The scar looked angry today. Q sat at his desk, his shoulders hunched as he stared down at his inner wrist and the old ragged scar that seemed to protrude from his skin. An old wound, self inflicted a very long time ago.
Q huffed in irritation and pulled the lamp close to peer at the inner goings of his watch as he slowly installed the WiFi chip. His computer flashed and he flicked his eyes up, to see 007 coming through Q branch, towards his office door.
"I hope you have some equipment for me, Bond," he said, not bothering to look up.
Bond frowned, but handed over what was left of his electronic lock pick, his intact Walther, and part of a radio. He and Q had made a few strides towards pleasant since Skyfall had burned.
"When's the last time you've eaten that didn't involve sugar and caffeine?" He asked gently. Q had dark circles under his eyes, and his glasses were smudged enough that James wasn't sure if it was a hindrance or a help.
“Irrelevant to the current situation,” he muttered and reached out, tapping the edge of one of the trays lightly. “Stick it all in there,” he glanced over and realised… “What did you do?” he asked, picking up the half a radio.
"I needed to wedge the door open to get back out after I sent out the signal," Bond winced. "Would have taken too much time to use the lock pick again. And good thing too. Use gloves when you pick that up. It also doubles as a very good knife, for the record." The handle was covered in what appeared to be dried blood and entrails.
He circled around behind Q to study the board. Other than the deep cover operatives, everyone except Alec was home. And his handler was in her office, threatening to rip him a new orifice if he didn't stop flirting.
Q waved a dismissive hand at the concern of the agent, hunching over his desk as he poured everything into the tiny piece that he was carefully soldering in. It seemed that he had forgotten the agent entirely, before he spoke again quietly. “I had lunch yesterday… I had a nap on the sofa a few hours ago…”
"Come on Q, you're about to disappear if I look at you sideways. I was going to pick up take away anyway. I won't sleep so soon after a mission, I can keep guard while you rest."
"Ok. Finish what you're doing," James watched Q's hands trembling. He leaned against the desk, his arms crossed. Q's tea mug looked like it hadn't been warm in quite some time. He took it to the sink and rinsed it out, and then boiled the electric kettle. He made the tea in a travel mug, and added enough sugar to let the spoon stand unassisted.
He brought Q the tea and his jacket. Alec's handler gave him a thumbs up and turned off the lights in Q branch, shutting her office door.
When he returned, Q was just putting the watch over the left wrist, looking rather pleased with himself. He froze, and looked up, frowning at James. “I thought you had gone,” he said as he did it up.
"No," he handed him the warm tea, and helped him into the jacket. The watched snagged on the sleeve and fell. James bent to pick it up, and reached for Q's wrist to buckle it. He rubbed the angry looking scar gently. "Looks like you were having a bad time," he said softly.
Q huffed and snatched the watch, covering his wrist. "Bond, believe it or not, I am tired and really not in the mood for company. I have a lot to do and no time to do it."
James turned over his palm to show a V shaped scar carved into his palm. "Come on, I could use some company. I usually have to drink myself into oblivion to sleep after a mission involving that much blood."
Q sighed and trailed out after him. "And I can help how?" He asked lamely, shoving his Parka on.
"You can just be there. Or talk," James held the door. "Whatever you need. Want to tell me about your week? You were on comms for mine."
"I hovered at my desk for a week waiting for you for you to check in," he replied tartly as he followed. "Eve fed my cat... That's it..."
"What do you do when you aren't here?" James opened the passenger door for him, but it took him a few tries. "She's a bit cranky, don't want to annoy your wrist. Saved my life side swiping a gun out of someone's hand, but she's still mad at me."
"My wrist is fine, James," Q said with what patience he had left.
"Bullshit," James got in the car and turned on the heat. "About as fine as my palm."
"Ancient history," he shot back. "Forget it."
"Q..." James sighed and looked out into traffic, afraid to meet his eyes. "You're talking to the kind of self destructive. Knives, alcohol, anonymous lovers. I've tried them all. And then I still see myself in the mirror."
"It's something that happened a very long time ago, 007. It's not open for discussion," he growled, a warning in his tone.
"So what is?" James asked. "Or feel free to tell me to fuck off. It just seems like you are having a hard time."
He laughed and his voice had an edge to it, a brittle edge that was almost... Cracking. "It's just a rough patch, Bond. It will pass. Are you planning to feed me?"
"Of course," James smiled, more of a grimace. "What are you in the mood for? I need to stop and get some plasters at the chemist as well. I skipped out on Medical."
He rolled his eyes. "You can come back to mine. I haven't been home in a week, I want to see my cat...I can patch you up, there."
"Ok, just put the address in the GPS, and tell me what you fancy for food," James cracked his neck as they got to the stop light. "God I hate stake outs. Too much time to hear myself think."
"Ok," James parked and opened Q's door and offered to carry his messenger bag. "You look wiped. Do you have any decent alcohol?"
"I have a bottle of white... That's about it..." He said as he pushed into the apartment, opening the door. It was a small place, and cluttered. Every walk was crammed with books, bits of electronics, and on one shelf, sitting up high was the cat.
"Probably better if I don't," James muttered. He let the cat sniff his fingers. "Hello, princess. I'm sorry I kept your dad away so long." He hesitated, not wanting to crowd Q, and shed his coat. The dried blood was making his shirt stick to his back in a few places and he winced. "Is it okay if I sit?"
The cat was a long haired tortoise shell who turned away from Bond and went back to sleep. "That's Misha," he came back with the medical kit. "Shirt off, 007."
"She's beautiful, hi Misha girl," James shed his shirt and a drop of blood rolled down from a scab that had been pulled off.
"What happened?" He asked as he pulled on rubber gloves and started to wipe down his back with antiseptic, being very careful.
"The electronic lock pick," James hissed. "Had to get close to go through the ribs, and he had a serrated blade. Tugged skin loose pulling it out."
"This needs stitches," he said tiredly. "Phone and order us food while I do this," he said as he threaded the string.
James nodded and called his favorite Indian restaurant in the area. He added something at the end about a healthy tip if they would pick up a bottle of his favorite Scotch, and looked at Q and mouthed 'address? want anything else?'
Q shook his head and rattled off his address.
"They take good care of me when I get back from missions, Alec isn't always in town, and sometimes I am in no shape to leave the house for a few days." James hung up the phone and took a deep breath to make it through Q tightening a stitch. "Where did you learn this? You've had practice."
"You're not the first wayward agent who's sat in my flat... You are the first however, to bleed on my sofa."
"Shit, I'm sorry," James frowned. "Get it cleaned and have them bill me. I will give you the company that Alec and I use. Benefits of hazard pay, no cleaning up after a bender."
There was a pause and then a soft, somewhat surprised chuckle from the young man and he nodded. "I shall make sure that I do... There you go. You're welcome to use the shower, if you want to clean up..."
"Ok, there's money in my wallet," James got up and handed it to Q. "Give them a couple of the hundred pound notes. And Q," he stopped in the doorway to toe off his shoes, looking weary, "thanks."
Q nodded darkly and gestured him through to the bathroom and fresh towels. He had nothing that would fit the blonde save for pyjama pants and a old stretched t-shirt. He took the clothes and put them in the machine, and took the watch off. He rubbed his wrists.
James padded in behind him silently, and rubbed his fingers over the scar. His hair was still wet, and a few drops fell on Q's hand, marking the line an angry color when wet. "Sometimes I feel like the scars on my hand are an emotional barometric pressure gauge. If they hurt, something is bound to be bothering me. Come eat, Q."
"I'm not particularly hungry," he said as he followed James, coming to sit down. He scratched his arm. "It... Itches..."
"It'll do that," James nodded. "You haven't eaten since lunch yesterday. You need food. And you can't try good Scotch on an empty stomach." The shower had washed off the dirt and blood, leaving him with dark circles under his eyes. "Do you put us back together often?"
"004 mostly," he replied with a shrug. "He and I had an arrangement which served us both well enough... Well, it's over now so..." Another shrug
"An arrangement? That sounds so clinical," Bond laughed as he reached for a samosa. "So the rumors are true about you preferring men then?"
"That comes from the one who has seduced women and men across the globe without a second thought," he said and reached for the rice, fingers shaking. They had spread this feast out on the table, and he spooned a little into his plate.
Bond pushed the rice towards him. "At least if I can get the information sleeping with them, I don't have to torture them." He turned his palm over and rubbed at the V. "Relieves stress, don't have to get close to anyone while I'm in London."
"I am sure the world is glad that you don't torture people," he said sourly. He picked at the food and started to eat a little.
Bond shivered and twisted the top off the Scotch. He felt the first swallow burn, taking the chill out of him.
"There's no reason for innocent people to get hurt. I chose this job. No one will miss me if I don't come back. They have something to live for."
"So why do you do it?"
"I can. I'm damn good at it. No one will miss me if something happens and it keeps people safe. For awhile... Well I actually gave M my resignation once. And then Vesper died, and it didn't matter anymore. Before you were in charge."
He nodded slowly. So this was a cry for help. Sad, indeed but someone should have seen it coming. Those someone's should have been the psych department but that was beside the point. "It's hard to keep fighting," he said slowly, "because our own demons are a lot worse than what's out there."
"Ah well, no use getting maudlin when there is good alcohol, good food, and good company," James handed him the bottle. "All of us are a little broken I suppose."
"I wouldn't call me that," he sniffed the liquid suspiciously then took a sip... And started to cough.
James pounded him on the back. "Not a big hard alcohol fan? I forget not everyone drinks like Alec and I. What's your poison of choice?"
“I am not an alcohol fan…” he spluttered and went to the fridge. He poured a rather large glass of white wine, and sat back down.
"Well don't feel a need to drink on my behalf, I was just being civilized and sharing," James smiled at the glass. "Although if you don't drink often, that's a lot of wine. You should eat more."
"I am not a big eater, 007," said Q. "I never have been..." He took a sip of wine and slowly cut up a piece of chicken into smaller portions and nibbled it.
"You're not a big anything.... sleeper... eater... drinker..." Bond frowned and took another swallow of Scotch. "You must have another vice besides caffeine. No one runs on stress alone."
"I do. Tea and sugar and... Well... I doubt you would be interested," he flushed, suddenly bright red.
"Q?" James touched his arm. "What?"
He sighed. “Bond, I get off by letting people beat me. It gets me out of my head. You know 004 is a sadistic bastard, why do you think I approached him?”
"Oh, for fuck's sake," Bond burst into laughter. "I was afraid you were going to say you had sex with corpses or something. I don't think you will find many 00 agents who AREN'T into BDSM Q, you're in good company. I'm sorry, I shouldn't laugh. It was rude of me."
Q arched an eyebrow, and sniffed dismissively but his cheeks were bright red with humiliation. He turned away from him, and set down his spoon before gulping down his wine.
"Q..." James ran his fingers through his hair. "Take my keys and go look in the car trunk. It will make you feel better."
“It's not a good idea, Bond,” he set his wineglass down. He had hardly touched his food. “I cannot… The sofa pulls out, I am going to bed,” he said as he gripped the table before heading to the bedroom. "Goodnight, Bond."
"Q, come on?" James stuck out his hand. "Humor me?"
Q stepped back. “There… there are things you don’t know about me…” he said softly. "Sleeping with you is a bad idea,.."
"I'm not asking you to sleep with me," James said. "Just come see my trunk. It will make you laugh. I'm sorry. This sounded all better in my head. I suppose I shouldn't have started on the Scotch. I wasn't trying to offend you, and I'm not trying to force you into anything."
Q sighed but snatched Bond’s keys and started to head down to the basement to the car park. He staggered down to the car and opened the trunk.
Bond unzipped the duffle bag, full of lengths of soft jute rope, a whip, several floggers, and a set of restraints. There was also a clear case with sanitized blades and bandages.
"There! You're not alone, ok?"
“I know I am not alone, Bond,” he replied, his voice cold. He glared. “What is your point? Can I go to bed now?"
"Fine, go to bed!" James slammed the trunk. "I'll see you tomorrow. He capped the bottle of Scotch and threw it into the passenger seat of the car.
“James, you have no clue what you're saying…” he said and turned away, opening the door. “Forget I said anything…”
"It would take far more than a few swallows of Scotch for me to not know what I'm saying," James retorted. "You don't tell anyone about this. Why trust me?"
“I don’t trust anyone,” he shot back. “You asked what I liked and I told you,” he snapped.
"Well, we're even then," James shrugged his shoulders. "Look, I wasn't trying to fight, Q. Get some sleep. I shouldn't drive. Does the couch offer still stand?"
Q nodded and sighed. "I am sorry, Bond. I'm your superior, anything would be... Bad..."
"Have you EVER heard of me following the rules?" James asked. "And for the record, I don't kiss and tell. Not off the comms."
He turned to him, eyes hard. He needed to unwind, needed the release. He needed to come hard, come screaming. "Never heard you take no for an answer ..."
"I like BDSM Q, not rape," James shook his head. "Consent is mandatory. I don't play that game."
Q stepped forwards. He was tipsy and tense and angry at being exposed. "So what game do you play?"
"I've... Dommed a bit. Will switch if a mission was really bad, but not often."
Q looked up at him, his mind running a million miles an hour. He was frustrated and stressed and a danger to himself more than anyone else. Bond oozed confidence, had that easy grace that he was so jealous of... He crossed to the older man, and kissed him. Shoving his hands through the blonde hair, gripping roughly. Searching for a rise.
"We've both been drinking," James finished the kiss, but pulled him back. "Can you make some coffee at least? Or else it's just vanilla sex on offer. I don't mix alcohol and new partners."
He let out an extremely frustrated noise. Somewhere in his mind, he knew he was being a brat... But he couldn't take much more of everything... And then he felt them. The tears pricking at his eyes, threatening to fall.
James took his arm and led him to sit down at the kitchen table. He tilted up Q's chin and studied the watery green eyes. "Let me make some coffee, and we'll sort this out, ok?" He ran his fingers through Q's hair.
"Tea please... There's loose leaf somewhere in there... I'll be fine..." He grumbled.
James smiled at the grumbling and set Q up with a pot of loose tea, and then made himself some coffee. He watched the eyes glaring at him over the mug. "Are you angling for me to turn you over my knee?"
"Don't push it, Bond," he warned dangerously. "I am not in the mood..." He said and sipped his tea.
"Tell me what you want, then," James asked. He finished his coffee and refilled Q's tea.
“To not lose my mind before I hit thirty?” Q suggested as he sipped his tea. His hands shook, and he frowned deeply. “I am fine… I just need to go back to work… I enjoy my work…”
James took his hand and steadied it. "But the rough sex, it helps?"
Q looked as if he was about to claw at his hand, to get it off Bond’s. “It… has done… It slows down my head…”
"Is that what you want?" James asked. He studied Q thoughtfully and touched his pulse point. It was racing under the angry scar.
Q wouldn't meet his eyes, his gaze downcast. Yes, that was what he wanted... To be hurt until his mind stopped and to find the silence... The moment when the world stopped. Shaking with self disgust... He nodded.
"Then ask me," James said, pushing aside his mug. He stood and offered Q his hand.
With a shaking palm, Q reached out and took his hand.
"Tell me what you need?" James spoke softly and led him to the bedroom.
"Quiet... In my head..." He said softly, looking down.
"Get undressed. I'm going to get my bag from the car," James rubbed a knuckle against the pressure point in his palm.
Q did so. Slowly. His body was littered with scars, scratches and he was far, far too thin. He wrapped his arms around himself, wanting to hide from all this.
"Close your eyes," James said from the doorway. He undressed and folded the clothes. The stitches felt better after the shower, Q had done a better job than Medical usually did. He walked quietly, and ran a hand down Q's back. "Kneel for me?"
He was shaking. Not from fear... Just the sheer tension of all this, the pain and the stress that are him from the inside out. He closed his eyes but refused to kneel. The submission was shaky at best, but there was that stubbornness in him that refused to give in.
"Q, I'm not going to tell you twice," Bond's voice was stern. "If this is what you want, then do as I say."
It was with a gasp that he knelt. His shoulders were rigid, bristling with tension, the urge to fight.
James put his hand on the nape of his neck, a calming presence as he bound his arms. "Now, is that better?"
The growl was almost cat like... A warning sound as he tested the ropes. He shook. Too small, far too thin.
"Do you need me to bind you completely?" Bond wrapped his fingers in the curls and tugged his head back to see his eyes.
He glared, defiant to a fault. His cock was half hard. Anticipation. He shivered, with a want that he needed to address.
"Q..." James wrapped a blindfold around his eyes and tied it securely. He snapped the flogger behind Q, and it whizzed past his ear.
He shuddered, gripping his wrists. His nails dug lightly into his flesh as he closed his eyes behind the cloth. He needed to let go… to silence his head. His shoulders hunched.