People are always using up all of Q’s tea…
dawn (v) – to begin; to come into existence.
It all starts with tea. The problem with Q’s office is that it’s not so much of an office as it is a room to be shared with the rest of Q branch. It makes him briefly miss the office they’d shown him when he’d first been promoted to Quartermaster, but there’s little he can do about that now.
The only problem, really, is that people keep getting into his tea. It’s not that he minds sharing, but it would be nice if they asked first. Better yet, it would be nice if they warned him when he’s out of tea.
He keeps his tin of tea in the kitchen, just down the hallway from the main computer room of Q branch. Whenever he’s doing something that requires a lot of concentration, or a lot of patience, Q has a habit of making himself a mug of tea. There’s nothing some well-brewed earl grey can’t fix.
So it’s upsetting when he goes to make a mug of tea so he can settle down with an encrypted hard drive that is being particularly stubborn, only to find that his tin is empty.
There’s nobody else in the kitchen, and there’s no more earl grey to be found in the cupboards at all. There’s a box of english breakfast and Q picks it up, giving it a despairing look. He can appreciate the flavour of it just fine, when he’s in the mood for it. He’s not.
It’s the third time this week that he’s had to settle for it anyway.
“How’s the decryption going?” Bond asks, twenty minutes later, walking up to Q’s workstation.
Q’s mug is still half full with tea. It’s probably gone cold now. It bothers him, even as he tries to concentrate on his work.
“I’m trying to focus,” Q replies, a little sharper than intended. “This is extremely delicate.”
Bond steps a little closer, and hums in thought.
Q’s fingers don’t slow their typing. “What?”
“Carry on,” Bond replies. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Q doesn’t look away from his screen to frown at Bond, but it’s extremely tempting.
He’s made little progress on the hard drive when he hears Bond return. He doesn’t look, too frustrated to feel particularly talkative.
Bond places something on Q’s desk and that catches his attention. He looks down, brows drawn together. “What—?”
It’s a small, familiar tin of tea, still wrapped in its plastic. “…Oh.”
“You always get a little cranky when you’re out of tea.”
“I don’t get cranky.”
Bond’s only reply is a small smile. He nods in the direction of the kitchen. “I’ll wait.”
“Right.” Picking up the tin, Q takes it with him, along with his mug, which he promptly empties. There’s something to be said about the ritual of making tea, especially when he’s using the right kind this time. He’s already feeling calmer by the time he’s pouring the tea into his mug.
Bond is, as he’d said, still waiting where Q had left him. He’s standing there with his hand in his pockets, and looks up as Q approaches.
“Thank you,” Q says quietly, nodding as he returns to his desk. Taking a sip, he sets his mug down and looks at his screen. “Right, then. Let’s crack this hard drive now, shall we?”
For once, Bond actually returns with his equipment all in once piece.
“I’ve got a present for you,” Bond declares, standing by Q’s desk and reaching into his pocket.
“Should I be concerned?” Q asks.
With a quiet snort, Bond places a tie clip on the desk, just beside Q’s keyboard. “Here.”
Q looks at the tie clip—wholly unremarkable save for the tiny camera in it—and then raises an eyebrow at Bond, waiting.
“…And this,” Bond adds, pulling his gun out and placing it on the table as well. It’s a replacement of the gun Q had first given him; Bond had grown rather fond of the design, and he’d had to ask several times before Q would make him another. Bond suspects that it had mainly been because Q had felt like being difficult.
Q nods in approval, picking up both pieces of equipment and carrying them across the room, to store them in an empty case. “Good.”
“Good?” Bond repeats, raising an eyebrow.
“Well,” Q says, turning around to face Bond with a small smirk tugging at his lips. “It’s not exactly Christmas, is it?”
“Funny,” Bond replies.
“What were you expecting, a pat on the head?”
“I hope you realise that it was extremely difficult to get these back to you.” Bond had needed to wrestle his gun out of his target’s hand while hanging halfway out of a helicopter in midair. His shoulder’s still a little sore from having to haul himself back inside.
“I saw,” Q replies, tapping a finger against the tie clip. “Disorientation and all.”
“Well try actually doing it,” Bond grouses, with no real heat behind his words.
Q seems to pick up on this, because Bond catches the small smile before it disappears. “Well if you’d taken my advice and pulled the trigger when you were told—”
“The force of the shot would have knocked him out of the helicopter, complete with the flash drive we were after,” Bond tells him. “I doubt that would have helped us at all.”
“Hm, I suppose not,” Q replies with a nod.
“That’s why you have me around, though, isn’t it?” Bond asks, and Q’s smile stays for longer this time.
“Well?” Q holds out his hand, and Bond gives him the flash drive. “I’ll work on this, you go and have that shoulder looked at.”
“I’ve dealt with worse,” Bond points out, not bothering to ask how Q could even tell.
“Perhaps,” Q allows, “but I find that things tend to work better when they’re kept in good condition. It would be terribly inconvenient of you to ruin a mission by falling apart halfway through.”
“Well, when you put it like that…” Bond mutters.
“Get some rest, 007. Depending on what I find, you might need to get back out there soon.”
“Right.” Some rest does sound nice, and he could do with a bit of tea. Or scotch.
“Oh, and 007?” Q calls, flash drive already plugged in, his fingers typing faster than should even be possible. “Thank you for returning these. I do appreciate it when you make my work easier for me.”
“Oh, what I would give to get my hands on that computer,” Q murmurs reverently, leaning into his screen to take a better look at Bond’s visual feed.
Bond is in their target’s base of operations, looking around to see what there is to find while he waits for the other agents to arrive and bring the incapacitated cyber-terrorist to MI6 for questioning. The main computer that he’d been working from barely warrants a second glance, but Q knows that there must be more to it if it’s capable of so much.
He hears Bond’s huff of amusement. “You sound the way I do when I’m looking at guns.”
“Well, it is a weapon,” Q says, and he’s about to continue when he sees something at the bottom of the screen. “Bond…”
“What is it?”
“Beneath the table on your right hand side. There’s a timer.”
Bond swears, the explosives becoming clearer when he bends to take a look. There are more of them than Q had anticipated, and they’re rigged to blow the entire apartment up.
“Get out of there.”
“Gathered as much,” Bond replies, his tone clipped. “I’ll talk to you when I’m clear.”
“Bond—” Q is met with silence. Even the screen goes blank. He grabs for his mug of tea, holding it like it’s an anchor as he waits. Bond knows what he’s doing. Bond will be fine. Bond is—
Q lets out a loud sigh of relief. “Don’t do that again. Give us your coordinates and I’ll redirect the pick-up to your location.”
Bond returns to MI6 a day later and Q hears him come into the Q branch laboratory because of the sheer fuss that is being made.
“What are you doing?” he asks, turning around with a light frown.
“This way,” Bond says to the man behind him, carrying a heavy box. “Where do you want this, Q?”
Bond sighs. “On the floor, then. Just there. Brilliant.”
With the box placed on the floor in front of Q’s workstation, the man leaves so it’s just Q, Bond, and the rest of Q branch staring at them.
Bond gestures towards the box. Q bends, opening it and then drawing back, looking up at Bond with an incredulous look.
“The computer…” Q says with hushed awe, pulling it out and finding extra hard drives beneath it that he remembers seeing in the visual feed the day before. “How…?”
“You weren’t underestimating me now, were you?” Bond asks with a small smirk.
Well, Q thinks, he certainly won’t be doing so again.
Bond walks away, leaving Q with the pilfered computer and the rest of the branch still watching him.
“Carry on,” he tells them, ears burning, waiting until his back is turned to his colleagues before letting himself smile.
This feels a lot like Christmas.
Bond doesn’t know how Q can stand it, sitting inside at a computer all day. He’s there when Bond leaves for the day and he’s still there the next morning, wearing the same clothes. He looks like he hasn’t even slept, and he’s still working.
There are other members of Q branch in the lab too, all of them looking like they’ve actually rested. They look at their boss and then back to Bond, shrugging helplessly.
“Are you just going to stand there?” Q speaks up, “or are you going to make yourself useful?”
“What are you doing?” Bond asks, looking at the main screen at the front of the room.
“I’m working on some new equipment for you,” Q replies. “The hardware part is simple enough and I suppose the code should be easier, really, but I’m trying something new.”
“Will it make any sense to me if I ask?”
Q lets out a small huff of amusement. “Probably not. Here. Be useful and make me a mug of tea, will you?”
Bond takes the mug with raised eyebrows, but Q is too busy working to take any notice. When he turns around, the other members of Q branch are all averting their eyes, a moment too late for Bond to miss it.
There’s really no sense in arguing about it, so Bond doesn’t bother. He goes to the kitchen, picking up Q’s tin of earl grey and measuring out the leaves. He takes the time to look down at the Scrabble mug in his hands and his lips twitch in amusement, wondering when Q had gotten it—if it had been something he’d gone out and bought when he’d first become Quartermaster, or if it had been a gift from someone.
Bond stops the thought right there. There’s no problem with reading the background reports of the other agents he’s working with, but there’s a very distinct line between their professional lives and their personal ones.
He finishes making the tea and takes it back to Q, who thanks him distractedly. Bond stands there for a moment, taking in the bags under Q’s eyes and the way he blinks at his screen.
“Perhaps you ought to take a break.”
Q exhales loudly, taking a long sip of tea and letting his shoulders droop, betraying his weariness. “Yes. Perhaps I should.”
Bond nods, passing one of the other agents on his way out. “Make sure he gets some sleep.”
He returns a few hours later and he’s not quite checking up on Q—he just knows that Q won’t benefit at all from working himself into the ground.
Q is at his workstation and he’s typing frantically now, looking harried, and swaying on his feet. His mug of tea, as always, is within easy reach. Q sips from it at regular intervals, and that is how Bond notices his hands are shaking too.
Bond sighs, turning to leave. It’s like being a babysitter.
When he returns, not more than five minutes later, nothing has changed. Q continues to push himself to work, and nobody seems to have commented on the fact that he’s barely able to keep himself upright.
“Here,” Bond says, deliberately loud.
Q starts. “Bond. I didn’t even see you.”
Bond doesn’t reply, and Q’s gaze drops to the sandwich in front of him. He picks up the plastic container and gives Bond a quizzical look.
“When did you last eat?” Bond asks.
“I ate…” Q frowns. “I ate lunch.”
“Yesterday?” Bond raises an eyebrow. “You of all people should know that things work better when they’re kept in good condition.”
Q glances at his screen and then back at his sandwich, a small smile tugging at his lips. “Well. I suppose work can wait a few minutes.”
Q’s laptop is broken and he doesn’t want to talk about it. Accidents happen and there’s nothing that can be done about it; he’d said it to the lady who had run into him and caused him to drop it in the first place, and it’s what he tells himself now.
The hard drive had been undamaged and all of his important files are backed up on several different servers, but the screen is badly cracked. It’s not a big deal, in the grand scheme of things, but Q had built the laptop himself and he’d grown rather attached to it.
He’ll build himself a new one, when he’s done sulking. The rest of Q branch knows to leave him alone until he’s feeling better and he’s thankful for that, at the very least.
Bond, on the other hand, is not as patient.
“Are you quite done yet?” he asks, walking towards Q. “You’ve been hiding here for almost an hour, now.”
Q doesn’t even bother asking how Bond knew to find him here, in the small break room tucked away in a corner of the building, as far from Q branch as he can get without changing floors. “What, does your gun need fixing?”
With a quiet, annoyed huff, Bond lightly smacks Q over the head with something before sitting down.
Q glances at what Bond is holding. “A notebook?”
“Terribly old-fashioned, I know,” Bond replies, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “You write in them, you see. With pens.”
Q barely suppresses the urge to roll his eyes, taking the notebook from Bond’s hand and pulling a pen out of his pocket. “Yes, I’m familiar with the concept.”
“Just a thought,” Bond tells him with a casual shrug. “You could use it while you wait for another laptop. Besides, it’s less likely to break. Or be hacked, for that matter.”
Q looks down at the notebook in his hands. It’s A5 sized; compact enough that he can carry it around with ease. It’s spiral-bound, reporter style with the binding is at the top of the page, to stay out of his way while he writes. The pages are smooth, with dark lines, and Q runs his thumb over the surface in appreciation.
He could chalk all of this up to sheer luck, but he knows that Bond pays close attention to every small detail. He tries to imagine Bond in a stationery store, standing in front of the notebook displays and going through each and every one of them until he finds one that he deems suitable.
It makes Q want to laugh just thinking about it. No, it’s probably just pure luck that the notebook that Bond picked up happened to be perfect. Stranger things have probably happened.
Bond takes Q’s amused look as a good sign, nodding at him before getting up and leaving. Q watches him go, and then looks back at the notebook.
On the inside cover, using a cipher that he’d invented at the age of eleven, Q writes his name.
The next day, Q has a new MI6-issue laptop and just like the last time, he’s made his own improvements to it. He’s even used some of the tricks he’d learned from pulling apart the computer Bond had brought back with him a few missions ago, and it’s even better than before.
He’s tracking the location of a chip that’s been planted on a suspected terrorist when Bond walks into Q branch to check on their progress. Q recognises him from his footsteps; not loud, but no pains taken to soften them when he is at ease on home territory.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t occur to Q to hide his notebook until it’s far too late. He’s already several pages in, having used it to scribble down ideas for his laptop upgrades. He shuts it quickly as Bond walks closer and he knows that even without the action drawing attention, it would have been seen anyway.
Q does his best not to look embarrassed; it’s not like he’s actually done anything wrong. Bond only gives him a small smile before turning his attention to the big screen at the front of the room. “Alright, where are we?”
There’s an odd mood hanging in the air at Q branch when Bond walks in. He glances around with a small frown, but everybody is sitting at their workstations, quietly doing their work.
It’s perhaps the quietest that Q branch has ever been, and it makes Bond immediately uneasy. He knows something’s happened, but there is nothing to hint at what it might be. With a small frown, Bond walks to the front of the room, where Q is working at his own computer. He doesn’t even acknowledge Bond—doesn’t even make the customary last-minute attempt to hide his notebook—and just keeps working.
Bond waits for a moment before clearing his throat.
“Yes, I know you’re there,” Q mutters.
“M told me to come see you. He said you’ve found the location of that terrorist that we were tracking.”
“Right.” Q changes windows and brings up a map. “he’s been hopping between countries over the past few days; he must suspect that he’s being followed, but probably by more traditional means. He’s settled down now; he’s stayed put in Brazil for the last four hours.”
“Brazil, then,” Bond says.
“You’re not to leave just yet. M is intent on making this as clean and as quiet as possible. Preferably without an entire flat being rigged to explode.” Q’s tone is still sharper than usual when he talks. Whatever the reason, Q is in an incredibly bad mood.
Bond checks the mug of tea that is always by Q’s side, but it isn’t there this time. He frowns, looking at Q, who has suddenly gone tense, no doubt realising that Bond’s noticed.
Neither of them say anything about it for a moment. Bond glances around the room one more time and in a quiet voice, asks, “What happened to your mug?”
The agents sitting close enough to overhear look up sharply and Bond doesn’t miss the way they immediately look at Q.
“It broke,” Q says, his voice completely neutral. He doesn’t say any more on the matter, turning his attention back to the screen in front of him.
Bond stands back, his hands in his pockets, and wonders if anybody has thought to replace the mug. He suspects he already knows the answer, and he doubts that he actually wants to hear it.
“I suspect M will be sending me to see you before I leave,” he says, turning to leave. Q doesn’t even reply.
After one fruitless visit to a shopping centre, Bond goes to Eve, glancing around the empty office and lowering his voice anyway.
“Where would I find a Scrabble mug?”
Eve raises an eyebrow. “I don’t think you’ll find one with 007 on it. Unless you’re going for B?”
“Q, actually.” Bond flashes a charming smile at her. “Somebody broke his mug and the poor sod’s sulking even worse than when he dropped his laptop the other day.”
“And you’re replacing it?” Eve asks. “Was it your fault?”
“No,” Bond replies, and sighs. “It doesn’t matter whose fault it is, but the geniuses down at Q branch haven’t seemed to realise that Q’s going to be in a terrible mood until he has his tea.”
“He won’t use another mug?”
“Of course not. I wouldn’t even be having this problem if he weren’t so damned particular.”
“So now it’s your problem,” Eve sounds amused now, leaning back in her chair with her arms folded.
“Of course it is. He’s my Quartermaster.”
“Of course,” Eve repeats, turning to her computer and doing a quick search. She writes an address down on a post-it note and hands it over to Bond. “Try this place.”
He nods in appreciation, trying to ignore the knowing look she gives him as he leaves.
Half an hour later, Bond is back at MI6 with a paper bag, and Q is nowhere to be found in Q branch. With a sigh, he goes to the small break room that he’d found Q in last time.
Q is sitting with his back to the door, his posture making it extremely clear that he does not want company. Bond walks in anyway, the only sound the rustle of the bag as he pulls the mug out. He sits down beside Q, pressing it into his hands.
“Hasn’t been your week, has it?”
Q huffs, not quite a laugh, and looks down at his new mug. “I suppose not.”
“It’s not just the mug, though,” Bond realises, watching Q’s expression. “It was your old one, specifically.”
Q gives Bond a strained smile. “It was a present. From someone who was dear to me.”
“Was,” Bond repeats.
“She was old. These things happen.” Q gets to his feet, lifting his mug to Bond. “But thank you.”
Bond can tell that Q’s mood hasn’t lifted; not yet. He stands as well. “I feel like a bit of tea myself, actually. I’ll make us some.”
Q sighs quietly. “I’m not going to talk about it if that’s what you’re expecting, Bond.”
“Oh, I don’t expect you to,” Bond replies casually, “but as I’ve mentioned before, tea does seem to do wonders for your mood. It would be irresponsible of me to let you loose on Q branch without making sure you’ve had your tea first.”
“And you’re all about being responsible.”
“‘Course I am,” Bond replies, walking to the door. “Coming?”
The smile that touches Q’s lips is barely there at all, but Bond decides to count it as a victory.
Since Bond gave him his first notebook, Q has gone through four entire books and twelve pens. Most of them have been the standard pens from the stationery cupboard, but Q still finds it frustrating to reach for his pen, only to find that it’s gone. Again.
“Bond,” he sighs, looking up. “You don’t even need that pen.”
“Well neither do you, really, considering you’re in front of a computer. Besides, you never know when it might come in handy.”
“Click the end as many times as you like,” Q mutters, “it’s still not going to explode.”
“Oh well.” Bond smiles. “One can hope.”
“For explosions?” Q raises an eyebrow, crossing the room to get another pen because he knows it will be easier than reclaiming the one Bond has stolen. “As your Quartermaster, I can say with quite some certainty that it’s off the table.”
“You’re no fun,” Bond sighs, pocketing the pen.
“Don’t you have anybody else to bother?” Q asks.
The terrorist that Bond has captured and brought back from Brazil is in interrogation right now. M is overseeing it behind a one-way mirror, along with Tanner.
Bond is always a little restless in between missions, and Q has noticed that lately, he has been coming down to Q branch more often when he has nowhere else to be. Q doesn’t mind most of the time, because Bond knows better than to interrupt when they’re busy. When Q doesn’t have much work to do, however, it’s a different matter. Bond always seems much more distracting, and he’s always doing something that should be irritating, and probably would be if not for the fact that Bond is so competent at what he does. Here, competency can allow someone to get away with almost anything and Bond knows this well. Q wouldn’t even be surprised to learn that Bond was the one to discover it in the first place.
Q can’t even send him away to stop him from being disruptive, because there really isn’t anything else that either of them need to be doing. That will change soon enough, when the interrogators get the information that they need and everyone gets back to work. Q tells himself that this is why he lets Bond stay.
A few hours later, and Bond is off on another mission, armed with his usual Walther and a small case carrying three bugging devices. Q is already taking a look at the schematics of the building that Bond needs to get into. The security system won’t be too difficult for him to shut down, when the time comes for it. He reaches for a pen to jot down a quick note to himself and sighs with exasperation when he finds that it’s gone. Again.
He doesn’t even know what Bond does with all the pens he’s stolen. Q suspects that he’s seen a few in Eve’s pen holder, when he’s gone up to see M, but he’s never mentioned it to her. He doesn’t even know where to begin with something like this.
Two days later, Bond returns with two prisoners, his gun intact and, of all things, a box of pens. He hands them over to Q along with his gun, shrugging casually.
“For all the pens that you’ve misplaced.”
“That you’ve stolen,” Q corrects. He opens the box and frowns a little. He hadn’t even known that such expensive pens came in packs of twenty. They’re heavy with brushed metal barrels, and sit quite nicely in Q’s hand.
“Wait a minute,” he speaks up. “It says twenty on the box, but there are only nineteen in here.”
With a small smile, Bond pulls a matching pen out of his pocket. “It’s not exactly an exploding pen, but I suppose it will have to do.”
Q is a good actor, when the need arises. He can wander around public areas, waiting to catch sight of Bond and surreptitiously provide him with whatever he needs for the next mission. Put him in a crowded café, however, and he’s nowhere near as convincing.
His eyes dart about and he looks like he just doesn’t know what to do with himself, knowing that it’s too open an area to take his laptop out and start working. It’s clear that he has something to hide, even to the most casual of observers. Even if most people wouldn’t immediately suspect that he is singularly responsible for a great deal of cyber intelligence at MI6.
Bond stands at the window for a moment longer, unseen among everybody else on the busy street, just watching. Q is dressed down, so that he blends in with the other patrons of the café, in a snug, black turtleneck and the same jacket he was wearing when they’d first met. It’s different to the shirts and ties Bond always sees him in; odd how the smallest change can make such a big difference. Pushing the thought from his mind, Bond pushes the door open and walks inside.
Q’s gaze snaps to him immediately but to his credit, he doesn’t respond in any other way. Bond orders himself some tea, carrying the takeaway cup over to where Q is sitting.
“Took you long enough,” Q mutters, sipping from his mug of hot chocolate. He has the air about him of someone who knows exactly how awkward they are being, trying to cover the embarrassment up with irritation.
“Your plane ticket,” he continues before Bond can reply. He slides the white envelope across the small table. “Your briefcase is under the table. Same things as last time; your Walther and more trackers.”
Bond sighs a little. “That’s disappointing.”
“This isn’t a big mission, so let’s keep it simple, shall we?”
With a nod, Bond reaches under the table and pulls the briefcase a little closer. Q makes to stand, and Bond raises a hand to stall him for a moment, reaching into his coat pocket. He holds up the small novel he’s been saving for his plane trip, offering it to Q.
“Next time you don’t want to make it so obvious that you’re waiting for someone in a crowded place…”
Q gives him a considering look, then takes the book and puts it into one of the large pockets of his jacket. “Right. Well then, good luck.”
Q is right; the mission is a small, quick thing, doing more surveillance on the terrorist group that they’ve been dealing with recently. The mission after, however, is much bigger. Bond is going to capture the leader and bring him in. As usual, he reports to Q before leaving.
It’s the middle of the day and most of Q branch have gone for lunch. Q is sitting at his own desk at the front of the room and doesn’t even notice when Bond comes in.
Bond quickly realises that this is because Q has his nose in a book. Namely, the same book that he’d been given before Bond left on his previous mission.
“I thought you’d be done with that by now,” Bond murmurs.
“What?” Q looks up. “Oh. I don’t get very much time to read, really. I’ve mostly been saving it for my lunch breaks.”
“Passable.” Q smiles. “I won’t judge you based on the books you lend me.”
“And here I was, worrying myself sick that you would.” Bond watches as Q puts the novel down, slipping a bookmark into it. “Now, what do you have for me this time? I do hope that it’s good.”
It’s not that the rain bothers Q. No, he’s lived in London his entire life; the rain is just a fact of life. You carry an umbrella, you get coats that will keep you dry, you continue on with the rest of your day.
No, it’s just the puddles that he hates. He avoids them—just the same as everybody else—and yet there are those mornings when he is struggling to keep his eyes open after barely three hours of sleep and nothing’s gone right so far.
Q sees the puddle ahead of him, and he sees the drier part of the path just beside it He doesn’t, however, see the businessman behind him, walking in a rush, jostling him just as he’s about to take a large step.
Which is how he ends up walking into Q branch with wet shoes, soaked socks, and a terrible mood. He sits at his computer for most of the day but every time he needs to get up and walk somewhere, his socks squelch with every step he takes. It makes his mood blacken every single time it happens, to the point that the rest of Q branch just take to walking over to him whenever something needs to be done.
Of course, to his luck, Bond is wandering around MI6 looking for something to keep him entertained. He comes down to Q branch sometime after lunch, while Q is working on the schematics of some new equipment.
“Don’t you have anything better to do?” Q asks by way of greeting. “I would prefer if you left me alone that I could work in peace.”
“Someone’s cranky today,” Bond comments, looking over at Q’s mug. “Not enough tea today?”
“Go away, Bond,” Q sighs, knowing full well that Bond will most likely do the exact opposite. “I’m not in the mood right now.”
“You’re sulking,” Bond declares, loud enough that a few other agents look up before quickly continuing with their work. “This doesn’t have anything to do with the puddles you’re leaving behind in place of footprints now, does it? What did you do, take a stroll through the Thames this morning?”
Q glares at Bond before turning his attention back to his notes. “Just go and find someone else to bother.”
To his surprise, Bond actually listens. He turns and leaves, and Q is left staring after him in surprise, telling himself that he’s glad that Bond has done as Q has asked, for once.
He continues with his work, and he’s done sketching the schematics out in his notebook within the next half hour. He’s tapping his pen against the page, looking over his design so that he can improve it further, when Bond returns.
Of course, Bond being Bond, he announces his presence by throwing a small plastic packet at Q’s head.
“What’s this?” Q picks it up from where it falls onto his desk, taking a proper look at it. “Socks?”
“I just thought it would be preferable to ensure that you don’t catch your death. And to ensure that you don’t spend the rest of the day sulking.”
Q doesn’t even bother arguing. He grabs the pack of socks and walks to the bathroom. He hadn’t really noticed during the day, but his feet are incredible cold. They feel much better the moment Q peels his wet socks off, and then feel even better once he’s dried them off and put his new socks on.
Bond is waiting for him when he returns, an expectant look on his face. He already looks smug.
“Thank you,” Q says, a little reluctantly, sitting back down at his workstation.
“Much better. Now, nobody hears you coming from all of that water. And perhaps you’ll actually get up when you need to.”
Q doesn’t roll his eyes, but it’s a close thing. “Go and find somebody else to bother, Bond.”
“I feel so very appreciated,” Bond mutters, but he turns to leave.
Q waits until he’s gone before letting himself smile.
When Bond gives Q the hat, he mostly means it as a joke.
art by the most splendiferous pie. How gorgeous is her art? Go give her some love. ♥
When Bond gives Q the hat, he mostly means it as a joke. It’s one of those knitted slouch hats that he sees everywhere, and he only really bought it because Q came in one day with his hair looking tousled—even for him—and his ears bright red from how cold they were.
He’d fully expected Q to throw it right back, and perhaps that’s why Q even wears it at all. Bond hadn’t even thought that Q would manage to fit all of his hair into the damn hat, but the does. It comes down to past his ears and it looks—well. It looks much better than what Bond had actually expected.
He doesn’t actually see Q wearing it until about a week after giving the hat to him; usually by the time they see each other, they’re both inside and if the hat is with Q at all, it’s just in his hands.
This time, however, Bond manages to catch a glimpse of Q outside. Bond is actually walking with Eve on her lunch break, when he sees Q walking through the park, some distance away from them. He only really recognises Q from his glasses and from the way his fringe falls into his face. The rest of his hair is tucked under the grey woolen hat and he has a scarf wrapped around his neck with some abstract pattern than Bond can’t quite make out.
Q has his hands in the pockets of his anorak and his breath comes as mist while he walks. He looks—he looks warm, despite the weather. Yes. Warm. Bond is glad for that.
“Are you coming, then?”
Eve’s voice snaps him back to the present, and it makes Bond realise that he’s stopped walking and is just standing there, watching Q. From the way Eve looks between Bond and Q, she’s clearly figured out why he’s stopped.
“The hat suits him, don’t you think?” he asks, sliding his hands into his pockets and continuing to walk.
“Oh, he absolutely loves it,” Eve replies lightly. “Wears it whenever he’s got the chance.”
“Is that right.” Bond keeps his voice completely neutral, but when Eve isn’t watching, he glances over his shoulder to find Q in the crowd for one last look.
He looks very warm indeed.
If Q has learned anything since becoming Quartermaster, it is that James Bond is an incredibly unpredictable man.
Oh, he has his own habits and his own idiosyncrasies, of course. He is consistent in his own ways, just as everyone else is. People are nice and full of contradictions like that.
In Bond’s case, it means that Q can almost certainly rely on him to do things without any kind of explanation.
The box of cupcakes from the bakery about half an hour away from the office is so far beyond anything that Q expects that he actually gapes.
“Thought you might like these,” is all Bond says, nodding at Q, at Tanner, and leaving.
There’s a short silence once Bond leaves, and Tanner clears his throat. “As I was saying… ah…”
They stare at each other for a moment, and then look at the box. Q walks towards it, lifting the box carefully and peering inside. The smell that greets him is instantly recognisable. “Oh, look. Tea-infused cupcakes.”
They are, to be specific, cupcakes infused with earl grey. Q picks one up without a second thought, breathing in the wonderfully mouth-watering scent, and then taking a small bite.
It tastes even better than it smells. The cupcake is soft and the tea is not so strong that it overpowers the taste of the cupcake itself. The icing is sweet, but not overly so.
“Sir…?” Tanner asks uncertainly.
“Right.” Q looks up. There’s icing stuck to his upper lip, he can feel it. Licking it away, he gestures to the box. “Would you like one?”
“That… might not be the best idea,” Tanner says, glancing at the inside of the lid.
Q must have missed it when he was admiring the cupcakes instead, but there’s a note scribbled in marker that says, for Q. The Q is underlined several times, making it less of a note and more of a threat.
“Ah.” Q sighs. “Never mind, then.”
By the end of the day, there are still several cupcakes left. Nobody else has dared to touch them, despite Q’s insistence that really, Bond is off on another mission and there is no possible way he’d be able to know.
On the upside, it means that Q is left with several more delicious cupcakes to himself as he works late, waiting for Bond to check in once he's landed in Auckland. There are upgrades he wants to make to the MI6 firewall; things he’s been planning ever since Silva managed to hack them. It’s a quiet night, so he figures that he might as well start implementing the changes now that he’s here.
He’s been working on it for an hour when Bond calls. “I’ve landed.”
“I can see that,” Q mutters, bringing up the window where he’s tracking the progress of Bond's flight. “A message would have been good enough.”
“It must be, what, half seven over there,” Bond tells him. “And you’re still working. I thought you’d appreciate the company.”
Q doesn’t hide his smile when Bond can’t see it anyway. “Right.”
“How are the cupcakes?” Bond asks. “Have you finished them yet?”
“Actually, no,” Q replies, reaching over to the box and picking up another one. He doesn’t bite into it just yet, but he can smell the earl grey. “Did I thank you for them?”
“Are you thanking me now?”
Q can just imagine Bond’s smug look. Shaking his head, he rests his finger on the end call button. “I’m getting back to work now, Bond. I suggest you do the same.”
He hangs up before Bond can reply. He takes a bite of his cupcake, and then nearly chokes on it when he hears footsteps behind him.
“Sir,” he greets, as he turns around to see M.
“Q.” M nods at him, helping himself to a cupcake. “Mm, not bad at all. Present from Bond?”
“Ah…” All of a sudden, Q feels incredibly self-conscious. “It’s not really…”
“I’ve noticed that you and 007 have an… interesting dynamic,” M says carefully. It should be odd seeing the head of MI6 eating a cupcake, but he manages to do it with the same precision that he does everything else. “Now, I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of stories about Bond. Just as I’m sure you’re clever enough to work out which ones are true.”
“Sir…?” Q asks with a light frown.
“What I’m saying,” M sighs, “is that you’d best be careful. I don’t presume to tell you what you can and cannot do in your personal life, but nobody wants you to end up hurt.”
Q nods uncertainly, and M leaves. Q reaches for another cupcake, and it only really hits him when he’s down to nothing but the wrapper. He realises why M is worried that Bond will hurt Q.
He realises, perhaps a little belatedly, that it’s a very real possibility.
Bond hasn’t seen Q for nearly a week, now. Of course, he’s been down to Q branch and spoken to him there, but it’s not nearly the same thing.
Every time he talks to Q lately, it feels like he’s being rushed out of the door. Q never actually asks Bond to leave, but nor does he seem to have nearly as much time for him now.
Bond knows when he isn’t welcome, but it isn’t that, exactly. He catches the way that Q’s eyes track him even from across the room, the way that Q is constantly aware of Bond, constantly paying attention.
It definitely doesn’t make Bond feel unwanted. He supposes that has to count for something. Still, it feels like far too long for Bond’s liking until he gets to talk to Q properly. It’s a rainy day and Bond is just about to duck out for a coffee, hoping that it will help keep him away during the countless briefings he’s being subjected to today. He has an umbrella in his hand and is about to walk out the door and open it up when he sees Q standing in the lobby, his shoulders sagging, looking tired. He barely even looks up when Bond walks up beside him.
With a sigh, Q says, “I’m trying to decide if I’m willing to get drenched for the sake of getting some strong coffee to keep me awake. Unfortunately, I don’t think I'm awake enough to make that kind of decision right now.”
“Forgotten your umbrella, have you?” Bond asks, holding up his own. “We’ll both go.”
For a moment, it looks like Q will protest. Bond fully expects him to come up with an excuse not to go.
Finally, Q sighs. “Alright.”
Bond’s umbrella is large enough to cover both of them, but Q is so tired that he’s barely able to keep himself upright. He shuffles along, to the point that Bond needs to slow down for him.
“If you’d told me you were this tired, I would’ve just gone and bought your coffee for you. Have you been working all night again?”
“No,” Q mumbles, shaking his head. “You do too much for me already.”
“Most people would take advantage of that all they could. I rarely do anything for anyone.”
“Well, then I suppose I’m not most people.”
“No,” Bond says softly. “You’re definitely not.”
Q looks up at Bond, staring at him inscrutably. Bond keeps walking, his pace still slow to match Q’s, and doesn’t say a word.
They’ve almost reached the cafe before Q finally speaks. “What are you doing?”
Holding the door open, Bond nods at the inside of the cafe, a silent hurry up so we can get out of the bloody rain. He doesn’t answer the question and they line up for their coffee without a word. The tables are all crowded and judging by the look in Q’s eyes, Bond doesn’t think he could be kept away from work even if he was physically restrained.
They’re on their way back to the office when Q looks at Bond, the steam from his cup mingling with the way his breath mists in the cold. “What are you doing?”
“I’m just trying to be nice,” Bond replies with a small shrug. They walk inside and Bond shakes his umbrella off, turning to find that Q is still standing there, watching him.
“You’re trying to be nice,” Q repeats, his voice a little flat. “Is that all?”
“Of course,” Bond says immediately, despite the way he wants to pause first.
“Right.” Something changes in Q’s eyes then, becoming more closed off. He turns away without another look at Bond. “I see.”
Bond is left in the lobby, his umbrella still dripping, feeling like he’s just given the wrong answer.
Q is not in the best of moods. It’s an especially cold day, and as he’s dressing to leave for work in the morning, his fingers immediately close around his favourite woollen hat, only to remember that it’s the one Bond had given him.
Q likes to think of himself as a practical person; he likes his hat because it’s soft, it’s warm, and it keeps his ears covered. He’s not going to stop wearing it entirely just because of Bond.
Today, however, feels a little too soon. It hurts a little too much, after yesterday, making him feel foolish. He puts the hat back down and then realising that he’s already running late, runs out into the cold with nothing to keep him warm except for his parka.
At least the inside of the MI6 building is at a comfortable temperature. Q makes himself a mug of tea, hoping that it will thaw him a little, but his mood doesn’t lift at all.
Tanner gives him a small, sympathetic smile and says nothing more than, “Bond’s off on another mission today. You’ll be supplying him with his gun and anything else that you deem useful. I’ve arranged for you to meet him out in the park at about one in the afternoon.”
“Right.” Q appreciates the fact that Tanner does not ask if he’ll be able to do it, because it’s his job. “I’ll make sure everything’s ready then.”
It’s no warmer in the afternoon, when Q is sitting on a park bench, waiting for Bond. His parka is thick, but nowhere near thick enough, and his fingers are freezing as he turns the pages of the book he’s reading.
“I hope you haven’t been waiting for long,” Bond says when he shows up, sitting down beside Q.
“No matter.” Q hands Bond the usual case with his gun inside, and then a smaller one. “Omega watch with a built-in disruptor to interrupt transmissions. Press the pin on the side to activate it, and it will last for three minutes. Good for getting past security.”
Q doesn’t look at Bond once while he speaks. He knows that Tanner had organised for them to meet outside of MI6 so there wouldn’t be other agents watching them. He’s thankful for it; he can feel Bond’s gaze on him and that’s difficult enough to deal with as it is.
“Q, about yesterday—”
“No need to bring it up. I understand,” Q interrupts. He really doesn’t need Bond telling him what a bad idea his feelings are. It’s all he’s been thinking about since yesterday. He gets to his feet. “I need to get back to work and you have a flight to catch.”
Bond stands as well, watching Q closely. Then, he unwraps the scarf from his neck.
“Bond—” Q protests, trying to push him away to no avail.
“There,” Bond says, satisfied once he’s wrapped his scarf around Q’s neck. “That’s better. You were shivering. Did you expect me not to notice?”
Q’s heart is pounding so loudly that he’s sure Bond can hear it. Still, when Bond gives him a small smile, Q briefly forgets about the pain, about the fact that this is such a monumentally bad idea that even M has tried to warn him off it.
“Take care of yourself,” Bond murmurs and walks away, leaving Q confused and conflicted.
He lifts his fingers to the black material of the scarf. It’s soft, and definitely warm.
And if he wears it for the rest of the day because of how it smells of Bond… well, at least he’s not in denial about it.
Bond doesn't realise he has anything to apologise for.
art by the most wonderful pie
Q is still wearing the scarf when Bond returns from his mission half a week later. Bond spots it as he’s walking into MI6—Q is taking his parka and his hat off, but he leaves the scarf on.
It makes Bond feel… strangely pleased, especially when Q brings a hand up to adjust the scarf, making sure that it won’t fall off.
It’s just a simple black scarf, so it goes with the rest of Q’s clothes easily. Q keeps it on throughout the day—he’s wearing it every time Bond catches a glimpse of him—and it makes Bond happier than it should. Q can keep it, he decides. It looks good on him and he certainly seems to like it.
The thought occurs to him after he sees Q flexing his fingers, then wrapping them around his mug of tea. Q doesn’t even look in Bond’s direction whenever they walk past each other. When Q thinks Bond isn’t looking, however, he keeps reaching up to touch the scarf. Bond doubts that he even realises he’s doing it, or he’d stop.
As soon as he’s let out from his mission debriefing, Bond goes shopping. He remembers the store he got his scarf from and when he walks in, he’s pleased to find that they still have the matching gloves.
He carries them back to work in the bag they came in, and it’s nothing big or eye-catching but when he bumps into Eve, she takes notice immediately.
“Ooh, what’s in the bag, then?”
Bond lets her inspect them, and is about to keep walking when Eve says, “They make me think of that scarf I’ve seen Q wearing.”
“Is that so.”
Eve smiles at him. “Are you trying to apologise?”
“Apologise?” Bond asks. “What for?”
Eve’s smile dims. “Oh. You really don’t know.”
“I’ve got work to do,” she says quickly, walking away. “I’m not the one you should be talking to.”
Bond growls in frustration when she’s gone, and then looks down at the bag in his hands with a sigh.
Q is working at his desk as usual, and he doesn’t look Bond’s way immediately. He doesn’t even pay attention until Bond clears his throat.
“What is it, 007?”
Q’s fingers still on the keyboard. “I wore it by accident today. I can return it, if that’s what—”
“No,” Bond shakes his head. “Keep it. Actually, I wanted to give you these.”
Q glances down at the gloves, then back up at Bond. “Oh, no. I can’t accept these.”
“Your hands are always cold in the mornings,” Bond says in a low voice, so that the other agents cannot overhear. “You’re always wrapping them around your mug, or flexing them to get the feeling back into them. I’m not giving these to you because I expect anything in return, Q. I’d just prefer that you looked after yourself.”
Q looks down at the gloves again. “Really.”
“I’ve said this already,” Bond tells him softly, “but I barely do anything for anyone if I can help it. In fact, I rarely even want to.”
Bond isn’t sure if that’s quite good enough but when he walks away, he’s certain that the look in Q’s eyes is a little less closed off.
The weather has gotten so cold that Q’s parka is no longer thick enough to keep him warm. He looks into his closet with a sigh, despairing at himself for throwing his old, ratty coat out last spring without bothering to buy a replacement.
He settles for a ridiculous number of layers instead, until his parka barely even fits from everything he’s wearing underneath. He has the hat, scarf and gloves that Bond gave him, and he no longer even hesitates before putting them on. They keep him warm and if they’re his favourites because they were given to him by Bond, then at least nobody else needs to know.
After about a week of Q coming into work bundled up in his several layers, he walks to his desk to find a bag sitting on top of it. There’s a note attached to it that simply reads, warmer.
Q glances around the room—nobody is even looking his way—and opens the bag, pulling out a thick charcoal coat. It looks wonderful and it feels soft. Q barely holds back his small chuckle of delight.
He wears it when he goes out to get lunch. It goes well with his hat, his scarf and his gloves. Q doubts that this is purely by chance.
He bumps into Bond when he’s nearly at his favourite café, to buy himself a quiche. Bond simply looks him up and down and hums in thought. “Nice coat.”
Q nods, not quite smiling. “Thank you.”
Bond seems to understand what Q really means. There aren’t many people around MI6 that are in the habit of gifting Q with various items.
He nods, hovering for a moment before clearing his throat. “Excuse me—”
“Bond,” Q says quietly, and Bond stops immediately. Touching the lapel of his new coat, Q looks up. “Rather expensive apology, if you ask me.”
“Well.” Bond shrugs. “I am sorry.”
He looks and sounds like he means it, too. Q wants to stop him again and ask him what he’s sorry for. Sorry for not even realising what Q was asking? Sorry for not feeling the same? Instead, he simply nods and walks into the café.
So he’ll have to live with presents because Bond doesn’t always put his thoughts into words. Because Bond doesn’t want him.
It’s probably going to be harder than it sounds, but Q can live with that. He will.
It’s late at night and most of MI6 is fairly empty. Bond himself isn’t overly fond of staying at work after hours, but it can’t be helped sometimes. He’s just walking out of a meeting with M, and Q branch isn’t exactly on his way, but he walks past anyway.
The light is on, and when Bond glances inside, he sees Q sitting at his desk. He’s typing away, the screen filled with countless lines of code that Bond has no hope of understanding. He has his mug beside him as always and sips from it occasionally before continuing on with his work.
Every single time Bond has seen Q recently, he’s been hard at work. When Bond walks closer now, he can tell that Q hasn’t been sleeping much. There are bags under his eyes again and enough stubble to say that he hasn’t shaved for days.
Q looks over his shoulder, blinking owlishly at Bond. “Oh, hello. What are you doing here?”
“What are you doing here?” Bond asks in reply. “Have you decided to take up residence in Q branch?”
“I have work to do.”
Bond raises an eyebrow. “It couldn’t wait a few hours so you could perhaps get a little sleep?”
Q simply repeats, “I have work to do.”
Bond stands there for a moment, just watching Q. Raising an eyebrow at Bond, Q shrugs and turns back to his screen.
Several minutes pass in silence—Q adds more lines of code to whatever he’s working on—and then Bond clears his throat.
“Lovely beard you’re growing, there.”
Q grimaces, scratching at it. “I have an electric razor for when I stay over here, but it broke.”
“You haven’t even taken a break to buy a replacement?”
“I could,” Q nods, “but it’s not really that important, is it? Sure, it’s a little irritating, but I can live with it. Besides, you never know. A beard might make me look a little older.”
“Right,” Bond decides, “you’re taking a break.”
“What?” Q protests as Bond tugs at his arm. “No, I still have work—”
“And you’ll do that work better if you take a break first,” Bond tells him. “Besides, you need a shave.”
“But I told you…” Q says, even as he lets Bond lead him out of the room and into the change room reserved for the 00 agents.
“I have a razor you can use,” Bond tells him. “Left it here in case I ever needed it and I haven’t yet.”
Q frowns when Bond goes through his locker and pulls out a straight razor. “I… use electric razors.”
“Well, I don’t have an electric razor on me, do I? This will have to do.”
Q looks at the razor, and then back to Bond. “I… don’t know how to use that.”
Bond sighs. “Of course you don’t. Sit down.”
He digs his can of shaving cream out of his locker and turns back to Q, who is sitting on one of the benches in the middle of the change room.
“You could keep your shirt on,” Bond says slowly, “but you might get shaving cream on it.”
“Oh,” Q’s voice is small as he looks down at himself, fingers balling into loose fists on his knees. “Right.”
Neither of them move for a moment, and Bond wants to kick himself for even suggesting this in the first place. He should know better. He does know better.
“We don’t have to do this,” Bond mutters quickly, turning back to his locker, putting the lid back on his shaving cream. “I’ll pop down to the convenience store and get you an electric razor—”
“No,” Q replies softly, “it's fine."
He looks up, holding Bond's gaze for a moment before looking away. He begins to undo the buttons on his cardigan, and Bond turns away, forcing himself not to watch.
“Are you sure about this?” Bond asks when he turns around again. Q is gangly under his clothes, barely anything more than skin and bones. He forces his gaze back up to Q’s face. “If you don’t want to…”
“It’s fine,” Q repeats, and takes a deep breath. Taking his glasses off, he folds them and puts them down beside him on the bench. Bond gives him a small nod before stepping closer.
Taking the shaving cream out of Bond’s hands, Q puts it on himself. Bond lets him, grabbing a fresh towel. He folds it, handing it to Q once he’s done with the cream.
“I don’t understand why you’re doing this,” Q says as he hangs the towel over his shoulder. He doesn’t look directly at Bond as he speaks.
“You’re working yourself into the ground,” Bond tells him. “I’m sure you see it, because it’s impossible not to. Nobody else stays back ridiculously late to work on something that can wait until tomorrow. I don’t see anybody else spending days on end just sitting at their desk and doing their work.”
Q looks up at Bond and shrugs. “Perhaps I just want to get my work done.”
“Or perhaps,” Bond replies, crouching in front of Q and pulling the razor open, “you feel like you have something to prove.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?”
“Hold still,” Bond says, kneeling into Q’s space and placing a hand on his shoulder, bringing the razor to Q’s cheek. “It means that you’re all too aware of the fact that you are the youngest member of Q branch and also its head. You’re confident in your skills, yes. You wouldn’t have come this far without them. You’re just not sure that everyone else is.”
“But I’m not.” Bond lifts the razor to Q’s other cheek. “You still feel as though you’ve something to prove, when that’s not the case at all. Everyone at Q branch knows how capable you are. Everyone at MI6 does—I doubt you are the youngest Quartermaster for absolutely no reason.”
This time, when Bond brings the blade away to wipe it, Q doesn’t speak immediately. He waits until the blade is clean, until Bond is looking at him again, and asks, “How do you know these things?”
“I watch,” Bond tells him simply. “I pay attention. Look up for me, now. Keep still.”
Bond can feel Q taking a deep breath, can feel how tense he is. Placing a hand on the side of Q’s neck, Bond uses his thumb to keep Q’s head tilted upwards as he runs the razor up, over his throat. The only sound in the room is that of the blade; they’re both holding their breath.
When Bond wipes the blade again, he doesn’t move his other hand from where it’s resting on Q’s neck. Q brings his head back down and all of a sudden, they’re much closer than they were before. This feels intimate and more than that, it feels easy, like this is something Bond could do.
Q turns his head in Bond’s direction, just for enough that they can feel their breath mingle, before quickly turning away.
“Are we done?” Q asks, his voice strained.
“Yes.” Bond grabs the towel, using the clean side to wipe the extra foam from Q’s face.
Q takes over, and Bond gets to his feet again, stepping away.
“That’s better, don’t you think?” Bond holds up the razor. “You never know when they’ll come in handy. I always make sure that I have one with me.”
“It’s that’s your way of asking me to make one that explodes…”
“Well.” Bond gives the razor a considering look. “I wouldn’t object…”
Q laughs then, and Bond is struck by the fact that this is the first time in a while that he’s seen Q laugh.
“I know better than to combine blades and explosives when you’re involved,” Q mutters, his smile still lingering.
It makes Bond want to do something stupid and impulsive. Instead, he picks Q’s shirt up and hands it to him. “Come on. I’ll drive you home. You need some rest.”
Q must realise how tired he is then, because he doesn’t argue. He grabs his things, shuts his computer down, and lets Bond lead the way to the car.
The drive home is quiet, except for Q giving Bond directions. Q leans back in his seat, his eyes shut, and Bond doesn’t bother him until he’s pulled up to the right place. It’s a block of flats and while it’s nothing too big, it’s definitely not small.
Q is asleep in the passenger seat. Bond reaches over to shake his shoulder gently. When that doesn’t work, he shakes Q’s shoulder a little harder.
“What time is it?” Q gasps as he wakes.
“Doesn’t matter. We’re at your place, and you’re going to get some sleep.”
Q blinks at Bond as though he’s trying to remember how he got here. He lifts a hand to his clean-shaven jaw, and then nods. “Right. Sorry for falling asleep.”
Bond gets out of the car and goes around to the other side, helping Q out.
“What are you doing?” Q asks as Bond walks him into the block of flats.
“You’re tired. I’m just making sure that you get inside without falling over.”
“That’s not what I meant,” Q tells him, stopping in front of the door to his flat. “What are you doing, Bond?”
And this time, Bond does know what Q is really asking. He knows that he needs to pick his words carefully.
“What do you want this to be, Q?”
Q looks away, shaking his head. “This isn’t about what I want—”
“Yes it is,” Bond interrupts. He takes a step into Q’s space, watching him closely. “This is entirely about you, Q. I’m not doing this—any of this—just because I feel like it.”
“Then why are you doing it?”
“Because it makes you happy,” Bond admits, turning away from Q, sliding his hands into his pockets. “And that’s what I want to do.”
“Bond…” Q says softly.
“You need sleep,” Bond tells him, looking over his shoulder. “We’ll talk later.”
“I’m holding you to that,” Q calls after him.
Bond gives Q a lazy salute as he heads back down the stairs to the street. “Get some rest.”
This time, as Bond drives away, he feels like he’s given the right answer.
What's in your hand? It's an oyster with two tickets to that thing you love.
Q waits to see Bond at work the next day with equal measures of dread and excitement. He’s not quite sure what to expect—he’s still not entirely certain that he knows exactly what it is that Bond wants—but he is comforted by the knowledge that he will find out soon enough.
He’s still in at work at his usual time despite how late he’d slept—he doesn’t like breaking his habits when he can help it— and he busies himself with work so that it doesn’t feel like he’s just waiting.
Bond finally wanders in sometime in the late morning. Q is utterly unsurprised that Bond is late; Bond looks equally unsurprised that Q is already there.
They nod at each other from across the room, and Q tries to bite back his smile. He notices the way Bond’s lips twitch, and he has to turn away before he ends up grinning.
Bond takes his time walking across the room until he’s standing right beside Q. With the way his heart is thudding in his chest, Q feels like a schoolboy with a terrible crush.
“Mm,” Bond rumbles approvingly, looking at Q. “You look much better now that you’ve gotten some sleep.”
Q looks up with a small smile, ready to reply, when an alarm goes off on his computer.
“Shit,” Q mutters, immediately turning his attention to his screen.
“What is it?” Bond’s tone is serious as he turns to the screen as well.
“That terrorist cell that we thought we’d shut down some time ago,” Q says as he traces the signal that his computer’s picked up on.
“We thought we’d shut down?” Bond repeats.
“Well, we had our suspicions,” Q explains with a frown. “Perhaps we’d only caught some, and the others were lying low and waiting for the coast to clear.”
“And now they’re back.”
“Oh good, 007, you’re already here,” M says as he walks into the room. “I trust that Q’s bringing you up to speed.”
“You suspected that we weren’t quite done,” Bond mutters, “and you didn’t mention it?”
“No point in sending you out there if it was an incorrect hunch,” Q tells him. “They’re rebuilding their server. They’ve moved—tracking their location now. I’ll have it in two hours, tops.”
“Well, then.” M looks between Q and Bond. “You have that time to prepare Bond for the mission.”
Q waits until M has left before placing his hands on his desk and sighing, letting his shoulders slump. “It had to be now, of all times.”
“It’s alright,” Bond murmurs. “It’s just one mission.”
“You’ll be gone for days.” Q hopes that he doesn’t sound like he’s complaining. “This time, we need to make sure that we’ve rooted every single member of the organisation out of wherever they’re hiding. Preferably before they realise what’s going on.”
“Give me a week,” Bond promises.
Q huffs quietly. “There’s a show playing at the National Theatre in a week.”
Bond hums in thought. “Is that so.”
“Much Ado About Nothing,” Q tilts his head, glancing at Bond.
“Shakespeare,” Bond says. “Of course.”
“Always did appreciate the wit,” Q says, before turning his attention back to his computer. He brings up all the information he’s gathered so far, “Well, if you’re to come back in a week, we’d better get you ready to leave.”
Three hours and fifteen minutes later, Bond is on a flight to Puerto Rico. Q takes the time to sit down and have a proper, relaxing lunch break while he waits for the flight to touch down, because he has a feeling that it will be the last one he’ll have in a while.
When he returns to his desk, he finds a small envelope tucked under his keyboard. He opens it, laughing quietly when he sees the two theatre tickets inside. There’s a note tucked in alongside the tickets and Q unfolds it.
See you in a week, then.
Bond doesn’t particularly like it when he’s somewhere, just waiting for his job to begin. He hates it more than ever, with Q hours away, reduced to nothing more than a voice over a communication link. They need to talk, but not like this. Not when they can’t even see each other, when anybody could overhear.
Bond busies himself by getting familiar with his surroundings. He blends in with the holiday-makers. He walks around with a tourist map and memorises every street, every alleyway, his mirrored sunglasses hiding the way he glances around to memorise the corresponding buildings, their rooftops, anything and everything that might be of use.
There’s a four hour difference between him and London. It's just barely past noon for him, but it's already the late afternoon at MI6. He pictures Q sitting at his desk, monitoring the area, looking out for even the smallest sign that their targets are on the move. They have no reason to be on guard just yet; Q has made sure that they can't even tell that they're being tracked and they might have gotten past Bond the first time, but he knows that they're nowhere near clever enough to outsmart Q. After all, they hadn't even managed that when they tried.
Bond's been on enough missions like this to know that it's not going to pick up for a while. He also knows that when it does, he's not going to have a moment to spare. He knows that he'd better savour the time he has now to relax, and so he does. Once he's done getting the lay of the land, he relaxes by the pool of his hotel, martini in hand. He dozes in the sun, waiting until it's about two o'clock—six in London—and his phone starts ringing.
"I'm sure the earpiece you gave me works just fine if you wanted to speak to me," Bond greets as he answers the blocked number.
"There's a box on my desk," Q tells him, somehow managing to make it sound accusing.
"It's just a box," Bond murmurs. "You're a big boy."
"Bond," Q says, a little exasperated. "A bottle of cologne. Really?"
"I thought it would suit you," Bond replies. It's a earthy scent, like wood, like rain, with a faint note of citrus.
He can hear Q unwrapping the plastic around the box, and then opening it. Bond listens to the small clink of glass as Q opens the lid.
"Oh," Q says, very quietly.
"Told you." Bond smiles to himself.
"Well, thank you." Q hesitates. "Though I don't see the point in you giving me cologne when you're over there."
"Just wear it," Bond tells him.
"I'll talk to you when things get interesting," Bond says before hanging up.
He puts the phone down on the table beside him, and takes a deep breath. The cologne he put on hours ago still lingers; earthy, like wood, like rain, with a faint note of citrus.
It makes him think of Q.
“Ooh,” Eve says when she sees Q the next morning, “nice cologne. Is it new?”
“It is, actually.” Q likes the smell of it, and he likes the thought of Bond picking it out especially for him.
“Did you buy it yourself?” Eve asks, but her eyebrows are arched in a way that makes Q suspect that she knows the answer to that already.
“Actually, it was a present.” He doesn’t really feel that he needs to elaborate.
“Well then,” Eve smiles at him, “whoever it is that gave it to you, they certainly have good taste.”
The corners of Q’s lips twitch into a smile. Eve isn’t trying to be subtle at all. “Well, I should hope so.”
“How are things with Bond?” she asks, lowering her voice and stepping to the side, closer to the wall, where they’re less likely to be overheard.
“I… don’t know,” Q says honestly with a small shrug. He watches the other people walking past instead of looking at Eve. “I don’t suppose he would be doing all this just for the hell of it. Especially when he’s bothering while he’s on a mission, in a different country.”
“Well, from how it looks to me…” Eve tells him, “it really does seem like he cares.”
Q smiles a little at that. “He’d better.”
Eve pats Q’s arm. “Don’t you worry. He’ll be back soon enough, and then you’ll be able to sort everything out.”
Q nods, turning to leave. “Well. Have a good day, Miss Moneypenny.”
As much as Q tries to focus on his work, he can’t help the way that his mind wanders. He’s distracted all through the morning; every idle moment he has brings his thoughts back to Bond, back to whatever strange game it is that they’re playing.
Truth be told, Q doesn’t know what he wants from Bond. He doesn’t know what he can expect, what he can ask for. He tries to picture himself in an actual relationship with Bond, tries to imagine both of them sharing their lives. He thinks of his previous relationships, and of Bond going on dates with him, lying around the apartment with him. It’s difficult, but he supposes that even 00 agents must have lives outside of work.
He catches a glimpse of the theatre tickets that he keeps in the drawer of his desk, and his mood improves. Perhaps they can do this. Perhaps they’ll work out after all.
They’ll figure it out.
Waiting for the action to begin on a big mission is not fun at all. Q supposes that it could be worse; it probably is for Bond, who doesn’t even have other work to keep him occupied.
When Q goes on his lunch break, he makes sure that at least three other agents are watching for any signs of activity in Puerto Rico, under strict instructions to call him if anything happens.
His phone rings on his way back to the office, and it’s Bond.
“Eight letter word. A disturbed state of mind. Something E, something something R, something, U, M.”
“Delirium,” Q says immediately. “Bond, what are you doing?”
“It’s a quiet morning,” Bond murmurs. “Just had my morning swim. The weather’s not too bad.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Q replies. “I’ve never been.”
“Is it true that you’re afraid of flying?” Bond asks.
“No, of course not. There’s little point in getting into our line of work with a fear of flying. I told Eve to tell you that I had better things to do with my time.”
Q huffs out a small laugh. “You’ll live.”
“How has your morning been?”
“Slow.” Q wets his lips, glancing around and then lowering his voice, “Bond, is there a reason that you’re calling?”
“I’m asking about your day, aren’t I?”
“Are you really…” Q cuts himself off and sighs quietly. “Well. I suppose you are.”
“Are you on your lunch break now?”
“Just heading back into the office.”
“Oh good, you can do me a favour, then.”
Q frowns slightly, signing in and heading back to Q branch. “What kind of favour?”
“On your desk…” Bond murmurs, and that’s all he needs to say. There’s another box sitting neatly beside Q’s keyboard.
“Bond,” Q admonishes gently.
Q picks it up, aware that there must be other agents watching him. There’s a tie inside, made of silk in a beautiful shade of green, so dark that it almost looks black. There’s a subtle stripe through it in a lighter green, and Q traces it with his thumb.
“I’ll take your silence to mean that you like it,” Bond says.
“How did you even manage this?” is all Q replies with.
“Ah, but telling you would ruin it, wouldn’t it?”
Feeling the tips of his ears turning red, Q mutters, “Well, I’m not changing ties in the middle of the day.”
Bond laughs. “No, of course not.”
“I need to get back to work,” Q says and hangs up, but not without a quick, “Thank you.”
He puts his phone away and gives the tie a considering look. Before he can talk himself out of it, Q picks it up and goes to the change rooms. He unknots the tie he’s wearing, and puts the new one on instead.
If he can’t stop smiling at his reflection, then at least there’s no one else to see.
Bond has a plan. Eve has input.
How amazing is pie? I totally don't deserve her. She's so great. ♥
“You’ll be pleased to know,” Eve says over the phone, and all the distance in the world wouldn’t be able to muffle the delight in her tone, “Q loved the tie. He must have put it on right away, because he was wearing it when I saw him in the afternoon.”
Bond hums in amusement. “Is that right. He specifically told me that he wasn’t going to wear it.”
“Well, of course he would.”
“Of course,” Bond repeats dryly.
“So, what's next?” Eve asks, her voice cheerfully curious. He can hear her typing away on her computer and wonders, briefly, about what another pair of hands on another keyboard might be doing. Designing something that won’t explode, most likely.
“You’ve got the next box in your desk drawer,” Bond tells her. “Why are you asking me?”
“I swear, Bond, you can’t even be bothered sitting down after a mission for a proper debriefing and yet you can manage to plan seven days worth of gifts in an hour. You’re serious about him, aren’t you?”
“Just open the box,” Bond mutters.
He can hear the sound of her desk drawer being pulled open and he leans back in his chair and waits. Before he’d left, he’d marked each box with a post-it note from Eve’s desk, letting her know which order they were meant to be given in.
“A tie-clip.” Eve’s voice is a little flat.
“What about it?”
“Well, no, I just mean…” Eve sighs. “It’s a bit of a let-down, isn’t it?”
“What do you think I should give him? A bloody box of chocolates?” Bond huffs. “The tie-clip has a diamond in it.”
Eve hums, not sounding the least bit convinced. “Honestly, I think Q would appreciate the chocolates more.”
“Oh, by all means, then. Give him a box of chocolates.”
“No need to get offended,” Eve mutters. “Honestly, you’re like a child.”
“Just…” Bond rubs his eyes and sighs. It’s ridiculously early in the morning in Puerto Rico but he’s woken up just to talk to Eve and make sure that his plan for Q is running smoothly. His sleep schedule is somewhere in between. “Just give him the chocolates along with the tie-clip, if you think he’ll like that better. That’s what matters.”
“Listen to yourself!” Eve laughs.
“Oh, shut up,” Bond grumbles. “I trust that you know what kind of chocolate Q likes?”
“We work in intelligence Bond, of course I do. Do you?”
Q’s favourite chocolates are coffee pralines that he sometimes buys himself from a boutique not too far from the MI6 building. “I have absolutely no idea.”
Eve tuts. “I can’t even tell if you’re lying.”
“Just let me know how much I owe you for the chocolates when you buy them,” Bond tells her, and hangs up.
He goes back to sleep for another hour before dragging himself out of bed and going for a swim. He’s in much better shape now than he was when he’d first returned to MI6, but he hasn’t stopped pushing himself and when he finally emerges from the pool, he’s too tired to do anything but sit by the edge of the pool, drink in hand.
Of course, Q picks this time to call. He’s probably back from lunch, which means he must have found today’s presents.
“What, no flowers?”
“Couldn’t decide which kind to get you,” Bond replies with a smile.
“Sunflowers,” Q tells him. “For future reference. How did you know about the coffee pralines?”
Bond hums. “I pay attention.”
“I wish I could say the same of you when I’m telling you about your missions,” Q mutters, “or for that matter, when I tell you to bring things back in one piece.”
“I’m sorry, were you saying something?”
“Funny.” Q lowers his voice and adds, “I like the tie-clip as well. Funny, it has a tiny diamond in it the same place as yours has a camera.”
“What an amazing coincidence,” Bond lies.
“I’m sure,” Q murmurs. “Sit tight, Bond. You should have work to do soon.”
“I look forward to it,” Bond says, and what he means is, I look forward to coming home.
When Q gets dressed the next morning, he spends a long time looking at the tie-clip, sitting in its box, on his bedside table. It’s elegant, and really not the type of thing he would wear to work. He briefly considers it anyway.
Shutting the box with a small smile, Q decides to save it for later. For when Bond returns. Perhaps for when they go to the theatre. He tries not to think of it as a datebecause that only makes him feel embarrassed and excited, until he doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. It’s been so long since he’s had feelings for someone that he’d forgotten this particular downfall. Then his gaze falls on the box of chocolates, and Q is smiling to himself again. With a glance at the clock, he hurries to get ready so that he doesn’t miss his train.
Eve has an air of amusement about her when Q sees her at work. She may as well be chanting, I know something you don’t, and if Q didn’t already suspect her of being involved in whatever’s going on, he would now.
He nods in greeting as they both walk to the kitchen to make their tea. She leans against the bench, her arms folded and a smile on her lips as they wait for the kettle to boil.
“Lovely day, isn’t it?”
Q raises an eyebrow. “I suppose. With any luck, we’ll actually get somewhere with his mission in Puerto Rico. I’m getting rather impatient.”
“Don’t you worry. Bond will be back before you know it.”
“That’s not what I meant at all,” Q tells her, shaking his head.
The look Eve gives him clearly says that she doesn’t believe him.
Not more than an hour later, Q learns to be careful about what he wishes for. It’s six o’clock in Puerto Rico when he notices that the group he’s been keeping an eye on is mobilising. They’ve either realised that they’re being watched, or they’re just moving their base of operations to make themselves harder to find. Either way, Q will be damned if he lets them out of his sight.
“Keep tracking them,” he demands, putting all the information he has up on the big screen at the front of the room. “If they’re moving elsewhere, I want to know where, and how. Meanwhile, let’s hope 007 is awake. For his own good.”
When Q calls, it takes Bond three rings to answer and anything he has to say is cut off by Q saying, “We need you on the move. Now.”
“Right. Give us a minute. I was just in the pool—”
“Get dry, get dressed and get going, Bond.”
“Alright,” Bond mutters, “hold on. It’s not the end of the bloody world.”
“If we lose these targets,” Q replies, “you’ll wish it was.”
“Mm, you sound good when you’re making threats.”
“Alright, alright. I’m getting dressed now. Where do you want me?”
“Our priority right now is stopping them, not bringing them in. That’s an order from M.”
“That said,” Bond replies, “I’m sure it would be a good idea to question at least one of them. Make sure that we having missed another few members this time.”
“The trigger’s in your hand, Bond. Pull it or don’t, as you see fit. I trust your judgment.”
Q bites back a smile. “You heard me. Are you ready yet?”
“On my way to their base as we speak,” Bond replies.
Q doesn’t need to tell Bond to be careful. “I’ll hack the street cameras and keep an eye out for you.”
“You say the sweetest things,” Bond tells him, before hanging up.
“Sir, they’re going to leave their base soon,” another agent reports. “There might not be any point in sending Bond there.”
Q swears under his breath. “We’ll have to slow them down, then.”
The security system for the hotel the cyber-terrorists are staying in is easy enough for Q to hack. There’s a thin line between causing enough of a nuisance to slow their targets down, and tipping them off. Q disables the lifts, then turns his communication link on.
“I’ve shut the lifts down to buy you some time. They’ll have to take the stairs.”
“Five against one in a cramped stairwell. I don’t like those odds.”
“Neither do I,” Q says, humming in thought. “Tell you what. I’ll lock the doors to the stairwells too. Keeps the public out, and I’ll let them in one by one.”
“Like lambs being led to the slaughter.”
Q shrugs. “If you like. See if you can recover their computers. If you can’t bring anyone in for questioning, at least we can have a look through their hard drives for information. Doors are locked now. Do you have your tracking signal on you?”
Bond hums in the affirmative.
“Activate it. I’ll unlock doors as you get to them. Try not to kill everyone.”
Q doesn’t quite get to watch Bond in action, but he certainly hears it. His ears are ringing with the rat-tat-tat of gunfire from the intercom on his desk and all he can do is keep the hotel security system hacked and keep the doors locked.
“Q,” Bond finally says, “that’s four dead and one unconscious. Two laptops as well.”
“Bring them in,” Q tells him. “There’s a pick up ready for you. Sending you the coordinates now.”
“Got it.” Bond pauses for a moment and adds, “See you in a few hours.”
Q can’t help his smile at that. “I suppose so.”
When Bond is finally on a plane, heading back to London, Q allows himself a break. He makes another mug of tea and sits down in the break room to drink it.
He really should have known that there would be a box waiting for him on his desk when he returns. It’s the sunflower that startles a laugh out of him.
He opens the box, marvelling at the cufflinks inside. They match the tie-clip from yesterday; smooth, flat circles with one tiny diamond each. He imagines wearing them together, sitting beside Bond in the National Theatre… then shakes his head, telling himself he’s being ridiculous. He’ll think about it when the time actually comes.
Of course, when Bond finally lands in London and returns to MI6, Q finds out that he’s been shot.
It’s a flesh wound, really. A bullet that grazed the side of his arm. It doesn’t make Q’s heart stop pounding as he walks down to the infirmary.
“You’re an idiot,” Q tells him.
“Well, it’s good to see you too.” Bond nods at the bandage around his arm. “I’ll be fine in a couple of days.”
“You should have said something.”
Bond sighs. “And what do you think you could have done? Panic and suspect that I’m understating things until I get back and you see that it really is minor? I’ve had worse. Just ask Eve.”
Q shakes his head, sitting down in the chair opposite Bond. “I should have known this would happen. That you would get yourself hurt and that I would get worries even though I should know better.”
“It’s a fact, in our line of work,” Bond tells him gently. “You’re as safe as I am. Remember what happened to your predecessor.”
Q nods, and they both sit in silence for a long moment until Bond clears his throat. “If you don’t want this any more…”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Q cuts him off. “It takes far worse to scare me off. Though my only complaint is that while I thought the cufflinks were lovely, I don’t have any shirts with french sleeves.”
Bond raises an eyebrow. “Really.”
“I did appreciate the sunflower, though.” Q gets to his feet and reaches for Bond, gently running his thumb over the bare skin just below his bandage. “Get yourself nice and healed quickly, won’t you? Shouldn’t be much for you to do over the next few days, anyway.”
Bond looks up. “What, no kiss?”
“You got yourself shot,” Q says. “Not exactly behaviour I want to be reinforcing now, is it?”
Bond shakes his head. “I should have known you would be insufferable.”
“Better me than you,” Q smiles and turns to leave. “But for the record, it is good to have you back in more or less one piece.”
Of course, now that Bond is back, Q doesn’t have the time for him. Everyone in Q branch is preoccupied, going through the laptops that were recovered, and Q is working twice as hard as anyone else, making sure that the security protocols are all in place, so that they can access the hard drives without also providing access to their own systems.
Bond leaves him to it, knowing better than to interrupt. He goes to see Eve instead, to get the remaining presents back from her now that he can give them to Q himself.
“Is Q not paying enough attention to you?” Eve asks when he walks into her office. She makes a sympathetic sound that tells Bond that she's probably laughing at him on the inside. "Don't you worry, he'll crack those hard drives, or M will get the answers he wants down in the interrogation room. Then you can bother him as much as you like."
"Yes, bothering, that's exactly what I'm going for."
"Oh, you know what I mean," Eve tells him, pulling her desk drawer open and taking the two remaining presents out. She looks at the package marked for today with a small frown. "What is this?"
"It's a shirt," Bond says, picking it up. It's still in its packaging; an elegant black box with black tissue wrapped around the shirt itself. "With French cuffs. For his cufflinks."
"Ooh, first the tie, then the tie-clip, then cufflinks and now this? I see a theme here."
"Well, if Q wants to wear everything at once when I take him out, I certainly won't be complaining," Bond murmurs.
"You know there's only ever one reason to give clothes to someone you're attracted to," Eve points out.
Truth be told, Bond has thought about that a lot. He likes to imagine himself undressing Q, every item of clothing already familiar to him. It's a pleasant thought; especially before and after missions, when he has little else to keep him occupied.
Humming non-committally, Bond says, "Well, my main concern now is getting this shirt to him. Difficult to do when he doesn't seem to have time."
"At least you know that you're best off leaving him to his work," Eve smiles. "I'm sure he'll be done soon enough."
In actual fact, Bond ends up hanging around at MI6 until late at night. He busies himself, meeting with M, actually sitting down for his mission debriefings, until the last few agents of Q branch are finally gone, their work finally being done.
"You know, when I was joking about you taking up residence here, I really was joking."
"Oh, Bond. You're still here."
Walking into the room, Bond places the box down on Q's desk. "Thought I'd wait til you had time for me."
"This really isn't necessary…" Q begins, but Bond simply pushes the box towards him.
"Like I said," Bond murmurs, "I'm not expecting anything in return. I'm giving these things to you, because I want to."
Q's gaze drops to the box and he looks back up to Bond before opening it. He pulls the shirt out of the box and laughs quietly. "French cuffs. Why am I not surprised?"
Bond had known, from the moment he’d seen the shirt, that it would look good on Q. Now that he’s holding it up, the deep red contrasting against his pale skin, Bond knows for certain that he’s made the right choice.
"Well, you can put those cufflinks to good use now, can’t you?"
"Yes," Q replies, putting the shirt back in the box. He steps closer to Bond. "Thank you. For waiting until I was done with my work. For hanging around."
With a small hum, Bond pulls Q even closer. "I'd say it was worth it."
Q's hands settle on Bond's shoulders and he smiles. "Is that so?"
Bond leans in, until their noses are brushing. "Mmhmm."
Q kisses him then, a chaste press of lips against lips. In reply, Bond tightens his grip on Q and kisses him harder. They stand there for a moment, knowing that nobody else is around to disturb them, and just hold onto each other and kiss.
"How's the arm?" Q asks when they pull apart.
"Fine," Bond replies.
"I'll live. You don't have to worry."
"I never said that I was," Q grins.
"Cheeky little bugger, aren't you?" Bond asks, pulling him into another kiss.
"Mm, I still have some work to do," Q murmurs. "I'd better get back to it if I ever want to leave here. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Tomorrow," Bond replies, like it's a promise.
He can feel Q's gaze on him as he walks out of Q branch. Bond waits until he's out of sight before smiling to himself.
He doesn’t ask, he doesn’t hesitate, he just makes plans. Q likes that.
credit for the gorgeous art goes to the equally gorgeous pie
Q honestly does try his hardest to keep his thoughts from wandering to Bond while he is at work the next day. He is, above all else, a professional, and he knows that he's yet to stop feeling as though he needs to prove himself as Quartermaster.
For the most part, he manages it. There's always enough work to be done that he can keep himself busy. He doesn't see Bond at all during the day, and it's not that Q is waiting for him; he's just secure in the knowledge that they'll see each other before the end of the day. He can hardly be blamed for looking forward to it.
They see each other during lunch, and walk to Q's favourite cafe together. Bond doesn't comment on the fact that Q is wearing that hat, scarf, coat and gloves he'd been given. Q sees the slight curve to his lips, though, and that says enough.
"Busy day?" Bond asks, once they're sitting down.
Q shrugs. "There's always work that needs to be done. Never a dull moment."
Bond hums in agreement at that, and he must notice the way Q's gaze goes to his arm, because he says, "It doesn't hurt at all."
"Well, that's good to hear." Q smiles. “Wouldn’t want you falling apart on me, now.”
“Give me some credit,” Bond mutters, “I’ve made it this far just fine.”
Q simply goes back to his food, his smile not quite fading. Bond watches him for a moment before saying, “I’ll come down to Q branch after hours.”
He doesn’t ask, he doesn’t hesitate, he just makes plans. Q likes that. “I’ll be there.”
They walk back to the office together when they’re done, and this is another thing that Q likes. They’re being casual about it, not making a big deal about spending time together. He’d been afraid that this would become awkward and uncomfortable, but it’s not. He can’t deny that things have changed, it’s clear every single time they look at each other. They’re just taking it in stride, and Q appreciates it.
They part ways with little more than an exchanged glance and the promise of seeing each other later. When Q returns to his desk, he’s in an incredibly good mood.
It only improves as it grows later, as more agents leave for home, until it’s just Q left doing his work. He turns when he hears the telltale footsteps, and smiles when he sees Bond walking in, carrying a small box in his hand.
“Really.” Bond hands the box to Q, kissing him in greeting.
“When are you going to stop?” Q asks, putting the box down on his desk.
“Yes,” Q mutters, shaking his head. “You’re going to give me a complex. You can stop once we see the play. This is more than enough.”
“I know that.” Q smiles. It’s one of the things he’s barely been able to stop thinking of all day.
“But you’ll do it anyway,” Q murmurs, turning around and giving Bond a deep kiss. “Won’t you?”
“Mm, if you’re going to kiss me like that…”
Q picks the box up, raising an eyebrow as he opens it. “An Omega watch, Bond? You know I already have one. We all have one of these.”
Q raises his other eyebrow. “…Please don’t tell me it explodes.”
“I don’t even know anybody who would make something that explodes. Other than you.”
“I’ve already made it clear that I’m not making anything explode for you,” Q says. “No matter how nicely you ask.”
“That sounds like a challenge,” Bond murmurs.
“It’s really not,” Q replies, taking the watch out of its box for a better look. He turns it over and what he sees makes his breath hitch. He brings the watch even closer to make sure he’s not imagining things. “Bond…?”
“Do you like it?”
On the back of the watch, there’s an engraving. It’s a tiny picture of a mug, with a Q10 on it. He looks up at Bond, not knowing what to say.
“I know that mug means a lot to you, even if I don’t know why,” Bond says quietly, “and I’m not asking you to explain it to me. I just thought that you could have it with you, just in case there’s ever another accident—”
Q cuts him off with a kiss, one hand holding onto Bond’s tie, the other one still holding onto the watch. He pulls away for just long enough to put the watch down, and then takes Bond’s face into his hands, kissing him even harder.
Bond wraps his arms around Q’s waist, kissing him in return. Q’s fingers slide into Bond’s hair, tugging gently. Bond’s grip tightens on Q, drawing him even closer until they’re chest to chest.
It would be far too easy to get carried away, but they’re still at work. Q breaks away, giving Bond an apologetic smile. “Perhaps not here.”
Bond sighs. “Right.”
Q is frustrated that they have to stop and he sees it reflected in Bond’s eyes as well. With a sigh, Q adjusts Bond’s tie so it sits neatly again, giving him an excuse to look away when he says, “We both have the day off tomorrow. You could come to my place a little earlier before the show, if you’d like. I’ll make us something to eat before we head off.”
“I’d like that.”
Q takes his watch off, putting the new one on instead. Pressing another brief kiss to Bond’s lips, he smiles. “Thank you. I’ll see you tomorrow? The play’s at half seven, so we should have plenty of time if you come over at five. You remember where it is, don’t you?”
“‘Course I do,” Bond murmurs. “I’ll see you then.”
Q waits for Bond to leave the room before leaning back against his desk. He isn’t weak at the knees, but it’s a close thing.
Bond uses his day off to sleep in, waking up sometime around noon. He lies in bed for a moment, just relaxing. He knows that by now, the courier must have dropped off the package, direct to Q’s door, containing his very last present.
When he gets up and checks his phone, there’s a message that reads, A suit?
He sends a message back; You’ll look wonderful in it.
Q texts back almost immediately. A three-piece suit.
Bond smiles at his phone and doesn’t reply. Tempting as it is to stay in bed and text back and forth with Q, he knows that it will only make the day seem longer. He’s looking forward to five o’clock; to seeing Q in the suit he’d picked out; to spending time with him, somewhere that isn’t work. The only things he knows about Q are the things he’s picked up by observation, and all of that has been in the context of work. Bond is curious to see if he’ll be any different now, if he’ll reveal even more about himself.
He goes and makes himself a cup of coffee, settling down with a book that’s been gathering dust on his bedside table for weeks. It’s not often that he gets a slow morning to himself and if he’s being honest with himself, he doesn’t mind how he spends the day, because it’s the night that he’s looking forward to.
He’s about halfway through the book when it’s time for him to get ready. He puts a bookmark in it and leaves it on his bedside table again, going to his closet to pick out a suit. He decides on a simple black suit, paired with a light grey shirt and a dark grey, striped tie.
When Q opens the door of his flat for Bond, he’s still half-dressed. He isn’t wearing his glasses, but he has his shirt on, tucked into his pants of his new suit, with the waistcoat still unbuttoned. Bond catches a glimpse of Q’s suspenders, and is torn between letting him finish getting dressed, and just dishevelling him further. Kissing him hello, Bond smiles when he notices an errant curl or two still defiantly sticking up, even though Q’s brushed his hair neatly out of the way.
“Food’s done, just let me finish getting ready and we’ll eat,” Q says, walking further into the flat. “Make yourself comfortable.”
Q’s flat is fairly simple, even though Bond can tell that all the furniture is expensive. The sofa is comfortable when he sits in it, leaning back and looking at the books in the cabinet beside him.
“Bond,” Q calls after a moment. “I want to wear this tie-clip you’ve given me, but if I’m wearing a vest…”
“Well, you’ll just have to do your tie properly then, won’t you?” Bond asks, walking into Q’s bedroom, where he’s standing in front of the mirror. He raises an eyebrow when he notices the silver glint of Q’s glasses. “Different pair?”
“These are my fancy ones,” Q tells him with a small, pleased smile that makes Bond want to kiss him senseless. Turning back to the mirror, Q puts the tie-clip back into its box and starts undoing his tie.
“You know what,” Bond speaks up, stepping closer. “Allow me.”
Q turns, leaving the tie hanging around his neck. He watches Bond gather both ends, looping them neatly. Bond looks up at him as he tightens the knot, until it settles at the base of Q’s throat.
“There you are,” Bond murmurs with a small smile that Q returns. He moves his hands down to Q’s waistcoat, waiting for him to nod before buttoning it up. He takes his time, watching the way Q’s lips part and, the way his pupils dilate. If he enjoys being dressed this much, Bond can’t help but wonder how much he’ll enjoy being undressed.
Q swallows hard, blinking as he turns away, going to get his jacket off the hanger. Bond watches him, wondering what he’s thinking, wishing he could pick apart Q’s mind and learn exactly what he wants, down to the very last detail.
“I told you that you’d look wonderful,” he says softly.
Q ducks his head, and Bond can’t keep himself from crossing the room, pushing Q up against the wall and kissing him hard. Q kisses him back, arms wrapped around Bond’s shoulders, and they aren’t at work this time. Bond presses closer, pushing his knee between Q’s, savouring the way Q gasps sharply, right into his mouth.
Their tongues slide against each other, hot and wet. They rock their hips against each other, slow and tentative at first, then picking up their pace. Q lets out a quiet moan, placing his hand against Bond's chest.
"You'll make me ruin these pants," Q whispers with a sheepish smile. "Besides, we need to eat soon, or we'll be late for the play."
"Doesn't matter if we're a little late, now…" Bond begins, but trails off when Q raises his eyebrows.
"Bond, I don't even want to know what kind of strings you had to pull to get these tickets at such late notice—especially when they're such good tickets—but we're certainly not letting them go to waste."
With a sigh, Bond presses one last kiss to Q's lips. "I suppose you're right."
Dinner is delicious; Q's prepared pasta with thick, creamy sauce and they have it with wine. Bond makes sure to compliment Q on it, particularly for the way Q ducks his head and smiles in response.
Once they're done with their food, they get ready to leave. Bond helps Q into his coat, and then Q smiles and does the same for him in return. They take the train together, and Bond can't stop watching Q, who is clearly excited about this.
"Your favourite Shakespeare play, hm?"
"Absolutely." Q smiles. "As I said before, it's sharp and witty, and I've always had an appreciation for that."
"Yes, well I can't say I'm particularly surprised about that," Bond murmurs.
The theatre, once they get there, is completely full. Q looks around in wonder, taking their tickets out and presenting them, following the usher to their seats.
"I knew these were good tickets," Q whispers, "but who did you have to kill?"
Bond chuckles, "It's best you don't know."
Q smiles, finding Bond's hand on the arm rest and interlocking their fingers. "Thank you for this. For everything."
"I've already told you," Bond replies, squeezing Q's hand, "you don't need to thank me."
"Well. Thank you anyway."
And if, once the lights dim, throwing the audience into darkness, Q leans over and presses a kiss to Bond's lips…
Well, Bond simply kisses back, feeling Q smile.