Author’s Notes: Hi everyone! Welcome to another 00Q fic! This one is inspired by the 007 Fest 2019’s MI6 Cafe prompt exchange: “Q is in a relationship but cheats on his partner with Bond.” So, yes. There will be some squicky stuff along the way with this one, but I do hope I will be able to stay true to Bond's and Q's characters and how they may face such a situation.
Thanks so much to Venstar for her great help with scenarios for this fic! I enjoyed our Slack discussion very much!
Bond had always prided himself at being an expert on human nature, but this thing with his Quartermaster quite eluded him.
Indeed, he’d not expected it to happen at all, and so when it did, it had taken him completely unawares. Before he knew it, he was in the full throes of it.
He’d fallen in love with Q.
When did it start? Mutual respect had always been there between them. The affection had come later, gradually accumulating over months of assignments and witty banter, yet Bond had only become aware of that first rush of intense emotion heralding something else during the recent stint in Croatia when Q had given him that exploding Montblanc fountain pen.
“I thought Q branch is no longer into this sort of thing,” he’d said, amused, at their briefing.
Q had merely given him a small smirk. “Generally, no,” he’d agreed. “Only this time, it’s the one thing they’ll possibly allow you to carry on your person into their meeting, and I’m not letting ego and humbug get in the way of recalling obsolete ideas when we’ve still got a use for them. Besides, the arms dealers will be on the lookout for more sophisticated weapons and will never expect it.”
Bond had looked down at the superbly crafted black and gold pen and said, as a parting tease, “Don’t expect to see this back in one piece.”
Q’s smirk had widened into a full smile. “You’re already forgiven on that account, 007,” he’d said dryly, his eyes dancing with mirth. “And good luck.”
His mission had gone smoothly, brilliantly, and everything had been as Q had predicted. The pen had worked like a charm, ridding the world of a bunch of top-grade, well-connected terrorists in a grand way impossible to accomplish with mere bullets.
He’d returned to London exultant and exclaimed to Q, “you’re a sodding genius!”
Q had flushed and merely said, pleased, “of course I am. Don’t tell me it took you this long to figure that out, 007?”
And through their laughter, Bond had gazed at that sweetly smiling face and felt for the first time in a long while that strange contraction of the heart. It had startled him enough that he’d stopped laughing abruptly for a moment or so.
Oh, fuck, he’d thought.
From then on, nothing had been the same. He’d not been able to get rid of Q from his thoughts ever since.
He would drop by Q branch when he had the time, shrugging off the stares and murmurs as his visits became more frequent without any clear reason other than to see Q and engage him in conversation.
“007, is everything alright?” Q had finally asked, and Bond thought it would be wise to curb his visits. Maybe just a bit. He could still call him though, and send him a barrage of text and email messages.
He’d stopped short of asking him out, thinking he’d best go slow when it came to his pursuit of Q. It wouldn’t do to startle the man, who could be quite fidgety and suspicious, and he was also still in the process of getting a grip on himself and this newfound feeling that went just a step beyond normal affection. He was looking forward to finding out all about his quartermaster, his likes and dislikes, and he knew it wouldn’t be easy, gleaning any sort of private information on this particular man. Also, given the sophisticated security system installed by the man himself, the last thing he wanted was Q finding out that he’d been snooping in his files. He could start with Moneypenny, of course, but not in a way that would arouse her suspicions. It would be no easy task, given that she was so astute.
Anyway, these things took time, and they had plenty of that, thought Bond confidently. There was no reason to hurry. They were not going anywhere.
They had all the time in the world.
That, Bond realized later, was his first mistake.
A month later came Q’s birthday. With the proper security clearance, that info had been easy enough to lift from Six’s database.
Bond was planning on giving him something that would serve as a wink and a smile toward the well-sacrificed Montblanc pen, and also for that one time when Q had shown up at an important meeting with Six and Whitehall officials bearing a plastic ballpoint pen with a Donald Duck clip. That had certainly drawn stares and a few raised brows down the line of distinguished government ministers and hobnobs. M had rolled his eyes briefly and looked away, embarrassed.
Bond had been the only one in the room to break into a wide smile, wondering not for the first time how these Millenials were capable of anything these days.
For his part, Q had carried on as though nothing extraordinary had happened, serenely jotting down notes with that absurd pen and presenting his report which these stuffy top dogs could not afford to dismiss.
Thus, with his gift tucked snugly into the pocket of his coat, Bond now made his way over to Moneypenny.
“Don’t you think it would be a good idea to surprise Q and take him out for a drink on his birthday?” he asked as he caught up with her.
Moneypenny turned to him and smiled. “Why, that’s a lovely idea. As it happens, we are indeed going out for drinks later,” she said. “It might be a bit of a damper showing up, though, if you’re not invited.”
“Well,” said Bond after a brief hesitation. One would have thought that he’d be invited to an event like this. Perhaps he’d missed the text message. “I suppose you can take me along with you. Let Q know in advance, of course, that I’m coming.”
“Why?” asked Moneypenny, her eyes narrowing as she contemplated Bond. “You didn’t come last year, nor the one before.”
“I didn’t even know about them,” protested Bond.
“Or maybe he purposefully left you out,” said Moneypenny with a mischievous smile. “Have you ever thought of that?”
Bond was genuinely taken aback. “Why would he do that?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Moneypenny. “It’s not like you and Q are especially close, are you?”
“I do consider myself his friend,” said Bond shortly.
“Do you? Well. Maybe it has to do with you landing him in a spot of trouble on more than one occasion over lost equipment?” replied Moneypenny brightly.
“Come on,” said Bond. “He fully understood that those losses came in the line of duty.”
“Perhaps you really ought to just tell him that you’re coming, yeah?” said Moneypenny with the first hint of unease. “Why go through me?”
“Maybe I will. Why, what’s so particular about showing up for a couple of drinks with some friends on someone’s birthday?” prodded Bond, beginning to sense something. “Who else is going to be there, anyway?”
“Well,” said Moneypenny as she made a show of thinking hard. “For starters, there’s Q’s boyfriend.”
For a moment, time seemed to stand still.
Then, Bond blinked. “Boyfriend?”
“What do you mean, boyfriend?”
“Oh, sorry for the crass terminology, Mr. Bond,” said Moneypenny, still hell-bent on teasing him. “Perhaps ‘romantic male partner’ would be more along your alley?”
“I mean exactly that,” said Moneypenny, looking bewildered as she stared at him. “Honestly, what’s the matter with you? Q’s been seeing someone for over a year. It’s not exactly a secret, mind you. And if I’m not mistaken, Daniel is going to pop the question on him this evening. Dan asked me for advice on the ring, after all.”
It was a well-known fact that Bond was not easily fazed. It would take something truly, devilishly ingenious to blindside him, and apparently, this was one of those occasions.
“Wait,” said Bond, as though a pile of bricks had just landed on his head without warning, stunning him and making nonsense of Moneypenny’s words so that he was compelled to digest everything Moneypenny had just said, right from the beginning. “This is Q we’re talking about. He…Q has a boyfriend?”
“Oh.” Moneypenny’s eyes widened as she gazed at Bond. One look at his stricken face and her expression dissolved into belated realization and horrified dismay. And pity. “Oh, Bond, no.”
Additional Notes: I used to have a professor who did carry a pen with a Donald Duck clip visible from his breast pocket and nobody dared to raise a peep despite the many stares. The pen here will gain its significance in the next chapter. Poor Bond…
Here's the teaser for the next chapter. Writing it now and it's soooo PAINFUL!!
Author's Notes: Aaand here's chapter 2! OMG, so PAINFUL to write! You guys have been warned!! More notes at the end...
After much bickering, they finally arrived at the bar. Along the way, Bond had managed to stop Moneypenny from alerting Q that he was coming by snatching her phone away while they were in the taxi.
He needed to case the situation. He needed to catch Q by surprise, unprepared, his guard down. Bond figured he’d have less than a minute before Q could retreat behind the impenetrable wall that was his polite, public veneer— the only face Bond had ever known him to wear. He was not Bond’s Quartermaster for nothing.
“I’m washing my hands off you!” Moneypenny flung at him just as Bond handed back her phone and turned to tip their driver generously.
“Keep the change,” Bond said with a smirk as the startled cabbie peered wide-eyed from him to a furious Moneypenny.
“Don’t touch me,” snapped Moneypenny as Bond made to escort her through the doors of the bar.
Bond knew the place, trendy among the younger set with its cool, minimalist interiors and mood lighting. It served some pretty good stuff though, enough to tempt him from time to time.
They found Q sitting by himself at a table, bent over his phone with a small, secret smile playing on his lips.
“Robin!” Moneypenny called. It was the only warning she could issue before they were upon him.
Q looked up and his jaw dropped.
“I’m sorry,” said Moneypenny, flustered, as she came up to him and give him a peck on the cheek. Nonplussed, Q half-rose from his seat, still staring at Bond as though he were an apparition. “He insisted on coming and wanted to surprise you.”
“Surprise,” said Bond as he approached with a small smile, “and happy birthday.”
Q cleared his throat. “Yes, well,” he said, his tone clipped. “Thank you, Bond.”
“May I?’ Bond gestured at one of the seats.
“Of course,” said Q before he turned his shuttered gaze at Moneypenny.
Damn, thought Bond as he saw the walls go up around Q. There went his chance.
“He took my bloody phone!” Moneypenny exclaimed.
Q nodded and said, ever the polite host, “drinks, Bond? Eve?”
After they had placed their orders, Q said to Moneypenny, avoiding Bond’s gaze, “He’ll be a bit late.”
“Who?” asked Bond, and promptly received a sharp elbow jab from Moneypenny.
“Daniel,” replied Q readily enough. “My partner.”
“Ah,” said Bond, his eyes straying to the small, nervous movement of Q’s hand as he fiddled with his napkin. His fingers were trembling slightly before he curled his hand into a fist on the table as he caught the direction of Bond’ gaze.
There, thought Bond with some satisfaction.
When Bond lifted his eyes, he found Q looking at him warily, all his defenses intact. But he’d seen enough.
“It would be a pleasure to meet him, I’m sure,” said Bond smoothly even as he felt something heavy gather at the center of his chest.
“I’m certain he’d be delighted to make your acquaintance,” agreed Q, giving nothing away. “Although to what we owe the pleasure of your presence here tonight I’m sure I have no idea, Bond.”
“I just came to wish you a happy birthday,” replied Bond. “What are friends for, after all?”
They stared at each other until Moneypenny muttered, “bloody hell, you can cut whatever this is between the two of you with a knife.”
Q was finally the one to break eye contact, but only to look up and say, “oh, he’s here.”
The Boyfriend was tall and blond, public schoolboy-handsome. “Sorry I’m late, Robbie love,” he said in a deep, pleasant voice as he came right into Q’s arms, bending down slightly to give him a light kiss on the lips.
“No worries, John,” replied Q with a hint of relief in his voice.
Boyfriend straightened up and said, smiling broadly, “Ah, I see you’ve brought friends.” He held out a hand to Moneypenny. “Eve. So nice to see you again. And this is…?”
Bond extended a firm hand. “Bond. James Bond.”
“Ah. Pleasure,” Boyfriend said as they shook hands.
“I call him John,” said Q. “The rest of you may call him Daniel.”
Daniel laughed. Seated beside Q, he looked golden and wholesome, very much like a Labrador, thought Bond.
“He hates me calling him Robbie, so he calls me by my middle name in revenge. But I love it,” Daniel said.
Bond smiled. “Robin is a nice name,” he said. “We never get to hear people calling him that at work though.”
“Oh, really?” Daniel said as he glanced at Q mischievously. “He never talks about his work, you know. So what do you call him in the workplace?”
“Sir,” replied Bond simply.
Daniel blinked and Q flushed. “Drinks, love?” he said as he directed his full attention to Daniel.
“So, Robin,” said Moneypenny, placing a special emphasis on Q’s real name.
“Now, Eve,” admonished Q. “No need to be so formal when you know Ro would do.”
“It will take me a bit to get used to it,” said Eve, laughing.
“And I did warn him about the perils of being associated with caviar,” joked Daniel, giving Q a good-natured wink.
Q snorted out soft laughter. “R-O-E,” he said. “Yes. I think everybody got that, thank you.”
Bond waited for the fresh burst of hilarity to subside before saying, “Of course, it can also be Rho. As in the seventeenth letter of the Greek alphabet, with special uses as a symbol in everything from Mathematics and the sciences to economics and computer programming.”
As Bond spoke, he made to draw the symbol on the table with one fingertip: ϱ
Moneypenny leaned in. “Oh, that looks a bit like a Q, isn’t it?” she said.
“It’s more of a small P with a tail,” said Bond, “but yes it looks like a Q and that’s how he signs himself in the office sometimes.”
Bond held Q’s gaze, noting the slight but significant increase in his breathing. Otherwise, Q sat stock-still.
“Clever,” continued Bond with a small tilt of his lips. “Sir.”
“Well,” Daniel broke in, shrugging. “Of course I knew that.”
“Of course,” said Q, turning away from Bond to beam at him.
Mercifully their drinks arrived then.
“Shall we?” said Daniel as he raised his glass, voice already sliding into a higher note as he prepared to break into song.
“Oh, please god, no,” groaned Q, laughing helplessly. “No singing in public!”
“Later then,” replied Daniel, pitching his voice lower. “I’ll render you a private one.”
“Many happy returns,” said Bond as he raised his glass of vodka martini. “Ro.”
They raised their glasses, murmuring cheers and happy birthday.
“Presents!” said Moneypenny brightly as she produced a cheerfully wrapped parcel. It turned out to be a magnetic perpetual calendar. “I figure you’d need a reminder every now and then when you emerge to take in some air.”
“You know, he’s got several computers to tell him the date and time,” Bond observed. Moneypenny glared at him.
“It’s lovely. I shall have a place of honor for this at my desk, thank you very much, Eve,” said Q, pointedly ignoring Bond.
The table fell silent as Bond produced his gift, tastefully wrapped in dark paper.
“Oh,” said Q when he opened the leather case. “Bond, really, you shouldn’t have.”
“Something to remember a past assignment by,” said Bond.
“This is too much,” said Q, gesturing at the gorgeous Montblanc Meisterstück Solitaire Legrand fountain pen.
“You need to have something for the board meetings aside from that ridiculous cartoon duck pen of yours,” teased Bond, smiling.
Daniel turned to Q, intrigued. “You really did use that Donald Duck pen I gave you in one of your meetings?” he said.
“I did send you a selfie of it, didn’t I?’ returned Q.
“I thought you were just humoring me!” said Daniel, laughing delightedly. “It was just for high jinks.”
“Well, looks like somebody just lost their bet,” said Q.
“And very glad to do so. I shall have to think of a…suitable reward for you,” said Daniel suggestively as he reached into his pocket. “Now, for my part…”
He made a show of hesitating before he brought out the small black box and placed it in front of Q. “I meant to reserve it till after dinner later,” he said softly. “But seeing as how you’re being so thoroughly spoilt by your friends…”
“Oh my god,” said Q.
Daniel smiled. “Open it,” he urged.
“Oh my god,” Q said again as he stared into the open box, at the silver ring lined by a single strip of diamonds.
“Now, I know, I know,” Daniel explained. “I followed Eve’s advice in choosing the color, but the diamonds were my idea. Hideously sentimental, I’m afraid, but that’s me. That’s what you’re stuck with, in case you need to change your mind right about now.”
Q shook his head as he looked up. “It’s…it’s everything I imagined it would be,” he said rather helplessly.
“So,” said Daniel as he raised his eyebrows meaningfully at Q. “Robin Clarke Mitchell, will you marry me?”
Q couldn’t seem to muster words for a moment, just a soft sound leaving his lips, part sigh, part laughter. Then, “this is the best present, thank you. And yes. Of course, yes.”
Bond turned away to signal to the waiter just as Q leaned in to kiss his fiancé and Moneypenny broke out into loud congratulatory hoots and applause.
“This calls for champagne,” Bond said. “My treat.”
He watched as Daniel slipped the ring onto the appropriate finger of Q’s hand, murmuring playfully, “my, but your hand is cold as ice, love. Don’t tell me you’re really so affected by the proposal?”
Blushing, Q merely laughed as he gazed down at the ring. He seemed determined not to look anywhere else.
After the congratulatory toast, Bond took a sip of the excellent vintage before setting his flute on the table and rising. “I have to go, still have to catch a date. Congratulations once again and have a pleasant evening.”
“Oh,” said Q as he glanced at him, startled. “Of course. Thanks for dropping by, Bond. I…we appreciate it.”
“I’ll go ahead as well,” said Moneypenny as she leaned in to kiss Q. “Congratulations, you guys! Enjoy your dinner.”
Outside the bar, Bond halted in his tracks and felt the need to close his eyes for a moment to ground himself.
“Are you alright, Bond?” queried Moneypenny beside him.
When he opened his eyes, he was himself again. “Of course,” he said shortly. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
He wasn’t alright, of course. He’d been through actual torture and he could safely say that the pain he was feeling right now was more real and distressing and immediate than any physical torment that had ever been inflicted upon his body. At least he’d known how to distance his mind from all of that, but he could not escape this.
Moneypenny stared at him for a moment more before looking away. She knew him too well to buy any of his lies. “You poor bloody sod,” she murmured. “I did warn you not to go through with this, but did you listen?”
Bond was definitely not listening. Already, he was busy turning over various scenarios as he went back to what had just happened. He scoured his memories, inch by inch, for anything to use. Q, as expected, had not given away much, but there were the trembling, ice-cold hands, the averted gaze. Hands, he knew from experience, which were incredibly steady during the most critical moments of a mission and lush green eyes which never veered away or backed down from any danger or threat. Or from him, for that matter. Until now.
He would concentrate on those details and not think about the rest.
Don’t think about Q’s kisses, sweet and soft and chaste, on another man’s mouth. Don’t think of him wearing another man’s ring.
At this point, he knew he was grabbing at straws but he’d managed to survive before with far less material to cling to. He would have to make do with the fact that Q was obviously not impervious to him and work from there.
Moneypenny was still talking by the time he zoned back in. “…let this go, Bond?” she was saying earnestly. “Q is now taken and his fiancé is lovely. You don’t stand a chance in hell. Just accept the fact that you came in too late— it does happen, you know— and if you really care about him, then let’s be happy for them, and then move on.”
Bond smiled as he turned to her. “Don’t worry about me,” he said.
More Notes: Here's the Montblanc Meisterstück Solitaire Legrand fountain pen that Bond gifted Q with, which easily costs around US$1500...
Here's the teaser for the next chapter! AAHHH THE PAIN~~!!!
Author's Notes: Aaand here's the next chapter! The PAIN continues! Please mind the tags, and please remember when you get to the bottom half of this chapter that I did warn you guys when I said Q/OC. I DID WARN YOU!! Kidding aside, comments are always appreciated but please be kind. XD XD XD
Twenty minutes wasn’t all that long, but even a minute of such pure, unadulterated agony would have seemed like an eternity. All throughout the time that Bond had crashed into his little birthday get-together, Q felt as though he’d forgotten how to breathe. Perhaps this was how it felt like to drown, to have the air sucked out of one’s lungs. It was remarkable that he could still speak, let alone string words together to form coherent sentences.
He only started to calm down when Moneypenny and Bond left, when he and Daniel sat down to dinner. Still, the food tasted like cardboard in his mouth and the motion of chewing and swallowing seemed mechanical and not entirely coordinated. He was intensely grateful to Daniel for being considerate enough not to ask any of the hard questions. Instead, they talked about the trips they would be making to meet Dan’s parents and Q’s mother and sister, and of setting the date.
“Not a day beyond April, I hope,” Dan said. “Mum would not hear of it.”
Q smiled. “We’ll see,” he said. “We’ll work out the schedule.”
Daniel began the subject as they headed home. In the warm darkness of the cab, he said, “so. This James Bond,” he said.
Q sighed. “Yes?”
“Interesting character,” said Daniel carefully.
Q huffed out a soft laugh. “You think?”
“He’s really your subordinate?” Dan’s incredulity was clear.
“Dangerous looking fellow,” observed Dan.“I didn’t realize your job would entail this sort of thing. No use asking what it is you people actually do?”
“We’ve been through this before,” said Q in quiet resignation. “I wish I can tell you though. You know that.”
Dan sighed a bit dramatically. “All right. Of course, I’m all for you being bloody mysterious. It’s one of your main attractions.”
Q laughed. After a minute or so, he said, “I just want you to know he’s not gay. He’s got a bevy of girlfriends. He said so himself, he still had a date to catch. I swear he’s probably seeing two or three women simultaneously.”
Dan gave a thin smile. “That’s very reassuring,” he said dryly. “He seems to know a lot about you.”
“Anyone who works with me knows about that symbol,” Q replied. “You know I like playing around with symbols.”
“I didn’t know about that particular symbol being attached to you.”
“Well, you don’t need to. That’s the point. It’s just work,” explained Q patiently. “You don’t have to bother with it.”
There was a bit of stubborn silence from Daniel as he looked away, refusing to meet Q in the eye. Q could tell that he’d touched a nerve.
“As for Bond, he just sees me as an amusing little oddity, a puzzle he can crack,” continued Q soothingly. “I can’t tell you anything more, only, we work as a team. He needs me to help him get his job done.”
“And you give him whatever he needs without fail.”
“If it’s part of my job description to do so,” said Q, not rising to Dan’s bait. “He’s never gone beyond that.”
“Good luck with him, then,” muttered Dan. “Though we must admit he’s got taste. What sort of things does he need from you that he tries to bribe you with goodies worth over a thousand pounds?”
“The pen was meant as a joke,” said Q, not looking at Dan. He felt uncomfortably warm.
“Is it? It’s a very expensive one,” insisted Dan. “In fact, I’m sure it’s understandable for anyone to have the distinct impression that he was trying to impress you.”
Q raised a brow at him. It was time he ended this tiresome conversation. “No matter what James Bloody Bond may think to bring me, it cannot even begin to compare with your ring. That was simply brilliant.”
After a tense moment, Dan chuckled, somewhat mollified.
“Anyway,” Q continued, smiling now, “you already have solid proof that I’d prefer Donald Duck over a Montblanc pen anytime. It all boils down to the giver.”
Daniel finally laughed. “I’m very flattered, darling,” he said. Q was rather relieved that the discussion was drawing to an end as Dan reached out to give his hand a fond squeeze. “And you’re no longer cold, I see.”
“No,” answered Q. “No longer cold.”
Later, as they were undressing for bed, Daniel made to pull Q toward him. He’d regained much of his good humor. They shared a kiss, warm and teasing as Dan’s hands roamed lazily over Q’s body.
“What a nice goodnight kiss,” Q giggled.
“Shall we, tonight?” Dan asked, voice dipping in invitation.
“I’d love to,” sighed Q. “Only I have to be up very early tomorrow morning for a breakfast meeting. Aren’t you tired?”
Dan shrugged. “A bit. It doesn’t matter. We can always do it tomorrow.”
“Okay,” said Q as he gave Daniel a small peck on the lips. “Thank you, love.”
Q opened his mouth but it took a second or two for the words to come. “For being the world’s greatest boyfriend,” he finally said.
Dan laughed. “It seems I’m not the only cheesy one around here,” he said.
Q turned away from the digital clock perched on his nightstand and sighed. He’d resigned himself to the fact that he wouldn’t be getting much sleep tonight, after the commotion earlier in the evening.
James Fucking Bond.
Why now? Why this? He thought miserably. Why me?
Now, lying quietly in bed with the lights out and Daniel sound asleep beside him, Q could afford to be completely honest with himself.
His very first thought upon seeing Bond had not been, what is he doing here?
Oh no. His mind, in its panic, had immediately jumped to, oh god, he knows.
It did not help that Bond had been dropping by Q branch more and more often in the past month, and now, suddenly, this new development. Q knew that he was being paranoid, but he couldn’t help but think that Bond may have worked it all out somehow— the convoluted truth that Q once had a god-awful crush on him. Yet crush seemed like such a tame word to describe how he’d actually felt about this man. It would be more accurate to say that Q had been silently, desperately and hopelessly in love with him for the better part of two years before he’d given up, let him go. And all without a single word being uttered or a single gesture being made that might have given him away. He was immensely proud of himself for this.
He’d relegated it all to the past— that unbelievable rollercoaster ride of intense, febrile and ridiculous feelings ranging from ecstatic highs to plunging despair, all based on a single glance or the slightest move (or lack thereof) from a man who’d never seen him as anything but the Boffin-in-chief of Q branch. Yet knowing all this, Q still would have done anything and gone to any lengths for Bond. And when the threat of Spectre had loomed over all of them, he had done just that.
Finally, that day Bond had dropped by Q branch to ask for his DB-5 before riding off with Dr. Swann had been the day Q had made himself stop pining for him. Within the week, he’d mustered the nerve to ask Moneypenny to arrange a blind date for him— his very first.
Bond’s brief sojourn from Six had done wonders as he weaned himself off Bond’s unknowing influence, and he’d not looked back since. Yet now, one appearance by the man, one indication that he might be interested in him was all it took to undo everything.
Do you see me now, Bond?
You see me just when I’m no longer looking at you.
And it would have ended there if he’d no longer cared; but he did. Dear god, he still cared. That was what was tearing him apart, making him lose sleep at 2 a.m. when he had a full, busy day ahead of him at work.
He lifted his phone once again to check his inbox, scrolling down to the text message he’d sent to Moneypenny at around midnight:
Q (11:51 pm): We need to talk. 7 am tomorrow, usual place?
Q (11:57 pm): I know you’re still awake. Please don’t even think about refusing for I shall never talk to you again.
Moneypenny (11:58 pm): Okay.
He managed to sleep for four hours, which was better than nothing. The alarm promptly went off at six, rousing him from strange dreams that vanished like smoke the moment he peeled his eyes open, yet leaving behind traces of sensations, arousing and troubling in equal measure.
He lay still for a moment longer, heart still pounding hard, trying to grasp the last tendrils of the dream that was fast slipping away, before he felt a hand brush lightly down his back.
“You up, sleepyhead?” murmured Daniel.
“Yes,” Q said. “Sorry to wake you.”
Q turned slowly to burrow into Dan’s arms, luxuriating in the feel of a long, warm body pressed against him. They kissed, leisurely at first, before urgency gradually crept in. He was not wearing his glasses, and everything was a blur, the feel of Daniel familiar beneath his hands but all he could envision was the body of another man, also deeply familiar although he’d only known him in his dreams.
“Don’t you have to be in early today?” queried Daniel as Q moved down his body, planting soft kisses as he went.
Q hummed. “We have some time now,” he said. “Otherwise, I won’t be back until after dinner tonight.”
“Oh,” said Daniel, leaning back into the pillows as Q’s mouth sought him, teasingly taking his time before he finally found him. “Ohhh yeah…”
It did not take long. Theirs was a settled, comfortable routine that Q could time almost down to the last minute. Daniel came within a few minutes just like always, and Q followed shortly by grinding himself against him, Daniel’s voice a soothing, encouraging murmur against his ear and his arms wrapped around him as Q buried his face against his fiance’s shoulder.
Their lovemaking was always sweet and thoughtful, languid and easy; yet today, spurred on by his dream, Q could not help going back to the intruding images of a harder body and the feel of the hot, avid mouth of a carnivorous lover who devoured him so thoroughly. He could not rid himself of the idea of being taken so brutally, so wonderfully, by a man who had never actually touched him before.
Q, growled his dream lover, voice low and filthy against his ear and he could almost feel the sharp rasp of teeth against his skin.
He came messily in hot spurts, biting back a cry of surprise at the sudden surge of orgasm.
A ragged gasp escaped him and he bit his lips, almost hard enough to draw blood so that he may never make the mistake of ever uttering that name out loud.
Q finally subsided, panting. After a moment, he lifted himself gingerly away from Daniel. He moved to put on his glasses and pluck some tissues from the nightstand, heedless of Dan’s caressing hand. As Q cleaned him off with soft, gentle strokes, Daniel said, “wow. You came so much.”
That’s because I love you so much, Q would have wanted to say. Instead, he found himself saying, “I need to take that shower now or I’ll be late.”
He got up from the bed and went to the bathroom without looking back. Inside the shower stall, he spent a considerable amount of time with his forehead pressed against the wall, letting the warm water run all over him as he tried to calm down.
After his shower, he found Daniel sitting up in bed, the blankets low on his hips. “You should try to get one more hour of sleep,” Q urged.
“Is everything okay, love?” Dan asked uncertainly.
Q sat down beside him and leaned in for a quick kiss. “Fine,” he said, ignoring the fresh throb of pain inside his chest. “Everything is fine. Why wouldn’t it be?”
For a moment, it looked like Daniel was about to say something more. Then, he settled for, “I’ll see you later tonight.”
“Okay,” said Q. “Have a good day at work, and… please don’t forget to feed the cats before you go.”
Here's the teaser for the next chapter!
Author's Notes: Aaand here's the next chapter! All the usual suspects are here while Henry Flagen, a recurring character in my 00Q fics, is my own creature. Anyway, enjoy! Do let me know what you think!
Moneypenny came in with guns blazing.
“Before anything else,” she declared, “I just want to make clear that I had nothing to do with Bond tagging along last night.”
Q was not ceding an inch. “He came with you,” he pointed out as he pinned her with a severe look.
“He hijacked my taxi and snatched my phone!” said Moneypenny, pausing only briefly as the coffee shop attendant came over with their morning drinks and pastries. In a lower voice, she continued, “what was I supposed to do?”
Q stared at her, his expression flat, until she relented.
“Look, you have to believe me,” she said softly. “I didn’t see it coming, either, otherwise I would have warned you; but Bond is Bond and, thank goodness, you’re engaged. That ought to be the end of it.”
There was a pause before Q asked carefully, “What does that mean?”
“Well,” said Moneypenny, spreading her hands, palms up, in a helpless gesture. “You’re going to laugh, but he’s decided that he fancies you. It’s insane, I know! That would have been funny any other day, but…”
Moneypenny trailed off as she stared at Q. “Oh,” she said after a moment, her face crumpling in dismay. “Oh, dear god.”
Q swallowed as he shut his eyes and gave his head a brief shake, but the damage was done. In his state of shock, he’d slipped, let her see his unschooled features.
Moneypenny slumped in her seat. “You two are such idiots!” she exclaimed, disgusted. “Why did you never tell me that you’ve got a thing for him?”
Q briefly considered lying, instead, he found himself saying, “that was a long time ago, and it’s never going to happen. He’s…he’s Bond, and I’m…”
Goddammit, thought Q angrily. Trust his eloquence to desert him at the very moment he needed it most. Moneypenny stared at him pityingly.
“Anyway, what does it matter now? I’m not letting him ruin my engagement,” Q said as he quickly drew back into himself. “Who does he think he is? I love Daniel.”
“Bloody hell,” muttered Moneypenny as something occurred to her. “No wonder he wanted to come last night. He needed to case you, and, oh, dear lord…your trembling hands.”
Shit, thought Q.
“We know what he’s like,” added Q, ignoring her as she stared pointedly at the ring on his finger. Just like last night, he’d curled his hand into a fist on the table to prevent it from trembling. “How long do you think I’ve got, if it ever became us? Two weeks? We’ll be lucky to last a month. He’ll move on. He always does. Do you really think I’d be that daft to settle for someone like him?”
“You sound as if you’re trying to convince yourself.”
“I don’t need convincing,” retorted Q.
“You’re flushing,” Moneypenny pointed out.
“Just let this lie,” said Q as he glared at her. “I’ve got this. I’m not risking a stable, happy relationship with Daniel for someone like Bond.”
“You know, so far you’ve not mentioned that you don’t love him,” Moneypenny said, her voice sad.
Q took care to enunciate each word clearly as it left his mouth: “I. Don’t. Love. Him.”
“Oh, god,” muttered Moneypenny as she looked away, and that was when Q realized that he was quite fucked.
Given how his meeting with Moneypenny had turned out, Q was pretty sure he would be facing an uphill battle with the rest of the day, and ten minutes inside Q branch, he was proven right.
R sounded the alarm as soon as they sat down for their daily meeting and she spotted the ring.
R, who was normally so steady and calm and ever so reliable, practically shrieked as she excitedly pointed at the band on Q’s finger. ““Oh my god! Is that…? Oh my god, it is!”
Q had to close his eyes briefly but everyone had crowded around and it was useless to retract his hand. So he tried to be a good sport and extended his hand, smiling, allowing everyone to crowd around and coo over the ring. He had to endure ten full minutes of oohs and aahs and the many questions and congratulations that followed.
“No, we’ve not set a date yet,” said Q, over and over. “And yes, you are all invited, of course.”
“That part’s all Daniel, I must say,” declared Henry Flagen, Q branch’s chief engineer and weapons specialist, as he nodded at the row of diamonds lining the front of the ring. Not that he’d ever met Daniel as far as Q could recall.
“How so?” inquired R, curious.
“Well, that’s hardly Sir’s style, is it…oww!” said Henry as R elbowed him sharply.
Q stared at them and then at the ring. “That’s the message, I suppose,” he said. “This is meant to reflect the choices of two people.”
“Yes, it is,” said R rather emphatically. “And it’s cute, just like the two of you!”
Q managed to fob off her other questions (such as, so how did he pop the question?) by getting down to their meeting. Afterward, he beat a hasty retreat to his office and proceeded to be very busy at his computers until he calmed down somewhat.
He was reacting strangely, he knew, and he could only hope the minions would think he was merely flustered by their kind interest, which he was. One would have imagined it to be a happy occasion, showing off one’s engagement ring to everyone. It should have been a proud moment. The last thing he’d expected was to be totally embarrassed and unnerved by all the attention.
He paused in his work and stared down at his hands, poised over the keyboard of his computer. It really was a pretty ring, the diamonds glittering in the white fluorescent light overhead.
It was also quite distracting.
After a moment more, Q hesitantly turned the ring around on his finger so that only the pure silver showed. There. That was better. He turned back to his work and promptly forgot about it until a few hours later, when he was called out by one of the minions over a detail involving an upcoming mission.
It was an important one, and it would require him going abroad to personally deal with the extraction of a high-ranking cyberspecialist, highly capable and intensely desirable. Currently lying low in Armenia, the person was also their mole, expertly moving around the region and transacting with Q online for years, trusting him enough that they would only talk to him.
Q was excited and apprehensive in equal parts, knowing what was at stake. M had already outlined the mission with him and would be assigning two double-O’s to accompany him to extract the Asset. The Asset’s acquisition would be a tremendous boost to the British Intelligence Service. Failure to do so would mean a hideous international incident that may not be resolved with diplomacy.
So far they were still gathering information. The extraction would take place in a month. Anything could go wrong, and there was no substitute for meticulous planning.
Q was bent over the minion’s table, going over the data they had managed to glean from their recent hack when, from the corner of his eye, he spotted Bond walking past them several yards away. It was just a split second, but he’d know that figure anywhere. He had memorized every line of that body in its sharply tailored suits so that he’d recognize him even without setting his full gaze upon him.
Why was he here? Of course. Bond was on his way to meet Henry, who needed to take his hand biometrics and recalibrate certain firearms based on the new sensors that were being installed into them. Bond had no other business in Q branch and no reason to approach Q in between missions, although that had not stopped him from doing so in the past month or so.
Effortlessly, Q turned away from Bond’s direction without ever looking at him as he kept up the instructions he was relaying to the minion beside him. The action was completely fluid, natural. He never once broke from his distracted façade even as he felt his heart twist painfully inside him.
Afterward, he tried to wait it out inside his office, hoping Bond would not drop by but expecting it anyway. There was something he needed to return to him.
Bond did not come. Not twenty nor even thirty minutes later.
Deflating somewhat yet quite relieved, Q finally emerged from his office, only to come across Bond just as he was leaving Henry’s section and crossing into his.
It was the stuff of nightmares: he came up short, evidently startled, and Bond never broke from his smooth strides until they were almost upon each other. Q had to ground himself and not step out of the way first.
“007,” he said, awkwardness tracing itself in every line of his body as they stood almost shoulder to shoulder.
Bond merely raised an eyebrow. “Q,” he said in greeting, his voice and face bland, as if nothing significant had transpired between them last night.
“If you have a moment,” said Q as he gathered himself.
“Certainly,” returned Bond as he made to enter Q’s office.
Inside, Bond stood as he usually did— feet apart, one hand inside the pocket of his trousers, all lounging, casual grace, yet he loomed large as Q rounded his desk, setting the table between them.
Quietly, he took out Bond’s Montblanc pen in its case and placed it on the table.
“I forgot to thank you last night,” said Q without looking at him. “That was inexcusable of me.”
“Given the momentous occasion, it was completely understandable,” Bond replied.
Q cleared his throat. “Yes, well,” he said. “Thank you. It’s perfectly lovely, Bond, but I’m afraid I can’t accept it.”
“It’s too much,” said Q, flinging out a vague gesture with one hand. “I doubt if even my ring costs as much as your pen.”
“Is that what’s really bothering you?” said Bond.
“No,” said Q shortly. “Of course not.”
“Perhaps it’s your fiancé then. My apologies. I didn’t mean to set him on edge, but then I didn’t realize you were getting engaged last night.”
“It’s your pen, Bond.” Arms crossed over his chest, Q finally pinned him with a glare. “That’s what’s bothering me.”
Bond shrugged. “Why should it? It’s just a pen.”
“That costs over a thousand pounds,” finished Q. “Friends don’t…I mean, colleagues—”
“I do,” said Bond, relentless.
Q blew out a gusty breath, feeling his frustration rise at Bond’s deliberate obtuseness. “Why won’t you just take it back, please?” he said.
“It’s yours,” said Bond. “I’ve no use for it. You may want to set an explosive into it and take it along for our mission next month. It might come in handy.”
Q felt his lips part in surprise, head turning reflexively to check his computer screen, where an email from M had just arrived. Evidently, he’d made his choice as to which double-O agents he would be assigning to Q’s mission.
“Christ. Just…why are you making things difficult? Just come out and say it. What the hell do you want from me, Bond?” Q finally snapped, his patience running out. For all their verbal parrying, he felt exposed in front of this man, that pale gaze seeing through him and stripping him of all his defenses.
“You,” said Bond, his voice impossibly soft. “I want you.”
“Is this a joke?” said Q tersely. “Because if it is, I’m not laughing.”
“It’s not,” assured Bond, perfectly serious. “I’m in love with you.”
Q felt as though his throat had closed, making breathing difficult. “I love Daniel. I’ve agreed to marry him.”
“Marry him, then,” said Bond. “It won’t change how I feel.”
“You can go to hell, Bond.”
“Maybe I’m already there,” replied Bond easily. “Oh, and…you’ve got the ring on backward.”
Q looked down hastily at his hand, mortified, yet before he could come up with any sort of excuse, before he could even look back up, Bond was gone.
Here's the teaser for the next chapter. Enjoy!
Author's Notes: Aand the story continues! Poor Q...
Follow me at my tumblr for updates and teasers.
In theory, the mission ought to be easy to explain away to Daniel as a regular working trip but Q found that in practice, it was so much more difficult, mainly because he could give no particulars about where he was going or what he was doing. Hardest of all was the fact that, communication-wise, he would be totally out of reach for the better part of a week.
Daniel did not take to it well, especially as it would disrupt their plans in meeting his parents, along with Q’s family. “If we postpone it a bit longer we may as well meet them in time for Christmas,” he complained.
“I promise I’ll make it up to you as soon as this is done,” said Q imploringly, leaning in to kiss him, only for his lips to meet the side of Daniel’s face as he abruptly turned his head away.
“You’re angry,” sighed Q, drawing away.
“Upset may be a better word,” said Dan, eyes averted to the telly as they sat on the couch after dinner. “And I do hope you can see that it’s with reason.”
“I’m telling you two weeks in advance precisely so that we can work our schedule around it,” said Q reasonably.
“Mum and dad were really looking forward to seeing you last weekend, but you begged off because of work. Now you’re postponing it yet again for almost another month. How can I explain that to them?” inquired Dan.
“The same way I have to tell my mum and Lisa,” said Q. “Look, you go away on business trips yourself. In fact, you’re going to one next week. What makes this any different?”
When Dan said nothing, he continued, “I can’t put off this assignment and the preparations that it entails. It’s too important and I’ll have to be in London for the next few weeks for it.”
He could see the retort on Dan’s face, when he turned to him; the words at the tip of his tongue: Is it more important than us?
Don’t make me say it, Q’s gaze begged as he stared back at him. Please don’t make me choose between you and my work.
Q cleared his throat and said carefully, “I suppose this is what an engagement is all about— a couple getting to know what it truly feels like to be around each other all the time; to make adjustments and accept each other, warts and all.”
“We’ve been living together for five months and it’s been heaven,” Dan pointed out. “It only started going downhill when we actually got engaged.”
Christ, thought Q with an inward sigh. Aloud he said, “if you’ve got something to say, I suggest you go ahead and say it.”
“Fine, I will,” snapped Dan. “Is James Bond part of this assignment?”
Q hedged. “You know I can’t divulge anything about my work.”
“It’s just a question answerable by a yes or no,” said Dan coldly. “Unless you really don’t want to answer for obvious reasons.”
Q closed his eyes, genuinely pained, yet the lie fell readily from his lips and felt completely natural: “No. For god’s sake, you’re giving the man way too much credit.”
“Yes, you are,” said Q with quiet emphasis. He would have wanted to say more but decided against it. God only knew what he might end up divulging just to appease Daniel.
“You know we’ve not had sex the entire week,” Dan pointed out, his tone petulant.
“What do you mean?” said Q, dully. Of course, he knew exactly what he meant. “Didn’t I just suck you off the other day?”
“You know what I mean,” said Dan, snapping again. “Proper sex.”
“Butt sex,” said Q, injecting some teasing amusement in his tone.
“Yes, that,” said Dan, arms crossed rather defensively on his chest. “And it’s not funny.”
“No,” said Q, smiling. “I didn’t say it was.”
After a moment, he moved slowly, carefully, to settle himself on Dan’s lap. He leaned down even as Dan tried to dodge him, planting soft, persistent kisses on Dan’s cheek, his hair, the side of his face, until Q felt Dan begin to relax against him.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “There may be more of these episodes in future. That’s just part of my job. I can’t promise anything in terms of scheduling.”
“It’s not that,” Dan muttered as he finally placed his hands on Q. “I feel as though you’ve grown…distant, ever since the night you said yes to me. It’s pretty ironic.”
“Distracted,” Q corrected him. “I have a lot on my mind, and I’m afraid it won’t be over until this blasted assignment is finished. That’s just how my job is.”
Dan settled back against the sofa as he looked up at him, gaze softening. “Well, just so long as—”
Just then, Q’s phone began to ring, snapping them out of the soft cocoon of comfort they were weaving around themselves.
Breathing apologies admixed with a few choice swear words, Q moved off Daniel and reached for his phone that was flashing an unidentified number that he was quite familiar with.
Shit, he thought as he swiped at the screen to answer the call.
“Yes,” he said, all but snapping into his phone as he rolled his eyes briefly for Daniel’s benefit.
There was a pause on the other line before that low, smoky voice came on, “I hope I’m not disturbing you.”
Well, as a matter of fact, you are, Q would have liked to say. “Why are you calling? Is there a problem?” he asked, frowning, taking care not to call Bond by his name. With an apologetic glance at Daniel, he moved away from the living room.
“No problem, although I think you already know that M is getting ready to dispatch me and 008 ahead of schedule,” said Bond. “With that, I—”
Q was startled. “What? What for?”
There was a pregnant pause before Bond said, “Never mind. We’ll be seeing each other tomorrow, anyway. Apologies for interrupting your evening.”
It was only after he’d hung up that Q noticed the coded messages left by R and M over an hour ago while he’d been busy arguing with Daniel.
Shit shit shit.
M’s laconic message mirrored Bond’s, requesting that Q make the necessary preparations to outfit the agents as soon as possible. There was no explanation given and Q was not expecting one over email. He would find out as soon as they had their daily briefing the next day. Instead, he called R, who was currently on night duty at Q branch.
“There’s no need to come, we’re handling this,” she said.
“The Asset has unloaded a huge amount of data over an hour ago, we’re sifting through the information as we speak.”
“I’ll have to go in.”
“There’s no need, Q. This will take a while and the contents are not that urgent. Everything can wait until morning. Just enjoy your evening with Daniel.”
“I’ll go in,” said Q stubbornly as he hung up and walked back into the living room.
“Sorry,” he said to Daniel. “Something’s come up, and—”
Daniel said nothing, merely swept a contemptuous hand toward the door as he gazed at Q from under his brows.
Q drew in a breath and let it out slowly, swallowing the hot words forming just on the tip of his tongue. He’d had just about enough of the juvenile sulks for one evening.
“Don’t wait up,” he said shortly as he slipped into his coat and got his messenger bag ready.
“Q—” R began when he stepped into Q branch at 10 pm.
“The Asset’s cover has been blown,” said Q as he moved quickly to open his computer. “M knows that just as I do. The data dump is a signal that he’s on the move.”
“Jesus,” said R.
“Right now, we have to track him down,” said Q as he got busy typing in the codes, pulling up digital maps. “The Asset would have left clues in the data handed to us. This is what we need to find, R.”
His phone rang. M. “Yes, sir,” he said as he and R got down to work. “Yes, I am on it. Initiating the search now.”
“He couldn’t have gone far,” said M.
“I hope so, sir. Embedded in the data would be the codes to help search for him as we have previously arranged.”
“Good. Update me after you’ve finished,” said M and rang off.
They were able to go over the entire data in three hours, and by the end of the second hour it had become increasingly clear to Q that they wouldn’t find the Asset. He might well have been possible to trace within the first hour he’d dumped the data, and then afterward, suddenly, nothing.
That first hour of the Asset’s disappearance, when Q had been too busy arguing with Daniel to pay any attention to his phone, had been critical.
“He’s gone,” Q reported to M. “Possibly taken, abducted. His tracks ended so abruptly, after he was able to send what is possibly a small distress signal. We’re still decoding it now.”
There was a pause before he continued, pained, “I should have acted sooner, traced him during the first hour of his disappearance…”
“You could not have done anything to stop his abduction, Q,” said M firmly. “None of us had anticipated this, not even the agents in charge of him in Yerevan. Right now we will need to continue tracking him down. Use all methods at your disposal. I will send 007 ahead to investigate in the field along with the ground agents. Meanwhile, you will continue to monitor online, see if you can find him and guide 007 through. As of now, there is no need for you to go. There is no point to the exfiltration if the Asset dies…”
M trailed off ominously.
“I understand, sir,” said Q quietly.
That would mean two years of meticulous planning and work down the drain.
He spent the night in Q branch after first texting Daniel to say that he wouldn’t be going home. He did not trust himself to talk to him.
It was absurd, not to mention unfair. It was hardly Daniel’s fault any more than it was his, yet guilt over his belated response to the Asset’s disappearance rankled, remaining inside him and rising up his throat like hot bile.
Somehow, he could not help but feel that he had slipped up. And if it hadn’t been for 007’s call…
Q shook the thought away, aware that he was not being entirely logical. He managed to sleep for a few hours on his office couch, then he was up, directing Henry as soon as he came in to make ready the equipment for outfitting 007.
The man himself arrived at 9 am. He stood before Q silently, taking in his instructions as he was handed his weapons and documents.
“And that’s it,” said Q as he finished with his briefing. “Questions, 007?”
“What, no exploding pen this time?” was all Bond said, lips tilted in a small smirk.
“I’m afraid not,” said Q. He was too tired for this— Bond’s little, thoughtless flirtations. He looked away and glanced at his dark, silent phone on his desk. Daniel had not even bothered to reply to his message last night, damn him.
“Well, I’m sure you’ll find some use for that pen,” continued Bond. “A set of lock-picking tools will always be useful in that part of the world.”
“At this point, my presence may not even be required over there, ever,” said Q.
“You’ll never know,” said Bond, smiling slightly. “We just might be able to find him, chained and manacled, but alive.”
He made to turn away and Q could not help himself. “Bond,” he called after him.
Q took a breath. “Good luck,” he said. “And be careful out there.”
Bond’s smile widened. “Aren’t I always?”
Q found himself returning that smile for the first time. “Not ever, no.”
“Why, Q, does this mean you care?” Bond teased.
Q turned away, although the small smile still lingered on his lips. “Goodbye, 007.”
After a moment, Bond said, “I wouldn’t be too worried. You’ve got my back, and I’ll have you in my ear.”
With that he left, leaving Q to his thoughts for a few moments. Afterward, he called Henry over and brought out Bond’s Montblanc pen, detailing to him what he wanted done to it.
Here's the teaser for the next chapter. Enjoy!
Author's Notes: Apologies to everyone who has read the Teaser for this chapter. It got too long, what with so many details needing to be fleshed out, that the contents of the teaser had to be pushed to ch 7. We're getting to the fireworks, and soon! XD Enjoy!
Two hours upon landing in Yerevan, 007 reported, “he’s gone. Witnesses reported a scuffle in the streets followed by the Asset being bundled into a car and sped away.”
“I’m looking into the CCTV footages now, 007,” replied Q, hands busy on his computer. “We're also tracing the car and its whereabouts. I will update you as soon as we find anything. He can be holed up within the city, still.”
“Let’s hope so, though I don’t think we’ll be able to find him unless he manages to flee his captors and get to a computer,” remarked 007.
“Let me see to that before you make your pronouncements,” said Q crisply as he pulled up several digital maps of Yerevan before him.
He’d calmed down considerably in the hours leading up to the present, the shock of the first hour of the Asset’s disappearance quickly fading as Q got down to work tracking him down.
“He’s too important to be killed outright,” said 007. “So let’s hope we’ll be given some time along with him.”
“And in the meantime, he gets to be tortured,” said Q grimly. “I just hope he’ll be able to hold out and surprise us one more time.”
“How is he going to do that?” 007 wanted to know as he continued to cover the field with the other ground agents.
“He has his devices and we’ve developed a special emergency code installed into one over the years,” said Q. “So long as it wasn’t knocked out of him, I think he’ll be able to—”
“Wait,” said 007. “He’s got a sensor within his person?”
“Of course he does, 007. That was how we were able to pick up his signal whenever he chose to offload information.”
Q bit the inside of his cheek before he continued, “that is, of course, if it were not knocked out of his mouth.”
007’s gave a low, pleasant chuckle in Q’s ear, making him pause from his work for a second, his eyes drifting closed over the soft, intimate sound. Sometimes, it almost felt as though Bond’s laughter was meant only for him, which he knew to be entirely ridiculous.
“You mean to say it’s some sort of dental implant?” Bond said next.
“Exactly,” said Q. “His own device with my code incorporated into it and virtually undetectable by the usual methods due to the amalgam-like material it’s embedded in. Quite ingenious. We’ve got to have this man, 007. R is trying to trace the signal, or the remnants of one, now.”
“You do think of everything, don’t you,” remarked Bond.
“That’s what I’m here for,” replied Q, his tone carefully neutral. As always he had to pause for a moment to digest what Bond had to say, when he said things like that— not so much the words of flattery themselves but the manner in which he said them.
“I’m rather looking forward to having you here soon,” continued Bond.
“Oh? Why is that?”
“If it means we’ll find him alive, no matter what his condition.”
“I’d best prepare myself, then,” said Q.
To Q’s dismay, the chill from last night had not dissipated when he got home. Daniel was coolly polite but stubborn, and Q was set on not apologizing on matters concerning his job. In short, they were being a pair of blockheads.
Still, he needed to inform Daniel.
“There is a situation developing at work,” Q started after dinner. “I may have to leave for that trip sooner than expected. In fact, I may have to go anytime in the next couple of days.”
Daniel shrugged, not bothering to lift his gaze from his tablet. “Of course,” he said. “Whatever you say.”
Q frowned. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“I mean, I can only ever rely on your word, can't I?” replied Daniel.
“Of course,” said Q as he felt his hackles rise. “Is my word not enough? Since when have things come to the point that I have to start proving myself to you?”
“You know very well you don’t have to,” said Daniel shortly, finally looking up.
Q found that he was suddenly breathing fast and hard. “I don’t believe I need to justify myself to you, especially over anything concerning my work. If you won’t believe me—”
“It’s not that I don’t want to,” snapped Daniel, “but we’re not exactly talking to each other about this, are we?”
“All right,” Q said. “Okay. Let’s talk about this.”
Dan stared hard at him for a moment longer before he said, “don’t think that I do not recognize the signs. This is how it started with Ethan, you know.”
“Oh, for god’s sake,” snapped Q, finally losing patience. “I am not Ethan.”
Ethan, Daniel’s former boyfriend, was darkly handsome in contrast to Daniel’s golden good looks. That much struck Q when he first saw their pictures together. Ethan was also the one who’d left Daniel for somebody else and broke his heart. Daniel had told Q all about him months ago, when they were tentatively building their relationship. Q had been touched by Daniel’s trust and confidence in him then. He’d been moved by Daniel’s vulnerability and had wondered, not for the first time, what Daniel could possibly see in him, after the physical perfection of somebody like Ethan.
Now he was just irritated that Daniel would think to compare him to his ex.
“It started with mild evasions, just like this,” said Dan. “Then the lies—”
“If this assignment is an evasion, it’s been in the works for weeks,” retorted Q.
“You can’t give me any details, there’s no way to contact you—”
“I am telling you the truth in so far as my job will allow me,” said Q. “Or perhaps you’d rather I lie to you and tell you that I shall be with the polar bears in the Arctic.”
“Or be with someone else we know,” Daniel interjected.
Q stared at him, fury suddenly making speech difficult. He wasn’t going to take the bait. He really wasn’t.
“I’m sorry,” he finally said. “In all our months together, I’ve indulged you. I’ve allowed you to have your say in almost everything, but I need to draw the line when it comes to my work.”
“And how very convenient that your work includes the likes of James Bond,” bit out Daniel. “I want us to talk about that.”
“I’ve already mentioned everything that needs to be said about that man,” said Q coldly. “There’s nothing more to discuss. You’re chasing down shadows and tearing yourself to shreds over him, and for what? Honestly, I’ve never seen you like this, John.”
Daniel paused at the pet name Q had taken to calling him at their most intimate, affectionate moments, spoken now in rebuke.
Q continued, this time carefully, “perhaps we really do need some time apart—”
Daniel shook his head emphatically. “No.”
“My assignment and your business trip may overlap,” Q pointed out. “Perhaps that will be a good thing. Get us out of each other’s hair for a while, have a bit of breathing space to think about things.”
There was more silence as Daniel looked away.
“And I don’t know how else to prove anything to you,” said Q sadly, “when you won’t even believe me anymore when I say I love you.”
When there was more stubborn silence, Q looked away and said, “don’t worry about the cats. I’ll bring them over to the boarding centre by tomorrow.”
They sat there for a while longer, the words drying out between them. Q supposed that Daniel wanted nothing less than his full repudiation of Bond, and it wasn’t something he was able to do. Not when he could not even bring himself to admit— much less accept— Bond’s hold over his heart.
When the time came, Q was in the middle of a teleconference with M.
R appeared by the doorway of his office, signaling urgently with her hand.
Q broke off from the conversation and looked up. “I’m sorry, sir,” he said into his earpiece, “but it would appear that you may be getting your update now.”
“Faint signal, on and off, but it’s there, sir,” reported R. “It looks like he’s alive. Battered, from the looks of the device, but alive. Sending the coordinates to 007 now.”
Q looked back at M in his computer screen.
M merely nodded. “Go.”
It took less than thirty minutes for him to meet up with 008 and they were on their way to the airfield.
“You’ve come prepared, Q,” said 008, grinning.
Q looked down at his messenger bag slung over one shoulder and a smaller overnight bag. “I’ve been carrying it to and from work for nearly a week.”
008 nodded at his hands. “And also very wise to leave your precious ring behind,” she said. “Congratulations, by the way.”
Q nodded. “Thanks,” he said. There was, he thought, no need to feel any sort of guilt over leaving Daniel’s ring behind. “I wouldn’t want anything to happen to it.”
“Too true,” said 008. “I left mine in the locker.”
“Oh.” Q had left his in the office. “Congratulations, I didn’t know you’re also engaged.”
“We’re working it out,” said 008 chattily as they settled themselves into their seats in the small plane. “It’s not all fun and games. He still has to get used to the state of things between us.”
“Ah. Yes, that’s… entirely understandable, I’m afraid,” said Q as he fussed over his seatbelt. He hated flying, hated to be strapped into place. God, he hated everything about this part of the assignment, but he was not going to start showing any weakness so early into this, his first mission overseas.
“I’m sure your partner will get used to things soon,” said 008 reassuringly. “Mine’s already resigned himself, but then he had more time to do so. And he works in government.”
Q made a small, noncommittal noise.
“Anyway, your engagement came as a surprise,” said 008 as she peered at him mischievously. “I think some of us were bawled over by it. Came out of the blue, as it were, and left a trail of broken hearts in its wake.”
“No use exaggerating things, 008,” Q said with a sigh. "It's not going to earn you points with me, gadget-wise."
“Well, it’s true! I'm not doing it for points. There’s 006, for one, miming a heart attack in the locker rooms the day the news broke,” said 008 with her infectious grin. “009 kept a stiff upper lip for as long as he could but you could almost see the film of tears in his eyes. And, of course, there’s 007. Everyone knows he’s sweet on you. You guys bicker like an old married couple, after all.”
Q went still for a moment, then started rummaging through his bag. ”And?” he prompted when 008 gave a longish pause.
“Well, he said nothing,” said 008. “That’s the point. He just smiled a small, peculiar smile. And that man is incapable of not saying anything at all. You’d expect a snarky little one-liner from him at the worst of times. You can tell the news hit him hard.”
Q opened his mouth then closed it again before he settled for a shake of his head. “I didn’t realize that all this locker room talk is so fascinating,” he said sarcastically. “I’m sure you double-O’s have all the time in the world, trading interdepartmental gossip down there. It must be so refreshingly boring after all the exciting bits in the field.”
“Oh, we find the time, and I’d say there are more than a few bits of local gossip that aren’t suitable for your ears, Quartermaster,” said 008 with a wink.
“Yes, well, I’m sure I’d give an arm to hear all about them some other time, but we’re due for take-off soon,” said Q as he handed 008 his tablet. “Here’s your mission update. Do let me know if you have any questions and I shall do my best to answer from behind my blindfold.”
008 laughed as Q removed his glasses, specially crafted for the occasion, and primly arranged his sleep mask over his eyes before settling back into his seat, his messenger bag clutched tightly to his chest.
When they finally got to Yerevan, 007 was already beginning the process of exfiltrating the Asset. Based on Q branch’s coordinates, Bond had managed to track the Asset down to a dingy apartment on the outskirts of the capital, bound and gagged and about to be transported to god only knew where. 007 had got to him just in time.
“Two guards, at best three,” scoffed 007 from his surveillance point at the apartment right across his target. “Christ, what are these people thinking?”
“Be careful,” hissed 008 into her earwig. “There may be more out there.”
“Leave this to me and just get Q to the safehouse, Anne,” 007 drawled. “I wouldn’t want anything to happen to our Quartermaster. He’s far more valuable than any asset. Q, can you hear me?”
“Loud and clear, 007,” replied Q as he and 008 sped across the quiet night streets of Yerevan. “And thanks very much, I am deeply flattered to have you sing my praises for everyone to hear over the comm.”
“Anytime. Anyway, he’s strapped to the bed,” 007 reported. “There’s something attached to his neck. I need all electronic and phone lines around the area jammed for the time being.”
“Done more than ten minutes ago, 007,” said Q. “Although you'll only have another fifteen to twenty minutes of it in order not to raise any suspicions. Anything else?”
“No,” replied 007, the smile in his voice evident. “Just get yourself over to the rendezvous point. You’ll have an important guest in your hands soon. We’re moving in.”
“Copy that, 007,” said Q.
There was radio silence for a while. Q counted the minutes: fifteen. Twenty.
“Asset acquired,” Bond said tersely, almost snapping as he came back on the comm. “Heading for the rendezvous point. I need you, Q. As soon as possible. Now.”
"We’re on our way, ETA 15 minutes,” replied Q briskly. “Kindly desist from shouting, 007, it won’t speed up 008’s driving or do anyone else any good.”
Bond’s voice subsided in a grumble, “I wasn’t shouting.”
“Oh yes, you were,” said Q, voice prim and calm above the din and sway of the rocking car.
Old married couple, mouthed 008 behind the wheel. Q rolled his eyes.
“There’s something you need to see.”
Q stared at the grainy picture that Bond sent over his phone. “Oh, shit.”
“I do hope you brought some tools with you.”
It was a collar, locked cruelly around the Asset’s neck. A metal collar possibly with an explosive embedded into it.
Q and 008 got to the rendezvous point in time to see the field agent guarding the doorway, and very likely afraid to go in.
“Go mind the car. We will all be annihilated anyway if a collar bomb of that caliber does go off, so no use cowering over here,” 008 informed the agent matter-of-factly as she let Q in.
Q entered the room to see the Asset sitting in a corner, tears streaming down his bruised and swollen face. Bond was crouched next to him, a hand on his shoulder as the Asset implored him, “don’t leave me.”
“Don’t worry,” said 007 as he glanced up at Q, relief etched in his eyes only for those with enough experience to notice. “Help is here now.”
“Sitrep, 007,” muttered Q as he got to his knees in front of the Asset.
“Ro?” the man said tentatively.
“Yes,” Q murmured, his voice soothing. “I’m here. It’s good to see you at last, Mr. A.”
“We managed to escape by taking down just the three men guarding him,” 007 said as Q inspected the collar minutely. “There was nobody else there. So far the Asset’s disappearance has not been discovered.”
“If they do, we won’t be here talking now,” said 008 grimly.
Q got down to work, taking out a small, custom-made case from his messenger bag. “Are you seeing this, R, Henry?” he said into his earpiece.
“Yes,” acknowledged R. “The video transmission is clear, Q.”
“Nasty looking thing,” remarked Henry as they viewed the goings-on through Q’s glasses. “Collar bomb, can be remotely detonated, no timer installed as far as I can see. There’s probably a tracker attached though.”
Q opened the case, neatly lined with small, metallic contraptions. He took out a thumbnail-sized one and attached it to the collar, where it clung on like a magnet. A red light started to blink from it.
“Scrambling the signals now,” said R, “though I suspect they may still have homed in on you, given the length of time that has passed since the safe retrieval of the Asset.”
“We shall be finished by then, hopefully,” remarked Q dryly.
“Huh,” breathed 008 as she watched the procedure. “We can do this, attach that thing right there, given the proper instructions. Q didn’t have to come all this way just for this.”
“The contents of this case are worth far more than the DB-10 that 007 thought to sink into the Tiber two years ago,” Q informed her, his tone acerbic. “There is no way I am letting any of you lot touch this kit.”
Bond grinned. “Fair enough.”
The blinking red light from Q’s tiny bug finally turned green.
“The bomb is now disabled. The collar can be safely detached now, sir,” said Henry. “Simple lock contraption, should be easy to pick as I’ve shown you, but please be careful.”
“How will you…” Bond’s voice trailed off as his eyes alighted on the familiar pen that Q withdrew from his bag.
Q could not keep his smirk from spreading into a delighted grin as he glanced at Bond, noting the astonished and pleased expression on that tanned, lined face. He uncapped the Montblanc pen and twisted the body, and the nib was suddenly replaced by a slim metallic pick sliding out.
“It’s still fully functional as a pen, though I thought to follow your sound advice and give it an add-on, 007,” said Q, unable to keep the glee from his voice as he worked at the Asset’s collar with deft, steady fingers. “There.”
The collar finally snapped free and Q had a few seconds to savor the triumph and relief as he removed the contraption from the Asset’s neck before the windows suddenly blew in, showering them with shards and debris.
“Oh god, here it comes. Move,” 008 bellowed as they scrambled to their feet.
Momentarily dazed, blinded with his glasses hanging askew down the side of his face, Q felt rough hands haul him to his feet. He felt 007 throw a jacket over his head and sling an arm protectively over him before he was dragged bodily out.
“The Asset—” he gasped, trying to keep his glasses on and clinging onto Bond’s side just as he heard a volley of bullets pepper the wall beside them as they hurried past.
“008’s got him, don’t worry,” muttered Bond. “Right now I need you to run.”
After a moment, Q managed to make his legs work underneath him. With his head still held to Bond’s side and covered by his jacket, Q could barely see what was going on or where they were going, but he could hear 007’s breathing, feel his thunderous heartbeat and, in the warm, close circle of Bond’s arms, Q felt that he was in the safest of places.
There was another explosion, this one so much closer that it sent 007 lurching as a rough shower of debris rained down on them, yet Q still felt no fear, just the adrenaline thrumming through his veins. It wasn’t until Bond let go of him and he was able to look out from under the jacket draped over his head that the spell was broken and horror abruptly took hold.
“007, you’re bleeding!”
Aaand once again, here's the teaser for the next chapter!
Author's Notes: Hi everyone! Here's the next chapter! Reviews and comments are always welcome. Follow me at my tumblr for updates and teasers.
“007, you’re bleeding!”
Q almost did not recognize the voice as his own. It was too shrill, fright etched into every syllable. Surely it belonged to somebody else, not the Quartermaster of MI6. He’d seen 007 bleed before in the field but not like this, not up close. Not so much.
“It’s just a flesh wound,” Bond growled in reply as blood poured from the side of his head. “Keep running.”
They reached the streets to discover their car gutted, the field agent gone. There was a burst of gunfire to their right. 007 fired back, then grabbed Q by the elbow and they dodged into a dark and narrow side street, followed closely by 008 and a cowering Asset, more gunfire sounding off behind them.
008 was shouting orders into her earpiece, redirecting another car, and then she was barking at 007 to turn left, left, bloody left. They emerged onto a wider street where the field agent rematerialized with a new car that screeched to a halt in front of them. With his hand still clamped on Q’s elbow, Bond hauled him bodily into the back of the car before letting himself into the passenger seat at the front.
“Drive,” snapped 008 to the agent behind the wheel as she bundled the Asset in beside Q before diving in.
Crammed with asset and agents, the car shot forward, the sound of gunfire growing more distant as they sped into the night. There was stunned silence for a moment as everyone gathered their breaths, then 008 began to speak into her earpiece, answering London. Bond grinned tiredly as Q reached out from behind and pressed his handkerchief to Bond’s bleeding head wound with shaking hands.
“You’re bleeding so much,” said Q, unable to keep the tremor from his voice.
“That’s what scalp wounds do,” Bond commented dryly, finally shutting his eyes as he leaned back into Q’s hands.
Much calmer now, 008 continued to speak into her earpiece, directing the next stage of the operation.
Q glanced at her bloodied shoulder and ventured to ask, “are you alright, 008?”
“Yeah, flesh wound from all that debris. Don’t worry about me, Q. I’m better off than your poor bloke over there, to be sure,” replied 008 archly, but she was smirking as she cast a glance at Q.
“I…he’s not my bloke,” Q retorted, yet he kept his hands wrapped firmly over 007’s head.
After a while, he felt Bond’s hand over his. “I’ve got this, Q,” he said quietly. “Thanks.”
A moment more and Q slowly withdrew his hands, allowing Bond to tend to himself. He sat back, eyes on his bloodstained hands as the reality of what had just happened finally caught up with him. Remembering his manners, he finally turned his attention to the stunned Asset.
Q couldn’t recall much of the flight home, which was perhaps a small mercy. What stood out in his mind were the twelve stitches that were needed to close the gaping flap of skin on Bond’s scalp. After he’d been cleared, he’d sat a few feet away as the medical team bustled over everybody else in the small facility just outside Yerevan. He’d watched in horrified fascination as the doctor had wielded the curved needle and suture that went in and out, in and out of Bond’s flesh, shutting the wound, and it was all done with hardly any reaction from the patient. 008 had her fair share of scratches and flesh wounds, plus a possible torn ligament in one arm, which meant both agents were going to be laid back in Medical for a while when they got back home. The Asset also needed to be hospitalized and given a thorough examination. Given his bruises, they’d done an emergency scan on him and discovered the dental implant somewhere in his gut, along with some fragments of his teeth. Rather than spit it out, he’d swallowed the implant in the course of his interrogation with his abductors.
On the plane, Q managed to pull himself together enough to speak to M, giving him a short, colorless version of events.
“Are you alright, Q?” M asked.
“I’m fine, sir. No injuries to speak of.”
“Good. Report immediately to Medical upon landing. I’ll ask Moneypenny to schedule our debriefing tomorrow morning—”
“If it’s all right with you, sir, I’d rather we do so immediately after I am released from Medical. Today, if possible.”
There was a pause before M said, “All right. After the debriefing you may take a few days off. Well done, Q.”
“Thank you, sir.”
He was separated from the agents and Asset upon landing. Going through the out-patient section of Medical, he was pronounced fine and released within an hour after he passed his Psych evaluation. He was offered some sedatives which he knew he wouldn’t take. He just needed some time to calm down.
A debriefing with M came next. Congratulating him succinctly on his first successful mission overseas, Q sensed that M was more relieved than he was letting on as they went over what happened in more detail.
Last came his own debriefing at Q branch, where he was met by R with a hug and a round of applause from the minions. Embarrassed, he waved them away and reminded them that they had important work to do.
R presided over his equipment return, her relief quickly morphing into a teasing, mock-critical evaluation of the materials laid out before her and Henry.
“It’s not as easy as I thought it would be,” Q confessed with a sigh as she tsk-tsked over the state of his video-transmitter glasses. “Not when you’re getting shot at and having bombs lobbed at you.”
“I’m sure 007 would feel immensely vindicated to hear that,” R pointed out with a grin.
Q snorted, though he could feel the heat spreading up his face. They must have heard his panicked words over the comms and he wondered what they must think.
When they got to the special case, Q blanched when he realized the thumbnail-sized contraption he’d used on the Asset’s collar was missing. He could barely remember what had happened after he’d removed the collar and before the first bomb hit. Reflex had kicked in.
“Oh, shit!” he hissed as his hands dove into his messenger bag. “Shit shit shit.”
“If it ever gets into the wrong hands, that thing can bring down entire governments,” R reminded him unhelpfully as he searched frantically in his bag.
Q’s shoulders suddenly slumped in relief as he got hold of it. Slowly, he took out the Asset’s collar, the contraption still attached to it.
“Oh, god,” said R, aghast. “You didn’t just—”
“Oh yes, he did!” said Henry, laughing. “He just brought home a bomb. Deactivated, to be sure, but still.”
Afterward, he was not allowed to linger in Q branch, but was gently shoo’d out by R so that he could begin his mandatory 72-hour downtime.
He got the cats and himself home in the evening, knowing that Daniel would not be there—he’d left for Boston that morning and would not be back for a few days.
Q sighed, remembering how he’d tried to call Daniel as he and 008 were on their way to the airfield, but he’d not picked up and Q had been redirected automatically to voicemail where he’d left him a brief message. And that had been that.
Now, swallowing his resentment, he sent Daniel a brief email, telling him he had returned safely, and that he hoped Daniel would enjoy his trip. He was looking forward to chatting with him, if Daniel had the time.
Q paused from his typing, his fingertips hovering over his laptop keyboard. What got his attention then was the cuff of his button-down shirt that covered his wrist, lined thinly with dried blood.
He should have showered first, he thought illogically, trying to shut down the feeling that was bubbling up inside him, threatening to overwhelm him yet again. He should have changed into clean clothes the moment he’d arrived at Medical. They had offered and he had refused. He’d washed his face and hands thoroughly in the plane and he thought that had been enough to get rid of Bond’s blood, every bit of it.
Now, as he stared at that thin line the color of rust on the cuff of his shirt, Q felt the first tears well up. And once he started crying, he found that he was powerless to stop.
He felt better the next day, after getting almost ten hours of sleep, and embarrassed at himself for his maudlin tears.
He’d not expected the depths of feeling that could be elicited under such extreme pressure during missions. Always, he’d coolly handled the agents in the safe, comfortable confines of Q branch, guiding them, admonishing them their tempers, their rashness, and all the while he’d not fully understood or appreciated what they were up against in the field— the utter mess and chaos, the unpredictability.
He’d do better, he decided as he started his morning routine of feeding the cats, fixing a simple breakfast and checking his email. He was heartened to see Daniel’s reply, along with a short account of his first day in Boston. It was written with understated affection; he was usually more demonstrative vocally. The message ended with an agreement to chat at a certain time later in the evening.
Q replied to the email quickly and dispatched the others that needed immediate attention. There were house cleaning and lunch to think of, yet it was barely one in the afternoon when he realized that he was done with all the chores. He could go out for some groceries, and he remembered he had to pick up some suits from the drycleaners— errands which he knew very well he could arrange online.
He’d tried to put it off for as long as he could, but he knew at the back of his mind that it was inevitable that he would wind up dropping by Medical.
The Asset was sequestered in a heavily guarded medical suite, currently safe from people of all sectors of British Intelligence as he recovered. He’d managed to pass out the dental implant that morning, much to the relief of everyone concerned. It would mean he had no need to undergo surgery. The facial fractures and swelling as well as some broken ribs would need time to heal. Time that they now had.
Q sat with him for a while, offering his reassurance and support in the coming days. There was so much to be done, yet they would come to all of that soon enough.
They had set up a strict timetable for visits with the Asset. Q only had fifteen minutes with him before he was shoo’d out of the room by a nurse.
His next stop was 008, whose room was one floor down. He came in to find her propped up in bed, her arm in a sling, being fed chocolate by a man who must surely be her fiancé. A Gymnopdie by Satie was playing softly in the background.
“Ah, Q!” she said cheerily. “Walked right into the turtledoves, dammit! This is Andrew, by the way. Darling, this is Q. Yes, his real name is classified, sorry.”
There followed a flustered greeting and awkward handshakes before Q turned to 008. “I see you’re all nice and comfy,” he said. “No need to be too worried.”
“Well,” said 008, rolling her eyes. “They say the scans showed a more serious injury than previously thought. I’ll need to stay on for additional tests, and they’re recommending a full PT program for a month so I may need to be reassigned from my next project.”
“That wouldn’t be much of a problem, I think,” said Q. He stayed on for another five minutes before he started to edge himself out the door.
“Oh, and congratulations,” he told them on his way out. A chorus of thank you’s floated over to him as he shut the door.
He paused in the corridor, considering his next move and the real reason why he was here in Medical in the first place, if he’d only care to admit it. He knew Bond was just a few doors down, yet he felt torn by the prospect of seeing the man. But it would be unthinkable not to see him. It would be unthinkable, not to mention rude, not to inquire after him, at least. 007 had protected him in the field and had been injured while doing so. The least he could do was show him he was grateful.
Yet he did not know what he might do, seeing Bond laid up in a hospital bed. He might break down, again. Already, he wondered what the minions might think, going over the footage from the field and seeing him lose it like that over 007. He would need to speak to R, perhaps call in a few favors to remove a few seconds from the surveillance files.
Just then, Bond’s door opened and out stepped the nurse.
“Ah, Quartermaster,” she said, smiling. “Visiting the agents, I see. So very good of you to drop by.”
“How is 007?” he asked.
“Stable, though he’d need to stay on another night,” she said. “Lost quite a bit of blood, that one. You might want to pop in. He’s dozing though. Except for Ms Moneypenny, the poor thing has not had a single visitor since yesterday.”
“Oh,” said Q as he felt something clench painfully within him.
Well, that quite settled it, he thought, resigned.
He stepped into the room to find Bond asleep, as the nurse had reported. His head was bandaged, with a drip running into his arm. He was in a hospital gown. An open paperback lay face down on his chest. Q stood beside his bed and was content to just watch him breathe for a while. Bond looked so peaceful like this. It calmed Q, made the lump in his throat subside so that he could breathe again normally, though the ache continued deep in his chest as he gazed down at this man who said he loved him.
Don’t, he thought. Don’t do it. Don’t even think about doing it.
His hand, heedless of any command from a higher thought process, already hovered a few inches before fingertips settled gently over the bristly skin of Bond’s cheek.
The touch was feather-light, almost not there. It did not wake Bond and Q’s hand— curious, emboldened and treacherous thing— ventured to tentatively trace the curve of Bond’s jaw.
Whether he wanted to or not, Q realized that he could not resist this opportunity. Regardless of the consequences, he could not deny himself this. Not when Bond was so close, and unconscious.
Of course, he should have known the consequences of sneaking up on a napping double-O agent. Just then, Bond’s hand suddenly came to life, clamping over Q’s even as his eyes remained closed and his face still.
“Bond!” Q gasped, yet he knew better than to withdraw his hand as Bond’s hold tightened around his fingers. He would not be able to free himself without a struggle so he willed his hand to go completely limp within Bond's grasp.
Bond smiled before he peeled his eyes open, blinking sleepily at Q. “Courtesy call, Q?”
Q licked his lips nervously. “Something like that,” he said. “I came to say thank you. For…for all this. For what you did for me in the field.”
“It’s my job,” replied Bond simply, the light in his pale eyes soft. “But you’re welcome.”
“Yes, well,” Q floundered and looked away. “May I have my hand back now, please?”
“So soon after you took all the trouble? You should have thought of this eventuality before you ventured to touch me.” Bond moved Q’s hand so that it now lay fully against his cheek.
“Well, obviously, it was extremely foolish of me. It won’t happen again.”
“I wish it would.”
Q winced as Bond moved to kiss the palm of his imprisoned hand.
“Please don’t,” he said softly.
“Because it’s wrong,” replied Q, pained. “Whatever this is between us is wrong. It’s not fair to Daniel.”
“I’m not the one with my hand on someone’s cheek,” answered Bond.
“Unhand me, then,” retorted Q, trying to pull his hand away yet again without much success. Every time he tried to pull back, Bond only succeeded in pulling him closer so that he was leaning down over the man.
“Daniel is jealous of you,” said Q, “with good reason.”
“This isn’t about me,” answered Bond. “If you were sure of yourself, I wouldn’t be an issue at all. But you aren’t, are you?”
“Of course this is about you, and it stops now,” said Q curtly as he tried to pry his hand away from Bond’s cheek; yet it was too late. Bond suddenly relinquished Q’s hand, yet it was only to reach up and close his fingers on the back of Q’s head instead.
“Allow me to help you make up your mind now,” said Bond as he yanked him in abruptly.
Q let out a shocked gasp as he was left sprawled on top of Bond in an undignified heap, his face mere inches from his. Bond’s grip on his nape was not hard but it was unyielding, effectively immobilizing him. “Bond—”
That was as far as he got before he felt Bond’s mouth close over his in a kiss, rough and sure and so very warm.
Author's Notes: Aaand the PAIN continues! Please don't kill me. Q's change of heart is underway...
There was nothing to like about stolen kisses, Q had always thought. They were despicable, underhanded things, designed to catch the recipient by surprise and carried out without any proper regard for said recipient’s feelings. It was almost an assault, really.
So he shouldn’t like this. He shouldn’t like this at all. He should resist, put up a fight; but resistance seemed like such a laughable notion when one was being kissed so thoroughly and ruthlessly by James Bond.
Even while injured, he’d managed to pin Q down with nothing but a hand on his nape. All Q could manage was a shocked intake of breath before Bond claimed his mouth and from there, reason quickly fled as pure, hot bliss rushed in.
God, it felt good. It was wrong yet it felt so very, very good— frighteningly, overwhelmingly so. It felt quite perfect. Q had suspected that it would feel like this, and he was powerless to stop it, now that it was happening. He could not help thinking that Daniel’s measured, considerate caresses paled in comparison to these, and Bond was not easing him into the situation at all as he effortlessly coaxed Q’s lips open with his.
Q managed a small sound of protest, but what came out of him was suspiciously like a needy little mewl more than anything else. Bond quelled it easily by licking into Q’s mouth, his tongue bold and outrageous in its demanding ways, its intention clear and filthy and thoroughly without shame.
Q knew he shouldn’t like this at all, but he did. Dear god, he did. He was captivated by this moment with Bond: the forceful, intoxicating kisses, the abrasive texture of Bond’s unshaven skin against his, the scent of the man up close, and Bond’s deep, guttural sounds of pleasure mixing with his own gasping breaths.
There was a moment when Q managed to turn a fraction against Bond’s hold, but the man merely slanted his head to take fuller possession of Q’s mouth, sealing off any possibility of escape. Q shuddered as he felt himself give in at last, mind whiting out and his will extinguished as he responded instinctively to Bond, his tongue clashing with his, harsh with pent-up need.
God, but he wanted. He wanted this man so much, and for so long…
Just then a knock sounded on the door, startling them both.
Bond swore as Q quickly tore himself away, a hand going automatically to wipe at his mouth. The door opened a moment later to admit a woman in scrubs and a white coat who mercifully gave Q a few more precious seconds to gather himself as she busily peered down at the medical chart in her hands.
“Ah, you’re awake,” Dr Patel said as she looked up at the patient before nodding at Q, who stood by the window a few feet away. “Quartermaster.”
Unable to muster a reply, Q merely gave a small nod in return and watched as she turned back to Bond to start her physical examination. Her murmured questions were mere background noise as Q struggled for composure. It took every ounce of his self-control to keep himself from bolting out of the room.
All the while, he could feel Bond’s pale gaze on him. He could still feel the savage press of Bond’s lips against his throbbing, swollen mouth.
“Well, everything appears to be in order,” said Dr Patel after a few minutes. “Once we’re through with this batch of fluids I can discharge you.”
To Q, she said, smiling, “you can have your agent back once we get the stitches out in a week or so, Quartermaster.”
Q watched, face flaming, as Bond gave him a brief wink, mouth curved in a small, knowing smile. “We’re in no hurry to have him back,” he said rather curtly, his statement not actually directed at Dr. Patel, before he marched himself out the door.
Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea after all, chatting with Daniel as he lay in bed that night. Not when he was feeling like this.
Q knew that he was behaving strangely, but he found that he could not seem to snap out of the odd feeling of disconnection. It felt like his mind was floating, his thoughts disjointed. Talking desultorily with Daniel online, he felt as though they were talking through a transparent wall.
“What’s wrong?” Daniel said finally, a small note of exasperation seeping into his tone. “You sound like you’re a million miles away.”
Q shook his head. “Tired,” he muttered. “I’m just so tired. This assignment was just…draining. I’m glad it’s over.”
“Get some sleep, then,” Daniel said as he checked his watch. “It’s almost midnight there, and I’m due to go out with colleagues for dinner.”
“All right.” Q paused and marshaled himself enough to say, “I miss you.”
“Do you really?”
“Terribly,” Q replied, “and I’d like very much to fuck you as soon as you get back.”
That earned him a small, reluctant smile from Daniel. “We’ll see,” he said. “If you’re a good enough boy by then.”
Q hummed. “Don’t take too long coming back or I shall have to start without you,” he said.
“I won’t mind so much if you send over some pics.”
“Nice try. Good night, love.”
Q blew out a gusty sigh as he ended the call. He pushed the laptop away and sank his head into his arms as he lay on his stomach in bed.
Christ, what was the matter with him?
Of course, he knew what the matter was. That was the problem.
Fuck you, Bond, he thought bitterly. Why was he still thinking of the bastard and wondering what he might be doing right now?
Bond had been discharged from Medical in the afternoon and he was probably sitting at home this very minute, just like him.
No, thought Q vehemently. Not like him. Never like him.
If he knew the man at all, Bond would have gone out for dinner and promptly brought home someone to warm his bed with.
His kisses meant nothing, could not possibly mean anything, and Q knew better than to think otherwise. He knew better.
So why feel like this?
Why the want, still? Buried under the shame and guilt, not to mention common sense, it refused to be banished, bringing with it a despairing hunger that refused to be assuaged by his stern conscience.
Q closed his eyes as he shifted a bit to lie on his side and tried counting to ten. It was no use. He had only to close his eyes and the memory of Bond’s ravishing kisses would come forth, a sweet form of torture. Face flushing hot with shame and embarrassment, he also realized that he was half hard— had been half hard for the better part of the evening since he returned from Medical.
There was no helping it, then. He might as well get it over with.
Q bit his lip as he palmed at himself through his pajamas. God, that felt good. It was a relief to touch himself. He’d not been able to get off for quite some time now and he tried to imagine Daniel doing it for him, Daniel teasing him.
Only, he couldn’t quite get himself into it with Daniel in mind.
After a few minutes, Q blew out a breath of frustration. It just wasn’t happening and he somehow felt like crying. He turned his face into the pillow and simply let go, stopped thinking. In the warm darkness through closed lids, he felt a different set of hands on him, rough and sure and capable as they caressed him. Those hands felt exactly the same as the ones that had shielded him when running through the dark streets of an unfamiliar city in a foreign country not two days ago.
Q sighed as he finally felt the first stirrings of pleasure when one hard hand drifted down to take him, stroking him just the way he liked it. He could almost feel him, the touch of firm lips and the bristle of day-old stubble against the side of his face, affectionate and teasing— his phantom lover, back in the days before Daniel, during the days with Daniel, sometimes, when Q found himself tuning out.
Only this time the touch was more distinct, real. The touch of those lips against his was no longer illusory. Q had first known what that long-imagined mouth on his felt like just that afternoon. He felt the pleasure spike up a notch at the memory, felt the first coil of tension low in his belly as his fingers moved faster, more urgent now, over his hard length.
Why? He thought. Why does it have to be Bond?
Close, he was so close now. He brought up his hand to lick at his palm, remembering the way Bond had kissed it, tongue flickering briefly over sensitive skin, and suddenly Q was coming hard into his own fist. He felt relief wash over him, the pleasure white-hot and all-consuming, blotting out all thought for a few, precious minutes.
He lay there, panting, spent. He’d made a mess on the bed but he was beyond caring for a few moments. There would be time enough for the guilt and the shame to hound him. He just had to do this, get this out of his system.
Get Bond out of his system.
And when Daniel returned, he would have to fuck him out of his mind.
Author's Notes: Aaand here's the next chapter. The PAIN continues, but I hope you will still enjoy. Sorry about the teaser in case you've read it, it's supposed to be included here, but again, it will have to be pushed to the next chapter. I think we all know where this will all lead to. Aaahh~~!!!
Follow me at my tumblr for teasers and fic updates.
Q took special care with dinner on the night of Daniel’s return. He wanted everything to be perfect and would not pause to examine the amount of guilt that was driving him to make Daniel’s favorite dish of pork roast with potatoes and carrots. He’d bought wine and set the table with candles, along with some nice, soft music on the player to set the mood.
Now that his important work assignment was behind him, there really was no excuse in delaying the meeting with Daniel’s parents, nor for that matter the meeting with his mother and sister. It was already nearing the end of November. Any more delays and they would have to meet everyone during their Christmas visits. Then, at the end of the year, Daniel was set to relinquish his flat in the City, which he had until now maintained and periodically used whenever he had to work late. They’d decided on a spring wedding sometime in April.
Thinking on all the things that still needed to be done, Q could not bear to contemplate why he was feeling like this. The family visits especially vexed him. He had nothing against Daniel’s parents. He’d chatted with them several times online, yet the thought of personally meeting them at last was something he’d rather not think about and dodged whenever Daniel brought it up.
He was being a bad fiancé and he was determined to make it up to Daniel beginning tonight.
He was going to forget all about Bond and not look back. He had a life with somebody else to get back to.
Daniel arrived at half past eight, luggage in tow. When Q’s welcome kiss became two, even three, Daniel pulled back, laughing. “Missed me that much, did you?” he said.
Q smiled. “Yes,” he replied. “Obviously.”
“Won’t you let me in?”
Q stepped aside. “Of course.”
He bit his lip and watched as Daniel disappeared into their room.
Stop it, he thought angrily just as his mind was ruminating over the kisses they just shared and why they felt different. Despite a voice nagging him to do so, he shied away from entering their room, knowing that Daniel would be taking a shower first and foremost, and it was highly possible that he would ask him to join in.
He puttered around the kitchen instead, putting the finishing touches to the pot roast just as Daniel emerged.
“There you are,” he said as he slid up close behind Q, pressing against him. “I was wondering where you’ve got yourself off to.”
“I’m concentrating on the task of having to feed you,” he answered readily enough.
Q turned to him to press another kiss on his jaw. “Why don’t we start dinner so that you can find out what comes after?” he murmured.
That seemed to please Daniel, and the meal passed with him chatting about Boston. He managed to ask Q about his trip, to which Q merely gave a brief answer before steering the conversation back to Daniel’s trip.
Focus, he thought as he watched Daniel. It exasperated him that he had to remind himself that. Equally exasperating was the thought that gathered at the back of his head, unbidden and unwelcome, about just how much he knew this man, after spending five months living with him. How much did Daniel know him in return?
After dinner, when the plates had been washed and set to dry, Q joined Daniel on the sofa, wineglass in hand.
He had to stop from mentally bracing himself as Daniel reached out to touch him, drawing him in for a lingering kiss.
“Did you miss that, baby?” Daniel whispered against his lips and Q had to fight back a shudder.
He knew Daniel was teasing him, but he hated being called that.
“You know I do, John,” he replied, returning tit for tat. “And you know what I miss more than your mouth, don’t you?”
“Yeah,” said Daniel, grinning. “I’m going to give it to you good and hard, don’t worry.”
They kissed again, heated and urgent, and Q had to remind himself that he used to like it. Daniel took his hand and guided it to his crotch, letting him feel his growing erection.
“This is what you’re going to get, Robbie,” Daniel gritted out. “All of it.”
Q swallowed his annoyance at the mention of his nickname. “Bedroom, then,” was all he said as he made to get up from the sofa.
He let Daniel undress him, let him kiss his way down his throat and chest before he was pushed down onto the bed. He reached up mechanically to hold Daniel in his arms, baring his throat for his kisses. His eyes flitted closed as he allowed himself to drift off, just feeling the pressure of lips and hands on him. Despite himself, he felt pleasure start to seep in as they ground against each other, a prelude to more serious lovemaking.
“Do you like that, love?” Daniel whispered roughly against his ear. “I bet you do. You adore this cock, don’t you? I can’t wait to be inside you.”
Shut up, Q thought.
He merely nodded before he turned his head to set his lips against Daniel’s ear as he sighed out his name.
He paused as he felt Daniel freeze minutely above him. Opening his eyes slightly, he saw Daniel gazing down at him, his mouth a hard line.
“What’s wrong?” said Q, frowning.
“James,” said Daniel.
Q blinked. “What?”
“You just called me James.”
Q gaped at him. “No,” he managed. “No. I said John.”
“James, you fucking cheat,” Daniel spat as he extracted himself from Q’s hold.
“No.” Q gazed at him, horrified. “John…”
“Don’t.” Daniel held up a hand. “Just bloody don’t. Don’t think about touching me right now.”
“I said John,” Q repeated distinctly as he made to sit up.
“Is that why you've always insisted on calling me by my middle name during sex?” Daniel bit out. “Because it sounds closer to that man’s name? Were you thinking of him all this time?”
“That’s not true.”
“The hell it isn’t,” said Daniel hotly. “You think I’ve not noticed you’re not yourself the entire night? You had to push yourself to put on a show. What happened while I was away? Did he fuck you? Did you let him?”
“Get out.” The words were out of his mouth before Q could even register them.
Daniel held up both hands in mock surrender. “No problem,” he said icily as he removed himself from the bed.
The bedroom door banged shut, but Q did not hear it as he sat on the edge of the bed, curled into himself, his hand on his mouth as he repeated, over and over, “I said John…”
It took some time for him to collect himself, time to arrange his thoughts and smooth down the wild edge of panic that threatened to unravel him.
He was sticking to what he’d said though.
He opened the bedroom door just in time to see Daniel stride across the the living room, fully dressed.
“I need to get my luggage from the bedroom,” he said curtly.
“Where are you going?”
“My flat, obviously,” Daniel said as he shouldered past Q. “Thank god I’ve not let go of the lease yet.”
“I want us to talk about this, please.”
Daniel emerged from the room with his unopened luggage. “There is nothing to talk about,” he said. “Clearly, you need some time out to think about this. When you’ve decided, you know where to reach me.”
“There is nothing to decide,” Q retorted, shaking. “And I did not say James.”
Daniel merely twisted his mouth at him.
“Don’t go,” Q said, his voice soft, all spirit extinguished.
“Get some sleep, Robin,” Daniel said implacably as he opened the front door. “I’ll see you in a few days.”
With that he was gone.
Q did not know how he passed the night. At some point, despite the floods of tears and the maelstrom in his head, he’d managed to fall asleep. He jerked awake to the sound of his alarm, just like every day. Yet today he awoke to a silent flat, desolate in spite of the cats.
He could not face work today, yet he could not be absent. He would be needed when 009 landed in Jordan for his mission.
He managed to wash up and got to Q branch almost on auto pilot, yet his distraction showed as he went through the daily meeting with the minions. He managed to fob off R’s concern and sat through 009’s mission as it began and ended quite smoothly, to everyone’s relief.
In the afternoon, he managed to pass himself off as normal, though more subdued than usual, at M’s meetings.
Then it was time to go home, and he did not argue for once as R made to shoo him off the premises.
Yet it was unbearable to contemplate returning home. He knew he wouldn’t be able to go back until he’d accomplished one thing.
And for that, he needed to go to Chelsea, to the man who started this.
Author's Notes: Aaand here's the next chapter. The pain just goes on and on, le sigh. Not to worry though, the end is in sight! Comments are welcome as always.
Bond usually did not linger at home-- whatever that word meant, to begin with. His Chelsea flat, with its elegant but spartan furnishings, finally laid out after months in boxes and piled against the walls, hardly felt like home. During the short periods that he was in London, he usually made it a point to go out. There was always something to do, somebody to see. Returning to the flat to sleep, he rarely came back alone.
Yet going out was not so easy if one was recuperating from a head wound.
So he’d called to have dinner delivered and sat sprawled on the sofa, watching the lamp cast a pattern of soft light and shadows on the ceiling, and trying and failing not to think of him.
He’d probably blown his chance with that kiss, if he even had a chance in hell at all. Yet he had to try. He had to make him see.
Yet Q could not make himself any clearer in the past few days by not answering Bond’s messages, and when Bond had tried calling his number, it was only to realize that he’d blocked him.
So there was Q's decision in plain view, and short of resorting to actual harassment, Bond could do nothing else but stand aside and let Q do as he would.
At this very moment, Q was probably on his way home to his fiance-- the man he’d chosen over him. They would soon sit down to dinner together, perhaps unwind with a movie or a program on the telly afterward, talking about their day, just like any ordinary couple.
After that, as the night drew on, they would retire to their bedroom to make love. Or did they make it a habit of making out in the living room? And here, if Bond really felt like torturing himself, he would imagine Q as he was being taken by the other man.
How went the lines about his eyes, the expressions on that sweet, lovely face? Did they just flit by, or did he set his face in concentration just like how he did at work? How went that red, gorgeous mouth, did his lips part involuntarily as his breathing quickened or did he shut in the noises that threatened to spill from his throat? Did he like it slow and easy and languorous, or fast and hard and filthy?
These were the things that Bond would never know. What little intimacy he'd known with the man he loved was preserved in a few, precious seconds when Q had lost himself in their kiss; yet Bond knew that Q’s involuntary response to him may well have condemned whatever they might have with each other by driving him even more to seek his fiance.
Still, he had to do it-- steal that kiss so that Q might realize, and-- fool that Bond was to hope-- rethink his decision.
Now he knew what that decision was.
He'd lost him.
The doorbell sounded, rousing Bond from his stupor, and by the time he got to the door, his haziness of mind had given way to sharp irritation at the way the man outside was laying a heavy finger on that bell, pressing repeatedly and demandingly so that Bond jerked open the door, scowling and his voice a low growl.
He barely registered Q’s slender form before the man slipped in through the narrow gap, a silent shadow in his dark anorak.
Bond stood for a moment, nearly gaping at the creature who stood in his foyer, face averted. He only moved to shut the door when Q dropped his messenger bag on the floor and proceeded into the living room, his movements fast and jerky, agitated.
He moved to stand in front of the tall French windows, looking out of the flat, one hand to his mouth. He would not look at Bond at all.
Bond came up to him from behind, and tried to touch him. “Q--”
Q shook him off, hand raised to swat if necessary, and Bond caught a glimpse of the flushed face and knew that he was crying.
That hurt him more than anything. It felt like a knife to his own heart.
He watched as Q sat himself down on one end of the sofa, sinking his face into his hands as he breathed in and out, struggling for calm.
Bond sat down wordlessly on the other end of the sofa and waited, patiently. He could do nothing else. He knew better than to startle Q into bolting by making one false move.
At last, when Q seemed to recover enough to peel his hands away from his face, Bond felt he could, at least, call out to him.
“I need to go to the bathroom,” Q said, hoarsely. He was still not looking at him.
Bond nodded. “First door to your right, down the corridor.”
Without another word, Q got up from the couch.
He spent a small eternity inside the bathroom, so that Bond was reduced to pacing by the time he let himself out. Even then, Q still would not look at him as he shouldered past Bond, making a beeline for the door.
Enough was enough.
Bond shot out a hand, and it was easy-- though totally unheard of-- to restrain his Quartermaster, to have him backed against the wall with his hands pinned to his sides in a firm but not ungentle grip. With a sharp, indrawn breath, Q froze before he writhed against Bond, trying to twist free of his hold until Bond lowered his head to capture Q’s mouth with his.
God, he had to do this or perhaps go mad. He’d been so afraid of losing this man that he could not help branding him in this way.
Like this, you’re mine.
It took him a moment to realize that Q was not actually fighting him. Rather, he was kissing him back, ferocious and hungry, his mouth opened wide and his tongue aggressive. Yet pressed together from chest to thigh, Bond knew this for the battle that it was.
The kiss dragged on, heated and freed of inhibition, with Q’s arms lashed around Bond’s neck in a punishing grip, their bodies flushed hard against each other in a slow, steady, thrusting grind that had Bond aching to take him, just take him. Now. Like this. While he still could.
And if he did so, he knew that he would lose this man forever. Q would not be able to forgive himself, or him. They would not be able to get past this.
“Fuck me,” whispered Q hoarsely as Bond tore his mouth away. “Do it. Just do it.”
“I will,” Bond gritted out, “as soon as you lose that ring on your finger.”
He felt Q recoil as though he’d been struck, his breath leaving him in a sharp exhalation.
"Why?" Q's trembling hands were fisted on his shirt now, head lowered so that Bond could not see his face. "Why are you doing this?"
"Because I love you," said Bond. " I need to be certain that you're sure. Sure of him."
Q lifted his head and tried to reach for Bond's mouth with his once again. "This is what you want, isn't it?" he said harshly. "Well, you have it. Let's just get this over with."
It took everything he had for Bond to push Q away with a firm hand on his chest. "We will," he said, "but not like this."
Q was panting slightly as he glared at Bond. "Like what?"
"Like you're trying to purge me," Bond replied. "Like you're trying to get me out of your system so that you can go back to him. You can't have us both. Choose."
"Fuck you, Bond."
“If it’s ever going to be us,” Bond continued as though he'd not heard him, “I don't want us to end before we've even begun. I don’t want this hanging over you and poisoning whatever we can have.”
“You can’t do this to me,” said Q through a fresh upwelling of tears. “Don’t think you can come into my life like this just when I’ve chosen somebody else and turn it upside down at your whim. You can’t.”
He stared at Bond even as the tears spilled, his eyes like hard, wet emeralds. “And there is no us,” he said, each word cutting like a knife.
Bond swallowed the pain. He was used to it. He was just sorry to have to inflict more on Q before the end was in sight.
"Have you spoken to Ethan Miller?" he said, and watched Q go still.
"What?" Q's voice was barely above a whisper.
"Don't tell me you've not done your homework, Q," said Bond, his voice grave. "You, of all people."
"Daniel was subjected to the usual security checks at the start of our relationship," Q replied. "He came out clean--"
"That's not what I mean and you know it," Bond cut in. "You know what I'm talking about."
"Look, I don't need Daniel's ex to--"
"Then you might be missing something," said Bond. "Something important about this man whom you've decided to marry."
"I trust Daniel."
Bond shook his head. "It doesn't mean that you need to be blinded by him. That's not how love is supposed to work."
"You know nothing about love to be lecturing me about it, Bond."
With that Q turned to go. Bond let him.
At the door, Q said, "and I did not call out your name."
Bond stared at the door as it clicked shut, not knowing what to make of Q's parting words, of the possible outcome to this entire disastrous venture. He could only trust Q to do the best thing, under the circumstances, and he trusted this man with his life, with all his heart.
Author's Notes: Well, I think the pain has reached its peak with this chapter. Please don't kill the Muse, she would love to hear from you, if possible. (Dare I say, enjoy the chapter nevertheless??) XD
Resorting to anything involving Daniel’s ex was never an option for Q, and before Daniel’s outburst in the bedroom, he would not have considered it at all. Even now, he tried to put it off for as long as he could, but Bond’s stinging words eventually got the better of him.
“Don’t tell me you’ve not done your homework, Q. You of all people.”
It wasn’t so much that he was following Bond’s advice, he thought as he got down to it. It had more to do with his own sense of thoroughness. It was intensely disloyal of him to look up Ethan behind Daniel’s back, but he could not abide not turning every stone in his quest to get to the bottom of Daniel’s sudden, alarming behavior.
Q could not bear to think that Bond may have found something about his own fiancé that might have eluded him.
Looking up the right Ethan Miller was easy enough, and Q could do an even better job of digging into his social media accounts and everything else about him online than Bond ever could.
It did not take long for him to find the stuff that got Bond’s attention online. It took a bit longer to dredge out the more important details, the really ugly bits, yet by the end of his first hour trawling through the debris of Ethan Miller’s relationship with Daniel— much of which had long been deleted but still obtainable given Q’s considerable abilities— it was clear that he needed to get in touch with the man.
Writing the first email was extremely painful to Q, and he’d half expected never to receive a reply, but an answer arrived within the hour, short and to the point.
What has he done now?
Q fought down the urge to squirm, to pace, to just call the man on his mobile and explain everything to him. Instead he adjusted his glasses before typing a polite response, asking if he may meet Ethan and suggesting a place and time the very next day.
Two hours later came the reply: Okay.
Ethan was tall, dark and movie-star handsome, and an American. All of these were obvious the moment he stepped into the coffee shop; the way he turned heads as he scanned the place, looking for Q.
Q finally raised a tentative hand and watched as Ethan gave a brief pause, taking him in before he made his way over.
It was, thought Q, something that had occurred to him time and again as well: the stark difference between Daniel’s ex and himself. Looking at Ethan now, he could not help but think the obvious. Daniel had been on the rebound then, and had chosen him because he was the complete opposite of the man whom Daniel claimed had hurt him badly.
“You must be Robin,” said Ethan as he stopped in front of Q.
Q nodded as he extended a hand for a brief, awkward handshake before gesturing at the seat opposite him. “Ethan. Please.”
They sat down and went through the motion of ordering their coffees, each covertly studying the other while pretending not to. Q fought not to fidget underneath the table and instead brought his hands to rest quietly on top of it. He noted the way Ethan’s eyes were immediately drawn to the ring on his finger and watched as the full, sensual mouth twisted into a grim line.
“He proposed to you,” he said. “Wow. Congrats.”
Q cleared his throat and, not knowing what else to do, glanced down at the ring.
“It kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?” Ethan continued. “How someone like him could turn out to be the most insecure man you’ll ever meet?”
Q looked up, surprised.
Ethan nodded at the ring, his gaze sardonic. “He’s all, ‘oh look, everyone. He’s mine!’ Dan’s never been one for subtlety, I’m afraid. I’m guessing it got to you as well, didn’t it? All that clingy possessiveness, the childish sulks.”
There was a short, tense pause before Ethan sighed, deflating a bit. “I’m sorry. I didn’t expect it to be so raw, still. It’s been more than a year, but in many aspects it still felt like yesterday. So. What’s he done now?”
Q drew in a breath. “I want to ask you,” he said carefully. “Was Daniel ever the jealous type?”
Ethan snorted. “Oh god,” he said. “Don’t get me started on that one. Do you know how we started fighting? It was all because he happened to see some messages on my phone from an acquaintance which he promptly misunderstood. Before that, we were good for three, four months.”
Q raised his brows. “And did you…?”
“No!” Ethan scoffed. “But he wouldn’t let go of it. He’d demand to check my phone, dig into my inbox. From then on, things gradually turned to shit between us as he moved from one incident to another while blaming me.”
Q licked his lips. “He said that you cheated on him.”
“It’s more like he thinks I cheated on him,” said Ethan bitterly. “Christ, the things that went on inside his head. Let me guess. He thought you did, too. Has he started gaslighting you yet?”
Q blinked. “Pardon?”
“He’d muddy up the scene by deliberately misunderstanding you, mishearing you,” Ethan clarified. “Trying to trip you into saying something that might give you away.”
Q exhaled a breath, shaken. “He…he said that I called out another man’s name while…”
He could not go on.
“And did you?”
“No,” said Q.
Ethan nodded. “He did the same to me, drove me nuts. The thing is, I couldn’t get down to the bottom of it. What was he doing, sabotaging a relationship like that? It’s like he’s gearing himself for the worst, like he needs to break up with you before you can do so with him. And the thing is, it’s all in his head. Perhaps he’d had a bad experience previously, something he wouldn’t tell me. I wasn’t going to leave him but in the end I had to. Things happened and it all became too much. One night, the fight finally got physical and that was it. I told him to get help.”
“I just can’t believe he’s such a different man compared to when we started,” said Q. “It was like he just changed overnight, triggered by one incident.”
“He didn’t change,” said Ethan, shaking his head. “What you’re seeing is the real man finally emerging into the light. All of him.”
They fell silent for a moment, staring at the steaming coffees in front of them that had arrived.
“Yet despite everything, I still love him,” Ethan finally said, his voice breaking. “I’m sorry. I know you must have come, hoping to hear something else from me.”
“No,” replied Q, desolate. “You merely told me everything that I need to know.”
Another day, another coffee shop.
Q watched as Daniel came in, his face closed off to scrutiny.
He took his seat opposite Q and nodded curtly. “So,” he said. “You’re ready now?”
“Yes,” said Q.
Before Daniel could say anything else, he reached for the ring and pulled it off his finger. Carefully, he set it down in front of Daniel.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “but I can’t.”
Daniel drew in a harsh breath, but was otherwise silent.
“You must think I’ve come to apologize and beg to have you back,” said Q. “What you’ve failed to factor in when you were playing your little power game was the possibility that something might die between us. And it did, that night.”
“You were thinking of him,” said Daniel, not looking at him. “Just admit it.”
‘I will admit that I chose you over him,” said Q. “At every instance.”
“I won’t be able to convince you once you’ve made up your mind about something, will I?” said Q, shaking his head. “A friend of yours can attest to that.”
“You’ve spoken to Ethan,” said Daniel, voice edged with disbelief. “What sort of bullshit has he fed you with?”
Q shrugged. “Only that in the end, and despite everything, he still loves you.”
Beats of silence. Then, Q continued, “it’s never going to work out between us. You need someone who can give himself a hundred percent to you, no holds barred. I can’t, given my job. I thought at first that you understood. Might understand. Here’s to proposing to somebody who works for MI6. At this rate, you’ll be jumping at shadows, and if it’s not Bond, it’s going to be someone else next time.”
Daniel stared at him. “I thought you were in IT,” he said. “That was what you told me. You never mentioned anything about James Bloody Bond.”
“Well,” said Q. “It turned out James Bloody Bond managed to expose a vital aspect of our relationship, something I would happily have turned a blind eye to until it was too late. Let’s just say the man was just doing his job.”
“You let your spooks test me, then,” said Daniel, his mouth drawn.
“I did not. But weren’t you testing me when you gaslit me?” returned Q without heat. “I know what I said back there. I never said James.”
“But you were torn about him,” replied Daniel. “Just admit it. You wanted him.”
“What mattered was that I chose you,” repeated Q. “And what you could have done was help me. Support me. Instead, you managed to repeat a pattern of behavior that has broken up one of your previous relationships, and now ours. Ethan is right. You do need help, and I'm not the one who can give it to you.”
“I can’t believe this,” said Daniel as they lapsed into silence. “You’re breaking up with me three weeks before Christmas.”
“I didn’t realize we need a timeline for this sort of thing,” said Q. “And seriously, you can’t expect me to still show up at your parents' place like this.”
“I wanted us to talk about this,” said Daniel. “That was why I did what I did.”
“You did what you did because you’re used to steering our relationship whichever way you pleased, and I was too in love with you at the start to rein you in. I realize now that I should have. What we have is broken, Daniel, and I’m afraid we can’t fix it. And even if we could, I no longer feel inclined to do so.”
Q gazed at him wistfully, mouth set in a thin line. “And please don’t think about lashing out online. We don’t want Six to get involved in our personal matter.”
When Daniel said nothing, Q continued, “I’ve got your things ready. You may come around one evening to get them. Just make sure to send me a message beforehand.”
“This means he won, then,” Daniel said bitterly as he stared hard at Q. “James Bond.”
“Nobody won,” answered Q dully as he reached for his messenger bag. “And if this means I have to choose between the two of you shites, I’d rather not choose anyone at all. Good bye, Daniel.”
Author's Notes: Aaand here's the next chapter! Enjoy and do let the Muse know what you guys think!
Special thanks to SouffleGirl91 for her kind advice and help with the location of Q's holiday cottage! ^_~
Afterward, he went to ground in Q branch, taking the cats and some clothes with him.
It was easy enough to rationalize in the beginning as they had to deal with a flurry of small emergencies from the various double-O’s in the field. But then he stayed on— sleeping in his office, showering in the staff room, going out for brief errands and meals only to come back a few hours later. Add to all that the absence of the ring on his finger, something the minions immediately noticed, and— thank god— had the good sense to withhold comment as they took their cue from his silence.
His only gesture was to take R aside and endorse 007 into her care and supervision.
R, brilliant and astute, did not need to prod further as she effortlessly connected the dots. When he was done with his endorsement, she merely reached out to give his arm a light squeeze.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly.
Q looked down at his own hand, where Daniel’s silver ring ought to be, and was conscious only of the sensation that he felt lighter without it.
He did not know how to feel about that.
“I think we’ll find that this is all for the best,” he replied quietly.
He immersed himself in work, spending long hours in the restricted sections, testing out new weapons and ammunitions with Henry. He got more things done, spending the evenings designing gadgets and approving proposals for outfitting the various vehicles in the huge garage and workshop that was now barred to 007 unless R was with him.
Once, Q saw him just as he was emerging from the weapons development unit, a bullet-proof glass wall separating them. Bond appeared to be arguing with R and then he looked up and caught Q’s gaze.
Safely on the other side of that transparent wall, Q watched as Bond gave a start. He watched as Bond made to move forward, his lips silently forming around a single letter: Q.
He turned away just as R moved to intercept Bond, firmly halting him in his tracks.
That was the last he saw of Bond as the assignments came, one after the other, sending 007 away to various parts of the globe, with R effortlessly minding him and seeing to his requirements in the field. Q could only hope the tasks for 007 would continue well into the Christmas holidays that were fast approaching.
The holidays were sure to be horrid, and Q had already sent word to his mother and sister that he would not be able to make it this year, that he would be away because of work. It was a lie; he had no actual plans except to hibernate at home, but it was better to face family disappointment now rather than endure the awkward questions about Daniel that were sure to come when he met up with Lisa and his mum.
He needed time to process everything, to heal. He needed to be left alone. He deliberately fell behind in answering the messages on his phone.
Moneypenny was having none of it. She came by Q branch soon enough and, against his protests, hauled him off to the nearest coffee shop late one evening.
“That bloody bastard,” hissed Moneypenny as soon as Q finished a colorless account of what had transpired.
“Which one?” Q asked, his voice dull as he lifted his steaming mug to take a sip.
“The bloody bastards,” corrected Moneypenny.
Q set down his mug and shrugged. “I’ll start with Daniel,” he said. “Now that I think of it, it was too good to be true. He was so charming and I was so ready to spoil him, I’d have gladly lain down and let him step all over me. In a way, our relationship was all about him— what he wanted, what he thought was best. And it was all fine in the months before the engagement because I was glad he’d taken charge of things: all domestic details, big and small. Things like that.”
Q paused before he continued softly, “and he made me laugh. When everything was going his way, it was quite heaven. When it didn’t, I thought his tantrums were rather…amusing. I’d chalked it all down to a propensity for cute, boyish sulks which dissipated soon enough. I just had to patiently tease him out of his bad temper. We never had to deal with a dilemma as serious as Bond though.”
Moneypenny rolled her eyes. “Good luck to anyone who has to deal with Bond,” she said wryly.
“In a way, I think Daniel chose me because I was so very different from Ethan,” Q said pensively. “Outside work, I have quiet, regular habits. And I’m not so… intimidatingly attractive. At all. I'm...dull. Nobody’s going to look twice my way.”
“That’s not true,” interjected Moneypenny gently. “As we can already see with Bond.”
Q shrugged and continued, “and in a way, I was doing the same thing when I chose Daniel. He seemed like the complete opposite of Bond. Dependable and, until Bond came along, steady and quite easy to be with. I never had an inkling of the rest: the insecurity, the suspicion, the jealous, controlling streak, the obsession in trying to confirm that he was right: that I wanted Bond; that I was leaving him for Bond. It was absolutely mental. I don't think Daniel's ever imagined I would be in charge of people like Bond, even though he knew that I work in Six. All throughout the debacle, I thought it was clear as crystal that I'd chosen him, Daniel. But then perhaps I should have made it clearer. I should have said--”
“I don’t think it would have made a difference even if you were to shout it from the rooftops. The bottomline is, Daniel was wrong to doubt you,” said Moneypenny firmly. “He was wrong to gaslight you. Those were his choices.”
Q shook his head. “As for Bond, I don’t know,” he said. “I really don’t know what he wants from me. How long he wants me for. I don’t know. All I know is that I cannot trust myself around him.”
There. Inasmuch as it was painful to admit, he’d said it.
“Oh, Q,” murmured Moneypenny, pained.
They sat in silence for a while, watching the steam curl up from their mugs. Soft Christmas jazz music floated in the air and everything around them was wrapped in soft, cozy lights and cheery warmth.
“So, you will be seeing your mom and Lisa for the holidays,” Moneypenny said next. “It would be nice to get out of London for a while.”
Q shook his head. “I already told them I can’t, because of work.”
“I need time to myself, Eve.”
Moneypenny sat back. “Well, I think I’ve got just the place for you,” she said as she took out her phone.
“Actually, I was thinking of burying myself back at my place, where—”
“Where Bond will find you and promptly make you change your mind about him,” said Moneypenny, knowing Q enough to know which argument to use.
He fell silent at that and watched as she scrawled down her phone. “Here,” she said at last. “Anthony— you remember him, don’t you? Tony and I were looking at some lovely holiday cottages for our own getaway and we had to give this darling up because it was too far. But if you don’t mind being buried in Hathersage instead of London…”
“Where is that?” said Q, frowning as he peered into Moneypenny’s phone.
He slumped into his chair when Moneypenny said brightly, “The Peak District, Derbyshire.”
“It’s too far,” he complained. “How do I even know they’ve got proper internet services there?”
“Trust me, the cottages are all modern and recently renovated,” said Moneypenny as she flashed pic after gorgeous pic of a well-stocked and very nicely decorated Christmas cottage. “See? State-of-the-art wi-fi. It’s the very place for you if you want to get away from it all.”
“I’ll make all the arrangements,” offered Moneypenny, “plus a nice, comfy, chauffeured car for going to and fro. You don’t have to lift a finger.”
Q bit his lip as he stared at Moneypenny. “I’ll think about it,” he finally said.
In the end, the deciding factor once again was Bond.
Q was on his way back to his office from the workshop when a minion came running over.
“Sir,” the minion said. “R is looking for you.”
Q frowned. “Isn’t 007 currently carrying out his mission in Muscat?”
It was the reason why he was keeping himself to the garage and workshop in the first place.
“Yes, sir,” said the minion and it was all Q needed to realize that something was wrong.
R was ready with her report when Q hurried into the control centre. “007 has infiltrated the facility and has engaged with the adversary. He needs an exit route but he’s in a part of the facility where everywhere is a dead end. We’ve been trying to find a way out but so far, he’s running down a corridor that can only bring us three options, all dead ends.”
Q nodded as he moved quickly to a computer console beside R and began to pull up the necessary data and digital maps.
“R, I need that direction now,” growled Bond into the comm.
R switched the speaker back on. “We’re working on it, 007.”
“Goddammit, where’s Q?”
“I’m right here, 007,” Q said, smoothly. “There is no need for that sort of language.”
There was a pause before Bond chuckled. “Took you long enough,” he said, the relief in his voice evident.
“Tell us what you see, 007.”
“Long corridor, no windows or doors. Christ, it’s just endless. Tell me there’s something we can work on at the end of it,” Bond said.
“There are in fact three,” murmured Q distractedly, fingers flying over his keyboard, eyes quickly scanning through various images flashing through two screens in front of them. “It’s just that you’ll be trapped no matter which passage you pick.”
“Well, I’m fucked then,” muttered Bond, resigned.
“Quite,” said Q. “Unless…”
“Don’t make me hold my breath, Q,” warned Bond. “I’m running, remember?”
Lips quirking, Q focused on the screens before him, still murmuring distractedly, “the facility has heat sensors all over the place. That would mean they have thermal images of various places within the building. Perhaps…hold on, 007…”
He turned and gave instructions for a minion to pull up all the hacked thermal sensor images and readouts from the facility while he and R continued to work frenziedly, covering every inch of the three potential passages in search of a way out.
“There isn’t anything in the left and central passages,” said R, frustrated.
Q bit his lip hard and decided to call the shot. “Take the passage to your right, Bond, when you come upon it,” he instructed.
“Done. There’s nothing here, Q. Just more corridor and a looming wall with built-in shelves.”
“There is a cool draft noticeable at a section above the ceiling at the end of the passageway. There may be a vent up there.”
“I don’t see any vent, Q,” muttered Bond as he skidded to a halt at the designated area.
Q never broke pace, or tone. “Well then, you’ll just have to make one on your way up, won’t you? I believe you can try climbing the shelves that they have conveniently installed against the wall.”
Bond actually laughed. “God, Q, you’re…”
“Amazing, yes, I know,” said Q blandly as R flashed him a relieved smile. “Now get to it, chip chop.”
The ceiling gave in like cardboard against Bond’s fist.
“You’re right, this area is quite thin. They must have boarded up this passageway sometime ago. Didn’t do a good job of it, either.”
“Of course, I’m right,” said Q briskly. “Now up you get. There’s no time to be wasted.”
There were more thermal readouts that Q and R had to make sense of to direct 007, but made sense of them they did and Bond was soon emerging from a vent onto the outside of the building, a commotion of shots and shouts following not far behind him.
“Just got into a car,” Bond informed them. “Heading out.”
There was a screech of metal and more shouts and gunshots as Bond rammed his vehicle through the facility’s checkpoint. “I’m out,” he said briefly, prompting a huge cheer from the minions in Q branch.
“Good work, 007,” said Q as he felt the clenching sensation ease from his chest. “I’m handing you back to R now.”
“Signing off,” Q said as he stepped aside and nodded for R to carry on.
He sank down onto the sofa once he got to his office. Tiredly, he removed his glasses and pinched his thumb and forefinger over his closed eyes. He could feel a headache starting, not to mention the dull pain in his chest.
No matter what he did, it seemed there was no stopping him from caring for Bond. Always.
There was a soft knock on the door. R.
“You’re exhausted,” she said as she came into the room. “Don’t worry, 007 has managed to shake his pursuers off.”
Q gave a small, noncommittal sound as he put his glasses back on.
“It’s four days til Christmas,” remarked R as she seated herself beside him. “Why don’t you take an early break? God knows you deserve it. We don’t have any more active assignments in the field after 007’s stint, anyway.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” R said. “The family is coming over to stay in town this year for the holidays. You’ve run yourself ragged and managed to clear all the work needed for the rest of this year. I’ll hold the fort.”
“Don’t argue,” R said. “Goodness knows you’ve never taken a proper break in the past few years, and you’re now falling to pieces right in front of me. That just won’t do.”
Q took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I owe you one, R,” he said gratefully.
“It’s more like you need to start calling in some favors,” R said, smiling. “Merry Christmas. Now go home.”
After she left, Q took out his phone and called Moneypenny. “Sorry this is so late. Is that cottage still available?”
Here's the teaser for the next chapter! XD
Author's Notes: Aaaand the fun starts here, folks! Enjoy! Do let the Muse know what you think as she enjoys hearing from you! ^_^
Follow me at my tumblr for updates and teasers.
Bond arrived at Q branch just as the minions’ annual Christmas party was finally kicking off into full swing. He’d gone straight from the airfield, as soon as his plane touched down in cold, dark, rainy London.
He disliked spending Christmas at home, preferring the warmer climes of, say, the Caribbean or South America; yet right now he could hardly give a damn about the rain and the sleet as he made his way into the labyrinthine tunnels of Q branch, festively lit for the occasion, with accompanying loud music and even louder cheers and laughter as the competitions went underway.
Bond had heard all about the insanely competitive trivia and computer games with some very cool prizes up for grabs, at least from a minion’s point of view. They included rare codes and software, with the occasional hardware, along with lavish gift certificates for online purchases of whatever these people were up to in that sphere of existence, so entirely alien to Bond.
At this point he couldn’t give a damn about all that. All he cared about was seeing Q.
There was something in the way Q had cut him off after successfully guiding him through his Muscat mission that had left Bond feeling the first stirrings of despair. There was an irreversible finality to it, a deliberate severance of personal warmth and friendship, leaving behind a cool, steady professionalism that he knew Q would have no problem enforcing between themselves. They could carry on working together but it would not be the same.
Bond did not think he could bear it.
So here he was in Q branch, only to have the minions smilingly and silently close ranks all around him. He knew he would fail, then. They may or may not know why he was here, but they would have seen him coming from a mile off and sounded the alarm as ordered by their Quartermaster. He turned amidst the polite chatter all around him and caught sight of R, cheeks flushed with alcohol and with a santa hat perched saucily at an angle on her usually staid and no-nonsense head.
No matter how useless, he had to try.
“007,” she said cheerily as he approached. “Congratulations on the mission. You must have come straight from the airfield. To what do we owe this honour? You don’t have to be in a rush to return the equipment, you know.”
That was a lot, coming from R, who usually did not bother with trivialities.
“Q,” said Bond, cutting to the chase.
R’s lips formed words but they were drowned by the roar of the crowd to their left as an inebriated Henry Flagen hefted a keyboard into the air with both hands and started pumping it up and down victoriously like a caveman with his bat.
Bond turned back to R.
“I said you just missed him,” she repeated. “He’s gone.”
Bond struggled to retain his smile. He knew from experience that it wouldn’t do to lose his patience or civility with R. He would regret it like he did very few things in life.
“Gone on holiday, of course.” R gazed at him blandly, and somewhere at the back of that deceptively genial look lurked a hardness, cold and implacable.
Break his heart and I’ll break you, R’s look told Bond in no uncertain terms.
She knew then.
Bond’s fixed smile melted into something quite genuine as he gazed down at this tiny, remarkable woman who barely came up to his shoulder. In a way, he was glad that Q had loyal friends around him who had his back, ready to defend him. That, he could admire.
However, Bond was nothing if not tenacious. “I don’t suppose there is any use in asking if you know where he is holidaying.”
R gave him a pitying smile. “None at all,” she said. “Drinks, then, 007?”
All right. So that did not work, but then he wasn’t expecting it to.
Next up was Moneypenny, who had a few choice words ready for him.
“I just hope you realize that you’re a bastard and an arsehole,” she said as he sat her down to dinner.
Bond shrugged it off. “So I’ve been told,” he replied smoothly.
“And how very dare you. This is Q we’re talking about here.”
“I saved him from making a huge mistake,” said Bond, returning Moneypenny’s glare with one of his own. “That man does not deserve him.”
“And neither do you,” Moneypenny retorted. “Don’t expect any thanks and a pat on the back for this, Bond.”
“I need to talk to him, explain as best as I can,” said Bond softly. “I owe him that much.”
“Well, he doesn’t want to talk to you,” said Moneypenny. “Now, what’s on the menu?”
“He got horribly hurt.” Moneypenny made sure to enunciate each word clearly. “By you. I just hope you can understand that. I suggest you drop any idea of going to him, Bond. He’ll come to you when he’s ready. If that’s ever going to happen.”
“He shouldn’t be spending the holidays alone.”
“Alone is something you’re an expert on, I’m sure.”
After a moment, she relented. “Look, Bond. I’m sure you think you did him a favor, but you didn’t earn any points by breaking his heart like that. These things take time to mend. Just let him be.”
“I can’t,” said Bond flatly.
“You have no choice,” said Moneypenny, and there was the same implacability in her stance that he’d detected in R. “I’m not divulging his location, no matter what your inducement. The only time I will do so is if he wishes me to. If you want to have the smallest iota of a chance with Q, you will leave him alone to heal for now.”
And that, Bond realized, was that. He could try pushing further but he knew he would meet with a dead end. Q’s tracks stopped here, shielded by loyal friends.
“Just let me know,” said Bond, “if he should ever need anything. If he should ever call you during the holidays.”
“He’s a grown man, Bond,” remarked Moneypenny dryly. “He’ll be able to take care of himself, but your concern is noted.”
Bond turned toward the window a few feet away just as the waiter came with their champagne. Outside, the world was cold and dark. It was snowing lightly, and he could not help but wonder where Q was and what he might be doing at that very minute.
At that very minute, Q was looking out of his own window, watching the snow fall in fat, heavy flakes across the small garden. Outside, the world was cold and dark, but he and the cats were safely ensconced in the cottage in Hathersage, warmed by a blazing, cheery fire in the living room.
The fireplace was huge and old-fashioned; it had taken him a while to get the logs going, but now he was on the sofa, reading from his tablet, his mug of tea within arm’s reach and the cats asleep on his lap. Earlier in the evening, he’d made himself a nice, simple dinner. Things could not be more perfect.
Except now he found himself looking out the window and thinking of Bond.
He’d not thought of Daniel, especially not after the git had sent him an angry, vitriolic email not long after he’d returned his ring. Daniel had probably written it while drunk, telling Q exactly what he thought of him. There were so many things he’d not managed to say in the coffee shop, after all. After scanning the first sentence, Q had binned the message, then he’d hacked into the HR department of Daniel’s workplace to discreetly place a request in Daniel’s file for him to undergo a psych evaluation on his next scheduled physical.
And that had been it for Daniel.
But Bond…Bond could not be banished so easily.
In the end, M had been more than willing to grant him his holiday leave and even then, Q had stayed at the Christmas party in Q branch for as long as he could, seeing to some last-minute work and delivering his short, annual speech to thank everyone for a job well done that year. Then he’d been escorted to a waiting car in one of the underground tunnels, ready with his luggage and the cats, when they got the signal that Bond was on his way in.
It had taken five hours to get to the cottage from London, but he’d slept well in a nice, soft bed for the first time in weeks and finally woke up late to some peace and quiet.
It had not stopped snowing, and more snow was expected according to the local weather forecast. There was some indication that a snowstorm might be brewing in time for Christmas Eve, but Q was not overly concerned about that. The pantry and fridge were stocked to the brim and there was no need to step out of the cottage.
And now that he’d settled in, he found himself thinking of Bond.
For how long was he going to avoid him? How long could he elude him?
For as long as it takes, he thought, for Bond to lose interest and move on.
It was bound to happen sooner or later, yet it was not lost on him how ridiculous the notion was, dodging Bond like this.
Yet the problem wasn’t Bond, Q knew. The problem was himself— the way he continued to crave the man despite everything; the way he missed him.
Yes, missed him. He could admit now that there was no other word for this feeling eating away inside him.
Hence this self-imposed exile that had other people thinking he needed to get over his broken engagement. It was a nice cover, but it wasn’t the complete story— something only a few people would ever know, if he had his way.
It wasn’t easy though. An hour later, when he was tucked cozily in bed, reading, he received a call from Moneypenny.
“I hope I’m not disturbing?”
“No,” said Q, yawning. “Just settling down after doing nothing the whole day.”
Moneypenny laughed. “How does it feel?”
“Glorious,” Q replied, smiling.
“Well. I just had dinner with Bond, in case you want to know.”
Q’s smile faded a bit at that.
Moneypenny continued when he said nothing, “he wanted to pry your location from me, naturally. Fobbed him off, don’t worry, though he said if you should ever need anyone, he’s there. Sweet, if you want to know what I think, but of course he’s still an arsehole.”
She waited for a reply, and when there was still none, she said cautiously, “Q?”
“I’m here,” he finally said as he removed his hand from his eyes and adjusted his glasses. He cleared his throat. “What…what else did he say? No. You don’t need to answer that.”
He drew in a shaky breath. “I’ll be alright,” he said.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” he said. “A few more days of downtime ought to work wonders.”
“You’ll call if you need anything?”
“I will, of course.”
“All right. Have a nice and restful holiday, love. Merry Christmas. Good night.”
“Good night, Eve. Happy holidays.”
Q tossed away the phone afterward and stared at the ceiling, knowing that sleep, so ready to claim him only a few minutes ago, would elude him now.
The day before Christmas and Q woke up late— having managed to fall asleep sometime around 3:30 am— to the tune of the cats demanding food.
He managed to fix a cup of steaming Earl Grey for himself before he realized what he was seeing outside his window. It had not stopped snowing throughout the night, and the level of the white stuff outside gave him pause as he took it all in.
The online weather forecast declared the snowstorm as a certainty now, not just a possibility. Q needed no further proof of its approach: it was already affecting internet access, and it was all he could do to check his emails and answer the most relevant ones.
It will pass, he reminded himself as he started his day.
There was a spot of Christmas cooking to be done, and he kept one eye over the snow levels outside as he puttered about, warm and cozy in the kitchen.
By mid-afternoon, he started to wonder whether it would be wise to call someone over the rather alarming levels of snow gathering around the cottage. The people renting out the house would be the most logical first step, but he realized the phone lines were down the moment he picked up the phone. His mobile’s signal was no better. After several repeated calls, he hung up and decided to call Moneypenny.
The call went through, but then he could not hear her at all.
“Eve, can you hear me?” he said hesitantly. “I’m not really sure if…there seems to be so much snow outside. I’m sure it’s nothing, but…anyway. Forget it. Sorry. Just ignore this. I’m okay.”
He wasn’t sure she heard him at all, and the message he tried sending her afterward could not be dispatched. The signal was down.
Great, he thought. Just great.
Still, there was no reason to panic. He was warm and dry, and safe. There was plenty of food, enough to last him until doomsday, if it came to that. If the electricity went, there was still the fireplace, and candles. It would make for a true, old-fashioned Christmas.
He wasn’t sure why he suddenly found that rather dreadful.
The internet sputtered out entirely by early evening, as did the signal on his phone, and he made sure to plug in his devices and powerbanks just in case.
Nothing to worry about. You’ve got this, he thought as he stared at the snow outside. The wind was also starting to pick up, rattling along the windowpanes.
He doused the fire by 11pm and retired to bed with the cats, pulling up the duvet all the way to his ears and thinking they’d be alright, so long as the electricity didn’t give way.
He wasn’t sure how long he slept. He came awake abruptly, in the middle of dreaming, his heart pounding away in his chest. Outside, the wind howled as though it were alive, screaming to be let in.
He checked his phone: 1:10 am. He’d not been asleep that long, and yes, the electricity was down. The lamp beside him stayed dark even as he tried to switch it on.
Yet what was the noise that had roused him roughly from sleep?
There it was again. There was someone pounding on the door.
Q felt his heart in his throat as he mulled over what to do. It would be best not to answer it, yet the pounding would not cease and, in between the pounding outside made by gale and man, Q swore he could hear some muffled shouting.
Finally, he made his way to the living room.
“Wh— who—?” he called out.
“Let me in, for fuck’s sake!”
The man outside must be joking, thought Q as he felt a sharp stab of fear. Moreover, he sounded dangerous.
Being trapped in a cottage in Hathersage in the middle of a snowstorm was one thing, having some screaming lunatic pounding on his door in the middle of the night on top of it all was another matter altogether.
Q hovered by the door nervously, clutching a pillow to his chest and wishing he’d brought along his taser as he yelled, “I’ve…I’ve got my partner here, so don’t be getting any ideas!”
“You don’t have a partner!” came the reply from the other side.
Jesus bloody Christ, thought Q as he felt his blood turn to ice. The lunatic outside knew that he was quite alone. Perhaps he’d been under observation all this time. Somebody had been lurking outside and studying him in the past day or so.
There was more frantic pounding.
The wind died down a little, making the voice outside more distinct as it cried, “Bloody hell, Q, just open this fucking door before I freeze to death out here!”
Q gasped as recognition finally dawned. “Bond!”
Here's the teaser for the next chapter! XD
Author's Notes: Aaand here's the next installment! Apologies again to those who may have seen the original teaser, which has to be pushed to the next chap. The Muse just isn't up for the sexytimes yet, but she'd love to hear from you guys as always! Enjoy! XD
Bond had just about given up when Moneypenny finally broke her silence on Q’s whereabouts.
He wasn’t sticking around for Christmas in London, not when he could book a last-minute flight to the Caribbean. But then Moneypenny called after sending a text message containing an address in Hathersage.
“I can’t reach him,” said Moneypenny. “He called a few minutes ago; the line was choppy. I think he might be snowbound.”
“I’m on my way,” replied Bond.
Of course, getting there was easier said than done, given that there really was a snowstorm in the area to contend with. It took double the usual time to get there. Still, Bond managed to arrive at his destination before the snow rendered the roads virtually impassable. He had to leave the car behind for the last few blocks and trudged knee-deep in snow for the rest of the way to the cottage, and by the time he got there he was almost frozen.
Add to that the howling wind that swept his voice away, along with Q’s stubborn feistiness— adorable at any other given time— and for a moment, Bond thought he might actually die of hypothermia at Q’s doorstep.
“I’ve…I’ve got my partner here, so don’t be getting any ideas!” He heard Q declare testily from the other side of the door, and he found himself smiling despite the dire plight he was in.
“You don’t have a partner!” he shouted back, half in exasperated amusement.
He had to cut their exchange short as he could no longer feel his legs. “Bloody hell, Q, just open this fucking door before I freeze to death out here!”
At last, the door was hurriedly flung open, revealing a sleep-tussled Q clutching a pillow to his chest as he stood there, gaping. “Bond!” he said incredulously. “What are you doing here?”
Bond hurried in, teeth chattering, rendering speech difficult. “Later,” he muttered, stamping his feet and shaking the snow off himself, willing his circulation to get back on track.
“There is no electricity,” said Q as he hurried into the kitchen to turn the gas stove on. Luckily that had not gone out of whack.
“What are you doing here, Bond,” Q repeated, watching as Bond warmed himself gratefully over the small fire. “How did you even know— wait. Don’t tell me. Moneypenny.”
Bond merely gave him a lopsided smile.
“I’ll kill her,” muttered Q.
“She was worried about you,” Bond pointed out.
“Well, I don’t need any assistance, as you can see,” said Q acerbically.
“I see you’ve got some leftover soup,” said Bond, quickly and skillfully changing the subject as he peered into the pots left on the stove. “Might I have some? I’m famished. I’ve been on the road since mid-afternoon.”
Q stiffened visibly, his lips pressed tight in a thin, outraged line. For a moment, he looked as though he might let fly a sharp retort and throw Bond out of the cottage. Then just as quickly, he deflated. “Go ahead,” he said.
Minutes later, Q sat wordlessly at the dining table lit only by candles, still clutching the pillow to him like a shield as he watched Bond shovel hot soup into his mouth.
“This is very good,” remarked Bond. “I didn’t know you’re such a good cook. Thank you.”
Q merely shrugged. “It’s just soup,” he said. He didn’t bother to expound on the Christmas dinner he’d fixed for himself earlier.
As Bond ate, a pregnant silence settled around them, heavy with words— words that needed to be let out but may be best left unsaid. The tight, hard feeling was back in Q’s chest, rough with unshed tears. All these weeks, he’d not been able to get rid of the pain entirely as he could not bring himself to have a proper cry.
Now, he refused to look directly at Bond, knowing that the man’s gaze was upon him, bold and unapologetic. When they finally spoke, it was at the same time.
Q cleared his throat and tried again. “You didn’t have to come all the way here,” he said. “Seriously, Bond.”
“I just wanted to make sure you’re alright,” replied Bond.
“As you can see, I’m fine,” Q said, squaring his shoulders rather defensively.
Bond’s mouth quirked a bit in the dim glow of the candles. “I’ll be gone as soon as the storm passes, then,” he said, “but in the meantime, can I please stay?”
Do I have a choice? Was written all over the dirty look that Q gave him, complete with an exasperated eye roll.
“The towels are in the bathroom and there are spare blankets in the cupboard over there,” Q pointed out as he rose, signaling that their conversation was over. “I hope you brought some clothes with you. I haven’t anything that will fit you.”
“I’ll sleep on the sofa,” offered Bond.
“Well, you’re certainly not sleeping in the bedroom,” Q huffed as he turned to go.
Q realized about an hour later that it was absolutely the wrong decision, the worst decision, to let Bond have the bloody sofa; because here he was, unable to sleep, curled tightly into a ball in his comfortable bed inside the one bedroom in the house, freezing.
Really, the cold just seemed to seep right into the thick quilts as though they were made of rice paper.
Bloody hell, he thought. What was he even thinking? He was insane to relinquish the one place in the entire cottage that could be heated at a time like this!
It was awful how Bond had this disconcerting effect on him. The man merely had to put in an appearance and his brain cells would suddenly cease to function properly.
He gave his pillow one last punch out of sheer frustration and sat up, shivering violently as he gathered the blankets about him.
It could not be helped, he thought as he slipped out of the room, pillow in hand and trailing blankets on the floor. He could stay another hour holed up in his room with his pride and die of cold, or he could do something about it right now, just like the cats who were nowhere in sight.
Tiptoeing into the living room, he was instantly met with a wall of delicious warmth. Bond had made the fire going and it crackled pleasantly in the hearth as Q made his way slowly, silently, into the room. The cats, traitors both, were curled comfortably at the foot of the sofa where Bond lay fast asleep.
Q swallowed, hardly breathing as he made to inspect Bond carefully. The man was out like a light, tucked into the thick blankets and with an arm thrown over his head. Good. He said he’d been on the road since mid-afternoon. Q hoped that meant that he would not wake until morning.
Really, he shouldn’t even be tiptoeing around his own cottage like some thief, he thought rather indignantly. He could very well turn Bond rudely out of the living room and have the whole area to himself, sofa and all.
But that would be far too much work, and he did not want Bond awake and wreaking havoc on him. He would need to address his presence here soon enough.
Q turned from Bond to covetously eye the inviting patch of carpeted floor in front of the fire. He paused a bit at the sight of Bond’s trousers, draped over a nearby chair facing the fire to dry.
It was all too tempting; he could not resist.
Two hours, he thought, as he moved gingerly to settle down in front of the fireplace. That should be enough time for him to get some decent shuteye, and then he would be up and gone before Bond ever awakened and realize that he was there.
He felt his eyes grow heavy within minutes of lying down, and he kept them on Bond’s figure on the sofa for as long as he could. He kept his glasses on just in case he needed to bolt out of the room at the slightest sign of movement from the man. It was utterly ridiculous, but there it was.
Yet Bond never stirred.
Two hours, he promised himself.
Q was having a very lovely dream.
In it, he was being held in a warm embrace-- the strong, familiar arms of his phantom lover wound around him quite tenderly. He sighed blissfully as all the troubles from the past few weeks melted away and he surrendered himself to the feeling of being loved. Cherished.
He knew this dimly for the dream that it was and tried to cling on to it as he felt himself surfacing incrementally into reluctant consciousness. He didn’t want to wake up, to relinquish the feel of these nonexistent arms around him. He smiled, eyes still shut as he snuggled even deeper into a broad expanse of warm chest, waiting to sink back down again into blessed oblivion.
It took a moment for him to register that he was actually no longer asleep, and the broad expanse of warm chest only grew more solid and real against him, gently rising and falling with each breath the man lying beside him took.
Q’s eyes snapped open as he tensed, finally crashing wide awake to the hideous reality that he was no longer alone in the warm nest of quilts that he’d made for himself in front of the fire. The arms around him merely tightened a fraction and he felt Bond pressed against him, his face so close that he could feel the man’s lips curve slowly into a smile against his forehead.
“Ssshh,” whispered Bond drowsily. “Go back to sleep. It’s still several hours before morning.”
More author's notes: Sorry the Muse couldn’t get into this in the current chapter, but posting this teaser again for the next chap! XD
Author's Notes: Aaand finally, the start of sexytimes!! The chapter is twice the usual length (which isn't saying much, really), and I was thinking of splitting it in half, but then I figure you guys would kill me if I postpone the action to yet another chapter. LOLs. Enjoy and do let the Muse know what you think!
So now here they were— finally, perhaps inexorably, thrown together as only Fate (and a certain man’s stubborn will) would have it.
Wrapped in Bond’s embrace, it took Q a moment to remember how to breathe, and when he did so, he could only manage small, shallow intakes of air. His chest felt so full, he was afraid something might burst if he took in more. His heart, perhaps, might give way.
Nestled against Bond, it did not help that every breath he took was filled with the scent of clean, warm, male skin, with just a hint of musk. The intimacy of the moment was shocking, even deeply overwhelming, yet Q would be lying if he were to say that it was entirely unexpected to find himself in this situation. From the moment he lay down in front of the fire, with Bond asleep just a few feet away, he could not say that the possibility of this happening had not crossed his mind. A part of him— that treacherous part of him currently beating a painful tattoo inside his chest— may even have anticipated and hoped for it.
Finally snared within the tiger’s arms, he braced himself for the inevitable— the taking of his body and the rending of his heart to shreds. There was no fight in him left. He sagged against Bond and closed his eyes, feeling the man run gentle fingers through his hair as he just breathed, and breathed, until the tightness in his chest eased a little. He was so very tired.
He waited, yet Bond did nothing but continue his gentle ministrations for several minutes more.
When Bond finally spoke in Q’s ear, his voice was rough, his words coming as a surprise. “I’ve come to ask for your forgiveness. I know how much I’ve hurt you.”
Now that was unexpected. Q was still for a few heartbeats more before he carefully opened his eyes to peer at Bond. In the firelight, the man looked contrite, the lines of his face harsh with regret.
Before Q could reply, Bond continued, “I am not offering this as an excuse in any way. I was jealous, of course I was; yet I would have been satisfied if, perhaps, I knew that he would be good to you, if he can make you happy. That time when he proposed to you, I already felt that something was a bit off with him.”
Q could not resist. “How did you know?” he said. “You only got to see him that one time.”
Bond shrugged. “A lifetime of training to pay attention to the little things kicked in, I suppose. From the showy ring, which clearly gave you pause, to the way he kept calling you Robbie despite knowing you preferred Ro,” he said. “I could see you didn’t like that and neither did I.”
“But these things are so minor, others wouldn't have given them a second thought,” said Q slowly. “He…Daniel thought he could make me like the nickname just because it came from him, but that's just how he is. I didn’t mind, at first. I was determined not to mind. As for the ring, not all couples are such a perfect fit from the start, after all.”
“You would have chafed at these things soon enough. You were turning the ring over on your finger the very next day,” replied Bond. “Anyway, it got me digging. It’s nowhere near Q branch's sophistication, but I thought a routine check would do.”
“The way you double-O’s would do it,” said Q, bitterly.
Bond nodded. “The way we’d do it, you and I. I’ve barely scratched the surface when I hit on something. I found it disturbing that you never bothered to examine this man’s past and I realized you were determined to be blindly and adoringly loyal to him. I was…devastated.”
Q lifted an eyebrow at Bond’s wording. “You were?” he said hesitantly.
Bond shook his head bemusedly. “I was. Hence my desperation to elicit any kind of reaction from you. More importantly, knowing how he treated his ex-partner, I don’t think anyone ought to stand by without so much as putting in a word of warning— much less anyone who cares about you. Still, I would have stepped aside if I was sure that you really knew him at his worst and still wanted him even if he were undeserving of you. Then I would have let you go without another word. But to have someone— anyone— try to hoodwink you, of all people, while you’re too caught up in him to notice any of it until it’s too late…no. Just, no.”
“This isn’t just about him,” said Q wearily. “He saw what you did to me. What you’re capable of eliciting in me. That did him in. And I hated you for it, but not as much as I despise myself.”
“Don’t hate yourself, because my effect on you would not have mattered in the long run,” Bond said, his voice breaking. “I know you wouldn’t let me get in the way, once you’ve made up your mind. You tried to do right by him, and if he’d been mature enough to follow through, I would have lost you. Still, the damage is done. I know perhaps it’s impossible for you to love me at this point, and I know I have no right to ask this of you, but don’t hate me. Please. Not you. Anyone but you.”
Q gazed at Bond, astounded, as tears gathered and fell from pale, lowered lashes. He watched in utter disbelief at Bond, crying.
He lifted a hand to stop Bond from turning his face away, ashamed. Was it a ploy, Q wondered with a painful contraction of the heart— a well-rehearsed bit in a double-O agent’s arsenal of manipulation tactics?
Q knew what Bond was capable of. He knew of each double-O’s special tricks, their strengths and weaknesses, yet he wasn’t sure what to make of this. It would take some time to figure it out because he’d never seen this before in Bond.
After a moment, Q drew in a shaky breath and said, “You misunderstand, Bond, the reason why I hated you. Yes, hated. Obviously, I no longer do. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, it had everything to do with the fact that I’m in love with you, and that’s why it’s so much more complicated than usual. So much more devastating, if you don’t mind my borrowing your vocabulary. You have such a talent for breaking things, I’m afraid my heart doesn’t stand a chance. I will be annihilated. I hated your pull on me. The worst part was you never even realized what you were doing to me in the past two years.”
He felt Bond flinch beneath his hand.
“And now, suddenly, here you are, worming your way into my life and my affections. Yet, knowing that, I fear that I just might give in and let you do as you please with me,” Q continued. “I do not know myself when I am with you. If I do give in, how long do you think we’ll last until the next Madeleine Swann comes along?”
“Q,” muttered Bond, pained. ‘No—”
“A few weeks would be too generous a projection,” said Q truthfully.
“Can you give us a chance to find out?” said Bond. “I will take anything you’re willing to give me. We can start again, even as just friends. Where we go from here is going to be based on your own terms. You’re in charge of this, of me. Everything.”
“You’re asking for too much. I don’t think I can manage you,” Q said.
“You can and you do,” said Bond. “For the past three years, my life has been in your hands.”
“This is entirely different.”
“Not so different when my heart is yours all these months,” said Bond, “and I was a fool not to have seen it at all.”
“I can’t make any promises.”
“That’s as it should be. We take one day at a time.”
“I’m opening myself to a great deal of uncertainty with you,” complained Q. “You’re such a poor risk, Bond.”
“But isn’t that we do? Isn’t that what we specialize in,” argued Bond, smiling faintly as he smoothed Q’s hair from his forehead, “taking risks and turning the tide against us to work in our favor? I know of nobody else who can do it better than you.”
“I’ll think about it,” Q said after a long silence. Though he’d thought of it, he made no move to banish Bond back to the sofa.
“Please do,” Bond replied. Obviously, he’d sensed Q’s thoughts and equally obviously, he wasn’t going to offer to remove himself from Q’s side.
It was, thought Q, just like Bond to seize any opportunity, either by word or deed. But then he was so tired, and he had to admit that there was no safer place during a howling snowstorm than inside the close circle of Bond’s arms.
During their long conversation, he felt as though something had shifted between them. Here he was, still intact, not devoured, with the tiger laying himself down before him in supplication. It was rather too much to process at the moment.
Tomorrow, thought Q as, incredibly enough, he made to burrow back into Bond’s warmth. He would deal with this properly tomorrow. Who knows? Perhaps he might wake up and realize that this was all just a dream.
Of course, the next day made it quite clear that the events of last night were not figments of a mere dream, not did it make matters any easier to deal with; not when Q awoke to the delicious smell and sound of bacon and eggs frying on the stove.
“Morning,” said Bond as Q scrambled out of the blankets in front of the fire and, not knowing exactly what to do, sat himself down at the dining table as he rubbed at his eyes.
“Good morning,” returned Q cautiously, suddenly shy. “I’m sure your trousers have dried overnight by the fire.”
Bond smiled as he looked down briefly at himself, clad only in a T-shirt and boxers and showing a generous amount of well-muscled legs. “I’ll try them on after breakfast.”
Q sighed inwardly as he resigned himself to the onslaught of Bond’s long and leisurely seduction. Squirming a bit, he allowed Bond to serve him breakfast. Despite his newfound shyness, it felt nice to have someone around to share a meal with. Not that Bond needed to know that.
“You don’t have to do this,” said Q, attempting to be difficult. “It’s not going to earn you any points.”
To his credit, Bond skipped the protestations of not knowing what Q was getting at and instead plunged into the game head-on.
“Well, that’s a pity,” sighed Bond as he settled himself beside Q and started on his own portion of bacon and scrambled eggs. “Breakfast is just about the only thing I can do.”
“Well, that’s…useful to know, I suppose,” Q replied dubiously.
Before the meal was over, Q would also discover that Bond liked scrambled eggs. A lot.
After breakfast, Bond got down to business by putting on his trousers. Q did not know whether he ought to be indignant at the man or at himself, for having suggested the thing to Bond in the first place.
He himself had come out of the bathroom, having finished his morning ablutions, in his full regalia of button-down shirt, tie, cardigan and checkered trousers.
They sat side by side on the sofa, seemingly absorbed in their phones while discussing the weather. Bond's relaxed, easy confidence precluded any awkwardness from settling between them, though that did not stop it from settling thickly on Q. The storm had passed, though the snow continued to pile up, which meant Bond could get to stay another day. The electricity was still down but there was some sketchy internet, though not enough to allow Q to do any relevant work, and he gave up trying after a few minutes.
He also finally got Moneypenny’s message, worried and apologetic, and decided against firing off a quick, thoughtless reply before he could sift things through with Bond.
Which left him now with nothing to do but steal surreptitious glances at Bond as he sat serenely at his end of the sofa, scanning his phone. He did not realize he was holding his breath until he felt a bit light-headed, anticipating the time Bond might put down his phone and finally pounce.
Bond was doing no such thing at the moment as he continued to tap at his phone.
“What are you reading?” Q asked finally.
“Catching up on some messages,” Bond replied easily. “I haven’t really checked my email since coming back from Oman.”
“Oh,” said Q.
“I don’t usually deal with the non-relevant ones until much later.”
“Oh,” said Q, again.
After another moment or two, when he felt sure he might end up babbling for want of anything significant to say, Q got up and made to go peer out the window, contemplating the snow outside as it continued falling.
Falling, like his heart. He did not think he could bear the tightness in his chest for another minute. If only he could weep, send the barriers crashing down to let out all the pent-up tension; yet try as he would, he could not bring himself to cry.
When he returned to the couch, it was to find Bond had taken over completely, his legs stretched out insouciantly over its full length. Catching sight of Q eyeing him with some misgiving, Bond made some space for him, if only fractionally.
This, thought Q, having had just about enough, simply won’t do.
It occurred to him exactly what Bond was doing. The man wasn’t doing anything. That was precisely his intention. They were playing this weird game of patience and Bond was waiting for him to make the first move.
Fuck this man, thought Q angrily before he checked himself abruptly.
That, he realized, was exactly what he wanted to do right now. Bond could go to hell if he thought he’d win this round by playing it cool. He suddenly understood that this wasn’t about winning or losing. Not anymore.
This was about taking and being taken, and Bond had said that this relationship was all up to him. His own terms.
So be it, then.
With that, awkwardness all but forgotten, he sat down on the sofa and crawled his way up rather deliberately over Bond so that the man had no choice but to take notice and make way for him by parting his legs.
“Yes, Q?” Bond said, raising his eyebrows politely at Q as he settled himself defiantly between Bond’s legs, half-straddling as he loomed over him. “Can I help you?”
Q shook his head. “You know damn well this is how we’re going to end up, sooner or later.”
“Q,” said Bond, his voice turning serious. “We don’t have to do this. This isn’t why I ca–”
“Fuck you, Bond,” said Q softly. His gaze was severe as he stared down at the man lying beneath him. “You don’t get to do what you did and come to me now just to feed me this sort of bullshit. Is that understood?”
Bond swallowed even as a corner of his lips tilted up. “You’ve decided then. Is this really what you want?”
“You know very well what we both want,” said Q as he ground down just a bit against Bond. They jolted at the sensation before Q moved to latch onto Bond more securely. “Give it to me, then.”
“Yes, sir,” Bond said, voice already deepening with arousal as he tilted his head to meet Q’s mouth against his.
The kiss was deep from the very start and achingly familiar-- hungry like their first time in Medical, desperate like their last time in Bond’s flat, with no room for any hesitation, no tentative searching. Their movements, likewise, were rough and sure with Bond’s hands clamped tightly on Q’s clothed arse, urging him to go harder, faster, against him.
It all came so naturally and felt so right, but like this, it wasn’t enough, could never be enough.
Q broke the kiss only to whisper, harshly, “quickly, Bond. Now.”
Bond wasted no time in undoing Q’s belt and unzipping his flies. “So many things in the way,” he complained, voice almost a growl as he finally slipped his hand into Q’s pants to touch him, calloused fingers closing gently around Q’s length before carefully bringing him out.
Q’s hands were trembling so badly, though they had an easier time lowering Bond’s trousers to get to him. “So big,” he could not help but murmur, and Bond actually grinned in delight.
They spent long minutes like that, touching and reveling in their hold over the other. Q hitched in a startled breath as Bond moved a hand toward his mouth.
“Lick,” Bond instructed, and Q moaned, obeying as best he could as he lapped clumsily at Bond’s palm, his fingers.
“That’s it, love,” murmured Bond encouragingly. “More.”
When he was satisfied, Bond moved his hand, lubricated with precious saliva, to close over their cocks, bringing them together and gripping just so.
“Oohh…” breathed Q as he lost himself to the wet, delicious friction, the slip and slide of their flesh enclosed in Bond’s warm, tight fist. “Oh, god…”
The pleasure spiked very quickly. Q had not factored in how starved his body was for this, how he'd not come in weeks. Bond moved to take Q’s mouth, swallowing his cries just as the first waves hit. His hand pumping, Bond guided Q through the long, rolling waves of orgasm until they were both spent.
It took several minutes for Q to collect himself. The intensity of his release had left him stunned. He came back to himself to feel Bond’s hands, gentle upon him, his voice soft in his ear: “beautiful. You’re so beautiful, love…”
It took another moment for him to realize that his face was wet with tears. The dam inside him had finally broken, and once he started crying, he could not seem to stop.
“It’s okay,” murmured Bond as he cradled Q to him, his lips against Q’s hair as Q burrowed his face against his shoulder, weeping uncontrollably. “Let it out. Let it all go.”
The tears eased away after a while. Q wasn’t sure for how long he’d carried on, but he found himself lying on top of Bond, exhausted and finally cleansed of all the guilt and anger and anguish from within.
It did not take much for him to realize that he needed this. They both needed this— an exorcism of the past, a wiping of the slate clean between them— before they could move forward.
Now he felt Bond’s lips as they trailed soft kisses down his hair, the side of his face. He turned his head, embarrassed, and let Bond claim his mouth, their kisses light and unhurried.
He opened his eyes to find his glasses slightly askew over his face and Bond smiling at him.
“Hi,” Bond said, his fingers in Q’s hair.
Q cleared his throat and fussed over his glasses before murmuring, “Hello, James.”
He looked back at Bond to find him smiling widely.
“I like the sound of that,” Bond remarked.
“Yes, so do I,” said Q as he rested his chin over Bond’s chest. This close, he was wrapped in Bond's warmth; he could feel Bond's heartbeat just beneath his cheek, his fingertips.
He felt the beginnings of a shy smile pulling at his lips before he bit them into a straight line. “Umm, Bond. Sorry. This is going to take some getting used to. James.”
“Might I have some more? As soon as you're able to, of course.”
Bond actually looked startled. “Of what?”
“Of what, indeed,” Q chided him in mock-severe tones even as he felt himself flush.
It was just as he’d feared. So early into this and already, he couldn’t get enough of this man.
Bond laughed aloud. “Bloody Christ,” he said. “Just what exactly have I got myself into?”
Here's the teaser for the next chapter! XD
Author's Notes: Aaaand here are some more sexytimes (though writing it was HAAARRDD). Bond and Q deserve all the love! Enjoy and do let me know what you think! XD
There was more. Oh, so much more.
He asked for this, but now that it was all upon him, Q found himself overcome with shyness.
For one thing, he’d never expected Bond to be so tender, his kisses warm and thorough while still retaining a masterfulness that he found thrilling. And Bond was generous. He did not know why it came as a surprise. It probably had something to do with seeing 007 in the field, ruthlessly taking what he wanted from lovers and foes alike.
Q had never seen him as anything else, doing things any other way.
Yet here was Bond now, lavishing him with his full attention; his fond, blue gaze looking nowhere else. It was rather too much. Embarrassed, Q tucked his face into the warm curve of Bond’s neck and stayed there, breathing in his scent.
He felt more than heard Bond’s laughter. “No, no,” Bond said, his voice a low rumble of sound. “There will be none of that, love. Look at me.”
Q shook his head stubbornly and took to peppering Bond’s neck with small kisses instead. He felt Bond’s lips on his forehead, his cheek, nudging him to tilt his head up a fraction for more heated kisses on the mouth.
Yes, he thought, slightly dazed, as he felt Bond’s tongue against his, coaxing him to open up further to Bond’s caresses.
He could get used to this.
He kissed Bond back as he felt capable hands make short work of his armor, freeing him of cardigan and shirt as he clumsily did away with the tie himself. He could not help the soft sigh of pleasure when he felt calloused fingertips tease his warm skin as it emerged under the layers of clothing before those bold, unapologetic hands drifted down to yank him free of his loosened trousers, his pants.
Bond broke the kiss to rear up, dragging his T-shirt over his head in one smooth, practiced motion. Wordlessly, Q swallowed, eyes wide as his gaze trailed over Bond’s muscled torso, over the scars— pale and jagged over the deeply tanned skin. The man was magnificent.
Bond smiled, evidently liking what he saw in Q’s gaze. He took Q’s trembling hands to his chest, encouraging Q to explore before bringing those slender, pale hands down to help him with his trousers.
“I shouldn’t have bothered donning these in the first place. That would have saved us time,” Bond joked as Q tugged down the rough denim, exposing Bond fully.
“Let’s keep that in mind,” Q promised. “In future, I’ll let you walk around in thongs, or far less.”
“No problem at all.” Bond laughed as he reached for him again, their kiss hot and messy this time.
Q started when he felt Bond’s arms tighten around him before hoisting him up from the sofa. He gave a small gasp, arms and legs automatically twining around Bond as he was carried effortlessly a few steps away to be deposited on the soft carpet in front of the fire.
“We need more space,” Bond remarked and Q merely nodded.
He lay there and tried not to fidget nervously as Bond casually tossed down some pillows from the sofa, along with the comforter he’d used as a blanket the night before, building a nest around Q. He paused as Bond casually tossed him a small bottle of lube.
“Found this inside the bathroom, in the lovely little basket filled with complimentary products that you’ve stuffed inside one of the drawers,” said Bond.
“Oh,” said Q. He remembered taking out the soap and shampoo, leaving the small stash of massage oils and other toiletries that the landlord had thoughtfully provided and which he thought he’d never utilize. He did not realize that lubricants were now part of the ensemble as well.
“Let’s put it to good use, shall we,” said Bond, grinning.
Q nodded. Wordlessly, he reached for Bond as the man finally lowered himself beside him. There were more kisses, but Bond stopped him from burying his face once again against his shoulder.
Instead, Bond held his head between two hands— hands that could kill; hard, brutal hands now unbelievably gentle but firm, stopping Q as he tried self-consciously to turn his face away yet again from Bond’s tender scrutiny.
“Christ,” murmured Bond as he gazed at him. “You’re beautiful.”
That made Q pause as he lifted his eyes to peer at Bond in disbelief.
“What?” said Bond. “Has nobody ever told you? That man—”
“We…had our own words for each other,” said Q carefully, “but that never figured in his vocabulary when describing me.”
“That bastard,” Bond replied as he raised Q’s hand to his lips. “And it’s not an exaggeration. You’re bloody gorgeous. We’ll just have to build our own vocabulary, then.”
Q licked his lips as he watched Bond kiss his hand. “You don’t have to butter me up, Bond,” he said. “I know what I look…ooohhhh…”
Whatever Q meant to say slipped from his mind as Bond took two of Q’s fingers into his mouth and suckled slowly, deliberately. It was so blatant, Q would have cringed had it been Daniel or anybody else. But since this was Bond, it was positively filthy and madly arousing.
Bond took his time, teasing Q as he sucked and laved, making love to his fingers.
“Let me guess,” said Bond as he released Q’s digits from his mouth after they were sufficiently coated with saliva, “he’s never done this as well. He’s never asked you what you want, what you like. He thought he could just give it to you.”
Q swallowed the lump that formed abruptly in his throat as he thought of Daniel, taking him for the first time. Daniel had shaken his head, laughing, when Q had urged him to go faster, please, faster, now. He’d taken his time, going purposefully slow, making Q come out of sheer frustration.
“You liked that,” Daniel had said afterward, pleased with himself. “I knew you would. You came so much.”
Q had learned not to ask him again, knowing he’d do just the opposite.
He closed his eyes now at the memories as they came flooding back. “Make me forget,” he said out loud.
Bond nodded. “I will. Look at me, love. Only me.”
Q let out a long, shaky sigh as he felt a sharp spike of arousal at Bond’s words. Opening his eyes, he felt like drowning in Bond’s blue gaze.
“Go on,” murmured Bond as he touched Q, trailing fingertips from his parted lips to the soft cleft of his chin, tracing a line down his throat. “Show me what you like. I want to see you take your pleasure.”
His gaze never leaving Bond’s face, Q slowly took himself in one hand while his wet fingertips drifted down to touch the closed, tight circle of his rim.
Bond hummed his approval. “Fucking beautiful. Do you know what I think when I see you, Quartermaster?” he said. “Standing there, always just out of my reach, so cool and composed, so prim and proper. All the while, I see you and I think you’re not one to shy away from taking risks when I finally get to fuck you.”
Q hitched in a breath as he felt himself harden further at Bond’s words. “Chatty, aren’t we, Bond?” he said in an attempt at snark.
Bond smiled widely. “More than you realize,” he said. “Problem?”
“None at all,” Q said as he settled back, slowly growing more comfortable as he relaxed against Bond.
“Good. I wanted you to look at me, sometimes, to see me as I think of you, naked and aroused, just like this. Just for me,” said Bond as he bent down to lick a trail from Q’s throat to his sternum. Q jolted even as his hands continued their work. “But I could never bring you to look at me for more than a few seconds at a time.”
“That’s because…ahhh!” Q hissed in a startled breath as he felt Bond flick his tongue over one nipple before closing his mouth over it to suckle. “You never saw me look at you, James, because…because I made sure you weren’t looking when I did so.”
Bond shook his head, smiling, as Q continued wistfully, “we’re such idiots.”
“I’ve always liked you, Q,” Bond said, calloused hands gentle as they drifted over Q’s chest, sliding down his abdomen to his hips, his thighs. “I lived for our bickering, our little… flirtations. I just never realized when it all tipped over into something else. I’ve been coming to see you for months and I never really thought to examine why.”
“You just loved messing with me,” said Q. “You thought it was cute.”
“Until I realized you’re the only one I could think of,” said Bond as he trailed kisses down Q’s abdomen, following the trail of his hands just seconds ago. “The one I missed when I was away. The one I looked forward to seeing again. The one whose company I craved. The one whom I thought I’ve lost to someone else.”
“James,” breathed Q as he brought up a hand to touch Bond’s cheek.
“Here, let me help you,” said Bond as he took Q in hand.
A strangled sound left Q as his body twisted under Bond’s sure touch. He cried out as Bond bent his head down to take him into his mouth, deep and hot, all at once. Bond paused, looking up at Q, taking his time before he moved back up Q’s cock in a long, leisurely suck.
“Oh my god,” Q gasped, unable to tear his gaze away at the lewd sight of Bond, cradling the sensitive tip of his cock with the flat bed of his tongue before he descended once again to swallow him whole.
The back of his head hit the pillow hard as his body arched upward helplessly, heedless of everything except Bond’s mouth. His fingers were in Bond’s hair, grasping hard at the short strands as he felt Bond’s lubed finger tracing a teasing pattern over his rim before dipping in.
“Language, Q,” said Bond, smiling as he nuzzled at Q’s erection.
“Begging your pardon,” Q grumped.
“Not at all. I love it when you talk dirty,” said Bond. “Do continue.”
“Fuck,” breathed Q as he felt Bond’s finger sliding in and out of him, soon joined by a second, a third. “Oh, fuck.”
“That’s my width right there,” Bond said as he quickened his motions, pulsing in and out of Q, the tips of his fingers finding Q’s prostate every time. “See how well you’re taking it, taking me.”
“Fuck, Bond,” Q panted as he felt his body gathering tight, the tension building, escalating toward his inevitable release. “I’m going to come. You might want to—”
“No,” said Bond. “It’s perfect like this, right now. I want you to have everything. This is all for you.”
“Oh, god, James,” cried Q as he felt Bond’s mouth on his cock and his fingers deep inside him, pressing insistently on that most sensitive point that brought his world crashing down in wave after wave of such intense pleasure.
In that moment, Q did not know if he screamed, or if he made no sound at all. Such was the way his mind had whited out completely. He could only feel, and feel, and feel, until the last of the waves had spent itself and he lay there in a fluid heap, soft moans escaping him.
He surfaced gradually to find Bond on his knees before him, urgent fingers wrapped over his cock as he stroked at himself. “See you what you do to me, Q,” he said, on a low moan.
It took some effort for Q to push himself up, his hand going out to stop Bond. “Let me,” he said, voice harsh. “I want to finish you off.
“Q—” Bond’s voice died in a guttural growl as Q’s lips closed over him, hungrily sucking him off.
There was no finesse, no careful consideration, in this one act of possession. Bond sat back with a grunt, his arms supporting him from behind as Q lay over his lap, taking him as ruthlessly and thoroughly just as he’d been taken only mere moments before.
“Fucking lovely,” gritted Bond and Q could only hum in agreement.
He tasted the salty bitterness of Bond as the man came with a shout, head thrown back and one hand fisted in Q's hair, and coming some more in strong pulses that never seemed to end. In that moment that seemed to stretch forever, he knew this man to be his just as he knew he belonged entirely to him, to James.
Taken, at last.