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By No Ordinary Means of Communication

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It starts with a post-it note in Q’s office.

Q stares at the note for a full seven seconds, bewildered, until he notices that it’s next to the case he gave to Bond just before his mission in Vienna. When Q had handed him the case, it’d held a personalised gun, an earpiece, and a pair of laser cuff links, and had come with Q’s strict, if somewhat jaded instructions to bring the lot back in working order.

Jaded instructions, because among the massive amount of equipment Q has assigned him during the time they’ve worked together, Bond has returned with virtually none of it functioning at the capacity it did before leaving MI6 (or functioning at all, or even making it back to MI6, what do you mean you lost your gun to a Komodo dragon in Macau?).

And so some time ago, Q had sort of absently said something along the lines of ‘I’d wager fifty quid you’ll never come back with every piece of equipment I gave you functioning at one hundred percent.’ Because it was enormously, ridiculously, laughably unlikely.

Since starting at MI6, Q has come to acknowledge the constants: the Q Branch coffee machine will always break when it is most needed, interns will never be as competent as their résumés make them appear, and James Bond will always come back from a mission with broken equipment.

So it’s with a certain amount of dubiety that Q peels away the post-it note, tosses it aside, and then opens the case.

Two minutes later, after a quick quality check, he’s having trouble deciding whether to be pleasantly surprised that everything is in fact functioning perfectly, or to be annoyed that he now has to fork over fifty quid to what will undoubtedly be a very smug Bond.

Instead of taking the time to hunt him down, Q slips a money-filled envelope in with the post-mission paperwork Bond will eventually get around to.

So that’s how it starts, and that’s the way it works for a while—post mission, if Q isn’t immediately available for gadget return, Bond visits his office (read: breaks in and occasionally goes through his things, what the hell) and leaves brief, occasionally entirely irrelevant notes with cases holding equipment in various states of functionality.

               

 

Q can’t pinpoint exactly when he’d started looking forward to the notes as opposed to simply finding them somewhat peculiar, if harmless (save their tendency to end up stuck to things no matter how careful he tries to be in landing them in the rubbish bin after reading them: his desk, his computer, important papers, and one memorable time, to the seat of his trousers).

It’s different, really, is the thing, it’s different and a little ridiculous and not really what Q would expect from double-oh agent James Bond, who can and has killed men with his bare hands. Who nearly dies on a more frequent basis than most people go to the grocery. Who comes back from missions in bloodstained shirts and just shrugs, who answers “a little of both, probably,” with an unsettling amount of nonchalance when asked whether it’s his target’s blood or his own.

Who litters Q’s office with yellow squares of paper inked up with red pen nonsensicals.

In turn, Q hands Bond increasingly more elaborate gadgets as weeks go on, because he can, and because it makes Bond light up in that controlled way of his. When he gets his hands on Bond’s post-mission paperwork, he tucks in scraps of paper that sport complaints about interns and comments about the mission and absent-minded sketches of future gadgets in the works. It makes him feel a little like a teenager passing messages in class in that it’s sort of ridiculous, but he keeps it up anyway because it’s actually sort of enjoyable, too.

Q doesn’t know what Bond does when he isn’t on a mission, only that he apparently has time to sneak into Q’s office on a regular basis to leave notes. Why he does that is still a mystery, except maybe that it’s become as much of a routine to him as it has to Q, who hasn’t really found it in himself to complain. It works, is the truth of it.

He’s learned more about Bond in the past couple of months through yellow squares of paper than he ever has speaking to the man in person, because they don’t actually talk much, as it happens. Bond goes through missions and Q helps when he needs to, silence on the communication line punctuated by instructions he gives and occasional, short bursts of banter. Bond goes through missions and leaves behind sticky notes where Q will find them, and for communication’s sake, it works.

Because Bond is apparently capable of out-stubborning basic mathematics, he doesn’t come home from Barcelona in a body bag. He does come home littered with bruises and burns, and for once he doesn’t manage to talk his way out of a stay in Medical.

When Bond’s flight lands in London, Q is alone in the depths of MI6, testing new gadgets. Eve had more or less banished him down there on the grounds that he maybe needed to “blow off some steam” because evidently, Bond disconnecting his earpiece in the middle of a mission was enough to incense him on such a level that he was “scaring the interns”.

And honestly? He is incensed. He’s really, properly ticked off, and he latches onto that because if he doesn’t— Fuck.

The thing is, they’ve settled into a comfortable sort of routine made from post-its and espionage and the routine hangs there like a veil, or a curtain, whatever, the point is that when it slips

The point is that when Bond cut off that essential communication in that essential moment, it’d thrown Q into unprecedented panic, so he latches onto anger because it’s easier than revisiting that raw, choked-off feeling, where are you, where are you.

Bond had reconnected not long after the bomb went off, smug as you please despite nursing dozens of new wounds. “Told you I had enough time.”

Panic had yielded relief and then anger almost immediately after that, and he’d snarled something he doesn’t even recall now, something insulting and probably insufficient for what he wanted to convey, and had then handed his headset to R before going off to, in Eve’s words, “terrorise the interns”.

He doesn’t even know why he’s all that bothered by it, really. It isn’t as if other agents don’t do their share of massively stupid things that nearly cost them their lives. He’d managed to get by just fine when 003 blatantly disregarded orders last month and ended up in Medical with two broken legs.

It’s not as if Bond is any different, post-its be damned to hell. Let him be killed in the field, then, if he can’t follow basic orders, if he doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘enough’.

When Q gets to his office later, after “you’re frightening the interns” quells to “you’re only making the interns slightly anxious”, what he expects to see is there (because despite appearances, Bond is consistent with a few things): a case on his desk holding the assigned equipment, and a post-it note.

There’s also something he doesn’t expect. A plastic, bright red and orange something that hurts his eyes a little to look at. He picks it up, turns it over in his hands, and raises an eyebrow at it.

It’s a magnet.

More specifically, it’s what appears to be a souvenir from Bond’s mission in Spain, if the yellow block letters proudly proclaiming ‘BARCELONA!’ are anything to go by. Q glances over at the post-it note for an explanation, feeling a little thrown off.

Q is struck with the mental image of a battered and burned Bond standing in a tiny souvenir shop in Spain, perusing shelves of cheap, mass-produced kitsch before carefully selecting the biggest eyesore in the entire store.

Against his better judgement, he grudgingly decides to take it as an apology.

The equipment, when he opens the case, looks like it’s been dragged through the deepest circles of hell and then tossed into an industrial blender set on purée.

The magnet finds a home on the big whiteboard Q Branch uses for brainstorming and announcements.

Q can’t help but wonder how, exactly, his life has come to this.

Bond completes a mission in Moscow that goes off without a hitch, and Q finds a post-it note stuck to the bottom of his shoe.

Bond returns from a mission in Berlin with most of his equipment in working order, and Q finds three red, fine-tipped, dried out Sharpies scattered about his office.

Bond spends six hours in Medical after a mission in Tirana, and Q finds a paperweight engraved with the Albanian flag sitting in his Scrabble mug.

Q thinks he’s pretty accustomed to Bond’s M.O. by now, which is why he doesn’t notice what’s on the Q Branch whiteboard until one of his interns cautiously points it out. Magnets, he thinks, somewhat dourly, squinting at the top right corner of the board and stalking over to it, and then, word magnets?

“Cute,” Q says, dry, to no one in particular, and spends a few moments prying the magnets off the whiteboard one by one with his fingernails and tossing them into the track where the dry-erase markers rest. He doesn’t know when Bond (because the magnets were certainly Bond’s, because of course they were) had the chance to walk into Q Branch and put the damn things up there without being noticed, since Q’s been at work since six this morning and it’s now nine at night.

Perhaps that’s where the sentiment stems from.

As an afterthought, he picks up one of the little words from the track and sticks it back up on the whiteboard.

Q is attracted to Bond in the way most everyone is, the way people seem to be when they meet him, when they just see him. He’d expected the feeling to fade eventually, especially with the way Bond seems to do things with the express purpose of trying to give Q massive headaches, and it’s not like Bond’s antics are endearing, it’s just that the attraction has done sort of the exact opposite of fade. Q wants to climb in bed with him and open him up like a stubborn piece of tech and it’s not one-sided, he knows.

The flirting (because that’s what it is, doesn’t matter that it’s unorthodox) was unexpected when it began, when Q realised what it was, and remains unexpected even now. He’s waiting for Bond to get bored, to fixate on the new red-headed intern, get his attention caught by something else.

He doesn’t do anything with it, with the flirting, except occasionally reciprocate. He doesn’t climb into bed with Bond even though he knows it wouldn’t be difficult to get to that point, doesn’t do it because he shouldn’t, because things are complicated enough, because—because. There are files upon files of information that mention MI6 workplace trysts, and not a single one ends with “and they all lived happily ever after.”

They don’t need that level of complication, not when things are difficult enough.

But Q looks at Bond and sees all the files MI6 has on him, sees the adjectives and statistics that accompany his name and wants him in bed anyway, and maybe that says something about attraction or the allure of danger or both.

Probably it just says something about Q, and how he has less caution or care than Bond when it counts most.

He goes for another mug of tea when the last over-achieving intern leaves Q Branch empty, and when he gets back, Bond is standing, his back to Q, in front of the whiteboard with a tin of word magnets in his hand.

Given Bond’s habit of quietly and suddenly showing up places, Q can’t really say he’s surprised to see him there. “In what language does the word ‘no’ translate to ‘oh, really, please continue doing that’?” he asks conversationally, leaning against one of the tables and trying not to look like he’s attempting to peer around Bond’s shoulder to see what phrase he’s making with the magnets this time.

Bond, to his credit, doesn’t look remotely startled, and answers without turning around. “My language, obviously. My missions are evidence enough of that.”

“We do actually need that space for writing things, you know.”

“That sentiment doesn’t seem to apply to the Barcelona magnet.”

Q glances up at it somewhat accusingly. “Yes, well.” He takes a too-soon swallow of tea in lieu of an actual response. It burns his tongue.

Bond glances over his shoulder and smirks, then turns his attention back to the tin in his hand, picking through the words with what appears to be extreme care.

Q finally gives into the urge, and pushes off from the table, moving to look over Bond’s shoulder. He blinks. “Are you putting poetry on my whiteboard?”

“Well, they are poetry magnets.” Bond holds up the tin, which admittedly does classify them specifically as such.

Well. “Fair enough.” Then he leans in, frowning at the words slowly making their way onto the board, phrases placed in a straight, even line the way Q wouldn’t have the patience for. “Is that Neruda?”

“It is.”

Silence stretches thin between them then, save the quiet sounds of magnets being pushed around the tin as Bond searches through them. Q sips idly at his tea, having cooled to a manageable temperature by now, and thumbs away a stray dry-erase marker line at the edge of the whiteboard. Eventually, he can’t help but ask his next question, the one he’s been sitting on for months. “Why’re you doing this, exactly? All the effort seems...uncharacteristic.”

Bond’s fingers pause in their rummaging. There’s another moment of silence, and Q wonders if Bond had ever actually considered the question before. He doesn’t turn around, but Q watches the swift rise-and-fall of his shoulders as he shrugs. “Boredom. Looking for attention. Trying to wind you up. Take your pick.”

All three, probably. “Well, you have my attention.”

“I’ve had your attention for months.” Bond sounds a little smug as he says it, and Q resists a sudden and very childish urge to upend his mug over Bond’s head.

“Your methods of flirting are a little bizarre, you know.”

You’re a little bizarre. Had to tweak my normal methods a bit to get you to take any notice.” Bond turns around after putting the last magnet in place and flashes a disarming, sharp-edged smile before Q can even begin to think of a response to that—what is that even supposed to mean—pushes the tin into his hands, and then—

And then he leaves.

Q stares at his back, brow furrowed, as he makes his way to the elevator. “Goodnight, then,” he says, mostly to himself, baffled and maybe a little enamoured. He looks down at the box of magnets in his hand and is a little alarmed to find he’s actually disappointed there wasn’t more to the encounter. He’d been under the impression they were getting somewhere.

Not— Not that there’s any place to get to. There’s no destination. There’s just this weird sort of indirect communication and conversation that doesn’t go anywhere and, Christ, Bond doesn’t make a single iota of sense, he never has, and Q hasn’t even read Neruda in at least three years but when he gets home he cracks open the anthology of postmodern poetry that’s been gathering dust on his bookshelf.

When he talks about all of this to Eve (not that she needed briefing, not when there’s post-it notes gathering in rubbish bins and souvenirs taking up more and more space on his desk and magnets in plain view on the whiteboard), she reminds him not unkindly that for all he can be charming, Bond is dangerous and it wouldn’t hurt to remember that.

He doesn’t need the reminder, not really. Q watches Bond snap a man’s neck with an almost casual twist of his hands just a day after he leaves Neruda on the whiteboard.

Later, Q remotely blows up a warehouse full of members of the terrorist cell they’re after and gets such a vehement thrill from it that he wonders if Eve’s given Bond the same sort of lecture about him.

They fuck not long after that, and it’s not prefaced with notes or magnets or even a conversation—as he leaves MI6 one night Q just beckons with lift of his chin, with a casualness he doesn’t feel, doesn’t feel capable of, and doesn’t turn around to see if Bond will follow. He doesn’t spend the day thinking about it, debating it. He just sees Bond as he’s leaving for the night, realises he’s had enough sexual frustration for one lifetime, thank you, and beckons.

For all that the initial moment is anticlimactic, and for all that Q thinks what am I doing, we shouldn’t be doing this, the shagging is phenomenal and intense and just the right amount of violent.

(“Skinny thing,” Bond murmurs, smirking, when he gets Q out of his shirt, and Q flushes down to his shoulders but doesn’t really know why, bites Bond’s collarbone hard, no finesse to it other than to hurt but Bond gives an appreciative groan anyway, grips Q’s hips and practically lifts him off the floor with the hold, tosses him onto the bed.

“You could have just said,” Q says a little later, Bond’s hand around his cock, working him just this side of too-rough, “gone straight to this, skipped the post-its, the fucking souvenirs, why even bother, why me and no one else—” He cuts off with a hiss when Bond knots a hand into his hair, drags his head back so sharply that he chokes with it and nearly comes right there, fingers digging into whatever part of Bond’s skin that he can reach.

“Why no one else,” Bond repeats, like he’s amused by the question. “Why bother— Made you take notice, didn’t it?”

“Hard not to notice you,” Q manages. Bond flashes him a smile, dark-eyed, too sharp, and he comes, biting Bond’s shoulder to stifle a shout.)

When Q wakes up the next morning, somewhat bruised and sprawled naked half under his duvet, the other side of the bed is empty.

                     

And it’s like the first event that causes a chain reaction, an unspoken routine, again and again, just this once more and Bond is never in his bed when he wakes up.

Q knows better, says yes, please and means it even while thinking we really shouldn’t, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t satisfied by the end of it. ‘Shouldn’t’ doesn’t mean ‘won’t’ and he never regrets it, anyway.

They both know better and they shouldn’t do this because they work together, because he listens to Bond nearly die twice a month, because half the time they both go into work sore, because Bond becomes even more of a distraction every time he comes down to Q Branch.

Q wakes up to his empty bed like Bond was never there at all, except for the bruises and dirty sheets, and the pile of books/the lamp/the stupid, decorative glass bowl they knock over the third/seventh/tenth time they stumble into Q’s flat, hands everywhere, fingers tugging at hair and clothes as they make their way to the bedroom.

There’s still magnets and sticky notes and the occasional souvenir, but for the most part there’s still not a lot of talking, all things considered. They have jobs to do and a there’s a sense of professionalism and propriety Q desperately clings to for some form of normalcy, and Bond nearly dies twice a month, which is fine, it’s business as usual, ordinary fucking workplace hazards.

And if Q clings to Bond a little desperately after particularly bad missions, well, who’s keeping score?

He’s not sure why the flirting continues, or even why Bond keeps coming home with him. Maybe it’s the opportunity to be as rough as he likes, as he needs to be, the opportunity he doesn’t get with the pretty, breakable women he seduces during missions. And Q looks breakable, but he isn’t—or maybe he is but Bond doesn’t care, or maybe he is and Bond is just as breakable. Brittle. Broken. Et cetera, et cetera.

Bond fights and fucks his way around the world and Q runs interference, does what he can from MI6 and sometimes from the field, which Bond hates though Q isn’t entirely sure why—hates that sometimes he has to be in the field, accessing information and bypassing security systems and getting kidnapped, once, and the night after that’s over Bond holds him down on his bed and marks him all over with teeth and fingers until there’s no possible way of hiding all the bruises under his clothing, but he’s still alone in bed the next morning.

Sometimes Eve looks at him, curiosity and amusement and the slightest amount of unspoken concern on her lips, always unspoken, and maybe it looks like Bond is using him but it’s only as much as Q uses Bond, because when there’s hesitation it’s as easy as saying please.

Saying, Let me.

I want.

I need.

Please.

There’s a mutual consumption, is the point, and Q gives as good as he gets, wraps a hand around Bond’s throat more than once, fingers dug deep until he’s gasping, until he comes harder than Q’s ever seen.

Q wakes up alone and that’s fine, he’s not expecting anything else, necessarily, certainly not anything remotely resembling domesticity. ‘Bond’ and ‘domesticity’ in the same sentence causes such a disturbing cognitive dissonance that it’s almost laughable, despite the gifts, despite the poetry. They’re probably terrible for each other, when it comes right down to it, but Bond’s an addiction Q isn’t really interested in overcoming.

Bond gives Q flowers.

Which, actually, that’s a generous description, because what actually happens is that Q walks into his office with Eve a couple of days after Bond’s mission in Taiwan, and there’s a potted Phalaenopsis equestris on his desk.

Q stares. “That’s an orchid.”

Eve looks amused and wanders over to inspect it. “Obviously. Did Bond bring this back from Taiwan?”

“Why is he giving me an orchid?” Does he expect Q to weaponise it or something?

“You don’t like it?”

“It’s lovely,” Q says automatically, then frowns. “That’s not the point.”

“You said he’s been leaving souvenirs in your office for, what, months now?” Eve points out.

“Little things I can set on my desk and forget about, yeah, not living things I have to care for.” Q pushes it to the corner of his desk, where it looks a bit ridiculous amongst the monitors and keyboards and gadgets in various stages of completion.

“Good point. You’ll probably kill it in a week.” Eve grins at him. “Not very romantic.”

“Piss off. Do you want it?”

“I’d rather wait and see if you equip it to launch knives.”

“I was thinking lasers, actually,” Q replies, not entirely joking, because—and maybe Bond didn’t realise this—he isn’t exactly suited to caring for plants. He doesn’t a green thumb. He has—well, whatever the opposite of a green thumb is that makes him very good at developing tech and very bad at caring for living things, including himself, more often than not.

After four weeks of forgetting to care for it on a regular basis, he breaks down and develops a system that tests the dryness of the soil and waters the orchid when needed.

                   

(If Q were capable of being direct when it mattered most, this is be how it would work:

He doesn’t fall asleep after they fuck like he usually does, just waits for the tell-tale shift of bedsheets that signal Bond’s about to slide out of bed and pull on his trousers like usual. Then he reaches out and puts a hand on Bond’s forearm and says, “Stay.”

And then Bond gets back into bed, or he doesn’t, whichever. Q gets an answer, that’s how it works—would be how it would work if he were capable of being direct when it mattered most.

He’s not.)

Bond likened him to the ocean, once, through word magnets on the whiteboard long after everyone else had gone home for the night. “Cold and determined,” he’d explained promptly, when Q had raised an eyebrow at him, and then, laughing, “and dangerous, and enduring, and calm in the best moments, it’s not an insult,” when Q had frowned at him.

And Q thinks, if he’s the ocean then Bond is pure fire, only controlled when he wants to be and it’s best not to get too close for fear of burning, but Q’s been scorched a few times already and keeps coming out of it alive. If being a Quartermaster doesn’t work out, maybe he’s got a career in fire-eating.

But fire keeps you warm, too, and if Q’s the cold ocean, he could use the heat through the night.

It’s after ten and Q should have gone home hours ago, but he’s trying to finish updating the security system and he’s working on a new gadget design, and—and, no, really what he’s doing is fucking around with magnets and hoping that Bond’s still in the building after being released by Medical that morning (earned a forty-eight hour stay after a mission in Bangkok had left him bruised and burned and needing more stitches than Q could count), that he’ll eventually show up if Q just pathetically waits long enough, what the hell.

Frowning, Q scatters the magnets almost immediately after putting them up, peels them away with his fingernails, tosses them into the tin. It’s stupid and too public for his liking and nobody confesses with poetry magnets, what is he thinking?

There’s a bottle of Glenfiddich whisky on his desk when he goes into his office to collect his things. Just the bottle, no post-it, and no Bond, who could have left the bottle there as early as this morning, who knows, Q’s been running around every part of MI6 but his own office today.

But he takes the bottle, takes it home with him, heavy and solid in his hands, and spends the better part of an hour on his couch getting drunk. His worries and self-irritation regarding Bond gradually blur into an ignorable white-noise. He works on a few gadget designs that he’ll probably need to do over again in the morning when his hands and mind aren’t so clumsy with drink, but it’s complicated enough work that it gets his mind off of things for a while, and he actually starts to feel a little relaxed.

That’s about when his mobile starts vibrating under loose papers and pieces of tech, because of course it does, and the name on the lock screen is ‘Bond’, because of course it is. ‘Pleasantly drunk’ yields to ‘drunkenly clumsy and not prepared for human interaction in approximately .2 seconds.

“Hello?”

“Did you find the whisky?” Bond’s voice comes out tinny and tired-sounding through the speaker of his mobile.

Q settles back on his couch, rubs his eyes. “Hard to miss.” He smiles. “Thanks, by the way. Bit more expensive than the things you usually leave on my desk.”

“You deserve to be spoiled,” Bond says, which Q scoffs at on principle. There’s a moment of silence, and when he speaks again, it’s with a somewhat apologetic tone. “Also, it’s to placate you, a little bit, while I’m out of country.”

Q’s smile slips. “Out of country? Where are you, then?”

“Oslo.”

Oslo?” There’s no mission planned in Norway—there’s no mission planned for Bond at all. “On what grounds?”

“On the grounds that sometimes it’s nice to travel someplace without being expected to kill someone once I get there.”

“What, you’re on vacation?” He must have left right after getting released from Medical.

Q can practically hear the shrug in Bond’s voice. “Nearly got my arm blown off a couple of days ago. I feel like I’ve earned some time away to heal without being hounded by M to finish paperwork. Get proper sleep, even.”

Q wants to say, you could do that here. Come here. “And your master plan,” he says slowly, instead, “is to get me drunk?”

“Is it working?”

“A little,” Q admits, and Bond’s laughter is low and warm. “It’s good whisky.” He pauses. Swallows. His tongue feels heavy, clumsy, but he presses on anyway. “It’d be even better if I had someone to share it with.”

“Is that right?” Bond sounds a little amused.

“You could take a flight back, if you’re up for it. Come over. Enjoy some of the expensive alcohol you’ve left me with.” He doesn’t, he decides, sound too pathetic.

There’s a long pause, during which Q panics a little and wonders how difficult it would be to drown himself in what remained of the whisky. A drawn-out, staticky sound comes out of the speakers, like Bond’s let out a sigh. “Not really in top shape right now,” he says finally, and for a moment Q doesn’t quite get what that’s supposed to mean.

Then he frowns. “It’s not— I’m not inviting you over for a shag,” Q says, exasperated and a little insulted, because Bond had spent hours in Medical getting patched up, of course he isn’t in a state to be fucking. “I’m inviting you to get your arse back to London tomorrow and into my flat for a drink. Into my bed for a proper night’s rest. I’ll make you bloody breakfast, why the hell are you in Norway right now?”

There’s another, longer pause, and when Bond speaks, he sounds a little surprised. “You’d let me?”

Of all the responses Q had been expecting, that particular one hadn’t even made it onto the list. “I’d let you what?

“Stay the night,” Bond clarifies, and Q suddenly thinks, for all the varied communication they’ve been doing, there’s been an incredible lack of comprehension.

“Well, it’s a big bed,” he says, and it sounds stupid to his own ears. “I just— Did you think that’s all I’ve been looking for? Fucking and then ‘goodnight, guess I’ll see you next time the nation’s in crisis’?”

“Is that not what I’m for? Fucking and then goodnight?” Bond says it like he’s joking, but there’s a sour sort of lilt to his voice that makes Q’s stomach twist in a way that he can’t attribute to the alcohol. “Why would you offer me that?”

“You started it,” Q says helplessly. “Why the post-its? Why the magnets, do you realise how much of a complex I have over poetry now?” He lets out a breath. “Christ. Why the gifts? Or any of it?”

“Got you talking to me, didn’t it?”

Q blinks. It’s a ridiculous answer, except how it really isn’t, because over-the-top and attention-grabbing is Bond’s bloody M.O. “Most people,” he says after a moment, pinching the bridge of his nose, “would start with ‘hello’.”

“Most people would, yeah.”

“You decided it would be better to leave post-it notes on my desk, put word magnets on the public whiteboard, and infest my office with souvenirs that essentially act as trophies from various places around the world where you’ve killed people.”

The noise coming from the speaker sounds suspiciously like suppressed laughter, but Q doesn’t get the chance to comment on it before Bond finally replies, slow and deliberate. “Hello.”

Q gets an intense, palm-itching urge to blow something up. “You’re getting on the next fight out of Oslo,” he snaps, because he’s drunk and fed-up and, alright, maybe he’s the ocean, maybe he’ll endure but Bond won’t, Bond will burn himself out eventually like the flame he is, won’t come back from a mission one day, so Q’s going to take advantage of the time he has, no more fucking around.

“Alright,” Bond says agreeably.

Q trips over the response he had planned, because that wasn’t the reply he’d expected. That was—actually, that was a lot easier than he’d anticipated. “You’re going to come to my flat,” he continues, with a little less harshness.

“Fair enough.”

Alright. “You’re going to stop using word magnets in ways that give me reason to file for sexual harassment.”

“No promises.”

When Q walks into his office, Bond is sitting on his desk.

More specifically, Bond is sitting directly on top of an open file labeled ‘BUDGET PLANS’. Q considers pointing out the chair that’s arm’s length away and is, in fact, in perfectly good condition.

“You’re back early,” is what he says instead.

“Your enthusiasm,” Bond says earnestly, “is overwhelming. I’ve been in Los Angeles for nearly a week. Back at MI6 for ten minutes and already you’re scowling at me.”

“I’d be more pleased to see you if your arse weren’t planted on the file I need,” Q informs him, but moves to stand in front of the desk, regardless, and kisses the smirk off Bond’s face.

“Brought you something,” Bond says a few moments later, lips against Q’s jaw.

“Functioning equipment?”

“You’re so optimistic.” He takes something out of one jacket pocket or another and pushes it into Q’s fumbling hands, kisses him again so he doesn’t get the chance to actually look down at it for another twenty seconds.

It’s a small velvet case, the sort that tends to hold necklaces or rings or other pieces of jewelry. Q glances up and raises an eyebrow at Bond, who just gestures at the case with a ‘well, go on, then’ sort of expression.

Q flicks the box open and stares. “What the hell is this.”

“It’s a tie pin,” Bond says, and, well, yes it is. It’s a tie pin with a ridiculously large and ostentatious and fucking diamond-encrusted letter ‘Q’ on it, what the hell.

Before he can ask anything along the lines of how much did this even cost you, or do you really take this much pride in hunting down the most gaudy things commercially available, or possibly just why, why would you do this to me, Bond’s got the damn thing out of its case and pinned to his tie. It looks even more ridiculous there than it had in the box.

Since returning from Oslo, the routine of Bond coming back from missions with eyesore souvenirs hasn’t changed, except for the part where they’re massively more expensive than before. Q wishes he’d kept up with the trend of leaving expensive alcohol, instead of having thousands of pounds worth of ugly paintings and sculptures and crystal taking over his office and flat. Eventually, he’ll gather up the lot of it and sell it off.

He really will. Eventually.

“Quit buying me stupid things,” he snaps, exasperated. “I’m not a bloody trophy wife who needs placating with expensive purchases.”

“Aren’t you?”

“Piss off.”

“You missed me,” Bond says, triumphant, and catches Q’s hands when he tries to unfasten the ridiculous pin from his tie.

“Where did you even manage to find something like this?” Q asks wearily.

Bond smirks at him. “You’d be surprised at what Los Angeles has to offer. Speaking of which, I’ve got something else for you.”

Please say functioning equipment.”

“Something better.”

“The ugly tie pin under my nose makes me think that’s a complete lie.” Q shifts away from the desk, fully prepared to leave the file there under the seat of Bond’s trousers as an unfortunate but necessary sacrifice in his escape, but Bond hooks his ankles around Q’s legs and pulls him back in, amused.

“Come on, I promise you’ll enjoy this one.”

“I need to be back in my meeting in fifteen minutes.” Q glances over at the clock on top of his filing cabinet—it’s a cheap thing that Bond brought back months ago from South Korea, has ‘Seoul’ in bold writing on its face, always ends up running exactly two minutes fast no matter what Q does to fix it. “Fourteen minutes,” he amends, and then he stops speaking in favour of staring down at what Bond’s just pushed into his hands. “Really.”

“What?”

“You go to Los Angeles for a week and bring me back a tie pin and a sex toy.”

Bond just grins at him, tugs him in by his collar, kisses him again. “It’s good quality,” he murmurs, breath warm over the shell of Q’s ear. “Expensive. Matches your suit.”

“Well, that’s always important, having a dildo that matches your work suit,” Q replies, going for a dry tone but missing the mark somewhat when Bond starts working at the button of his trousers.

“Butt plug, actually.”

“That’s— Right, obviously, of course it is, why did you think this was a reasonable gift? Don’t start,” he says suddenly, pushing Bond’s hands away. “No, really, I have to get back to the conference room.”

“We have plenty of time,” Bond says, and takes the sex toy—the butt plug, alright, whatever, it’s black and weighted and it’s got a flared base and it does actually look like it’s a nice quality, but it’s still fucking ridiculous—from Q’s hands.

“And you call me optimistic.”

“More than enough time. Don’t worry,” Bond says soothingly, and works a hand into Q’s trousers. Their bodies press flush together as Bond slides off the desk to stand, and for a moment Q forgets why he’s supposed to be protesting.

Just for a moment. “We’ve had a conversation like this before,” he manages, hips stuttering as Bond’s hand moves. Christ. “About having enough time to do something. Do you remember?” Bond just hums noncommittally and moves Q so that he’s leaning back against his desk, and his trousers are pushed down about his knees, when did that happen? “You ended up spending two days in Medical,” he continues stubbornly. “So I feel like your concept of ‘enough time’—”

“That was a bomb threat, not an office quickie.” Bond sounds somewhat exasperated.

Q spares another glance at the clock. “It’s the principle of the thing.”

“I want to fuck you,” Bond says, and kisses Q silent as he opens his mouth to argue. “Just—Q, for god’s sake, hear me out. I want to fuck you,” he repeats, and then he holds the plug at eye level. “And then I want you to wear this. Through your meeting. You’re talking about budget plans, don’t pretend like you can’t afford to be distracted. I want you to wear this through the rest of your meeting and I want you to think of me fucking you every time you sit down or stand up or move. I want you desperate and unable to keep still and I want you ready for me when I fuck you again later.” He smiles, impossibly relaxed, and raises an eyebrow. “Does that sound like something you’re interested in?”

Q can’t respond. Q can’t actually breathe at the moment, so suddenly aroused it’s like his throat is blocked with it, and he takes in a breath that’s more rattled than he would have liked. The thing is that it is something he’s interested in, for all that he’s a little mortified at the idea, because Bond’s been gone for nearly a week and Q wants longer than the—Christ, the eleven minutes he’s got left to be here, but he doesn’t, and frankly he isn’t going to pass up the spare moments they do have.

But it takes a minute to find his voice, and Bond’s easy expression slips just slightly, with an almost imperceptible furrowing of his brow and a slight shifting back, giving Q a little space, like he’s concerned he’s gone a bit too far. The ridiculous consideration of it makes something akin to fondness rush through Q, who recloses the space between them and kisses Bond because it seems stupid to resist.

“Yes,” he says finally. He catches Bond’s lower lip between his teeth, nips just hard enough to get Bond to relax. “I’m interested.”

Bond has him bent over his desk with his legs spread less than three minutes after that—he can only guess at the time, because he’d taken so many glances at the clock that Bond had thrown a paperweight at it with unfortunate accuracy and sent it crashing to the floor (“We have enough bloody time. Would it kill you to pay a little attention to the fingers I’ve got up your arse?”).

It’s taking some effort not to shift back against the too-much-too-soon burn of Bond’s slick fingers, but Q manages, burying his face in his arms folded on the desk. His desk, they’re in his office, and he’s pretty sure there’s a rule or two against this sort of behaviour.

He’s also pretty sure this qualifies as What MI6 doesn’t know won’t hurt either of their records, and makes a mental note to wipe the security feed in his office.

“Get on with it,” Q grits out, tries to make it sound like less of a beg and more of a command, but he barely gets halfway through the sentence before Bond’s pressing into him and he’s swearing, fingers slipping across the smooth surface of his desk, chasing something solid to grab onto. “Fuck,” he says, vehement, and Bond hushes him with a practiced carelessness that should be infuriating, should be but isn’t, just makes Q flush all over and he drops a hand down to his cock to stroke himself off.

“Don’t,” Bond says suddenly, and the urgency in his tone makes Q pull his hand away like it’s been burned. He wishes he weren’t so fucking eager to please, but Bond gives a quiet, satisfied sound. “Not just yet,” he murmurs, and thrusts in so sharply Q’s head spins.

He’s so hard it’s nearly unbearable, but then Bond changes the angle, purposefully misses Q’s prostate each time he presses in, and between that and the still painful stretch of not being prepared thoroughly enough, he manages to keep himself in check.

It doesn’t take long for Bond to hit climax, the mostly unflappable act he’d played at being just that—an act—and he grips Q’s hips so hard he leaves red makes that will begin to darken before the hour’s up. He leans all his weight into Q a moment later, presses his upper body flush against the desk and bites stingingly along the back of his neck until he squirms.

All the papers and pens and odds and ends on Q’s desk have been scattered hopelessly, but Q has his eyes shut, all senses burned down to a single focal point of Bond’s body heavy against his own. He’s waiting for Bond to shift, to reach around and get a hand on his aching cock, but the moment doesn’t come. Instead, he shudders at the emptiness when Bond pulls out, can’t quite suppress a whine when Bond moves away.

Then the plug’s being pressed into him, cool and smooth and slick with lubricant and Q thinks, distantly, that it’s overkill, that he’s already fucking dripping with the lubricant from earlier and Bond’s come, fuck—but mostly he’s just thinking he wants to come, needs to come right now, let me, let me, please.

The plug stretches him more than he’d anticipated, enough to make him have to stifle a groan in the crook of his elbow.

“You’re doing so well,” Bond murmurs—he sounds so approving, proud. Q takes in a deep breath to try to steel himself, but that only proves to shift the plug inside him, too much, too much sensation, and then he’s shaking all over.

Bond knots his fingers into Q’s hair and pulls his head back with the hold, bares his neck. The stinging pull on his scalp gradually brings him back from the edge, quells his on-fire nerves, gives him something to focus on. He thinks, he can handle this, he just needs to come and then it’ll be bearable.

He’s not expecting Bond to reach down and pull his pants and trousers back up into place. The fabric drags against his cock, and he lets out a rush of air. “No— What are you— What—”

Bond pulls him away from the desk to stand straight, turns him around. Q’s surprised by how disheveled he looks, by how much this seems to be affecting him, and for a moment wonders what he looks like right now himself, but then Bond kisses him with a sort of urgency that makes his knees threaten to buckle and he doesn’t think about much of anything after that.

“Just wait,” Bond tells him, a little breathless from the kiss, “and I’ll make it worth the effort. Just a little longer. It’ll be so good, Q, just wait a little longer.”

The plug brushes against his prostate every time he moves, foreign and distracting and he can’t look away from Bond’s eyes, bright and expectant. “I can’t,” he gasps, doesn’t want to admit it, but he can’t, there’s no way.

“You can. Of course you can. You can’t say you don’t want to do this.”

He does want to do this. It’s not a matter of wanting to. He wants to, fuck, he does, of course he does. But. “I need to come,” Q chokes out, a little frantic.

Something changes in Bond’s expression. He leans in and kisses the corner of Q’s mouth, along his jaw, down his throat until Q feels like he can breathe again. “You will,” Bond says gently. “Christ, you will, and it’ll be so much better for the wait. Trust me.”

For all the ridiculous, dangerous, stupid things Bond has done in the field and out of it, Q has never distrusted him.

“Alright,” he breathes, after a moment. “Alright, fine.” He shakes his head, takes another minute to settle. “It’d better be bloody worth it. This is going to be torture.”

Bond just grins and pulls him in for another kiss.

Q stumbles in to his meeting nine minutes late and can’t bring himself to care, because he’s hours from being able to come and he forgot the file he went to his office to get in the first place and fuck it all if he’s not still wearing the stupid tie pin.

Overall, things haven’t changed much.

Bond still behaves more recklessly than Q would like during missions, still leaves post-its on his desk and souvenirs around his office and word magnets on the whiteboard.

Q keeps designing extravagant gadgets and Bond keeps breaking them.

They still shag as often as they get the chance to, and Q still goes into work the next day with bruises.

That being said, Bond is admittedly less reckless than he used to be. Q starts keeping stashes of post-its and red, fine-tipped Sharpies in his desk drawers, and every so often he buys a new set of magnets to add some variety.

He learns to enjoy repairing broken gadgets and gets better at Bond-proofing them.

More and more frequently, he doesn’t wake up in the morning to an empty bed.