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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

James Bond fic: The Easy Things (1/1)

January 7th, 2016 (09:35 pm)
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Title: The Easy Things

Disclaimer: I do not own James Bond or Q.

A/N: Unbeta’ed. I do hope a little Q whump is appropriate for your birthday, sendintheklowns.

Warnings: Torture (aftermath)

Summary: Getting Q out would be the easiest thing in the world.



-o-

It wasn’t easy, not really. A heavily guarded compound in a remote location. Well trained guards with orders to shoot first and ask questions later. The most advanced security system on the planet, and enough firepower to neutralize a small nation in a single blow. Not to mention the world’s latest sociopath at the head of its operation.

All the intelligence suggested that an assault would be mayhem. Infiltration would take years, and even then, it probably wouldn’t be successful. In short, it wasn’t just not easy. It was almost impossible.

Almost.

Bond used odds like that, played them to his favor even when he had no right to. It was a certain amount of luck, and a lot more determination and the presence of mind to make the right choice. After all, sociopaths invested in all that firepower and technology to keep anyone from making the attempt.

That was their vulnerability.

Not that Bond needed it.

Not when he was properly motivated.

And this wasn’t national security. This wasn’t global stability. This wasn’t even a personal vendetta, a burned bridge from his past.

No, this was teamwork.

Friendship.

Because someone could steal secrets, they could sell weapons and profit from death. But if they took someone Bond cared about? If they picked off one of the few people in this world that mattered to him?

Then the odds just didn’t matter.

Getting Q out would be the easiest thing in the world.

-o-

Honestly, Bond didn’t remember most of it.

There were bits and pieces that stuck out -- ramming the fence, somehow acquiring a fully functional rocket launcher, using an illegally obtained EMP device to effectively level the playing field -- but there were parts that he’d never forget.

Opening that last door with a pair of bloodstained keys, stepping over the two dead guards at its entrance. Making his way to the huddled figure in the corner and scooping him up. His glasses were gone, and there were bruises as Bond pushed the floppy hair away from his forehead. He drew the cold body closer still, pressing his ear against the battered, exposed chest, listening, hoping.

And the sound of a heartbeat was the best thing he’d ever heard.

-o-

He came in the same way he went out, hot, fast and with plenty of bullets. He wanted to make them pay, to buy back the blood they’d spilled tenfold. He would bleed them dry, person by person, until there was nothing left to bleed.

But Q’s body was light in his arm, his long arms limp as his head lolled against Bond’s shoulder.

Bond didn’t need to teach the people who did this a lesson.

He just needed to eliminate them, once and for all.

Outside, Bond stole the closest vehicle and used it to run down the last of the guards trying to escape. He heard his watch ping, and he pressed his foot down to the floor, engine revving with the sudden acceleration. Using one hand, he braced Q in the seat next to him, clearing the checkpoint as the first explosion went off.

Each charge triggered the next, detonating through the facility until the whole thing came tumbling down as Bond picked up speed and made straight for the open road.

Behind them, the complexed burned, bright and hot.

Not that Bond knew.

He refused to look back.

-o-

Finding the safehouse was easy enough, but Bond wasn’t inclined to take chances. He backtracked a few times, waiting until nightfall to bundled the still body next to him and get the both inside. He double checked the security measures before looking at his phone -- missed calls from Moneypenny and M alike.

Bond put the phone away.

They’d know soon enough.

Besides, Bond thought with a grim look toward Q, the job wasn’t done yet.

-o-

Bond wasn’t a trained field medic, but he was adequate nonetheless. He’d stitched himself up more times than he could count, much to the chagrin of the doctors at MI6. It took a certain kind of talent to put a needle in your own skin and not pass out, to drink just enough to deaden the senses without completely compromising accuracy.

This was harder.

He checked Q over meticulously, cataloguing every bruise and cleaning every cut. He bandaged the worst of them generously, stitching up a nasty gash on his arm for good measure. Then he felt for broken bones and internal bruising, cringing at how many ribs were broken but feeling assured that there was no sign of bleeding.

The track marks on his arm were another story.

Sedatives, stimulants, hallucinogens -- they all had their place during intense interrogation, and Bond knew their effects better than he liked. Given Q’s depressed vitals and sluggish pupillary response, it seemed likely that he’d been dosed with something to make him compliant not long before Bond arrived.

He checked his watch with a sigh.

It could be hours before Q roused, hours before Bond knew just how bad this had been.

His eyes swept over Q again.

As if it needed to be worse.

-o-

After everything, this was the hard part.

Sitting idle, watching the steady rise and fall of Q’s chest. Knowing that he’d rescued him, but not soon enough. Understanding that for all he’d accomplished on this job, he’d still failed to prevent this and nothing would ever be the same.

The field, it changed people. Even those who were well prepared and trained -- it changed them.

And capture? Isolation? Torture?

Even those who didn’t break were broken in their own ways. You could survive, but you never really overcame it. You always lost part of yourself, something you’d never get back. Over the years, Bond had sacrificed more of himself than he’d care to admit, and it made him a better spy.

But not a better person.

Q would be a better agent, when he came through this.

And that was the hardest thing of all.

-o-

He was there when Q woke up.

He hadn’t been there when he was captured; he hadn’t even known until the photos had been sent to M, asking for money and highly classified intelligence files.

The fact that he’d asked for so little made it clear to Bond that he had no idea what sort of asset he had in his hands.

Part of Bond regretted that he hadn’t been there to see the look on his face when his whole operation came crashing down before he himself went up in flame.

But he couldn’t be here if he had to be there, and if anything, Bond was sure of his priorities now.

At first, Q was confused, flinching away as he pulled in on himself reflexively. Sitting closer, Bond kept his voice steady and his body still. “It’s okay,” he said, as plainly as he could. “You’re safe now.”

Bewildered, Q blinked in surprise. Huddled on the bed, he stared at Bond for a long moment, as if trying to gauge whether or not he were real.

Bond offered a tepid smile. “The drugs are still working their way out of your system,” he said. “But as far as I can tell, there are no other serious injuries.”

Serious injuries -- it was a stupid thing to say. Broken bones, cuts in the skin -- those things could be diagnosed and treated. A cast, a few stitches, a few weeks, and all was well.

The real damage -- the things that didn’t heal -- were the ones you couldn’t see.

On the bed, Q swallowed, blinking a few times. His fingers uncurled slightly, his breathing starting to lengthen. “Bond?”

“You’re out,” Bond said steadily.

“And the people that did this…,” he hesitated, flinching a little. “The people that took me….”

“Will not hurt you or anyone else, ever again,” Bond promised.

The flicker of hope in Q’s eyes was matched with equal doses of uncertainty. It was a learned resiliency, probably because Q had had this fantasy before.

Probably had it more times than he could count.

That was the thing about torture.

It stripped you down to the barest parts, until you had only the basic building blocks to make sense of the world. It was simpler like that, sure.

But the best things in life weren’t supposed to be simple.

Q wasn’t supposed to be simple.

“Q,” Bond said, reaching forward. Q blanched, almost pulling away but Bond’s hand rested on his wrist, gentle but firm. As the trembling eased, Bond squeezed. “Trust me.”

Q’s entire expression wobbled. “Is this going to get easier?”

“Maybe,” Bond said with a sympathetic tilt of his head. “But it’s going to get harder first.”

A lie would have been more comforting, in some ways.

But the truth was the only real thing Bond had to offer.

“But don’t worry,” Bond assured him. “We’ll get there.”

-o-

He was right, naturally. Bond usually was.

It did get harder.

Q was shaky on his feet, and fragile in his own head. There was a panic attack in the shower, and he threw up after every meal. When the phone rang, Q startled so badly that Bond turned his ringer off before turning it off altogether.

He didn’t talk much, and he offered no details about what happened to him. There would be time for that later, and he knew that MI6’s doctors could be as tenacious as interrogators, demanding answers that operatives weren’t always ready to give.

It was that reason that he didn’t feel guilty about it, ducking M’s calls and deflecting his latent paperwork to Moneypenny. They would do this on Q’s terms; and for once in his career, he would follow Q’s lead to the end.

-o-

The bruises faded; his body started to fill out again. But there was nothing that could bring the color back to his skin or erase the bags under his eyes. And there was no spark there, and in all the time they’d been in the safehouse, Q hadn’t asked for a computer once.

In this, the days were long and without much to do. Q slept much of the time, leaving Bond to keep watch in all the ways he’d failed to in the first place.

This wasn’t technically his job, at least not the one he’d been assigned.

But it was the one he was going to do.

The only one left that mattered.

-o-

It was Q who started the conversation, one day while he stared out the dirty window from their third floor flat.

“Shouldn’t we be going back?” he asked, not quite looking at Bond.

Bond shrugged. “I’m not big on rules.”

“But surely there’s paperwork,” Q said.

“I’m even less big on paperwork,” Bond reminded him.

Q didn’t say anything for a long, heavy moment. “But our jobs--” he started, and that faltered, color filling up his cheeks as he looked at Bond fully. “If we don’t do our jobs--”

Bond smiled faintly. “They won’t fire us,” he said. “Trust me. I should know.”

Q’s brows knitted together, and he shook his head. “But why you?” he asked. “Why are you here? You got me out. What more do you think you can accomplish?”

It was more than Q had strung together in the entire time they’d been there. It was halting and heavy, and not nearly as clever as Q usually was. Part of it broke Bond, just a little.

The rest of it, though, gave him hope.

“You decide when,” he said evenly, holding Q’s gaze. “You decide where.”

“And if I’m never ready?” Q asked.

Bond shrugged languidly. “Then I know of worse places to live.”

“You say that like it’s easy,” Q returned.

“For me, it is,” he said. “I know you’ve got the hard part in this.”

-o-

And it was hard.

Hearing Q wake up with nightmares; seeing him duck his head every time he passed a mirror. Hearing him hiss in pain when Bond checked his healing ribs, and seeing the slightly vacant look in his eyes as he stared out the window, day after day.

The hardest mission Bond had ever done

And still, the most important.

-o-

It started with a jumper.

Something silly and ill-fitting, just like he used to wear back at the office. Then, a few days later, Q coiffed his hair enough for Bond to see his eyes.

A week after that, he asked for a phone.

Then he found the laptop.

One day, when Bond went out for grocery, he came to find that Q had set up an entire electronic system, connecting to the Internet and hacking the local television network for free streaming access.

-o-

After three months, Bond found that he liked the routine. He liked the rhythm there, and he enjoyed Q’s company. Q started going with him to the market, and sometimes he even slept through the night. They took turns cooking, and Q started to criticize Bond’s cleaning habits, and things started to feel right somehow.

He could stay like this; he could live like this. Simple and quiet, as long as Q was okay, as long as Q smiled, as long as Q was here.

The hardest things were the simplest things, and sometimes there was no way to tell the difference.

Besides, in the end, Bond was pretty sure it didn’t matter.

-o-

It caught him by surprise, then, when Q announced his intentions.

“I bought tickets,” he said over dinner.

“To the movie?” Bond asked. “Because I heard it’s overrated.”

Q shook his head. “To London.”

Bond stopped, mid-chew.

Q wet his lips. “I’ve been in contact with M,” he said. “He’s got security arranged, and he said that our jobs are there, whenever we’re ready.”

This had been the endgame he’d started with. This had been the point of going in half cocked in the first place. He’d rescued Q to bring him back, to restore the balance.

Bond’s chest clenched anyway.

Q took a breath, stammering a little. “It’s strange to think about, but I have to go back,” he said. “I know what happened to me, and I know I’ll never quite be the same.”

Bond’s jaw twitched, and he swallowed stiffly over the lump in his throat.

“But I can’t let this break me,” he said. “I can’t let them win. Staying here, living like it never happened -- that would be easy, wouldn’t it? But we’ve done things the easy way. Have we?”

The easy way wasn’t in the job description, and spies didn’t have that luxury. But this, this had been more than a job. This had been more than a mission.

Somewhere, inside of him, he’d found something here, something he’d thought he’d never get back after Vesper died. Something that made him vulnerable; something that made him human.

There were many forms of torture, after all.

Sometimes people took something from you.

Sometimes you gave it willingly.

It still left you broken.

You could survive, but you never really overcame it. You always lost part of yourself, something you’d never get back. Over the years, Bond had sacrificed more of himself than he’d care to admit.

This, though.

This was the hardest one of all.

He forced a smile, putting his fork down. “Very good, then,” he said. “When do we leave?”

Q smiled in relief. “Tomorrow,” he said. “We leave tomorrow.”

Bond picked up his napkin, pushing his chair back. “Then I guess we should get ready,” he said. “We have a lot to do.”

-o-

There was more to pack than Bond had intended, but they’d accumulated things during their time. Books and knicknacks, silly things Bond had purchased to see Q smile. There wasn’t enough room, though, and Bond honestly wasn’t sure what he’d do with most of it.

For his part, Q didn’t pack anything, and Bond finally gave up when it was dark outside, leaving the items there for the next operative who needed it, who needed a place to recover, who needed a place to call home.

Q slept soundly that night, not even a peep. It was Bond who was plagued with nightmares, and after tossing and turning half the night, he found himself at Q’s bedside one last time.

He studied the younger man, watching as his eyes twitched in REM sleep. The bruises were gone now, and the color had returned to his cheeks. There was no sign of the damage now, even if Bond could still see the small ticks that no one else would notice when they were awake.

This had been part of the plan, of course. Staying with Q until he was ready to go back on his own terms.

Bond just hadn’t expected to find his own terms so badly altered.

He slept that night, in the chair by Q’s bedside, fingers resting on top of Q’s until the morning broke.

-o-

They left with no great fanfare. A quick breakfast and a cab to the airport. As they waited for their flight, Q looked at Bond carefully.

“Thank you,” he said. “For getting me out.”

Bond gave him a quizzical look. “What else was I going to do?”

“Anything, I suppose,” he said. “You didn’t have to come. And more than that, you didn’t have to stay.”

He did, though, that was the thing. That was the part neither of them had understood, not at the start. And it was only painfully obvious to Bond now that he had to walk away again like nothing was different.

“I couldn’t have done it without you,” Q said, lips turning up in a smile.

Bond returned the gesture. “You did the hard work,” he said. “Trust me.”

Q’s smile widened. “I do,” he said. “Always.”

This time, the smile on Bond’s face stretched wide enough to hurt. “Then that’s all the thanks I need.”

-o-

In the end, getting Q out was the easiest thing in the world.

Letting him go when it was over, on the other hand, was the hardest thing he’d ever done.

There was a reason, though, that James Bond was the best damn spy Great Britain has. He wasn’t the type who did things the easy way; he was willing to make the sacrifice. He was willing to lose part of himself to the mission, always for the mission.

It made him a better spy.

And sometimes, just this once, it made him a better person, too.

Comments

Posted by: sendintheclowns (sendintheklowns)
Posted at: January 8th, 2016 10:23 pm (UTC)
Q & 007

*gulps down the h/c greedily* That, my dear, was perfect.

Someone who brings a fully functional rocket launcher to a rescue is definitely going to have some different ideas of how to give comfort and this didn't disappoint as James took care of Q, completely in character. Did I mention I think this is perfect?

Thank you!!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 10th, 2016 07:48 pm (UTC)
q bond

This fic didn't actually turn out how I expected or even intended, but I rather enjoyed writing it. I am never sure if my Bond is remotely in character, but when all I really want is to exploit hurt/comfort situations for the maximum angst, I guess being in character is a somewhat secondary concern :) I'm glad you enjoy these two, because I appreciate an excuse to write them.

Thanks!

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