Disclaimer: I don't own it. Vague spoilers for both the Craig films.


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"Put your hands behind your head, you sick blond bastard. Put your hands behind your head and give me three good reasons I shouldn't blow your brains all over the bloody wall."

The feel of a revolver is much like the feel of a woman; ever cool until that one tempestuous moment of violent explosion. Then again he's never been on the receiving end of a revolver (he smirks into his hazy future; he has been on the receiving end of a woman) and he has no desire to be so any time soon. Which leads to the problem at hand. Behind head. All the same.

"I said put your hands behind your head." Explosive personality. British. Probably a Mancunian. Lunatic northerners. He pauses, reverts to the previous metaphor. Is it odd that he's comparing gunfire – execution – to sex? He really needs to think about that next time he beds a random beauty. "Give me three good reasons – and put your hands behind your effing head!"

"Reason one." Silky syllables seep south-bound (southerner-bound, succinctly), an aggravating atypical attribution of alliteration. He stops to enjoy his own clever narration. "You're a very kind gentleman with a heart of gold."

"Wrong answer, mate!"

And the brat has the cheek to jab him in the neck with the revolver. Probably unloaded, too. Scared kid. "I see. Reason two. I am a vampire and unless that bullet is loaded with garlic it won't do a thing to hurt me."

"So you're a smart guy," comes the growl. "Keep talking. See how long that mouth of yours keeps moving."

"Reason three."

There's a commotion somewhere on the street below the balcony (northwest) and his assailant lifts the gun for a brief moment but it's not enough of a window and there the revolver is again, pressed to his neck.

"Scared?"

"Shut up, you tan piece of shit."

"Tan? Is that your gun or are you just happy to see me?"

"I swear to God –"

"Reason three," Bond says. "A good one. I promise."

A reason to be alive. A good one, to boot. The world wouldn't be much different if he dropped off the face of the earth. Probably a lower death total, but Langley would more than make up for that. Not that he'd ever tell Felix his views on that matter.

She died for you.

It doesn't even affect him any more, thinking about it. Or it does but he's admitting it now and for some reason that's mitigated the dull ache that sucks his windpipe into his abdomen. Or maybe that's appendicitis. Wonderful. He'll have to hide the appendectomy from M or she'll have him out of service for another month. Wench of a replacement mother, that one.

What is a reason? What is the purpose of the brute existent, the incarnation of grief and rage that has swirled into a resolute sense of justice and lack of emotional justification? Can justice survive without a moral belief system? What's another dead body in another third world hole? Secret agents aren't known for flashy funerals.

He can taste his aggressor's perspiration in the air. Disgusting.

Kill and kill and kill and never dull the pain. Have mercy and dull it so much that nothing seems real. It's been such a long time dying. A long lonely time more oppressing than the Russian winter and more engulfing than an explosion of the world's largest oil reserve (not that he had anything to do with that – officially).

We have men everywhere. Am I right?

There is still some vague sense of vengeance left. Some vague enemy left to be killed (or, to satiate M, brought in for questioning). Live for your enemy, live for the next kill, not because you know it's right, but because it's the only thing left to live for. There's nothing worth dying for any more so he just needs to live to see the next coconspirator take a bullet to the chest, another one to add to the running tally. "Put it on my tab, Quantum," he should say.

Rail against the shadowy enigma of an enemy. Rail against the shadow because anything more definite is too real to ease his pain. Anything more human makes him feel like he's just another government-sponsored murderer. They're not men, women – they're the fingertips of a much more sinister, otherworldly puppeteer. They aren't human, they're the prey, the ones he can look in the eye and say, "You are the quarry," and that's all they are, dangerous fowls someone let loose in Her Majesty's garden.

Speaking of dangerous fowls.

"Reason three." The metal presses harder against his neck. Time to slap the child's hand away from the cookie jar. "You're scared and have no idea what you're doing. And you're holding that gun the wrong way. Here, let me show you."

Duck left, right hand above, knock the gun up. Disregard the shot dispersed into the opaque horizon of a British night; kick behind, grab the revolver, spin for the camera and make it pretty. Shoot him in his left leg and right arm and cue the theme song.

But three barres in, right before the opening credits begin to roll, the door to his hotel room opens and M breaks his exploration of the fourth wall. No loss there. It's rather childish to act as if you're a movie hero, anyway.

"I see you had a visitor."

"Oh damn you, you southern blond bastard…"

"We had a quarrel," he replies. "Don't worry, I sorted him out."

"With bullets to the extremities. I see."

"At least it's not the head."

"Yes." M's bodyguard follows her in. Am I right? White's face disappears and M gives Bond a look, knowing what he's thinking. "I'm sure you'll be changing residence now that I've come to visit you."

"No loss. I change regularly. But what's the reason for the visit?"

"I was visiting one of the P.M.'s advisors and came to give you a personal briefing." And see how you're doing. "There's been an incident."

"I see."

"It wouldn't kill you to get a permanent home, you know."

"It might," he says, looking at the bodyguard.

"Hotel rooms aren't a home."

"I don't like being tied down." He reaches out. "File."

Reluctantly she surrenders. "Take the lighter, too. You're going to need to burn that."

He grins inwardly as he reads his next assignment. An interesting, complex problem well suited for a man of his unusual talents. Another strange villain to attack, corrupt, pulverize. Something to satisfy his lust for destruction, that desire to see everything else as bare and lean as he is.

A brief respite in a long time dying.

"I hope you know I'm going to need a car to the airport."

M hints at knowing amusement. "We have one ready. Your favorite."

The papers burn into ash and the hunt begins.

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