"Heroes should never live long enough to get old."
Her voice is a little wistful in a dark room, and he has to wonder if, for once in the time he's known her, she's quietly begging for a compliment. He lays his naked palm against her thigh, and waits.
He is here for one reason only. He is not here to talk. His opinion has never mattered.
In his lifetime, in his prolific roster of assignments, he's seen women blindingly angry about being assigned such a role. They fight it with every fibre of their being, these liberated women whose grandmothers and mothers won two world wars. They are determined to be equal, to be heard.
Bond relishes the opportunity to be silent.
"Do you know the average lifespan of a man in your position? Of any agent, come to think of it. We send women to die too. We always have. Heroes, all of them. Foolish, perhaps. Who wouldn't be a little foolish, at least, to do what we do? But still heroes. There's a plaque, somewhere. Somewhere no one can see it."
She sounds maudlin, but her voice is strong, and he knows that her mind is keener than his. He forgets things - on purpose, usually, dropping the information required for one mission the moment he's assigned to the next. But he's been hit in the head too often to be confident that, at least on occasion, he isn't slipping.
There are stitches in his back, winding in a wide arc over his right shoulder. He always returns to her a patchwork man, held together by staples and thread. But at least, thus far, he's always returned. He moves his hand a little, and she stops him, her hand a simple pressure on his. Enough.
"We've both seen better days, Bond. It's not that time hasn't done us favours. We experience. We learn. We learn to live with the scars more than anything, I suspect. But this will always be a game for young fools who don't care much for the idea of growing old with... wrinkles and sagging tits and a dick that won't quite work when they want it to."
Her hand drifts over to him, fingers tickling the crease of his thigh, the tips of pubic hair. She's cool and familiar around his cock, squeezing just a little, the sticky remnants of their lovemaking smearing on her fingers as she moves.
Bond coughs, flexes the sore muscles of his back, and turns to look at her.
"You're not old," he says, his voice as low and sincere as he can make it.
He can almost feel the change in the air as she smiles, crows' feet crinkling at the corners of her eyes. "Dear boy, I'm older than you'll ever be."
A breath. His hand slips back between her legs. "But are you a hero?"
Her laugh is as genuine as it is sad. "Perhaps," she tells him, and rolls over into his arms.