Q stepped reluctantly from the car and stared at the shop exterior, blank face masking his true thoughts. Dark wood frames and dark smoky glass windows with refined gilded lettering proclaimed the premises to be of Amberly & Son, Master Tailor.
Bond alighted from the driving seat looking suave and confident as ever. Q hated him in that moment. This was Bond's playground, and Q's hell on Earth, but if he wanted to avoid a monumental double-oh style sulk, Q needed to go through with this humiliation.
"I just want you to know, I hate you," Q muttered over the tinkle of the shop doorbell. "There is nothing you can do that will make me feel ok with this."
"Stop being so dramatic. It's a suit fitting, not parading naked through Trafalgar Square. If you behave I have a treat for you."
"There'd be less groping in Trafalgar Square." Q shuffled into a corner between a rack of silk ties and pocket squares, and shallow drawers of hand-stitched dress shirts, folded to display their colours and patterns to best effect.
If he was honest, this was slightly less Bond and slightly more... bespoke hipster chic, if that was even a thing. The lining fabric patterns and the quality linen or woollen weave were all a bit too garish for Bond but they called to Q on an unexpected aesthetic level.
Amberly was a gnome. Not a literal gnome with a pointed hat and long beard, but a short man with a stooped posture who must be eighty if he was a day. His 'son' was actually his grand-nephew, the rest of the family being uninterested in the world of tailoring that Amberly had so conscientiously built. Young Amberly stood off to one side and diligently checked and recorded the measurements taken by Amberly the Elder.
"This wool mix is rather fine." Old Amberly displayed a deep olive green plaid, crossed with heather and gold. "Earthy colours. Like the moors of Scotland." He looked to Bond who nodded in approval. "Or perhaps something a little more daring?” He indicated another green, crisscrossed with teal and pink. “We have just the shirt to complement it"
Bond grimaced at the second option which cheered Q no end. "Both. Please." Q was sure he could hear the grinding of teeth and he smirked.
"Put them on my account, Amberly, there's a good chap."
The old man simpered and preened. He knew he had done a good job for Mr. Bond's special friend. The bill would receive a generous 5 percent discount in the hope Bond would bring the young man again. Repeat business was everything.
Q stepped out into the sunlight of the street feeling slightly soiled from the manhandling of the tailor. There was far too much intimacy involved in bespoke clothing for his liking. Hands holding tape measures creeping up inner thighs and questions about 'do you dress to the left or right, Sir?'
Bond touched his arm, drawing his attention. "Thank you. I know that was an ordeal."
"Hmph" Q turned away from him towards the Aston Martin but Bond walked away, heading down the street.
"Come on. I promised you something" the agent called back with a smirk. Q rolled his eyes but followed Bond down the road, turning right at the second side street. "Here you go..." Bond gestured at another shop front.
Bright red and black glossy paint and mirrored windows proclaimed the shop as Harlequin, but it wasn't until Q stepped inside that he realised the treasure trove Bond had granted him. "Never let it be said I ignore a boffin's right to shoes." Bond chuckled, turning the gobsmacked Quartermaster 360 degrees around to take in every aspect of a bespoke footwear designer's paradise.
"What is...? This place is...? I... Um..."
A petite blonde woman ghosted silently towards them, beaming like a Cheshire Cat. "This is the one? The boy with the love of shoes?"
"Yes, Lila. Two pairs, whatever he asks for. But both must be dress shoes and coordinate with the suits he has ordered from Amberly."
"Amberly, hah, that old fool!" She sighed heavily but a mischievous smirk tugged at the corners of her mouth. "Tell me the fabric young man and I will show you the shoe to finish the outfit." Q handed her the two swatches and they exchanged a look. “I want something… distinctive.”
“Then he has brought you to the right place. Will sir take a seat?”
An hour later Q and Bond departed the shoe shop lighter of step (Q) and of wallet (Bond).
“You’re not appalled?” Q grinned, glancing again at the pictures on his phone of the shoes he and Lila had designed together.
“Oh, most certainly if you were to present them to me, but they are absolutely and perfectly you, and as such I couldn’t possibly dislike them.”
“Smooth, Bond. Smooth.” Q chuckled. “That’s possibly the most creative way of telling me you think they are hideously ugly. But I can’t wait to see them.” Impulsively he linked Bond’s arm, pleasantly surprising the older man. Bond curled his hand over Q’s holding it against his forearm.
“Thank you, James. I only hate you a tiny bit now.”