“Shit!” Q wasn’t one for swearing normally, but he made an exception when things went to hell, and when you’re working with a certain double agent named 007 things tended to go to hell more than he would care to admit.
“Q?” Eve was shouting at him from the front seat of the speeding car, thankfully keeping her eyes on the road rather than on him.
“Fine, I’m fine.” The response was automatic and to be fair he wasn’t exactly lying. He was sure that it was little more than a flesh wound, not that he’d ever had the pleasure of being shot before. “Just, you know, not used to being in a speeding car while people are shooting at me that’s all. This is all kind of a new experience for me, and to be honest it’s not one I think I care to repeat.”
“Fieldwork isn’t for everyone, but then I couldn’t do what you do every day either.” Eve sounded so calm, and there was no hint of the condescension that usually followed that remark.
Any reply that Q was thinking of making was cut short as Eve jerked the steering wheel hard, sending them hurtling around the corner, and Q really did not want to think about how fast they were going. The seatbelt that he was wearing only helped so much, he still found himself being shoved towards the car door, the handle slamming into the wound on his side.
Q bit his lip hard, tasting the coppery tang of blood as he tried his best to stop from crying out; white hot pain flashing in his side as his vision tried to grey out on him. Okay, maybe his wound was a little worse than he had first thought.
However bad it was it would have to wait until later. He had a job to do and he was going to damn well do it. 007 never let a little thing like a bullet wound stop him from saving the world.
“Q?” This time it was M calling his name. Q came back to his senses to find the director of MI6 standing beside him, lips drawn into a tight line, worry etched over his face.
When had they stopped?
How long had M been trying to get his attention?
Come on Q get it together.
“Sir?” He tried his best not to let the fear that he could feel creeping in show in his voice. He wasn’t used to not being fully in control and the fact that M had been standing there for who knew how long unsettled him even more than he would care to admit.
“I said, are you coming? We don’t have a lot of time before Nine Eyes goes live.”
He could feel Eve’s eyes burning a hole in his skull from the front seat as he mentally shook himself. He was thankful that she didn’t comment on his mental lapse, Eve wasn’t stupid by a long shot but he was hoping that she would just put it down to his lack of field experience rather than anything more sinister.
“Yes sir, sorry, on my way.”
Q is only vaguely aware of the fact that they’re no longer alone when he hears M speaking to someone, he assumes it’s Denbigh but it’s taking all of his effort to stay sitting upright now. But of course he needs to do more than that, M is relying on him to block Nine Eyes. He finds himself wondering how 007 does this on a regular basis, because he’s not entirely sure he’s going to be able to remain conscious for much longer.
“Not a good feeling being watched is it?” M asks Denbigh, as Q’s finger fly across the keyboard, causing the screens in the office to go blank one by one. It’s working, he’s doing it. One more stroke of the keys and Nine Eyes will be a distant memory.
“Don’t tell me you’re responsible for this?” He could hear the incredulity in his voice as C questioned the older man. That had been his problem all along, he had underestimated the 00 program, written them off as a product of a bye gone era.
“No but my quartermaster is and he’s extremely talented.” If Q hadn’t been pressing his left hand to the wound in his side in an attempt to stem the blood that was still flowing freely he would have been tempted to give Denbigh a little wave. Instead he settled for what he hoped was a convincing smile as he tapped the last of the code that would render the Nine Eyes network obsolete.
With M still occupied with Denbigh, Q took the opportunity to examine his side. He was hit with a wave of nausea as he pulled his fingers away from the wound, slick with blood, before hastily wiping them on his scarf. He wasn’t normally squeamish about these things; couldn’t afford to be in his line of work, but there was certainly something different about seeing his own blood seeping out of his body in such quantities.
He needed to do something to try and stem the bleeding; there had to be something he could use. Scanning the stark office he found nothing that would be of any use, only a lot of wires and computer equipment. He could feel his heart begin to accelerate, as the breath caught in his throat. Now that his job was over, panic was beginning to creep back in, and he really didn’t want to die today.
Not that he hadn’t thought about dying of course, he may have been young but it was impossible not to consider your own mortality when working for MI6. He’d only been the quartermaster for a short period of time but he’d already lost too many men under his tenure. He wasn’t ready for his own name to be added to the list of those who had given their lives in service of their country.
He could feel his vision start to grey as his breathing continued to accelerate, his heart hammering in his chest. He couldn’t die like this, he wouldn’t die like this; he needed to know that the mission had succeeded and that 007 and the rest of the team were safe. He needed to see his job through to the end.
He startled as suddenly 007’s voice was in his head, and surely this was it, if he was hallucinating it had to be bad.
“Q, think. You can get yourself out of this. You’re not going to die today damn it. Your scarf Q, use your scarf!”
If he hadn’t been concentrating so hard on trying to stay upright and conscious he might have berated himself for being so stupid. Of course he could use his scarf, he’d wiped his bloody hands on it just moments before and it would serve as a makeshift tourniquet until he could get proper medical attention. Hopefully it would have some kind of impact on the flow of the blood from his abdomen.
He’s so tired that he just wants to lie down and wait for 007 to come and rescue him, because that’s what he does. He’s always there when he needs him. But then he remembers that James isn’t here, he’s over the river somewhere, right now dealing with Blofeld.
He’s vaguely aware now that there’s a scuffle going on between M and Denbigh, and one of them, he’s not sure who has just gone over the railing and from this height he’s pretty sure they’re going to be dead. He really hopes its Denbigh and not M.
He’s moving now, pushing himself off from the chair, trying his best to stay upright because he needs everyone to be focused on their mission, not on him. M is shouting at him, he’s standing on the balcony now. When did he get over there? Q feels like he’s moving through custard, his limbs are heavy and slow, his mind feels like it’s covered in a thick fog.
But if M is shouting at him then it must have been Denbigh that went over the edge, good. That’s one less bad guy to have to worry about. Now he just has to make sure that 007 is okay and all will be right with the world.
But of course, M is shouting at him because there’s a helicopter hovering over the Thames, searchlight pointed at what has become the ruins of the old MI6 building. Which means, if they’re searching for someone then James must still be in there somewhere. At least he's still alive, that’s something.
But then the next thing he knows the building is exploding, smoke is billowing out everywhere, and surely even 007 couldn’t survive this one.
It seems that all the effort he’s put into staying alive is going to count for nothing, until Eve is at his side, she’s talking he can make out that much, but he’s not sure what she’s saying. Until she’s pointing at the water in front of them and there’s a boat emerging through the smoke, and that can only mean one thing. James is alive.
The next thing he knows he’s moving, he feels like he’s running with the effort that it’s taking him but in reality he’s probably moving at a pace barely above walking. It’s a miracle he’s still moving at all, but it’s the thought of seeing James, alive and safe that keeps him going.
Eve and M are already ahead of him, still unaware that he’s been shot. His thick parka providing excellent cover for the blood that is pooling at the side of his shirt, thankfully now stemmed slightly by the scarf that he’s wrapped around his side as tight as he could.
He’s on the bridge now, fighting his way past the crowds that are already beginning to form on the bridge, everyone wanting to get a closer look at the commotion surrounding the downed helicopter. The police are there already, tape blocking his way, and that’s not going to stop him from seeing James.
“Get out of my way damn it.” When the officer in front of him makes no move to get out of his way he sighs before continuing. “I’m MI6 damn it, that” he points to M who has just made his way past the cordon is my commanding officer, “and that” he points to 007 who he’s just spotted standing over a figure lying on the road “is one of my colleagues and my best friend and you need to get out of my way now damn it.”
He isn’t sure if it’s his words and the way that he says them or the slightly wild look that he’s pretty sure the officer can see in his eyes, quite frankly he doesn’t care, but the officer lets him through.
As he stands on the other side of the tape, watching Bond pull his gun on the prone figure he stops, he’s not sure what he’s supposed to do now, but something in him tells him that whatever this is, whatever Bond is doing he has to let him finish.
And he does, he doesn’t shoot as he thought he would, instead he lowers his gun and then he’s walking towards Madeline. He’s walking towards her, and away from him. He’s not sure why but something breaks in him, and the adrenaline that was keeping him going starts to dissipate. He can feel his legs getting heavy, everything is blurring and he’s falling, falling, falling.
Instead of the hard road, his head hits something soft yet muscly, and he’s being guided to the ground by strong hands. Fingers are invading his space, pushing at his parka, at the scarf that binds his wound, and he wants to protest. Want’s to fight them off, because he doesn’t want to do this anymore, he’s so damn tired, and he just wants to sleep. Bond is okay, that’s all he needs to know, it doesn’t matter that he chose her over him. That’s what he tries to tell himself even as the strong hands are still invading.
He can hear someone shouting that they need help over here. He tries to speak, tries to tell whoever it is that he doesn’t want help that they should just leave him here. His jobs done, he’s not needed anymore. But then the voice is there in his ear, telling him to calm down, that it’s all going to be okay. He’s not going to die.
There’s something familiar in that voice, something strong, calming and he feels safe. But then the feeling of security is gone as the strong hands are gone and replaced by others, pushing and pulling him. Something is shoved onto his face, and no he doesn’t want this, why can’t they just leave him alone.
He’s vaguely aware of that voice again, but it’s shouting now, there’s something in the tone that scares him, but it’s not being directed at him. The voice is yelling at someone else, asking how they could let this happen to his Q. His Q? Who the hell was this person?
The voice was replaced by another, a woman this time, Eve he thinks and she’s telling Bond that they didn’t know about this, that Q hadn’t told them he was hurt. And she has a point, Bond shouldn’t be mad at her, he should be yelling at him if he needs to yell at anyone. He’s going to tell him as much as well, except when he tries to speak it comes out as a mumbled yelp because the world is suddenly moving and everything is hurting.
And Bond is there. Eve had said Bond. The voice, the hands they belonged to James, he’d come back to him, he hadn’t left him after all. Before he could say anything else the world went black.
The world comes back to him in waves. He can hear the steady beep of a heart monitor, the oh so familiar smell of the hospital disinfectant, and god he hates that smell. He wants to open his eyes, but it’s just so damn hard right now. They’re just so heavy that he’s not sure he has the energy to manage it but then he hears someone calling his name. It sounds like it’s coming from the inside of a tunnel but that can’t be right because he just established that he’s in the hospital.
The words are accompanied by the feeling of a thumb stroking his hand, he must make some kind of noise because the voice is slightly louder now, whoever it is has obviously moved closer. He really needs to open his eyes, because the voice is pretty insistent.
“Come on Q, open your eyes. Just for a second. I need to know that you’re okay so that I can kill you in good conscience.” James was leaning over the waking form of his errant quartermaster. He looked all too frail and fragile in the hospital bed surrounded by tubes and wires. This wasn’t the Q he knew.
Forcing his eyes open took more effort that Q would have thought possible but he was rewarded by being confronted with a pair of piercing blue eyes that could only belong to one person.
“007?” He croaked.
“I’m going to assume that you were trying to say my name just then, it didn’t really work. Don’t try to talk right now, you’ve been unconscious for two days, it’s going to take some time for you to get your strength back.”
Satisfied that Q had listened for once Bond continued. “I am giving you fair warning that when you get out of here I am going to kill you. You could have died. Your life is not worth the mission, any mission. Do you understand me?”
Q wanted to swear that he wouldn’t do it again, that he would never again risk his life in the pursuit of a mission, or in favour of saving Bond’s but he couldn’t. Just as he knew that Bond wouldn’t be able to make such a promise.
Instead he settled for grasping the hand that still touched his own, before he found himself drifting back into unconsciousness, safe in the knowledge that Bond would be there when he woke up.