James Bond didn’t know how it happened, but somehow he’d gotten beguiled into assisting the Quartermaster with preparations for Christmas (or the one where Q doesn’t want James Bond to be alone for the holidays).
Title: Christmas with Q
Author: Chestnut NOLA
Fandom: James Bond (Craig Movies), Post-Skyfall AU
Relationship(s): James Bond/Q
Genre: Romance, Humor, Fluff
Word Count: 7,300
It was cold, the air in the cavernous room of Q-Branch’s garage almost icy reflecting the wintry sleet that had caused James’ cheeks to prickle and sting from the frost of it outside. James Bond didn’t know how Q and his boffin’s could stand it, the room wet and cold in the spring, hot and humid in the summer, and only reasonable in temperature and humidity during London’s short fall season. He did think the caverns, tunnels, and arched brick and plaster rooms under Vauxhall Cross were a fitting place for Q-Branch, the masses above unaware of the creations by the brain’s below to spy on them, big brother style.
This was James’ last stop in his efforts to track down the Quartermaster, having already roamed the main hall and labs looking for the geek’s sovereign. Of course, Q wasn’t at his workbench at the end of the room overseeing the Q-Branch minions who were laughing, chatting, or working together in compatible silence. They were all rugged up from the cold in winter grease stained coveralls, and colorful wooly hats, looking for the entire world like a bunch of nerd farmers. James thought all they needed was a few tractors, and a couple of cows for the image to be complete.
Mac, Q’s third in command, was deep into the bowels of a lorry’s engine, though why Q-Branch was working on the old thing was a mystery. In the ten months since Skyfall had been destroyed, James had learned not to ask about the weirdness inherent in MI6’s egghead population.
“Mac,” James greeted.
Mac was slightly shorter than James, his slim limbs almost spider-like as he pulled back from the engine to straighten.
“Hello, 007, back from mission and all in one piece, I see,” he replied with a grin.
“Didn’t expect to see you, been summoned have you?” Mac said, offering a greased streaked hand.
James took it with a smile, already digging in his jacket pocket for a handkerchief. He’d learned his lesson to be prepared when minions had access to engines, oil, and his bespoke suits.
He liked Mac, quite a lot and was often able to tease all sorts of things out about the mystery that was Q when talking to him. Mac had been a friend of Q’s since university and it drove Q insane, when James needled him with every new tidbit he’d learned. Q’s affinity for all things Hello Kitty had been a particularly satisfying thirty minutes of ribbing for James.
“Yes, but I’ve yet to find your overlord to address whatever fuss he’s going to make.” James smirked.
Mac laughed, his green eyes alight over the freckles scattered across his nose. His normally spiky ginger hair, that made him look perpetually startled, was covered to his ears with red and royal blue striped wool. The Quartermaster’s love of color had infected the rest of his team over the months since he’d taken charge of the Technical Services Division.
“You’ll be just fine, 007,” he replied shaking his head, the high-pitched laugh lowering to a more sensible chuckle. “He’s working on the Jaguar, two stalls down.”
“Thank you.” James smiled. “It was good to see you.”
“You as well, 007,” he replied. “Glad you’re back. You should probably see what he wants, I feel a strop is imminent if you don’t.”
Grinning, James gave a nod and rolled his eyes for good measure, teasing out another laugh from Mac.
James often admired Q’s ability to run Q-Branch with fun and flare. The Quartermaster did run a tight ship and took his own role and the purpose of Q-Branch seriously and passionately. James had found though, from the first moment he’d met the man that Q was of the mind that a pleasant and occasionally fun—when it could be—work environment was one of the keys to relieving the stresses of the job. The atmosphere as a result was beneficial, not only for MI6’s agents, but his staff, as well.
All James could see of the Quartermaster was his legs jutting out from underneath the green hued sports car. The gangly limbs were encased in stained tan coveralls with just a hint of Q’s brown and yellow checked trousers peaking out. James bemoaned the fact he’d not get to see whatever clashing color scheme Q had chosen on this day to wear. James concluded, from the look of the navy blue thick-soled oxfords on his feet, Q’s wardrobe would be a sight to behold. The clunky square-toed shoes made Q’s feet look huge above his delicate ankles and James wondered how he didn’t trip over them constantly.
Q’s voice was a bit muffled emanating from under the car. “I heard your ‘fuss’ comment, 007. I do not ‘fuss’ I articulate my displeasure with you concisely and clearly.”
“Of course you do, Q.”
Q rolled out from underneath the Jaguar to give James an epic frown. He was wearing a wooly hat that had cat ears on it and James couldn’t help the smirk that twitched at the corner of his mouth. The only thing reasonable about the wool covering Q’s normally flyaway locks was that is was black, matching the color of the wisp of Q’s fringe above his spectacles.
Q was nothing if not entertaining, which was probably why James liked him so much.
“You’re just humoring me, aren’t you 007?” He huffed.
“Perhaps,” James replied, the twitching at the corner of his mouth widened into a full-blown smile. He couldn’t help it, Q with his cat ears, and affronted face was just too humorous to take in. “What did you want to see me about?”
“Oh, yes…” Q blinked. “Make yourself useful, 007 and help me up.”
Grasping Q’s offered hand, James pulled him strongly to his feet, causing Q’s poor choice in shoes to become apparent. He over compensated falling with a muffled ‘oomph’ as his face smashed into James’ chest.
James had to admit, for the few second’s Q was in his arms, he felt good, unusually solid and strong for a man with such a slim and delicate frame. The scent of him, spicy with a hint of apples, teased James’ nose for a second before Q got his feet sorted. It had been some time since James had had a man in his arms, and he had a sudden epiphany that he’d missed the feel of a bloke against him for quite some time.
With his spectacles askew, green-eyes bright and pinked cheeked, Q cleared his throat while he straightened himself. He was frowning at James as if his clumsiness was the agent’s fault rather than the sin of his ponderous shoes. Embarrassment was a good look on the Quartermaster, James thought trying not to laugh outright at Q’s attempt to regain his dignity.
“Thank you, 007,” he said primly. “Come along now… things to do.”
Q ignored his snorted reply; expectant that James would follow him, which was completely true. Q had more than proven his worth in the course of their association. He was one of the few people James trusted explicitly, and he knew that if push came to shove, Q would always support him whether on mission or not against order’s from on high. It had taken James aback recently with how much he trusted Q, for him, the dependence on Q to have his back in every situation was something he was still getting use to. He was no longer the lone wolf agent he’d been at the start of his Double-O career. He’d realized recently it was a relief and a bit of a worry to know that. James wasn’t completely comfortable with his dependence on Q and in turn Q-Branch, but had been unable to go back to his solitary ways since meeting the man.
James watched Q round his workbench, clicking the keyboard of his laptop with vigor.
“What do you need, Q?”
“Ah, well… do you have plans for the holidays?” he asked, and James’ eyebrow rose in surprise at the question.
“As you well, know Q, I’m off mission until after New Years,” James replied. He was technically on leave, with M insisting he have some down time after four straight months on back-to-back missions. He never had plans for the season regardless, but did prefer to keep himself busy in some fashion if he could. “But, no… no plans at the moment.”
“Excellent.” Q brightened. “I have a very time sensitive project, I need your assistance with.”
“I’m game, Q, what ever you need,” James assured, visualizing testing prototype weapons or taking the Jaguar through it’s paces. He relaxed at the idea of hanging out in Q-Branch during the dark days that the holiday season always brought in him. The tension he’d not even been aware of since he’d return from mission melted away. It would be an excellent distraction and his need to find a paramour to assuage his boredom or his want – he hated admitting to himself – for human contact would be satisfied.
Q gave him a sweet smile. “Wonderful, I’ll pick you up at eight on Saturday morning.”
“Yes, this project can’t get started until then, 007.”
Intrigued, James asked, “Not a Q-Branch project?”
“Not as such, no,” Q replied wiry, but didn’t offer a further explanation. “In the meantime, I do have prototypes for you to test and assess, if you need something to do.”
Letting Q’s secrecy go, at least until Saturday, James gave him a nod. “I’d be happy to, Q.”
“Good, go see Mac about it,” Q murmured with a careless wave, almost shooing James out of his vicinity, already focused on whatever was happening on his screen.
James stood for a moment, just admiring him with his cat eared hat, spectacles and face awash with blue light from the screen in front of him, enjoying the clickity clacking of Q’s efficient fingers on the keyboard. Perhaps with Q’s help, the season wouldn’t seem so empty this year, James mused before shaking himself to leave, disquiet sliced through his gut at the notion of his reliance.
“Oh, and 007,” Q called, his green eyes assessing James’ paused form. “Dress warmly, and don’t wear a suit.”
“Put your back into it!”
Puffing and grunting with excursion, James paused in his attempt to get Q’s Christmas tree up the stairs. “It’s a three-meter, bloody living tree, Q! It weights almost eighteen stone for godsakes!”
“It’s gorgeous and perfect!” Q replied, his mossy hued eyes amused below James at the foot of the old curved wooden staircase, watching with his slim form at attention and hands in the pockets of his oversized parka, not at all lifting a bloody finger to help.
This… assisting Q not only with getting the tree into his flat, but picking it out and transporting it too, was the time sensitive very secretive project he had James working on. According to Q, he ‘needed the muscle’ and considering the size of the damn tree and Q’s diminutive frame, James did agree he was bloody right.
“It may be perfect, but it’s fucking heavy, Q.”
“Now, now, no need to use such foul language, James,” Q admonished. “It’s uncouth.”
James glowered at the sweet grin Q was giving him, working to get some air back into his lungs. It was irritating that he found Q attractive when he was being a complete arse.
“Well, if you want your sap infested tree in your flat any time soon, you need to get your skinny bottom up on this end and help me pull,” he replied, crossing his arms, hoping the stance added to the severity of his glower. He really did need some help; Q’s tree was an absolute monster.
“Alan, dear,” a soft voice called. “What’s going on?”
James peered over the railing to see a slim elderly lady, probably in her late sixties, standing in the large foyer way. She was dressed to the nines in a blue dress and cardigan, her graying brown hair done up in a bun.
“Oh, hi Mrs. D!” Q replied with a grin. “I got my Christmas tree, sorry for disturbing you.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that, dear. I was just wondering what all the fretting going on was about,” she said, coming around to the bottom of the staircase to see the beast. “Oh, my… that is a very large tree.”
“It’s perfectly symmetrical,” Q stated proudly. It should be, James thought, it took over two hours of following Q around in the cold to find ‘the perfect tree.’ It was a wonder his ears weren’t frostbitten, and James was absolutely positive that Q had created a new maths algorithm just to determine that the circumference and angles of the branches of his tree were flawless.
“I’m sure it is dear, it’ll be quite lovely. Is Mac not in today to help you?”
“No, he’s working.” Q shook his head. “This is my friend, James, he’s lent me his strength today.”
Q’s eye roll was colossal at James’ usual sultry greeting, “Bond, James Bond, ma’am.”
“Martha Darling, dear. It’s nice to meet you.” She smiled. “You do know, you don’t have to let him boss you ‘round. He can be quite demanding most of the time… if you don’t keep him in line.”
It was extremely satisfying to see Q’s cheeks, already rosy from the cold, darken further under James’ raised brow.
“I’ve found Martha, that unless he’s indulged the majority of time, he’s hell to get on with,” James replied.
“That’s certainly true, James,” she agreed with a sage nod. “He was terribly spoilt as a child, being the youngest and only boy, and of course, too smart for his own good.”
Q’s put upon sigh was deafening, echoing to the high ceilings. James figured the whole morning’s adventure was worth it, just to see Q so abash in the face of his motherly neighbor. Particularly when she gave him a light swat on his bottom in response. Q was always prim and proper, at least at MI6 and James relished the opportunity to experience him in a different circumstance.
“Well, I should probably leave you two, to get that tree sorted.” Giving Q a loving kiss on his pink cheek. “I’ll bring up some hot chocolate for you, just give a yell when it’s up.”
“That sounds lovely, Martha, thank you,” James replied. His grin was starting to make his cheeks hurt, but he’d not had this much fun in a long while.
“Ta, Mrs. D,” Q said, a soft smile on his lips as he watch her bustle down the hall. His green eyes turned on James. “Oh, wipe that silly grin off your face, 007!”
James barked out a laugh, unable to contain it. “Fine, but I really do need you to get up here and help me pull this thing.”
All he received was an undignified raspberry for his trouble, but Q started to make his way delicately up the stairs, trying to avoid stepping on any part of the wrapped tree. Watching the procedure, James could only hope, he didn’t go over the railing.
“Left, 007! Your other left!”
Standing on a step stool, James rolled his eyes in silent protest, before adjusting the tree slightly to the right.
“Stop! Hold it right there,” Q exclaimed before diving underneath the behemoth to finish packing the potted dirt and tightening his custom Q-Branch style tree-stabilizing contraption to hold it in place. James admired the view of Q’s denim covered pert behind wriggling in the air, willing to conclude there were some perks to helping with the project.
Q was a grinning disheveled mess when he emerged with some pine needles stuck in his dark locks. They hadn’t yet recovered from the removal of his lime green and purple bobble hat, the added shrubbery was quite festive decorating the wavy strands.
“I think we’re ready,” he said. “You can come down now, James.”
His shoulders were aching a bit, but it was a good ache of a job well done.
“I’ll let you do the honors,” Q offered, holding out a pair of large silver shears.
“You just don’t want to get assaulted when the branches let go.”
Q blinked innocently at him. His spectacles were slightly askew, and James thought Q had the most stunning green eyes he’d ever seen. Turmoil rolled through his stomach at the awareness that he’d not been this enchanted by another since Vesper.
The tree released from its confinement, opened with a whoosh burying James amongst prickly branches before he could extricate himself.
Standing back, James had to agree it was undoubtedly a beautiful tree with its full branches, the top just a few feet below the high ceilings of Q’s flat. James had no doubt once Q got his lights and decorations on, the vision of the beast in the bay window would be the grandest of all to be seen from the street. The Victorian row house that Q called home was a fitting milieu for such an exquisite holiday tradition.
Q leaned against James with a hand on his shoulder, contentment as he gazed at his tree on full display.
“I’ll let Mrs. D know we’re ready for that hot chocolate now, we can take a break before decorating,” Q said, patting James’ back in praise.
“Yes decorating, 007,” Q stated firmly.
He was full, exhausted, and somewhat sleepy with Q as a warm weight cuddled along his side on the sofa. James didn’t quite know how it happened, but he had Q under his arm, a black cat on his lap, and a scotch in hand under the firelight and twinkling mass of Q’s Christmas tree.
James had been somewhat skeptical when Q had picked him up in a vintage army green Land Rover – completely decked out for off road driving – that morning. He’d not figured out what Q’s big covert operation was about until they’d reached their destination of a Christmas tree farm outside the city over an hour later. James had to admit, he’d squawked a bit in disbelief at Q’s cheek.
The whole day had been unexpected and he’d learned more about Q in a day than he had during the previous months of working with him. It was alarming that after their day together, James’ attraction to the man had become unbearably profound.
James had thought the propriety of professionalism that Q projected at MI6, was somewhat a façade and he’d been right to a certain extent. Q, with his public school accent, did have a natural formality that served him well as MI6’s Quartermaster, but underneath his prim and proper veneer, Q was an incredibly kind person.
He owned the large Victorian town home in Belgravia, and James’ had heard him mutter, somewhat embarrassed about royalties from patents, when asked about the house. It was an expensive house in an expensive neighborhood, but he shared his home with his mum’s long-time friend, Martha at a negligible rate to rent the downstairs space so she could be close to her grandchildren. His friend Mac had his own space on the third floor, as well for a pittance, with Q investing in additional kitchens and baths on each floor without changing the overall layout of the home.
Q was still a bossy bit of goods, but he did it with such humor that James couldn’t help but indulge his whims throughout the day.
Sitting on Q’s sofa with his belly full of Martha’s homemade soup, his muscles tingling from exertion, James happy for the first time in a long while.
“What are you going to do with that tree after the holidays?” James inquired, he had to admit Q’s expansive collection of Star Trek, Star Wars – god forbid James got them mixed up – and Dr. Who ornaments were an interesting esthetic mixed in with the more traditional baubles on the branches.
“Oh, we’ll take it to my parent’s place and plant it after New Year’s,” Q replied, sinking deeper against James.
“Yes, well, you’re not back on mission until mid-January. I’m sure you can make the time.” Q gave him a soft poke to his ribs. “I’ll make sure Mac is off, as well to give us a hand.”
Obviously, the project had many facets that James had not yet thought about, though how Mac was going to help was questionable. He was just as slight of frame as Q was and almost as tyrannical. James could see he’d have two boffin’s instructing him instead of one when the time came. It was a lovely, if concerning thought.
“I haven’t trimmed a Christmas tree since I was a boy,” he murmured. James wasn’t quite sure why he admitted that, it had just come out and he remembered how excited he’d been as a small boy to help his parents prepare for Christmas at Skyfall. He’d not thought about that time for ages, burying his memories of them deep within his mind.
Q’s head along his shoulder shifted, his eyes caressing James face. “I’m sorry you lost them so young.”
There was no pity in Q’s expression, only sadness, beautiful in a way that didn’t make James’ heartache like he thought it should. He wanted to kiss him, kiss the bow of Q’s lips, sink into the sweetness inherent in Q’s being, but those thoughts were dangerous. He couldn’t have that with Q, he’d lost one lover to the job, and losing Q, if they became that close, would kill him.
He knew that somehow, deep down at his core.
Deflecting the unsettling thought, James smiled at him, though he knew it was humorless. “As M use to say, orphans make the best agents.”
His green eyes gentle, glittering in the light of the Christmas tree, Q whispered, “I don’t believe that to be true, James.”
James had been elbows deep in flour for days and he was sure, he had biscuit dough remnants in his hair, and perhaps behind his ears, if Q’s smirk was an indication. They’d been baking all weekend, James having received a summons via text from Q the first morning, including a list of baking items he was in desperate need of. He knew his way around the grocery shops, but was less familiar with the baking aisle and had waffled undecided on brands until he gave up and sent Q images of the items for approval. Of course, Q would make a big production out of seasonal baking, but James’ heart had lightened when he realized that Mission Christmas was still a go.
Q had not elaborated on his statement about agents and orphans that night, and James hadn’t pushed, unwilling to charge the comfortable atmosphere with the unease of a serious discussion. He was curious as to Q’s thoughts on the matter, but with Q, a limp lump of warm wool covered contentment against him, he’d let the assertion go.
He’d been reluctant to leave the cheery warmth of Q’s flat for his own cold domain, so had lingered to the point he’d actually fallen asleep. He had a vague impression of Q straightening him out on the sofa, removing his shoes, and covering him with a blanket. He’d awoken Sunday morning to the scent of bacon and Q’s two cat’s, Merlin and Arthur using him as a warming cushion under the lights of the Christmas tree.
He’d slept deeply and well, and had been disconcerted to find he’d completely let his guard down to the point Q had manipulated his body without a violent reaction. James knew he had issues with PTSD from the job; so to be handled at his most vulnerable without a reaction had surprised him.
“Ah, that’s better,” Q said, taking a look at the cake James had just finished decorating in chocolate icing. “More like a log than a branch this time, 007.”
“Glad you approve, Q.” James rolled his eyes at the statement, but did admit his second attempt at rolling the cake had gone better. The coffee and vanilla flavored cake was supposed to be shaped to look like a Yule log and James had rolled it the wrong way the first time. Of course, Q was perfection personified and had made him start over after giving his constructive criticism on the results of James’ first efforts.
Hands on his hips, a disheveled mess with his festive apron on, Q said, “I think we’re done!”
James laughed. “I should hope so, Q. I think you have enough to keep your minions fueled in sugar for months.”
“Oh, how innocent you are, 007, these will be gone by Christmas Eve,” was Q’s sage reply.
James couldn’t really refute Q’s statement, if the evidence of the Quartermaster’s own sweet tooth translated to the rest of his staff. All of the cookie dough and cake batter James had mixed had received Q’s attention in the form of multiple swipes of the spoon (and the clean out of the bowls before washing). Of course, when James had nicked a bit to tasted, he’d gotten hollered at. Q’s hypocrisy knowing no bounds with the excuse that he needed to ‘evaluate the novice baker’s efforts’ to be sure things where as they should be.
James cooked for himself when he was home, but had never baked confections in his life before now. He could say he was a bit of an expert after Q’s tutelage over the last few days in preparation for a Christmas Eve party Q, Martha, and Mac were throwing at the house. They had at least fifteen different types of Christmas biscuits, with fudge, pies, and cakes to round out the sweet portion of the evening. Martha was in charge of cooking savory finger foods, while Mac’s contribution to the festivities was to procure the booze.
Mac had been in and out of Q’s part of the house over the weekend, sampling the treats and making a regular nuisance of himself. James had a feeling Mac had snuck in to take pictures of him in the bright Christmas apron Q had made him wear. It had the face of Father Christmas on it; the white beard and pompom on the hat were incredibly fluffy. James had no doubt that the pictures had been posted to Q-Branch’s social media intranet, and envisioned the amount of mocking by the minions that was in his future. The only redeeming part of Mac’s company was that he did ask James’ advice on the appropriate brands of scotch, brandy, and vodka to get for the party, so cheap booze was out for the event.
“Right!” Q clapped his hands together and a bit of flour puffed out between them settling in his inky locks. Glowering at James’ laugh, he waved a hand in front of his face with a cough to disburse the cloud. “All we need to do is get the tins filled and we’re done for the evening. Thanks for helping me with all this, James.”
James leaned against the counter watching Q bustle out into the living room to drag a huge box full of festive tins into the kitchen. Raising a brow he called, “Did I really have a choice?”
Grunting and shoving, Q replied with a droll, “No.”
A chuckle burst out of him before he moved to give Q a hand with the box.
He’d been smiling and laughing for days, the muscles of his abdomen aching from his regular chuckles at Q’s enthusiasm for all things Christmas. It had been great fun, if exhausting, and Q had kept him busy in Q-Branch in between Mission Christmas activities. James was more thankful than he could express that he’d not been alone during his leave. He felt needy with it, but didn’t want to distance himself from Q or the minions. He’d been alone for so long, feeling as if only his job gave him purpose, and knowing, with M’s death at Skyfall, he probably wouldn’t be missed if he were killed in the line of duty.
He knew now, that wouldn’t be the case. Q would miss him, Mac would miss him, and the other minions would miss him too. It was humbling to know that.
Sitting down felt so good, James almost let out a groan in relief. The warmth of Q’s neighborhood pub settled around him after being Q’s shopping buddy all evening. James had never shopped, like Q shopped getting last minute gifts for his family. On his feet for hours, in and out of the cold, with James following where Q led, continuing his assistance with Mission Christmas. Of course, James was there to be Q’s pack mule carrying all the gifts except one small bag that held some jewelry for Q’s mum.
Hearing all about Q’s family in Surrey had been bittersweet, but enticing for him. Q was the youngest of six, all older sisters to wit Q had expounded upon the estrogen filled torture he’d experienced throughout his childhood. ‘They treated me as a living doll, 007, it’s no wonder I turned out gay!’ James had ascertained that out about Q when he’d first encountered him in the National Gallery. It was nothing overt, except Q’s admiring gaze on him. A regular occurrence James had noticed on and off, since they’d met.
James in turned had shared some childhood memories with Q to reciprocate, much of it he’d not thought about for years. He’d stayed away from discussing the years after his parent’s deaths, but Q’s captivation in listening to James’ life before hand, was satisfying in ways he wasn’t completely comfortable acknowledging. Q was addictive, and their time together the last few weeks had only cemented that feeling. James couldn’t get enough of his company. It made him uneasy, but he’d not been able to distance himself and if he was truly honest, he didn’t want to.
Q was giving him a soft look, a look that was more than admiring, a look that he’d noticed more and more over the past weeks. It clenched his heart in his chest to see it, Q’s green eyes beautiful in the low light, the softness of the smile on his lips as he gazed at James.
Pints were placed in front of them, but the interruption didn’t take away the adoration that washed over him from across the table.
Fiddling with the handle of his glass, afraid to break the moment, but needing to know, James asked lowly, “Q… you never said what you meant about orphans and agents the other night.”
“Hmmm.” Q took a sip, watching him carefully. “I meant what I said, I don’t think M was right about orphans making the best recruits, though you’re one of the exceptions, James. It’s all well and good to be fiercely loyal to Queen and country, and you’re the best of us all in that regard.”
“People need more than that, including you,” Q replied, his tone firm, assertive in his belief. “It’s the people that are a part of our lives, friends, family, lovers… who can keep a person from losing themselves during difficult and dangerous times.”
“They are pressure points, Q,” James refuted with a shake of his head. “People too close to an agent can be used against them. It happens… it’s happened to me.”
“That’s true, James, but even the pain of losing someone you love cannot outweigh the strength of their support in your life. Nothing is guaranteed, you can’t go around keeping your distance from people who care about you and expect to function without their strength behind you… beside you. Caring is a strength, James and it can guide you to take the right path when you need it.”
Q’s hand was hot in his on the table, and James’ experienced a fluttering in his stomach he’d not felt in more years than he could remember. It was the butterfly fluttering of attraction, the heat of love being sent his way.
“And all this?” James asked, squeezing Q’s slim fingers in return. “Mission Christmas? What’s that been all about?”
Q barked out a short giggle, “Mission Christmas? Well besides the fact I did need the help with my tree… Mission Christmas was a way for me to let you know, you’re not alone, James. You have friends, people who do care about you, and I just wanted you to know that.”
“Q…” James tried to swallow the lump in his throat, swallow down the nerves fighting for him to flee the sentiment written all over Q’s beautiful face. He had no words, except. “Thank you.”
It seemed to be enough, he thought, receiving Q’s beaming grin and tight squeeze around his fingers.
The party was in full swing, and James had to admit, between Q, Martha, Mac, and the minions it was the best party he’d ever been to. Moneypenny and Tanner were present, as well as some of the other Double-O’s and university friends of Q and Mac’s who had no idea they were partying with a bunch of spies. It was a good thing Q’s house was so large; it was fit to burst with all the revelry.
Of course, Q with Mac to assist instructed him incessantly throughout the day, having James helping out to set up with last minute errands and tasks that needed doing. Q’s cat’s had made themselves scarce once people had started to arrive, but held court on Q’s bed for those brave enough to seek them out for a cuddle.
Q was terribly handsome in a dark green pinstripe suit, the waistcoat James had given him as a Christmas Eve present clashing nicely. If the red and green of James’ paternal grandmother’s clan tartan was on it, Q really didn’t need to know how proprietary James felt with him wearing the MacAlister plaid. Of course, James had always tried to live up to the MacAlister motto, Fortiter (Boldly) in his life. The subtle claim on his person had gone completely over Q’s head, with his ‘Oh, this is so Christmassy, thank you James.’
“You’re a sneaky one, James,” Mac stated coming along side him with some sort of frou-frou mixed drink in one hand and a biscuit in the other.
Mac had one of the ugliest Christmas jumpers on that James had ever seen, it was blinding and Q had taken one look at it and had falling in love. It had tinsel, glitter, and blinking lights on it with the words, I’m not short, I’m just a tall Elf!
James raised a brow. “Well… I have to be in my line of work, as you know.”
“True.” He grinned. “But, I know my Scottish clans, MacAlister.”
James couldn’t believe it, his ears felt hot under Mac’s laughing eyes. “Going to tell, Q?”
“Oh, no… If I’m right in thinking where this is headed, James, then you’ll be telling him eventually,” Mac replied, squeezing his shoulder. “You do know that Q is one of the best people in the world, don’t you?”
James couldn’t help but agree returning the smile Q gave him from across the room. His face open with happiness focused solely on James. “He is.”
“You’ll be richer than you know, if you give in to Q’s affections,” Mac said, genuine, all amusement gone for the moment. “I hope you decide to give it a shot, James.”
James wondered, after these last weeks with Q whether he really had a choice anymore. The allure of being the focus of Q’s interest had gone from enchantment to obsession in the span of just a few short weeks. The attraction between them that James could finally acknowledged had always been there, pushing him closer to revolve around Q seemed to be a harbinger of things to come, if he allowed their closeness to continue.
Watching Q, watching him, James knew his fate had already been decided. Smiling, he patted Mac’s back and moved into the throng toward his bespectacled joy.
James was trapped by Octopus arms, soft skin, and the musk of Q in his nose when he awoke. Q was lying with his head on James’ chest, wrapped tightly around him, as if James would steal away out of his bed in the night. It was possessive and not something James was used to experiencing, but he found he didn’t mind it at all.
He was scared though, of the feelings coursing through him with Q’s warm weight in his arms. Q had been a languid pile of affection against James on the sofa after the stragglers had left. The quiet under the Christmas tree lights, their full bellies, and contentment of a party well planned and enjoyed had made neither of them energetic enough to move for quite some time.
Q had kissed him softly under the luminescence of his tree, gentle, seeking and satisfied. Confident, James was going to give into his charms. The comfort of him, fused with James’ own want of the man had sealed his fate in the early hours of Christmas morning.
Q had asked him to stay, and he’d stayed. Even the apprehension of becoming involved with someone for the first time in a long time, couldn’t overwrite James’ yearning to be with Q. He’d not fought it and followed Q’s leading hands to the bedroom for more kisses and caresses and had been poured into Q’s bed in just their pants as a barrier to more intimate touches. James had been cuddled within an inch of his life until they’d fallen asleep. There had been no purpose beyond being close, no expectation of sex to distract him from Q’s affection. There had been no need to perform other than to enjoy the feel of each other’s skin, lips and the warmth of Q’s smile.
“Stop thinking about serious things,” Q grumbled against his chest. “It’s bloody Christmas morning, James.”
James snorted, reaching down under Q’s pants to tickle his round butt cheek. “Are you always this stroppy in the mornings?”
Q stretched a bit against him, before sighing. “Only when my boyfriend is brooding first thing.”
Q raised his head, eyes sleepy resting his chin on James. “Yes, if you hadn’t cotton on we’re dating by now, 007, I worry for the state of the country.”
“That’s something you really want, isn’t it?” James asked, a bit floored at Q’s matter of fact declaration.
He received a prim eyebrow raise, before Q reached up to stroke his cheek.
“For all your faults, James, and there are plenty, you’re a good man,” Q murmured. “I want you to be my good man, if you’re willing.”
“What about the job? I might not come back in one piece in the future. Do you really want to risk dealing that?”
Sitting up, Q with his monumental bed head and porcelain skin was one of the most beautiful things James had ever seen. His hand was captured as Q replied, “Loving someone is always a risk, and even if our time together is limited, it’ll will be worth it. So, are you willing to give it a go, James?”
Patience, confidence, and hope filled Q’s face while he waited for James to decide. James knew Q would accept it, if James decided not to pursue their relationship further. They would return to a trusted friendship, though not as close as they’d become lately. James wanted that closeness, wanted to be with Q as a partner and a lover, wanted to keep him safe and close, always. James Bond wanted to love him and knew with very little time he would love Q like he’d never loved anyone in his life before.
James surged up and hugged Q tight, “Yes, I’m willing, though I’m sure I’ll be an awful partner to you.”
Q’s laugh and tight squeeze in return, set those damn butterflies fluttering in his tum again. They ratcheted up to an almost unbearable trembling when Q sat back and caressed James, taking his time to learn the planes and angles of his face. Q’s smile widened when his long fingers stroked over James’ prominent ears, giving them a teasing tug. There was devotion already in those green-hued eyes and James hoped he was worthy of it.
Q’s fingers brushed down his neck and James was a hair’s breadth away from kissing him, morning breath be damned, when Q said, “Right! Tea, then prezzies!”
Q shot off the bed and shimmied into his purple dressing gown, leaving James sitting with his mouth open watching the bedraggled mess of him hurry down the hallway.
“Is he always, this hyper in the morning?” James questioned, Arthur and Merlin who were unimpressed with their owner’s antics. They didn’t have an answer for him.
“Come on, 007!”
Laughing, Q’s excitement infectious, James heeded his lover’s call.
“He’s a right Christmas menace.”
James smoothed reverent hands down the wheel, admiring the craftsmanship under his fingertips. His Aston Martin DB5, destroyed at Skyfall, had been lovely restored by Q and included all the bells and whistles of a fully weaponized Q-Branch vehicle. It was absolutely gorgeous and James had been speechless when he saw it out the window. Q had given him the keys in a velvet jewelry box, which initially had been a cause for concern. James was uncertain if jewelry was really a good idea at this stage in their relationship.
Q, cheeky bugger that he was, had just raised an impertinent eyebrow at him as he warily accepted the box.
The door shutting brought James out of his admiration of the restored interior.
“It’s beautiful Q, thank you.”
“It did turn out quite well,” Q agreed, giving the dash a loving pat. “Ready to take it through its paces?”
“More than ready,” James said, starting the engine. Its purr was perfect, as he knew it would be. Q did nothing by half.
James just had to pull Q in for a deep kiss that sent arousal heating through him. The taste of Q, his scent, and the solid frame of him in James’ arms were as perfect as his gift had been. He pulled back admiring his work, Q was pink cheeked with swollen lips, debauched and beautiful. Even the hideous Christmas jumper James had gotten him didn’t detract from the beauty of his new lover. It’s only redeeming feature, besides its softness and the drape of it over Q’s willowy form, was that the high rolled neck of it didn’t hide the rosy love bite James had sucked into the hollow of Q’s white throat. Of course, Q was extremely satisfied with the gift; his appreciation of all things gaudy had had him hugging the nightmare to his chest like a plush toy.
“How about we take a country drive, to Surrey?” Q asked, panting a bit. “We can have Christmas dinner at mummy and daddy’s.”
“You want me to have dinner with your family? Won’t your parents mind if you bring a stranger home?”
“No, of course not.” Q shook his head at James, as if he was an idiot. “I told mummy, I might bring a friend with me and besides, daddy will appreciate having another set of cock and bollocks in the house since he’s inundated with daughters and granddaughters. My brothers-in-laws are browbeaten to the point they’re practically eunuchs.”
James barked out a laugh, pulling Q back in for a hard kiss. “Q you’re ridiculous.”
“I know, but you’re going to love me anyway.”
Stroking his fingers down Q’s cheek, admiring the man who’d made it his Christmas mission to make James Bond his.
James had to agree.
This story was written as part of the 2016 00Q Secret Santa Gift Exchange on Facebook. This work has not been beta’d, all mistakes are mine.