Warnings: minor spoilers for Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Author´s note: this is a little piece which popped into my head after watching Quantum of Solace; it is set during the last scene in which M says she wants Bond back. A teensy bit altered for the story´s purposes.

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Fathom

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There had been countless times in which M had paused for a personal inventory, countless moments stretched to eternities in which she had taken an inner snapshot of the man in front of her, memorizing his stance and composure, but most importantly, his eyes.

People like Moneypenny often said Bond´s eyes were unreadable, too guarded, too blue- even the most murderous gazes simply bounced off them.

Yet M always knew what was going on in his mind after only one mere glance at his face.

She was aware that Bond simultaneously loved and hated her for that, for she was the only person to look beyond his facade, the only one whose opinion he really cared about and for exactly that reason. It was not only because she was his superior, but also because he trusted her- if he did not, he wouldn´t stay to endure the scrutiny with which she eyed him every time they met.

Even when he had been hurting, when his defiances had been down and he had been at one of the lowest points of his life, torn and shaken to the core, had he not shied back from their encounter when he had not been prepared to meet anyone else.

He was looking better now as he was standing in the darkness, his snow-illuminated face less haggard, the bags under his eyes less pronounced, and his expression was familiarly poised again, not giving away anything; M however did not let herself be fooled by that.

This evening was the end of something which had been haunting him, and his eyes told M that he would not be able to shake off the ghosts so soon; despite everything he might have said about the deceased woman did he still have her in his heart.

Vesper. Love, ghost. Beacon. A lifeline to hold on to, something to help him with facing tomorrow. He was still at the bottom of the hole he had fallen into, but he was seeking to get out of it now, instead of dwelling among the dregs.

.

The stillness that inhered in the moment was carrying their mood: a mutual relief and increasing calmness, almost and incredibly bordering on serenity. M did not register the cold or the moisture where the snowflakes melted on her skin; she was taking inventory of Bond, her latest snapshot, and he let her, quietly accepting it.

For some reason, she was certain that this one would stay with her forever, his dark silhouette against the fair snow, calm and broad-shouldered, vividly burned into her retinas: the expression on his face before he turned away, leaving M and the whole sad affair behind, emphasized by the necklace thrown into the snow.

It was all right, M told herself, feeling strangely upset by an unfamiliar sense of loss until he turned back for a moment, replying that he had never left.

No snapshot during that fleeting moment, she realized once he had gone. There was only the memory of her surprise, followed by instant inner reprimanding of herself because it was Bond, after all, meaning it was simply easier not to be surprised about his antics anymore, and her slow exhaling.

Though she was almost certain that he had smiled.

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The End

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