There are three things that Q knows about 007 before she meets her.
First: she is a ruthless killer.
Second: she will flirt with anything that moves.
And third: she has unusual ideas about the proper use of high-heeled shoes. These ideas are, of course, all related to the first item.
That last is something Q gleaned from one of Eve’s many tangents about 007. Q can’t really blame her. If Q had recently discovered that a woman she had supposedly killed was, in fact, alive and well, she wouldn’t be able to stop talking about it either.
Q learns something else about 007 the first time they meet, and that is that she has absolutely no appreciation for art.
She also learns that her lipstick really, really works for her—red enough to draw attention but not enough to make one think of blood, and that, Q thinks, is a quite a subtle feat.
It’s also a thought that gives her an excuse to stare at 007’s lips, but really, who in their right mind would pass up that opportunity?
Raoul Silva happens, as does Skyfall, and for a while Q is too busy trying to put MI6’s computer system back together to worry overmuch about what 007 is up to these days. She isn’t dead this time, which is a relief, if only because Q still hasn’t gotten a chance to properly berate her for losing the custom made gun.
Eve says that she isn’t taking M’s death well. Q can’t say she’s particularly surprised—007 doesn’t have many truly important people in her life, but when she does, she cares for them deeply.
Q has read her file, since their meeting at the National Gallery. It paints a rather bleak psychological picture of 007, which isn’t shocking. 00s, as a general rule, are not very stable people.
The file did confirm the fact that a simple stiletto, in the hands of 007, could be a deadly weapon. Q is intrigued, despite herself.
Most people think that Q has some sort of fascinating story about how she first started working at MI6. They think that she must have gotten caught digging around in the mainframe, breaking into classified files, something like that. It’s all bollocks, of course, but Q lets them think it. She smiles enigmatically when anyone asks for details, and they draw their own conclusions.
Q is used to being underestimated. She remembers sneaking out of her Home Ec classes to hang out in the computer lab, remembers getting dresses from her parents instead of the coding books she really wanted, remembers professor after professor overlooking her with her mousy brown hair and her plastic frames. At first it made her angry, but now it just makes her smile, because then it’s all the sweeter when she shows them what she can really do. She recruited one of her old professors, a few years back. He’s about three levels below her and he’s never going to get over it, which is only half the reason Q decided to hire him. He is actually rather brilliant.
The first part of the story is true, anyway. When Q was nineteen years old, she got bored of university, and she did indeed hack into MI6’s files as a diversion.
What they’re wrong about is this: Q was not nearly stupid enough to get herself caught. Instead, she stuck her own CV into the pool of candidates for an intern to the Quartermaster, and gave herself a glowing evaluation to go with it, along with a slew of recommendations from professors who had never given her a second glance, in reality.
M figured out, once she realized no one could track down who it was that actually interviewed Q, but by then Q had already become indispensable, and M let her stay. Gave her a stern lecture and a warning never to do anything like that again, but that’s nothing, compared to the threat of prison, or even of just losing her job. More than anything else, Q adores her job, has always adored it, even when she was just Quinn the intern who acted as a sounding board for the previous Quartermaster, and sometimes fetched him tea.
Perhaps it was wrong, wrangling herself a job like that, but it’s not as if she wasn’t the most qualified candidate for the position, regardless of whoever else was applying.
“You’re an arrogant little shit, aren’t you,” 007 says, one day, when she is hanging around in Q division for no discernable reason. Q had been telling her, in great detail, how many improvements had been made to Bond’s custom gun, and how consequently she had better damn well be more careful with it this time.
“Perhaps,” Q allows. “It’s mostly justified, though.”
“Of course you would think that,” 007 says, in that teasing lilt she has.
“Don’t you have work you ought to be doing, 007? Terrorists to kill, or some other such nonsense?”
“Perhaps,” says 007, parroting Q. “You can call me Jane, you know.”
“Oh, are we on a first name basis now?” Q asks.
“Seeing as how that cell phone you gave me for my last mission saved my life? Yes,” says 007—or Jane, if she’s going to be like that—and she stands up from where she’s been leaning against Q’s desk, and she walks away, hips and ponytail swaying.
Q watches her go, of course, because Jane Bond is as beautiful as she is deadly.
“Do you ever think about wearing something more sensible?” Q asks.
Jane looks up from the mission file she’s been reading, sitting in a chair she stole from some intern with her feet propped up on Q’s desk. Why she can’t do this reading in some other area of MI6, Q has no idea.
“What do you mean?” she asks.
Q gestures towards Jane’s truly terrifying pair of shoes. “Not that I have much experience in this area, but I doubt those can be comfortable while running for your life, or causing others to do the same.”
Jane shrugs. “They’re sensible enough for me,” she says, and Q thinks back to the pictures in her file, of men and women with holes stabbed through their necks, thinks of the fact that every time she comes back from a mission, Jane is sporting new shoes.
Q has never been much for heels herself. She’s tall enough without them, and sneakers serve her just fine, getting her where she needs to go. And fashion has never really been her forte, because Q spent her younger years trying not to get noticed out of a combination of shyness and simmering anger, and she spent her later years trying not to get noticed so she could get away with whatever she wanted. Heels and sharp skirts and bright lipstick work for Jane, but Q will always prefer her jumpers and slacks and sneakers. They let her fade into the background until she wants to call attention, and when she needs to do that she can do it just fine with her mind alone. That’s how Q likes it.
They work for Jane, though. Everything Jane does works for her, and Q is confounded, trying to figure out if it comes from of years of practice or if Jane is just naturally like that.
Jane walks in stilettos like her feet aren’t killing her (and Q knows that they must be), both in the office and in the field. She runs in them as if it isn’t any trouble at all, and she kills with them just the same, kicks her enemies right in the neck and then walks away.
Q listens to her do it over her earpiece, many times, and it never gets any less breathtaking.
One night, when Q has been working much too late and is wondering how mad the new M will be, if she simply stays here until morning, she hears the telltale click of Jane’s shoes as she walks into Q’s office.
“Shouldn’t you be at home?” Jane asks.
“Shouldn’t you?” replies Q, too tired to put much effort into her banter.
Jane leans against the desk and crosses her legs, and smiles with her red, red lips. “I was hoping you’d help me out with something,” she says. “I have a mission in a few days, and I’ve somehow run out of sensible shoes to wear. I thought you might want to help, since you seem to have your own ideas about what counts as proper footwear for an MI6 agent.” There’s a challenge in her words, and Q suddenly feels much more awake than she did a few minutes ago.
“Done,” she says, and she goes right back to work.
Jane leaves. Q stays until morning, thinking about the proper balance between danger and beauty, and also thinking about Jane--although by the time dawn breaks, she's realized that she's been thinking about the same thing all along.
Q makes her a pair of stilettos with knives hidden in the heels.
Jane, when they are presented to her, says, “You really have no sense of style at all, do you, Q?”
Q raises an eyebrow, pulls one of the knives from its sheath. “They also explode,” she says.
“I stand corrected,” says Jane, smile spreading slow on her lips. She leans in and kisses Q, at first chaste and then not, and eventually Q drops the shoes, because there are much more important things that her hands can be doing.
Eve comments later that if Q is going to start wearing lipstick, she really ought to go with a lighter shade. All that red doesn’t go well with her complexion.
Q thinks of Jane, her cold eyes and warm lips and her now very sensible shoes, and ignores her.