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At Skyfall's End

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With the memory of M’s death still vivid in his mind, the weight of her lifeless body still in his hands. Bond returned to the rental he was holding up in.

Bond placed the ceramic bulldog on his kitchen counter and went to bed. Barely a few hours later, his phone beeped the urgent tone signaling a MI6 emergency. With the twilight hour traffic, Bond was in MI6 basement under ten minutes.

“007,” a husky voice greeted before said owner cleared his throat. Bond looked up to find Q, looking like he literally just rolled out of bed. That hideous anorak was zipped up, but Bond could see the collar of a faded t-shirt.

“Q.” Bond greeted in response as they stepped into the lift. They exchanged nods before Q returned his bleary eyes to his phone, typing rapidly.

The agent’s automatic response of surveying his surroundings took note of Q’s dark jeans and trainers, a laptop bag slung over one shoulder completed the look. Not once in his assessment did the Quartermaster look up from his phone.  

Bond continued to stare at his Quartermaster, wondering what was next on the cards in this hellish week. Watching Q’s finger dance over his phone, thinking he looked so young and tired.

Q didn’t seem the talkative type when he was still more or less half asleep, however; and so Bond didn’t push it as they spent the rest of the lift ride in relative, easy silence despite the seeping tension that wound around them like invisible smoke concerning whatever it was that had had both of them summoned here at this ungodly hour.

Not that Bond himself had been sleeping, no, the weight of M’s dead body still too heavy in his arms, pining right at the center of his chest.

By the time the door to the lift opened with a soft chime, Eve was already there, looking sharp and impeccable with not a hair out of place as though all this mortal toil had nothing on her and she was already functioning on a higher plane than most casual humans.

“Morning, boys,” she said, pressing into Q’s and Bond’s hands each a mug of steeped Earl Grey and black coffee, respectively. “M is still on a conference call, but he should be ready for you in a couple of minutes.”

The noise Q made in response couldn’t possibly be human. Poor sod, Bond thought, idly eying a stray cat hair sticking onto the hood of Q’s parka. He could feel Moneypenny’s judgement burning holes in his person as his hand darted out to remove the offending hair.

That was just rude. Bond wasn’t the one strolling through the halls of the country’s finest spy agency with cat hair all over his clothes.

Still, the coffee was much appreciated. Bond nodded his thanks, not feeling particularly talkative either, despite being an early bird himself. Perhaps whatever affliction Q had was rubbing off on him as well. The comfortable silence the three of them waited in was calming, and Bond found his mind wandering. He mentally flicked through the day’s agenda, letting his eyes stray and taking in minuscule details. Wondered how M, his old M dear bitch that she was, would be sending him out to start messes in other parts of the globe instead of being relegated to… playing fetch.

No. Quite literally. Q was a good superior, but helping boffins transport heavy equipment was hardly the height of spy glamour. They might as well have put a leash on him and called him “good boy”.

Thankfully before Bond could delve even farther into what being a “good boy” would entail, M finally quit his dawdling and told whoever was on the other side of the conference call to fuck off. Moneypenny coughed to cover a laugh when Bond expressed such under his breath. Q just blinked confusedly, accepting his colleagues’ odd ways.

“After you,” Bond beamed, like a switch that had been flicked. Q simply ambled through with a quiet “thanks”.

Before both of them could quite get into M’s office however, heavy footsteps pounded through the hallway. Bond had just managed to grasp the collar of Q’s shirt before the door was bursting open and the bark of gunfire was drowning out Q’s yelp.

The world exploded into noise; the crash of ceramic on wood floors, the heavy rap of boots against the ground, and the cracking thunder of gunshots filling the room.

Bond’s focus narrowed to the set of tasks his mind presented him with: eliminate the hostiles, protect Q. Moneypenny had ducked into M’s office, her own weapon drawn and ready to defend the head of MI6, leaving Bond in the anteroom with Q, tucked behind Moneypenny’s desk… and unarmed.

Q branch hadn’t seen fit to reequip Bond just yet; he’d rather hoped that this morning’s summoning would result in a new gun, but for now he’d have to make do. Moneypenny’s desk wouldn’t hold up to fire much longer, and Bond was beginning to wonder if he might be able to find an extra weapon inside when Q pressed something into his hand.

A gun.

Q was hunched awkwardly on the floor beside Bond, his laptop bag open between them, and Q was pushing a gun at him. Bond gripped it automatically, the weight almost comfortingly familiar in his hand.

“It’s mine.” Q told him, shifting his weight and hunching further in on himself with a discomforted grunt, one hand pressed into the folds of his coat where Bond couldn’t see, “I hope your aim’s back up to snuff.”

There wasn’t time to question Q’s behavior – a brief cease in gunfire was the cue Bond needed to look up over the edge of the desk, weapon at the ready.

Three hostiles. Easy.

It was almost laughable how easy it was. The gunmen had positioned themselves in an arch around Moneypenny’s desk. Their guns pointed at the agent with the hidden quartermaster. Bond fired a shot and caught the middle one’s thigh. He sank down clutching his leg and cursing but his gun remained in reaching distance. Bond made a mental note as he ducked to avoid the gunfire of the other two.  

The shots rang out in the anteroom causing Q to tuck his head further into his shoulders and cover an ear with his hand. Bond barely registered any movement the quartermaster was making past confirming Q was still alive and well covered. He listened to the shots, waiting for an opening. When it came, he risked a glance over and fired two consecutive shots effectively taking down the man on the left. A shot came from behind him, from M’s office. Moneypenny’s bullet put down the previously injured man leaving one more. As Moneypenny and Bond turned their weapons on the remaining gunman, he took a dive behind one of the anteroom’s armchairs.  

A storm of bullets was exchanged as each member fired rounds and ducked. One of Moneypenny’s bullets hit the gunman’s shooting hand’s shoulder. The momentum of the bullet pushing him backwards. The man attempt to regain his balance giving Bond a window to take a headshot and it’s over.

Quiet surrounded the room. The only sounds to be heard were the tiny pants of breath from Bond and Moneypenny as they came down from their adrenaline high. They both surveyed the room, leaving their posts to verify that indeed all three hostiles were dead.

Moneypenny turned back to M’s office. “We’re in the clear sir,” she called out.

“You can come out Q,” Bond said over the desk to the boffin.

M entered the anteroom cautiously as Q slowly emerged from underneath the desk. Bond and Moneypenny remained alert, eyes searching the room.

“Miss Moneypenny, call this in,” said Mallory breaking the silence that had permeated around them.

Eve pulled out her phone from an inner jacket pocket and began dialing, gun still in hand. Bond wandered over to man he had shot in the leg and searched him. Q pulled his laptop bag strap over his head with one hand, the other hand is still in hidden inside his coat. Q grimaced but continued. He pulled his laptop out, set it on Moneypenny’s bullet riddled desk,  opened it and started it up. He typed in the chain command password, one handedly, to bypass his various security walls. Once in, he opened up a few programs.

Bond found a cellphone on the man he was searching.

“Got something for you Q.” Bond stood and walked toward the quartermaster, his arm outstretched offering the phone.

Q shuffled away from the desk attempting to reach out to meet Bond and the phone when his knees gave out under him.

Bond saw this and instinctively surged forward to catch Q. The phone clattered to the floor catching the attention of the other two occupants of the room. Moneypenny who was speaking urgently to the person on the other line looked over and hesitated. Mallory looked up from where he was searching the other gunman in time to watch Bond lower himself to the ground with Q in his arms.

“Q!” Bond exclaimed watching as the young man’s eye flutter in an attempt to remain conscious. He leaned the man against the side of the deak. Bond then noticed Q’s arm, partially hidden by his coat. He reached out pulling the coat flap open to reveal Q’s blood soaked fingers pressing against a very blood soaked star wars tee.

Q was hit.

Bond didn't think, he just reacted. He got Q's coat off of him and started to look at the wound. It was a through and through so there was no bullet to possibly move around inside of Q's body and cause more damage. Though with the through and through, James could understand why Q was already looking like he had lost too much blood.

"I'll call Medical," Moneypenny said as she grabbed for her desk phone only to pick up the handle and it to be in two pieces. She brought her cell phone up instead.

"Too much time. Have them prep for him. I'll carry him down. WIth the building on lockdown it'll take them too much time to get through all the checkpoints." Bond looked at M who nodded and waved for Bond to stand up.

Bond looked down at Q as he pressed his hand to the Q's side. There was a minor grunt of pain. "This is going to hurt, Q."

"Carry on, 007," Q whispered with what seemed like the last of his strength.

Bond got his arms under Q's shoulders and knees and lifted. "Moneypenny, secure Q's laptop and phone in M's office please. We can't assume this is the last of the threat and we are unsure as to motives."

"I'll take them down with us. I can program one of the safes in Medical to where only my code or Q's can open it," M said as he stepped over and shut the lid on the laptop and slipped it into the bag. M found Q's phone where it had been dropped and shoved it in there as well.

M lead the way with his gun out in front of him, a sharp nod confirming the halls were clear for Bond and Q to follow behind.

Thankfully, the way was clear all the way to medical. Bond looked at the Quartermaster still in his arms and worried about how pale he had become. Holding him close and trying his best not to jostle Q in his arms, Bond was unprepared for the emotions that swirled just under the surface. He had not wanted to acknowledge an attraction to the Quartermaster and certainly this was a highly inappropriate time to be struck by the knowledge that he was feeling something other than friendly acquaintance. Bond pushed down on those emotions, not willing to look at them too closely. He couldn’t afford to, especially after all that had happened in the last few months. No, it was better to push those feelings aside and get on with the business of being a spy and nothing more.

“I have a bed prepared,” The doctor looked at the pale cast to Q’s face and pinched his lips in disapproval. Bond glared; this wasn’t the time for lectures and he let the doctor know just by his glare.

“Alright, let’s see what we’ve got.” The doctor opened up Q’s coat and saw the through and through, he then ushered everyone out except Bond. “You, I need a nurse, go clean up in the next room and hurry.”

Bond didn’t want to question why the doctor chose him, but he would do whatever he could to help save the Quartermaster. Without hesitation he tore off his shirt, now soaked with Q’s blood, and used the sink to scrub himself clean. He wrinkled his nose at the smell of hospital soap, but if his being clean helped with Q’s recovery, then he could put up with anything.

He hurried back into Q’s room. The other nurse was already there and she was setting up equipment in between Q’s bed and another chair.

There was now a monitor involved and more cable than should be possibly to stick on a human being. If Bond had ever listened to the nurses that took care of him at MI6, he might have recognised a EKG line or a sweet and simple oximeter, but as it was, all of it just looked imposing and alien. As if they were taking possession of Q’s body and not simply showing his status.

“Can't you just let him rest!” It finally broke out of him. All the beeping and bleeping and whistling would drive any healthy man insane; he couldn't even imagine the impact this ruckus made on a sick one.  

The nurse looked up for a second, her eyes softening for a moment when she saw his desperation but also visibly steeling herself. “Mr Bond, if we don't know his status, we don't know what helps and then we won't be able to catch complications quick enough.” Her tone was quiet and James was struck by the contrast between the busy machinery and her calmness.

“I know all Double Os despise coming here and as such you are not familiar at all with the equipment but believe me when i say all of this is necessary to help the Quartermaster recover.” The nurse had finished setting everything and was taking notes of the lectures in the machines.

Bond wondered if his double-oh status carried over to killing nurses with horrible bedside manners. He paced back and forth. Christ, if this is what it was like waiting for a woman to deliver a child, he would be shit at that job. His phone beeped.

“Bond,” he spoke curtly into the mouthpiece as he answered.

“M wants you to stay with Q.” It was Moneypenny.  Her voice brushed over him, calming the edge of his adrenaline rushed nerves.  

“Understood.” Bond glanced back at Q, pale against medical’s cheap ass white sheets.  The nurse was quickly stripping the body. The body. Bond swallowed. Q wasn’t dead yet. “Any luck finding who was behind this?”

“Negative,” Moneypenny said. “I’m to stay with M until Tanner gets here and then I’ll come let you off wounded boffin sitting duty.” There was the sound of muffled voices on Moneypenny’s end of the line. “M wants to know Q’s status.”

Bond turned and peered at the monitors, ignoring the nurse frowning as she prepped Q for surgery. “Stable. For now.”

“Is that the Doctor’s opinion or yours?” Moneypenny asked.  

Bond gave a grim chuckle.  “It’s what the monitors are saying.”  He gripped the nurse’s wrist hard as she moved to inject something into Q’s IV.  “What’s that?”

Thankfully, it was someone Bond recognized but that didn’t mean he was going to not do his job.  “Morphine. Not enough to incapacitate him. He’ll be itchy when he wakes up.”

Bond gave a little hmm under his breath.  “Itchy and bitchy, great.”

Moneypenny laughed into her end of the conversation.  “I’ll tell him that when I see him next.”

Bond was about to answer when the floor shook and the lights went out.  “Moneypenny!” The lights and beeps in Q’s room had gone out, but came back on to alarms as the backup generators kicked in.

“What was that?” Moneypenny demanded, sharp as daggers. “What happened?”

“I don’t know.”  Bond had instinctively reached for his gun and now moved to stand guard over the door while the doctors and nurses inside freaked out. “The power briefly went out, probably an EMP bomb. We’re still under attack.”

“Go investigate,” Moneypenny directed, since she knew better than to make Bond stay behind when something was wrong. “I'll stand guard.”

Bond hung up and slipped his phone into his pocket and eyed the monitor that continue beeping showing Q is stable for now. “Take care of Q. If anything happen to him I swear to God I will end you. You hear me.” He hissed that out to a passing nurse who shakingly nods.

Bond ran out of the room and followed his instinct on which direction to go. If MI6 were to go down he would put up a hell of a fight to keep her standing until backup comes or until the threat is eliminated. Even more now if he wants to keep Q safe. He is 007 for a reason and he will use this status well.

The building shook again with another explosion and Bond grinned at the knowledge that the enemy had just gave him a clear indication where they were. He kept his gun poised as he pushed out into the building to search for the intruder.

He checked at the corners for hostiles and passed through easily as the coast was clear. ‘This is too easy. What are they up to?’ He thought as he moved. He had a  deep suspicion that something big was yet to come since before a storm there will always be some lightning. And James Bond was the type that does well in a good storm no matter how bad it got.

“I’m sure you’re wondering what we’re up to!” A mechanical voice echoed through the corridor, broadcast by the Six loudspeakers. “Who are we? What do we want? You’re not willing to surrender, yet, I imagine, or to offer us our ransom, so we won’t ask for it...yet. But don’t take too long to give us what we want once we do. You may find that when our patience has been tried, the world is not enough!”  

Bloody monologuing villains. As far as Bond was concerned, only the Queen got to speak in first person plural.

He cleared the building from top to bottom, and finally reached Q Branch.

“R? What’s going on?” he asked.

“We’re working on it,” she said shortly. “Luckily, we had some emergency equipment in a Faraday cage. We think they’re on the top floor, came in from the roof.”

“I’ll clear the Branch and go after them, then,” Bond said.

In full Double O mode, the agent followed R down to the storage area, stepping over the metal doorframe carefully after she’d unlocked the door.  He’d seen enough boffins trip on the bloody thing to know better. He also closed the door behind him as soon as they were both inside. What’s the point of a faraday cage if one leaves the cage wide open?

He kept his senses alert, eyes darting and ears straining for the slightest sound to indicate they were not alone.  Tuning out R’s rummaging he paced the aisles of shelving, both to bleed pent up energy and to ensure that they really were alone.

She called him softly back to the wide workbench at the side of the room and started handing over equipment.  A set of earwigs -- one for herself and then one each for the agent, the Quartermaster, Moneypenny, and Mallory should he run into them -- and a set of weapons.  The knives were stashed in sheaths he strapped to ankles and wrists. Three guns were also passed over, along with two sets of holster straps. He took off his jacket and loosened his trousers to settle the holsters comfortably on shoulders and hips -- despite his usual dislike of weaponry at the small of his back, these were unusual times and he’d take all the help he could get.

He’d have made a crack about R just trying to get him out of his clothes -- an automatic instinct after long years -- but somehow the worry about the Quartermaster stilled his tongue even as his hands completed the task of arming himself.

She surveyed him, hands on hips, as he finished tucking his shirt in under the waist strap and shrugged on the jacket, unconsciously verifying that all the kit was easily accessible and securely attached to his person.

She handed over another two mags-worth of rounds and then nodded her head sharply.

“You’ll do.”

He smirked at the ringing endorsement.  They were used to each other, and he took her words in the positive manner they were intended.

She slipped her earwig into her ear and tapped it twice.  He gave her a thumb’s up at the clear quality and then reloaded the gun Q had given him.

Bond gestured for her to stay put and then cautiously returned to the door fo the room and peered through the crack as he opened it just a little.

The corridor beyond appeared to be deserted so he opened the door wide enough to slip through and verified both directions.

He tapped the ‘wig twice, and R slipped out into the corridor behind him, securing the door to the equipment room before she turned away and crept up behind the agent.  A glance back at her showed a gun in her hands as well as another shoulder holster deforming the lines of the cardigan she wore.

A quirked eyebrow and muttered “You know how to use that thing?” was met with her smirk, and she leaned closer to whisper, “More than half of us Q-branchers are certified with firearms.  Who do you think tests the bloody things you agents demolish in the field?”

Fair point.

He turned away and silently paced back to the corner of the corridor and checked to make sure the coast was clear.

It was.

They met no one as they returned to the main level of Q-branch.  R sent him on his way and then secured her branch against intruders.  No one would get in -- or out -- unless she or someone with higher authorization deactivated the protocols.  Unless all power failed, in which case all bets were off.

The flywheel backup power system and the two generators that lived in the sub basement would hopefully render that scenarios moot.

Bond left her to it and returned to Medical to pass on the earwigs to Moneypenny -- still guarding Q as she’d promised -- and the Quartermaster himself, finally awake again and lying pale and wane in the bed, made more washed out by the whiteness of the sheets, the walls, and even the bloody lino on the floor.

For perhaps the millionth time, the agent wondered why the fuck all medical facilities felt the need to use the same colour scheme.  Were the quacks in Psych so oblivious to their own profession that they’d forgotten that colour and pleasant surroundings went a long way to improve a person’s recovery time?  The chemical reactions in the body to cheerful surroundings had been studied and restudied and still the fuckers kept the place looking like a bloody asylum. Fucking lazy wankers, the lot of them.

His wandering attention was recalled to the room in which he stood by the Quartermaster’s weakly cleared throat.

“Double O Seven, status report,” the pale man managed to get out.

The agent rattled off the situation as best he knew it -- rearmed by R, Q-branch locked down, M and Tanner barricaded in M’s office, and the three of them in Medical, with hostiles infiltrating from the roof -- and Q swore softly.

Moneypenny leant forward, concerned.

“Q?  What’s wrong?”  She questioned softly.

Just then another explosion rocked the building and the lights dimmed again. The monitors connected to Q beeped for a few seconds and then died, and the lights remained dim.

“Fuck!” Moneypenny exclaimed, looking at Q wide-eyed in the dim light, “there went the generators!  We’re on the tertiary systems now! What the hell are these guys after?”

The nurse from earlier came bustling back in with a torch and a bag of bits and pieces slung over her shoulder.

Straight into the barrels of Bond’s and Moneypenny’s guns.

Being the professional that she was, she didn’t yelp or any such nonsense, but she did stop short for half a second before just giving the two agents a look that might possibly have frozen lava, before briskly moving past them to check on her patient.

Who was apparently attempting to get himself out of bed, in spite of his injuries.

“Sir!  You shouldn’t be moving.  You need surgery.” She admonished him, before muttering, “Just as soon as the bloody power’s back on.”

“Agnes, wait,” he held up his hand as she was about to tip him back into the bed.

Arms folded across her chest she glared at him in the dim lighting.

“I need to get to Q-branch’s sub basement.  There’s something that they want there, and we need to ensure it is secure.”

“Quartermaster, need I remind you that you’ve lost far too much blood and we still need to stitch you back together.”

Moneypenny chose that moment to ask -- relatively politely -- just what the hell they were both talking about.

Agnes tossed the torch to Bond who caught it one-handed before hooking a treatment table with her foot to tug it close.  She reached into the bag she had brought with her and pulled out a suture kit, a box of nitrile gloves, and large bottle of hand sanitiser onto the top of the metal table.  She ripped open the kit, careful to keep her bare hands away from the sterilised instruments within.

“Moneypenny, help Bond roll him onto his side,” she said with a nod at the Quartermaster as she slathered her hands with the sanitiser and pulled on a pair of the gloves.  It wasn’t the best option, but these were battlefield conditions, and it was better than nothing.

“Bond, keep that light trained on the wound and don’t move it unless I tell you to.  He’s lost a lot of blood. Too much blood,” Agnes explained as she cut through Q’s Star Wars tee with a pair of medical shears from the kit.  It was a testament to how weak he was that the Quartermaster barely put up a fuss at the loss of one of his favourite shirts.  “He needs a transfusion, but it won’t be worth a damn if he’s still bleeding out, so Q here is about to become my latest piece of embroidery.”

“How long to stitch me up?”  Q asked weakly, he grasped Moneypenny’s hand tightly at the first prick of the needle Agnes used to inject the local anesthetic.  Even with the intense pain of his wounds, it still stung.

“No more than 15 minutes if you stop squirming.”

Bond braced his free hand on Q’s elevated hip to help still the man’s tremors of pain.  Q nodded his thanks at this man he barely knew yet trusted implicitly and took several deep breaths and did what he could to calm himself.

“And the transfusion?” Bond asked, anticipating the Quartermaster’s next question.

“That’s going to take a tad longer,” Agnes admitted as she tied off the first suture and moved onto the second.  She’d need at least three more on the entry wound before moving on to the much larger exit wound on the fleshy part of Q’s back between his hip and rib cage.

“How long?”

“An hour at minimum.  Don’t you dare move!” she barked at Q when she felt the muscles under her hand tense with his response.

“We don’t have that long,” Q argued.  His voice was tight with frustration and pain.

“So you keep telling me.  Which is why …” she paused, evaluating her work, mentally thanking her mentors in the RANC for teaching her how to stitch effectively and quickly .  “Moneypenny, angle Q a bit more toward you now.  Yes. Just like that. Ta. Commander, train the light right here.”   

Bond did as she asked, and Agnes began work on the exit wound.  “Which is why,” she continued, “once I’m done making sure your innards stay put, I’m going to give that bag of goodies to 007 here, and when you and he have secured whatever in the hell you need to secure down in the bowels of your branch, I’m going to talk him through how to use what else is in there to give you a blood transfusion in the field.”

“You’re going to do what ?!”  three voices demanded as one.

“Better hope the earwigs have a full charge then, yeah?” Agnes shrugged and tied off yet another suture.  “Bet you wish you’d stayed dead,” she said with a meaningful glance at Bond.

“Just another day at the office,” he chuckled and squeezed Q’s hip reassuringly.  

“It’s why we joined the service.”  Agnes’ smile was bright in spite of the dim light and their even dimmer circumstances.

“Queen and Country, Agnes,” Q sighed.  “Queen and Country.”

Seventeen minutes later, James Bond and his Quartermaster stood inside the stairwell at the end of the main corridor outside of Medical.  Q was weak, but he was on his feet -- more or less. Bond was thankful they were of a height for it would make it much simpler for him to get a shoulder under Q’s arm as he would need to do to help him down the flights of stairs that were between them and the Q-Branch sub-basement.  

He tugged once on the straps of the backpack Agnes had transferred the supplies into, then turned to face Q who was currently leaning heavily against the wall next to the fire door.  Bond assessed the man in the dim emergency lighting. Pale and listless, Q looked awful but there was nevertheless a dogged determination in the set to his jaw that Bond couldn’t help but admire.

He’d been impressed by the man’s skill and fortitude during Skyfall, but this was something altogether different.  This required Double-O level grit and determination, and it seemed to Bond that the spindly, erudite Quartermaster had more than his fair share.   

Bond reached out and tugged up the zipper of the track suit jacket they had found to replace Q’s destroyed tee and checked to make sure the cuffs were secure over the boffin’s wrists.  After she had finished stitching him up, Agnes inserted an IV cannula into each of Q’s arms: one for the saline solution she had included to help rehydrate the Quartermaster, the other for the blood transfusion Bond would administer once things were secure, and he had found a safe place for them to hole up in for the treatment.

“It’s a fairly straightforward procedure, 007, but it’ll be far simpler if you don’t have to worry about placing the cannulae,” Agnes had explained.  “I’ve taped them down, but try to make sure they don’t get jostled around too much, yeah?”

“Are you ready for this?” James asked Q.

“No.”  Q blinked sluggishly at Bond from behind his spectacles, “but that doesn’t change the fact it still has to be done.”  Q shifted his weight until he stood away from the wall and James could slide a shoulder beneath his arm. “Let’s get this done so I can die in peace.”

“Not going to die on my watch, Quartermaster,” James rumbled in Q’s ear as they started down the first flight of stairs.  “ Not on my watch.”

Several floors below them bodies were moving quickly and as orderly as possible given the reality of a building evacuation.  The stairwell would be crowded and Bond quickly calculated a better route, glancing at Q to assess how well he would cope with a detour.

“Service stairs. By the elevators.  Won’t be used.” Q’s sharp breaths punctuated his words.

Bond’s eyes widened, realisation they were thinking along the same lines both pleasing and reassuring him that it was the correct move.  That he felt he needed that reassurance made Bond pissy.

“It will be quicker but harder on you.  The steps are-“

“Narrow.  Steep. Yes.”  Q raised his arm awkwardly inviting Bond to take up a supportive position.  “Quit babbling and get moving.”

Bond chanced a small smile.  “Still a snarky little git.” Q didn’t answer, conserving his energy for the trek downwards, so Bond slipped into place cautiously seeking out handholds on Q’s body that wouldn’t disturb the patch up job Medical had started.  Q hissed in pain as they limped along the deserted corridor of the floor below to the narrow service door.

“Locked.  Keypad is out with no electricity,” Bond grunted with frustration.

“Master key on my fob.”

Bond propped Q against the wall and frisked his trouser pockets, coming up with a small key ring attached to Q’s belt.  “For once I’m glad you’ve acquired something you’re not supposed to have. And you call me a magpie...”

“Call you many things.  Magpie not one of them.”  

Q’s chuckle was weak but the tiny spark of humour gave Bond a boost.  He would get his Quartermaster to their destination and do this bloody transfusion just to hear it again.  He knew whatever it was they were trying to retrieve was worth risking both their lives for. One thing he knew, Q was never casual when it came to putting his agents in danger.

They were through the door and onto the metal landing in less than a minute.  Bond closed the door behind them and locked it. They would have prior warning if anyone attempted to follow them that way.  Listening, there was no movement on the stairs below, and it soon became apparent why. The steep, narrow steps echoed with metallic clangs with every footfall.

“Fuck!  Might as well ring a fucking bell to announce our whereabouts,” Bond cursed.

Fortunately, their loud clanging footsteps didn't carry on for long as they reached the platform where the equipment was set up.

It all looked very underground and run down, Bond was skeptical the machines even worked. But Q flipped a few switches and pressed several power buttons and the whole system hummed to life.

“It has its own power grid, separate from MI6.” Q explained distractedly as he gingerly sat himself in a chair, already typing faster than eyes could track.

“R, I'm in.”

“Q! are you alright? We've activated doomsday protocol. Still working on rerouting the power grid.”

Bond surveyed their surroundings thoroughly while Q worked. After just 15 minutes of liaising with his minions and assisting in the trickier parts of the protocol. Q got up on unsteady feet, Bond already at his side.

“The laptop please, and the red bag under it as well.” Q said pointing out a drawer.

Bond retrieved the items before helping Q across the room to the locked door he tried opening earlier. At the press of his palm against the door, the previously normal looking surface lit up, outlining Q's palm print.

The room inside was outfitted like a sick bay. Two medical examination tables in the centre with a workbench and shelving units along the walls.

“It's not quite fully equipped,” Q panted, as Bond helped him up on one of the tables.

Agnes rattled off instructions in his ear as he set everything up in preparation for the transfusion. His concern must have really been showing, because halfway through the prep for the blood transfusion, Q gripped his forearm.

“It'll be okay,” Q's skin was cool, his grip a steady reassurance.

“I've factored a scenario like this in one of the doomsday protocols.” Q said as Bond carefully attached a tube to the cannula.

“A protocol where I give you an emergency transfer of my own blood?” Bond raised an eyebrow, giving Q a wry grin. Gripping Q’s hand back in return.

“Along those lines perhaps,” Q leaned back, getting as comfortable as was possible on a med bay table.

“Ready?” Bond asked as he checked everything once more.

“With MI6’s best double oh’s blood in me, I'll be ready to take over the world.” Q’s confidence was contagious.

Exchanging grins, they watched as the tubes turned a dark red. They’d make it through this, they were sure of it.

 - The End (for now) -