What followed felt delicate and awkward, like trying to dance on thin ice. Q ended up mumbling apologies multiple times as his fingers shook and slipped in their task, and more often than not someone’s limbs got in the way. Predictably, Q’s shirt was the first to be completely undone, and he sucked in a sharp breath as James tugged it free of his waistband. Q sucked his breath back in, bracing himself to take the article of clothing off entirely - glad at least that the action of shedding his shirt didn’t take much dexterity. He wasn’t prepared for the way James watched him, however, the big cat’s eyes never leaving him even as one of Q’s arms got stuck in the sleeve and he had to swear once before getting fully free. When Q turned to face James again, prepared to say something about getting back to the task at hand, his breath was taken away by the singular intent on James’ face. It was like he’d never seen anything so fascinating as Q before.
“You’re really never been with a rabbit before, have you?” the reality of it sank in. Q’s ears, previously slicked back with nervousness, rose up curiously, swivelling forward to catch any faint noise Bond might make.
James took a step forward, putting him closer into Q’s personal space. By now, the larger man’s shirt was gaping open nearly to his navel, revealing a powerful physique that no rabbit could ever hope to gain - his genetic background didn’t tend that way. A broad, unexpectedly scarred hand reached forward - sans claws - and Q held still. If Q were being truthful with himself, he was waiting in anticipation for the touch this time, and only twitched a little as fingertips feathered along the lines of his ribs. “You’re so… elegant. Lean,” James said by way of an answer, hand moving unexpectedly to the very limb that Q had gotten tangled in his shirt. Q held his breath for a moment as he felt a hint of the power of Bond’s grip, wrapping around his wrist and then loosening to slide down his hand and fingers. “Some of my kind are quite lithe, but… not quite like this.”
“Well, the ears do rather set me apart,” Q managed. He was aiming for a dry tone, but in reality he found that his whole mouth was suddenly dry. He had to wet his lips, fingertips tingling as Bond’s touch traced the tendons all the way to the end.
At Q’s sentence, James’ eyes snapped up, catching the light like blue mirrors for just a moment. Q resisted the urge to flatten his leporine ears against his head, even as James blatantly stared at them. Thankfully, the cat also smiled, softening the intensity of his scrutiny. “They are a bit hard to miss,” he admitted, then got to work on his own buttons, finishing the job in a fraction of the time it had been taking Q. It was but the work of a moment before powerful shoulders were shrugging out of the material, leaving James and Q similarly naked to the waist. “Trousers next? I think we can keep our respective pants on while still putting on a show, if you’re up for it.”
By this point it was Q who was staring, trying to figure out when precisely he’d become attracted to athletic cats. Even by predatory standards, James was built. “Sure. Yes,” he said, distracted by the interplay of muscles on James’ stomach. Q wasn’t picky about the gender of people he was attracted to, but up until now he’d thought that his type kept mostly to builds like his - slim, small, lean, unthreatening. But Bond had promised that he wasn’t a threat, and he’d kept his promise by keeping his claws retracted this whole time, and the adrenaline of fear in Q’s system had started morphing into something else that buzzed in his veins.
Q’s distraction got worse over the next few minutes - as they did indeed lose more clothing. Q managed to get out of his trousers as inelegantly as his shirt, if only because he was staring so badly at James’ slow striptease that he completely forgot his own socks and shoes. Q felt positively scrawny by comparison by the time they were both in just their pants, Q fighting with his last sock and James definitely smirking with amusement as he watched.
The loss of more clothing had revealed a few more things, though - things which garnered equal fascination on both sides. James’ eyes and claws were not his only animal trait, it turned out, and finally Q was able to figure out exactly what variety of cat he was dealing with: Bond was no housecat. A thickly-furred tail of black, grey, and white had been artfully hidden in the expensive cut of James’ clothes, and although said tail seemed a lot shorter than it should have been, it was distinctly that of a snow-leopard. Bond’s icy eyes suddenly made sense.
“Lost half of it in a dicey situation almost a decade ago,” James said with a grimace when he caught Q staring. The tail in question flicked back and forth testily. “It’s still good for balance in a pinch, but unless I’m doing something acrobatic, I tend to just keep it tucked away.”
If Q wasn’t mistaken, James was actually uncomfortable - this from the man who had thus far stripped in front of and frequently touched a stranger unabashedly. “Are you seriously more embarrassed by a docked tail than by the prospect of faking sex with a rabbit?” Q asked in blunt disbelief.
Bond gave Q another one of those looks that said the boffin had surprised him, and then dragged a hand down his face. It looked like a frustrated gesture until he started chuckling against his palm. “Touche,” he admitted, and somehow the tensions in the room eased even more after that.
A good ten minutes of faking sex later, and James and Q were lying next to each other in the bed. “You think it’s finally too dark for Silva to be spying on us through the cameras now?” Q asked, tangling and untangling his fingers where he’d messed them atop the blankets, over his middle. James had only touched him a little in the past faux-shenanigans - the blue-eyed snow-leopard knew where the cameras were and knew how to play the angles. Q was grateful, although it was still overwhelming to just be reclining beneath the same blankets as James.
There was that flash of reflective blue again, as James glanced around them, judging the light. “Since Silva didn't have time to splurge on night-vision cameras, I think we’re pretty safe now, so long as we don’t get up and make any suspicious silhouettes.”
“Meaning I can’t make a bolt for the door?” Q snorted.
Bond’s grin was broad enough to be visible. “Alas, no bolting. Do you think you can stand being stuck in a bed with me until morning?”
“Well, you have kept your claws to yourself, as promised,” Q mused, settling in a bit more comfortably. He was used to close quarters, to younger siblings snuggled up next to him, to the warmth of multiple bodies. This felt weird in contrast, and it was hard to catalogue what details he liked and which he didn’t. “And since you did just go out of your way to keep me and my family out of a lot of trouble, the least I can do is stay in bed with you.”
“It was no trouble,” James brushed it off, then grimaced and amended, “Well, actually it was a lot of trouble - but if you knew me, you’d know that I get into trouble regularly. So at least this was for a good cause.”
“Salvaging the disaster caused by a rabbit with gambling problems… is a good cause?” Q couldn’t help but deadpan, rolling over onto his stomach and hugging the pillow up under his face. When his ears flicked up to listen alertly for an answer, he didn’t miss the way that James’ eyes snapped to them - it appeared that James wasn’t done being fascinated by his leporine company.
“Maybe,” James hedged. He was still watching Q’s ears, and reached out with one hand as if drawn by a magnet. Once again Q held very, very still, holding his breath, as a hand with carefully-retracted claws touched the silken edge of his ear. James finished with his attention still on the rabbit-ear in his grip, “Saving the life of an uncommonly brave individual is definitely a good cause, though.”
Q pressed the lower half of his face against the pillow until his glasses dug into his nose, as if to hide his blush - it was dark, but a panther like Bond could see in the dark. He also didn’t want to risk James asking if Q’s flush was because he was being complimented or because someone was fondling his left ear again. Q’s elder siblings like to tweak his ears when they were skeeved off at him, and his mother liked to pat down his hair and his ears both when making him presentable, but no one had ever touched them with the same mesmerized reverence that James was.
“So what now?” Q asked. He didn’t twitch his ear away, even though he still had some instincts screaming at him that putting any delicate part of himself within reach of a cat’s claws was just asking for trouble. In fact, when it seemed like Bond might let go, Q just maybe… perhaps… cocked that ear forward a bit more, keeping it in James’ grip.
The panther’s mouth twitched in a delighted smile. “Well, for now we have the night to ourselves without any pressing responsibilities,” he said lightly, rolling a bit more onto his side so that he could continue his exploration of Q’s ear more comfortably. This time instead of venturing towards the tip of it, his touch started sinking down towards Q’s head, and Q found himself more okay with that than expected. He was also, admittedly, quite distracted by relaxed contours of Bond’s shoulders and pectoral muscles, limned in silver in the dark room. “We’ll figure out where to go from there in the morning.”
Maybe it was because of the little fizz of adrenaline still in his veins, relit by James’ hand growing more and more bold, but Q found himself teasing, “Oh, so you didn’t plan any further than ‘getting married to a rabbit’ today?”
“Cheeky little shit, aren’t you?” Bond retorted with a smile playing at one side of his mouth. Then his expression sobered, returning to the look that Q now was starting to recognize - it seemed to come right before James’ curiosity urged him to push boundaries. Q’s parents would have likely found this endlessly rude, but it was making Q’s heart do funny, excited things in his chest. “Do you mind if I…?” James started, then stopped as if uncertain how to finish this sentence. His quick tongue was tripping him up again.
“Yes,” Q blurted before he actually realized that James wasn’t even going to finish his sentence. He immediately buried his stupid mouth against the pillow again, shoulders hunching up in embarrassment.
Thankfully James was too interested in investigating his rabbit bedmate to call Q on his eagerness. Without any further hesitation, James’ fingers sank down into Q’s hair, finding where the ear met the side of Q’s head, the fur there soft and downy. It was at this point that Q realized his mistake, because he was also quite sensitive there… and had always loved a good scritch. He muffled an involuntary noise of pleasure against the pillow as James’ blunt, human fingernails curled in against his scalp, thumb rubbing a firm, investigative circle against the base of Q’s ear.
There was a low noise that Q eventually translated as James chuckling, but it was hard to be offended by it when the man kept rubbing the way he did. “Like that, do you?” James asked, incandescently smug; Q ducked his head as far into the pillows as he could without either smooshing his glasses or dislodging James’ hand, “Do all rabbits go for having their ears rubbed, or is it just you?”
“I… I don’t know,” Q admitted, hugging the pillow but shifting so that he could tuck it under his chin and talk over it. It seemed polite. “I don’t… er… have a lot of dating experience. And my siblings share a lot of information but-” Q lost his words temporarily as the ministrations of Bond’s fingers became too distracting; his eyes had to flutter closed and his mouth simply hung open in a soft ‘o’ for a moment. He caught his train of thought belatedly and forced himself to finish the sentence, “-Ear-related preferences aren’t among them.”
“Well, if I’m married to you now, it’s probably your preferences that I should care about first and foremost anyway,” James replied charmingly. Now Bond’s expression had settled somewhere between smug and enchanted, and Q found that he likewise couldn’t look away from that expression - because he’d never inspired such a look in anyone before. To think that he’d be looked at this way by a cat…
And maybe that was what prompted the next sentence to fall right out of Q’s mouth: “You know… you could always find out… more of my preference?” His words were clumsy and lilted upwards at the end into an involuntary question, but for the first time, he knew that the thrill that kicked through his heart was not due to fear. Excitement and anxiety were close relatives to fear, true, but Q was beginning to parse out the differences between all of those similar emotions, thus finding out which ones were tolerable. And maybe a bit delightful. He certainly had never felt this heady, combustible mix of emotions with any of his previous bed-partners, few that those had been.
James’ eyebrows jumped upwards, but Q could see interest light his eyes even in the dark. “The cameras can’t really see us now,” James reminded, caution limning his words like a spring’s final frost.
Q leaned his head a bit, nudging his ear against the fingers that had gone still. He kept his eyes locked on Bond’s, though, as he murmured frankly, “That’s rather the point, really. You see, you might be more embarrassed by your tail than you are by fake-fucking a rabbit, but I’m rather more embarrassed by… well… real touching… than I am by the fake-fucking. If that makes any sense.”
“Oh, I think that makes more than enough sense for me,” James was quick to confirm. His hand closed briefly around Q’s ear, an unconscious action, Q was pretty sure, and it made his breath catch as he felt the delicate part of himself briefly threatened by the strength of Bond’s grip. Before the buzz of ensuing adrenaline could become true fear, however, James let go. His fingers drifted down from Q’s ear - thumb sliding a warm path down the inside, making Q’s ear flick ticklishly - to the side of his neck, playing briefly with a lock of hair. “If you’re sure of this,” James checked.
“It’s endearing that you’re asking, but considering you were pretending to hump me enthusiastically just minutes ago, I think that a bit more exploration is okay,” Q said glibly. Perhaps the adrenaline was making him a bit manic; he was fighting the urge to giggle, and wondered just what had gotten hold of him. He hadn't even had any alcohol, and yet he felt drunk on this entire unbelievable situation. He was in bed with… married to, in fact, by all accounts... a cat. A very handsome cat who had actually proven that he had no intentions of harming his rabbit bedmate. It was all so improbable that Q’s usually logical brain had clearly given up on computing it all, leaving only Q’s more animal impulses to deal with the situation. “And, I mean, we are married and all. Or paired up. Or whatever snow-leopards call it.” Q buried his mouth down into the pillow to shut himself up again. Even as he did so, however, he felt his skin tingle with anticipation, and he found that as much as he wanted to delete all of the words he’d just said, he was equally determined to see where those words got him. More determined, in fact. After all, Bond’s hands were clearly quite clever…
“I suppose you do have a point,” Bond followed along, looking amused and intrigued now. He shuffled a bit closer on the bed, so that even without anything but ambient city night light escaping past the blinds, Q could pick up more minutiae of Bond’s expression. Q also realized that he himself could easily reach out to touch as well now, but clutched his pillow tighter instead. Somehow he had enough courage for everything else, but not that.
Fortunately, Bond didn’t seem troubled by this, and by the way he canted his head a little, perhaps he noticed the little vestiges of Q’s anxiety. “So while I’ve never been married before, I do know that there are some things that cats often do with their husbands and wives - non-intimate things,” he said in a thoughtful tone, the last bit with perhaps a bit of reassurance that Q didn’t want to admit made him relax. His mouth was perhaps making promises that the rest of him wasn’t ready to keep. James’ palm was lightly cupping the back of Q’s jaw as he went on, “One of the most common but least noticeable traits that most of my clan have are scent glands in our wrist and sometimes around our head.”
Facts always had a way of getting to Q, and he found himself lifting his head alertly. “So you have all of those?”
Mouth twitching at Q’s new level of interest, James nodded. “Back of my jaw and under my chin. And inside of both wrists, of course.” He suddenly moved his hand until Q felt one of said wrists rub against the side of his neck. “Couples tend to do this, because other cats will know what’s mine now.”
The possessiveness of gesture had Q shivering, but it only heightened his curiosity. “My nose isn’t particularly keen,” he admitted - hyper senses were traits that some prey-animals got, but not all, and not Q, “but could I smell it?”
“I’m sure you could, from close enough,” James responded easily. It was clear that he thought this a hypothetical question - when in reality it was Q being a bit sneaky about asking for permission. So as soon as James said “you could,” Q let go of his pillow and propped himself up on his arms, leaning forward into Bond’s personal space before common sense could get the better of him. He nearly overbalanced, but thankfully ended up where he intended, which was with his nose brushing up against the back of James Bond’s unfairly strong jaw. The hand that James had been brushing against Q’s throat hung frozen in the air, Bond’s arm extended now over Q’s left shoulder as he was caught by surprise.
In the unique position of being the one exploring James instead of the other way around now, Q felt a little thrill of excitement. It was enough to bolster his courage a bit more, enough so that he could press his nose right against the hollow behind James’ ear and inhale. “I think I can smell something musky,” he said, and was entirely unprepared for the intimacy of hearing his own words muffled next to someone else’s skin.
And James, the turd, had it in him to glibly joke back, “That might just be me.” He even tipped his head a bit, coaxing, “You might have to get closer. Licking might also help.”
The blush that hit Q was enough that he felt he was combusting, but he also couldn’t help the giggles that spontaneously erupted from his chest. “You’re shameless!” he accused amidst the barely-contained laughter. The burst of humour morphed into something comfortable and warm when he realized James was chuckling with him, and the arm over his shoulder curled around behind him. When the laughter faded and Q settled down, they were closer than before, Q on his belly again but now with his left shoulder nearly touching James; James’ right knee brushed Q’s thigh where it was crooked against the bed.
James was up on one elbow on his side, cheek propped against a closed fist, just watching Q like some delightful gem that kept throwing light in new ways. “You know, I’m starting to think that getting myself into this might have been one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.”
Chin on his folded arms, Q looked up at James from beneath his lashes, feeling his flush return. “I’m flattered. I think?”
“Don’t get ahead of yourself - the bar has been set pretty low for me when it comes to best ideas,” James retorted blithely, and Q couldn’t help but snort at him. Then James’ free hand came to rest on Q’s back, fingers splaying across the expense of Q’s left shoulderblade like he needed to map its edges. “But I think that by any standards, you’re quite a catch, Q,” James finished in an entirely different tone, much lower, much softer.
Q didn’t know what to say. He opened his mouth a few times, but it was like before when no sound came out. Eventually he ended up just breathing in deeply (feeling it as his back pressed up against Bond’s hand, like leaning into something sun-warmed) then saying gustily on the exhale, “Are you just trying to butter me up?”
Bond’s smirk was Cheshire. “Maybe I am just trying to put you in the best possible mood before I ask you if I can touch that puffy tail of yours. I’ve barely resisted ever since I saw it poking out of your pants.”
“You cad!” Dissolving temporarily into snickers again, Q almost didn’t notice when James turned his hand a bit - subtly rubbing the inside of his wrist against Q’s shoulder. It made Q’s heart do a funny flop in his chest, and perhaps that was what ultimately encouraged him to allow, “Fine. Just don’t pull it.”
By the expression on Bond’s face, he hadn’t been expecting the quick acceptance. “I- Of course,” he said after a slight stutter.
Nonsensically proud of unbalancing a cat of all people, Q smiled a little Cheshire smile of his own and settled down again. Now he had the pillow up under his chest, and rested his chin on folded arms and tried to appear like this was all commonplace. As James, after a thoughtful pause, sat up a bit and slid the blankets down and away from them, Q was pretty sure his body gave him away in little ways: the minute quivering of his alertly pricked ears, the involuntary flick his tail gave when the blanket reached the level of Q’s thighs. Bond was still reclining on his side, but Q could see rather a lot more of his now, and likewise James could view him - and most definitely was. Pale, reflective blue eyes slid across Q’s bare skin like a physical touch.
“Like what you see?” Q asked, trying to sound haughty and sure of himself but the words coming out shy instead. Considering how athletically built James was, Q figured he could be forgiven for some feelings of inadequacy - rabbits simply were not genetically predisposed towards muscular builds.
Bond seemed fine with that, though. In fact, if the look in his eyes were any indicator, or the way he couldn’t seem to stop looking, he was more than fine. “Most definitely,” James replied, even as his hand settled between Q’s shoulder-blades. It began a slow, almost reverent stroke down Q’s spine as the panther added, “If anyone thinks to tease me about getting myself tied to a rabbit, I’ll remember this moment and laugh at them. Because they’re the ones missing out.”
The words combined with the touch robbed Q of words, and he dropped his face down into the lee of his arms - which didn’t actually help, because with nothing to look at, it left more of his mind to focus on the warm hand sliding down his back. Calluses were a tantalizing texture against Q’s smooth skin, moving inevitably lower on his body. From between the arches of Q’s shoulder-blades, past where his ribs were expanding and contracting in shallow, controlled breaths, the ticklish small of his back… Far too late, Q realized how close this put James’ hand to his arse, and his ears gave a little swivel of alarm. Q weathered his panic in silence, however, biting his lip because he knew that this would only get more embarrassing if he suddenly leapt off the bed.
Just as Bond’s fingers passed the little divots on either side of Q’s lower back, his touch became so light and tentative that it was almost painful in a way, Q’s nerves straining towards each moth-light brush of skin-on-skin. It was like how James had first touched Q’s ears, so driven by curiosity and yet so hesitant. Q just about growled for James to stop playing around and grab it already when he felt a slow stroke - probably the backs of Bond’s knuckles - across the back of his tail. Bond’s touch pressed Q’s puff of a tail down against his arse-cheeks briefly, and there was a strange relief in being touched firmly at long last, to the point where Q breathed out a deep sigh.
“It’s not as soft as your ears,” James remarked. He didn’t sound disappointed, just faintly surprised. He was still up on one elbow, fingertips testing the puffiness of Q’s fur and occasionally (maybe not quite accidentally) brushing against the band of Q’s pants.
“I’m sorry to break it to you,” Q quipped in return, wincing internally at how breathy his voice sounded. He finished the sentence anyway, “But not all of me is as soft as a baby bunny.”
“Oh, I know that. And I wouldn’t change it for the world,” the panther surprised Q by saying. Q looked over to see Bond’s foreshortened tail curl into view before dropping back to the bed, the man all the while just watching his own exploration of Q’s little pom-pom. “After all, it really wasn’t your softness that had me accepting your deal today,” James went on, and his hand lifted away from Q’s tail for a moment - it reappeared as the sensation of one finger on the middle of Q’s back. “It was actually your steely spine.” As James said that last phrase, he slowly dragged his fingertip down said spine, all the way to the tip, where Q’s tail gave an utterly involuntary little quiver.
Perhaps realizing that they were on the precipice of something - something with a sheer drop that neither of them was quite prepared to handle yet - James left Q’s rabbit anatomy be after that and reached for the blankets instead. This time he drew them back up over both of them. “Do you think you can sleep, Q? Tomorrow’s probably going to be filled with more cat politics,” James warned ruefully as he settled down on his back, propping one arm under his head so that he could turn and look at Q more easily. The blankets were covering most of his torso again, but the pose did wonderful things to his arms and collarbones.
“I have twelve siblings, and half of them hate bedtimes and the other half are old enough to have teenage insomnia,” Q retorted, “I could sleep through a train wreck, I’m pretty sure.” Skin still tingling from all the unexpected attention, Q wriggled a bit against the blankets, then frowned in realization, “Shit, but I have work tomorrow.”
By the way Bond’s whole body twitched and he frowned, too, this was something his brain hadn’t even considered. “Where do you work?”
“Not going to make your new rabbit into a trophy husband?” Q felt bold enough to tease.
Bond snorted and then surprised Q by reaching forward and gripping one of his ears playfully. It was almost like something that all little leverets did, in rough-and-tumble playfighting, but gentler, with a more obvious focus on Bond’s blunt fingertips pressing against the curve of Q’s ear - a cat grabbing at something but purposefully keeping claws retracted. Much as James had seemed fascinated by all of Q’s leporine qualities, Q now found himself momentarily speechless at this small, thoughtlessly feline thing. He barely heard as James called him a “Mouthy little bastard” and then let go, all without seeming to overthink the gesture. “I’m taking this situation one step at a time, but I definitely don’t see any benefit from making a pet of you,” James admitted freely. Q felt something brush against the side of his knee and realized it was a curious twitch of Bond’s snow leopard tail; it felt plush and soft. “Where do you work?”
“A computer repair shop. People bring in all manner of broken electrical things and I fix them,” Q shrugged. “Or else little old ladies call in because they can’t figure out how to turn their wifi on.”
Bond rolled onto his side to face Q, looking more interested. “So you’re good with computers then?”
“Please,” Q scoffed, rolling his eyes - then he shot James a look down his nose, making himself as haughty as possible, “I’m great with computers.”
By Bond’s grin, he found Q’s lack of humility delightful. “You just keep getting more interesting by the minute.”
“Honestly, if my parents didn’t watch me like hawks, I’d have probably hacked into some of the gambling systems to fix my father’s debt,” Q went ahead and said, watching James closely for signs that this was crossing a line - after all, Silva and his clan (which included Bond) were in control of most of those gambling systems. “Don’t worry, though - I haven’t saved up enough money for a proper computer, so my hacking skills are pretty stifled.”
Q expected some amount of censure to rise up in Bond’s expression. He was not expecting, instead, to see keen interest. “If you were to, say, get an expensive computer-” he started to say slowly, one hand on the bed between them, flexing quietly; no claws, still, but it was a very catlike motion. “-Just how good would you say your hacking skills would be?”
Q flipped his ears forward, warily curious despite himself. “Super-villain calibre,” he chose as his answer, then his ears gave an uncertain swivel, “Soooo are you regretting your shotgun wedding to a rabbit yet?”
“Regretting it?” James’ eyebrows winged upwards, and he let out an incredulous bark of sound before smiling. “Q, I’m feeling like I won the lottery more and more with every time you open your mouth. I’ve had top-pedigree cats try to set me up with potential partners who aren’t a fraction as interesting as you’ve been in just the past hour.”
“You’ve had arranged marriages thrown your way?” For some reason, that sounded hilarious.
Bond’s expression twisted into a grimace. “Entirely too often. I’m Silva’s second-in-command and wealthy in my own right, and snow leopards aren’t exactly common,” he explained distastefully, “You’d be surprised how many in my clan are interested in maintaining the best bloodlines. They’ll be losing their bloody minds when they realize that I’m taken now.” James relaxed against the pillow for a moment, looking up at the ceiling as if pondering this for the first time. A whimsical smile that was more than a little bit evil played at the corners of his mouth. “This is an unexpected bonus to our arrangement that I hadn’t fully considered until now. That and your potential hacking skills.”
“I know I was joking about having ‘super-villain calibre’ hacking skills,” Q deadpanned, watching James now with new eyes, “but I didn’t realize that I was the one getting into a marriage with a mastermind.”
“Do you regret it?” James tossed back. His sentence was quick, but the way he turned to watch Q out of the corner of one eye was too nonchalant, too relaxed. Which just meant that James cared too much about the answer.
And maybe that was why Q, after a deep breath and a quiver of nerves, shuffled forward a bit until he could pillow his head on one of Bond’s biceps. He maintained eye-contact the whole time, and breathed a sigh of relief when James showed no signs of rebuffing him. “Not so far,” he said, also keeping his voice nonchalant and relaxed, matching James’ because that seemed fair. By the faint sharpening of Bond’s gaze, he noticed. “I mean, I’m alive, my family is safe, and you’ve promised me a new laptop.”
James’ mouth quirked up on one side. “I have, have you?”
“Mm-hm. I assume you want me to use it against Silva?” Q guessed.
Bond’s smile grew in small but wicked increments. At this close, his eyes were like the hottest of blue flames. “Of course. I mean, the bastard does keep trying to make life difficult for me - so it seems fair to return the favour. Will that be a problem for you, helping me with some personal vendettas?”
“Considering that Silva keeps encouraging gambling addicts like my father to keep feeding their addiction,” Q said, letting a bit of the ugliness he felt slip into his voice, nose wrinkling in the start of a snarl, “No. I have the opposite of a problem with that.”
“Q, I might love you,” James said with the widest smirk that Q had seen thus far. The man looked positively delighted.
And Q felt warmed all over, because this had to be the most appreciated he’d felt in all of his life. True, his parents loved him, and his siblings, too - but even Q’s fairly progressive mother was uncertain about Q’s computer skills, and he hadn’t even dared to tell any of his siblings about his more illicit abilities. Q didn’t have to be a genius to know what a shitstorm that would cause. Yet here he was, forced into a marriage with a cat who looked like he’d gotten all the cream with every new thing Q revealed about himself. The way Bond looked at and touched Q’s body certainly added something to the situation a well… Settling down a bit more and finally plucking his glasses off his nose, Q said as airily as possible, “Well good, because you’re stuck with me. It’s already going to be enough of a scandal that we’re married, so don’t even think about divorcing me until… at least a month's trial period.”
James plucked Q’s glasses from his grip so that he could set them on the bedside table, which was closer to him. “Two months,” James countered, “I don’t want you running off either - especially if we’re both in the middle of destroying Silva’s little empire.”
“Hmmm. That might take three months - to do it well, I mean. Three month trial period?”
“At least,” James glibly agreed, and then slung an arm over Q’s shoulders and settled down to sleep as well. His breath puffed softly and warmly against Q’s bangs, and Q could smell the musky scent of him again - especially when James angled his head and not-so-subtly buffed his jaw against Q’s head.
“Scent-marking me again?” Q asked, then yawned. The stresses of the day had drained him more than he’d realized, and it was hitting him now without warning.
Bond made a sleepy noise in the affirmative. His right wrist dragged across Q’s left shoulder-blade before James’ fingers found the very tip of one of Q’s ears. He rubbed it softly between thumb and forefinger until Q let out a little hum. “Have to make sure nobody thinks they can take you from me, now that I have you,” James finished in a drowsy whisper.
Q found himself wishing that the lights were on, if only so Silva’s damn cameras could see just what his machinations had gotten him. “So much for playing us like pawns, Silva, you bastard,” Q mumbled, thinking that the words were all inside of his head before he felt more than heard James’ chuckle against him. The hand playing with his ear rose up to bury itself more in his hair, and Q drifted off to sleep to the feeling of James’ tail flopped over his thigh.