The woman stood alone by the gravesite.
"You knew the Major?"
The woman turned. Bloody hell. Dark hair, blue eyes, voice with just a hint of an Irish lilt, gorgeous.
"Ah ..." She turned back to the stone. "Yes. My grandfather."
The man in the bespoke Italian suit placed a single rose on the gravesite. "My condolences."
"You knew him?"
The man chuckled. "Oh yes. Although there were times when he wished he didn't know me."
"I tended not to bring his work back in one piece."
"You ..." She looked around, furtively. "... Universal Exports?"
"That's one name we use."
"Oh. Right. Is there ... um, is it safe to talk?"
The man looked around. "Well, I doubt there's any surveillance or spies or satellites around to monitor the grave of the greatest engineer MI-6 has ever had the pleasure of employing, so go ahead."
One of granddad's workplace colleagues was gorgeous, and it was two years after that little divorce. "Mum said he was a genius. I don't know if that's just Mum being ..."
"Your Mum was right. Several times over."
Christ, he was laying on the charm. Not to mention something seemed familiar about him. Was he at granddad's retirement party?
"He didn't talk much about his work ... I suppose, Official Secrets and that..."
"Very official secret."
"I went there once, to his workshop, or laboratory when I was little, I was about six, or seven ..."
The man stopped. Turned.
"You were wearing that little blue dress with the red frills, weren't you? Black shoes, and your hair in pigtails?"
The woman stopped. "Wh ... yes ..."
The man smiled.
"Sally, we've met. Still hiding under desks?"
"I don't ..."
"It's me. James Bond."
The little girl looked up at the man, who was kneeling down to her eye level. Light sandy hair, blue eyes, pleasant smile. Wearing a suit.
"And what have we here?"
The little girl shushed him with a terribly earnest expression. "I'm hiding."
"So I see."
"I'm playing hide and seek with granddad."
The man got down, and shuffled himself under the desk with the girl. "I heard something like that. Does granddad, in fact, know you're playing hide and seek?"
The little girl hid a grin behind her hand. "I'm hiding."
"Ah." The man looked around. "I must say, it's a good hiding spot. Not just because Miss Honeywell does her typing here."
The girl suddenly realised something. "What's your name?"
"Are you going to tell me your name?"
"I said first!"
"Okay. It's Bond. James Bond."
The girl and the man looked up at the indignant face of her grandfather.
"I have been looking all over for you!"
"And I found her, Q. Just getting acquainted with your charming family."
Q took the hand of his granddaughter and helped her out of the recess while Bond extricated himself.
"Please do not wander off Sally! Please stay with granddad while you're here!" Q stood up, and pointed a warding finger in Bond's face. "And keep your 'charm' away from members of my family, you hear?"
"Looks like the charm skips the occasional generation."
Q took an exasperated breath, and took Sally away.
She turned, and the nice man waved goodbye as she left.
"... and you're still as charming as ever."
The woman who was once a little girl under a desk stepped back from the man.
Despite her rational self telling her this was a wind up, the emotional self was telling her there was no way this younger man would know or even bother to learn the minor details of that encounter for any reason, that some of his very mannerisms seemed so familiar ...
Sally Boothroyd turned, and walked briskly to the carpark.
James Bond stood alone at the grave.
The drive to Chelsea was performed, on automatic, in silence. Even though there was evidence of minor changes during his absence as he drove down King Street, Bond barely registered the details, the traffic, this world.
Bond pulled the Aston Martin into the reserved space in the block of flat's underground car park, and followed his usual routine of walking up the stairs into his flat of forty-one years. Redone before Korea in minimalist, modern lines, but the only ascetic Bond felt like appreciating right now was that of the wet bar.
Three measures of Boodles Gin. One of Stolichnaya, the old dependable. Half an ounce of Lillet Blanc, and just enough quinine powder to recreate the flavour of Kina Lillet. After a short, violent shaking over ice, Bond trained the mixture into the pre-chilled martini glass. He was just cutting the lemon peel when he heard it.
The noise was raucous, echoing throughout the area. Bond crossed the room to the window overlooking the flat's courtyard.
Despite the fact he knew who and what that sound heralded, it was still surprising to see a Police Box parked outside the front door.
It wasn't normal for him to open his door without a convenient sidearm nearby, but Bond doubted his visitor's tendency to engage in assassinations or abductions. Although he wished he had enough time to nip of to a local hardware store and buy a pair of earmuffs.
Bond opened the door and regarded his old acquaintance's new appearance. Bit shorter than him, long brown hair, pale blue eyes. Victorian era clothing.
"James." He peered around Bond. "Was I interrupting ...?"
"No, no. Come in."
Bond led his visitor into the sitting area, directed him to a seat, then handed him the martini he'd just poured.
"Just tea will..."
Bond shoved the martini glass into the Doctor's hand. "All out of teabags."
While Bond went back behind the bar and prepared another one - with enough for what he suspected would be several necessary refills - for himself, the Doctor held the martini with the expertise of someone who'd never held a glass in his life. "So, Doctor ... how are you?"
"Oh, fine, fine. I like how you've redecorated the place."
"Any trouble with the landlord?"
"Considering I own the building? Not really."
"Never saw you as a property owner."
Bond started shaking. "A while back, a very nasty fellow mentioned that I do my work for a hearty 'well done' and a pittance of a pension. It occurred to me that I might need a more sizable source of income, so making a few inquiries ..." Bond poured himself his drink. "... stock patterns, advance notice of government contracts, and so forth, I bought this block under a front company."
"Didn't your employers ..."
"Some suspect real estate speculation is far preferable to a suitcase full of embarrassing documents being traded for greasy banknotes. What about you? Still travelling?"
"I don't 'freelance'. I ..."
"Well, I can't imagine the Time Lords ever formally stating 'we gave the renegade Doctor a three year slap on the wrist and in return we let him travel and interfere to his heart's content as long as he does the odd job for us', so you must be freelancing."
The Doctor looked down at the martini glass in his hands. "I recall asking you if you wanted to come with me."
Bond regarded his glass before taking a swig. "I was a little preoccupied at the time."
"Her name was Tracey, wasn't it?"
Bond carefully set his glass down.
"No, not your fault." Bond refilled his glass before leaving the surrounding wet bar and taking a chair across from the Doctor.
"Truth be told ... by the time you said you could travel again ... I started liking it here."
"I was a little suspicious."
Bond leaned a little closer. "Did you know, I haven't considered myself anything else than 'human' for ..."
"There ... there was some business that went wrong recently, in Korea. I ... I was captured."
"I had to rediscover suspension. Maintain a healing trance with only one heart."
"Got it back though. Drove them up the wall when in the next morning, what they did to me was healed up without a scar to show for it. Their expressions almost made the experience entirely worth it."
The Doctor frowned. "I thought ... wasn't that ... double-zero thing...?"
"It used to." Bond settled back in his chair. "The Double-Ohs. Not so much spies, but troubleshooters for Her Majesty's Government. Go in and succeed where entire networks and armies had failed. Those two zeros meant that you were special; trained enough, skilled enough, valued enough so that you could take any measures, perform any act imaginable and beyond and if you were banged up, the ambassador himself would waltz down to your cell and let you out within the hour, with a Bollinger chilling in the back of the limousine."
"Economics. Political as well as financial. Nobody wants to expend the capital or trade favours for an operative anymore ... doesn't matter what he's done, what he's given up in service ..." Bond looked up, and shot a thin smile at the Doctor. "... the 'Licence to Kill' is now just another tier on the Black-Ops ladder."
"They change, you know."
"I know. The thing is ..." Bond shrugged. "... I've just begun to notice."
"I found that if you move, you can match them. Their change."
"So that's your secret." Bond nodded. "I don't know if I can do that. I ... I do things, missions, assignments ... but in the end, I like a six star hotel, a decent supply of good caviar and a large expense account. The perks along with the service. From what I've heard ... your lifestyle could be described as student hostel. At best."
"You learn a lot in a hostel."
"And the important people who I tend to run into before I run them over enjoy the same lifestyle. Tell me you've met a single minister of defence connected to a nation-damaging conspiracy chatting up a Swedish backpacker outside a shower block."
"Actually, in Amsterdam ..."
"Actually, I've never known you to just stop by, and chat. About anything."
The Doctor was quiet.
"Defies the entire 'keep moving' philosophy of yours." Bond leaned forward. "Is checking up on me part of your freelancing arrangement?"
"It's not freelancing anymore James."
"All renegade Time Lords are being summoned to Gallifrey. Immediately."
"Finally bumping us off instead of chucking us out?"
"Putting us to work, James."
"... what ...?"
"Drax is redesigning and rebuilding war machines not used since Rassilon."
Bond, finding his mouth suddenly and inexplicably dry, undertook the medical procedure of slamming back his martini in one shot.
"The Monk is recruiting and equipping other races with Time Lord weaponry."
Bond emptied his shaker into his glass and into his mouth.
"The Rani is increasing the lethality of a virus created by an android race."
Bond snatched the untouched martini out of the Doctor's hands, and drained it.
"And they've Resurrected the War chief, who's advising the reactivated Legions of Rassion on tactics and strategies."
Bond finally managed to articulate sufficiently. "They ... someone has ... and used the favours needed for a resurrection on that arse?"
The Doctor's expression was frozen. "A blanket provision on Resurrection Procedures has been passed."
Bond got up, trying to sort out the methods, the rationale, the reasoning behind the events.
"What the hell could scare them like that?"
The Doctor looked up at Bond.
"Oh ..." Bond rubbed his face.
"They've withdrawn every unit from time itself. They're preparing for an offensive."
"How advanced is ... this current Empire?"
"They have Davros. As far as we can tell, the Emperor's made him an offer." The Doctor reached into a pocket, and produced a piece of parchment. "Then there's this."
Bond studied it. It took a few seconds to relearn the language, but the implications were evident.
"... has there ever been ... a fixed point on that scale ...?"
"It's more than a fixed point, it's a Time Lock."
Bond shoved the paper back to the Doctor, making a beeline straight for the wet bar.
"James, please. Every renegade is being summoned."
"Every renegade is being asked to enter what will be the biggest war of all time without any hope of escape, for a society that threw them out for the crime of telling them where to go and how far to shove it." Bond stopped fixing his drink. "You're the one who fights the Daleks. With the backing of the High Council, you'll finish this before Saturday teatime."
"They've spent a lot of time building up their forces in secret so I couldn't notice and stop them like before."
"What, are you giving up?"
Bond lowered his shaker to the bench. "Don't."
"There won't be an England, an Earth, an anything if the Daleks are strong enough to fight the Time Lords face to face."
Bond took up the shaker, and began slowly shaking it. "What are you authorised to offer me?"
"Are you accepting?"
"Make it worth my while."
"You've been effectively pardoned. All of us."
"Who says I want it?"
"Returned back to Gallifrey."
"So I can go back to a place where I didn't want to be, and that place might not be around for much longer. Try again."
"A full Restoration. Your old physiology restored."
Bond stopped, poured. "Renewed life cycle?"
Bond took up his vodka martini, sipped, and smiled. "Now we're talking."
It took very little time to wrap up his affairs.
In fact, it took longer to carry the crates to the Police Box.
"I don't see why ..."
"Doctor, I sincerely doubt they stock Bollinger on Gallifrey. Or Beluga, Stolichnaya, Lillet Blanc ... any of the necessities."
As the Doctor set the crate down to fish out his key, James Bond placed his hand on the side of the Police Box - the TARDIS - and closed his eyes.
For the first time in eighty-one years, other senses came to life.
James Bond looked back at his flats, just before he entered the doorway.
Just to preserve the memory.