“The callouses never quite added up,” Bond remarks. Q stills his hands over the strings and the music stops abruptly. He closes his eyes, narrow shoulders slumping.
“Neither does your presence.”
Bond shrugs. “Just another evening on the job.”
This earns him a sigh. Bond watches as Q reopens his eyes, resigned, looking ahead in an inadvertent parody.
“You know where to report in.”
He sounds weary. “Have I become a target?”
Bond stalks forward from the shadow of the windowsill into the soft lamplight of the living space. Q’s gaze remains fixed on the wall.
“Your bed hasn’t been touched.”
What was once resignation turns cold. “Started there, have you?”
Fridge devoid of anything substantial. Shower bone-dry. “Where are your cats?”
“Away,” he says shortly. Dark eyes flicker to Bond’s. “Why are you here?”
Nonchalantly: “To listen to you play. Something curiously non-electric."
Q's fingers press bone-white against the neck of the guitar. “Bored, were you?”
“Not at all.”
"State your intentions, Bond, or leave."
Bond’s eyes darken. “You know it takes more than that to keep me out.”
Q snaps, “Indeed; this is an entirely unwarranted invasion of privacy, typical of your egotistical habits. I don’t appreciate it, and you are no longer on the list of those I must tolerate by policy.”
“Blame your own security if you must have a scapegoat,” Bond refutes sharply. Q bristles. Good.
“If you’re looking for a job, I don’t handle hiring.”
“That’s not what I’m looking for.”
“If you’re looking for a blind fuck, neither is that my obligation.”
Bond resists the jab—how non-obligatory sex would be for them. He might wager a couple hundred quid Q’s eyesight has worsened over the years, but it is a known constant that he is not blind. Instead, he says: “I ran from you.”
Q doesn’t yield. “Yes, you knew exactly what you were doing when you left. You certainly anticipated that your credit transactions would still go through.”
For that, he attempts a simile of honesty. “I wasn’t prepared for your kind of sentimentality.”
“Madeleine left by the end of the month.”
“In the fucking car I built. Clever touch. It’s truly a wonder how you’ve made it back to English soil.”
He affects nonchalance this time. “It’s thanks to you. You’ve been expecting me since the moment I landed.”
Q shoulders the guitar off. He shoves it onto the other arm of the sofa and rises, eyes stained red beneath the thick frame of his glasses.
“Are you quite finished?”
“Q," Bond starts, slightly too-sharp, but Q is faster.
“I’ve had a long day, and you may still be, well, not shot down immediately back at headquarters. M’s been missing you. You may submit further queries of interest through those channels. It’s been a long night; if you will, rather ludicrously, excuse me.” Q turns sharply.
He’s also three steps away. Just barely out of reach.
“Don’t run,” Bond warns.
Q whips back around and stares, chest heaving in an irregular rhythm, ragged. Long fingers curled into white-knuckled fists tremble by his side.
Through and past his fury, there’s something else in Q’s expression that hits Bond at full force.
Bond hit the icy water of the river below the bridge hard enough to forget the bullet lodged in his flesh, spilling blood. The cold of the water alone sucked all air from his lungs, any semblance of armor shattering the moment the projectile touched the earth.
Then there’s Q, replicating the same onset of shock with his eyes alone.
And again it’s Q that breaks the silence, dispassionate ice burning on naked skin. His voice is carefully measured, any remnant of sentiment shoved beneath the surface. “I kept an eye on you because I could still do something for you.”
Q didn’t exist in Bond’s time when his body broke the surface of the water. They are incongruent. Incompatible. Yet— “But understand what I’ve come to realize: there is nothing you can do for me.”
Bond remains stock still, water pulsing in his ears.
“Get out of my flat, Bond,” Q says then, looking him in the eye. There is no twist to the knife that drives home: “You are no longer wanted here.”
Q leaves Bond in an empty room, once-pleasant light illuminating dust particles. The inside of Bond’s hands is gray from wrestling obstinate windows and the stale air remains just as suffocating as it had been when he’d first entered the flat.
Belatedly, no-longer 007 makes the connection: the guitar is the cleanest surface in the vicinity.
(Q’s eyes were red, sharp against green-grey irises. Bond watched his own blood dissolve into the river, heat from his flesh dissipating as if it hadn’t ever mattered. The sight was stunning; so much, that it had rendered him immobile.)
(Here, Bond watched Q turn his back on his instrument in his own dead living space.)
(Clean and beautiful but hollow, Q’s antithesis: whether Q purchased the guitar, or crafted it himself, it isn’t Bond's place to know, not beyond hindsight speculation.)