A/N: My old laptop died, and I'm waiting to get the files transferred from my old hard drive to the new laptop (which my husband, a.k.a. my own personal Q, will be taking care of shortly). Therefore, while I'm waiting to get my Everlasting Winter files back, have a short 00Q drabble.
"It's all right, James. I've got you."
I nearly snort because of the cliché. But the funny thing is, it's true. The last few weeks are suddenly a blur. I can't feel the twelve stitches in my side, holding together a jagged wound from a dull knife, or the myriad of dark bruises blossoming across my skin. I don't think of the three people who died under my watch because I had to make a choice: leave them to die, or lose the man who would kill thousands in a Brazilian city. I forget the constant pounding in my head, the ache in my feet, the exhaustion of what I have chosen to do with my life. With him, I feel like a caterpillar in a cocoon—safe, and comfortable, and growing. I have been just as much of a predator over the years, roaming hungrily from lover to lover, as I have been a savior; this man makes me want to crawl less and fly more.
I don't know how Q ever found out my real name. Being the head of Q branch, he's able to take apart an encrypted network like I can take apart my gun, but our real names are never put on our files. M is the only one who has that sort of information. But, somehow, he found out that "007" wasn't on my birth certificate, and he began to address me by my real name.
At first, I wanted to slap the cheeky bastard. I still hated him at that point, was still unused to a fresh-faced thirty-something taking the place of a Q who reminded me of a grandfather I never had. But, over time, the way my name fell from his lips changed: from snarky, to softly, to a throaty whisper as he hit my bed.
I'll never know what possessed me to bring him home. It wasn't for a new experience; I'd had a few men in my bed before, though I gravitated mostly toward the slender bodies of women. Maybe that was it. Q seemed so damn fragile, like he'd break if I touched him the wrong way. And, God help me, I wanted to learn how to touch him the right way. I wanted to see what those sharp eyes looked like when I took his glasses off. I wanted to know if his fingers moved as quickly in the bedroom as they did at his computer keyboard. I wanted to replace his smug little retorts with pleas.
It began as a sexual conquest. But he held me so closely after our first time together that I knew it was going to be something more. We started seeing each other regularly. I'd find his cardigans lying around my flat. He'd bring forgotten cufflinks to work and tuck them in my locker. He learned how to fix the perfect martini, and I figured out how to cook a flawless shepherd's pie—Q's favorite. All this time, even though he was calling me by my first name, I never asked for his; I was dangerously close to falling in love. Too close. Using his designation was my last-ditch effort at keeping this casual. Sometimes, I would lie awake at night, my arm around him, and remember Vesper. Logic told me that a man in my position couldn't afford to love. But then Q would shift and make a soft noise and logic didn't seem so important.
And then I went to Brazil.
Three weeks I spent in the darkness of a filthy cellar in Rio de Janeiro, acting as a punching bag for a pissed-off would-be revolutionary. He called it torture, but he had no concept of the word, no sense of methodology. He just wanted to hurt me, and pain I could stand. I'd had a broken bone or six before. Hell, I'd been dead. This was nothing.
But MI6 didn't know that. Q didn't know that. And when he busted down the door to the dark hole in which I was being kept, I knew right then that logic didn't stand a chance.
I didn't bother asking him how he did it; I knew that, behind the wiry frame wrapped in an unassuming polo shirt and slacks, Q had a talent for more than just computers. He'd been in the Royal Air Force; he knew a thing or two about taking out an enemy. And I certainly didn't bother asking why. I already knew the answer, and I wasn't quite ready to hear it. So I let him drive me in silence to a secured hotel.
And here we are, together, our usual positions reversed; I'm lying on his chest this time, and he's got his arms around me. His heartbeat is steady. "I've got you, James," he says again.
"What's your real name?" The question has left my lips before I can stop it.
He smiles, as if he knows exactly why I'm asking, and bends to whisper it in my ear.
"It suits you," I tell him.
We both know there's a lot going unsaid, but we know each other well enough by now to know why. He realizes I'm no bloody good at sentiment, and I know he's too shy to initiate this type of conversation.
So I put my hand on his chest, and he softly traces his fingers across my back, and our touches say what we can't bring ourselves to articulate.
I love you.