Actions

Work Header

Aces Grey

Chapter Text

Q had to admit that he was constantly fascinated by the subtle variations of sexuality that he saw in his job.

At face value, his place as Quartermaster of MI6 seemed like a very dry, impersonal occupation, but in reality it created a great opportunity for people-watching – and a vast variety of rare people, thanks to the plethora of agents he had contact with.  Espionage was not exactly a mundane game, and the people who played it were likewise quite unique, and apparently something about Q’s mild, unassuming manner in the professional arena seemed to give them the impression that they didn’t have to hide anything from him – so he’d been privy to a lot of random chatter, including those of romantic or sexual natures.  R was polyamorous, and presently dating both 002 and 3 at once, something that had been amusing to watch the evolution of, as both 00-agents were naturally possessive men (but thankfully sexually flexible thanks to the demands of their job).  Eve was pansexual, but very monogamous, presently dating another young woman from Accounting (while Moneypenny was the queen of discrete, neither she nor her partner were shy about discussing their lives, lending themselves to a flourishing – and surprisingly correct – rumor-mill).  006 was broadly pansexual as well, but Q was pretty sure that the term ‘gynephilic’ described him, at least roughly: the man preferred feminine traits, even if the biological hardware didn’t need to be specifically female for him to enjoy sleeping with it.  Q had overheard a few of his minions expounding upon nights with Alec Trevelyan – apparently a curvy young tech analyst had teamed up with an androgynously pretty young man to warm the handsome, incorrigible 00-agent’s bed.  It wasn’t a relationship, but considering how much Q had been overhearing, it had been wonderfully enjoyable for all involved.  To be fair, most all of the 00-agents were hypersexual, and only a few of them lamented their lack of experience in long-lasting, monogamous relationships.  They’d long-since learned that the black-and-white, clear-cut definitions that the world imposed on such things held no sway in the unpredictable world of espionage.

007 was no different, in that he defied what was expected of him.  He was even more unique, however, in that he denied what even his MI6 compatriots expected of him.  In the field, Bond was an inveterate womanizer.  Less often but no less skillfully, he would seduce and fuck male marks as well, giving off the appearance of a virile, flexible lover, usually taking dominant roles but clearly open to nearly anything if it got him off and left him with more information than he’d had to begin with.  It made him quite a force to reckon with while on missions.

Off missions was rather a different story.

Again, Q had learned most of this via hearsay and gossip, although what he’d gathered over the past year at MI6 made him itch to ask 007 some questions in person.  Simply put, 007, despite his vast array of bedded conquests, was asexual.  Popular opinion was that the job had burned the drive right out of him – sex had become a tool, and repeated use of it simply for the callous purpose of gaining the upper hand and/or much-needed information had ultimately inured him to the usual feelings one expected from sex.  Q could most certainly understand how someone in Bond’s position could get a bad taste in his mouth for sex after associating it for so long with tasks that were often distasteful and even viciously cruel at times.  Still, there was also the odd rumor or two that 007 had always been asexual, and the job hadn’t changed that.

Many people who found this out were impressed that Bond’s sexual orientation didn’t hinder his job, but Q was unsurprised.  He’d noted by this point the level of self-control 007 exercised over his body, so it was hardly a shock that a man who could ignore the pain of bullet-wounds could also convince his body to respond like a sexually aroused partner’s should, for the good of a mission.  Q would also be the first to admit that he didn’t know the first thing about asexuality beyond snippets he’d read on the internet.

Which was rather ironic, since people thought that Q was the asexual one.  This really helped with his ability to eavesdrop, honestly, so he never bothered to correct anyone – sometimes he thought about the stereotypical scene of the ‘gay male friend’ being allowed to hear all the bedroom talk of his female friends, said females feeling unthreatened by his presence.  The situation between the Quartermaster and the majority of his coworkers was amusingly similar.  Since the boffin didn’t exactly have anything to prove, the point was moot anyway.

Ergo, when 2 AM on a Saturday saw Q in something of a predicament, he hadn’t exactly told anyone that his sexual preferences were not only something other than asexual, but also outside the generally accepted norm of society.  Even in MI6, there wasn’t extensive talk about BDSM and subbing, and the fact that Q probably fell at least somewhat into the ‘slave’ category would have startled a few of his underlings.  It was in Q’s temperament to separate his work-life and his social-life anyway.

That hadn’t caused a problem until now.

Q wasn’t hurt; he was fairly aware that the Dom he’d spent most of Friday night and Saturday morning with hadn’t injured him in any way.  And the sex had been safe and consensual, and even quite fun, if the Quartermaster were being analytical about it – which he wasn’t.  Some distant part of his brain was also aware that he very much wasn’t.  A good fuck had a way of taking him out of his head and putting to sleep the more logical parts of it, and his current predicament had left him in something of an emotional haze, which he didn’t like but couldn’t slip out of.

He could perhaps think of a few people who might know how to handle sub-drop, but none of them were aware that Q was a sub to begin with, and James Bond was the closest person geographically to where Q was now, having parted ways with the Dom that he’d met at a club only days ago.  Pulling his black felt coat tighter around him and shivering even in the warm, summer air, the Quartermaster hurried on unsteady, rather desperate feet to the building that he knew 007 lived in.  Q’s mind was all in knots, and he felt as if someone had reached a hand inside of him and twisted everything around, a sensation that had started out as quite delightful when he’d had a Dom present, but now…

Now Q made it to the main doors and whimpered under his breath as he tried to make his brain and body communicate for long enough to hit the buzzer for 007’s flat number.

Q had ‘dropped’ before, when a Dom hadn’t been conscientious enough or just plain smart enough to realize the necessity of keeping an eye on their partner after an intense scene, so he actually knew a few tricks that tended to help him out of it.  Now was a special case, however, and while one of his hands reached up clumsily to push down on the buzzer for second floor, flat number thirteen, the Quartermaster’s other hand clawed weakly at his throat.  A confusing mixture of lingering, souring arousal twisted in his system in a pathetic coil, like a taste in his mouth that he was prevented from swallowing like he normally would.  He thought a moment of captive cormorant birds, used in fishing: they could be trusted to leave the boat to catch fish for their owners, with a snug collar around their elegant necks to keep them from swallowing the fish they caught.

“Yes?”  007’s voice came over the intercom.

Q tried only for a second to decipher the man’s tone, his brain feeling like a fire sputtering under a vindictive rain.  For a man so used to being the brightest mind in the room, it was incredibly frustrating, and Q had to close his eyes and just hug his arms around himself for a moment to keep it together.  He needed to respond before 007 just decided that this was a 2 AM prank and went back to bed.  Q managed to activate the speaker to respond, “It’s me, Q.  I… uh… I’m sorry.  I mean, I’m sorry about the hour, but-”

The buzzer sounded to indicate the door unlocking, and the Quartermaster nearly tripped over himself in his haste to get to it and pull it open.  He looked between the lift and the stairs, and headed numbly for the latter, because he’d managed to walk the few blocks here, and didn’t know how he’d react to the impersonal, empty confines of an elevator right now.  Head still ducked between the upturned lapels of his coat, feeling somehow… naked… despite the layers of clothing on him, the Quartermaster trudged clumsily up the stairs.  The fact that he’d used his work title in a public place hit him about halfway up, and he wondered if that was why Bond had let him in so quickly.

007 was already standing in his open doorway by the time Q reached his floor, and uncharacteristic trepidation twisted up the smaller man’s throat even as he hurried over to stand in front of Bond – all of Q’s emotions, usually as calm as a mountain lake, were a tumultuous mess that he couldn’t calm down.

Off-mission, 007 was actually quite laid-back.  He could still be terrifyingly intense when the occasion called for it, but generally only intimidated people who dared bother him, or were foolish enough to go up against him in drinking or cards.  Right now, he merely watched with an unreadable but watchful expression, arms folded as he leaned against the doorframe, making his musculature stand out beneath his worn, black tee.  He was also dressed in sweatpants, making it impossible to tell if he’d been sleeping until now, or if he’d been up and merely lazing around the house despite the inhumane hour.

Q started babbling.  He’d stacked up a careful matrix of words behind his tongue, hoping to lay out his particular problem for 007 with the least amount of embarrassment possible, but instead everything tripped and fell off his tongue like a wall of old bricks being pushed over.  “I have…  It’s a favor to ask, really.  I’m in a bit of a… a predicament would be the best word.  Nothing dangerous!  I’m all right.  Er… sort of.  Shit.  I’m not saying at all what I want to, but you were the closest person, and also the least likely to judge or make a fuss-”  Halting the nearly desperate flow of words was suddenly like trying to dam up a river, and Q had to grit his teeth and squeeze his eyes shut, mortified to find tears pricking at his eyes, even though he couldn’t pick out any one thing that was bothering him enough to warrant crying.  From a logical vantage point, Q’s biggest problem – the one that had sent him to Bond instead of his own home – wasn’t terribly bad.  It was just that he couldn’t deal with it on his own, and ignoring it until later felt like torture.

The Quartermaster pulled the collar of his jacket aside, revealing the intricate leather braiding of a slave-collar.

Just having eyes on it made a shiver of mixed, intense emotions crackle down Q’s spine, and for a brief and irrational moment, he forgot that Bond was asexual – and then he wished he wasn’t.  It took a force of effort not to break down in frustration and distress all of a sudden as Q reigned in those rampant, frankly inappropriate thoughts.  He was helpless to stop his words from coming out sounding vulnerable and with a thin, whimpered edge to them as he started stuttering out explanations again, “He bloody left it on, and usually I could handle that, but I… I can’t…  My hands are always a bit clumsy at times like this, you see, and I can’t get it off on my own, and-!”

“Come inside, Q.”

007’s words were firm and calm, and the way he immediately stepped away from the door and back into his flat had Q following as if tugged forward.  He shuffled gratefully in, even as he hugged his arms around himself again.  It was a stabilizing technique he’d found for himself: after a good scene, a drop for Q felt a lot like the kind of emptiness a bottom felt when his top pulled out of him – hollow without the delicious girth of a cock in him.  Only this feeling of emptiness was spread out all over his skin like sticky tar, and made him feel cold and like he was flying apart at the seams, like a planet without gravity to hold its atmosphere in.  The pseudo-embrace of his coat helped simulate a closed enclosure, or a Dom bringing him down with lots of snug contact, but it did fuck-all to help him when he still had a damn collar on tying him to the scene.  Q associated a collar with sexual release: to him, it was the most powerful tool for getting him to forget work, to forget being the boss, and to trade in his predominantly aloof and professional temperament for something far more sociable and uninhibited.

But now, that symbol had been left on him after the fact, and Q found himself pausing in the middle of Bond’s living room, whimpering again in distress as he pawed ineffectively at the collar around his neck.  He couldn’t even truly start to come down until the collar was removed, but he tried to get his brain and fingers to work together anyway, getting increasingly anxious as his fingertips tripped and stumbled across the intricate knot-work that held the coiled leather in place.

Bond had walked away briefly – Q had seen him disappear into another room, and thought he now heard a washer or dryer running – but came back swiftly.  His voice regained Q’s attention with a snap, causing the smaller man to gasp and jump like a startled deer, even though the agent’s voice was steady and gentle, “Stop, Q.  Don’t worry, I’ll get it off, I promise.  May I touch you?”

Briefly trying to wrap his mind around the polite and unruffled tone of Bond’s voice – clearly Q had been correct in thinking that the 00-agent wouldn’t be off-put by a visit from his Quartermaster in the middle of the night, still showing blatant signs of a sexual liaison - Q just stared and blinked for a moment.  He felt as if there was too much stimulus, but at least 007 was limiting it by talking softly and moving very little.  “Yes,” Q finally responded, hands fluttering around, unsure what to do with themselves now and still shaking.  Damn, he was cold.

Telegraphing his movements, Bond took the last step forward that put him in Q’s personal space, reaching competent, scarred hands past the upturned collar of Q’s coat.  “Does it help you to touch someone?  If you need to be grounded, you can touch me,” James’s low voice gently filled the relative silence of his flat, full of unflappable calmness that probably came from seeing far weirder things than this.

Grateful that Bond was thinking of these things when Q obviously couldn’t, Q gave a little nod, eyes closing and lips pursing as he continued to try and keep himself together.  He stretched forth his own hands blindly even as he felt his chin being tipped back, and hands larger and rougher than Q’s sexual partner’s began carefully exploring the circumference of the collar – starting first, however, by taking Q’s pulse and sliding two fingers beneath the length of leather to test its fit.  Distantly, even as Q’s palms connected with the warm, solid planes of 007’s stomach, the Quartermaster realized that 007 knew a thing or two about the kind of sex Q was involved with.

“I’m going to take off your jacket, Q,” that low voice continued to assure him.

Q was just coherent enough to realize that he was in no fit state to make decisions, and felt a wave of fear, quickly washed away by relief as he reminded himself that he was in 007’s flat – not only was the agent unlikely to take advantage of him, but no one else would either.  Q was willing to say that he and Bond were friends, and only a suicidal person would enter the flat of a highly decorated 00-agent uninvited anyway.  “Okay.  Okay, thank you.”  He made a tiny, bereaved noise when 007 stopped touching his collar, but cut the noise off as best he could, focusing instead on the feeling of buttons being undone.  With equal care, the article of clothing was slipped off Q’s shoulders and down his arms, unfortunately forcing Q to withdraw his hands from 007’s abdomen.  As soon as Q’s jacket hit the floor, however, 007 steadied him with two firm hands on his shoulders, briefly squeezing before going back to the braided leather ringing Q’s neck.

“So how long have you been subbing?” Bond asked, after a moment, tone undemanding. It clearly hadn’t taken long for him to put two-and-two together.

Answering was easier than Q had expected, but his words still stuttered a little, “I-I I have been since… pretty much Uni.  This isn’t new.”

“I’m going to assume that a Dom leaving a collar on you after sex is new,” 007 replied, and his voice finally slipped from easy and calm into a slight growl that hinted definitively at anger.  He quickly sublimated it, though, and Bond’s next question was utterly composed again, “Did this Dom collar you against your will?”

“No.”  Q had enough motor movement to give his head a good, confident shake.  Standing in just a thin grey pullover and slacks, he now felt even more distinctly that his body wasn’t heating itself correctly, and shuffled closer to Bond without thinking.  “It was all safe, sane, and consensual.  He just…”  And suddenly Q’s throat was closing up again, wetness on his lashes.  “Why didn’t he remember to take it off?” he found himself asking in a choked voice, confused and helpless and so totally out of character that he doubted anyone would recognize him right now.  In the bedroom, Q was a different person than the one he was at work, and it felt like the deepest cruelty and betrayal of his trust to have the two meshed now, thanks to something as insignificant as a piece of BDSM paraphernalia left on. 

Instead of being off-put or surprised by any of this, 007 merely left off slowly untying the collar to take hold of Q’s wrists, drawing them forward until they were pressed against his person again.  Q drank in the body-heat like a lizard, fighting the urge to move his hands and touch everywhere, like someone who hadn’t had solid ground within reach for years.

“I said you could touch, Q.  Go on.  I’ve almost got this undone.”

Q let loose a sigh of utmost relief, and let his hands wander almost frantically, feeling toned muscle and dependable bone beneath the thin, soft material of Bond’s night-shirt.  All the while, Bond merely kept working, seemingly untroubled by the pawing, despite the fact that his asexuality perhaps made this unpalatable to him – Q didn’t know.  He’d apologize later if needed. 

“Shibari?”

It took Q a long moment to realize that Bond was asking about the atypical nature of his collar - it wasn’t a true collar, per se, but two pieces of leather looped and knotted around one another to create a beautiful but complicated piece of work.  Just a few hours ago, it had felt heavenly, shifting and intimate against his skin - accompanied by other lengths of rope that had fettered and bound him up just the way he liked it.  “Yes,” he finally admitted, and couldn’t think of anything more to add, although his brain was most certainly trying.  “It’s nice,” he finally said, and without thinking about it, tipped and swiveled his head a little, so that he could feel the leather purr of the collar against his skin.  He also ended up with his jaw brushing one of Bond’s hands, reminding him with a jolt that the games were over, and he should be returning to normal now.  But he couldn’t.  He still had too many sensations glued to his skin, and felt like a computer that had a program running: a program that wouldn’t shut off, and that he couldn’t find the ‘Stop’ command for.  Helplessness and frustration curled in a tight, painful knot beneath Q’s breastbone, and he clutched both hands around 007’s biceps, clenching. 

“There,” 007 finally said, making no move to indicate that he even noticed his Quartermaster grabbing at him; the agent’s muscles had simply moved and flexed beneath Q’s clumsy grip as he continued his work.  Q could indeed feel a loosening around his neck, but noted that Bond was still holding it close - which was good - giving the smaller man a chance to brace himself against the change he was about to feel.  007 directed before he did anything, “I’m going to take it off, and you’re going to sit on the couch.  Okay, Q?”

Q made a whining noise in the back of his throat. 

Unexpectedly, 007’s voice firmed up, “Acknowledge.”

That tone was stronger than any of those Q’s Dom had used all night, and it fit as perfectly as a key into a lock in Q’s mind, freeing up the answer with ease, “Okay.  Yes, understood.”

“Good,” Bond’s tone softened again, and Q felt a ridiculous surge of pride.  Some fraction of his mind knew that this was a purely submissive response, one that he only indulged in the bedroom usually, but another part of him was surprised that 007 had known to take advantage of that so artfully.  The Quartermaster was stopped from pondering Bond’s skilled handling of him as warm fingers brushed his neck, withdrawing the collar slowly.  It felt as if Q were being painlessly skinned: laid bare and losing some integral part of himself.  He sucked in a sharp breath, holding it and closing his eyes again while he felt the tail ends of the leather straps brush against his shirt-collar and skin.  Normalcy would start rushing in as soon as it was truly gone, but having had it on for so long made Q feel untethered as soon as it was fully removed from his person.

Still, relief flooded through him, and Q’s exhale sounded like something caught between a thankful mewl and a gutted half-sob.

“You all right, Q?” Bond patiently asked, still standing as firm as a mountain in front of his smaller coworker.

“Y-Yes.  I… I’m fine.  Fine.”

Perhaps the start-stopping of Q’s sentences belied his assertions a little, because 007 didn’t move away, which secretly removed a knot of tension at Q’s core.  He was embarrassed as hell, and soon would be coming back to himself now that he wasn’t physically attached to his particular subspace, but he wouldn’t have dealt well with being left alone just yet.  “I really want to check and see that you don’t have any injuries, but if you say you don’t, I’ll believe you.”

Q managed to remember his usual self enough to glance up through his eyelashes, frown a little, and recall, “I already told you that I’m not hurt.”

The sentence had come out breathily and weakly, but the ghost of a dry tone had 007’s mouth kicking up at the corners.  “Just checking.  Let’s sit you down on the couch.”

Arguing never crossed Q’s beleaguered mind, and he naturally stepped forwards as Bond walked backwards, leading him with easy, non-intimate touches.  Despite the utter lack of sexuality, Q found himself lulled into a calm, drifting mindset that he usually only found post-coital – but had rather missed this time, with his Dom skipping some of the finer points of aftercare.  Q was going to get him for that.  Until then, however, he had Bond, and Bond was doing an inordinately good job at dealing with this.

As soon as he was pushed down onto the black suede couch, Q curled up in a ball.  He was still cold and still felt like he’d been put through an emotional ringer, and right now the best way he could think to process that was to do what his coat did: mimic closeness and snug space, knees drawn up and arms folded around his stomach.  He also tucked his head down against his knees, and released a grumbling little growl as cool air touched his now-bare nape.

007 had walked away, and the sounds of the dryer stopped.  Barely moments later and a brief whistle drew Q’s mind to the fact that Bond was back at his side again, right before absolute heaven engulfed him.  Q released a moan that was entirely unbecoming a Quartermaster of MI6, and veritably melted beneath the weight of the thick, dryer-heated blanket that Bond had just thrown over him.  He doubted he could have protested if he tried as 007’s competent, efficient hands wrapped and tucked it around his slim frame, finally giving Q that confining, safe feeling that he craved, not to mention some warmth for his shivering body.

Briefly, a hand closed over the back of Q’s nape, seeming to hesitate for just a second before filling up the space the collar had previously occupied.  “Do you want water, or tea?  Both will be warm,” Bond asked, voice leaving no room for other options or argument.

The heat of the blanket combined with the reassuring presence of 007’s hand – reminding him of the weight of the collar without replicating it, making the transition easier – allowed Q to relax against the arm of the couch and think a little.  His brain still felt wrapped in molasses, but it wasn’t as bad as before.  After a little hum of contemplation, he finally replied muzzily, “Tea.”

“No caffeine,” Bond clarified even as he agreed, and then moved off again, silent and smooth as a prowling lion.  Before he left, though, his hand moved to touch down twice – once on Q’s carotid to catch his pulse, and then sliding up under his moppish bangs as if to check his general temperature.  The obvious, unselfconscious interest in Q’s personal health at once made Q blush and made him feel more at ease, the unexpected torments of the past hour starting to fade from him.

Q was rubbing at his bare throat absently when 007 came back, and managed to lift fatigued eyes to pale blue ones.  007 looked as alert at the late hour as he did any other time of the day, which was just unfair.  Q was barely keeping his eyes open, but they glued themselves now to the steaming mug in Bond’s left hand.  “It’s not your usual fare,” the agent said ruefully with a nod towards the cup of tea, “but I’ll gladly let you lecture me about it – after you drink it.”  Bond reached forward decisively and tugged back Q’s cocoon of blankets enough to see his hands, and nudge the mug into them without preamble.

The simple smells of honey and lemon swirled around the Quartermaster’s head as he soaked it in for a second, his glasses fogging up, but he didn’t have the common-sense yet to worry about the heat of it until after he’d taken his first mouthful.  Surprising, though, it didn’t burn him – the tea was still delightfully warm, but apparently 007 had predicted that Q would drink first and ask questions later, and heated the drink accordingly.  The first mouthful filled his heart with summer warmth and slid easily down his throat.  It wasn’t Earl Grey, but it was full of energy-giving sweetness, so soon the internal heat was combining with the external warmth to lull Q’s brain into a pleasant haze.

A distant part of him noticed Bond moving about the house, doing domestic things that Q rather wished he had to focus to pay attention to – it wasn’t often that a person saw a 00-agent doing dishes.  Another part of Q realized that this was technically a very dangerous situation, because 007 was lethal even if his company wasn’t in a muzzy, sub-drop haze – but if the Quartermaster had learned anything, it was that Bond could do amazingly immoral things without being immoral himself.  Even when the agent came back to the room with two handguns (one of which Q was decently sure was not Q-branch issued) to begin cleaning them on the coffee-table in front of Q, fear was unable to make the faintest scratch on Q’s warm, fuzzy mood.  Q merely held the mug of tea in one hand while snugging the blanket closer with the other, again needing the tightness.  He noticed Bond watching him with canny eyes, glancing at Q’s discarded coat in a way that said he’d noticed early the way Q had pulled it close around himself.  Maybe later the bespectacled young man would worry about 007 figuring out that particular coping mechanism.

Now that the collar was gone, and Q wasn’t constantly being distracted by its presence, he just felt drained.  But the tea was lovely and sweet, the dryer-heated blanket was chasing away his chill, and 007 represented a steady, constant, watchful presence barely a meter away.  Q didn’t realize that he’d drifted nearly to sleep until he felt the nearly-empty mug removed from his slackening fingers.  He muzzily blinked and pulled his head back when he sensed a shadow over him and fingers near his temples.  “Wha…?”

“I’m just taking off your glasses, Q.  They’ll be within your reach when you need them,” 007’s low voice reassured, and the pure confidence in it had Q relaxing again, head lying against the back of the couch bonelessly.  He didn’t know how to keep his eyes open, not when he felt so contented and safe – more so, in fact, than he’d felt at the hands of that last Dom. Without further reticence, Q felt his spectacles slipped from his face, and for once didn’t worry that Bond would break his things.

A faint noise of unease did escape the Quartermaster’s mouth as he was shortly thereafter roused again by a hand at his ankle, as much because the touch was unexpected as because it necessitated pushing the blanket back from part of him.  Once again, however, before the Quartermaster could do much more than crack one eye open and frown, Bond’s voice was reaching his ears and settling him down again, “Easy, Q.  I want to take your shoes off, too.”  While Q tried to process that, blinking torpidly at the 00-agent now sitting on the couch next to him and pulling Q’s left foot within reach, Bond added with apparent sincerity, “Just tell me to stop, and I will.”

Q believed him.  But he saw no reason to shoo Bond away, beyond the fact that it was just plain demeaning that a world-class spy was being delegated to the job of removing his Quartermaster’s shoes.  Helping out would require slipping further out of his warm blanket, however, and that just seemed too difficult for words.  So instead, Q made a wordless, garbled noise and buried his head in the blankets.

007’s low chuckle was a lovely sound, and then his capable hands were gripping Q’s ankles one at a time, deftly undoing shoelaces and loosening them before removing each shoe.  Then the man pushed Q’s socked feet back under the blanket with consideration that startled Q, and had him trying to calculate for a moment how hazy his mind still was from wearing a collar all night – because he suddenly wanted nothing more than to curl up and let Bond take care of him.

Distracting Q from his admittedly foggy, troubled musings was the sudden sensation of arms slipping under his knees and around his shoulders, lifting him upwards (blanket and all) before he could so much as wriggle.  “Shhh.  Hold still, Quartermaster,” Bond hushed him, voice tolerant and (if Q wasn’t mistaken) almost fond, “I’m not letting you sleep balled up like a beggar on my couch.  I’m fairly certain that that will reflect badly on my skills as a host.”  As 007 shifted Q’s weight just a little, hefting the smaller man against his chest with barely a grunt, the blond-haired agent added in a more wry tone, “That, and I’m fairly certain there are rules of etiquette when it comes to Quartermasters, and if I break them, M will somehow find out and book my next mission for Siberia.”

“Bond… you don’t have to,” Q managed to mutter, cheeks burning with embarrassment even as Bond’s light banter made him want to giggle.  His limbs seemed unwilling to move or fight, however, and Q secretly loved the tight hold of 007’s arms, letting Q easily feel the strength of the man like an overwhelming tide around him.

“I know,” was all Bond said, but made no move to put Q down or stop his steady padding steps into another room – presumably a bedroom.  After that, Q remembered very little.  He must have drifted off while still tucked against 007’s chest, feeling better and safer than he had ever expected to feel on a night that had initially taken such a rotten, humiliating turn.  The collar was forgotten, but the intoxicating serenity of the 00-agent’s firm words and confident tone, not to mention his raw strength so expertly controlled, drifted after Q in his sleep like a waft of vanilla in his nose.

~^~

Chapter Text

Q’s first thought was that this bed didn’t smell like his, but felt lovely all the same – too lovely to leave, surely.  His second thought, which burst the perfect bubble of the first, was a nasty mess composed of shades of embarrassment and flashes of memory.  Groaning, Q rolled over to press his face into the pillow – Bond’s pillow – as he woke up enough to recall last night in its humiliating entirety.  Because he couldn’t help it, the Quartermaster lifted a hand to his neck, sighing in faint relief to find it bare, even if the neck of his shirt had probably left indents from being pressed against his skin in sleep.  Taking stock a little bit more, the Quartermaster noted that he was still in the exact same clothes he’d arrived at Bond’s flat in, alone, and sans shoes and glasses.

One slightly frantic glance later and he’d spotted the latter.  True to his word, 007 had left them immediately to Q’s left upon the nightstand.

A knock had Q twisting around a moment later, pushing his glasses into place over his nose to see 007 – already up and dressed impeccably – leaning on the doorframe.  “Good morning,” the agent said cordially, although in a carefully uninflected tone that Q had heard on missions, when Bond was sussing out a situation.

Flushing and feeling keen embarrassment lumping in his gut, Q sat up and moodily straightened out his shirt-sleeves.  It was a pointless affair, as only an iron would be likely to get the wrinkles out at this point, but for all that, Q felt well rested.  “You want to talk to me about last night, I assume?” he asked wryly without making eye contact.

But Bond surprised him.  “No.  Not if you don’t want to, anyway.”  Bond truly seemed uninterested, and Q suddenly wondered if that was due to 007’s asexuality - maybe he didn’t want to know about the sexual liaisons of coworkers.  Q glanced up from under his brows, curious, but 007’s face was set in a pleasant but otherwise unreadable expression.  “I wanted to ask how you felt about breakfast, and if you wanted me to drop you off at your place on my way to work.  I’ll only insist on the first one.”

Q realized for the first time that he really was starving – usually he would have eaten quite a lot right after a scene, but he’d barely made it past the tea before he’d started falling asleep.  A quick investigation of Bond’s expression and demeanor informed Q that the larger man did seem sincere on both offers, so Q got up out of bed slowly, testing his balance.  He noticed 007 tensing slightly and watching avidly as well.  Besides a little bit of stiffness, however, Q felt fine, and turned to Bond with a shy nod.  “I… wouldn’t be opposed to either.  I insist on buying breakfast, though.  As a… a thank you.  I realize that last night-”

“Last night was no bother,” Bond made very clear, and with unexpected swiftness.  Q was left just blinking at the agent, trying to figure him out, but after the slightest look of… something… on 007’s face, the agent had schooled it back to his usual, mild look and had relaxed against the doorframe again.  He added in a less adamant tone, “I couldn’t sleep anyway, and you hardly made an embarrassment of yourself.”

“Oh, yes, I’m sure that stumbling into your flat in a post-sex haze isn’t embarrassing at all,” Q demurred dryly, mouth twisting up at one side with slight, sour humor.  “I can only hope that you’ll recover from the knowledge that your Quartermaster is into submission.”

The last sentence was meant to remind Bond that last night had been uncomfortable, but 007 merely snorted and smiled, his own mouth tilting up wryly at Q’s self-deprecating display.  “I think I’ll live, Q,” he actually returned in a tone flavored by humor.  “And as for finding out what you’re into sexually-”  Once again Q caught something in Bond’s eyes; it wasn’t carnal hunger, and it sure as hell wasn’t anything negative, but it held a definite sort of heat that Q didn’t recognize.  “-All that really bothers me is that your Dom is not very good at his job.  I’m not your keeper, of course, but I think you can find a better partner with fewer neglectful tendencies.”

By now, Bond’s arms were crossed and his posture had become downright belligerent, a familiar temperament that made Q smirk.  007 was both MI6’s best and worst agent: best at getting the job done, worst at following orders once he got it into his head that the orders were bloody stupid and he had a better plan.  Right now, it was pretty clear that 007 was less than impressed with Q’s previous bed-mate, and bluntly uninterested in hiding that fact.  So Q took pity on him and replied, still smiling faintly, “Don’t worry, 007.  I’m far more likely to hack into Devin’s email account and sign him up for enough spam mail to drown him in than I am likely to sleep with him again.  I’m nowhere near desperate enough to ask him back for another round.”

Bond’s smile widened, a somewhat nasty but pleased smile, and Q almost chuckled at the look: 007 was perhaps imagining Q’s retribution, and looked like he approved.  It was a very childish response for a grown man to be wearing, but Q would have been lying to say he found the expression anything but attractive.  “So… breakfast?” Q clapped his hands together, his stomach shortly thereafter voicing similar, noisy interest.

~^~

Breakfast was good, reminding Q again of how different 007 was when off-mission, and yet somehow similar.  While ordering food at the little café two streets over, 007 told the waitress what he wanted, but despite how undeniably pretty the girl was – young, black-haired, curvy in ways that even Q was impressed by, and he only liked blokes – 007’s smiles and warm tone never went beyond friendly.  On mission, the man flirted with anything that moved, but then it was like a climber fitting their fingertips and toes into every available crack on a cliff-face.  Now, with his survival not presently on the line, Bond toned it down.

The girl still looked back over her shoulder at the blond, muscular man more than once.  Even on his best behavior, there was just something about 007 that spoke of long, heated nights with little time for sleeping.

Bond was as alert as a hawk, however, although it took someone who knew about 00-agents to notice.  Q picked up on the way 007 scanned the room frequently with seemingly lazy glances, blue eyes intense beneath half-closed lids; 007 looked relaxed as he lounged back in his chair, but the artful looseness of his limbs was a lie, and Q knew that 007 was ready to move at any second.  Q had also seen the gun discreetly tucked into a shoulder-holster before leaving, hidden by his jacket now.

They’d eaten their breakfast and spoken of inanities until it was time to carpool the rest of the way to Q’s flat.  Q decided that he rather liked 007’s company on a mundane basis: he was undemanding but sure of himself, well-spoken but relaxed as to what exactly they decided to talk about, provided a far more comfortable ride than the tube, and was kind enough not to bring up last night once.

Of course, Q was still thinking about it almost constantly.  Even as he watched 007 ease back into traffic with his sleek sports-car – the kind of vehicle he regularly broke speed-limits with and destroyed on missions – Q was thinking about firm but gentle hands and commands, everything reminding him of unyielding steel wrapped in soothing velvet.  Bond was so effortlessly commanding, and Q had a kink for that sort of thing, off the clock.

Q finally managed to get his mind back to work by the time he and Bond had parted ways at MI6, Q having had time to run into his own flat along the way to shower and change with record speed.  007 had looked as at ease in Q’s flat as a coronet on a king, and had continued not to mind the personal time he was spending with his Quartermaster.  Q had honestly expected this little fiasco to ruin their working relationship, or at least strain it, but at least on 007’s part it had seemed to do quite the opposite.  Q was still a bit wary and uneasy, and blushed without warning every other time he looked at the man and remembered the collar around his own neck, so he was rather grateful for the chance to dive back into work at Q-branch when Bond went instead for a mission debrief.

After ordering around his minions for hours, skipping lunch by default and not caring, and getting 001 through a mission that would have been less troublesome if the man weren’t such an utter imbecile sometimes, Q returned to his office only to be brought up short by the sight of a sticky-note on his door.  It was folded in half to prevent reading from the idle passerby.  Frowning, Q plucked it from his door as he walked into his office, nearly missing a step just in front of his deck as he read the brief and simple note:

If you ever need someone to help you come down again, don’t hesitate to call.

-JB

~^~

A part of Q feared that 007 would treat him differently.  There was a reason why Q kept his sexual proclivities a secret, even in the nonjudgmental environment of MI6: just because Q kept his submissive side firmly allocated to non-work-related situations didn’t mean that everyone would believe that.  In his early years subbing, Q had learned that many people believed that he was inclined towards docile, submissive behavior at any time of day - a few had even been bold enough to try and take advantage of that.  The result had included a decided lack of subservience and instead a lot of very hot temper.  Q hated those altercations; they were hurtful and humiliating no matter how or where they occurred, or how swiftly he disillusioned people about his capabilities and temperament in a work environment.   

It was soon apparent that Q’s worries were unneeded, however.  From the moment Bond came down to Q-branch to pick up a kit for his next mission, the double-oh treated Q almost exactly the same as he ever had before: the agent still accepted Q’s orders as often as he argued with them (both situations ultimately ending for the best, because sometimes Bond did know better than his Quartermaster, in different situations), and Bond still managed to destroy most of the tech Q sent him out with.  There were no cheeky, knowing winks, or half-hidden allusions to Q taking orders better than he gave them.  All in all, it would have seemed like the little episode at Bond’s flat had never happened, except that Bond seemed to drop by a bit more often, and stayed a bit longer, just chatting.  Since the chatter was generally work-related, or at least very idle, it relaxed Q’s worries about 007 somehow taking advantage of what he’d learned.  

The downside to that, of course, meant that Q was able to think over that night more and more.  If Bond had seemed embarrassed about it or had made trouble for Q over it, maybe the Quartermaster should have shied away from the memory - but instead, on the occasions when he slipped home for much-needed sleep, Q found himself reliving the experience with a thoughtful eye.  

His musings over that night at Bond’s flat came to an unexpected head a month later.

Q couldn’t run every mission, obviously - not unless he grew extra limbs and maybe learned to clone himself.  Since those options were off the docket for moral, physical, and budget reasons, MI6 had instituted the training of additional ‘handlers,’ which Q oversaw until he could be confident that the new trainee could be trusted on his or her own.  Blake Grady had just graduated from handling lower-ranking agents on his own, and now was under Q’s eye again as he moved up to running a mission with a 00-agent.  The mission itself was fairly low-risk, a simple matter of gathering information that someone else didn’t want them to gather, but since it was 007 working this one, Q was resigned to the fact that things would probably get more interesting.  So he stood back and watched with a patently patient, unreadable expression, while internally he braced himself for whatever trouble the agent managed to find.  

“We have your target on camera,” Grady said, speaking into the mic for 007 to hear, “Miss Melissa Lewis should be in the south wing of the building, second floor.”  The only sign that he was handling a 00-agent was the faint tightness to his voice, which Q was fairly certain was due as much to excitement as nerves.  Q worried about the excitement: this wasn’t a contest, and it wasn’t a prize that Grady had won.  Still, Q figured that Grady could be was proud of himself as he wanted, so long as he performed admirably and saw the mission to a safe and successful conclusion.  “Her fiancé-” Grady went to finish.

“Has already left,” 007 interrupted, sounding only slightly put out by all the talking, but he hadn’t gotten impolite yet.  Q was more than used to the different tones of various agents, and what shifts in vocabulary meant that they were getting irked - Bond was okay for now.  He had known that he’d be under the supervision of a rookie handler, and honestly could have done this mission without supervision at all.  Bond added in a more sardonic, wry tone, “From what I can tell, he probably went to visit his lover.”

Grady and a few others in the room startled, because this wasn’t in the mission brief; the new handler in fact made an aborted movement as if to look back to Q for assistance, but quickly sublimated the action to stay focused.  As for Q, he understood the surprise.  After working with agents for a bit longer, however, he didn’t doubt that Grady would learn that it was a spy’s job to be constantly finding out information that wasn’t obvious to ninety-percent of the populous. "Lover?” Grady was apparently too curious not to ask.  

Fortunately, 007 seemed unbothered, and answered quite easily, “It would explain all of those unexplained expenditures in Mr. Lorsen’s bank records - keeping lovers on the side while engaged can be a tricky and expensive business.  It would also explain the tension between the engaged couple.  Unless you believe, of course, that they’re spending nights alone until the day of their marriage for the sake of virginity.”  When Grady started to open his mouth and argue that the couple were doing exactly that, at least according to the information gathered beforehand on the couple’s points of view, 007 quickly finished, “I’ll talk to Miss Lewis and see what I come up with.  If I’m right, I should have the information we need by tomorrow.  Radio silence until further notice.”

Q resisted the urge to snort at 007’s cheekiness, but couldn’t quite hold in a tiny smile.  Bond had an ego a mile wide - but he also had the track-record to back it up.  

It reflected well on Grady that he accepted Bond’s request for radio silence, and didn’t grumble.  The rookie continued to handle the cameras with the help of three other minions, although it was Q who had ultimately commandeered the security cameras in the first place - there were still some things that went beyond skill, into the realm of art, and Q was the finest and most artistic hacker to grace MI6’s halls.  While making sure that Grady was watching 007’s back via video feeds, Q also watched Bond’s progress; they were still receiving audio from Bond’s earpiece even if the reverse had been muted.  

Bond had gotten a job working at the large household over a week ago, and had spent that time making himself a natural, unsuspicious fixture of the place.  He’d also made subtle but skilled overtures of friendliness to Miss Lewis, who was reported to have access to some delicate, potentially dangerous information via her fiancé.  She was seen as the most accessible link to the data, a fact that was more than proven as Bond now approached her, his charm evident even through the grainy resolution of the cameras.  They talked; Bond made her feel comfortable; they ended up sitting down on the same couch together rather closer than one would expect from an unattached man and a soon-to-be-wed woman.  Q began to suspect that 007’s guesses were spot on.  

As the conversation was artfully turned to more personal matters, Bond steered it specifically towards Melissa’s relationship with Lorsen.  He was deft about it - as subtle as a morning mist rolling in, its movements so slow and unassuming that it had blanketed everything before anyone truly deigned to notice.  Q began to notice some things, however: the tilt of Bond’s head as Miss Lewis divulged certain things, the occasional hardening of his mouth as she eventually (and shyly) gave out a bit more information about her relationship.  Bond seemed to be making phenomenal progress with a woman who truly did seem very lonely for being engaged to such an attentive (if not faithful) fiancé, but at about midnight, Bond excused himself, pleasantly wishing Miss Lewis a good night.  When she reached out a hand and asked him to stay and keep talking, 007 actually flashed a self-deprecating smile and said that that wouldn’t seem appropriate.  

As soon as the agent had left - with no more information than before - Grady was turning the comm-link on again.  “Agent Bond-!” he started out, voice stiffer than it had been all evening.  

“I’ll get more information from her tomorrow,” was all Bond promised, and then deftly removed and pocketed his earpiece.  While Grady tried to hide how frustrated he was (clearly he hadn’t yet realized that controlling regular agents and controlling the actions of 00-agents was as different as herding sheep versus herding… say… snow leopards), Q tapped his fingertips idly against his lower lip, puzzling over Bond’s actions in his own way.  

Bond wasn’t pushing, although Q had seen him press his luck far more than this in other, seemingly identical situations.  Why wasn’t he?

They didn’t find out for another two days.  Grady was still ostensibly running the mission, but due to a lull between missions, Q was present most all of the time, too, just observing.  Bond had promised to get more information from his target the next day, but ‘tomorrow’ was apparently a very wide window - and 007 spent most of it actually tailing everyone but Melissa Lewis.  He did whatever jobs were assigned him at the mansion to keep his cover, of course, but whenever Grady tried to get Bond to focus in on his assigned target, it was clear that 007 had other ideas.  007 would drop off the radar entirely at times, although all it really took was for Q to step forward and start running a few programs, and he could usually find the man soon enough - Grady’s temporary underlings were good, but they weren’t as practiced at playing hide-and-seek with 00-agents as Q was.  Bond always came back before long anyway, but by the end of the day, Blake Grady clearly thought that 007 was purposefully giving him the runaround.  

That last idea made it hard for Q to fight a chuckle.  ‘Oh, you’ll know when Bond is giving you a hard time, and this isn’t it,’ the Quartermaster commented in the privacy of his own head as he continued to watch and evaluate the rookie handler.  Q, too, was bemused as to exactly what 007 was up to, but trusted the agent to know what he was doing.

When the house quieted down again, 007 once again managed to ‘run into’ Miss Lewis, and she greeted him as warmly as if they were old friends.  Once again, they ended up finding a quiet, private corner to sit and talk in; they were closer still than before, and sometimes Melissa’s hands made little movements as if she wanted to touch but didn’t.  Bond surely noticed, as he was trained to.  This time, the conversation finally broached the topic of Lorsen’s supposed unfaithfulness, and clearly it was like a pin lancing a boil, because Melissa broke down.  Q felt almost sorry for her: even he wasn’t trained to read people like Bond was, the Quartermaster could see that the woman was deeply lonely and sore at heart, and Bond had shaped himself into the perfect shoulder to cry on.  Melissa knew all too well that her husband was seeing another woman, and soon she had her head pillowed on Bond’s shoulder, gorgeous auburn hair spilling across his arm and chest while he played the part of doting friend, hushing and comforting her.  

When Bond began leading her to her bedroom, everyone at Q-branch shifted with unconscious anticipation, knowing what came usually came next.  Regardless of his sexuality, 007 was good at sex, and like any weapon he was more than proficient at, he used it often and ruthlessly.  Guns made decisions that couldn’t be unmade; pure interrogation had no finesse.  Sex, however, was a flexible weapon, and while it carried its own risks and disadvantages, no one would argue that for 007, it yielded results.

And, if Q wasn’t mistaken as he glanced about the room at the minions in attendance, it also made for quite a show.  Sighing and making a note to reassign the worst voyeurs he suspected in the room, Q settled down where he’d been absently typing code in the background.  

He glanced up and paid attention again quickly, however, when once again Bond left the room without seeming to make any headway.  “Don’t get your knickers in a twist,” 007 growled, still being irritatingly taciturn but starting to get annoyed with his new handler’s pushiness, “I’m still doing the job.”

Grady actually had the audacity to bark back, “No, you’re not!” but Q had already tactfully overridden the commands on the comm, and muted him.  Noticing this, Grady flushed bright red and glanced back at the Quartermaster with apologetic embarrassment, receiving only a flat, unreadable look in response.  Q made a show of un-muting the comm-link.  “Understood. 007,” the rookie handler leaned closer to the speaker to say more politely, although the words sounded like they cost him.  He seemed driven to add, “But we expect results from you soon.”

Bond didn’t even grace that with a response, but merely strolled leisurely away from where he’d left his target - all cried out but unmolested - sleeping fitfully  in her bed.  It was like watching a wolf walk away from a lamb, and Q’s curiosity was by now burning a hole in the back of his brain.  He began to do some discreet research, focusing on Melissa Lewis and eventually spreading out his search to other people that Bond had been caught discreetly following or talking to.  There was little to find that was not already in the dossiers, unfortunately, so Q was forced to wait - like Grady and the others - for Bond to reveal what his plan was.  It was just about the most bloody annoying thing Q had ever experienced, and yet there was an unexpected thrill to it that kept Q from getting truly upset.  Bond with a secret was like a lantern with a flame in it: it illuminated even as it hid, and that was its natural state.  Bond was in his element right now, and Q trusted him to be doing what was best for the mission, no matter how roundabout his methods appeared to the outside observer.

“We are merely here to provide technical support, Mr. Grady,” Q reminded when the handler-in-training stopped by his office to rant about 007’s belligerent disregard for anything resembling orders.  “We don’t give orders, especially not to agents in the double-oh division.  Whatever Bond decides to do is his prerogative.”

“But he’s wasting time,” Grady argued, keeping his voice respectful even while his eyes flashed with deeper irritation.  Blake Grady was a small man, with a tight, compact frame and a slightly receding hairline that somehow managed to make him look more intense when he was angry, but right now he looked like nothing so much as a thwarted rat-terrier: a small package holding just a bit too much energy and temper to be sensible.  

Q took in a deep breath and let it out slowly through his nose, never losing his composure even as he silently admitted that he saw where Grady was coming from.  “We don’t know that, Mr. Grady, and until such time as 007 explains himself - or when you or I are certified field agents ourselves - we must simply trust that he’s doing all of this for a purpose.”  Q added as he turned back to his laptop, “Bond’s track record should more than buy him our support for at least one mission, wouldn’t you say, Mr. Grady?”

The slim young man’s pointedly cool, dry tone and the dismissive change in his posture indicated that this conversation was at an end.  It spoke well of Grady that he noticed, and left with a murmured farewell.  

~^~

 

Chapter Text

Bond was up to his previous shenanigans the next day.  It was nearly amusing by this point to watch Grady fight the urge to either yell at the agent or start pulling out his own hair.  Probably only the Quartermaster’s continued attendance kept either from happening, although there were a few occasions where Q thought Grady was weighing the pros and cons of failing this evaluation and swearing a blue streak through the comm-link.  At least the rest of Grady’s team (who were also being judged on their ability to work a mission without Q’s commands directing them) worked well, ceaselessly checking video-footage and keeping tabs on Bond and the people around him.  Sometimes 007 would deign to put his earbud back in or pick up his phone to discreetly ask for a location on someone, and it was always fed back to him with as little delay as possible.  

Once again, that evening, Mr. Lorsen left.  There was no means of listening in on the conversation, but it was possible to visually eavesdrop on the soon-to-be-married couple hugging and smiling at the door before Lorsen moved to leave.  Melissa caught his arm to get him to stay; he smiled ingratiatingly at her and gave her a peck on the lips, but left anyway.  It was possible to see the woman wilt.  

“Bond, if you wish to follow Mr. Lorsen, he is leaving via the south exit,” Grady spoke in the comms, thinking he finally had a grip on where Bond’s mind was going.

Not unexpectedly, he was wrong.  “I think I have a better idea.  Keep track of him, though.  If you could tell me when he starts heading back, that would be very kind of you,” was the only-slightly impish response.  

“007, what are you-?” Grady started to say in exasperation, then noticed Q lowered his eyebrows at him, and swiftly changed tactics, “Understood, 007.”

“Good,” was the cheery reply, “Now, if you excuse me, I have my job to do.  If it’s not a warning that John-bloody-Lorsen is coming back, I don’t want to hear it.”

Grady stuttered as if he’d been smacked, but at least Q didn’t have to mute the microphone this time.  Instead, the put-upon handler merely mumbled, “Understood,” and then turned off his end voluntarily.  Everyone sat back to watch, prepared for… just about anything by this point.  007 was very much off-script, and clearly had made up his mind that sharing information was for people other than him.  This level of secrecy was a bit much, even by Bond’s notoriously tight-lipped standards, and Q made a mental note to have a talk to the man about breaking in new handers.  Or just breaking them.  

It was very nearly a surprise when Melissa found Bond.  

In retrospect, it would be clear that Bond had arranged that, as well as nearly everything else that had happened.  All of the ‘wasted time,’ as Grady had put it, was actually spent digging up secrets that Mr. Lorsen probably didn’t want coming to light - some Q-branch supplied, but many 007 found himself, and after Mr. Lorsen came back from his little tryst, Bond planned to confront him about it all.  By the end, it would all be rather artfully done for an agent known mostly for his habit of destroying cars and getting shot at.  Then again, it was that background with destruction and damage that would make 007 quite impervious to any frustration and cornered anger that John Lorsen would throw his way when the agent confronted him, demanding the information he wanted in payment for his silence.  

That would all come hours later.  At the moment, Melissa Lewis was still a viable option as well.

007 feigned happy surprise when Melissa found him, and Q watched the way Bond calmed her when she started to cry again.  He held her far closer than a mere employee should, and she clung back just as audaciously.  Her closeness allowed their conversation to be overheard, as Bond laid a soft kiss against the woman’s hair and soothed a hand up her back.  

“H-He…!  He left,” Melissa’s sweet tenor could be heard, broken and sad, “He left to be with her again.  He doesn’t need to say,  but I know.”  Those watching in Q-branch looked down a bit, embarrassed for her, as they both listened in on and viewed her very personal sorrow.  Bond merely hushed her, still showing the same odd patience he’d shown the last two days, when usually he’d have coaxed a mark into bed within hours.  Melissa continued, words muffled in the neck of Bond’s shirt, “I don’t please him.”

“Dear, you’ve got it backwards,” were the first words that 007 finally said that were wrapped up in something carnal.

Miss Lewis twitched in surprise, but although she turned her head to look at him, she didn’t pull away in the slightest - the last few days had gotten her used to him, had won Bond this trust.  “What?” she sniffled.  Somehow, Q thought, she still looked beautiful even with her mascara running.  

Bond’s smile was small, but he had a habit of hiding most of his smiles in his eyes, and Melissa was latched onto his gaze like a flower turning to the sun.  “Have you ever thought that he can’t please you?” Bond asked in a voice so soft that it was just a low susurrus of sound even in Q-branch, and it made everyone - to a man - shiver.  

It was unbecoming for Quartermasters to be aroused in work situations, so Q stubbornly focused on the bare facts of the mission, even as Bond’s voice moved like a verbal stroke up his spine.  ‘Bold move there, James,’ Q said to himself, staying watchful and wary, ‘Be sure it doesn’t bite you in the arse.’  As often as not, suggestions like this ended spectacularly badly, and getting slapped was usually the least of an agent’s problems by that point.  

No slap was forthcoming, however, and Bond’s lack of sexual movement up until now seemed to have made Melissa feel safe around him.  Now, the woman’s eyes briefly showed a torn mess of denial… and interest.  It was possible to hear a pin drop in Q-branch as everyone held their breath and listened in.  

The interest won out.  “Can you?” the earpiece picked up her soft reply as it floated bravely back.  

As the two moved to the bedroom, Grady sagged back in his chair and scrubbed his hands across his face.  Q could hear him mutter, “Finally!” and a few other techies snickered at their temporary boss.  Q kept his composure a bit better, but still rolled his eyes, and went back to working on some side-jobs necessary for the upkeep of his branch.  With his laptop open across his knees, he was able to sit back away from the action and work while still being close enough to monitor what was going on, and intervene as necessary.  He was pretty sure that Lyla was keeping tabs on John Lorsen, but to be safe, Q started doing the same, not wanting the man to come back without them noticing, and cause a messy scene.  MI6 wanted information that Lorsen and Miss Lewis knew - they didn’t want the couple dead.  

Inured by now to agents having sex where cameras were present, Q simply kept typing as Bond and Melissa began kissing in her room.  This particular camera had been planted by Bond himself, and had provided very good proof that the engaged couple spent literally no time together there.  

“Tell me what you want, Jameson,” Melissa could be heard panting Bond’s present alias, her voice breathy and needy, “He never tells me what he wants.”  Something about that had Q’s ears pricking, and he paused a moment in his work.

“I know, pet, I know.  Can you trust me to give you what you want?” Bond replied huskily, between the hushed noises of breath and kisses.  Then it lowered a pitch: “What you need?”

This time, the pause was shorter.  Miss Lewis must have been dying of neglect on the inside, because she folded quickly, and Q found himself actually looking up to watch as Bond undressed her.  When he ordered the woman to go kneel on the bed, Q’s brows lowered, and the little question mark hovering on the back of his brain began to take shape a bit more.  Melissa was already entirely nude, showing that she had a gorgeous body that anyone could envy - tanned, supple, and curved in all the right places.  She looked like honey-colored marble, carved exquisitely to show a goddess on her knees.  Women didn’t do it for Q, but what he was noticing was that her pose, combined with the fact that Bond was only stripped to the waist, created a power dynamic that he found intimately familiar.  

“Shhh, just stay here,” Bond purred, rocking up onto the bed behind her in one powerful movement, kneeling up so that he could loom over her shoulder to place a kiss against her cheek.  “I’m going to give you what you’ve been craving,” he promised, and Miss Lewis arched her back a little, turning her cheek for move attention.  Bond had barely been touching her, which surprised everyone except for Q, who swallowed almost audibly as 007 commanded suddenly, “Cross your arms behind you.  Grip your elbows, if it’s comfortable.”

The commanding tone was one that Q knew well, if not from 007’s mouth specifically, then from the many Doms he’d had over the years.  It was hard, unyielding, consonants and vowels wrapped up in the perfect kind of steely strength that you felt you could fall back into, and it would not only catch you - but pinion you.  Coming from Bond, it was even more so, and Q couldn’t have looked away if he’d tried.  

The rapport that Bond had been building with Melissa allowed him to handle her, and she did as he asked with just a little shiver of unease.  He gentled it away, running his hands across her shoulders and forearms - still avoiding erogenous zones, despite how open they were to him - and nuzzling into her thick mane of hair.  Finally he settled one hand around her forearms, gripping them where they lay parallel behind her.  She shuddered, and Q knew what she was feeling: that first rush of visceral knowledge, that awareness of helplessness settling solidly into place.  Before this point, the woman would have been sensing it - maybe even ignoring it - but now 007 was bringing it before her like a mirror.  

It was a looking-glass moment: to turn away from the reflection, or step into it…?

“Pick a safe-word, Melissa,” 007 commanded, one hand holding her arms but lightly, the other carding back her hair so he could speak directly into the shell of her ear.  

Her breathing picked up audibly.  “W-Will I need it?” she asked.  Her weight shifted, but she didn’t move to get up or get away, not even testing Bond’s grip.  

Bond smiled and kissed her ear.  “You never know.  I’m here to make you happy, remember?”

She leaned back into him, eyes closing, and Bond’s earpiece picked up her trembling inhale.  “I’ll…  I’ll just say stop.  If I want you to stop, I’ll just say it,” she managed to pull her words  back from wherever lust was swiftly driving them.  

“All right then,” Bond accepted in one of the gentlest tones Q had ever heard, and the agent finally stroked a heavy, possessive hand down Melissa’s side, from beneath her arm to the curve of her tensed thigh.  “If you let go of your elbows, pet, I’ll stop, too, and I’m going to bet you won’t want that,” Bond suddenly dropped his voice to a growl to add.  Q shuddered right alongside Melissa, but at least he didn’t moan like she did, too.  

Bond was a monster, but he was a beautiful one, and all the torture he enacted was the exquisite kind.  Still kneeling in his trousers, he pressed his chest flush to the woman’s back, pulling her against him with fingers buried deep in her auburn hair.  She strained, fitting herself to match the shape he wanted, but kept her arms firmly locked behind her while Bond’s own hands began to wander freely.  He both worshipped her body and possessed it, starting with things as light as brushing his knuckles against the side of her breast, or stroking the side of his thumb from her solar plexus down her flat stomach just to beneath her navel.  It was clear how much she wanted to reach and touch back, but with every second she let him control her - controlled herself - Q knew that her pleasure was mounting higher.  By the time one of Bond’s skilled, scarred hands slipped between her parted legs, she was panting, and would have been moaning except Bond had commanded her to be quiet (with the reminder that he’d still stop if she spoke that word, or unclasped her arms).  “Can you keep silent for me, pet?” he rumbled against her neck, trailing teasing kisses down from her ear like a long, invisible earing.  “Not a word.  Hold them all inside of you,” the sensuous litany continued, even as Melissa’s head rocked back bonelessly against Bond’s powerful shoulder, her mouth lush and open.  Her hips rocked in time to his fingers working inside of her, even as he massaged a breast, played with the nipple in his other hand.  This whole time, Bond’s eyes stayed attentive to her, watching her every inch not so much like someone visually eating her up, but the look of someone focusing entirely on a task.  

Perhaps it was that focus that made Bond so good at interactions like these.  

The night went on like this, a lascivious game that eventually had the woman on her back, Bond once again exerting his control by commanding her to reach up and grip the bedposts.  Resourceful as he was, he probably could have found something to tie her with - she was certainly begging him to, by this point, after he’d giving her permission to speak - but instead forced her to submit freely.  It brought home the knowledge that she was putting herself in his hands, and letting herself stay there, and it must have been what Melissa had been craving all along, because it wasn’t long before there were tears running down her cheeks, “Yes, yes, yes,” dropping in quick whispers from her mouth.  She revelled in being helpless by her own decision, even as 007 bent down between her legs, hands firmly clasping her knees to keep her open, and lapped at her with lazy skill.  

Even Grady was staring, wide-eyed, by this point, mouth dry and cheeks flushed with either embarrassment or interest, so no one was watching Q at all, where he still sat with his laptop in the background.  While everyone else was probably just blown away by the unabashed porn they were seeing, Q was aching for the beautiful interplay of dominance and submissiveness he was seeing.  Q was aware that many Dom-sub relationships existed with the Dominant simply using the sub - and many submissives revelled in that.  That wasn’t how 007 seemed to work, however, as he rained down praises upon a woman who clearly hadn’t enjoyed a night like this in a very, very long time, if ever.  Bond still kept control of everything with an iron fist, but it was a glorious sort of control.  Suddenly the boffin was remembering his evening in Bond’s flat in a different light, replaying those firm words and immovable confidence.  Bond never demanded that Miss Lewis ‘acknowledge,’ as he had when Q’s mind had started drifting, but that only made Q recall the memory more vividly, and guard it in his mind more jealously.  

By the time Melissa came - her body shuddering beautifully, breasts high and peaked as she arched shamelessly - Bond was still half-dressed, and composed except for an increased pace of his breath.  Miss Lewis was quite beyond noticing, although she probably appreciated having a partner who was lucid and aware to bring her gently down.  Bond lay alongside her, petting liberally, loosening her hands from where they were still clasped determinedly around the bedposts.  She curled into him like a kitten, and he let her mouth at the skin of his chest while her hands lay too tired to do anything.  The earpiece just picked up her dazed but heartfelt, “Thank you, Jameson.”

“You deserved it, pet,” he replied without hesitation.  He’d picked the name for her seemingly at random, but she had melted for it all night, as if the simple word were a rose being presented for her as a gift again and again.  “You were so beautiful for me.  You were perfect, and did everything I asked.”  

Now that the actual sex was over, Grady was getting impatient once again.  “The mission, 007,” he reminded.  Q and Bond actually jumped in tandem; somehow, they’d both managed to forget about the comm-link, wrapped up instead in the scene.  

While Q merely cleared his throat and pretended to have been working on coding all along (not that anyone had noticed), 007 looked up to find the camera with unerring accuracy, and speared it with a glare that would rival scalpels for shearing flesh from bone.  Everyone present actually flinched, most of them quite unused to seeing such unadulterated anger from a spy half the world away, and it effectively shut Grady up as 007 proceeded to take care of his sub.  He made sure she drank something, wrapped her up snugly in blankets, and ran fingers through her hair and murmured nonsensical praise to her until the woman was deeply asleep.  

And then 007 got up and began dressing.  

At which point Blake Grady finally lost his patience in their entirety.  “Agent Bond, it is your goal to interrogate that woman for the information you were sent to acquire.  If your little escapade with her was not for the purpose of loosening her lips-”

“I’m not going to interrogate her, Grady,” 007’s low murmur was barely loud enough for the ear-piece to pick up, and it sounded tired but with an edge of rising temper again.  It was like a storm hovering on the horizon, but it seemed like only Q could smell the oncoming lightning and rain.  

“You’re not going to-?!”  Grady stuttered to a halt, livid.  “007, you were tasked with a mission, and that woman is your target, not your-!”

“Mr. Grady, I’ll take over from here,” Q interjected calmly, and was pleasantly surprised to find his voice and expression under control as everyone turned to him.  Q had placed his laptop on a nearby desk, and stood up, straightening his cardigan primly.  The handler-in-training flushed an ashamed red, because the Quartermaster’s dismissal of him was just as audible to 007 as Mr. Grady’s earlier demands had been.  “007,” Q addressed the agent, stepping over to turn on another microphone, so that he’d be heard clearly, “I’m loathe to tell you how to do your job, but I will go so far as to remind you that the clock is ever ticking in this business.  Please find the information in an acceptably immediate fashion.”  He purposefully did not follow in Mr. Grady’s footsteps and order Bond to trick secrets out of the woman who had just shown 007 a level trust more total than many people in Q-branch understood.  On the camera, still slipping on his clothes with practiced, silent ease, Q saw Bond nod his head subtly.  

“Acknowledged.”

~^~

In the end, Grady was bumped back down to running only minor missions with lower ranking agents.  Perhaps he’d eventually be tested again to see if he could handle 00-agents (probably with someone other than 007, who was admittedly something of a minor nightmare to direct some days), but until then, Q would work with what he had.  Grady was upset about his failure, but had the good grace not to show it.  The lack of whining gave him points in Q’s book.  

Q saw Bond about half a week later - the mission had been a blinding success, with the information not only recovered,  but with Lorsen now a puppet of MI6.  Bond’s threats had worked better than anyone could have hoped, although whether that had done anything to improve Melissa Lewis’s lot in life would probably never be known.  Q knew that he shouldn’t care about sympathetic details like that, but he couldn’t deny that he and Melissa were very similar in certain aspects of their lives, and he felt for her.  So when Bond came in to drop off his kit, Q was there to pick it up personally.  

Most of the other Q-branchers were deep in their work or out of earshot, so no one but the 00-agent heard Q murmur quietly but sincerely as he reached across the desk to slide Bond’s things toward himself, “Thank you for not taking advantage of her trust.”

Despite the fact that Q’s sentiments were borderline treasonous in a line of work that depended on subterfuge and exploiting weaknesses, Bond didn’t so much as twitch.  Easily picking up what his Quartermaster was talking about, 007’s expression actually softened in some ineffable way.  He shrugged one broad shoulder even as he unholstered his weapon to hand it over as well.  “There were other ways to get the information, and I’ve seen people like her before: people with needs that their partners can’t or won’t meet.”

Knowing personally the deep level of trust needed between a submissive and a Dom, Q thought it was a bit more than that, and he thought Bond realized it, too.  There was always an exchange of trust between people having sex, but Q knew what it felt like to put everything into the hands of his partner - if that partner were to suddenly turn on him and, say, trick information out of him while he was vulnerable, the damage of that would probably ruin some part of him for life.  “Regardless, thank you,” was all Q deigned to reply, making his opinion gently clear before dropping it.  That was personal, and this was work - he was the Quartermaster now.  

Surprisingly, much of Bond’s kit was intact.  It seemed like an added boon as the Quartermaster and the 00-agent spent a bit of silent time in one another’s company, Bond returning and accounting for things, Q checking them over with his usual, consummate care.  When they spoke more, it was all business - Q asking how in the world there were teeth-marks on Bond’s hidden radio - but somehow it felt relaxed and at ease.  If Q’s mind kept wandering to thoughts of subbing, and memories of Bond’s last mission where the man had taken the time to show some compassion in a job that was usually merciless and cold, no one had to know.  

But he had a feeling, by the way he caught Bond watching him thoughtfully from time to time, that the other man knew.

~^~

 

 

Chapter Text

Bond was trying to figure Q out.

A lot of people were surprised to find out that James was asexual, but by this point, Bond himself was rarely surprised by the proclivities of his coworkers.  He’d been part of MI6 longer than most in his position, and had had time to get to know quite a lot of people.  He wasn’t a notably social creature off-mission, but he had ears and a helluva lot of espionage training – and if that wasn’t enough, he was friends with Alec Trevelyan, who seemed to take an evil sort of glee in airing out all of the sexual gossip he could get his hands on while at home.  Sometimes Bond wondered if he did it to embarrass his asexual best friend, but since Alec was probably the only one who knew for a fact that James was into BDSM, he doubted that that was the case.  There was very little about sex that could rattle James, even if he didn’t have any drive to personally engage in it.

Finding out that Q was also into BDSM had been a rare but definite surprise, and to say that the sight of Q in a braided collar and neck-deep in sub-drop had rattled Bond would have been a bit of an understatement.  Fortunately, he was trained to hide reactions like that, and tending to a submissive had become second-nature sometime while he’d still been in Uni.

Standing in the entranceway to the firing range, watching as Q tested out a new gun-sight that he’d probably designed himself, James reflected idly on the image of Q on his doorstep: body wracked with subtle but visible tremors, pupils subtly too dilated even when the light hit them, huddled deep in his coat and pulling it tight around him in a coping mechanism that 007 actually recognized.  James felt interest speed up his pulse, a reaction that he’d learned long ago (as a child) wasn’t sexual, but still burned like a hungry, curious fire in his veins.  Right now it was tempered with caution, however, the reaction of any good spy who knew not to leap right for a baited lure.

Watchful blue eyes followed the movements of Q’s body as he raised his arms, aiming the handgun and firing three shots in rapid but precise succession.  That gun in particular, James knew, had a nasty kick to it, but Q weathered it with minimal effort, shoulders tensing and loosening and then dropping as he eyed his target like a peeved, dark-haired falcon.  Not the results he wanted, apparently.

James wasn’t sure what results he wanted.  He’d caught himself wondering more than once whether he should have left that note on Q’s door – the one saying that Q was welcome at his place at any time, if he needed someone to let him down easy.  If he was being honest, James would admit that it was an invitation for a whole lot more, but he had to worry that he was attempting to bite off more than he could chew.

One thing he couldn’t deny, though: Q was beautiful, even more so when he was still buzzing with the after-effects of whatever scene his bastard of a Dom had put him through, touch-hungry but docile.  Q’s wavy hair, which had always struck 007 as reminding him of a chaotic bird’s nest, suddenly looked like something that he’d like to dig his fingers into, and Q’s boyish looks took on a whole different light when 007 looked at them from the perspective of a Dominant partner.  He’d teased Q about his youth, but now James saw a vulnerability that triggered dichotomous reactions: at his flat, he’d had the roaring urge of a mother lion tending to a cub, and nothing had mattered so much as making sure that Q felt tended to and safe.  A close second to that feeling had been the equally leoning urge to hunt down Q’s Dominant and teach him a thing or two about his trade, but the Quartermaster’s health had come first.  If there was one thing that James knew more than espionage, it was aftercare.  The other side of Bond’s emotional coin, however, when looking at Q’s slim frame and trusting eye, was the predatory desire to push Q to his limits and find out just what Q would let him bend and break.

Bond gave his head a little shake, frowning as he realized how astray his thoughts were going.  There was a reason that Bond didn’t take a lot of partners outside of necessity, and most of those reasons hinged on trust – because in BDSM, it went both ways.  Subs were more obviously defenseless, but James had never been keen on playing with a partner that he didn’t know and understand.  Right now, watching Q, he admitted freely that he didn’t know a fucking thing about Q.

That was an exaggeration.  He knew that Q was a genius, with his expertise lying in hacking and coding, but possessing a font of knowledge and interest in inventing and designing as well – as evidenced by the gun he was now tweaking on a nearby table.  Q was forgetful and a workaholic.  It was entirely possible that his body had evolved to survive purely on tea, if some of the rumors were to be believed, and he’d run himself ragged if it meant bringing an agent under his care back home safely.  Now, Bond also knew that Q was into submission and likewise valued trust to the point where he didn’t lecture James on soft-heartedness after the Lorsen mission.

And Bond found himself itching to ask if Q had liked what he’d seen on that same mission.

Q was firing again, earmuffs pushing his hair into even wilder disarray but body confident as he went through the process of reloading, aiming, and shooting.  At the moment, Q was about as subservient and submissive as the gun he was holding, and 007 couldn’t stop noticing the night-and-day difference between these two sides of Q that he was now privy to.  Bond himself was always exactly what he was: asexual and Dominant.  Anything else that he pretended to be was just that: pretend.  A mask.  That was how most people worked, James had found, with one unchangeable set of personality traits but many, varied masks that they could pull on when they felt it appropriate.  For example, James knew that one of Alec’s present lovers – a young man from Medical – was gay no matter what his parents said or forced him to act like.  And no matter how fawning and polite 003 could act like on missions, he was a grouchy bastard beneath it all, and if anyone truly wanted to be his friend or lover, they had to accept that his brand of love came with thorns.  Traits like that – sexuality, temperament, modes of connection – didn’t change much in adults.

Which made Q a puzzle.  

At Bond’s flat, it was obvious that Q was struggling to shake off his post-scene haze, but he’d still been very obliging and compliant.  He’d been passive, and had reacted with little hints of happiness when James had taken the reins.  Simply put, Q had been a submissive who liked it when someone else was in control so he wouldn’t have to worry about things, and he’d relaxed quickly when Bond had done so.  Nothing about that demeanor was faked, 007 was sure.  But the side of Q that 007 saw the rest of the time – here in the firing range, down in Q-branch, in the world and at work – was equally sincere and real, and yet totally opposite.  Q was a person with two ‘real faces,’ and that made him special in 007’s books.

And also twice as unpredictable as the average person.

Bond tried to tell himself that he should just drop it, but he’d already given Q that note of permission and had shown off his lesser-known bedroom skills on camera while he knew the dark-haired man was watching.  There were other options out there if James wanted to tie someone up and tease them for a night, and a few would probably even accept the fact that sex wasn’t part of the deal.

But none of them were co-workers who truly knew who he was.  And none of them were Q.

“Spying at the workplace.  My, James, but we’ve reached an all-time low of boredom.  Or is this a training exercise?” Alec’s voice rolled in from behind him.

James flashed a smirk without looking away from the firing range.  He’d just barely heard the other 00-agent coming, cat-soft tread nearly defeating his fox-sharp ears.  “Don’t tell me that you don’t stalk Aiden.”

The green-eyed agent cocked one eyebrow and strode closer until he could stand at James’s shoulder and look where he’d been looking – into the shooting range occupied presently by only three people.  “Yes, but I happen to like teasing and fucking Aiden, and last I knew you didn’t like to do that at all,” Alec noted warily.

Watching 006 trying to figure the situation out, 007 leaned back against the doorframe and let a secretive smile tug at the corner of his mouth.  “I don’t,” he concurred magnanimously.

Still eyeing the room, Trevelyan frowned, and went on, “Then why are you stalking… either 009, 001, or…?”  His eyes widened and Alec backed up to face James fully, both brows jumping upwards to his tousled hair now.  “You’re keeping tabs on Q?  Why the fuck are you spying on him?”

Since seeing a flummoxed Alec was a rare thing, 007 intended to enjoy it, and he smiled back easily as he answered without a hitch, “Maybe it’s like you said, and I’m bored.”

Eyes narrowing shrewdly, 006 shook his head.  “I was joking about that.  I know what you’re like when you’re bored, and this isn’t it.  I’d guess that one of the other two agents in there had gotten on your bad side and you were plotting their demise, but I haven’t heard anything about someone spilling coffee on any of your jackets lately, so I can’t be that either.”

Now resisting the urge to chuckle, Bond folded his arms and deflected smoothly, “You know, you seem awfully interested in who I follow around when I know that you’re following both of your lovers around.”

“Hey, I’ve told them that I do it,” Alec defended, reaching out and giving 007’s chest a poke – a bold move for a stranger, a comfortable, acceptable jab for James’s oldest friend.  Bond grunted and accepted the prod as his due.  “Of course, then I got a lecture about how that was a totally barmy way of showing affection.”

Bond knew this story, but asked anyway, eyes glinting with mirth, “And what did you do?”

Alec’s returning grin was broad and roguish, as smugly proud as a cat in cream, “Told the young bloke that I would have a much easier time following him if he’d come home with me, of course.”  They both exchanged a laugh over that, sharing a rare moment where they were less agents and more men.  Ninety-percent of 00-agent stories involved blood or violence, but it was fun to focus on the other ten-percent sometimes, where Alec used his admittedly skewed courting skills to woo pretty things into his bed.  Usually they were one-night stands, but Alec seemed to be fixating particularly on his last two bedmates in a way that foreshadowed repeat performances.  Either a more permanent arrangement would come of this, or Alec would end up getting slapped and the circle of his love-life would start over again, revolving around someone else.  The fact that both of his lovers were MI6 employees and therefore aware of the more predatory habits of its top agents boded well for the former option, although Bond seemed to recall that this Aiden character was a bit flighty and hand-shy.

Both agents cut back their laughter as the door to the firing range abruptly opened, James having seen Q coming at the last second through the bullet-proof windows flanking the door.  The Quartermaster paused, having not seen them in return, and glanced left and right as if monitoring two flanking guard-dogs.  “006.  Seven,” he greeted them formally, but when his eyes landed on James they lingered just a beat longer than necessary, and 007 felt his heart-rate pick up a bit in his chest.  A second later and Q was gone again, though, turning away and leaving with his usual, economic steps, back straight and gun-case at his side.

James’s attention was pulled back by Trevelyan’s voice, which had gone quiet and low, a confidential tone detached from their playing earlier and proving just how observant 006 was, “He’s a sub, isn’t he?”  When 007 didn’t answer in any way except to shutter his expression and stare back unblinkingly, Alec cocked his head consideringly, and went on, “It’s not like he’s the only one in MI6 if he is.  You know that, right?”

He did.  James also knew that he could have just about any one of those subs if he wanted, but he’d always been keenly aware of how work and play could get mixed up.  The last time he’d had a sub who also knew about what he did for a living, the fallout had been spectacular… and scarring.  There were reasons why 007 had trust issues that were stereotypically associated with damaged submissives.  “I know,” he answered, giving nothing else away.

Something like sympathy and painful understanding flickered across Alec’s face, but he wiped it away swiftly like cleaning a slate.  The incorrigible joker was back in a flash, toothy grin and all.  “Who’d have ever guessed it?  The Posh Overlord of Q-branch, into BDSM.  And a sub, no less.”

“I never said any of that,” James reminded.

Alec just quieted his broad smile to something more like a secretive, predatory smirk, “No, but your eyes sure did.”  Clapping his comrade on the shoulder, the green-eyed agent turned to enter the shooting range, calling back above the sounds of repetitive practice shots that echoed out, “Stay out of trouble, Jamesy!”

Usually, when Alec said that, it was blatant encouragement to do the opposite.  But as Bond waved 006 off and turned to go in the opposite direction – the same direction Q had gone, by default – he wondered whether he’d follow that order or not.  In the field, he was known for seeing fire and wading right into it, like he was a shark and danger his welcoming ocean.  It often appeared that he did the same with bed-partners, but that was probably because the majority of romantic encounters everyone heard about were those that occurred on missions.  In other words, they were about as real as paper tigers.  Actual partners that the real James Bond chose had to meet far stricter criteria and were treating much more carefully, and most of them he backed off from after one night – not unlike Alec.

But whenever Bond closed his eyes he saw Q’s eyes, hazel and wide and oh-so-enticing when 007 said, “Acknowledge.”  One word, and he felt like he could grab the other man’s entire life in his hands.  It was a heady feeling, and it was what drove James to slowly but steadily weave his way to Q-branch, forming plans in his head with the tentative care of a cat walking on spider-webbed ice.  If it so much as creaked beneath him, he’d be off like a shot, nothing gained but nothing lost.

~^~

“Would you fancy going out for a drink with me?”

Q startled a bit at the noise, but thankfully his hands had long-since become trained to freeze instead of jerk when he was working on a project and was snuck up on by MI6’s best.  Twisting around with a half-peeved, half-curious expression, Q set eyes on James Bond standing at ease behind him, expression unassuming and hands in pockets.  Next, Q’s eyes flicked over to the clock, whereupon most of his expression transformed into surprise and dubiousness.  “At two o’clock?”

A smirk took up residence on one side of Bond’s mouth, turning his eyes a more brilliant shade of blue even as he replied smoothly, “I figured that if I asked this early, there was the remotest chance that I might coerce the Quartermaster of MI6 out of his domain by at least eight.”

One dark eyebrow rose.  “You’re starting this plan quite early then.”

“I play a long-game,” 007 answered just as casually but somehow more obliquely, and Q sensed something enigmatic in that tone, folded in and around itself like a closed flower bud, nearly impossible to force open and see in its entirety.

Deciding to wait until this mystery unfurled of it’s own accord, Q put down his work – a set of spectacles that would act as a high-tech sight for the handgun he’d been working on earlier – and inclined his head slowly.  He reminded even as he visibly agreed, “Keep in mind that my free time is entirely contingent upon active missions.”

“I know,” 007 replied without missing a beat, although his smile perhaps became more transparently pleased with itself, “And besides 005 running a routine milk-run in France, you don’t have any of those.”  007 blinked, even that motion somehow charming, and then his smile became truly sincere as he tilted his head just-so to look at Q past his lashes endearingly, “I did my research, Q.”

Unsure whether to be flattered or wary in response to this sudden interest 007 was showing in him, the Quartermaster sat in baffled silence for a moment before forming a reply, “You most certainly did.”  ‘You smug bastard,’ he added in his head, without any particular heat.  He turned his hands back to his work, if only because he felt like he needed something to focus his hands on while something like excitement started to fizz effervescently in his stomach.

Bond stayed in his range of vision by moving to cock a hip against the side of Q’s desk.  “So you’ve giving me a tentative yes?”

Trying to mimic 007’s levity – and reminding himself that coworkers asked each other out for drinks all the time, even coworkers who had a fraction of the shared experiences that Q and Bond did – the Quartermaster shrugged and smiled, “Sure.  Why not?  There are some pubs not far from MI6 that serve a decent drink or two.”

“Some of them even serve food,” Bond retorted gamely, with a significantly glance to Q’s left.  For a moment, the dark-haired young man didn’t understand, but then he followed Bond’s eyes to his forgotten lunch – a sandwich that had had one bite taken out of it before he’d forgotten the bread and ham entirely.  Bond chuckled as Q flushed, caught out with his bad eating habits, “I think I know just the place.  I’ll drive.  If something does happen in Q-branch that demands your attention-”  James rolled his eyes to show how likely an idea he found that, and Q snorted delicately at him while also reaching belatedly for his lunch.  “-You know I can get you back on time.”

“With or without breaking any laws?”

The 00-agent’s grin just widened.  “See you tonight, Q.”  With that, the larger man turned smartly on one heel and padded out of Q-branch, as quietly and mysteriously as he’d come.

That left Q to sit at his desk, hands frozen in their work and smile transforming to a bemused frown.  His branch hummed around him, more than a few of his minions staring between him and his unannounced double-oh visitor with looks of curiosity and befuddlement, but Q was deaf and blind to it as he tried to organize his jumbled thoughts.

Bond had never asked him out for a drink before.  Why the devil was he starting now?  Unsure what the answer to that was, but knowing full-well the dangers of jumping to conclusions, Q gave himself a little shake and got back to the task at hand.  These lenses weren’t going to calibrate themselves, and he could think of no more futile task than trying to deduce the motives of a world-class British spy.

~^~

Q, predictably, forgot about the encounter entirely as his brain drowned itself in work.  Without an active mission to focus on, he had a rare chance to truly run wild wild with inventing instead of overseeing, and by the time eight o’clock rolled around, he was down at the shooting-range again.  Settling his ear-protection firmly in place, reminding himself to get a haircut for the umpteenth time as some of his tousled bangs tickled his lashes, Q brought up the Sig Sauer and immediately grinned when his glasses – not his usual prescription ones, but the set he’d been working on – displayed a gently glowing set of crosshairs, a targeting system that fell into sync with the gun’s trajectory in under a second.  Still smiling (admittedly like a madman), Q swiveled his head, watching triumphantly as the projected image adjusted itself.  Likewise, when Q’s hands moved the gun, the crosshairs shifted, although without his prescription glasses on, Q couldn’t tell whether he was actually aiming anywhere useful on the target.  He hoped to add another layer of technology and link the images on the spectacles with heat-seeking technology – that way, someone could shoot in pitch blackness and with nearsightedness as bad as Q’s, so long as they could hold a gun and see the lenses in front of their face-

A weight fell on Q’s shoulder and he jerked, hands tightening reflexively on the Sig Sauer like he’d been trained to do, although his attempt to spin around and react was halted by a second hand that clamped down over his right wrist, preventing the turn.  Q still managed to twist his body far enough to blink shortsightedly at Bond’s face a heartbeat later – or what he assumed was Bond’s face, because Q’s eyesight truly was abysmal, and things had to be about a hand’s span away before they resolved themselves into detailed images.  He was working largely on context clues even now, shivering as he analyzed the iron grip on his arm and the impressionistic hints of blue amidst tan and gold that made up a face.  “Bond?” Q half-accused, half-asked, squinting, then used the hand not trapped in the agent’s grip to pull the glasses off and keep ranting, “I could have shot you!  Has no one ever told you not to sneak up on people at a firing range?”  His own voice sounded warbled and muffled thanks to his ear-protection, which had done an absolutely marvelous job of making sure he didn’t hear anything incoming.

Being unable to hear much of anything and also unable to lip-read until such time as he traded out for his real glasses, Q stood stiffly and fumed.  Eventually that did the trick, as 007 let him go, backing up a step and raising both hands harmlessly.  Of course, then the larger man reached forward again like a masochist, and Q made a little hissing noise past his teeth until he realized that James was simply gripping his ear-protection and pulling it off his head.  “And hasn’t anyone told you not to shoot blind?  Are those even your glasses?” Q could now hear the 00-agent retort.

“They’re MI6’s,” Q admitted, giving his head a shake now that he didn’t have a weight clamped around his head and ears.  It was a remarkably liberating sensation to feel his hair move freely against his scalp.  He didn’t completely relax, however, until he’d felt around and found his real, prescription glasses on the nearby table and slipped them onto his face.  “Obviously, none of you agents have any vision impairments, but I wanted to see if the holographic sighting technology would work even if I couldn’t see the target.”

Bond’s expression – now that Q could see it – was dubious.  “You looked like you couldn’t see the muzzle of your own gun.”

“Also true,” Q admitted.  The swift efficiency with which he dismantled the Sig Sauer belied the revealed weakness about his eyesight; he wasn’t anything like the marksman Bond was, but Q knew every millimeter of the technology he worked with.  “Now, did you come down here just to startle me, or was there another reason?”

One blond brow climbed upward, and one side of Bond’s mouth just barely twitched before he was saying mildly, “Actually, it was about that drink…”

Q’s head snapped up.  “Shit.”  He glanced around, forgetting for a second that the nearest clock was on his wrist, and snapped his eyes down to his watch even as he muttered, “What time is it?”  He answered his own question a heartbeat later with a wince.  His watch read almost eight-twenty.  “I’m so sorry, 007,” he said, meaning it, even as he worked a little faster to clean out the weapon he’d been using.  There was nothing he hated more than sloppy maintenance of his tools, but right now he struggled with balancing out speed with efficiency as he felt his missed deadline like hot breath on his neck.

The hot breath was purely in his head, as Bond himself was standing now at the other end of the table, idly picking up the prototype glasses and looking through them with no apparent urgency in his face or posture.  “Don’t worry about it, Q.  If I wanted punctuality, I could have hunted you down ages ago.  The pub won’t kick us out if we’re a few minutes late.”

Something about the way James said that last sentence had Q looked up at him again, lips slightly pursed, but he didn’t say anything else in the time it took to clean the gun, reassemble it, and put it away in its case.  Bond holding onto his prototypes always made the Quartermaster nervous, so he extended and imperious hand before commenting, “You say ‘late’ as if there’s something to be late for.”

Bond smiled with perfect blandness, and slipped the glasses onto his face instead of giving them back.  The result was a remarkably scholarly look that nearly broke Q’s brain, because ‘Bond’ and ‘benignly scholarly’ went together about as well as ‘Bond’ and ‘delicate Q-branch prototypes.’  “I did imply that, didn’t I?” 007 replied, proving just how easily the man could slip into a role if he felt like it.

“You’re a chameleon,” Q couldn’t help but say.  The words just fell out of his mouth, and he honestly had no idea whether he was being accusing or complimentary.

Smirking proudly in response, James became a little more himself, querying lines appearing between his brows as he dropped the humor and tried to focus on the glasses perched on his nose instead.  “So what again did you say these things did?”

Sighing but also fighting a small, close-lipped smile of his own, the Quartermaster let the gun-case rest on the table as he stepped forward.  James allowed the intrusion into his personal space when Q reached up to hook gentle fingers on the spectacles’ legs and ease them off Bond’s ears.  Blue eyes watched him with patient curiosity the whole time.  “When I’m finished with them, they’ll be designed to sync up with any gun an agent may carry, and give the agent an accurate, visual targeting system that works better than the sights on a sniper-rifle.  Ideally, I’d like them to work like night-vision or heat-sensitive goggles, but that’s proving a little trickier to work into the design.”  Glasses back in hand, Q assessed the very small mass he had to work with, frowning and musing aloud, “Maybe if I worked a computer chip into it and had it connect remotely…?”

“Pub, Q.  Drinks – remember?” Bond’s voice pulled the smaller man back to the present.

“Hmm?  Oh!  Yes.”  Folding the glasses into a protective case of their own, Q gestured, “Lead the way.  Give me a moment to lock this all up safely in Q-branch and grab my coat, and I’m all yours.”

It wasn’t until they were on their way out the door, Q wrapped in the same coat that he’d been wearing when he’d found himself on 007’s doorstep in the middle of the night, that he thought over his last few words and wondered just how true he wanted them to be.

~^~

The Golden Apple was actually within walking distance of MI6, but tucked away in such a fashion that made it hard to find by anyone except patrons – which 007 apparently was, if his familiar ease with the place was any indication.  The place was packed, but with a surprisingly less rowdy crowd than Q had expected.  In fact, as he entered the place with its dark-wood furniture and comfortable golden lighting, Q noticed that most everyone was gathered around numbered tables in groups.  When Q paused to consider this, also glancing up at the notably empty stage, James snagged his elbow and tugged him towards the bar.

The two of them were blending in nicely as normal blokes out for a pint, Q’s cardigan perhaps a bit posh but balanced by his well-worn, open coat, Bond dressed to jeans, a white Henley, and a black leather jacket that actually appeared to have no bullet-holes in it.  The barkeep immediately turned to them and flashed a familiar smile Bond’s way, and a less familiar but more curious on fleetingly at Q.  “Sterling!  It’s been ages since you’ve graced our humble halls on a trivia night.  What’s the occasion?”

Trivia night?’  A few things clicked into place in Q’s head and he looked around again with new interest, recalling that many pubs in London had scheduled trivia nights.  He didn’t know what to expect, having only been to a few before and never at the Golden Apple, but Bond looked calm enough that he must have purposefully planned this.

“Finally found myself a team,” was James’s – Sterling’s – glib answer, and with an easy hand he pulled Q forward a bit more until he was standing against his side instead of behind his right shoulder.  “Put Quincy and myself down for – is table number thirteen open?”

“You know it is.  Everyone thinks it’s an unlucky number.”

“I live off bad luck,” Bond boasted with a wolfish sort of smile, and Q noted sadly that the bartender thought he was joking.  Q almost felt like telling the man across the counter that James could make lucky rabbit’s feet turn to dust after one look at his lifestyle.  When a laminated paper the size of a plate (bearing the nefarious ‘13’ in bold black type) was passed across to him, James’s grin merely deepened proudly.

The two of them ordered drinks as an afterthought, and Bond was just beginning to cut his way through the crowd to find a table for their number when the bartender called out, “Oi!  Is that really your whole team?  There’s a table up front that’s got at least eight.”

This time, Q turned around and caught the bartender’s eye, and was secretly pleased when 007 said not a word, allowing Q to speak for himself.  Smiling faintly, Q called back, “I’m all he’ll need.”  When he turned back around again, he caught the tail-end of James’s smug grin, and it send a happy shiver down his spine.

~^~

Q’s statement was perhaps a bit overzealous.  It turned out that he knew nothing about mixed drinks, football, or famous actors.  Fortunately, James had the corner on the market for answering any alcoholic questions (he probably could have bested the barkeep, if the barkeep had been allowed to play), knew enough about sports to keep them in the running, and happily admitted following the lives of movie-stars was beneath both of them.  Despite being only two people, ‘Quincy’ and ‘Sterling’ quickly became the team to beat as the night went on.

The truly memorable moments of the evening were when they were losing their lead.  There was something both amusing and comforting in looking over, flummoxed as to what the world’s smallest whale was, to find blue eyes looking back at him already with an equally blank expression.  Perhaps it was the alcohol, perhaps it was the atmosphere – perhaps it was the fact that the table in front of them answered correctly, and James deftly threw a pretzel at them without getting caught – but Q ended up laughing until his chest hurt.  He regained his composure in time for a question on constellations, which Q answered so quickly that even the director of the event (occupying center-stage like a ring-leader, and shouting just as raucously) stared.

Shifting a little and hiding behind his beer, Q cut his eyes to Bond (who was already looking his way), and shrugged, “I like stars.”

It seemed that James’s eyes were on him quite often, regardless of the questions or their standing in the ranks of trivia teams.  It wasn’t a piercing or uncomfortable stare, but it did remind Q that Bond was a 00-agent, and therefore trained to read a lot into simple gestures and words.  Filled with the unaccountable sensation that he was being interviewed in some way, Q nursed his drink but also had fun, realizing that whatever 007 wanted from him, trying to double-guess it would only lead to trouble.

Besides, trivia night at the Golden Apple was a bloody good time, and even if they didn’t win, Q planned to give the other teams a run for their money – and prove that thirteen could be a pretty lucky number.  If Bond was circuitously scoping Q out as something more than a friend, all the luckier.

~^~

 

 

Chapter Text

The conclusion of the trivia night seemed to come all too soon, but almost before Q could lament its end, he found himself inviting Bond to his flat for a nightcap.  Considering that Q himself was admittedly tipsy while Bond was annoyingly (but unsurprisingly, considering his drinking history) sober, the invitation was more of a gesture than a literal commitment, but James agreed anyway.  Too buzzed to be anything but pleased, Q had led the way back to his flat, which he explained rather bashfully was strategically close to MI6 to enable his workaholic nature.

“But you already knew that, didn’t you?” Q guessed, even as his fingers danced over the high-tech keypad next to his door.  Unbeknownst to anyone watching, the numbers that Q typed in hardly mattered – what mattered was the scanner beneath reading his fingerprints.  While nowhere near as paranoid as MI6’s spies, Q had learned that it paid to be cautious when it came to security.

James had been quite polite all evening - a gentlemanly quality not unlike how he acted on missions, but lacking the predatory edge that Q had learned to watch for - leading Q to believe that this was an actual response as opposed to a front.  His smile was soft but quite genuine however, as he answered shamelessly, “I might have.”

“Spies,” Q scoffed past an involuntary smile.  He let Bond close the door while he toed off his shoes, eager for the freedom provided by just traipsing around in socked-feet, and made for the kitchen.  “If you’re serious about that nightcap, I believe I have some whiskey tucked away that’s far better than anything the pub had,” he called back as he dug around.

As if out of nowhere, Bond was at his side.  Q had just revealed the cupboard where he kept his glass tumblers, but Bond halted his hand with another one of those smiles that just teased at his mouth but lived mostly in his pale-blue eyes.  “Let me,” the older man offered.  For a moment, Q just stared at him stupidly, feeling a bit more drunk than previously and wondering if it had less to do with the alcohol and more to do with the way he could feel 007’s body-heat, and smell his skin and aftershave from this close.

After a beat, Q shrugged and relinquished that job, finding the whiskey instead.  “Tea for me please, actually,” he requested at the last minute, having an inkling that he might want to be sober tonight – or at least not any more affected than the buzz he already had in his veins.  “Kettle’s to your right.”  The two of them moved around each other quite easily in the kitchen, considering that 007 had never been there before and had to ask where things were, and also considering that Q had projects littered on the table.  Thankfully, with James quite ungrudgingly fixing them both their respective drinks, Q had a moment to clear away some of his more expansive projects from where they’d sprawled their wires and screws across his furniture.  Q returned to the kitchen to see two steaming mugs instead of one, although a quick, curious sniff informed him that Bond had heated his whiskey just enough to warm his throat without losing the alcoholic bite.  “Sore throat from yelling out answers all night?” Q joked, cradling his own mug and retiring to the cleaner living room.

Scooping up his own drink, Bond followed, flashing a cheeky smirk, “I wouldn’t have had to yell so much if you weren’t so soft-spoken – I know that you’ve got a set of lungs on you, I’ve heard you shout in Q-branch before, so I’m at a loss as to why I kept having to voice our answers.”

“They sounded better when you said them,” the answer fell out of Q’s mouth before he could stop it, and he hid his resulting blush by sitting down swiftly and taking a sip of tea.  The mug hid his face, although he suspected that the tips of his ears were burning red.  He refused to look up at meet his companion’s eyes, but instead of laughing or demanding that Q repeat that, all Q heard was the soft pad of footsteps at 007 moved around to his own seat.  A quick glance up over his fogged glasses showed him the blurry image of Bond’s casually dressed frame lounging back on his couch.

When the Quartermaster stopped hiding behind his tea and cautiously gave Bond his full attention (and twenty-twenty corrected vision) again, Bond stretched his legs out and crossed one ankle over the other and then said, “If you’re expecting me to turn down a compliment, you’ll be waiting an awfully long time.”  Amusement colored and sweetened his voice like honey.  When he lifted his warmed drink, his eyes never left Q’s, something daring in them even though 007 had been nothing but a friend and a gentleman all evening.  It was a confusing mix, and Q was once again struck by the thought that he was being tested – that one wrong response would have Bond withdrawing.

It was a strangely distressing thought, and Q frowned before taking another sip of his tea.  It wasn’t how he would have made it, but good nonetheless by Bond’s hand.  Reminding himself that they were grown men and not skittish children, Q decided to make the best of his borrowed, alcoholic bravery from earlier and push the envelope, 007’s oddly watchful temperament be damned, “I’ve been wanting to ask… have you actually dabbled in BDSM?”

The faintest flicker of surprise flashed over 007’s face, and one of his feet tapped in a fashion that reminded Q of a cat’s tail twitching.  Q, despite his impulsive decision to say what was on his mind – and had been on his mind indecently often – flushed and raised his mug of tea defensively again.  “Now’s the part where you tell me that I’m drunk, disregard my overly personal question, and reassure me that we’ll forget all of the unprofessionalism by the time work rolls around again tomorrow morning,” the Quartermaster joked self-effacingly but with a tone as dry as the Mohave.  He was not so much embarrassed as apologetic, realizing that he was definitely prying.  James’s attitude had just seemed so open tonight and it had lured in Q’s naturally insatiable curiosity.

Therefore, Q was gifted with another surprise when Bond simply smirked at him and replied, “I learned that BDSM existed when I was in the Navy.  Saying that I’ve ‘dabbled’ in it since then might be something of an understatement.”  He sipped as demurely as a man of his size and intensity could, eyeing Q’s startled expression with what could only be called a Cheshire mildness.  “Quid pro quo, Q.  I asked you how long you’d be subbing, and I’ve been waiting for you to ask me a similar question back ever since.”

Q released a sigh and felt the redness of his cheeks transform into a more comfortable, relieved heat.  He even chuckled a little, flashing a smile as he felt the previous tension around him dissipate.  “And here I thought I was being offensively nosy, asking about your sex-life.”

“Double-oh agents don’t get embarrassed, Q, I thought you knew that,” was the cheeky, self-assured response, a gentle prod designed to tease.

Enjoying Bond’s playful side more than he liked to admit, Q pressed his luck, “So does that mean I can ask more question?  Personal ones?”

“It means you’re invited to.”

Now, this was not somewhere Q had expected to end up.  ‘MI6 agent’ was synonymous with ‘secretive,’ and James in particular could be shady as fuck if the situation called for it – and sometimes even when it didn’t.  Perhaps this really was a moment of quid pro quo, however, because Q had surely been an open book when he’d stumbled, shivering and anxious and deep into sub-drop, onto Bond’s doorstep.

“So you’re a Dom then,” Q let the questions begin, the first more of a statement to which he received a measured, unhesitant nod.  Bond remained sharp-eyed, but showed no signs of being uncomfortable as he sprawled on his Quartermaster’s couch, dressed casually and at home in his skin and his location.  Q went on, “And have been for quite some time?”

Another sip of whiskey.  Another almost feline grin and a nod.  “I’m told that I’m quite good at it.”

The muscles low in Q’s stomach tightened, and he definitely believed him, even based on his limited exposure to Bond’s skills.  The younger man tucked his feet up onto the couch and made an effort to calm his interest before it got the better of him, the alcohol in his system not helping him maintain an analytical outlook.  “Pardon me for my naïveté, but how does that work with being asexual?”

Bond swirled his remaining drink around in his glass, chewing on the inside of his cheek as he thought.  It was flattering, actually, that he was taking Q’s questions seriously and without an ounce of insult.  “Before you ask,” the 00-agent did say, eyes guarded for a moment as they flicked up and speared Q’s, “I am asexual.  It’s not some sick ploy on my part, nor is it some malady that I’ll get over someday.”

“I wouldn’t question you on that,” Q was able to answer sincerely, and he watched as powerful muscles relaxed again, “But I’d be a liar to say that it doesn’t all confuse me.  How can you not like sex, but…?  Well.”  Q made a vague gesture with his hands and then settled helplessly back into the couch.  “Participate in such highly sexual encounters?”

Fortunately, 007’s response was to smile again.  He in fact murmured, “If only the world was as factual and blunt as the Quartermaster of MI6,” before going on in a more conversational tone, “When you came to my flat, why did you have your coat wrapped around you so tightly?”

Q flushed at the realization that Bond had noticed that.  He scrambled to answer, plucking at a loose thread on his worn but beloved couch while trying to maintain some of that factual bluntness 007 had already praised him for, “Er… well, you see, I have a kink for…”  The younger man stumbled for a moment, but then remembered with a start that there was no need to be embarrassed or even delicate about this – because not only had 007 been involved in just about every kind of sex under the sun, but he specifically had admitted to playing a Dom’s roll in BDSM relationships.  Ergo, what was about to come out of Q’s mouth was unlikely to surprise him, even if they hadn’t both opened up the floor to personal questions.  Thus emboldened, Q straightened his spine a little and said much more clearly, “I have a kink for bondage.  Outside of a scene, I’ve found that I can simulate the tight, restrained feeling that I like with my coat, so I was doing my best to manage my sub-drop that way.”  He gave a little sigh through his nose and ran a hand back through his hair, recalling, “It wasn’t really working, but it’s a stress-related habit that makes me feel better.”

Just as Q had suspected, not an iota of shock showed on Bond’s face.  In fact, all he did was nod as if he’d expected that answer all along.  “Correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s nothing particularly sexual about anything that you’ve just described,” 007 extrapolated, mouth twitching when the Quartermaster opened his mouth as if to argue and then shut it again.  “I’m not going to say that BDSM is sexless, but there’s quite a lot to enjoy about a good scene for an asexual like myself,” the agent finished, then added in a lower, velvet tone, “Bondage, for example.”  Seeing that he had Q’s express attention now, 007 went on, his words doled out like shots of liquor, powerful yet easy to underestimate, “That was a nice bit of knot-work your partner did last time.”  Blue eyes flash, possessing an incredible amount of heat for two orbs the color of glaciers and winter skies.  “I could do better.”

This conversation was getting a lot hotter than Q had expected.  He swallowed less subtly than he’d hoped and tucked his legs up closer, but managed to keep asking the questions that had been plaguing him, “So how does that work?”

“How does what work?”

Gesturing to Bond vaguely and finally admitting to himself that he really, really did want to touch him, Q said, “You.  Being asexual but still playing the inveterate womanizer on missions – and playing it very well, I might add.”

Bond’s mouth twitched wryly, indicating that he’d anticipated this question, too, but he quickly knocked back the last of his now-cool drink and answered easily enough, “I’ve had quite a few years to learn how to act, and it’s not like my cock doesn’t work.”  Seeing Q’s ears reddening again, 007 smirked and went at the topic even harder, like the cad he was, “Some things the body does even if your emotions aren’t behind it – a man’s going to get hard from touching even if he doesn’t like what’s happening.  Honestly, it’s quite natural for a man to get hard while not with anyone at all.”  The grin got more wicked, and 007 guessed, “Next you’re going to ask me what I imagine when I masturbate.”

For a moment, Q could do nothing but gape like a fish, and the only reason he didn’t choke was because his tea was still abandoned on the coffee-table.  Quickly, however, the Quartermaster’s natural professionalism reasserted itself – the part of him that regularly saw scandalous things on camera feeds and occasionally did some of those scandalous things himself, behind closed doors.  “You’re a bloody bastard, you know that?”

007’s grin never wavered, and he propped an elbow on the arm of his chair and settled his cheek indolently on his closed fist.  “I’m quite well-bred, actually.”

“This is why people shoot you so often.”

“And yet here I am, alive and whole.  It must be my charm,” 007 added airily, his smile merely growing.  Bond had a penchant for close-lipped smiles, but now his teeth flashed briefly, a sign that he was having quite a lot of fun playing with his Quartermaster in such relaxed settings.

Marveling at the many faces of 007 – which ranged from stone-cold killer to, apparently, friendly joker – Q unfolded a grin of his own and decided that two could play this game.  If Bond wanted to test the range of Q’s embarrassment threshold, then Q would prove that he didn’t have one.  “Fine then – what do you picture when it’s just you and your fist?  Help me understand you.”

Blue eyes narrowed for a second and the agent’s blond head cocked, but after seeing that Q really was serious about his inquiry, he actually answered, “I don’t picture anything.  I enjoy the sensation and that’s enough, but I’ve never been turned on by any kind of sex.”

“Not even a pretty face?” Q pressed.  His curiosity really was going to kill him; he hadn’t even thought to ask if 007 was armed, and if he’d stab Q to shut him up if this game of discovery got out of hand.

“That’s a different matter.”  Bond unfolded his hand to raise on finger, making his point, “I’m entirely panromantic, so I can appreciate whatever I want – just like you can look at a sunset and say that it’s beautiful.”

“But nothing… no one… turns you on?”

“No more than you want to have sex with a sunset.”

Despite his best efforts, the Quartermaster started laughing, blaming some of the hilarity on the drinks at the Golden Apple.  “Goddammit, Bond,” he finally squeaked out, taking off his glasses to wipe at his now-watering eyes, “This wasn’t supposed to be a hilarious conversation.”

When Q slipped his spectacles back on again, it was to see that 007 was flashing his full smile again, eyes alight and the crows’-feet at the corners of his eyes out in full-force.  Q realized that he’d never seen the man so at ease before, not even during the trivia game, and it made something warm and happy unfold in the boffin’s chest.  Briefly, he wondered how many people ever got to see this side of 007.

“All right then, here’s a slightly more serious analogy,” James relented, “Think of sexual interest as a refrigerator – when you look into it, some things make you hungry, yes?  But some foods likely wouldn’t interest you, just like some people don’t interest you.  Everyone’s appetites are different.  Being gay, you’d have a different palate than, say, Tanner, who is so straight it’s painful sometimes.”

Q quirked up one corner of his mouth and couldn’t help but retort, “How do you know I’m not bisexual?”

Bond didn’t miss a beat, “Because I’m a spy and it’s my job to know these things.”

“Touché,” the Quartermaster snorted, then settled back in his seat to listen to the rest of Bond’s explanation.  “So for you,” Q hazarded gamely but slowly, “It’s like looking into a refrigerator but not seeing anything you like at all?”

“Precisely,” Bond nodded.

“That sounds frustrating.”  Q went on to elaborate, “I’m just imagining those moments when I’ve walked over to my refrigerator and stared into it, feeling hungry but finding absolutely nothing that looks tantalizing.”

007’s smile turned lopsided and his tone wry, “When you’re a teenage boy and horny for no reason, that’s exactly what it feels like.  I’d even tried sex on multiple occasions, but it always felt awkwardly like a biology lesson – point A goes into hole B and all that – at best.”

More and more, Q found himself understanding, although he suspected that some of these things would forever be beyond him.  He tried to find his own analogy, however, imagining himself trapped in a world full of women – because 007 was entirely right in that Q was gay.  Women didn’t do it for him, so perhaps it wasn’t that much of a stretch to understand that neither men nor women did it for Bond.  “So does sex repulse you?” he had to ask, brows beetled.  He cupped his chin in his palm and leaned forward curiously, trying to look like an unbiased audience but knowing that an affirmative answer would trouble him.  There was no doubt at this point that Q was interested in the dominance that 007 had to offer, but if Bond was repulsed by sex or sexuality, their likes would possibly be too dissimilar to possibly mesh.  Q didn’t want to change Bond, but he selfishly wanted to be compatible with him.

The response was surprisingly swift and sure.  “No.”  Shaking his head, 007 added, “I’ve met an Ace or two who would answer yes, and I admit that the mess of sex can make me curl my lip a little.  Sometimes.”  He even demonstrated, lips twitching downwards and nose wrinkling, and the expression seemed so involuntary that Q had to stifle a snicker.  Finally, Bond just shrugged again, “It depends.  I’ve been called grey-asexual before because I don’t mind watching good sex, but that might just be because I’d never say no to a couple of beautiful bodies on display.”

Something about the way Bond said that made Q’s toes curled within his socks, dimpling the couch-cushion before he took a deep breath and released it slowly.  He remembered with crisp clarity the way Bond had worshiped Melissa Lewis’s body like it was a work of art under his hands.  If that was the same reverence that Bond showed all of his partners, perhaps Q could see the allure of a night with 007 even without intercourse…  To hide the way his mind was wandering (and worrying that his cock would swiftly follow, making him truly worry whether or not it would be insulting for him to have a hard-on for an asexual man), Q plucked a remark hurriedly out of midair, “So you’d label yourself as a voyeur then?”

“Yes,” was the unashamed reply.  Then Bond had the audacity to put on that scorching look of his again and ask, “Does that bother you?”

It took effort, but Q managed to hide the sudden increase of his heartbeat and answer almost dryly, “I’m hardly going to judge – I’m a voyeur by default for each and every agent that goes on a mission under my watch.  Keep that in mind before you decide to do stupid things in front of a camera.”

A full-throated laugh rolled out of Bond’s chest, and the restless sexual tension that had been building in Q’s stomach somehow transformed into something warmer and softer.  He found himself relaxing, like an addict with the edge taken off, the urgency gone.  He smiled back.  “Can I keep asking questions, or do you have to go home soon?” he queried when the laughter died down.

Interest lit Bond’s eyes, although Q got the nagging sensation that the agent was trying to hide it.  “You can keep asking,” he allowed magnanimously.

“Did you really mean that post-it note you left on my door?”

Bond canted his head thoughtfully, putting his empty glass down but continuing to play with the rim of it with callused fingertips.  Q found himself watching the play of tendons and muscles in 007’s forearm, because the man had hung up his coat at the door, leaving him in just a tee.  After only a brief moment, the agent was answering, “I did.  Why, did I make you uncomfortable?”

Q was honestly surprised that 007 was asking that question, considering how callous the man was trained to be – not to mention the way he was trained to read people.  He seemed to want to hear Q’s answer, however, rather than drawing his own conclusions, so Q shook his head no.  “Honestly, I haven’t had another partner since then, so I haven’t had cause to think on it.  But knowing what I know now – that you’ve got practice as a Dominant – I think that you can depend on me to take you up on that offer sometime.”  And by that, Q rather thought he meant as more than an emergency measure.  He hoped that he’d never be left alone post-scene again, in serious need of help, but he also didn’t want to see 007’s caring side purely in emergency situations.  Wondering how much of his thoughts were showing on his face, Q watched Bond’s expression keenly, and returned the question, “Does that bother you?”

Despite how Bond was known for his ‘leap first, look later’ mentality, there was that pause again as he visibly thought out all the angles, making Q suspect that 007 was giving this as much if not more consideration than he would the disarming of a bomb.  It was a strange reaction for such a bold man, and Q couldn’t help but wonder about it.  Before any questions could bubble up along this potential tangent, Bond answered with another question and just the faintest tic of a smirk, “Why, Quartermaster, are you suggesting that we meet under unprofessional circumstances?  I should warn you that my mind is going scandalous places.”

Actually, Q rather thought that Bond’s mind was going wary, cautious places, but damn if the man hid it well.  Bond’s unexpected reactions aside, Q knew what his answer was, and he answered calmly, “We’re already meeting under unprofessional circumstances, in case you’ve forgotten the trivia at the bar or the glass of whiskey I just gave you in my own flat.  As for scandalous places…”  Q’s breathing caught involuntarily in his throat, and he felt excitement stir under his skin, but he pushed onwards, “I’d like to spend more time with someone that I didn’t have to hide anything from, and if you can keep work and play separate, then I assure you that I can.”  His words had gotten subtly breathy at the end, but he managed to keep his posture relaxed and his expression even as he met MI6’s best assassin eye-to-eye.

“Oh, I know that you can,” was Bond’s unexpected reply, earning him a quirk of one of his Quartermaster’s eyebrows, the arched line of it disappearing under his mop of bangs.  James spread out a hand and explained, “I’d be willing to bet that if asked, no one in the entirety of MI6 would peg you for a sub – even I would be having a hard time picturing you as submissive if I hadn’t seen you at my flat.”

Q snorted, looking down to hide the proud smile tugging at the corner of his mouth; he was being flattered and he knew it, albeit in a rather atypical fashion.  Most of the time, if he was discussing sex with someone, they complimented his eyes, or his lithe figure, or his pianist’s hands.  This had to be the first time that someone had ever congratulated him on his ability to split his bedroom-persona and his work-persona.  “Surely I’m not the first submissive you’ve encountered who leaves their most docile tendencies at the door when they leave your bed?” the Quartermaster reflexively tried to brush off the praise, but he knew that his eyes were warm as he lifted them to watch Bond’s face.

“Perhaps,” James admitted, “But you’re the first I might be able to trust.”

The last sentence was jarring, out of place.  Q’s smile became a faint frown as he processed just what James had said, which had been said in the same relaxed tone as everything else but somehow seemed more… weighted.  Like there was potential in it, and not necessarily of the good kind.  Pursing his lips and sitting up straighter, Q parroted back, “Trust?  Are you referring to your work as a spy?”

Bond nodded, but the nod came too slowly.  A lie.  Or perhaps a grey sort of truth.  007 wasn’t giving him anymore, though, as he sat like a Sphinx across from Q.  In a flash, the younger man recalled a snippet of trivia regarding mythological Sphinxes… that they ate anyone who couldn’t answer their riddles correctly…

Reminding himself that 007 at least did not have his gun-holster with him (although God knew the man could hide knives like a magician), Q forged onwards with a forcedly blithe tone, “Surely I’m not the only sub in MI6 with a bit of clearance.”

“Clearance doesn’t equal trust.”

“Hm.  Point,” Q admitted, swiping a finger down through the air as if marking said point on an invisible scoreboard.  He couldn’t help but add jokingly, hoping to ease the mood again and return it to where it had been, “You know, you’re the first Dom that I’ve ever met who’s brought up trust before I have.”

Bond’s turning smile was shallow, and Q couldn’t identify what danced in his eyes.  They were blue mercurial pools to him, as opaque as they were changeable.  “I suppose I’m atypical in more ways than one then.”  He stood abruptly but smoothly, all leonine grace and natural power.  “Good night, Q.  See you tomorrow?”

The sudden change was offsetting, and Q felt almost physically off-balance for a moment as he tilted his head to adjust to 007’s increased height now.  Frowning and blinking rapidly as he tried to process things, the Quartermaster nonetheless answered by rote, “Of course.  You’ve a mission in Poland that you leave for on Tuesday, and I’ll be outfitting you tomorrow afternoon at the earliest.”

“How about we both get some shut-eye before then,” 007 suggested in a natural, warm tone, and then he strode past Q and towards the door beyond.

Stunning and staring at his now agent-less sofa, Q tried to figure out just where he’d gone wrong – or if he’d done something wrong – as he waited for the door to click open and closed.  Just as his mind started running itself into an anxious, befuddled tangle, however, he found out that Bond hadn’t quite left yet: warm fingers brushed his nape, squeezing and releasing the slope of muscle between neck and shoulder before the Quartermaster could jump.  Q was quick to spin around, but 007 was already strolling away, and this time he did leave without a backward glance.

Q didn’t blink or move for what felt like a full minute, torso twisted to fixate on his door as he’d seconds ago been visually pinning his couch.  Finally, his muscles got stiff from maintaining his taut posture, and he turned forward again and collapsed into his own seat with a whuffing sigh.  He slouched like a teenager, blinking stupidly before glaring at nothing.

Finally, after another long moment, he exhaled, “James-bloody-Bond.  King of sex appeal-”  The boffin thumped his fist on the chair-arm next to him and cast his eyes upward, finishing the rest of his lament, “-and mixed messages.  I should fill his Walther with confetti for this.”

And by ‘this,’ Q meant the tingling he could still feel in his skin where Bond’s hand had touched, and the fact that he was now intrigued and eager for a man who’d just waltzed out his door.  

 

 

Chapter Text

To say that Q was frustrated and confused by Bond’s swift exit would have been an understatement.

To say that his tangled emotions and slightly inebriated state led to him making impulsive decisions would have been just about right.  

After about ten minutes, Q accepted the fact that no amount of brainpower would unravel the mystery that was James Bond - and sitting around replaying the whole evening wouldn’t do a bloody thing for the frustration fizzling like wet magnesium under his skin.  So, pushing himself up off the couch with sudden determination, the dark-haired young man found his shoes and shoved his feet into them again, wrapping his coat similarly around his body before grabbing his keys and leaving.  The night was hardly still young, but some places would still be bustling with activity.

The Purple Raven was an unoriginal name for a unique club, a place that Q had been to dozens of times for only one of two reasons: it had some fabulous drinks that he’d never found on any other menu, and it also catered almost exclusively to the BDSM community.  Q had found partners here on more than one occasions, including his last one.  The place was as well vetted and safe as any club could get.  

The music was throbbing, low and intense, when Q arrived, and the place was still full of people despite the hour.  People milled about on the dance floor, and some of the Dom/sub pairs were easy for Q’s eyes to pick out - by posture or by dress - and some were more subtle.  Q had always liked the atmosphere of The Purple Raven because it had a broad range of BDSM practitioners, from the flagrantly over to the mundanely covert, and many of those sitting around the tables would have been just as at home in any random pub.  Q appreciated that people could have sexual predilections without feeling forced to wear them on their sleeves.  

Q slid up to the bar, still feeling exasperated and still a bit put out by Bond, but had enough sense to hesitate before ordering another alcoholic drink.  The Purple Raven had a few strict rules about alcohol consumption, but only for the basement level below this one, where more intimate settings could be found - however, as Q raised his hand to get the barkeeper’s attention, a little flicker of knowledge dulled the reckless edge of his mood, and he ended up just ordering water.  Likewise, instead of following his original impulse to find someone domineering to dance with, Q took the more temperate route of just sitting down at the quietest end of the bar to observe.  

He had vague thoughts in his head of taking someone home, or maybe just downstairs, to try and get this irritation out of his system.  The more he looked around, however, the more he realized that that ‘irritation’ was the only thing he really wanted.  A few people came by, some interested in company, some just friendly, but for the life of him Q couldn’t keep his attention on them, and waved aside even the politest offer to be his Dom for the night.  Some days, Q was pleased that he fit the stereotype of submissive, with his slim figure and quiet demeanor, so at least he didn’t have to filter his way through people who misconstrued what his preferences were but tonight he found that even Doms he would have gone for previously just didn’t make the cut.  

Because for all that James Bond - with his secrets and his oblique statements, his guarded actions and his unpredictable exits - irritated the hell out of him, Q realized that James was what he wanted.  James with his roguish good looks and complicated secrets, with his lethal job description and gentle hands.  With his ability to be the most brash bastard that Q had ever seen… and to be so careful and wary that Q was at a loss as to how to win the man.  Suddenly, Q itched for nothing so much as James’s file, so that he could dig through its sordid contents to find out just what had made the man as cautious as a thrice-burned cat - not when it came to dangerous missions, but when it came to his personal life.

It took three hours and six prospective Doms turned away before Q realized that he’d been ruined for anyone else, and would just have to keep following this thing with Bond to see where it led.  

Feeling exhausted but in a weird way accomplished with his mind finally settled on a course of action, Q pulled his coat tight around him again and left the loud music for the relative quiet of the streets.  He actually sleep quite well for the entire two hours he had left before he was due back at MI6.

~^~

Luckily for Q, he had a futon in his office, and his underlings were more than used to him zonking out on it from time to time.  Q’s natural state of being was ‘overworked.’  Most of the regulars at Q-branch in fact viewed their Quartermaster’s rare naps as something very positive, because they had no idea how he could work such long hours without falling asleep in the middle of something important - like, say, using the laser-cutter or directing an agent out of a fire-fight.  So after arriving at Q-branch with the dawn and doing a quick and weary triage to make sure there were no metaphorical fires to put out, Q closed his office door and sprawled on the couch, out like a light until his alarm went off and told him to prepare for 007’s arrival - he was scheduled to outfit the man for his mission at two o’clock.

“007,” Q greeted when the agent arrived, the two of them meeting across a table that held Bond’s kit - this would be the last time that Q saw at least ninety-percent of the contents, he was sure.  He gave everything a good, long last look while he could.  

Bond returned the greeting with a frank head-to-toe assessment and a raised an eyebrow.  “Q.  You look like you didn’t sleep a wink.”

Feeling his mouth quirk upwards on one side in a faint expression that held as much exasperation as it did amusement, Q deadpanned back without breaking eye-contact, “Someone gave me a lot to think about and then strode blithely out the door.”

The 00-agent smiled, but his eyes showed the battling emotions of wariness and intense curiosity.  “Someone must have caught your attention,” he strategically chose to say as he leaned one hip against the side of the table and loosely folded his arms.  The pose showed off his powerful musculature beneath his crisp white button-down and trim jacket, as well as the intimidating ease with which he moved.    

Someone is enamored with his own mysterious nature,” Q returned in kind, but with a slightly more warning tone as he went on, “and should learn to be more forthright and less evasive before I give him an exploding pen - but not the fun kind, the kind that just blows ink all over his bespoke suits.  Now, enough of this.”  Q straightened and tugged at the hem of the striped pullover he’d chosen to wear today, an unnecessary gesture that focused him away from his conflicting personal thoughts and back to the task at hand.  The whole while, James watched him with interest, seeming visibly impressed and even pleased by how his Quartermaster could mentally change lanes.  “Back to business.  This mission is something of an atypical one, but your equipment will still be standard.”

“You’ve been briefed on the mission then?” James asked, unperturbed by the news that he’d be getting no interesting toys.  New toys were fun, but old toys were like old habits: tried and true and easy to use on instinct.  

“I’m going to be monitoring it,” Q clarified seriously.  “Considering that you’re tracking down an enemy operative who’s got the same habit of resurrection that you do, and a lengthy kill-list besides, that should go without saying.  To that effect…”  The younger man began packing Bond’s kit, making sure each piece was functional and accounted for as he put it in its place, starting with three little earbuds that would be virtually invisible when worn.  “I’m giving you three in the hopes that at least one remains functional until the mission is over.  Statistically, you destroy at least two per mission - even if you only get one.”  Q made a scoffing noise that was almost a growl in his throat as he tucked the earbuds away gently into their foam compartment, “Don’t ask me how that’s possible, because I checked my math twice.”

The rest of the kitting went smoothly, with Q breaking his word about flashy toys and providing James with a switchblade that contained a fast-acting poison hidden in the hilt that would incapacitate but not kill if it entered the bloodstream.  James, who Q knew was indecently familiar with poisons, smiled a thin and dangerous smile and nodded his approval, reaching over the table to take the weapon careful from Q’s grip before he could put it away.  “When you depress the spot right here-” Q indicated without doing so, coming around the table to stand next to James, the better to explain his work, “-the poison will be secreted from its casing inside.  I didn’t want to run the risk of hurting friend as well as foe, and the poison keeps much better in a capsule anyway.”

Bond thumbed the deftly hidden button without depressing it, although he added just enough pressure to test it, like the trigger of any other weapon he wielded.  Truth be told, Q had worked hours on that section alone, wanting his ‘new toy’ to react swiftly but not go off accidentally.  Therefore, when Bond inclined his head with another appreciative sound, Q preened a little, knowing that he’d gotten it right.  He felt even prouder when James flicked the blade out and flipped it once or twice in his hand, the matte coating on the blade preventing any telltale shine and making it look like a worn crow’s feather rotating in the air before slapping back down to Bond’s palm.  “The weight is good.  Did you balance it for throwing on purpose?”

Q couldn’t help the small smile from crawling across his face.  “I might have done.  Of course,” he admitted, losing his bluff demeanor in favor of the truth, “without any actual skill or experience with knife-throwing myself, I couldn’t fine-tune anything or test it, but I can at least assure you that it’s keen as a razor and serviceable as a concealed hand-to-hand weapon.”  

The younger man half expected 007 to throw the knife right then to test it, but instead, the agent just took his word for it and snapped the blade away with a deft movement of one hand.  Another one of those smiles was directed Q’s way - a smile that could persuade the devil to dance, Q had no doubt.  “Always full of surprises,” was Bond’s only comment, but his amused blue eyes also flicked between them, and only then did Q really notice how close they’d been standing.  Even as Q jumped and reddened a little bit in surprise embarrassment, he felt a hand rise to cup his elbow, keeping him close even as James turned pointedly back to the items on the table.  “So, what other boring toys do you have for me, Q?” the agent moved everything along, tacitly making the nearness natural.  

James had arrived in Q-branch early enough that there was no rush, so Q went ahead and took his time explaining everything that he had for him.  The most interesting items seemed out of the way until Q paused, thought for a moment, and then made up his mind as he straightened suddenly.  Apropos of nothing, he commanded, “Follow me, 007.”  

Bond obliged, making it clear that if Q could be the commanding one then James could be the docile follower if the situation called for it.  He already had his kit packed away and in hand, and his open jacket showed off his Walther nestled in its customary place.  When he didn’t even bother to ask what Q was up to, the Quartermaster couldn't help but turn and comment over his shoulder, “If MI6 is going to send you out after a presumed-dead Polish assassin, you may as well have all the help you can get.”

“I’m already going to be partnered up with an informant,” James replied, sounding less than pleased with the prospect.  A growl lived in his voice.  

“You say that like most people would describe a venereal disease,” Q tried to playfully mollify him, “Come now, 007, a partner isn’t as much a ball-and-chain as you make one out to be.”

“Other 00-agents make fine partners,” James amended with scathing humor, “Lower-level agents make fine weights around my neck.  Informants that I don’t know and have never heard of make fine liabilities.  I don’t know this man from Adam.”

“I’m sure that MI6 wouldn’t make you work with someone unsuitable,” Q replied as he let both of them into one of the many smaller rooms that sprouted from the main hub that was Q-branch.  This particular room always housed Q’s favorite projects, so that he could work on them in relative peace and quiet.  “He must have passed MI6’s checks if he’s being trusted as part of your mission.  Jackson Ward, isn’t that his name?”

Bond growled again, a discontented noise in his throat.  It wasn’t an answer, but neither was it a sign that Q had gotten the name wrong.  However, the Quartermaster was beginning to suspect that either James was more distrustful of people than he’d thought, or…  “Bond, do you know something I don’t?”

The door had closed behind them, and James turned as if the question had surprised him; his scowl faltered and his eyebrows twitched upwards.  However, as the question sunk in a beat later, he curled his lip and glanced away, finally giving his head a frustrated shake.  “No, but that’s exactly what bothers me.”

Q lifted just one eyebrow, a carefully questioning expression as he started fumbling in one of his drawers by touch alone.  His eyes remained fixed on the 00-agent he was sharing the room with.  “You don’t like a stranger being brought in on MI6 business?  Bond, he’s been a valuable informant for years - he was the one who brought the assassin Garrett Grey to our attention even when the rest of the world thought Grey was dead.”

Q,” James rolled his eyes to the ceiling and said the other man’s name with exasperation, shifting restlessly before finally settling his weight evenly on both feet and crossing his arms again.  “I’m a spy, Q.  A spy who’s about to hunt down an assassin who did a good job of playing dead - and who has mysteriously reappeared.  Forgive me if I’m a bit suspicious, and if I want a few more bloody facts before I relax.”  Sighing explosively and making a visible effort to calm down - although he hadn’t done anything overtly temperamental, and hadn’t even raised his voice in his brief rant - James opened one hand palm up as if either offering or requesting understanding in the empty platform of his scarred palm.  “Look, if I were laying low - and by ‘low’ I mean pretending to be six feet under - I wouldn’t be this easy to find, and no matter what everyone says about my pride, I’m not proud enough to underestimate an assassin with a kill-list nearly as long as mine.”

It had never occurred to Q that James might be legitimately unsettled by this mission - and he still wasn’t entirely sure that Bond was.  007 was most definitely in a rare, sober mood, however, his blue eyes holding about as much joviality as chips off a glacier as they met Q’s.  Frowning pensively as he returned that look, the Quartermaster thought for a long minute as they both let the tense silence stretch.  He made a decision and said with all seriousness, “What do you want me to do?”

00-agents were well-trained not to show surprise, but Q still thought he saw little twitches of movement ripple down Bond’s powerful frame, betraying that Q’s response had not been what he’d expected.  The discontented, moody set to the blond-haired man’s expression shifted, too, breaking for a moment as his eyebrows jerked briefly upwards.  Q refused to look away or blink, however, making it clear that his job was to his agents first - and if an agent of Bond’s experience and calibre sensed that something wasn’t right this early in the game, he’d listen and do whatever he could to remedy the situation.  This was one of many things that had changed since Q’s rise to the position of Quartermaster, but it seemed only logical: if Q-branch was going to become more integrally involved in missions, then Q-branch (and most especially its department head) should pay more attention to MI6’s agents as well.  

After a long moment of James simply eyeing Q like he couldn’t figure him out, the older man sighed, unfolding his arms to instead step closer.  Something about him settled into a resigned sort of demeanor, and he answered in a tone that set aside his previous anxiety, “I want you to show me this new toy of yours.  What is it that you’ve got it squirreled away in a back room instead of out with the rest of my kit?”

For a moment, Q continued to watch James’s face, even if the agent wasn’t meeting his eye anymore.  Part of him wanted to press the previous subject, but to what end?  The only person who could truly say what was bothering Bond was Bond himself, and even if the other man somehow did manage to convey a gut-feeling in words, that was no guarantee that Q was be able to assuage it in the slightest.  In the end, all the Quartermaster could do would be to make sure that James was well-prepared for whatever lay ahead.  Q stopped dissecting 007's cool mask and finished pulling things out of his drawers, both of them now leaning together over the work-bench from opposite sides.  Q carefully removed an oblong glasses case, and heard James’s vocal cords vibrate with wordless interest as he recognize it even before Q snapped it open.  With their heads bent together, Q felt like James’s nearness was a velvet shadow rubbing up against his edges.  

“Since you seem to recognize this,” Q said in a pointedly warning tone, lifting out the wire-rim glasses, “then you know that they’re still very much a prototype.”

“And you’ll be heartbroken if I destroy it?”

“I’ll staple your tongue to the front of my desk if you destroy it,” was Q’s growled rejoinder, although when he glanced up through his lashes, he was met by a totally unfazed grin - Q may as well have been murmuring sweet-nothings in Bond’s ear.  The man truly was hopeless, while also being as enticing as gold to a dragon.  

Maybe Q was the one who was hopeless.  

Removing the glasses from their padded home, Q handed them carefully over to James, unable to help a very paternal twang of worry as they left his fingers.  James held them carefully, however, reminding Q of how he’d flipped the knife with such featherlight deftness.  “The lenses aren’t prescription, so they won’t affect your eyesight in any way, and the rims are thin for the same reason - I know how you agents like your range of vision.”  When James grunted and nodded, still inspecting things, Q went on with increasing fervor as he began to explain his latest invention, “As you know, it’s designed to work as a targeting device, and while I wasn’t quite able to fit everything I wanted into those glasses-”  Q paused, reaching back into his desk-drawer and this time withdrawing a titanium ring.  He smiled when James’s eyes flashed with interest.  Q handed that over, too, unsure how accidental it was when his fingertips brushed James’s palm after depositing the simple, tough-looking ring.  “-I was able to wirelessly connect it to another, slightly larger source.  Think of that ring as a particularly small and durable computer connected via wifi to your glasses, in laymen’s terms.”

“And here I thought this was some sort of romantic proposal.”

“Stop playing the comedian and put your gear on,” Q retorted, but was fighting a grin even as he felt a bit of a blush rising hotly up his neck.  He honestly hadn’t considered the import of handing a ring to another person - much less a man that he’d admitted a certain level of interest in.  James at least didn’t have the audacity to put it on his left ring-finger, however, instead finding that it fit his right middle finger best, looking dark and solid against his tanned skin and scarred knuckles.  The glasses looked as academic as before upon his face, matching the guileless little half-smile that James put on purely for show.  Q couldn’t help but snort at him.  “Now, the glasses have cameras in them that are set to detect three things.  One, the shape of a gun when you lift it.”  The Quartermaster circled the table so that he could reach past James’s jacket and tap his Walther impatiently, until James slid it free of its holster and, after a questioning glance at Q, raised it.  At first, his posture was half-hearted, but Q saw the moment that his eyes sharpened with surprise.  “Are you seeing crosshairs?” Q asked.  

Bond replied in a grudgingly impressed tone, “Indeed I am, Quartermaster,” even as his body sank subtly into a light crouch, arms raised and body hunkered down behind his weapon.  It was a familiar pose; balanced, loose, ready to both move and to weather out the kick of a weapon’s discharge when he pulled the trigger.  Right now, of course, he was aiming at the wall, but Q could see his eyes tracking.  “The second thing that the lenses track is actually the movements of your own eyes, so if someone-”  Q paused, rapped his fingers nervously on the tabletop, and then changed tactics to ask, “Would you mind putting the safety on, 007?  I want to make sure that the last part of this works.”

Bond stopped watching the little crosshairs that the spectacles were providing for him and instead cut his eyes suspiciously Q’s way.  “Why?”

Huffing out a put-upon breath, Q said, “Because with all of the computing power that I put into both those spectacles and that ring, the program should be able to detect a human target if your eyes and gun focus on it.  I dearly hope that you never have a desire to shoot me, but I serve as a ready test-subject at the moment, providing that your weapon isn’t live.”  To be fair, Q trusted most of the 00-agents even if their weapons were primed and ready, if only because they were so insanely trained in gun-usage that they’d be more likely to spontaneously combust than discharge one accidentally.

James immediately dropped his arms and engaged the safety all in one smooth motion, his posture remaining wary and tense but no arguments coming out of his mouth.  He frowned as Q stood expectantly, but still lifted his gun again until the muzzle was directed at Q’s center of mass - although Q could tell when James shifted just slightly so that he was aiming more at Q’s right shoulder.  “Now, are you still seeing crosshairs?”

“Yes,” Bond grunted shortly.

“Okay, good.  And are those crosshairs yellow by any chance?”  Q knew for a fact that they’d been red before.  

Bond blinked.  His next answer was a bit slower, but with wariness, not unsureness, “...Yes.”

"That indicates that the software has identified a possible target, based on where your aim and your interest are combined,” Q quickly explained, “Is there any chance that you can tap the ring without undue effort?”

This part Q hadn’t planned out quite as well, knowing very little about priorities and economy of motion when it came to hunting down and shooting an enemy target.  However, with minimal movement, Bond was able take his left hand from where it was bracing the butt of the gun and reach around just a little to tape against the ring’s titanium surface.  “The crosshairs are green now," Bond reported.

“Splendid.”  Q’s smile was complete involuntary.  "Now the lenses are going to be tracking me specifically - or at least the vague shape of me.  I’m not sure how well these will work in poor visibility, but…”  Q side-stepped a few quick paces, watching for the moment when Bond caught on to what his new glasses were doing.  Initially, 007 had had no interest in following his Quartermaster with the muzzle of his weapon, but when his blonde brows jumped upwards, Q knew that the cameras were following.  It seemed like a reflexive movement when James’s shoulders tightened and he belatedly adjusted the trajectory of his gun until it was once again aimed at his Quartermaster, who smiled mildly back at him.  His breath did catch a little at the sight of such fluid power, James’s whole body repositioning itself behind his gun, every movement so stable that it seemed mechanical, a robotic motion fine-tuned to perfection.  Being the focus of such a well-oiled machine was something of a rush, especially with the combination of implied dangerousness and inherent safety all rolled into one as Q looked down the barrel of a loaded gun that would never shoot him.  

Focusing back on the task at hand, Q reviewed things in his head for a second: the computers would be projecting two sets of crosshairs now upon the lenses, one set that showed where the Walther was aiming, the new set following Q.  “Tapping the ring triggers a kinetic command, and locks your target in memory.  I have to work the bugs out still, but tapping it again should clear its memory, and so forth,” Q went on, feeling prouder and prouder as he realized that his newest invention was performing so well.  “I don’t doubt your abilities as a sharp-shooting, but this should make hitting a moving target significantly easier when you don’t have a sniper rifle on hand.  All you’ll have to do is line up the two sets of crosshairs and you should have a viable shot.  Also…”  Lifting one finger as if to pin the thought in place as he moved, Q strode forward, ignoring Bond’s gun as he lowered it but keeping his gaze on the ring.  James let him grab his hand and lift it away from the Walther’s grip, Q’s longer, more dexterous fingers manipulating James’s hand without thinking as he demonstrated and explained simultaneously, “The ring is designed in two pieces and with a certain amount of tension to avoid accidental deactivation, but if you turn the ring like so…”  The lines dividing the two pieces almost invisible, Q carefully gripped Bond’s middle finger and rotated part of the band while the rest remained stationary.  “There.  If you lift your gun now, you should notice that the glasses are completely inactive.”  Q glanced up to meet blue eyes with a smug smile.  “This way, if someone else were to get hold of the glasses, they’d notice virtually nothing out of the ordinary about them - and would be utterly incapable of using them for anything but a fashion statement.”

James had an amused and - if Q wasn’t mistaken - fond expression on his face, and Q didn’t quite realize why until the agent flexed his hand, thus proving that Q was still holding it when strong, tanned fingers curled closed around his without effort.  Q jumped, feeling flustered, but before he could think to pull his hand free he glanced up to see the widening smirk on James’s face, the playfulness dancing in his pale-blue eyes.  The look was incredibly teasing and smug as hell, but it also proved that Q wasn’t in the wrong - and since they were alone in a closed room, there was no one to call them on unprofessionalism.  Q could wipe the video footage later if he decided that a bit of accidental handholding was too scandalous to bear.  

“Thanks, Q,” James said, playing the Cheshire cat again with his millions of secrets and lingering smile.  Keeping the glasses on - as if knowing how it threw Q’s mind for a loop to see such a reckless rogue in spectacles - Bond gave Q’s fingers another little squeeze before backing away.  His touch lingered on Q’s hand just a beat longer, sliding off with a light stroke of his blunt fingertips across Q’s palm.

In perfect mimicry of Q’s purportedly accidental caress from earlier.  

And with that Bond turned and once again left Q gaping by himself in an empty room as the door swung gently closed.  This time, Q handled it a bit better, closing his mouth with a click of teeth and sitting with a little sigh on the edge of the desk.  “Bond, you sly bastard, you’re lucky that you’re so handsome or I’d slap you,” he muttered without heat, and folding one hand around the other, as if cradling the sensation of that last touch in the gentle cup of his hands.  


Chapter Text

Q thought that he’d have gotten used to missions going to hell in a handbasket by now, especially when 00-agents like Bond were involved, but this fiasco was like a sucker punch, and 007 wasn’t even the one to blame for any of it.  However, the rest of MI6 perhaps was.  

“007, you have to get out of there,” Q stated into the earpiece, ignoring the sounds of pandemonium.  Some of those noises were coming through Bond’s earpiece - his second one, the first already destroyed when their supposed ally and informant, Jackson Ward, had tried to take 007 out with an expertly swung chair.  Bond had presumably seen the danger coming at the last moment, but all Q had known was that one moment, he was discussing some CCTV feeds that might lead them to their target, Garrett Grey, and the next… silence and then static.  Losing contact with a 00-agent wasn’t exactly unprecedented, but Q had still been wound up tighter than a jackrabbit by the time Bond made contact again.  

And when James had come back, he’d been pissed.  

“The back-up earbuds are appreciated,” Bond had opened with, sounding winded, “but what I would’ve appreciated more is a little forewarning that my so-called partner is actually working for the other side.”

Q and everyone else had been stunned, but there had been little time for debate - along with Bond’s voice came the sounds of wood splintering, presumably a flimsy door being kicked in.  At about the same time that Q heard a stranger’s voice shouting, “Jesteś otoczony! Ani próbuj się przeciwstawiać!” the Quartermaster jerked himself forcibly free of his shock and into action.  “James, status?  R, I need you to contact Tanner or M - whoever’s available the fastest, say we’ve got a leak.”

“Not a leak, Q,” Bond growled frostily back, “a turncoat.  That informant who came so highly recommended is a fucking snake, and it just took him this long to bite me.”  

Never before had Q heard Bond so angry, his words wrapped in glass shards and barbed-wire, sharp enough to make Q flinch.  He vividly remembered his conversation with Bond just before the mission, barely three days ago, and how uneasy 007 had been about working with Ward - an internal alarm that had been one-hundred-percent correct, it seemed, and the reality of that had Q’s stomach sinking into his feet.  “Noted, 007.  R?  You heard him.”  The bright-haired young woman immediately darted off, a solemn-faced songbird taking flight out of Q-branch, which was quickly coming alive as if a hawk had just dived into the very heart of the flock.  Trying to keep his calm in this storm, Q took in one sharp breath and blew it quietly out his nose, and steadied himself enough to demand, “Still waiting on that status, 007.”

“Kraków still, and I have a feeling that Ward doesn’t want me to leave.”  Bond rattled off a few street intersections, and Q immediately began narrowing in on the location and hacking anything with an electronic pulse.  There was no longer the sound of splintering wood, but instead running, footsteps - singular, thankfully, meaning James was ahead of his pursuer.  Pursuers, it turned out, as he added a second later, “We barely made it into the city before it turned out that Ward had like-minded friends, and I’ve got about three of them on my tail now.”  

“Armed?”  Q’s eyes were glued to his screen as information flashed across it rapidly, absently clicking and delegating some of the information to other screens, other techies, other minds and eyes.  There was still a wild buzz of shock around him as everyone processed Bond’s words - and the raw accusation in his tone - but some cooler heads started to settle as their Quartermaster gave them something constructive to chew on.  

There was a loud bang and another that sounded like a ricochet.  Bond snarled, but it sounded more like frustration than pain.  “That answer your question, Q?”

“Adequately.”  Q was wrapping himself up in professionalism to hide from the knowledge that he - well, MI6, but Q was a part of that secretive beast - had sent 007 off on a dangerous mission with an enemy by his side.  Recalling his attempts to soothe what had seemed like Bond’s paranoia, Q tasted bile in his mouth.  He didn’t have time for self-recrimination, however, so he went on briskly, “Are you injured?  And are you armed?”

“No and yes, thankfully in that order,” Bond replied, his tone cooling only fractionally, even though the concern in Q’s voice was more naked than usual.  Bond still sounded like he was on the move, “I suppose I’m a bit bruised from Ward trying to break a chair over my head, but I’ve had worse falling out of bed.  One of your earbuds is toast, though.”

“An acceptable loss,” Q immediately returned, even as he mentally noted that James was not.  “There.  I’ve found you - or at least I’ve hacked a few camera feeds that are taping in your location.  You’re in a building scheduled for demolition, 007, and I can’t verify the stability of the building - it’s old.”

“You’re still not telling me anything I don't know.”

“Then why the hell did you go in there!?” Q couldn't’ stop the worried exasperation from raising the pitch of his voice.

Bond responded in kind, his own frayed nerves showing in the sudden and furious roar of his voice down the comm-link, “Because I was informed that my partner was a reliable source and to be trusted, and I was obediently swallowing his words until I learned they were poison!  So if I’m making stupid decisions, half of them aren’t mine - and half of them were vetted by MI-bloody-6!.”

The vitriol in Bond’s voice was understandable, but it still sliced to Q’s core and unleashed a visceral pain, making him feel winded for a moment.  He actually had to resist the urge to lift a hand to his solar plexus, just to see if he would find blood seeping out, a tangible substance to attach to the shocking pain.  Logically, Q knew that when Bond spoke, it was the adrenalin talking, and he wasn’t blaming Q so much as MI6 at large - or the department that deemed Ward an asset when in reality he was a threat.  Some part of Q’s mind tried to understand that, realizing that Ward had to have some motive for working his way into Mi6’s good graces just to show his true colors now, but reality came back in with, “Widzę go!” coming down the comms.

“Shit,” Bond muttered in response to the foreign calls, and this time the bark of gunfire was closer and more immediate, and probably from Bond’s Walther.  

Once again rallying himself, swallowing thickly against emotions of frustration, hurt, and most of all fury that someone could send Bond into… into what was basically a trap, baited with the promise of a dead assassin when the reality was that Bond would soon be the dead assassin… Q’s fingers flew for a moment more before he was able to answer, “Your pursuers might be closer to nine in number.  At this hour, there aren’t many people awake, but I’m calling in the Polish police - you’ll have back-up soon, or at least people more interested in putting everyone in handcuffs rather than shooting you.”  It wasn’t much, but right now, Q didn’t care if he had to put the metaphorical fire out with his bare hands.  “Until then, try to make your way to the east side of the building.  Can you orient yourself?”

For a moment, there was no response except swift, even breathing.  What kept Q from demanding a more prompt response was that he knew breathing sounds were a good thing - and the lull in gunfire was, too.  007 would answer when he could… or wanted to.  Q’s fist clenched in impotent frustration as he realized how reluctant 007 might be to follow orders right now, when his last orders had gotten him into this mess in the first place.  Fortunately, instead of disregarding Q entirely and running on tried-and-true instincts, James eventually grunted, “Yes.  Why east?”

“I’ve got better camera coverage there - I can even see inside the building in a few places,” Q murmured.  He was already distracted by his screens, where his tech-analysts (who were belatedly catching up to Q’s furious pace) were starting to stream the more pertinent video feeds that they themselves had found, giving Q an ever-shifting view of the area.  It was night, and everything was painted in shades of gunmetal grey.  Q’s fingers paused and his body stilled for a moment, and anyone watching him would have seen his torn, hurting expression as if he were face-to-face with Bond instead of countries away.  “If you can trust me, James, I want to lead you out of this,” he said with no attempt to hide the beseeching tone laid out like an offering in his voice.  

This time, when James didn’t immediately answer, the waiting hurt, but when he replied again it felt like Q’s lungs were being released from a vice - because 007 didn’t sound as angry.  “Heading east.  I’m pretty deep in the building, thanks to Ward and his damn sidekicks.”

“In this game of fox versus hounds, I’m betting on the fox,” Q said with quiet ferocity, his brain already three, five, ten steps ahead.  He somehow regained the tone of dry levity that he was so known for, asking, “You still have your teeth, I imagine?”

“If by ‘teeth’ you mean the knife and gun you equipped me with, then yes.”  There was a thud that Q imagined as 007 shouldering through a jammed door, and then the agent added with something approaching his usual humor, “By some miracle, I also have those prototypes you lent me as well.”

That was a pleasant surprise, but Q wasn’t about to make an example of it, not when he was mostly just grateful that Ward hadn’t killed James yet.  Q always fussed when his tech was broken, but he only did so after he had his destructive agents back safely in MI6.  Right now, if James had to throw his targeting spectacles to a crocodile to get free, Q would probably cheer him on.  

Fortunately, such cheering wasn’t necessary, as the grim business of leading James half-blind through a building got underway.  ‘Half-blind’ referred to both of them in multiple ways: lighting on-sight was abysmal, and turning on lights simply wasn’t an option, and Q simply couldn’t find enough cameras to be his eyes.  However, he was able to warn Bond ahead of time when a contingent of enemy operatives entered the building and began coming his way.  The vague directions helped, but it wasn’t perfect.  Q actually jumped when silence became chaos, 007 having gone suddenly quiet in a way that spoke of focus and practiced stealth, that quietude broken suddenly by a grunt and then a scream.  Sometimes the sounds of hand-to-hand combat were more blood-chilling than the hard cracks of simple, clean gunfire, and Q could do nothing but sit and listen with the rest of Q-branch as Bond dealt with the opponent that Q hadn’t managed to help him avoid.  “Bond?” Q asked when silence finally reigned again.  

Bond’s breathing became pronounced enough to hear as the man dragged in a breath and then sighed, a noise that made Q picture a muscular body stretching.  The slight groan that followed didn’t sound too pain, more irked, but since Bond was known for having a ridiculously high pain-tolerance, it was anyone’s guess how hurt he was.  “I’m still alive, Q.  And you knife works - in the simplest sense, at least.  Things went a little bit too fast for me to test the finer points of it.”

“If it gets the job done, I see no reason whatsoever to complain,” Q assured, unclenching fists that he hadn’t consciously made.  His fingers actually ached from the pressure of curling so tightly against his palm, and he had to flex them and shake his hands out before he could get back to typing again.  “You might have to test it again - there are more men incoming, and I still don’t have enough of a visual to get you around all of them cleanly.”

“If life were that easy, I’d be out of a job,” 007 had the audacity to toss back jokingly.  He went serious again soon, voice dropping so that the earbud’s receiver barely picked it up, “Sounds like someone came to see where the party was.  Standby.”

People always made remarks about Bond’s recklessness and his habit of getting a job done in the flashiest manner possible, but Q knew that Bond was like a wolf: he could bay at the moon with the best of them, but he could also stalk his prey at night… hunting the sheep called men.  He was hunting now, silent and more perfectly honed than that knife Q had given him.  Q had a moment where he felt sorry for Bond’s opponents, because they’d no doubt thought they were the predators in this confrontation, but they were wrong.  The only thing scarier than James with a gun was when he traded it out in favor of something quieter and more personal - at least with a gun, you could hear the sound as your comrades fell.  Chances were high that the next man wouldn’t even get a chance to scream like the previous one had.  

Locked in place by that standby order as fully as if he’d had a choke-chain placed around his throat, Q waited tensely, ears straining for the faintest hint of what was going on, eyes likewise flickering constantly between screens.  He thought he caught a flicker of something, just in time to manually hack the camera and find out that he could make it swivel - and catch a familiar silhouette moving through the dark.  Q didn’t need to inform James of the enemy operative at the other end of the hall, because James was already hugging the shadows.  When Bond drew his arm back, Q sucked in a soft and silent breath, spellbound by the perfectly orchestrated symphony of motion; he breathed out like he was the one throwing, as Bond’s wrist flicked forward and the blade tumbled through the air.  By the way Bond straightened immediately afterwards, Q knew that the knife had flown true even before he heard the low but proud murmur of, “Another threat eliminated.  Continue standby.”  A beat later, and Jame added, “Your knife flies like a dream.”

Despite the previous order, Q couldn’t help but whisper, “Thank you,” entirely on reflex.  He knew that James didn’t give praise lightly or often - less often when his back was up, as it most certainly was today.  He pressed his lips together and resisted the urge to ask if the poisonous quality of the blade was just as effective, trusting 007 to test it out and make his report in due time.  Hopefully.  Since Bond was still dangerously outnumbered, Q hoped to get any sort of report at all, just so that he could stand close enough to touch Bond and prove that he was alive and real and safe again.  

Bond retrieved his knife, Q followed as much as he could on camera.  He broke the standby order a few moments later when one of his underlings made a startled noise and then forwarded something onto his mainscreen: video footage of two assailants they hadn’t seen before, swiftly approaching Bond’s position.  Deciding that Bond could hardly rage at the break in protocol when he himself laughed in the face of rules, Q leaned into the mic and rattled off numbers and directions.  Bond himself had just slipped into range of a camera, and Q watched him jerk to a stop and then turn, the faint, ambient light picking up the brief glance he threw at the camera.  Instead of saying anything, however, Bond merely nodded - again, at the camera - and then crouched down against the wall.  “Bond, this isn’t-” Q started in bewilderment and anxiety, then closed his mouth with a sharp click of teeth as James glared at the camera and sliced the edge of his hand across the air in front of his throat, a clear sign for abrupt and total silence.  

Body humming with restrained worry, Q could only watch as he held his ground, soon to be in the path of danger.  

It turned out that that was exactly where Bond wanted to be.  

The first man to round the corner got a nasty but silent surprise, having no time to either brace himself or dodge as 007 slid up beside him - as easily as a barracuda cutting through calm waters - and extended his arm just far enough to nick the stranger’s hand with the tip of his knife.  It was barely enough to make the other man wince, and also kept James free and almost out of arm's’ reach, making it easy for him to focus on the second man who was already seeing the ambush for what it was.  

Bond used speed to his advantage.  He maintained his momentum and increased his pace, so that he was past the first man before the startled fellow could turn his gun on him - because both of Bond’s opponents were armed, but with longer weapons that looked like rifles in the dimness.  Q tried to increase the clarity of the cameras’ images so that he could identify the armaments, but that came second to just watching, as James got past the frontman and charged the rearguard.  Q felt hysterical laughter fight its way past his teeth as Rearguard nearly shot his partner, hurrying to lift his rifle and fire while James rushed up inside his guard.  Bond easily ducked the first shot, which Q noticed was strangely quiet - a silencer?  Having been close enough to possibly even see Rearguard depress the trigger in panic, Bond simply dropped his weight as the shot went off over his shoulder, surging back to his feet with his knife leading.  While Frontman yelped at flinched away from the stray shot that nearly got him from behind, Bond shoulder-checked the other man just hard enough to bull past him.  As 007 broke away on the other side, Rearguard didn’t move, instead looking down at him.  Q thought that he could see a Kevlar jacket, but it didn’t cover everything, and by the hand that Rearguard lifted to his right armpit – bringing it away glistening and dark – 007 had driven the knife into the deadliest opening he could find.

While Rearguard started to cough from a punctured lung and sag from blood-loss as dark liquid continued to pump out of him, Frontman belatedly spun to avenge his partner, only to stagger and sway like a drunk, the soporific poison taking swift effect.  He got off one shot, but it was clumsy and slow, and missed 007 even though the 00-agent barely sidestepped.

“Glad to see that your tech is more dependable than MI6’s choice of trustworthy partners,” Bond noted, somewhere between bitter and amused, but at least the bite of the former tone was becoming resigned and jaded rather than fresh and sharp.  “I’m definitely going to request one of these switchblades in the future.”

“Liar,” Q accused on impulse, “You’re going to keep it in your pocket and tell me that it got lost before your return to MI6.”

Bond’s chuckle was a balm on Q’s nerves.  “Baseless accusations,” the man retorted blithely even as he got moving again, not pausing to wipe his blade off but instead keeping it out and ready in his left hand – his right hand open and prepared, if a need for his Walther should arise.  It was surprisingly comforting to be reminded that 007 was not only a survivalist but ambidextrous, two traits that were not necessarily mutually exclusive.

“And you wonder why I watch you so carefully,” Q couldn’t help but mutter dryly.  He was ostensibly referring to Bond’s alleged kleptomania, but he wondered if 007 took it another way as the man’s chuckle floated through the comms.

Bond was about to step out of range of Q’s commandeered, electronic eyes, and the Quartermaster said so.  He heard the agent’s hum of acknowledgment, and started to see him nod at the very edge of one’s camera’s view – but then 007 slowed and went still like a spooked cat.  “What is it?” Q asked, tensing himself and too focused to notice some of his tech-analysts crowding closer, or the doors to Q-branch opening to admit not only Tanner but M, R trotting in behind them.  Their anxiety radiated past their staid expressions, but Q’s entire attention was focused on Bond.

“Another enemy operative,” James said back in a hushed tone, but it lacked the playfulness from a moment ago.  In fact, it turned almost darkly musing as he added, “One who should not be here…”  Despite the fact that it was in the opposite direction that he’d been directed to go previously (Q should have known that 007’s obedience would be short-lived), 007 crouched down and began moving forward.  Q felt his stomach clenched as he lost his visual of the man.

By then, M was standing behind her Quartermaster’s chair, and she must have been briefed, because she immediately asked in a stony, level tone, “Is it Ward?”

James’s grunt was the only sign that the new voice caught him off-guard.  But he answered readily enough, some of his early frostbite creeping back into his tone where Q had thawed his temper previously, “No, but I’d dearly love to catch up with that bastard, if only so I never have to work with him again.”

M didn’t deign to flinch, but her hand did tighten on the back of Q’s chair.  “It’s being looked into,” she promised obliquely.

“I bloody hope so, because the next time someone sends me out hunting ghosts with backstabbers for company-”  007 stopped talking so suddenly that Q thought he’d lost the connection. A few quick checks and he knew the earbud was still transmitting, however, and when he hiked up the volume, he could still hear Bond’s breathing – steady, controlled, but shallow like he was hiding it.  Now it wasn’t only Q who tensed, because everyone in this room had been involved in missions often enough to know warning signals when they saw or heard them.  This was the equivalent to watching the ruff stand up on the neck of a dog, or the lips pulling back from bared canines.

The silence was eating at Q, and he couldn’t help but pull the receiver closer and murmur tensely into it, “007, the priority right now is to get you out and fall back until the situation can be reevaluated.”  Belatedly, Q realized that that wasn’t exactly his call, but a glance back at M showed no argument on her face – she looked as troubled as everyone else beneath her mask, the tight, bloodless line of her pursed lips giving her away.  When Bond didn’t answer, Q firmed up his voice a little, sure that some of his own worry was leaking through into his brittle tone, “Bond, please respond.”

Bond did, but it wasn’t comforting: “I might have misspoke when I said I was hunting ghosts.”

Before anyone could think of a response for that besides exchanging bewildered, startled looks, a new noise started coming through the comms.  It was subtle at first, making everyone’s head turn and Q cock his head curiously.  But then it built with such speed that Q very nearly stood up and backed away, a faint rumble becoming a series of cracks and groaning roars.  R had taken over one of the flanking computers, and spoke the horrifying truth a split-second later, “Someone must have set off charges on the building’s foundations – there’s no way demolition was scheduled for now, but the building’s rapidly losing stability.”  Her eyes were wide as she just stared at her screen, which now showed a picture of the building from a nearby street, debris and smoke exiting it like air forced violently from a bellows.

“Bond, did you hear-?” Q immediately asked.

The agent was already answering, “I heard.”  An explosion of exasperated – or panicked, but 00-agents like Bond made a practice of never panicking, even when the situation totally called for it – breath rasped through the comms, and Q tried frantically to get a visual even as more and more of his cameras were either rendered inoperable or blinded by dust and debris.  This had to have been a death-trap planned by Ward, because there was no way the city would collapsed a building with so much wiring still attached – at night, no less.  Nonetheless, the building was coming out.

With 007 in it.

“Bond, you’ve got to get out!” Q shouted, helplessness making his stomach clench so hard that he thought he’d vomit.  “The authorities are still en route, but that won’t do you any good if you’re buried under a whole building.”

Instead of getting some sort of snarky answer about 007 being perfectly aware of that, there was a cut off curse and a snarl through the earpiece.  Q thought that it was just Bond at first, but then he just picked up words – “Nareszcie cię mam!” – definitely in Polish, and in a tone that wasn’t Bond’s.  What followed was such a hectic mess of sounds that Q didn’t know what was coming from Bond, what was the voice of presumably his attacker, and what was the sound of the world collapsing around them both.

On R’s screen, the building began to sag and drop like an avalanche of concrete, brick, and rebar.

From the moment that they’d heard that first rumble, Q had known that 007 had only moments before the roof came crashing down on him.

Now he had only seconds.

“JAMES!” Q barked, standing up and leaning over his desk at if that could somehow help.  The command in his tone could have raised the dead, but the only answer he got was another rough curse – this time definitely Bond’s – and more indistinguishable sounds of chaos.  It was entirely possible that Bond couldn’t even hear him, but Q couldn’t stop himself from talking, from promising, “James, just listen to me, and I will get you out of this-”

Q knew as well as anyone at MI6 that it was foolish to make promises in situations beyond one’s control.  Before Q could do as he said and lead 007 another step, there was a final crashing noise and then nothing but static.

Then there was nothing.  Nothing at all.

Very, very quietly, into silence a mile deep within Q-branch, R whispered in a hollow voice, “I’ve lost the signal.  He’s gone.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Contrary to popular belief, Bond was not flattened beneath the weight of an entire collapsed building.  As he slowly came around, however, his tongue tasting of copper and mothballs as a nasty soporific faded from his system, he started to jadedly wish he was, because things were beginning to slot into place and make sense.

“Hello there, Mr. Bond.  Let me just say, you were a hard fish to catch.  But considering your record, very worth it,” said a polite male voice from across the room.  Judging that his senses were just about back online now, James opened his eyes, vision confirming what hearing had already suspected: three people in the room besides himself.  One of those people was Jackson Ward, the backstabbing informant who’d gotten Bond into this mess by masquerading as an MI6 ally – and masquerading well enough that MI6 believed him.  Unimposing and balding but lean like a greyhound, Ward looked a bit rough around the edges now, because James hadn’t gone down quietly, even after he’d figured out that no one was shooting to kill.  They’d wanted him alive all along.

Speaking of unexpectedly alive…  The second man in the room was Garrett Grey.  First reported dead, then reported alive again by Ward, then impulsively deemed dead again by James, only to find out that there was a quadruple play in this game, and the Polish assassin was quite alive.  He’d just waited until the final quarter before making an appearance.  When the second-rate operatives had been unable to shoot a dart into 007 and the building had started collapsing and constricting their time-table, Grey had come in to shift the odds in their favor.  Grey had had the element of surprise and back-up, but Bond still chafed under the knowledge that he’d been outmaneuvered, and tested his bindings where he sat trussed up on a sofa.  The room was blandly decorated, and distinctly lacked the usually macabre or grim style that most villains favored for their lairs.  Bond said as much as he continued to scan his surroundings surreptitiously, focusing on the third man, who was the one who had spoken and was presently standing in between Ward and Grey, “Nice place, but I think your interior decorators missed the mark.”

The third man, a white-blond-haired fellow with dark eyes, glasses, and features that would have been more handsome if they’d included a respectable chin of some kind, cocked his head.  “What do you mean?” he managed to maintain his pleasant tone as he asked.

“I mean that most megalomaniacs prefer something more along the lines of shadowy lairs with dramatic lighting, pits of crocodiles optional.”  Bond’s broken-glass-sharp eyes followed the unknown man’s progress as the pale-haired fellow took a seat on a chair across from Bond.  Grey didn’t move.  Ward glanced back at the door, his posture and expression telling Bond with reasonable certainty that back-up waited just beyond, in the event that 007 tried anything.  More curious, however, was the slim torque that sat around Grey’s neck, almost hidden by his collar…  Bond froze as he shifted his own body slightly, seeking a position that didn’t numb his hands where they were cuffed at the small of his back, instead feeling the weight of something against his nape and collarbones.

While the third man – no doubt the leader, if his body language was anything to go by – had been put on the back foot by Bond’s flippant retort, he recovered as he noticed the involuntary widening of Bond’s eyes and tautening of his frame.  “Ah, you noticed.  A nice accessory, isn’t it?  It actually makes your restraints quite unnecessary, but I didn’t want you do anything rash before I had a chance to explain.”

More pieces slid into place.  Grey looked solemn, and his swarthy face was doing a good job of staying blank, but now 007 could detect a hardening of temper beneath the mask.  Bond had read his file: at the time of Grey’s ‘death,’ there had been a lot of rumors flying around to dirty the man’s reputation, but the facts beneath had lead Bond to believe that Grey was actually loyal to his employers.  Unfortunately, his employers at the time hadn’t believed that, so they hadn’t looked all that hard when their star assassin had been crushed when a railway tunnel collapsed.

On reflection, it sounded like a similar set-up to what Bond had just ‘died’ in: a rigged collapse with an escape hatch planned, all enabled by a hefty dose of something to make the target agent more compliant and unable to argue.  Bond vaguely remembered being saved from the falling rubble, but he’d fought right up until he and Grey had dropped through the reinforced trap-door, and had probably busted another earpiece in the process.  He could feel where Grey had been forced to punch him in the side of the head when the soporific wasn’t working quickly enough.  The familiar pressure of the earpiece was no longer in his ear to connect him to MI6, and his head throbbed besides.  His glasses from Q were also gone (probably destroyed), and there was no way they’d left him with his knife.  Q would be furious.

If he ever learned that 007 wasn’t dead.

Grey looked pretty rough, too, still covered in scrapes and bruises even if he’d cleaned the rubble off.  This mission had nearly killed both him and Bond – for real – and the Polish assassin didn’t look happy about it.  But he’d done it anyway, just as he’d switched allegiances to this dark-eyed man for no reasons that James could comprehend.

Unless…

“If you force me to, I can remotely activate that collar to give you quite a shock – or to kill you quite permanently, if I choose,” the third man finished, a smile playing across his small, thin-lipped mouth in a way that spoke of long-standing immorality and a taste for cruelty.  The last few pieces fell into place and Bond put the whole picture together.

Instead of responding to the threat, Bond switched subjects without warning, showing that the gig was up, “Odd way to go about recruiting.”

It was rewarding, just to see the dark-eyed man startled for a second.  Ward stopped eyeing the door to turn in surprise, and even Grey’s mouth twitched in cold humor.  Perhaps everyone had been expecting Bond to show more fright in the face of an electrically charged collar – that in and of itself was enough for Bond to ignore the dangerous circle of metal entirely.  “Very quick of you,” the man across from Bond applauded after a beat, recovering, “Most people take some convincing before they understand what it is I do.”

“Like Grey?” Bond guessed further, flicking his eyes to the other assassin, whose expression shifted into a deep scowl.  “How much convincing did he take?”  As Bond continued the seemingly idle conversation, his eyes drifted, and he noted that Ward lacked a collar – meaning that his betrayal was entirely voluntary.  Good.  Then Bond didn’t have to feel guilty when he killed the little weasel slowly.  Keeping that thought in mind like a goal to strive for, James shifted his eyes lazily back to his captor.

“Oh, Grey was a bit slower than you,” the other fellow replied lightly, and Grey twitched but did nothing, like a good dog.  “But I’d been wanting to acquire him for sometime, and after I explained to him just how sullied his reputation was, and that he’d never be able to go back to his old life anyway, he came around.  I barely need the collar anymore.”

Bond was meeting Grey’s eyes now.  He smirked knowingly as he saw the murder in them, and asked with knowledgeable amusement, “Why don’t you take it off then?”

“Because I didn’t get to where I am now by being stupid,” the dark-eyed man was quick to reply.  He was watching Bond now with equal intensity.  “But let’s talk about you, Mr. Bond, and your future.”

Unease moved in slow coils against the walls of Bond’s stomach, but he kept his expression smooth.  The cuffs about his wrists were too tight to slip, but he was working on other escape plans in his head as he talked, “I presume that my organization thinks that I’m dead?”

Despite the fact that Bond hadn’t given away what that organization was, the other man replied without hesitation, “Yes, MI6 is quite convinced of your death.  Actually, I’m surprised by how easily they gave you up.  We only kept you unconscious for half a day as we traveled, and in that time they’ve already ceased digging through the rubble for you body.  Apparently finding your remains isn’t worth upsetting the Polish government.  Did you know, James, that you got into quite a lot of trouble with Poland before your rather timely end?”

“Oh?”  Usually, Bond would have added, ‘You poor bastard, you think it was only Poland?  I probably upset more governments than there are countries,’ but now didn’t seem like the time.  

“Yes.”  The dark-eyed man’s sickly smile widened.  “If your MI6 wasn’t keen to be rid of you before, they are now.  Good thing you’re dead, yes?”

Anger began to boil darkly under Bond’s skin, the full breadth of this plan beginning to sink in.  007 had experienced many blows to his reputation in the past, enough to learn just how painful each recovery was – it was a loss of trust on a huge scale, and not only did it involve an inevitably gruesome lecture by M, but it also usually left him crippled as an agent until things blew over.  If they blew over.  MI6 had already thrown Bond’s lot in with Ward, leaving 007 to feel just like raw meat in a lion’s den, and then there was this man burning all of the bridges behind him.

The dark-eyed man smiled his tiny smile again, no doubt seeing how he was backing James into a corner.  It was a game he’d apparently played many times before.  “You called my method of recruiting ‘odd,’ but I don’t think you understand the beauty of it.  Training agents to your level of expertise is tedious and time-consuming, to say nothing for how much money is wasted every time a novice agent dies by his or her own stupidity.  I’d be willing to bet that only one in one hundred – maybe one in one thousand – trainees ever make it to the level that you or Mr. Grey are at.”

“Shallow flattery won’t get you anywhere, Mr…?” Bond let his playful sentence hang, seeking more information even as he battled a nauseous feeling of unease in his stomach that had nothing to do with being drugged.

“Solomon Lane,” the answer was given up easily.  “You may as well know.  You’ll be answering to that name quite a lot from now on.”

Bond’s smile flattened out into something vicious and cold like the edge of a blade.  His humor chilled into something like frostbite.  “I wouldn’t count on it.”

The jolt of agony came so fast that James got no chance to brace himself.  He didn’t even remember seeing Lane move, which made sense, as he had yet to notice any obvious remote in the dark-eyed man’s hands – an obvious way to trigger the collars would have been an obvious weakness for eager ex-agents like Grey to go for.  So without any warning, 007 felt energy like a thousand needles driving into his skin and shooting through his body.  His head snapped back with the agony of it, and James roared before the electrical surge locked his jaws shut and cut off the sound.  The rest of his muscles spasmed so tightly that he felt like his bones were being warped under the tension, and it seemed like a century of torture before the power was turned off.  James sagged, panting raggedly and feeling the aftershocks chase their way through his limbs.  He’d been electrocuted before – on purpose and accidentally – but it never got easier, and he clenched his teeth voluntarily this time to cut back a groan.

Through the agony, he heard Lane prattling on, “I hope that you see I’m not bluffing now, Mr. Bond.  I’ve been wanting to acquire you for quite awhile now, and I’ve quite a bit of practice at this, so even a wild one like you should just bend to the inevitable.”  Bond, still recovering with his head rocked back on the back of the sofa, bared his teeth and made a growling noise to show just what he thought of that.  The dark-eyed man apparently didn’t think much of the wordless threat, because no further punishment followed, although the monologue continued, “I may not have the patience to train novice agents, but I’ve a lot of practice at taming down cutthroats like yourself.  You will learn to do what I want.”

Muscles aching as if they’d been stripped from his bones and reattached with wire stitches, Bond lifted his head and opened his eyes to cold-blooded slits that any cobra would be proud of.  “Even MI6 wasn’t stupid enough to make a boast like that, you delusional bastard,” 007 informed him with about as much reckless intent as an asteroid hurtling to earth.

The result was just as brutal: Lane’s face contorted and James just caught sight of a twitch of his wrist, which was what he’d wanted all along.  Either Grey wasn’t as observant as Bond, or the other assassin had given up already, because James was the one to see signs of a hidden trigger in their captor’s right sleeve – in the split second before his nerve-endings were set on fire again, the air dragged right out of his lungs as the collar emitted more electricity than any shock-collar.  This time, when the current faded, a shriek escaped Bond’s throat that was visceral and animal, an involuntary reaction to pain that had dug into him like talons that hurt as much going in as coming out.

“The first thing you’ll need to learn is that I’m not really a very patient man when it comes to back-talk,” Lane said, his cultured tone becoming slightly nasal as temper shone through his almost scholarly façade.  Still standing behind his left shoulder, Grey was mostly unmoved – he was hardened to violence just like any other killer of his caliber, but he’d been in Bond’s shoes, and there might have been the barest scrap of sympathy in his dull eyes.  Lane leaned forward to continue, “Now, let’s discuss a few more rules that you’ll be wise not to cross-”

Bond didn’t hear the reason that Lane was cut off, not at first – his own breaths were too loud as he dragged in air and felt the way his every muscle quivered and shuddered.  However, a heartbeat after Lane halted his sentence, Bond’s eyes fluttered open and narrowed in bemusement, because he could hear it, too: a ringtone, persistently chiming just outside the door.  It cut off quickly, and for a moment, everyone just shrugged it off.  Apparently one of the guards outside had gotten a phone-call.

But then the ringing started again.  This time with a different ringtone.

Ward, Grey, and Lane were all twisting around now to give narrow-eyed, curious looks at the door.  Bond considered taking advantage of the distraction, but the moment he shifted his weight, Lane’s gaze flashed back to him, proving that the dark-eyed man was of a watchful disposition – he had to be, to press that hidden switch of his before a man like Grey or Ward could gain the upper hand.  Considering that his recent double electrocution was already making him shaky, 007 decided that now would be a monumentally stupid time to make an escape attempt.

By now, four separate ringtones had gone off, so either someone was playing them for fun, or the guards had gotten suddenly popular.  Before anyone could think of anything to say, the door opened to admit a flustered, beleaguered guardsman.  “Er… boss?  Sir?  There’s someone on the phone.”

“For me?”  Lane looked torn between interested and annoyed.

The guard’s mouth turned down almost guiltily, and he shook his head, then jerked his chin Bond’s way.  “Looking for him.”

While Grey looked at Bond in involuntary surprise, and Bond in return just lifted and dropped one shoulder to show that this wasn’t his doing – he had no idea what was going on – the leader of this agent-stealing group glowered mightily and snapped, “Tell them the truth then.  James Bond is dead.  Or, at least, that they’ll never get him back.”

“Hartman tried that already.  Then I got called,” the guard replied weakly.  “Honest, sir, we didn’t even have our phones on, but this bloke somehow just keeps-”

Everyone turned as ‘this bloke’ apparently got impatient with being put on hold and called again – this time causing Ward’s phone to ring.  The lean little man nearly jumped out of his skin, and said what the guard had already been giving as an excuse: “My phone was off!  I swear!  Turned right off.”  He fished his mobile out of his pocket under Lane’s glaring eyes, and canceled the called instantly, but it just started ringing again before he’d even put it in his pocket.  “Dammit.  Dammit dammit dammit…” Ward hissed, and whatever he did next with his phone worked, because there was no immediate call-back.

Then the pounding intro cords to ‘Smoke on the Water’ erupted from Grey’s pocket.  Bond was surprised that the coopted agent even had a mobile, but he supposed that Grey’s leash could be a little loose considering he couldn’t go back to his friends even if he wanted to, in light of the damage Lane had done to his reputation.  To his credit, the Polish assassin didn’t even twitch, merely maintained his military stance while sliding guarded eyes towards his present boss.  Said boss looked on the verge of blowing a blood vessel in his brain from pure exasperation, which Bond found uniquely funny.  “Answer the call,” Lane decided, tone turning waspish now that things weren’t going as perfectly as planned.  

Grey was still under his control, though, and obediently pulled out his phone and pulled it to his ear.  “Cześć?” he answered in a lazy tone.  For a moment, Bond wondered if the switched language threw the caller, because Grey’s expression looked briefly smug – but then it switched to surprised.  He didn’t say anything else for a moment or two, but now, with the phone nearer, Bond could hear the angry voice on the other end of the line.

When he recognized it, 007 was floored. That was Q.

After another moment, Grey had no choice but to repeat the guard’s actions: he muted the phone, looked to his boss, and said in slightly accented English, “There’s an individual on this phone who insists on being allowed to speak to James Bond.  He adds that if he is hung up on one more time, he’ll make us regret it.”

“And just what will he do?” Lane scoffed, but Bond was already bracing himself and growing watchful on a whole new level.  If this was really Q making threats, and he was as furious as he sounded – Q, who was usually cool as a cucumber, and able to stand up to all but the worst antics of MI6’s agents – then his threats were far from empty.

This time, Grey jumped: his phone crackled, and then suddenly the voice of MI6’s Quartermaster was coming through the phone on speakerphone.  “I can hear you, and I assure you, there’s quite a lot that I can do.  And because you made it so irksomely hard to get to this point, you can be assured that I will do quite a lot.  Now…”  Q paused, and Bond imagined him reigning his ferocious temper in.  When he finished his sentence, he sounded almost posh and profession again, “Will you please hand me over to Bond?  I know that he’s there.”

Everyone was exchanging looks, even the posse of guards who had gathered at the door to peer in, and no one had any idea what to do.  Bond had been electrocuted quite enough for today, so he didn’t open his mouth quite yet, but he was considering it – if only to laugh himself sick at the look of shock, outrage, and utter confusion written on Lane’s face.  Before any course of action could be chosen, the Quartermaster’s increasingly sharp voice returned to say, “I’m getting impatient.”

If Ward had jumped when his phone went off, he nearly came out of his skin when his pocket suddenly started smoking.  It wasn’t the pocket he’d put his phone into – that trick Q had already played, apparently – but something was literally burning through his other one, and for a moment it was a toss-up whether the informant would tear his trousers off or not.  Everyone stood up, tense and on high-alert, but Q was still audible over the ensuing spot of chaos, “As much as it pains me to sacrifice tech, I hope that whoever has Bond’s glasses learns a lesson about stealing.  So, if you would please let me talk to Bond, I won’t have to do anything more extravagant or blow anything up.”

Even to people who didn’t know Q, the boffin sounded dangerously close to doing something temperamental.  Because Q in a snit this big was rarer than white ravens, Bond took a risk and drawled aloud, “I thought blowing things up was my job.”

“Thank goodness.”  Q actually sounded more bored that relieved, although there was still an edge in the Quartermaster’s voice that sounded disturbingly like madness.  Q was pissed, and maybe a bit off his rocker, and 007 couldn’t have been happier to know that his absence had bothered at least someone.  “I was leery of jeopardizing your safety with extreme measures, but was on the verge of running that risk in the name of getting results.”

Lane’s left hand was hovering obviously next to his right sleeve, a clear threat to either put 007 in a world of hurt again or possibly even put him down.  Bond just eyed him levelly, respecting the threat enough not to speak immediately, and was rewarded by Lane making an exasperated sound and then beckoning Grey (and his mobile) closer to where Bond sat tied.  With the mobile more within reach, Bond pretended not to notice the eyes watching him so closely and replied, “I’m glad you showed some self-restraint.”  Across from him, Bond’s captor was making a clear gesture for him to watch what he said, and 007 decided to obey the order… for now.  He’d been very much telling the truth about how belligerent he was when it came to authority figures, and even the threat of the collar wouldn’t make 007 cautious for long.

This situation was clearly so unprecedented, however, that no one seemed entirely sure how to handle it.

Except for Q.  Now that he’d heard Bond’s voice, he sounded collected and confident, and the sound settled something in Bond’s soul like a familiar hand stroked down the back of a riled tiger.  “Since I’m reasonably sure that you’re in mixed company who won’t allow you to say your location, I’ll just stick to safer questions: Are you all right, James?”

Lane nodded, allowing the question.  Bond didn’t care, and had planned to answer anyway.  This man may have put a collar on his neck, but Q was the only one who came anywhere close to holding Bond’s leash.  “A bit bashed up, but not bad.  I’m less mobile than I’d like.”  By which he mean he was restrained.

“I feared as much.  You’re incredibly troublesome,” Q said in a disgruntled tone that made 007 laugh without thinking.

“And apparently rather valuable.  You should hear the story behind all of this – it’s fantastic,” James joked with a broad grin even as his captor decided that he’d had enough of this and stalked over.  Seeing his conversation at an end but also knowing that he needed help if he was going to get out of this without being inhumanely euthanized – because while Bond could probably slip his cuffs, he wasn’t sure that he could reach the trigger to his collar before Lane did – Bond thought fast, and then blurted out in the last second, “Remote trigger.”

Bond was glad that he’d decided to keep his message short, because those two words barely made it out of his mouth before his muscles were locking up again from an electric surge.  He didn’t try to keep quiet this time – as cruel as it was, he needed Q to understand.  MI6’s Quartermaster was terrifyingly capable of things most people would think impossible, like setting fire to Ward’s pocket, but Bond knew that Q needed adequate information to do anything at all.  Hopefully, Bond’s ragged roar of pain combined with those two words would paint an adequate picture, a picture demanding that Q hack whatever remote systems that he could find.

Technically, Bond didn’t even know if that was possible, but after only a few seconds of crushing agony, it all suddenly… stopped.  Bond’s thrashing had tipped him over on his side this time, but he registered the sudden cessation of electricity and grinned a wolfish grin against the couch-cushions.  “Thank you, Q,” he murmured on an exhale, then dislocated his thumb with a jerk that he barely felt, and yanked his hand free of the cuff in one trained motion.

Bond surged up off the couch without hesitation, feeling the shock in the room like a wave that he broke through.  He almost made it to Lane when the chinless little man roared, “Grey!” and the other assassin, still fearing the collar around his neck, intervened.  That was fine – 007 was ready to dance, and right now he wasn’t picky about partners.

“You still there, Q?” Bond grunted even as he slithered out of the way of one punch and returned another, winding up a second one as soon as Grey blocked the first.

The phone had dropped to the floor, but the speaker was loud enough for 007 to hear his Quartermaster clearly.  “Yes.  I hope this means that I was successful in blocking all radio waves in your location?”

“Quite successful.  Where are you?”  Bond ducked another punch but had to absorb the next one against his stomach.  Grey hit like a tank, despite being built similarly to 007 himself.

“Nowhere near you, unfortunately, but I’m sending backup to your location.  ETA twenty minutes.”

“Too slow.  A bastard named Lane is escaping as we speak,” 007 gritted back, and then Grey ended the conversation by swinging to the side and stamping down on the phone.  Bond had suspected that a good thing like that couldn’t last, but he’d given Q more than enough information – he hadn’t the faintest idea how Q had known he was alive, much less located him, but the Quartermaster had removed the metaphorical sword from his throat and freed him to act.  It would have to be enough.  With Grey acting as a very deadly distraction, Lane was already fleeing with his guards, but when Ward tried to get past Bond and Grey, the MI6 agent whipped out his hand.  Technically, Ward was out of arms’ reach – but the empty cuff still dangling off his right wrist gave him an extension, and the empty loop of metal lashed across Ward’s startled face.  Grey nearly lost the fight right then because he laughed, and 007 almost liked him a little in that second – then the two were at each other’s throats again, Grey backing up to avoid a kick aimed at his throat.

Bond and Grey had similar training, although Grey had a more mercenary history that his British counterpart.  The two might have been equally matched, but the moment that Lane was out of sight, Bond could see Grey’s dedication wavering.  ‘While the cat’s away…’ Bond thought to himself, and then took a risk and backed off.  Ward was still in the room, less hurt and more startled by the metal that had snapped into his face, and 007 was willing to take him instead of Grey.  Looking into Grey’s wary eyes, Bond tapped a finger to his collar as he flicked his gaze to Grey’s matching accessory.  “I won’t tell if you won’t,” he said cheerily.

Grey’s eyes narrowed and then widened fractionally as he understood.  Agents like them were predators, and while Bond had a severely disabled sense of self-preservation, Grey’s line of work made him uniquely interested in saving his own skin – because even an injury could make a predator useless, and Grey wanted to live to hunt another day.  If he did as his master bid and fought Bond, he might win, but he would not escape unscathed.  Bond’s coldblooded smile assured him of that.  Any weaponry that might have tipped the odds had apparently been banned from the room, and even odds meant bloody fights.

Glancing at Ward, Grey apparently considered the chances of the man snitching on him, so 007 sealed the deal by backing a bit further away – a movement that effectively blocked Ward’s exit.  “Another time, maybe?” 007 said between gritted teeth, hating to let a target escape but aware that he wasn’t at the top of his game.   He was putting on a good front, but if Grey saw through it, he might just decide that this fight was worth the risks after all.

Fortunately, Grey took the bait, and with a sneer at Ward and a brief, ‘Yes,’ to Bond, the Polish assassin loped out the door.

Still making sure that he didn’t turn his back to the door (he’d had enough double-crossing for this week), 007 immediately strode over and punched Ward before the man could even know what was coming.  He’d already had a cut across one eye from the cuff, and now his nose sprayed  blood.

Bond punched him again for good measure.  “Bastard,” he grunted, words not containing how much he wanted to string the informant up by his intestines.

But a voice came from Ward’s pocket, once again amplified on speakerphone: “007?  Report, please.  Knocking out all signals in the area has also severely limited my own eyes, and I was already far more blind than I’d like to be.”

“The situation is under control,” Bond decided to reply.  He kept alert, but knelt by Ward to fish the phone out.  It felt good to have a connection to MI6 and safety again.  “I lost Lane and Grey.”

“I’ve got people checking on that last name,” Q promptly replied.  If Bond wasn’t mistaken, he sounded relieved.  “I thought you said that Garrett Grey was dead?”

“Unfortunately, no, but I honestly think that the situation he’s in is worse.”  Recalling his wordless agreement with Grey to keep Ward from tattling on him, Bond rolled his eyes and then checked to make sure ward was deeply unconscious.  Two punches had apparently been enough, because he was out like a light.  Bond's right hand hurt but his thumb was back in place, and he had only minimal trouble hefting Ward’s wiry, limp frame up in a fireman’s carry.

“I’m not sure I understand,” Q said, puzzled.

“I’ll explain later,” Bond promised a bit breathily, “If you promise to explain how the devil you found me.”

“It wasn’t easy,” Q said, sounding vastly annoyed, but not at Bond, “especially since everyone at MI6 insisted that you were dead.  I might be facing a few formal charges for disregarding orders, so hopefully being proven right about your status will smooth things over.  Therefore, I demand that you return alive.  Promptly.”

“Demand, do you?”  Ward wasn’t heavy, but Bond was recovering from multiple electrocutions and a fight with another assassin.  He dearly hoped that Lane and his cronies had cut their losses and fled, because he didn’t feel up to fighting his way to freedom.  “Funny.  I just told Lane in rather rude terms that I don’t take demands well.”

“Too bad.  You’re taking mine today,” Q snapped back. “What further assistance do you need?” he added on with ill-grace after an exhale that was exactly ten seconds long, a slow count to slow a sudden temper.

Bond turned so that Ward’s legs exited the room first.  When no guns blew off his shoes, Bond followed.  The place looked clear.  “I’d actually be much obliged if you could tell me where the hell I am.”

Q’s surprised was palpable, as was his happiness at being useful.  “Still in Krakow, but you were moved to the edge of the city.  I’d have found you more quickly, but you were underground, I think, and some idiot decided to run off with those prototype glasses I gave you.”

“And where are they now?” Bond asked, mostly to make conversation.

Q’s sigh was a lamenting one, as if for a lost lover.  “I just fried its circuitry remotely to get my point across.  I thought that it had returned to your general location, but was far enough away that I hoped it would spark and smoke in a grand fashion.”

Bond… started laughing.  “Q, you’re a national treasure, has anyone told you that?”

“Not to date, no.”  Suspicious now, Q asked slowly, “What did I do?”

“Nothing, Q.  Everything,” Bond corrected himself, his black mood towards this whole debacle starting to evaporate as Q gave him some unexpected sunshine, “I’ll tell you when I get back, provided you have a plane for me.”

“Of course, 007.  If you can avoid anymore unexpected detours, I’ll repay the favor by getting you home first-class.”

Bond might have loved him a bit right then.

~^~

 

Chapter Text

Trust wasn’t strictly a four-letter word, but it was definitely classified as a curse in the double-oh department, and James particularly avoided it like a canny fox avoided a trap.  As he made his way back to London, however – with Ward in his questionably benevolent care and Q perpetually in contact, like a pleasant burr – 007 used the double-edged sword called ‘trust’ to carve out a little-used space in his soul, paring away old scar-tissue to make room for a certain boffin who’d earned the spot.  The last person who’d nestled there had torn Bond up pretty badly, but considering that Q had defied protocol and even orders in his refusal to leave 007 for dead, Bond figured that the least Q deserved right now was a bit of t-r-u-s-t.

Bond made his way up to street-level without trouble, proving that Lane had been spooked enough that there’d be no catching him today - he was in the wind.  Ward woke up again before the promised back-up arrived, but by then, 007 had picked the locks for his handcuffs and transferred them to his prisoner.  Succinct but blunt threats also served to keep the smaller man from doing anything stupid.  

The collar was another matter.  “From what you’re describing, 007, it’s not made to be taken off easily,” Q said after the two of them collaborated for long moments, the agent growing increasingly frustrated because he couldn’t see what he was doing and Q feeling much the same but from much further away.  “I’d recommend you leave it be, as terrible as that sounds.  I’m worried about a back-up system that could be triggered by meddling.”  Q’s voice sounded uneasy through the speaker-phone, his careful British diction getting subtly more clipped at the edges.  

Dropping his hands from his throat, Bond released a sigh that sounded more like a grumpy growl, letting the metal settle against his skin again, malevolent but docile.  “That sounds like something that bastard would do,” Bond admitted.  The phone suddenly beeped, and he picked it up to frown at it before adding reluctantly, “I’m going to have to turn you off, Q.  The battery on this phone is almost dead.  What was the ETA on that back-up?”

“Five minutes,” Q answered that first, instantly, then went on with bemusement, “Why don’t you switch to the earbud, 007?”

“Because I lost it in the collapsed building,” Bond said with an eye-roll that Q couldn’t see but could probably deduce, wondering how Q knew practically everything else but didn’t know that.

It turned out that Q knew more than Bond thought.  “I gave you three earbuds, 007 – the first you lost early on, and the loss of the second convinced everyone that you were dead.”  Q paused, and James sensed the Quartermaster reigning in some emotional reaction, an unsteady breath dragged in after the last sentence.  “The third earbud is what proved you weren’t deceased, and it’s been on your person this whole time.  The signal wasn’t very strong, however, and it’s not strictly meant to be used that way – neither were the glasses.”

Bond began to truly grasp the incredible width and breadth of his Quartermaster’s skills.  He recalled Q getting fussy about the glasses being in Ward’s pocket – it sounded like Q had been tracking the glasses and Bond’s earpiece, two functions that sounded distinctly unorthodox for either item, and no doubt distinctly frustrating when they’d ended up on different people’s persons.  Bond fished around in his pockets for awhile before eventually finding the earpiece wedged into his shoe.  It was small, thank God, and hadn’t slipped under his foot to lame him, but must have fallen and gotten stuck there at some point during the building collapse.  “You don’t know how lucky you are,” Bond muttered to the tiny thing as he held it between thumb and forefinger.  

“Beg your pardon, 007?”

The Quartermaster’s perplexed voice was still coming from the phone, which was fading fast, but a slight depression of Bond’s fingernail made the earpiece active, and he directed his voice there instead, “Nothing.  Just marveling at how some of your tech seems to survive almost as much as I do.”

“ ‘Almost’ being the key word,” Q groused, but couldn’t keep up his bad mood for long.  He sounded chipper again as he reported, “Back-up should be arriving at your location now, so if you see people, please hesitate to shoot them.”

Don’t hesitate, did you say, Q?” Bond feigned deafness with a grin for the pure fun of driving his Quartermaster barmy, “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you, because I had a building dropped on my head.”

“You great bloody bastard,” Q accused, but 007 thought he heard breathy laughing from the other end of the comm.  It was a lovely, lovely sound.  

~^~

Back-up arrived and took responsibility for Ward, which was good, because 007 still had very serious thoughts about at least maiming the turncoat a little.  Bond’s collar was met with carefully nonjudgmental looks, cluing Bond into the fact that Q must have been in their ears, too - filling them in and making it clear that they didn’t need to ask questions that had already been posed and answered.  New clothes were found before they reached the airport, including a turtleneck pullover that did an adequate job of hiding his new accessory, with the help of his jacket.  

“I’m going to have to leave you now, 007,” Q said, professional as ever, despite the fact that he’d gone beyond professionalism by chattering in Bond’s ear the whole way to the airport - even as he re-dressed, which stirred a sort of prideful excitement in Bond’s chest, because he’d always been a show-off, and having Q listening was just one step away from him watching.  Bond was brought back from his distraction as Q kept talking, “Your flight is due for take-off within minutes, and I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times the speech about ‘putting your devices on airplane mode’.”

“I’m sure that doesn't include earpieces,” Bond admonished playfully, settling into his first class seat.  He didn’t have any neighbors.  The back-up team was returning on the same flight, with Ward secured along with them, but some higher power must have decided that 007 deserved a bit of space.  That higher power being a very stroppy and determined Quartermaster.  

“Very funny, 007.”

If Bond wasn’t mistaken, Q sounded fond.  Bond was suddenly reluctant to lose the sound of him in his ear.  “And surely rules like that don’t apply to you.”

Maybe it was the subtle flattering, or maybe it was the tone of Bond’s voice, which had perhaps betrayed something, but Q paused a bit before saying with a mixture of reluctance and gentle warmth, “I really am sorry that I have to disconnect, 007.  Flight protocol aside, I’ve got quite a few people to talk to here at MI6 regarding your not dying and my subsequent and rather rash actions.  Plus, you should sleep.”

“I already slept,” Bond grumped, curling his lip, “Being drugged does a wonderful job with that.”

“James.”

Q’s tone sounded like it came with an eye-roll, and that turned Bond’s frown back into a very faint smirk.  It was the Quartermaster’s ‘How do I even get into arguments like this?’ voice, and if 007 were able to drag that sound out of the other man, then things really must be okay.  “All right, Q, all right - if you insist.  I’ll stay obedient a little while longer.”

“Good.  Try to keep some of that obedience handy until the paperwork is done - you’ve got a lot of questions to answer, in triplicate, and a lot of people would like that done before you hare off again.”  Q was back to being eloquent and quick of speech again, so posh that he should have been a diplomat instead of Quartermaster and erstwhile-babysitter of secretive and dangerous agents.  

Bond groaned and dragged a hand over his face, because it sounded a lot like he’d fallen into a pretty little trap, but said, “See you back in London, Q,” before they both abandoned the comms.  

~^~

While Bond rested on the plane (less because he wanted to and more because he sincerely needed to, despite his forced ‘nap’), Q went through the gauntlet at MI6.  He hadn’t broken any rules too strenuously, but his dogged determination to search for 007 had definitely upset the fine balance of intra-office relationships.  There were quite a few people who had wanted to tell Q what he should be doing with his time, and a number had even been vocal in telling the Quartermaster that he was wasting MI6 resources in his seemingly fruitless search.  Now that Bond was returning alive, however, most of those voices were conspicuously silent - and those voices that remained were quieter.  

The fact that M staunchly backed Q’s decisions helped, too.  She’d endured multiple instances of Bond ‘dying,’ enough to realize that the man should never be truly counted dead until either a month had passed (minimum) or his body was found and identified.  

What had been building up to be something of an inquisition became merely an awkward wrist-slap about not following orders, even if ‘not following orders’ had led to the recovery of one of MI6’s top agents.  

By the time everything was said and done, it was nearly midnight.  All of his exhaustion was catching up with him at once, and Q nearly sagged when the matter was deemed closed.  He was actually slouched in his chair with his eyes closed and his head tipped back before he realized that M was still in the room.  It was a measure of his relieved fatigue that he just twitched instead of having a full-blown heart-attack when the woman said, “Go home, Q, unless you want me to really write you up for insubordination and consider having you sleep in a holding cell.”

To be fair, M sounded more tired than threatening herself, but Q knew a promise when he heard one.  He’d learned that one of M’s greatest strengths was the utter belief that everyone held (and quite rightly) that she never bluffed, and was as ruthless as a wolf in winter whenever the occasion called for it - such as now, apparently.  Too drained to argue and already replete in the knowledge that he’d succeeded and all was well, Q just blinked twice torpidly and then nodded.  

~^~

Bond didn’t know how he managed to fall asleep, considering that his brain insisted on running like spooked horses - and perhaps with good reason, because there was nothing as likely to spook an agent as the realization that they’d made a mistake that almost led to their sudden death.  All it took was one mistake to kill a spy, so it was easy to obsess over the ‘one thing’ that caused him to go from running the metaphorical knife-edge to falling on the blade.

The problem was, that ‘one thing’ was never some clear-cut error just waiting to be found like a bullet hole through a white sheet.  So 007’s mind was left chasing scores of miniature catastrophes - many elusive mice to his admittedly tired and sore cat.  The back-up team had included a medical professional with enough prowess to patch Bond up and give him some painkillers, but considering that all 00-agents had an absolutely indecent tolerance for most medications, they hadn’t gone as far as they should have.  And this damn collar…!

Gritting his teeth, squeezing his eyes shut, and giving himself a mental shake, James tried to settle his thoughts, logic telling him just how useless it was to berate himself when really, he’d done everything right - or as right as possible, considering he’d been working with a new (and traitorous) partner hunting a supposedly dead Polish assassin.  It was just shit luck that an agent could do nothing particularly stupid and still end up dead, or nearly a puppet to a patronizing megalomaniac, whichever the case might be.  

And it was just good luck that MI6’s new Quartermaster was a stubborn little beggar.  

The thought made 007 smirk, eyes still closed, and the slow relaxation of his taut muscles was subconscious.  Q, who’d at first been surprised by Bond’s wariness of his new partner, but had not dismissed his instincts - Q, who had offered to do something about it, but whom Bond had turned down, knowing that the Quartermaster had a lot of political clout in MI6 but not enough to question mission assignments without solid proof - Q, whom Bond had chewed out rather unfairly over the comms right when things had gone to hell.  

Q, who had found Bond anyway.  

Generally speaking, it was submissives who found solace in letting someone else take care of them, but in that moment, Bond - who was a Dom through and through - felt something in him unwinding slowly like a belly-deep sigh at the thought that Q had had this handled all along, and still did.  

~^~

Having caught a bit of shut-eye on the flight, Bond was at least competent by the time they touched down, and he was faking his usual self decently well by the time he was out of the airport.  The back-up team still had possession of Ward, so 007 made a purposeful decision to let them handle it, because if he thought any more about the man, he’d do something that would make M angry… like kill a prisoner on British soil.  Possibly in public.  007’s temper was waning but still present, so he walked away and hailed his own cab, turning his earpiece on as he slipped in.  

“I’m sorry, 007,” R’s voice came through the device not long after, sounding tired, a bit surprised, but also sympathetic, “Q’s not here.  He was just sent home to get some rest.  Why, do you need him?”

Bond rather thought he did, but not for reasons he felt like explaining to Q-branch’s second-in-command.  “I just thought he’d like his tech back as soon as possible,” James replied smoothly, even as he leaned forward to tap the cabby’s window.  

“But I thought nearly the whole kit was destroy-?” R’s question was cut off as Bond turned off his earpiece with a small, cheeky smirk.  With the young woman’s confusion still ringing in his ear, James gave the cab-driver new directions, then sat back again.  R was mostly right: he’d lost the poisoned dagger, his glasses had been stolen and then used as distraction by Q himself, and out of the three earpieces, only the one presently in his ear was operational.  

There was still one other bit of gadgetry, however, and Bond turned it slowly on his finger, marveling at its smooth, titanium surface.  It had survived with barely a scratch.  “And here I thought this was some sort of romantic proposal,” James had said, but what he’d neglected to say was that the black ring really did mean something to him, although not quite what he’d implied.  

But now seemed like a perfectly good time to explain it to Q.  

~^~

Q was indeed exhausted but still hadn’t managed to get to sleep.  He’d gotten home, stumbled through the tea-making process, and had changed out his button-down, cardigan, and slacks for a simple black tee and soft grey jogging pants.  The left-over adrenalin that he’d been running on had gone sour in his stomach, however, and it wasn’t until he’d downed the first few sips of tea that he recognized a fine tremor in his limbs.  Fortunately, by the time he’d downed the entire cup, he felt more stable, but still like he had the smell of old smoke in his nose - the danger and fire gone but the recollection of the threat remaining.  It gave him a headache, and with a soft huff of irritation, he got up to find a Paracetamol to go with his second mug of decaf tea.  

Q had barely swallowed the first pill when a polite tap sounded at his door.  Popping his head out of the bathroom curiously, Q looked first at the door with incomprehension and then at the clock, which read the insane hour of 2:13am.  Frowning and wondering if his hearing or the clock was faulty, Q didn’t actually make a move towards the door until the knock repeated itself with just a shade more urgency and volume.  Belatedly jumpstarted by the sound, Q’s bare feet shuffled across the floor while his brain tried to laboriously catch up.  It wasn’t until he was peering blearily at the small camera feed displayed beside the door that he realized this could be some sort of incredibly polite burglar, but before he could follow that thought, he caught sight of a strong jaw, prominent ears, sandy hair, and achingly familiar blue eyes in his frame of view.  “Bond!” Q more or less yipped the word involuntarily, and then he was scrambling to disengage the door’s locking mechanisms (many electronic and personally designed by Q himself) so that he could see the returned ‘dead man’ in person.  James slipped in like a fantastically real ghost, silent of foot but carrying his presence with him like a billowing cloak.  Neither of them said anything, but Q barely backed up at all as he let 007 close the door, leaving the two of them standing close together in the softly lit interior of Q’s flat.  There was nothing but soft silence between them, and precious little pace.  

Time seemed to withdraw around them, an entity that couldn’t touch the moment as Q and Bond stood and inspected one another as if with new eyes.  Bond looked rough and tired - and Q thought that he could see the shape of something ringing his neck.  Worry urged Q to break the quiet, but it somehow seemed… wrong.  So the silence remained, stretching and flexing like a warm cat: growing strangely easy and comfortable with each second that ticked by, yet charged with an animal energy that was hard to describe.  Q became hyperaware that instead of making way, he’d more or less left 007 pinned against the door.  

If James was bothered at all, he didn’t show it.  His eyes were on Q’s as steadily as the moon was in the night sky, and almost an unearthly pale blue when lit by just Q’s yellowed desk-lamp to the left.  

Q met his gaze and jumped just the tiniest bit as he felt callused hands catch his, holding them steady in a callused grip as the 00-agent stepped closer still.  Eye contact only broke when James leaned in, still without a word, and with the air of someone laying offerings before a god, placed a kiss on the side of Q’s jaw, right at the hinge-point on the right side - then another one, lower down his neck in the vulnerable spot beneath his ear, Bond’s breath hot but mouth soft.  By the third kiss to his pulse-point, Q’s eyes had fallen quietly closed, and he felt an emotion he couldn’t name threatening to rush out of his chest as James’s fourth kiss landed with gentle intensity just above the hollow of his throat.  It was as if 007 hadn’t really come home yet… but now he had, and relief was the least of the things threatening to unstitch Q from the inside out.  He released a shaking, shuddery breath and tested the strength of Bond’s hands with a tight squeeze of his fingers, because dead men didn’t squeeze back.  

For a moment, the blond-haired man paused, and it felt like his held breath was Q’s breath, until James belatedly released his hold on Q’s hands.  Q was only left feeling bereft of touch for a short moment, because then he felt warm palms on his hips, fingertips sliding up under his shirt with the kind of slowness that translated to asking permission.  Soon Bond was pushing the material upwards, no refusal forthcoming, and later Q would look back to wonder if he was quite out of his mind.  But there was an unexpected reverence to the motion, as there was to the fourth and final kiss that James pressed right above Q’s heart, letting the touch of his mouth linger as Q just stared in mute wonderment at the man in front of him.  “Thank you, Q,” 007 rumbled, words quiet but sincere.  

James straightened, tall and proud again, but his winter-sky eyes continued to kindle a soft fire that now felt like it was burning somewhere in Q’s chest as well - a fire that was neither sexual nor chaste, and therefore very hard to categorize.  Instead, it flooded Q with a warmth that made him shaky, and also made him realize that he’d started something very serious indeed when he decided to make something of these feelings between himself and 007.  

“You’re welcome,” he managed to get out a good five seconds later.  He struggled for something to say after that, but 007 wasn’t helping, either because the man could be an arse sometimes or because he was sincerely exhausted - it was probably the latter, based on how his past few days had gone.  Finally, a helpful little light went on in Q’s own admittedly fatigued mind, and he gestured awkwardly at Bond’s neck, stammering, “Here… er… Let me…?  Let me get that for you.”  

It was likely a rather impressive, positive sign that the two didn’t need many more words than that.  James let Q approach and pull down the high neck of his pullover, and didn’t do anything more than blink and sport a ghost of a wry smile as Q immediately leaned in and swore.  When Q - more energized now with a technological opponent in his sights - grabbed his wrist and tugged, 007 followed him deeper into the flat and let himself be maneuvered to perch on the arm of the sofa.  “Tea?” Q remembered his manners a bit late.  

“Please.”

With Bond sitting as politely as you please on the arm of Q’s sofa, there was no reason not to focus on how his skin felt hot and hyperaware, even now that his shirt had fallen back into place and he no longer had 007’s mouth on his chest.  Since Bond seemed perfectly content not to discuss his distinctly unprofessional conduct, and with all of this reading as a repeat of Q’s sub-drop visit to Bond’s flat (but with the roles slightly reversed), Q didn’t feel like dissecting the topic either… at least outside the confines of his own head.  Inside his head, his brain was rolling like a cat in catnip, and he subconsciously ran the fingertips of one hand down his sternum as he grabbed Bond a mug.  

007 was still sitting upright, hands loosely on his knees, when Q came back to him with a steaming cuppa, but his eyes were actually closed.  They fluttered open when Q inhaled to speak, and focused when Q exhaled a gentle rebuke, “You’re fresh off the plane, aren’t you?  Why the devil did you come here instead of to MI6?”

Bond let his eyelids slip closed again, as if the question wasn’t worthy of as much attention as he’d thought; Q thought he saw an upward quirk of the man’s lips, however, as he replied like butter wouldn’t melt in his skilled mouth, “I didn’t think that R would tolerate those kisses as well as you would.”

The noise Q made sounded suspiciously like he’d choked on something, but he didn’t drop the tea, and when Bond took it, the Quartermaster managed to contain his retort to a mere eyeroll and a dry, Quartermaster-appropriate, “You’re a pain, 007.  I’ll go get my kit.  Take your shirt off.”

Bond must have been grinning into his tea, because when his low voice followed Q out of the room, it sounded pleased with itself and content as a cat in cream, “I didn’t expect that command to sound as good coming from anyone else either.”

This time Q tripped on his own foot mid-step, but recovered with admirable aplomb and continued on his way to where he kept tools stored in the guest-bedroom.

~^~

With Q standing and Bond ‘perching’ - now sans pullover and shirt - it was minimally awkward to work on Bond’s new bit of metallic apparel.  007 tilted his head obligingly to the side whenever Q needed more room, and Q bent in close so that every time he muttered, he could almost feel his breath skittering over Bond’s bare skin.  The larger man was distractingly naked from the waist up, but the two of them had finally reached the point of tiredness that innuendo and discomfort were impossible.  Q had switched out his tea for a bit of sweetened, caffeinated coffee to keep himself from bolloxing his last job of the evening.  

“We could do this in the morning,” Bond murmured.  For the third time.  He sounded like he was commenting on the weather, but his shoulders flexed as something skritched outside his range of vision.  

Q put the screwdriver down, distractedly balancing it on the back of the couch until 007 reached over and took it.  “No.  I am absolutely not letting you sleep the night through with this thing on.  And since you came here instead of going to Q-branch-”

“I’m spoiled and wanted the best.”

“You are spoiled,” Q growled, and used his free hand to poke Bond in the ribs while holding onto his collar to keep him from getting away.  He never looked up from his work, however, and was soon using another tool to undo part of the mechanism holding the collar together.  Taking out power-tools to cut the thing was appealing, but even with sugar and caffeine renewing the spring in his step, Q didn’t trust himself with something like that at the moment - not when a living body was in such close proximity.  “Ask me in the morning about that bastard Lane.  We got a hit on the name.”

Bond made a pleased noise but was enough of a gentleman to accept the delay until morning.  Perhaps he’d had enough work to last him a few hours, before the agent in him would wake up hungry for knowledge.  In the meanwhile, 007 lifted the hand not babysitting Q’s screwdriver and very gently brushed the backs of his first two fingers against the outer side of Q’s nearest leg.  Somehow, the gentle caress was more soothing than exciting, and Q wondered if Bond valued the physical reminder of Q’s presence as much as Q had Bond’s.  Then Q realized that Bond was touching him with his right hand, and on his right ring finger was the titanium ring that had originally been paired with Q’s prototype glasses.  

“You didn’t lose it,” Q said, pausing in his work because he was so honestly surprised.  

Leaning back a little, Bond disengaged his neck from Q’s hands, enough so that he could look Q in the eye when the younger man glanced back.  Bond’s eyes were filled with a complicated sort of mischief, and it made Q frown and blink questioningly even as Bond flexed his hand.  “I didn’t lose it,” Bond repeated in an agreeable tone, nodding, although then his eyes flicked down to the ring and somehow his mien managed to get even more complicated - a Gordian knot of well-hidden emotions.  “I like it,” he said as if that explained everything.

Which it didn’t.  

“By that logic, you must like precious little, because I may as well just throw everything else in your kit into the Thames - I have a better chance of retrieving it from there, at least,” Q quipped back, bewilderment making him a tad tart.  Deciding that he’d lost enough sleep for his stroppiness to be forgiven, Q reached for the collar again to just get back to work, but stopped and sighed when Bond grabbed both of his hands once more.  

This time, 007 pressed the ring into Q’s palm, and when he resumed speaking his voice was softer and slightly less enigmatic: “Do you know what black rings mean to people like me?”

“By ‘people like me,’ you mean…?”

“Asexuals,” 007 answered unhesitantly.  He still cradled Q’s hand, and pressed his thumb against Q’s palm as he nudged the ring slightly, “A black ring symbolizes asexuality.  Grey rings are symbolic of grey asexuals, and this is such a dark grey that the distinction is probably moot.”  Bond frowned a moment, shrugged, then added, “The distinction is probably moot with me, too.”

Bond’s words had already sunk in, and Q was no longer staring at the ring like 007 was but instead right at the agent’s face with a slightly mortified expression.  “I didn’t even know.  Shit.  Just how offensive was it of me to give you this ring?”  

For the first time since leaving for Poland, Bond laughed.  The smile seemed to take his face by surprise, but the sound was so warm and pleasant that Q couldn’t find it in himself to feel offended, and he’d already felt himself blush to his ears.  When Bond got a handle on his chuckling enough to form words, he put Q’s mind at ease in just a few sentences, “No offense taken at all, Q.  Despite my joking, it wasn’t any sort of indecent proposal.  I just found it ironic.”

“I had no idea.”

“I figured you didn’t.”  Bond’s mouth twitched again, his eyes lighting again like pale-blue fox-fire.  “Which made the whole situation fantastically funny.”

Q swatted him.  It probably didn’t do any good, because all he hit was the man’s chest, and saying that the man was athletic was a crying understatement.  Work had stripped the fat from Bond’s bones and replaced it all with layers of packed, honed muscle, and Q had a distracted second where Bond leaned away from his half-hearted blow, muscles flexing all down his chest and belly.  007 had a goodly number of cuts, scrapes, and bruises, but it looked like he’d had the good sense to get them all taken care of, and it certainly didn't detract from the view.  

“Here - a little bit more ace-lore for your genius brain to chew on,” James said, plucking the ring back before Q could decide whether to keep it or not - clearly, it was Bond’s now, regardless of how much expensive gadgetry was wired into it.  The dark ring resumed its home on the larger man’s right middle finger.  Bond added, tipping his head pointedly, “While you finish up this job.”  

Huffing and making a show of being forced when really he was itching to toss this dangerous loop of metal in the bin, Q obediently switched out tools again.  The first thing he’d sought and destroyed had been the part of the collar designed to kill its wearer, and the electrical system had been next to go, so the torque was essentially disabled - but Q still hated it on principle.  After a moment’s thought, chewing his lower lip in consideration, the Quartermaster also shuffled one step sideways and then sidled up in between Bond’s legs.  ‘What?  I wanted a closer vantage point,’ his lofty look said when Bond raised both eyebrows at him in response.  

Smirking curiously, Bond took in the closer proximity and sat up a bit straighter, coming out of his slouch with a slow flexion of his back.  He canted his head when Q started in on the collar again, indeed working from much closer now - in truth, though, it was more comfortable for both of them this way and involved less awkward leaning.  

And while Q worked, Bond chatted so naturally that it was like they were back at The Golden Apple pub again, relaxing between quiz questions.  “Most asexuals that I’ve met who wear rings like this do so on their right hand.  It’s superstition, mostly.”  He shrugged, an easy, powerful movement that should have made Q complain because it shifted the collar, but instead made him stop breathing for a moment because the delicate bones of his right wrist ended up skimming across the hot skin of 007’s rising left shoulder.  The curious mixture of ‘give’ and firmness that Q associated with muscle under skin sent a little thrill down his spine.  “The right hand is associated with taking, and with logic.  So, basically, wearing a ring on the right hand symbolizes logical, controlled choices.”

“Like your choice to be…”  Q was going to finish that reply with ‘asexual,’ but backtracked quickly with another little flush, “I apologize.  I know it’s not a choice, any more than my taste in blokes is.”

“It’s all right, Q.”  This time, Bond’s words were accompanied by a tilt of his head, and his stubbled jaw just brushed Q’s knuckles like a mollifying (but rough) caress.  “I know what you meant.  To me, at least, I read the symbolism as meaning I’ve made a thoughtful decision, all on my own, with no one forcing my actions or taking the choice away from me.”

“You are what you are,” Q guessed again, more astutely this time, pausing in his work, “And no one can change you - or they would be very illogical beings indeed to try and do so.”

James’s smile was small, as many of his true smiles were, his eyes speaking while his face maintained the facade it had been trained to.  His eyes spoke of the fact that Q kept surprising him in the most wonderful of ways, and Q felt his cheeks heat up for entirely different reasons as the flattering reached him subtextually.  “Precisely,” the world rolled off Bond’s tongue even as he kept eyeing Q with increasing interest.  

Any further conversation was put on hold as something finally snapped, and Q looked back to what he was doing almost with surprise - to find that he’d finally managed to break enough of the collar’s housing to crack it.  “Yes!” Q crowed unabashedly, and focused on his task with renewed vigor, finally making enough progress to bend the metal back.  It was almost easier to break the collar from there than it was to keep Bond from trying to get loose prematurely, because at first, the opening wasn’t big enough for the agent’s neck to slip through without hurting himself.  He kept trying anyway, of course, leaning away and trying to twist his way through the opening that Q had yet to stretch wide enough.  Bond didn’t grab at anything - not quite - but soon Q felt a lot like he was berating a skittish stallion who wouldn’t stop sidling and going for the bit.  “For God’s sake, Bond, would you just give me a minute?!  If you yank it off and rake open your jugular, you’ll bleed out all over the floor and I’ll have to fill out paperwork that may not even exist yet for a situation like this!” Q exclaimed in exasperation.  

He strongly suspected that the only reason Bond behaved fractionally more after that was because he was secretly amused as hell by his Quartermaster’s reaction.  

Finally, though, it was off.  Bond pulled free of it like a fox escaping a ‘catch and release’ program, Q sighed, “Fuck,” in unparalleled relief as he was left with a broken circle hanging off one finger, and Solomon Lane lost his last hold on Agent 007.  

“I’m going to put this somewhere so that I can dissect it later… when I have more tools and brainpower,” Q decided while Bond rubbed at his neck.  There looked to be a new jagged scratch on it, but considering how hard 007 had been trying to slit his own throat just to get out of the thing, Q was calling this a win.  “Bathroom’s just behind you.  I think there’s a first-aid kit under the sink.”  With that, Q wandered again to the guest-bedroom/converted-almost-workshop.  An idea popped into his head halfway there, so after tossing the disabled collar into a bin usually reserved for whenever Q brought explosives home (just small explosives, in his defense), he detoured back into his own room and started digging for something.  

By the time Q reappeared again, Bond was back with some gauze on his neck and a questioning expression on his face.  Q immediately glanced down at his hands, unfolding one to reveal his prize, at which Bond’s left eyebrow jumped up in interested surprise.  “This is also titanium,” Q explained, walking forward and still focusing more on the ring in his palm than his companion.  He suddenly and inexplicably felt more shy than he’d felt when Bond was palming his ribcage and pressing his lips to the skin above his heart.  A simple ring shaped just a bit more sleekly than Bond’s rested in Q’s open hand, its surface alive with color like sunlight off oil, or a melted rainbow.  “I forgot that titanium came in… well… rainbow, but then again, I also almost forgot that a mate of mine got this for me when I came out as gay.  It was sort of a joke at the time, really, and my job doesn’t much allow for wearing rings.  But…”  Q slipped the ring onto his finger - but instead of putting it on his right hand, as Bond was wearing his, Q slipped it onto his left hand before looking up and meeting Bond’s look of intense watchfulness.  As Q talked, that alertness only grew, as Q explained himself slowly but steadily, “If the right hand symbolizes taking power… then the left hand is the one that gives power, isn’t it?”  

Bond’s eyes darkened a shade.  He didn’t move, but suddenly his body seemed poised, like a predator at the edge of the light.  

Q, standing in that predator’s shadow, extended his be-ringed hand before him and finished with a small, lopsided smile, “Considering that you’re a Dom and I’m a sub, that’s rather fitting, isn’t it?”  

~^~

 

Chapter Text

Alec enjoyed the female form.  He just didn’t necessarily care if the ‘female form’ came with a strictly female body.  Therefore, when he was at The Black Ravin’ (a play on words for a nightclub known for its ravs) and he saw a curvaceous young woman that he knew from amongst Q-branch's many tech-analysts along with an androgynous young man whose features could only be described as pretty (in a flattering, feminine sense), he found himself perking up equally towards both.  Alec didn’t know how the hell straight men functioned: a lot of men could look as pretty as girls, so if you excluded all of those pretty faces with a cock, you halved the playing field.   

*

Iris Feist was a tech-analyst from Q-branch, and at the age of twenty-six had learned that one-night stands were a pleasure to be enjoyed while she had her youth - something that her outgoing personality and inviting features made quite easy.  Most tech-analysts were stereotyped as socially inept introverts, but Iris had a bubbling smile and rose-petal lips made equally for laughing or kissing, so this was hardly the first time that she’d gone to The Black Ravin’ for a good time after a hard week at MI6.  This was the first time she’d managed to drag her friend Aiden along, though.   

*

Aiden Matsuda was the youngest and newest nurse employed at MI6 Medical.  He’d been working there long enough to know that regular agents were a million times easier to treat than 00-agents, and to know that both categories combined kept his department busy enough for him to work himself into the dirt.  Aiden had always been most comfortable working, however, the rules and regime adding structure to his life that he felt was necessary - and that Iris said was slowly smothering him to death, although he managed to evade her invitations to ‘let off some steam’ until his work and home-life collided as it sometimes did.  MI6 paid decently, but on a nurse’s wage and in a city of London’s expenses, Aiden learned that he’d have to move back in with his parents and a week later gave in to Iris’s demands with the full intent of getting roaring drunk and making stupid decisions that would give his demanding parents aneurysms if they ever found out.  

He managed enough of the drunk bit to admit to Iris something that he’d never admitted to anyone before: that he possibly, just maybe, was rather gay.  In Aiden’s defense, he was probably as good at keeping secrets as some agents, his home-life serving to teach him the value of keeping such personal secrets very well hidden - but Iris was his friend, and loyal to a fault in the short time he’d known her, and clearly not as judgmental about sexual orientation as literally everyone else in Aiden’s life.  She also had the most understanding, sympathetic eyes, and apparently Aiden couldn’t hold his alcohol very well.

The Black Ravin’ attracted MI6 employees because of geographic closeness, so Alec was rarely shocked when he saw familiar faces beneath the room's strobing lights.  If Alec was looking for possible bed-partners, he also preferred those who at least knew of him and what he did for a living - he got enough strangers on missions.  He didn’t quite recognize the black-haired bloke that Iris was dragging out onto the dance-floor, but chances were high that he was from MI6, too, and if not… well, Alec was a pro at keeping his pillow-talk to safe subjects, if there was any sort of talking at all.  Smiling and feeling a pleasant, familiar thrill slide like an electric touch up his spine, Alec downed his latest drink and finally pushed away from the bar.  He’d had enough alcohol to put a nice buzz in his veins (no small feat, considering his tolerance for the stuff), and he had a few ideas about how he ideally wanted to spend a night off.  

Iris knew Alec Trevelyan by reputation and by sight - nearly all of MI6 did.  She’d never come across him outside of work situations, however, so she’d mostly just subsisted on gossip and a few assessing glances across Q-branch.  What she gleaned from those glances was pretty complimentary, however, and the rumor-mill had been commendatory in the extreme.  Apparently, the man was good in bed, to put it mildly.  So when the song changed to something low and dirty and the lighting shifted from shades of bright gold to mysterious blues, and past Aiden’s arm Iris caught sight of someone with broad shoulders and a Cheshire grin, she felt an answering smile of excitement light her features.  

*

Aiden was definitely a bit drunk.  Or at least very tipsy.  He had no idea how to delineate or describe the difference between the two, because he didn’t have a history of drinking.  He felt better than he had in days, however: since he’d moved back into his parent’s house and had once again been reminded how stifling, demeaning, and controlling they could be.  He could escape them physically at work, but this felt like the first time he’d managed to psychologically shake free of his dark mood, and it was rather nice.  Nice enough, in fact, that the press of people that would have normally unnerved him instead seemed just perfect, especially since Iris was dancing right in front of him.  Maybe he wasn’t totally gay, because he definitely thought she looked sexy, moving to the beat with lithesome grace.  He tried to mimic her, and had no idea if he succeeded, and frankly felt too buzzed to care.  “What?” he shouted to get his voice heard over the thud of the music when he saw Iris’s eyes fix on something, just as the music shifted to something that made his skin vibrate.  It made him itch to move.  Blue lights replaced tawny ones, and slid across Iris’s skin until Aiden wanted to laugh and ask how in the world she’d gotten underwater.  He’d almost forgotten his question in favor of just swaying to the new beat when Iris looked back at him with an absolutely gleeful grin, a second before a large hand fell on his shoulder from behind.  

Alec definitely appreciated the atmosphere and lighting of The Black Ravin’.  All agents had a natural liking for dark places with lots of shadows to slip between, but The Black Ravin’ had a way of making shadows that revealed as well as concealed - and in this case, those flashes of shadow and cerulean light were slipping and playing across two particular figures in ways that Alec just couldn’t resist.  That analyst girl from Q-branch - Feist, he remembered belatedly - looked too young to be working in a government espionage organization, but Alec wasn’t complaining.  The lighting made her look elfin, her eyes almost too big for her heart-shaped face beneath a fan of thick lashes, and sometimes the lights made her look free and cherubic - the next flash of blue, almost dangerously fey, and Alec had never been able to resist a dose of danger very well.  Her partner was a visual feast, too, for an agent fresh off a mission and looking for a good time: in the dimness his hair looked like pure jet, most of it pulled back in a ponytail but strands of it falling loose around his ears, neck, and face like artistic, inky brushstrokes.  He looked so carefree that it tugged at something in Alec’s heart, and it was with more joy than he’d expected that he snuck up on the latter of the pair.  The girl’s eyes watched him with shrewd amusement the whole way, but the boy jumped, turning.  

“May I cut in?” Alec asked smoothly.  

For a split second, Iris had a smartass answer on her lips - one that she was pretty sure would open the doorway to getting her in bed.  Iris was pretty good at getting what she wanted, and right now, she wanted a fun night out with all the trimmings… and 006 was everyone’s definition of ‘all the trimmings,’ or so she’d heard.  But even as her mouth curved and opened, she glanced at Aiden.  He looked bemused and maybe like he didn’t understand Trevelyan’s question, and Iris felt a little bit bad about forgetting Aiden’s lack of experience in just about everything, but specifically drinking, clubbing, and dealing with hot-blooded men like 006.  So even while her stomach clenched at the thought of trying 006 out between the sheets, she sighed and reached forward to place her hand on Aiden’s arm.  “I’m with him,” she made herself inform Trevelyan over the heavy thud of the music.  

Surprisingly… Alec seemed less deterred than he was interested.  Still smiling congenially, a flash of a predator's teeth in a cobalt-lit jungle, Alec was bold enough to amend shamelessly, “Oh, did I say that wrong?  I meant: Can I join in?”

 

~^~

*

Aiden wasn’t totally sure how he’d gotten here.  Oh, he recalled every minute, in a liquid sort of way, but there was still something totally surreal about going from being: boring, uptight Aiden working non-stop in Medical to laughing, nearly naked Aiden in Iris’s flat with a 00-agent wrestling his best friend into playful submission right next to him.  

It was surreal, but a nice surreal - or maybe that was the alcohol talking.  Aiden shook that last thought stubbornly from his head and flopped back, loose-limbed and grinning like a fool, to just watch the unexpectedly delightful spectacle of Iris squealing as she was pinned beneath a form over twice her size.  Aiden felt something like a shiver go down his body as Iris’s startled, indignant noise subsided into a pleased hum, 006 sealing his mouth across hers in a way that said he had a lot of practice.  Aiden and Trevelyan both were stripped down to just their pants, but while Aiden had no real muscle-tone to speak of, muscles and tendons rippled powerful across the 00-agent’s back with every little motion he made.  It was mesmerizing.  

Trevelyan’s eyes, green as the gaze of a fox in the henhouse, flicked over to Aiden as if he’d physically felt him watching.  The kiss never broke, but Aiden sensed something appreciative in that intense gaze, and the shudder down the young nurse’s spine became a heat pooling low in his stomach.  This was definitely the most fun he’d had in possibly his entire adult life, which probably said something about how rarely he got out.  

Or about the fact that he wasn’t even ‘out’ to begin with.  Out of the closet, that was.  

Golden-tan legs curled up around 006’s hips as she invited the kiss to deepen, Iris looked transparently pleased with herself, too, and there was something intoxicating - and a little bit jealousy-causing - about watching 006’s broad hand run up and down her sides.  Even inebriation could only make Aiden so bold, however, so while something inside of him cried out to take what he wanted, he instead remained frozen except to roll up onto his side and watch with avid eyes.  And maybe he whined.  Just a little.  One way or another, something caught 006’s attention so that he looked up from snogging Iris again and this time smiled almost wickedly into the kiss before reaching out with one calloused paw to hook it over Aiden’s bare, pale flank.  

Aiden startled, but he was still too buzzed for real panic to get any sort of toehold, instead fizzling out like a shot of adrenaline across his nerves.  Iris, instead of pouting as the kisses stopped, glanced over questioningly at Aiden and then seemed to light up at whatever she saw on his face.  She giggled when Alec leaned over (putting a bit more of his weight on her in a way that had to be intentional) and gave Aiden a teasing peck on the lips.  Before he knew what he was doing, Aiden was chasing the other man’s mouth back, surprised by how much he’d liked the fleeting point of contact and befuddled as to why it had been pulled away.  A few more times, Alec came forward like a bird hovering over a perch, just tasting Aiden’s lips, and just when the dark-haired young man made that frustrated, needy noise again, Iris showed mercy between giggles and said, “Stop being such a tease!  He’s new at this, remember?”

Still draped over one bed-partner with a possessive, one-handed grip on the waist of the other, Alec drew back just far enough so that Aiden would really have to lean up to grab the kiss he wanted - which, alas, even alcoholic bravery wouldn’t allow him to do.  Feeling like some sort of incurable coward (but ignoring the tiny sober part of his brain that was screaming at how wrong it was for him to be hungering after a man’s kisses at all), Aiden lay still and panted, wondering when he’d started breathing so fast.  

“New at this, hmm?”  Trevelyan, encouragingly, didn’t sound put out or bothered at all.  In fact, his expression continued to hold keen interest that snuffed out Aiden’s little flame of unease and instead ignited that deeper heat again - the heat that made Aiden feel like his skin was too tight and too sensitive all at once.  The thumb that stroked his hip-bone seemed to strike sparks off his very skin.  “Why didn’t you say so?” the agent asked blithely with a cheery grin, and suddenly he was rolling off Iris and into the tight space between his two newest bed-mates.  The teasing was abruptly replaced by the most thorough snogging that Aiden had experienced since that girl at Uni had made the best of a very unfair dare.  

*

Iris veritably purred.  She’d slept with multiple partners before, although never with quite this same dynamic: Aiden was painfully shy and closed-off, and as much as Iris hated to call a person prudish, that was really the only other word for Aiden in regards to any and all things sexual.  Even before he’d admitted in an alcohol-emboldened whisper that he was possibly gay, she’d seen the way his dark, almond-shaped eyes strayed and how he seemed nearly scared whenever he noticed it himself.  The moral of the story was that Iris had never thought to see Aiden so much as relax in the company of a bloke he liked, which was just plain depressing.  

Now here was Aiden, eyes blissfully closed and mouth falling into the broadest of smiles, as he lay nearly naked with Alec Trevelyan kissing him like he was mapping out his mouth.  

The last time Iris had had the pleasure of being in a threesome… it had been two girls and a guy, she recalled.  The fellow had more or less kept up with both of his female companions, so it had been all right.  Sometime last year, Iris had managed to pull two men she liked, but both of them had been pretty domineering.  It had been rather fun to watch them try and outdo one another, and damn had it been hot to be at the center of that competition - especially since her pleasure had been the main scoring system.  Alec definitely had enough machismo for both of those fellows - in spades - but Aiden...  Iris smiled, settling her head down on one arm as she watched, and reached out to trail her other hand up and down Aiden’s arm, which had slipped within reach when he’d finally wrapped his arms around 006’s neck.  Aiden was so… soft.  Maybe tomorrow after she’d slept this all off - the alcohol and the hormones both - Iris would think of a more flattering word, but for now it fit.  Under pretty much any circumstances, Aiden was a malleable guy, which in his home-life was bad.  Iris was pretty sure that Aiden had been bending to the will of his family’s homophobia for years now.  At the moment, however, Aiden looked uninhibited and passive in the most attractive way, and if Iris were in the mood to think in terms of stereotypes, he quite perfectly fit in the woman’s role in this situation.  

Actually, with his hair coming loose from its tie, straight strands of it rustling down against his neck, ears, and jawline, he even looked a bit like a girl.  Iris was maybe even a bit jealous of his plush lips as they turned increasingly glossy and red under 006’s attention.

Suddenly, Iris had an idea.  

She gave Trevelyan’s shoulder a shove, which on most people would have been enough to at least unbalance them, but with 006 it was just enough for him to take notice of her as his powerful shoulder flexed under her palm.  Putting on her best serious face and trying to hide her growing, illicit excitement, she said, “I’ve got to go get lube and condoms if we want to keep playing - I have some in the bathroom.  And I want to take Aiden with me to freshen up.”

For a moment, Iris worried that she’d get some argument about the condoms.  She had at least three answers already on the tip of her tongue, but apparently 00-agents had a healthy appreciation for safe sex, considering how often they got themselves into unsafe sex.  Alec didn’t complain, merely nodded with an impatient but encouraging, “By all means.”  He even rolled off Aiden, although the 00-agent's canny green eyes held a healthy dose of amused suspicion as he eyed Iris.  Her excuse to get Aiden out of the room was pretty flimsy and she knew it, but it seemed that Trevelyan liked the playful promise in her tone and was willing to play by her rules if it seemed worth his while.  

As Iris coaxed a very flustered and still very happy Aiden off the bed, she mentally promised that it would be very, very worth everyone’s while.  

 

~^~

*

As before, Aiden’s memory somehow didn’t seem up to the task of explaining how he’d gotten into his present circumstances.  

But he couldn’t find any reason to complain.  

Aiden had never been comfortable with his attraction to men.  His parents had old-fashioned ideas about who was supposed to love whom, and as much as Aiden knew that those mindsets were outdated, he couldn’t help internalizing what he’d been hearing literally since childhood.  Siblings hadn’t helped, as none of them seemed to have any pesky feelings for anyone of the same gender, so Aiden had been left to grow up constantly wary and constantly frustrated - and confused, because to be truthful, he’d never let himself find out exactly what he liked.  

Right now, he thought that he rather liked what Iris had gotten him into.  Knickers were surprisingly comfortable.  Which lead him back to the question of how the fuck he’d gotten to this point in his life?  

It had been Iris’s idea.  Alcohol made her incredibly bubbly it seemed, more so even than her usual cheery self, and prone to ideas that Aiden would have nixed on principle if he weren’t in the same condition she was in.  As it was, anything Iris said sounded like a grand idea when she said it in such an effusive tone, and not long after she’d dragged him into the bathroom, he felt like some sort of conspirator.  Aiden hadn’t even been one to share clothes with his siblings, but here he was, trading underwear with his female best friend, and still marveling at the silky feel of them as he was tugged back out into the bedroom again.  

Since Aiden’s thoughts were about as well-focused as a swarm of summer butterflies, it didn’t occur to him to be ashamed or nervous until he bumped into Iris and looked up from his new attire to recall their third companion.  

 

*

 

Alec had to hand it to the girl: she was a genius.  Q-branch clearly employed all the right kinds of people - and so did Medical, although Alec would never admit that out loud.  Honestly, Alec was pretty sure that if someone had told him his future fantasy material was going to include a staff-member from one of the Branches he hated the most, he’d have laughed himself silly, but now he found himself staring as the auburn-haired girl stepped out in bra and boy’s pants and her black-haired companion tripped along after her wearing nothing but the silky red knickers that had been on his companion until now.  

“Fuck,” Alec breathed, making the word into a compliment with his tone, and watching how the young woman smirked proudly.  Feist, he remembered her name again, and it fit like a glove if you put a ‘y’ on the end.  He was going to have to tell her that she was a goddess not only because she looked and moved like Aphrodite’s smarter twin, but because she’d somehow figured out that the only way to make Alec more interested was to add a bit of crossdressing to the mix.  Honestly, even Alec hadn’t given the idea much thought - but that boy from Medical, whatever his name was, looked like just about the prettiest thing Alec had ever laid eyes on, hair loose and falling to his smooth jawline and just the slightest flush on his skin as he looked down at himself in women’s underwear.  

Alec was going to have to add this to his ever-changing and ever-increasing list of kinks.  

Right after he properly appreciated the view.  

 

*

 

Aiden had never stopped to think that silk might be absolutely fucking maddening.  

He’d also never thought that he’d ever think a sentence like that, especially not while sliding around on Feist’s bed in a tangle of warm limbs.  

Every movement was like a touch, a caress, and the fact that Aiden obviously wasn’t used to having silk around his hips, cock, and arse only served to catalyze the problem and make him wriggle more.  Iris laughed at him and called him out on his squirming, but that was just fine, because it seemed to encourage Trevelyan to try and keep Aiden still, and that rough hand pressing down on his lower stomach was just the kind of contrast Aiden needed to just about go out of his mind in the best way.  His cock was starting to strain against his borrowed undergarments, and Aiden had just enough brainpower to consider how much he’d owe Iris if he ruined her knickers… because he was pretty sure he was going to.  

Iris made a noise that was more petulant than a chuckle, and Trevelyan rumbled from where he was hovering over Aiden like a playful predator, “Don’t worry, sweetheart, I haven’t forgotten about you.”  Trevelyan moved, and with more strength than Aiden had expected, pulled Aiden along with him, more limbs and silk against his skin everywhere in a way that was too much and nowhere near enough.  Aiden found himself pulled onto Alec’s lap like a child, and it was surprisingly… comforting.  The emotion pushed through all the rest like a stiletto right to his heart, and his libido settled for just a few beats as this other feeling settled in.  Whatever he was feeling, he hadn’t felt this way in longer than he could remember, and the young nurse dazedly wondered what kind of black magic 006 had coiled up in the muscular circle of his arms.  

While Aiden relaxed with his legs curled up on 006’s, reclining in the hook of the larger man’s left arm, Iris had knelt up and leaned in for what she wanted: her hands were braced on Trevelyan’s shoulder and collarbone, the latter near Aiden’s head, and her back arched as Trevelyan obligingly took one breast to his mouth, gently biting at the flesh before lathing the nipple into his mouth.  Aiden couldn’t even recall her taking her bra off, and found himself staring in strangely shameless wonder as Trevelyan suckled at her, tugging at her nipple until she gasped.  Trevelyan had one clever hand free, too, and slid it up Iris’s soft inner thigh until he could rub at her through…  Aiden’s brain stuttered a little as he recalled that those were his pants, and if he was ruining hers with precum, then she was returning the favor with wetness of her own.  

Caught up in all of the eroticism so close to him, while he felt so sheltered by the thick arm still wrapped around his back, Aiden reached out and just barely skated his fingertips across Iris’s flat belly.  She possibly had more muscle tone than him, which would have made Aiden feel down-right ashamed, but clearly 006 liked them both equally so maybe Aiden had something going for him.  

Iris shivered at the same time that Trevelyan made a noise low in his throat that could only be approval, and the hand on Aiden’s flank abruptly slipped lower to slide across his borrowed undergarments and knead his arse in a possessive grip.  Aiden jumped, but his cock jumped more, and his own hand seemed to lose its purpose against Iris’s stomach before falling clumsily to land upon Alec’s right wrist.  The sensation of tendons and muscles flexing in time with the 00-agent’s intimate rubbing had Aiden’s heartbeat stuttering in his chest, and that was before Trevelyan took it upon himself to stroke his left hand from Aiden’s buttock up and over his hip-bone, fingers curling over it like a hand-hold and pressing into the vulnerable hollow of Aiden’s groin.  When Aiden’s hips stuttered at the sudden attention, Trevelyan detached his mouth from Iris’s breast with a wet slide of tongue, allowing both agent and tech-analyst to focus on Aiden for a moment - then smile, liking whatever look was on his face.  

“It’s okay,” Iris spoke up with one hand stroking Trevelyan’s cheek to get his attention, her voice just a little husky and breathy, “You can see to him first.”  When 006 merely arched an eloquent eyebrow that showed a certain level of disbelief, Iris smiled until dimples appeared on her cheeks, and now she reached out to give Aiden an almost shy little nudge - the nudge, not coincidentally, pushed him closer against the 00-agent’s bare shoulder.  “You two are hot together.  A girl can come just from watching,” she finished.  

And from the blown status of her pupils, she might not have been entirely joking.  

 

*

 

Alec Trevelyan was definitely good enough in bed and charming enough out of it that he could have his pick of partners whenever he was in the city, and he’d had a wide variety over the years - from the wild and inspired to the endearingly and refreshingly dull.  He could therefore safely say that Feist and her fresh-faced young friend were definitely not in the latter category, and there was just something about them…

That was addictive.  

Iris was like the flower she was named after: bold, flashy, yet stunning in a way that was regal.  Physically, she was a delicate little thing, but she clearly wasn’t afraid of her sexuality or what she could get with it.  It didn’t take a genius to see that switching pants had been her idea, and she was playful and open in a way that 006 found sadly rare in many people.  

And the boy…  Physically, he was gorgeous: dark, canted eyes above graceful features and a rosy mouth.  As an agent, Alec was surrounded by incredibly fit and muscular people seemingly all day, so he actually felt his heart warm with inexplicable fondness at Aiden’s flat but soft stomach, his slim and honestly unthreatening build.  People underestimated just how much Alec valued ‘unthreatening’ in a lover, and maybe that was why he liked generically feminine features - it excluded bulky body-types that might conceivably overpower him in a fight.  

Plus, the young man was wide-eyed and genuine like some especially tame doe, and when Iris gave the go-ahead to seek Aiden’s pleasure first, the black-haired young fellow blinked in the most adorably bewildered fashion before his eyes widened.  ‘He gets it.’  

If Alec was in bed with someone, he wanted all involved to have a good time, and while he was perfectly capable (and honestly very well practiced) at catering to two at once, it was easier to focus one-on-one.  Pulling Iris in for a deep kiss and murmuring the much-deserved, “You’re a goddess amongst women,” against her lips before pulling away, Alec switched his focus to the young man whose name he still embarrassingly did not know.  Of course, avoiding that kind of awkwardness was one of the reasons why Alec was so driven to keep the mood going in encounters like this, so with a broad and anticipating smile, he artfully flipped the both of them, chuckling when the young man squawked in surprise.  

“Your friend here is a goddess,” Alec murmured in a mock-stern tone as he situated himself above the young man, nudging his thighs apart with one knee and watching as dark-chocolate eyes widened beneath a fan of the darkest lashes, “but you’re an offering for the gods if I’ve ever seen one.”  When he saw how the boy flushed and turned his head away, a silly smile sliding shyly across his face, Alec cocked his head and asked, “Has no one ever told you that before?”

Iris draped herself over Alec’s back, and he barely grunted as he shouldered her slight weight.  She had the most delicious curves, and he could appreciate that even when she was behind him.  One of the young woman’s arms reached down and she giggled, and Alec had a rather sobering moment as he realized that all of them were a bit drunk - the symptoms simply made it too easy to forget.  Iris’s level of alcohol made her jovial, however, as she murmured with an airy smile and a fingertip that just brushed the dark-haired young man’s nose, “Aiden doesn’t leave work often enough for anyone to tell him anything flattering that doesn’t have to do with sterile gloves or sutures.”

“Aiden,” Alec rolled the name around in his mouth, liking it.  Bracing his weight on one forearm (feeling Iris shift against the left side of his ribcage), Alec freed up one hand to run it down Aiden’s side until he felt that slippery silk under his fingertips again.  There was something so wickedly blasphemous about something so soft being touched by the uncouth roughness of his calloused hands.  “Aiden, sweetheart, you deserve to be treated like the gift you are,” Alec stated grandly, as he let his hand stray to the bulging silk, closing a firm grip around the cock beneath and watching as the young man under him bowed, eyes falling gracefully closed.  

Alec had definitely had quite a few drinks, but not quite enough so that he lost his self-control entirely.  Meaning that, even as he imagined quite a few imaginative ways to fuck both his lovers, he looked into those dark, fluttering eyes under him, and admitted that Aiden was just a bit drunker than he’d initially imagined.  Probably drunk enough that fucking him now would lead to a fucking lot of regret the morning after, and no matter how many shady situations Alec regularly got into, he didn’t want to add tonight to that lamentable list.  So with a sigh, he shelved the idea of sex and tried not to think about the fact that he’d probably never get another chance with Aiden again.  

Rebellion and selfishness were Alec’s biggest vices, however, so with a little growl of pure possession, he gave those knickers a little tug until Aiden’s cock just barely nudged free.  With the head of it in the open air and the elastic drawing snug against the shaft, Aiden let out a little gasp, which the agent leaned down to suck eagerly from his mouth.  There were condoms and lube on the bed (Iris had returned with those as promised, as well as with the surprise of the dressing change), and Alec blindly grabbed for the latter as he kissed Aiden senseless.  If he was only going to have this pretty boy once, he was going to make it memorable, sex or no sex.  

Iris helped with that.  She nudged the lube a bit closer, and scratched little teasing lines down between Alec’s shoulder-blades as he grabbed the container and squirted out enough to slick one hand.  “Ready to play, love?” he growled against Aiden’s lips, then dragged two lubed fingers down the faint trail of hair from Aiden’s navel to his flushed cock-head, teasing at it as the young man whined, high and sweet.  

 

*

 

Aiden had never done this before.  He’d had sex… a pathetic three times in his life, always with girls.  The only times he’d ever jerked off had been with himself, so to suddenly find another, stranger hand stripping his cock - slowly covering more and more of it until it went from just squeezing the head to slicking up the base in firm strokes - was so alien that Aiden’s brain almost didn’t know what to do with the input.  But while Aiden’s brain was out of order, his emotions and his nerve-endings were both working quite well, and both were getting more pleased by the second.  His borrowed knickers were still in place, so the texture of skin was replaced by the glide of silk between every pull, to say nothing for the way the material kept moving against his hips and arse.  It felt like his heartbeat was trying to increase in doublet-time to 006’s ministrations, and in seemingly seconds, Aiden’s heart was trying to lunge up through his sternum, making him gasp-!

“Easy, sweetheart, easy,” Trevelyan’s voice was low and husky in his ear, and it was like he knew Aiden’s body and his mind.  His hand slowed, and while the cessation in sensation made a craving rise up like a monster in Aiden’s breast, he felt like the wave he’d been cresting was still holding him - it just wasn’t going to smash him into the beach as hard.  Aiden had never felt this good.  

He’d also never felt this… loved.  Iris had laid down next to him, and when he grabbed blindly for something, one of his hands found Trevelyan’s bicep and the other ended up tangled with Iris’s slender fingers.  And Trevelyan, for all that Aiden knew he was a trained assassin-spy, kept whispering these little things in his ears - things were as gentle and soothing as they were sexy.  It made Aiden’s skin heat up in a whole different way, making him feel flushed, and he found himself pleading without ever giving his mouth permission, “Please… please!”

Trevelyan’s pectoral muscles were brushing his chest, and he’d gone back to merely stroking the head of Aiden’s cock.  Both of them were so close together that every breath made skin touch, and the 00-agent’s nose nudged at the hair above Aiden’s ear before the larger man murmured, “Do you want me to make you come, sweetheart?”

It was said so calmly and soothingly that it was ridiculous, and Aiden bucked up.  Iris kept one of his hands tangled up in hers, but Aiden’s other hand was free to reach upwards wildly, digging his fingertips into probably the most muscle he’d ever had access to outside of Medical.  He didn’t answer except to make a small noise in the back of his throat, until Trevelyan squeezed over the head in his hand, and Aiden felt an even more heartfelt “Please!” escape up his throat, followed by “Yes!”  Iris leaned up and kissed his cheek.  Trevelyan’s stubble was a rougher kind of kiss on the opposite side.  

“Are you sure you want me to?”  There was definitely a smirk hidden behind the questioning growl.  Iris batted at Alec with her free hand, but it obviously didn’t phase him or his teasing mood.  

Aiden had spent years learning to keep an even temper in the face of frustrating situations (because arguing with his family never ended well), but no one pushed people’s buttons like a 00-agent did, and Aiden found his patience snapping much like his self-control had ages ago.  He arched again, feeling the maddening friction and pressure of Trevelyan’s knee pressed against his balls, and this time hissed hotly, “Yes, I want it, dammit!  Stop playing around!”

Iris coughed out a laugh of surprise, having never seen Aiden talk like this, but Trevelyan pulled back to look into Aiden’s eyes with something of an expression that made Aiden think about intoxication - but that was silly, all 00-agents were practically functional alcoholics, capable of drinking whole bars under the table without fully losing their wits.  But 006 kissed him then like Aiden was his drink of choice, and as the kiss stole Aiden’s air, the suddenly renewal of touch to his cock made Aiden’s heart rabbit in his chest and thirst for oxygen.  It was a heady combo, and Aiden found himself writhing with it, legs hooking over 006’s thighs, left hand grasping Iris’s fingers until he worried that he’d hurt her but couldn’t stop.  He almost didn’t feel the fingers of Iris’s other hand stroking through his hair, brushing out the jet-black strands until they splayed out against the blankets as wantonly as the rest of him.  Trevelyan just kept stroking him, hand dipping into the silk knickers that were still maddeningly in place, also fucking into Aiden’s mouth with a tongue that encouraged him to play.  There was no way in hell that Aiden was a good kisser, lacking the experience, but 006 seemed to like it, humming against his lips and speeding up the pumping of his hand when Aiden clumsily sucked at the tongue in his mouth.  

The combination of pure sensation and pure novelty tipped Aiden quickly over the edge.  He’d never had another’s hand on him like this before, and the rush was like wildfire through him, so that he was sure that he’d have arched himself clean in half if Trevelyan’s body weren’t above him, holding him down.  All of his nerve endings seemed to be singing, or maybe spontaneously combusting, and he might have even passed out for a few seconds - one way or another, his thoughts went blankly white until he found himself lying on his back, his belly and chest sticky, and the elastic of the knickers making him feel uncomfortably hypersensitive where they again rested over his lax cock.  Iris, because he was in heaven and she was an angel, obliged to tuck him completely back in, and he felt too good to be embarrassed.

Or move.  He felt too good to move, too.  

Trevelyan was stretched out against his right side, looking like some golden-skinned god with messy hair.  His grin was utterly, wickedly smug and delighted, but what made Aiden actually blush was that there was cum painted all over his belly and chest, too - and the man seemed quite unashamed about it.  

That must be nice,’ Aiden thought, feeling aftershocks chase their happy way through his limp limbs, ‘feeling unashamed.’

“So,” Trevelyan asked, adopting a conversational tone that was rather ruined by his cat-in-cream look (a metaphor that brought a rather scandalous connotation to the word ‘cream’), “Was that or was that not the most fun you’ve ever had with your pants on?”

The sentence was so utterly ridiculous that all Aiden could do was blink at him, furrow his brows, and then looked down, as he realized that he hadn’t actually lost his pants (well, Iris’s pants) in this entire encounter.  Against his left side, Iris couldn’t help it and started helplessly laughing at him again, even as she crawled over him and pushed an anticipating 006 over onto his back.  “This is the most fun he’s had ever,” Iris tattled to the 00-agent, “Regardless of pants!”

Aiden was too sated and drowsy, post-climax, to argue or get mad at that.  In fact, he couldn’t bring himself to do anything but admit that she was probably… definitely… right.  Nothing had ever felt this good, so far as he could recall.  He’d likely have an existential crisis later, in the harsh light of day, but for now everything just felt right like the earth after a heavy rain.  

Spent and suddenly unutterably sleepy, Aiden lay where he was, drifting off right to sleep with the vague awareness that his best friend and a 00-agent were quite enthusiastically fucking within an arm’s length of him.  

~^~

 

Chapter Text

The right hand took and the left hand gave, but whatever hand they each represented respectively, Bond and Q were too tired to do much other than collapse for the night.  

While Bond got in a quick shower, Q managed to keep himself awake and upright for long enough to find suitable clothes for the agent to change into (the best that Q could manage was a pair of oversized jogging trousers and a T-shirt that Q usually pulled over his other clothing when he knew he’d be doing a messy project).  He was about to try and dig a path to the bed in the guest-room when 007 came out of the loo, steam slipping out behind him and a towel around his hips.  Q must have looked quite hopelessly overwhelmed, staring at the mess that was his guest bedroom, because when James padded up behind him, it was only to squeeze his shoulder with a damp hand and murmur definitively, “I’ll take the sofa.”  When Q twisted around to immediately argue, Bond just turned towards the meagre pile of clothing that he’d already identified as his for the night, and repeated with more of that 00-agent stubbornness, “I’ll take the sofa.”  

Q was too tired to think up a logical argument, but as he slouched defeatedly by the doorframe and felt like basically the worst host in the history of hosts, he heard himself murmur, “You could sleep with me.  Share, I mean.”

Pausing, standing over the sofa and just about to reach down to grab his borrowed clothes, Bond didn’t answer for a long moment as if the statement had caught and frozen him.  His expression, which Q could see in shadowed profile, didn’t look threatened, which only made it more of a struggle for Q to read him.  Finally, James’s mouth quirked up at one side, and he replied wryly, “The decidedly greedy side of my nature is having no problem agreeing to that, but…”  

Sighing, Q finished when 007 paused, “But you think that you should stay on the sofa.  You do realize that…?”

This time, Bond took up the job of finishing off someone else’s sentences, “That you weren’t offering sex?”  When Q shuffled his feet and looked intensely uncomfortable, James’s smile widened and humor managed to flash past the fatigue in his eyes.  “Yes, Q,” he answered the awkward question with slightly patronizing but playful patience, “I realized that after a day that was hell for both of us, and after numerous long talks about my sexuality, you weren’t proposing intercourse.”

“You’re a cad,” Q grumbled in return for Bond’s teasing, even as he felt his cheeks pink, “And your word-choice should be punishable or something, because you managed to make that sound downright distasteful.”

“Welcome to my world.”

For a while there was silence.  Bypassing the clothes for a moment, 007 turned his focus to the blanket that was already thrown over the back of the sofa.  Q jumpstarted his own brain enough to putter off in search of more blankets, now that it was clear what the sleeping arrangements were going to be.  

When Q returned with another set of bedclothes, oblique blue eyes turned to glance his way.  In that sphinx-like tone that was becoming familiar to Q, and signified when 007 was parsing out unfamiliar and possibly hazardous territory, James asked without any apparent inflection, “Are you offended?”

The return to the previous topic somehow didn’t have the capacity to surprise the younger man.  “No.  Well, maybe a little bit.”  Before Bond could address that, Q waved a hand and went on candidly, “I’m offended that you’re the more logical one right now, because that’s supposed to be my job, and not twenty minutes ago you were trying to cut your own throat on a jagged piece of metal just to get a collar off.  It wasn’t exactly your most logical moment, and yet here we are.”  He gestured vaguely at James and his present state of logical-ness.

Bond had the good grace to chuckle at that instead of being offended, and his slow smile eased something in Q’s chest.  While Bond apparently decided that changing clothing in the middle of the living room would be inappropriate, at least while his host (and co-worker… and possibly someone he was romantically interested in) was in attendance, the dark-haired young man shuffled off for his own turn in the loo, needing to brush his teeth at least one last time after all the coffee he’d guzzled.  “If you change your mind…” he left one last offer hanging, wondering just when he’d gotten so eager to share a bed with someone when sex wasn’t even on the table.  Then again, 007 had shown that he could do an awful lot to please a partner without that.  

“Oh, don’t worry, Q, I have every intention of getting there eventually,” Bond shocked Q by stating with smooth charm.  When the Quartermaster spun around just to give the man a startled look, he was gifted with an even greater surprise, as 007’s shamelessness overcame social niceties: in a perfectly timed ‘accident,’ James, his back to Q, dropped his towel as if assuming that no one was watching.  The smug bastard.  Q had obviously seen 007 naked on missions before, but that was more like an unavoidable peep-show as Q-branch monitored a mission.  This was… decidedly more consensual, and purposeful, and Q found himself staring with rounded eyes.  

Taking his sweet time stepping into the trousers Q had leant him, 007 finished, with all of the practiced suaveness of either a cat or a stripper (Q was still deciding which metaphor fit best), “I think that tonight I’m just a bit too raw to be sleeping with company, and you deserve one more night to consider what you’re getting yourself into.”

“And what is that?” Q muttered distractedly as powerful calves, thighs, and arse were consecutively hidden from view by grey cloth, making him suddenly regret that he’d given James clothing at all.  Sleep-deprived, Q’s brain was a truly impulsive, selfish thing, and the Quartermaster had to give himself a hard mental shake just to look up in time to meet the knowingly playful, wicked glance that 007 threw over his shoulder at him.  

Perhaps there was something more than wickedness or playfulness in that gaze: there was something true, something dark, something cautious.  When most people saw Agent 007, they saw recklessness incarnate, and Q wondered how they could ever get an idea so wrong.  Bond was one of the most cautious people Q knew, at least when it came to his personal life.  “You’re letting a wolf in the door, Q,” James finished almost solemnly, “I may look fun to play with, but I’ve got teeth, too.”

Q wondered if this was the most truthful, candid thing he’d ever heard out of a spy’s mouth.  He managed to pull together his fraying professionalism and blink back the sleepy fog in his eyes to nod, wet his lips, and reply with the gravity that the topic deserved, “I’m aware of that, 007.  But just remember that you let me in the door first.”

~^~

The next morning was just as surreal as last time Q had awoken in the same flat as James Bond.  After awakening and coming out of his room, the Quartermaster just stood and stared for an indecently long time at the muscular agent sprawled out on his sofa, blankets kicked nearly off as the man’s natural body-heat made layers uncomfortable.  He’d never bothered with a shirt either, which was perhaps a good portion of the reason for Q’s staring.  

“Like what you see?” James’s slow drawl snapped Q back to attention at long last, and also made the younger man jump a good foot in the air with surprise.  

As one blue eye slitted open and 007’s mouth twitched into a very cheery grin, Q regained himself clumsily and accused, “You’ve been awake this whole time, haven’t you?”

“Ever since your alarm went off.”

“It’s a silent alarm.  It only vibrates.”

“Like I said - I slept until your alarm went off.  Light sleeper, remember?”  Finally opening up his other eye but still staying draped across the sofa like something in a French painting - something indecent in a French painting - James continued to watch Q’s embarrassment as the Quartermaster rolled his eyes and strode around the sofa to strut determinedly towards the kitchen.  He picked up a discarded paperback book on the lampstand on his way, just to give him something to whap 007 with as he passed.  Bond’s noise of surprise sounded suspiciously like laughter.  

Q spent most of the morning wondering how an asexual man could still manage to be so carnally alluring, even as the two of them went through a morning routine like a long-married couple.  Eventually James put on a shirt, but it didn’t help, and 007 knew it.  

~^~

In a series of moves that were nearly mirror images to Q’s sub-drop visit to Bond’s flat, Q and the blond-haired agent returned to work via the latter’s flat, giving James a chance to change into something more akin to his usual look.  Smartly dressed, it was almost possible to believe that the fiasco of the last mission had never happened, were it not for the electrical burns and the scrape on his neck, as well as the various bruises that were well on their way to full bloom on his tanned skin.  Bond could carry himself like a king even when he was beaten up like a pauper, however, and they both strode into MI6 as if it were just another day at court.  

M was understandably displeased with 007’s failure to report the previous night, but surprisingly said nothing besides a lone comment of, “Will you ever turn up for a post-mission debriefing on time?”  When Bond grinned warmly and asked what the fun would be in that, M sighed but surprisingly dropped the subject, although Q saw the way her canny eyes measured the distance between her 00-agent and her Quartermaster, and the way that they’d walked in together.  With a sudden lurch in his stomach, Q realized that the rumor mill was probably already buzzing with the knowledge that the two of them had arrived together.  What were the chances that everyone just thought that Q and 007 had become carpool buddies…?

Uneasiness about his social versus his personal life had to be put on hold as the meeting got underway.  The upside of waiting until morning was that more people were present now, including Tanner, Eve, and R, who’d apparently taken up where Q had left off after his exhausting night - combined with Q’s research, they now had a rather commendable dossier on Solomon Lane.  Making the job easier was that a lot of this was in-house.  006 was also present, although there was no time to ask about his presence before things got underway.

“Solomon Lane is ex-MI6,” M took it upon herself to lead the meeting, and give out information that was obviously distasteful to her, “He succeeded at most of the preliminary training, but his psych evals showed him unfit for more specified training as an agent, and he was eventually let go.”

“Meaning he has a general idea of how MI6 works,” James guessed.  He was leaning back easily in his chair, suit-jacket unbuttoned, but despite the lazy pose, he radiated intense focus and his eyes were glacially cold.  

“Yes, but fortunately nothing so top-secret as to endanger any of our objectives,” replied M.  Even as that reassurance got everyone to relax a little, M’s lips pursed in a tell-tale expression of displeasure, and she metaphorically dropped the other shoe, “Unfortunately, it would appear that his time at MI6 put him in connection with some people with inconvenient ideas - or, rather, one person in particular.”

Now Eve took over the debriefing, passing out photocopies that showed an unassuming, middle-aged man with a bookish appearance and thinning, greying hair.  “Alan Atlee,” Eve introduced him.  “He was at MI6 at around the same time that Lane started his training.  Atlee had his eyes set on director of MI6 at the time-”  Everyone’s eyes skipped to M at the time, who clearly had not lost her position to anyone.  “-But unfortunately for Atlee, he showed himself to have some ideas very unpalatable to the board, and despite his claims that he was an innovative thinker who would increase the effectiveness of MI6, he was quietly removed from his position instead of promoted.”

“So which man are we focusing on here?” James asked, eyes narrowed as he listened, “Atlee or Lane?”

Eve passed out another paper: this one an obituary.  “Alan Atlee died of carbon monoxide poisoning eight months after his expulsion, in his garage with the car running, labelled a suicide.  Removed from MI6 and likewise blocked from any similar government job because of his frankly dangerous ideas, he became a very depressed man before the end.”

Alec entered the conversation for the first time, stating the obvious with one eyebrow arched, “Safe to say that he’s not our target then.”

“Just wait until you hear what got him fired from MI6,” Q next took up the narrative.  He looked to Eve and Tanner to see if they minded him spilling the juicy details, but they both just nodded encouragingly, and Q leaned forward to splay his hands on the table.  His gaze met 007’s next to him and then 006’s, who seemed equally curious about what was coming next.  “Atlee wanted to create an organization within MI6 that would be able to act without oversight - a shadow organization, if you will.  He planned to recruit agents that were…”  Q paused for dramatic effect, because it was sometimes the little things in life that made it worthwhile.  “...Already presumed dead.  Primarily, he wanted to focus on those who had betrayed their own countries and faked their deaths, making them mercenaries to his purpose.  It was code-named ‘Syndicate.’  I hope that this is starting to sound familiar.”

“MI6 didn’t want to listen to Atlee’s idea, but Solomon Lane did,” James put it all together like the last puzzle-piece sliding into place.  Alec grumbled something rough-edged in Russian and thumped one fist lightly on the table to show that he’d caught on, too - meaning that he’d been made aware of Bond’s mission, if not the final details that had been unearthed last night about Lane.  

M nodded to confirm that everyone had reached the right conclusion.  “It would appear that Atlee’s idea wasn’t quashed as well as previously thought, and most certainly didn’t die with him.  It’s possible that Lane came up with this idea on his own, and the reports certainly don't mention anything about the measures Lane has taken to ensure his agents’ loyalties-”  A few eyes flicked from M to Bond, or, more specifically, to Bond’s throat where he’d been wearing pain and death around his neck.  “-But the point is moot.  Wherever Lane got the idea, it would appear that he’s taken it upon himself to recruit ghosts and put them to whatever task he wishes.”

“And that’s where our knowledge ends,” Tanner got the pride of closing up the informative part of the meeting, “We know where he’s coming from and maybe what he’s doing now, but we don’t know where he’s going with this.”

Bond opened his mouth and sat up with a particularly eager (and perhaps slightly bloodthirsty) look on his face, no doubt to offer his services in illuminating that mystery, but M cut him off with all the sternness of a well-timed gavel, “And we cannot send Agent 007 back into the field, because it’s safe to say that his cover has been entirely blown for this mission.”

Deflating with a loud sigh, James sagged back, something positively mutinous twisting his features even if he wisely kept his mouth shut.  Everyone knew M’s ‘Don’t mess with me’ voice, and she was definitely using it now, her eyes on 007 and all but daring him to argue with her.  The facts were also rather obvious: there was no way that 007 could waltz back in and say, “Sorry about the miscommunication.  I actually rather like your little organization.  Any chance we could try this again, but without the collar?  It’s not really my style.”  

“It’s my fault.”  The bellicose tension in the room evaporated and everyone looked to Q, who had just spoken.  His hands were folded atop the table, and he watched the interlacing of his own long fingers as he went on, “Hindsight is twenty-twenty, and I can see that there would have been advantages to letting 007 remain in Lane’s clutches, if only so we could have an inside man.  My heart got ahead of my brain, unfortunately, and I acted on instinct to retrieve what I thought was a compromised agent.”  The implied apology was sincere, and no one moved to chastise Q beyond his own admitted faults, but 007 was watching Q with particular closeness - as if the word ‘heart’ had perhaps reached into his chest and tugged at his.  If the word-choice had been intentional, Q was careful to bring no further attention to it, and purposefully turned his eyes to Alec, guessing, “I presume that’s the reason for your presence then?  You’re to take over the mission?”

“Just  got the mission specs an hour ago,” Alec admitted.  His tone was light, but he glanced past Q to James and moved his lips silently.  ‘Prosti,’ his mouth seemed to shape, and James flicked one hand in a minute dismissive gesture, clearly showing in the tiny jerk of his wrist that the apology was unnecessary.  It was amazing sometimes what two agents could communicate if they knew each other well enough.  

The debriefing from James’s last, rather disastrous mission from there turned into a briefing for the next one, in which 006 would try and take over where 007 had left off.  Efficiency trumped pride, and no one said anything more about the turn of events that had made it impossible for Bond to keep hunting - there was no purpose in directing blame at anyone, only moving forward.  James began to lay out all of the details that he hadn’t had the opportunity to relate thus far, filling Alec in regarding everything he knew about Lane.  No one had questioned Ward yet, but that was scheduled to occur right after this, hopefully giving Alec even more to work with.  

“I’d use Garrett Grey as your in,” James surprised everyone by suggesting.  Calm despite everyone’s questioning eyes on him, 007 continued without a hitch, “For a Polish assassin and Lane’s lapdog, he was surprisingly reasonable - and I think that he’d be even more reasonable if someone offered him a way to get Lane’s collar off him.”  Alec started to smirk as he caught on, and James glanced up from where he’d been drawing idle patterns on the tabletop with a fingertip.  “I know that, were I in his position, as Lane’s lapdog, I’d jump at a chance to slip the leash - especially since Grey is probably being kept on a very short leash, now that I’ve proven that he’s not a dead man.  Grey is a lot less useful that way.”

“Lane has himself a muzzled bear,” Alec replied with a grin that was a bit ursine itself, full of teeth and danger.  “Perfect candidate for flipping.  I like the idea.”

“If you can get close enough to flip him on Lane,” Q came in as the voice of caution, “Lane is going to know that Grey is a liability by this point, no matter how useful the man is.”  Perhaps he was getting a bit too connected to the agents he handled, if discussions like this immediately had him worrying about the safety of their decisions.  In Q’s defense, both 006 and 7 had a history of making some truly terrible decision.

Predictably, Alec took Q’s words about as seriously as he’d take a warning label regarding the expiration date on a can of soup: no need to panic, just proceed with caution.  Q rolled his eyes at 006’s insufferably brash temperament, but reminded himself that many of the 00-agents were always like this, and yet when it came down to the mission, they always survived.  Almost always.  

This job was going to give Q grey hair before his time.  At moments like this, he understood perfectly well why he loved to sub: because it guaranteed that for at least one night, he didn’t have to worry about anything, and someone else could take charge and everything would be all right.  

~^~

James still had to check in with Medical, because apparently being given a clean bill of health by his Quartermaster didn’t count for anything - and Q refused to testify to that effect anyway.  Q and his stubborn morals…  On his way to getting what would probably be an intensely boring (or at least annoying) check-up, however, James heard footsteps jogging up behind him and turned to see Alec dogging his heels.  

“Hey, James, I’ve got to report to Q-branch in a sec, but I wanted to ask you a favor first,” Alec rushed as he caught up and Bond slowed down.  Instead of asking James to lend him money or something, though, Alec surprised the other man by asking, “Can you check in on someone for me?”

Brows drawing lower in wary question, James stalled for time as he tried to figure out what Alec was getting at, “Check in on someone?”

“Yes.  It’s… uh…”  In a rare show of something that might have been nervousness in anyone else, Trevelyan lifted one big hand to drag it back through his hair, putting the ash-blond waves into disarray.  His eyes switched from looking earnestly James’s way to looking anywhere but him.  Finally, however, he finished his sentence, “It’s the bloke I’ve been seeing, all right?”

“Alec, you see a lot of people.  Of both sexes.”

Making a noise of exasperation, Alec glanced around them in what was probably an involuntary check to confirm that it was only them in the hallway.  James would have judged him for the paranoid motion, but all 00-agents did it, so it would be a definitive case of calling the kettle black.  “Yes, but this one I’ve been seeing for… about a week now.  Along with this gal, but I don’t think she needs checking up on.”  In response to Bond’s increasingly incredulous expression, Alec growled low in his throat and muttered sharply, “It’s complicated, all right?  But the boy works in Medical, so he should be easy for you to… you know…”

“Check in on.”  It was swiftly becoming a key phrase that explained absolutely nothing.

Aware that he had to get to Q-branch before the Quartermaster got stroppy with his tardiness, Alec decided that this was as good as he was going to get, and nodded abruptly.  “His name is Aiden Matsuda.  Ta, Bond.”  And with that, he turned and loped back down the hall the way he’d come, leaving a very bemused friend in his wake.  

~^~

1 Week Ago

~^~

Aiden woke up a few times after falling asleep in Iris’s bed, alcohol apparently having the delayed effect of making him very sleepy despite the vigorous activity still going on between the room’s two other occupants.  The first time Aiden woke up, he just barely roused, eyes flickering open as he felt hands on him.  Drifting uncertainly between groggy and bewildered, he got his leaden lids to lift until he saw the broad shadow of Trevelyan hovering over him.  “Hey,” the agent said, voice hushed in a way that made it warm and husky.  The room was darker than before, making Trevelyan look intimidating as he loomed, but he explained with a smile, “Just cleaning you up.”  

Brain foggy with sleep and alcohol still, Aiden let his eyes drift downwards and lay still as he compared Trevelyan’s words with his actions.  And yes, there was indeed a cloth being gently swiped over his stomach, already done with wiping cum off his chest and moving downwards.  By the time the 00-agent got to the waistband of Aiden’s borrowed silk knickers, the dark-haired young man was already drifting back to sleep again, content that everything was all right.  

The second time Aiden woke up was to Iris mumbling something sleepily, the bed shifting, and suddenly a warm hand braced next to him and a warmer mouth pressing down on his.  It was like being plugged into a light socket, everything in him lighting up, and he pushed back up on reflex with a soft movement of his mouth.  The brush of stubble against his chin told him it was Trevelyan, which was good, because Aiden didn’t actually get his eyes open to confirm that until the nearest weight left the bed, and then the 00-agent was prowling across the room and out of the door.  For a moment, Aiden blinked hazily at the closed door where Alec Trevelyan had paused for a second, looking back, but then Iris rolled over and glomped onto him, and that was all the encouragement Aiden needed to go back to sleep.  

The third time Aiden woke up, it was completely and totally, and with a definitive hangover setting in like an increasing pressure behind his eyeballs.  “Damn,” he muttered, pressing the heels of his hands to his eyes, then took stock of all the previous night’s memories - a bit fuzzy in places, but over all quite vivid - and felt his stomach plummet.  He repeat the curse more wholeheartedly, “Damn.”

“You know, before today I wouldn’t have thought you knew how to swear,” Iris’s groggy voice came from beneath the blankets lumped up at Aiden’s side, which he had previously taken for just that: a lump of blankets.  

Jumping as much as possible while supine, Aiden briefly considered scrambling off the bed before he realized that he was not only dressed in just his pants, but they weren’t even his pants.  Unless Iris suddenly took an interest in peaking at him from under the sheets, he was safer to stay under them himself.  Possibly forever.  With his borrowed knickers and his shame.

Sagging back against the pillow and staring forlornly up at the ceiling, the dark-haired young man lamented, “I didn’t have anything to swear about until now.”

Iris shifted.  Her head popped out from under the blankets, hair shaggy all around her head and make-up smeared in raccoon-like shadows around her eyes.  Nonetheless, she managed to rock the look pretty effectively, even as her lips formed a mieu of bewilderment.  “And now you do?” she queried.

Aiden rolled his eyes her way, wondering how this wasn’t self-evident.  “I slept with a guy, Iris.  And on top of it all, I’m fucking crossdressing.”

Less impressed by the swearing at this point, Iris cocked one imperious brow, but softened her expression when she read the absolute distress in Aiden’s eyes.  He was slowly pulling the blankets further and further up towards his chin, as if encouraging them to swallow him permanently, so Iris slid an arm loose to reach out and stop him.  “Aiden,” she said, making his name into a firm sound as she candidly caught his eyes as she’d caught his hand, “You looked hot.  You both looked hot-”  She stopped that particular tangent when Aiden flushed so red that it looked like he might be having a heart-attack, his eyes squeezing shut with another muttered curse.  Changing tack to get to the point she’d wanted to make anyway, Iris gave Aiden’s hand a squeeze to get his attention once more, and this time spoke with sincerity and more sympathy, “...And you looked happy, Aiden.  I’ve never seen you that happy.”

Grudgingly, Aiden opened his eyes and looked askance at her again, and for a moment he looked almost desperate to believe her.  But then he wrested both hands free to press them hard against his face, and groaned into his palms, “Happy or not, my family is going to go ballistic if they ever, ever catch wind of this.  This cannot happen again.”

~^~

 

Chapter Text

It was becoming a recurring question: How could a man who was asexual manage to be so effortlessly sexy?  Apparently the adjective and the identity were unrelated.  

After ensuring that Alec was kitted and then checking in on some of his more sensitive projects around Q-branch, the Quartermaster had gone looking for Bond like an arctic tern migrating back to the sea, giving up on avoiding the appearance of neediness.  After the complicated interplay that he and 007 had been going through ever since that night with the collar, Q was just about ready for some sort of resolution, and if Bond was pinned down in Medical, maybe-

But Bond wasn’t in Medical.  The bastard had already escaped the place.

By now growing very sure that the whole world was conspiring to tease him, Q gave his morals the boot and proceeded to cheat, pulling up security cameras until he finally found 007 again.  The man hadn’t left the building at least, and Q sighed in involuntary relief even as he pushed his laptop closed and strode off towards one of the rec rooms.  

And now, having found Bond there, the Quartermaster was stuck lingering by the door and simply staring at how ludicrously sexy chin-ups could be if performed by the right man.  

No one else was using the room, which was a blessing, because it allowed Q to stare and do some indiscreet ogling.  His broad back to Q, the agent continued to rise and fall with measured, powerful flexions of his arms, and because he was shirtless, Q was able to watch the muscles ripple over the man’s back, paler scars glinting here and there, bruises from his latest mission standing out colorful and stark against his tanned skin even as he continued to move as if no injuries existed.  Q had some slight experience with that strength, recalling it vividly from when Bond had picked him up and carried him to a bed to sleep off his sub-drop.  Now, the possibility of seeing and feeling more of that strength in a more… intimate… setting had Q’s senses becoming more alert, as if Bond’s presence made the world more alive.  In the past, Q had sometimes been a bit wary of excessively athletic Doms, because some of them liked to use their strength unnecessarily.  Having had enough talks with Bond about trust, however, and knowing for a fact that 007 was exquisitely trained in the application of his strength, Q found himself excited rather than cautious and wary.

Eventually, Bond just hung where he was, ribs pushing against his skin as he panted, serratus muscles in stark relief and trapezius muscles bunched.  A moment later he released his grip on the chin-up bar and dropped with soundless grace to the mat below.  Exertion had put a visible sheen of sweat on Bond’s back, but he still moved with as much agility as a cat, and it wasn’t until Bond rolled his shoulders and stretched his neck, shoulder-blades arching and tendons moving, that Q realized, “You’re showing off, aren’t you?  You’ve known that I was watching since I came in.”

Panting just the faintest bit through his nose, 007 finally deigned to turn around, an insufferable grin plastered all over his face.  “To be fair, the gym door is a bit louder than the alarm on your mobile, and I’m trained to be observant,” he gave as his excuse, before reaching over to grab a gym towel from a nearby rock.  “What’s up, Q?”

“Nothing,” Q demurred, but felt his heart-rate pick up.  He wondered if James somehow noticed, because the agent's eyes sharpened on him keenly.  “Just felt like talking,” he finished in something of an understatement.  

Absently mopping sweat off himself, Bond continued to stride his way.  Barefoot and dressed only in jogging pants, he should have looked dishevelled, but even with his hair dampened at the temples and a bandage on one side of his neck from his run-in with the collar, 007 managed to pull off a dashing persona.  “Alec sent on his way already?”  His tone was mild, but Q guessed that it was just a layer of distraction by the way Bond’s eyes remained on him and his mouth remained quirked in a Cheshire smile.  

“Well, I can say that I gave him a kit that I’ll probably never see again, but I’ve resigned myself to that.”

Bond stopped when he was nearly standing on Q’s toes, all the while pretending that personal space wasn’t an issue.  Up-close-and-personal with 007’s pectorals, Q was understandably a bit distracted, but still heard Bond say wryly, “Before he went to see you, Alec gave me a solemn duty, did he tell you?”

Curious, Q stopped staring at the bead of sweat Bond hadn’t yet swiped from the center of his chest and instead looked up to meet Bond’s pale-blue eyes.  “No.  Dare I ask?” Q replied with heavy skepticism.  

“Alec has a lover.  Two lovers, actually,” Bond answered, which somehow seemed utterly disconnected, urging Q to arch his eyebrows together to show his continued incomprehension.  Fortunately, Bond seemed content to go on, slinging the towel over one shoulder and crossing his arms, leaning a shoulder against the wall directly to Q’s left.  ‘Directly to Q’s left’ meant that 007 was close enough to be touching, which sent a little quiver of pleasure skittering up Q’s spine.  “Apparently Alec has become attached enough to think of these lovers past the bedroom door, and is worried about one in particular.  Did you realize the fellow works in Medical?” Bond’s tone turned innocent, as if they were old women gossiping over tea.

Now Q just had one eyebrow lifted, perfectly fitting his deadpanned reply, “Considering I haven’t heard anything about Alec’s liaisons besides the usual gossip, no, I hadn’t realized that.”

Bond put on a face that said he was delighted for the chance to explain, and Q barely resisted the urge to snicker and roll his eyes.  “Well, I think that it’s safe to say our very own Alec is officially dating a nurse from Medical, a boy who must be something special or else really fucking good in bed to have kept Alec’s attention beyond a one-night-stand.”  Bond cocked his head and pretended to consider idly, “I haven’t seen him yet, but I wonder if he’s pretty.”  He switched his gaze back to Q and asked as if butter wouldn’t melt in his innocent mouth, “Was that a shallow thing to ask?”

“You cad,” Q said by way of answer.  He barely had to extend his arm to swat at the man next to him, but by that same token, 007 barely had to twitch to catch Q’s wrist before it could retreat.  Now there was a wickedly playful light in 007’s eyes, and Q could tell that they were moving past the idle conversation about Alec, on to other things.  Just two fingers snagged around Q’s wrist, rough callouses pressed warmly against his pulse.  

“For shame, Quartermaster, trying to take a swipe at a fully trained agent,” James rebuked with an absolutely insufferable smirk ruining the effect.

Q gave a little tug (which found no leeway) before replying wryly, “Considering that lecturing you has never worked in the past, and the fact that I’ll never in my lifetime get enough self-defense training to match you, I’m not exactly spoiled for choice.”

Unexpectedly, Bond’s eyes lit up, and it was like seeing blue fox-fire: mischievous and probably bad for everyone’s health if you followed it too far.  Bond’s sudden grin didn’t help.  “Are you wheedling for self-defense lessons, Q?”  This was not what Q had expected…  Eyes widening in surprise, Q started to stammer out something, but 007 was apparently on a roll now, the light in his eyes becoming positively fiendish as he went on, “Because I’d gladly give you some, and God knows you could use a lesson or two.”

That got Q to bristle a little, his pride stung in a way that made him straighten his spine and mimic Bond’s crossed arms.  “If this is your way of making friends, I can understand why so many people try to shoot you,” he retorted acerbically.  Physically, Q really wasn’t intimidating - but verbally, he could hold his own.

Bond’s smile deepened and warmed as if the insult had been a pat on the back.  When he spoke again, his voice had also deepened and lowered in a way that made Q abruptly glad that the rec-room was empty except for them, “This isn’t my way of making friends.  This is foreplay.  Come on.”  Bond pushed off from the wall and turned back towards the mats.

A lot confused and a little bit turned on, Q just stared for a moment, until 007 reached back and pulled him along after him.  “Bond - James,” Q switched from the work title to the more familiar one on reflex, perhaps because he thought it would get him further and perhaps because he realized intuitively that they weren’t acting as coworkers anymore, “Come on, we both know that the reason MI6 doesn’t require Q-branchers to undergo self-defense training is because we’ve all got two left feet and are more dangerous as klutzes than anything else-”

“Humor me?” Bond pleaded, turning to walk backwards with both of his hands around Q’s, making sure the Quartermaster kept stumbling along after him.  Bond’s tone and face were so beseeching that it didn’t matter that Q knew it was a fabricated mask (it wasn’t even a very good one, with joviality slipping through like sunlight through a bad blindfold), and Q gave in even before Bond added, “I promise, it’ll be fun.”

“Your kind of fun usually involves edged weapons.  Is it that kind of fun?” Q sighed defeatedly.

“Depends,” Bond had the cheek to say, voice dropping to a lower register, “Are you into that kind of thing?”

While Q was stunned silent and fighting a very impressive blush, Bond took the opportunity to get them both situated in the middle of some thick mats.  His capable hands moved Q in little, subtle nudges, capable and sure in a way that made Q recall immediately that night at Bond’s flat.  James wasn’t a Dom all the time, just like Q wasn’t perpetually subbing, but in little ways it showed in 007’s actions.  Bond wasn’t pushy, but he was confidant, firm, the kind of surety that let Q know that he could fall into him and never hit the ground.  It made something in Q’s soul quiet and go still, even as his adrenaline kicked up a notch, realizing that something was going to happen that even his genius brain couldn’t predict.  

“All right, Q,” Bond’s tone slipped into something slightly more professional, but considering what 00-agents did for a living, it remained pretty relaxed, “Ready to learn something?”

“Am I going to be able to walk tomorrow?”

“Was that an innuendo?”

Q felt his face flush and his eyes widen all over again - first because Bond’s words made him think of how that could be an innuendo, and then because he remembered that he was talking to someone who wasn’t interested in sex, making it an inappropriate innuendo.  Before Q could get too tangled up in the gyrations of his own thoughts, 007 broke the tension by laughing, the crow’s-feet around his eyes giving away just how much fun he had yanking Q’s chain.  When Q huffed and deflated, and grumbled something impolite, James relented, “I would never damage a Quartermaster of MI6, so don’t worry, Q.”  Done teasing for the moment, Bond shifted his weight and settled himself on the pads of his feet, directly in front of Q, clearly getting down to business as he put his left hand on Q’s right upper arm.  “Now, when it comes to self-defense, size doesn’t actually matter.”

“Now who’s making innuendos?” Q had the nerve to ask.  His heart gave a little kick when Bond smirked at him, amused.

“If I’d known you were so funny around gym equipment, I’d have dragged you down here ages ago,” the blond-haired man opined, “Now focus, because I’m only going to show you this once.”

Q squawked in protest but started paying attention after that, as Bond explained some of the finer points of leverage and close-quarters fights.  It made sense that most attackers Q would face would be the types that were bullies: 00-agents were the ones that attracted world-class killers, but Q had already had encounters in his life with low-life brutes who wanted to get up in his face.  Realizing that he was learning a trick that might actually be applicable to his life, Q got a bit more serious.  

What James had decided to teach him was a simple flip - or, rather, a trip.  “Dumb bastards are the most common kind,” James said with the shrug of someone who knew, “and they’ll want to intimidate you, which means they’ll get in close before they get dangerous.”  Illustrating his point, James stepped up until there was just a handspan between himself and Q, suddenly emphasizing his broader shoulders, his muscular build, and the utter power of him.  It was almost unsettling how easy it was for Bond to suddenly broadcast threat.  Just as quickly as 007 turned it on, though, he turned the affect off again with subtle shifts in posture, once again becoming the man who’d cupped Q’s neck gently after slipping his collar off.  “But this time, you’re the attacker, all right?  This close, though, it’s easy for me to grab you before you can get dangerous.”  Bond acted out his words, and soon Bond was gripping not only Q’s right upper arm but reaching out with his other hand to cup Q’s nape.  While the thought of Q being the aggressor seemed a bit ridiculous, analytically, Q realized that Bond’s grip didn’t really seem all that dangerous.  He’d seen close friends and family members come up and hold each other like this, and Q found himself relaxing.

Something curious flickered in 007’s eyes, as if he’d noticed.  But he kept talking in the same manner, “Easy as pie so far, yes?  So now, if I wanted to remove you as a threat…”  Moving with patient slowness that came from being at ease in one’s own body and well-trained in all of its uses, James moved his right leg until it reached past Q and hooked behind Q’s right knee.  Just as Q frowned at the awkward position Bond had put himself in, Bond was suddenly pushing him, and Q’s reflexive attempts to step back and regain his balance were met by Bond’s leg.  As easy as that, Q was tripping backwards over Bond’s calf, and he hit the mats with a whuff of air and a 00-agent on top of him.

“All right, Q?” Bond asked, grinning like a fiend while Q regained his wits.  He hadn’t hit hard, and the mats had done their job, but the sudden switch from upright to supine was a bit of a shock to his brain, not to mention his inner ear - and even knowing what James was capable of, Q could hardly believe how fast and easily this had happened.  As Q catalogued his body in a search for any injuries, his awareness gathered the give of the mat beneath him, the buzzing warmth of his skin that came from a sudden (but mild) impact… and James.  James Bond was right over him, as immovable and incorrigible as always, his right hand still buried in the hair at the back of Q’s neck as if it had stayed there to cushion his fall.  Their legs were still tangled together, too, a testament to the skilled placement of feet that had toppled Q in a heartbeat.  

“Q?”  Bond’s face was still calm, but when he didn’t get an answer, he reminded the Quartermaster of his question in a different tone, “Q, everything all right?  Acknowledge.”

That one word had Q’s eyes and mind focusing one-hundred percent in an instant, right on Bond’s unshakable blue gaze.  “I’m fine,” he blurted almost instantly, and when he didn’t immediately see belief in 007’s eyes, the younger man dropped his arms from where they’d reflexively grabbed at Bond when they’d toppled.  Actions spoke louder than words, and with his arms at his sides on the met, Q was relaxed, something he wouldn’t have been if he was frightened or in pain.  Close above him, he felt the agent’s body ease as well, and his expression settled into a small, soft smile.  

“If you’re all in one piece then, Quartermaster,” James murmured with faux professionalism, “are you ready to give it a try yourself?”

“I fear that ‘try’ is the operative word, but… yes.”  

Bond rolled off Q easily, creating an absence of warmth and mass that Q immediately missed, although he got some of that comforting solidity back when James, standing now, reached down and gripped his hand to pull his partner to his feet.  James was as steady as a mountain in a way that went beyond physical strength.  From there, the two set to practicing the trip with reversed roles.  Despite having an eidetic memory, Q found it a trickier proposition than he’d expected - but at the same time, he found James a more patient and competent teacher than expected.  In fact, Q almost felt like apologizing for all of the times he’d thought uncomplimentary thoughts about Bond’s impatience and inability to work with others, because apparently 007 was quite capable of slowing down until someone else caught up with him.  Soon it felt quite natural and fun, even, to chatter back and forth with James about little things like the placement of a hand, the shifting of one’s weight, and the use of leverage to take a bigger, stronger opponent by surprise.  Q almost forgot how close it put them: nearly chest to chest, always touching at multiple points, be that hands on arms and neck, or almost cheek-to-cheek when Q felt the need to look down at his own footwork.  Since James hadn’t miraculously grown a new shirt, this probably should have been embarrassing, but when Bond was teaching something… he apparently could be professional.  

“Close, Q, close!” Bond praised when Q’s ankle locked around the back of his leg nearly instigated the fall.  James managed to recover, however, with just a bit of awkward hopping and shuffling, his hands radiating power where they were cupping Q’s rib cage on either side.  “Twist your hip a bit, though, and you’ll be able to extend your reach and give me more to trip over.”

“You’re a 00-agent,” Q complained in a huff of air, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you trip over anything!”

Charming and maddeningly smug all at once, Bond’s mouth curled in a grin and he answered, “True, I am the Queen’s best.”

“You’re the queen’s proud peacock is what you are.”

“Gorgeous and exotic?”

“Showy and loud,” Q snapped back, but he knew that he was doing a poor job of hiding a smile, amused despite himself.  “At least tell me that I’m doing well enough to take down a regular villain if I met them in a dark alley,” he pleaded with melodrama that was only half faked.

“One more try, and I think you might be - now, come on,” James coaxed relentlessly, tapping Q’s elbow until he acquiesced to reaching up for Bond’s nape again, soft blond hair under dexterous fingers, “Show me one more time what the Prodigy of MI6 has learned.”

Knowing when he was being goaded, Q rose to the challenge, condensing all of Bond’s suggestions and little corrections into what he hoped was one improved attempt.  To Q’s surprise, it paid dividends: he shoved forward, his hand on the back of Bond’s neck guiding the fall, and this time felt both of Bond’s legs catch against his.  Q had just enough time for a grinning gasp of elation before he was following Bond’s body down to the mats, even that famed double-oh balance not saving Bond this time.  The surprise, however, came a split second after the slap of Bond’s frame hitting the padded mats.  This time when Q gasped, it was in wordless surprise, as it felt like 007’s entire body writhed.  Even with his picture-perfect recall, looking back, Q would never quite be able to say how he went from being on top of 007 to once again being under him again, both of his arms pinned down above his head.  

Bond’s breathing was subtly faster, not so much from exertion as from what looked like excitement, the whiskey-burn of reflexes being tested and put to good use.  “Fantastic, Q.”

“Hardly looks fantastic from here,” Q grumped.  Admittedly, he was a bit confused as to how he’d gotten here, and he looked up and to either side at Bond’s hands pressing down with measured pressure against his wrists.  It wasn’t uncomfortable.  

“Like you said,” Bond returned smoothly, “I’m a 00-agent.  But don’t worry, your garden-variety snake would right now be trying to get their wind back, still wondering how the hell a stringbean could have put them on their arse so artfully.”

Q was still pondering the grip on his wrists, the half-naked weight above him, and starting to admit to himself how much he liked it.  There was no one in the room, and he technically wasn’t working, so after a brief pause, he gave in to the urge to just enjoy himself.  He stopped subtly wriggling and instead went still, his hands relaxing until his fingers were simply a loose curl of fragile bones above Bond’s work-scarred hands.  “Are you making fun of me or complimenting me?” Q had to ask, without really caring what the answer was.  

Bond replied archly, shifting his weight slightly like a predator getting used to its own bones, “I’d never make fun of the Quartermaster of MI6.”

“And…”  Q moved a little bit, too, but only to get comfortable.  Behind his glasses, his eyes flicked around the room once more, to reassure himself that they were alone so that he didn’t feel guilty about indulging his dynamic a little.  He finished his sentence with a slightly shy but interested look, catching blue eyes with his, “...What about just Q?”

This close, Q felt like Bond’s eyes were layers of water, whole oceans placed atop one another like blue skeins, and by looking, Q was swimming upwards through them.  From here, it was easier to see past the charm and the playfulness, and also view the way the tide shifted when Bond read something that he didn’t expect in Q’s expression - or perhaps his body-language.  There was a moment of hesitation, so rare for a man who leapt first and asked questions later, but then Bond eased his body down.  Up until now, he’d been holding himself up a bit, his hands on Q’s wrists for support as well as to keep his ‘opponent’ pinned - now, without letting go, Bond’s forearms depressed the mats alongside Q’s arms, and Bond’s next inhale was felt all along Q’s belly and sternum where their torsos now touched.  

“For you, Q,” Bond’s breath wafted across Q’s nose, his mouth, “I have nothing but compliments.”  

When Bond turned his head and caught Q’s mouth gently and smoothly, it felt like something a long-time coming, and Q made a small noise of completion as their lips sealed.  It was a pretty chaste kiss, but Q was also slowly reveling in the weight pinning him down, feeling the usual rise of endorphins as he accepted the fact that no one needed him to move, or do anything.  Few people probably understood how someone could value such a feeling - even without taking into account the impressive amount of pressure the Quartermaster of MI6 was constantly in.  With James on top of him, steady and sure, it was impossible to dwell on the stresses of work.  

“I do have one admission,” Bond murmured when he broke the kiss.  He’d barely moved back a centimeter, and his lips caressed Q’s teasingly as he finished with a chuckle in his voice, “I might have instigated all of this as an elaborate plan to get you right where I wanted you…”  Another kiss, briefer, quicker this time, started and stopped on Bond’s time.  It left Q with a little gasp on his lips, and he shivered.  The shiver was because he knew, with a kind of bone-deep instinct, that 007 would give back whatever he took away.  “And since I generally believe that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission-”

“You only need to ask for forgiveness if someone walks in on us,” Q growled, and only resisted the urge to lean up and grab his own third kiss because Bond smirked, leaned down, and gave it to him, free and sweet.  

~^~

Flash-back to Alec/Aiden/Iris

1 week before present

Day 1 post-coital

~^~

Aiden had returned to work with a stubborn refusal to think about the night before, a fact made both harder and easier by the hangover he was nursing.  The hangover was something of a nice distraction, as it was (literally and figuratively) taking up most of his head, but it was also a very physical tie to the reality of the situation, which was that he’d ended up in bed with someone of the same sex and had liked it.  

Finding his mind wandering back to that last thought for about the thousandth time that morning alone, Aiden winced, and started to see his hangover as more of a necessary punishment.  Maybe if he remembered the pounding of his head as clearly as the stupid rush of his climax, he’d avoid such encounters in the future, hopefully before his family found out and went postal.  At least Medical was quiet this morning, although that left Aiden time to think about how he was going to work in MI6 while also avoiding one of its agents for eternity.  It was tempting to just pack up and change jobs, but he was pretty sure that his parents would go just as ballistic if they heard he was leaving “the job that you worked all your life to get” as they would if they heard about last night’s activities.  God…! Aiden put his head in his hands miserably, barraged by images of last night, which included not only another man’s hands on his genitals but Aiden cavorting in Iris’s knickers, and he wasn’t sure which humiliated him more.  

If this headache didn’t kill him, the shame surely would.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, Aiden finally gave in and found himself some Paracetamol to cut the worst of his headache, if not his morose mood.  Iris had been texting him all morning, hoping to help with the latter, but Aiden had been ignoring his phone as much as he could, telling her that work was keeping him busy.  Whenever he stopped texting entirely, however, she started asking if he was dead and threatening to call Scotland Yard to look for his body.  And because Iris Feist denied the stereotypes of ‘mild-mannered young tech-analyst,’ she’d do it, too…

“Matsuda!  Go to Room 1 - I’m busy,” the imperious call of Dr. Harper made Aiden jump and nearly drop the bottle of Paracetamol he’d been holding.  The woman was walking past the doorway, and her sharp eyes didn’t miss the movement, but thankfully focused on what he had in his hand instead, adding, “Take that with you.”

“Yes, Doctor,” Aiden stammered.  Knowing that he’d better hop to it without delay, because Dr. Harper ran a tight ship, the young nurse immediately trotted over to Room 1 without even getting the stray hairs back into their ponytail.  If Dr. Harper threatened to shave his head because of his unkemptness, then that would just be another drop in the bucket of his horrible morning.

Second-thoughts about losing his long hair made Aiden try tucking it back with his free hand as he ducked through the door and into the exam room.  “Hello, I’m Nurse Matsuda.  The doctor is a bit busy-” Aiden started in on his usual, friendly-as-a-fuzzy-caterpillar spiel, before realizing that he didn’t have a chart.  Just as he looked up to try and cover for that, the hangover still making his brain slow, Aiden realized that he had bigger problems than missing charts and cutthroat doctors.  

Sitting on the exam table, looking as though he were nursing a hangover similar to Aiden’s, was Agent 006, Alec Trevelyan.  

~^~

 

Chapter Text

Q couldn’t remember the last time he’d just enjoyed lying back and kissing this much.  He always enjoyed snogging well enough, but he’d never realized how much of an urgency it usually carried - by and large, his past partners saw kissing as a bridge to bigger and better (and more sexual) things.  With James, though, there were no such expectations, which left Q at once free to just fall into the pleasant feel of lips and tongue and gently applied teeth, and buzz with low-key excitement because he had no idea what James would do next.  Just because James wasn’t interested in sex certainly didn’t mean he lacked for options, as their earlier discussions had mentioned.  

Besides that, when Q spent nights with sexual partners, sex was not only the endgame - but almost always the end of the game.  Everything built up to a literal climax, and it was just cleanup and coming down from the high after that.  With Bond, though…  Q swallowed, suddenly beginning to get an inkling of what it would mean to have James in bed, by James’s rules.  

There remained the fact, of course, that they were in the middle of one of the MI6 training rooms, and anyone could walk in.  

Making an irked noise in his throat (because he was comfy, dammit), Q realized that they’d have to move.  James got the message with surprising swiftness, which only improved Q’s opinion of him as a Dom.  Contrary to popular belief, Q had always thought the best Doms were the observant ones, not the ones with big cocks and good rope skills.  Having someone who could read what their partner wanted was borderline magical, and could cover a lot of other ills - not that Q thought James had anything to cover up.  As James immediately broke the kiss and pulled back, pale-blue eyes looking down at Q questioningly, Q sighed and told himself he wasn’t pouting.  “I’d love to say that exhibitionism is one of my kinks, but insofar as it tends to interfere with my work,” Q stated with clear regret, glancing pointedly around their public surroundings, “I can’t.”

James didn’t look offended, or even terribly troubled.  He just released Q’s wrists and instead braced his hands on the mat to push himself off Q more effectively.  Q was torn between viscerally missing the weight of the larger man’s body on his and wondering why 007 didn’t look bothered when James spoke, quiet but earnest,“And what would you say to taking this to a more private venue?”  He spoke with a hushed intensity that Q didn’t think he’d heard before, and it made a wave of heat roll down into his core - like hot honey, slow and pooling.

The excitement that had been dying in Q’s veins sparked again, and for a second he just lay there, arms still up over his head and a silly grin threatening to spill across his face.  He reined it in to a small, secret grin and let 007 stew in the silent tension for a few delicious seconds before replying coyly and maybe a little breathlessly, “I’d say that you could have asked me that ages ago and I’d have said yes.”  

For a moment, James just stared at him with a look of exasperation before the expression quickly flooded with almost painfully sweet fondness.  Before Q could decide what to do with that look, James was breaking eye-contact to duck in, quick and sneaky, to snatch another kiss - hungrier than the ones before, or perhaps just more heartfelt.  “I’ll make it up to you,” James promised with some of that charm that could get him into anyone’s bed he liked.  Then, with no more comment than one more swift press of his lips, James disappeared like he’d never been there.  Q blinked open his eyes to find the man already standing, extending a hand to help Q do the same.  

~^~

It wasn’t until Q was officially off the clock and in the car fifteen minutes later that it truly sunk in what he was doing.  Was about to be doing.  Who he was about to be doing… but not ‘doing,’ because James didn’t actually go for that.  A frisson of excitement licked down his spine, and he couldn’t help but swivel his head to snatch a glance at Bond - driving calmly for all intents and purposes, unless Q looked closely at his eyes, and saw the way they’d darkened to another shade of blue, like Q had fallen deeper into the ocean of them as he’d looked.  Not for the first time, Q was struck by the many layers of James Bond that the average person didn’t see (or perhaps couldn’t see).  

As if noticing the eyes on him, James let go of the wheel with one hand and moved it onto Q’s thigh instead, without turning.  Q watched the play of scars on the back of that hand as it squeezed lightly, a hint of power in Bond’s grip.  “We’ve got to lay down some ground rules, Q,” James said, his voice incongruously serious.  He didn’t remove his hand, though, so Q settled back against the seat, soaking in the warm pressure just above his knee and angling to look at Bond more blatantly now.  He had some idea where James was going with this, but just waited.  Within a beat James was continuing, “I’ve already told you that I’m a voyeur, and you know that I’m a Dom - and I know that you’re a sub into bondage, so it’s a start.”  Mouth tipping down in a very sober expression, James went on almost gravely, “But I want to know more before I get into bed with you.”  Bond glanced over briefly, meeting Q’s eyes and gauging their expression, before adding as he looked forward again, “I’m a ‘shoot first ask questions later’ kind of person on missions, but not for this.”

“Only you,” Q marveled, which earned him another, more confused look, so he elaborated with a shake of his head, “Only you would take sex more seriously than a life-or-death mission.”

The seriousness broke a little as James chortled quietly and gave in to a rueful little smirk.  “Consider it a compliment.  You’re officially worth more of my interest than a bomb or an international terrorist association.  Now-”  He was not to be deterred, and that caution that seemed to surround Bond whenever he talked about a BDSM relationship returned as he pressed onwards, “-What do you like, what do you hate, and what can I get away with if I do it right?.”

The more of this serious side of 007 that Q saw, the more curious it made him.  In fact, it almost worried him, in an abstract sort of way.  So instead of answering the question, Q cocked his head and frowned until James gave his thigh another squeeze.  “Q?”  

“Sorry, sorry,” Q came back to himself, then admitted as some of his curiousity got the better of him, “I’m just trying to puzzle you out, because while I’ve had plenty of partners ask me this question, none of them seem quite as serious about it as you.”  In fact, Q had had some partners who were so lackadaisical as to not ask at all, but he’d learned to avoid those.  BDSM required a certain level of candid discussion for it to be entirely safe.  

For a long moment, Bond was silent, simply watching the road like it needed all of his attention despite the utterly typical traffic.  Q, suddenly afraid that he’d broken the mood, reached out involuntarily to wrap his slim fingers around the other man’s wrist, wanting to keep his hand where it was - warm and steady against the muscle of his leg.  In response, James stroked his thumb against the material of Q’s trousers in reassurance and answered shortly thereafter.  His tone was slow and careful, like a cat testing out a slim branch before walking out on it, “It’s a sub’s task to give control over to their partner, but it’s my job to know what you can give.  I’ve had other partners, Q...”  Bond petered off with a tight sigh that Q couldn’t interpret - because of course Bond had had other partners, that wasn’t an issue, but something about the way Bond said it carried weight like an anvil.  A painful weight.  Frustration was readable on James’s features even before he continued, “Let’s just say I’m aware of how badly things can go if boundaries aren’t set and respected - on both sides.”

Q was unsure what to make of the emphasis, but something in his hindbrain shifted uncomfortably, as if he could catch just a whiff of whatever memory James was referring to - a memory that made James obsessed with trust even though he was the controlling one in a Dom/sub relationship, a memory that was sunk deep in the ocean of James’s mind where Q had no hope of reaching it.  Seeing the signs, Q backed off.  If James, with all of his baggage (some of it known to Q, some obviously not) was willing to trust Q, then Q could trust that James would share this story if and when it was necessary.  Clearing his throat a little, Q acknowledge the other man’s words with a simple nod and nothing more.  In fact, his next words were a polite but open, “I’m keen on bondage but I’m not a masochist.  If there’s pain, I’m not often turned on by it, and I’m paranoid about my hands.”

Something in Bond’s posture relaxed, and this time when he looked away from the road to glance at Q, his eyes were more serene - cool mountain lakes instead of turbulent seas.  Q added ‘trust’ to his mental list of Bond’s kinks, reflecting back on the way Bond was always happiest and calmest when Q was spewing information as if he didn’t have a filter.  In a twisted sort of way, Q supposed it made sense: all 00-agents lived amidst a world of lies and fabrication, so a bit of truth was probably a lot like a breath of fresh air, and Q wasn’t opposed to it.  “Anything else?” Bond pressed, his smile showing his interest.

Q shrugged, “Other than that, I’m probably depressingly vanilla, but I’m open to suggestions.”

“Role-play?”  James took a left turn as he spoke, and Q could see that they were heading towards Q’s flat.  

A lot of Doms started the power-plays before the clothes were even off, which usually included having sex at the Dom’s area of residence.  That worked out just fine for Q, since his own space often felt too personal - but since James already knew that Q was the Quartermaster of a spy organization that he himself was an agent in, Q couldn’t see any reason to argue.  In fact, it was reassuring to know that he’d be in familiar territory… although it did mean he wondered what James had in mind for this evening, because Q didn’t exactly have the same range of paraphernalia most practicing Doms kept on hand.  Pondering this and deciding, ultimately, not to speak up - if Bond hadn’t thought of this ahead of time, then he wasn’t very good at his job - Q instead answered the question absently, “Depends.  If you’re interested in me pretending I’m a dog and licking your boots, I tend to get a bit…”

“Angry?”

“Bored,” Q corrected with a shrug, “And rude.  In that order.”

James was already chuckling by the time Q finished his sentence.  “I’ll take that warning under advisement.  It sounds like humiliation is something to avoid with you.”

“Mostly, boredom is,” Q corrected, then shifted uncomfortably and admitted, “But yes, put humiliation in the ‘hard no’ category.”  A few less than stellar memories swam to the surface like dying fish, and he didn’t realize that he was clenching his fingers around James’s wrist until the tendons and bones beneath his hand swiveled.  A second later and his palm was pressed to Bond’s broader, calloused palm.  Q jumped but then settled into the strong, caging grip - it settled him like a coat tight around his shoulders, or a woven collar about his neck, and somehow there was nothing humiliating about that.  

“It’s not on my list of interests either,” James said, with a low softness that felt more intimate than before, “I’d obviously like you to do as I say, but it’s probably more like the kind of obedience you expect of me on missions.”  Meaning it was a necessary obedience, a useful kind intended towards safety and not belittling.  Q was about to point out that Bond had no room to talk about that kind of obedience, but, looking back, he could see admit that 007 followed orders when it counted - after he’d come to trust Q’s judgment, at least.  Gratitude bloomed sudden and warm in Q’s chest, like a flower opening in the middle of summer, petals hot and orange.  Perhaps he had a ‘trust-kink,’ too.  It was also very strange to see 007 like this - caring and gentle rather than coldly calculating like a switchblade - until Q recollected that he’d already seen 007 like this, too, at least twice.  First with Q himself, and then with Melissa Lewis, which had made Q more jealous than he knew he could be.  

“So what else isn’t on the list of the great James Bond?” Q asked airily even as interest continued to make his skin veritably vibrate.  He tested out the hand wrapped around his, squeezing it less because he wanted to express camaraderie and more because he wanted to feel the strength in those tendons and bones.  Bond, wisely, didn’t squeeze back - Q’s paranoia about his skillful hands was still fresh on his mind, apparently - but his grip remained stable and warm.  

Another smooth turn brought them closer to Q’s flat.  Bond’s eyes were on the road, but his head had cocked consideringly, a rare slice of evening sunlight slanting through the window to rim his head with a burnished gold.  It made him look younger, somehow, even as his eyes crinkled with a cheeky smile.  “Well, I suppose it depends on the situation.  On missions, I don’t have anything I say no to.”

“But this isn’t a mission,” Q reminded.  He scraped a thumbnail along the side of Bond’s hand as a kind of emphasis, and watched with a purposefully bland expression as the agent jumped.  If James wanted Q’s authentic self, then James could at least do Q the honor of not giving Q his ‘work self’...

Briefly, Bond glanced over with a peeved little glare that was actually rather mild for him, and his hand flexed.  Just when Q thought they might have a bit of an argument over this, however, James’s expression softened and he puffed out a sigh through his nose.  His grip shifted, but not to let go - instead he slid his hand down to capture Q’s wrist.  Ostensibly, it meant Q couldn’t scratch him again, which had Q’s heart doing a little jump in his chest.  Out of all the partners Q had had, 007 was the most capable of completely restraining him, if only because James had training in controlling and subduing opponents - and practiced at it on people far stronger than Q.  If James didn’t want Q to do something, then Q wouldn’t.  Couldn’t.  After wrapping his hand around Q’s wrist, however, James began to gently stroke Q’s skin with a calloused thumb, and the Quartermaster settled into the grip without thinking.  

“I don’t have a pain-kink either,” James belatedly answered with just a hint of wryness, self-deprecation barely visible at the edge of his smirk.  “I’m not a masochist, but I’m not naturally a sadist either - but I do get off on control.”  He tightened his grip just a bit, using his firm hold to rotate Q’s arm until his hand was lying palm-up, open like an offering, wrist pale and vulnerable.  Bond did it all without seeming to pay attention, even as Q’s entire focus was zeroed in on the forceful but careful maneuver.  He noticed that 007 wasn’t handling him anywhere nearly roughly enough to bruise.  That was something that Q was beginning to notice about Bond: he had a sort of precision about him, almost like a physical perfectionism that most people only saw shallowly in his physical form and attire, but Q now noticed more in his every movement and action.  It was a bit mesmerizing to watch, that perfect economy of motion, that utmost attention to the application of pressure and strength.  Q was almost too wrapped up in his thoughts to realize that James was still talking, albeit in a quieter voice that stroked a low and intimate octave, “I like to make a body mine, so that I can do whatever I want with it - so that you want me to do whatever I want with it.  I want you to trust my decisions, at first because you want to, and then because you have no choice.”

The low rumble of Bond’s voice was doing things to Q on a basic level, and it actually took him a moment to register the specific wording of the last sentence.  He pulled himself out of the warm, honeyed place those words had taken him, and sat up a bit with a questioning blink.  

Bond was already looking at him, sly and knowing.  Blue eyes danced back to the traffic ahead, but the Cheshire grin lingered.  “Problem, Q?”

“No problem,” Q hedged, unsure how to ask his question.  Most Doms he’d known would have switched that last sentence: bondange usually took away choice from the very start, and only later did partners consider less forceful kinds of restraint.  It was hard to tell, but it seemed like 007 was suggesting something slightly different.  There wasn’t really any good way to ask, however, especially since it was probably just a case of Q over-analyzing the other man’s word-choice.  Although Bond’s smile said that he’d expected the reaction…  Q chose to change subjects instead.  “Any hard no’s on your part?”

The smile disappeared.  “Knifeplay,” was the unexpectedly immediate response.  James was almost grimacing, and Q once again got that sense of something jagged beneath the surface, something beyond unpleasant.  It took all he had not to ask about it.  “I’m very good at it,” James assured in a tone that said he was neither bluffing nor bragging.  Having seen some of James’s knife-work in more violent circumstances, Q could well believe it, “But the risk involved is too high.”  James gave his head a small but emphatic shake.  “I won’t risk damaging a partner that way.”

That was actually something of a relief to hear, and Q just sat back and stared at Bond for a moment, thinking over and over again about how many assumptions he’d had about this man were just plain wrong.  The world saw James Bond: womanizer, sex-addict, risk-taker, all-around dangerous man.  But now Q was seeing the other side of the coin: the man who valued trust above all else, didn’t actually care for sex, and had an almost obsessive interest in the wellbeing of his bedmates.  This version of Bond made sense, in a way, but only if Q put down his preconceived notions and admitted that there was more to James than the devil-may-care maniac who was always destroying his tech and getting himself into trouble in the line of duty.  

“Good thing I haven’t the slightest interest in that then,” Q said after what he hoped wasn’t too long of a pause.  He purposefully relaxed his right arm in James’s grip, hoping that the agent noticed - a quiet sign of acceptance and trust expressed physically.  He saw blue eyes flick quickly over and back, and then a work-roughened thumb stroked one more time across the blue veins on the underside of his arm.  “Really, I’m quite happy if someone can just tie a few good knots and fuck me out of my head.”  Too late, Q realized what he’d said, and he corrected stumblingly, arm twisting fretfully in James’s grip, “I didn’t mean to intimate that you-”

Bond’s hand tightened - again, not enough to cause pain.  Q imagined Bond calculating the exact amount of pressure he was creating down to the decimal point, his line of work making him uniquely aware of his own strength.  Q’s hand stilled, and he forced himself to breathe out slowly even as he let his fingers relax and unfold from the unconscious curl they’d shaped themselves into.  Bond was smiling, but softly.  “I’m not going to bite just because you make sexual references at me,” the blond-haired man stated, “People do it all the time, in my experience.”

“But I don’t want to,” Q protested.  “I want to understand this.”

By this point, they were pulling up in front of Q’s flat, Bond sliding easily into a parking space that didn’t look like it would fit a postage stamp until James had maneuvered neatly into it.   Releasing Q’s wrist only then, he shifted into ‘park’ and turned off the engine.  When he turned to face Q, however, his expression was still surprisingly mild - and maybe a bit fond, a bit curious.  “How about we start small then?” James offered, seeming to chew the words over before letting them out slowly.  When Q frowned at him bemusedly, James was prompted to go on, one arm draping itself easily across the steering wheel, “Understand that my goal, in bed - regardless of how much sexual involvement I allow - is to see to my partner.  In the same way that women don’t turn you on, no one turns me on, but I get quite a rush out of knowing that my partner doesn’t want to be anywhere but in my hands.”  

“I…”  Q wasn’t sure what to say.  He was sure that he was interested, however, and finally said as much, “If you can deliver on even a fraction of that promise, I think that you and I will get along quite well.”

The smile Bond flashed then was positively wicked - and containing all the intense charm of the handsome fox at the door to the henhouse.  “What is it kids are saying these days?” he said teasingly, “ ‘Challenge accepted’?”

Q managed to hold it back for exactly two seconds, then burst out laughing.  He was still laughing as James - still grinning - slipped out of the car and came around to let him out as well, and then let Q lead the way into the flat.  Q had thought that he’d be cripplingly nervous, should he ever actually get James to come home with him in a BDSM capacity, but now… he felt excited and warm like he’d just had a glass of wine, and any nerves were soothed by the familiar (and achingly rare) laughter he heard mingling with his.  

~^~

Despite only having been in Q’s apartment twice, Bond felt at home here - comfortable.  He figured it had something to do with the company. As he stood and watched, Q turned and lock the door behind them.  Everything about Q felt familiar, from the shuffle of his feet to the bending of his long limbs as he fought his key free of the greedy lock.  The quiet swearing had James choking down a laugh; he managed to smooth out his features by the time Q had the door subdued and his coat off.  Those eyes - so big and expressive and inquisitive - flicked up to him, uncertain questions hovering amidst the hazel like quicksilver fish in a woodland pond.  “So… how do we want to start this?” the young Quartermaster asked, and James chuffed a soft laugh this time.  Trust the Quartermaster of MI6 to be so straightforward and analytical about this.  In answer, James merely surged forward like a wave and crowded Q back against the door, catching Q’s soft breath of surprise in his mouth.  

After a few moments of snogging against the door like that, they parted for air, just enough so that Q’s words ricocheted off James’s cheek as Q hummed, “Hmm.  Not a bad way to start.”  

The pleasure was clear in Q’s voice, and it stroked something in Bond’s soul that made him want to arch his back into it, catlike.  He pressed forward the bare millimeters for another kiss, gaining entrance to Q’s mouth with a soft nip and a smooth glide of his tongue.  Q sucked in a sharp breath again and fisted his hands in Bond’s jacket - not a suit jacket, for once, but a worn leather one.  After the gym, he’d changed into more relaxed clothing, with jeans and a tee beneath the brown leather.  He liked the soft sound of it crinkling under Q’s fists as his Quartermaster clenched and relaxed his hands, responding as Bond licked exploratorily - then possessively - into his mouth.  

Bond spoke the next time they broke apart.  He could hear how his own voice had gotten low and husky.  “I’ve got more if you want to move this to the bedroom.”  

Just looking at Q’s face gave him his answer, so James was smiling even before Q wet his lips and started nodding.  “Yes.  Yes, that.  Definitely.”  When James - to hide his warmly amused smile - leaned in to nuzzle against Q’s cheek, Q responded with a dreamier, “Yes, that, too…” and hung onto James’s coat a bit tighter, even as James felt Q’s body relax back against the door.  Ever since realizing and accepting that sex just wasn’t going to do it for him, James had come to appreciate the different - but no less powerful - rush he got just from figuring people out, finding all the buttons that lit them up.  Knowing that he was just beginning to find Q’s made a pleased noise vibrate in the back of his throat.

He had plans, though, that did not include staying in the doorway, so with one more press of his mouth to Q’s - he loved the softness of Q’s mouth, the way it gave and moved easily - James backed up.  His ego swelled at the look he caught in Q’s eyes, telling him plainly that Q would have been quite happy being snogged against the door until the day he died.  “Come on, Q, I promise I’ve got an idea you’re going to love.  Trust me,” he coaxed smilingly, catching the wrists of the hands still curled in his jacket.  

Catching James by surprise, Q’s smile suddenly became wry, something mischievous glinting behind his glasses.  A beat later and Q was following the expression with a glib, “You know, usually a phrase like that would warn me that you’re about to blow something up.  Or cause an international incident that yours truly has to clean up later.  So should I be worried?”

“Maybe you should be,” James played along.  He’d had a lot of subs in his life, and they varied in personality, but he rarely got ones that were so willing to tease him and speak their mind.  It was nice to know that at least that part of their relationship hadn’t changed when they’d decided to go from coworkers to lovers.  The thread of normalcy made it feel like James had both feet squarely on the ground, so he dared to take one of the wrists in his grip and detach it from his coat with ease (proving something that he’d suspected: Q liked 007’s shows of strength).  Q’s fingertips spasmed a bit when Bond pulled the appendage closer to him, but it was only so the blond-haired agent could nose past Q’s sleeve and scrape his teeth across the vulnerable skin of Q’s forearm.  “Because when I brought up work in the car, someone scratched me,” James reminded, letting his words hit Q’s skin from close-range, a wave of hot breath that made the younger man visibly shiver.  Bond flicked his eyes up to Q’s, feeling a surge of pride like a drug as he saw the wide, watchful eyes, the dilated pupils.  “And now here you are, bringing up work.  What shall I do with you, Q?”

Q’s pupils were absolutely blown, and since Bond had both his fingertips and his mouth pressed against the veins throbbing along the underside of Q’s arm, he could tell that Q was excited by the racing of his heartbeat alone.  When he didn’t get an answer after a few of those swift beats fluttered against his lips, however, James decided to try something - changing tactics, he firmed up his voice, his body language subtly following suit as he commanded, “Acknowledge.”

Q jumped in surprise, but only for a second - a second in which James held his breath, wondering if he’d pushed the right amount, and at the right time.  Being the Dominant in a relationship was like a very sensitive guessing game, in which the rewards were high but so were the risks.  This time, though, James had guessed correctly in thinking that Q would like the bit of force, because after that spark of tension… Q relaxed.  His heart-rate slowed fractionally and his posture changed to something more at ease, and he answered with only the slightest hitch, “I… I think that I’ll be okay with whatever you want.”

“Blanket permission,” Bond scraped the stubble of his chin against Q’s inner arm, reddening the skin, “A dangerous proposal.”

“I’ll let you know if I’m unhappy,” Q assured, then raised one eyebrow so that it disappeared beneath the flop of his bangs, “Does the red-yellow-green safeword system work with you?”

It was an easy set of words that James was possibly more trained to listen to than M herself.  If Q said ‘yellow,’ James would slow - and if he heard ‘red,’ he’d end the scene entirely.  “Like a charm,” was Bond’s swift and sincere agreement before he finally let go of Q’s hands and backed up enough to disengage them fully.  He bit the inside of his cheek against a full-fledged smile as he saw the way Q leaned towards him before catching himself.  James gestured with a hand in the direction he knew Q’s bedroom to be from the last time he’d been here, overnight on the couch.  “Lead the way.”

~^~

Q had no idea what to expect, although from what he’d seen so far, he was tentatively willing to suspend judgment and just let James make the decisions.  That was one of the things Q valued in a partner to begin with, and with James in particular he felt safe in saying what he had: that he’d be okay with whatever James wanted.  It still made him a little bit jittery, however, as they entered his room with only the setting sun giving everything a warm golden glow through the blinds.  Since he’d had James in his house just this morning, Q had been prompted to clean up a little, and had never been so relieved not to have random articles of clothing strewn across the room.  The room actually looked presentable, with his bed dominating the conservative space.  

Unsure what to do now, Q turned around, suddenly shy as he faced the man who’d walked in behind him.  Despite the warning to leave work out of this, it was impossible to ignore how James was as quiet on his feet when he was walking through Q’s flat as when he was hunting down targets on missions - a comparison that probably should have been a bit terrifying, but was actually leaving Q a bit turned on.  “So… what now?  What do you want me to do?” Q asked, lacking any other direction and floundering a bit.  This was why normal relationships were so awkward, with partners who didn’t know about his dynamic: he didn’t know what to do with himself, and being expected to make decisions and call the shots made him anxious.  The expectations at work were one thing - intense and crushing but well within his wheelhouse - but here, in the bedroom, where things were so much more intimate and vulnerable-!

Q’s slowly building avalanche of thoughts was ground to a quick halt by James.  James, whose self-assuredness on missions could drive Q bloody mad, but now felt like the moorings on a ship holding it still in rough tides.  “I want you to strip.  As much as you’re comfortable with - I’ll work with whatever you give me.”  And Q believed that; something in James’s tone left nothing uncertain, and despite the fact that Q knew the man could lie like a dog, there was something damnably truthful about his tone right now.  It was strange how the man could be two things like that: as two-sided as a knife, but also as cleanly true as a bared blade.  

When Q didn’t respond for a moment, caught up in pondering the truthfulness of well-honed knives, James inclined his head slightly and asked in a subtly more cautious tone, “Color?”

That snapped Q back to attention.  “Oh - green,” he assured, and then gathered himself to also follow the command.  It was simple, and not even particularly challenging.  He’d stripped for partners he didn’t even know before, of course, and while that level of anonymity was very freeing, he was also willing to accept that James could divide work and play as well as he could.  “Just thinking,” he clarified even as he stripped off his jumper and spent a moment deciding where to put it.  Some Doms were very formal, and there could be something almost like a ceremony to the very act of undressing - but before Q could decide to fold the article of clothing, James reached forward and just took it from him.  

“You might be thinking too much, Q,” Bond opined carefully, and deposited the jumper over the back of the nearby desk-chair.  The desk was the messiest part of the whole room, with collected gadgetry hunkered down all across its surface like a conglomeration of tiny armies.  “I don’t want you to try to impress me.  Or figure me out,” he added, a surprising note of gentleness in this voice that Q wasn’t expecting.  It made Q pause and lift his eyes from where he’d been undoing the buttons of his shirt.  Bond met his gaze evenly and serenely, eyes like ripple-less mountain lakes, “You’re not here to impress me, just to do what I say.  If I want you to do something - I’ll tell you.  So there’s no need to worry about reading between the lines.”

Something about that… undid a knot at Q’s core that he hadn’t known he’d been holding.  He felt his shoulders sag a little bit, and he once again just paused and stared for the space of three beats - only this time, it wasn’t because his brain was cluttered with attempts to calculate what actions he needed to perform to do this right.  This time, Q paused just to feel the words sink in, testing them like a drop of honey on his tongue.  “So when you asked me to strip for you…?” he asked now for clarification, starting to realize that James wouldn’t be like any Doms he’d had before, in many different ways.  

“We’re starting out simple,” James went on to clarify magnanimously, with no indication that the question bothered him.  In fact, a slantwise grin slashed itself across his face as he added, “We can do some interesting things with undressing later, but for right now, I just want to see you.”  

Something in James’s eyes warmed and turned more earnest than Q had expected, in those last six words, and suddenly Q didn’t know why his hands were shaking and his stomach had done a flip against his spine.  He looked back down again hurriedly, fumbling with the buttons.  He didn’t know whether he was tangled up in his own thoughts or his own emotions, because for no good reason, he found that he couldn’t understand either of them.  The task of undressing soon became a focal point where he could hide from both, a quiet space of focused, physical activity.  He was discarding his button-down - letting it drop to the floor, since James hadn’t specified he do otherwise - and was pulling his belt free almost before he’d realized it.  A  bit curious, he let the belt drop, too, and was slightly surprised when James didn’t go for it.  Whenever he’d dealt with underprepared Doms who were as into bondage as he was, they were quick to go after any useful items in the room.  James didn’t look interested in the possible restraint now lying on the floor, however, but simply continued to watch with his hands in his pockets, his body almost inhumanly still.  It was almost possible to forget he was there, if Q kept his eyes down and resisted the urge to peek up over his glasses past his bangs.

When he did look up, however, James was like a mountain in his vision: incredibly present, purely through physicality.  All broad shoulders and chest, emphasized by the simple white tee and leather jacket - articles of clothing that became more and more obvious as Q removed more and more of his own clothing.  The slowly created power dynamic made Q’s skin prickle, and a frisson of excitement spark up his spine.  For a moment, he paused with just his pants on, then decided that he wasn’t going to be a coward about this and skinned them off in one smooth motion.  

Or, at least, that was the plan.  In reality, he got his foot caught and nearly fell on his face.  It was therefore a rather pleasant shock when James finally broke his stillness to steady him - at which point Q truly realized the impact of his being [almost] naked and James being fully clothed.  When James darted forward to catch him, Q more or less fell into his bulk, shoulder and side colliding with the agent’s middle.  They’d had a lot of up-close-and-personal contact over the past twenty-four hours, especially on the training mats, but this was different.  This was Q’s naked skin coming suddenly into contact with textures and cloth and the rough pull of a zipper, the cool metal of James’s belt-buckle pressing like a frosted kiss into his arm.  He had been wondering why James hadn’t taken off his coat, but now he noticed how it covered all of James’s arm, so that when the agent wrapped it around his middle to keep Q from toppling, it was an unexpected texture sliding around Q’s ribcage.  The surprise of it all sent a whole new zing of adrenalin through Q’s limbs, and made his breath catch in his throat as his mind and body tried to work together to bottle the novel sensations.  

“Color?”  Bond’s voice was low and calm.  Q had gone silent again, apparently, and they’d just been standing - Q half-standing, half-leaning - for the space of about fifteen seconds.  

Q’s answer tripped out of his mouth almost as eagerly as he’d tried to trip out of his pants: “Green!”

Bond didn’t laugh at him (which Q imagined showed some laudable self-restrained, considering the situation).  Instead, the fingers curled under Q’s lower ribs tightened slightly in a wordless acknowledgement of the answer in turn.  It was the only skin-on-skin contact Q had at the moment, and it gave him an almost physical jolt to realize it, right before James started righting him.  “I want you to lie on the bed,” James commanded softly, “On your back.  I’ll give you more instructions then.”  There was just enough heat in the quiet of James’s voice to make Q truly realize that James being ace didn’t negate his ability to be interested in Q - because he definitely sounded interested, in one way or another.  

Feet under him again - and finally stark naked, clumsiness aside - Q scrambled to do as he was told, a new kind of eagerness infusing him.  Usually, by this point, he and his Dom for the night were both so horny that there was a lot of scrambling in general, but this was different.  He could sense James like a patient storm behind him, a horizon full of potential, but at the same time utterly impossible for Q to predict.  That unpredictability added a layer of pure, raw excitement like a breath of fresh air, and it managed to tamp down on Q’s uncertain shyness until he had the bedsheets beneath his back, soft against his heels, his arse, his shoulderblades.  He watched, breath catching a little in his throat, as James prowled over, blue eyes as intent as a hunting hawk’s.  Q didn’t realize that he was quivering slightly - with anticipation or nerves he honestly didn't know - until the blond-haired agent sat down next to him and laid a hand on his stomach.  “Shh, easy, Q,” he intoned, even as the muscles beneath his hand gave a little spasm.  “Color?”

“Green,” Q was able to reply lightly enough, even if his voice cracked a little.  He inwardly cursed himself for sounding like a prepubescent boy and forced his head back down against the bed with a little huff.  “You don’t have to keep checking in so often, you know.”

James replied without the barest hint of hesitation, “Tonight, I will.  I’ll ask as often as I feel the need, and your one job is to answer.”  The hand skimmed up Q’s torso to catch his jaw, forcing Q’s attention so that James could look him in the eyes squarely.  “Acknowledge.”

Damn, that word was going to be the end of him…  Q swallowed and flushed even as he felt his cock give a little twitch.  “Understood,” he breathed back, and was released.  It hadn’t even been a firm grip, but somehow, between the broad hand cupped around his jaw and the steely blue eyes fixed on his, nothing in the whole world had seemed as imperative as answering.  

When James’s hand moved, this time it just barely brushed over Q’s skin until Q felt a tap on the back of his right hand.  “What I want you to do now is easy, but that hard part will be trusting me,” he said, quiet and solemn.  

Q eyed him but also slanted a small smile in James’s direction.  He was still fighting sporadic urges to be embarrassed, but he felt safe enough to joke, “You’re not going to ask me to jump out of a window, are you?”

“Funny,” James smirked, and instead of making some comment about what happened to cheeky, mouthy subs, he instead leaned forward unexpectedly.  The hand that had tapped Q’s to get his attention now wrapped around Q’s wrist, pressing it to the bed in a tight cage as James braced himself with that same hand.  It was enough to make Q feel his own bones squeezed tight beneath his skin, but not enough to hurt.  Instead, it was just enough to make Q’s lips part in a small breath just as James’s mouth descended on his for a kiss.  It was easy to get lost in that kiss, and to forget for a moment that he was lying in bed, naked, with a coworker sitting next to him.  Of course, when Q’s free hand lifted unconsciously to pull James closer - because the man was a damn good kisser - he sucked in another breath and shifted restlessly, because he was reminded all over again that James was completely dressed while he was completely naked.  James kissed him through the little shock, hummed against his lips as the adrenalin spike turned to a simmering sort of arousal.  Finally, James broke the kiss, but continued to stay close enough to fill Q’s vision with tanned skin, mussed blond hair, and a sapphire gaze.  “I want you to close your eyes now, Q.”  Somehow, the fact that the command was given as a whisper made it stand out more - a golden pin dropping in a silent room.  Q tried not to shift restlessly on the bed, and felt somehow anchored when Bond squeezed the wrist he still had trapped.  “No surprises, I promise - not this time.  But I want to see if I can get you into a good place in your head.”  Another kiss, softer, just caressed Q’s lips.  “Subspace, if I can.”

By this point, Q rather believed that James could, but that was possibly just the rising endorphins talking.  He wasn’t hard, but somehow there was a level of pleasure starting to diffuse all over his body.  Reminding himself that James was keeping his promise thus far to remain transparent in what he wanted of Q, the younger man nodded, steeled himself with a little breath, and closed his eyes.  Somehow, that was harder than getting undressed had been, although now the excitement was back.  

“Good, Q,” James’s low and reassuring voice drifted from the world beyond Q’s eyelids.  Surprisingly, James didn’t try to shake off Q’s hand still on his shoulder - perhaps intuiting that Q had no better way to tell where his companion was.  That was going to change soon, however, as James’s voice firmed up a bit and he said, “Okay, what I want you to do now is reach your hands up over your head.  You’ve got room.”  Q’s bed was probably the most indulgent part of his flat, much bigger than he needed.  Bond released his right wrist, and Q in turn let go of the leather he could feel beneath is left hand.  For a moment, he felt unmoored, and perhaps it showed on his face because James moved a bit - the bed dipped infinitesimally more, and Q could feel the roughness of jeans brushing his hip.  “I’m right here, Q.”  There was a pause, as Q began to raise his arms up over his head, reaching up slowly and blindly and trying to recall how close he’d laid down to the headboard.  Then James surprised him by asking, “What are you thinking?”

“That I’m not usually this tentative.”  James had been right; he had room to extend his arms, and hadn’t touched anything.  He still didn’t know what exactly he was doing, however, even though his mind was leaping for different possibilities.  His headboard provided a great opportunity for restraint, but James still hadn’t reached for anything to do so with; Q’s straining ears hadn’t even heard the man’s belt slithering loose.  

James’s reply was unperturbed and unsurprised, a shrug heard within his very words.  “Understandable.”  Perhaps it turned a little bit smug, adding, “You’ve never gone home with a man like me before.”

That tricked a laugh onto Q’s face, but he admitted, “No… No, I rather think I haven’t.”  Without realizing it, he was letting his body relax, arms going limp against the sheets and pillows above his head.  It was with a calmer mindset that he asked, “What now?”

“Now…”  Warm skin brushed Q’s side, above his hipbone - very lightly, barely there.  A butterfly kiss of the back of Bond’s fingers, perhaps.  “...I want you to do what any sensible person does after a horrific day at work.  I want you to stretch - slowly.”  The light brush became a caress, between hipbone and lower ribs and back again.  “I want to see you trying to touch the headboard and the foot of the bed at the same time, but I want you to do it at my speed.”

Q was already feeling his muscles tense in preparation, even before his brain made a conscious decision to do so.  James’s words just kept floating in like waves lapping at the beach of his mind.  With his eyes closed, they felt almost hypnotic, coming from nowhere to alight upon his eardrums.  This was the voice of a man who could charm cobras from their baskets and drug-lords from their dens, and right now he was using it like honey to coax obedience from his Quartermaster.  “O- Okay,” Q nodded again.  He still didn’t know James’s endgame, but his brain was starting to give up on predicting it.  There were no answers to be found - none that James didn’t give him.  

“I’m going to count.  I don’t want you to reach full extension until I say five, and I’m going to count slowly.  Then I don’t want you to relax again until I say six.”  As James had promised, the instructions were easy.  “And I mean it when I say I want you to stretch all the way.”  The hand gently bussing Q’s side slid up to splay across his stomach again, feeling so much hotter than normal because Q’s skin was open to the air, not bundled in warm clothing.  “I want to feel the tension.  I want to see you arch like a cat by the time I hit five.  Can you do that?”

Again, an easy task.  And a transparently pleasant one.  Q had learned in the past that sometimes it took some patience and discomfort to reach the kinds of pleasure that he wanted, but James wasn’t asking for that, wasn't asking for Q to endure something he didn't like to get to something he did.  Q honestly didn’t know what he was asking for - unless all he really had to do was just what James said…

“Still with me, Q?”

Q wet his lips and tried to draw his brain back from where it had sunk back into his tangled nest of thoughts.  “Yes,” he managed after just a moment.  

There was a slightly stretched silence that Q interpreted as James thinking, although it only lasted a second or so before James was rumbling reassuringly, “Focus on my hand, Q.  I’m not just touching you because I like the feel of it - although, god, I do.”  Pride infused Q’s whole body in instant, flushed heat, and he couldn’t stop the smile that he felt spring across his mouth.  “I’m also going to keep you anchored, because you’re going to float a bit.”

Q didn’t know where the jittery little chuckle came from, but it escaped his mouth anyway.  “I am?”

“You will,” James sounded quite certain.  “Now, focus.  I’m going to start counting.”

It had always been a basic fact that Q liked being set to a task.  Even as a child, he wanted something to focus on, something to narrow the roaring river of his intellect so that it became a controlled force instead of something to drown in.  It was part of what had led him to subbing, because a good partner did that for him: narrowed his world down to simple, confined things, making Q understand what it meant for carbon to be condensed into diamond.  So, now, he began to put all of his will into following James’s simple demands.  

And found it harder than expected.  For starters, James was counting very slowly.  It probably felt like longer, even though the mathematical part of Q’s mind only counted seconds between each number, but it was still incrementally slower than Q was used to.  It made him frown, even as his toes pointed downwards, fingers upwards.  He realized that he’d already reached as far as he could by the time James reached three - and apparently James knew it, if the slight change in tone and the tap of a single finger on Q’s solar plexus meant anything.  James didn’t outright berate him, however, so Q tried harder, the small of his back leaving the bed as he eased himself into a full-body stretched just as James reached five.  

The way that Bond said “five” was amused and warm-sounding at the edges, even as Q realized abruptly that this had been what James expected all along - because it quite suddenly felt perfect.  Q was guilty of working hunched over a computer for hours on end, and while he often stopped to crack his back from time to time, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d just gone and found himself a bed to stretch from fingertips to toes like this.  That final stretch - pushing himself after he thought he’d already gone far enough - had put a pleasant burn into his shoulders, his spine, his thighs.  It had tightened his ribs for a moment so that he paused and skipped a breath, body caught at full extension, and then the rush of pleasure had seemed to roll downwards from the crown of his head to the backs of his knees.  

James was talking, but it seemed to float in from far away, pleasant and easy.  It wasn’t the same ‘Dominant’ tone that Q was starting to recognize, instead managing to make it clear that he didn’t really care if Q was listening or not as he spoke, “Stretching increases blood-supply to the muscles, and that’s part of the rush you’re feeling.  It also releases a very real flood of endorphins.  Honestly, it’s the easiest way I know to feel this good.”  James’s hand was rubbing Q’s stomach gently, and it was surprisingly easy to remember James’s last instruction - to hold the full stretch until, a moment later, the older man said, “Six.  Let go, Q.”  The hand splayed over his abdominal muscles eased him down with a firm but gentle push, and Q exhaled in a noisy rush.  It felt very much like James’s hand was pushing him back down to earth again, like a falconer folding in the wings of an overeager hawk - gentle and knowledgeable and strong.  Q was too relaxed to be panting by the time his whole body was limp again, but it felt like he should have been, with his head swimming atop a cushion of endorphins.  

Bond’s hand had slid up to curl around his ribs, and Q got the sense that he was counting breaths there, cupping them against his palm.  Q clenched the muscles of his back again, just to chase that feeling one more time, and resisted the urge to groan.  Then gave in.  It was just a tiny moan, after all, and the last few days had been particularly hard on him.

Because James was still fully dressed, Q was able to hear the crinkle of material as James leaned forward - therefore, the kiss wasn't a complete surprise as it landed on the center of his chest.  “Good?”

“God, yes.”  There was no point in lying, especially since Q would have never thought that he’d feel so good after just being talked through a stretch.  

“Can we do something else?”

Q gave the same answer, perhaps even a bit more emphatically.  He didn’t care if James told him to tie himself in a pretzel at this point.  James was definitely not lying when he said he could make a body feel good.  

 

Chapter Text

“Q, can you turn over for me?” Bond murmured, leaning close and kissing the lobe of Q’s right ear as he spoke.  Q was still lying limply, post-stretch, arms up above his head but comfortably slack.  James, on the other hand, was leaning in close, one arm braced slightly against the bed with his fingers hooked over Q’s right forearm, his other hand splayed and stroking Q’s trim stomach in patiently slow motions.  Q didn’t really want to move yet, his body still feeling supple and loose, so he was therefore very happy when James didn’t press the issue or rush him.  In fact, following another kiss, higher up the shell of Q’s ear, James asked in the same gentle and undemanding tone, “Do you have any lotion?  Something you like the smell of, like the feel of?”

Now Q shifted a little bit, eyes flickering open and brows beetling as he considered moving.  “What do you have in mind?”

“Something I think you’ll like.”  The 00-agent kissed the base of his ear this time, that soft hollow behind Q’s jaw - then his temple, a slow progression, “Do you trust me?”  

“So far it hasn’t led me astray,” Q was able to admit with completely sincerity.  His curiosity settled into a manageable buzz at the back of his brain, knowing that most men looking for lotion were really looking for lube.  Bond likely wasn’t.  Ultimately, he pushed his questions down, because even if James was suddenly planning something below the belt, Q doubted that he’d mind in the slightest.  That settled, Q turned his head a little, not wanting to appear needy but also wanting to play a part in the kissing.  

Bond got the hint, and angled his head around to catch Q’s mouth in a possessive meeting of teeth and lips.  In comparison with the easy, relaxed pace of before, it was a rush.  When Bond pulled back abruptly, Q gasped, and didn’t have time to consider what a picture he made - probably eyes glazed, mouth definitely agape, lips wet and red - because then James was saying with a crooked smile, “Good.  Then you’ll tell me where that lotion is, and while I go fetch it, you’ll roll over.”

“Like a good dog?” Q still had the cheek to respond.

The crooked smile got wicked, “I think we’ll save the role-playing for another night.”  Stroking a hand down the long line of Q’s thigh, James sat patiently until Q gave him directions to the bathroom, remembering a lotion by the sink that smelled of bergamot and tea.  Q may or may not have used it as lube a time or two when he was otherwise out of supplies and too lazy to buy more.  Mind still teasing apart all the possible options for what could come next - options that branched and fractalled endlessly - Q appreciatively watched 007’s arse as the man walked away.  Even clothed, the man was easy on the eyes, and something about the leonine way he moved had Q’s heart picking up.  His cock picked up a bit, too, and Q resisted the urge to glare at it.  He still wasn’t entirely sure what constituted inappropriateness around someone who didn’t like sex.

By the time Bond returned, Q was still feeling relaxed from their first exercise, and had gotten his growing anticipation under control - he’d also fulfilled his part of the bargain and rolled over.  This at least hid any inappropriateness on the part of his cock, but he felt just as vulnerable and nervous with his arse on display.  That unease fled the second that James walked in, however.  When Q looked over his shoulder at the man, his breath caught at the unabashedly appreciative look the agent was giving him.  Those blue, blue eyes were skating over him like a fiery touch, and Q felt a happy shiver go down his spine even as he turned to keep James in view as the blond-haired man approached.  

Bottle in one hand, James reached over until his fingertips just touched Q’s spine right between his shoulder-blades, hesitating there almost reverently before skimming up and burying in the curls at Q’s nape.  “I always appreciate obedience,” he said, and instead of the teasing tone from earlier, his tone was husky and sincere.  Before Q could consider replying, the hand tightened in his hair and twisted, applying just enough pressure to press Q’s left ear against the bed and send pleasurable sparks of not-quite-pain through his scalp.  Bond leaned down further so that his words were like a dragon’s breath cascading against Q’s other ear, “I reward it, too.”

As quickly as it had tightened, James’s grip released, freeing Q’s head as the agent pulled back.  Straightening, James left the bottle of lotion on the bedside table for a moment, freeing up both hands to skin off first his jacket and then his shirt while Q watched.  Shirt in both hands and raised to the level of his nipples, James belatedly noted Q ogling him and smiled coquettishly.  “This isn’t the reward,” he joked wryly, but nonetheless gave his torso a totally unnecessary roll as he slid the tee the rest of the way off.  Bare-chested, James was a sight, and even though Q had seen the man in all states of undress before on missions, he still felt like it was his birthday now that he was getting a private showing.  James’s persisting smirk and knowing eyes - the crow’s-feet in evidence around them - said that he was well aware of the effect he was having.  “Comfortable?” he asked, striving for a professional tone again but clearly struggling not to chuckle.  

Q folded his hands under his chin and made a show of angling his head for a better view.  He answered in his most blasé tone, “Very.”  

“Cheeky pup,” James chided, and before Q could innocently ask if that was a reference to his ‘good dog’ comment from earlier, the agent had reached forward and tweaked his arse.  Before Q could do more than yelp about that, James had knelt up on the bed and swung one leg over Q’s hips.  The arse-cheek still tingling from the playful pinch was now treated to the rough texture of denim as James straddled him.  Repeating the move from earlier but with more leverage and weight behind it now, James pressed his hand up along Q’s upper back until he was holding Q down by his nape.  “Still comfortable?” he asked silkily, leaning down to catch Q’s eye.

The shock of the sudden confinement rolled up and down Q’s nerves like seismic ripples, but he was used to it - every time he subbed, his body balked at first, just a few heartbeats before it all transformed into something delicious and heady.  He felt that now, as his instincts shrilly screamed warnings to him, but were then drowned out by a flood of endorphins as Q realized he wasn’t going anywhere.  He breathed out a long, slow breath that he imagined he’d been holding in since the last time a Dom took him down like this - and God it felt good.  “Hmm,” he made a pleased noise in the affirmative, eyes closing, and nodded fractionally in case that didn’t get the point across.  It must have, because Bond hummed back, and his thumb kneaded the side of Q’s neck in a heavy stroke.  

Q’s eyes had fallen closed, so he just listened as James dropped his octave back to that low, calm, instructional tone, “Let me take your glasses off, Q, and then we’ll get started again.”  

Strategically, James didn’t let go of Q’s nape immediately, tacitly letting the boffin know that his assistance was neither wanted nor needed.  Since James had already proven himself adept at handling Q’s precious spectacles with care, Q didn’t complain, instead keeping his eyes closed and continuing to acclimate to the sensations of being restrained.  In a way, it was a constant battle, but one that paid dividends: some primal, animal part of Q would never completely forget that he was being held down by a man bigger and stronger than he was, but the part of Q that made him a sub would never stop celebrating the knowledge that this loss of control wasn’t going to hurt him.  James was holding him down, yes, like a predator pinning prey, but despite the man’s frankly horrifying history, Q knew that the man had no interest in hurting him.  Something about that dichotomy gave Q a rush like nothing else could - not even alcohol quite lit up his system like this.  

“Color?” James asked, voiced quietly enough that it didn’t rock the boat Q felt he was already beginning to float on.  

As his glasses slipped off his ears and nose, Q was able to confirm, “Green,” without hesitation.  Then he asked, because James didn’t seem to mind questions, “What are you going to do?”  He was swiftly reaching the point where he didn’t really care, but he was curious.  After all, when 007 had first asked for lotion, Q had thought about what his partners usually did with lotion - generally speaking, all of those activities included either Q’s cock or his arse, but one of those was trapped against the bed and James was sitting on the other, putting them out of play.  

As James deposited Q’s glasses on the nightstand, it shifted his weight, and for a moment Q held his breath - only to be reassured that 007 wasn’t going to accidentally crush him.  In a way, a deadly MI6 agent with a licence to kill was the best Dom that Q could have asked for, because all men like Bond were explicitly trained to know exactly what they were doing with their body at any moment.  So even as James leaned forward, he tensed his thighs to keep his weight stable, and the hand on Q’s neck never changed pressure.  In fact, as James resumed his perch, he let go entirely, allowing Q to turn and look back at him just a little bit more.  “Well, since we’ve established that I like touching you,” James said, as idly and unashamedly as one might state their favorite season, “and that you’re a workaholic, I figured that a massage might serve us both.”

Q raised his eyebrows, no longer able to read James’s expression clearly without his glasses, but more than capable of making his own expressions.  “You won’t get any argument from me.  I didn’t know you were a masseuse.”

“I’m told I’m not bad,” James murmured in as close to humility as the man ever got - meaning Q could practically hear the proud little smile in the man’s voice.  “We’re doing it my way, though.  How flexible are you?”

The question made Q pause, but he still couldn’t follow Bond’s plans to completion.  Perhaps 00-agents were fantastic when it came to controlled strength, but they were also as shady as fuck; even when James wasn’t trying to keep secrets, his thoughts were Gordian knots to Q.  Frowning slightly, Q nonetheless answered, “Decently.  I’m not going to be doing the splits or going to the Olympics for gymnastics, but partners tell me that I’m pretty limber.”

Q could see that Bond was nodding.  Other than that, all Q could really see was a general image of James’s very shapely body, which was still very nice, even when seen with sub-par eyesight.  “We’ll try this then,” James concluded with the same easy surety that he brought to everything, “I want you to relax, just like before, only this time I’ll move you.”  James shifted his weight, and although it was just a slight change in balance, Q could feel it in the rub of denim against his bare skin, the flexion of muscles unexpectedly intimate.  “Can you do that, Q?  Can you hand over that kind of control to me?”

James asked the question so seriously that Q felt any flippant, playful response die on his tongue.  Instead, he paused and sought out the most truthful answer instead of merely the quickest one.  “I can try,” he finally said.  

A hand reached forward immediately to card through his hair, stroking the thick locks of it away from Q’s left ear so that James could lean forward and press his lips to it.  It was so obvious that Q had given the right answer that the Quartermaster felt something in his belly go warm and liquid, even as James murmured against his hair, “That’s perfect.”  He backed away again, and when his hand left Q’s hair, it found his right elbow, firmly tugging his arm out from under his head.  “Yellow, and I’ll let you adjust - red, and I’ll stop,” James reminded, even as he caught up Q’s left wrist in his other hand, “I want you to just go limp, Q, not only because your trust is damn sexy, but because it makes this easier.”

Being called ‘damn sexy’ by James was just about enough to have Q’s cock hardening against the sheets.  He buried his face against the blankets to hide a little groan, feeling a smile unfurling across his face even as he tried to focus on James’s orders.  When he heard the stern, “Acknowledge” he stopped smothering himself and lifted his head to say he understood.  

With Q’s wrists in his hands now and Q watching him out of one eye, cheek on the bed and breathing slow and even, James went silent.  Thoughtfulness and watchfulness radiated from him like the aura of a hawk on a branch, watching the ground below and planning everything before it unfurled a single pinion.  He let go of Q’s left wrist unexpectedly, although not before giving it a little press, indicating silently that he wanted it to stay, face-down, level with Q’s head.  Then calloused fingers ghosted gently up Q’s arm, raising gooseflesh until they reached Q’s shoulder, rubbing absently at the flat of Q’s shoulder-blade.  “This will feel strange for a moment, Q,” James rumbled, his free hand coming to rest along the centerline of Q’s upper back, even as his other hand began to maneuver the limb in its grip.  He was pulling it down and back, and when Q’s muscles twitched, trying to pre-empt the movement, James brought his free hand up to cup Q’s rotating right shoulder warmly.  “Just relax, Q.  I’m bringing your arm up behind your back.”  

To be honest, Q wasn’t entirely sure that his arm would do that, and for an irrational fraction of a second, he panicked.  Logically, he knew that James wouldn’t push his body further than it would go, but his instincts were warring with his brain again.  James must have noticed - perhaps that was why he kept his left hand free, touching, sensing muscles on the brink of tightening.  James leaned forward, freezing both of their movements so that he could talk into Q’s ear again and command, “Take in a deep breath and hold it.”  The words were like mountains, immovable; Q acquiesced without thinking, closing his eyes and living within the sound of James’s low voice.  The next command came as soon as Q’s lungs had expanded, “When you breathe out, I’m going to move you, and I promise that I won’t hurt you if you stay limp.  Say the word, and I stop entirely - and I won’t judge you.”

Those last words soothed something in Q’s heart that he hadn’t known he’d needed soothed, and he squeezed his eyes closed a bit more tightly, briefly curling his forehead down against the sheets.  James just waited, no doubt watching the flair of Q’s ribs and waiting for them to push all that air back out again.  Only when he was sure that he could do his best did Q exhale, and he was immeasurably glad that James just waited him out, never pushing.  As promised, when Q exhaled, the hand manacling his right wrist moved again, but this time Q felt less anxious.  Like the stretch from before, he found his body relaxing naturally as he breathed out.  Almost before he knew it, his arm had been tucked behind his back, forearm perpendicular to the vertical line of his spine, and resting comfortably against the small of his back.  It was usually the kind of hold that he’d have associated with hostage situations, or controlling an assailant, but with his body loose it actually felt quite comfortable.  Odd, but comfortable.  “Color.”

“Green,” Q said, surprised by his own answer, and the fact that it was true.  He felt okay.  Nothing hurt, or felt like it was in danger of dislocating.  He felt a light stretch in his shoulder and elbow, but it wasn’t bothersome - just a sensation that told him he was trying something his body wasn’t used to.  “My other arm is next, I presume?”

“You really are the brightest witch of your age.”

“Did you really just try to quote ‘Harry Potter’ at me?”  Even with his nearsightedness, Q could see that James was chuckling - he could feel it, too, the slight tremors of suppressed laughter translating down the man’s frame to where Q lay underneath him.  Q sighed and butted his head into the blankets again.  “God, you really are an insufferable arse.”

“Compliments aside,” James regained his composure enough to say - although it was unsure what he was calling a compliment, “yes, left arm next.  Do you want me to walk you through it again?”

Humor like a warm bubble at the back of his mind, Q relaxed where he was and replied, “No, I think I can handle it.  If one of my arms is willing to bend that way, I suppose the other one can bloody well do it, too.”  

Bond snorted, but soon his grip was tightening on Q’s left wrist, his own right hand guiding the limb at the elbow and then the shoulder as he carefully angled it to join the first.  Q wriggled on his belly, unused to the sensation of having both his arms folded behind him.  His forearms were parallel to one another, and if he were to turn his hands, he presumably could grip either elbow.  There was surprisingly little tension on his shoulders now, and the muscles all down his back had never felt so loose.  When James’s hand shifted position, easily curling over both of Q’s forearms and pressing downwards with just a fraction of the man’s weight, it felt like all of the air whooshed right out of Q’s body.

The pressure let up, but Q’s head was still swimming with the irrefutable knowledge that he was quite helpless now, arms pinned behind him and a man of considerable weight and ability on his back.  The fact that this man wished him good and not ill was a rather heady concept.  Q took slow, measured breaths as he slowly digested this and grew accustomed to it, and again, James didn’t press - he did, however, lean forward again, this time to grab the lotion.  He opened it one-handed with a soft snap.  “With your arms like this, I can get at the muscles of your back more easily,” James explained, just as he’d explained the finer points of oxygenation and stretching earlier.  As before, the words became a sort of background noise - a baseline that Q could focus on but not feel the need to hyper-analyze.  “Everything is relaxed and loose, and it’s harder for you to tense up.”  Bond paused for a moment, then asked in a less factual and more inquisitive tone, “If I let go, will you keep your arms where they are?”

Q nodded, figuring that he could.  As he felt the fingers slipping off his forearms, however, he squirmed a little against the mattress and got up the courage to add, “But… I’d like it if you’d keep holding them.”

Bond still let go, and Q felt a little bereft for a moment, although James’s voice was understanding as he quickly commented, “You really do like restraint then.”  The lotion bottle made a little obscene noise as it squirted.  “Don’t worry, Q, I’ll give you what you need - I just needed two hands for this, unless you wanted a dollop of cold cream on your back.  I’d never turn down an honest request from a well-behaved sub, not without good reason.”

The boffin honestly didn’t know what warmed him the most: that James wasn’t leaving him hanging, or that he’d just been complimented as ‘well-behaved’... or the fond tone in which Bond had said it.  

There wasn’t much of a wait before warm, lotion-slick hands were coming to rest on Q’s upper back, one for each arched shoulder-blade.  Q groaned at the first press of thumbs tracing up either side of his spine, almost no friction despite the many callouses that Q knew Bond’s working hands bore.  Bond’s strength was obvious, and Q got a little thrill out of feeling it being pressed so intimately into his skin.  It felt like James could have carved under his scapula, dug between each rib and vertebrae, all with his strong, bare hands.  As it was, the position of Q’s arm did indeed give Bond unique access to Q’s back and shoulders, and even when he worked his way up to Q’s nape, it felt like he was getting into all new nooks and crannies.  Q made more appreciative noises with every knot that was worked loose.  In fact, he’d almost forgotten about his request for physical restraint by the time one hand - Bond’s right - disappeared.  Eyes happily closed, it simply disappeared from Q’s awareness, but then returned again when it wrapped warm, oily fingers around Q’s forearms once again.  James pressed down firmly, enough so that Q knew that he couldn’t move his arms; the tightness of Bond’s hand would have weathered any struggling on Q’s part.  The fact that Q hadn’t struggled only served to highlight the sensation, a subtle yet poignant show of power that had Q’s breath catching for a moment.

Then Bond’s other hand returned to massaging his back, but with an increased application of strength as James shifted his weight forward.

Q’s breath moaned out of him and his body physically moved up the bed as the heel of Bond’s hand slid from Q’s folded arms all the way to his nape.  The motion was repeated, lotion easing the way, James exerting enough strength to force another exhale.  Q timed his inhale for when the hand let up, and only when his body rocked again did he come to the dizzying realization that 007 was controlling his breathing this way - “...but I do get off on control,” Q now recalled the man saying.  Q was starting to really understand that.

And love it.  

James was beginning to subtly move his whole body, and at first it seemed like a reaction to Q: as the Quartermaster was pushed forward by the firm massage, James went with him, by dint of his position on Q’s arse.  Soon, however, it became clear that Bond was instigating it, at the same point that it became more pronounced.  Q shuddered and his next inhale was deeper and lower, as he became acutely aware of Bond’s jeans being dragged across his hips and arse.  James changed the massaging movement of his hand before he ran the risk of irritating Q’s skin, but already the movement had woken up Q’s cock, and he made a noise somewhere between pleasure and supreme frustration as it rubbed against the sheets beneath him.  He did try and move his arms then - more of an instinctual tug than anything else - and was immediately rewarded by a tightening of James’s grip.  Between the strokes of his left hand, the nudges of his thighs, and the hold he had on Q’s arms, 007 was able to keep up the minute but effective rocking of Q’s body that was swiftly beginning to drive him mad.  

“James-!  James, I-!” Q gasped out, unsure where to find the words he wanted as the muscles around his groin tightened and heat began to pool at the base of his spine like liquid metal.  Q’s libido was definitely waking up, and with any other partner, he’d know what that meant, but he didn’t want to do something wrong with James - this was too good a thing to mess up.  “Fuck, James…” he gasped even as he  began to writhe, chin digging down into the bed and the blades of his scapula arching upwards against the heavenly press of Bond’s hand.  

“Shhh, Q, it’s all right,” came the gentle rumble from above him.  The man still sounded perfectly steady, the bastard, but that was the benefit, Q supposed, of being asexual - 007 was slowly starting to take Q apart, but he himself wasn’t affected in the same way.  Some fuzzy part of Q’s brain realized that that was a good thing, because it meant that at least one of them was coherent enough to keep an eye on the situation and talk in full sentences.  “Everything you’re feeling is just fine.  It’s perfect.  I’m not trying to bend you into something you aren’t.”  Letting their bodies both fall still for a moment, James leaned forward, thumb rubbing little circles on the protruding knob of one vertebrae while pressing his mouth down against Q’s left shoulder.  “You’re gorgeous, Q, and you’ll still be gorgeous if you want to rut against this bed until you come.”  

The words were so blatant and yet said with such sincerity and reverence that Q’s brain short-circuited a bit.  

They short-circuited a bit more when James’s teeth dimpled the skin of his shoulder, then went on, “You’re not here to make me sexual - I’m not here to make you asexual.  But just because I’m ace doesn’t mean I don’t get a real rush out of hearing someone scream my name.”

That was it; that was all it took.  Q felt his arousal ratchet up from an annoying itch to a roaring, muscle-clenching heat, and he started dragging his cock against the blankets, desperate for friction.  With James restraining him, he was left with limited mobility, but somehow that just turned him on even more.  He knew that 007 was doing this on purpose, that the man was countering his struggles with steady and competent strength, giving Q just enough mobility to get himself off in the slowest way possible.  It was maddening and wonderful to know that he was so fully in another’s hands.  

In the end, Q was pretty sure that the only reason he managed to come was because James had leaned forward (his previously massaging hand now braced next to Q’s head) and started whispering in his ear.  His voice was low and steady, in ridiculous counterpoint to Q’s increasingly desperate whines, and he went on and on about how gorgeous and perfect Q felt and looked right now.  Sometimes he punctuated his words with a rubs of stubble against Q’s temple.  

When he shifted his hand to grip Q’s hair, pinning Q’s head to the side much as he had earlier, Q felt something inside of him twist up tight… and when James bit down almost gently on the back of Q’s jaw, Q came.  

The Quartermaster was fuzzy and floating, his body and brain all molded together in one slush of thought and sensation.  He couldn’t presently separate the warm feeling of aftershocks from the thought that James must not mind things like this after all.  Q’s brain and body noticed it simultaneously when James got off him, but the hand that stayed gently on his shoulder kept him from feeling abandoned.  Having his overstimulated cock trapped beneath his body was already starting to get annoying, but James kept him in place a moment longer, even when Q released a wordless noise from his throat.  “I’m just moving your arms first, Q, don’t worry,” James soothed, and his other hand did indeed come down to touch Q’s right arm, stroking from tricep to wrist in a way that made contentment flood Q’s head.  He decided that he could wait a moment before moving, even if he presently couldn’t recall why he needed help with his arms.  Still, even if he didn’t need help, he liked it, especially if it meant more of James just touching him.

James had a terrible habit of rushing missions, but never partners; Q’s arms were returned to his sides with precision and patience.  Only then did James make a noise that might have been a fond, brief chuckle and allow, “Okay, you can move now.”  His hand curling under Q’s left shoulder hinted at just what kind of movement would be best.  

When he looked back at this, Q would realize what a godsend it was to have a Dom with nothing else on his mind but aftercare.  Q was used to the bare minimum of clean-up until such time as either he or his partner came out of it enough to think practical thoughts - a few times Q had had to push himself out of subspace early just to see to his needs, which he resented.  Now, though, while Q’s head was muddled and his body was limp from his unexpected climax, James was still half-dressed and as composed as could be.  He used a bit of the already-mussed sheets to gently wipe Q off, and any time he had a free hand, he was touching: touching Q’s flank in a smooth caress, touching Q’s hair in petting strokes.  007 then reached over his torpid partner to tug at something.  It turned out to be the blankets, moving them back so that when he gently lifted Q - the Quartermaster was too contented to even feel surprised by the change in altitude - he was able to carry him to the other side of the bed, and settle him down onto a clean layer of bedding.  The rest was stripped off.  

“That was good,” Q finally gained the coherence to say.  He was briefly surprised by how thick his voice sounded, then shrugged and decided he didn’t care.  He did decide, however, that his sentence didn’t sound acceptably emphatic, so when James sat down on the edge of the bed in front of him, Q threw an arm over the man’s lap and nuzzled against the outside seam of his jeans.  “God, that was good,” he repeated, making his opinion clearer.  He wanted to describe how surprised he was that such seemingly simple activities had managed to make him feel so relaxed and euphoric, so whole and complete, but that conversation required more verbal dexterity than Q presently thought he had.  He settled for curling his body in closer to James.

This was the point when less sympathetic Doms, or partners who had less experience in BDSM in general, tended to have a problem with Q.  He was clingy, post-coital, something that was in no way rare but still sometimes gave him cause for embarrassment - sometimes he even recalled it annoying his partners.  It was a vulnerable sensation, knowing that he needed this, but also knowing that others didn’t always understand this need.  

James, fortunately, seemed to.  His fingers wove into Q’s hair, very gently this time, and exerted gentle pressure to keep Q’s face cupped next to his thigh.  He made a low, pleased noise to show that he heard Q’s words, then asked in what sounded like a faintly hopeful tone, “Do you want me to stay with you?”

Yes, stay,” Q responded immediately and emphatically.  He curled his arm down until he was hugging Bond’s nearest leg.  He paused and looked up long enough to add, “Please?”

There was that low rumble again - a chuckle that was too full of warmth to be offensive or at Q’s expense.  James bent over to press a kiss into Q’s hair.  “You don’t have to tell me twice,” he clarified with gentle joviality.  “Move over.  If you don’t mind sharing the bed?”

Q’s answer was brief, words hard to find in the warm fog of his brain, “Don’t mind.”  It turned out that he barely had to move at all, really, because James was still willing and eager to do the moving for him.  Q allowed himself to be shifted around, and found the outcome more than acceptable, when they settled down again and he was under the circle of James’s right arm, flush against the man’s right side.  007 pulled the remaining blankets up over them before encouraging Q’s clinging by gripping first Q’s right arm and then his knee, pulling both of them closer.  Q released a little noise that hopefully represented how much he appreciated the explicit permission to become an octopus.  He settled down with one leg thrown over Bond’s hips, Q’s skin still sensitive and sending out little sparks of sensation at his inner thighs pressed against denim; Q’s arm draped limply over James’s chest, happy to just lay there and occasionally feel out the contours of ribs and serratus muscles with curious fingertips.  

After a moment drawn out like warm molasses, Q shifted a bit and roused himself enough to murmur against Bond’s chest, “I have two questions.”

“Ask away.”  

Not sure that his words would come out right because of how boneless he felt both inside and out, Q hesitated until James ran a hand up his back, where Q’s skin was still warm and soft and smelled of bergamot and tea.  Q hummed appreciatively and asked without opening his eyes, “Are you happy?  With this, I mean?”  He felt uncertainty twist around his heart in a way that it never would outside the bedroom - in MI6, in everyday life, Q was a fortress that was not easily shaken.  One of the reasons that he didn’t share information about his personal (and sexual) life was that this side of him was decidedly more vulnerable, at least after a scene.  

Q need not have worried.  His unease was immediately assuaged as James’s arm curled around him tighter, hand coming around to cup Q’s chin and angle his head for a kiss.  Q sighed into it, immediately relaxing even before James’s tongue tangled sweetly with his.  When they broke apart, James kept Q’s head in the crook of his arm, his broad hand covering the underside of Q’s jaw, and said sincerely, “This was as good for me as it was for you.”  Another kiss, this one to the bridge of Q’s nose.  “Don’t doubt that.”  

As James’s grip slackened again, the younger man relaxed back against the agent’s bare chest, his brain alight with uncomplicated happiness.  He’d needed this: he’d needed someone to push the right buttons and make the difficulties and worries of life fade away, to make his brain quiet down so that contentment could slip in.  It wouldn’t last, Q knew, but for him, subbing was like chocolate anyway: he craved it, needed a certain amount of it in his life to prevent pure insanity, but he wouldn’t want to eat it constantly.  

James’s arm flexed absently against Q’s back, preceding the vibration of his voice that Q could feel as well as hear, “You said you had a second question?  Ask.”

The little hint of command made Q shiver, but it jump-started his mouth.  Wetting his lips, he queried, “Didn’t you say something about punishing me for scratching you?”

“Raincheck,” James surprised Q with the answer, then quickly lowered his head to press his mouth into Q’s hair again - first in a kiss, then in warm words, “You’re spent and I’m happy where we are.  Can I pay you back for misbehaving later?”

“God knows you’ll do it anyway,” Q huffed, but he was smiling and slowly giving in to the lassitude that gripped him.

Before Q fell asleep against 007’s side, he heard the agent’s rolling chuckle, “Maybe I’ve always been acting out just to get your attention…”

~^~

 

 

Chapter Text

“Hello, I’m Nurse Matsuda.  The doctor is a bit busy-” Aiden started in on his usual, friendly-as-a-fuzzy-caterpillar spiel, before realizing that he didn’t have a chart.  Just as he looked up to try and cover for that, the hangover still making his brain slow, Aiden realized that he had bigger problems than missing charts and cutthroat doctors.  

Sitting on the exam table, looking as though he were nursing a hangover similar to Aiden’s, was Agent 006, Alec Trevelyan.  

That had been two days ago.  A stretch of time that started with Aiden and Trevelyan staring at one another in Medical – Aiden with growing horror and 006 with growing recollection – until the young nurse had said simply, firmly, and maybe a bit desperately, “No,” and had ingloriously fled the room.

Now he was up on the roof wishing that he had alcohol and still marveling at the fact that he hadn’t been fired for disobeying a direct order from Dr. Harper.  Maybe getting fired would have been the better option, considering the fact that reality had definitely come back to bite Aiden in the arse.  In retrospect, he could have handled that situation better – in fact, he was pretty sure that he’d handled it in the worst way possible, considering the fact that he’d been dealing with a 00-agent.

“Why couldn’t you just play it cool, Aiden?” he groused to himself, leaning back against the chill concrete perimeter of the roof, head rocked back to stare at the dull bellies of clouds.  He’d come up here when he’d first escaped the exam room, too, and therefore knew that it would be only a temporary reprieve.  While Aiden’s interactions with 00-agents were limited to when they were injured or due for physicals, he was well aware of the fact that they were predatory in nature – and the quickest way to get one to chase you was to run.

And Aiden had run.  With his metaphorical tail between his legs.

The worst part was, he was pretty sure that he’d run not simply because Trevelyan’s face had brought up embarrassing memories… but because those memories had given him a rush, too.  The kind of rush that had made Aiden temporarily forget that he couldn’t be gay, and that this was all a terribly bad idea.  In a perfect world, though, there were no pesky, handsome agents with a high prey-drive.

Ever since Aiden had so abruptly run away from him two days ago, Alec Trevelyan had been trying to find him again.

It had come to a head just under thirty minutes ago, and the recollection made Aiden drop his head into his hands with a groan, mortified with himself.  He’d just come off-duty and had been trying to sneak – literally sneak – away for his lunch-break, but when he’d gone to eat his energy bar and apple in Medical’s private ambulance bay, he’d found out that ‘private’ held no meaning for MI6 agents.  Burying his fingers up into his hair, feeling strands of it tug loose from their tie, Aiden couldn’t stop his brain from bringing up the events in high-definition in his mind.  Trevelyan, looking playful and smug and so dashing that it hurt, had snuck up on him like a mobile land-mine.  The embarrassing part was that Aiden had been the one to explode, though, because he liked having control over his life, and that meant he never took well to being startled.  He’d jumped about a foot, dropped his apple, and when Alec had had the audacity to dart forward and catch said apple, Aiden had not been grateful.  No, quite to the surprise of both of them, Aiden had ended up shouting in Alec’s face.  Something about stalking someone being a totally barmy way of showing affection.

He hadn’t known where the words were coming from.  He hadn’t known where he got the idea of ‘affection’ from.  He hadn’t known why the hell he was engaging rather than calmly and professionally walking away, and perhaps also pretending that he’d never seen Trevelyan before in his life.  Disinterest probably would have worked better, on a man trained to go after flashy, interesting things like a bower-bird after blue.

Trevelyan had looked startled for about three seconds, but the instant Aiden’s temper had burnt out to be replaced with self-directed shock, the agent’s eyes had crinkled around a small but definite smile.  “Well, you could always make this easier on both of us and come back to mine,” the man had replied easily.

That sentence had tied Aiden up in knots so badly that he’d finally been able to fall back on his second, better plan and just walk away.  This time when he’d said “No” his voice had been a bit shakier, but at the same time, Trevelyan had shown an ability to understand the word.  He hadn’t followed him, although a surreptitious glance back had shown the agent still watching him, arms folded and expression considerating.

Now Aiden was down one apple and still tied up in knots, and it was making him feel too ill to finish his energy bar.  He’d grown up in a household where it was very, very clear what you were allowed to be attracted to, and Aiden had survived by following his parents’ rules; he firmly expected to eventually be matched up with some daughter-of-a-friend-of-his-mother’s someday, and be one of those boring, awkward husbands who did whatever his wife asked and then quietly turned a blind eye when she got herself a lover.  Or maybe he’d get lucky and some unfortunate girl would actually fall in love with him – but in a way, that would be the worse option, because Aiden would then have to pretend to love her back, all the while imagining powerful, broad shoulders and pectoral muscles that had radiated strength beneath his hand…

Aiden opened his eyes and shook himself, swearing quietly as he dropped his hands into his lap – then quickly pulled his hands out of his lap, because he didn’t need his hands anywhere near his cock right now.  He told himself that the only reason he was getting hard from just one spark of steamy memory was because he hadn’t gotten laid in over a year.  Even as he told himself that, however, another part of him whispered darkly that that one steamy memory was hotter than all of his other sexual forays combined.  Feeling defeated and confused, and simply very wrong on the inside, Aiden thumped his head back against the barrier and squeezed his eyes shut.

He opened them again when he heard the door to the rooftop entrance open, and he felt a moment of blind panic at the thought that Trevelyan had found him again – most of the panic was because, at this stage, he wasn’t sure what he’d do if that were the case.  More and more of him was coming to the scared realization that, despite what his parents had pounded into him since childhood, he didn’t want to run.  Meanwhile, the rest of him kept chanting mantras that had been burned into his skull, telling him that running away was exactly what he should keep doing.  Fortunately, the person who appeared was only Iris, blinking in the watery daylight for only a moment before settling on Aiden.  Her smile was soft and understanding and a little bit sad.  Aiden abruptly wanted to cry, and just as abruptly recalled no less than five separate lectures from his father about men and crying and how that just wasn’t respectable.  The fact that Aiden knew that his family had fucked him up didn’t do anything to erase decades of training, and he still hadn’t managed to move out yet.

Instead of saying anything that was bothering him, all that came out of Aiden’s mouth was, “My lunch-break’s almost over.”  That was a lie: it had probably been over for at least fifteen minutes, and once again he had to wonder if this would lose him his job.  Dr. Harper wasn’t in control of hirings or firings, but she had a lot of sway in the department, and she hated slackers.

“Someone’s covering for you,” Iris said easily, walking over and sitting down next to him.  There was a chilly wind, but the wall blocked it; even so, Iris leaned into him for warmth.

Feeling numb and confused by everything, Aiden numbly let her.  He distantly hoped that the comfort would sink in after a minute or two, because he kind of needed it.  “Who?” he asked, bewildered.

“Not sure,” Iris shrugged, then added with a shrug that radiated down Aiden’s left arm, “I left that up to Alec.”

Aiden made a choking sound and twisted around, pulling away from Iris so that he could turn and stare at her in something like horror.  “Alec?  Alec Trevelyan?” he sputtered back.

Still being annoyingly imperturbable, Iris pushed a strand of auburn hair back behind her ear and nodded sagely.  “Yup.  Right after he told me that you might be on the roof, I asked him to make sure that you didn’t get in trouble at Medical over this.”

At a loss, Aiden gave a few helpless blinks before make a weak interrogative noise.  Thankfully, that was enough to get Iris to continue, still as patiently and calmly as before, “He found me in Q-branch after you apparently ran away from him.  He was worried.  So-”   Another shrug, as if this were normal.  “-He told me where you likely were, and asked if I’d go and talk to you.  He also said that if you weren’t up here, to check in the basement-level break-room, but I knew that already”

Agent 006, after just two days, knew Aiden’s favored hiding spots.  That was terrifying on multiple levels, especially since it meant that Trevelyan was not only observant as fuck, but also that he could have been finding his quarry far more often… but for some inexplicable reason, had been letting Aiden hide instead.  After just staring at his best friend for a second – who was apparently working as an extension of Trevelyan now – Aiden exhaled, “Fuck.”

“While it’s nice to see you swearing like a normal person, I think you’re blowing this out of proportion,” Iris informed him with unimpressed bluntness.  She softened a bit at whatever she saw in Aiden’s eyes, however (probably unadulterated horror), and laid a hand on his arm to add, “Plenty of people are gay nowadays.”

“Not in my family they’re not.”

“Do you really want to talk about your family?”

Iris had been trying to get Aiden to talk about his family for months, but he dodged the subject with badger-like stubbornness (unless he was very drunk, in which case he spilled information like a hemorrhaging artery spilled blood, proof positive that he’d have never been able to cut it as a spy).  Meeting Iris’s challengingly raised eyebrow, Aiden narrowed his eyes and muttered, “No.”

“Good, then let’s talk like sensible folks,” Iris declared, and once again snuggled up to him so that they could sit shoulder-to-shoulder.  As a rule, girls made Aiden feel awkward and uncomfortable, but with Iris it was different – perhaps because he knew that she’d never hit on him, and he’d never have to act like a heterosexually interested, virile man around her in return.  Still, he sat in stiff silence and let Iris break the silence next, both of them staring forward across the empty rooftop, “He knows that he’s an arse, but he also really is worried about you.”

“We’re talking about Trevelyan, aren’t we?” Aiden said hopelessly.

Since that was a stupid question – of course they were – Iris just gave her head a small nod and kept going, “He told me that he’s been wondering what’s up with you since he saw you in Medical two days ago.  You know, the night after we all slept together.”

Aiden wanted to be embarrassed by that last sentence, but instead he was simply jealous of how easily Iris could say it.  She even sounded happy, as she said ‘slept together.’  The nurse gave a small sigh.  Maybe Iris translated the helpless sadness in it, because she reached over and tucked one hand around his arm.  It was more closeness than Aiden had felt with any of his family members, and he finally relaxed a little and leaned back into her.  He also got his tongue working, wetting his lips before hedging, “He’s been stalking me around MI6 like a buzzard following something dying.”

Iris snorted.  “Dramatic,” she once again accused, affecting a slightly sing-song tone.  Aiden jostled her in return, but his mouth twitched upwards in an attempt at a smile.  Something behind his breastbone loosened slightly.

Enough for him to add, “I told him that it was creepy just a bit ago, and he…”  Aiden looked down; oddly enough, he felt his mouth try to tug upwards again, and his heart did a funny and slightly uncomfortable flip in his chest.  Iris waited silently until he finished, “…He asked me to come home with him.”

“He told me,” said Iris simply, and Aiden immediately looked at her askance, trying to read her expression.  He knew – knew – that she wouldn’t be disgusted, but he still had to check.  He relaxed a bit more as he was reminded that Iris had never judged him for this.  “He also said that you said no.”

It was a knee-jerk response to snap his eyes forward again, offering Iris only his profile, and say too quickly, “Of course I did.”

Iris’s voice was both chiding and very sad.  “Aiden…”

“Hey, if a bloke just came up and asked you to come home with him, you’d say no!” Aiden shot back defensively.

“Yes, but I wouldn’t be saying no for the same reasons as you are,” Iris said, because Iris somehow always knew how to dive right to the heart of things.  When Aiden sagged like a deflated balloon, feeling very much as if he’d just been punctured in some painful but inevitable way, Iris was good enough to add with more levity, “Plus, it’s not like Alec is a total stranger.  I mean, we’ve worked with him since we got here.  He’s practically a household name.  That and-”

“Don’t say it,” Aiden groaned, hiding his face in his hands again.

Iris no doubt took relish in finishing without a hitch, “-He’s totally seen your cock already.”  While Aiden made dying noises and his body tried to immolate itself with a third-degree blush, Iris gave another shrug and finished lackadaisically, “To be fair, he’s seen all of my bits, too.”

“Good, he can go after those then,” the nurse growled back, then lifted his head and looked at his friend with immediate contrition, hearing what he’d just said, “God, I didn’t mean-”

But Iris just waved off the rude retort, instead smiling a small but wicked smile that lit her brandy-brown eyes.  “He is,” she informed Aiden.  To his look of total incomprehension, she rolled her eyes with affectionate derision and clarified, “He’s been following me around, too, but the difference is, I’ve actually stopped to talk to him.  Aiden-”  She gave his shoulder a hard nudge.  “-He’s interested in both of us.”

Just when Aiden had thought that his life couldn’t get more complicated.  He stared at Iris in much the same way that he’d have stared at a death-squad.  “You’ve got to be fucking me.”

“No, but Alec would love to,” Iris had the gall to retort, drawing her lower lip suggestively in behind her teeth and making a noise that no one should ever hear one’s best friend make – except Aiden had heard her make that sound before.  In bed.  With him and Alec Trevelyan.

Aiden buried his face in his hands again, but this time there was no way to press his palms against his eyes hard enough to erase the mental images he was getting.  “Good god, stop,” he groaned.

“That’s most definitely not what I’m going to be saying the next time we see Alec Trevelyan.”  When Aiden made a strangled noise like he’d just choked on his own tongue, Iris broke into giggles but also swung an arm around his shoulder, hugging him and grounding him before he lost his mind entirely.  “Come on, Aiden,” she coaxed, toning down the taunting to survivable levels, “You had fun with him – and so what?  You’re allowed to have fun.  What’s more, you’re allowed to keep having fun.  And before you say ‘What if my family finds out’ I’ll remind you that we’re talking about having sex with a 00-agent here.  We’re all MI6, and he most of all will know what it means to keep a secret.”  She patted his shoulder.  “It’ll be good for you.  It’ll get that stick out of your arse.”  She leaned close and whispered, “…And replace it with something better.”

Aiden nearly choked on his own spit again, flailing for a moment before turning to his grinning friend and accusing raggedly, “Iris, you’re going to be the death of me.”

“Just ‘the little death.’  La petit morte.  And it probably won’t be me doing it, really.”

“Another one-liner and I’m going to nix this entire idea entirely,” Aiden warned, only a beat later realizing that he was considering ‘this idea’ at all, by admitting that there was something to nix – or not nix.  Iris looked surprised, too, but very pleased.  In fact, she almost immediately launched herself the short distance it took to wrap her arms around his neck in a big hug.  Aiden startled for a moment, as unused to hugs as most cats were to water, protesting, “Hey, I didn’t say yes!  I just…”  He floundered.  “…I didn’t say no.”

“So you’re thinking about it?”  She turned her head on his shoulder so that she could look at him with one eye, and he could likewise glance warily back at her from close-range.  It was hard to lie with her that close, and that meant admitting… admitting that the more they talked about this, the more he felt excited, some starved little part of himself reaching leaves towards the sun.  He didn’t say anything for a moment, ashamed of himself from all sides – part of him ashamed of how much he wanted sex with a man, part of him ashamed that he couldn’t just go out and get what he wanted, unafraid.  When he dropped his eyes and tucked his mouth and nose down against Iris’s shoulder, however, she made a soft noise and hugged him tighter.  Then she gave his hair (today in a ponytail) a playful tug.  “Just give it a try, Aiden – give us a try.  You won’t be alone, remember?  I’ll be with you, and that means if I see you really freaking out, I can make sure that everything stops, okay?” she said with so much sincerity and real, true caring that Aiden felt wetness prickle at his eyes.

He held her back, wrapping his arms around her and – not for the first time, and probably not for the last – searching around inside of himself for some spark of erotic interest.  But, as always, he felt nothing, even as her full breasts pressed against his chest and he felt her supple curves bending towards his body.  It had been proven that he wasn’t disgusted by seeing her have sex, but it was clear that he’d never want to be the one having sex with her.  Somehow, repeating that to himself one last time settled something in his heart.  He finally asked, “What are you going to tell Trevelyan?”

“Well, since he wanted to know that you were all right, I guess I’ll tell him the truth.”

“Which is?”  He almost didn’t want to know.

“That he freaked you out by chasing you around.”  Iris sat back, eyes guarded but curious.  “What else do you want me to tell him?”

“Tell him…”  Aiden took a deep breath, fortifying himself, although he still didn’t manage to finish until he’d closed his eyes tightly, as if hiding from what he was about to say, “Tell him that if he wants another night like before, he’d better take us out someplace nice first – and if he interrupts my lunch one more time, I’m going to kill him.”

Iris’s chuckle was low and throaty, and even before Aiden hesitantly opened his eyes, he knew she was pleased.  “Threatening a 00-agent; I like it,” she said, winking.  Pushing herself back to her feet, she put out a belaying hand before Aiden could likewise get up.  “You stay here for a bit longer – I’m sure that Alec can keep you in the clear at Medical for at least another half hour.  He also said to give you this.”

Aiden barely managed to catch the apple that was tossed to him.  It wasn’t the same one he’d dropped in the ambulance bay, but instead was fresh and golden-red, unblemished.  His stomach made a noise like it could sense the presence of food.

“I’ll catch you later, Aiden!” Iris called, trotting off with sprightly steps and a little wave back at him.  Aiden stared after her, back at the apple, and then at nothing, his mind starting to chase itself in circles…  He ruthlessly halted his thoughts, biting into the apple instead.  The mental pandemonium that would inevitably come could at least wait until he’d finally eaten his lunch.

~^~

Iris entered the roof-access stairwell and almost immediately ran into Alec Trevelyan.  Because Iris was a skilled multitasker, she was able to: shut the door before Aiden saw, keep from tripping down the stairs, and also keep from swearing, at least until the door was firmly shut.  Then she swore quietly.  006 bore it stoically, although he didn’t look as devil-may-care as he often did.  “Did you hear all of that?” Iris finally asked, having a feeling she knew the answer.  Perhaps she might have been mad at the breach in privacy, but for two things: for one, 00-agents were pants at respecting other people’s privacy, having spent so much time spying – and secondly, Iris thought that she saw some sober understanding now in the agent’s canny green eyes.

“More or less,” Alec replied.

After a moment of silent thought and weighted silence, the young woman decided to count this as an unexpected win.  She patted the agent’s chest, and said only, “Then you know what you have to do.”

Ensuring that Alec didn’t decide to also go out onto the roof and upset Aiden so soon after Iris had gotten him calmed down, Iris also daringly hooked two fingers around the agent’s wrist.  When she gave it a tug, some of the wolfishness came back to his smile and to his eyes, before he followed her immediately back down the stairs again.

“I thought you and Aiden were going to demand a bit of courting before getting to the fun stuff,” Alec said as they reached the bottom of the stairs (no one else in sight and Aiden still eating lunch far above them) and Iris turned to look at the agent considering.

The tech-analyst watched Alec’s mouth as he spoke, and came a bit closer, until the tips of her shoes rested on his.  “Actually, that was just Aiden,” she said factually, cocking her head, still eyeing Alec’s lips as the smile on them spread.  Iris transferred her hand from Alec’s wrist to his gun-harness, holding on so that she could stretch upwards and make up for their difference in height.  “He won’t hold it against me if I don’t wait for him.”

The noise Alec made in his chest was deep and appreciative.  One of his arms found its way around Iris’s waist, and as he stepped forward, he urged her feet up onto his, until her soft black flats were balanced on his more rugged boots and she’d gained a few inches.  “Just a taste-test then, before I take you all out for the full-meal-deal?” he joked lowly.  Despite his bluff tone, however, his eyes spoke of a deep and abiding interest, something that made Iris’s breath catch, and also made her second-guess all of those people who said Alec was only interested in shallow flings.  If she and Aiden had been a shallow fling, why was Alec back again, concerned about Aiden and looking at her like some kind of light he’d never seen before?

When Iris smiled and then nodded, they both closed the distance simultaneously, the two of them stealing kisses in the stairwell until work called them back.

~^~

It was all very surreal.

Aiden had, to his unending shock, spent the rest of his day Trevelyan-free – it was like the man had dropped off the face of the earth.  At the end of the day, Iris popped up to offer him a ride home.  Eager to hear what she’d learned from talking to Trevelyan, Aiden had been quick to agree, thanking Nurse Lacey (who had been given, apparently, a very rare bottle of cognac by a very charming agent in return for filling in for Aiden unexpectedly) before signing out.  Over a bite to eat and a well-deserved beer, Iris had filled Aiden in, saying that Trevelyan had graciously agreed to their terms.  That fact made Aiden feel a blast of trepidation and excitement all at once, and Iris had immediately reached out a hand to stroke it over his hair.  Things like this made people think they were a couple sometimes, and Aiden never had the guts to correct anyone.  However, he had a timid hope that this thing with Trevelyan might be a step in the right direction towards… perhaps getting a bit braver.

Then Iris had said, “He’s taking us out to eat tomorrow night, so we need to find you something to wear,” and Aiden nearly spat out his beer in surprise.  What had followed was an evening of shopping and trying things on, and even though Aiden could swear he’d heard Iris talk about how tedious clothes-shopping could be, she seemed to have a blast when he was the one constantly going in and out of dressing rooms like a mobile doll.  Iris either wouldn’t say or didn’t know where they were going, but apparently it was fancy, so Aiden ended up with a nice black jacket (he fortunately had trousers to match that Iris said were passable), a tie that said it was ‘peacock blue,’ and a white dress-shirt that didn’t look as though Aiden had either slept in it or borrowed it from a man twice his size.  He groaned at the price-tag on the shoes that Iris said he needed, but she also consoled him by pointing out that he needed at least one presentable set of dress-clothes, and all of his shoes were only suitable for working.

“What about you?” he’d asked at one point.

Iris’s smile had become unexpectedly sly.  “Oh, I’ve got clothes covered.”  She hadn’t elaborated.

Aiden had seen Trevelyan a bit the next day, but only in polite capacities that actually seemed like chance meetings – either that, or the 00-agent was getting a lot more suave about his stalking.  They’d passed in the hall as Aiden had gone to the break-room for lunch, and Aiden had escorted Trevelyan back to a room in Medical later that day.  It was apparently for an overall physical, and even though Aiden wasn’t slotted to be in any way involved, he found himself blushing.  He blushed even more when he felt a hand on his shoulder – nothing illegal about that, Aiden told himself, even as he felt 006’s palm sear a lovely heat into his skin.  There was perhaps something illegal about Alec’s grin, however, laugh lines accentuating a fox-in-the-henhouse greenness of his eyes.  “If only I were having this physical tomorrow,” Alec said, even as he walked obediently forward into the room to wait for the doctor, “Then you could tell them that every inch of me is just fine.”

The door to the room closed while Aiden was still trying to get his brain to recover.  Totally out of his element and having no idea how to react to the unsubtle advances of someone he was actually attracted to – and, good god, was he admitting that he was attracted to Trevelyan?! – Aiden had fled back to the supply closet, where he took over from Lacey, who was unenthusiastically doing inventory.  Lacey was more than happy to trade duty rosters for a bit, although clearly she was dumbfounded by Aiden’s sudden interest in the job.

Later, Aiden found a little note on his desk-space, carefully folded over so that no one could peak at its contents in passing.  No one had seen who had left it, and that level of sneakiness alone made Aiden sure of who had left the note, even before he hesitantly unfolded it and read, ‘Sorry if I made you uncomfortable.  I promise I’m better behaved in public.  See you tonight at 6pm.  Your friend has the address - AT

Part of Aiden nearly dropped the note just out of nerves, deep-seated reflexes telling him to throw the note as far away as possible, because if his parents saw-  But they wouldn’t.  Aiden took a deep breath, read the note again, and reminded himself that this was just for him.  This wasn’t his family.  This wasn’t about what they expected him to be.

With that thought firmly in mind, Aiden folded the note up neatly again and tucked it rebelliously into his wallet.  He was not going to ruin this for him tonight.  Not this time.

~^~

Bloody hell, he was going to ruin this.

The place was fancy and Aiden had never heard of it, and even though Iris assured him that he looked amazing, he couldn’t help but think that he looked dumpy next to Iris, who was sporting a halter-top green silk dress with a high front that showed off her lower legs (and even some of her thighs, when she walked) and lower in the back to create a green silk tail when she walked.  She spoke of it with annoyance, saying she always had to lift it so it didn’t drag and get dirty, but all Aiden could think was that he’d never in a million years be able to match that kind of elegance.  At this point, it was pretty clear to Aiden why any man would be attracted to his best friend – but he was having serious doubts about why Trevelyan was going to all this trouble to bring him along, too.  “Are you sure I won’t be just cramping your style?” he asked once they were there, but still in Iris’s sensible little car, only half-joking and feeling a bit sick.

Iris reached over and grabbed his face, putting them nose to nose so that he got the full-force of her glare.  Her lipstick smelled like apples.  “Aiden.  You.  Are.  Coming,” she said, then released him and got out of the car.  Aiden sat a moment and wondered if he’d been around agents enough to sort of pick up their skills by osmosis, and if he should try to hotwire the car and drive away, or maybe do the sensible thing and see if he could hail a cab before Iris tackled him-  “AIDEN!”  Her shout was audible even through the closed doors, and Aiden got out.

It was a Thai place, but upscale in a way that Aiden had never seen.  He thought he spotted an actual maître d’ as soon as they entered, but after that, all he could honestly see was Alec Trevelyan.  The man had arrived head of them, and since Aiden was used to seeing agents dressed casually or not at all (for physicals or procedures), he was utterly unprepared for what 006 would look like when he had the opportunity to dress nicely.  Like Aiden he was in a black jacket and matching dress-trousers, but beneath it he wore a charcoal-grey button-down with a pattern on it just a half-shade darker, enough to draw the eye but not distract it, and a tie the color of garnet that somehow still managed to make his eyes look greener.  And his shoes positively shone.  His hair didn’t look much different, but to say that Alec Trevelyan could pull off the ‘roguishly mussed’ look was an understatement.  If Aiden hadn’t already been unequivocally sure that he was gay, he’d have known now, as he stared.  His oft neglected cock tried to make a nuisance of itself in his pants, and only by imagining Dr. Harper in lingerie (besides being a woman, Dr. Harper had the body and temperament of a bull) did he manage to get it to behave again.

“You clean up well,” Iris observed, and her boldness came so easily that Aiden sort of hated her a little bit, just for a split-second.  Then he reminded himself that he wouldn’t even be seeing this if it wasn’t for her, because there was no way he’d have had a chance with Alec Trevelyan even if he’d had the spine to ask him out.

“I figured that if I didn’t clean up to your standards,” the other man volleyed easily back, his eyes pleased and very openly appreciative, “I wouldn’t be allowed to sit with you both.”  His gaze had started on Iris, talking to her, and Aiden had begun his usual magic trick of fading into the background when the agent’s gaze shifted to take him in as well.  The shocking – and very, very flattering – part was that the look of appreciation didn’t fade one iota from Trevelyan’s gaze.  “Come on.  I’ve got us reservations,” Alec said, then held out his arm.  Iris took it and then grabbed Aiden’s elbow with her other hand before he had to worry about just how he was meant to hang off whose arm.  This time, she didn’t complain about her trailing dress – probably because this place was spotless, all done in shades of pristine gold and warm ivory, and it made her stand out like a supple cascade of jade.  ‘If I’m gay and think she’s amazing, what must everybody else be thinking?’ Aiden reflected distractedly, looking around at the tables that they passed, and indeed seeing more than a few eyes moving their way.

Alec talked to Iris as they were led to their table by a spiffily-dressed waitress.  As they moved to sit, however, Alec insisted on pulling out chairs – and he pulled out Aiden’s, too.  It was a rather small table, set off in an alcove, and once they were all seated it was surprising how cozy it felt, all of them equidistance from each other.  Iris was the only one who truly had her back to the larger dining space beyond, but she looked just fine from the back with her hair done up on top of her head and her back one sleek, tanned line down to her waist.  Aiden had just tied the front portion of his hair back in a quick tie, the rest falling loose in his usual style; nothing special.  ‘Stop being jealous, Aiden,’ he reminded himself, only to be surprised by Alec speaking to him.

“So, just how much do I have to apologize for courting you in the espionage fashion?” Trevelyan said with some of the easiest, frank playfulness that Aiden had ever seen.

That was the start to the evening: with Aiden not having a fuckin clue how to answer that, bumbling his way through an answer that he didn’t even remember after saying it, and Trevelyan seeming happy with the answer anyway.  The next miracle was that Trevelyan kept talking to him, in more or less equal proportions to talking to Iris, and somehow that created a dynamic that allowed an actual conversation to start.  From there it moved to ordering drinks: only after he ordered did Aiden realize that he probably wanted something stronger than wine, like maybe vodka, but by then it was too late.  Then to food: Aiden actually loved Thai food but didn’t get it very often, and he wondered if maybe Iris had played a hand in choosing this place.  Some of the embarrassment of the situation started to fade once the food came, reminding Aiden that heaven came in food form.  Constant, low-key flirting aside, Trevelyan was actually not bad company, and while he was no doubt trained in the art of being disarming, Aiden appreciated any efforts to make this a calm and pleasant occasion.  Yes, Trevelyan made his legs absolutely unavoidable under the table (it was not footsie; it wasn’t), and yes Trevelyan had this look in his eyes that said he was undressing Aiden with them as much as he was undressing Iris.  But he also seemed sincerely interested in what his companions had to say, even when Aiden was just telling random stories about the shenanigans the nursing staff got up to on slow days.

The only real clusterfuck of the evening for Aiden was when he got his main dish and found out that some of it was too hot for him.  Despite his love of Thai food, he had an embarrassingly sensible tongue, and his eyes started watering almost immediately.

“Too hot?” Alec asked the obvious question, one eyebrow raised and his own food paused on the way to his mouth.

Between gulps of water, Aiden made a noise in the affirmative, adding once he’d gotten the fire in his mouth put out, “I like flavor, but not heat.”

Aiden expected a bit of good-natured teasing about that, but instead, Alec merely accepted that and then surprised Aiden by proffering the contents of his own chopsticks, “Here.  Try mine.  Usually I’m the one who likes to eat fire, but this is a personal favorite of mine.”  When Aiden looked uneasy about taking the offering, Alec misinterpreted and reassured jovially, “Don’t worry, it’s not hot.  Food is sacred, and I have no interest in killing you with it.”

In reality, Aiden hadn’t even considered whether this was a trap or not to further scald his taste-buds; he’d just been struggling with conflicting emotions about taking food from Alec’s chopsticks.  Even his parents didn’t share food with one another, and the inherent intimacy of the gesture had Aiden split between eagerness and wanting to run the other way.  In the end, it was Iris kicking him under the table that got him to just go for it, leaning forward and putting out a sensible hand beneath the food in case it dropped.  He took it as gently as possible from Alec’s chopsticks, and for a full second, didn’t even taste it because he was so self-conscious.  Then he did taste it, and it was amazing enough to make him close his eyes and hum.

“Good?”  Alec’s grin, when Aiden opened his eyes to see it, was broad and smug.  “You’re welcome to it, so long as you don’t mind me stealing of your plate in return.”

“If we’re food-sharing, I demand equal rights,” Iris piped up, and from there, the atmosphere settled into something warm and pleasant, allowing Aiden to recover himself a bit and not feel so on-the-spot.  He still wouldn’t have eaten near as much of Alec’s food as he did, though, if the double-oh didn’t insist on picking out choice bits to give to him periodically.

Then Iris got in on the Aiden-feeding, too, and the nurse was sure that he’d never stop blushing.  But he was hungry, dammit, and either their food was legitimately tastier than his, or it just tasted better when it came from someone else’s chopsticks.  He also couldn’t come up with any polite way to refuse, the excuses always seeming to die prematurely in his throat…

By the time they finished, everyone was laughing and sated, and Aiden didn’t realize that he’d barely even drunk his wine until they were leaving.  When he reached back to try and gulp it at the last minute, Iris swatted his hand.  Alec had walked out ahead of them, allowing Iris to hiss at her friend privately, “I will not let you be drunk for every homosexual encounter in your life!  You’ll regret it.”

“I’m likely going to regret it even if I’m sober,” he shot back a bit desperately, but also glanced past her to see that Trevelyan had turned to see what was keeping them.  Aiden flushed, but turned back to Iris to whisper the rest of his very logical argument, “The only difference is that sober-me starts regretting it faster.”

But Iris was not to be moved.  Her eyes shooting metaphorical sparks that actually felt just about real, she grabbed Aiden’s hand and tugged him around with a very firm, “NO.”  Giving up, Aiden trailed reluctantly after her, and while Trevelyan raised an eyebrow at both of them, he wisely didn’t question the situation.

“Would you both do me the honor of spending more of the evening with me?” Alec said, somehow managing to sound gentlemanly and formal and yet still very himself.  Maybe it was the crooked smile.  His gaze flicked quickly to Aiden, though, before he added more seriously, “I’ll survive if the answer is no, just so everyone is aware.”

You mean, ‘just so Aiden is aware’,’ the younger man translated morosely, feeling suddenly deeply guilty for being so transparently skittish.  Iris had been giving Alec some very obvious signals for the latter half of the meal, to the point where even Aiden was noticing, so it was obvious who the stick in the mud was.  And the real problem was that he was having fun, and now half of his mind was screaming at him end that fun before it ended in something disgraceful – and Aiden could feel how messed up that part of him was, but he couldn’t shut it up.

So he did the next best thing: he talked over it.  “Yes.”  He sort of blurted out the word, and Iris and Alec both turned to him with raised eyebrows.  For a moment there was silence except for the general chatter floating into the restaurant lobby.  Realizing that more words were needed, and that he was going to keep going even if it killed him, Aiden fisted both of his hands and raised his chin, stating firmly, “I want to go.”

Iris’s smile, when it appeared, was blinding in its delight.  Alec’s came more slowly, but somehow it contained something no less stunning: pride.  Pleasure, too, but Aiden was almost entirely sure that he saw pride, and it warmed him to his toes.

“If the offer is more of what we all had last time at your place,” Iris took it up from there, the purr in her voice perfect for the occasion, “then count me in, too.  I’ve got my car, but we’ll meet you there.”

~^~

 

 

Chapter Text

“Iris, this isn’t going to work,” Aiden said even as he was slowly stripped of his clothing by his best friend.  

They’d made it to Alec’s place, and it was by that point clear that Iris had very specific plans for tonight – plans that included Aiden, and 006, and also a lot of skin. Somehow Aiden had been brave enough not to say no to that… but not quite brave enough to keep himself from complaining now, as they changed in Trevelyan’s bathroom.  Iris had grabbed a small but rather suspicious bag from her car when they’d left it, and had made it very clear that if they were going to end up in bed together again, she had some plans for what they’d be wearing.  Trevelyan had looked deeply intrigued, and this was feeling a lot like a repeat of their last encounter – but with less alcohol, and more of Iris at the reins, which was either a very good thing or a very bad thing.

Aiden was starting to suspect the latter.

The fact that Aiden wasn’t sexually interested in her, but had already seen her naked, made for an unusual tone to be set even as Iris uncompromisingly began to attack the zip on his trousers.  She herself had slipped out of her dress with disturbing speed.  Even as Aiden kept up his litany of complaints, he acquiesced to her quick hands, “Seriously, I’m not anything to look at naked - or clothed, for that matter, but definitely not naked.”  He unconsciously shifted his hips so that Iris could pull his trousers down, her actions efficient and businesslike, and her ears seemingly deaf.  Aiden gestured to the closed door and presumably to the 00-agent waiting beyond, growing a bit more emphatic, “Have you seen Trevelyan, Iris?  The man’s fit as hell, and I don’t even have a six-pack.”  Aiden turned to gesture at his own bare middle with one hand, the other hand bracing on the sink so that he could lift one foot and then the other as Iris beckoned, slipping his trousers completely off so that he stood only in pants and socks.  Ranting helped Aiden not to think about that, or to feel how the ambient chill of the room was making gooseflesh appear all over his skin.  “I have a two-pack.”  He helplessly traced the faint line that ran straight down his chest and stomach, dividing his abdominals (such as they were) neatly in half, but nothing more.  “I’m going to look ridiculous.”

“First off,” Iris finally spoke up, standing up with Aiden’s clothes heaped over her arm and a very imposing set to her eyebrows.  One of them was lifted in a way that made Aiden immediately nervous, even before the young woman went on with a poke to his chest, “This is your body, and you’re stuck with it for the long haul, so you shouldn’t dis it like that.  Secondly, I have a two-pack, so be careful what you make fun of.”  Aiden flushed a deep pink as he realized that, yes, Iris did indeed have that same vertical furrow down her stomach - he was pretty sure it looked better on her, though, with her trim curves.  Before he could say so, however, she stepped up and pressed a raised finger imperiously to his lips, then indicated the other room with a jerk of her head, “So let’s do some deductive reasoning here.  You and I both have ‘two-packs,’ as you call them, and Alec likes both of us.” She tilted her head so that she was looking at Aiden significantly from under her eyebrows.  “Methinks he likes what he sees.  Your argument is invalid.”

Aiden groaned, burying his face in his hands in defeat while also clenching his jaw against saying anything more.  At the back of his mind, he was aware that he could put a stop to this very easily – he trusted Iris to keep her word, that she’d shut things down if he wasn’t okay with it – but he refused, just this once in his life, not to let the shadow of his parents ruin things for him.  He wanted to do what he wanted for once… he was just simultaneously terrified to do what he wanted.  That terror increased as he dropped his hands to see Iris pulling articles of clothing he didn’t recognize from the bag she’d brought in.  “Umm… what are those?”

Iris herself already looked stunning.  Her dress hadn’t been made to accompany much of a bra, but after only the briefest flash of breasts, she’d slipped into a red lace bralette that matched the panties she’d already been wearing.  Her own attire had been pretty much complete within moments of stepping into the bathroom and out of her dress.  Which meant…  “Are those for me?” Aiden finished with a squeak.  He was seeing more lace, and it was quickly triggering his flight-or-flight response.  If he’d been indoctrinated to think that gayness was wrong, then cross-dressing was even further into the realm of things his family would absolutely crucify him for…

“Aiden, I’m only going to tell you this once,” Iris said with stern patience, “Put on your big-girl panties and deal with it.”

With that comment, Aiden recognized at least one of the scraps of cloth in her hands.  His blush reached incendiary heights and he could barely gasp out, “Jesus Christ, Iris.”

“Hey,” she retorted, sharpening her words as one would with a recalcitrant puppy that needed to be refocused.  She waved the black cloth at him – which seemed to include something long, like socks…?  “In case you don’t remember, that agent out there went from turned on to just about drooling when he saw you in my panties last time.  And, if I do say so myself, you looked pretty hot that way, too.  So, if you’re worried about not being attractive-”

Aiden paused in his slow descent into mortification, realizing that he really was worried about that.  Even more than he had admitted.  He’d grown up knowing that he wasn’t remotely toned enough or muscular enough to ever be shirtless on a magazine cover.  His middle felt soft and he’d never successfully completed a pull-up in his life without assistance.  So yes… he was desperately worried that he’d pale in comparison to his two potential bed-partners right now.  Folding his arms self-consciously around his middle, he fell silent and let Iris talk.

Her big amber eyes were surprisingly understanding.  “-Then put on something that everyone says you look hot in, okay?  I promise, you won’t look silly.  And if you really don’t like it, what you’re wearing is fine.”  She looked down his legs then, finishing with a frown at his feet, “Except the socks.  For the love of God, lose the socks.”

~^~

So that was how Aiden ended up, not five minutes later, looking into the mirror and trying to recognize himself.

“I need you to tell me again that I don’t look ridiculous,” he said, a bit hollowly, shell-shocked, “Because the first five times I don’t think I really heard you.”

He was in silk panties again, soft and black with an understated but definite lace trim at the top.  He resisted the urge to adjust his cock in them, knowing from last time what that would feel like, and half afraid that he wouldn’t be able to stop touching himself through the silk if he started.  The rest of his get-up was a bit newer, however, and caused his cheeks to heat with a perpetual blush: matching black stockings that went up to mid-thigh, and black gloves that hugged his arm all the way up past his elbow.  It made the golden hue of his skin-tone seem paler, and his limbs leaner and more…  Iris had said elegant.  She’d also said that it was a good thing he’d inherited a body-type that had very little leg-hair, or the socks would have a rather ‘fuzzy’ look to them.  Both the gloves and the socks had that same lace trim, and all Aiden could think was that Iris would have looked amazing in this, but surely he just looked ridiculous, like a squirrel in a suit.

Coming up behind him, Iris stood on her toes to prop her chin on his shoulder, arms wrapping around his chest in a companionable hug undiminished by how much skin was now touching skin.  They matched now, he realized – although she had more lace, her panties and top more sheer, which was a small blessing.  At least she hadn’t found him something see-through.  “I promise, and will continue promising, Aiden, that you look amazing,” she said steadfastly, and even pressed a little kiss to the side of his neck.  He appreciated it.  He still wasn’t sure that he believed her, though, because he’d never thought that he looked amazing even in a three-piece suit, much less clothing designed for women.  “Alec is going to be all over you.”

“Laughing,” Aiden added fatalistically, as he met Iris’s eyes in the mirror.  “I feel like a kid dressed up for Halloween.”

“Well then, fortunately for you, I think that Alec is up for a little bit of ‘trick or treat’,” Iris replied, perhaps a bit miffed at Aiden’s lackluster response to her wardrobe choices for him.  He groaned quietly as he realized that he might have just gotten on her bad side.  Before he could apologize, however, she was slipping one of her bare hands into one of his black-gloved ones and drawing him towards the door.  “Come on.  00-agents aren’t known for their patience, so I’m impressed that Alec hasn’t already busted the door down to check on us.  Are you still good with this?”

The terrible little voice in the back of Aiden’s head was screaming NO but he pushed it down and managed a silent nod instead.  He didn’t trust himself to speak, lest the traitor in his brain catch hold of his tongue.  Because beneath his trepidation, he was eager to see what Alec Trevelyan would think of him – and even as his brain screamed that it was a ridiculous, stupid hope, he hoped that Alec would like it.  Would like him.

Hand refusing to let go of Iris’s, he allowed himself to be led out of the loo and into the bedroom.

~^~

The last time Alec had waiting this long and this nervously, he’d been in a sniper’s nest with the success of the entire mission hanging on his next shot.  The stakes were much less deadly this time, of course, but he still thought that he’d lose his mind as he waited for his two partners to come out of the loo.  Iris had shot him a look right before she’d followed Aiden in, and the look had made it very clear that rushing or interrupting them would be a bad idea.  So, Alec was left to stand and pace, then sit down again, at least glad that he didn’t have to stay as still as he’d had to on that mission.  He’d taken his jacket off, and shoes and socks, but had resisted the urge to undress more. An idea of his own was forming in his mind – he secretly loved it when a partner undressed him.

It was almost as fun as undressing his partners.

He was imagining all of the various ways that this could go, worrying over Aiden’s anxiousness all the while, until the soft click of the en suite bathroom door opening scattered his thoughts.  Alec turned and froze, eyes widening before lowering to half-mast as his cock jumped.  Something warm and hungry unfolded in him.  “Fuuuuuck me,” he said with all of the appreciation in the world.

He had no doubt that this was all the Feist girl’s doing, and she’d outdone herself, plain and simple.  A bralette nearly see-through in place hugged her ribs and the perfect curves of her small but shapely breasts, her arse similarly sheathed in lacy black.  As Aiden met her eyes, she smirked and reached up – letting her hair down as he watched.  There was only one lamp on in the room, but its gentle light turned her long hair into shades of burnished gold.

She’d undone her hair with one hand – the other was still clasped in Aiden’s, whom Alec looked to with no less interest.  He smiled, in fact, unable to help it, as he saw the transparent shyness in every line of the young nurse’s body.  Alec could have told him that he had no reason to be nervous, though: he looked like a delicacy, the kind of meal that many a man went a lifetime without eating.  Even knowing his own predilection for feminine features and attributes, Alec was a bit shocked by just how turned on he was by the matching stockings, gloves, and pants.

Iris was the next to speak, saying with a coquettish toss of her head in Aiden’s direction, “Tell him that he doesn’t look half-bad compared to me.”

While Aiden gaped at her, clearly aghast, Alec just grinned broadly and obliged.  “I can say with definite certainty that the both of you are just about the best sights these eyes of mine have ever seen – and I’ve travelled the world.”  Belatedly, finally, Alec gave his legs permission to move forward, and he couldn’t help the way he stalked across the room, some instinctive part of him afraid that he’d lose these two – like a pair of pretty birds flying away.  “I swear,” he greeted Iris first, taking her head in both hands so that he could just take a moment to press his mouth and nose into her hair and speak against her temple, “you know what I like better than I do.”

Teasing teeth scraped his wrist.  The hand not tethering Aiden came up to finger Alec’s belt.  “It’s all just deductive reasoning,” she said with mock humility, “All of us Q-branchers are trained in it.”

“I should’ve started dating Q-branchers a long time ago,” Alec joked back.  He purposefully refused to think about how the word ‘dating’ had just slipped out of his mouth.  To further distract from his unexpected wording, Alec pulled back from Iris to give proper attention to the third member of their party.  “And MI6 nurses, too,” he added Aiden to his praises, and took in the way Aiden blushed and ducked his head.  The young man still had the upper half of his hair pulled back, but the rest swung free to brush his jaw.  Deciding that it was time to convince Aiden that he wasn’t the only pigeon at the peacock party, Alec reached out a hand and gently cupped one flushed cheek.  When the nurse looked up, startled, Alec met his eyes gently and smiled.  Voice low and sincere, the agent rumbled, “I haven’t even had dreams as enchanting as you.”

Aiden just stared at him, and Alec’s heart broke a little as he saw how unprepared Aiden was to respond.  Iris hadn’t been joking before, when she’d said compliments weren’t something her friend was used to – specifically compliments like this, from men, Alec suspected.  He brushed his thumb over Aiden’s cheek and reached down (without breaking eye-contact) to softly wrest Aiden’s hand from Iris’s grip.  Trusting that Iris wouldn’t be offended, Alec kept all of his attention focused on Aiden, even as he lifted Aiden’s gloved – god, those gloves were doing things to Alec… - hand to his tie.  “Any chance you’d like to help me out?  It looks like I’m a bit overdressed,” Alec said with his most suave smile.

Iris’s chuckle added more relaxed humor to the mood, even as Alec heard the soft slide of her footsteps heading towards the bed – then the sound of her presumably flopping onto it.  “Lazy,” she accused, “You had all this time to undress yourself, but you wait for us to come out and do it for you?”

“Hey, clearly both of you know clothes better than me,” Alec retorted with mock offense, even as he kept most of his attention on Aiden – the younger man was still flustered, although Alec’s coaxing had gotten him to at least grasp the red tie.  “This seems like a wise choice – letting the best-dressed individuals deal with all of the clothing decisions.”  Softening his tone a little, realizing that Aiden was in no state to keep up with this kind of rambunctiousness, Alec said, “What do you say, Aiden?”  Dark eyes lifted, and met Alec’s uncertainly.  Fuck, but Alec just wanted to right every wrong that had even put uncertainty into those eyes.  Alec had never been a ‘fixer’ type personality (he was told, in fact, that he mostly just broke things), but that’s exactly what he wanted to do now: fix Aiden.  Or at least get him to stop looking so miserable and nervous and wanting all at once.  Talking now in almost a whisper, as if just for them, Alec closed his hand over Aiden’s grip on his tie, giving a reassuring squeeze, “Do you want to undress me?”

This was the moment where Alec would know if there really was ‘wanting’ mixed up with the miserable and the nervous.

For a moment, it was like everyone in the room held their breath.  Aiden’s eyes had dropped to Alec’s hand on his, his lower lip drawn into his mouth as he worried at it.  But then…  Then, he lifted his head.  He didn’t meet Alec’s gaze, but he did give Alec’s body a brief once-over – ostensibly to catalogue the job ahead, no doubt, although Alec still felt justified in preening as he was examined.  Alec was still smiling when Aiden managed to get out a determined, “Yeah.  Yes.  Yes, I want to.”

It felt like such a victory that Alec nearly crowed.  He still didn’t know Aiden Matsuda near as well as Iris did, but he’d gotten bits and pieces out of her, about how her friend was a very closeted gay man – and how he’d been trying to get out of the closet unsuccessfully for years, sabotaged by his own misgivings time and again.  Knowing that, Alec could see the immense progress that had just been made, and somehow, that made him want to celebrate.  To cheer.  To somehow show that he knew what a big victory this was for Aiden.  Not wanting to spook the younger man, though, the agent kept quiet, instead dropping his hands and appearing to be, for all the world, like a perfectly behaved person.  And, in response, Aiden tentatively lifted his other hand and started loosening the tie with black-sheathed fingers.

As the tie slipped loose, Alec released an appreciative hum.  Otherwise, a spell of quiet had gently gripped the room.  A shifting noise of skin on sheets behind him told Alec that Iris was getting comfortable, no doubt realizing what a big step this was as well – and the need to not spook Aiden just as he was finally starting to get comfortable engaging with another man.

Of course, as Aiden started to get more comfortable, his fingers finding Alec’s buttons, the agent found it harder and harder to resist the urge to misbehave.

It started out innocent; a shift of his weight.  A slight movement of his body that brought them subtly closer, so that Alec’s breaths rustled across Aiden’s forehead as the nurse bent to his task.  When that didn’t cause any upset, 006 stretched his head forward juuuust a bit – enough that his nose brushed Aiden’s hair.  For a beat, the smaller man froze… but then kept moving.  Alec smiled more deeply.  His next moth-light nudge was accentuated by a deep inhale and exhale, taking in Aiden’s scent and letting it out in a rush of warm air that had Aiden going still again – and also holding his breath.  Once again, Alec waited, feeling the timing like an ebb and flow of the tides.  00-agents were trained to know the opportune moment, so it wasn’t until Aiden was bent over the third button that Alec leaned in close enough to brush lips across his temple, soft but unmistakable.

He heard the shuddering inhale, and all but felt Aiden’s little shiver.

It was like a dance then, or the gentlest fight in existence.  Aiden tried to undress Alec; Alec tried to distract Aiden, both of their movements timed and interwoven in delicate, careful steps.  Alec knew that people associated him with impulsiveness and brashness, but he was entirely capable of being subtle and charming as well.  It paid off, too, when Alec’s little nuzzles and kisses became diverting enough that the nurse emitted a giggle, trying in vain to hide one ear against his shoulder when Alec licked at it.  “You’re never going to get naked at this rate!” Aiden exclaimed breathily, still fighting with buttons.

Still hunting that ear, smiling cheekily, Alec shifted a half-step closer still, so that there was barely enough room between them for Aiden to attend to his task.  Breathing out against Aiden’s hair when he couldn’t quite nibble at his ear, Alec replied lowly, “Tell me you want to see me naked.”

Aiden’s startled inhale was audible, but his words on the exhale were what really warmed Alec from the inside out, “I want to see you naked.”  The admission was said at barely above a whisper, but Alec still heard it – and by Iris’s teensy gasp from the bed, she’d heard it, too.

Already getting hard in his pants, Alec acquiesced with ease – although he wasn’t quite done misbehaving yet.  “How could I deny a wish like that?” he replied at a rumble, ceasing to distract the young nurse with kisses.  Instead, he looped both arms around Aiden’s shoulders, setting his chin atop Aiden’s bent head.  When the nurse made an indignant squawk, Alec explained, “There.  Nothing can distract you now.  I’m protecting you from all distractions.”

By this point Iris had devolved into badly stifled laughter, and by the little puffs of breath Alec could feel against his collarbone, Aiden was on the verge of hilarity, too.  Instead of giving in and laughing, though, Aiden fell quiet.  He shifted his weight, but didn’t pull away, instead seeming to take a silent moment to get used to the contact – to the embrace.  Alec simply gave him the time, although he hummed appreciatively deep in his chest when he felt buttons being undone again.  He buffed his chin against Aiden’s hair when he felt the shirt tugged loose, murmured, “Yessss” when shaky fingers worked loose his belt.  “God, you’re good at this,” he said, only the tiniest bit patronizing – mostly, just encouraging.  Considering the fact that the dark-haired young man had possibly never done this before, he was indeed doing his task very well, especially considering how hard Alec was making it for him.  So the compliment was hardly undeserved.

With Alec’s shirt untucked and skin on display now, it was easier to notice Aiden’s gloves – the soft slide of them had Alec’s cock waking up more and more.  He gave in to the urge to rub his cheek more firmly against his partner’s head, simultaneously tightening his hold on Aiden’s shoulders.  He could feel that the nurse’s gloved hands were shaking, but nonetheless, they undid Alec’s fly, the sound of the zip going down obscenely loud in the relative quiet of the room.  Then – with a little intake of held breath that Alec could both feel and hear – Aiden gripped the waistband of Alec’s trousers, and boldly pushed them down.  By the way Aiden’s breath shuddered out, he was surprised at his own bravery.

Or perhaps he was surprised by the stiff cock already tenting the pants in front of him.

“Is Trevelyan armed, Aiden, or is he just happy to see you?” Iris’s cheeky voice sounded from the bed.

Only then did Aiden lift his head, so that it was no longer tucked beneath Alec’s chin but instead looking testily over his shoulder.  “Ha.  Ha,” the nurse retorted, but his flush was visible even in the low lighting.  Alec used the opportunity to step out of his own trousers, shifting around so that he could shed his unbuttoned shirt and then stand at Aiden’s side, just one arm over slim shoulders now.  That left both men facing the bed, looking at Iris, who’d draped herself across the middle of the bed with her head pillowed on one arm.  Alec let loose a low whistle to show what he thought of the picture she painted.  Iris waggled her hips a little in return.

Sensing Aiden’s nervousness rising again, Alec leaned over and pressed an unabashed kiss to the younger man’s cheek.  “Definitely happy to see you – both of you,” Alec murmured before withdrawing, and walking them both towards the bed and its sultry occupant.  A moment later found the three of them once again sharing a bed, momentarily just relaxing there.  Alec’s bed was a large one, and Iris only had to move over a little bit to allow Alec to lay down next to her – and Aiden next to him in turn.  The agent lounged back, propped up on his elbows so that he could ogle Iris from a good angle, while Aiden pushed himself up to lean against the headboard, picking at the hem of one stocking.

“Are you sure I don’t look ridiculous in this?” Aiden said, perhaps the first unprompted thing to come out of his mouth.

The agent was quick to assure, “I don’t think that anyone in nice lingerie could look ridiculous, and this-”  Alec was lounging with his head about level with Aiden’s chest, making it easy to loop an arm out and curl it around one of the nurse’s bare thighs, fingers stroking the fringe of black lace on Aiden’s stocking.  “-Is good lingerie.  I don’t only want to touch you in it, but I want you to touch me.”

Aiden looked as though he’d just blushed all the way down to his chest, eyes flicking from 006’s sincere eyes to the muscular arm that was more or less hugging his leg.  The nurse still looked very skittish, but he also looked like he appreciated both the sincere answer and the touching.  Wanting to feed that appreciation but also not scare Aiden off in what was probably his first sexual encounter with another man (Iris hadn’t exactly called Aiden a virgin, but Alec was good at reading in between the lines), the agent gave the edge of the stocking one more caress before deciding on a course of action.

“How about this?” Alec proposed, still maintaining eye contact with Aiden even as he leaned over to press a kiss to the younger man’s ribs, feeling them expand and contract beneath his mouth.  “Since Iris has always been so patient with you and me, I’m thinking that she deserves a bit of attention first.”

Iris, who was clearly an amazing friend on multiple levels, started to gently protest, but Alec hurried to finish his idea first, “On one condition: you use those sexy gloves of yours to touch me.”  Both Iris and Aiden twitched in surprise, not having expected the sudden stipulation.  If this proposition had been given to any other bed-partner, it would have seemed skewed very much in favor of just Iris and Alec, with the third person doing a lot of giving but no taking of pleasure.  Alec was pretty sure that he’d read the hesitation still in Aiden’s eyes, however, and was determined not to push too hard or too fast.  Kissing Aiden’s ribs again, Alec finished, “Any kind of touching you want.  I just want to feel those gloves – and if it all weirds you out too much, I swear that I will not judge you for just watching for the rest of the evening.  Or whatever you want to do.”  The last was added a bit awkwardly, as he realized that Aiden would perhaps not like the idea of being just a voyeur either.

For a moment, Aiden looked torn, breaking eye-contact to instead stare down at his own sheathed hands, opening and closing against the blankets.  With only a short pause of silence, however, he started moving his chin in an increasingly confident nod.  “O-Okay,” he managed.  And then even offered a small smile.  Alec reflected the smile back tenfold – then, for good measure, rolled over so that he could give Aiden a proper kiss on the mouth.  The little noise of surprise quickly faded to a moan shared between them, before Alec pulled back with one last quick peck.

Then, rearing back on his knees and gazing down at Iris, Alec grinned with more wolfish hunger.  “Well then, feisty-Feist, how do you want it?  Ladies’ choice.”

Much more daring than her partner, Iris’s eyelids lowered.  Without any particular hesitation or shyness, she replied, “I want you to eat me out.”

~^~

By this point, Aiden couldn’t believe that he wasn’t drunk, because usually it took copious amounts of alcohol to get this effervescent, lightheaded feeling.  His attire still felt strange, but after Trevelyan’s last kiss to the side of his chest, it had been easier to just… relax into his body a little.  That’s what it felt like he was doing: relaxing into himself.  It felt nice, like finally straightening out a sock that he’d been wearing crookedly all day (or all of his life).

And now as he watched Trevelyan move, playfully rolling Iris over onto her back, Aiden just about had to pinch himself to decide whether this was all real or not.

Aiden couldn’t remember being disgusted last time that he’d been witness to Alec and Iris fucking, but he sobered a bit now, realizing that he was… well, that he was more sober now.  At first, he looked away, both out of embarrassment and because he was worried that something about this would turn him off, would ruin things.  He was appreciative of the space that Alec had given him, but he didn’t want to remove himself from the proceedings entirely – not after he’d come this far.  When he heard Iris laugh, however, he looked back.  It looked like Alec was smothering her in sloppy kisses, moving down her neck, chest, and stomach.  A tiny voice in the back of his head said that Aiden should have been turned on by this, but instead he found his interest straying – until his eyes latched on Trevelyan.  The agent had both arms wrapped around Iris’s lower back now, arching her closer to his mouth while he knelt between her legs, a position that subtly showed off his natural strength.  Aiden flushed and looked away when he caught himself tracing biceps and shoulders…

Then he jerked his head back, realizing with a jolt of something like adrenaline that he was allowed to look.

And touch, too.

 

 

Chapter Text

As Trevelyan moved lower and lower on Iris’s body and her laughter became throatier, Aiden left his position at the head of the bed, instead shuffling down towards the other end.  While he’d accepted the reality of seeing his best friend naked, he was more interested in her partner, and Alec was positioned closer to the foot of the giant bed.  Stockings sliding almost too slickly against the covers, Aiden ended up kneeling by Alec’s right side, his nervousness fading with the realization that he wasn’t being scrutinized by anyone.  There was a certain amount of power in anonymity, and the knowledge that Iris was very distracted and Alec was very focused.  Looking away from where Iris was losing her panties, Aiden fixed his eyes on the flexing musculature of Trevelyan’s back.  The combination of hard angles and sleek lines was unexpectedly seductive, especially as Aiden let his eyes follow the path of Trevelyan’s spine down to the small of his back, the little dimples on either side, right above the waistband of his pants… pants that were wrapped around a really nice arse.

Since Aiden had never consciously admitted to any arse being nice, he continued to kneel where he was, frozen, even as Iris’s legs hooked up over Alec’s shoulders and the agent started to do something with his mouth to her nether regions.  Technically, Aiden knew full well what was going on, but he knew that if he thought about it, he’d make a face.  Instead, he recalled his deal with Trevelyan from minutes ago, and… slowly, shuffled closer on his knees.  When he reached out his hand, he was startled yet again by seeing his fingers sheathed in black; he had yet to get used to what he was wearing.  Now that he’d been reassured by everyone that it didn’t look stupid, however, he allowed himself to admit that it did make him look graceful in a way he’d never looked before.  His fingers looked slender and artistic when he moved them, and there was something almost mysterious about hiding his entire arm up past the elbow, all manly hair hidden.  Aiden had no particular wish to change his gender, but he couldn’t say that he minded this bit of crossdressing.  And last time, it had paid dividends…

Feeling his cock twitch at just the remembrance of what had happened last time he’d worn women’s undergarments, Aiden sucked in a breath, and finally pressed his hand down against Alec’s back.  It wasn’t exactly an elegant movement, more of a jerk of muscles as he finally made himself act.  Alec twitched a bit beneath his hand, but at first, Aiden thought that his touch had gone unnoticed – after all, it looked like Trevelyan was very preoccupied with making Iris shudder and moan.  But then, just when Aiden was feeling silly, the agent’s back arched up beneath his hand, pressing into it like a cat.

Pleasure like a warm sun flooded through Aiden’s system, and he found a goofy smile flashing across his face.  Thus encouraged, Aiden knelt up a bit, daring to be closer – to be curious.  He still didn’t really care much about the ‘eating out’ process that was happening, but he was realizing more and more that he had been told to touch another man.  A hot man.  And no one was there to tell him not to.  Actually feeling excited, Aiden’s other hand came up to join the first, until both were resting atop strong ribs, feeling strength and breadth.  The layer of cloth in between felt… somehow scandalous.  Voyeuristic on the physical level.  He was touching, but he wasn’t touching.  It took an extra second for him to feel the heat of Alec’s body reaching through the thin fabric.  Aiden found himself more fascinated than he’d expected.  He glanced up to see if, despite everything, he’d be told to stop, but it looked highly unlikely that either Iris or Alec would be giving him orders anytime soon.  Smirking a bit (and admitting that he was happy that Iris was happy), Aiden slid his hands up Trevelyan’s back, mapping out scars he already knew from medical exams and records.  He avoided Iris’s feet as he traced arching shoulder-blades, powerful shoulders.  When Alec moved, Aiden for a second feared that it was to brush him away – but it turned out that he was just changing up the game with Iris, who by this point had been crying out and asking for more in a voice Aiden had never heard before.  The nurse backed off momentarily, curious and then mesmerized as Trevelyan disengaged with Iris just long enough to shuck off his pants.

His arse had looked enticing while clothed, and was no less so now that it was naked.

Aiden looked up when he heard Alec murmur, “Like what you see?”  The agent was grinning at him, face flushed and a glistening moisture around his mouth from his previous activities.  Before Aiden could answer, however, Iris kicked Trevelyan in the thigh to hurry him up (she came very close to kicking his cock, which lead Aiden to stare at that, too), and Alec obliged by leaning over to grab lube from the bedside table.  Aiden didn’t really remember seeing Alec’s cock in their last encounter, but he watched it now with the unblinking fascination of a desert-dweller seeing a lake for the first time.  Fitting the metaphor, Aiden felt his mouth water as Alec’s stiff length bobbled in the air.  When Trevelyan pumped it twice in a lube-covered hand, Aiden inadvertently caught the agent’s eye again, and looked away with a hot blush.

But not before he saw the look of clear appreciation in the agent’s green eyes.  Trevelyan had most definitely not been bothered by the scrutiny.

Aiden still didn’t look back again, or engage in activities, until he heard Iris let out a string of barely coherent words – she was usually quite articulate, but that apparently changed when Alec pushed into her.  Watching the two of them locked together, Aiden tried and failed to catalogue his feelings and reactions.  It was as if he felt something different everywhere he looked: a bit turned off if he looked too closely at where they were joined, a sort of neutral feeling when he looked at Iris’s open mouth and arched body…  But Aiden definitely felt lust when he watched Alec’s body move, muscles shifting beneath his tanned, scarred skin with each powerful thrust.

Before he could second-guess himself, Aiden lurched forward, pressing one hand to each of the agent’s shoulder-blades.  This put him closer than he’d realized, all but kneeling up behind Alec, but before he could second-guess his actions, the agent reached back with one hand – catching Aiden’s stockinged knee, urging him nearer.  Usually, the only that people actively asked Aiden to get closer to them were doctors that needed another set of hands, or Iris when she was taking selfies with him.  It made his heart flutter to realize that he was wanted.  Shyly, carefully, the black-haired young man eased forward, until he found himself joining in the movements of the people beneath him.

Alec had removed his hand from Aiden’s knee, and was now doing something between himself and Iris, something that had her crying out and then biting her lip, eyes closed.  Other hand braced on the bed, the blond-haired agent leaned forward to murmur rough-voiced words of encouragement before mouthing at Iris’s breasts through her bralette.  Whatever Alec was doing at the point where their bodies joined must have been tipping Iris over the edge, however, because she made an impatient sound and pulled her top aside, allowing Alec – with a low noise of approval – to seal his mouth around one peaked nipple.  All the while, he kept up a surprisingly steady rhythm, although Aiden could feel how hard-won that self-control was.  The agent was all tension, everywhere they touched.  Curious and a bit awed, and remembering that he had permission to do this, Aiden reached out and slid his hand down around Alec’s chest just to feel the hammering of his heart, the flexion of his ribs, the repeated rippling of his pectoral muscles.  Alec let loose a deep groan as Aiden’s hand inadvertently strayed down over his navel, closer and closer to where the agent was simultaneously fingering Iris and thrusting into her.  This also, as if by magic, brought Aiden flush against Alec’s back, and it was like hugging a furnace – like riding a dragon.  That last phrase sounded so much like a porno that Aiden would have laughed if he weren’t already so breathless, his arms locked around Alec’s broad chest and clinging.

Iris came in a way that even Aiden had to admit was beautiful, her voice leaving her in a keening, fading cry and her body bending upwards like a bow.  One breast was exposed, the other covered, like some Roman statue.  As she came back down again, the breath rushing out of her, she finally regained enough words again to sigh, “God, that was nice.”

Mission successful, Alec withdrew, although he reached back again to keep Aiden close.  The nurse went ahead and obliged, simply hugging the man in front of him, although when he hooked a chin over Alec’s shoulder, he noted with surprise that the agent was still hard – he hadn’t come yet.  As Alec sat back, turning his head to nuzzle the cheek of a rather flustered Aiden, Iris noticed, too.  Her grin was a knowing but sated one.  “No wonder so many women speak highly of your skills,” she commented, adjusting her top idly but otherwise showing no shyness as she relaxed on the bed.  “When most men say ‘Ladies first’ I find it annoyingly paternalistic, but when applied to sex, I very much approve.”

“It’s one of the best skills I have that I can’t put on a resume,” Alec panted back.  The hand that he’d had braced against the bed was now against Aiden’s cheek, sliding back and tangling in his hair.  It was such a transparently hungry touch that Aiden found himself gasping – his gasp swiftly swallowed up in the kiss that followed.  He could still feel that tautness in Alec’s entire body, as if he were making a conscious effort to hold still, to hold back.  Aiden wasn’t even a fraction as hard as Alec was right now, and even he could feel how it was fogging his head, eating away at his restraint, so he gained a new respect for Alec’s self-control.  As the kiss ended, however, Alec drew back and simply locked eyes with Aiden, the green of his eyes nearly swallowed by pupil now.

“Want to help me finish?” he asked in something between suave playfulness and sincere lust.  A flick of his eyes down towards his lap left no question as to what he was asking.

“I-I wouldn’t know how,” Aiden stuttered, embarrassed, although at the same time he looked between his two bedmates for help.  He didn’t want to be a stick in the mud.  He just couldn’t help it sometimes…

Iris was still too blissed out to be properly helpful, but thankfully Alec had a vested interest in teaching Aiden how these things worked.  Eyes still heavy-lidded with lust but words and touch sensible and calm, the agent shifted around so that they were kneeling across from one another.  “Just use your hand,” Alec encouraged, looking more than happy to accept most any kind of attention his cock was given, “Trust me, just about anything that you do will make me happy – especially with those sexy gloves of yours.”  His grin was slantwise and teasing, and Aiden flushed, one hand rubbing awkwardly at his opposite shoulder before he shuffled just a little bit closer.  Alec, to his credit, knelt patiently, although the grip of his fingers dimpling his own thighs showed that he was once again having to exert a lot of effort to stay still.  Perhaps it was just his natural state of being; Aiden had heard Iris talk endlessly about how 006 never stayed still long in a mission, no matter how many times he was told to.

A breath hissed past Alec’s teeth the moment Aiden’s hesitant fingertips brushed just the head of his shaft.  “It’s good, keep going,” Alec was quick to say on the exhale when Aiden looked up nervously.  Mostly reassured, Aiden turned back to his task, anxiety and curiosity warring in his head until the latter finally won out.  Alec’s cock was already slicked with lube and other substances, and Aiden was a bit worried about ruining the nice gloves Iris had bought him, so he kept his touches light.  As the uncertain brushes of Aiden’s inky fingertips made Alec’s breathing pick up, however, thoughts of making a mess got increasingly less prominent in Aiden’s mind.  He’d never touched another man like this before, and had certainly never seen the effect he could have on said man, after just a few circumspect caresses of his fingertips. 

When Aiden finally just thought to himself ‘Screw it’ and wrapped his entire hand around the stiff member in front of him, Alec let out a very pleased-sounding groan and leaned forward.  His breath felt hot but nice against Aiden’s collarbone when the agent’s forehead came to rest between his shoulder and neck.  “There you go,” Alec breathed.  Having a harder time seeing what he was doing now with Alec leaning into him, Aiden nonetheless tried a tentative stroke up and then down, blanking right now on what exactly he himself liked in situations like this.  Alec’s repeated moan said that it was good, though, so the younger man tried again with more confidence.  He could feel the wetness sinking through the glove, making the act seem even more intimate by the second – even before he started to feel how Alec was huffing and panting against his skin.  Aiden sped up his speed, giving his wrist a twist on sudden inspiration.  The agent shuddered, and for just a second, Aiden felt all-powerful.  He smiled.  Then he caught his breath in surprise as one of Alec’s muscular arms curled around the small of his back, dragging them closer.

“You know the only thing that would make this better?” Alec asked against the side of Aiden’s neck, buffing their jaws together like a big cat marking its territory, “Getting you off, too.  Would you like that?”

Aiden ended up stuttering again, even as his free hand reached around naturally to grip Alec’s back.  “I-I-I wouldn’t know how.”  His right hand faltered a bit in its rhythm, but it was like he just couldn’t stop touching Alec’s cock now that he’d started.  “Really, I’m fine.”

“He wants you to be more than fine, sweetie,” Iris finally chimed in.  She was still sans pants, but she’d pulled her legs together, flopping over on her side with one pillow pulled comfortably beneath her cheek.  She was watching with hooded but sympathetic eyes.

Alec was nodding, face still buried against Aiden’s neck and arm still pulling them closer, higher on their knees.  “Take your pants off.  Just grip your cock next to mine,” he said encouragingly.  Even more encouraging was the hand not splayed against Aiden’s lower back, which reached in between them and pushed down Aiden’s pant to give Aiden’s half-interested cock a few quick strokes.  It made Aiden’s entire heart jump up into his throat, and now he was the one leaning into his partner, heat pooling fast in the cup of his pelvis.  A moment later and Alec let go, but the sensation of touch didn’t leave entirely, as they finally got close enough to one another for their cocks – Aiden as erect as Alec now – to brush.  The fabric suddenly felt constricting and utterly in the way, and Aiden surprised himself by how swiftly he fought his way out of them.

“Can you hold us both?”  Alec’s words were confident, but his voice itself was getting more ragged again, more breath than sound.  He’d wrapped both arms around Aiden’s waist to hook against the small of his back, a comforting bulwark of tangible strength.

Fumbling a bit, Aiden nonetheless complied, gasping as he felt the familiar sensation of his own hand on himself – but complicated and tripled by the smooth feel of the glove and the slick presence of another cock butted up against his, skin to skin.  He squeezed more out of reflex than conscious thought, and set them both to moaning before he gentled his grip.  The first stoke he gave with both of them together in his hand felt electric.  Heavenly.

~^~

Iris, watching contentedly with her own orgasm still a warm, banked fire in her belly, briefly considered the possibilities of getting both of their cocks in her mouth.  Aiden was still new to all of this, however, and very gay, so the young woman tamped the tempting thought down.  Perhaps, at a later date, she’d see if that was something Aiden wanted.  For now, though, she was content to sit and watch as Aiden slowly perfected his skills on a very willing audience.  The fact that Alec hadn’t come yet looked to be a miracle all its own, especially since most of Iris’s partners would have come before she did (even with the ‘pre-game’ of eating her out), but Aiden was getting desperate, too.  While Alec’s head was hidden against Aiden’s far shoulder, Iris could see how her best friend’s eyes were closed and his mouth was open on panting breaths, and the shy Aiden she knew pretty much disappeared when he finally got tired of supporting his own weight and climbed awkwardly up into Alec’s lap.  The agent’s murmured phrases of praise and sounds of pleasure morphed briefly into a hearty chuckle, but he seemed pleased with the change, as it aligned their groins more closely.  Iris didn’t miss the way Alec spared a hand to stroke up and down Aiden’s stocking, from deceptively delicate ankle to sleek calf and tensed lower thigh.  Pleased with her choice of attire for this evening, Iris grinned to herself like the cat that had gotten all the cream.

Well.  Technically, Aiden and Alec were about to get some ‘cream’ of their own.  But that was a joke to save Aiden’s tender ears from, even as everyone’s ears were filled with the sound of the younger man keening as he came.  Alec – a bit quieter but not a beat later – came as well, both of them quivering in the other’s arms.  Aiden then wrapped both arms around Alec’s neck, shuddering his way through aftershocks and looking more at home than Iris had ever seen him.

~^~

For a long while, they stayed in a tumbled heap on the bed, although Iris eventually got up to find something in the bathroom to clean themselves with.  She smirked fondly when she returned, finding both boys stretched out but still messy, Aiden curled up under Alec’s arm like a bird hiding its head beneath someone else’s wing.  Alec hummed appreciatively, eyes flickering open, as Iris swiped a damp cloth down his stomach.  “Only because you were such a gentleman earlier,” she said to make it clear that she wouldn’t always be on clean-up duty.  Alec’s grin flashed one canine, but he nodded in agreement.  Aiden was too blissed out to make any comment as his best friend literally wiped cum off him, although he roused enough to wrinkle his nose and strip off his stained glove.

“Sorry,” he mumbled thickly to Iris.

“Don’t worry about it.”

Thankfully, postcoital Aiden seemed less inclined to fret than regular Aiden, so he merely nodded, smiled, and closed his eyes again.  After he was clean, he unselfconsciously tucked his nose up near Alec’s armpit, looking so adorable and happy that Iris felt her eyes moisten just a bit.

This time when she looked to Alec, she caught his eye, and then mouthed silently, “Thank you.  He needed this.”

“Happy to oblige,” Alec mouthed back.  He curled his arm more around Aiden’s shoulders, keeping him close.  Iris took a moment to shirk off her last item of clothing before taking up a position on Alec’s other side, deciding that he had enough body-heat to share with two.  For a while, they just lay like that, breathing steadily, slowly, deeply.  Iris traced idle fingers along the lines of muscles.  Alec played with Aiden’s hair until his already-loosened hair-tie came loose in a tumble of black locks.  Aiden made an adorable noise of disgruntlement but smothered it against a pectoral muscle.

Eventually, though, Iris got restless.  She twisted so that he could place her chin on Alec’s other pectoral, looking up at him expectantly.  He narrowed his eyes cautiously at her in return.  “What is it?”  Aiden roused, too, finally.  Iris managed not to get distracted by the way he lifted his head and blinked in surprise as if he hadn’t realized that he’d snuggled up with a 00-agent.

“Well, I think that I’ve been very patient,” Iris said loftily, and when both men just stared at her in bewilderment, she rolled her eyes and said more plainly, “I’ve been ready for round two for ages now, but I realized that you men might need to take your time, but a girl can only wait so long.  Are we going to go again, or should I pull my vibrator out of my purse?”

While Aiden squeaked, “You have a vibrator in your purse?” Alec barked out a laugh.  Not everyone liked this blunt, bossy side of Iris Feist, but he seemed to, and it warmed Iris down to her toes.

“Well, this old dog is up for another go,” Alec retorted jovially, prompting Iris to pinch him, because ‘old’ was a bit of an exaggeration… even if ‘dog’ sometimes fit.  Taking the pinch as his due, Alec turned to Aiden, jostling the younger man a bit.  “How about you, young pup?”

Aiden blinked incomprehensibly for a beat or two, then caught up with the conversation and got his tongue working.  “I… I could go another round.”  He seemed shocked that those were the words that had come out of his mouth, but then flashed a sudden and triumphant smile.  For Aiden, any voicing of sexual interest was an accomplishment.  Still, he looked a bit shy again as he looked over at Iris, asking softly, “Do you want to go first again…?”

“I’ve got a better idea,” Alec interjected, reaching over to grip Aiden by both forearms and pull him up bodily.  The young nurse ended up straddling Alec’s belly, and Iris sat up with interest.  Having worked with 00-agent in Q-branch, she knew that their plans were either spectacularly bad or spectacularly good, but 006’s always tended to have good outcomes – and tonight, a bit of fire along the way didn’t sound too bad.

Smoothing his hands over Aiden’s thighs to let him know that he was wanted there, Alec began to explain, “How about we all get what we want at the same time, hm?”  He reached up to catch Aiden’s still-gloved hand, bringing the fingers to his mouth and nipping at them gently, tugging at the material without dislodging it.  The flush on Aiden’s face was getting noticeable again, and he was watching 006 like the rest of the world had fallen away.  

“I think I like this plan already,” Iris opined, “What do I do?”

Alec had been keeping eye-contact with his tougher audience, but broke it now to grin shamelessly at Iris, “I was thinking that you could sit behind your pretty young friend here and ride me.”

Oh, yes, this sounded like a great idea…  Iris immediately moved closer, although she asked, “And what will my pretty young friend be doing in the meantime?”

Aiden was opening his mouth as if to protest being called ‘pretty,’ but he lost his train of thought as Alec’s hands moved from holding his knee and wrist to instead gripping his arse, moving him forward.  “If he has no objections, I was thinking that I’d finger him until he came all over me,” Alec said as if it were the most natural thing.

By the way Aiden’s mouth was hanging open and he wasn’t moving, it was possible that he’d forgotten how to breathe.  Shaking her head at his lingering prudishness, Iris put her hands on his shoulders to steady herself and then swiftly swung a leg over Alec’s hips.  The shaft of his cock tucked itself neatly between the folds of her outer labia, and she rubbed herself against it thoughtfully as she spoke, “What do you think, Aiden?  I can say with confidence that Alec here is as good with his hands as he is with his mouth.”

“Ta, Feist,” Alec accepted the compliment with all the preening pride of a peacock in full display.  One of his hands still cupped a buttock, but the other hand moved to just rest on Aiden’s hip, thumb stroking the curve of his pelvic bone.

When Iris hooked her chin over Aiden’s shoulder to see how he was doing, he looked nervous.  Not quite scared, but very much like a person about to try something very new, and very against his family’s so-called moral code.  But he still looked to her as if she held all the answers, trusting her judgment.  “Is it really that good?” he asked in a whisper.  Alec could no doubt hear it nonetheless, but was nice enough not to say anything.

Iris nodded confidently, eyes steady.  “Fingers and mouth together, he’s even better, but if you had to give up your anal virginity to someone, he’s the kind of expert you want.”  Iris felt the faint twitch that went through Alec’s body even if Aiden didn’t seem to notice; she’d surprised the agent, and she’d meant to.  Trevelyan needed to know that he was dealing with something precious here – precious in many ways.  Not only Iris’s best friend and a genuinely nice person, but someone who had never been penetrated before, at least not by another person.  In fact, this was probably a better introduction to penetration, because Alec’s cock was not small, and while Iris didn’t doubt Alec’s ability to prepare his partners, she was even more assured that he could bring Aiden painless pleasure with just his fingers.

Aiden had made too much progress to be scared off now.

With Alec subtly informed and Aiden looking a bit more sure of himself, the nurse still sat silently a moment, searching Iris’s open, encouraging face… then flashed a small smile.  Then a nod.

“All right then,” Iris straightened up triumphantly again, tossing her hair back over her shoulder and then leaning to the left and reaching, “This calls for more lube all around.”

~^~

“Just relax.”  Alec’s voice, surprisingly soft and gentle for a man so intimidating and strong, reached Aiden’s ears like a caress.  Aiden had closed his eyes, realizing how close he was to backing out, the traitorous voice in his head trying to ruin things almost before they even started.  Behind him, he sensed Iris move, and she placed a hand on his shoulder for balance.  He heard her breath leave her in a near-silent moan of satisfaction as she sank down, and Aiden could imagine Alec’s cock in her now.  Aiden tried to imagine something inside of him, too, but his brain stuttered and failed to come up with anything.  It was simply too far beyond his scope of experience.  Somewhere deep in his headspace, Aiden was startled into a gasp as he felt a lubricated hand – hotter than his, bigger, rougher with callouses – wrap around his cock.

Behind Aiden, Iris began to move, little movements that had her breaths brushing his back from time to time.  Her legs were touching his.  He didn’t mind; it assured him that she was there and watching out for him.

As Alec’s other hand continued to rub small circles against his hip-bone, Aiden considered the possibility that the agent was watching out for him, too.  The thought made him unexpectedly warm inside, heart twisting.

“Slower, Iris,” Alec pleaded in a strained voice, urging Aiden to finally open his eyes again.  The agent’s mouth was slightly open, his pupil’s lust-blown.  “I need just a bit more concentration than this, and you’re dragging it all out of me,” he finished with a lopsided smile.

“Sure,” Iris obliged, but not without getting the last word in, “But just so long as you know that I’ll be pulling something else out of you, too, before this is over.”  While Aiden was still figuring out that ‘something else’ meant a climax, Alec chuckled lowly, a vibration that Aiden could intimately feel.

Then the agent’s full attention was back on Aiden again, as Iris gentled her pleasure-seeking.  “Tell me if I need to slow down,” Alec insisted, “Iris isn’t the only one who can be bossed around.”  Iris snorted but didn’t argue.  “If anything doesn’t feel right, tell me.”  All the while, he continued to steadily strip Aiden’s cock, quickly making things feel so right that lost the words to describe it.  All the while, Alec’s mouth emitted praises: “Thaaaat’s it.  Good.  God, you’re lovely when you’re like this…”

With the attention being paid to his cock, Aiden almost didn’t notice when Alec’s other hand retreated, getting more lube one-handed (yet another fabulous skill he couldn’t put on his resume).  Aiden did hiss at the first cold touch of it, as Alec’s hand returned to his hip.  “Shhh,” Alec gentled, “Shhh.  Easy.  Sorry about that.”  He did look apologetic, and also kind.  The crows’-feet in evidence around his eyes.  “If I had another hand, I’d have warmed it up for you.”

Aiden surprised himself by being able to say in return, albeit breathily, “Maybe… we should have… put Iris in charge of the lube.”

It took both of Aiden’s companions a moment to realize that he’d just cracked a joke, and when they both laughed, Aiden felt wrapped up in the warmth of it.  Alec was smiling at him like he was the most delightful thing he’d ever seen, and Iris’s head had fallen down between his shoulder-blades to muffle her giggles there.

By the time the joke faded, the lube was warm, and Aiden had become aware of a slick finger idly stroking up and down between his buttocks, tickling up against his tailbone and then stroking deeper.  It was hard to get too anxious about it, though, with Alec’s hand expertly working his cock, which was nice.  Aiden gave in to the urge to close his eyes again, simply letting the sensations fill him.

“Good, good…” Alec was still murmuring, although sometimes he grunted a little, not immune to what Iris was doing.  She’d resumed her up and down motion, sometimes just rocking, too.  Everyone was being slowly worked up.  Alec curled his hand in a bit closer, giving Aiden’s right buttock a squeeze that felt more pleasurable than Aiden would have expected.  “Sit forward a bit, love.  You can lean on me,” Alec encouraged, soft and sweet now, like one might coax a bird from a perch to one’s hand, “I’ll make it feel good, I promise.”

Aiden was already feeling pretty amazing, his breathing getting a bit ragged as the attention paid to his cock set his nerves on fire.  He found himself mesmerized by the contrast of his own hands – one gloved, one bare – resting against Alec’s chest, as the nurse did as suggested and leaned forward.  He was still staring at his own hands, in fact, when he felt one of Alec’s fingers press in close enough to nudge against something intimate, something secretive, and it made Aiden’s hands clench against tanned skin and his breath ghost out of his mouth.

“Still good?”  Alec’s voice came from very close, and Aiden batted his eyes open to realize that he’d rocked forward even more at some point, so that their faces were only inches apart.  Aiden could also feel Iris’s hand on his back, and he wasn’t entirely sure whether she had it there to steady her movements, or whether she was the one nudging him closer and closer to Trevelyan’s mouth.  He couldn’t argue either way.

Gaze flicking between green, green eyes and a mouth that he knew to be sinfully wonderful, Aiden was proud of himself for being able to answer, “Yeah.  Yeah, still good.”  Alec’s middle finger nudged against Aiden’s hole again, not quite breaching it, and Aiden closed his eyes against the strange thrill of it.  “Very good.”

A soft chuckle radiated from the agent’s chest, and lips brushed Aiden’s nose lightly.  “Glad to hear it.”  Another drawn-out moan as Iris did something particularly wicked.  Alec’s body arched a bit, impressing Aiden with its strength.  Trevelyan had two people sitting on him, but still gave the sense that he’d be able to buck them off without the slightest effort if he wanted to.  Thankfully, the agent seemed very keen to keep them both exactly where they were, especially as he finally pushed enough to nudge just the tip of his finger past that tight furl of muscle.  Aiden’s breath caught, and he wasn’t sure what to do with the sensation.  He had a dizzy moment to realize that he was lucky Alec was the patient type, because it felt like forever as Aiden sat where he was, body shaking, as just the tip of Alec’s finger pumped in and out of him.

Alec was watching him intently.  He seemed to realize that moment that Aiden’s body adjusted to the feeling, and began to recognize it as pleasurable rather than just strange.  The blond-haired man burst into a wide smile of triumph.  “This is when it gets good,” he leaned up to whispered against Aiden’s cheek.  Then he gave Aiden’s cock a long, dragging pull while simultaneously pressing the finger deeper into him.

Aiden cried out then, an unintended sound that seemed to have been dragged upwards right from his toes.  He was dimpling the skin of Alec’s chest again, his bare hand sure to leave fingernail marks like crescent moons.  Iris made a sound behind him that might have been appreciation, but she must have also taken some nonverbal cue from Alec as well, because then Aiden twitched at the feeling of cool lubricant dripping down his lower spine, along the cleft of his arse.  It made things slicker, lewder, but it also facilitated the addition of a second finger, which made Aiden’s moan reverse itself into a gasp.  The stretch felt good, though, the burn of it tangled up in the building pleasure from his cock, making everything heightened.  Alec dragged him a bit closer, and Aiden gladly obliged.  He could feel the tendons of Alec’s arm flexing against his hip as he fingered his younger partner.

Then there felt like a spark had been lit inside of him, and Aiden jerked.  For a second, it was like feeling something monochrome flash into full color in a way he’d never experienced before.  Alec, trained spy that he was, noticed.  “Ah, there we are,” he purred, leonine-deep, and suddenly his two fingers were plunging in and out with more purpose, and there was more to appreciate than just the stretch and the friction.  Suddenly something inside of Aiden was being stroked, and it lit him on fire almost more than the stroking of his cock did.  Aiden’s earlier cry was repeated, and soon the volume was doubling, as Trevelyan hit that same spot with more purpose, more pressure.  No one tried to quiet him, and it wasn’t long before Aiden’s cries had doubled in volume.  The feelings alone would have been powerful, but also the pure novelty of it – that he’d never done this before, that he hadn’t truly realized that he could feel like this, with another man, no less – was what made it overwhelming.  Seeking more of the feeling, Aiden didn’t know whether to buck forward or rock back, and ended up curled forward onto Alec’s chest, braced there on his forearms now.  Sometimes, as he keened and gasped, he felt the agent take advantage of his open mouth, licking into it, a distracting wave of new sensations beneath gasped breaths.  Iris seemed to have picked up her pace, too; everyone realizing that the game had reached its zenith.  Alec’s rhythm faltered as Iris did indeed begin to pull an orgasm out of him with the fluid movements of her body, but Aiden didn’t care, because he was already pushed to the edge…

Aiden wasn’t sure what did it; he wasn’t even sure who came first, out of the three of them.  All he knew was that he came with fingers buried inside of him and a hand milking him through it, and that nothing could match the whiteout feeling that followed.

~^~

 

 

Chapter Text

Present – and scene-change to Bond and Q…

~^~

As requested by Alec, James had checked in on the nurse Aiden Matsuda – although he’d have rather been with Q, an addiction that was becoming more and more pronounced by the day.  James wasn’t used to missing people, so it rankled him a bit, and made him nervous.  The last time he’d had a person who meant enough to him to trigger that feeling, it had been-

James put the brakes on that thought, the gears in his head grinding to a halt. He didn’t want to think about his last partner, not when things were actually going so well.

Matsuda hadn’t been hard to find, and James was still on mandatory post-mission leave for another week and a half at least, hopefully enough time for Alec to get back and do this kind of benevolent stalking himself.  Matsuda was a bit shyer and more skittish than Alec’s usual type, so James could see why Alec had requested some babysitting.  Still, the fact that Alec was this worried said something for the level of attachment that had occurred – that, and James couldn’t recall that last time that Alec had actually seen anyone for any length of time, even a week.  Usually, Alec fucked people, made them very happy, and then only saw them sporadically after that.  There was nothing vicious about it – all parties involved knew that they were getting from the start – that was just the way Alec was.  If this was different, though, James was willing to help protect it.

Making a note to find out a bit more about the young nurse who was sleeping with his best friend… and this Iris Feist woman… James let his feet take them where they’d been wanting to take him all day: Q-branch.

James had stayed the night with Q like any good Dom, but it had felt different than it usually did.  This wasn’t just something he did because he took pride in his work – this was something he’d done because he’d felt more alive when he had Q wrapped up in his arms.  It was as if Q was a new drug in his system, making everything both sharper and calmer all at once, and James didn’t know if that feeling came from Q’s breathtakingly easy submission to him, or if it came from the fact that Q knew him.  Knew him and yet was still open to him, like a knight who’d seen the dragon’s teeth but still shed his armor, piece by piece.  James wasn’t used to trust like that – to connection like that.

Last time it had happened, everyone had gotten burned.

Despite those demons and memories intertwining with his thoughts, James still strolled into Q-branch and promptly slouched against the table his Quartermaster was working at.  By the way Q looked up at him and raised one eyebrow, the boffin was a bit worried that their previous intimate activities had changed how Bond treated him.  James was determined to show that that hadn’t happened, though… or, at least, any changes in Bond were not negatives ones.  He hoped.

“Are you here for a purpose or just to make a menace of yourself?” Q deadpanned after a moment of just meeting James’ Cheshire smile.

The table was a high one, putting them on equal footing as Q did his work standing and James propped an elbow next to his laptop and slouched.  “Oh, probably a little bit of both, but I could hold off on the mischief until after your shift.”

The start of a dry smile touched Q’s mouth.  “I don’t have shifts.  I’m here all day.”

“Good thing I’m a patient man then.”

“Good thing indeed.”

The day went on like that, with no references made to their intimate evening previous.  James found himself uniquely interested in proving that he was true to his word: that he could be involved with his Quartermaster without letting it affect their working relationship.  Since Q was certainly succeeding at maintaining boundaries, it felt like a challenge to mimic him in that regard.  To be fair, though, even their working relationship had included a decent amount of innuendo and teasing, so the two of them set up a steady banter throughout the morning.  James left a bit before lunch because Psych wanted to see him (no matter how much he didn’t want to see them) and returned a bit after with croissants and coffee that he left at Q’s desk before stretching out on the couch Q kept in his offices.  Since it was just his size, he made the reasonable assumption that he was meant to nap here.  He fell into a light doze, only opening his eyes when the door opened.

“Shit!” Q gasped, almost bolting right back out of his office when he realized there was another person in it.  Thankfully, he quickly recognized Bond.  “You bloody bastard, you’re lucky I wasn’t carrying a prototype weapon of some kind, or I’d have shot you,” he chastised as he regained his composure and stepped inside fully.  Despite his scowl, though, he didn’t shoo James out, and in fact shut the door behind him.  He noticed the food offering on his desk a beat later, and his expression softened marginally.

“I came in to leave you a gift, but got lost on the way out,” James said by way of excuse.  He wasn’t really trying because he really didn’t feel that bad; if Q wanted the company of people who didn’t pull stunts like this, then he was in the wrong profession.  “Thankfully, there was this handy sofa right here…”

“How incredibly blessed you are in life,” Q replied with only half his usual measure of dryness, already distracted by the food.  The croissants were still quite fresh, and the coffee must not have gotten too cold, as Q took more than one appreciative sip before sitting back on his desk.  “Are you trying to tell me something about my eating habits?” he asked, waving a half-eaten bit of bread.  The rest was in his mouth, garbling his words.

James just grinned and assured, “Wouldn’t dream of it.  I meant to use the croissants to leave a trail of breadcrumbs back out of Q-branch, but it must have slipped my mind.  I trust you can put them to good use?”

Q merely mrrrphhed around a bigger mouthful of croissant.  At that point, James couldn’t help but laugh, and it belatedly hit him how domestic yet pleasant this all was.  He fell silent and contemplative, simply watching Q eat.  “I don’t usually do this,” he found himself saying, the humor gone, leaving sobriety behind.  Q noticed and stopped eating, coffee halfway to his lips and eyes questioning.  James switched his own gaze to the middle distance, but somehow kept talking, “Yes, I sleep with people – some I should, some I shouldn’t – and Dom for people, but… I don’t do this.”  He gestured between them, at the food, at the sofa he’d commandeered and was now stretched out on as if Q were his shrink.  That was another thing James Bond didn’t do: he didn’t confess to things.  There was a reason that Psych hated him.  “And yet… I think I like it.”

Having put the coffee down, Q sat a moment with head cocked, and then got up and walked to the door, locking it.  Usually, a gesture like that would have put any 00-agent on edge, but James didn’t feel the urge to tense.  In fact, all he did was reach back an arm so that he could prop it behind his head, watching with mild interest as Q came back to him.  It seemed strangely inevitable when his Quartermaster, upon reaching his side, abruptly ceased to be his Quartermaster and became just Q instead – folding up his long legs to kneel at James’ side.  He looked a bit hesitant, but the door was locked, and there was careful deliberation behind this move, like someone folding their clothing as they slowly stripped down.  “I like this, too,” Q said, quiet but very sincere.

The hand not propped behind James’ head reached down, knuckles just barely brushing Q’s chin before calloused fingertips unfolded and brushed against a clean-shaven jaw.  When James’ hand came fully open, Q leaned his cheek into the other man’s palm.  Q added, further reflecting James’ words, “I don’t usually do this either.”

No, James imagined Q didn’t.  The youngest Quartermaster of MI6, the prodigy that everyone underestimated at their own peril, couldn’t afford to give off any signals of weakness, and that included kneeling down in his own office.  Even with the two of them sealed away from prying eyes in Q’s office, James could feel the gravity of the situation.  He felt a shiver rush down his spine as he realized the true scope of the trust he was being given.  Brushing a thumb against the corner of Q’s mouth while bespectacled hazel eyes watched him steadily, James felt the urge to give some trust in return.  The impulse made his stomach clench painfully, and he nearly balked, but something about the undemanding quality of Q’s gaze allowed him to relax and continue.

James cleared his throat, concentrating uncomfortably on just Q’s mouth as he touched it.  “I want to tell you a story,” he said quietly, “I want to tell you why I don’t usually do things like this, and why I’ll always be asking you if everything is all right.”

The way James’s thumb was pressing against Q’s lower lip subliminally indicated that he was referring to safewords, just like his last sentence implied that they’d keep seeing one another in a capacity that needed safewords.  His little inhale, a quiet breath that parted his lips ever-so-slightly, likewise indicated that he found pleasure in the idea.  They were still in MI6, however, so even though Q was kneeling, he remained professional.  “I’m listening,” he replied with a quiet gravity that Bond appreciated.

Needing Q a bit closer if he was going to get this story off his chest, James moved his hand away from Q’s mouth to instead cup it behind his neck, drawing him forward a bit.  Q came willingly, letting his kneeling posture slouch until he was leaning against the couch.  He folded his arms against James’ side, and nestled his chin there when the pressure of Bond’s hand bade him to.  Able to touch with ease now, the agent let his fingers sift through the younger man’s hair, wondering how they’d reached this place.  James looked up at the ceiling, knowing that that was the only way he was going to get through this discussion, even as his sense of touch anchored him to the living being next to him.  James wasn’t wearing the dark grey ring that Q had unintentionally given him, but he could feel the weight of it grounding him, too, where he’d been keeping it in his shirt-pocket.

“I had someone once, who was a bit like you,” James began slowly.  Picking the words out was like pulling loose splinters, old ones that the skin had started to grow over.  “She subbed for me, and she knew what I did for a living, too.”  Q didn’t ask whether she’d been an MI6 employee, which was good, because the answer would have been ‘no.’  James didn’t give away his secrets often, but he’d opened up to her.  The next ‘splinter’ that James pulled loose was a deep one, and he drew in a deep breath to brace against the pain.  “At that point, I wasn’t working much, and I think that I’d have left MI6 for her… if things hadn’t gone badly.”  The sting was worse than James had expected, and it had his muscles tightening, a heat rising up behind his eyes that he hadn’t expected.  Perhaps if he’d pulled this bit of shrapnel loose sooner, it wouldn’t be drawing blood now…

Q, bless him, turned and nuzzled his nose against the inside of James’ wrist.  “I only want what you’re willing to give,” he said in a voice that was a curious mixture between his calm, imperturbable ‘Quartermaster voice’ and the trusting, accepting voice he seemed to have only when he was subbing.  It allowed James to exhale.  He buried his fingers deeper in Q’s hair and gave a soft tug that hopefully translated to thankfulness of a sort.

Wetting his lips with a swipe of tongue, James forged onwards, determined to get this story out now that he’d started.  “I don’t tell this story often.”  He’d told Alec and M, but honestly didn’t think that he’d told anyone else.  He perhaps wouldn’t have told even them if they hadn’t ended up dealing with the fallout.  “But if you’re going to stay with me – like this-”  Not as coworkers, but as more.  He tightened his grip on Q’s hair to get that point across, exerting a brief but definite moment of control before continuing, “-You need to know.”

“Okay,” was all Q said, but when James glanced down, his eyes were earnest.  Worried, but earnest.  If nothing else, James could trust that Q knew enough 00-agents to realize how thorny truths like this could be.  In many ways, Q already understood James more than Vesper had.

James started at the end, getting the most brutal part over with.

“She died.”

It should have been a simple story: boy met girl, boy and girl fell in love and did all manner of lewd things between the sheets, boy and girl lived happily ever after until the end.  Only the boy was actually a man, and a spy, and asexual.  These were the easy parts, though, because Vesper had accepted all of these facts without much trouble.  Her own life was pretty messed up – her last boyfriend had been killed in a military operation, giving her more insight into James’ line of work than most.  The fact that James was asexual didn’t bother her much, because he could give her a million other things that she needed, because she was a sub just like Q.

Only she wasn’t.  She had different kinks, different likes and dislikes.  For starters, she liked pain.  Not long after she and James had gotten serious, it had become clear that Vesper got a rush out of things that would make most partners balk, and for a time, James had obliged her.  God knew his job gave him a wicked sort of skillset, and Vesper had devoured anything he’d been willing to give her.  The problem was, she’d only gotten hungrier with each bite.  Nips and bites became literal pain-play.  Simple pain-play became knife-play, blood-play.  When Vesper started asking for James to choke her, he finally admitted to himself that this felt more like work than play – and by ‘work,’ he meant his job as a spy, where he was often called upon to hurt and injure people for the sake of Queen and Country.  Vesper had liked it, though, and James had known for years already that that was his real kink: he never felt any drive to fuck anyone, but he’d always gotten a rush from knowing that he’d just made a partner happier than they knew they could be.  And by this point, outside of the bedroom, Vesper was often very unhappy.

Looking back, James could recognize depression.

At the time, he’d been more blind.

Vesper had always liked it rough, and James was particularly skilled at giving that to her.  If anything, he was more equipped than others, because he’d been strenuously trained to control his strength and use it with precision.  He knew how to watch the dilation of an eye to see when pain became unbearable; he knew exactly how much pressure he had to exert to go from merely twisting to dislocating; he knew by the flutter of a pulse when a body was about to pass out.  Unfortunately, things could always go wrong.

They didn’t, though.  Not quite.

At least, this wasn’t the part of the story where Vesper died.

It was the part where they fought, though.  Quite spectacularly, really.  Their relationship had always been a bit on the fiery side, Vesper being the kind of sub who wasn’t afraid to get a little bit pushy if it meant getting what she wanted.  Punishment was something she hungered after.  The problem was, their whole relationship – the entire system of BDSM – only worked if certain rules were met, and it eventually became clear that one very simple rule was being broken.  Vesper, more and more as the days went by, had a habit of not safewording.

“Fuck, why didn’t you tell me this was too tight?” James remembered asking one night, after the scene was ended and they were relaxing.  He’d tied Vesper up for this scene.  Now, he could see that the ropes had nearly rubbed her raw in places, circulation almost cut off at one point, behind her back where he hadn’t seen.

“You asked me to tell you if anything didn’t feel good,” she’d answered that night, blissed out still and unwilling to come out of her high to discuss the situation.

James had let it drop at the time, knowing that this wasn’t the time to have discussions with a sub.  He’d promised to watch her more carefully later.  Vesper just had a high tolerance; she’d safeword if she needed to.

He found himself repeating that to himself with increasing regularity: She’ll safeword if she needs to.  She’ll safeword if she really needs to.  Eventually the mantra changed to: I’ll watch her closely enough that she won’t need to.  And then: I’m a spy.  I’ll be able to tell when she’s lying, when I ask her if I’m really hurting her, and she lies to me…  It was exhausting.  It was also harder to tell whether someone he cared about was lying than it was to tell when an enemy operative was lying – and Vesper could lie quite skillfully when it meant getting what she wanted.

Looking back, James wondered if what she wanted… was to die.

He finally said it out loud – now, in Q’s office, with soft hair beneath his fingers and warm breaths against the inside of his forearm, “She was depressed.  She’d never seen a psychiatrist after her previous lover’s death, and I think she should have.  I don’t think that anyone would have expected her suicidal tendencies to look quite like what they did, though.”

“I’m sorry,” Q spoke for the first time.  James diverted his eyes from the ceiling to look at him again, and therefore saw when Q’s expression firmed up, and he amended, “You don’t think that any of that is your fault, do you?  Because it isn’t.  You’re only responsible for your own demons.”

To avoid answering the question (and the fervent look in Q’s eyes), James looked back up at the ceiling again, answering only with, “The story isn’t finished yet.”  He expected Q to override him and make sure that James accepted his statement, but instead Q just subsided.  A knot unraveled in the older man’s chest as he felt Q nudge just a bit closer to him, one knobby elbow against his side, Q’s head pillowed there, almost touching.

James and Vesper had eventually reached the point where they were about as good for each other as kerosene was for fire: one fed the other, and the resulting blaze was spectacular but overall unhealthy.  Vesper was an inferno, and when James finally declared that he wouldn’t ‘feed’ her desires anymore, she stormed out instead of caving in like he’d hoped.  If the story had ended there, it would have been a simpler story, if still a painful one.  James wished that he could say, “She’s probably out there somewhere, and sometimes we still talk,” but as he’d said – the story wasn’t over yet.

“When she left, I hoped that she’d cool off and start thinking straight,” James murmured, gazing at the middle distance and seeing memories.  Q’s head was now leaning into his side, one ear tipped up to the gentle stroking of Bond’s fingertips.  “It wasn’t until later that I put together the pieces, and realized that she turned straight to another Dom.”

Q twitched with surprise, but didn’t move out from under James’ hand.  “So she started seeing someone else?” he hazarded carefully.  He clearly didn’t know where this was going.

James did, sadly.  “Yes.”  He hummed and nodded, then said simply, in a barren sort of voice that rasped up his throat, “But this isn’t a story about jealousy.”

He wished it was.  He wished that she’d lived so that he could have been jealous forever of the people she saw after him.  Instead, she’d gone through a few Doms, eventually finding one a bit like James – a bit like James in that this new man knew how to push all of her buttons, and wasn’t afraid to get a bit of blood under his fingernails.  No doubt that Dom was ecstatic, finally finding a partner that didn’t hold back.  The problem was, not only did Vesper not hold back, but she didn’t safeword either.  She liked the pain, liked the adrenaline, liked the thrill of being pushed closer, closer, closer to that vast, breathless place called death.  It must have called to her like an open chest, cracked open just for her, heart beating in a bed of red velvet.

“He didn’t know any better,” James said, tasting the words on his tongue, looking for bitterness.  The last few times he’d reached this part of the story – talking to M, to Alec, sometimes just to himself – he’d felt a wash of anger that he knew was unjust.  Vesper’s new partner had no way to know that he was dealing with someone who wasn’t mentally stable enough to be engaging in the kinds of activities they did.  Somehow, now, as he paused with his hand simply cupping the side of Q’s head, one thumb hooked in front of a pale ear, James found his anger more subdued.  Perhaps time had finally worn away that anger into something resembling forgiveness.  He finished in a slow sigh, “He was no doubt watching her and trusting that she’d safeword if things go too rough, but she didn’t.  Maybe I’d have noticed without a safeword, because of my training, but a normal fellow like him…”  The exhale ran out.  James inhaled again, and shrugged with immense tiredness.  He stroked Q’s ear once.  “He didn’t stand a chance.  From the way he told the story to the authorities, she pushed and begged until he took her so far that the EMTs couldn’t bring her back – and I believe him.”

Vesper had pushed and begged for him to do the same thing, but in the end, he hadn’t, because he’d learned not to trust her when she said “I can take it.  Do it – I can take it.  I want it.”  Maybe she wanted it, but in the end, her body couldn’t take it.   

Bond had already cried for her, so he just blinked dry eyes up at the ceiling, and barely twitched when Q’s head finally slipped out from under his hand.  For a second, James felt bereft, like something was being ripped from him.  The loss of control was jarring, and for a second his emotions roared in his chest like so much white noise.  But then Q was there.  He’d only pulled away so that he could get up, come closer, sit on the sofa against Bond’s side and look down at him with sad hazel eyes.   

It still felt as if something had hollowed out his stomach - like the emptiness after a car-crash when the police had all gathered and there was nothing left to do but look at the wreckage and wait for the paperwork.  Suddenly now his strength didn’t matter, just as it hadn’t mattered when he’d gotten the call from the police, saying that they were investigating into the death of Vesper Lynd, and his name had come up as her emergency contact.

“James.”  Q’s voice was soft.  James curled his arm reflexively around Q’s waist, then jerked as he realized how much pressure he’d applied – too much, too sharply.  It had been a constant fear with Vesper, because that’s what she always wanted – too much, too sharply – and it had been a constant hell to deduce whether or not he was hurting her more than it was safe to.  Than it was right to.  When did it become wrong to hurt a person, when BDSM was already about consensually doing things to others that most people would consider abusive?  Vesper had consented right up until she’d died, and right now James was battling with that again. That he hurt people. That it was a very fine line between a good kind of hurt, and an evil kind of hurt, both inside and outside of the bedroom.

James.”  This time Q’s voice was harder, but he also reached out and cupped the agent’s face between his hands, drawing them almost nose to nose.  Bond breathed in deeply, scenting coffee on Q’s familiar breath.  “James, you did nothing wrong.”  This was somewhere between the ‘Quartermaster’ voice and just plain Q again, stern yet personal, as intimate as the meeting of their eyes.  Q was determined, so determined that when he spoke, their noses brushed.  “You did everything you could, and the man you are now is no worse for it.  Scarred, yes, but I like your scars.”  The words softened a bit at the end, and Q wriggled his hips until James acquiesced to wrap his arm around them again – and this time he felt like he was getting the pressure right.  James found himself sighing, the world steadying, his body fitting correctly.  He closed his eyes as Q’s thumbs stroked over his cheekbones and they just breathed each other’s air for a while.

After what felt like an eyeblink and an eon all at once, but what was probably just five minutes, Q said in something resembling a normal tone again, “You just dropped, didn’t you?”

James huffed a breath, embarrassed, and nodded without opening his eyes.  Many people didn't realize that Dom-drop was as real a thing as sub-drop - in fact, he'd had subs who didn't even realize that the malady was equally capable of hitting their dominant partners. Still, James hadn't dropped in ages, and it felt strange, since he hadn't been in a scene just now. He was glad when the hands on his cheeks didn’t leave, still stroking.  The touch was like a metronome, creating a beat that he could follow.

“I suppose this makes us even then,” Q managed to infuse just the right amount of levity into his comment as he smiled and finally sat back a bit.  He kept one hand on James’ jaw, but the other dropped to the agent’s chest, relaxed and idle.  When James reached up with the arm not holding Q close, to grip Q’s wrist and press it closer to his face, the boffin’s smile grew notably warmer.

Bond closed his eyes one more time, breathing in the scent of Q’s skin at the wrist, before drawing Q’s hand close enough to press a kiss against his palm.  “Thank you,” he said, very quietly, very respectfully – fitting, for a phrase he said so rarely.  It always meant something when he said those two words.

Instead of brushing it off, Q merely nodded, and sagged back.  It couldn’t have been comfortable, leaning over Bond that way, but with a bit of shuffling, the two of them found a way to fit.  They stayed there for a long time, saying nothing, sharing a silence that James had kept all to himself up until now.

 

 

Chapter Text

Q wasn’t sure how they transitioned from talking about dead lovers to exorcising old sins; he wasn’t sure when James’ pain had transformed into something hungry for contact, or something hungry for forgiveness.  Q wasn’t even sure if this was about Vesper anymore – the shadow that had apparently lived on in James’ mind ever since the literal woman had died – or if it was about them, and the dead were finally going back to sleep.  All Q knew was that he needed to kiss James, and it seemed the agent needed to kiss him back, hands as strong as a tiger’s grip on either side of Q’s jaw.  Those hands guided him in, held him steady, gifted him with the precise angle to make the kiss perfect.  Q felt the breath shudder out of him, reminded of just what he liked about subbing.  James was doing all of the work, but he was sharing all of the rewards.  Even as Q’s eyelids fluttered shut and his lips parted, James was lapping at his mouth, teasing yet full of the kind of heat that would only burn hotter.  It was hard to remember that James wasn’t sexual in that moment, but when Q did, he felt his heart constrict, realizing that none of this was about lust. 

So maybe it was about love.

“Come home with me,” James murmured against Q’s skin, holding them just far enough apart that his lips moved against Q’s cheek, at the corner of his mouth.  Q was leaning on the blond-haired man now, one hand braced on his chest, the other grasping a muscled shoulder.  It kept Q steady even as James’ words made him dizzy, “I want to show you what you mean to me.”  Before Q could consider saying something about how James didn’t need to do that – especially not if this were some sort of ‘thank you’ for Q understanding his past, because of course Q could be compassionate about that, it wasn’t James’ fault – the agent nuzzled closer to Q’s ear and buried his fingers in his hair.  “Please,” he breathed. 

Perhaps because Q so rarely heard any 00-agent say please – and perhaps because his skin was starting to feel like it would crawl right off his body if he didn’t get touched more – Q nodded and acquiesced. 

~^~

The ride from MI6 back to Bond’s flat was a mostly silent one, as if the silence was a dam that, if broken, they’d not be able to contain again, and weren’t ready to yet.  With most partners, Q would have known what to do and say now, but only because he’d have known what was coming.  The Quartermaster had slept with men before who had been intent on worshipping his body to various degrees, but all of them had been interested in getting off as well.  James was different, though.

Somehow, that didn’t diminish the anticipation blooming hot and bright in Q’s chest.  Right now, he didn’t think he honestly cared what James wanted to do.  All Q found that he wanted to do, he realized, was prove to Bond that not all lovers were like Vesper.  He found himself almost unreasonably eager to prove himself better, and that James didn’t have to be afraid when they were together. 

James was driving, but Q reached across to put a hand on his thigh, just resting it there.  Just creating a point of contact between them, a linkage of muscle and bone that stayed throughout the ride. 

Since their last tryst of sorts had been in Q’s flat – but their first meeting as a Dom and a sub had technically been that first night in Bond’s flat, with Q’s unorthodox arrival – this somehow felt significant, and it kept the silence between them a bit longer as Q followed James up to his place.  It was James who ultimately spoke first, as he closed the door behind both of them, asking with unexpected cheekiness, “Do you want a guided tour, or do you remember most of the flat from last time?”

Q snorted and swatted at him, but had the daring to reply in turn, “If I wanted a guided tour, I’d go to zoo.”  Somehow, that snarky comment got him a kiss, James’ hands once again firm and controlling in the best way as they landed on Q’s upper arms.  When they broke apart, Q asked a bit more breathlessly, “Am I right in assuming that this isn’t that kind of evening?”

Bond’s chuckle was wry, but his eyes were warm, fixed on Q’s face as if all the secrets he could ever want to know were lurking there.  “Definitely not that kind of evening,” he assured lowly, already beginning to walk backwards, drawing Q after him towards the bed.  He proved his ability to multitask, kissing Q as they both moved, a somewhat sloppy endeavor that lasted only a few seconds before James drew back to rasp rawly, “Although I’m thinking of an evening that’ll keep you tied up until at least morning, so I hope you don’t have plans.”

Even if Q had, he’d have ditched them right now.  Even if Q weren’t especially susceptible to innuendo-laden words like ‘tied up,’ he’d have been lost on just the sound of Bond’s voice.  The promise there was unmistakable.  The boffin thought that he must have responded in some way to indicate that no, he most definitely had no plans until at least tomorrow, but all he really remembered as getting into James’ room and drowning in another kiss.  Q had not a thought in his head, at that point, except for the thought that Bond was a beyond fabulous kisser. Everyone else’s lips and tongue were simply subpar. 

Bond ended the kiss, drawing them apart and for a moment eyeing Q in a hungry way that was hard to interpret.  Q always found himself asking what that look meant, since it didn’t mean ‘I want to fuck you through the bed right now.’  But it certainly meant something.  James nodded towards a door across the room – an en suite bathroom, if the peep through the door could be believed.  “Go ahead and wash up.  Do what you’d do for any other partner,” he instructed, voice steady and calm despite the intensity of his eyes.  James was in ‘Dom mode’ now, and it made a shiver skate down Q’s spine.  He focused a moment on just the firmness of James’ grip, hands wrapped just below Q’s shoulders; they felt unbreakable.  The hold loosened as James propelled Q in the direction of the loo.  “Forget that I’m asexual for a moment and just do what you’d always do,” he encouraged, and when Q looked back at him, uncertain, James’ expression softened into something warm.  “You can’t do anything wrong here, Q.”

There was the impulse to say something bratty back – something about how he most certainly could do something wrong, if he put his mind to it – but the sincerity in James’ voice had already cut Q to the quick, and he found himself tongue-tied.  Surprised to find how much he believed Bond at this moment, and also very eager to find out what the man had in mind, Q merely nodded and disappeared into the bathroom. 

It was pretty standard, but once Q had the door closed, he still found himself a bit lost.  Because, yes, James had frankly said that he’d be happy with whatever Q decided to do, James had also said for Q to wash up and prep like he would for any other partner – by which he assumed James meant sexual partners.  Q definitely clean a few parts of his body for them that he didn’t think James had all that much interest in.  Pondering this, Q began to slowly undress, so lost in thought that he barely registered when he finally got naked.  He fiddled with the shower knobs a bit, finally deciding that there was no point in just wasting time and stepping in under the warm spray.  He did get a little thrill out of finding James’ body-wash, a subtle amber-esque smell that he almost didn’t recognize when it wasn’t mixed with what he naturally recognized as Bond’s scent.  Q wondered what it would smell like on him. 

Ducking his head under, Q cleared his thoughts, trying to find that quiet place in his head where he could stop hyper-analyzing everything and just relax and act instead.  He succeeded enough that by the time he lifted his dripping head again, he was able to lather up without too much anxiety, only pausing a moment when he reached his cock, balls, and arse.  A bit nervous, but still doggedly clinging to James’ assurances, Q stroked and cleaned himself in his entirety, also reminding himself that there was no harm in cleaning areas that James might not notice anyway.  That bit of logic firmly in mind, Q relaxed, although that almost made matters worse – because once he relaxed, he started to realize that he was making himself clean and ready for James, and suddenly his cock was getting more interested in the proceedings.  He caught himself fingering himself and had to turn the water on cold. 

Sputtering and a bit frustrated with his own body’s lack of self-control (really, was he a horny teenager again?), Q stepped out of the shower and toweled off.  Briefly, he glanced at his clothes…

And then decided ‘Fuck it’ and just turned the door-knob to step out naked.  Asexual or not, James most certainly wasn’t bothered by nudity, and if he wanted Q dressed, he could bloody well say so. 

James was sitting on the bed, waiting, but stood with a quick fluidity that reminded Q of a stag coming to attention the instant Q came into the room.  By the appreciative way that his eyes swept Q’s body from crown to heel, he most certainly had no problem with Q being naked, although it was interesting to catalogue the different places that his eyes lingered on – while some might have eyed Q’s cock or his arse, James’ gaze seemed to trace Q’s collarbones, the lines of his chest, the splay of Q’s toes upon the floor as he walked.  James had different interests, and Q catalogued them with fascination.  “I was rather hoping you’d trust me enough to step out in nothing but your skin,” James murmured, his tone half cheek, half sincere approval.  Q found himself warming, even as he and James met in the center of the room to the right side of the bed.  The bed itself had the sheets turned down, and for the first time Q noticed something rigged to the ceiling – it made Q’s breath catch, and his pulse speed up in anticipation.  Most serious Doms he knew had a few things set up in their rooms, and James was no exception: a pulley hung from the ceiling, suspended on a sturdy strap that would make the height adjustable.   James circled Q a bit, and it was natural to turn and follow him, only stopping when the agent lightly touched his shoulder with one hand. 

Q shivered at the kiss of the air against his naked skin.  The room wasn’t cold, but with James still very dressed and Q very not, the contrast alone was enough to make the younger man’s skin prickle with gooseflesh.  He was also keenly aware of James’ bed just a pace behind him now, looming like a promise he couldn’t decipher – because while Q knew very well what Bond wouldn’t give him (sex), he still hadn’t totally wrapped his head around what the man could give him.  Especially given his commands before the shower.  A droplet of water fell from Q’s damp hair to his shoulder. 

And every time he thought he understood Bond’s limits, the man pulled another trick out of his sleeve, and he had a feeling that this evening would be no different. 

“Stay there,” the blond-haired man commanded, although his eyes were obviously taking Q in even after he spoke, as if he couldn’t get enough of what he saw.  Q felt a flush of embarrassment and pleasure at the unabashed ogling, but did as he was told as James moved past him to the closet.  Q wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be watching, but since James hadn’t told him not to, he figured it couldn’t hurt.  Therefore, Q saw when Bond withdrew from the closet with a length of white rope in his hands.  The boffin couldn’t stop his little gasp, excitement instantly building like carbonation in his veins.

“You can see where this is going then?” James noted, having clearly heard the sudden intake of breath.  The agent was looking down at the rope as he looped it methodically over his arm – quite a length of it, too – but it didn’t quite hide the pleased smile that was playing across his mouth.  “I take it you’re up for a bit of bondage, then?”

“Yes,” Q said, entirely aware of how eager he sounded and quickly trying to rein himself in, recalling the recent story about James’ past.  He felt the flush that spread down his neck to his chest, and turned his head forward again to try and regain some small amount of dignity – or perhaps self-control.  He wasn’t sure how much it helped, because he was straining to hear every rustle of rope and fabric even before the soft padding of James’ footsteps moved towards him.

“Relax, Q.”  It was only when Bond’s hand fell on Q’s shoulder that he realized he’d been tensing up, still standing still but with his muscles tautening until he was veritably thrumming.  He let out his next inhale in a rush, even as the warmth of Bond’s palm sank through his skin.  The blue eyes on him were quietly intense, like something electric behind lowered lids.  Q couldn’t help his own eyes being drawn to the rope still looped around James’ other forearm.  “Color?” James asked next.

With any other partner, Q might have wondered why he was being asked this when he was so blatantly interested, but Q had come to realize that James didn’t ask for the same reasons that other Doms did.  James didn’t ask because he suspected that his partner was at risk – he asked in the same way that a falcon constantly checked the wind, adjusting each time, keeping everything balanced.  Like a falcon, James knew how easily a smooth flight could turn into a deadly plummet.  Therefore, Q answered without hesitation, “Green.”

“And what will you say if things take a turn you don’t like?”

“Yellow.  Or red.”   Q felt his body settle a bit more.  This was what he liked about subbing, the slowly solidifying knowledge that someone else was safely in control.  He was in a space of excitement and unpredictability in many ways, with Bond’s immediate plans still mostly a mystery, but at the same time, the ground beneath his feet felt solid: no matter what they did together, he retained the power to slow things down or stop them if he got uncomfortable.  That reassurance was what allowed Q to seal his mouth shut after that, resisting the urge to ask what James was going to do now. 

The excitement of not knowing made a little thrill race up his spine. 

By the faintest upward quirk of one side of James’ mouth, he was pleased, and Q thought he saw a spark of heat in the man’s eyes before James looked away, turning purposefully to his task.  He took a strand of rope and unwound it a little, but seemed to be keeping track of the middle of it even as he held out two ends to Q.  “Hold these, in one fist,” he ordered calmly.  The pure steadiness in his eyes said he was already thinking of his next move, as all agents were trained to do on missions. 

Two ropes,’ Q realized, curiosity rising.  The two tail ends he was holding felt soft, like cotton, which he knew for a fact could be a pain to untie – then again, of all the people Q trusted to cut away stubborn knots in close proximity to his skin, 007 was probably at the top of Q’s list.  If nothing else, all 00-agents knew their way around bladed objects, and Q now had a deeper understanding of just how much James did not want to hurt his partners. 

By now, Q was gripping the end of both ropes and holding them at about the level of his chest, the short ends pointing downwards while James draped the rest of the rope back over Q’s shoulders; the Quartermaster felt the dual lengths cascade down either side of his back.  There was enough play left in the rope that he heard it lightly smack the floor behind him.  James’ expression was collected and cool, but he kept a hand on Q’s shoulder as he circled behind him.  The ropes slithered and rustled for a moment as James tied three deft knots that Q could just see if he craned his neck – a simple overhand knot tying both ropes together, one below Q’s nape, again just below his shoulder-blades, and a third time at the level of Q’s tailbone.   

James nudged at the inside of Q’s feet, almost but not quite forceful enough to kick Q’s legs further apart.  “Place your feet wider.”  The command had Q moving obediently even as the hint of power – the knowledge that 007 could make him move – increased the buzz of adrenalin under Q’s skin.  Just as curiosity had him turning his head, he received another, much gentler nudge, of James’ fingertips against his jaw.  “Eyes forward, Q,” the man’s lower voice came from close to Q’s ear, humor warming Bond’s words as he added, “This will be more fun if you don’t peek.”

Chastised, Q snapped his eyes forward.  The task instantly turned difficult, however, when he felt James take up the ropes again – then crouch down, passing them both forward between Q’s legs. 

The sensation made Q hiss in a breath, caught off guard.  James just kept moving, everything about him controlled and certain, patient and determined now that he was in his element.  The lowest knot against Q’s tailbone held the two cords together as they now passed between his buttocks, separating again so that they lay to either side of Q’s balls and cock as James drew the ends back up the other side of Q’s body.  The cotton rope was soft, but still held enough friction that Q could already feel it against his more sensitive parts – especially when Q realized that James had taken a second to leave another, fourth knot.  It was presently pressed up against Q’s hole, just nudging at the back of Q’s balls before the ropes parted again to pass around them. 

“Good?” James asked, standing in front of Q again, idly holding the remaining rope. 

Knowing that his voice would come out embarrassingly breathy already if he spoke, Q just nodded.  He’d been tied up quite a lot before, but most of his partners had to readjust the rope of knots quite a bit before they got the intended result – James, it seemed, was better.  He already had the ropes sitting in a way that was making Q’s skin quiver. 

Instead of staying in front of Q, James was on the move again, circling around behind once more.  Their bodies brushed, but Q was already focusing on the touch of the ropes.  James brought each trailing end of the cord around either side of Q’s body – one left, one right.  They traced over the bones of Q’s pelvis now, hugging the crease of his inner thighs where his legs connected to his body.  Q sighed and closed his eyes, taking in the sensation as he felt James hook the rope from his front through the two lines still running vertically down Q’s spine.  “Keep that taut,” James reminded gently, and Q tightened his fist spasmodically on his ends of the rope even as James brought his trailing ends forward again.  He’d woven them through the vertical lengths at Q’s back, drawing them apart until soon Q had an ‘x’ of rope against either flank. 

Movements efficient and almost idle, James tied both ropes together again, this time at Q’s front, before repeating the process and sliding them around behind Q again.  Once again, he looped them through the vertical traces, this time between the next two knots up, slowly creating a diamond pattern as the rope-harness took shape.  By the time Bond took Q’s hand and gently unclenched Q’s fingers, weaving together all four ends of the two ropes in a loose, woven collar around Q’s neck, the younger man could feel the first diamond shape centered over his lower back, the second over his upper back – and he could glance down and see the pattern repeating on his chest.  The way the lower diamond dipped below his balls and his half-hard cock had Q flushing, even as he felt that sense of serenity rush through him at the knowledge that he was now shamelessly and utterly on display for just one person.

And by the look on James’ face, he was very, very satisfied with what he saw, even as he stated, “Next time, I use black rope,” as he fingered the white cord against Q’s pale skin.  The thought that there would be a next time had Q holding his breath, electricity under his skin.

“Is this too tight?” James asked next as he finished with the collar.  The tail ends of the ropes were all neatly tucked away, and Q hadn’t actually felt any knots – just weaving.  It would probably allow it to be undone easily and quickly, and lower the risk of Q getting strangled in it, which Q appreciated it.  Rope harnesses tended to move a lot, and that could lead to some uncomfortably tight spots if the Dom wasn’t careful.  James was.

“It’s good,” Q managed with the tiny part of his brain left over while the rest was dedicated to simply feeling.  With his arms now loose at his sides, he felt like he was floating, his mind finally finding that quiet space he’d sought in the shower.  He was able to accept that there was nothing he had to do in this moment except catalogue the sensations that sang along his nerve-endings.  If he shifted his weight, the ropes slid deeper into the crease in his arse, the knot behind his balls creating a steadily more maddening pressure; part of the top-most diamond on his chest rasped against a nipple and under his arm.  Even as he felt encased, he he felt like he was anchored by nothing more than the two fingers James still had hooked through the front of his newly woven collar.  He could float away without ever leaving his body…

This time when James murmured “Color?” Q merely hummed back, eyes closed. 

In response, the larger man suddenly gripped the harness and tugged Q forward until they were chest to chest. 

It wasn’t a lot of movement, since they’d already been standing quite close, but it was unexpected and sharp, and the whole harness tightened and moved.  Just that one sharp pull and everything became snug, rubbing against Q’s skin in a way that lit the entire rope-pattern like neon lights in his mind.  Q gasped and flailed, catching hold of James’ shirt even as he felt his mind temporarily sink beneath the wave of sensations.  He almost lost his footing entirely, but thankfully, James was more than strong enough to hold him – and he’d done his work well.  The harness maintained its shape, gripping Q’s entire torso and spreading the pressure throughout.  Spreading James’ strength throughout.

“I said,” James rumbled lowly and steadily, still as calm as the moon above a tossed sea, “what is your color, Q?”

“Green!” Q gasped, surprised at his own desperation for a second before deciding he didn’t fucking care what he sounded like, “Green.”  His every nerve had been woken up, and was singing. 

Bond’s responding hum was warm and pleased, and went through Q like warm honey through tea.  The agent, still holding him close by the harness, leaned forward to press a kiss against his cheekbone.  “Good, Q.  Good.”  When it was clear that Q had his balance again, James let go of the ropes, but only to instead smooth one palm down Q’s side, bumping over ropes and caressing bare skin by turn.  It was another reminder of where the harness lay, further marking it in Q’s mind and sealing it in place in his awareness.  Q felt like just a few more strokes would melt it into his skin, and his eyes nearly drifted closed again.  His attention floated back to hear James murmur, “God, this looks gorgeous on you.”  The agent gently jerked a few more points of the harness, presumably adjusting it, but mostly just making Q whine as the knot shifted behind his balls.  Bond’s other hand came up to cup the back of Q’s head, pulling him in until Q’s breath was panting across the agent’s throat.  “Shhh, shhh.  Easy, Q, there’s a bit more I want to do yet – but you’ll get your reward, love, I promise.”

Q shuddered at the praise, clinging to the words and not caring what that ‘reward’ was, because he had no doubt in his mind that it would be good.  That it would be worth the wait, and the teasing, and the sexual frustrating that was already making his cock twitch.  It was half-hard now, brushing against James’ leg, but whenever Q’s hips twitched to rut forward, the harness shifted with the movement.  That only made the frustration worse, never mind his continued confusion as to whether it was rude to have his cock straining against an asexual person.

When Q let out an exasperated little noise against James’ neck, the agent chuckled.  “You’re incredible, Q,” he nonetheless said fondly, fingertips scratching lightly at Q’s scalp before he pushed him back.  By the time he had Q at arms-length, the Dom was back, eyes steady and collected and focused.  “Get on the bed, Q. Up on your knees, with your hands behind your head.  I’m going to make you feel that harness like a second skin.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Get on the bed, Q. Up on your knees, with your hands behind your head.  I’m going to make you feel that harness like a second skin.”

Q was just barely climbing up onto the bed and already he was feeling every inch of rope on him.  He was completely incapable of holding back a moan as he crawled to the center of the bed and felt friction and constriction against his skin in all the right places.  The sensations distracted him enough that he nearly forgot that he was naked for a moment, and just sat on his heels, head tipped back to feel the collar around his throat.  Then he remembered he had a task to complete, and swiftly raised his arms, interlacing his fingers obediently at the back of his head.  When he flicked his eyes to Bond for further instruction, he saw the agent approaching with another length of rope – a bit thicker and a bit tougher-looking.  Q’s eyes immediately danced upwards to the pulley dangling above his head.

“You’ve figured some of this out already, haven’t you?” James guessed with evident amusement, not displeased.  He knelt up on the bed, too, shuffling around until he was a looming presence at Q’s back.  Q stayed still and this time resisted the urge to turn his head without being told… mostly.  He turned it a little, so that he could just see James’ left arm working, out of the corner of his eye.  The harness shifted subtly as James began weaving the new rope through parts of the back of it.  “I’ve done full suspension with partners before, but I’m not exactly prepped to do it today – so we’ll start off with something a bit tamer,” he said by way of explanation even as he finished the new knots and gave an upward tug, testing.  The whole harness moved with the pull, and Q’s eyes fluttered closed again of their own accord.  He barely noticed that James was now grabbing his wrists, unmeshing Q’s fingers to instead guide his wrists into crossing.  “Let me know when the strain is too much, or if this is too tight,” James said in that voice that left no room for dissension.  Rope was passed around Q’s wrists, looped enough times that it felt more like broad cuffs than a narrow restraint that would dig into Q’s skin – the real surprise came when James adjusted something, and Q felt his arms drawn further back, elbows upwards but wrists moving from the back of his head to closer to his nape.  “Too much?” the agent asked when Q tensed.

“Yellow,” Q said, surprised to hear how easily the word came out of his mouth.  He’d promised that he’d use the color-codes, but hadn’t actually expected to – and for a moment he got nervous that he’d ended things before they’d begun.  But Q hadn’t said ‘red,’ merely ‘yellow,’ and James responded accordingly.  Despite the story of Vesper so recently told, James didn’t spook, instead going completely still and dropping the remaining length of rope.  He didn’t untie Q, but he didn’t push, either.  Everything was put on pause, while Q turned his head, taking things in as much as he could.

After a beat, James asked, “Does anything hurt?”  Q could hear concern in his voice, but it was carefully controlled, and that in and of itself – a reminder that James was still as sturdy and stable as a mountain, even if Q was a bit off-balance – allowed Q to settle again.

“No,” he was able to answer truthfully, cataloguing the strain on his arms as acceptable.  He wet his lips, however, turning to catch Bond’s blue eyes over his shoulder, and asked tentatively, “Could you…  Could you explain a bit more?”

An irrational part of Q had expected an eyeroll – tolerance at best.  But instead, James’ expression softened and relaxed.  His smile was easy and understanding, and the hand that rested on Q’s ribs between the ropes felt reassuring.  “Certainly.  I was going to just tie your wrists to the pulley above you, but I know how much you value your hands – and how much you like a good bit of ropework.  So I’m about to tie the harness itself to the ceiling.”  Q felt James’ hand touch his back, presumably at the location where he’d knotted the new rope to the harness.  “I’ve tied your wrists to everything as well, because I wanted to keep them out of the way,” James went on, and perhaps some of that calmness dissolved at that point – but only to be replaced by something low and wicked as the man leaned closer to finish, “I want you to feel just how little you can move.”  Bond shifted a bit nearer, both hands resting now on Q’s hips, so lightly in comparison to the heavy presence of him brushing up against Q’s back, knees bracketing Q’s feet.  “Whenever I take something from you – your control, your mobility-”  James nuzzled against Q’s hands, and spoke more quietly into his palms, “-Your safety-”

Q, realizing the import of those words in particular, curled his fingers, stroking against warm skin and faint stubble to show that he understood.

James continued in that inexorable low tone that was sinking into Q like a drug, “-When I take that, I want it to be with you knowing, fully and deeply, that I take it only to protect it with everything I am. I want you to feel it, and I want you to want it.”  By the time he’d finished, his hands had wandered around to Q’s front to wrap around him and pull him in close, drawing Q’s back and arse up against Bond’s clothed body and setting his entire body alight in the best way.  Suddenly this was more than skin-deep, and Q felt the last of his reservations flake and fall away.

“Green,” he sighed, after just being held for a moment.  Then he wriggled, the need for more starting to build and burn inside of him.  “Green.  I’m okay now.”

At Q’s impatient tone, James rumbled out a laugh again, but immediately got back to work.  After daring to lash Q’s arms down a bit more tightly (if Q splayed his fingers now, they rested atop his shoulder-blades, and his shoulders were filled with the pleasant heat of being stretched), the agent stood.  Q looked up with a smile to see the other end of the rope finally being attached to the pulley above.  He found himself all but buzzing with anticipation by the time James started to take up the slack, the rope tautening until it started to pull up on Q’s body.  As promised, the weight wasn’t on his wrists – Q’s arms were indeed affixed to the rope, but the real tension was immediately distributed down and across the harness, until Q gasped and found himself drawn upwards into a higher kneel.  James stopped there, with Q up on his knees, arms arched behind his head, and body humming with sensation.

“Good?”  James plucked at the rope, sending tremors down to the man attached to it.

Fuck, yes,” Q replied with about as much eloquence as he could manage.  He could feel his mind starting to sink deeper into that wonderful, soft-edged place called subspace, and he leaned back a bit just to feel the ropes take more of his weight – and to feel James’ bare feet and clad thighs against his bare skin.  It felt almost as wonderful to feel James himself take some of his weight, a bulwark against the world, Q’s steady defense.

Q’s good mood faltered as he realized that he was also getting hard, that omnipresent question of ‘Is this okay?’ rising up in him again.  Looking down at himself, cock twitching to life at the feeling of so much construction and contact, Q frowned and found himself mumbling, “I’m sorry…?”

Perhaps Bond’s most impressive trait as a Dom (and, to be truthful, as an MI6 agent) was his ability to seemingly read minds, because the bed shifted as he knelt back down again, hands on the soft inside of Q’s upper arms.  “Q,” he sighed Q’s name like it was an entire sentence, and entire idea, and entire thought that he wanted to wrap up in that sympathetically-said name.  This time he pressed a kiss to one of Q’s forearms, before explaining with that tone as patient as an ocean tide, “I’m asexual – but you’re not, and I don’t want you to change.”  Another kiss, perhaps brushing the ropes around Q’s wrists, because he couldn’t feel anything but the brush of throat against his fingertips.  Then James spoke in a lower, huskier voice that Q had to train to hear, “Do you remember the mission with Melissa Lewis?”

The change in conversation was so abrupt that Q had to derail his thoughts and restart them for a second.  He kept work and play so separate that it was physically difficult for him to recall the mission, despite his eidetic memory.  Uncertain of where this was going, he responded, “Yes?”

One of James’ hands stayed on Q’s arm, but the other stroked downwards, fingertips tickling the concavity of Q’s armpit, brushing over ropes and ribs, ever lower.  “She’s sexual, like you.”  James was speaking close to Q’s head still, keeping them near enough that Q’s skin could feel Bond’s radiant heat like a physical presence.  It also allowed James to speak more softly and in a lower register that did things to Q’s libido.  “And I didn’t want her to change either.  What I wanted-”  Q was watching now as James’ hand meandered across his lower belly, thumb catching in his navel and tugging at the rim before all of the agent’s hand caressed down to nestle in the pubic hair at the base of Q’s cock.  When James closed his grip on Q’s rapidly stiffening member, Q’s chest expanded in a shocked gasp.  James finished his sentence at a low and almost predatory rumble, “-Was for her to beg for whatever I decided to give her.”

Q was already prepared to beg.  He hadn’t been expecting any attention to be paid to his cock, and hadn’t expected how experienced James’ hand would feel as it slid slowly up and down its length.  But of course James knew how to do this – he’d had training, and he’d had practice.  He’d had missions upon missions in which he’d seduced partners who thought he was sexual, and who were sexual in return, and even if none of that were true, he’d already admitted that he masturbated.  Q’s hips bucked without him meaning to, and when the movement transmitted through all of the ropes, Q’s breath caught in his throat.

James had leaned around to watch Q’s face, and Q could see through half-closed lids that the blue-eyed man was smiling like the cat that got the canary.  “Some asexuals find sex actively repulsive – but I don’t,” the man went on, tone somehow riding a line between maddeningly logical and deeply wicked, “I may not want to fuck anyone, but I do find it very rewarding to slowly reduce a partner to their baser instincts.”

God…” Q gasped, having not expected this conversation either.  Q was trying to buck his hips harder into James’ hand (which refused to pick up the pace, instead keeping the strokes slow and steady and tight), but now James had taken his other hand and gripped the lowest knot at the back of Q’s harness.  That not only reduced the range of motion of Q’s hips, but it also meant that every time Q tried to jerk forward, he felt the ropes rub against his lower ribs, the cleft of his arse, and around his balls…

And James just kept talking: “I’m a vain man.  I like to know that people like me, that they appreciate me-”  He punctuated that by tightening his fist until Q whimpered, then quickly loosened his grip again so that Q panted instead.  “-And I’m not particularly picky about how I feed my ego.  Sure, jacking someone off is messy, but if the reward is to hear someone scream my name, then I don’t mind.”  Q was seriously considering it already.  He wasn’t ready to start screaming yet, but if saying Bond’s name got him to stop teasing and rub him off properly, then Q was certainly on the brink of begging.  “I know that you don’t fancy women, Q, but what if you knew you could become her god for a night?  And all you had to do was put your hands in the right places?”

Actively wriggling within the rope bindings now, Q rasped out a hoarse, “Fuck” and tried to remember if he’d ever gotten this turned on this fast.  James wasn’t even doing that much, but the prep-work was everything, and the fact that James himself wasn’t hazy with lust meant that he was watching now for Q’s every twitch and gasp – and adjusting accordingly.  James was like the one sober person in a bar full of drunks, therefore making himself the most dangerous person in the room, and Q got a bit dizzy just thinking of the implications of that right now.

“Q.”  James’ voice was gentler, less seductive.  His Dom voice again, which Q was already learning to harken to.  “Q, I want to do more, but I need you to tell me if it’s too much for you – do you understand?”

It was hard to process those words, but James had helpfully stopped stroking his cock and was simply holding it instead, a living cock-ring for the moment.  “Y-Yes,” he managed to get out, along with a hurried nod.  Then he released a soul-deep groan of frustration as James responded by letting go of him entirely, the bed shifting with his moving weight.

“I’m not going far,” the man reassured, and indeed, all he did was open a drawer on the bedside table.  He either kept supplies in there regularly, or had made good use of the time when Q was showering.  When James came back, he shuffled around in front of Q, pushing his damp hair back from his eyes with a caring hand.  Bond ability to shift from seductive to loving was still a shock to Q, but not a bad one.  He didn’t know if this was attributable to Bond’s asexuality, or if this was just part of the man’s personality – a part that very few people ever saw.  James’ eyes were watching and serious now, and he hid something in his other hand while the other stroked Q’s cheek.  “I should have done this first, but I was a bit too eager to tie you up,” the man admitted.  The way his eyes turned appreciative, sliding along Q’s harnessed figure, made Q flush with pride.  He was still frustratingly turned on, but he also had the joy of knowing that he’d been tempting enough to upset James’ plans a little.  “It’ll be a bit harder to do it this way, but the only thing I’m worried about is now much you’ll move in this harness.  I think that it should take your weight perfectly, but if this gets tight-”  James’ hand slid down Q’s cheek to wrap around Q’s throat, reminding Q tangibly of the collar of braided rope there.  Bond’s eyes were very serious.  He even gave Q’s neck a little shake, grip firm and the entirety of Q’s throat covered by his scarred palm.  “-You will tell me, okay?  Acknowledge.”

The last word was a hard growl, a command that brooked no argument.  Q’s heart gave a stutter in his chest as he felt a kick of adrenaline in response, and he immediately scrambled to give a proper reply.  Despite how much he just wanted James to jack him off right now, he suddenly wanted to appease that command more – to reassure the intensity and worry in James’ falcon-sharp blue eyes.  “I’ll-I’ll tell you.  Yes.  I understand… sir.”  The last was tagged on as a reflex, something that actually only came out of Q’s mouth on occasion, even in a scene like this.  In his day-to-day life, Q was the one called ‘sir,’ and he had to get pretty far away from that persona (and pretty deep into the submissive part of his personality) before it felt right on his tongue.  Now, it slipped off like something natural.

He watched Bond’s pupils expand the teensiest bit; the sound James made to show that he’d accepted that answer sounded just a bit like a deeply appreciative purr.  Q found himself aching with want all over again.  “Good, Q, good,” James murmured.  The hand around Q’s throat eased into a gentle pass  against the side of his neck, from skin to rope.  “In that case, do you think you’re up for this?”  James finally opened his other hand to reveal a sleek, black plug.

Q’s eyes widened, and his cock gave away his answer by jumping lewdly.  Still, Q had enough self-control to say back, “Only… Only if you are.”

“I know my limits,” James said with a smile.  He looked eager.  “Believe me, by the end of tonight, I’ll have you believing that toys like these were made expressly so that asexuals like myself can pleasure their partners without having to get their own bits involved.”  While Q chewed over that particular train of thought (or tried to; his brain felt like it had short-circuited), James moved around behind Q again, and there was the snick of a cap opening – lube.  “The reason I should have done this first is because right now the ropes are in the way, but you’ll spread your legs and stay still like a good boy, won’t you, Q?”

Oh god, if the dirty talk got any worse, it was going to be the death of him – and this was all still rather tame, speech-wise.  Somehow, it was all in the way James said it, so that even when he was referring to Q in perfectly normal ways, it sounded sexy.  Q had to close his eyes and bite the inside of his cheek for a moment.  “Will you stop teasing if I do?” he volleyed back.

“No.”  James tapped the insides of Q’s knees, and despite his cheeky comment, the boffin immediately obliged to widen his stance.  James stood briefly to adjust the pulley, allowing Q to lower his body a bit without drastically tightening up the harness.  “Now, if you were to tell me that you didn’t actually like the teasing-” James said idly as he knelt again, and then leaned down and around to take some of the skin over Q’s ribs between his teeth and bite gently down.  Q gasped and swore at him but didn’t tell him to stop.  Letting go before pleasure became true pain, James finished talking as if he’d never paused, “-Then I’d stop.  But otherwise, I’m going to tease you until you forget the existence of anything beyond this bed.”

Sometimes Q forgot that, as an agent, James was famous for having a way with words… and for being absolutely maddening.  Now Q was at the receiving end of both those things in the best way, and he all he could do was close his eyes and groan.

A hand stroking over his right buttock told Q that James liked his answer, nonverbal as it was.  “All right Q, I’m going to work this in, and if you come before I tell you to, I’m not going to punish you – I’m going to take the harness off.  Which I think will be punishment enough.”

“Shit,” Q hissed, because yes, it was.  Just the thought of losing the glorious netting of ropes around him was enough to actually make his erection flag, because if Q was being honest, the euphoria of being bound and teased was tenfold more rewarding than a single orgasm to him.  Especially because James hadn’t said that he wouldn’t let him orgasm eventually, and Q knew from experience that the climax would be all the more intense if he waited until James gave him permission.  “I understand, sir,” he got out a bit shakily, although the ‘sir’ came more quickly.  He’d seen that James liked that, and wasn’t above using the little title to his advantage.

Q heard James mutter something about the lube making an unavoidable mess on the ropes, but then there was the familiar noise of lube being squirted out, and James’ hands on him.  Q was indeed left to support himself, with only the rigging for help, as James used both hands to pull Q’s cheeks apart, having to maneuver past the knotted ropes that had been driving Q so insane up until this point.  Now, instead of having knotted cord against his hole, Q felt fingers, feeding lube into his hole with gentle, exploratory, maddeningly patient movements.  Q bit back another groan as he realized the tragic downside to having an asexual partner: he couldn’t rush James.  No matter how Q teased or flaunted himself, or how good he looked, this was one Dom that wasn’t going to be overcome by lust and speed up the process.  James’ cock wasn’t running the show, his mind was, and that meant he could conceivably work Q open for hours without feeling any of Q’s sexual frustration.

This was going to be torture.

Small nudges of an oiled fingertip soon became prods, until one knuckle had slipped past the ring of muscle.  Q bit his lip and tried not to gasp, even as his body urged him to push down against the finger, take it deeper.  He resisted the urge to do so for about a minute, then gave in, only to realize how hard it was to fuck downwards when he was suspended.  It did tighten up the harness, though, especially the ropes looped under him.  James tsked and freed up one hand to grab Q’s hip.  “It’s only going to take longer if you do that,” he warned.  Q wanted to tell James to go fuck himself with his patience, but bit his tongue, instead forcing himself a bit higher on his knees again, feeling everything loosen again.

His reward was a second finger, more lube entering him with a vulgar squelch.  Q shuddered a bit at the mostly imagined sensation of being stuffed full; he wasn’t going to have cum inside of him today, but James was giving him something else.  It made Q feel inexplicably used, especially because he knew that this much lube wasn’t necessary.  It was a choice, on James’ part.  James wanted this.  Wanted Q like this.  That in and of itself had Q breathing in and sighing out a deeper breath, the fiery need in his core deepening into something vaster.  Q didn’t just have a coal in his stomach now – he’d swallowed the entire fire, and it was spreading through his veins.

As if noticing, James murmured, “Good, good” and leaned in so that the words were pressed against the skin of Q’s hip.  The gentle kisses landed in counterpoint to the steady thrusting that felt like it was peeling Q open and making something new of him.

It felt like forever, while Q’s eyes were pressed closed and his cock was achingly hard, before the fingers were replaced by cool, firm silicone.  It wasn’t actually a very big buttplug, so far as plugs went, but Q had a lot of lubricant in him, and the noise it made as it went in had Q’s entire body shuddering.  It was such a gross noise, the kind of noise that he’d have been embarrassed to hear at work – but this wasn’t work, and while James was a coworker, that wasn’t what he was to Q now.  James had done his job well, and was able to push the entire plug into place with just one smooth, steady push, the base of it seating itself with one last sliding squelch.  “There aren’t words for how perfectly you took that,” James breathed, and pressed a kiss to one of the dimples above Q’s arse.

And then he left the rigging slide back into place, letting that damn knot settle once more – this time, right over the base of the plug, causing it to wiggle every time Q so much as fucking twitched.

Q’s gasp was really more of a keen, as he realized this and felt the flood of sensations.  The plug’s tapered body nudged against his inside walls, and suddenly he had to focus on not coming, as everything he was feeling momentarily threatened to blow his mind.

Proving that he wasn’t entirely a sadist, James helped Q back from the edge instead of pushing him further to see how much he could take.  The larger man knelt up behind him, arms wrapping around Q’s middle and simply holding him as he murmured sweet nothings into his hair.  It  felt strange to be held with his arms bent back and in between them, so that he could feel the vibrations of James’ speech against his fingertips, but at least it helped Q’s shaking thighs to stabilize until he could hold himself still again.  “You’re a work of art, Q,” he heard James murmur, one hand stroking the skin of Q’s belly between the crossing ropes.  Only when Q’s cock began to soften a bit did James let him go, apparently appeased with the situation.

“Color?”

“Green,” Q answered without hesitation, and for once without breathiness.  He was back in control again, almost back in his head, but was quite sure that he wouldn’t be either of those things for long – and he was as eager for that as a thirsty man for water.

Fingers hooked in the rigging, giving a little tug, just enough to toggle the plug and rasp lovingly at Q’s skin.  “Ready for more?”

Fuck, yes,” Q gasped, and for the first time he didn’t even pause to second-guess his own wording.  He just rocked his head back against his arms and dug his fingernails into the skin of his own back, bracing himself and smiling as he heard James’ warm hum of approval.

The darkness in James’ tone when he spoke was like the belly of a thundercloud, and god did Q love a good storm: “Just remember, you can always tap out.”

Before Q could formulate a snarky reply, he thought he heard the faintest little click, and then he was gasping as the plug inside him started to vibrate ever-so-slightly…

~^~

God fucking damn, but James was a monster.  The plug wasn’t big, but it was high-tech, and James had absolute control of all the settings – and he’d decided to start it as low as it could go, which should have been easy to deal with, except that James was as patient as the sky was wide, and Q couldn’t escape that gentle tremor deep inside of him.  If he did try to escape, body wriggling, then the ropes moved against his skin and invariably tightened.  The knot between his arse-cheeks moved, alternatively bumping the plug in all manner of shocking ways and nudging up behind Q’s balls.  Q wanted to rub against that section of ropes in particular, just to get some friction, but that set off a cascade of other sensations that he just plain wasn’t ready for, and soon it had him moaning, open-mouthed.

And James, the bastard, just moved around and sat down in front of him to watch the show.  Remote-control in one hand, still dressed in slacks but with his shirt now with two buttons undone, James looked relaxed.  Indolent even, with one knee propped up and his eyes wandering over Q as if he had all the time in the world – just as Q opened his mouth to snap something at him, James’ mouth quirked in a small smile and he pushed another button.  The vibrations ramped up a notch, and Q’s head dropped in an attempt to smother his startled cry.

“Had enough yet?” James asked lazily, as if this were a game.

“No,” Q spat back as soon as he adjusted again to the new intensity of sensations.  “I’ve had vibrators before,” he lifted his head to note challengingly.

James’ small smile was still in place, nestled playfully on just one side of his wicked mouth.  “True, but you haven’t had me.”  Another click; an incremental rise in intensity.  God, if the vibrator had just had ‘low, medium, high,’ then Q could have just sunk beneath the wave of over-sensitization and cum already, prior instructions to wait be damned.  Instead, that remote looked like it had as many gear-shifts as the cars in a Fast and Furious movie.  This wasn’t going to force Q to come – that was going to drive him slowly and totally out of his mind. It was increasing slowly enough that Q could adjust, but it was also inexorably building, and Q honestly had no idea when his body would reach the point where he couldn’t handle it anymore.  As much as that thought made adrenalin spike Q’s blood, it also made him so eager to find out that he was all but quivering with anticipation.

Perhaps Bond sensed the eagerness beneath the frustrated snark, because he rolled forward and up onto his knees, a hand coming up to gently cup Q’s jaw.  The kiss that followed was lovely, and surprisingly sensual and slow for the circumstances.  When Q went for something hungry and nipping, James adjusted his hand, a thumb sliding down and under Q’s jaw in a warning pressure.  When Q whined in response, James merely hummed, then licked politely at Q’s kiss to politely ask for entrance.  This time, Q did as he was told with alacrity, giving in to the pace James wanted to set – and he wasn’t disappointed.  When Q’s mouth opened, James was quick to lap into it, gentle caresses of lips and tongue that started to soothe Q again.

Until Bond bumped the vibrator’s intensity up another notch.

Q’s body tensed and he sucked in a gasp, but Bond was over his mouth, stealing his air.  James could raise the intensity in increments as well.  When Q’s mouth opened more, James took more, nipping at his lower lip and then plunging his tongue into Q’s mouth.  Q wanted to grip James’ hair and pull him closer, and actually jerked his arms, forgetting that they were tied – he was reminded of the restraint quite abruptly, however, as his tugging radiating through the harness, specifically dragging the lines up between his arse-cheeks.  The sudden friction, the nudging of the knot that toggled the plug back and forth – that on its own was enough to drive Q mad.  But he was also dealing with a 00-agent who was trained to be watchful, and who had nothing better to do with his time than to look for chinks in Q’s armor.

And pry those chinks wide open.

James amped up the vibrations again in the exact second that Q jerked his arms, as if he’d been waiting for him to do this.

Q keened, and James swallowed every sound.  He then decided to make it worse by removing his hand from Q’s head – which, yes, allowed Q more range of motion to kiss back, but also freed up that hand to instead fist in the rigging at Q’s front.  James began pulling at it, gently but rhythmically, and even if Q had squeezed his legs together he couldn’t have stopped the knot from moving and nudging the base of the plug, which was now starting to prod repeatedly against a spot in Q’s core that he knew entirely too well.  He started to see sparks behind his eyelids, and he cried out against James’ mouth.  He wanted more – he needed a bit more, because he could feel the edge and he wanted to tip over it.  James had told him to wait, but he could barely remember the order, or why it was important to follow.  All there was was a nagging voice in the back of his head, holding him back with thin, fraying reins…

And James, bless him, seemed to notice that just as he noticed everything else.  “Q.  Q, I need you to listen to me,” he said, pulling back even as Q gasped after him, ravenous for anything he could get.  Hazy spectacled eyes tried to fix on Bond’s face.  The hand was back on Q’s cheek, cupping it.  “Q, you’re doing beautifully, love.  If you stay with me a bit longer, you’ll not regret it.  Can you do that?”

Q nodded dumbly against James’ hand.  He couldn’t imagine things feeling any more extreme than they did already, but he had reached the point where he was indeed gagging for anything that James wanted to give him.  The man hadn’t steered him wrong thus far, and Q found his body shaking at the mere idea of ‘you’ll not regret it’ and what that could mean.

James pressed their foreheads together, then kissed Q’s sweaty brow.  “Good boy.”  He dropped a hand to just brush Q’s straining cock, very lightly, almost in a petting motion, and Q whined and bucked his hips – and then cried out as he felt the movement over every inch of himself.  The pulley above them squeaked a bit, but it was finely crafted, and continued to keep Q from moving in all the ways he wanted to.  “I’m going to count to five, Q,” James was saying, soft and low so that Q actually had to focus and listen, which was almost the most torturous part of all, “and with every number, I’m going to push this button-”  He lifted the remote, and Q almost stopped breathing, realizing what this was going to feel like.  He was sure if he was terrified or excited.  “-And you’re going to feel it.  You can't come until I say ‘five,’ though.  Do you understand?  Acknowledge.”

Again, that one word, coupled with a hardening of Bond’s voice into something almost militant.  Q’s spine straightened and he got his eyes to focus just a bit more, out of sheer force of will.  “I’ll come when… when you say ‘five’,” Q repeated as clearly as possible.  His enunciation was pretty much crap by this point, but he was trying, dammit.  James kissing him on the nose told Q that he’d succeeded.

“You’re so good for me,” James breathed against his cheek, then pulled back just a little bit more to add soberly, “I’ll help you, Q.  I want this to be good for you, so trust me to help you-”  His circled his fist around Q’s cock and dragged up slowly, causing Q to choke on a whimper that was getting precariously close to a sob.  James’ voice had lowered and darkened again as he finished, “-Even if it doesn’t seem like I’m helping.”

It most definitely didn’t seem like Bond was helping right now, unless by ‘helping’ he meant ‘helping Q right out of his fucking mind.’  Q forgot about the counting system entirely as James gave his cock another slow stroke.  All Q could think to do was tuck his chin down against his chest and gasp, feeling the collar like another hand around his neck, omnipresent.  But then he heard James say, very calmly and clearly, “One,” and Q’s world just about shattered.  The rising vibrations felt like they’d gone up more than just one step, and Q snapped his head back up again, breath caught in his chest somewhere.  Thankfully, James wasn’t still leaning in so close, or Q would have head-butted him.  Instead, Q pressed his skull back against his bound arms and tried to remember to breathe again, just in time for Bond to say, “Two.”

There was no way James was just going up by singular increments anymore on that damn vibrator.  No. Fucking. Way.  This time it went up so sharply that Q just about screamed, and the only reason he didn’t break his word and come was because James squeezed the base of his cock, holding it off.  The part of Q that was very deeply in subspace and very, very much a sub trilled with gratitude, realizing that James was indeed helping him to succeed, to be good.  Q had had Doms that set him up for failure, and while it was usually fun in the end, with the caveat of punishment usually adding spice to the scene, it always broke Q for just a little while.  There was always a moment when he, as a sub, felt as if he’d failed in some integral way.  As a Quartermaster, Q could take failure – but in bed with another person, showing this side of himself, it was more personal, and he knew that it made him vulnerable.  He didn’t have the words right now to therefore thank James for being aware of that vulnerability… and protecting it.

Lacking words, Q strained forward against the ropes, whining until he was able to capture chapped lips in a kiss.  He hoped that the stroke of his tongue was enough to get the point across.  He thought it was, because James exhaled deeply, and James stopped stroking his cock for a moment to weave his fingers through Q’s hair and change the angle into something even sweeter.  Q would worry later about precum smearing across his temple, and into the hair he’d just washed.  Now he just cared about Bond’s mouth on his mouth.

James kept gentling him with kisses, only pulling away a few centimeters, meeting Q’s hazed eyes, and looking into them as he said steadily and with no more pausing, “Three.  Four.  Five.”

As promised, James amped up the vibrator with every count, and without the spacing in between, it was stepping into an inferno instead of slowly growing a fire from sparks and twigs.  Already so close to the edge, Q likely would have lost control regardless of whether James had said ‘five’ or not, but thankfully the two coincided.  So much sensation so quickly had Q screaming, breaking the kiss and not even knowing if he said words, or names, or just some reflection of the white noise that started to fill his head.  And it just kept coming; James didn’t turn it down.  With the plug in his body vibrating away at full power, Q felt like his every nerve had been scraped raw.  He’d been plugged directly into an outlet of euphoria, and the feeling of his climax expanded like a thunderhead instead of hitting him like a blow.  He didn’t feel it just in his cock, but in his arse, in his core, in his stomach, in his chest, and unfurling outwards in a great, consuming warmth.  Q was aware of cumming only as an abstract concept, his brain all but disconnecting, his body and the ecstasy it felt being the only thing that mattered.

~^~

Q came back in pieces.

He was floating.  If he was still in his body, he didn’t know it, everything muffled and numb.

He could feel his mouth, that his jaw was moving.  He was suckling on another tongue in his mouth, using it like a lifeline to something solid.  Using it like a language, a way to say ‘thank you for this feeling.’

The world was tilting, but he didn’t need to be upright anymore.  Sparks lit along his body, aftershocks inside and outside, and he whimpered until a low voice and a hand in his hair shushed him.  The sparks were relegated to somewhere at the back of his mind, where he could slowly get used to the star-bright edges of them…

His body was still buzzing.  For the first time, Q blinked, staring forward at a pillow from a horizontal position, and musing at the fact that he was still deep within his mind where everything moved smoothly and softly and shallowly like tidepools. Where everything was warm.  But he was starting to feel his body again, and it was still glowing, tethering him with sensations as he awoke.

A hand stroked his hair again.  “Are you back with me, Q?” said a warm voice.  Another stroke; it felt heavenly.  “You’re pretty deep in subspace, I think, but do you understand me?”

Q wanted to, but he wasn’t sure that he did.  He strained to pull the words and their meanings in closer, but his brain was packed in cotton, and pulling himself out felt like dragging himself away from warm honey, and it was too hard-!  “Shhh, Q, it’s okay.  Stay down as long as you like.  I’ll be here.”  Another soft caress, fingers untangling his hair and removing his glasses from his face.

Q smiled and let himself float a bit more.

Sometime later and Q blinked again, and this time was able to find a few words within the slow warmth of his mind.  He also found the ability to frown faintly as he stared shortsightedly forward at the edge of the bed.  “I usually…  I think I’m still in subspace.  I usually come back to myself more quickly than this.”

There was shifting behind him, but he felt too good inside – too cozy and lax in his own skin – to be worried, even before he heard and recognized James’ voice.  “It might be because the harness is still on.  Are you okay with that?”

For a moment, Q pondered that, albeit much more slowly than he normally would have.  In the end, though, he found that the answer was no.  “I don’t think I mind.”

“Good.”  A hand stroked down his side, and that made Q acutely aware of the truthfulness of Bond’s words: he did indeed feel the rope shifting, sending off those sparks that he remembered.  Like the collar when he’d first met Bond, the ropes were a connection back to the pleasure, keeping Q down.  This time, though, his Dom was with him, so it was okay.  Unexpected, but okay.  James leaned over him to press a kiss to his temple.  “Remember when you scratched me, and we talked about punishment?” James then murmured against his cheekbone, to which Q squirmed.  Then realized something else.  Bond must have noticed the sudden way that Q’s eyes snapped open with realization, because his voice and smile were amused and just a little bit wicked, “Well, I decided that the perfect punishment would be for you to sleep with me, still in harness – and with the plug still in.”  Q whined, a very childish reaction to this decision, but his struggles were halfhearted at best when James lay back down and pulled Q against him.  The harness pulled and tugged, and while the plug wasn’t vibrating anymore, it touched up against oversensitive parts of Q and made him gasp.  James immediately stopped moving, simply hugging Q tight and murmuring against the back of his head, “Say ‘red’ and this ends, Q.  It’ll all come off, I promise.  What do you want?”

For a moment Q just lay there, his body remembering euphoric pleasure at a dozen different points.  A part of him wanted to give James a swift kick in the balls for leaving the plug in, but that was a fleeting wish – as it faded, and Q’s mind perhaps came back a little bit more, he realized how rare it was to be able to hold onto pleasure like this.  James was keeping him up in the clouds, and while some of that pleasure was maddening to over-sensitized nerves, it was also like a high Q had never had before.  Usually, things progressed in the same way: the pleasure mounted, the orgasm hit, and it all faded.  All that followed was clean-up and sometimes cuddling.  But now, it felt as if James had cleaned up while Q was still zonked out (by the brush of softer cloth and bare skin, James had changed out of his no-doubt-cum-spattered clothes), and not only was Q getting cuddled, but he was still feeling the echo of a climax in the brush and tug of ropes, in the twitch of a foreign object in his body as he moved.  It felt illicit and it felt invasive… but it also felt fucking hot, and ultimately, Q relaxed with a slow exhale.

“I want what you want to give me,” he whispered, and arched his back against Bond’s chest like a cat into a good pet.

In response, James said nothing, but he pulled Q around (Q whined moodily at how that jostled the plug and made his body move in the harness) until they were face-to-face – presumably so that he could press soft kisses to Q’s closed eyes, and watch him more closely as he faded back into sleep.

~^~