Ghost

Disclaimer: I don't own James Bond currently.

Summary: A single phone call can change everything and suddenly James is chasing after a ghost, a memory and possibly, his future. VesperJames –post QoS–

Author's Note: This fic has been in my mind and now that I have time to finally sit down and write...well I'm going for it. Please note in this I do reference a bit of Bond's backstory so any names you are unsure about I suggest you check out Wikipedia – it has some great links. Any advice in regards to characters and plot and so forth would be greatly appreciated. Note that this hasn't been beta'd.

Also there is a bit of Italian spoken in here but the translations are beside it so you can read it in English. Hopefully it's translated correctly.

-

The bottle of whiskey was half empty.

Or half full if you wanted to be an optimist.

James generally tried to be an optimist. It was the one thing that kept him from going off the deep end – especially these days. So what if men were trying to shoot him or that his boss was trying to murder him or if he had no family or the fact that the love of his life had betrayed him – who really gives a damn?

As an optimist he reasoned that he could just shoot back at the men, that his boss didn't really mean half the shit she said, that every single day people were losing their family because of war, disease and him, and really there are plenty of women out there – plenty. It wasn't like he was the only man who had had his heart ripped to shreds in a matter of moments.

But today, as he lay sprawled across his expensive Egyptian cotton sheets on his king-sized bed, the sound of his neighbours partying seeping through the wall in his small apartment, he was in the half empty train of thought.

He gazed at the whiskey bottle in his hand and sighed, raising the bottle into the air watching the moonlight bend within the bottle. He wanted another sip but decided that dying by alcohol poisoning really wasn't a smart idea since M would probably just bring him back to life to kill him again. With another sip he knew he'd just drain the rest and go and find some more and wouldn't stop.

He held the bottle over the edge of bed and let go. The bottle made a large thud and James had to wonder if Carpet Cleaners worked on Boxing Day. He seriously doubted it. Swearing he sat up, rubbing his temples as his head throbbed. He reached over to his bedside table, knocking over a few books as he searched for his lamp.

Switching it on he blinked rapidly as the light seemed to burn his eyes, the pounding in his head increasing.

"Fuck."

He quickly switched off the light and slumped back onto his bed. Screw the bloody carpet – screw it all to her. He rolled onto his side, closing his eyes, listening to the crappy Christmas carols his neighbours were singing.

Dicks.

It wasn't enough that every single TV Channel heavily endorsed the commercial piece of crap but did his god damn neighbours have to be so jovially about it. He almost wished Mr. Freeman was still alive – he had never been one to celebrate the holidays which suited James fine.

He didn't want to be a Grinch but when every single television network was going on about family and friends...it just got to him. He hadn't had a real family to celebrate the holiday in so long. Not after his parents – no he wasn't going to think about it, about them. Even Charmaine, his aunt, who had raised him since the 'accident' had never been a Christmassy type.

He sat up, searching in the dark room for the whiskey. He needed that god damn whiskey. His hands soon found it and swirled the liquid around, grinning. It hadn't all spilled out. He held it up to his lips and sculled it. He placed the bottle down and took in a few deep breathes. He blinked a few times and groaned.

The singing was still going on next door and he couldn't help but wonder when the fucks were all going home. He wasn't sure how he'd outlast tomorrow. He stumbled out of bed, walking blindly in the dark towards his curtains. As he reached them suddenly his phone went off, the ringing echoing in his head.

"Who freakin' calls at this hour?" he mumbled to himself. He reached his bed side table and grabbed his phone. Flipping it open he said harshly into the receiver, "Yes?"

"James?"

He froze.

That voice.

It wasn't possible.

The line went dead.

-

Outside it was freezing.

Inside it wasn't much better.

It was Christmas Eve and outside the residents were braving the cold to attend Midnight mass at the local Church. No snow fell from the heavens but an icy wind rushed through the narrow streets, and fog appeared when people breathed. It was one of the coldest winters in memory, one that could freeze your very bones.

Alisa Rosso was pulling on her old coat as she watched her 'daughter', glancing nervously at the clock. If they didn't hurry soon they may be late for Mass and Alisa had never been late in all her seventy-one years. She had told her 'daughter' to call the 'man' tomorrow but the young woman had insisted, pleading with her watery gray eyes.

Alisa couldn't say no to her. There was something about the young woman that reminded Alisa of her own deceased daughter. Maybe it was the dark long hair, or the petite features, or the simple grace, elegance and darkness that this woman carried with her – Alisa wasn't sure but it was something nonetheless. This young woman was no blood relation of Alisa's but that didn't matter. She needed protection and guidance, something that Alisa had never had the opportunity to give her own child.

A little over four months ago this woman had appeared in the depths of the night. If it hadn't been for Alisa's sore hip she would have never awoken to see the young woman stumbling through the streets wearing nothing more than a thin jacket. Without a moment's notice she had ushered the poor child into her small cafe and upstairs into her personal quarters.

The girl's ebony hair had hung loose, her face sunken, eyes hollow and devoid of emotion. She had been incredibly thin and Alisa had briefly wondered if she had risen from the death and was a demon of the night.

It soon became clear that the woman was English and spoke limited Italian, though it was enough for a basic conversation to occur. The woman claimed she was 'Stephanie Broadchest' but refused to continue. Alisa immediately knew that she was lying but decided not to press at the time seeing how fragile Stephanie was.

It took a week of solid rest and warm meals for Stephanie to start to live again. Alisa had asked if she wanted to go to an Embassy but Stephanie had flat out refused. It didn't come as a shock since when Alisa had mentioned taking her to a hospital Stephanie had reacted in a similar fashion.

Alisa had wondered if she was on the run from the law but when asked Stephanie had shook her head and said in a hushed voice, "They'll find me if I go there or he will," and then had started to cry as she stared out the top-story window and across the street.

They could have been many things. She believed it wasn't the police and knew it was something much worse. The image of demons and Satan himself had burned into her mind as she looked at the poor child and immediately she had hurried off to discuss her fears with her local priest. He would know if Stephanie was at risk from such fiends.

Father Marco went to meet Stephanie and after a lengthy discussion he had assured Alisa that this was a test from God, that it was clearly Alisa's duty to give the girl guidance and save her from the fiery reaches of Hell. He said to continue to pray and treat her as her own.

Alisa had taken the job to heart and dedicated all her free time in the last four months to helping Stephanie and in turn Stephanie had helped around the flat and the cafe. They rarely spoke, a simple silence between them as they worked.

As the time passed though it became clear that Alisa wasn't only looking after Stephanie. She could still remember the furious conversation when the two women had realised. It was horribly like the time Alisa's own daughter had shown up except this time Alisa had held in her slight disgust. Clearly this is what had been haunting Stephanie and now more than ever Alisa knew she had to support her.

"Di chi e`?" she had asked, gesturing to Stephanie's stomach. Stephanie sat on the couch, staring blankly at her feet, back hunched over. – "Whose is it?"

"Suo," she had said, "E` suo," – "His. Its his"

She had looked up Alisa, tears brimming from her eyes.

"Volevamo andare via a vela," she had said, "Mi amava. Mi amava. E ho rotto il suo cuore," - "We were going to sail, going to run away. He loved me. He loved me. And I broke his heart,"

After that it began to make sense. Alisa saw that Stephanie was running from a powerful man, a charmer, a killer, whom she had betrayed in some way. She asked no more, and life went on as usual. Every night she prayed for Stephanie's soul, for the unborn babe's soul, and that this demon, this man, never found them.

Her prayers must have been answered because they lived in peace.

Until tonight at least, when Stephanie had decided to call him on a whim. Alisa was fearful, wondering how this man would react, but she understood. He did have a right to know, and the child had a right to have a father.

She had watched as Stephanie had slowly entered the number. Her own stomach felt like a knot had been tied and she could only wonder how the young woman was feeling. She heard a harsh voice come from the other line and watched as Stephanie had said, "James?"

And hung up.

Now Stephanie just sat there. Alisa wasn't sure what to say so she decided to get ready for Mass. She always preferred to be doing something rather than nothing. It made more sense. She pulled on her winter things and watched the young woman for a moment.

"Tempo di andare a messa?" asked Stephanie in a hollow voice. – "Time for Mass?"

"Si,"

"Prendo il mio capotto." – "I'll grab my coat."

-

James stood there, the phone still against his ear, in complete and utter shock.

That voice – the voice of an angel, of a devil, the voice of his former lover. He knew it was her even though she had only said his name. It was her, it had to be. He wasn't sure how it was possible – she had died. She was dead. But that voice clearly meant she wasn't. No, Vesper Lynd was alive.

He closed his eyes, and ran his mind over Venice, images racing through his mind –

He could see her as she struggled for air.

He was shaking her coffin, her cage that was sinking into the Venetian waterway, ready to join god only knows what. He grabbed at the bars shaking them, tugging, willing them to open. He had to get them open. He had too. He had to save her – no he was going to save her. Not saving her wasn't an option and it was never going to become one.

Vesper!

He was going to save her.

Ves-PER!

His lungs were screaming for air, the desire to leave the doors and swim to the top was becoming more paramount as he roared her name losing precious air as he did. He twisted and kicked, trying to loosen them up, trying to push them apart. His vision began to cloud, his head bursting with pain.

A brief glance up saw metres of water above him and one solid stream of light. His body began to lift as it commanded him to go to the surface and breathe. He shook his head, looked back at her and got back to work.

His heart was racing, his whole body in a state not far from death. He felt a rush of emotions, his gut clenching as she watched him, those eyes, those hands, begging for him to come. He had to get her out. This wasn't going to end like this.

VESPER!

This was far from over.

He roared her name again, and again. His hands grappled at the elevator door and with screaming muscles he gave one last tug, one last push, his eyes only briefly leaving her. As he pulled his shoulder blades pulled together, his muscles tensing, a small gap began to form in the cage.

VES-per!

He reached forward, but that sudden movement and suddenly the desire to breathe overpowered everything else. He needed oxygen, he needed air, he was going to get – NO! He looked back at Vesper who seemed to still be holding on and took a tentative swim towards her.

His lungs screamed, begged for air and he couldn't fight it anymore. His body began to float upwards, his mind numbing. He felt his vision cloud, and he shut his eyes tight and started to kick. He opened them and cried her name as the cage went further away.

He couldn't hold on, the pressure, it was all too much, he was –

Clenching his teeth, his body rose to the surface, and as he neared it he gave one last kick. His head burst out of the water and he instantly sucked in air, his chest heaving, his mind still feeling muddled and dizzy.

He gripped onto the sunken building and stole a few quick breaths before diving back down, praying that somehow she was still there, waiting for him, and very much alive.

As he dived down though he never saw the dark-haired head that burst to the surface, didn't hear her gasp for air, or see her swim to the canal edge and stagger to her feet, He saw none of this and as he dived he could no longer see the elevator.

With a heavy heart he went back to the light, to air, and to the surface.

-And he realised that he had never actually seen her corpse. He had spent the last five months telling himself that she was dead – she should be dead. She couldn't be alive – but the phone call, that God damn phone call!

His eyes snapped open.

"Christ!" he swore, breaking from his stance and discarding the mobile. He glared at it, hating it for ruining his clear outlook on the future, for bringing back the past.

James called back the number, praying she picked up but got no answer.

He massaged his temples and bit his lip. Vesper was alive...so he had to find her. He could trace the call from Mi6 HQ and then hightail to wherever the hell she was. Yep, he'd do that and then – then what? Fuck this was complicated.

James staggered over to his wardrobe to grab some clothes for the trip but with each step the pounding in his head that had been paramount before returned. He sighed. Whatever he was going to do would have to wait until tomorrow.

He went back to his bed and sunk onto it, stretching out. His eyes closed, and eventually the sound of his neighbours began to fade...

...James awoke in a curled up ball to the sound of beeping. Beep, beep, beep – every minute or so. He knew he had to get up – but to do what? He groaned as the beeping continued, willing it to stop. He just wanted to sleep, wanted to rest.

Beep, beep, beep!

Phones, why did it always have to be a call or a text or something to interrupt his rest – Vesper!

He cursed. He started to open his eyes, grateful that his curtains blocked out the outside light. He sat up slowly, breathing in deeply. He ran his tongue around his mouth and gagged. Damn his mouth tasted disgusting...

Note to self – avoid drinking yourself to death on Christmas Eve.

His head was still hurting but he ignored the temptation to lie back down. He grabbed his phone and grimaced. It was a quarter past eight. How long had he slept? Bout nine hours or so and he still felt like crap.

Beep, beep, beep!

He looked through the messages – of which there were four; one from Alec Trevelyan wishing Merry Christmas, another simular one from Tanner, same message again from an old school mate, and one from the woman who lived in the apartment above asking if he wanted to come over and celebrate New Year's Eve with her.

He deleted them all and headed straight to the shower. The water was freezing when he turned it on but he greeted it. He washed himself, and quickly turned off the water, his head feeling considerably clearer. He brushed his teeth and shaved.

He stared at the mirror, taking in the black tiling behind him, the crisp white bathtub that he seldom used, the towel racks and his own face. He looked almost the same as he had before he had been promoted as a double-O and yet he could see a new weariness that had appeared. He looked more like Alec, and the other double-O's in a strange sense.

He left his bathroom and quickly changed into a fresh polo shirt and jeans. He packed a rough overnight bag, heading back into the bathroom to grab his toiletries as well as get his passport which lay hidden behind his mirror.

He also grabbed an aspirin and then headed into his kitchen. The moment he left his bedroom the light engulfed him. He rubbed his eyes and opened them slightly. He went to his fridge, grabbed some fruit, poured himself a glass of water and then left his apartment.

It was a quick drive to Mi6 headquarters which masqueraded itself as Universal Exports and once his security clearance was checked he headed straight in. The building was almost silent as he went in, with only a few employees still working away to keep Britain safe.

His heart was racing slightly as he wandered the halls, occasionally stopping to talk to a co-worker. He couldn't care less about the holiday greetings – he just wanted to get up to his office and think. He reached the elevator and shot in, shutting the doors with a slight smirk as he saw someone racing to catch it.

He reached his floor and headed off to the Double-O section. Entering an unmarked white door, he came to into the large reception area. The room was painted a rich golden colour and had deep red carpet with two old couches beside a fake pot plant to the right, his sectary's rather modern desk, filing cabinets and computer to his left, a corridor which led to the offices straight ahead and various paintings and wall ornaments hanging on the wall. It looked disgusting in James' opinion, a mismatch of styles and textures and yet it showed so much change. This hadn't always been the Double-O section – it had once been the Red Indian section before the current head of Mi6 had taken over eleven years ago. The room held a sense of legacy and power.

James walked briskly to his office and went inside, dumping his bag on the ground. He hadn't properly used his office since being promoted. It felt empty, disconnected – he almost wished he still had his old slightly smaller office down below instead of the larger Double-O office. Since he had gotten back from Russia M had given him a month off, assigning other agents to track down Quantum as well as dealing with the mess he had caused. Her words were "finish the bloody paperwork at home Bond, and then stay there,"

James started up his laptop, leaning back in his chair and looking at his phone. He stomach felt like it was knotted. A strong part of him wanted it to really be here, but another part didn't want it. He could easily just walk away...but he couldn't. He had to know for sure.

He logged into the network and began to search.

-

Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed that and that it made sense and all...