Bond slumped down in what was rapidly becoming his chair in Q's office. Q didn't bat an eyelid, continuing to run system checks on some of the new equipment in development. Being used to being ignored, Bond reached for Q's Scrabble mug, slowly pulling it further and further away from Q. Still not batting an eyelid, Q's hand reached out and pulled the mug back towards him, letting out a quiet, indignant sigh.

"What do you want, Bond?"

"I've been put on temporary leave."

"Why?"

Bond shrugged, slouching back in his chair. "No idea. M summoned me, told me I'm not allowed to do anything and that I have some kind of interview and test with a higher up. If I pass, I'm back on active duty."

Q snorted, his hands still flying over the keys. "Who'd you piss off this time?"

"For once, no one. The last three missions have gone well, wouldn't you say?"

"I suppose."

"And I come back, file my report and hide out at yours until i'm wanted again. So unless you made a complaint?"

"Of course not. Even if you do have a tendency to empty my fridge."

James let out a bored sigh, pulling himself out of the chair and going to stand behind Q, Q continuing to ignore him. Bond let out another sigh, draping his arms around the quartermaster's neck.

"I know we're maintaining a professional relationship whilst on duty, but you could at least pretend I exist."

Q smiled. "I'm sorry, double-oh, but these checks need to be done, unless you want your next batch of equipment to blow up in your pocket."

Bond smirked, leaning down to put his face level with Q's. "I'm sure you'd feel the loss more."

"It might actually press me to find a younger, more virile partner."

Bond chuckled, pressing a quick kiss to Q's cheek. "But with age comes definition."

"And bad backs."

"Never once have I passed on sex because I have a bad back."

Q looked up, smirking. "Yet."


Bond spent his down-time lounging around Q's flat, not allowed to step foot in headquarters until his interview, with nothing but Q's fat, lazy cat to keep him company. During his reflection period, he built the tallest sandwich he'd never thought was possible, read through Q's collection Neil Gaiman novels, and planned a siege upon the Granada building to eliminate every guest of the Jeremy Kyle Show.

When Q returned home at night — with bags of shopping, knowing Bond would have eaten everything already — he was subjected to his lover's angry rants about working class people having too much casual sex and how being on leave was the most mind-numbingly boring thing to ever happen to him.

The next day, Bond was woken to his phone vibrating on the bedside table next to him. He blindly grabbed at it, expecting it to be Q with a little insight to what he was creating in Q branch. Instead was the message: "A car will arrive to pick you up in 30 minutes. Tie optional."from an unknown number. He quickly forwarded the number to Q and took a shower.

Whilst he was drying off, his phone vibrated, this time a text from Q. "Number does not exist. Take a gun."

Thirty minutes since the first text, Bond went to wait outside, his Walther hidden from plain sight. A black car rolled up onto the curb, the back door opening and a woman climbing out, tapping away at her phone.

"Agent Bond? Get in."

Bond eyed the woman suspiciously. "Or else?"

"We're here to take you to your interview. If you want to work for MI-6 again, you'll get in. And by all means, bring your gun if it makes you feel safer."

Not taking his eyes off her, Bond climbed into the car. The woman didn't seem the type for small talk, or answering questions, so Bond said nothing, staring out of the window, mentally tracking his journey. He knew Q had a GPS tracker on him at all times, so he could activate it in case of an emergency; he just hoped it wouldn't come to that.

The car drove all through the city, finally coming to a stop outside a generic-looking office building.

"Fourth floor, the room directly opposite the elevator doors," the woman said, not looking up from her phone. Rolling his eyes, Bond climbed out, marching into the building. There were men dotted around, watching him intently as he walked through the building but never saying a word. Once he stepped off the elevator he was stopped and searched, his gun and phone being taken from him.

"You'll be allowed them back after," the man said, motioning to the door opposite. He quickly knocked, pushing it open when the command was given from inside. Bond was shoved in first, the man following behind. The room was very nondescript; a wooden chair, a desk, and a larger desk chair. Behind the desk was a man, casually looking out of the window, a delicate cup and saucer in his hands. The man walked up to the desk and placed the phone and gun down before marching back out.

"Please, do have a seat," the other man smiled, gently placing his cup and saucer down. Bond began analysing the man as he sat; a smart, tailored, pinstripe suit, three-piece. His hair was short, and he had a solemn look on his face but a slight twinkle in his eye.

"Who do I have the pleasure of talking to?" Bond asked, straightening out his cuffs.

"My name isn't of importance." The other man opened a drawer from the desk, pulling out a file. Bond noticed his name on the top. Shooting Bond a quick smirk, the man sat, opening the file. "James Bond. Agent Double-Oh-Seven. You've been in the secret service for many years now, gone through many colleagues too, I assume. The newest, I come to understand, is a Felix Holmes — you'd know him as Q-"

"Felix?!"

The man ignored Bond's outburst, reaching out for the gun in front of him. "He made you this gun, I believe. Walther PPK, designed to only arm itself when only you are holding it. Clever boy. Your first assignment with him was the… Skyfall incident, yes?"

Bond nodded curtly.

"And since then you've worked together a many number of times."

"Eight. Officially."

"Yes, I did hear. Tell me, how many missions does 'Q' assist you with unofficially?"

"…Nearly all."

"Out of… personal preference?"

Bond shrugged. "I suppose?"

"Now M has told me all about you. Your weaknesses, your strengths, your tendency to disobey orders and ignore the rules… Now, is one of those rules… Do not have inter-office affairs?"

Bond's eyes widened slightly, his fists clenching in his lap. "What is this about?"

"Oh don't worry, I'm not having you or 'Q' fired, your business is your own, I merely enquire… How long?"

"…Two months."

"And you live with him, do you not?"

"I uh… spend the majority of my time at his place of residence, yes."

The man smirked, picking up his cup again. "What's the name of his cat?"

"…Mayhew. What has this-"

"Is he allergic to anything?"

Bond quirked an eyebrow — this was easily the strangest interview he'd ever had. "Q or the cat?"

"Q, of course."

"He has a mild allergy to eggs, and copper. The cat is allergic to exercise."

The man chuckled, taking a quick sip of his tea. The interview continued, the man asking Bond a litany of questions about his and Q's personal life, being increasingly amused by Bond's answers. Eventually, the man rose from his seat, buttoning up his suit jacket as he moved around the desk. Bond rose from his chair too, taking the man's outstretched hand.

"Very good, James, very good. I approve. You can go back to work first thing tomorrow."

Bond eyed the man suspiciously. "What was this about?"

"Just a quick background check. You passed. You may be on your way, the car will take you back home."

"Wait… Who are you?"

The man grinned, holding out his hand again. "Mycroft Holmes. Lovely to meet you, I do hope Felix brings you home for Christmas, Mummy would so love to meet you."

Bond dumbly shook the man's hand, watching him walk out of the room before grabbing his phone and gun from the table and diving into the elevator. He unlocked his phone and sent a quick text to Q.

"You need to come home, we've got some talking to do about my interview… Felix."

A few moments later his phone buzzed. "It was Mycroft, wasn't it."