There were two kinds of people in MI6: those that were going somewhere and those that had already gone somewhere. Within the first half hour of the new M's move to his office, Q knew that Moneypenny was one of those going somewhere. Her smile was soft, inviting, a lie. Beneath that smile were the same sharp angles and hard surfaces he saw in all the Ms. One day, she would lose most of her name, as all the others before her, and become simply M. She had the spidery hands of one who knew how to play the game. She was no pawn sent to pull triggers.
The other kind of people in MI6, the kind who had already gone somewhere, were the people like 007. Bond had already been to all the places he was going to go. He would never go any further in MI6, never trade in his numbers for a letter. He would spend the rest of his short, miserable life returning to all the places he had been before: the executioner's block. His gun-calloused hands only knew how to pull triggers—or not pull them, as he once pointed out.
When he first joined MI6 on a cold December day, Q thought he was more like Moneypenny. He thought he was going somewhere. After Silva, after he realized he really wasn't such a clever boy, after the new M moved into his office and sent all his messages to Q through Moneypenny, Q realized he was more like 007. He had already gone to all the places he would go, all the same hacks, all the same links, all the same sort of weapons, all the same offices. He would never be more than the quartermaster, the Q with the deadly laptop, MI6's defensive wall built from scraps of code and electrons. He had more in common with Bond than either supposed when they first met. They both pulled triggers. Q's attacks were more indirect, but it all ended the same. The 00 agents like Bond used Q's guns now, Q's bullets, Q's tricks. It no longer mattered if it was Q or Bond sitting at a café in Islamabad, waiting for a mark, gun in lap, index finger crooked around a trigger.
Sometimes, Q would test the new guns before handing them to Bond, guns with codes, with trackers, with poison capsules in the handle. He would take it to the firing range, crook his finger around the trigger and pull, wondering if Bond took the same satisfaction from using the weapons that Q took from making them.
"Just out of curiosity," Bond asked one morning while sitting at a desk, watching Q sip his cup of Earl Grey, "do you ever comb your hair?"
Q didn't look up from his smooth black laptop. Without looking, he knew that even though it was 4:30 AM, Bond would have his hair perfectly slicked back, his suit pressed, his collar tucked in, his cufflinks adjusted, all neat and perfect. All except for the eyes, tired, blue, empty, and rimmed with enough red to suggest how much Bond had drunk the night before. "Sometimes," Q responded as his fingers danced over the keys. "Usually just before visiting my mother."
"I take it you don't visit her often?"
Q looked up at that and took another sip from his tea. The tea had grown cold while he had located another weapons transaction in a Baghdad terrorist cell. "No more often than you do, 007. My mother is in the same sort of place that yours is." The fluorescent lights overhead were too bright for him; they made his head ache.
Bond looked away, his empty eyes now staring at the wall. He flattened a palm against the table. "Orphans make the best recruits."
"Who told you that?" Q asked, taking another sip of his cold tea. The slightly bitter wash took his mind off the past. He had promised his mother, as she bled out on their sofa, that he wouldn't remember her like that. That he would let the past wash over him, out of him, like a cup of cold tea.
"Someone we both used to know." Bond paused. "Or are you not an orphan? You did say mother, not parents."
"It depends on your definition of orphan. My father is currently in Durham's Frankland Prison."
"For what crime?"
"Jaywalking, of course." Q snapped his laptop shut and texted an address to Bond's phone. "I've a location for you, 007."
Bond's expression grew queer. It was not that the expression was terribly unusual, for people often took on that look when they thought they understood Q's past. It was simply that a look of sympathy seemed very odd on James Bond's worn, empty face. The last face that many men had seen before dying. "Thank you, Q."
"Don't thank me. Just doing my job."
"Don't we all?"
Bond took the location and left, then, leaving behind the smell of cologne too expensive for Q to identify.
"How old are you, Q?" Bond asked one night when waiting for Q to finish modifying his detached GPS system.
Q glanced up from the glowing screen. At this hour, the rooms were only dimly lit, leaving Bond a shadowy silhouette. A finely cut silhouette, too. Q glanced back at the screen, determined not to dwell on such things. "I am over the age of eighteen."
"Are you sure? You look twelve."
"It's the vegan lifestyle I lead."
Bond glanced at the BLT sandwich Q had left on a nearby table, nestled amongst a half-eaten pile of now-soggy crisps. The dim lighting made the sandwich seem more attractive than it had tasted. "I like your kind of vegan lifestyle."
"Mm." Q handed the GPS back to Bond. He tried not to let his fingers touch Bond's, and yet they did. Bond's felt rough and worn. Everything about Bond was rough and worn, except his hair, his suits, his ability to kill whoever or whatever M told him to kill. Q's face heated, and he kept his gaze fixed on Bond's broad, smooth-lapelled jacket. How did the man find time to press his suits so neatly?
"You must be old enough to have married. Have children."
"I'm old enough. But I have neither."
"You're not a bad-looking boy. Why not?"
Q finally met Bond's gaze with his own and slipped his fingers free. "The same could be asked of you. You're not bad-looking. In fact, I've heard you're quite popular with the ladies. Why no wife, no children?"
Bond tucked his GPS under his arm. "Touché. But you're wrong." He headed out, his footsteps echoing on the concrete. "I'm not popular with just the ladies."
"Was it the medical report that prompted you down here?" Bond asked as the nurse finished wrapping bandages around his raw, red wrists. She slipped out, her powder blue scrubs whispering against the curtain that separated Bond from the rest of the hospital. Q hated hospitals, hated their smell, hated the empty promises. His mother had died in one; her wrists had not looked too dissimilar from Bond's.
Q held his laptop to his chest, hugging it like a child would their favorite stuffed toy. Bond seemed so normal and nonchalant, as he always did when not brooding. As if it were just another injury. As if those marks on his wrists meant nothing.
"Moneypenny is busy, so M sent me down to get your statement," Q said, fingers tightening around his laptop. "I heard—I heard you requested a rape kit for—"
"I don't want there to be a misimpression," Bond said, cutting him off, his tone as cold as the day Q had joined MI6, unable to keep the sting of winter off his face even with a muffler. "There was no rape. I only wanted to make sure they got the DNA. Will you be the one running the results?"
Q nodded. The lump in his throat refused to be swallowed. "Are you sure that—"
"It was fully consensual. We both got something out of it." Bond rubbed at his bandaged wrists and stood up. He did not wince at the movement. "Just be sure to put in the report I only bottomed for the DNA. I prefer top, otherwise."
"I'm sorry," Q whispered.
"Don't be," Bond responded, eyes as empty as ever. "I'm a very well-paid whore."
"Were you shot?" Bond's gloved hand still covered Q's mouth. "Nod or shake."
Q shook, though not just to deny injury. He had never had a gun held to his face before. His fingers still throbbed from when they yanked away his laptop. His body ached where they had kicked and punched him. The frozen air stung his bared face. He felt grateful for Bond's warm body pressed against his, holding him upright, hiding his trembling.
Bond leaned back against the brick wall, still panting from the gunfight. His expensive cologne drowned out the scent of nearby garbage. Q closed his eyes, so he could ignore the blurred world. He wondered where his glasses had fallen, but supposed it did not matter. He concentrated on Bond's arms wrapped around him. 007's record of saving people was sporadic, at best, yet Q felt safe.
"This way." Bond silently led him from the alleyway, stepping over the corpses, and practically shoved Q inside his expensive car. A Bentley? Q could never be sure. Bentley seemed Bond's style.
"How did they find you?" Bond asked as he sped off across London's snow-slick streets as if the weather were perfect. He somehow seemed to be looking ahead, behind, and at Q at the same time, though he barely turned his head.
Q sank back against the leather seats. "I don't know. I had just poured a cup of tea..." He stared out the window, no longer wishing to finish his sentence. His hands refused to stop trembling, so he shoved them inside his ripped jacket.
Bond didn't ask him anymore questions. He found a small hotel on the city's outskirts and ushered Q in, his hand in his pocket the whole way. The small, unadorned room stood empty, but Bond inspected it anyways. Q wondered if one of the guns he had designed was in Bond's pocket. He sat down on the bed closest to the door and stared up at Bond, folding his hands together so they wouldn't tremble. The room smelled like clean sheets. Bond left on only the light by the toilet and studied him, frowning. Q stared at the worn carpet.
"Let me see," Bond said, pulling at Q's hands, examining the marks. He tugged off Q's shirts and trousers in short order, testing to make sure no bones were broken or fractured. It was the most awkward medical examination Q had ever received, made all the more awkward by how good Bond's calloused fingertips felt sliding over his bruised flesh. A gentle sting, just like Q always imagined.
Bond stood up, and stared directly into Q's eyes. He was still fully clothed, his overcoat still bearing spots of melted snow, making Q feel all the more vulnerable for having been stripped down to his briefs. Q opened his mouth to speak, but Bond grasped him by the chin and covered Q's mouth with his own. The kiss felt rough and worn, just like the rest of Bond, but also warm and intense. Q shivered, though he was no longer cold, and tasted coffee on Bond's tongue.
"You don't have to," Q whispered, trying to pull back, remembering how Bond seemed to prefer women. He did not want to be one of those men who turned Bond into a whore, an obligation of the job.
"I want to." Bond stared down at him, his expression impenetrable, his eyes shaded in the gloom.
"So do I." Q looked down, his face heating, his stomach squirming. "I've always wanted to."
Bond shed his overcoat. "I know."
"Are you ready?" Bond asked, the tip of his cock pressed against Q's opening. Q did not even finish his nod before Bond shoved himself into Q in one fierce thrust. Q cried out, his body sparking with both pain and pleasure. Their bodies intertwined, and as Bond mercilessly thrust into him, Q no longer cared which was which. Yet, when Bond leaned over Q, his expression did not seem even half as merciless as his hips. Something intent burned in his eyes, almost tender, yet his body moved as if he knew no other way to fuck but hard and furious.
Not all men quite understood how to move when fucking, but Bond did. Of course he did. He knew exactly how to thrust, deep and hard, right into Q's sweet spot, intensifying the heat, the tension, the want for more. Bond's broad shoulders commanded the blurry landscape. Q grabbed at Bond's left shoulder, the scar brushing against his palm. Bond winced and then smiled, as if he now felt the same mix of pain and pleasure as Q. The more Bond thrust into him, threatening to split him open, the more Q pressed at the scar. Bond grabbed Q's cock, pumping him, and Q felt caught in a heatwave that wouldn't let go, tension building in him like a breath held too long. Together, pain and pleasure were proving too much for him.
Bond came first, just as Q's fingernails bit into another scar, thrusting hard enough to drive Q into the pillows. Q gasped, disappointed as the warm come filled him, as he hadn't had his own release yet. The disappointment didn't last long. Bond pulled out and bent down to suck at the tip of Q's cock, his rough hands pressing against Q's hips, his tongue expertly sliding over sensitive flesh, leaving memory-traces of pleasure across Q's cock. Within moments, Q's world burst red, and he came, shuddering and gasping. It had been too long since he'd been fucked. And he'd never been fucked like that.
Licking his lips clean, Bond slid next to Q. "Bloody cold," he muttered, and found their bedspread and covered their naked bodies with it. To Q's surprise, he drew Q against him, one hand sliding down to cup Q's ass, a strangely possessive gesture.
Q stared at the Bond's well-chiseled face, his own hand awkwardly hovering over Bond's scarred chest. This was the part he had no experience with, the part where they didn't leave right after, already bored with him. Bond gazed at him, his gaze even, steady, filled with something quiet and secret. Q settled his hand onto Bond's chest, right over his heart, the rhythm reminding him of Bond fucking him only moments ago.
"We have to report this in the morning, when I take you back to MI6. You'll have to move."
"I—" Q cut himself off and stared, his mind going blank for a moment. "Do they really care if we sleep together? Why would I have to move?"
Bond smiled, ever so slightly. His smiles were rare enough that this one seemed secret, just for Q. "They don't particularly care who fucks who so long as the job gets done. And you have to move because the enemy knows where you live. Did you forget your attack already?"
"Oh. Right." Q blinked and smoothed his palm over Bond's classically sculpted chest. He didn't understand how some men could make their bodies look so beautiful, how they found the time, the motivation. He suddenly felt ungainly, awkward, too long in limb, too thin of torso.
Bond stroked Q's face, his fingers soft against Q's cheekbone. "I wasn't planning to have fucked you hard enough to make you forget, but I'm flattered you did." He kissed Q's chin, then lay back, seemingly comfortable with being curled up with another man in bed. "Let's get some sleep before we report in."
It took Q almost an hour to stop staring at Bond's face and finally get some sleep.
"All right?" Bond asked a week later, well after he had found Q's attackers and did what he did best with them. Q had felt no small satisfaction when those profiles were marked deceased and forwarded to join the pile of deceased profiles Bond had created.
Q looked up, his face heating at the memory of Bond in that small, plain hotel room. He nodded. "All right." Looking away, down at the smooth metal table, did not help. He could still smell Bond—and that expensive cologne he still could not identify.
"Oh, I have something for you." Bond held out a white card. "A recommendation for a barber. You could use a haircut, I think." His voice dropped to whisper. "Though I did like the way it slid over your face when I fucked you." Q's eyes widened, and his breath hitched. Bond walked away then, hands in his pockets, jacket tails spread open, body tilted back ever so slightly. Back to work, as always.
Q glanced down at the card. On it was the address of a hotel, a room number, and a date and time—for that night. Q glanced up at Bond's retreating figure and smiled, warming from the inside out.
They might be the kind of MI6 agents who had already gone to all the places they would go, but sometimes those places were worth returning to.