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Skyfall fic: Theory, Meet Application (1/1)

January 6th, 2013 (10:30 pm)
frustrated
Tags: , ,

feeling: frustrated

Title: Theory, Meet Application

Disclaimer: I do not own James Bond or Q.

A/N: For sendintheklowns. Who deserves an awesome birthday for generally being an awesome person. What better way to celebrate than some whump? Thanks to lena7142 for the beta.

Summary: There’s a first for everything.



-o-

Q is nothing short of brilliant.

And he’d be the first one to tell you.

It’s bragging, sure, but not without reason. See, Q is a literal genius. Off the charts smart, and has been since he was in grammar school. He’s aced all the tests without even trying, skipped most of prep school and breezed his way through university. He has two doctorates and three masters degrees, none of which means anything except that the best and brightest in England keep running out of ways to reward his epic awesomeness.

And none of those accomplishments or his other accolades actually mean anything. Those are just words on paper, niceties offered by an upper echelon too scared to consider alienating him. As if awards will keep him happy; as if notoriety will keep him fighting for the right side.

Fortunately, Q has no desire for rewards. He doesn’t even want fame or power. He doesn’t even particularly care what side he’s fighting for, as long as he has his computer and the toughest challenges to tackle. In this, he likes government work. He likes that there are paltry budgets and antiquated systems. It makes his job interesting.

Because Q is nothing short of brilliant. All he needs is a computer, and then he can do anything.

Or, so he’d thought.

Because Q is nothing short of brilliant with a computer, but he’s a slight kid with awkward movements and minimal people skills. He’s asthmatic, and he barely knows the rules of football. Once he played rugby and been knocked out within two seconds and forever banned from playing outside in the neighborhood again.

This has never been an issue for Q. Rugby is superfluous in the world of cyberintelligence. Football is a far off concern in cases of equipping England’s spies for their perils abroad. He doesn’t need to play sports. He doesn’t need to run a marathon. He doesn’t even need to fly. Because Q’s a computer guy, a tech genius who can think his way out of every problem. He can tell you how a gun works, the minute physics and the intricate operations that allow the bullet to fire with the right speed and trajectory to kill.

But he’s never actually shot a man.

He’s never been face to face with a terrorist, never been caught in the crosshairs of a weapon. He’s never pointed a gun, released the safety and felt his stomach go cold as he realized that he may not come out of this alive.

And suddenly, all his accolades and accomplishments -- all his skills -- mean nothing.

Theory.

Application.

It’s all so antiquated that he almost wants to laugh, but his breathing hitches as he works to control a sob.

He’s never fired a gun at a person.

And he’s sure as hell never been shot.

Oh well, he thinks, almost irrationally now as his heart skips a beat and his gun wavers in his hand. There’s a first for everything.

-o-

Bond runs.

There is an spark of fear in his gut, building deep and burning hard. He holds it there, fans the flames and clamps it down so it burns hotter than before. He doesn’t let it out, though. His gut is the only place it belongs as it drives his legs to move faster, faster...

Because Bond has figured it out. He probably should have figured it out sooner, but maybe he’s getting slow in his age. Maybe he’s getting soft.

Maybe he’s just not lucky.

He is, after all, a spy, not a superhero. He bleeds; he tires; sometimes he fails. He can still feel the bullet in his chest, the long fall off the bridge, the hot wet slickness of M’s blood as she died in his arms.

He fails sometimes.

But not this time.

Khalid Ahmed came to MI6 with the promise of intelligence. He’d played the game for months -- for years -- to warrant an invitation inside. And once they’d let him in, it was still about information -- the information he wanted.

Ahmed hadn’t come prepared to give anything except a spray of noxious fumes at his questioner and two broken necks to the guards before he disarmed them. He’d killed at least three other people in his desperate run, and with MI6 on lockdown, Bond’s the only one who knows what his next move is.

Intelligence.

At first glance, Bond might think Ahmed is moving toward M’s office, where all things are centralized. M has clearance codes and a vast knowledge. But then he remembered what Q was always telling him. It wasn’t really about manpower anymore.

It was about data. Information.

Computers.

This is the new intelligence.

This is Ahmed’s goal.

This is only Bond’s case tangentially; he’d been the one to first meet Ahmed three years ago in Beirut. He’d been the one who had said he was likely an unreliable asset with questionable motives.

His concerned had been noted, added as a footnote and ultimately ignored.

It’s no one’s fault in particular, he supposes, so Bond’s not in the business of placing blame. But he knows if he doesn’t stop this now, he’ll blame himself because he let it go just like everyone else. He played his part, a cog in the machine, and he’d raised his eyebrow at seeing Ahmed’s name on the ledger and thought nothing of it until the alarm went off.

He’d gone to the room first -- found the dying operative, the dead guards. Ahmed’s trail had been easy after that, fast and littered with bodies. As he went, all the signs pointed in the same direction.

The computers.

And the one last guardian: Q.

Q has proven himself to be valuable and capable in his element, which is clicking on a keyboard and drawing up prototypes. He’s a genius, Bond has no doubt, but he’s too young, too inexperienced. To Bond, there is no crime in such limitations -- not everyone is meant for field work -- but Q is too cocky to realize that his choices are indeed limitations to be noted.

Bond runs because he can. He runs because Q’s choices are good, and so are Bond’s. They can work together, help each other, be stronger as a comprehensive whole. Brains and brawn.

Brawn has fallen, and no matter how fast Bond runs, he fears it won’t be fast enough. Because brawn is failing and brains are no match for a loaded gun.

The fire burns hotter in his gut, and Bond picks up the pace. His chest is tight, his vision focused. It’s prime determination, born of need, of demand, of guilt.

Bond knows guilt. He knows it because he helped bury M.

He also knows guilt is useless.

Action is quintessential.

And so Bond runs.

-o-

On the ground, Q’s fingers are shaking. He’s pressed against the console, and he can feel the heat from the computer, almost like it’s burning his back. He shifts, but he only sinks down further, the gun in his hands seeming to weigh him down.

The gun.

He tries to lift it, but his fingers rebel. He tries to cock it, then he tries to replace the safety. When neither work, he just lets it fall because at this point, he doesn’t have another choice.

Not that it matters.

The body across from him is sprawled, blood spilling out from the head. The face is turned toward Q, eyes still open, staring in death.

Strangely, aiming is just like in the simulations. Lining up the sights, pulling the trigger.

The sound of it, though. The way the bullet burns through the gun, the kickback almost knocking him over. The realization of success; the horror of killing.

Q thinks he may like theory better.

His chest hitches and he looks down. He coughs, half choking. He spits and blood comes out, running down his chin, spraying his already blood-coated shirt.

Because that’s another thing theory doesn’t capture. The horror of killing.

The pain of being shot.

The pain.

Q’s breathing breaks on a sob and he shudders, his body trembling as everything starts to fade. He’s going numb, the pain pitching higher as his vision tunnels and his body slumps further.

Application sucks.

This is why he likes his computer. The safe world of clicking keys and sterile code. Simple; pain-free.

Q’s breathing grates, his lung gurgling. He’s slipping further, and everything dims.

-o-

By the last stretch of corridor, Bond is going so quickly that he’s almost out of control. The burn in his muscles is so acute that he doesn’t even feel it, the thrumming of his heart nothing but the rhythm for his footfalls to match. He careens around the last corner, skidding in his dress shoes, pulling his gun to the ready--

To nothing.

The room buzzes, the electricity humming and the monitors glaring in the fluorescent light. There’s an eerie stillness, and then Bond sees the blood.

Heart still hammering, he inches forward. The puddle is large -- too large -- whoever it’s from is dead.

He takes another cautious step and then sees the body. The back of the head is missing -- blown away, it seems -- and it takes another few steps before he sees the face, blank with shock.

Ahmed.

Dead.

For a moment, Bond can only stare, trying to process this development. The labs had been cleared; no one had been here except for Q.

Q.

There’s a grating noise, and Bond lifts his gun, aiming it before he sees.

Before he sees Q, slumped against the far console. The gun rests just beyond his limp fingers, and his face is pale and sweaty. Bond might think it was a panic attack except for the blood.

It’s spilling down Q’s front, soaking the dress shirt and marring the tie. He looks small there, crumpled and half-discarded.

The moment of fear is real, but brief. Bond has seen peril; he’s no stranger to blood. Rushing forward, he goes to his knees, using one hand to tilt Q’s face up and pressing the other into the pulse point on Q’s neck.

It’s a superfluous gesture since Q opens his eyes. He blinks heavily a few times before his eyes focus, a brief smile flitting over his face before he grimaces. “Bond?” he asks.

“Easy,” James coaches, shifting one hand away to pull at Q’s blood-drenched shirt. “You’ve been shot.”

Q makes a face. “I’m aware of that,” he says breathlessly. He swallows with effort, eyes going wide as he looks up at Bond again. “I shot him.”

James is trained, so he manages to hold in his surprise as he takes off his jacket. “You mean someone trusted you with a gun?”

Q takes a shuddering breath as Bond presses the jacket against the wound with force. “I’m a good shot,” he says, squirming a little in obvious pain.

“Have you ever shot someone before?” Bond asks, shifting his weight to hold the pressure better.

“Now I have,” Q says, and if it’s supposed to sound like confidence, the broken, ragged words have the opposite effect. Q closes his eyes.

Bond presses hard, jostling the younger man. “And? Everything you thought?”

Q coughs, eyes fluttering open even as blood stains his lips. “Yes,” he says, eyes drifting up and locking with Bond’s. “This is why I play with computers.” He pauses to inhale noisily, nearly convulsing as he strains. “And you’re the hero.”

A compliment. The simple admission is so telling that for a moment, James is actually rendered speechless. His fingers are clenched tight, pressing hard on Q’s chest, eyes locked with the younger man. He can feel the stuttering heartbeat, feel the blood, and Bond can face any foe, but in everything, he still doesn’t know how to talk about how he feels.

This is why he disappeared after being shot. This is why he gritted his way through his requalifications when he came back. Action, not talking, because too many of the words are just too hard.

He can charm any mark; he can wheedle his way out of almost any situation. He can bluff, he can lie, he can be anyone -- except himself.

He buried most of it with his parents. He buried the rest with M.

And yet, here he is, face to face with Q and wishing he had something left. Something to offer him.

It’s not the first time Bond’s failed a mission, but when Q’s eyes slip shut and he shudders into stillness, it feels like it.

“Q,” he says, jostling the younger man. He lifts a blood stained hand to Q’s face, tapping his cheeks. “Q.”

Q doesn’t respond, body sagging and it occurs to James that he can’t tell if the younger man is breathing. Face taut, he maneuvers Q away from the wall, laying him out on the ground. In the distance, he can hear the sound of footsteps and the methodical orders of a sweep being conducted. Help will be here soon.

Looking at Q’s white face, Bond wonders if it’ll be soon enough.

He repositions himself, bearing down with his full weight on the wound. Q’s limbs are splayed and he doesn’t flinch at the pressure, and James uses his free hand to press his fingers again into Q’s throat. This time, though, there’s no response. This time, there’s nothing...

Bond has seen people die; he’s killed more people than he can remember. He understands the need; he knows that good people die as casualties of a war more people will never even know about. Q’s family -- if he has one -- will be told their son and brother died in a mugging; maybe a robbery. A terrorist attack, Bond thinks idly, casting a glance at Ahmed’s prone form.

The truth is a luxury. The truth is inconvenient. The truth is often far less glorious than people think it should be.

The truth is, Bond is an aging agent who has no one left on this earth who would notice if he lived or died. The truth is, he’s a dying breed and his days are limited. Someday, he’ll go out into the field and he won’t come back because someone is better, faster, stronger. There will be no one left to bury him, and he’ll disappear in death just like he has in life.

The truth is, Q stopped Ahmed. Q, who doesn’t like to fly, who doesn’t like to get his hands dirty, can pull the trigger just as well as Bond can.

The truth is that theory is just as important as application.

They’re better together.

Q doesn’t move, though, and Bond doesn’t know what to do. For everyone he has killed, he has saved so few, so when help arrives, James lets them take over, watching as a pair of medics descend upon Q’s still body. They rip his shirt open, revealing the wound, and someone puts a pair of electrodes on the too-thin frame and James hears the resounding alarm.

Frozen, Bond can only watch as they shock Q, his body arching slightly off the ground before going still again.

This is why I play with computers.

But Q’s fingers are limp on the ground, even as they shock him again.

And you’re the hero.

Luck is a fickle thing, and guilt is a useless emotion.

Action is quintessential.

Except there’s nothing left to do.

This time, Q has a heartbeat and the medics turn their attention to his wounds. Some people save lives; others take them. Some people use computers; some still do things the old fashion way. Some survive...

Some walk away.

James has no place here. Not with Q being treated and the room being swarmed by security and techs.

Bond has no place at all.

So he turns, wipes his bloody hands on his dress slacks, and walks away.

-o-

Q has a bed, though he doesn’t use it often. Or, at least not correctly. Most of the time, it’s a catch all for his clothes and sometimes his garbage when the trashbin is overflowing. He’s slept on there from time to time, when it gets too late and his back is sore, and he wakes up still dressed with his shoes hanging off the end.

Most of the time, he ends up sleeping on the couch with his laptop on his lap or hunched over on his desk with his iMac screen still glaring in the dimness of his flat. It’s not that Q doesn’t like to sleep -- he does rather enjoy a good sleep in -- but when he gets going on a game or a program, usually he’s too engaged to think about stopping.

So he doesn’t understand why he’s in a bed now.

Eyes fluttering, he tries to sit up and then is assaulted by pain.

He tries to cry out, but finds the noise cut off in his throat. Everything seems to seize up and when he tries to breathe, he finds he can’t.

He can’t.

Squeezing his eyes shut, the tears come unbidden. This isn’t just about his bed anymore. This is about...

This is about...

Q finds himself losing his train of thought, the pain ratcheting up a notch as everything seems to buzz.

This is about...

Agony spikes suddenly and he convulses -- but there’s nowhere to go. His eyes snap open and he flails, bucking as he tries to breathe, tries to--

A hand grasps his, holding it firmly. Q blinks rapidly, looking up through blurred vision until he focuses on the face above him. Not his mum -- she’s dead anyway, two, no three years now -- and not his dad -- the sod took off when Q was five and he hasn’t seen the man since he was fifteen.

It’s a man, though. Tall and familiar and briefly Q wonders if it’s Bond. He remembers the agent for some reason, being there, being close...

You’re the hero.

A monitor bleeps loudly and Q shudders.

“Easy,” the man says, and Q clears his vision enough to recognize M. “Just take it easy.”

Q tries to obey -- it’s not in his nature to give orders, so following them is usually easy enough -- and he feels himself sagging into the pillows even as the uncertainties mount in his ever-working brain.

M seems to settle back a bit. “You’ve got yourself into a bit of a mess here,” he continues. “The doctors are worried, if the truth be told, but clearly they don’t know what you’re capable of.”

It’s a compliment, but Q doesn’t understand it. He doesn’t understand...

M squeezes his hand. “Quite the hero,” he muses, even as Q feels himself starting to drift. “Just rest now.”

Just rest. That seems easier said than done. Sure, he’s in a bed, but he still can’t breathe and it still hurts and it hurts....

Theory. Application.

Q still sees Bond sitting over him. Is it everything you thought?

Q’s not sure what the answer is even as he slips away into the darkness once more.

-o-

If Bond has learned anything by working in the shadows, it’s that life always goes on. Sometimes the world is safer -- sometimes not -- but the sun always shines inevitably on a new day, no matter the turmoil of the last. In some ways, this is a consolation in Bond’s line of work. It makes the darkness easier to take, at the very least. The inevitability of civilization’s resilience is a point that he usually counts in his favor.

It doesn’t make everything easier, though. Because day or night, Bond still knows the darkest parts of the world. He still knows the most depraved intentions of the mind. And if the sun always comes out, he also knows that darkness invariably falls often sooner than most people are ready for.

Thinking on that, however, would be dwelling. Bond doesn’t dwell. He drinks good alcohol, sleeps with beautiful women, and does his job. Hell, he’ll settle for bad alcohol, easy women, and keeping with the job all the same. At this point in his career, Bond can’t afford to be choosy.

Bond can’t afford a lot of things.

Because there is still a job to do. It never goes away. And it certainly never gets easier.

The mess with Ahmed is just the latest example. Cleaning up is difficult on every possible level. The loss of life alone is hard for MI6 to deal with -- coming up with some sort of cover story for the media is a job that Bond is glad he doesn’t have. He’s tasked with assessing Ahmed’s connections -- trying to figure out if he’d been on the take from the start or if he’d had a last minute change of heart.

It’s not fun work; it’s not even particularly interesting or easy. It’s monotonous and tedious, which is just the distraction Bond finds he craves when things have gone very, very wrong.

And they have, no doubt. He’s not petty enough to say I told you so. Besides, it seems unusually cruel when people are mourning.

Still, when M calls him in, Bond is not convinced that he’ll retain the kid gloves. This new director is not as familiar as the old, but Bond is old enough to not care. The man has proven himself capable and genuine, and Bond is too tired to even pretend to bullshit him.

Besides, when he walks by, he can still see the cleaning crew with bleach, trying to scrub the corridors clean from the blood.

Bond doesn’t look, of course. Keeps walking, buttoning his jacket as he skirts the work, and he doesn’t think of scrubbing his fingernails clean last night, working Q’s blood out of his cuticles under the hot spray of his shower.

That would be sentiment. And guilt is useless.

When he gets to M’s office, he nods to Moneypenny, who lets him in with a small, seductive smile. He doesn’t wait for an invitation to sit, and settles himself across from M, who is shuffling through papers for a long moment before looking up at Bond with a smile.

“I just heard from the hospital,” he says.

Bond crosses his legs and eases back in the chair.

M narrows his eyes briefly, but retains a relaxed air. “They’re still watching for infection, but they think Q is going to be fine,” he says. “The bullet did a lot of damage to his chest, but they think they’ve managed to reverse the worst of it. He’s still weak, but his vitals are steadily improving.”

“That’s good,” Bond says. “He’s the only one who can probably trace Ahmed’s internet activity over the last few months. I know we had a fix on his primary account, but I think I’ve detected usage from a few secondary accounts that he may have been using as a buffer.

“Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” M says with a small smile. “He’s still breathing through a tube and on the critical list.”

Bond works his jaw and shrugs one shoulder. “Well. Surely one of his subordinates.”

M regards him cautiously. “Of course,” he says. He waits a long moment. “Though I didn’t call you in here to discuss the trail just yet.”

Bond frowns. “Something new?”

“No,” M says readily. “I called you in about Q.”

“I think he can better debrief you about his role in this when he wakes up.”

M waves a hand. “No, you miss my meaning,” he says. “I thought you might be concerned about Q. I thought you might want to know how he’s doing.”

Bond is too aware that M is watching him, and this is apparently some sort of test. He never had this problem with the old M, and though he counts this director as an ally, there is nothing implicit in this trust.

After a moment, M sighs, leaning back in his chair. “Bond, I know your history,” he says. “I know that you are as good as you are because of the way you operate. You’re a field agent; it is a solitary calling, which is perhaps its greatest sacrifice.”

Bond doesn’t flinch, doesn’t move. He blinks once and shows no expression.

M presses his lips together for a moment. “But just because you do much of your work in isolation does not mean that you are alone,” he continues. “You are a part of a team here. You might even think of it as a family.”

A family. The irony is not lost on Bond. He hasn’t had a family since he was a boy, and now that he’s buried M, he’s been fairly sure there was nothing left.

Except...

He remembers the fear in his gut when he realized Ahmed’s plan. He remembers the racing of his heart when he saw all the blood.

“Sentimentality is dangerous in the field,” Bond reminds him.

“And essential back in the office,” M returns. “Emotion can compromise it, but it can also ground us. If we don’t care about the people we’re fighting with, then we’ll have nothing to fight for.”

Bond cocks his head. “That sounds like a shift in policy,” he says. “Does Home Office agree?”

M’s lips quirk into a smile. “They don’t need to know everything.”

“Lies and half-truths? Sentiment? What is the world coming to?”

“Indeed,” M agrees. “These are a few of the lessons I’ve learned from my predecessor. Her experience is hard to disagree with.”

It’s a calculated move; M knows Bond’s history; he knows his relationship with the last director. He knows Bond has few weaknesses.

And he knows how to exploit the ones that are there.

M leans forward, his smile softening. “We are as strong as our weakest link.”

“Q isn’t weak,” Bond replies without thinking.

“No,” M agrees. “And neither are you for caring about him.”

Bond has walked into that one, and he realizes he can’t disagree. Sighing, he straightens his jacket. “Sentimentality,” he says.

M tweaks his eyebrows. “Of all the secrets of the spy game, that is perhaps the best well kept.”

“And the most dangerous,” Bond agrees because M died for him, because Q almost died on his watch. Because the closer people are, the harder it is to make the tough calls.

“And maybe the most powerful.”

Bond can’t disagree. Because that’s what made him survive at Skyfall. That’s what got him to M in time to keep her from becoming a martyr. That’s how he ran fast enough to get to Q before it was too late. Sentiment can compromise; it can also empower. M made choices because she cared about him, sometimes hard choices, but choices all the same. When things had to give, she still knew it was the right thing, and she knew to trust him even when all evidence pointed to the contrary.

Sentiment does not conform to conventions. It is not predictable or easy or what anyone might choose. It changes things, and not always for the better.

But always in a way that matters.

In everything, Bond wouldn’t change much. He’d change his body’s limitations; he’d change his pulling away, but he’d never change the few relationships he’s allowed. Not with M...

And not with Q.

Standing, Bond regains his cool demeanor. “You will have my report on Ahmed first thing in the morning.”

M raises his eyebrows. “And in the meantime.”

Bond hesitates. “Some personal business to attend to.”

Smiling, M nods. “Very good,” he says.

Bond inclines his head, turning and moving back toward the door.

“Oh, one last thing, Bond,” M says.

Bond turns, pausing at the door.

“Tell Q I send my best,” M says.

Bond shrugs. “Seems like something you should tell him yourself.”

“Yes,” M muses, smiling wider now. “I reckon it is.”

-o-

Q is nothing short of brilliant.

He has to admit, though. He feels a long way from brilliant in the hospital. Usually, his brain works quickly, making connections and seeing solutions even before he’s fully defined a problem. But this time, everything is slow, fogged with pain and drugs. He doesn’t know how much time passes before he remembers what happens, but the hazy recollection of simultaneous gunfire becomes vivid enough over time.

He can’t sit up yet -- he can’t even stay awake or string together a sentence -- but he still remembers the way Ahmed’s head had exploded right before the bullet slammed into his own chest.

The pain is effusive, muted but heavy, weighing in his chest like a ton of bricks. Every breath is a chore and the doctor comes to poke and prod until he’s too tired to even think and just slips away again.

Then, he’s not alone.

At first he thinks it’s one of the nurses, but the presence is too still. He considers M -- he’s been here once or twice, Q can’t remember for sure -- but there’s no reassuring squeeze on his arm. It takes effort -- more effort than Q wants to expend, in all truth -- but when his eyes finally fix on the figure and focus, he recognizes the expressionless face, the stiff posture.

“Bond,” he murmurs. Not a greeting. Not a question. Just an observation.

Bond tilts his head. “Q.”

“You came,” he says, working on getting more saliva in his throat and only somewhat succeeding.

“So it seems,” Bond agrees.

Q shakes his head. “Before,” he says, the memory flashing.

There is an inscrutable look on Bond’s face. “Ahmed was a security risk,” he says.

Work, Q reminds himself. Business as usual.

He closes his eyes and focuses on breathing for a long moment.

“I was pleasantly surprised, though,” Bond continues suddenly. Q opens his eyes and Bond shrugs. “You handled the situation perfectly.”

Q grimaces. “Except for the part where I got shot.”

“Yes,” Bond says. “Happens to the best of us.”

It’s not a compliment, but it’s not derision. Q realizes that the mystery is not that Bond came the first time; it’s that he’s here now.

Brow furrowed, Q struggles to keep himself awake against the onslaught of the drugs and pain. “So why are you here?”

It’s not the most elegant question, but it’s coherent and his voice only fluctuates a little.

Bond purses his lips a little. “Waking up alone is depressing,” he says. “No agent deserves it. Trust me.”

Q does. That’s the thing; Q does. Implicitly and completely. He can mock and deride, but James Bond is in a class all his own, and Q can tap on keys all day long and never do what he does.

He never wants to.

“Besides,” Bond continues. “The first time is always the hardest.”

At that, Q manages a small snort. “Hopefully the last.”

“That’s no way for an agent to talk,” Bond chides.

“I’m a quartermaster,” Q reminds him. “Not a field agent.”

“Still a hero, it would seem.”

“Hardly,” Q huffs. “Any idiot can point a gun and fire.”

“But most don’t hit what they aim for,” Bond replies. “You managed a headshot.”

Q sighs. “I was aiming for his chest.”

A small smile almost plays on Bond’s lips. “Yes, well, you could use a few more lessons it would seem.”

Q lifts his eyebrows. “Are you offering to teach me?”

“Me?” Bond asks. “Of course not. I haven’t got the time.”

“Ah,” Q murmurs. “Well, so much for that, then.”

Bond smirks. “Though I hear there’s this thing people still do to learn things,” he says. “I believe it’s called reading. A bit archaic for you, but I think it might still work to learn the basics.”

“That’s just theory,” Q says.

“We all have to start somewhere,” Bond reminds him. “After that, you can try a gun range.”

Q holds his gaze, even as sleep threatens to claim him again. “Okay,” Q agrees.

Bond almost looks surprised. “No witty comeback?”

“Too tired,” Q says. “Anyway, after this, I may put more stock in the power of experience.”

“Is that respect I hear?” Bond asks coyly.

“Surprise, mostly,” Q tells him. “I can’t believe they had the written word when you trained.”

“Funny.”

Q manages to smile. “I try.”

“Yes, well,” Bond says, busying himself by standing. “Keep trying and we’ll see if you’ve improved when I get back.”

Frowning, Q tries to remember. “The mission to Johannesburg?”

“I leave tomorrow, and I still need to get the file about Ahmed to M,” Bond says.

Q smiles faintly. “So much to do,” he says. “Oh, don’t forget to stop by to pick up your mission package. I had it ready before...”

Before he got shot. Before Bond saved his life. Before...this.

“Consider it done,” Bond says.

“Good,” Q says. “I’d hate to feel like I left you vulnerable out there.”

Bond lifts one eyebrows. “Looks like I could say the same.”

Shifting in the bed, Q pulls in a grimace. “Well, I don’t plan on making a career out of it.”

“Good,” Bond says. “I’d rather not have to make a habit of saving you.”

Maybe it’s the drugs; maybe it’s the pain. Maybe it’s just everything, but Q can hear the faintest traces of regret and fear. Of uncertainty. As if Bond actually cared.

Why else would he be here? Q is just the quartermaster. Bond is one of many spies. There’s nothing special about that.

Except Bond saved his life.

And Q knows the theory and application of that. Knows it like a bullet to the chest and the fact that he’s still breathing.

That he’s not alone.

“Bond,” he says haltingly, struggling to keep himself away. Bond lingers, eyes on his. “Thank you.”

Bond doesn’t waver. “It’s my job.”

Q smiles. “I know.”

Bond gives him a funny look, but doesn’t say anything. It seems, there’s nothing else to say. Instead, he nods once and makes his way out, not pausing to look back from the door. He’s just gone and Q is alone again.

In this, maybe nothing is different. It’s all just theory and application, maybe a little more of one and less of the other, but Q will go back to his computers and Bond will go out on missions. Quartermaster and field agent. Necessary, equal parts.

Yet, as Bond walks away, Q drifts back to sleep feeling safe, feeling secure, feeling happy, and he wonders if maybe everything is different after all.

Comments

Posted by: faradheia (faradheia)
Posted at: January 7th, 2013 02:53 pm (UTC)
Fandom

This was lovely!!!! Thank you so much!!!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 14th, 2013 12:40 pm (UTC)
q bond

I am so far behind! But still, thank you for reading :)

Posted by: sendintheclowns (sendintheklowns)
Posted at: January 7th, 2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
Q & 007

Fabulous! Love everything about it...the title, the content, the interactions and let's not forget the whump.

Thank you so much for making my birthday such a treat :D

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 14th, 2013 12:41 pm (UTC)
q bond

I'm a bit late -- obviously :) I'm very glad you liked the whump. And I'm glad you liked this movie all around. Actually, we just bought it at the store last night and I hope to rewatch this weekend :)

Thanks!

Posted by: sockie1000 (sockie1000)
Posted at: January 8th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)

ah... so lovely, faye. :) loved the musings on theory vs. application as well as sentimentality. and, of course, bond and q and whump. :D and bond moving on after m's death. lol, so much to love!

and happy birthday to sendintheklowns!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 14th, 2013 12:42 pm (UTC)
q bond

I seem to function under the belief that there's at least one whump fic for me to write in every fandom. I don't always write it, but I take some comfort in knowing that there's at least one bunny I can pursue.

Anyway, I'm very late here, but thank you!

6 Read Comments