"You're sentimental about him..."
The words reverberated around the room. Time stopped. He froze.
Bond heard Tanners typing falter and M's sharp intake of breath.
One heartbeat passed. Two. Three.
Time started again. Mallory left. M gave him is assignment and he left to meet his new Quartermaster.
As he sat in one of the rooms of the National Gallery waiting for Q, he thought about what Mallory had said.
He had no idea when his relationship with M had changed. Somehow over the years they'd gone from mutual dislike to mutual respect to...friends?
He certainly respected her...not enough to stop breaking into her house, that was always fun just to see her face when she came home to find him lounging on her sofa wearing his best dutiful agent look.
He supposed it was a mark of the change in their relationship that she had stopped telling him she was going to have him shot if he did it again despite the fact that she would still bollock him six ways from Sunday if she felt like it.
Like the fact that when he returned from missions, lying in the medical quarters of MI6 bruised, bloodied, shot or half out of his mind with fever after catching infections from crawling through all kinds of unimaginable shit in the name of Queen and Country. In the drug induced haziness that followed his treatments, he knew she'd been there. He could smell the subtle fragrance of her perfume in the room, and more than once had felt her hand touch against his forehead or brush against his hand as she left.
They never mentioned it or discussed it but a meeting of eyes and discreet nod during a debrief was all that needed to be said.
"You're sentimental about him"
Whether Mallory was right or wrong was irrelevant. He was sentimental about her too.