A/N: I have done the unthinkable, and ventured away from my first fandom. But Skyfall was an incredible movie and I was hugely inspired by the chemistry between Bond and the new Q (Ben Whishaw) who is one of my favourite actors. PLEASE NOTE: There are spoilers here for Skyfall, so if you don't want to see then go and watch it and come back later! Alternatively, if you've seen it or don't mind, please read on, I hope you enjoy it! This isn't intended as slash, by the way.
Though neither of them would ever admit it, they're good together.
In fact, they're better than good, they're the best that MI6 has ever seen. The new Quartermaster is nothing less than a genius, and Bond is, as always, nothing less than the perfect operative.
They continue in their working relationship in much the same way as generations of 00s and Qs have carried out theirs-steady respect and reluctant acceptance of the necessity of each other, veiled thinly by sniping banter and the traditional mutual contempt. But here, now, with James Bond as 007 and the chaotic Cambridge graduate whose name no one knows as Q, a sort of intense intimacy springs up between the two, the kind you only get between people who face the risk of destruction together on a daily basis. Since the Skyfall incident, they had worked as one formidable unit. Q's unrivalled mind and Bond's outstanding skills in the field complement each other fiercely well. And though they claim to have nothing but disdain for each other, each time 007 steps into the field, he is placing his life into Q's slender, nimble hands, and Q is the only one who is with him every step of the way, nestled in the microphone in his ear, barking orders he knows Bond won't follow, listening to him breathe or talk or cry out in pain. It is a mark of monumental trust when Bond, of all people, allows someone-in this case, a scrawny, owlish tech whiz-to hear him in the rare moments when he is weak. M, among others, thinks that Bond trusts Q not to tell anyone, but it's more than that. He trusts him not to pity him, and for 007 that is always one of the most important things.
James Bond had, in his extensive career, built up a genuine affection for very few of the people in his life. The last M had reminded him of precisely why that was, and not long after her death, he resolved never to attach himself emotionally again.
In retrospect, he ought to have realised that it was the sort of resolution he could never hold himself to.
It must have begun in the art gallery, sitting in front of a painting of a big ship, talking about pyjamas, of all things, and it only grew in the following months of briefs, debriefs, snappy conversations over the microphone, wry banter, private treatment sessions with Q tutting infuriatingly over his injuries because he refused to put himself in the hands of the 'white coats', sly weapons handovers in cafes, museums and still more galleries, the resigned sighs when he returned Q's battered and broken inventions with a cheerful grin. Somehow, somewhere along the line, they became friends.
Which is why James is less than pleased to hear one day that in the next operation, M will be sending Q into the field. It's to do with the computers, he says, in some kind of missile launch programme. Q's already tried everything from MI6 and said himself that there was no way of hacking into it to stop them unless he was actually in front of the damn thing, and to James' unexpected horror, that is where M has decided to put him.
Q goes bone white and says nothing, but James explodes into arguments. He's never seen anyone less suited to fieldwork. Q is young and gangly and smart-mouthed and his hair looks like a riot of crow feathers and he wears winged glasses and cardigans. He's never even fired one of his own weapons. He would be a liability. He would endanger other agents, himself, the success of the mission. And maybe, just a tiny bit, the last person James wants to see in the firing line is Q. Maybe the thought of his life-blood trickling through James' fingers as M's had done makes him feels a little bit sick.
But M won't be swayed, because national security is, as always, at risk, and the best and the worst thing is that he puts 007 in charge of getting Q inside safely.
It all goes suspiciously smoothly. The mission runs like clockwork, but feels wrong to James because it's not Q muttering in his ear but some nameless techie, and Q is creeping alongside him looking even paler than usual and deeply ill at ease with the gun tucked into the waistband of his trousers, black shadows ringing his eyes and standing starkly against his white skin under his sharp cheekbones.
Then all of a sudden they're in. It's a dank, underground hideout, somewhere in the sewers, with far too many easy ambush places for James to relax. Q starts his craft, tapping away ceaselessly by the computer as James stands at his back, glaring around, daring someone to attack them even though there's no one there.
There's a slosh, a clatter, from down one of the tunnels. The constant tapping stops, and James is instantly on alert, his muscles tensing for a fight. He glances quickly at Q for a nod of permission, and as he resumes typing James slinks down the tunnel. He makes a confused, uncertain chase, following reflections, fleeting shadows, whispers.
Until the moment he hears a shout and gun fire, but not in the direction he is going.
James spits an expletive and then charges back the way he came. Stupid. Stupid. A diversion, obviously. It's the oldest trick in the book. Stupid. He should have known.
He never should have left Q alone.
When he arrives back in the room with the computers, there's two dead men wallowing in pools of their own blood, but neither of them is Q. James can hardly believe his eyes, because Q is standing solidly in front of the computer, his typing now more of a stutter than the smooth flow of information it had been before, but typing nevertheless. It seems hardly possible that inexperienced Q has calmly killed two men and then continued with the task at hand.
He strides over and clasps Q's shoulder, knowing how hard first kills can be. But Q's face is ashen, and he does not return James' slight smile, but instead stares grimly at the floor, and then turns back to his typing, his hand darting over the keys.
Just the one.
Q is not typing with both hands.
James is flooded with apprehension, his gaze flashing to Q's stomach. It is there that his other hand is pressed into a red mess of shirt and blood. Before James can get a word out, Q gives a soft groan and sways alarmingly. He begins to sink almost gracefully to the floor, as though through water, but James is there in an instant. This is all too familiar a situation to him. He quickly draws Q back into his chest, propping him up and wrapping an arm around him tightly so that he can clasp Q's hand over his stomach, the long, delicate fingers already slippery and red with blood. He pushes hard onto the wound, determined to try and stem the flow of blood with pressure, and guilt stabs him unexpectedly when Q gasps in agony and his head flops limply onto James' shoulder.
"Breathe, Q," he tells him curtly, because he's never comfortable doing things like this, but he'll do it anyway for Q's sake. "Just breathe."
He does, sharp and shaky.
"The codes," Q gasps throatily. "Ja-James, we have to f-finish the codes."
He's right, of course. Q is rarely wrong. They were sent here on a mission and they cannot abandon it, not while Q still lives and his mind still holds the key to decrypting the launch codes. James grits his teeth, because he can feel something damp and warm against his own stomach and knows that the bullet must have left a hole in Q's back as well as his front, but he hasn't got the spare hands to stem the blood flow from the back too so he makes do with clasping him even tighter and pressing the back wound against his own tense muscles.
With some effort, Q raises his head again from James' shoulder, and regards the waiting screen hazily.
"Five," he whispers hoarsely. "Seven, A, one, S, B..."
James reaches for the keyboard and begins typing as quickly as he can with one hand, the other still pressed against Q's stomach, supporting him with one arm. Thus they continue, Q murmuring strings of numbers and information that James obediently relays into the computer. He drifts away into pain induced absentness from time to time, and James prompts him with a quiet word or the gentlest possible jostle. Q's not thinking quite straight, the numbers aren't coming to him with the ridiculous ease that he had previously approached such things with, and he trips and hesitates. James can tell that it frightens him, maybe even more than the bullet wound, that he can't effortlessly glide through the codes as he had been doing before.
"Focus, Q," he mutters soothingly. "Nearly there. You're a bloody genius."
He laughs weakly, but it sounds like it hurts. "Bloody...is right."
It is right. His face is whiter than the clean parts of his shirt. He is sagging more heavily against James by the moment, his speech getting more broken, his concentration more fragmented. James knows that he will not last long. If he is honest, he thinks that Q must have survived until now on willpower alone, because wrapped in James' arm he feels so terribly fragile, little more than a bony, trembling scarecrow. A breath of wind could knock him down.
The second they are finished and the missiles irreversibly prevented from being fired, Q gives out. He goes completely limp, and James goes down with him. Noticing that Q has passed out, he scours his mind for his medical training, but there isn't much he can do in a sewer tunnel. The dead men's shirts suffice as ragged bandages. It's pathetic, but it's all they have. There is still so much blood, and if it were his own it wouldn't have bothered him in the slightest. They always knew that one day one of them would die. Both of them worked in the business of death, but it was always distant for Q. They had known and indeed accepted, without saying it, that maybe one day even Q's brain and James' body might not be enough. But they had also assumed that James would be the one to go, because that was just what he did. Neither ever thought that it would be Q, in a sewer, with the mission successfully completed.
James suddenly decides, in a burst of violent resolution, that it will not be Q. He will not let the scene that played out with M repeat itself. People he cares for have a habit of dying in his arms, but Q never has been one to stick to convention. His breathing is shallow and uneven and he already looks like a corpse, but his pulse still pushes doggedly on.
He hooks one arm under Q's knees and another around his back and with a grunt he hoists Q into his arms. Q flops like a rag doll, his head dropping back so that all James can see is the white stretch of his throat. He takes a moment to steady them both, then picks a promising-looking direction and strides off in it with purpose.
Maybe one day, both of them will die. But it will not be today.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed it. I'd really appreciate a review on my first Bond fic, if you're inclined!