon and find their proper bond mates, but I wanted them safe first. Aaron and Jackson promised me they would be.”

“Why have you kept this a secret?”

“Because of how young Spencer is. He’s growing quickly, and according to every legitimate book I could find, dragons mature quickly in their first year of life. And a bonded familiar will quickly grow to the age of their bonded then slow down to almost nothing. I wanted to protect him.”

Spencer flew over to the reading chair and before Q could say anything, the dragon had shifted into a young man that looked to be in his late teens.

“Shapeshifter.”

“Yes. I only found my human form recently.”

“You’ve been taking all of those things from our desks.”

Spencer blushed so red that he almost matched the scales that disappeared around his hairline.

“I’m sorry. I’ll put it all back.” But, Q could hear the anxiety in the young dragon’s voice.

“You know, if you just apologize and the two of you tell everyone the truth I’m sure they will all be fine with you keeping everything.”

“Really? Even the coffee?” Spencer’s smile was infectious and Q laughed at the enthusiasm.

“I’m sure even the coffee.”

“Yes, well he has become rather addicted. Jackson had to go out and purchase a second coffee machine just for Spencer’s voracious need for it.”

“And just how did you get around the traps?”

Spencer blinked a few times like he didn’t understand the question.

“Well, that’s easy. I’m magical.”

Q opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out. “Magical he says. Why do I have a feeling that you two are going to become the bane of my existence.”

“This is where I shouldn’t tell him that one of my Dragon siblings is his?”