Chapter 1: Mission Day 31
Mission Day 31 – Heathrow Airport
As they’d arranged, Q met Reynolds outside a lounge at Heathrow. Reynolds greeted him with a kiss on the cheek and a fond smile. Q noted Bond shadowing them out of the corner of his eye but gave no hint he’d seen him.
“A couple of notes while we’re traveling together,” said Reynolds as he led Q into the lounge and up to the bar. “I understand that travel can be stressful and tiring. I certainly find it so on a regular basis. You may consider yourself ‘off-duty’ until we have arrived at our destination and are both fed and rested. To the point where pretending you don’t know me and are simply a stranger in the adjacent seat is perfectly acceptable. I do not require you to amuse me or to make an effort to be pleasant or charming. If I become upset, that is not your responsibility to ‘fix’. I am an actual responsible adult and am capable of self-soothing. Understand?”
“Actual, responsible adult,” said Q with a faint smile. “Understood.”
“That’s going to come back to bite me, isn’t it?” asked Reynolds.
Q smirked. “Seems likely.” He watched Reynolds for a moment. “That speech sounds practiced. Given it a time or two?”
Reynolds shrugged. His mobile buzzed a notification which he checked and sighed. “Sorry, one second.” He typed a brief reply.
“We don’t need to act like strangers. You’re much too fun to talk to,” said Q.
“What did I say about pleasant and charming?” asked Reynolds, attention once again on Q.
“No effort, I assure you,” said Q with a smile.
Seated in first class, after beverage service had come around, Q couldn’t control his fidgeting and Reynolds looked up from the report he was reading on his tablet. “What’s got you so unsettled sweetheart? Do you not enjoy flying? You should have said.”
“It’s not that,” said Q. He rested his hand palm up on the console between them. He leaned just slightly toward Reynolds. “It’s just that I have certain associations with these. I haven’t ever worn them for so long without—putting on a show.”
“Ah,” said Reynolds, he gently traced the edge of the cuff where it met Q’s skin just over the pulse point. “You needn’t wear them on the flight. I won’t object if you find it troubling.”
“Didn’t say that,” breathed Q. With a glance around and a twitch of his eyebrows he suggested he was up for any number of activities were Reynolds interested.
Reynolds leaned in. “The mile-high club isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, believe me. And unfortunately, I have some work I want to get finished before we land.”
“If I finish it now, I’m free for the rest of the evening. I prefer that option.” Reynolds continued caressing Q’s wrist. “We’ve never really had time to play with anticipation, have we?” he asked thoughtfully. “You’ve always had somewhere else to be after we saw each other.”
Q shook his head, watching Reynolds intently.
“We’re about ninety minutes out from Warsaw. You can decide how frustrated you want to be when we land. Remove the cuffs and watch a movie, or do whatever you like, short of finishing, so long as no one sees or hears what you’re doing. Understand?”
Q nodded, lips parted, face just barely flushed.
Reynolds lifted his hand away from Q’s wrist. “I’m not going to touch you again until after we’re off the plane.” He smiled slyly. “And just because I touch you, won’t mean you’ll find it satisfying. And I’m not going to tell you how long you might have to wait.”
Q gave him a sultry smile and licked his lips. He took the blanket the flight attendant had given him out of its plastic bag and draped it over himself, leaned back, and closed his eyes.
Reynolds smiled and turned back to his reading.
When the plane landed, Reynolds leaned over to Q. “When we get off the plane, we’re going to find someplace to sit for a moment, and I’ll tell you what we’ll do next. Yes?”
“Yes,” said Q.
“Hungry sweetheart?” asked Reynolds.
A smile played over Q’s lips, “You know I am,” he breathed, “this feels delicious.”
Reynold did know. He’d had, in actuality, very little work to do, and had spent much of the last hour and a half watching as Q surreptitiously touched himself while pretending to nap. He’d enjoyed the subtle expressions playing across Q’s face, the soft changes in his breathing, and minute shifts in his body.
“Trousers done up?” he asked. Q nodded and moved the blanket aside. Reynolds leaned in further and spoke in a quiet voice. “Close your eyes and just breathe for a moment. Take a moment to enjoy what you’ve done to yourself.”
Q did so, eyelids fluttering as he closed them.
“Good,” said Reynolds. “Now, we’re going to get off the plane like perfectly normal people.” He smiled as if they were sharing an enormous secret joke.
As they exited the plane, Reynolds guided Q to a seat near the gate. Q perched in his seat waiting for Reynolds’ next instruction. His cheeks were slightly flushed, the tension of his body not quite hidden, attention completely focused on Reynolds. “Some other time I’d like to keep you like this for hours,” Reynolds said. Q’s breath caught and he nodded reflexively. Reynolds took Q’s hand and caressed the inside of his wrist. “But just now, I have a set of instructions I’d like to give you, they end with a kiss, if you don’t object,” said Reynolds.
“Tell me,” said Q, his eyes were on Reynolds’ face, but his attention was focused entirely on the fingers that traced the cuff he wore, and on his struggle not to shiver in response.
“I’m going to wait here. I want you to go to the men’s and take care of yourself in one of the stalls. I want to taste, so once you’re done, lick your hand clean. Then wash your hands, come back here, and kiss me. Yes?”
“Yes,” said Q.
“Off you go.”
Q knew he should be grateful for the moment of privacy Reynolds’ ‘plan’ afforded him so that he could text Bond assurance that he’d arrived safely. But he resented having to take the time, he was hopelessly aroused and just wanted to follow Reynolds’ instructions. His hands actually shook as he sent Bond a brief message.
He fumbled in his haste to undo his trousers and push clothing out of the way. He imagined himself back at the nightclub with Reynolds, kneeling at his feet, hearing familiar encouragement and praise as he touched himself. It took just a short while to finish, to taste himself and clean up, to return to Reynolds who watched his approach with a knowing smile.
“Delicious indeed,” said Reynolds after Q had kissed him. “Pity I can’t touch you like I usually would. You’re always so lovely after you’ve come,” he purred, rubbing Q’s back. Q could only nod, trying not to succumb to the dazed lassitude that usually accompanied his orgasms for Reynolds. “I’ll give you some time to recover, then we should get to the hotel. We’ll want a meal soon.” Q nodded again, and leaned against Reynolds, resting until instructed to do otherwise while Reynolds held him and murmured soft praise in his ear.
Bond’s flight had touched down a bit earlier than expected, and he’d received Q’s text as he exited the plane. Perfect timing to allow him to shadow Q and Reynolds to the hotel. He checked an arrivals board and made his way to the gate where they’d come in. Q hadn’t included it in his text, which suggested he was distracted or rushed, but Q had also assured him that he could delay the necessary few minutes that would to allow Bond to find and follow them.
He spotted Reynolds, seated, reading something on a tablet, but Q was nowhere in sight. Bond found a corner where he could watch out of Reynolds' view.
After a moment, Q emerged from the men’s room. His expression was soft and at ease. He was utterly focused on Reynolds who looked up as he approached. They shared a slow, passionate kiss and then Q leaned on Reynolds who embraced him and gently rubbed his back. After a few minutes, Reynolds said something and Q looked up, smiling dreamily at him.
Bond felt a pang of jealousy; they looked like lovers. He had to remind himself firmly that he’d seen, rather intimately, what a good actor Q was.
Q and Reynolds exchanged a few words. Q nodded, then they gathered their bags, and headed for the taxi stand.
Bond followed them at a safe distance.
Chapter 2: Mission Day 31 (Pt 2)
Mission Day 31 continued – Raffles Hotel Warsaw
After supper, Q and Reynolds returned to their lavish suite. There was a comfortable seating area with a sofa, chairs, and a bar. The view, as dusk fell and the city lights began to glow, was beautiful. Q had a bedroom and bath of his own, only slightly smaller than the room Reynolds had selected for himself, which had surprised and gratified him.
“What can I do for you this evening?” asked Q as they entered. “We’re out of the routine again.”
“We are.” Reynolds nodded. “My security swept the room while we were at supper. I need you to turn off any electronics you brought with you, completely, and put them in your room with the door closed.”
Q, surprised by the request, it wasn’t, to his knowledge, a typical security precaution Reynolds took, complied.
“Thank you,” said Reynolds when Q returned. “Sit down? We should talk.”
“Of course,” said Q, sitting on the couch near Reynolds, outwardly agreeable, inwardly alert and cautious.
“Was Agent Bond’s flight uneventful?” asked Reynolds.
Q froze. “I suppose,” he said after a moment, “There’s no point in insulting either of our intelligences by pretending I don’t know what you’re talking about?”
“Quite,” said Reynolds.
“How long have you known?”
“Since the night the quartermaster of MI6 got sloppy drunk, climbed into my lap, and proposed we have a threesome with a senior British intelligence agent.”
Q closed his eyes, “Did it amuse you? Having me like that?” he asked bitterly.
“Sweetheart,” said Reynolds tenderly, “have I done anything that suggests my goal was ever to ridicule or shame you?”
“No,” said Q, opening his eyes again. “In fact, you’re the one person in all of this who has seemed to understand. Which now seems doubly ironic.” He sighed. “Why are you telling me this?”
“Before I answer that, I have a second confession.” Q raised his eyebrows and gestured for Reynolds to continue. “The reason your mission has been so unsuccessful up until now, is that I’ve been drugging you to find out what you and Bond have been doing. For ten to fifteen minutes every evening, you briefed me on your plans and activities. The drug keeps you from forming long-term memories while it’s in effect.”
“God damn it,” said Q, putting his head in his hands.
“As to why I’m telling you this: a couple weeks ago, I made you an offer. I’m sure you recall?”
Q looked up and nodded.
“I don’t know if you realize just how completely you lost control of your facial expression,” Reynolds said gently. “For just a moment, you looked so desperate and pained and I wanted to understand. So, that evening, instead of the usual questions, I asked you what you wanted.”
“I asked for your help,” said Q, barely above a whisper.
“You did. You called returning to MI6 ‘going back in your cage’. And here we are.”
Q regarded Reynolds warily. “What exactly are you offering?”
“I can see three basic options, we can refine them based on what you want,” said Reynolds. “First, you can pretend we never had this conversation, return to MI6 at the end of your mission. Carry on as before.”
Q held still, “What else?”
“One of my people is in the hotel’s security system, cameras and such. We can create a gap where you can leave without being seen. Best to do that late at night. If you do choose that option, I’d prefer you warn Bond ahead of time, or he’s likely to try to kill me.”
Q laughed humorlessly. “And third?”
“Work for you?”
“Work with me. I want a partner, not another employee.”
Q’s eyes widened. “There’s no way I could answer that tonight.”
“Of course. You have a few days to decide.”
“How did you know who I am?”
“We have a ‘friend’ in common.”
Q looked intently at Reynolds for a moment. “You’ve done sex work,” he said. It wasn’t a question. Reynolds nodded. “I’d wondered.”
“I wasn’t trying to hide it but didn’t mean to be quite as blatant about it as I turned out to be,” said Reynolds with a faint smile.
Q smiled in return. “Asking me how busy things were was rather a giveaway. And you already knew the answer. What was that?”
Reynolds shrugged. “I make a terrible client in some respects.”
Q rolled his eyes. “Too good to be true. Who do we both know?”
Q’s eyebrows rose.
Reynolds nodded. “Eight or nine years before you. You’ll have seen my photo on his wall, even if you didn’t recognize me.”
Q smiled. “With those photos, it can be difficult to pay attention to faces.”
“It is,” agreed Reynolds. “He pointed yours out to me. He was proud you’ve done so well at MI6. I don’t think he knew the circumstances of how exactly you came to be there.”
“That seems unlikely yes. That got buried rather deep.” said Q. “I can’t imagine trying to interact with him after the summer we spent together. I’d be endlessly watching for a signal.”
Reynolds nodded. “It is a bit like that, yes. He’s perfectly aware of the control he could still wield. He’s cautious.”
“Not entirely sure I would want him to be,” murmured Q, thoughtfully.
Reynolds nodded. “There is that, yes.”
They sat in silence for a moment.
“I was actually looking forward to more time with you this weekend,” sighed Q. “I feel like an utter fool.”
“You’re not a fool,” Reynolds reassured him. “I’m just very sneaky.”
Q snorted. “Fuck you.”
“That could still be on the agenda if you’re up for it,” said Reynolds with a hint of a leer. “But I realize my confessions might curtail anything like that. And you look like you need some time to regain your bearings.”
“Quite,” said Q. He looked at Reynolds thoughtfully. “Even if I did ask for your help, why offer it? Why not just beat MI6 at their game and let Bond and I go back to headquarters in defeat?”
“Surely you can see all the ways in which it serves my interests for you to leave MI6 whether or not you join me. Or, at the very least, go back positively disposed toward me?”
“Is that all?” asked Q, scrupulously neutral.
“Certainly not,” said Reynolds. “I’ve been trying to seduce you since day one. A task made much more difficult by the fact that I had to pretend I thought you were a prostitute.”
“But you know I am,” said Q, resigned.
“You are the quartermaster of MI6. You are also a very attractive and charming man,” said Reynolds.
Q shook his head. “I thought I’d escaped that life. That enough time had passed. I’d achieved—some modicum of control, of autonomy—at last. But it all came back like I’d never left. I can’t…” he closed his eyes. “I gave the night manager at Bond’s hotel a blow job to keep from getting arrested. Bond had to point out I could’ve just told him what room I was heading for and he’d have let me go.”
“I hate that they did that to you,” said Reynolds. He moved closer and, when Q didn’t pull away, wrapped an arm around him. “I don’t think I could have managed what you’ve had to do this past month.” He sighed. “I’d be an utter mess.”
“I’m that too,” Q said, the bitter edge back in his voice. He leaned into Reynolds’ touch, wrapping an arm around the other man. He accepted the embrace for a long moment, then craving something more, however reckless it seemed considering the circumstances, pressed closer to Reynolds, moved his hand further down Reynolds’ back, nuzzled his neck in preparation for a kiss or a bite.
Reynolds drew back slightly. “Sweetheart? Do you have experience with touch that isn’t sexual? Just affectionate, comforting?”
Q’s face fell. “You don’t want…” he started to say.
“Very much. Just not this moment. You seemed to need reassurance and I was trying to offer just that. But that isn’t something you’re accustomed to, is it?”
Q stared at Reynolds, uncertain how to respond. He considered fleeing.
“Shh… love, you look terrified,” said Reynolds, he loosened his grip, but continued to embrace Q. “This isn’t judgment or rejection.” He paused and tried a different, drier tone. “I’m trying to be nice. I can see how this might come as a shock to you.”
Q relaxed slightly and gave Reynolds a fleeting smile before looking away. “No,” he said after a moment, “I don’t have much experience with that.”
“Can we try something?”
“What did you have in mind?” asked Q, warily.
“I’d like to wrap you in a blanket and simply hold you for a while,” said Reynolds.
Q looked at him in surprise. “Why does that sound so good?” he asked faintly.
“You tell me,” said Reynolds.
Q simply shook his head, uncertain what to say.
Reynolds gave him an understanding smile. “We can discuss that another time. Change into something comfortable and loose-fitting, like pajamas, and meet me in my room?”
Q nodded and started to get up.
Reynolds held up a hand. “Forgot one thing.” He pointed to the cuffs Q wore. “We’re going to take those off first.”
Q shook his head once and unconsciously pulled his hands closer to his body.
“Sweetheart, we discussed your associations with those earlier. I don’t want this to be about sex. Please?”
Q swallowed and shrugged, then held out his hands. When Reynolds handed him the cuffs, he gripped them tightly as they shared the brief kiss that finished this ritual. He bit the inside of his cheek, “What are you doing?” he asked, searching Reynolds’ face.
“I told you,” said Reynolds fondly. “I’m trying to be nice.”
Q twitched a half-smile and fled.
A notably skittish Q entered Reynolds’ room a few minutes later.
“Sweetheart, I haven’t seen you this jumpy since I offered you that pill. What’s going on?”
“I’m not sure how I’ll respond. I’m not certain if I know how to respond.”
“Just let me hold you for a while,” said Reynolds. “There’s no right or wrong way to do that.”
“How pathetic is this?” said Q. “Fuck.”
“Shh… you’re fine.” Reynolds gestured Q closer and unfolded a blanket.
“Forgive me, but do we know how clean that is?” asked Q, finding an excuse to delay. “Hotel linens…”
Reynolds laughed. “I have people here. This is freshly laundered, I promise.” Q nodded and allowed Reynolds to wrap the blanket around his shoulders. Reynolds had arranged the pillows on his bed so that he could lounge comfortably against the headboard. He positioned himself and beckoned. “Lie down next to me here. Head on my shoulder if that’s comfortable?”
Q lay down. It wasn’t that different from how Reynolds had held him every night for the last month. But the context had changed so completely he barely recognized it. He let out a sigh and tried to relax.
“That’s it sweetheart,” murmured Reynolds, rubbing his back. “A couple of deep breaths; close your eyes. Just relax.” Q found himself calming exactly as instructed. He supposed he had ample practice doing what Reynolds told him to do. He sighed again and nestled closer.
After a couple minutes, Reynolds asked, “How are you doing?”
“It’s good. I’d say there’s a reasonable probability that I’ll simply fall asleep,” said Q.
“That’s acceptable,” said Reynolds with a quiet laugh.
“And a lower, but no less real possibility, that I’ll burst into tears,” Q admitted more softly.
“That would also be acceptable,” said Reynolds, rubbing Q’s back gently.
He did shed a few tears and Reynolds handed him a tissue without comment. Q wiped his eyes and relaxed again.
“Feeling helpless or vulnerable can make me panic,” said Q conversationally several minutes later.
“And yet. I don’t feel that way. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Was having your wrists bound an issue? You should have said.”
Q chuckled softly. “I modified the cuffs the day after you gave them to me. One of the rings is quite fragile now.”
“Mm,” said Reynolds contentedly. “Good for you. Is that why you didn’t want me to keep them each evening? I might notice?”
“Partially. I really didn’t want to change the steps of the dance either,” said Q. “Now I understand why you did that. You knew it would make me feel more secure if you were predictable, dependable.”
Reynolds nodded. “But let’s not pretend I wasn’t also manipulating you. Part of that dance existed for very selfish reasons.”
“To drug me, thwart my investigation,” said Q. “Yes. I’m still trying to come to terms with that. It feels quite foolhardy to lie here knowing you did that to me. And yet, here I am. And it feels better than anything I’ve done in ages.” He sighed. “May cry again.”
Q didn’t cry, but he did fall asleep shortly thereafter. Reynolds let him doze for a few minutes, but soon woke him gently. “Sweetheart? If you’re falling asleep, then it’s time for you to go to bed and you’re too heavy for me to carry back to your room.”
“Mm no,” mumbled Q. “Let me stay?”
“You don’t need to. You have your own room, your own bed,” said Reynolds. “And what I did to you to contend with.”
“Please. I don’t want you to stop holding me.”
“All right, but then we need to be under the covers.”
Q mumbled something Reynolds didn’t catch and didn’t move.
“We need to get under the covers or you can stay here and I’ll claim your bed for the night,” Reynolds threatened.
“If I must,” Q grumbled, only half awake. He moved up the bed while pulling the sheets and blanket down, stretched out and pulled the bedding over himself again. Reynolds turned off the light, handed Q a pillow, and arranged himself to sleep. Q moved closer and wrapped himself around Reynolds again. He was asleep once more in minutes.
Mission Day 32 – Reynolds’ Hotel
Reynolds woke the next morning with Q still clinging to him in his sleep. When he tried to move, Q clung more tightly. “Your body knows you need affection, doesn’t it? Even if you don’t,” he murmured quietly, stroking Q’s hair. “Do you do this with Bond too, sweetheart? It that why you thought he was overprotective? Because you don’t know he’s experienced this.”
Reynolds sighed and attempted, gently but unsuccessfully, to extract himself from Q’s embrace without waking him. Q’s only response was a sleepy grumble of protest. Reynolds watched him sleep for a moment. He’d wait and wake him shortly before room service arrived with breakfast if he didn’t wake on his own.
Q woke slowly, knowing he was in an unfamiliar place, but certain he was safe. That was such an unusual combination that he opened his eyes sooner than he would have liked in order to double-check the instinct. He was clinging to Reynolds, who smiled when he saw Q was awake.
“Good morning sweetheart,” he said.
“Good morning,” said Q. “Have you been awake long?”
“Not long. Breakfast should arrive in about twenty minutes.”
“Sounds lovely,” mumbled Q, and closed his eyes.
“Sweetheart,” said Reynolds, waking Q again. “Room service will arrive any minute now and you need to let go of me so I can let them in.”
“Mm. Didn’t mean to fall back asleep,” Q said, loosening his grip. “You can always just shove me off, I won’t be offended.”
“I might be offended that you think I’d do that,” said Reynolds, amused.
There was a knock at the door and a muffled, “Room service!”
Reynolds got up and returned shortly with a tray. “I opted for a western-style breakfast this morning,” he said, lifting the covers off omelets, pastry, and fruit. “We can try something more traditional tomorrow if you’re interested.”
“That sounds lovely,” said Q, fixing himself a cup of tea. “What’s your schedule for the day?”
“My first meeting is at 10:00, so I should leave in an hour. I’ll be back here between 2 and 2:30 this afternoon.” Reynolds suggested a visit to the nearby park and a couple of cafes Q might like to try for lunch.
“And what will we do after that?” asked Q.
“That’s completely up to you,” said Reynolds. “What do you want to do?”
“I’d been looking forward to not having to think much until Saturday evening,” said Q. “Simply doing whatever you wanted.”
“And what happens Saturday evening?” asked Reynolds.
“You must realize I was already planning to leave,” said Q.
“I did,” said Reynolds. “Suspected at least. I didn’t ask.”
“So you wouldn’t have had to say anything at all last night,” said Q. “I almost wish you hadn’t.”
“I couldn’t offer you an alternative if you didn’t know,” Reynolds pointed out.
“You know I can never work with you,” said Q. “There’s no way MI6 wouldn’t retaliate against both of us.”
“I’m not without resources when it comes to protecting my people,” said Reynolds. “I assure you; I could keep you safe.” Q looked unconvinced and Reynolds continued. “Who is my head of security? Who cooks my accounts so meticulously that you couldn’t find anything to take back to MI6 as evidence? What pharmacist provided the drug I gave you, in quantities large enough that I could dose you nearly every night for a month? I shield them all from scrutiny and I can do the same for you.”
“Something else to think about while you’re working,” said Q.
“And when I get back?”
“After you get back, I believe I would prefer not to have to think again for the rest of the day,” said Q.
Reynolds gave him a warm smile. “That can be arranged.”
Q showered and dressed. His day, his weekend, was not going to go as he’d hoped or planned. He truly did need time to think and that was the last thing he’d wanted to have to do for the next couple days.
He hesitated, then decided to put the cuffs back on. He hoped Reynolds wouldn’t remove them again. That was definitely one of the things he’d have to think about the implications of—later. After he’d dealt with Bond. Fuck, he’d have to deal with Bond.
He and Reynolds emerged from their rooms. Q dressed in tourist-casual, and Reynolds in jeans and a blazer.
“That looks unexpectedly American venture capitalist,” said Q.
Reynolds shrugged. “It fits the needs of today’s business.”
“I need to meet with Bond while you’re gone today,” said Q.
“I expected so,” said Reynolds, moving to stand facing Q. “So why do you sound so reluctant?”
“He’ll… I’m afraid he’ll want to… to claim me again. You were right about him being possessive. It’s all about you, but it’s my body…” he shook his head.
“You’re—afraid—of him?” asked Reynolds, with a sharp look.
“Not like that. Just. It’s not good right now.”
“And you can’t tell him no?” asked Reynolds placing his hands on Q’s shoulders. “You can’t do that for yourself?”
Q shook his head miserably. “He’s become the ‘friend’ I need to appease, the one to be careful of. Which isn’t fair to him, but I can’t seem to stop. If I’m reluctant he thinks I’m hiding injuries and then we argue. It’s so much easier to just—acquiesce.”
“He thinks I’m hurting you?”
“While I suppose that’s to be expected, I’m not the one who left bruises,” said Reynolds pointedly.
Q looked away.
“Can you tell him no for me?”
Q shrugged listlessly. “How?”
“Tell him I’ve paid for exclusive access to you for the weekend. I’ll know if someone else fucks you,” he paused. “No, that might set off another round of overprotectiveness. Tell him you can’t risk being seen with him. You can only meet him outside the hotel where my people won’t identify him.”
“He might buy that.”
Reynolds shook his head. “Look at me sweetheart. We discussed it, remember? Your undivided attention.”
Q swallowed and bit his lip, wanting to be convinced, knowing how pathetic that was.
“Which I know for a fact you’d have negotiated your way out of if you weren’t inclined.”
Q nodded slightly.
“I’m the only one who gets to touch you this weekend. That’s what you wanted. Yes?” Q watched Reynolds in silence. “Say it lovely.”
“I only want you touching me,” Q repeated, swaying just slightly.
“And why is that?” asked Reynolds softly, he took one of Q’s hands, and brushed his fingertips lightly along the edge of the cuff Q wore.
Q sighed and closed his eyes. “Because I want this,” he said, “I probably shouldn’t after what you told me. But I do.”
“I’m the only one who gets to touch you this weekend,” Reynolds repeated. He let go of Q’s wrist and stepped closer.
“Yes,” said Q, leaning toward Reynolds.
“Your mouth is mine?”
“Yes,” Q whispered. Reynolds kissed him. It was slow and sensual and Q surrendered to it.
“And you’ll come for no one but me.”
“Yes,” whispered Q again.
“Do you want me to undress you? Touch you?” asked Reynolds. He pressed their bodies together and ran his hand down Q’s side to rest on his hip.
“Please,” said Q, eyes still closed.
“Not yet. I have to go to work now,” said Reynolds.
Q opened his eyes and started to protest. Reynolds touched a finger to his lips. “If we wait for this afternoon, I can take my time,” Reynolds pointed out. “And, truth be told, I like the idea that you’ll have something to look forward to while you’re meeting with Agent Bond.”
“Is that what this is?” asked Q, disappointment tinging his voice, shaking off Reynolds’ hand. “Are you just using me to get to him? Like he tried to do to you that night at my flat?”
Reynolds shook his head. “Lovely, if I were to use you to get to him, and if I were inclined to be petty—” Reynolds’ eyes twinkled, as he grinned and murmured, “—I wouldn’t send you to him all wound up. I’d send you to him freshly fucked. A bit drowsy after you’ve come, the taste of me still on your tongue, our scents still mingled on your skin. Perhaps just the smallest bite mark at the base of your throat.” He touched the spot and smiled. “If I were inclined to be petty.”
“Christ,” said Q. “Why does that sound so good?”
Reynolds gave him a faint smile and looked at him intently. “You tell me.” He grasped both of Q’s hands, lifting each in turn so that he could kiss Q’s wrists at the pulse points, using his lips to recreate the caress that never failed to make Q shiver. “You’ll take these off before you go to meet him, I expect?”
Q smiled, “And I’ll put them back on the moment I return here.”
“Glad to hear it. I look forward to our time together. You remember the rules?”
“Only you’ll touch me. I’ll come for no one but you,” said Q, trying to keep his voice even.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” said Reynolds, kissing his cheek. “I’ll be back soon.”
Chapter 4: Mission Day 32 (Pt 2)
Mission Day 32 continued – Reynolds’ Hotel
After Reynolds had left, Q contacted Bond and arranged to meet him at a café for lunch. He tracked Reynolds to an office building dominated by a shared-office rental space. Reynolds had a membership through one of his legitimate businesses. Based on what floorplans Q could find, it appeared that Reynolds split his time between a conference room that he’d reserved for his meetings and a communal workspace. There were no security cameras that Q could access, though the motion detectors on the conference room lighting system suggested Reynolds met with two or three people.
“We’ll need to be careful,” Q told Bond while they ate. “Reynolds mentioned last night one of his people has access to the hotel security system. We should only meet off the premises and you’ll need to be cautious.”
Bond nodded. “Good to know. Any new or useful intelligence?”
Q shook his head. “Beyond that he’s meeting people, he hasn’t even said what business he has here. He’s meeting them in a shared office space where scores of people are coming in and going out. No cameras inside and so many mobile devices it’s a nearly undifferentiated mass of signals. I have no way to determine who he contacts. This may be another dead end.”
“Anything else I should know about?” Bond asked.
Q shrugged. “Nothing notable.”
“Is something wrong?” asked Bond, “You’re... something seems off.”
“You remember, why I don’t fly?” asked Q. Bond nodded. “This is the first time I’ve left England in years. I may have to justify this to Mallory when it’s over. And… it already isn’t going as planned. I’m frustrated and I need to figure out what to do.” All plausible. All perfectly true. Just that what he meant and what Bond heard would be two completely different things.
“Can I help?”
“I’ll give you the address of the building Reynolds went to. He has a conference room scheduled for this afternoon at 13:00. If you can get a picture or two of whoever he meets, I may be able to identify them. That could get us somewhere.”
“I can do that,” Bond checked the time. “I should leave now if I’m going to have time to scout.”
“Right,” Q nodded and pulled out his mobile. “I’ll send you the building plans as well.”
Bond paid their bill and left. Q lingered over his tea, then walked to the park Reynolds had mentioned.
After a pleasant walk, Q found a spot in the shade next to a fountain and considered his options. In the end, it wasn’t a difficult decision. He would wait until the following day to assure himself he wasn’t going to change his mind, then tell Reynolds.
Bond would have to be told some of it. He would want reassurance that Q would be safe.
His mobile buzzed a notification, a text from Reynolds, 1 pm meeting was a no show. Heading back to the hotel.
Still in the park, he texted back. See you at 2.
He texted Bond to let him know, though he’d probably already realized, that Reynolds would not have his meeting and Q would not be in contact for the rest of the day.
He walked again and found a tree to sit under. He had a second round of thinking to do regarding Reynolds. Q had known for some time that he was emotionally compromised. But he had believed that as long as his cover was secure, that it was simply a personal problem for him to navigate.
Now, he knew he’d been skillfully manipulated. His cover had never been secure and he had to rethink every interaction he’d had with Reynolds. Worse, Reynolds knew Q was compromised. Could have asked, while he was drugged, any question he wished. Q had to assume that he had no secrets.
That was less terrifying than he felt it ought to be. Though he should never have trusted Reynolds, he had, and that trust had been betrayed. And yet, his single, most overwhelming desire was to return to the hotel and let Reynolds fuck him until he came so hard that he lost the ability to speak.
He made a mental list of possibilities. Was Reynolds sincere in his offer to help Q or not? What were his motivations for helping? If he wasn’t sincere, what were those motivations? And what action might he take if Q chose the ‘wrong’ option?
Sincere or not, Reynolds had no reason to act until Q made a decision. If that weren’t the case, he could have simply drugged and abducted Q at any time without the façade of giving him a choice. That suggested that Q could delay his decision until Friday or Saturday, even Sunday morning, and Reynolds would simply wait. Q could make certain that Reynolds knew Bond expected contact periodically and that should be enough to keep him from acting precipitously.
What risk remained seemed low enough to be acceptable. He could return to the suite and reiterate his wish to do no more thinking for the day. Which probably meant, he acknowledged to himself, that he’d done all this conjecture not as proper risk analysis, but simply to justify having sex he was already intending to have. Quite risible if he thought about it in that manner. So he decided to stop thinking a bit earlier than planned and got up to return to the hotel.
When Q let himself into the suite, Reynolds was lounging on the couch reading. “Done thinking for the day?” he asked with a smile as he sat up. He set his tablet aside and beckoned Q to sit next to him.
“I certainly hope so,” said Q, giving him a flirtatious smile in return. He picked up the cuffs from the table by the couch and held them out to Reynolds.
“What would you like to do instead?” asked Reynolds. He took the cuffs and placed them on Q’s wrists. Though he’d only done so once before, it felt like a practiced gesture, gentle and intimate.
“Anything you want,” said Q.
“Oh really?” asked Reynolds.
“Yes. Slip me that drug, let me come back to myself naked in your arms begging you to let me finish. Anything.”
Reynolds raised an eyebrow, “Sweetheart…” he began.
Q interrupted. “Let’s assume I’m fully aware of how reckless I’m being. I intend to enjoy every moment of it,” he said, moving closer to Reynolds. “You’ve taken excellent care of me this past month. I see no reason you’d change that now.”
“And can I trust you to tell me if I cross a line?” asked Reynolds.
“My safe word,” said Q, “is silver.”
“It is. But you have never used it,” said Reynolds. “And I’ve certainly given you reason to at least once.”
Q froze. “The night you offered me that pill. Was that a test? Did I pass or fail?”
“You demonstrated two things that night. First, that you didn’t think you could say no to me, and second that you needed to leave MI6 since they were surely the bastards who’d convinced you of that. You were terrified that night. You didn’t even consider safe wording out. It made me question whether I’d ever touched you with your consent.”
“Don’t…” said Q, “Please don’t make me think about this right now.”
“You said we could do anything I wanted,” Reynolds reminded him.
“I—yes—I did.” Q was silent for a long moment. “If this is what you need before we continue, then we can have whatever conversation you need to have.”
“Thank you. This is difficult, because I do want you, but only if it is by your choice. Not because someone back at MI6 gave you orders. Not because someone at MI6 can send you back to prison if you say no.”
“You already know I’m not going back,” said Q. “The moment I got on that plane with you, I was free of them.” He looked Reynolds in the eye. “I want this. Please.”
“I’m fairly certain I ought to say no,” said Reynolds.
“But you won’t,” said Q.
Reynolds shook his head.
“Because you want this too.”
“I do,” said Reynolds. He leaned in. “May I…”
“You don’t have to keep asking permission,” said Q and kissed him.
“Bed?” asked Reynolds after they stopped to catch their breaths.
“Please,” said Q.
Chapter 5: Mission Day 32 (Pt 3)
Mission Day 32 continued – Reynolds’ Hotel
“Do you smoke?” asked Reynolds after dinner that evening.
“I have from time to time,” said Q.
“Cigars and brandy in the lounge? The dessert menu is mostly chocolate and all planned to match the brandies.”
“Plying me with intoxicants and chocolate now?” asked Q. “I could get used to that.”
“I could hope,” said Reynolds, with a lazy smile. He stood and held out his hand to Q.
In the lounge, the two of them sat together in a corner, perhaps slightly closer than was proper, or acceptable. Q certainly didn’t care, and Reynolds didn’t seem to either. He handed Q the brandy menu. “See if you find a favorite?”
Q smiled, “There was an Armagnac…” he opened the menu and checked. “Yes, this one,” he pointed. “One of Lord Giles’ friends introduced me to it.”
Reynolds glanced at the menu and said a name.
“Yes, that was him,” said Q. “I suppose if we were inclined, we would have any number of them to gossip about, wouldn’t we?”
“Mmhmm,” agreed Reynolds. “But I don’t want to think about anyone but you tonight.”
“Should I pick something different?”
“Not necessary, I remember it being excellent.”
Q handed the menu back. “You should pick the cigars; I never paid much attention to those.”
“I can do that. And the chocolate?” asked Reynolds. He’d taken Q’s hand and was lightly caressing the palm which Q found more erotic than it had any right to be.
“I trust you to know my tastes by now,” breathed Q. He leaned toward Reynolds who met him halfway in a tender kiss. They were interrupted by the waiter clearing her throat. Reynolds ordered for them and began drawing circles with his fingers on Q’s thigh.
It reminded Q of their first meal together the month before. “I never did get a chance to make a spectacle of myself for you,” he said. He adjusted his legs further apart.
“I wasn’t completely certain if that was you offering or a vestige of the goth boy act,” said Reynolds moving his hand higher. “How much of an exhibitionist are you?”
Q shrugged, “Enough that I wouldn’t mind if you’d enjoy it.”
“It’s still a lovely image,” said Reynolds as he began lightly stroking Q’s cock with a finger. “But I’d rather get you wound up again, take you back to the room, enjoy the benefits myself this time.”
“I would like that too,” said Q. “Very much.”
“Excellent,” said Reynolds and he removed his hand. “Looks like our cigars are arriving.”
Q tried and failed to suppress a disappointed noise.
Reynolds grinned and lit their cigars. “I really did get your attention immediately, didn’t I?”
Q gave a short laugh, “My handsome new friend,” he said, blowing a smoke ring. “Good with his hands, but such a fucking tease.”
“Did you really think of me in the shower after that first night? Or was that just a line?” Their brandy arrived and Reynolds took a sip.
“I really did,” said Q, he swirled his brandy and tasted it. “It was complicated. You admired me and, let’s be honest, I enjoy being admired. But it was also nowhere I’d have chosen to be. Not the mission or the flat I lived in or Bond’s hotel suite, not that club we met in, not that room…”
“Not my arms?”
Q shrugged. “You knew all the ways to signal you weren’t going to be trouble. If I had to be in that room, then you were more than I’d dared hope for.”
“Which only made it more complicated?”
“Precisely,” said Q. “I seriously contemplated at one point how lucky I was that you’d eventually be arrested and I wouldn’t have to contend with how attractive I find you.”
Reynolds smirked and blew a smoke ring of his own.
They chatted and sipped and smoked. Their desserts arrived, dark chocolate mousse with fresh berries and whipped cream topped with a chocolate truffle that Reynolds fed to Q.
“That was a good choice,” said Q. “I’d lick the bowl if it weren’t gauche.” Q laughed at himself and shook his head, “I’m afraid this has all gone to my head a bit.” He stopped and focused on Reynolds. “Oh. It hasn’t, has it?” He looked around, blinking slowly and assessing his mental state. He licked his lips and his breathing quickened. “You did what I asked. Didn’t you? I’m not going to remember this part.”
“That’s right,” said Reynolds. “I’m recording this, so you can hear everything we say afterward if you want.”
Q nodded, “How often am I going to realize this between now and when the drug wears off?”
“We don’t have to do anything. We can sit here for twenty minutes and it will wear off,” Reynolds offered.
“No. I wanted this. You know what I want,” said Q. “I didn’t really imagine you’d do it. But fuck yes I want it.”
“Your candor is refreshing,” said Reynolds.
“Not as if I have an option at the moment is it?”
“Shall we stay here until it wears off?” asked Reynolds.
“No,” said Q, he’d pitched his voice at its most seductive. “Please take me back to the room and fuck me. Or I will make a spectacle of myself. I can tell you’re making me say it because of the drug. Yes. I consent. Can we get on with it. Please?”
Reynolds stood and held out his hand, “Then come with me. I’ll do my best to make your wishes come true.”
Q chuckled. “That’s all I ask,” he said dreamily.
They were half-way to the elevator when Q spoke again. “You did what I asked. Didn’t you?” He glanced around. “I don’t remember leaving the lounge.”
“We don’t have to do anything,” said Reynolds, he pointed to a pair of chairs in a nearby alcove. “We can sit here until it wears off if you like.”
“Have we had this conversation before?”
“Are you going to keep asking me if I mean it until it wears off?”
“Yes,” said Reynolds. “One no from you means I stop immediately.”
“Fuck yes I want this,” said Q as they reached the elevators and waited, he pressed himself close to Reynolds. “You know I want this.”
“And I want to make all your wishes come true sweetheart,” said Reynolds as they boarded the elevator. “Whatever you desire.”
“Mm,” said Q. He blinked and looked around. “You did what I asked. Didn’t you? I don’t remember leaving the lounge.”
“We don’t have to do anything,” said Reynolds. “We can sit in the room until it wears off if you like.”
“Have we had this conversation before?”
“Are you going to keep asking me if I mean it until it wears off?”
“Yes,” said Reynolds. “One no from you means I stop immediately.”
“Fuck yes I want this,” said Q, he pressed himself close to Reynolds. “You know I want this.”
“And I want to make all your wishes come true sweetheart,” said Reynolds as they exited the elevator. “Whatever you desire.”
“Mm,” said Q. “I want more than we could accomplish in a weekend.” He blinked and looked at the door to their suite. “Oh,” he said, soft and eager.
“Yes,” said Reynolds, pulling Q close and opening the door. “I drugged you, just as you requested. If you don’t want to continue. We’ll sit on the sofa until it wears off.”
“Fuck yes I want this,” said Q. He pulled Reynolds toward the bedroom. “You know how much I want this.”
“Tell me your wishes sweetheart,” said Reynolds. He stood in front of Q and began to undress him. “And I’ll make them come true.”
Q closed his eyes and began to answer.
“Keep your eyes open lovely,” murmured Reynolds. “That’s it. Tell me your wishes.” He continued undressing him as Q spoke. He watched Q carefully, responded again to Q’s enthusiastic realization that he’d been drugged and guided him onto the bed. He pulled him close and let his hands wander as Q continued describing the things that he wanted Reynolds to do to him.
There was a pause, and Reynolds noted Q’s pupils were no longer dilated but his eyes had widened in delighted surprise.
“Oh,” said Q again. “Fuck yes. Please. I didn’t think you’d really do this. Please let me come?”
“I was recording you just now. Shall I make you listen to yourself first? Do you know what you beg for when the filters are off?”
“Of course I do,” said Q, gasping. “No illusions there. This is perfect. Please, want to come now. Please.”
Reynolds smiled and adjusted his touch and gave Q what he wanted.
“Are all your fantasies based in trust?” asked Reynolds when they’d caught their breaths and he’d held Q, petting and praising him as he did every night. Q had relaxed into the embrace and caressed Reynolds gently in return.
“Hadn’t thought of it in those terms, but there’s probably some truth to that,” said Q. “You and James are the only men I’ve allowed myself that sort of freedom with.”
“James?” said Reynolds.
“My co-worker is Agent Bond,” said Q. “My lover was James.”
“I must admit, I don’t much like Agent Bond,” said Reynolds. “Would you tell me about James?”
“He always opened my car door for me, a tiny service I always found charming. Mornings we were together, I’d wake up alone but the minute he heard me moving around, he brought me tea or breakfast.
“He’s skilled,” continued Q thoughtfully, “Probably has more in common with us than he’d care to admit. And he wanted, very much, to make certain I was safe, but his training means he sees potential threats everywhere. Out together his protectiveness was… disconcerting. We worked best together in our homes, where he felt comfortable and could let his guard down.
“My preferences for sex have a lot to do with what I missed out on early. I like feeling decadent, savoring an orgasm, touching and being touched in intimate ways before and after. Drowsing together,” he looked up at Reynolds. “All the things you picked up on and indulged. James can be restless. He’s too highly trained, doesn’t sleep much, doesn’t like feeling confined which precludes much cuddling.”
“That sounds fundamentally incompatible,” said Reynolds.
“You’d think so,” said Q. “But we found ways to work with it.” He chuckled. “I started by ensuring that I was always lying on top of him, sleepy and affectionate, when we finished. He thought it was charming and was too polite to push me off immediately. I got the touch I craved, and he could move me if he started feeling uncomfortable. And then we made a delightful discovery, another trust thing.” He trailed off and smiled at some memory.
Reynolds caressed Q encouragingly, “You can’t go silent on me now sweetheart, it was just getting interesting.”
“Just deciding how much to reveal,” Q smirked. “The fact you need to know is that James Bond has a ridiculously short refractory period for a man his age.”
“Oh really?” said Reynolds. “Am I going to regret he didn’t take you up on the threesome offer by the time we’re done with this story?”
“Possibly,” said Q. “I really was too fucking drunk that night.”
Reynolds didn’t argue. “I’m relieved you only felt it was necessary the one time.”
“Anyway,” said Q. “I trusted him to never hurt me intentionally.” Reynolds tensed. “Yes, I know, but this was months ago, before there was a mission. This will sound ridiculous and as if I’m making excuses for him, but James never hurt me. Not like that. Agent Bond did.” Q met Reynolds’ eyes and hoped he’d understand. “And yes, I’ll admit that that was in some ways a bigger betrayal, but we were talking about the good times and how much I trust I him and I’m going to stay on that topic.”
Reynolds nodded. “I’m not unfamiliar with complexity in these sorts of things,” he said.
“Yes. So, I trusted him not to hurt me or take advantage. I wanted to be held, to fall asleep in his arms, he might very well want another round.” He smiled at the memory. “Turns out those desires weren’t incompatible.”
“He could fuck you to sleep?”
Q nodded. “It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. And. Well...” Reynolds nodded. “So slow and tender it felt like a dream. There were times where I’d fall asleep, dream of blissful, gentle sex, wake to find it wasn’t a dream, and then drift back to sleep. Nearly impossible to tell the boundaries between. I’ve missed that particular intimacy, being with him again this past month. But the way this mission was fucking with my head, I couldn’t have done that. And he was perceptive enough not to ask.”
“So you decided you wanted me fucking with your head instead?” Reynolds brushed hair back from Q’s eyes.
“Reckless. I know,” said Q. “Was almost certain you wouldn’t. I just said it as hyperbole.”
“Sweetheart,” said Reynolds. “That was clearly something you wanted, quite desperately. I’m honored that you trusted me to give you that,” said Reynolds. “Even just the once.”
“Is there anything I can do for you in return?” asked Q.
“Thank you, sweetheart, we’ve already done everything I wanted for you tonight. Assuming you’re satisfied that is.”
“I’ll need to sleep soon,” said Q. “You tired me out quite effectively.”
“And you can fall asleep in my arms,” said Reynolds. “I very much enjoy that part.”
Q yawned. “I do too.”
Reynolds kissed him, “I’ll look forward to waking up with you again.”
“Best part,” mumbled Q.
Chapter 6: Mission Day 33
Mission Day 33 – Reynolds’ Hotel
Q and Reynolds spent a leisurely morning, first in bed, then the shower.
“Do you really have work?” asked Q when Reynolds reluctantly began dressing.
“I really have work,” said Reynolds. “And you can’t tell me it isn’t good for you to have some time to yourself to think.”
“No. You’re right, I can’t argue that,” said Q. He held out his hands to Reynolds who removed the cuffs and kissed him gently. “I’ll see you this afternoon.”
“Have a good morning sweetheart,” said Reynolds. They kissed once more and Reynolds left.
Q sent Bond a text as soon as Reynolds had left. Perhaps they’d have better luck determining Reynolds’ purpose in Warsaw today. Q suspected it was a hopeless cause but also knew Bond would expect some sort of action. Bond determined his best bet was to shadow Reynolds all morning.
That left Q with nothing particular to do until Reynolds returned to the suite in the early afternoon. He left the hotel by a route that allowed him a look at the security on a side entrance and walked to another of the cafes that Reynolds had recommended for lunch. He briefly exchanged texts with Bond, but it seemed Reynolds wasn’t going to reveal anything. Q let Bond know he’d probably be out of communication once Reynolds returned.
After eating he returned to the hotel and sat by the window, the near view was of the park he’d walked in the day before, then buildings beyond that. He was still staring out over the city when Reynolds returned.
Q led Reynolds to a shady spot near the fountain where he’d sat and made his decision the previous afternoon. They seated themselves on a bench.
“This is a pleasant spot,” said Reynolds.
Q nodded. “Why did you pick Warsaw?”
“Many reasons.” Reynolds glanced over. “A major city, but not one likely to have much of an MI6 presence. One I enjoy visiting a great deal. Far enough from London that taking a train wasn’t a convenient option. It helped that there were two flights leaving Heathrow close enough together that you and Bond would be comfortable taking them,” he said. “I needed to get you far enough away from England that you could disappear more easily if you wanted to.” Now he turned toward Q and smiled sadly. “You’re leaving, aren’t you sweetheart?”
“Yes,” said Q. “There are only a handful of people who know how little control I’ve had over my own life and for how long. You’re the one most likely to understand,” he paused, searching Reynolds’ face until he nodded. “I cannot choose anything other than simply getting away. I barely know who I am when I’m not being coerced or used. To take your offer, even with the gentlest of conditions, the best intentions on your part, would only lead to another cage. Perhaps more pleasant than the ones I’ve been in before, but no less confining.
“Perhaps, once I’ve learned what freedom is, I’ll reach out to you if you’d still have me. But I can’t promise that. All I can think about is escape.”
“My offer stands, for as long as you need,” said Reynolds. “And I’ll understand if you never take me up on it.” He paused. “If MI6 ever gives you trouble and I can assist? Send me a message with the word silver in it and I’ll do what I can.”
“Thank you,” said Q.
“You are most welcome,” said Reynolds.
“I still need to figure out how to tell Bond,” said Q. “I’m not sure how he’ll respond. I tried, weeks ago, to explain my circumstances. He assumed I’d chosen MI6 over prison. I realized he assumed I loved my work as he does his.”
“He had the choices you didn’t. You could invite him to the suite, I can be there when you tell him if you think that would help.”
“And not coincidentally put you in good standing with him if he’s willing to help me.”
Reynolds shrugged and smirked at Q. “I would prefer he not kill me. Selfish I know. I won’t pretend that it doesn’t benefit me if he knows I’ve helped you.”
“That seems the best option I can think of. He’ll want to talk privately with me after.”
“Offer to meet him for lunch Saturday and let him ask his questions then.”
“As good a plan as any I suppose,” said Q.
“What would you like to do now sweetheart?”
“When we first discussed this trip, you offered to show me the city.”
“I did.” Reynolds smiled at Q. “What would you like to see?”
“You said you enjoy Warsaw a great deal. Show me your favorite thing, or something you think is beautiful, or something from a good memory. Show me something important to you.”
“All right,” Reynolds stood and held out his hand.
“A toy shop?” asked Q as Reynolds steered him through the doorway of their first stop.
“What?” asked Reynolds. He gestured around himself at the gorgeous handmade toys surrounding them. “Not what you expected?”
“’Actual responsible adult’,” Q quoted with a smirk.
“There is nothing more childish,” said Reynolds, “Then insisting that we must put away childish things. Come look at this,” he said and led Q to a model train layout in a back corner of the shop.
Q was enchanted in spite of himself and they spent a quarter hour pointing out the details of the beautiful display to each other. Reynolds bought a tiny hand-carved wooden puzzle for Q before they left.
They held hands and walked through Warsaw. Reynolds pointing out places he knew, stopping from time to time in local shops, they had supper at a tiny café and headed back toward the hotel.
“Thank you,” said Q when they got back to the room. “That’s the most normal I’ve felt in weeks.”
Reynolds pulled him close again. “I’m glad I could give you that and I hate that that’s true,” he said softly.
Q sighed, his posture closing off, his body under rigid control. “And now, I should contact James.”
“Not Agent Bond?”
Q shook his head. “Agent Bond is infamously loyal. James might do me a favor.” Q sent Bond a text instructing him ‘meet me at Reynolds’ suite, not urgent, no danger’ and they settled in to wait.
Chapter 7: Mission Day 33 (Pt 2)
Mission Day 33 continued – Reynolds’ Hotel
When Bond knocked, Q, looking subdued, opened the door and led him inside. Reynolds was seated on a sofa waiting for them. “Welcome Agent Bond,” he said. “Your quartermaster and I have something to discuss with you.”
Bond froze for the merest second and turned to Q. “How long has he known?”
“Apparently he’s known all along,” said Q, he refused to meet Bond’s eyes.
“What went wrong?”
Reynolds cleared his throat. “It happens that he and I have—an old friend—in common.”
Bond, puzzled, glanced at Q.
“He’s seen a nude photograph of me hanging in the private office of a member of parliament,” Q translated in a dull voice. He sat down in one of the chairs facing the couch where Reynolds was seated. He motioned Bond into the other.
Bond’s eyes widened. “Youthful indiscretion?” he asked eventually.
Q sighed. “You really haven’t figured it out? You’re supposed to be one of the best intelligence operatives in all of Europe.”
“Sorry, Q,” said Bond, shaking his head. “You’ve lost me”.
Q glanced over at Reynolds sullenly.
“Is it so bad, that all he sees is the quartermaster?” asked Reynolds. Bond didn’t understand why his voice was so gentle.
“Yes. So jolly when your lover only knows your job title,” said Q sarcastically.
“Q,” said Bond. Q didn’t respond.
“And what is your name?” asked Reynolds quietly.
Bond watched Q’s face go through a startling set of expressions in response to the innocuous question: shock, betrayal, pain, and then, “Fuck you,” said Q with quiet venom.
Q got his face back under control, landing on a placid, professional expression Bond recognized from unusually tense mission debriefs and the evening Q had ended their relationship. Q turned back to Bond. “Our mission was blown before we started. However, I believe that I, at least, can benefit from the circumstances,” he said.
“What do you mean?” asked Bond.
“Early in our mission, I explained the particulars of my employment with MI6,” said Q. “You recall?”
Bond glanced at Reynolds, then nodded.
“My parole, as they call it, is stifling. I’m not allowed outside the greater London metro area without permission and a security detail. MI6 tracks me everywhere at all times. Every decision I make is reviewed by a committee that has the power to send me back to prison at any time they wish.”
“You want out,” said Bond.
“I want out,” said Q. “And I need you to look the other way.”
“Why is he a part of this conversation?” asked Bond, nodding toward Reynolds.
“Because I need his help to pull it off, because he offered, and because I want to make certain you don’t kill him after I disappear,” said Q.
“I can’t imagine why you’d trust him.”
“I don’t actually have to justify that to you,” Q pointed out. “I’ll set up a way for you to contact me to confirm I’m safe, and a way to track him down if I don’t respond to your satisfaction.”
“When will you leave?”
“Tomorrow. Saturday night.”
“What do you want me to tell MI6?”
“I’ll do our final daily check-in as usual, then leave my tracker in my room,” Q nodded toward one of the bedrooms. “It will appear that I’m here, likely sleeping. You’ll have no reason for suspicion until Sunday morning when you’ll receive a text apologizing for my disappearance.”
“Can we discuss this privately?” asked Bond, glancing at Reynolds again.
“Yes, but not here and not tonight. Pick a place within walking distance and send me the address tomorrow at 10:30. I’ll meet you for an early lunch and you can ask me anything you like.”
Bond nodded and stood. Q led him to the door.
“You’re all right?” Bond asked quietly before he left.
Q smiled, “Yes, James. I am,” he said. Bond nodded and left.
Q turned back to Reynolds, who was watching him intently. “What do you need sweetheart?” Reynolds asked.
Q shook his head and shrugged. “I have no idea.”
“Comfort? Distraction?” Reynolds stepped closer, but didn’t touch Q.
“Both?” said Q. “Maybe? It’s so close to being real, and so many things could still go wrong. Bond could be checking in with MI6 right now, planning how to stop me. Stuff me back into the cage.”
“And I could be lying about my intentions,” said Reynolds. “Letting you reassure Bond you’ll be safe and then manipulating or using you for my own ends. You have little option but to put your trust in two utterly untrustworthy men.”
“God, please don’t remind me,” said Q.
“Then what shall I do instead?”
“Place your cuffs on my wrists one last time. Wrap me in a blanket and hold me while I weep. Dry my tears and touch me until I can’t think anymore. Let me fall asleep in your arms after I’ve come, while you murmur all those lovely lies you tell me every night.”
“I tell you no lies sweetheart,” Reynolds closed the remaining distance between them and wrapped his arms around Q. “You are beautiful and brilliant. I cherish and covet you. I would do anything in order to possess you but will let you go rather than see you captive and broken again.”
Q allowed Reynolds to embrace him for a long moment, then looked up. “Take me to bed?” he asked.
“Of course,” said Reynolds and kissed him.
Chapter 8: Mission Day 34
Mission Day 34 - Cafe
Q joined Bond at the café he’d selected shortly after 11 am.
“First tell me about the mission,” said Bond.
Q smiled. “Business first for once? Reynolds has access to an interrogation drug—a rather elegant one. A subject who receives the compound will answer any question they’re asked and retain no memory of the conversation.” Q paused. “He dosed me with it every night I spent with him. He choreographed our evenings so that I wouldn’t notice the lost time. I gave him a briefing on our activities and occasional advice on how to thwart my own hacking.”
Bond’s face had grown cold and angry. “He did that to you and you trust him to help you?”
“Because it’s in his interest for me to leave MI6,” said Q. “Because he can’t try to coerce me without risking me turning him in, hacking him for real, or blowing up something he values. MI6 can hold prison over me, he can’t.”
“MI6 may think you conspired with him,” Bond pointed out.
“It’s possible. They’d have a hard time proving it since I didn’t. I’m not sure it matters. I don’t intend to let them catch me.”
“You didn’t that you remember,” Bond pointed out. Q shrugged. “Tell me your plan,” said Bond.
Q’s mouth quirked. “I’ll tell you some of my plan,” he said. “It starts with stealing Reynolds’ rental car. He’ll make a fuss when he ‘discovers’ the theft tomorrow and it reduces the chances that MI6 suspects him of doing something to me. Which is probably unlikely anyway. It won’t surprise anyone that I saw an opportunity and took it. But I’d rather not increase his risk since he’s helping me.”
Q handed Bond a piece of hotel stationery with several phrases written on it. The final two phrases were divided from the rest of the list by a line. “After I’ve left, I’ll send you a text containing one of the phrases above the line within 24 hours. I’ll send another phrase two days later. After that, you’ll get a text about once a week, it won’t be exact, until the phrases run out. Don’t reply.
“Reynolds doesn’t know what failsafes I’ve set in place. If I fail to check-in, repeat a phrase, or if I send you one of the phrases below the line, you can assume something has gone wrong and take whatever action you deem appropriate.”
“You said I would have a way to contact you.”
“That was a lie, it’s what I want Reynolds to think.”
“And how do I find Reynolds without your help if it comes to that?”
“You’ll have some. If I don’t send a unique phrase on the expected schedule, or if your phone receives one of the alarm phrases from me, it will download an encrypted file I prepared. The password is the letter Q. It has information that should be helpful.”
Bond paused. “Q, even I can see the flaw in this plan. He has a drug he can give you at any time and you won’t remember what you tell him,” he waved the paper Q had handed him. “He could already have this list or he can get it when you return to the hotel. I have to be able to contact you, preferably in a way that allows me to hear your voice or see your face.”
Q scowled at Bond. “Give me your mobile.” Bond handed it over. Q pulled up a message app and added a number. “You can send a text to this number. I’ll respond within 24 hours and give you a time when I will call you. You must not be at headquarters when you send the text or during our call. You may use this three times. After that the number will be out of service. Better?”
“Yes. Thank you,” said Bond. “What are you going to do, once you’re out?”
Q shrugged and Bond gave him an impatient look.
“Bond, I truly don’t know. Getting free of MI6 without returning to prison has been my sole ambition for years. I don’t know what I want after that. I haven’t dared to think about it.”
“I’m sorry, I wish I’d known.”
Q shrugged. “Not much you could have done.”
“Is this the last time I’ll see you?” asked Bond.
“Should I call you something other than Q?”
Q grimaced, looking away. “It’s better than nothing, which is the other option.”
“Will you tell me what that means?” asked Bond cautiously.
“When I joined MI6, they gave me an alias. Easier to hide the fact that they’d put a convicted felon in a position responsible for national security that way. But I’ve never really used it. At work I’ve had a code name almost from the beginning. Occasionally a shop clerk will use the alias after reading it off a card but no one else does. I never know what to say.”
“And your given name?”
“My parents disowned me. I have no reason to use the name they gave me.” He grimaced. “Jack is the only name I respond to as if it were mine.”
“And where did ‘Jack’ come from?” asked Bond.
“Jack is what my first pimp called me,” said Q. “I welcomed it at the time, but I recognize now that it was a deliberate manipulation of my sense of identity.”
Bond’s face went blank. “That’s why you were so angry at Mallory about this mission,” he said after a moment.
“Spewing euphemistic bullshit at you. ‘No one better qualified’,” Q mimicked. “Nice way to say I’m the only former whore on the fucking payroll.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Which part did you want to hear?” asked Q, bristling. “Are you the sort who wants the tragic backstory suitably cleaned-up so as not to truly offend the sensibilities or just a titillating version of past events? Want to know how many cocks I sucked in order to buy my first computer? So do I. But I lost count.”
“What they were asking you to do,” said Bond, watching Q intently. “Or perhaps, you could have told me that I was hurting you.”
“You weren’t hurting me. You didn’t order me to fuck anyone. Mallory did.”
“I wouldn’t have—asked—if I’d known what ‘Jack’ meant.”
“There’s no reason for you to think thirty minutes of playacting harmed me,” said Q, not bothering to pretend he didn’t know what Bond was talking about.
“Except it did,” Bond insisted. “Otherwise you wouldn’t have spent nearly an hour locked in the bathroom after. You wouldn’t have had nightmares all night. You wouldn’t have pretended that neither of those things happened.”
Q looked down. “I don’t—remember—any nightmares.”
“That’s something of a relief,” said Bond. “It was bad. I couldn’t soothe you like I usually can and I couldn’t wake you.”
“Usually?” asked Q. Bond nodded. “How often have you seen me have nightmares?”
“It’s been rare this past month, just two other times: the night before we met Reynolds and the night he came to your flat. When we were seeing each other before, it was perhaps every second or third night we spent together. I thought perhaps they were associated with what you were doing at work, but I never quite determined a pattern.”
“I’m sorry,” said Q.
“For what?” asked Bond in disbelief. “Being vulnerable? Needing comfort?”
“What was it, the night he came to the flat?” asked Bond. “Was it that I hurt you?”
“That wasn’t pleasant,” admitted Q, “but no, if I had nightmares that night, I think that was a three-way effort.”
Bond raised his eyebrows.
“I never mentioned it, but I was surprised Reynolds moved the blanket. It didn’t fit what I know of him. Which suggests he was doing what you expected him to do, possibly to manipulate you in the same way you were trying to manipulate him. Both of you were using my supposedly unconscious body to accomplish that. And both of you were aware I was conscious the whole time.
“I’d set up a scenario where I couldn’t act, had to pretend to be helpless, let him stare at me without being in control of what he saw, let you move me in a way that can make me panic. Let you use me intimately for the sole purpose of antagonizing him.
“It took a while to ignore all of that and enjoy your touch. And there’s often some—disquiet—around finding pleasure in something I otherwise find distressing. I have a lot of practice but that doesn’t mean it’s not troubling.”
Bond looked slightly ill. “Christ, I’m sorry.”
“For what? Doing your job? Not knowing something about me I wasn’t willing to tell you?”
“For not being a person that you’d be willing to tell?”
“Bond,” said Q. “I’ve never told anyone that.”
“How did you possibly get all of that past the psych department?”
Q’s mouth quirked. “I’ve been forging authorization to skip my psych evals since I joined.”
Bond snorted a laugh. “Typical.”
Q shrugged. “I should go. I have a few things I need to do yet today.”
Bond nodded. “I wish this could have worked out differently,” he said.
“Me too,” said Q.
Bond continued sitting at the table, nursing a cup of coffee for several minutes when he heard someone approaching.
“He didn’t look back,” said Bond.
“You knew he shouldn’t,” said Reynolds, sitting down. “But you hoped he would nevertheless.”
“I’ll have a similar experience later tonight I expect,” said Reynolds.
“Better off without either of us,” said Bond.
Reynolds sighed. “Yes. He is. Any chance he’s listening?”
“Possible, but not likely. We’d never know for certain.”
Reynolds smiled fondly. “Very true.”
“Why are you here?” asked Bond.
Reynolds smiled. “At this table or in Warsaw?”
Bond snorted, “In Warsaw. I invited you to meet me at this table.”
“But I accepted the invitation because I want to reassure you that I mean him no harm. And as for why I’m in Warsaw since we both know I have no business here? To get him out of London, to help him escape MI6 if that’s what he wanted.”
“If that’s truly what you intend, I’ll help.”
“Surely it’s obvious that his departure from MI6 serves my interests.”
“And has nothing to do with how fond you are of my quartermaster,” said Bond dryly. “I’ve seen the way you look at him.”
Reynolds tilted his head, conceding the point. “And I’ve seen you.” Bond shrugged, conceding the point in turn.
“He kisses you like he means it,” said Bond.
Reynolds shrugged. “What it means is that I’ve earned his trust. Which isn’t an easy thing to do.”
“I’m aware,” said Bond.
“Tell me, did he cling to you in his sleep?” Reynolds asked.
Bond nodded. “Every night.”
“And you pulled away every morning before he woke. Why?”
“Couldn’t let him get too attached. Tends to get people killed,” said Bond.
“He worked in a fortress with a security system that he helped design. Surely no one was safer.”
“I couldn’t protect him from this,” Bond sighed.
“If I were a vindictive man, I’d burn MI6 down for doing this to him,” said Reynolds.
“You took full advantage,” said Bond bitterly.
Reynolds shook his head. “I didn’t. He would have done most anything; that’s the deal of course. But I asked the least I could and still have him believe I’d be satisfied. I mostly just watched and told him how brilliant he is.”
“’Laughably tame’. That’s what he called it,” Bond murmured. “I’d forgotten.”
Reynolds snorted. “I suppose he would say that.”
“I thought he was hiding something unpleasant. Possibly out of concern I’d kill you and blow the mission if I knew whatever it was.”
“I can understand why you’d believe that. It’s to my advantage when people think I’m more of a bastard than I generally choose to be.”
“Why aren’t you trying to hire him?” asked Bond.
“I made an offer and he declined,” said Reynolds. “Now I’m trying to set him free. You said it yourself. He’s probably better off without either of us.”
Bond shook his head. “I wish that weren’t the case.”
“So why do you trust me now?”
“Who says I do?”
Reynolds smiled. “You haven’t killed me yet.”
“You know he and I were together, before? But he ended it?” asked Bond.
“It came up, yes.”
“He had nightmares, quite frequently. Every second or third night at least, for months, whenever I saw him. He’s only had two since he met you. Two nights in a row and I know one of those was my fault. The other probably was too. We discussed it just now,” said Bond. “I suspect his nightmares have faded because he feels safe with you. He trusts you. I trust him.”
“Was one the night I came to his flat?” asked Reynolds, looking keenly at Bond.
“That’s the ‘probably’.”
“Did he tell you, about the interrogation drug I used?”
“I asked him whether he’d consented to—well—I have a recording of him telling me he didn’t. He doesn’t know I have it, has no memory of the conversation. It wouldn’t be admissible anywhere, I’m clearly ‘leading the witness’. But if things had worked out differently, I thought I might use it against you.”
Bond winced. “And would likely be justified to do so.”
“That’s not what hurt him, that night,” said Reynolds.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because while he was drugged, he told me what did,” Reynolds pulled out his mobile. Bond tensed for a moment before recognizing the gesture. “May I play you some audio?”
“I’m not going to like what I hear, am I?” asked Bond. Reynolds shook his head. “Go ahead.”
“He called me a whore,” Q’s voice said, quiet but pained, “That’s all I am, just another cheap piece of arse.”
“How did that make you feel?” asked Reynolds quietly.
“Awful,” said Q, barely above a whisper. “He was supposed to protect me.”
“I’m so sorry love,” Reynolds said. “You deserve to be treated so much better than that.”
“Fuck,” said Bond and he put his head in his hands.
“Hmm?” asked Reynolds.
“I bollixed up the next night far worse than I’d even realized,” said Bond. Reynolds tilted his head and raised his eyebrows. “If he didn’t tell you, I’m not going to explain” said Bond grimacing. “He deserves the choice to reveal that or not.”
Reynolds grimaced in his turn.
“I didn’t mean—that,” said Bond gesturing at Reynolds’ mobile.
“But you aren’t wrong,” said Reynolds. “It was a cruel impulse to play you that. It served no one.”
Bond shrugged. “MI6 didn’t tell me why they’d assigned him. Perhaps they were trying to be sensitive for once and let him tell me himself. But of course, he didn’t. I don’t blame him. He had every right to keep that private. I thought he was just acting. He was so astonishing, the night we met you. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen ‘Jack’ for myself.”
“I got him to drop the act by the second night. It was so clear he hated it.”
“How did you see that when I didn’t?” asked Bond.
Reynolds met and held Bond’s eyes. “I’ve done sex work too. You saw a masterful cover identity. I saw the carefully crafted façade we sometimes build to protect ourselves, to hide behind. Don’t blame yourself for not seeing what he wasn’t going to show you. That’s part of the job.”
“He was so angry, in our mission briefing,” said Bond. “I thought I understood why. I got it completely, utterly wrong.”
“We both have an opportunity to do right by him now,” Reynolds reminded Bond. “Do you think MI6 will hunt him, when he runs?”
“They will. But probably not as hard as they ought to. They take him for granted,” said Bond.
“I’ve noticed,” said Reynolds. “He’ll be able to hide from them?”
“Almost certainly. I can have a quiet word with the other agents. They’ll all be willing to watch his back if necessary,” said Bond.
“Good,” said Reynolds. “Do you have any other questions for me?”
“No questions,” said Bond. “But if you’re lying to him, if I find out you hurt him in any way? I will hunt you down and kill you slowly.”
“That’s acceptable,” said Reynolds. He held out his hand. “It’s been my pleasure, Mr. Bond.”
Bond reached out and grasped the offered hand. “I’m sure it has, Mr. Reynolds,” he said dryly.
Reynolds laughed, got to his feet, and left the café.
Chapter 9: Mission Day 34 (Pt 2)
Mission Day 34 continued – Reynolds’ Hotel
He returned to the hotel after taking a brief walk in the park across the way.
“Did you and Bond have a nice chat?” asked Q when Reynolds entered the suite.
“You don’t know?”
“No. At least not beyond you’re both still alive,” said Q dryly.
“It was a pleasant enough conversation, yes,” said Reynolds.
“Were you going to tell me about it?”
“You must have an alert for when he and I are closer than what? Ten meters from each other?”
“Twenty,” said Q.
“I’m sure you can predict the topic. He needed to reassure himself I wasn’t going to hurt you. Offer a threat or two in case I change my mind,” said Reynolds.
“Even if he was being creative, that took two or three minutes. What was the rest?”
“Lamenting how much we’re both going to miss that gorgeous arse of yours?” suggested Reynolds.
Q rolled his eyes. “I don’t like the idea of the two of you discussing me. Please tell me what you talked about,” he said flatly.
Reynolds looked at Q levelly. “He had nightmares on his mind.”
“Ah,” said Q. “We talked about them too.”
“Seems he trusts me, for the moment, because he thinks I make you feel safe,” said Reynolds. “And quite possibly regrets that he didn’t.”
“I remember having nightmares when I was younger, I thought they’d stopped years ago. Apparently, they just don’t wake me anymore.” Q looked at his hands, fidgeted with the seam of a trouser leg.
“What happened the night after I returned from Berlin?”
Q looked up in surprise, but quickly shut down all emotion on his face, leaving it a well-practiced blank. “What did he tell you?” he asked neutrally.
“That you’d had a nightmare that night and that he’d bollixed something up even more badly than he originally thought.” Reynolds shrugged. “He wouldn’t tell me details, said that if you wanted to tell me you would.”
“So the last afternoon we spend together, you’re going to ask me about that.”
“Who else would you talk to about it? If you needed to?”
“I’ll drop it if you want,” said Reynolds.
Q sighed but shook his head. “I know it bothered you that he hit me the night at the flat,” he said, measuring his words carefully. “That was what your whole charade with the pill was about. But I let him hurt me the next night too. That time he didn’t know he was doing it.”
“What happened love?”
“You and I had a memorably good time that night…”
“I remember,” said Reynolds with a fond smile.
“I was still floating on that a bit, tipsy after a couple of drinks with Bond—and—he asked me if he could play with the manic goth boy.”
Reynolds winced. “Oh.”
“I think he’d been waiting for a chance to ask, thought that if I was in a good mood after having seen you that it was the right time. He didn’t know what he was asking and I didn’t tell him,” said Q. “I thought it would be fine. A bit of playacting to indulge my lover.”
He looked over at Reynolds who nodded in understanding.
“And what I did instead was bring all the trauma that Jack helps me hide into our bed. But Jack helps me hide. That’s what he’s for. And it did the trick,” he snorted at his own turn of phrase, “Or so I thought. After we’d finished, after Bond had petted and thanked me and rolled over to sleep, I realized I was going to vomit. And I locked myself in the bathroom and shook for nearly an hour sitting curled up in the shower with the water as hot as I could stand.
“I imagined Bond hadn’t noticed. Which is ridiculous of course. He asked if I was all right when I returned to bed and I lied,” he paused, closed his eyes for a moment, then continued. “He was so careful with me the next day, indulgent and attentive. We had sex the next morning and it was slow and gentle; like I was the most precious thing he’d ever touched. After he brought me back to my flat, he bought me groceries.
He looked up at Reynolds. “I don’t know how I missed all that. Today, he told me I had nightmares much of the night. He couldn’t soothe me or wake me. I’m grateful I don’t remember any of that; they would’ve been horrendous.”
“Your nightmares may be why he was always so protective of you,” observed Reynolds. “In your sleep, you just want to be held. I can only imagine what it would be like to have to watch you dreaming like that. Knowing there’s little or nothing that I could do.”
“You’re probably right,” Q sighed. “My experience of being with him and his experience of being with me are likely quite different.”
“That seems likely,” said Reynolds. “Anything else we should talk about?”
Q shook his head.
“Shall I show you more of the city this afternoon?”
“I’d like that,” said Q, then he smiled. “And it will confuse anyone at MI6 that’s tracking me. Why do you keep playing tourist with the rent boy when you could be fucking him?”
Reynolds smiled. “And when anyone asks, when I report my car stolen tomorrow, I’ll shamefacedly admit that I’d come to admire you a great deal and that I’ve been wooing you in the hopes of convincing you to let me keep you. I don’t understand why you’d steal a few trinkets and a car when I’d have given you anything you wanted.”
“You are giving me everything I want,” said Q. “And I’m grateful.”