Title: Love in Codes
Characters: 007, Q, DI Lestrade, Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock Holmes, John Watson
Summary: 'Orphans make the best recruits.' This may be true for field agents, but perhaps not for quartermasters. A series of related drabbles depicting Q's relationship with his brothers and men who were important to them Holmeses.
A/N: I blame the writer of 'Assemble' (link at tumblr here: post/35087595049/assemble-a-crazy-crossover). Now it's my headcanon that Q is Sherlock's and Mycroft's little brother. There have been many takes on Q's name, but only Quentin and Percy (from Perseus, "hunter who penetrate the hedge", rather apt for a hacker) stuck with me. Quentin means 'fifth' (I'm not making up two OCs brothers) and I believe the coincidence of Q having a real name that starts with 'Q' is a bit too good to be true. So Percy it is!
Un'beta-ed and not Brit-picked, I'm sorry.
Perseus 'Percy' Holmes is the youngest of three brothers but he was not the most spoiled.
(Most of the time he feels like he's the middle child.)
It has become apparent since Percy was merely one year old that Sherlock was always, always going to attract more attention than Percy. At five years old, the boy was a terror in his home, collecting absolutely anything that caught his interests, from dead animal carcasses found in the expansive gardens of the Holmes' ancestral grounds to 'treasures' the 'pirate' had 'looted' when the servants were not watching. Percy had come to accept that the nanny was always going to attend to Sherlock's screams over his cries.
(Percy was never a fussy baby, anyways. He found simple comfort in Mycroft's arms, whenever the twelve-year-old awkward almost teenager, pale and chubby with too much freckles over his cheeks, hid from pitying, judging looks from relatives at the garden parties. Percy's love for his eldest brother began when he snuggled against Mycroft's warmth and slept his care away as his brother read him fairytales in soothing rounded vowels and precise consonants.)
"Is anyone sitting here?"
Gregory Lestrade looked up from the heavenly cup of coffee he was nursing. He observed the bespectacled thin stranger across the table, dressed like an old man in neat checkered navy trousers and dark brown cardigan. His mop of messy dark hair was the only part of his appearance that belayed his youth. The Detective Inspector returned his polite smile. "It's not occupied."
"Thanks," the stranger replied. He sat down with his cuppa and plate of antipasto and gestured at the rest of the café. "There isn't any other place…" he had a sheepish expression on his face.
"It's fine," Greg returned quickly. He really didn't mind the company. In fact, he'd always preferred not having meals alone. His job and lifestyle hadn't made it possible most of the time, so he ordered takeaways instead . "The lunch hours are always horrible," he continued in a lighthearted tone, clearly initiating conversations.
The stranger's thin lips widened. "Do you often eat here?"
"Bought the sandwiches and baguettes to eat in my office nearby," Greg cocked his head towards the refrigerated display, "They do a mean smoked ham here."
"Really," the stranger added a dash of milk to his tea – earl grey, from the scent of it. He glared at the purple plastic stirrer with disdain with a flicker of his eyes so fast Greg wouldn't have caught it if he wasn't used to seeing that expression. "I shall try them sometimes."
On whose face do I often see that? Greg blinked and frowned inwardly. "Did you recently get a job in the area?" the older man with the salt and pepper hair leaned forward, "or are you not from around here?"
"It's the latter," the stranger answered ruefully, "I work a couple of Tube stations away. I'm rather sick of having the same lunch offering for over two years, so I'm venturing out a bit today."
They exchanged names (Jeremy. Jeremy McKenzie, tech support at PricewaterhouseCoopers Embankment Place . Greg should have guessed, from his geeky look and the conventional way he dressed) and had pleasant conversations about anything under the sky, from soccer to their jobs ('You're a detective from NSY,' Jeremy repeated in awe, but Greg waved him off. 'Most of the time it's as boring as your job in PwC. The paper works, they're so dreadful!'). The easy chatter would have gone on a lot longer if Greg wasn't interrupted by a phone call from Donovan.
"Homicide at West Kensington, Beaumont Avenue" her voice was clipped. "Male in his forties, suspected connection with the murder on last Tuesday," distress started creeping in her tone. "This is more complicated than we thought, isn't it?" she sounded resigned.
Greg shot his sergeant a sympathetic smile from miles away. "I'll be there ASAP."
"Emergency calls?" Jeremy asked as he speared a cherry tomato with his fork.
Greg nodded, his lips curling in apology. "It's been great talking to you."
Jeremy cocked his head, letting a lock of dark hair fall to almond-shaped eyes. "I'll see you around?" he invited.
Greg refrained from checking the other man out. For one, Jeremy was too young (not that it wasn't appealing; such things tend to be fun in the short run but leads nowhere, something Greg didn't enjoy anymore, at this age), and well, Greg was still recovering from his divorce. Rebound sex would be unfair to Jeremy. "Perhaps," he ended up saying, before he left.
Sherlock and John were already at the crime scene the moment Greg reached West Kensington, the good doctor hovering about and smiling apologetically at some of the police officers while Sherlock flitted about with that tiny magnifying glass of his, firing deductions after deductions and generally making a nuisance of himself.
"John," Greg greeted the stout man who'd come to be his close friend. "Sherlock. Anything so far?"
"Five ideas," the genius quipped absentmindedly, his attention still on the gruesomely murdered corpse. "It'll be solved in three days, at most-" as Greg came closer to his personal space, the consulting detective froze and turned his attention on him instead, grey-blue eyes searching, scrutinizing.
Greg fought the urge to squirm. "What?"
"Did you meet…Q?" Sherlock frowned.
"Q?" Greg echoed. "Is that supposed to be a name?"
"A Geoffrey, then?" Sherlock's eye twitched.
"No," Greg was baffled. He shot John a look over Sherlock's shoulder. The doctor stared back blankly before he looked at his flatmate concernedly.
"Never mind," Sherlock remarked, his face still filled with…is that puzzlement? 'What is he calling himself these days,' Greg heard him murmur as he returned his attention back to the case. Soon enough, the trio forgot about the strange string of questions as they were chasing the suspect halfway across the city.
Greg only found out what that was about in months.
Q may have inherited most of his physical attributes from Mummy Holmes, like Sherlock (the irresistible messy dark curls, the exquisite facial bone structures, the lean long limbs and the inability to gain weight) but his personality (along with his thin wide lips and the slight beak of his nose) is closer to Mycroft's.
He prefers to be the all-knowing man behind the screens, eyes watching CCTV feeds and GPS signals (007's, Sherlock's, John's, Lestrade's) moving across maps of London he'd memorized by heart, fingers dancing over the keyboard a mile a minute. He prefers to be the voice in 007's ear, offering him guidance (sometimes not followed) and information that more often than not saved the agent's life in near-death situations. He prefers to be the overbearing (younger) brother who typed strings of codes that directed taxis toward 221B whenever Sherlock needed them and kept traffic lights green a couple of seconds longer for him. He has neither the energy not the interests to run after murderous psychopaths.
Like Mycroft, Q is a well-versed guardian angel-cum-dictator.
(Snark is something the three of them shared, though.)
Bond blinked at the long-haired brunette sitting across Moneypenny's desk, her eyes glued to the Blackberry in her hands. "Anthea," he returned the greeting. He was sure it wasn't her real name, but that was the name she'd given him long ago, when he was still foolish enough to believe that he could make her choose him over her electronic device, for at least 30 minutes.
The brunette returned to ignoring him. The agent threw a smile at Moneypenny. "Another time, then?"
"No, actually," Moneypenny smiled at him, no less sharp than the woman opposite to her, but subtler. Both "Anthea" and Moneypenny had the efficiency and dedication required for personal assistants of great men, and the promise of one day ever replacing those great men themselves.
"I see," Bond barely managed to prevent himself from blinking again. He wondered what he could have possibly done to warrant a visit from Mycroft Holmes. Meeting the 'Director' was akin to meeting the Queen after all.
"As soon as you're ready," Moneypenny teased. Bond tossed her a smirk before he turned the knob to M's office.
M looked up from the papers he was reading when the agent entered. "007," it was the other man in the room who greeted him however.
Bond eyed the tall auburn-haired man who rose to his feet and smiled at him genially with caution. The man offered the agent a hand, his other hand still on that damn black umbrella (Bond was convinced it was a weapon of some kind). It wasn't his first time meeting the 'Director'. A couple of years ago they'd been in the same ballroom once, somewhere deep in the mountainous terrains of Switzerland. Holmes was there for a negotiation, while Bond was there for back-up, in case anything went pear-shaped. He'd been thoroughly redundant.
"Holmes," he shook the proffered hand.
"None of that," Holmes responded to the questions in his mind and his smile widened. If that was meant to ease Bond, he was sorely mistaken, because those grey-blue eyes were the most impenetrable eyes Bond had ever come across. Even more impenetrable than Silva's. "I'm here to ask you a favour today."
"How may I help you?" Bond could not help the incredulity that had escaped through his voice. Mycroft Holmes and his people could settle cases such as the Bruce-Partington Plans and that near-miss scandal involving Irene Adler after all. It was hard to imagine him requiring some sort of assistance from MI6. Usually, MI6 needed a favour from him, not the other way round.
M unearthed a manila folder from the papers on his desk and passed it to Bond. "We need your answer now."
Bond flipped through the brief, his eyes scanning through the texts. He froze when he encountered 'suspected association with Quantum and Mr White.'
He knew both of them were watching him. It was a test. Why M, and Holmes, would participate in this, Bond did not understand. Did M not believe that he was over Vesper Lynd? And why would Holmes have any interests in this?
"I choose to accept," he answered regardless, his voice even.
"Very well," M gave him a curt nod, while Holmes beamed at him. Holmes was often known for his love for theatrics, though always strictly outside serious business. "I'm ready for departure. Shall we proceed to the Q branch now?" The Director sounded excited. Bond thought it strange but didn't delve into it.
The boy's response, as they arrived there, was not the adorable annoyance and snark he'd often reacted to James with, but widened eyes and a gaping mouth. "What are you doing here?" his attention wasn't even on Bond, but on Holmes. Bond felt strangely slighted that Q was not looking at him when he was supposed to prep him for a mission.
"Checking up on you," Holmes replied silkily, his voice filled with so much fondness. Only then, Bond was aware that he should have felt alarmed that Holmes and Q knew each other, perhaps intimately, instead of the itch of irritation for being ignored. "I was only doing what you've done before."
Bond found that he couldn't get his eyes off the blush that spread high on Q's pale cheeks.
"Supplies, please?" Holmes broke through the trance, and James fought the impulse to duck his head. What on earth was wrong with him?
Q held a black casing towards the agent, those eyes behind the black-rimmed glasses finally on him. He showed him how to use the equipments (still no exploding pen) before he shoved the box to him. "Please return them in tact this time," the boy glared.
Bond fell back into the routine comfortably as he smirked. "We'll see."
"Those seem awfully convenient," Holmes, however, had to ruin the moment. "I remember that you're good with your hands…Q" he paused as though he was going to refer to the quartermaster with another name, and patted his damned brolly as he smiled at Q, and Bond took a sharp breath inwardly . "Is there any chance I can have those equipments as well?"
The embarrassment on Q's face turned sharply to concern, the lines around his eyes pulled taut. "You're…going for this operation?" it was obvious that Q cared so much for Holmes.
Holmes responded with a soft smile, his hand reaching out to caress the boy's hair before slipping down to his jaw. Q closed his eyes as he let Holmes drop a kiss on his cheek, despite the watching eyes of his interns and the rest of the staff in Q-branch. "I'll stay safe. I'll keep my promise this time," Holmes whispered.
Q merely reacted with a sad smile before he proceeded to record Holmes' palm print.
(If Bond were less distracted he would have realized that Mycroft Holmes wasn't the sort of man who would forget about details such as calling the boy with a letter. That there was something fishy in the encounter. That the curve of Q's nose and the curl of Q's lips held close resemblance to Holmes'.
But he was too thoroughly distracted.)
The day Percy decided to trade his name for a letter, Mycroft beamed at him with so much pride in his eyes, and Sherlock looked at him with exaggerated disgust.
But later, much later, when Q received a mug with the Scrabble font of 'Q10' emblazoned on the porcelain, he knew the gift wasn't from Mycroft.
Greg turned around and found someone vaguely familiar waving at him. The detective inspector moved closer and remembered the brown cardigan and black-rimmed glasses from a couple of weeks ago. "Jeremy!" he grinned and sat down across the younger man. "Didn't expect to meet you here!" he placed his coffee and sandwich on the table.
"Me neither," Jeremy was lying through his teeth, but both of them acknowledged it was a harmless lie. "How's the job?"
"Still completely lacking in work-life balance," Greg replied chirpily. "Sadly criminals don't rest during the holidays. Quite the opposite, really," he winked. It was a warning, actually. 'If you're still interested, you have to be prepared for this,' was the intended message. "How about you?"
"Glad to be finally out of audit peak season," Jeremy either didn't notice, or he was ignoring the message. "I'm not directly involved in audit, God bless me, but auditors get so cranky and pushy about me fixing their access to ACL during the peak season ."
They fell back into the easy banter, with Greg looking out for hints of flirting. After about ten minutes, a small silence descended upon them, before Jeremy put down his cup of tea (still earl grey) and cleared his throat. "May I ask you a question?"
'Here it is,' Greg squared himself. "Sure."
Jeremy bit his lower lip (God, that was distracting, Greg thought, and it's a familiar sight come to think of it…), clearly hesitating, before he went with it. "My boyfriend's birthday is coming soon but I have no idea what to get him. We've only recently started dating. He's in defense, like you, with unshakeable faith to his country and often in the line of danger. I wonder if you have any suggestions…?"
Greg blinked twice, a little disappointed but mostly relieved. He wasn't sure he wanted to date someone likely two decades younger after all. "Let me see…what does he do in his free time?"
They talked about Jeremy's boyfriend for a while, which ended with Greg recommending the younger man to cook for the guy and cuddle in front of the telly because the boyfriend sounded like the type who needed and would appreciate simple affection (orphan, likely an alcoholic from the descriptions. Greg shook his head).
"Thanks for the suggestion," Jeremy smiled gratefully, "how about you? Any special someone?" as he talked his eyes flitted to Greg's ring finger, checking that the skin was bare.
Greg chuckled. "I don't have the time," he shook his head, "and no one would want to be with an old guy like me," he let a little self-deprecation through.
"Nonsense, Greg, you're a silver fox," Jeremy said with conviction and no flirtation whatsoever. The boyfriend must be real and not a reference to him, Greg mused. "You must have someone you're interested in. Someone in NSY?" his expression turned curious.
"I don't date with anyone I work with," Greg stated, and ignored the quick flicker in Jeremy's eyes which indicated that the younger guy might be dating a co-worker (which conflicted with his stories, but Greg didn't want to look too deeply into them).
"Absolutely no one at all?" Jeremy repeated, almost in disappointment.
"Who's your type, then?" Jeremy was insistent. "Men? Women? Brunette? Ginger? Tall?"
Greg laughed. "Why do you care so much?"
Jeremy blushed and ducked his head in embarrassment. "I just think it's good for you who have someone who could be there with you and care for you. Since you care for others so much."
Greg stared at his lunch companion sharply. "How do you know?"
Jeremy rolled his eyes. "You're a policeman. Of course you care so much about others." This was the first time the nerdy nice guy sounded sarcastic. For a moment, he reminded Greg of Sherlock.
May be that's why Greg ended up opening up to him (not that Greg opened up to Sherlock, but he trusted the consulting detective with his life). "Men and women both. I…tend to be weak in the knees for people who look proper (ex-wife was – still is – a teacher after all, Greg thought absently). I'd like someone reliable, someone who takes things seriously, someone who…also cares about others. And someone who won't mind the hectic hours of my job, of course," Greg ended the rather mellow, wistful statement in a cheerful tone before he could depress himself, before Jeremy took pity on him.
There wasn't an ounce of pity on the bespectacled tech staff's face, though. Jeremy just looked at him straight on the eyes, his expression serious. "Are you sure there is no one like that around you, detective inspector?" he spoke softly.
Greg was lost for words.
Both Mycroft and Percy are a little in love with Sherlock.
Oh, who is he kidding.
1. I have a friend like that, who prefers to eat at her desk or in her dorm room if she's not having lunch/dinner with a friend. Eating out is cheaper for an individual than cooking in Singapore.
2. Jeremy McKenzie, tech support from PwC is borrowed from "breathe it like you mean it" at AO3 by skylights. Jeremy is a fictitious story to be released in Q's obituary or the life Q has to admit he's living if he's captured by enemies. In her fic Jeremy works in PwC at South London (presumably Gatwick), but NSY HQ at Broadway London is too far from Gatwick, so I made it PwC Embankment Place instead.
3. It is a head-canon of mine that if the umbrella is some sort of a weapon, it's a present from Q to Mycroft.
4. You guess that right…I'm going to be an auditor by profession in nine months.