A new shop has opened across the street from MI6 headquarters.
James notices the shop as he’s driving into the parking lot. Of course he notices, he notices everything. He’s seen the renovation team come and go for the last couple of weeks, and has been expecting the place to open for a couple of days now. The previous store had been a pizza shop. Not that there was anything wrong with pizza, but the store served by-the-slice greasy and cold pizza at inexcusable prices, and everyone from MI6 had learned early on not to frequent the place.
Bond parks his car and decides he has time to spare before meeting M. After all, it is James Bond’s job to know things, to know his surroundings and the people that he has cause to interact with. A shop that opens across the street from Britain’s intelligence office certainly warrants some inspection.
The sign is simple, and James has trouble deciding if it’s elegant or tacky. It’s a simple square sign that hangs on top of the door, the background is white, and on the forefront in black is the design Q subscript 10, in the style of a scrabble tile. There are no signals that it is the grand opening of the shop, no indications of celebration of store-opening, no “Hiring” sign that usually comes with a new storefront, there are actually no signs that the store is recently renovated, for everything seems to be perfectly pristine and in place. (So far as James can tell from glancing through the window)
He pushes open the door, there is no bell jingle to accompany his entrance, and James wonders if the owner, who has obviously meticulously decorated the place, has forgotten to hang a bell on top of the door.
“Hello, how can I help you?” If the soft voice and the somewhat posh accent surprise James, he does not let it show.
“In a number of ways, I’m sure.” James replies, allowing a hint of honey to his voice.
“Coffee perhaps?” The young man behind the counter either does not hear the innuendo, or chooses to not acknowledge it at all. “I’m guessing dark roast, black.”
“And something to eat if you have it.” Bond nods, and perhaps a little belatedly realizes that he is in fact standing inside a café. He had been distracted by the man with his incredibly messy hair and lanky frame and atrocious cardigan. The thought hits him like a train at that moment, that if somebody had wanted to kill him a moment ago, when his attention was completely focused on the man behind the counter, they could have easily done so.
A chill passes James then, a sense of uneasiness that he has not felt since first meeting Vesper. It comes with a knowledge that the person will somehow be influential in his life, somehow extremely dangerous for him, yet the feeling that he could not quite step away.
The boy (James refuses to think of him as a man, he is far too young) has disappeared into what James can only assume to be the back kitchen, he can vaguely hear the sounds of things being shuffled. There’s a steaming mug left next to the register, a white porcelain mug that has the same sign as the one outside for the store. James walks closer and the familiar smell of Earl Grey assaults his nose.
“Blueberry oat bran muffin, black coffee.” The boy comes back with a wax-paper bag and a cup of coffee. The cup is white, has no design on it whatsoever, the paper bag has the same scrabble symbol as the one on the store’s sign.
“You’re in a coffee shop yet you don’t drink coffee.” James states and gives the mug a pointed look.
“I prefer tea.” The boy states, “and this is a café.”
“Yes of course.” James curbs the urge to roll his eyes as he reaches for his wallet. “Where’s the owner, opening day is a big day, no?”
“I am the owner.” If the slight bothers the boy, it does not show on his face, and James briefly wonders if he is simply very good at hiding his expressions. The boy proceeds to wave dismissively towards James’s wallet, “You’re my first customer, it’s on the house.”
“Not a very good business model if you’re planning on giving everything away.” James can’t help but quip as he reaches for the muffin and coffee, letting his fingers brush against the boy’s long, elegant ones (James will concede that the boy’s fingers are elegant, even if he has decided that the store sign is not).
“Only because you’re my first.” The boy gives an infuriating smirk that James instantly decides he would like to see more. There is no blush that accompanies those words, yet the glint in the boy’s eyes shows clearly that he knew exactly what he was saying.
“In that case, the name’s Bond, James Bond.” James takes a sip of his coffee casually and decides that he will indeed be coming back to the shop. The coffee is exponentially better than the brew from MI6’s break room. The coffee is nearly orgasmic. “And I think I deserve to know yours.”
“I hardly think that’s necessary, Mr. Bond, I’m sure your office has a file on me already.” The boy gives another little smirk, like he knows something that Bond doesn’t. “Good day, Mr. Bond.”
James nods once before turning to walk out of the café (there’s no better word for what the shop is), but turns back once he’s reached the door. The boy is still standing at the counter looking at James.
“Good day, Q.” James smirks at the slight widening of the boy’s eyes, and pushes the door to leave the café.
He finishes the coffee much too quickly, but gives the muffin to Moneypenny as a sign of goodwill when she berates him for not filling out the proper paperwork for his last mission. She stops as soon as she bites into the muffin though, and declares it the best one she’s ever had, and then dismisses James summarily with a wave of her hand.
It’s not like James Bond needs to add any more things on the list of reasons of why he will visit Q again (James is certain the café is named Q and not Q10 or Q’s coffee. Just Q, much like the name James has assigned the boy behind the counter), but he must concede that getting Moneypenny off his back will be a good thing.