It happened quite quickly, really. Given the highly accelerated pace that such incidents tended to follow, generally, she shouldn't have been surprised, and yet she was. The mission had been planned as fact-finding, information gathering - good old-fashioned spying. She always disliked a military audience in the situation room, and Admiral Roebuck had personified all the reasons why. When the brass was involved it almost always happened like this, someone always too ready to lead with their dick; and she with no dick - both literally and figuratively in this situation - had to follow. This once though they had been able to prove that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and quieter ways too.

Roebuck's order to get Bond out stung, and she hid her true feelings behind feigned indignation at being given orders inside her own agency. Hid them because what leapt to the surface was akin to hurt pride, a terrible, foolish and sudden urge to stand up for her man inside; and it was not professional pride. The instant the emotion was recognized she stamped down hard on it. For an instant her attention was pulled sharply from her troubling interior monologue, by the recognition of Soviet nuclear torpedoes, plain as day, on the fighter in the center of the screen. She swallowed a lump in her throat, then barked at the staff to evacuate, sparing a glance to the reddening Admiral. When she ordered her coms man to get Bond out, she imagined everyone saw through to the rising fear for his life and quickly turned back to the screens. In the slow seconds before things began to happen in earnest, she tried out the notion that the tension-induced adrenalin surge these situations were wont to engender was to blame for these unwise and unwelcome thoughts. It did not fit entirely comfortably. But then… oh then it began.

Bond came into view, his abandoned camera showing him running into the wide angle scene it framed. For an instant she saw the set of his jaw, the eyes determined, and then he was away, out in the fray. Her entire mind was arrested by the vision of him, dropping to the ground and rolling to his feet, sweeping the legs of the man guarding the plane, climbing astride him to deliver a fierce, disabling blow. She watched the action unfold in a daze, lips loose, breath shallow. She had seen agents training, she had seen them in controlled if dangerous situations, but this was something else entirely. He was virulent, brutal, unapologetic. She tried to equate this fierce killer with the besuited womanizer who sat in her office and gave her sarcasm and backchat, and discovered a delicious creature. Swallowing against the dryness, she tried vainly to pull her attention from the lithe onslaught of his physical performance on her rapt mind. The gunshots and explosions sounded like pecks and ticks from the viewscreen, and she knew the reality to be a thousand times more riotous, and still he drove onwards to his goal. Then he was in the plane, seconds later taxiing to the only clear space of runway, seconds after that a fireball and nothing. The sudden vacuum of input was almost as startling as the previous buzzing assault on her senses.

In the dark moments that followed, the feral attack she had just witnessed replayed itself in glorious violence in her mind. It excited her. She tried to calm the brightness she imagined in her gaze, relax the expression of complete captivation on her features, before she turned to Robinson to demand information. Into the silence that her failed words created, Bond's voice came over the loudspeaker, cocky and self-assured as ever. Alive. Only M noticed the undertones of fear and weariness in his voice, perhaps the girlish antics her heart was performing lending her extra insight. For a moment she felt a little shake at the knees, a little flutter at the chest, and briefly allowed herself to enjoy the fantasy. Slowly the sounds of the room came back to her ears, the foggy intoxication lifted from her mind, as she drove the thoughts deep and far away into their proper place. M turned and saw Moneypenny just inside the door looking pale and drawn, and offered the girl a small smile; she understood.