Forsaken

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Banner by the fantastic themuller

Wounded and betrayed, 007 is found by a mysterious young man in the woods. Who is Q? Can James trust the man enough to heal and help him find the traitors within MI6?

Title: Forsaken
Author: Chestnut NOLA
Fandom/Genre: Skyfall (AU)
Relationships: James Bond/Q
Content Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Cannon level-violence, romance, humor, angst, canonical character death
Word Count: 50,077
Beta: Xphil98197

Chapter 1:

Pain. Cold. The input from his body started to take over James’ consciousness as his footsteps slowed. He’d been walking throughout the night in the woods, the light of the moon his only guide around the blue-black shadows of the old trees. The warmth of the blood on his chest and side was a contrast to the permeating cold slowly seeping into his limbs. His panting breaths expelled a smoke-like mist. His lips curled in grim humor at the thought that the mist coming from his mouth and the shadows thrown onto the forest floor from his body was like the mythical beast Cernunnos, the Horned One ruling over life and death. In this case James’ life and death.

He collapsed painfully to his knees with a grunt. His left shoulder hit the trunk of an enormous tree stopping his momentum to the forest floor. He was unable to move further without a short rest. Back against the tree, James slowly straightened his legs to sit fully on the woodland floor. It seemed his tie was still tight around his belly to reduce the bleeding from the bullet wound on his right side. The bleeding from his right shoulder had slowed as well, but he’d lost a significant amount of blood. Pain from cracked ribs spiked for a moment as he twisted to check his wounds, causing a sobbing gasp to emerge to disturb the silence of the night.

He was going to die here if he didn’t find someone to help him. There was no one; he couldn’t trust MI6, MI5, or the police. He needed to find a place to lay low and heal for a time. He’d been so close to getting home and now London seemed like a dream.

Cold continued to seep into his body, his suit jacket no match for the temperature. James’ told himself he would just rest for a little while, pain and exhaustion overtaking rational thought. His eyes closed as he relaxed in the bows of the ancient tree and before the darkness came, he wondered if he would wake up.

****

A crack from a branch being stepped on awoke James from his stupor. Eye’s half-mast his blue gaze took in the gray dawn, ethereal fog threaded throughout the trees. He heard soft footsteps accompanied by loud rustling of something bounding across the forest floor.

“Winnie, wait!” a soft toned voice called.

Fully awake now, James was just able to pull his Walther PPK from his holster, pain spiking in his right shoulder from the movement. It only had one bullet left in the chamber, but that was all he needed if the person coming toward him was a danger. He couldn’t hold his gun in his dominant hand, so pointed it with his left toward the noise. James bleak at the sight of the tremor in his hand waited as the sounds came closer.

A large dog burst through the fog, a lab mix of some sort chocolate in color with a long feather like coat similar to an Irish setter. The dog bounded over to James, wriggling in excitement and wining at the blood coating his body. Doggy kisses were given to his face and James couldn’t defend himself with his left hand occupied pointing the gun and his right useless from his wound.

A slim figure of a bespectacled young man emerged from the fog. He couldn’t be older than his late twenties, James thought as the man froze at the sight of the gun aimed at him.

The man slowly put his hands up in the air, “Oh, hello?”

Dark flyaway locks swooped over his forehead, brows and ears. His face was pale in the gray light of the dawn with high cheekbones and straight nose above a supple mouth. A garish colored purple and pink scarf surrounded his neck under an open Anorak coat. The man’s jumper was well worn, the red and cream horizontal stripes clashing nicely with the colors of his scarf. The only things that didn’t make James’ eyes water were the slim jeans and coffee colored heavy boots.

James was silent as he continued to peruse the man. The dog had settled in next to him and continued to lick his chin and cheeks. The gun vibrated in his hand but was steady on his target.

“You’re hurt,” he said, his voice a pleasing light timbre with a public school accent. He lowered his arms palms out in supplication to state, “I’m not going to hurt you.”

James couldn’t see a bulge of a weapon of any kind on the man including a knife. He was probably just a local out taking his dog for a morning walk. He slowly lowered the gun, but kept a tight grip on it as it rested on the forest floor.

The man haltingly moved toward him before slowly kneeling at his side. He gently moved his dog out of the way to look closely at James.

“Winnie, sit stay,” he ordered. The canine obeyed to sit a foot away, panting with its tail still subtly wagging.

“May I see?” he asked, elegant long fingered hands hovering over James’ suit jacket. He gave a nod of consent noting for the first time the man’s eyes were a bright Jade green. The skin of his face was a natural porcelain that many an English Rose would envy.

James sucked in a breath as the man’s hands parted his jacket. Frowning at the blood the man moved close to look at the wound on his shoulder then pulled the jacket farther away to look around his body.

“Bullet to the shoulder and a through and through on the side,” he stated. Spectacles’ was calm for someone who just had a gun trained on him by a stranger in the woods. “Any other injuries?” he asked.

“Probably some cracked ribs,” James replied. Sucking in another pained breath as hands tested the tightness of the tie around his belly.

“I don’t have my mobile with me, but I can run back home to call for help,” he said.

“No!” he yelled, a spike of alarm shot through him. “No hospitals, they’ll find and kill me.”

Spectacles looked up sharply, “Who’ll kill you?”

James winced having spoken before thinking. “Look, if you can get me some first aid I’ll be able to patch myself up and get out of your hair,” he replied, ignoring the question.

Spectacles gave him a thoughtful look for a long moment eyes bright with intelligence before sighing. “My home is just under two kilometers away, are you able to walk?” he asked.

“Yes, I think so,” James replied. Spectacles removed his coat and gently dislodged the gun from James’ hand. He tensed for a second ready to try and overpower the man until Spectacles place the safety on and the gun into his shoulder holster.

“Put my coat on, your cold,” Spectacles ordered. James slowly shifted forward away from the tree to put his left hand through the sleeve of the Anorak. Spectacles adjusted the coat over his injured shoulder and zipped it close his arm trapped underneath. The heat still soaked into the fabric felt wonderful on James’ numb flesh.

James painfully got his legs back under him and with the help of Spectacles supporting his good arm was able to get to his feet. He swayed for a moment bumping his back against the tree as a bout of vertigo made his vision swim. His head cleared after a short time. James felt so weak, legs trembling from blood loss and exhaustion.

“Put your arm around my shoulders,” Spectacles said. The young man was of the same height as James, but he bent his knees a bit to help with the strain. James couldn’t help but groan lowly as his body stretched to accommodate Spectacles’ support. The man grunted a bit at the additional weight.

“Winnie, come,” he called to the dog as they slowly made their way though the woods. The animal bolted on ahead of them tail circling in excitement. James couldn’t help but gasp at the pain, but was able to keep moving with the support of the young man at this side.

“Thank you for this,” he said.

“If you bloody well die on me, I’m going to bury your body in the woods and forget that this ever happened,” was Spectacles tart reply.

James didn’t disagree with the statement and a short pained giggle burst out of him as he said, “That would probably be best.”

It seemed like an age, but was probably less than thirty minutes until the woods started to clear a bit. James could see a small stone cottage through the trees. It was very old, probably eighteen century with a steep sloped slate roof highlighting the squat character of the first and only floor. The cottage was a cross gabled rectangular structure, but with an L-shaped wing projecting from the front. Two chimneys could be seen as well, one on the end of the wing side and one centered in the middle of the structure. Thick paned casement double windows surrounded by stone sills were on either side of the heavy wooden front door. It was the type of quintessential English cottage, tourists were always raving about.

There was more to see, but the pain finally became too much for James and he collapsed again to his knees.

“Shit, shit, shit,” Spectacles said as he was brought along with James, the pair of them landing in a heap on the cold ground. Blackness was starting to creep into James’ vision as he was gently straightened on the ground. The last thing he saw as the darkness overtook him was Spectacles’ concerned and irritated face above his own.

****

He was burning. The fire of the crash intense, pain in his body, blood, chrome and glass across his vision. He tried to escape the flames. The assassin stalked toward him as he pulled himself out of the wreck of the car. The assassin that seemed to know where he was at all times during the chase across Europe.

Cool hands on his brow, soothed the flames in his body. Soft murmurs in his ears called for him to calm, he was safe now. Like his mother’s voice, soothing him when he was sick as a child. M calling to him—keep going 007—the mission must be completed.

Fire burned in his shoulder then his side, the assassin’s aim finally true after days and nights and kilometers of pursuit. He looked down the barrel of the assassin’s gun waiting for the final shot. The cold grip of his own gun registered in his hand. His aim was true.

****

Cool, soft strokes against his skin. Pain. Low light, blurred vision, a demon with black hair and pale skin crouched over him. He grabbed the creature’s arm in a vice-like grip.

“Shhhh… you’re alright,” it said to pacify him the resonance of its voice reassuring. He couldn’t trust it. There were threats everywhere.

“No,” he told the creature and tried to push it away. It resisted, its strength evident compared to his weakened state. He needed to get away from it, find what he came for and finish his mission. This creature was stopping him.

The creature’s cold hand was placed on his face, the cold was pleasant taking away some of the heat. It said, “Please, just rest…just rest, you’ll be able to finish you’re mission.”

“No! Get away, I’ll kill you!” he tried to yell, but his voice was hoarse.

“You couldn’t kill a kitten right now,” it replied, a wiry humor in its tone. The cold hand moved to his chin, the voice now commanding, “Look…look at me right now!”

He tried to focus his eyes on the creature, hand relaxing its grip on the pale wrist still in its grasp. The ghostly face coalesced into focus, but still slightly blurred around the edges. Oh, it was Spectacles, from the woods.

“Spectacles,” he slurred, relaxing at the sight of the young man.

Spectacles smiled, “I guess that’s a good name for me at the moment.”

James came to himself a little bit after a time, staring into Spectacles face. The man was calm, as if there was no danger either from James or his pursuers.

“There’s danger,” he told the man seriously. “I need to go.”

Spectacles shook his head the soft-looking dark locks adorning it tufted with a slight curl at the ends over his ears. He said with a smile, “No, you have a fever and really you’re not in any condition to move right now.”

“Or argue with me,” he added.

James shook his head in the negative, which Spectacles ignored as he wiped down James face and neck with a cool wet flannel. Why wasn’t this young man concerned? James was confused, Spectacles wasn’t reacting the way the average person would at finding a strange man shot in the woods.

“You’re not right,” the words slurred from his mouth flowed slowly like Treacle.

“Of course I’m right,” he replied with another soft smile. “You’re out of your head with fever.”

“No…Spectacles you’re not acting right,” James said trying to convey the gravity of the situation.

The soft cool flannel moved down his chest, Spectacles gave a sigh, “Well, I suppose that is the correct assumption. You don’t know me very well yet.”

James was having trouble following the precise diction. He was obviously off his game, he couldn’t think clearly. It was so hot. Pain was throbbing throughout his shoulder, chest and side. Spectacles shushed him as he opened his mouth to say something, though he didn’t know what he was going to say. Chilled ice chips were placed on his tongue and he couldn’t help but moan in pleasure as the cool water eased his throat and thirst.

“I have some paracetamol if you can get it down,” Spectacles said. “It’ll help with the fever.” It took James longer than he would like to realize he was being offered some pain medication.

He nodded even as he said, “Need something stronger.”

“When you’re lucid, I’ll give you something stronger,” Spectacles replied before reaching over to pick up something on the bedside table. He showed James the little pills before insisting that he open his mouth to take them. James didn’t resist, Spectacles seemed to be a very assertive person—bossy—and James figured he wouldn’t get any peace until he complied with the young man’s request. The pills where chased down with a cool glass of water that tasted heavenly.

“Not too much, I don’t want you retching in my bed,” Spectacles smiled at him jade eyes bright with humor at James predicament. It was odd. There was something wrong, something he needed to do. An image of the assassin sliced through his brain, the urgent need to get away remembered.

James tried to surge up from the bed only to be brought low by pain and Spectacles long-fingered hands holding him down. He grabbed the young man’s jumper in his left hand, pulling the fabric tight in panic.

“Spectacles!” though the name didn’t come out of James as forcefully as he would have liked. “If they find me, they’ll kill me.”

The smile was gone from the alabaster face, cool hands smoothed over his brow and face gently holding him down, “Who’ll kill you?”

“Betrayed… can’t trust police… government… dangerous to be here,” James replied. The words somewhat garbled with his exhaustion. Spectacles face was going in and out of focus. It was getting harder to concentrate on anything other than the pain throbbing throughout his body. He needed to get away. Spectacles was in danger every second he was with James.

Spectacles softly extradited James’ fingers from his jumper the rumpling it had received not improving its unsightly pattern at all. He sighed as he placed another cool flannel on James’ brow.

“I’ll keep you safe. You’ll be alright,” he said, voice confident.

James shook his head, “No… they’ll find accident. Look for me. Kill you.”

With an exasperated huff, Spectacles replaced the flannel again before saying, “We’ll be fine. I’ll hide you from them.”

Spectacles wasn’t listening to him! Rising waves of fatigue and failure overcame James. He was going to bring death to this lovely young man and he couldn’t do anything about it. He brought death and destruction to everyone he’d ever been close to in his life. It had followed him around like the Scottish death hound Cù-Sìth, since the death of his parents when he was a child. A harbinger of death, touching all that came into contact with him. Leaving him alone in the aftermath.

Spectacles’ face was fading and in the low light of the room he looked fae, radiant and mischievous. Perhaps he was a changeling and would be resistant to the touch of death James brought to his world.

****

Something wet kept touching his nose and face. James wrinkled his face in displeasure at the wetness before hot pungent breaths registered along with the sogginess. James cracked his eyes open and tried to focus. There was the snout of a brown dog in his face; chocolate colored soulful eyes stared at him. Another lick from a pink tongue was given, before James could wake fully to defend himself from the affectionate pooch.

He shifted away slightly from the dog’s nose and pain spiked throughout his chest, shoulder and side. A gasp escaped him before he could prevent it, “Fuck!”

Slowly the room came into focus. He was lying on a queen-size bed in a room with plastered cream walls and overhead a wooden tongue and groove ceiling supported by massive beams dark with age. A large stone fireplace faced the wood slatted footboard of the bed; remnants of soot from years of fires crept along the stone above the hearth to the thick wood of an inset mantle piece. A fire blazed in the hearthstone spreading warmth throughout the room. Casement windows divided the walls on the left and right of the bed. It seemed to be just coming on late morning, James thought based on the quality of the light coming in.

There was a Dalek staring at him on the bedside table under an unlit eclectic metal monstrosity of a lamp with a bright purple shade housed there. On the left bedside table, Spock was leaning against another eyesore in the form of an ugly ceramic orange lamp; its purple shade caused a garish clash of colors.

It registered after a time that the bed was vibrating a bit. The brown dog had its head on the bed and its tail—the cause of the bed shaking—was wagging nonstop as it continued to gaze into James’ eyes. Slowly he reached up with his left hand to pet the beast, trying to think back to what had happened. The dog nuzzled James’ hand and the bed vibration ratcheted up with the pace of its tail wagging.

He knew he’d been found wounded in the woods by a young man with wild black hair and atrocious taste in clothes. He remembered calm and sarcastic Spectacles and the dog. Winnie, he thought. From there he had a vague notion of fighting a demon and something about dangerous kittens. James couldn’t remember the rest of what happened only vague impressions of pain and heat. The dangerous kittens part seemed even more odd than having a Dalek and Mr. Spock keeping vigil over his sick bed.

“There you are!” Spectacles called as he came through a squat wooden door next to the fireplace a glass of ice water in hand. “You’re finally awake, I see.”

He was as wild haired, pale and lanky as James remembered him to be. This morning he was wearing a lavender colored button down under a pea green cardigan in slim dark blue jeans with fuchsia and lime green striped socks on his unshod feet. His green eyes were bright in the morning light behind his black-framed glasses.

James tried to pull himself up a bit one-handed, which had Spectacles rushing around Winnie and a comfortable looking coffee colored leather lounge chair beside the bed.

“Wait! Wait, you’ll pull your stitches,” he scolded, plunking down the water glass on the table causing Mr. Spock to flop over onto his side.

Spectacles pulled some pillows up onto the bed from the floor before assisting James to sit up a bit. His whole body was throbbing in pain by the time they were done adjusting him and he couldn’t help but swear a blue streak under his breath. James was trembling and panting like he’d run a flat out kilometer. He felt so fragile.

His voice was hoarse when he asked, “How long have I been here?”

“Five days,” Spectacles replied as he held the water up for James to drink. To his chagrin his hand was shaking so badly, Spectacles had to steady the glass. The water soothed his throat, the cold liquid ambrosia to his taste buds after the long depravation. Spectacles was quiet as he allowed James to finish the glass.

“Where am I?” he asked, his voice almost back to a normal timbre.

“Surrey near Ewhurst,” Spectacles replied sitting back in the chair, ice clinking in the glass, as he got comfortable with his long legs crossed at the knee.

He’d been just over an hour away from getting back to MI6 when he’d been found. James still wasn’t sure how far he’d been able to walk since being run off the road by the assassin. It was dangerous for him to stay here. If he’d been able to get back he could’ve at least made contact with M about the hard drive and possible mole within the service.

There had to be a mole and possibly cohorts within MI6, James concluded and most likely someone working in Q-Branch against him returning. The assassin had pursued him from Istanbul through Greece, the Balkan states, Italy, France to Calais and over the Channel with a high-speed chase from Dover. The threat knew where he was going to be throughout the chase and James had been running for his life at every turn. Only his skill as a double-oh had kept him one step ahead of death.

Spectacles shifting to pet Winnie at his side interrupted his thoughts. James knew the only person he could trust was M and this young man was an unknown factor and possible threat. Spectacles had been too calm when he found James and that hadn’t seemed to change. Sitting at the bedside quietly while James gathered his thoughts together. Nothing Spectacles had done or said was normal. It made James feel off kilter, like he the only one in the room of a crowd who didn’t know what was going on.

“Why did you help me?” he asked.

Spectacles gave him a playful smile, “We don’t get much excitement out here in the country. You were hurt and you seemed adamant that you were in danger.”

“Why aren’t you afraid of me?” James couldn’t help but glower at the man, his humor at the situation was wrong on so many levels.

“You were wounded to the point I didn’t think you could hurt me once the gun was put away,” he replied.

Alarm spiked through James, only the pain of his wounds kept him on the bed. “My gun, the tech where is it?” he demanded.

“I have them, though there is a lot of blood on the hard drive you had in your pocket,” Spectacles replied.

“Show me now!” James ordered. Spectacles gave a put upon sigh before rising from the chair. He set the empty glass down on the bedside table with a plunk and took the time to put Mr. Spock back on his feet. His movements were languid and unhurried. James figured he was stalling. It probably wasn’t the smartest idea to put a gun in this stranger’s hand, but James had to see the hard drive. He’d almost died retrieving the bloody thing.

Spectacles sauntered out of the room and James could hear rummaging going on, a drawer being slammed shut. He came back into the bedroom with the gun and holster in one hand and the hard drive in the other wrapped in a dry flannel. His eyes were serious behind his glasses when he set the items on the bed. James snapped up the gun first pulling it out of its holster one handed. It still had one bullet in the chamber and didn’t seem to be tampered with. Setting it close to his hip he picked up the hard drive. Spectacles was right, he must’ve bled all over the bloody thing. The casing was covered in the stuff. Other than the gore all over it, it seemed untouched.

Setting the item next to the gun, close at hand James decided it was time to get some answers, “Who are you?”

“Wade Tate Brassington,” Spectacles replied. It was quite a mouthful and James didn’t think the name suited the ethereal look of the young man. He liked thinking of him as Spectacles; it matched the mystery surrounding his savior.

“Is it just you or are there others here?” James questioned.

“It’s just Winnie and me. I live alone here,” Spectacles—no Wade—answered his lips curling at the corners like he was fighting a smile. Wade allowed James to scrutinize him for a long moment. The calm and the humor continued to make James feel off form. Usually, his charm put people at ease, but his temper could make friend or foe quake in their shoes. It was irksome that this young man seemed to think James wasn’t a threat even with a weapon under his hand.

“Now, what’s your name? Otherwise I’ll have to keep calling you Mr. Blue Eyed Secret Agent,” he said.

“It’s a bit of a mouthful even for me,” Wade added.

Alarm shot through James’ gut. “How do you know I’m an agent and not a criminal of some sort?” voice low with temper.

“Well, you’re a bit of a talker when feverish,” Wade replied the humor still in his voice.

Damn! “How much do you know?” he pressed. He couldn’t keep the worry out of his voice. He didn’t know this young man from Adam and two minutes out of the gate he knew James was an agent.

“I think you are either a MI5 or MI6 agent who believes he’s been betrayed,” Wade replied, voice finally serious. “There was something in there about a mole, information to get back, and a person you called M. Does that about sum your situation up?”

James’ plunked his head back down on his pillow, the ceiling coming into focus. “Oh God, this is a disaster,” he voiced.

“Actually, I’d say you’re pretty lucky I found you when I did. Otherwise, most likely your corpse would have been found. Probably by me, half-eaten by woodland creatures,” was Wade’s cheeky response.

James rolled his eyes at the response then gave Wade a long searching look before asking, “Why are you so calm about all this?”

“After the stress of receiving my wonderful and perfect drafts back from my editor with revisions, I refuse to fuss about anything else,” he replied.

That statement was just as confusing to James as everything else Wade had said and done. Perhaps the Dalek and Spock figurines were an indicator that James was dead and the afterlife was a cosmic joke in the form of Spectacles and overall confusion. He wasn’t often confused about his life, work and purpose. Perhaps this situation was an indication he’d been playing the spy game too long.

“What do you do?” he asked, his tone low and grave to try and get a straight answer out of the young man. Wade had no tells that James had been able to discern. It made him wary that he couldn’t tell if the man was lying or telling the truth. He didn’t feel safe, but couldn’t do a bloody thing about it at the moment.

Wade in an equally serious tone and straightforward gaze replied, “I’m a writer.”

“A writer?” he asked. “What do you write?

“Mainly mysteries with a smattering of romantic thriller’s thrown in under a different pen name,” Wade returned. His humor again returned as he added, “Depending on how this all works out, I may have a future book in the hopper to write. With names and places changed of course.”

James snorted; the statement had caught him off guard. It was like being in a comedy club with the most posh-toned comic he’d ever experience on the stage. He was usually better at interrogation, of course often the threat of death or maiming assisted in getting to the truth. It was obvious James was at a complete disadvantage with this smart as whip young man. He’d have to employ subterfuge and general sneakiness to get the answers he was seeking once he’d recovered enough to get out of bed.

“How’s your tum feeling?” Wade asked. “Think you can handle a bit of toast and tea?”

James had to force his face to glower at being treated like a child rather than giving the young man the satisfaction of a smile. “I’d rather have coffee,” he replied.

Wade just raised an eyebrow above his glasses as he stated, “You’ll have tea or stick with water.”

The languid movement seemed to be gone as Wade abruptly got up from the chair to head into the other rooms of the cottage. James could hear water fill a kettle, rustling and clinking of crockery, and the sound of a toaster being pressed down. The dog, Winnie had abandoned the bedroom to follow its master into the kitchen. James heard Wade murmur to the mutt about having a biscuit.

The pain in his body had settled a bit, but throbbed in spikes and waves at every little motion. His right arm had been bandaged to his torso to reduce movement. Staring at the old ceiling, James reckoned for the time being that the only thing he could do was try to heal and keep a wary eye on his savior. Once he was able to move, he’d have more options for figuring out what he was going to do. Wade was the unknown factor. Was he a writer living in the country as he stated or was he something else? Those were the questions James needed answered and he wasn’t going to get any answers until he was back on his feet.

His Walther was still in good condition with a round in the chamber, so he placed the gun under his pillow leaving the empty holster at his side. The hard drive he placed in the top drawer of the bedside table for now. He needed to keep both close at hand, though he would be vulnerable with his guard down when asleep. For now, he would just have to deal with the situation at hand and trust Wade was who he said he was.

Doggie nails and paws clicked along the wooden floorboards as Winnie preceded Wade back into the bedroom. He said nothing about the lack of gun and tech on the bed when he set a breakfast tray with mugs of hot tea and toast spread with jam over James legs. There was a prescription bottle on the tray as well.

“How do you take your tea,” he asked.

“Black,” James replied. Wade moved the gun holster to the bedside table next to Mr. Spock. He put a bit of sugar into his own mug, which had an image of the scrabble tile Q10 on it. The mug he gave James however had the image of a toothless old man on it with the words, Honorary Member of the Old Man’s Four H Club: Hernia, Hiccoughs, Heartburn, and Hemorrhoids. James could only glower at his savior as he sat down primly in the chair to drink his own tea. The not so subtle poke at James’ age was not appreciated at all. He was only thirty-eight for god’s sakes!

Wade just gave him a cheeky smile before saying, “If you can keep down the toast, I’ll give you some Hydrocodone for pain. It’ll help you sleep.”

James picked up his tea; the scent of Bergamot and citrus filled his nose. “Where’d you get Hydrocodone?” he asked before taking a sip of the dark brew.

“I sprained my knee over the summer. I didn’t react well to the medication so didn’t use much of it,” he replied.

James just gave him a hum as he enjoyed the taste and feel of the hot liquid as it soothed his throat. They were quiet for a time, just perusing each other the silence comfortable between them. Wade had a look of the magical about him as he drank his tea, the Q standing out in black against the whiteness of the mug. Sunlight shown through the window at his back and James found everything about him from his clothes and home to his humor and mysterious calm fascinating. He was a very handsome young man with his lithe body and porcelain skin a contrast to his bright green eyes and dark hair.

“So, what’s your name then?” Wade asked.

“Bond, James Bond… Q,” James stated with a wiry grin. He received a sweet smile in return.

Chapter 2:

James wrapped the sheet around himself as he prepared to rise from the bed. It had been three days since he’d awaked lucid enough to have a conversation with his savior. His cheeky savior, who’d embraced the moniker, Q with aplomb and an excessive amount of glee. James figured the glee came from the creative writer in Q coming out, or at least he hope that was the case. Q the reclusive writer was a better option than Q the evil mastermind bent on world domination. The young man was smart enough to be both though.

James had to admit to himself that being taken care of by Q was a much better alternative than being held hostage in Medical at MI6. Q didn’t coddle him and his matter-of-fact bedside manner was a relief compared to the fussing he’d received from the doctors and nurses at Vauxhall Cross when he ended up injured there.

Bare arsed bandage changing and sponge baths were always an issue in Medical. James hated being sick or injured and would much rather care for himself if he could. Q seemed to instinctively know this about him and was as non-intrusive as the situation had allowed. James hadn’t been able to move much further than the bath in the last three days and Q only insisted that the door remain unlocked incase James took a tumble. Q would remove the bandages and allow James to sit on the edge of the claw foot tub to sponge himself down only finishing the parts James couldn’t reach. It was a relief to have a bit of independence considering he was weak as a kitten and bedridden most of the time.

“Good morning, James,” Q said as he and Winnie came into the bedroom. The dog had been James almost constant companion during his convalescence. Winnie came over to get an ear rub, sitting between his legs at the side of the bed. He was now able to use his right arm a bit, but excessive motions were still off the table. Winnie wiggled in pleasure as her ears were given a vigorous rub. James couldn’t help but smile at the pooch. She was a very sweet dog and pleasant companion.

The two-handed ear rubs were aborted when Q handed James a mug filled with coffee. “Ta, Q,” he said as the brew was gently placed in his left hand. The coffee here was better than in Medical as well. James couldn’t help giving a low hum of pleasure as the bitter blend woke up his taste buds.

Q had settled into the leather chair with his own cuppa, most likely Earl Grey tea. James had found out Earl Grey was his favorite, though coffee was the option if he was writing.

“I thought I would head into Ewhurst today to get you some clothes,” he stated. “Not that having a naked secret agent with a lovely arse walking around my house isn’t a bit of a perk.”

James couldn’t help but snort in response. Luckily, he’d already swallowed the mouthful of coffee he’d had before the statement was given. Q had that cat that got the cream curl to his lips again. James had found that Q was generally a humorous, sarcastic, and silly individual. He was actually a joy to be around, though James didn’t voice it out loud.

“Anything specific you want me to pick up?” Q asked. “I don’t think bespoke or designer suits are a logical choice for the country, but if you insist I’ll see what I can come up with.” James fought giving Q a smile and was completely unsuccessful. He received a smug grin in response.

“As long as you don’t get me anything pink, lime or pea green, powder or royal blue, bright red or orange, or fuchsia whatever you decide will be fine,” he replied.

“You’re no fun, James,” Q voiced. “Brown, gray, navy blue and black it is. Can I at least get you some interesting patterned pants to wear under your boring wardrobe?”

“No,” James responded. He tried to make his voice forceful, but giggles wanted to erupt from his throat at Q’s antics, so he wasn’t very successful in being stern.

He hadn’t had much to smile about in a long time, since the betrayal and death of his lover Vesper Lynd in Florence. His work made him content, but it was a lonely profession with little to detract from the death and destruction that was an inevitable part of being a double-oh. Close relationships with people, whether friendship or lovers was a privilege his profession didn’t allow. Vesper’s betrayal had pushed the dream of a life outside of MI6 home; it had been just that, a dream. He’d been content with his lot in life since giving that dream up, relaxing with reading and meeting with the occasional paramour during his down time in London. James hadn’t let anyone get close to him on a personal level since Florence three years before.

James’ current situation didn’t allow for anything but closeness. Even though he was in a lot of pain and could barely move, Q was a bright spot in an otherwise bleak situation. The worry he would be found by either MI6 or the criminals behind the theft of the data was constantly in the back of his mind. He was worried Q would get caught in the crossfire and while Q stayed close during the last eight days, he would have to go out at some point for supplies.

“You need to be careful, Q. Pay in cash and don’t draw attention to yourself,” James said as he placed a hand on Q’s knee to get his attention. “You may want to change into something a bit less colorful.”

This morning’s ensemble consisted of a soft cashmere lavender turtleneck jumper with blue-gray and yellow checked trousers. A lovely clash of colors to James’ eyes with the addition of the electric blue socks on Q’s feet. He’d wanted to inquire whether Q was colorblind or not, but hadn’t wanted to offend his savior while he was still bedridden.

“James, Ewhurst isn’t that big a town and people know me there. Believe me when I tell you, if I came to town dressed for a funeral everyone would know something is up,” Q replied, the ‘p’ coming out with a popping sound at the end.

“I’m serious, Q!” James growled, hand tightening on the young man’s knee. “I left two smashed cars and a dead body along the road not far from here. At least, MI6 must be looking for the missing body of their agent not to mention the bad guys who had me shot in the first place!”

Q took James’ hand in his, the grip tight. His eyes were bright and serious behind his spectacles as he replied, “I know what’s at stake James… your life. I’ll be careful to only buy a few things at each shop mixed in with my own purchases.”

James stared into Q’s eyes as they continued to hold on to each other. Q was composed under James scrutiny. The perusal brought home the gravity of James’ predicament. He wasn’t mobile, he had no clothes, and only one shot left in his weapon. He would have to continue to place his trust in Q as he had since being found.

Q gave his hand a squeeze and with a nod of his head arose from the chair to leave. James’ watched, as he put on an old light brown leather coat styled from the 1970s. Q had complained for a full fifteen minutes when he’d discovered his Anorak had blood seeped into the lining on the inside. He’d of course waited until James was lucid to hear his tirade about it.

Q turned to look at James on the bed, coffee in hand and dog at his side. With that cat got the cream smile said, “If anyone comes to the door, just hide under the bed.”

****

Q had been gone for about four hours by the time James was done snooping around the cottage. He was sweating and trembling with exhaustion from his exploration. Winnie had followed on his heals the whole time.

Q appeared to be a very successful writer. There were framed book posters throughout the house with two different author names, W. T. Bass for mysteries and H. H. Henderson for romantic thrillers. The colorful covers of the romantic thrillers had erotic images of men and women on them and seemed more in line with Q’s love of color than the dark and esoteric covers of the mysteries. There were twenty posters in all placed throughout the cottage.

The cottage was very basic with one bedroom and a central hallway leading to the door in the front and a bath and coat closet at the end of it. An arched opening led from the hall to the L-shaped wing, a large room with a stone fireplace centered on its long exterior wall. At the front of the room under double casement windows was a built-in seat with burgundy cushions the most subdued color in the house besides the coffee toned leather sofa and love seat placed in front of the fireplace. On the other end of the room a back door shared the wall with the kitchen’s olive green painted wooden cupboards and modern appliances. A quintessential well-used farm table and chairs finished the space.

A sizable wooden desk painted in a plum color was set along the wall to the side of the archway entry from the hall. It looked like Q was a Macintosh user with one of the largest computer screens James had ever seen on the desk. Its surface was strewn with notes and manuscript pages. James had checked the computer and it hadn’t been locked at all. He’d not found anything questionable on the machine; still Q’s browser history was a bit strange. But, seemed to be in keeping with a writer doing research on topics that were unfamiliar. The statistics on prostitution in Washington, D.C. was a bit odd though.

The one thing that James didn’t see—that concerned him—where photographs of family and friends. The whole cottage was chock full of colors from a multitude of books on cases throughout the house, throw blankets and pillows, and an abundance of collectables from various science fiction television shows and movies scattered over every surface. But, there were no personal photographs beyond some nature shots Q must have taken in the woods behind the house.

The lack of photographs indicated there was something wrong about Q and James had yet to discover it. Granted, he didn’t have much in the way of personal items at his own flat, but he did have pictures of his parents and from his childhood in his closet. James had been through the whole cottage, through every drawer and cupboard and had found nothing about Q’s family or history beyond what was already displayed. It was a façade and it worried him.

He finished a glass of ice water leaning against the counter breathing hard and covered in sweat. Winnie sat in front of him with a hopeful look on her face and a faint vibration radiating from her behind.

“If you could talk, would you tell me who the real Q is?” he asked the canine. His only answer came in the form of a pink tongue lolling out of her mouth. “What do you want?”

She bounced a bit in front of him and James finally got the hint when he noticed the enormous jar on the counter that had an image of a dog on it with the words, The more people I meet the more I like my dog!

“A biscuit huh?” he asked. Winnie gave him a yip in the affirmative, so he placated his companion by giving her a treat.

James was desperate to have a shower and shave. The sponge baths the last eight days had been better than nothing, but were not enough. He could hardly stand his own smell at this point. He wobbled a bit on his way to the bath, but was determined. The small bath was traditional with black and white tiles, claw foot tub with shower attachments, toilet and a small sink and mirror. The only pop of color in the space was Q’s choice of orange and lime green flannels and towels.

The hot water on his sore muscles was sublime and even the sting caused by the water hitting his wounds couldn’t deter from James’ enjoyment. Like everything else in the cottage, Q’s choices in soap and shampoo were as unique as the rest. The sharp sent of green apples filled the humid air as James scrubbed himself down and washed his hair one handed.

James startled at the sound of Winnie barking and he bumped his bad shoulder into the wall. A pained hiss escaped his lips as he saw stars behind his eyelids. He had to grab on to the shower piping to keep upright. All he could do was try to keep vertical and breath through the pain. Once he got his breath back it registered that Winnie was no longer barking and he was not alone in the bath.

The shower curtain was abruptly pulled aside and Q’s bespectacled disheveled headed countenance came into focus.

“You’re an idiot,” he stated. “Don’t you have any sense of self-preservation?”

“Q…” James started to defend himself.

Q continued his tirade uninterrupted a petulant scowl on his refined face, “You could’ve fallen and broken your neck. I could’ve come home to find a bare arsed fourteen stone corpse in my bath!”

James couldn’t help but glower at Q’s theatrics, “I’m perfectly fine, Q. There’s no need to scold me.”

“Did the whole bare arsed corpse statement go over you’re head? You’re barely standing up on your own so don’t get into a strop when I point out the obvious. What’re you…a child?” was Q’s caustic reply.

James couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the ceiling in exasperation, “Q, you’re ridiculous.”

“I know, you’ll get use to it,” his voice droll, his initial alarm at seeing James unattended in the bath seemed to be burned off from having his say. “Come on, get out of the tub and we’ll get you back to bed.”

“I want to shave,” James stated.

Q placed a steadying hand on James’ side as he stepped from the tub. He had to hold on to Q’s slim shoulder as a wave of vertigo caused him to sway on the bathmat. Q kept one hand on him while he placed a towel down on the seat of the toilet before guiding James to sit.

“Ah… shaving when you can barely stand and with your left hand no less. You’re liable to cut your own throat. That would also leave me with a bare arsed corpse in the bath with the addition of arterial spray coating my walls to clean up,” Q said as he started to pat James dry with a towel.

James really couldn’t say anything to that absurd statement, since his body was swaying with pain and exhaustion on the toilet. At this point he didn’t have a leg to stand on with Q, metaphorically and literally.

If James hadn’t been in the Navy and then working the occasional honey-pot mission he might have been embarrassed by his nakedness. Q wasn’t subtle in his admiration of James’ physique, eyes dark green as he perused his charge. James new he was an attractive man in a rugged way with strong bone-structure in his face and body in contrast to his dark blond hair and bright blue eyes. Male love was not unknown to him and Q’s admiring appraisal caused a slight zing of pleasure to radiate low in his gut. He’d not experienced that butterfly feeling in his tum in a very long time.

Q finished gently patting him dry and then placed the towel across James’ lap.

“While you’re contemplating your folly,” he said and James couldn’t help but snort at the deadpanned statement. “I’ll grab the med kit to redress these wounds. Then I’ll give you a shave. You do need it, you’re a closet ginger with that beard.”

James fought hard not to smile at Q’s commentary, but caved as the young man left the bath to retrieve his well stocked first aid kit. James found Q ridiculous and endearing. Even though his situation was grave and he was in pain, Q’s demeanor was a calm in the middle of the storm.

Q returned with the heavy case in one hand and a shopping bag in the other. Winnie joined them to visit in the small space until Q ordered her to sit out of the way. The dog lay down in the doorway her behind wiggling with her continual tail wagging as she watched the proceedings.

“Why’s your med kit so well stocked?” he asked.

Q applied some alcohol wipes to the stitches before saying, “A writer’s life is a dangerous one James, the paper cuts can be brutal.”

“Q…” James scolded for the deflection.

Q huffed, “I live in the country with no neighbors close by and a workshop in the barn with power tools, of course I have a decent first aid kit.”

Q had done a good job with removing the bullet fragments from James’ shoulder and the stitching on his wounds was tidy compared to the work James had done on himself before. He’d only have small scars in the end as evidence of the betrayal he’d gone through.

Bandages were applied then a pair of pants was placed in James’ hands. “Why Q, boring black? I’m proud of your restraint,” James said. Happy to have more that a sheet to wear he put them on with a smirk, proud of his repartee.

“Don’t get too complacent, you haven’t seen the rest yet. There could be Hello Kitty pants in there for all you know,” Q retorted with a grin.

“There better not be, Q,” James replied and watched while long fingered hands replaced the blades in a razor. Q wetted his face with a hot flannel before placing shaving cream on his cheeks and neck. Once James was prepared Q stepped between his thighs and tilted James’ face up. Q’s eyes were soft in the bathroom light, his face relaxed from their banter. James’ could smell his spicy cologne with the added hints of tea and apples from his shampoo. The warmth of Q’s body was a contrast to his cool hands on James’ face. Up close his delicate and lightly muscled form seemed small surrounded by James’ athletic build.

“Now, hold still, you don’t need anymore damage,” Q said, voice soft as if the sudden quiet between them shouldn’t be disturbed. James took a deep breath enjoying Q’s scent then stilled himself as Q applied the razor to his cheeks.

“Do you have a family, Q?” James asked when there was a pause in Q’s strokes to rinse the razor. Q’s face in concentration was mesmerizing to watch as he worked to complete the intimate ritual.

“Hmm, yes I do. Mummy and Daddy are both professors at Cambridge and my sister is a stereotypical librarian with spectacles and hair bun in London,” he replied, distracted.

Q’s absorption in shaving James seemed to work in getting a straight answer out of the young man for a change, “What do they teach?”

“Daddy is a theoretical mathematician and Mummy teaches literature, as well as writes poetry,” Q answered. “And stop smiling, I need to get the nooks as well.”

James straightened his face. It was quiet except the scrape of the razor against his cheeks and the swish of Winnie’s tail along the floor. Q started work on James’ neck, which gave him a chance to voice his next question, “What does your mum think about your writing commercial fiction?”

“Mummy bemoans in public that I sold out to do genre writing; however, in reality she is closeted romance and erotica reader. She gobbles the stuff up like a dog with a bowl full of kibble,” he replied. He had to pause in his work again as James’ couldn’t help but laugh. Q waited patiently for the giggles to pass before applying the razor to finish. James came back to himself after his giggle fit and realized his hands had wandered to Q’s slim hips.

“Can I ask a question?” Q said. “And don’t answer with ‘you just asked one.’ I have a razor blade at your throat and I’m not afraid to use it.”

“Of course,” James replied.

The tone serious for a change Q asked, “Do you know what your next move will be once you heal?”

Q had finished up his ministrations and wiped James’ face down again. A deep breath escaped him and he couldn’t help but place his forehead against Q chest. His grip tightened on the slim flanks in his hands as he thought over the question. It was exhausting to even think about what to do next. There were so many questions he needed answered and the data to consider as well.

“At the moment? The only person in MI6 I think I can trust is my boss, M,” he replied.

“Olivia Mansfield?” Q asked. James raised his face up, his chin on Q’s chest in surprise. “What? I’m a writer. I do research and she’s listed on the SIS website,” Q stated.

“Yes, Mansfield is M. I need to contact her, but have to be careful not to alert anyone else to my continued existence,” James replied and rubbed his face against Q again.

Q ran his fingers through James’ hair and along the back of his neck. The simple affection felt wonderful. James couldn’t help but bask in the attention he was receiving and wrapped his good arm around Q to pull him in tight against him. A small gasp escaped the lithe form in his arms, but hands wandered down to caress the back of his shoulders in acceptance of the closeness.

James was comforted in Q’s touch and allowed his mind to blank rather than have the cogs turn in circles about his situation. He needed to heal, before he could even contemplate his next move in the game.

“Can you tell me about the information you were carrying?” Q asked. His voice a mere whisper in the silence.

James rumbled his reply against Q’s downy jumper, “The less you know about it the safer you’ll be.”

“Alright,” he said. He gave James one last swooping caress through his hair and down his neck before taking a step back. “Not that I’m unhappy being cuddled by a well put together naked man in my bath, but I think we ought to get you back to bed.”

James’ hands aborted Q’s further retreat out of his arms, but the young man was right. His exertions of the morning were starting to hit him hard. He let Q’s hips go though the young man kept a hold of his good arm to help him stand. Winnie seeing that things were happening also got up on her feet and followed their slow progress back to the bedroom.

“Sit in the chair for a bit, while I put fresh sheets on the bed,” Q ordered. James was swaying a bit as he was sat down in the chair. By the time Q got done with the bedding he was half asleep.

“Ok, in you go,” Q murmured as he poured James into bed. It felt wonderful to lie down. The sheets were supple against his skin and the fresh fragrance of Q’s detergent a tease in his nose as sleep came over him.

****

“James… James!” Q’s call and his shoulder being shook finally registered in James consciousness.

“What?” he moaned. He couldn’t have been asleep for more than a few hours. Q grabbed on to his good arm and pulled him bodily up into a sitting position. Concerned green eyes behind his spectacles came into focus.

“A police car just passed the front gated,” Q said, his tone urgent. James rubbed a hand over his face to wake up. “We need to get you out of sight, so come on!”

“My gun and the drive,” James stated. Q huffed and pulled the weapon from under the pillow and the hard drive from the bedside table. He handed James the gun and hung the drive around his neck. Then got James moving with his good arm over Q’s slim shoulders.

With James sore and weak from his earlier adventure the pair swayed and stumbled their way into the hallway. Q pulled him along toward the bath before stopping in front of the coat closet.

“I’m not going to hide in there, Q!” James protested.

“No you’re not,” Q replied as he shoved aside the coats to prod at the wooden paneling at the back of the cupboard. It opened to reveal a small one and a half meter square room with a wooden latter leading up into the attic.

“Up you go,” he ordered.

“Christ,” James swore as Q manhandled him into the space hands pushing on his behind to get him up the ladder. It was a painful climb with his bad shoulder, but James made it up into the space. He rolled on the floor to the side of the opening panting from the trip before looking down at Q’s tousled head below.

“Keep quiet and don’t turn on the lights!” Q said before he closed the secret door and the light dimmed.

It took a few moments for James’ eyes to adjust to the gloom. The attic space was full of tech; computers, screens and frames of shelving full of servers filled the attic space highlighted only by a few small windows.

Perhaps Q was an evil mastermind bent on world domination after all.

Chapter 3:

James was panting great gasping breaths from his climb up the ladder. He could hear Q scurrying around below; Winnie barked in excitement on his heals from room to room. The fact he was in deep shit hit home as he painfully rolled over onto his hands and knees. Dust motes floated in the small patches of light coming through the cracks between the floorboards. James needed to know what was happening below and was relieved he could see through the break between the boards. The thought crossed his mind that his position was undignified for a double-oh with his buttocks in the air and shoulders to the floor. Naked except for his pants and bandages. He was glad no one could see him. The only situation in which the position was a good idea was for getting a proper fuck, he thought.

Q’s disheveled mess of hair passed below him, his arms filled with his pillows and blankets from the sofa. It was obvious he was trying to remove any traces of a second person living in the cottage before the police got to the door. James could hear drawers being opened and closed and clinking in the bedroom, before Q bustled through the hall with empty glasses and plates in his hands. Winnie was hot on his heals showing herding behavior as she playfully nipped at the back of Q’s legs. James heard the clunk of the dishes hitting the bottom of the sink before a knock resonated from the door.

Q appeared in the hallway below again and tugged the bottom of his jumper to straighten it before he took a deep breath and shushed Winnie at his side with a command to sit. The door opened and a shot of alarm rushed through James at the sight of a pair of MI6 agents at the door.

“Yes?” Q asked when the door revealed the two dressed as police constables. James recognized both agents, though he only new Craig Mitchell by name. He’d not seen M’s bodyguard in awhile, but he looked the same, strong and handsome with brown hair graying at his temples. The other was the beautiful sepia toned female agent he’d been paired with in Istanbul. There hadn’t been time to exchange names before they’d been separated during the chase.

“Mr. Brassington?” the woman asked with a smile.

Q cocked his head as he replied, “Yes, can I help you?”

“I hope you can, sir,” she said. “I’m PC Shaw and this is my partner PC Polson.”

Q shook the agent’s hands with a smile of his own in return, “Hello, what can I help you with this afternoon?”

“There was an accident about eleven kilometers south of here eight days ago. Are you aware of it?” she stated.

“Ah, no I’m not,” Q replied his tone rueful. “I’ve been off-line and haven’t turned on the telly for the last two weeks.”

“Do you mind if we come in for a few minutes?” Mitchell asked. The agent’s eyes were laser sharp on Q, taking in the young man’s features and dress. Q still wore his ensemble from the morning; his electric blue socks highlighted his slim feet against the dark wide planked wooden floorboards.

Q widened the door in invitation, “Of course.”

Winnie couldn’t contain herself any longer and bounced in place. Shaw placed her hands down to allow Winnie to have a sniff and a pat before she stepped around the dog further into the hallway. Both agents were perusing the space and the posters on the cream plaster walls as Q shut the door. Their backs were turned to him and he wringed his hands for a moment before making the effort to still them.

“Would you like some tea?” he asked as he led them out of James’ sight through the arch to the living room. James’ heard Shaw reply a muffled affirmative.

James looked around the attic space, the bedroom fireplace’s chimney was a half-meter away on his left and to his right beyond the central supports was the attic space above the main rooms of the cottage. The fireplace chimney took up the center of the far wall with computers and tech placed away from the sloped ceiling on mismatched wooden workbenches and metal shelves down the center length of the room. There was a bit of light coming through either end of the long space from small windows at the front and back. The attic was dark even with the light from the windows, but James could see it was clean of dust. Q must come up to the space often, he mused.

Slowly he crawled on his hands and knees to the main part of the attic careful not to make any noise to give himself away. It was a painful endeavor with his bad shoulder and cracked ribs; he had to work to keep his gun from tapping on the floorboards. There was a reasonable sized five-millimeter crack in the floor above the kitchen that gave him a good view of most of the room below. His knees were killing him, but James didn’t dare shift to his feet or move too much.

The agents were sitting at the kitchen table patiently waiting for Q to finish making tea. Winnie was sitting next to Shaw getting some attention while Mitchell continued to keep an eye on Q. James had no idea what he would do if the agents turned on Q, there was no way the young man could defend himself against two highly trained MI6 field agents. James hoped Q could keep his wits about him, it was probably a good thing that Q didn’t realize that the ‘police constables’ were actually agents. Though with Q’s hidden lair, perhaps the boffin didn’t take people at face value anyway. Q had readily enough taken James story to heart, or he’d thought the young man had.

Q set the sugar and cream down on the table and poured the tea over a strainer into the agent’s cups before taking care of his own. Q’s façade as an innocent distracted bespectacled writer with a horrid fashion sense was a good one, James thought.

Q sat down and held his cup delicately between his fingers before saying, “So what’s this about an accident?”

“There was a two-car accident just south from here and a body of a man shot at point-blank range was found not far from the cars,” Mitchell said. Q was frozen in his seat as if in shock. James’ thought his acting was realistic. He may be able to stay hidden if Q could pull off the deception.

“That’s unsettling,” Q said, the appropriate amount of alarm in his tone.

“Yes it is,” Shaw voiced, her tone was gentle but firm. “We believe the killer to be someplace within the area and our Chief Constable has sent out teams to see if he or she can be found. We assume by the nature of the accident that the killer is injured, but we’ve had no luck so far in locating the perpetrator.”

Mitchell cut in, “Have you seen anyone out of place in the area?”

“No… I don’t really get out much, but I do walk Winsome twice a day in the woods and I haven’t seen anyone even hikers for quite some time,” Q replied.

“You’re sure you haven’t seen anyone?” Mitchell question again.

Q the little posh sod, got prickly in response, “PC Polson, I may wear spectacles, but I’m not blind you know. I think I would remember seeing a strange person skulking about my property.”

“You’re a writer, Mr. Brassington?” Shaw cut in before Q could continue his sass with a wave of her hand at the posters on the walls.

“Oh, yes,” Q responded to her probing with the appropriate smile. “I’m trying to finish my twenty-first book and the plot is giving me fits. It’s why I’m not up on current events at the moment. I’m trying to keep the distractions to a minimum. The bloody thing is fighting me.”

“Fighting?” she asked.

“Yes, the climax of my current work isn’t satisfactory at all. It’s a bit of a problem in an erotic romantic suspense story. Everyone needs to get off or what’s the point,” Q said with a shrug. The boffin was just such a cheeky bugger, James thought. He couldn’t be serious for more than a few minutes even with the threat of the ‘police’ finding out he was hiding the so-called killer they were looking for.

Shaw tried to hide a smile at Q’s words behind her teacup while Mitchell just stared at Q his mouth hanging open in surprise.

“Have you read any of my books, PC Shaw?” Q asked.

“Ah, no I don’t think so,” she replied.

Q took a sip of his tea, “A shame, everyone needs a good story with a satisfactory climax to pass the time now and then.”

James almost gave himself away; he wanted to either laugh or cry at the situation and couldn’t decide between the two options. It was absurd. He was wounded, being taken care of by a mysterious tech savvy romance writer. Hunted by MI6 and various criminals he didn’t know the identity of. And said mysterious boffin was verbally jousting with two MI6 agents pretending to be coppers at his kitchen table with his secret agent charge hiding above.

The trio drank their tea in silence for a few minutes before Q asked, “I don’t recognize you as being part of our local. Do you both work out of the main station at Guildford?”

“Q just get them out the bloody door,” James whispered to himself.

Shaw looked to Mitchell before replying, “Yes, we’re stretched thin dealing with the situation.”

“Well we should get on the road to the next place before it gets too late,” Mitchell said as he arose from the chair. The light of the afternoon was dimming toward early evening as Q escorted the agents through the cottage. James crawled across the floor as quickly and quietly as he could to once again see the action in the foyer.

“What should I do if I come across the person you’re looking for?” Q asked as he opened the door for the agents to step out.

“Don’t approach them and call us as soon as you can,” Shaw replied. Most likely, MI6 was monitoring or intercepting emergency calls from the area. James had no doubt that they would have been first on the scene if he’d been found by anyone else but Q.

“What if I come across a deceased person?” Q said. He just had to add the question instead of letting the agents go, James thought.

Mitchell replied, “Don’t touch the body and call us.”

“Alright, I’ll be sure to do that,” Q said. “Have a good evening.”

“Thank you for the tea,” Shaw said before following Mitchell down the front steps.

Q watched them get into their vehicle before giving them a wave and closing the door. He pulled his mobile phone out of his front trouser pocket and looked at it. He was completely still watching whatever was on his phone. Finally, after what seemed like an age, Q looked up at the ceiling and locked eyes with James.

****

The panel at the back of the closet opened and Q’s bespectacled visage appeared below.

“They’re gone, James,” he said. “You can come down now.”

James checked his gun before making his way over the side of the opening and down the ladder. The climb down was just as painful as the ascent had been. Q had stepped back out of the way for James to remove himself from the closet. The boffin was fiddling with the phone in his hand while he waited.

Gun pointed to the floor in his right hand, hard drive hanging from his neck James turned from the ladder and burst from the cupboard. He grabbed Q by his neck with his left hand and heaved the slighter man against the wall with a loud bang. The mobile skittered across the floor as James squeezed the soft skin and tendons under his palm. Winnie started a high-pitched yelping as Q scrabbled with both hands at the strong arm holding him hard against the wall.

Breathing heavily and trembling with exhaustion and anger, James demanded, “Just who the bloody fuck are you, Q!”

“Please, James… let me go!” Q’s spectacles were askew on his face, his green eyes wide and voice high with panic. His long fingered hands were unable to break James’ hold.

At every turn James had been deceived and hunted and now the person who’d found and helped him was also not what he seemed. James’ had finally found a slight amount of comfort and safety, but it had only been a veneer. Ridiculous, endearing, humorous Q had been deceiving James this whole time. It stopped now, James thought. He’d had enough of this bullshit. He was tired and he was hurt and like a wounded animal he was going to defend himself to the death if need be.

Q’s hands grasped tight around James’ arm, his voice squeaked out, “Please, my situation doesn’t have anything to do with yours, James.”

The green eyes were glistened with unshed tears. Q wasn’t fighting back and he could’ve by grabbing onto James’ bad shoulder or kicking against his side. The boffin was still like a rabbit aware of danger from a predator.

“Q, you’re going to tell me who you really are and explain your tech lair in the attic,” James growled. “Right?”

“Yes… yes, just stop manhandling me,” Q replied. His eyes blinked sending tears down his pale cheeks.

James search Q’s face for long minutes before deciding to release the young man. He needed answers and he wasn’t going to get them while he held Q against the wall. His body was also protesting the excursion and he was dismayed by how physically weak he really was.

Q slid down the wall back on his feet. Panting to get his breath back his hands rubbed against his neck. With one last wary look at James, he leaned down to sooth and quiet Winnie who was wining at their feet.

“We’ll talk, but you need to get back to bed,” Q stated as he straightened up with a final ear rub for Winnie.

Unfortunately, James couldn’t disagree and had to use the wall for support to enter the bedroom. He kept a tight grip on his gun; he wasn’t going to let that go for a while yet. The list was also going to be kept close from now on, he decided. It was a relief to sit on the soft mattress, though he tried not to show it by calling softly to Winnie. The dog was subdued as she came over, tail down for the first time in James’ memory. He petted and cooed at her for a bit, while Q sat in his chair and waited. Winnie gave his hand a lick and leaned content against James’ legs when he was finished soothing her.

Q looked fragile curled in the chair, he was still crying a bit and used the wrists of his jumper sleeves to wipe his face. James was disquieted at the sight of Q being fearful. The marks that James had made were stark red against his pale throat. Q would be black and blue by the next day with James handprint a reminder of the attack done to him. It was rare that James was upset by the violence his profession entailed. He was usually able to compartmentalize his actions, but it was difficult to see Q look so breakable.

Q cleared his throat and sniffed before saying, “I was a child prodigy in maths and computer sciences.” His voice low and halting, green eyes steady on James’ blue. “I was doing post graduate studies by the time I was twenty at Oxford. I will admit, I was a bit bored with my course of study and found hacking a challenge I couldn’t resist.”

“Hacking… why am I not surprised,” James said his voice flat. He could feel an eyebrow rise when Q looked down his nose at him for the obvious statement. It seemed as if Q was starting to get his spunk back now that things had settled down a little.

“I wasn’t doing anything too illegal, just a bit of harmless hacking to see if I could do it. I didn’t steal data or sell information, just worked to see how well I could infiltrate various systems. I stayed away from government systems and mainly focused on corporate,” he continued.

At Q’s pause, James had to ask, “What’s your real name, Q?”

The boffin’s breath hitched a bit before he looked down at his lap, “It’s been a long time since I’ve told anyone my real name, James.”

“What is it?” James insisted.

“Oliver Quillan Chadwick,” he whispered. He didn’t look at James as he said the name. James didn’t recognize it, but it was unlikely that he would. Q had paled even further, his skin ghostly white in the low light of early evening. James reached over to turn on the orange bedside lamp. The light didn’t improve Q’s pallor. The boffin seemed like he may end up being sick, his skin was washed so white from the admission. Q flinched when James set a hand on his knee, before his green eyes searched the agent’s.

“So, Quillan,” James said.

Q’s lips curled slightly, “My sister use to call me Q when we were young and my parents called me Ollie.”

James gave Q a small smile, “Ollie?”

“I preferred Q,” he replied. Emphatic with his chin back up and looking down his nose again at James.

“Q it is,” James agreed. “Continue.”

“I had a boyfriend, Daniel,” Q replied. “He was several years older than me, my first real relationship. Daniel was also a talented hacker, though he wasn’t as talented as I was. We had, what I thought at the time, a friendly competition between us with our hacking.”

“It was not so friendly then?” James inquired.

“No not really, I just didn’t see it,” Q said. He laid his tousled head against the back of the chair; his fingers clutched together in his lap knuckles white. James didn’t like where this was going, it was obvious there wasn’t a happy end to the story. “I wasn’t one to take too many risks, so I chose to hack safer targets and not touch anything while I was in the system. Daniel always pushed me to do more in a joking sort of way. I didn’t realize he was hacking into government and criminal databases mining data.”

“What happened to him, Q?” James asked when it seemed like Q was lost in thought.

Q stared at the ceiling while he spoke, “He got caught up in hacking into a corporate front for organized crime and got in trouble with them. He ended up working for them on their security network protocols in exchange for remaining alive. I guess they had contracted Daniel out to a third party and they weren’t happy with his work. Unfortunately, this third party found out about my talents and kidnapped me. I can’t be sure, but I think they tortured Daniel for the information.”

James couldn’t help but grimace at the thought of Q, lithe, lanky, silly Q in the hands of a criminal syndicate. James knew from experience the underbelly of crime was a volatile and brutal place to be caught.

“Was he doing his work from the UK?” James asked. At least now he was getting some information from Q and needed to keep the boffin talking. Quiet tears were streaming down the side of Q’s face as he spoke. James was glad he wasn’t sobbing uncontrollably, but Q’s sadness was a stark contrast to the humorous young man James knew from the last few days.

Q looked at James his eyes serious before saying, “Yes, most of the time, though he traveled a lot. By that time I was twenty-three and finishing my engineering Ph.D. We were sharing a flat together in London and talking about getting a civil partnership. I thought he had a legitimate job and I was doing corporate consulting on the side for income.”

“Where did they take you, Q and what did you do for them?” James asked.

“They took me overseas and held me for nine months before I was able to escape,” Q said. He sniffled a bit and sat up to wipe the tears of his face. “They forced me to secure their network and create encryption protocols to keep their data safe. They also made me hack into various government and corporate databases to mine data.”

“Did they torture you?” James asked. He took Q’s hand in his to keep Q grounded and talking.

Q squeezed James’ hand tight as he replied, “Not physically, but they threatened me and killed a woman in front of me. Eventually they told me Daniel was dead because he was no longer of use.”

Q started to sob and his anguish lanced through James’ heart. He couldn’t contain himself and pulled the young man onto the bed and into his arms. He’d not felt the need to comfort anyone since Vesper and Q’s despair seemed appalling to James. Q cuddled against his left side, his spectacles askew pressed against James’ neck. He finally placed the gun down and removed the glasses from Q’s face. The boffin burrowed deeper into James’ neck his lanky arms clutched around the agent’s back and side. It was a bit painful, but James was able to adjust the lithe form to sit sideways across his lap avoiding most of his injuries.

James enjoyed the feel of Q’s soft dark locks under his cheek and the cling of the strands around his fingers as he tried to calm the young man. They sat for a long time while James allowed Q to cry. It worried James that Q was being cagey with some of the details, but decided to wait until the boffin calmed down to address his concerns.

“Sorry… sorry,” Q said and sat back to wipe his face and James’ shoulder from his tears.

James ran both hands through Q’s hair and gently grasped his face, “Q… do you know who ‘they’ are?”

“I don’t know who the third party is, just that his hacker handle is Rata,” Q replied. “He was there occasionally where I was being held, but never came out of the shadows. He spoke with a strange accent, not English, not quite Spanish or Italian.”

“What about the crime syndicate?” James asked.

Q shook his head and removed himself from James’ lap.

“I can’t talk about this anymore right now,” he replied. He rubbed his hands over his face before leaning down to retrieve his glasses.

“Q, I need to know what is going on with you!” James said, his voice a low growl as he watched the boffin straighten his jumper.

Q gazed at James for a moment, his regard assessing, “As you said before, the less you know the safer you’ll be. All you need to know is that my past has nothing to do with whatever you’re running from.”

“So what’s with the evil tech lair in the attic?” James said and couldn’t help roll his eyes as Q huffed and flapped his hands in response to the question.

Q finally finished and sat back down in the chair across from James elbows on his knees, “Look, the things they had me do were illegal. They were also not at all happy I escaped. To keep my family safe, I had to go to ground and give up being Oliver Quillan Chadwick. You should know what that’s like, you’re the spy here not me!”

James couldn’t refute that statement, so gave Q a frown in frustration, “You didn’t answer the question.”

“I’m legitimately a writer, that is where my main income comes from. A hobby that came in handy, but I can’t turn off my talents when it comes to tech,” he said.

“My ‘lair’ helps me track anyone looking for me via my hacker handle,” Q’s air quotes were epic to James’ eyes. “I know they would want me back in a heartbeat and have been looking for me for the last five years. I also earn a bit of income from working as a subcontractor for a friend from uni doing minor corporate security encryption.”

“Does your ‘friend’ know about your troubles,” James inquired and gave Q a couple of air quotes in return.

“Yes, she knows I’m in hiding,” Q replied. He got up and fluffed the pillows on the bed before he gently pushed James to lie down. “She helped me go to ground after I escaped. She’s the only one who knows my current identity besides you. Not even my family knows and as far as the police are concerned Oliver Quillan Chadwick is still a missing person.”

James allowed Q to fuss over him, “You’ve not been in contact with your family for five years?”

“They know I’m alive and to some extent what happened to me and Daniel,” Q said. “But, I haven’t seen them and only communicate a few times a year via the post. Winnie and I have been all over Britain to pickup and send packages.”

Winnie perked up from her position lying next to the bed at hearing her name. Q patted the bed and Winnie jumped up to attack James with kisses. He couldn’t help but smile at the mutt as she wiggled in pleasure at the ear rubs he gave her. She settled down along his side on her back a not so subtle request for belly rubs.

James stroked the soft pink skin of her belly before he asked, “How do they know where to send their communications?”

Q finished his puttering and joined James on the bed to stroke Winnie, “It’s all very spy-esq, you’ll love it. I write a code in my correspondence and they use one of my books as the key.”

“Very old school, Q” James replied. He couldn’t help but smile. Q’s communication solution was all very Cold War Era. “Sometimes the old ways are the best.”

“Particularly in this age of digital information. Don’t ever believe anyone that tells you electronic communication is completely secure,” Q replied. “It’s rubbish.”

Q was very obvious that he wasn’t telling James everything, but the story he had given so far seemed somewhat plausible from his initial impressions of the young man. There wasn’t much he could do about anything until he was healed enough to deal with continuing his mission.

“Q, I’m not comfortable with the lack of details,” he said.

Q eyed him in return, “Well, I don’t know your whole story either, so we seem to be at an impasse.”

Chapter 4:

The heavenly scent of freshly brewed coffee and cooked bacon teased James’ nose, a gentle way to wake up at the emergence of the dawn. After the excitement two days before, James had slept on and off for hours on end. Q had kept him supplied with food and drinks and had left him to sleep off his exhaustion the rest of the time. The clicking and clacking of the boffin’s keyboard in the cottage a soothing tempo to accompany James’ slumber.

They’d remained deadlocked on the informational front neither knowing the full story of the other. James didn’t really blame Q for not trusting him. He’d not told the boffin anything more than what had been revealed while he was out of his head with fever. It was an unusual situation and James now knew why Q had been so calm and willing to help him when he’d been found.

Q had experienced peril, subterfuge, and the death of his lover. He’d been in hiding himself for an extended period of time. Q had worked to heal James’ injuries, had kept the agent safe and in hiding for almost two weeks now. Beyond Q’s ‘evil tech lair’—the eye rolling and flapping hands were colossal whenever James referred to the attic space as such—the young man had been nothing but helpful and understanding of James’ predicament. James had placed the boffin in grave danger and he’d handled the crisis with audacity.

The bacon now called to him as his stomach gave a rumble that pushed him from the warmth of the duvet. He sat on the side of the bed for a moment to rub his hands over his face and head to wake up. A soft gray t-shirt soon followed with the words, My Job Fills In Time Between Weekends! One of many t-shirts with absurd sayings Q had chosen to purchase for him. A pair of dark blue and black tartan sleep pants was applied before he got up to see what was for breakfast.

Q was working at the hob. His dark curls flat on the left side of his head with death defying height on the top. Winnie sat at attention next to Q’s legs by the stove, a regular occurrence James had noticed when there was bacon cooking.

“Good morning,” he chirped. James gave him a grunt in greeting on his way to the coffee pot. For someone who stayed up so late in the evenings, Q was always up with the larks. James on the other hand got up early when he needed to, but did enjoy a lie-in now and then.

Q flipped some bacon before he said, “If you don’t have any plans today and if you’re not still knackered, I could show you around the property. You could use some fresh air.”

“I’m feeling better and wouldn’t mind getting out for a bit,” James acknowledged. He gave the boffin a hum of appreciation at the first sip of his coffee. Q he decided, made the best coffee outside of a café he’d ever had. He gave Winnie a pat on the head on his way to sit at the table.

Q looked over his shoulder to peruse James’ sleepy countenance, “The stitches are probably ready to be come out if you want me to help.”

“I can get the ones in the front, but may need you to do the back,” he replied.

“Oh good, I get a free ogle of your magnificent backside,” Q said. “A lovely image first thing in the morning.”

He gave Q a frown for the comment, but could barely hold back the smile that threatened. Q just gave him a cheeky grin in return before turning back to the hob. The boffin had on a cream colored Henley offset by periwinkle and green striped sleep pants. Beyond the silly colors of the pants, the outfit enhanced his graceful form.

James’ wounds were healing, but his right shoulder’s range of motion needed work. He‘d also found he needed to be careful with his movements or pain from his cracked ribs took his breath away. James chafed at the slow pace of his mending; the ribs alone would require several weeks to heal.

Q set a plate of full English breakfast in front of him, the combined scent of eggs, bacon, baked beans, toast and tomatoes delectable. Q sat with his own plate, piled as high as his guest’s and with Winnie sitting in expectation of bacon between them they tucked into the food.

The one thing James had found he appreciated the last few days was Q’s cooking. The young man was talented and seemed to enjoy having company at the table. Watching Q cook, was as fascinating as watching him write or putter around the cottage. Q was endlessly entertaining with his clothes, hair, and general silliness.

He’d seemed to have recovered from the emotional turmoil from two days before. Though the bruising around Q’s supple neck from James’ hand was only starting to turn the healing colors of yellow and green around the edges. The evidence of James’ violence against the boffin troubled him. He wasn’t use to feeling regret for his actions and the dark blemishes on Q’s skin niggled disquiet in the back of his mind.

Q caught him perusing the bruises, his leaf-toned green eyes half-lidded in thought behind his spectacles, “I’m fine you know.”

“I know, but I don’t like seeing you hurt,” James replied. He avoided Q’s eyes and focused on sneaking Winnie a piece of bacon from his plate.

“Well, that’s good,” he replied. “I’m sure if you were in top form you could kill me with just your pinky finger.”

James’ snorted, but didn’t refute the statement. They finished their breakfast in thoughtful silence with Winnie receiving the lion share of the bacon between them. He needed to get the lay of the land and a morning jaunt outside with Q would be helpful.

“Do you have any maps of the area?” he asked.

“Hmm, I don’t think so, but can get some next time I go to the shops in Ewhurst,” Q replied. “What do you need them for?”

James cradled his coffee between his hands and accessed this host, “I need to know the topography of the area and plan possible escape routes in case they’re needed.”

“I have at least one I can show you if you’re up for a little hike,” Q stated.

James couldn’t help but raise his brow in surprise. It shouldn’t have dumbfounded him to find out that Q had thought along similar lines. He needed to keep in mind, that Q’s past was as checkered as his own.

“I think that’s a good idea, Q,” he said. James finished up his coffee before rising to take his plates to the sink. “I’ll wash up, while you take the first shower.”

“Alright, sounds good to me,” Q replied.

James couldn’t help but add with a smug grin, “And do something with that hair before it walks off with you.”

Q gave him a petulant frown, “Just for that crack, tomorrow you’re cooking breakfast.”

****

James smoothed the charcoal gray Henley over the hard drive that hung around his neck. He’d kept the list close since the discovery of Q’s ‘evil tech lair,’ though he’d observed carefully as Q had cleaned off the blood that coated the device. James had caved to Q’s sulky insistence on not having additional blood in his bed.

“Are you almost ready to get the stench blown off?” Q asked with a smile from the doorway to the bedroom, Winnie at his side. The boffin had tamed his dark locks somewhat, though to James they seemed sentient and resistant to Q’s efforts to restrain them into an acceptable arrangement.

“Almost my impatient host,” James replied with a wink.

Both Q and Winnie seemed to be vibrating with excitement as they waited on James to finish dressing. He eased his bad shoulder into the lovely wool hip-length navy blue pea coat Q had gotten him. The boffin had done a good job in estimating James’ size and he was pleased Q had restrained himself to purchasing an array of subdued colors for shirts and jumpers, with blue jeans and trousers in varying shads of black and gray. A pair of high quality black leather hiking boots finished off the look with the addition of his Walther in his coat pocket. James hadn’t found Hello Kitty pants, but had discovered a pair that had the Union Jack prominent displayed across the buttocks. James could only hope that Q wouldn’t hold the laundry hostage otherwise he was probably going to have to break down and wear them at some point.

“Alright, I’m ready to see the rest of your lair,” he stated. Q just rolled his eyes and both he and the dog bustled through the cottage to the backdoor, paws and boots a harmonious clatter against the floorboards. James followed at a more sedate pace admiring Q’s pert behind that was encased in slim jeans set off by a mustard yellow jumper. Q pulled on his Anorak—the blood had come off after many complaints—and a red and black striped scarf as Winnie burst through the open door.

James raised his face to the sky, the warmth of an unusual sunny day a nice contrast to the crisp winter air. It was only a few days until the first of December; he’d just realized that it would soon be Christmas time. Q also had his face to the sky, eyes closed in enjoyment. He was beautiful in the light, lithe and ethereal. James couldn’t help but enjoy the view with the backdrop of the old stone barn and woods beyond.

“How many acres do you own?” James asked.

“A hundred, with about forty of it made up of pasture with the rest wooded and bucked up against Hurtwood Forest,” Q replied.

The cottage was surrounded by woods on two sides that started behind the old barn and to the side of the house. James reckoned the property was situated north and northwest with the pasture on the south side starting approximately 100 meters from the L-wing of the cottage. Q’s little vintage red-orange 1978 Mini Cooper was parked at the start of a long tree-lined winding drive.

“How far does the drive go, Q?” James asked. He couldn’t see a road, so it must have been quite far.

Q cocked his head in thought for a moment, “I’d say it’s about a kilometer. My closest neighbor is Mr. Tinsdale whose farm is the next property over.”

“It’s a prime spot,” James responded.

“Yes, I was lucky it was on the market and in poor condition, so I bought it for a song,” he said. “It took me about a year to renovate the house and the barn.”

“Do most of the work yourself then?” James inquired.

“Yes, though Mr. Tinsdale helped me with some of the heavier things,” Q replied. “He’s a man who understands the want of privacy. I rent the pasture to him for his cows during the summer.”

Winnie was working on finding scents along the hedges adjacent to the pasture, tail in constant motion. The old barn was made from the same stone as the house including slate on the steep sloped roof. Heavy double doors accented the center of the structure with small windows along either side.

“Come on, I’ll show you my shop,” Q said with a wave.

It was a beautiful property and isolated, which was a plus for James’ current predicament. It felt good to get outside after being cooped up for almost two weeks. All in all, James mused he’d recovered from injuries in worse places and at least with Q around for entertainment he didn’t think he was going to get bored anytime soon.

Q grunted a bit while opening the heavy doors. The shop was a tinker’s wet dream the bright lighting set off the vintage vehicles in various stages of restoration. James couldn’t help but give out a low whistle of approval at seeing the fully restored 1938 Triumph Speed Twin and 1950 Triumph 6T Thunderbird, both motorbikes were prominently displayed.

Q was fidgeting, watching James take in the space, “What do you think?”

“Q, if I could I’d vacation here on a regular basis,” James said with reverence as he caressed the Thunderbird with a hand. “This is fantastic!”

Q gave James a satisfied smile, his chest puffed out like a proud peacock. The large space was divided evenly between motorbikes and cars with rows of toolboxes, workbenches and cupboards along the stonewalls. A 1963 Mini Cooper S looked to be in the middle of restoration, as well as a 1983 Triumph TR65 Thunderbird and a 1958 Aston Martin DB Mark III. James felt a twitch in his cock as he looked at the car.

“Do you know anything about car restoration, James?” Q asked.

James gave the boffin a rueful smile and shook his head, “I know a lot about driving sports cars,” and crashing them he thought, “but, nothing about restoration.”

“When you’re feeling up to it, you’re welcome to help me with these,” Q offered with a wave of his hand.

“I’d like that,” he said a low hum of excitement at the prospect resonated in his gut. That butterfly feeling in his tum was back and James had to resist swooping over to hug the boffin senseless for the offer.

“Do you ride? We could also take the bikes out if the weather stays nice,” Q said a gleam of excitement in his jade eyes.

James’ grin widen at the thought, “Oh yes, I do ride Q and I ride very well.”

Q huffed at the sexual innuendo, but returned James’ grin with one of his own.

“I spend a lot of time here, keeps me from getting too stale from being in front of the computers for hours on end,” he said.

Q looked like he belonged in the space, though he wasn’t your stereotypical motor head. He was too refined for that, James thought. James took some time to fully explore the space, thinking about the hours he could spend in here with Q once he got some of his prior energy back. There was a rough wooden ladder in the far corner away from the doors.

“What’s up there?” James asked.

“Oh! The loft,” Q said. “Just some extra hay for Mr. Tinsdale’s cows.”

He narrowed his eyes at Q, the boffin was avoiding James’ gaze and looked a bit shifty. He moved to the ladder and started to make the climb even though his shoulder protested. He wouldn’t put it passed Q to have another ‘evil tech lair’ in the barn as well as the house. The wild haired man was full of surprises. Q wasn’t making any protesting sounds from below beyond a muttered ‘idiot’ under his breath at James. He reached the opening and stood on the top of the ladder to look around. It was a loft full of hay, not a single piece of tech anywhere that James could see in the dark space. There was nothing nefarious, only multiple rows of piled sweet smelling hay to James’ relief.

“Can you get down now, before you fall and I have to drag your injured arse back to the house?” Q said his tone testy. “It was hard enough to drag your carcass in the first time!”

“Yes, I’ve been meaning to apologize for that,” he said puffing from the pain and effort it took to get down.

Q had a bit of a pout to the curve of his full lips, which James thought was adorable. He didn’t often find people adorable, kittens and puppies yes, but not people. He was going to lose his heart to the boffin if he wasn’t careful. Everything about Q was fascinating and alluring and it was a shame that James couldn’t fully trust him. James had long ago closed his heart, the burn of Vesper’s betrayal still echoed in the back of his mind.

“Now that you’ve verified I don’t have another ‘evil tech lair’ and yes I know that’s what you were looking for, are you still up to that walk?” Q said all rolling eyes and raised hands with the added bonus of finger quotes.

James smirked at Q, “You’re sarcastic when you’re stroppy.”

Q just threw his hands in the air in disgust, before giving James a sweet innocent smile. James burst out in giggles at Q’s shenanigans. It was mortifying, double-ohs should never giggle. Q held the look for a minute before his own giggles erupted to accompany James. The pair of them were breathless by the time their laughter finally settled down. James knew he was grinning at Q like a complete idiot, but was too content to care at that moment. It had been so long since he’d found joy in anything and the simple joy of their bantering was a comfort.

“Come on, I’ll show you my escape route,” Q said with a smile. Winnie was sitting in the barn’s doorway a doggy grin on her face.

Q gave her a pat on the side before saying, “Walkies?”

The dog’s happy dance was ecstatic with her wagging tail and stomping feet. James helped Q close the heavy doors and once the boffin gave Winnie the affirmative the dog surged toward the forest.

The sunlight seeped through the trees; the bird song overhead was a vibrant supplement to the beauty all around them. The smell of dark loam under decaying leaves was pleasant in James’ nose. The only sounds besides Winnie’s rustling and the bird song was the crunch of leaves and stones under their feet. James followed Q off the small path that had threaded through the wood for a short length behind the barn.

James was still hoping to get more information from Q and thought back to their confrontation. Q hadn’t given him very many details, except what had happened to his lover. It was risky for James not to know more about the organization that Daniel had worked for, but until Q felt he could trust him it was unlikely the James could badger the details out of the boffin. He really liked Q and ached to be able to have confidence that the young man wouldn’t betray him.

“You’d mentioned your friend the other day,” James spoke interrupting the quiet. “The one that helped you hide. Can you tell me about her?”

Q gazed at him out of the corner of is eyes. Contentment had softened his alluring face, his gazed turned back to the invisible path only he knew lost in thought. James remained quiet in hope that it would encourage the young man to answer the question. In the mean time he enjoyed watching Winnie’s antics ahead of them while making notes in his mind of the direction they were headed.

“Darby’s a bit different,” Q stated with a soft sigh of resignation. “She’s had a hard life, though now she’s settled and happy.”

“How’d you two meet?” James asked.

“We actually didn’t meet until I escaped from Rata,” Q said. James couldn’t help but raise a brow in surprise at the statement.

Q gave him a wiry smile, “I only knew her as a hacker when I was at university. We’d met on a bulletin board and ended up chatting. From there we had regular contact and once in London I would occasionally subcontract coding to her for my consulting jobs.”

“So, what… you knew her for a few years and never met her?” James challenged.

“Yes, a hacker’s world is a bit different from the mainstream, James.” Q said. “She was keeping herself underground at the time, hiding from the government.” A zing of alarm shot up James spine, the hairs on the back of his neck raised. He stopped walking and his hands grasped Q’s upper arms in a tight grip.

“Why?” he asked.

Q’s eyes were calm as he gently clasped James forearms in return, “It was nothing you need to worry about. She’d been a ward of the state even though she was an adult and wanted her independence.”

James relaxed his hold and slowly released Q who started walking again.

“You said she’s happy now,” James said.

“Yes, she’s no longer a ward, has gained her independence and now works as a security research consultant for a firm in London,” Q replied.

“Tell me the rest, Q,” James ordered. “How did Rata not know about her?”

“He didn’t know, because Daniel never knew,” Q said. “I never told him.”

Q just kept on surprising him. It was a worry and in contrast was a relief to him. The boffin could keep a secret when he put his mind to it. “You didn’t trust Daniel to know about your friend?” James asked.

“It wasn’t so much not my trusting him,” Q continued. “Darby didn’t trust anyone easily and asked I keep our communications to myself. I did what she asked, but in hindsight no I didn’t trust him. Perhaps it was subconscious on my part, but Daniel could be possessive and controlling sometimes. I just didn’t see it at that point, but looking back on the whole debacle he’d been paranoid in a subversive way.”

Q seemed more resigned than upset by the discussion, “After I escaped, she was the only person who knew me that no one else knew about. So I contacted her for help and she didn’t even ask any questions about where I’d been for months or what had happened to me. She just said yes, and gave me her address in London. I trusted her and told her what had happened anyway. She helped me disappear. She’s the best friend I’ve ever had and I love her very much.”

James didn’t know what to say, but the story Q had just told him made sense in many ways. He could only trust M at this point and since he didn’t know how deep MI6 had been infiltrated her closest allies could be compromised. He was going to have to be extremely cautious when he was finally healed enough to make contact with her.

They were quiet as they made their way further through the woods, an amenable silence between them. The forest started to thin a bit and a small wooden outbuilding came into view. The wood slats on the sides were unpainted and gray from exposure to the elements. James would have said it was more like a small five-meter square shed than another barn except it was fully closed on three sides with double doors at the front leading to an open field. It had no windows that James could see.

Winnie was standing by the door waiting for them to catch up with her. Q unlocked a padlock on the doors with keys he’d pulled from his pocket. The shed housed a two-door dark blue Land Rover Defender 90, probably built in the late nineties. It was a fully loaded off-road utility with a heavy metal grille at the front of the bonnet and snorkel rising along the driver’s side window.

“This is where I planned to come if I need to get out quickly,” Q said, he tossed the keys to James, “Get in.”

James grinned as he got in the vehicle. Q pulled the passenger seat forward for Winnie to jump in the back. She circles a few times before she laid down on a dog bed housed there panting in contentment. The backspace was filled with what looked to be a box of canned goods and dog food, two large rucksacks, sleeping bags and camping equipment.

“What’s all this?” James asked.

“Provisions,” Q replied. “In case we need to rough it.”

“We?” James inquired with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes, we. There’s clothes and supplies for both of us,” Q responded. The boffin gave James a smug smile.

“You just keep surprising me, Q,” James stated.

“I know,” he acknowledged. “Start her up.”

The engine roared to life. Q had obviously kept the vehicle in excellent working condition. James looked in the back again, “Are there Hello Kitty pants in there?”

Q just gave him a secretive smile, green eyes bright with humor in return before pulling out his mobile phone. James didn’t doubt the possibility that Q had packed him garish pants for their escape. The little shit.

Q played with the phone for a few seconds before leaning over, “Here, I want to show you something.”

There was the image of the two of them in the vehicle on the small screen. Startled James looked up to the point he thought the camera was. He couldn’t see anything except the wooden beams of the shed. Q pointed to an area in the corner before saying, “I have a camera hidden in the knot of the beam about five centimeters from the corner.”

James still couldn’t see any thing, even though the day was bright and lighted the space well enough. Q’s long fingers danced over the mobile to show him images of the house, the front entrance to the drive with stonewalls on either side identifying it from the road. A few more screens showed images of the pasture and various points within the woods, as well as the back and front of the cottage and barn.

“I have the whole property under surveillance with motion cameras and proximity alerts for anything larger than a dog,” Q said. “That’s how I new the coppers were on their way to the house.”

James was stunned; he’d not see anything like this except for surveillance on regular computers at MI6. The quality of Q’s images was better than what old Boothroyd had installed at Vauxhall Cross.

“It’s all connected to your mobile?” James asked.

Q shook his head, “Only when I open the app I created, otherwise the tech in the attic monitors everything and sends me an alert on my mobile when something large passes through the perimeter.”

Q was still leaning against his shoulder; the boffins’ dark locks tickled the side of James’ face. Q was radiant in the light his eyes a combination of excitement from showing James his security features and trepidation on how they would be received. Q started to move back from James’ worry creasing his brow at the lack of reaction. His supple lips became a mew of disappointment.

James’ mind was racing, what were the odds that he would be found by a technical genius in hiding. Someone who was willing to keep him hidden and help him heal. Who was able to take what he knew of James’ at face value and trust him to a degree. It was like James’ soul mate had been dropped into his lap all wrapped up in an attractive package of crazy hair, green eyes, pale skin, and alluring form. It was unbelievable and undeniable, the situation in which he’d found himself.

He grasped the sides of Q’s face, the skin soft under his palms and pulled him abruptly close in a deep kiss. Q gave a squeak of surprise under James’ lips a slight stiffening of his limbs was felt at the action. James persevered to cajole those plush lips to part and hummed in pleasure when Q opened to receive his tongue’s caresses. The heat, taste and smell of Q was dizzying to James. The musk of the boffins’ skin from the light sheen of sweat received during their hike was a delight that teased James’ nose. Their breaths increased with the heat of the kiss and Q’s tongue teased James’ in return. Q surged closer clutching James’ shoulders while trying to avoid the stick of the manual transmission, a barrier between them.

Pain from his shoulder jolted James back to his senses and he pulled away breathing hard in the closed space of the vehicle.

****

His muscles burned, the feeling pleasant as James ran through the trees. His breaths left him creating repetitive puffs of fog from the early morning chill of winter blanketing the forest. He felt strong, good, his range of motion almost what it had been.

James smiled at Winnie racing through the trees at his side. It had been four weeks since the kiss. Four weeks of recovery and training to bring his body back from the brink of his wounds. He was almost ready to make the next move in the game.

Q had been burning with anger at James for pulling away that day. He’d given James a clipped order to lockup and released Winnie from the back of the car. The boffin had then proceeded to stomp back to the cottage at a brisk pace, while James lagged behind from exhaustion and confusion. Q had stopped to holler to the tops of the trees at one point, “Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had sex, you wanker?”

James figured it was a rhetorical question, since it was addressed to the heavens and Q had continued on in a strop for the rest of the hike back. It had taken a few days for Q to start talking to him again. The sulk had been epic, but James had remained firm. He couldn’t let Q any get closer then he’d already had, even though he desperately wanted the boffin in his bed. That way was the way of disaster and it took effort, but James tried to keep the experience of Vesper’s betrayal in the forefront of his mind when he felt himself weakening to the allure of Q.

They’d eventually came to an accord, back to bantering as they’d been before. They hovered around each other in a holding pattern during James’ recovery. Q still willing to help the agent in anyway that was allowed. And though it was long and painful physically, James was enjoying his convalescence at the cottage with Q. He relished Q’s company and found contentment in the quiet evenings in front of the fire on the sofa with Winnie reading Q’s books, while the boffin clicked and clacked on his keyboard writing.

James’ had devoured all twenty of Q’s works. They were entertaining in the extreme, thrilling with enjoyable characters and plot twists he’d not seen coming. Unfortunately, Q’s imagination when it came to the sex scenes in his romantic thrillers often put James into an uncomfortable state of arousal that he’d had a hard time keeping from Q. The little shit just gave him that cat that got the cream grin whenever he figured out James’ problem.

When Q wasn’t writing during the day he was working in the shop on his projects and James’ was learning a lot from him. It was satisfying work and fascinating to be instructed by someone so intelligent and patient. James enjoyed the time spent working on the vehicles immensely and thought that if he got out of his troubles alive he may find a garage to purchase in London to tinker between missions.

It was past Christmas now with New Years a few days away. They’d spent an enjoyable evening together cooking and sharing a Christmas roast with all the trimmings. Q had strong-armed James into helping him decorate a Christmas tree earlier in the month, which ended up looking like a science fiction lover’s dream with all of the Star Trek, Star Wars and Dr. Who ornaments Q had collected. He’d given James a modified encrypted smart phone with finger print reader, the app to monitor the property’s security, and a jammer that would cut off any listening or camera devises within a hundred meter radius. James knew the little gadget would come in handy and was better than anything Q-Branch had ever given him.

James hadn’t been able to give Q more than his company for the holidays, but Q seemed to relish the friendship that was growing between them. The boffin had been pensive for a time, but brightened when James had asked if he had any photographs of his family. Q had brought out his well-hidden albums from his ‘evil tech lair’ and the pair had gone over them together. James had let Q talk for hours about his family and it seemed to help the boffins’ subtle depression lift.

James had thought long and hard during the last four weeks. If he contacted M now with just the list and no other evidence or information the likelihood of failure was assured. He’d been able to break into computers before, but only on the surface through password guesses and general stubbornness. He had no where near the skill he needed to gather information about MI6’s infiltration and he only knew one person that could possibly do it.

He and Winnie came in through the backdoor to see Q at the hob cooking their morning repast. He was adorned in his usual clashing colored pajamas, hair sticking straight up at the top of his head and a sleepy look in his eyes as he greeted James with a smile.

“Q do you think you could hack MI6 with out being caught?” James asked as he accepted a coffee from Q’s hand.

Q’s smile widened into a Cheshire grin in response.

Chapter 5:

“Come on up,” Q stated.

James followed the boffin’s lovely behind up the ladder to the attic of the cottage. He’d not been in the space since the day MI6 had come looking for him. Q had gone up into his lair sporadically, usually to work on coding for his friend Darby. James had eavesdropped on their video chatting sessions by standing at the bottom of the ladder. It annoyed him that most of the techno-babble went over his head.

Darby sounded as assertive as Q, though with a northern accent most likely from Yorkshire. Beyond the work, the pair talked long and seriously about various movies, comic books, and graphic novels and they were very opinionated about their interpretations of each. It was all Greek to James, though he did understand some of the Star Trek references or the occasional Dr. Who phrase being bantered back and forth. It could be code for he knew though. The pair seemed very close and James could understand Q’s trust in his friend.

It was dark in the space even though the three small windows allowed the morning light to come in.

“James, pull that shutter over the window,” Q said, before pointing to the window on the bedroom side of the house. James complied to attach the small wooden shutter over the window, which darkened the attic further. Q worked to cover the other windows in the main space. It was pitch black when they were done.

“Don’t move for a second or you’ll end up with a concussion,” Q’s voice pierced through the darkness.

James could hear Q rustling about for a few seconds before bright lights engaged overhead accompanied by the whirl of the computers coming to life. Q was on his hands and knees underneath the main workbench and James had a delicious few of his backside encased in brown and red checked trousers. The boffin emerged; his dark locks defying gravity even though Q had made a halfhearted effort to tame them after his morning shower.

“Have a seat,” Q said before taking his own in front of the main console. There were ten screens of various sizes placed on the workbench and hung vertically from the rafters above. The whole area was a maze of screens, servers on racks, and cables. It looked like a command center one would see in a B rated science fiction film.

James picked his way over to the only lounge chair in the whole place, a counterpart to the one Q had used at his bedside.

“How did you get all of this up here, Q?” James asked.

Q was already clicking and clacking on his keyboard when he turned bright excited eyes to James. With a smirk and a wink he replied, “Piece by piece, and a pulley and winch came in handy.”

James couldn’t help but smile at the boffin. Q in his tech lair really did look the part of the evil genius bent on world domination with his insane hair, spectacles, a plum colored button down set off by a lime green cardigan and matching lime green Converse trainers. It occurred to him that Q would make a fine addition to the nerds in Q-Branch and would probably have them and the branch shipshape in no time.

He sobered at the thought of Q-Branch. “Q, I hope you’re as good as you think you are. It’s a dangerous game I’m bringing you into.”

“I’m one of the few people in the world who can bypass the encryption protocols that MI6 should be using,” he said. Q’s tone and eyes were serious as he faced James. “What do you need?”

James appraised Q for a long moment before pulling the hard drive from around his neck. There was no going back once he gave the drive to Q, but he couldn’t see any other way to move forward except to contact M directly. Going in blind for the debrief without knowing the players moving against him would be suicide.

“I need you to decrypt this without alerting anyone to our location,” he said and held out the drive for Q, who took it with reverence.

“Do you know what’s on it?” he asked.

“A list of every NATO agent in Europe and the Middle East embedded within terrorist organizations and international crime syndicates,” James responded.

Q, his eyes wide with disbelief burst out, “Who the fuck was idiotic enough to compile it and put in electronic format for anyone to steal?”

“That I don’t know,” James said. “I also don’t know who the list was being sent to when I intercepted it.”

“Can you tell me about your mission?” Q asked. “I can keep a secret you know, unless it’s spoilers for the new Star Trek film currently in production. Then all bets are off.”

James could feel his body relax as he watched Q study the drive in his hands. The boffin’s humor, while inappropriate for the situation, was becoming a helpful coping method for James. He was use to Q’s silliness and would probably be incredibly tense if the young man wasn’t being his ridiculous self.

“I don’t know who compiled the list in the first place or how it got out of MI6,” James voiced. “Another agent and myself were sent to retrieve the it from MI6 agents who had intercepted it in Istanbul. They’d been ambushed and the drive removed from the laptop it was stored on.”

Q hung on every word of James’ story as he sat in front of his command center the drive cradled to his chest like a baby.

“We got separated during the pursuit, but I was able to get the drive back,” he said. “I can only believe someone in our technical services section was involved. The bastard I got the tech off of knew my every move and chased me throughout the continent until he finally caught up with me here in Ewhurst.”

Q was rubbing the casing of the drive in his elegant hands, a thoughtful expression on his face, “And why do you need it decrypted?”

“I need to know the data is intact and viable,” James replied. “It could be fake for all I know to throw MI6 off. But, I can’t help but think that the bastard wouldn’t have pursued me so aggressively if it was a decoy.”

“Alright, I can do that,” Q said. “You asked about hacking into MI6. Is that still on the table?”

“Yes, if you can do it without being caught,” James replied. “I need to know how compromised MI6 is, and if possible identify any double-agents. Right now I don’t know who is clean and who isn’t. I know they’re looking for me, but I don’t know what my current status is. I could be labeled MIA or renounced.”

James felt a tickling in the back of his brain at having revealed so much to Q. It was like he was standing naked on the street for the entire world to see. Q was still a mystery in many ways to the agent. The attraction he felt for the young man had continued to grow over the weeks, but he’d been unable to crack the enigma that was Q. If James had been prone to nerves the pressure of the unknown—both Q and the infiltration of MI6—would have broken him.

“It will take awhile to decrypt the list, so you may want to get a book or something to keep you busy while I work,” Q said. “After that, I can start with a passive attack on MI6’s network. It will allow us to look at and gather information, but is the type of attack that is less likely to be detected.”

“Will you be able to keep them from tracing you?” James asked. This whole endeavor would be a total wash if MI6, or worse, the bad guys, figured out where James was. The danger he was going to put Q in also alarmed him. He didn’t think Q was built for espionage, even though his past indicated otherwise.

“Not to worry, my secret agent housemate,” Q replied. His confidence was reassuring. “If they detect my presence, which is unlikely, I’ll have them following a can of worms around the globe.”

****

“Oh, for fuck sakes!” Q’s eruption startled James from his reading of the boffin’s latest book draft. “Shit, shit, shit, shit.”

James dropped the papers and moved to hover over Q, “What is it? What’s wrong?”

The coding on the screens didn’t mean anything to James, but Q was white as a sheet with a hand covering his mouth. His jade eyes were wide in fright as he glanced up at James.

“Nothing…nothing. I’m just horrified by the holes in Her Majesty’s Security,” Q stated.

James narrowed his eyes at Q who turned back to the computer to avoid his gaze. The boffin made a few keystrokes removing the code from the main screen to deposit it on a smaller screen on his left. Color had returned to Q’s pale cheeks, they’d turned cherry red with the intensity of his blush.

The boffin had been working all day in his lair while James kept him supplied with tea, coffee and snacks. He’d decrypted the list and it had been as advertised with over thirty agents listed with their real names, covers and location. If James hadn’t been able to intercept it the agents would have been in danger of exposure and death. Q had then encrypted the list with an extremely strong cryptographic mechanism—James wasn’t sure what it meant—that would be difficult for anyone other than Q or James to access. Q had given James the key code to the drive.

“Q?” James demanded.

“I’ve found the backdoor to the network and basically MI6 is an open book to whoever retrieved the list in the first place. They have multiple worms and trojans siphoning data on a regular basis,” Q said as he shook his head in consternation.

“Fuck! Can you tell what they’re taking?” James asked. He couldn’t help but place a hand on Q’s shoulder as he leaned over the boffin to look at the screen. The proximity didn’t help; it was still gibberish to him.

Q gave a heaving sigh before saying, “The good news is that the list is nowhere on the network, so someone was smart enough to delete it after it was stolen. The bad news is there is definitely someone working in TSS that’s allowing the network to be compromised. And it’s subtle, difficult to detect.”

“And?” James prompted.

“And, it looks like they’re collecting mission data, intelligence reports, and monitoring for new intel as it comes in for Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East. So everything basically, it wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve compromised the CIA and Interpol as well,” Q replied.

“Fuck! Who the hell are these people?” James stated.

Q groaned and gave into a long stretch in his chair before settling back down with a shiver, “Well, I currently can’t do much beyond copying the code and viruses they’re using to infiltrate the network. I could do an aggressive hack to trace the source of the infiltration and remove the code and viruses. That would stabilize and close the network. But, that would alert them to my presence in the system.”

“They’d end up going to ground and we’d have a harder time finding them,” James voiced.

“Yes, if I change anything right now, they’ll know,” Q returned.

“Would they be able to trace you if you did go in that strong?” James asked as he sat back down in his chair. Q turned to him and James had never seen the boffin have such a dangerous and angry look on his angelic face before.

“Not bloody likely,” Q challenged. “They’d be in for a world of hurt if I went in guns blazing.”

The boffin was sexy when his hackles were up, James thought. Even though Q had confidence in his ability to lay waste to the criminal’s networks, James was not confident in his position to allow it. He needed to be in a defensible place, preferably with the addition of guns and some backup before he would feel comfortable trying to trace the infiltration.

“It’s too dangerous, Q,” James said and held up a hand before Q could protest. “I have no weapons and no one to watch my back.”

“I can watch your back!” Q burst out.

“Perhaps you could, but you’re not trained. This whole endeavor could be a suicide mission and I don’t want you caught up in it anymore that you already are,” James replied.

Q was starting to look petulant, which was not a good sign. Q in a strop always seemed to put James on edge until it was over. He needed to stave it off before the boffin got into a full on sulk.

“Look, what else can you tell me right now about the situation at MI6?” he asked.

Q turned back to his screens in a huff, “Well let’s see what is going on with your status.”

Q’s long fingers were a blur as he worked his keyboard for long minutes. James kept quiet to not distract Q from his work. It was amazing to watch, the information scrawled across the screens so quickly that James couldn’t keep up.

The activity stopped abruptly on James’ service record.

“Huh… codename 007. It suits you,” Q stated. James felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle as he watched Q read his full service record. Only M, Tanner, Boothroyd, and perhaps the head of the Security Intelligence Committee had access to it. That feeling of being naked in a crowded room was becoming common place in Q’s presence.

Q cocked his head, “You tend to blow up a lot of shit, don’t you?”

“Q…,” James cajoled.

“Well according to what I’m seeing here, your status is MIA with a flagged priority order to locate you at any cost,” Q said. “And there are reports here about the search in Surrey.”

As Q brought the reports up, James arose again to read over the boffin’s shoulder. A report detailed the accident and identified the assassin—named Patrice—whom James had killed. There were multiple follow-ups with reports on interviews of the locals. Q clicked on the report that specified his assumed name.

“Shit! Those coppers were MI6 agents?” he exclaimed before turning up his head to frown at James.

“Ah yes, I’ve been meaning to tell you about that,” James said. He couldn’t help the small grin he felt rise on his face at Q’s befuddled countenance.

“Eve Moneypenny and Craig Mitchell were the agents that interviewed me. Do you know them well?” Q asked.

“I know Mitchell as M’s bodyguard for the last eight years, but beyond that I don’t know him personally. I hadn’t met Moneypenny until we were assigned together in Istanbul,” James replied.

“She looks like a fairly new agent, only six months in the service,” Q said. “According to this, I fooled them into believing I’m a reclusive writer.”

“Q, you are a reclusive writer,” James replied.

Q sniffed a bit before turning back to the system to finish reading the report, then he brought James service record back to the front. James didn’t like it, but he couldn’t very well forbid Q from reading it. The cat was already out the bag.

Q finished up his reading then his hands once again flew over the keys, “I’m getting out now, but I’ve copied their code and viruses for evidence.”

He pulled out a USB drive and handed it and the hard drive to James, “Your boss probably won’t be able to make heads or tails of the data, only a high level hacker could.”

“It will be good to have anyway,” James replied. “Thanks, Q.”

Q was perusing him, the look in his green eyes pensive as he stared. James could almost see the gears turning in the boffin’s big brain. Something was wrong with Q and James felt more vulnerable now than he did since he first came out of his fever.

“Q… what is it?” James asked his voice low so as not to alarm the boffin.

“Before you run head first into danger, I want to show you something,” he replied.

Q turned to shut down the system before heading over to the ladder. James followed him down and put on his pea coat that Q handed him. Winnie had been waiting in the hallway for them and was now wiggling in excitement as Q put on his Anorak.

“Come on,” he said.

Wary, James grabbed his PPK out of the bedroom and placed it in his pocket before following Q outside to the barn. It was dark now late in the evening. James couldn’t see the lights on in the attic with the window coverings. The cottage itself looked enchanting with the star light and trees surrounding it.

Q was already at the ladder to the hayloft by the time James made his way through the familiar workshop.

“What’s going on, Q?” James growled. He was becoming alarmed by Q’s silence.

“Just climb up here,” Q replied, his green eyes secretive as he turned away to climb. James followed on his heels; the sweet smell of hay teased his nose when he stepped onto the landing at the top.

Q was waiting for him in the center of the lane made between the rows of bales. He pulled his mobile out of his pocket and thumbed the screen before a hydraulic hiss was heard coming from behind the bales in front of him. Two rows parted to expose an opening behind, and as Q crossed the threshold bright lights illuminated the space.

James could feel his mouth hanging open in shock. The bright white space contained metal top workbenches, and racks of tech along the walls. Not computers, but actual tools and machine equipment for fabrication.

“What the fuck, Q! Are you an evil mastermind bent on world domination?” James shouted. “How many evil tech lairs to you have?”

“I promise, I only have the two James,” Q said fiddling with his phone. “And I’m not bent on world domination, just a way for me to find the fuckers who kidnapped me in the first place and protect myself. I want to see my family again before the next five years passes.”

“What is all this?” James said. He prowled about the room, but dared not touch anything.

“I mainly play with making robots, security and computer components up here. This is where I made your mobile,” he replied. “I haven’t been able to sneak up here much since you started recovering.”

“Why show me this now?” James demanded.

Q lifted his chin up a stubborn pose to James’ eyes, “I confirmed your identity today and when you leave I wanted to make sure you had some tools that’ll help you.”

James was livid and stalked toward Q whose eyes widened in alarm. Q dropped his mobile when James grabbed the tops of his arms to hold him against the bench. The boffin felt so delicate under his hands, but James couldn’t let that deter him from getting at the truth.

“You’ve been lying to me since the day we met,” he rumbled. He dwarfed the man even though they were of the same height.

“No! No… I haven’t,” Q squeaked out in dismay. “I just wasn’t very forthcoming with information! And yes, I did lie about the second tech lair, but I have my reasons, which you know!”

“How the fuck do you expect me to believe any words you say, Q,” James replied and shook the boffin to bring his point home.

“Look! Stop for a minute and think about this,” Q challenged. James could see the boffin was getting angry now too. “I’ve done nothing but help you and hide you for almost two months now you Neanderthal! Why the fuck do you think I’d betray you now.”

“It’s happened before,” James said.

“Well, I’m not her!” Q exclaimed. “I’m not trying to trick you or use you. I’m just trying to protect myself, you arse. Of course, I couldn’t tell you everything. I didn’t know who you were for sure until today.”

James reared back as if he’d been slapped at the reference to Vesper. Q was red with temper his hands clutched the lapels of James coat. He let the boffin go before he did something he’d regret and stalked to the door to try to bring his anger under control. He had to think logically about the situation.

“What else aren’t you telling me, Q?” James said as he turned around to pierce the boffin with his gaze.

Q met his eyes as he said, “I recognized the code used to infiltrate MI6’s network.”

“What?” James replied once again stunned.

“I wrote the code they used to open the backdoor to install the data mining viruses,” Q stated. James started to stalk back to Q as his anger at the betrayal surged once more. The boffin scurried to put the workbench between them. James wasn’t quite ready to pull his gun on the man, but it was close.

“Wait! Wait… James,” Q screeched his hands waving in surrender. “Hear me out, please!”

It was difficult to look at Q and know that he’d put that terror into the boffins’ eyes. Q… sweet, silly Q was a liar and James was devastated by the knowledge. This betrayal felt ten times worse than Vesper’s and sliced through his heart. He’d felt that he knew Q, even though the man had held some things close to his chest. The boffin had kept James safe for almost eight-weeks and the initial façade he detected during his first circuit of Q’s cottage was now finally crumbling.

“Start talking, Q,” James growled.

Q ran his hands through his hair making it even fluffier than before; he looked like a long haired kitten. James had to steel himself against the innocent image as he waited for Q to speak. He didn’t like feeling duped. Q settled his fidgeting hands on the bench before him then returned James steady gaze.

“The encryption algorithms used were written by me five years ago during my captivity,” Q claimed. “They’ve been tweaked a bit, but are basically the same as the code I was forced to write when Rata held me prisoner for those nine months. Who ever is behind this, has Rata involved in some capacity.”

“And you don’t know who he is, do you?” James just had to verify.

“No, like I said before. He stayed in the shadows. I only know his voice and his handle,” Q replied.

“Where did they hold you, Q?” James probed. “You said you escaped, so you know where you were held.”

Q nodded, “I was held outside of Moscow, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t his main facility. He made sure I didn’t have full access to his network and after I escaped, if he was smart and he was, he probably moved it.”

“How were you able to escape?” James asked. He was finally getting more information about his mysterious savior. Q seemed genuine, but he’d not suspected Vesper either at the time.

Q pulled up a stool to sit down across from James; his pallor had return to its normal creamy hue.

“I used the access he did give me against them,” Q said a far off look in his eyes as he remembered. “Rata couldn’t be there all of the time to monitor what I was doing and the hackers in his employ were no where near my level. I was able to set up a timed security bypass to escape my cell and the building, as well as forge new documentation. I also siphoned some of his money into a Swiss bank account, so I could make it home.”

“They didn’t have you guarded?” James inquired. It sounded too simple, but then again he wasn’t a hacker so couldn’t really refute that part of Q’s story.

“Oh yes, they did, but I had bided my time and never gave them any trouble after the woman was killed in front of me,” Q continued. “They had lowered their guard by the time I was ready and only had one guard posted outside my room. I took metal piping from the sink and whacked the bastard over the head.”

The whole situation was unbelievable and James felt paralyzed by it all, “Q, how can I believe all this?”

Q was quiet and still, the fidgeting gone now. The boffin looked small and lost sitting there under the bright lights of his secret workshop. James desperately wanted to believe and trust Q, but that ship had sailed. The final nail in that coffin, the revelation of this second tech lair and the knowledge that the code Q had wrote was being used to betray his country.

“James,” Q started his hands out in supplication. “I came across you in the woods. I didn’t lure you here. You ended up on my doorstep. And as unbelievable as it seems, the people who took me five years ago are somehow involved with stealing that list and infiltrating MI6.”

James remained silent mulling over Q’s words. They were true, but perhaps he’d been run off the road here so that Q would find him. That seemed more plausible than the coincidence of coming across the one person in the whole of the UK who could possibly help him.

“So you’re saying Fate intervened?” James said the sarcasm of the question like a gunshot in the room.

Q rolled his eyes, “Oh for god sake! Look, you want to find the traitors within MI6 and stop the threat. I want to find the bastards that killed Daniel, kidnapped me and caused me to go into hiding. We can work together to do both.”

“I think from this moment on, I’ll be on my own,” James replied. And once the situation was resolved, James would be back to address Q’s circumstances.

Q gave a defeated sigh and a nod, “Alright, but before you decide to head out at least let me make you some more bullets for your Walther.”

****

It was late as James finished packing a bag of clothes. Winnie was lying on the bed, a look of worry on her face. He couldn’t help but pet her and smile. Animals always seemed to know when their people were leaving. Q had stayed in his workshop in the hayloft of the barn after James retreated to the cottage.

He wanted to trust in Q, but he didn’t dare. There were too many coincidences for him to let his guard down now. He was grateful to the boffin for saving him and letting him heal. He’d found contentment here in Surrey, a contentment he’d not felt in such a long time. He ached at having to leave Q behind without the possibility of return. If he was able, he’d return and make sure Q’s identity was verified. If the entire story the boffin had told him was true, he do everything in his power to help him. James didn’t want to contemplate what would be required of him if Q were one of the traitors he was hunting.

“You’re leaving then?” Q said from the doorway to the bedroom.

“Yes, tomorrow morning,” he replied. Q still had that defeated look on his face and it cut through James’ essence like a dagger. His silly boffin was sad and it hurt to see it.

Q moved forward with his delicate hands outstretched, “Then at least take these.”

Q was holding bullets in one hand and two full magazines in his other. James’ pulled his PPK out of its holster to load the loose bullets into the magazine. They fit perfectly.

“You made these?” James asked.

“Of course,” Q replied. “You’re going to need them. They’re jacketed with steel. I didn’t have any enough copper handy, but they’ll work just fine.”

“Thank you, Q,” James said. The boffin had a soft look in his eyes as he moved to sit on the bed to pet his dog.

“Are you not going to take your phone?” he asked.

“I’d best not,” James replied. Q nodded in understanding, but his eyes were wet with unshed tears.

Q wiped his eyes with a sniff then stood, “I’ll let you get some sleep then. You’re welcome to take my car tomorrow. Just let me know where you leave it so I can come get it, OK?”

“I will,” he replied. “Q?”

“Yes, James,” the boffin said as he turned back.

James couldn’t help himself as he pulled Q into a desperate hug. The boffin returned the hard embrace with one of his own burying his face in James’ neck. James took in the feel of that lithe body in his arms and under his hands. He reveled in the boffin’s rich scent—tea, apples, and his indescribable musk—as he buried his nose in Q’s silky dark hair. The strands were soft under his cheek, almost as soft as the skin of Q’s forehead against his lips. James was reluctant to pull back, but knew he had too. He kissed Q’s forehead one more time as he tipped the boffin’s face up to look into those jade eyes.

“Come back if you can,” Q said. James could only nod as he looked into Q’s heartbroken gaze.

Chapter 6:

Q’s supple mouth was on James’ coaxing his lips to open to receive a caress from the boffin’s tongue. James allowed the kiss to deepen as Q pulled his body into a full embrace. He lost himself to the taste and the feel of Q. His eyes closed to revel in the touch of the man who’d saved him. James’ hands grasped the soft locks on the back of Q’s head and pulled the boffin closer taking control of the kiss. He’d intended on pulling back, but the hunger to get his hands on Q—which he’d been feeling for weeks—took over his conscious mind.

It was quiet in the room; just the sounds of their increased breaths accompanied by the low tones of their kisses disturbed the silence. Their cocks brushed together and the resulting jolt of arousal awoke James from the trance-like state Q had woven around his mind.

“Q… we can’t,” he said. His voice was a low rumble from the lust he was feeling.

“Shut up,” Q whispered. “I’m probably not going to get the chance to see you again.”

James shuddered at Q’s despondent voice and the soft pressure of the boffin’s lips under his left ear.

“Please?” he breathed into James’ skin.

James’ eyes shut at the feeling of Q’s lips placing soft, suckling kisses down his neck to the join of his shoulder. The boffin’s long fingered hand moved his shirt further out of the way to place a lick and kiss on his collarbone. The tickling caress felt wonderful against his skin and James allowed his head to tip back to encourage Q’s kisses to continue up his neck. The sensitive skin under his jaw received a delicate suck that caused a stab of lust to pulse through his cock.

He pulled Q’s lips away; breathing hard he perused the jade eyes half lidded with arousal behind his spectacles. The boffin’s beautiful face was flushed with want, the dark strands of his hair standing on end from James’ fingers. His eyes were without guile. James’ wasn’t sure he could trust his instincts; Q had fooled him three times already. But, he wanted this man with a hunger he’d not felt for anyone—not even Vesper—during the whole of his adult life.

“This won’t change anything. I’ll still be leaving in the morning,” he said.

Q stroked his hands down James arms to grasp the wrists of the hands cupping his face, “I know, but I just want to be close to you before you go.”

James took a hitching breath at Q’s words, their gazes steady on each other. He didn’t feel he should let himself have this with Q. It would only complicate things further in his mind, but his resolve was weakening as he looked into the boffin’s innocent green eyes. Q was the most beautiful person James had ever gotten to know, but he didn’t know everything. The contentment he’d experienced by being with Q these last two months had been shattered today. He couldn’t trust his judgment when it came to the boffin.

“Please James?” Q said. “You do know me, who I am in the basic sense. That’s not a lie. I want you, not agent 007 of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. You James… strong, funny, serious, and, I’m willing to overlook your aversion to colorful clothing.”

James could feel his lips curve involuntarily at the boffin’s nonsensical statement. If the eyes were the windows to the soul, then Q had the most beautiful soul James had ever had the pleasure of seeing. He was use to being the seducer, not the one being seduced, and his cock ached at the thought of sinking into Q’s lithe body.

“You can have this, James,” Q said as his fingers lightly grazed over James’ wrists. “Resistance is futile.”

James pressed his forehead against Q’s his smile more pronounced, “You just quoted Star Trek, didn’t you?”

“Hmm… yes, it’s charming and sexy when you recognize sci-fi references,” Q replied as he nuzzled James’ face with his own.

Q’s lips took his in a deep kiss again and James gave himself over to it. He clutched his boffin to him with a hand in Q’s lustrous hair while the other gravitated to cup a diminutive buttock encased in those ridiculous trousers. He took Q’s soft sigh from that divine mouth into his own; the lust between them escalated further, cracking James’ resistance.

“Damn it Q…” James groused softly against his boffin’s swollen lips.

James squeezed the sweet buttock under his hand causing Q to let out a small squeak as he pulled their groins back together. The heat of their cocks rubbing together through the layers of cloth between them was maddening. James felt Q clutch hard at his shoulders before the boffin’s lips again took his in a deep kiss. The kiss became hard and urgent, their panting breathes loud in James’ ears. Both of his hands were on Q’s behind as he lifted his boffin, urging those lean thighs around his hips. He was strong now, Q’s slight weight felt incredible in his arms.

“Oh, fuck,” Q breathed as his thighs squeezed James tight, his long fingered hands grasped the back of the agent’s neck surrendering control of the kiss.

He was going to let himself have this, have Q for perhaps the only time. He would leave tomorrow and might not be able to return. James decided he needed to live in the moment and this moment was all about being close to his boffin, the man he realized he’d slowly fallen in love with since their first meeting. He didn’t want to think about the future, a future without Q, or a future where Q became a target. He was going to accept this gift tonight and be grateful for the moments he’d had with his bespectacled savior.

James turned to bring them both down onto the bed only to be halted by the sight of the dog sprawled in the middle of his intended target. Winnie thumped her tail when she saw she had his attention.

Q’s lips left his when he realized James was distracted, “What?” He turned to see what was causing the delay, before flapping a hand in his dog’s direction.

“Winnie! Off girl, papa needs some private time,” he said. James couldn’t help but laugh at Q’s flapping hand and Winnie’s resistance to the idea of moving. He put Q back down on his feet, so his boffin could shoo the pooch off the bed and out to the living room. James could hear Q softly scolding the dog about cock blocking daddy while he pulled the bedclothes down. He sat at the edge of the bed to remove his shoes and socks, just finishing as Q rushed back into the room. The boffin’s hair had reached new heights from James’ fingers; he was a disheveled mess of a man and so gorgeous James had to grab those slim hips to bring his splendid boffin back into his lap.

“Oh good,” Q said between kisses to James lips. “She didn’t change your mind.”

“No,” James rumbled as he removed Q’s spectacles and placed them on the bedside table next to Mr. Spock. He then pulled the boffin with him to lie on their sides further on the bed. Q’s lips were a deep cherry color, inflamed from kissing. James decided he loved the look of them and had to taste them again.

James wallowed in the feel of Q in his arms; the boffin’s hands were bands of heat up and down his back as they delved under his shirt. James’ kisses became languid, the weight of Q’s thigh a pleasant pressure over his hip. His own hands pulled Q’s shirt from his trousers, his boffin’s skin like silk under his fingers. James burrowed his hands under Q’s trousers to better appreciate the soft skin of those pert buttocks; his cock throbbed at the feel of his fingers exploring the hot cleft between them.

“James… we really need to get naked,” Q murmured against his lips.

James hummed in response, “There’s no rush.”

“That’s easy for you to say, you wanker,” Q replied breaths heavy in James’ ear. “You’re not the one who hasn’t had sex in over five years!”

James chuckled at the name-calling, his fingers gently patting Q’s hole while squeezing his behind to pull him closer. He’d wanted to get his hands on Q’s backside for weeks and he wasn’t going to give it up so soon. However, Q seemed to be on a mission as he wriggled in James’ arms. He heard the thump of two shoes hit the floor before Q—all knees and elbows—heaved himself on top of James, his slim thighs squeezing the agent’s hips tight.

His boffin was fumbling with James’ shirt trying to get it off, “Help me out here, you great oaf!”

James’ laughed again at Q’s desperation, before he surged to sit up and taste the boffin’s lips again. He decided to be helpful by lifting his arms wanting to feel Q’s warm hands on his skin. James’ hands started work on removing the cardigan and shirt that was in his way. He wanted to see, feel, and taste the porcelain skin he knew was waiting for him under the garish colors.

Q breathing was heavy in his ear; fine boned hands wrought electrifying sweeps of heat and arousal as they moved over the skin of James’ back and shoulders. The addition of his boffin’s hot mouth suckling down his neck caused him to fumble with the last buttons of Q’s shirt. Lean hands were firm on his chest and he was pushed back down onto the bed, supplicant under the enchanting creature astride his hips.

Q was stunning, his green eyes luminous with arousal solely focused on James. He removed his cardigan and shirt; his frame was lightly muscled with a pink tinge of arousal leading down his neck to his chest. He was practically hairless except for the light fuzz between his pectorals and a downy trail advancing from his navel down into his trousers. His cock was evident, full in the confines of the cloth; James couldn’t help but place a hand on it. He needed to feel the heat he knew was located there.

Q grabbed a hold of his wrist in a vice like grip, “Wait! Wait…”

James felt Q’s cock harden further just as his dark head was thrown back and his body seized in a beautiful long arch. The boffin gasped as his prick pulsed in release under James’ fingers, his hips jerking in the agent’s hands. That Q came from just one touch was one of the hottest things James had seen in a very long time.

“Oh fuck! You cock!” Q swore before he collapsed onto James’ chest. “You made me cum in my trousers like a teenager.”

James hugged the lanky frame to him, stroking his hand down the length of Q’s back enjoying the feel of the relaxed muscles under his palms.

“Well, you did say it’s been five years,” James replied kissing his boffin’s sweaty forehead. “It was bloody hot though.”

Q was grumbling into his neck and he couldn’t make out many of the words, except ‘embarrassing’ and ‘too soon.’

He took a hold of Q’s dark plumage to raise the boffin’s face. Q was flushed and sweaty with eyes half-lidded in satisfaction. James found it an appealing look for his lover and took Q’s pliable lips in a soft kiss. Their tongues caressed each other leisurely and the slowing of Q’s urgency allowed James to savor the taste and feel of him. James was enjoying the closeness and soft touches he was receiving.

After a time Q got his breath back and moved off him to the side, his gaze admiring as his hands stroked down James’ chest and belly. Slim fingers swirled around his belly button before he took one of James’ nipples into his mouth grazing the nub with his teeth and giving it a soft suck. His cock pulsed in time to the suction that peaked his nipple and he pulled Q’s thigh over his prick to receive some much-needed pressure.

“You feel so good, Q,” he whispered.

“You do too,” Q replied. “And you’re bloody gorgeous.”

James felt his face heat in a blush at Q’s praise. He’d not felt embarrassed being with a lover since he was a teenager. It was a bizarre feeling and he wasn’t sure he liked it. Q grinned at catching James in a blush.

“A spy blushing? Really?” he said. “That’s adorable.”

James could feel the flush rush down his chest at Q’s words. He needed to distract his boffin; he wasn’t a blushing virgin for god sakes! He pulled that smart mouth into another kiss before he grasped Q’s cock through the wet heat of his trousers. He was hard again and the hand on his prick caused him to gasp into James’ mouth.

Q whined into James’ mouth, “Can we please get naked now?”

“Please tell me you have supplies, Q,” James growled against his lover’s lips. His arousal was becoming urgent again as Q gave his lower lip a chastising nip with his teeth.

Q escaped from his arms to scramble in the bedside table. He dropped a brand new box of condoms and lubrication onto the bed before shucking his trousers, pants, and socks. James’ cock throbbed as he viewed his boffin’s lithe alabaster body. James felt that butterfly feeling in his stomach again at the sight of Q’s uncut prick, glistening from his earlier release, jutting from a nest of dark curls at its base.

James reached for Q, but his lover batted his hands away to focus on getting the agent out of his trousers and pants. He shuddered when his cock slapped against his belly followed by a gasp at the shock of Q taking a tight hold of his prick as he settled astride James’ thighs. Q’s hands were as scorching as his eyes as he studied James’ cock and body from above. Fingertips playing with the head sent heat biting down into his balls and James couldn’t help but arch into the feeling and pressure. He grunted when Q tugged his bollocks down away from his body before rolling them between his fingers.

“God, Q,” he burst out at having his cock squeezed. His boffin was playing with his body like an experienced gamer with a controller and James’ muscles were clenching involuntarily, he had to concentrate to stave off orgasm.

Q gave the soft skin at the join of his hips a tickling caress before moving up his torso. The boffin’s enjoyment of exploring James’ solid body and his reactions to the touches was apparent in the focus of Q’s jade eyes and the curve of pink lips. James pulled Q to him to capture those lips again with his. The taste of his lover was sublime with the combination of the aroma from sweat slick skin. Their cocks rubbed together slick with pre-cum, wet, heated and aching. James swept his large palms down Q’s long back to grasp his lover’s lush little buttocks to increasing the pressure of their pricks brushing together. He received a lovely gasp when Q arched into the feeling. The boffin’s long neck was irresistible and he enjoyed the squeak Q gave him as his lips bit and suckled along his lover’s pale throat.

Kisses became urgent with breaths increasing as their excitement arose to a frenzy. James was becoming mindless with want having Q under his hands. He’d had many lovers in his life, but being with Q, having that lanky body and big brain focused solely on him was thrilling. He felt like his body was one big throbbing nerve with Q’s lips on his and those long fingered hands sweeping along the skin of his sides.

“Can I have you, Q?” he murmured. He was going to come all over his belly if he wasn’t able to sink into his lover’s graceful body soon.

In reply, Q hummed an affirmative and placed the lube into his hand before being distracted by kissing behind James’ left ear.

Slick on his fingers and Q spread above him, James delved into the boffin’s hot cleft spreading his buttocks one handed while the other rubbed the slick over his hole. Q gave a grunt against his neck and bit the join of James’ shoulder when his finger breached his passage. The pain of the bite escalated the throbbing in James’ cock and he shuddered when he felt a pulse of pre-cum radiate from the root to the tip. Q was hot and tight around his finger and James’ lips took Q’s again in praise for being allowed this.

“Fuck!” Q exclaimed when James brushed over his prostate.

A deep kiss was shared as James worked another finger into Q’s heat. His boffin arched, head thrown back from the stretch, beautiful above him. James pulled Q’s lips back down to his with a hand in dark locks, holding his boffin still for a third finger. Q was so tight around his digits, James could barley think about how amazing his lover was going to feel around his cock.

“Enough!” Q erupted against James mouth. “I’m ready…I’m ready.”

His boffin surged up grabbing the box of condoms along the way removing James’ fingers from their temporary abode. James watched Q fumble getting a condom out while his hands gravitated to hold those slim hips tight. He got a bit distracted by the sight of Q’s lovely cock hard against his stomach, the head and glands exposed glazed with pre-cum from their foreplay.

“Don’t even think about touching my prick,” Q scolded when a hand started to creep toward his cock. “I’m fit to burst again and I want you in me before I do!”

James smiled at the admonishment, but aborted his goal to squeeze a thin thigh in response. Q’s hands worked fast to place the condom on James’ cock and the feel of his boffin rolling the latex down to the root had James fighting to keep from coming.

Q’s skin was incandescent in the light of the lamps, porcelain skin covered in a fine sheen of sweat a compliment to James’ honey toned frame. James’ body arched when his lover lowered himself to sheath the agent’s cock in the blazing heat of his body. Q’s hips were flush against James, his head back at the feeling of the agent’s bulk inside him. Green eyes soft in pleasure, Q was the most beautiful thing James’ had ever seen in that moment.

They were both gasping at the pleasure of their union, holding still, hands tight on each other to delay the inevitable. James got control over himself enough to keep from coming immediately as Q started to gently ride him. His boffin leaned forward to place his hands on either side of James’ shoulder’s to steal kisses as he worked himself up and down James’ cock. The pleasure James was feeling was intense, his grip on Q’s hips tight to guide his lover riding his prick.

Only the sounds of their breaths and the slap of their skin together disturbed the silence of the room. James could feel the building of release tingling from his balls rising higher as Q worked himself mindless on James, seeking his pleasure. He couldn’t restrain himself any longer and took hold of Q’s cock. The skin satin and slick underneath his fingers, Q called out nonsense to the ceiling before James pulled him back for another urgent kiss.

Unable to hold himself back any more, he flipped Q onto his back to plow into the tight heat of his lover.

“Oh, fuck!” Q yelled in encouragement, clutching James’ shoulders tight.

James gripped underneath Q’s shoulders in return, thrusting hard with his lover’s thighs squeezing him high and tight along his sides. He pulled Q’s head back to bite the side of his lover’s pale neck; Q gave him another lovely little squeak before muscles clenched tight around his cock. James released Q from his mouth gasping as his orgasm burst out of him causing him to grind hard and deep into his lover. Q’s body seized, his own release erupted between them, leaving wet heat to coat their bellies.

James collapsed onto his lover relaxing his grip as Q went limp beneath him.

****

James finished tying his boots, completing his morning ablutions, dressed and ready to get on the road. He’d awakened to the sound of Q’s heartbeat under his ear; slowly coming to the awareness of his lover cuddling him. James had laid there, his head on Q’s chest, enjoying the closeness and the feel of the boffin’s hand softly stroking his back. He’d always been the one to hold a lover or mark in the aftermath of sex, never the one who was held. The reversal of the role enhanced James’ contentment in the moment and he decided to take the comfort that was being given.

They didn’t speak and as the dawn emerged, James arose with a kiss on Q’s lips. Q had followed him into the shower, both of them subdued with the knowledge they were going to part soon. James into unknown danger, Q left behind. They’d washed each other, exchanging soft kisses and touches. James was blissful to have Q in his arms for a little while longer.

He smoothed down his gray Henley before shrugging into his gun holster. He’d just checked then settled his Walther under his arm and the list around his neck when he heard Q yell, “James! Get in here.”

“Darby texted me,” he said sitting at his computer face washed gray in the living room with a news alert on.

… an apparent terrorist attack on the Secret Intelligence Service at Vauxhall Cross. Six are confirmed dead with an unknown number injured…

The buzz of the newscaster’s voice moved into the background for James when he saw the flames coming from the top of the building. Anger and alarm burned through him at the thought of M, Tanner and Boothroyd. It was too much of a coincidence not to consider that the attack had something to do with the stolen list.

“I should’ve removed the code and viruses to close the network when I had the chance,” Q muttered under his breath.

His lover looked sick, despair alight in his eyes as he took in James’ angered gaze. The one thing James did know and did trust was that Q was not responsible for this attack. He was a gifted hacker and probably had the skill to do this. But, with the events of these last weeks, James was willing to put blind faith into the belief that Q was not involved. Trust in that belief was likely a mistake, but he couldn’t look at Q’s sweet face and believe the boffin was a cold blooded killer. He couldn’t, it would kill his soul.

“I told you not to,” he replied. “I need to go. I need to see if M is still alive and if she is, make a plan with her to deal with this infiltration.”

Q turned in his chair, “If she’s dead?”

“I’ll go in for debriefing and work to find the party responsible and kill them,” James said his tone cold. Agent 007 was emerging again inside him compartmentalizing and stopping the grief at the thought of M no longer living.

“Let me help you,” Q implored grabbing on to James’ shirt.

“No, it’s too dangerous,” he replied removing Q’s hands from him.

Q surged up out of his chair and came nose to nose with James, “Why won’t you let me help you!”

“You know why. You’ve kept things from me! And until I can verify your story, I can’t risk trusting you,” James held his place in the face of Q’s anger.

His boffin’s face was red with rage when he burst out, “I’ll just hack into MI6 again on my own then!”

“You better bloody not, Q!” he yelled.

“Once you leave, you won’t be able to stop me,” Q replied visibly trying to calm himself.

They were at an impasse. Q was right, there was nothing he could do, short of killing the man—which he wasn’t prepared to do—or take his lover with him, that would keep the boffin from hacking MI6.

They were still nose to nose, Winnie whining at their feet when an alarm sounded from the desk. Q swiped up his mobile and stopped the alarm, but James could hear another one going off in the bedroom.

“Shit, we have incoming,” Q said showing the phone to James. “Grab your mobile, we need to go.” The screen showed two utility vehicles parked at the front gates with ten men in black fatigues with balaclavas on their faces and assault rifles in their arms exiting the vehicles.

“Q take Winnie and get out,” James ordered moving to the bedroom to retrieve the phone Q had made for him. He swiped through to the other cameras feed along the perimeter, but it look like the assault was only going to come from the front.

“No,” Q said as James came back into the living room. “We go together or we stay. Your choice.”

Q’s bespectacled countenance was firm with stubbornness and he was not at all moved when James grabbed his shoulders to give him a shake. “Q, we don’t have time for this!”

“Make your choice, James,” he said. “We either stay together or we go together.” Then he moved out from under James hands to the kitchen where he pulled a hunting rifle and ammunition out from behind the refrigerator. James shouldn’t have been surprised at Q’s hiding place—he should have found it by now—but, his boffin was a sneaky little bugger.

James looked down at the video feed in his hand; the assault team was three-quarters down the drive now, moving steadily. Whoever it was must have finally figured out that Q’s property was the only place James could have ended up. They’d probably used satellite surveillance to confirm his presence.

Q was unmoving, rifle in his hand and Winnie by his side. He couldn’t allow them to be in the line of fire. There was only one choice he could make.

“Let’s go,” he growled. They both moved in conjunction to the back door grabbing their coats along the way.

“Winnie! Alert. Rover,” Q ordered. The pooch immediately burst out the door toward the woods.

“She’ll meet us at the shed,” Q said then grabbed onto James’ arm to urge him to start the long run to their escape route.

James heard shouts behind them followed by shots that splintered against the trees as they finished the long dash across the yard. He followed closely on Q’s heals through the woods. To James relief, Q could run fast when he needed too. More shots went wide as they zigged and zagged through the trees. They had a good head start on their attackers, but James turned to return fire on and off trying to deter them from getting too close. He was glad he had healed and that his stamina was back otherwise the two of them would’ve been sitting ducks.

Q already had the shed doors open, Winnie in the back behind the front seats, and the Rover’s engine on by the time James burst out of the trees. He’d barely gotten the passenger door closed before Q hit the accelerator to the floor. James sent a few more rounds into the trees from the window as the vehicle lurched from the field in front onto another track in the woods leaving their attackers behind.

The route Q took winding through the forest was convoluted and James lost track of which direction they were headed.

“Q, do you know where you’re going?” he asked.

Q’s face was a study in concentration and confidence, “Yes, we’ll take the back roads to the A3 and then work our way up to Camden on the smaller routes.”

“Camden?” James asked. At this point he didn’t really have a plan, except to avoid the assault team. He’d intended to figure out the logistics once he was back in London and had made contact with M.

“My friend, Darby lives there. We can lay low at her place for a few days and get our plans together,” he said with a raised eyebrow. “You didn’t tell me your plans, so until you do we’re going with mine.”

James couldn’t really refute Q’s challenge except to ask, “Are you sure you want your friend to be involved?”

“No one from my past knows about Darby,” he said. “I trust her and I’m going to need her help to get the tech I need to do the hack, since my ‘evil tech lairs’ are no longer available.”

Bouncing along rutted dirt roads, a dog in the back and Q at the wheel James had no options. It looked like he was going to have to put his trust in Q after all, unless he could leave him with his friend. But, if Q insisted on hacking MI6 and god knows who else, James was going to have to keep an eye on him and avert any trouble his boffin insisted on getting into.

“I guess we’re going to Camden then,” James replied. It was going to be an interesting mission, he mused.

Banner by the talented themuller

Banner by the talented themuller

Chapter 7:

They had bounced along dirt tracks for over forty-five minutes before Q had turned them onto a paved road toward the A3. James doubted their pursuers had gotten a look at the vehicle since Q had turned them almost immediately out of the field and into the forest. The assault team hadn’t made it even close to the shed, so James was hopeful they had no clue about the type and color of their escape vehicle.

James figured the drive to Camden from Ewhurst, that would normally take an hour and a half, would take them over three hours by avoiding the main motorways. He was concerned about the many traffic and CCTV cameras in the city, but then remembered the mobile Q had made him.

“Q, will the app on my mobile jam the traffic cameras?” he asked.

“Yes, once we get close to London we can turn on the jammer,” Q replied. His boffin was looking very smug and contented with a slight curl to his lips.

The little shit was probably happy that James had to give into his stubbornness at the cottage, “Why are you looking so happy?”

“I was just thinking that those Neanderthals will get quite a shock if they try to get into the cottage or barn,” he responded, a full on grin took over his face. “Literally.”

“What do you mean?” James inquired raising an eyebrow at his boffin’s glee.

Q, his green eyes bright with humor replied, “I activated my defense countermeasures while waiting for you to get your fine arse to the Ute. If they attempt to get in the cottage or the barn electric shocks will deter them. With the first try they’ll get a moderate shock, the second will knock them on their arses, and the third will fry them to a crisp.”

“You’re devious, Q,” the admiration in James’ voice evident. He probably shouldn’t encourage the trait in his boffin, but Q was Q smart and sneaky. The sneakiness was probably a family trait that James had no hope—nor did he want to—of changing.

“Well, I have to protect my collectables,” Q said. “I wouldn’t want anyone to steal them, now would I?”

“Right, collectables are more important than the tech you have hidden about the place,” James stated.

“They wouldn’t be able to locate my ‘evil tech lairs,’” Q said and James couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the finger quotes going on over the steering wheel. “You didn’t. Besides the first draft of my new book is there too. I have to watch out for plagiarism, you know.”

A hysterical giggle burst out of him at the thought of the bad guys stealing Q’s Dr. Who collectables and romance novel manuscript. Q’s smile was blinding in response to James’ mirth.

****

James had Q park down the street from Darby’s building. The afternoon had waned into early evening of the five-o-clock hour, commuters briskly moving along the wet sidewalks in the drizzling dark toward home. They’d driven around the neighborhood for more than thirty minutes, so James could verify they were still safe.

“Wait for a moment,” he put a hand on Q’s arm to prevent him from getting out of the vehicle.

Q raised a black eyebrow, “What? Why?”

“Just give it a minute,” James replied not answering the question. 007 was back, assessing any potential threats as he perused the street and building. Darby’s building was a fairly modern construction of beige brick and balconies with large windows. It was a squat ten-story monstrosity that dwarfed the quaint nineteenth century terrace houses that lined the street.

There were no threats that James could see and if Q’s jammer was working it was unlikely that they would be found through facial recognition. He was sure MI6 was still searching for him and his face on camera would alert them to his presence in London. He had to trust that Q’s technology was working as it should and in turn trust Q. James wanted to trust his boffin, but Vesper’s betrayal continued to prickle in the back of his mind. He couldn’t let his guard down no matter how much he wanted to.

“Let’s go,” he said. He felt exposed on the walk to the building even with Q and Winnie at his side. The entrance was locked of course and needed a code to enter. Q pressed the buzzer assigned to flat 803.

James couldn’t help himself, “What no tech to break in?”

“You don’t know Darby,” Q glowered at him for his teasing. “She’s dangerous when startled.”

And on that cryptic note a tinny voice came over the speaker, “Yes?”

“Darbs, it’s me,” Q stated. The doors immediately buzzed open without any further questions.

Q and Winnie made a beeline for the elevators, but 007 was on high alert and gave him a tug on the hood of his Anorak.

“No elevators,” he said.

“What, really?” Q whined. Thwarted he followed James to the stairwell grumbling under his breath as they started the climb up to the eight floor.

“You don’t want to get trapped in a box when you’re being hunted,” James stated.

The building had a utilitarian interior, but was in excellent condition. James figured the rent was significant, though not nearly as pricey as central London. He stood off to the side of the door to 803 as Q gave the wood a brisk knock.

A shadow passed the peephole before the door was abruptly opened and he almost reached for his PPK as a form in jet black with blue hair burst from the opening to engulf Q in a tight hug.

“Ollie! It’s been ages, you wanker,” she said. She had a low voice, but musical in tone with a heavy northern accent. Q was returning her hug with a tight grip of his own, while Winnie bounced against their legs for attention.

“Hey, Darbs. It’s good to see you,” he mumbled into her neck. “We need your help.”

James caught sight of suspicious blue eyes glaring at him over Q’s shoulder. He met her gaze steadily, but was too on edge to try to charm her. He figured, after Q’s earlier warning, that charm might just make her go for his bollocks rather than relax her. She kept her eyes on his when she leaned down to greet Winnie.

“It’s alright, he’s with me,” Q said. She moved aside to let them in the spacious flat. The flat was a modern open plan style studio with an area for a bed on one side, sitting and entertainment in the center, and had tech on the other side that could rival Q’s attic lair. A kitchen and bath to the left completed the space with a wall of windows that highlighted the distant lights of London’s skyline. The place was filed with modern pop art prints that covered the white walls and collectables similar to Q’s.

Q was holding Darby’s hand in a tight grip, “Darby Lisbeth, this is James and we’re in trouble.”

“Bond… James Bond,” he said holding out a hand to the girl. She ignored his outstretched hand while she studied him with laser sharp focus.

She was a skinny pale little thing covered in black from the top of her blue head—that only reached Q’s shoulder—to the black trainers on her feet. The blue of her short hair the only pop of color on her except the addition of silver piercings through her lip, eyebrow, and nose. She looked like a Goth princess that couldn’t hurt a fly, but James wasn’t fooled. She had the look of loss and hard living in her wary blue eyes. He wouldn’t want to tangle with her if he didn’t have to. If she was as devious as Q, she probably had a taser hidden on her person.

“What’s the first Rule of Acquisition,” she asked.

James gave her a grin, “Once you have their money, never give it back.”

Darby relaxed immediately at hearing the correct answer to one of the trivia questions, Q had hammered into his brain on the drive from Ewhurst. It was a bit different to the codes he was use to working with in the field, but James could see the value of it for a couple of wary geeks.

“Now that you know I’m not being held against my will, can we have a cup of tea?” Q asked as he gave Darby’s hand a final squeeze before making his way to the kitchen and the kettle.

“Miss Lisbeth,” James said as Darby finally took his hand in a firm grip. She searched his eyes for a moment before giving a nod of greeting.

“So, have you gotten Ollie into new trouble or is it still the same trouble he’s been in for the last five years?” she asked her voice sober.

James followed her slight form to the kitchen and sat at the counter watching the pair. Darby ruffled Q’s wild locks before removing his coat. His boffin was solely focused on making tea, relaxed with a contented aura about him. He obviously trusted his friend wholeheartedly, which helped to dispel some of James’ own tension.

“Well, I would have said new trouble just a week ago,” James replied. “But it seems that Ollie’s trouble and my own are linked.”

Darby brought him a cup of tea then sat down next to him at the counter with a cup of her own. “Is it Rata?”

“Yes, but it’s more than that Darbs,” Q said taking a sip of tea leaning against the kitchen cupboards with Winnie sprawled at his feet.

“Daniel?” she inquired.

“James is MI6,” he said. Alarm was in her eyes as she abruptly removed herself from James’ side. “It’s alright, he’s not after us.”

She’d tucked herself at his boffin’s side and two pairs of intelligent eyes were studying him as if he was a new piece of tech they’d want to start playing with. James wasn’t too happy that Q had outed him so suddenly, but decided to let his boffin take the lead in the conversation.

They filled his friend in about the events of the last two months, finishing with their escape from the cottage. By the time their tale was done, the three of them were ensconced on Darby’s sofas, the hour going on toward nine-o-clock with takeaway containers littering the coffee table.

“You trust his man, Ollie?” she asked.

Q gave him a smug grin before he replied, “Yes Darbs, I even got a leg over before we had to run.”

“Good for you!” Darby gave Q a smirk and a pat of praise. “I’m so proud of you!” Her eyes were sparkling with humor. The pair of them grinning at him caused a heated blush to take over his face, he was in so much trouble with two highly intelligent geeks ganging up on him.

“For god sakes, Q!” he burst out and felt his flush get even more heated when they burst into giggles at his expense.

“Q? I like that, Ollie,” she said still chuckling. “It’s cute you can make a spy blush.”

“Can we please move the conversation forward,” James said. The pair were limp against each other from their giggle fit. Q was radiant being with his friend, relaxed and happy. James hated to put a damper on the pair’s pleasure, but they had work that needed to get done.

Darby gave Q’s shoulders a little squeeze, “So you’re sure that Rata has someone in MI6? Can I see the code you mined from their servers?”

“It’s definitely him,” Q replied. “I created the code five years ago, so he has someone in TSS working for him. Having a second pair of eyes look at it might be helpful.” His last statement was address to James; in for a penny, in for a pound, he thought. He had no other options until he’d had a chance to discuss things with M.

“The question is… is he working toward his own agenda or is the crime syndicate Daniel worked for again using him as a third party to infiltrate the service,” James added. He pulled the USB drive Q had given him with the evidence of the code and viruses out of his pocket and handed it to his boffin.

The pair erupted from the cushions with Q taking a short cut over the coffee table to Darby’s tech lined against the wall. If it wasn’t out in the open, James would think of it as a third ‘evil tech lair’ the amount of computing power was not insignificant. With Darby’s shyness and style, James figured she pretty much worked from home. He couldn’t envision her in an office in the City, unless they had a lenient dress code.

The pair were twittering in code as the tech surged to life, elbowing each other like a couple of kids fighting over a favorite toy. Darby won the contest when she put her foot against Q’s chair and shoved the wheeled monstrosity across the room with Q in it. James chuckled at the sight of Q’s wheeling arms and violet hued trainers skittering across the floor to stop his momentum. Contrite, Q resembled slow moving hermit crab as he walked his chair across the floor back to his friend. He did give her a cheeky elbow in the side, which Darby returned with a pinch to his arm.

At loose ends for the moment, James decided to clean up their dinner. Winnie was a canine with a mission based on the hypnotic stare she was giving the last dumpling. He’d completely fallen in love with the dog during his recovery so caved to her pathetic look before he gathered up the trash.

“Q? I’m going to go get our things,” he said. Q just flapped a distracted hand at him, the chaotic strands of his dark hair merged with Darby’s spiky blue above the keyboard. Thoroughly dismissed, James turned on his mobile’s jammer and made his way down to the street.

The clock was turning toward midnight by the time the geeks pushed their chairs back from the computer. In the mean time, James had thought long and hard about what needed to be done. The start of a plan had coalesced in his mind that would allow him to defend Q while his boffin tried to find the treads of the infiltration.

He’d allowed Vesper to die; he wouldn’t allow Q to reach the same fate. Perhaps his boffin had been put in his path on purpose or perhaps fate really had intervened to save James that day. He would only know for sure at the end, but in the mean time he’d fallen in love with the skinny, bespectacled wild haired genius. The love he felt for Q was deeper and more consuming to him than his love for Vesper had been during those short sunlit weeks after Montenegro. His heart was telling him to trust his boffin, his mind was telling him to be cautious. He just had to find a happy medium between the two, he decided.

His boffin came back and cuddled against his side on the sofa, rubbing the tiredness from his eyes. It felt good to have that lithe body in his arms again, the affection a comfort to both of them. James buried his nose in the dark locks against his cheek enjoying Q scent. When he was done, he caught Darby studying them. She was probably still suspicious of James and his intentions toward her friend, but there wasn’t anything he could do to assuage her concern.

“Anything new?” he asked.

Darby shook her head in the negative, “I’ve seen the added code before, but can’t remember where I cam across it.”

“So, what’s the plan?” she added.

Q straightened up from his slouch a bit, “I need to do a aggressive attack into MI6’s network and see where the infiltration leads.”

“I need Q to identify not only the source of the infiltration, but any double-agents within the service, as well as any evidence that links them to either Rata or the organization he works for.” James added. “They seem to have a hand in everything, so must have agents in high ranking positions in the government.”

“I have the computing power you’d need, Ollie,” Darby said.

James interrupted Q before he could answer, “No… it’s to dangerous. We need to be in a defensive position incase things go tit’s up and we’re located.”

“I don’t want you involved, Darbs,” Q voiced. “I just need your help to get the tech I’ll need. I only have my backup laptop with me.”

Her blue eyes were subdued with concern, “Where will you go?”

“I have a place in mind,” James said, and then added with a wiry smile. “But I doubt it has a good internet connection.”

Q gave him a worried frown before demanding, “Does it have power and running water?”

“It does, but that’s about it,” James said. His smile widened at his boffin’s look of abject horror.

****

Q had worked late into the night with Darby on creating a list of the tech he’d need to attack MI6’s servers. By the time they were done all three were exhausted. Darby insisted James and Q have her bed while she settled to sleep on the sofa with Winnie on her feet. Worry filled James and he didn’t think he’d be able to rest with his body and mind on high alert. But, as soon as Q’s warm weight had snuggled against his back he’d drifted off into a deep and restful sleep.

It was late morning before James had gotten dressed, Q was still in his pajama’s logged onto Darby’s computer. He was perusing hacker bulletin boards for information on the attack on MI6. The names of the victims had not been released to the media yet, so James was still unsure whether or not M had survived. Garth Mallory, the chair of the Security Intelligence Committee had made a brief statement to the press, that the attack had been terrorism related, but they had yet to identify the group that had targeted SIS.

Darby was out purchasing tech at various stores with cash that Q had given her. James estimated it would take her most the day. For the moment, he and Q would remain holed up in her flat until evening. To occupy himself, James worked to clean his gun and Q’s hunting rifle, checked their supplies, mulled over his plan, and kept Q supplied with tea and food.

He’d finally gotten his boffin into the bath and away from the computer by the time Darby had returned with two large metal cases full of tech. From what he could tell of their techno-babble she had gotten Q most of what he needed and what she didn’t get she had the necessary components already on hand.

The commuter evening rush was just starting when he holstered his PPK, “Q, I’m going to try to make contact with M.”

“Not without me you aren’t,” Q challenged. His boffin rushed to put his Anorak on over his ochre colored jumper and purple and red checked trousers. As usual, Q was a clash of multiple hues with untamable hair.

“I’ll finish up here,” Darby added with amusement in her expression at James consternation in dealing with a stubborn Q.

“Q, I may be waiting for hours in the rain for her to come home,” he said. “If she comes home.”

Q’s chin came up a pugnacious tilt to his head, “You’re not going without me, I have a stake in this meeting too and I can handle a bit of London rain.”

James had no doubt that if he left without Q, his boffin would just make his way to M’s place on his own. The lesser of two evils was to take Q with him so he could keep an eye on his trouble magnet.

“All right, but I don’t want to hear a word of complaint out of you,” James replied. “It may be dangerous, so if I give you an order you’ll follow it.”

His boffin just gave him a smug smile and a nod that bounced his flyaway locks in response.

****

The London drizzle reflected off the blackened pavement of M’s neighborhood street in Bayswater. The rows of two and three story nineteenth century terrace houses created a whimsical milieu highlighted by the soft glow of the street lamps. James had parked the Ute a few streets away, his senses on high alert as he led Q along blending in with the other commuters.

Q had protested, but James had been firm when he left his boffin in a warm coffee house down the street with a promise to call him, as soon as he’d made contact with M. At least Q would be warm and dry and fairly safe in the comforts of the café rather than James having to worry he’d make noise as they broke into M’s house. Of course, James hadn’t told Q that he planned to break in, he could just hear the epic sarcasm about spycraft in his head if his boffin knew that part of the plan.

James wasn’t a tech head like Q, but he knew enough about home security systems and M’s codes to easily disarm and reset her house alarm. He’d been waiting in the dark of the dining room for just over an hour with a lovely single malt he’d liberated from her stash in hand before he heard the turn of the front door locks.

Relief swept through him at the sound of her light steps coming into the hallway. MI6’s dragon was whole and hearty, though she looked tired as she headed to get herself a drink. James was about to alert her to his presence when the doorbell rang.

M aborted her drink with a grumble, “What the bloody hell?”

James quietly set his drink down and pulled his Walther out straining his ears to listen for a threat.

“What do you want?” she asked the person on her stoop through the door.

“Hello,” Q said and James rolled his eyes and put his Walther away. “I’m Oliver Qullian Chadwick and I believe you have a blue-eyed secret agent skulking about in your abode. Codename 007.”

M abruptly turned from her door as James came out into the light of the hallway.

“Where the hell have you been, 007?” she challenged. He could tell she was happy to see him, but being M he knew she had to rake him over the coals a bit for her own sanity.

He gave her a cheeky response, “Enjoying death.”

“Good lord, what’re you a rebellious teenager?” Q voice was muffled through the door. “He’s been recovering from being shot.” Then he added with a whine, “Can I come in now, it’s wet out here.”

“007?” she said with a raised eyebrow.

“He’s with me, M” he replied, then raised his voice as she let his boffin in. “But he was suppose to wait for me to call.”

“And allow you to give the poor old girl a heart attack with you sneaking about in the dark,” Q voiced, then in a more contrite tone when he caught site of M’s raised eyebrow. “I meant no disrespect to your age ma’am.”

“I’d say none taken, but then I’d be lying young man,” she replied. Q wilted under her stare and with the addition of his dampened hair and fogged spectacles he made a pathetic sight.

“I see you’ve helped yourself as usual, 007,” she stated and moved back to her drink cabinet. “I think I’m going to need one in hand when you tell me what’s going on. One for you, Mr. Chadwick?”

“Yes please, ma’am,” Q chirped as he removed his Anorak to hang it in the hall.

James had a feeling he was going to be ganged up upon soon between the two of them. They were both too smart for their own good and saucy to boot. He had no hope of holding his own if they formed a united front against him. Q could probably take over most of the world on his own if he put is mind to it, but with the addition of M world domination was assured. James smiled at the whimsical thought of his boffin and dragon conquering all foes.

They settled on M’s sofas with their drinks in hand. It still surprised him after ten years of working with her that she was so formidable for such a small woman. She had a backbone of steal though and he always tried to keep in mind that she had been one of the first double-ohs in the service. She had been a force to be reckoned with in her youth and more so now in her latter years.

“You came back,” she stated.

“As soon as I could,” he replied then pulled the hard drive from around his neck. “The list.”

“You’ve had it this whole time?” she replied relief evident in her expression.

“We have a serious problem M, whoever stole it has someone or more than one person working within MI6,” James acknowledged. “I was chased from Istanbul and had almost made it back before I was wounded too badly to continue.”

“We couldn’t find you,” she said. “We’ve been searching for two months.”

“Q here found me and took me home,” he replied. “I’ve been with him this whole time in Ewhurst.”

“Q,” she murmured pensive. His boffin was sitting quietly allowing them to talk, but James could tell he was restless to add his two pennies worth into the discussion.

“Boythroyd is dead,” she said before taking a sip of her scotch.

James’ closed his eyes as grief spiked within him. They’d both worked with the crazy old boffin for many years. It was a great loss. Q gave his thigh a squeeze in comfort that had M raising an inquiring brow.

“Who else?” he rumbled.

“Six of my office staff and three field agents,” she replied. “They knew Tanner and I would be out of the building.”

He was relieved to hear that Tanner was alive and well. Though he couldn’t know for sure if Tanner was involved, he’d worked closely with M’s chief of staff on many occasions and liked the man. He pulled the USB drive out of his pocket and handed it over to her.

“Q was able to pull evidence of code and viruses on MI6’s network that were used to steal the list, mine mission data and intelligence reports,” he said her eyes widened in surprise. “They stole more than the list and are continuing to siphon data from the servers.”

“Who are you really, Mr. Chadwick?” M asked her eyes glittering with curiosity and distrust at his boffin.

James felt Q scoot up against him on the sofa fidgeting with his jumper. He cleared his throat, “You may be familiar with my work as TimeLord63, ma’am.”

James felt the blood bleed from his face in shock. M had a gob smacked expression on her face as well. MI6, MI5, the CIA, CSIS, and Interpol, as well as the Russians and Chinese had been searching for TimeLord63 for years. Initially to recruit him or her and then five years ago to remove the threat that was hacking into every government and corporate network in the world. TimeLord63 was an elite hacker, talented with computer code and security protocols to the point of being magical. ’63 could cut through any system like a knife through butter and had caused massive amounts of damage before disappearing just over four years ago.

He should have put the evidence together. He should’ve seen it during these weeks in the cottage with Q. Love had again blinded him again to the truth. His boffin was more than a talented hacker; he was supreme in that world and dangerous.

“I should have you arrested and tried for treason, Mr. Chadwick,” M growled.

Q gulped the last of his scotch before saying, “Please, just hear my story. I can help you and James.”

His boffin was earnest as he told M the same tale James had heard weeks before. Rata’s kidnapping, forcing him to infiltrate multiple networks, and Daniel’s death. He looked so small on the sofa next to James, his hand still on the agent’s thigh squeezing tight as he got toward the end and his escape in Moscow. He even named his friend Darby to M. James could feel a subtle trembling in Q’s limbs, his boffin was genuinely afraid he wouldn’t be believed.

“Oliver Chadwick is still a missing person,” Q finished. “You can verify much of what I’ve told you if you look into your files, my family, and the information about Daniel’s death.”

“And what have you been doing all this time young man,” M asked her voice cold.

“Besides writing novels, I’ve been working to trace the organization that Daniel got into trouble with, as well as try to identify Rata,” Q stated. “I do know that the organization doesn’t have one person as its head. It’s like a Hydra, if one executive goes two more can fill their place.”

“How far have you been able to get, Q?” James demanded.

“With my limited resources and staying away from government databases, I’ve been able to identify a few people who are placed in high level positions within this organization,” he replied.

M got up to refill their drinks, “Whom have you identified so far?”

Q’s hand quivered a little as his glass was filled, “A few years ago, Dominic Greene of Green Planet was involved in a natural resources scheme in Bolivia. He’s dead now, but I have also gather evidence of the involvement of Gregor Karakon a Russian mining magnate and Wu Zan a member of the China’s State Council.”

“Quantum,” James and M stated at the same time.

His boffin said, “Huh?”

TimeLord63 was Q and Q was Oliver Chadwick, child prodigy, one of Britain’s finest minds and James’ lover. He’d not connected the dots when Q had told him who he was. Perhaps the middle name had thrown him off or the excitement of possible discovery or the pain he’d been in that day. Oliver Chadwick had been big news when he was just an adolescent for his genius with computers. Before he’d changed his name and gone to ground after university to keep MI6 from recruiting him.

Excitement started to build within him as he realized that tracing the organization that had killed Vesper and infiltrated MI6 may still be within his grasp.

Banner by the fabulous themuller

Banner by the fabulous themuller

Chapter 8:

“Watch your back, M,” he said. “Someone close to you is involved in this mess.”

She gave his arm a squeeze even as she replied, “I can take care of myself, 007. Good luck.” She turned to study Q with her piercing blue eyes, “And good luck to you, young man. If we all survive this debacle, we’re going to have a chat about your future.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Q chirped, a bit subdued under her gaze.

“Take care of him, 007,” she ordered. “Under all that hair is one of Britain’s brightest minds. And we need him.”

James felt his lip curl, amused at remembering M’s line about Q’s ridiculous hair. Q had just given her a sniff of offense in reply to that statement before insisting they leave the house like civilized people through the front door.

They had talked late into the night to bring Q up to speed on what they knew of Quantum and James’ involvement in the death of Le Chiffre, Steven Obanno of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Dominic Greene, and finally Vesper’s lover Ysef Kabira. Greene was the only executive of Quantum they’d been able to eliminate. He’d been concerned that the evidence of his skills as an assassin would cause Q to distance himself from James. But, his boffin had been matter of fact in his acceptance at the evidence of James’ profession. It was a relief, and the tension that had risen within him during the discussion had eased.

M had given her approval of the hack into MI6, so at least Q’s actions would be sanctioned this time. Q estimated that the hack wouldn’t take that long. It was the preparation of code for the hack and then the interpretation of the data retrieved that was going to take time. He’d estimated at least two weeks before he had a decent picture of the infiltration. They were scheduled to contact M via video chat in fourteen days, but Q had given her an encrypted mobile to contact them if she needed to in the mean time.

The bulk of the Scottish Highland’s terrain dwarfed the vehicle running along the thin road on the valley floor. It had been years since he’d been this close to home, the colors of the mountains and moors during the drive bringing back images of his childhood. Thoughts and feelings about coming home, the mission, and Q swirled in James’ mind, causing a disquieting apprehension to build within him.

His boffin was asleep against the window in the passenger seat of the Land Rover, spectacles askew, dark hair a disheveled mess and mouth open with a bit of drool trying to escape. James found the sight appealing; he knew he was love-blind when he found Q magnificent in every setting. He even thought the slight snuffling snores coming from his boffin cute. His heart was in too deep at this point, even more so now that he knew who Q really was. The timing of Q finding him was still suspect, but James would just keep a wary eye out and hope the trust he was placing in his lover wouldn’t backfire on him. In the mean time he was going to enjoy being with Q as they worked together to solve the mystery that was Quantum, secure MI6, and discover the identity of Rata.

James reached over to gently shake Q, “Wake up, you. We’re almost there.”

Q gave a snort and a groan as his sleepy green eyes attempted to unglue. The drive had been long, almost eight hours and his boffin had been asleep for the last three. James hadn’t heard a peep from Winnie in the back either, but her head popped up between them at James’ words.

“I need some tea,” he moaned. “And food.”

“I doubt the place is stocked, so we’ll have to use some of your supplies until I can sort out getting more provisions,” James replied.

Q was rubbing the sleep from his eyes like a child, his spectacles lost under the fringe of his dark locks, “You still haven’t told me where we’re going. You promised me running water, so you’d better make good on it!”

“What? You’ve never been camping?” James needled, enjoying the frown of annoyance his boffin was gifting him with.

“Don’t be a tease, James,” Q replied. “I need to be comfortable to work properly, you know. If you’re taking me to a rundown unheated shack in the middle of the Scottish wilds you’d best turn us around now…”

Q’s tirade wound down to a whimper as James turned the Rover onto a dirt track and approached the formal stone gates of his childhood home. He noted that only a single copper stag statue remained guarding the entrance atop the formal stone gates. Where the other stag had gone, after the stone had crumbled, he didn’t know.

“Holy fuck!” Q exclaimed as he got sight of their destination.

The overcast morning hadn’t yet allowed the sun to burn off the mists that cloaked the stone mansion in the middle of the moor. His childhood home looked desolate to eyes that hadn’t seen it in over twenty-five years. It was a great hulking house with no trees surrounding it to soften the ominous tableau.

At one time, the light of his parent’s love and affection had made the place joyful. The old mansion and property had been full of mysteries a young boy could enjoy and explore. That had all changed with the death of his parents and he’d not been back since. It showed, the house well taken care of, but unloved and empty. It was no longer a home, just a place full of memory.

“Are you a descendant of Scottish nobility? Peer of the realm?” Q asked as James brought the Ute to a stop in front of the house.

James smirked at Q’s gob smacked expression, “More in line with lower barons and landed gentry, Q.”

“It’s fantastic!” his boffin blurted before he hurled himself out of the vehicle, Winnie close on his heals as he made a beeline for the entrance.

Q and Winnie disappeared into the dark foyer beyond the heavy wooden door. James wasn’t surprised that the door had been unlocked. The estate still had a caretaker, as well as a few other towns’ folk he employed to look after the place for him. The old stonewalls and slate on the sharp peaks of the roof line were in good condition still, though needed to be cleaned. As far as he knew, all of his family’s possessions should still be in the house and he wasn’t sure he was ready to meet the ghosts of his past so soon. However, if he didn’t catch up with Q, he’d lose his boffin in the bowls of immense place.

He could hear Winnie’s paws and Q’s clomping steps along the wide plank floors as he came into the foyer accompanied by out bursts of excitement and admiration from Q. It sounded like his boffin had found the great hall, so he headed in that direction down the central hall past the main staircase and turned left into the large room through a small arched entrance. It was a bit gloomy with shrouded furniture, paintings, and chandeliers; the air was a bit stale, the smell of old wood was strong in his nose. The interior of the house was a combination of dark Tudor style wood floors and waist coating combined with white plaster walls. The place was cold, though the thick walls kept most of the damp at bay.

Q was nowhere to be seen, but he could hear him, “Q! Will you wait a minute?” He was going to end up traipsing through the whole place if Q didn’t take a moment to stop and breathe. He circled back to the central hallway toward the dining room and kitchen at the back of the house in hopes of capturing his boffin.

“When was this place built?” Q inquired, his disheveled head peaking around the stone archway that lead into the kitchen. His green eyes were bright with curiosity and he looked at James as if he was a feast. A feast of information no doubt, James mused.

“Around the early 1400s about a hundred years before the Reformation,” James replied. “It’s called Skyfall Lodge.”

“More like it should be called Skyfall Manor, James,” he stated. “Lodge really?”

James hurried to keep up with Q as his boffin moved through another large arch toward the gunroom, “It was originally considered a hunting lodge.” James was a bit surprised at himself. The distraction of Q was keeping the ghosts he anticipated feeling at bay.

Q was making sex noises over his father’s gun collection. The low heat of arousal settled in his loins at the remembrance of having Q in his bed. Q had pulled a small torch out of one of his many pockets to better peruse the variety of guns and muskets in the cabinets lining the walls. The creak of a floorboard over Q’s cooing sounded behind James causing him to turn abruptly. James relaxed at the familiar craggy face of the old man holding a rifle on him.

“James Bond, as I live and breathe,” he stated, the barrel of the gun lowering to the floor.

James smiled and pulled the old man into a hug, “Kincaid, you old dog! I wasn’t sure if you’d still be here.”

“I’ll be here taking care of the old girl until I can’t get out of bed any longer!” he declared with a hard clap on James’ back. “Who’s your friend?”

James turned to Q, who looked like a little boy that had been caught stealing biscuits with Winnie sitting quietly at his side. He gestured for his boffin to approach, “Q this is Kincaid, he’s been the game warden here since I was a child.”

“Pleasure to meet you… Q?” Kincaid said as he took the boffin’s hand.

“Oliver please, Mr. Kincaid,” Q replied returning the old man’s brisk shake.

“Oliver,” the old man repeated with a nod. “What’re you doing here, James?”

“Some people are trying to kill us,” he replied.

Q cut in, “Technically trying to kill you.”

“Hush you,” James scolded, then received a poke in the side in reprimand. “Has anyone been by the last few months?”

“Yes, a couple of constables about a month ago,” Kincaid reported. “They were too hard eyed and wary to be coppers though, I thought.” Then added, “No one else has been by since.”

“A man and a woman?” James asked.

Kincaid’s eyebrow arose in surprise, “Yes, how’d you know?”

“They’re MI6, Kincaid. And the service has been compromised,” James replied.

“I saw the attack on the telly,” he acknowledged. “You going to take care of it?”

“Yes, with Q’s help,” James voiced. “We need a safe place to stay and allow Q to work for a few weeks.”

Kincaid nodded in acceptance, “Well, I doubt they’ll be back. I never expected you would come home.”

“Thank you,” he said giving the old man’s shoulder a squeeze.

“It’s your home, James,” Kincaid replied. “It’s always been yours, just waiting for you to acknowledge it.”

****

A fire crackled in the hearth throwing warmth throughout the bedroom as James settled down under the duvet. He was tired, but his mind was active and he figured it would be awhile yet before he would be able to sleep. Foreboding had settled in his gut throughout the day, the future uncertain. On mission, he could usually keep his focus, not distracted by anxiety. But, Q’s safety depended upon him now and anyone that had been close to him in the past had all died in one way or another. The fear of Q becoming one of those number ate at him, though he knew he needed to put it away. He couldn’t let his worry interfere. Fear could cost him not only his life, but his boffin’s as well. It was ugly to contemplate and he needed to put the ghosts of his past into a distant place in his mind.

It was difficult to do though, being back home with images of his parents popping into his mind as he worked throughout the day to make the house habitual. Kincaid had called his wife, Martha to bring over provisions and to air out the bedrooms. One of their many sons, Angus, also came over to help. It was good to see one of his childhood playmates. James and Kincaid’s boys had run wild together as children and now Angus was married with young children of his own. They’d worked together to get the old boiler running and uncloaked the front parlor. Martha and her daughter came monthly to clean and keep the dust to a minimum, but it had been almost a month since they’d been to air out the place.

James had avoided his parent’s rooms, as well as his own childhood bedroom, and the Kincaid’s were understanding, opening two of the guest rooms for him and Q. Q meanwhile had staked his claim on the dinning room for his new lair, the large trestle table had enough room for all of the tech he’d brought. His boffin had been ecstatic when James had shown him the priest’s hole in the kitchen and the tunnel that ran under the moor. Q’s excitement over the house was satisfying to James, though he hadn’t yet figured out why.

A ruckus could be heard beyond his door, before it opened with Winnie preceding Q who had his large duffle slung over his shoulder. Winnie jumped on the bed and gave James a quick kiss before she settled at the bottom against his legs. James couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at the pair.

“What?” Q asked. “It’s cold.”

Q was adorned in his jim jams, his long-sleeved shirt had Hello Kitty prominently displayed across his chest with sleep pants a more subdued hue of dark blue. The thump of his duffle hit the floor and his spectacles clinked as they were set down on the bedside table before he slid into the bed to cuddle close to the agent.

Cold feet were shoved unceremoniously between his thighs, “Christ, Q! Your feet are like ice.”

“I told you I was cold, James,” his boffin said, his tone sleepy as he curled under James’ arm and on his chest. Dark locks tickled under James’ chin and the scent of him worked to relax the agent. The slight weight of him felt amazing in his arms.

“How long’s it been since you’ve been here,” Q’s nose gave him a nudge under his ear.

James buried a hand in the soft fluff of Q’s hair reveling the feel of the silky strands under his fingers, “Twenty-seven years.”

“You were eleven when they died?” Q asked. James was a bit relieved that Q wasn’t looking at him as he asked the question. He didn’t want to see pity in his boffin’s eyes.

“Yes,” he replied. “It was sudden and I was sent to live with my father’s sister.”

“What happened?” Q asked and James knew he wasn’t asking how his parents had died. He was already aware that Q had gotten the whole story from Martha that afternoon. The two of them had become fast friends, gossiping in low tones as they’d worked to prepare the dinning room for Q’s tech. It hadn’t angered him at all; it had been more of a relief that someone else told Q the story. James’ wasn’t use to opening himself up to discuss his troubles or feelings. His stoicism gave the psychologists at MI6 fits.

“I was sullen and angry,” James said. “My aunt was a lovely woman and she tried her best, but I wouldn’t accept her help. I was sent to Eton when I was thirteen and continued to get in trouble until I got expelled when I was sixteen for seducing a maid.”

Q snorted a little giggle and looked at James, his green eyes content, “That doesn’t surprise me, you’re still in trouble twenty-two years later.”

“Yes, but the Navy straightened me out for a time,” James smiled.

Q rubbed a hand through James’ hair, “They didn’t straighten you out too much though.” Then added, “I’d love to see you in your dress blues. It would be so hot.”

“You have a fetish for uniforms, Q?” James asked giving Q’s fingers a playful nip when they strayed close to his mouth.

Sleepy hooded green eyes perused him, “Not to encourage stereotypes, but as a gay man I can appreciate a man in uniform.”

James pulled Q in to kiss the little smirk off his lips. It felt like it had been ages instead of a few days since he’d kissed Q. The taste of his boffin and the heat of that slim body was divine. The kiss deepened, but remained languid as their tongues caressed each other. Q gave a little hum and a soft suck to James’ bottom lip that sent a zing of heat down into his cock. But they were both tired from the last few days and had gotten very little sleep, so James gave Q a final peck before placing his boffin’s head back down under his chin.

“Sleep Q,” he murmured.

Q gave a contented sigh, “Alright, but I want to get a leg over in the morning.” Then his voice slurred with fatigue, “Tea would be good to start with though.”

James smiled at his sleepy lover, before giving him a nuzzle and a kiss on his forehead. The morning’s plan of tea and sex accompanied with the glow of the firelight followed James into his dreams.

****

The sex had been fantastic the following morning and continued to be. His lover was a delightful contradiction of generous and greedy in the bedroom. And one time on the top of the main stairs when they’d both been too desperate to make it to their bedroom. James had learned that he had a bit of a kink when Q was practicing shooting a handgun with precision. He’d coerced his boffin away from his computers each day to learn to shoot. Q was a good shot with his rifle, but James wanted him to be armed at all times. Teaching his lover to handle the Smith and Wesson Model 65 revolver he’d fallen in love with had been arousing to the extreme for James. The hand porn alone caused James’ cock to fill every time as he watched those long-fingers handle the piece. Q of course had figured that out and teased James constantly with the knowledge. His lover now wore the revolver low on his right hip and James’ eyes to often strayed to admire how the hardware enhanced Q’s slim flanks.

“Oh good, you’re back,” Q stated as James came in from his evening patrol with Winnie. Rubbing his dog’s ears he added, “I’m ready.”

James followed Q’s splendid behind down the main hall to the dining room, where it looked like a cross between a BBC detective thriller and science fiction show had vomited all over the four hundred year old table and walls.

It also looked like Q had cleaned himself up in anticipation of their video chat with the head of MI6, though his ensemble was liable to make M’s eyes bleed. His lover was adorned in a lime green button down enhanced with a dark blue tie, mustard colored cardigan, blue and red check trousers, and orange Converse trainers. Q had attempted to tame his hair, which swooshed down neatly over his forehead, but the dark curls had defied his efforts at the back. Q with his gun and nerd armor on was a sight to see.

It was the evening of their fourteenth day at Skyfall and no threats had made themselves known. The time and space had allowed Q to work long hours and James had seen his progress in real-time as a chart of images and information connected by colored threads worked its way down the wall of the room. It looked like a genealogical chart with Quantum’s coordinator Mr. White at the top billowing out to show executives, corporations, intelligence agencies, and third party contractors. MI6 and the British Government had it’s own tree with connections threading to Quantum. Q had found out a lot in a short period of time with his aggressive infiltration of MI6’s network. Individuals that were clean had smiley faces on the bottom of their pictures. James wasn’t sure how M would react to Q’s artistic efforts, but he couldn’t wait to find out what MI6’s dragon would think of all that Q had found out.

“This is amazing, Q,” James said as he approached his lover in front of the wall to placed his arms around the slim form.

Q leaned back and gave a pensive sigh against James jaw, “There are too many holes though. I need more time.”

James kissed Q’s cheek to sooth him then whispered in his ear, “Q, you’ve done more than expected in the time frame M gave you. We now have large pieces of the puzzle to work with and we’ll ferret out the rest.”

“I don’t like the thought of you going in without all of the information you need, James,” Q said. “It’s dangerous.”

He gave his boffin a reassuring squeeze, “I have more information now than I did and I’m safer for it because of you, love.”

Q just gave him a grunt of dissatisfaction in reply. James had discovered over the time they had spent together in Surrey that Q was a perfectionist in most things, but even more so when a loved one was in danger. Q hadn’t said the words and neither had James, but his boffin’s possessiveness and tender affection radiated over James, heating his skin like a tropical sun and warmed him from the inside. It was addictive and James could only hope that the love he felt for Q wouldn’t be burned out by their situation. He knew he wouldn’t survive its dissolution.

“Well, we may as well get on with it and contact the old girl,” Q sniffed.

James smiled and squeezed Q one more time producing a squeak before he released his lover, “Try not to call her an old girl to her face this time, Q.”

“No, I learned my lesson the first time,” Q replied and moved to gather a large format laptop which he set down at the end of the table in front of the wall of threads. James admired Q’s sweet buttocks as he bent over to start the chat session.

M answered sooner than expected, “Mr. Chadwick, you may want to back up a bit. I have no desire to talk to your crotch the whole time. That’s a lovely Smith and Wesson though.”

“Sorry, ma’am,” Q startled, sidling away from the screen. James had to swallow a laugh at M’s greeting. He grabbed a chair for Q to sit and stood behind his lover, so M could see them.

“007, have you had any trouble since we last spoke?” she asked.

“No ma’am, it’s been quiet,” he replied.

“Well, Mr. Chadwick’s attack caused quite a bit of excitement in Q-Branch. I thought R was going to have a stroke,” she said. The image of her and the sound of her voice were crisp as if she was in the room with them. She took a few moments to focus her blue gaze on the wall in front of her. “I see you’ve been busy, Mr. Chadwick. Why don’t you take me through what you’ve found out.”

“Of course, ma’am,” Q said then arose from the chair to start pointing at various parts of the chart. “There are still some holes in the information I’ve been able to gather, but I’ve found four more Quantum executives. Within Her Majesty’s Government we have Guy Haines, special advisor to the Prime Minister and MP and member of the Security Intelligence Committee, Clair Dowar. The Prime Minister himself is unaware of Haines and Dowar’s affiliation.”

“That bitch just raked me over the coals!” M burst out. James raised an eyebrow at the unprofessional display. “Oh, don’t look at me like that 007. You know I hate politics and politicians. A hearing in front of the SIC was held just yesterday.”

“Still stinging, M?” James replied.

“Watch your cheek, 007,” M challenged. “Please continue, Mr. Chadwick.”

“Please call me, Q or Oliver ma’am,” he said. “The other two besides Wu Zan and Gregor Karakov, which we’ve already discussed are Faye McLaughlin the Chief of Staff of the United States Secretary of State, and Kliment Mykola a member of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. He’s been working with the Russians to undermine Ukraine’s response to the Russian separatists. McLaughlin has access to the U.S. National Security Council and the President’s Cabinet through her position with the Secretary.”

“Do you have evidence of their involvement in Quantum?” she inquired.

Q nodded his jade eyes fierce, “Yes ma’am, enough to take them to trial.”

“Good, can you sent it to me?” she requested.

“I’ll send you everything I have in an encrypted file,” Q stated. “Now moving on to the threads that are still a bit sketchy. The double agents that have infiltrated MI6 have covered their tracks so well, that I’ve been unable to find them. I have however, verified some individuals who are clean and they include 002, 006, and 008, and lower level field agents like Eve Moneypenny. I’ve also determined at least five technical analysts that are clean within TSS, but the rest have yet to be verified. I have a full listing I’ll include with the file. Lastly, your Chief of Staff, Bill Tanner is clean, as is Gareth Mallory the Chair of the SIC.”

James cut in, “It appears, M that Mr. White is the person that coordinates all of Quantum’s actions and negotiates between the board executives.”

“Do you have a location on him?” M asked.

“Yes,” Q replied. “I’ve tracked him to an estate in the countryside on the outskirts of Prague.”

M raised an eyebrow in surprise, “Good, now what about the attack on the service? Is Quantum behind this or is this hacker you told me about working on his own?”

James gave Q a nod to continue. His lover was brilliant and all that he had found was astonishing.

“From what I’ve been able to determine, Quantum did not sanction the attack on Vauxhall,” Q said his voice pensive. “Rata is the culprit and has his own agenda, though his identity and the reasons behind the attack haven’t made themselves known yet. I do know he has at least one operative working inside TSS not related to any agents working for Quantum.”

“It’s a complete mess, M,” James said giving Q a chance to further gather his thoughts.

Q added, “I have located Rata’s network and server farm.”

A spike of surprise and trepidation moved through James at the thought of Q getting so close to the man that had held him prisoner. Q had kept that tidbit quiet and James found that a upsetting.

“When did you find it, Q?” he growled.

His boffin just looked down his nose at James, “Just before you got back, 007. So there’s no need to scold me!”

The fact that Q hadn’t kept the information a secret, as well as the use of his designation and the haughty diction, relaxed James instantly. Q became serene as he realized James wasn’t going to go into a strop.

“If you to are done making eyes at each other, can we please continue,” M cut in. Q just gave her a sniff and transferred his haughty look from James to MI6’s dragon. Very little intimidated his lover, James mused. He was proud Q could hold his own with M. Not many could.

“Can you shut him down, Mr. Chadwick?” she asked. She was trying to keep the excitement from her voice, but James knew her too well not to hear it in her tone.

“I can… ,” Q replied. “But not from here, I don’t have the computing power I need to do it. If I was home, I could.”

“That location is comprised, M,” James voiced.

She was silent for long minutes perusing the wall and studying Q who was trying not to fidget under her hard stare. James wanted to comfort him, but knew the gesture wouldn’t be appreciated. Q had figured out that showing M weakness was not a good idea, she’d run roughshod over him if given the opportunity.

“Mr. Chadwick send me everything you have, then I want you and 007 to return to London for debriefing,” she ordered.

“Bringing us in for debrief, will be dangerous, M,” James said. Worry for his lover’s safety in the forefront of his mind.

“That’s the idea, 007,” M replied. “We need to identify the bad seeds and bringing you two in may make them show their hand.” Then she added, “Mr. Chadwick, would the computing power of MI6’s network be enough to shut down Rata?”

Q anticipation in his green gaze replied, “With that kind of power, I could do a total network and infrastructure shut down.”

“That would certainly get his attention then,” she said. “I want you to become MI6’s new Quartermaster, at least temporarily, for this mission.”

James started to protest, but was quieted by a sharp look from Q. Q then turned his back to M, hands on his hips as he studied his wall of threads. He stood in silence for long minutes before turning back to James. His boffin’s eyes glowed with a ferocious light.

“If you can guarantee my family’s safety,” he stated. “Then I’m in.”

M gave him a savage smile, “Welcome on board… Q.”

Chapter 9:

“Alec,” James greeted as he let 006 into Darby’s flat.

Trevelyan dropped the bag he was holding to shake James’ hand before pulling the agent into a hug, “James, it’s good to see you! I’m glad you’re not dead. I was getting worried there for a bit.”

James smiled as he returned the agent’s hug. It was good to see the man; they were friends of a sort and had often worked missions together. He hadn’t realized until the moment he’d seen Alec at the door, how reassuring it was that Q had determined Alec wasn’t compromised.

“If you two are done with your manly greeting, can we please get on with it,” Q said his voice droll.

“Christ, if it wasn’t for James’ ears you two could be twins,” he added.

Alec raised an eyebrow, “He’s a cheeky bugger, isn’t he?”

“He’s full of hyperbole, yes,” James replied with a smirk. “006 meet our new Quartermaster.”

Q and Darby formed a united front of geekdom with Winnie sitting quietly at their feet. Q was looking down his nose at the agents, while Darby’s blue eyes shined with suspicion. His bespectacled boffin was resplendent in a royal blue striped suit with a peach colored button down and paisley tie, ready for his first day as Quartermaster. James figured that the jumpers would show up eventually if Q decided to stay on with MI6. Darby on the other hand was adorned as usual in black though the t-length peasant skirt she wore had silver threads running through it and her long-sleeve t-shirt had a white rabbit with the words, I Am The Matrix, to embellish the black. She’d added some pink streaks to her blue hair since James had last seen her.

“Q, Darby this is Alec Trevelyan agent 006 with Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” James said. “He’ll be looking after Darby for the next few days.” Then addressed Darby, “If your location becomes compromised, he’ll get you out and to a safe place until the attack is done.”

Alec shook Q’s hand, “Quartermaster.”

“006, I’ll put your bollocks in a sling if anything happens to my friend,” he stated. Then added, “Or my dog.”

“Understood,” Alec replied with an eyebrow raised in amusement at the boffin. “Miss Darby,” he said formally before he held out a hand to her. She glowered at the blond haired green-eyed agent and ignored the gesture.

“It takes awhile for her to warm up to you,” James said and Darby moved her glower to him. “We’re still a work in progress aren’t we Darbs?”

“As long as he keeps his hands to himself, we’ll get along just fine, James,” she stated.

James grabbed Alec’s overnight bag, “Come on, I just brewed some coffee.”

He placed the bag on the sofa on his way to the kitchen with Alec in tow. Q and Darby were having a furious whispered conversation elbowing each other in the sides before following the agents to the counter. Darby was not pleased about having a stranger in her place for even a few days, let alone longer. But, Q had convinced her of the necessity of it. James figured it may take a bit of work on Alec’s part, but the two would eventually get along. He hoped.

“M briefed me yesterday,” Alec said. “Things have been a bit wonky on missions for awhile, but I didn’t realize MI6 had been compromised so badly. I just thought perhaps old Boothroyd was getting senile and that R just wasn’t as good as he’d advertised himself to be.”

James nodded as he set a cup of fragrant brew in front of his friend, “Q has found out a lot, but there are still things we don’t know. M hopes that bringing us in for debrief will shake the rest loose.”

“Darby is going to continue to trace the infiltration from here, while I work to bring down Rata’s network,” Q added sitting at the counter. He made grabby hands at James and the agent got the message placing a cup of tea in front of his boffin.

“Will you be able to keep our location secret, Miss Darby?” Alec asked.

“Oi!” Q burst out when Darby stole his tea. He placated his boffin with another, well prepared for the two’s antics having been exposed to them again for the last day and a half.

Darby took a delicate sip, her blue gaze grave on Alec, “If any moles in TSS detect me, which they probably won’t, I’ll send them down a wormhole. So, to answer your question, no they’ll not locate us.”

“Besides, Q will keep them all busy,” she added the smoky tone of her low voice full of pride for her friend.

“Tanner will be bringing us in,” James said. “We’ll have to leave in a few minutes. Is there anything you need before we go?”

“If this all goes tit’s up, what will you do?” Alec asked. There was worry in the agent’s green eyes.

“We have enough people on our side now, that it shouldn’t come to that. If it does, I have a bolt-hole we can retreat too and regroup,” he replied. “I’ll be in contact after it’s done.”

Alec gave him a nod and then addressed Q, “I’ll keep your friend safe Quartermaster.”

“Please do, 006,” he replied. “A bit of advice… don’t touch any of Darby’s tech or collectables; she’s a bit territorial about them.”

Q got a slap on his bottom from his friend for that crack as he passed her to put on his Anorak. His boffin just stuck his tongue out at her before pulling her into a tight hug. The agent’s watched the pair hold each other for long moments. James turned to Alec and silently shook the agent’s hand again before heading out of the kitchen to get his coat. Q was kissing and nuzzling Winnie, holding his dog tight. James would do everything in his power to keep his boffin alive and unharmed in the coming hours. In some way’s he was glad Q was going with him, but he also wanted to leave his lover in safety knowing he was going to be there waiting for James when the mission was over.

“Ready, Q?” James asked. His boffin nodded, letting Winnie go checking his revolver settled at his hip. James gave Winnie some ear rubs as well, hoping he would see the pooch again.

“Good luck, Ollie, James,” Darby said holding Winnie’s collar to keep the dog from following them out the door. James gave her a nod of thanks before the door closed leaving him with the image of Darby and Winnie with Alec behind guarding his charges.

It was quiet on the walk to the tube. Tanner would pick them up at Euston to bring them in to headquarters. Q was using his mobile to jam the CCTV cameras, which was probably causing the Met fits, James thought with a smile. The double agents inside MI6 didn’t know what was coming and James was going to relish bringing them all down.

“You look like you did when we met in that suit,” Q said his voice pensive. “Except for the blood and the gun pointed at me, of course. You have you’re secret agent armor on again.”

James felt ready to deal with the threat, like the agent he was with his Walther under his arm and one of his father’s throwing knives clipped to his belt. They’d detoured to Yorkshire on their way back from Skyfall to acquire a suit and appropriate footwear for James to debrief at MI6. He preferred bespoke, but off the rack designer wear worked in a pinch. He’d gravitated as usual to a subdued navy blue. Q hadn’t intended on getting anything, but made a whimsical purchase when he saw the bright blue striped suit.

James gave Q’s hand a slight squeeze in response. His boffin was subdued even though his words were humorous. “You’ll be alright, Q,” James replied. “I’ll do everything in my power to make sure of it.”

Q’s jade eyes gleamed with confidence, “I know you will, James.”

****

All eyes were on James and Q as they strode through the bunker’s main floor after Tanner to meet with M. James figured Churchill’s underground bunkers were a better location for Her Majesty’s Secret Service then the irony of having HQ in the obvious behemoth of a building on the Thames.

James gave Craig Mitchell, stationed outside M’s new office, a nod before allowing Q to precede him into the large room overlooking the main hall. The activity below was furious between MI6’s office workers and maintenance staff still setting up under the white plaster and brown brick arches.

“007, Quartermaster may I present Gareth Mallory, new chair of the Security Intelligence Committee,” M greeted. She was seated at her desk, fierce and determined and looking ready to make heads roll. A balding man in his fifties arose from a chair in front of her desk to greet the new arrivals.

Mallory shook James hand, “007.”

“Mallory,” James replied.

Mallory took Q’s hand in both of his, his brown eyes bright as he perused the boffin, “Quartermaster, it’s an honor to meet you.”

“Thank you, sir,” Q replied extracting his hand quickly. Q was wary, but not nervous James determined. Mallory and M, both were fixated on the bright bespectacled young man. Their eyes almost greedy as they took him in.

“I do hope when this is all over, that you consider staying on with the service, Quartermaster,” Mallory said.

Ah, that was it James thought. MI6 had wanted to get Oliver on the payroll since his boffin was 20 years old. James hoped if this all worked out that Q would consider a permanent position. Having his lover as his Quartermaster would be reassuring, though he didn’t relish the thought of sharing his boffin with the other double-ohs and field agents.

“Let’s see how cleaning house goes first, shall we?” was Q’s non-committal reply.

“Of course,” M cut in. “Are you satisfied that your family is safe, Quartermaster? I believe you’ve had a chance to speak with them and their assigned protective detail.”

Q nodded before taking a seat in front of M, eyeing the ceramic bulldog with the Union Jack on it’s back. James smirked to himself. He wouldn’t be surprised to find Q swiping it for his garish horde of collectibles at some point in the future. The bloody thing was ugly enough to go swimmingly with all the silly figurines in the cottage.

“I was able to speak to them, 002 and 008 via video chat last night,” he said. “Any word on my sister?”

“Moneypenny was able to retrieve your sister this morning,” she replied. “It seems she had a late hen’s night for a friend and didn’t get home until just before dawn. Moneypenny is taking her to a separate location.”

Q let out a deep breath he’d been holding, “Thank you.”

“Are you ready to proceed, Quartermaster?” M said.

“Yes, I’ve written a polymorphic code in advance that will cause a system wide network and infrastructure failure on Rata’s server’s,” Q answered. “The code will also mine data as it works to shut down the system. At the end we’ll have whatever information he’s gathered on Quantum and anything else he’s had his hands in.”

M raised an eyebrow in surprise, “Excellent. In working with Mr. Mallory, we have scheduled a simultaneous assault on the island using British S.A.S. forces to infiltrate and take down any resistance.”

“They’re less likely to be compromised,” James cut in.

“Agreed,” Mallory replied. “At the same time we’ll have S.A.S. troops take Guy Haines and Clair Dowar into custody, as well as Mr. White in Prague.”

“How much time do you need to prepare, Q?” James asked.

Q was quivering in his seat with excitement, “Not long, a few hours to get set up and make sure the servers will handle the influx of data. I also need to close the system and remove the viruses, before we can proceed.”

“Good, we’ll schedule the assault for 1800, which will be 1900 in Prague and 0100 in Macau,” M said. “Mallory, can you coordinate with the troops?”

Mallory nodded, “I’ll get started and give you the go ahead when they’re in place.”

“007 your job will be to protect the Quartermaster,” M ordered.

“Yes, ma’am,” James acknowledged.

M arose from her seat, “Shall we head down to Q-Branch?”

James could see the anticipation was killing his boffin. The long period of hiding was almost over. He’d watched as Q and his parents had cried over video chat, it had been so long since he’d spoken to them that his lover been beside himself afterward. He’d taken comfort in James’ arms, but the agent wanted his lover to be safe and happy. Resolving this situation once and for all was the key in accomplishing that goal for both of them.

The tunnels were a bit of a rabbit warren, dark and dank until the main bunkers were accessed. Q-Branch was of a similar layout to the main hall, though slightly smaller with the brick arches painted white and tech strewn throughout the place interspersed with MI6’s tech analysts. It was strange not to see old Boothroyd in the middle of the chaos, only the back of R at the main workbench in front of multiple huge screens a riot of colors and code.

He’d worked with R for the last four years, though most of his Q-Branch dealings had been with old Boothroyd. R was an affable young man in his early thirties, slim and tall with chestnut hair cut close to his head. As far as James knew, R was very competent with computers and tech. But, in thinking back on Alec’s statement at Darby’s flat, James agreed that he wasn’t as proficient as he projected himself to be.

Activity in the branch ceased as the techs stopped their work to watch M stride through, James and Q behind her, with Mitchell and Tanner following close on their heals.

“I’d like to have every one’s attention please,” M called out. R stopped his industrious movements and turned to face MI6’s dragon. The blood drained out of his face, the man’s pallor confused James since he wasn’t looking at M.

“The loss of Major Boothroyd was great, but we must press on,” she said. “In that vein, I would like to introduce you all to your new Quartermaster.”

She waved Q forward and that’s when James realized his boffin was pale as a ghost staring at R in shock and anguish. His adrenaline spiked trying to figure out what was going on. 007 went on high alert placing himself close to Q’s back.

“Quartermaster?” M inquired.

Q took a breath then swallowed audibly before his chin went up and he surged in long strides to R. Q’s slap to R’s face echoed through the bunker loud as a gunshot. James pulled his boffin away from the man, whose hand was cradling his face in shock.

“Q! What is it?” he asked, his hands squeezing the tops of Q’s arms to keep him away from R.

“I was told you were dead!” James had never heard Q’s voice in that low toned growl before. The kind of tone that someone made when they were truly angry or devastated, it sent a shiver down his spine to hear it coming from his Q.

“What’s going on?” M barked out.

“M, may I present my former fiancé, Daniel Rhea to you,” Q stated. “The man who’s suppose to be dead, but obviously that is not the case. He’s one of the moles we’re looking for.”

James’ heart fluttered at hearing the words Q was saying. It made sense; R had full access to the network. He would have been able to track James step by step from Istanbul, then relay information to Patrice. The fact he was Q’s former lover was shocking, but as the mole he would’ve been working for Rata this whole time and had probably handed Q to the man on a silver platter.

“Ma’am, I don’t know what this man is talking about! I’ve never seen him before,” R replied. He’d backed up fully away from Q against the main bench, sweating and high in color. James noted his brown eyes were darting between Q and M.

“You sold me out, Daniel!” Q shouted. “You let that son of a bitch keep me prisoner for nine bloody months!”

R shook his head vehement in his denial, “You’re mad!”

Q surged under James hands, but the agent was able to keep his skinny charge from getting close to the second in command of Q-Branch.

“Not so mad that I don’t have evidence, Daniel,” Q burst out. “I have all I need to prove to everyone here who you are and once I’m through with this mess, I’ll be able to prove your part in it!”

“Tanner, take Mr. Foley into custody,” M ordered. “We’ll get this straightened out in interrogation.”

R’s eyes widen a second before he bolted, pushing past M and Mitchell to make a run for it. James released Q and ran the man down, tackling him to the floor at the far end of the room. The slim man was no match for the agent, but was squirming in his hold like a fish on the end of a line.

“Please! I’m sorry! Please, he’ll kill me,” R wailed as he struggled.

James pressed R’s head down to the floor waiting for Tanner and a security guard to bring him some cuffs, “Who’ll kill you?”

R just shook his head and kept his silence. Cuffs secure, James pulled the man to his feet and handed him off to Tanner.

“Stay with him, Tanner,” James whispered to the chief of staff. “Don’t let anyone guard him who’s not been cleared by Q. We need to keep him alive.”

Tanner gave him a nod, “Agreed, 007.”

Q was standing in front of the screens, head down and his back to the room. M standing quietly at his side, the room was silent in shock with only the low hum of the tech to accompany the background hush. He was trembling when James reached him; his eyes wet with unshed tears behind his spectacles.

“Q?” James said.

He leaned into James’ grip on his shoulders and took some deep breaths to regain his control. The blush on his cheeks was slowly giving way to his normal creamy hue; the heartbroken look in his lover’s eyes was unsettling.

“I’m fine, 007,” he said giving James’ arms a quick squeeze before moving away from the agent. Then he addressed M, “You said his name was Foley?”

“John Foley,” she replied. “He was thoroughly vetted at the time he was recruited.”

Q nodded, “He’s very talented, ma’am, but Rata even more so; it would’ve been easy for him to create a whole history to place Daniel here at MI6.”

“You have evidence, Q?” James inquired. They currently only had Q’s word that R was involved in the infiltration. He believed Q, but M might not.

“Yes, papers and photographs at home of our time together from uni and afterward,” Q replied. “I’m sure, once we have full access to Rata’s data more evidence of Daniel’s placement and work here will come to light.”

M nodded, “Very well, we’ll move forward on the assumption that R is one of Rata’s agents. He’ll remain in custody and interrogation until this situation is resolved.”

James could see that Q had regained some of his control, enough to move forward with the mission. Over looking the room, James quickly assessed the rest of the staff one by one. No one stood out, but James was resolved to keep an eye on the lot as Q worked.

“Ma’am? I need to get started,” Q stated. “I want only Stevens, Jennings, McCloud, Roberts, and Shaw to remain to assist. These are the minions I’ve cleared, the rest need to leave.”

M call out to the room, “You’ve heard your Quartermaster, the rest of you lot will be taken into custody until you’re thoroughly vetted.”

****

Q was almost ready for the final assault on Rata’s island lair. His five new minions had had stars in their eyes, when they realized what kind of talent their new Quartermaster brought to the table. The techno-babble had flow throughout the room, fast and furious as James kept vigil in a corner, close to his Quartermaster. Industrious and efficient were the words of the day for Q and his minions, the work to close the network and prepare the servers completed on schedule. It was a fascinating experience for James to watch his boffin work. He’d seen some of his skill during his lover’s previous hacking activities, but Q with the MI6’s resources available to him was genius, artistry, and ingenuity wrapped up in a single incandescent package.

James straightened from his slouch in the corner when M with Mitchell at her side made their way through the branch.

“Quartermaster?” M asked. “The troops are in place. Are you ready?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Q replied with a nod. “The data retrieval will be complete in ten minutes.”

M perused the scrolling information on the screens above, “Good, ETA for touch down on the island is in thirty minutes. We’ll need you to shut down the network when they land.”

“The code is loaded and ready for transmittal,” Q responded. “I’ve patch into the main assault team’s frequency. Mallory is monitoring the other three with the assistance of Shaw, Jennings and Roberts.”

Q handed James, M and Mitchell each a black earwig radio combination. James could hear status updates from the S.A.S. in Macau. There was tension in the air now that the assault was about to commence, quiet as they waited for Rata’s data to finish downloading. The swirling colors of the monitors reflected off of Q’s spectacles, his body movements economical as he faced his screens. His confidence in his abilities undeniable, all other considerations, even James had been pushed aside for Q. It was as it should be, James thought.

The sound of the doors opening caught James attention. 004 followed by another field agent, Vitter, James recalled made their way through the branch.

“004, what are you doing here?” M barked. “You’re not scheduled to come in for another five days.”

The pug faced agent that had had his nose broken one too many times responded with a smirk at MI6’s dragon, “I just had to come in to meet my new Quartermaster, M.”

Q’s sudden stillness caused alarm to spike in James’ being. He’d figured Q would be too focused on his work to notice the new arrivals, but his boffin’s posture said otherwise. He subtly moved closer to Q and M, foreboding settled low in his belly causing the hairs on the back of his neck to prickle in awareness of oncoming danger.

“Hello, Rata,” Q said as he turned away from his screens.

004 was a flurry of movement as he pulled his gun, its muzzle snug against M’s temple before James was able to pull his own weapon.

“I’m surprised you recognized me, Quartermaster,” 004 smirked. “I never allowed you to see me.”

Q’s chin came up, stare imperious at the agent, “I’d never forget your voice… or your horrendous accent, Rata. It’s an affront on the ears.”

The smirk left the agent’s face, his bleach blond heavy brows lowered in displeasure, “I do remember you’ve quite a smart mouth on you… Q.” The added, “Vitter, get their weapons.”

Fear knife like shot through James at Q’s baiting of the double-oh. 004’s stocky accomplice removed James’ Walther from under his arm and waved his gun to move James next to Mitchell, who’d also been disarmed. He’d not seen 004 in quite some time. He was odd looking with his bleached blond hair, flat face and skin tan from the sun. He was built like a brick wall, tall and solid.

“Rodriguez!” M burst out, “What’s the point of your betrayal? Why would you do this?”

Even with a gun to her head, M had no fear. She looked at her agent as if he was a bully in the schoolyard. James could only hope that she and Q wouldn’t antagonize the man to the point he would just shoot them both outright.

Rodriquez shook his head in sardonic dismay, “You really don’t know, old woman? James, aren’t you tired of taking orders from this old lady? You know she’ll betray you eventually, don’t you?”

“Perhaps, but if she does it will be because it was necessary,” James replied.

“She had me tortured for five months!” he roared, pressing his pistol hard against M’s skull. “Necessary? You think a betrayal like that was necessary?”

M cut in, “The Chinese were on to you, Rodriquez. You where hacking them unsanctioned, did you expect it wasn’t going to come back and bite you in the arse?”

He grabbed her neck in response, his face a grotesque mask of insanity as he gazed down at her, “I kept your secrets, old woman. I came home and got nothing in return for my sacrifice, beyond ‘good job you’ and a reprimand in my file. You see, James? An agent can’t be innovative without sanctions and scolding.” He added, “You’ve experienced it haven’t you?”

“Of course I have,” James replied. “But, I’m a masochist at heart and I have a tenacious love of country.”

“Queen and Country,” Rodriquez said. “You’re so quaint with your loyalty and your British stoicism. You could be so much more, you know.”

James raised an eyebrow trying to keep 004’s attention on himself, “I’m a bit set in my ways, Rodriquez.”

“Not so old fashioned that you wouldn’t take a new and unusual lover,” he said, his voice sly. “A lover so many want for their own, not for his looks, though they have their merits. Have you realized what you have in your bed? Someone so talented with skills so elite, that there may be only one or two other individuals like him in the whole world. It was smart of you to woo him to MI6’s side, James.”

Q raised a haughty eyebrow, “You need to get your facts straight, Rata. You’ve got it backward as to who wooed whom. Besides, look at those ears. Who can resist that?”

He reached behind him and hit two keys on his board. James heard in his ear the notice of troops on the ground at the same time that all of the screens in the branch streamed thousands of lines of codes.

“No!” 004 bellowed, his eyes widened in horror, and he released M in shock.

He started to swing his gun toward Q and James sprang into action hitting Vitter’s gun arm hard on his way to 004. Released from the agent’s hold, M gave him a quick kick to the shin that allowed James to make a grab for the man’s weapon. Q quick as a mouse had ducked under the workbench out of the line of fire. Mitchell was engaged in his own fight with Vitter in James’ periphery.

The fight for the gun was frenzied. The two double-ohs were an even match making the minions scurry out the way as they threw each other over and against desks down the center of the branch. James took Rodriguez’s punches and kicks stoically, giving as good as he got in return ignoring the surface pain he received.

Q had organized the minions into a cheering section and shouts of ‘kick his arse!’ and ‘put your back into 007!’ accompanied James heaving breaths and grunts as he punched and kicked the blond agent.

The report of a gun startled him momentarily, James’ distraction allowed Rodriquez to pistol whip him in the head with a glancing blow. The pain of the hit blinded him and his hands gave way, releasing his foe. He shook his head to clear it and saw 004’s back as he ran out the glass doors.

James felt hot blood run down the left side of his face, but ignored the sticky substance. Mitchell was standing over a downed Vitter as Q rushed over with James’ PPK in hand.

“Get after him, 007,” he ordered like the Quartermaster he was. “I’ll guide you.”

James pulled his Quartermaster in to plant a quick kiss on his lips before running out the door after Rodriguez.

“That wasn’t very professional, 007,” Q voiced in his ear.

“You’ll have to reprimand me later, Q,” James said. “He’s accessed the tunnel below holding.”

He made his way down the ladder into the dark below. The light was dim, but he could make out Rodriguez’s form up ahead. The traitor had a good head start on him.

“I’m bringing up a map of the underground now,” Q said. “The tunnel will come out at Vauxhall Station. There’s access via the tube to your left, take it and you may be able to cut him off.”

“Acknowledged,” James said following Q’s instructions. “I’m in the tube, Q. If I get hit by a train, I’ll be very sore with you.”

“Move your arse then, 007,” Q replied. His voice was droll, but an undercurrent of worry was detectable to James’ ear. “Access to the station will be on your right in ten meters.”

James didn’t want to be in the tube any longer than necessary and made his way with quick steps to the door Q had identified. It took a moment to strong arm it open with brute strength.

“Grunting in my ear with exertion is only sexy when we’re in bed, 007,” Q said.

M cut in, “Quartermaster, you do know these communications are recorded don’t you?”

“In my defense, there hasn’t been time for official orientation yet, ma’am,” Q replied.

James smiled at M’s scolding and Q’s cheeky response. The pair of them together was a nightmare. He made his way through the new tunnel to a metal access door. It was past the commuter rush, but there were still a lot of Londoners heading on their way out on the town. He pushed passed people forcibly, receiving annoyed responses as he bumped through the masses. Rodriguez was at the top of the main stairs exiting the station.

“Damnit. Move! Move!” James yelled to get people out of his way as he rushed up the stairs.

He burst above ground to see 004 carjack a BMW grey saloon, “Fuck! Q can you see him on CCTV? He’s in a grey BMW.”

“I’m tracking him, 007,” he said. “Get yourself some wheels quickly! He’s headed toward the bridge.”

James stepped out into traffic in front of a motorbike, causing its rider to hit the brakes with a squeal.

“I need to borrow this,” he told the young man, encouraging him off the bike with a wave of his PPK. He left the Ducati’s owner hollering in his wake as he spun the red bike around to pursue his quarry across Vauxhall Bridge.

“He just turned up John Islip toward Westminster,” Q advised. “Try not to get yourself killed on that motorbike, 007. My dry spell is finally over and I have plans for you later.”

“I’ll do my best, Q,” James said. The thrill of the chase; the feel of the bike between his thighs as he wove in and around the traffic at high speed and Q in his ear felt good and right. This was what he did best, the pursuit, the physical reality of being an agent, the danger and the adrenaline that burned within him. It was what he was meant to do. Who he was; his nature interwoven with his profession and it was perfection with Q on his side.

He closed in on 004’s vehicle at the roundabout at St. John’s Smith Square to Milbank then passed Big Ben. Rodriguez couldn’t get a shot off driving as he was, with James weaving at high speed behind. The traffic was thick around them, 004 pushing other vehicles off the road and in James’ way for him to dodge.

“It looks like he’s headed toward Birdcage Walk along St. James Park, 007,” Q voiced. “Police fire arms units are being mobilized to cut him off before the Palace. They know MI6 has an agent in pursuit.”

James dodged another car shoved in his way, “Yes, Q.”

They were flying down the side of the park, James passing vehicles at hair raising speeds. He was gaining on the traitor. The lights from the police vehicles at the turn to the Buckingham Palace shot through the night giving away their presence. Rodriguez abruptly turned the car into a pedestrian entrance to the park. James allowed the bike to tilt to the point his knee almost touched the ground to make the tight turn.

“007, I’ve dispatched police to cover the other entrances to the park. They know what he looks like,” Q said. “He’s got nowhere else to go except for the lake. If I have my way, he’ll drown himself.”

James smirked at hearing his blood thirsty boffin’s idea of revenge. He’d give it to him if he could, he thought.

James flinched and weaved on the bike as Rodriguez sent gunshots his way. The traitor had stopped the car and was running on foot toward the Blue Bridge in the middle of the park. James revved the bike to run 004 down, one of the shots grazing his left arm before he was able to leap off the bike and tackle the man. The pair rolled together along the bricks. James ducked as the motorbike flew over their heads into the lake with a massive splash. Rodriguez no longer had this gun in hand and was scrambling, a hand around James’ chest, as they tussled on the pavement. A hand grabbed onto James’ neck and squeezed cutting off his air when he ended up on the bottom of the pile. He couldn’t prevent the man from pulling his gun out of its holster and stilled as it was pressed to his forehead. They were both panting from the exertion, Rodriguez’s homely face close to his own, his heavy body holding James down.

“You know, James,” he said his eyes alight with a mad light. “You’re good, but not as good as me.”

James panted, “I didn’t realize it was a competition.”

“Everything’s a competition, James,” Rodriguez replied. “I’ll put you out of your misery now, before that old lady has a chance to do it.”

James gripped the handle of the knife at his belt, but he knew he was going to be too late. He saw his Q in his mind’s eye and thought it was a good image to have as his last.

The gun clicked, then clicked again but didn’t fire. James pulled his father’s knife and shoved it up under Rodriquez’s ribs and into his heart. The man’s eyes widened in surprise and his breath gurgled in his chest before going limp in death. James shoved the body off himself and retrieved his Walther from the dead agent. Puzzled, he shot the body in the leg and the gun went off just fine.

“007, if your done playing around,” Q said. “Police are on their way, so put the gun away.”

“Yes, Q,” he replied satisfied to hear the relief in his boffin’s voice. Light from torches and noise accompanied the approach of the police. “Was the S.A.S. successful in their missions?”

“Yes, the island is secure,” Q answered. “There were no casualties on our end. White, Haines, and Dowar are now in custody. It’s time for you…what the bloody fuck!”

A gunshot almost burst James’ eardrum coming through the comm.

“Q? Q… Q!” he shouted. There was nothing, not even static.

A frenzied panic settled within James. He was afraid for the first time since he was a child. He’d finally found the one person who understood who he was. The one person he could be with and still be himself. He’d allowed himself to trust in someone fully, completely, madly even and Q was no longer there. Something had happened at headquarters to cut his boffin off. His love could be dead.

“I need a vehicle now,” he shouted at the constables making their way toward the grim sight on the bridge.

“But sir,” one of them replied.

“NOW!” he roared.

The young constable gave him the keys to their vehicle, “It’s the first panda on the left of the entrance.”

“Thank you,” James replied and bolted at a flat out run to get to the car.

The drive was short, but seemed like an eternity. The whole way, dodging cars, lights and sirens flashing, he could only pray to himself over and over that Q was all right that he wouldn’t be forsaken by the death of his lover.

James had no patience for security once he reached headquarters. He barked at the guards to be let through, running fast through the rabble warren that was MI6’s new space. No one dared stop him. A double-oh was not one to be trifled with when in high temper. His heart squeezed in his chest when he saw Tanner following medics with a body bag on a gurney coming out of Q-Branch.

“Tanner! Who is it?” he demanded.

Tanner, looking like he’d had a fright, replied, “Mitchell, 007. He tried to kill M, our new Quartermaster is an excellent shot.”

“Let me see,” James ordered. He needed to see that it wasn’t his boffin.

Tanner pulled the zipper down and opened the bag. It was Craig Mitchell with a bullet hole straight in the middle of his forehead. Not waiting for Tanner to say anything else, James burst through the doors of the branch. He needed to see that Q was all right.

Q was surrounded by a gaggle of his minions, M along side. His lover looked up, success and excitement in his jade eyes. He gifted James with a beautiful smile. The minions scattered when they caught sight of the determined double-oh striding their way. James swooped in and pulled his lover into a tight embrace. Q’s long arms wrapped around him in a hard grasp in return. His relief was almost painful as he buried his face against Q’s soft neck. He felt the burn of tears prickle in his eyes and burrowed his face closer to prevent them from falling. Double-ohs never cried.

“I love you, Ollie,” he whispered in his boffin’s ear.

Q gave him a squeeze and in a low voice returned the sentiment, “I love you too, James… even though you’re bleeding all over my new suit.”

A sobbing gasp escaped him and he clutched Q to him almost harshly at hearing the words.

Chapter 10:

“What do you think they’ll do with him?” Q asked.

They were watching the start of Daniel’s interrogation. James didn’t like when Q was subdued, it unsettled him to his core to see his lover upset. He wanted to get Q away from MI6, so they could both get some sleep. The clock had just ticked over to six in the morning and James was exhausted from the upheaval of the preceding hours. The roller coaster of emotions he’d gone through had caused a bone deep weariness to settle within him.

“It depends on how much his information will be useful,” James replied. “Most likely he’ll end up cooling his heals in Belmarsh for quite some time.”

Q posture was the epitome of defeated watching his former lover, “I didn’t know him at all.”

“Q…” James murmured.

“He’s a talented hacker, James,” Q cut in. “He could’ve done what I did and disappeared. But, he didn’t. He stayed on and became a double agent. Regardless of any threats they may have used to control him, he had the choice to disappear. I would’ve helped him if he’d asked.” Then added, “I feel like an idiot.”

James gave his love’s hand a squeeze in response, “I know how you feel, Q.”

“You do,” Q replied his eyes soft as he perused James’ face.

“Come on,” James said. “We’ll let M and Tanner deal with Daniel and the rest for today. We both need to get some sleep. There’s a lot to be done in the coming weeks, Quartermaster.”

“Hmmm,” Q agreed leaning against James. “Where are we going?”

James kissed Q’s forehead, “A hotel for now, until I have a chance to air out my flat. I’ll get that sorted later on today, retrieve Winnie and we’ll settle in for the foreseeable future.”

Q smiled against James’ neck, “Is your flat big enough for a new ‘evil tech lair,’ 007?”

****

James let himself into the cottage as quiet as he was able, the smell of aged wood, wood smoke from the hearths, and Q settled over him like a warm blanket. He was home. Winnie was at the door with her tail whipping to and fro and paws clipping a happy dance on the wooden floors in greeting. He got down to her level for a proper puppy mugging, trying to shush her so as to not awaken Q. It was still dark out, the early morning light had yet to show itself over the fields and forest.

He’d been on mission the last three weeks to finish the job of taking down Quantum. The organization was irreparably crippled after MI6’s efforts to take it down under Q’s guidance. Q and his minions with Darby on consult had worked long hours over the last eight weeks, deploying the double-oh section and field agents around the world. The data Tiago Rodriguez had compiled under the assumed name of Raoul Silva been a treasure trove. Combined with the successful interrogations of White, Dowar, and Rhea, Quantum’s dark web had come into the light. Q-Branch had deployed a skeleton crew of minions to monitor a few essential missions for the next few weeks now that the bulk of the heavy lifting was done. Everyone else was required to take some much needed down time, including James and Q.

Winnie, satisfied James had said hello properly, settled on the sofa with a word from the agent. James had plans in bed that didn’t include a fluffy pooch, loveable as she was, for company. He toed off his shoes, padding quietly to the bedroom. Q was a distinct lump under the duvet with only the top of his messy hair visible above. James had missed seeing that hair every day.

He quietly shed his clothes and placed his Walther on his bedside table before he slipped under the duvet to nestle along Q’s back.

“Between you, Winnie, and the perimeter alert, there’s no sleeping in,” Q murmured, snuggling back against James. “Oh, you’re naked.”

“Good morning, Q,” he whispered behind his boffin’s ear. James felt an exploring hand on his hip that traveled further to squeeze his buttock.

Q tilted his head, granting James better access to his pale neck. “I was going to pick you up.”

“D was able to get me on an earlier flight,” he replied distracted by the sweet musk of his boffin’s nape.

“You do know, she’ll keep track of all of the favors you owe her,” Q said. “When she calls them in, it’ll be epic.”

James smiled against Q’s neck and squeezed his boffin tight. His hard cock nestled in the cleft of his lover’s gorgeous arse; pajama pants a barrier between them. Q was placing soft kisses on his hand, nibbling on the pads of his fingers. Having his lover’s lithe body in his arms again was divine.

“Missed you,” he said burying his nose in Q dark locks.

“I missed you too,” Q replied around a nibble. “Did you debrief?”

James hummed, enjoying the feel of Q’s lips and morning stubble against his fingers, “No, I’ll video chat with M later from your lair.”

“Did you at least bring your equipment back in one piece?” he asked.

“I did, except for the explosives,” James replied. “Though the grip on my gun is slightly damaged, but it still works.”

Q turned in his arms, wrapping his long limbs around him like a sloth in a tree and burrowed his face against James’ neck. Supple lips worked to taste the agent’s skin. A sharp nip to the join of his shoulder caused a sharp punch of heat to settle in his groin.

“Hmmm, I’ll fix it this afternoon,” Q said. “Though I don’t want you to hover while I work.”

James smiled and pulled Q’s face from its warm nook to gaze at his lover’s beautiful visage framed by his dark locks and morning stubble. His sneaky boffin had, unbeknownst to James, slipped out of bed in the middle of the night at Skyfall to modify his gun. James was the only one who could fire it. Q’s excuse for not telling him was a combination of James’ possessiveness over his gun, and hovering while he worked. James had thought he’d had the upper hand in the argument when he pointed out it hadn’t been tested. Q just snorted derisively and told him it had been thoroughly tested when he’d been teaching the boffin to shoot. The modification had saved James’ life, so he couldn’t stay aggravated by his boffin’s secrecy. Q had since modified the piece further with sensor lights, so James would know it was in working order at all times.

Q was blinking slowly, his jade eyes sleepy. He was content to let James look at him and play with his hair. It was probably stupid of him to be so invested in the love he felt for Q. He could die on a mission, his future had always been uncertain in that regard. But, he didn’t want to give what he had with Q up. It was too late to protect his heart, he’d been obtuse to his feelings, not realizing until it was too late that he’d fallen in love. Q’s caring and affection, his radiance and genius had filled the hole within James that he’d lived with since the death of his parents. Q was home and for the first time in a long time James had something more to live for than Queen and Country. He wasn’t going to give it up.

He pulled his sleepy lover in for a kiss, Q’s lips plush beneath his. Q’s taste was deeper from sleep, but James didn’t care. The flavor of tea, chocolate and Q on his tongue was satisfying after three weeks without. Q snuggled closer, pulling their cocks together for a heated rub. James deepened the languid kiss, his hand holding his lover’s head still for ravishment. Q was pliant in his arms, allowing James to do as he pleased.

Q’s long fingered hands became distracting as they leisurely explored the skin of James’ back, buttocks and the tops of his flanks. After their long separation the fever of lust within James arose intolerable under his skin. The sounds of their kisses and panting breaths increased in the silence of the morning. The heat of arousal heightened and James mindlessly pulled Q atop him to better feel his lover’s form against his own.

“Missed this, Q,” James murmured against his lover’s swollen lips.

Q’s wriggling, joined with the wet heat of their cocks rubbing together through his pajamas, sent a sharp aching spike down the length of his cock that settled into a urgent throb in his balls. His hands delved under Q’s shirt to stroke the wiry muscles of his back encased in satin skin followed by the heat of his lover’s pert buttocks under his exploring fingers. James couldn’t get enough of the feel of Q’s silky skin under his palms.

Q was mindlessly kissing James lips, cheeks and eyelids, “Me too, I want you so much.”

“You can have me, love,” James replied, working Q’s shirt off.

Q rubbed hard against him at the words causing a grunt to escape James’ throat, “There’s the sexy grunting in my ear. Much better in person then over the comms.”

“You’re ridiculous,” James snorted a chuckle at his lover’s words.

“I know, but you love it,” Q stated as he squirmed to remove his pants.

His grip on Q’s splendid cock caused his boffin to arch with a gasp. “I do,” he replied before pulling Q down for another deep kiss.

“If you don’t stop playing with my prick, I’ll cum before I have you,” Q whispered in James ear. He caused a shudder to run through the agent when he added, “I want to sink into you.”

That posh voice in his ear saying those words was too much, “Fuck, Q!”

“That’s the plan, James,” Q replied.

James gave Q’s bottom a quick slap in punishment for his impertinence, causing him to let out a grunt of his own. He rubbed the spot in apology as Q scrambled in the bedside table for the lube. James captured a sweet nipple that was in range of his mouth, increasing the sounds of Q’s fumbling search.

His lover made a triumphant cry, but James held him still so he could continue suckling and nipping at Q’s pink nipples. His boffin was humping his cock into James’ hand, breath panting above him. To his mind, Q was the sexiest lover James had ever had. There was no artifice, no shyness, and no agenda other than to enjoy giving and receiving pleasure. There was no pressure for James to perform; he could be himself with Q, insatiable, passionate, dominant, submissive, lazy, needy, it didn’t matter.

Q removed his chest from the vicinity of James’ mouth to take his lips again in an ardent deep kiss. His boffin released his lips with a gasp before scooting down the bed to push between James’ thighs. His hands were graceful as they skimmed down James’ body, admiring the muscles of his chest and abdomen. Swirling around his belly button then plucked at the hairs leading down to James’ cock. Q’s fingers were heated as they skimmed James’ sweat slick skin, his eyes bright with enjoyment as he perused his lover.

“You’re just gorgeous,” Q said. “I’m so lucky you’re mine.”

The possessive words heightened James’ arousal; he’d never truly allowed himself to be someone’s love, even Vesper’s. There was no façade with Q, they were a team and his lover’s possessiveness was a compliment to his own tenacious feelings. He wanted to be Q’s and he wanted Q to be his. It was as it should be.

Q’s fingertips captured the pre-cum coating the head of James’ prick and the low hum of pleasure that came from his boffin tasting him made him arch in anticipation. It was a carnal image, Q’s fingers in his mouth, jade eyes heated, and his dark hair wild. He reached up to rub a finger against those pink lips, his lover’s stubble tickling the tips as he admired those high cheekbones. He grasped the back of Q’s neck gently urging that saucy mouth to kiss his prick. His breath hitched at Q’s compliance and the feel of that hot mouth encasing his cock, swirling his tongue around the sensitive head. He couldn’t help but thrust into the wet heat and Q just encouraged him, placing both of James’ hands on the dark head.

Q’s mouth was made for taking cock. The sight, the sounds, and feel of him taking James deep caused him to become breathless as his body arched into the pleasure he was receiving.

“God, Q,” James panted to the ceiling. Q hummed a pleased reply that vibrated down to the root of James’ prick. A slick finger rubbed against his hole, relaxing the entrance enough to delve into James’ heat. The burn of it caused James to clench for a moment, before the combination of Q’s tongue swirling around the head of his cock and a soft rub on the inside against his prostate allowed him to relax to take the digit fully inside.

Tears from the pleasure he was receiving were leaking from the corners of James’ eyes by the time Q had worked three fingers in to stretch him. His lover was gifting him with soft licks around the head and glands of his cock, pulling his balls away from his body to stave off orgasm. By the time Q gave his prick a final kiss and removed his fingers, James was trembling all over. Q’s face was pink cheeked and shined with sweat, with lips smeared and swollen. He was incredibly beautiful in that moment as he sat between the James’ thighs and slicked up his cock.

Q placed soft kisses on his lips, wiping away the wetness at the corner of his eyes. “Roll over love, so I can have you.”

“I love you,” James said clutching his boffin to him before complying with his request.

Q’s slight body was a band of heat along his back; his lovely cock nestled into the cleft of James’ arse. It felt so good to relax and allow Q to have his way. His lover was placing delicate kisses against the sensitive nerves of James’ nape. His hands smoothing down James’ arms to clasp their hands together as his cock sunk into James’ heated core. He was so relaxed that there was no resistance to the fullness inside. Q’s flanks met his bottom; the dark curls at the base of his boffin’s prick tickled the sensitive skin underneath.

Q started a slow grind that had James panting as his lover’s cock continuously brushed over his prostate. Words of praise were whispered into his ear as his lover’s thrusts strengthened. Hands clenched together, James raised himself on his elbows to leverage his body up into the deep thrusts he was receiving, enjoying the fullness inside. His cock was so sensitive the sheet below provided enough stimulation to ratchet up his arousal, building toward release. Q was gasping into James’ neck as his strokes came faster, the pleasure building for them both with James arching his back further to receive Q’s full length.

He felt Q’s cock harden even more before his boffin gave him a shout muffled in his hair. Q’s clenching, deep grinding, and the feel of his cum inside set off James. The pleasure was so intense that it was almost painful with a sharp throb that erupted from the base of his cock to the tip. His release was accompanied by a frenzied grunt that he couldn’t contain.

****

James’ post-coital nap was interrupted by the scent of coffee and tea with the clinking of glassware on a tray. It was late morning and the clouds had allowed the late winter sun to peek through them bathing the room in golden light. His pale skinny naked boffin made his way to the bed tray in hand and Winnie at his side. She made herself comfortable at the end of the bed tail thumping in contentment as she watch her people.

James scooted up to take the tray that was full of coffee, tea and toast. Q had pulled him onto his side and cuddled him for a long while after their lovemaking. He’d been half asleep by the time his lover had cleaned him up with a warm flannel before wrapping his arms around him again until he fell asleep.

“Thank you, Q,” James said enjoying the aromatic brew. His boffin snuggled with his tea under the duvet at the bottom of the bed pressing his cold feet to James’ hip. Q was a handsome sight, even with his hair looking like a Tribble was sitting atop his head. James smirked as the whimsical thought popped into his brain.

Q was studying him in the light, not pensive or serious just gazing at him as if in fascination. James raised an inquiring brow at his boffin’s perusal.

“How do you feel about me being one of your bosses, James?” Q asked.

James smiled, “You’ve accepted the job then?”

“Well, I need to make sure you’ll come home alive,” Q replied. “And I can’t trust anyone else to do it.”

“You know I wanted you to stay on, Q,” James said happiness rising within him that Q was going to continue to be Quartermaster. “We make a great team, you and I.”

Satisfied Q replied, “We do. Besides I need you to keep living, otherwise I’ll end up with another dry spell.”

James snorted into his coffee before he reached down to pinch Q’s big toe in reprimand for his cheekiness.

“Oi, you have to be nice to me. I’m your boss now, 007!” Q squeaked out removing his foot from James’ range.

James set his coffee aside, put the tray on the floor, and stole Q’s tea before pulling his boffin into his arms. Q was making dissatisfied noises about the tea stealing before James shut him up with a deep kiss.

“I’m always nice to you, Q,” James said against his lover’s lips.

“Hmmm… just keep in mind, I’m the one who gives you toys,” was Q’s reply.

James kissed him again, “Yes, Q.”

Winnie, not wanting to be ignored, moved up the bed to gift them both with doggy kisses. They tried to fend off the affectionate pooch, but she ended up in between them on her back getting belly rubs. Resting his head on his hand, rubbing Winnie’s chest with the other James gazed at his lover, Q’s affection for the agent apparent in his green eyes and smile. He so loved this man, he thought.

“How’d your negotiations with M go?” he asked.

“Very well, she gave me everything I asked for without too much protesting,” Q said with a cat that got the cream grin on his face. “Darby has accepted the position of second in command of Q-Branch and I had to convince M to change the dress code to accommodate her. Darbs doesn’t do office casual or formal…”

James laughed at the thought of Darby’s idea of office chic in Q-Branch, “Spit it out Q, there’s more. I’m waiting with baited breath.”

“Q-Branch now has a mascot, codename W,” he said vigorously rubbing Winnie’s belly much to her tongue lolling satisfaction. In response to James’ giggles, Q added, “I’ll not leave my girl in the flat for hours on end without me.”

Still chuckling, James asked, “Anything else?”

“Well, I did convince her to give me her Union Jack bulldog for our flat,” Q stated.

James laughed so hard at that he was breathless and could feel his cheeks burning red when he was done. Q just gazed at him in total satisfaction as one would in getting their way.

“So you’re fine moving into my flat?” James inquired once he got his breath back.

“Well, it’s centrally located. We can come to the cottage on weekends and for breaks, but we do need to do something about the amount of taupe in the place,” Q replied. “I also need to make space for some tech and a work station for writing during my down time.”

James reached over to caress Q’s soft cheek, “Q you can paint the walls whatever color you’d like, as long as you’re there when I come home.”

“You may regret saying that James, but I’ll take you at your word,” Q replied leaning into James’ palm.

Banner by the fantastic themuller

Banner by the fantastic themuller

The End.

A/N: My thanks to the lovely and talented Xphil98197 for her extensive beta work. Additional thanks the fabulous MinMu for suggestions that helped me early on to keep from giving the game away to soon. Lastly, my thanks to themuller for creating such wonderful banners!

All of Ian Flemming’s characters are not mine, nor is the universe of Skyfall movie cannon. Just for fun, no money is made from this fan work.

7 responses to “Forsaken

  1. Adored this. I really did. Hell, you got me into this fandom and this pairing. This story was beautiful and perfect and just so freaking awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally love this. Sassy Q is fantastic, and I love the fact that Q and Winnie can run roughshod over him after they got to know each other and just about all secrets revealed. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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