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The Love Song of James Bond
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create…
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
From “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot
James isn’t sure how long he sits there on the dirty floor of the chapel, cradling M’s steadily cooling body and brushing his fingers through her bloody hair, but it’s plenty of time for something essential within him to crack before practically all of MI6 shows up. His tears have dried by then and her body is rigid in his arms, but he can’t bring himself to lay her down. She deserves better than to share the same floor as that of her murderer, because that’s what Silva was even if the bullet that killed her hadn’t come directly from his gun. If Silva wasn’t already dead James would kill him again, slowly, and smile the entire time. Because of Silva James is alone, really and truly alone. He has always been almost alone since everyone he has even tried to care about has died, usually in a violent manner. M has been the one constant in his life, she has always been there to either help him or give him hell…and now she isn’t.
Suddenly, the frozen stillness that surrounds him is shattered by lights and shouting. His instincts are telling him to get up and move, to barricade this newest trauma firmly behind yet another wall in his mind and carry on like he always does. But this time, finds that he simply can’t. He just sits there holding M until someone’s hands pry his aching arms away and then she is gone. Reflexively he reaches for her, but steady hands close around his wrists and he allows himself to be pulled slowly to his feet and over to rest on the closest pew. It feels as if he is looking at the world through a pane of glass and everything is tinged with unreality, and surely there is only his skin between himself and an escape into the great wide nothing. But the warm hands continue to encircle his wrists, thumbs rubbing slow circles at the base of each and tethering him to reality. Out of the confusion of voices comes one he recognizes and his frenzied mind immediately latches onto it like a lifeline.
“Bond. Clearly you are not okay, but are you physically injured in any way that you are aware of?” Q’s voice is pitched low and he speaks slowly and carefully as if he is confronting a potentially dangerous and cornered Pit-bull.
“Rule number one, Q; I’m always injured,” he manages to grind out with a sardonic smile. “Just never as injured as the other guy.” He is surprised at how normal he sounds, but he supposes his body is functioning on autopilot and for him that includes a dark sense of humor. He raises his head slowly, his eyes following the hands on his wrists up a pair of lean arms to find Q kneeling in front of him, face slightly lower than his own.
Q narrows his eyes slightly and states, in the same arrogant voice James has grown accustomed to over the past few days, “You realize, of course, that I am considered something of a genius. I have an IQ of 153. I graduated college at seventeen with a major in computer science and engineering. I got this job by hacking into the MI6 system, deleting the former quartermaster and assigning it to myself along with a sizeable signing bonus. Clearly he was no longer up to the job. Luckily for me, M was impressed enough to keep me on instead of sending me to prison. I’m telling you all of this so that you understand who you are dealing with. I am not one of your brainless thug targets or some silly bint you can fool with that suave performance of yours. So let’s try this again, shall we?” He removes his grip on James’ wrists and leans forward to rest his elbows on James’ knees. He is very, very close but for some reason James’ gut reaction isn’t to grab him by his slender throat and throw him across the room. “Are. You. Injured?”
James lets out the breath it feels like he’s been holding since he first saw the blood on M’s clothing. “Not in any way that shows,” he admits even as he wonders why he is showing any vulnerability to this man he barely even knows. “But I’m really fucking cold.” It seems that his body finally realizes it just as the words leave his mouth and he begins shaking uncontrollably.
“Ah, shock and mild hypothermia no doubt.” Q stands and makes some sort of motion with his hand and suddenly James is descended upon by several field medics who begin flashing lights in his eyes, searching his clothing for bullet holes and wiping at the blood on his face to see how much is his own. To his surprised relief, through it all Q stays right where he is. Then an unfamiliar arm wraps itself around his back and under his armpit, presumably to help him to his feet, and he feels himself tense up. Then suddenly the arm is gone and he looks up just in time to see Q, an incongruously venomous look on his normally schooled features, shove the unknown medic hard enough away from James that she stumbles over a stray piece of rubble and goes sprawling backwards onto the floor. Q looks entirely unrepentant. “You do realize who this is, don’t you? I’m certain he is entirely capable of standing on his own,” he says in an overly loud voice that no doubt attracts the attention of everyone in the chapel.
For a second everyone looks on in stunned silence as the medic gets to her feet, glaring at Q. She opens her mouth to say something, but whatever it is gets cut off by James’ sudden burst of slightly hysterical laughter. Because this is just…has he seriously been reduced to the point where needs to be defended by what looks like Harry Potter’s slightly older brother? When Q just blinks at him owlishly, his mouth slightly open in surprise, the image is only reinforced and he starts laughing even harder. In his defense, he doesn’t remember the last time he slept and he recognizes this as his body’s letdown from too much stress and adrenaline but that doesn’t stop the situation from seeming any less ridiculous at the moment.
Q sighs and steps in closer, leaning down to hiss softly into his ear, “You know, I was trying to disabuse everyone of the notion that you are weak or have finally cracked entirely under the stress of your position, and you are in no way helping me! Now get up, we’re going.” He straightens and stalks away imperiously, not even checking to see if James is following. He is.
By the time they arrive at one of the helicopters James has managed to compose himself and climbs in after Q in silence. Someone shuts the door behind them and he is surprised to note that they are entirely alone. There is a cot piled with blankets and a sweat suit and Q sits in the chair located at its foot, moving his hands down to grip firmly around the bottom of the seat. “Well don’t just stand there shivering, change and get under the blankets before you pass out on me. There is hot tea in the thermos for you as well.” He nods his chin in the direction of the head of the cot.
“Why Q, I would never pass out on you unless you asked me to. Nicely.” Even he can tell the quip is half-hearted. He really must be exhausted.
Q shoots him a withering look. “Mr. Bond, the reason I am here with you is because the powers that be insisted you be kept under a close watch for the next two weeks. History says that you are not amenable to the therapy or medical help you likely so desperately need, and left to your own devices you are liable to drink yourself into a state it may not be possible to return from. It has become abundantly clear that this agency still has need of your services, so that cannot be allowed to happen. However, a period of rest and recovery following a tragedy of this magnitude is obviously necessary. History also suggests that it would be unwise to send a woman, and there was such a shocking lack of male volunteers that my raised hand went unchallenged. You should also know that I have never been one to ask at all, nicely or otherwise. What I want, I simply take. You should count yourself lucky that I’m on your side,” Q states matter-of-factly, but James can recognize concealed desire when he hears it.
James watches Q’s eyes carefully as he strips completely naked before stepping into the new clothing, but the younger man maintains an enviable poker face throughout the slow process. “So what, I’m being taken to some undisclosed location to rest and recover while you babysit?” James pulls the covers aside and slides into the cot, pleased that it has a heating pad over the mattress. He rather hates the traitorous part of his mind approves of the idea of two weeks to do nothing. Contrary to what most people probably think, he does nothing very well. Ninety percent of his job consists of sitting around waiting for the other ten percent filled with blood and adrenaline, and he generally finds pleasurable ways to amuse himself in the between times. Sadly, he rather doubts sex is on the table for this particular vacation. Which is unfortunate, because now that the momentary humor has passed he can feel his grief threatening to incapacitate him and he knows he isn’t going to be able to shake it off and move on quickly. He considers that maybe he really is getting too old for this life, or possibly for life at all.
“Yes, that is about the scope of it,” Q responds, face whitening as the chopper lurches and lifts off.
“You know, the likelihood of two choppers going down in flaming balls of fire in one evening is relatively low,” he says as Q’s face goes from white to faintly green.
“I know the fear of flying goes against the laws of statistics, Bond, so spare me the disparaging remarks because I’ve heard them all before,” Q snaps and grips his seat tighter. “Just go to sleep, it’s going to be a long flight.”
James is too tired to argue so he lays his head down and closes his eyes. He is strangely comforted by the thought of Q’s company even though he doubts they have anything in common other than a love of Queen and Country. “Why would you volunteer to babysit anyways?” he mumbles into the pillow, “You barely even know me.” He feels sleep dragging him under almost immediately and he isn’t sure if he imagines hearing Q’s soft whisper just before he loses consciousness.
“Ah James, how very wrong you are.”
In his dream he is drowning. He is trapped under a thin layer of transparent ice and just above him he can see Silva holding M down against the surface, her cheek pressed flat and eyes wide with panic. “Why don’t you save me, 007?” she cries out just as Silva’s knife flashes down. As he sinks towards the icy bottom, a growing pool of red blocks her closing eyes from his view.
He wakes abruptly to the feeling of a hand on his shoulder and his body reacts before his brain has a chance to catch up. He sits up quickly, swinging his legs out of bed to knock his assailant off balance as he throws a hand out to connect with the man’s opposite shoulder and spin him, bending the slight form backwards over the cot and wrapping one hand firmly against the base of his attacker’s throat. He is breathing hard, adrenaline coursing through his system and it takes about three seconds for his panicked brain to identify the body beneath him as Q.
Q, who is not fighting back and is looking up at James with wide but calm eyes, glasses askew and chin angled up and slightly to the side, baring his throat in the universal indication of submission. James freezes, loosening his hold on Q’s throat but not letting go as he looks down at his…what? James isn’t entirely sure what Q is to him, but he knows that his inner alpha is growling in appreciation at the pliant young body pinned beneath his own. Then Q shifts his hips slightly and James is suddenly aware that his rapidly hardening erection is pressing against the thin barrier of his sweatpants and onto Q’s thigh. He pulls back quickly, setting Q free and moving to sit next to him on the cot as the reality of the situation finally sets in. “Did I hurt you? You can’t do that sort of thing! Don’t you know better than to startle a man trained to kill with his bare hands?”
Q sits up slowly, moving a hand up to brush lightly against the pink mark on his throat as if savoring the sensation. “You were having a nightmare. I wanted it to end. Also, we’re here,” he adds, sounding slightly dazed and cursing himself inwardly. He is determined not to let the infamous Mr. Bond get to him. They will have to function as a team and he feels certain that any respect the agent has for him will vanish if he becomes just another forgettable conquest.
“And where is here?” James asks as he tracks the path of Q’s fingers.
“The Isle of Skye,” Q responds, blushing as he lowers his hand and gets up to open the door. “Welcome to your home for the next few weeks.”
James watches as a large expanse of blue sky and green mountains comes into view, but he is really focused on the long silhouette of his quartermaster against the rising sun. He smiles and thinks that he just found something enjoyable to do with his time here after all.