How do you know that you’re dead? If Q has to guess it’d probably be when you see your body being buried six feet underground. When you are attending your own funeral with flowers and tears surrounding your wooden coffin. Q knew that he was dead when he watched the tombstone with his name put down in front of the grave. His mum’s shoulder was shaking; her hand covered her trembling lips, crying out inaudible words while dad’s arm was around her shoulder keeping her stable. His eyes were red even if he tried to remain stoic. Next to him was Q’s sister. Amelia’s cries tore the silence surrounding. Her face was all swollen and her knees were on the ground, covered with mud. Her favorite white dress’s slowly tainted with the brown soggy dirt. Her perfect brunette curls that always took her hours to do, bundled to each other in a mess. The cries mixed in with hushed whispered of his name, everybody sobbed, everybody eyes fixated on the newly covered grave. Q stood there as he saw people who he knew from school, friends, neighbors and even random guys whom he didn’t even know were all there mourning for him. Yep, he’s definitely dead.
After that what happen? If anybody asks Q, he would snort and tell them. After that, you realize you are dead, your future is gone, and your dreams will never come true. Yet life goes on without you. People move on and you’ll become a fluctuated memory that crosses their mind in some fraction of their free time. Q still remembers clearly how he sits on top of his gravestone, watching his mum and dad come to visit him every week. Fresh flowers are put next to his tombstone, small talks exchanged. Well more like they talks, he answers back when there is a void between their stories even if they can’t hear him.
However, slowly before Q know it had been be years between each visit. The small talks are almost non-existent. No more fresh flowers, no more roses or lilies. His sister had already entered university and Q never had a chance to congratulate her on her graduation or give Amelia’s boyfriend a nobody-hurt-my-sister look. His eyebrows furrow and fist clenches imagining Amelia’s messy hair, tearful eyes, mumbling to John Legend. How he hates the fact he isn’t there for all of it, for the good and for the bad.
Oh his bad, his name isn’t just Q. It’s Harrison Quintus Denver. Q for short.
He was twenty-two when the bloody truck hit him, knocked him off his bike and everything was taken from him. For the past five years of his ‘new life’, he have wandered around every places in this city and realized, no matter where he goes, he can’t stay too far from where he’s buried. The small, rough looking grey stone, echoing the remnant of his previous life, every time he lays his eyes on it. His non-existent future career of espionage. He even dreams of one day he might be able to work for MI6 with all the techs at his beck and call. But what’s worst is that he doesn’t see any light at the end of the road, he doesn’t see an angel taking him to heaven or any devil taking him to hell either. Nothing. He’s however still stuck here, he sees all the different souls around the cemetery, but they come and go. His blood boils with envy as they disappear in front of his eyes as soon as they realize they are dead or that after a few weeks or so. It seems when they have accepted they fact they are dead, they can see this so call ‘light at the end of the road’. Q rolls his eyes; he knows and agree to the fact that he’s dead. So why is he still here?
He looks at the gravestone, at the epitaph carved on it. “Beloved son and brother” and he wonders, of all the tombstones here is any epitaph really chosen by the deceased themself? If he knows he was going to die, what will he wants to write on this grey cement? There also isn’t any photo of himself on this stone. He wishes there was. He can't see himself in mirror anymore. Bloody hypothesizes of ghost appears in mirror in those horror movies, all bollocks. Q knows better, his memories of what he looks like are slipping away, like a continuous flowing river. Everyday he would close his eyes, crunches his eyebrows together trying to picture himself. Slowly the images blur away, until he can only vaguely see brown curly hair, some freckles across his nose and fair complexion, hazel-green eyes or maybe it’s just green. Five foot seven, and not too bulky but still quite muscly or maybe he was rather skinny, he isn’t sure. Days just become more and dreadful and boring until today. Today is something else Q notices. He sits on his tombstone as usual when a small groups of people shows up. When he says small he really means small. There only seven people, four of them lower the casket into the space next to him.
“Woohoo new neighbor” Q mutters.
Then four of the bulky guys who fills up the grave, put down the tombstone, Q quickly tilt himself to read the name. Commander James Bond. Royal Navy. April 13th 1970 – June 18th 2015.
“Not a bad age to die” Q comments. He watches as the four men in suits, black glasses left only three stays. The twenty-two years old, observes the three people who stands around Commander Bond grave yard. It appears Commander Bond doesn’t have much friend, if his only friends are two men and very attractive lady. The lady could be Commander Bond’s lover, it can’t be wife since there isn’t a wedding band on her finger. Even if her face suggest He watches as the tallest men in the middle raises his head giving out a goodbye speech as usual. His posture suggests he is in higher position compare to the other two.
“He’s a good agent.”
“Good agent? Isn’t he a soldier?” Q questions staring at the man who just comment about Bond’s designation when a voice behind him almost make him jump off the tombstone. He turns around and in front of him, exactly like the photograph on the tombstone. Blond hair, icy cold blue eyes, bulky figure and he definitely fill up the perfect suit. The navy commander looks at Q with a spark in his eyes.
“The best agent.” He corrects the other man’s word.
“I don’t think your boss agree.” Q retorts, he has met a lot of souls already so he ease into conversation like normal while other three are still in mourning for the James Bond who is currently leaning over his freshly pressed tombstone with a smirk on his lips.
“What make you think he is my boss?” Bond enquires amusement colors his voice.
Q raises his eyebrow, Bond’s attitude completely confirm his word. Shrugging his shoulder, his feet kicks lightly backward and forward on his grave, one of the only thing that he can physically touch.
“The way he presents himself, this ‘M’ person as he is just addressed, shoulder widened as he speaks, the other two listen attentively. Normally if you’re just a college then the three of them wouldn’t stand like that with M in front of them. Also with the weird code name I would even go so far as all of you lots are a part of some secret services, beside he calls you agent. Nobody call Royal Commander an agent, people say soldier.”
His answer draws out a loud laugh from the older blond, who walks over to Q brings out his hand for a shake.
“James. James Bond. MI6 double-oh agent.”
“Harrison Quintus Denver, Q for short. Dead university student.” Q replies, as he shakes Bond’s hand. Double-oh agent, hmm how charming.
For that second, Q remembers James was working for the same place that Q dreams to work for. A place that is obviously too far for Q to reach it. A flicker of curiosity fills up Q’s mind the moment he lets go of James’s hand.
“You say MI6 right?”
Suddenly the appearance of the other three who Q now know as M, Bill Tanner and Eve Moneypenny are no longer important. Suddenly all Q can hear are the stories, James indulge Q in when he’s 007. Suddenly, in this solitary cemetery Q has a new friend. And it appears that this friend isn’t going anywhere soon. Q is shocked and slightly perplexed by the idea that James is still here. It been almost a year and James is still here with him. From what Q understands, James died while trying to save his old boss, M. Olivia Mansfield. Of course he saved her, and Olivia has went into retirement. Q also knows that James is quite content that he’s dead, he’s after all forty-five and like Q has commented ‘not a bad age to die’. Yet, James is still here. He is still here with him everyday, watches the sunrise with Q every morning listening to all of Q's comments on how James’s old missions would have finished a lot faster if there is some alteration.
“I’m telling you, who ever your tech guy is should be fired. I mean, delete thing on the Internet doesn't mean it actually is deleted. It would be stored at a router hub, for roughly two weeks. That would give anybody enough time to gain access over the files that you guys think are ‘permanently erased’. ” Q huffs when James told him one of his mission a few years ago when there was a leak on the server when one of the TSS accidently uploads their mission onto the web but quickly try to delete it.
“Fingerprint is not a bad idea, but they are messy and easy to be copied and generated. Palmprint how ever is a different story. They held more details, and generally nobody really think of palm as an access. If they are coded to your gun, then well only you can fire it. Less of a random killing machine and more of a personal statement.”
“You don’t go around piggy back on your enemy proxy to call MI6. Even if you do, why didn’t you try and encrypt the proxy in the first place? If they are easily enough for you to ping on to, then it’s bloody easy to encrypt the bloody thing!” Q says exasperatedly.
Every time, James would just listen tentatively and laugh slightly. Some of the time he would nod and agree with some suggestions that Q makes. It makes Q’s heart fluttered if it can beat, every time he hears Bond’s laugh. It makes the older man’s cold eyes seem warmer, or when he laughs James would unconsciously leans closer to Q, their shoulder brushes and Q swears if he’s still alive he’d be blushing like mad. Still he can’t figure out why James is here and haven’t ‘moved on’ like the rest does. Q thinks hard, but no reasonable answers. He figures, sod it. He likes talking to James, he likes the fact that he now has somebody here for him to talk with, he likes that he’s no longer alone. Even if James is handsy most of the time.
“I’m just curious about touching another dead person, you don’t mind right?”
Is James’s explanation for every time his hand accidently travel to the lower side of Q’s back, or when he discreetly brushes a few locks on his forehead away, or when he unconsciously lean his chin onto the small space between Q’s shoulder when Q talks about his passion for computer and dream of being a part of MI6.
“You’d make a perfect Quartermaster. You even got a nickname to go with it.” James said, chuckling. It makes Q smiles, even if it doesn’t show Q can feel himself flushing. The older hand, wraps his hand around his shoulder as they leaned back on their respective tombstone staring at the sunset.
“I would like to listen to your instruction, and who know I might bring back all my equipment.”
This makes Q barks out a laugh. Testing the water, he slightly tilts his head toward Bond’s shoulder. Seeing the older man doesn’t shift or move away, Q relaxes himself and let his head rested on Bond’s shoulder.
“Judging on how, you ‘feed’ the Komodo your gun, I doubt it would be the case.”
Bond joins him and they both laugh, the vibration from James’s, rocked Q’s head slightly making Q feels somewhat compose. A small movement along his arm, alert him, not only James doesn’t mind his head on the man’s shoulder, James likes it too. Q is already smiling; this revelation just keeps the smile on his face.
Q isn’t going to lie he enjoys the contact. He loves it, he wonders if this what it feels like to be in a relationship. He never really has a good long relationship with anybody. It makes him feels somewhat empty. The fact that while James had lived a life feels with dread, death, bloody and betrayal. From friend to lover, the agent still lived a life. While Q hasn't.
And he grovels into that emptiness of despair and disappointment.
He’s sure Bond definitely passed away with a bang. With every story he tells Q, from his success in mission. Alec, his brother who doesn’t connect to him by blood, his childhood home, Skyfall or even the lost of his lover, Vesper whose he was going to give away every thing for. With every stories he heard, despite his quirky comment, those stories fill Q up with dread. His feet would twitch and kick the ground throughout James’s stories, little grunts sprawling out of his throat, his neck tenses. When James looks at him with concern in his blue eyes, Q’s eyes darts in every different direction but James’s.
After a while, James picks up on it. So when he stops talking about his past, unconsciously Q exhales a relief. He feels James arm around his waist tighten slightly. Lately Bond has become confident, as the older man would just crowd into his personal space like its nothing. It’s mostly because Q let him, they never really voice out what it’s between them. But nonetheless it’s something, Q closes his eyes when he feels Bond’s lips on his forehead, before James asks softly.
“You know Q, sometimes I wonder about humanity. Our attitude toward death is so strange. Why do we fear death? It is as natural to die as it is to be born. But we fear it. Dread it. Feebly we attempt to placate it.”
“Because nobody wants to die James. Nobody wants to become a transient memory in somebody’s mind. Nobody wants their journey to end.”
Q answers truthfully. His heart tightens at his own word, his throat starts to burn, it’s really is the end for him. He wants to add, that it’s his life that ended, it’s his life that ended meaningless. But he didn’t, those word stuck in his throat, dry and burning like he hasn’t drank any water for days. Suddenly next to him, James moves. He moves so that he’s standing in front of Q, staring straight into Q’s eyes. With a smile on his face.
“Now that’s where you are wrong. You see, Death is not blessed or merciful. Death’s there for the old and the young, the innocent and the guilty, those who die together and those who die alone. Death is in cars and boats and planes, in hospitals and forests and abattoirs. For some folks death is a release and for others death is an abomination, a terrible thing. But in the end, Death’s there for all of them, all of us, for you and for me.”
Those words make Q feel something but the darkness of disappointment is still larger than the feebly feeling James manage to plant inside Q’s mind. He snorts sarcastically:
“Yea, you can say that because James. You lived your life, be it not the happiness or the most peaceful life, but you lived it. And me? I was twenty-two when I died. I have done nothing, try out nothing.”
Q’s words probably sound harsh, but it’s the truth even if it flashes on James’s face a color of hurt and sympathy. Q doesn’t mean to make the older man winces, but he won’t take back his word. He means it, down to every letters.
“But look around you, you’re here now. You’re with me, I got you Q and you got me. I know you haven’t manage to follow your dream but look at me, look at us because right now, I’m looking at Britain most intelligent and beautiful man and right now he’s mine. There are lives after this.”
Mine. The possessive term send flinch down Q’s spine. If they haven’t put a name on whatever they are in, James just did. It does help lessen the void in him, but they spring up a series of ‘what if’.
“You’re saying it because I’m the only one here that can see and talk to you. If we’re both alive, I’m sure you would just walk pass me without even turning around for a second look.”
Q’s words put both of them in a silence. A silence that almost indefinite, a silence that if the ex twenty-two heart is still beating would be beating fast with fear. Fear that he was right, fear that James’s only with him because they are the only one left in this cemetery. But the feeling of the older male lips on his stops his wrecking train of thoughts.
“I guess we will have to see. Do you know what death is?”
Still shock by James's action, Q doesn’t reply. Instead he stares at the blond, waiting for the blue eyes to answer his own rhetorical question.
“Not a foe, but an inevitable adventure.”
Spud founds himself finishes his professor’s words unconsciously. The entire class falls into silence, all eyes are on him as if he has said something wrong. Even the professor, Joseph Sterling is staring at him. A flush rushes across his face, he founds himself blushing madly, he doesn’t mean to interrupt Professor Sterling’s lecture. It just what the professor just said sound incredibly familiar. As if he has heard the word some where before, as if he has heard the word from the professor himself. Which is impossible seeing that this is the first time he attend professor Sterling class.
“That’s is correct Mr. West. Tell me did you heard or read this phrase before?” The Professor smiled as he looks at Spud with a growing amount of interest in his word.
“Would you believe me if I say that I heard it from you? Even if I had no idea when?”
Immediately he mentally slaps himself as the entire class roars with laughter, even the professor chuckles slightly at his word. The blush never leaves his face like they actually his real skin color, a bright scarlet. However seeing his professor laugh it makes his heart flutters, the laugh, it’s so familiar. Like he has heard it somewhere before, the warm laugh mixes with an equally warm embrace that once again pushes words out of his mouth before his mind even register it.
“Excuse me, Mr. West?”
At professor Sterling’s hoisted eyebrow, Spud quickly dismisses it, waving his hand around in a frantic motion. The older blond stares at him for awhile, if it weren’t because of another student raising their hand questioning the philosophy lecture they are attending, Spud’s sure that professor Sterling won’t let him go that easy.
Truth be told, Spud has never been so grateful of the bell.
Joe walks around the campus, his mind wanders about how Mr. West, a young university student finishes his word in class with an ultimate certainty. Like the boy has said, it’s as if Joe has told the boy himself, despite the fact that he had never met the boy before. However saying he had never met the boy, sound somehow wrong to Joe. He feels like he knows Mr. West, like he knows how the student would like his tea to be Earl Grey with milk and heck load of sugar, or how the younger male can spend countless hours on his small rectangular screen with out a sign of tedious on his perfect, beautiful face. Or even how he knows that Mr. West hates the fact his classmate call him Spud because despite being in university he stills look like a lanky teenager.
Like Joe knows there is another nickname that Mr. West would rather be called. Pulling out his clipboard he flips the pages till he reaches the giant bold black title: “Philosophy – Extended” for the list of student. His eyes travel immediately to the bottom of the page where the last name West is printed. He looks at the name, before he can register the familiarity; he heard a laugh walking pass him.
He knows the laugh belongs to Mr. West as he keeps on walking. However hearing such lively sound, coming from what Joe believes is the most attractive thing he had ever seen make him stops in his track. Turning his body around, he looks back at the boy, admiring the beauty in front of him. Opaque images rushes through his mind, distortedly but clear, his eyes run back down to the clipboard in search of a particular name, a smirk tugs on his lips.
“Definitely worth turning around for a second look.”
The name appears in the last printed line. Quintus H West.
The smirk never leaves his face; flipping the paper back neatly he returns the clipboard back to its original position, in his brief case. Before keeps on walking till he reaches the familiar curly brown locks, he sees the surprise and a tint of nervous in the green eyes, it widens his smirk. His hand rests onto the boy’s elbow:
“Mr. West, may I have a word with you?”