Notes: Written for bridgekeeper on tumblr. The title is from We Have Not Long To Love by Tennessee Williams. I'm still accepting prompts on my tumblr, so feel free to drop them off there if you like – I'll put up a link in my profile.
Title: the tender things (are those we fold away)
Fandom: Skyfall
Pairing: James Bond/Q
Rating: pg13
Prompt: Q has to accompany Bond to a different country, write the plane journey (commercial flight).
Words: 1907 words

the tender things (are those we fold away)

Q could hear his blood rushing loudly in his ears and he could feel the wild fluttering of his heart in his chest. His breathing was shallow and coming too fast. The world was blurring at the corners of his vision, which was getting spotty. If he didn't calm himself soon, he'd pass out.

They hadn't taken off yet, simply taxiing down the runway. Every bump made his stomach clench and churn. Q was sure he was going to be sick.

This was why he hated flying. Being crammed into a tiny metal cylinder with nowhere to go and thousands of miles up was terrifying. There were too many variables, too many things that could go wrong. It wouldn't take much to send them plummeting to their deaths.

So many variables and equations were running through his head. He couldn't stop.

He was shaking violently, hands grasping the arm rests so tightly that his knuckles had turned bone white. Now he was vision was starting to fade in and out, his lungs were burning. There wasn't enough oxygen.

The woman across the aisle was glaring at him. But no matter what he told himself, he couldn't get his breathing to calm and even out, he couldn't get his riotous heartbeat under control. And that made it worse.

He wanted to scream but his voice was trapped in his throat. Trapped. There was no way out. He was going to die in this metal coffin. It was too much, he –

A large warm hand settled over his. Q nearly jerked away in panic, eyes darting around wildly, meeting Bond's and holding. He couldn't look away.

There was something unreadable in Bond's eyes. For several seconds where Q didn't think, his heart raced faster as his breathing became almost a high whine. His stomach plummeted and the panic intensified.

He couldn't – couldn't appear weak. He needed Bond to respect him, to be able to trust him and know that he could count on him in the field. Weakness was exactly that and would not be tolerated. He was fast becoming a liability, one that Bond couldn't afford to have.

He shouldn't have come; he should've insisted that someone else go instead of him. He should have insisted on another manner of travel, one that he knew he could handle. He should have, but he hadn't. This was his fault. He was an idiot.

Bond was still staring at him, but before he could say anything, one of the flight attendants was at his side and talking to him. Q had to struggle to make out the words. It was just so hard to concentrate...

"I'm sorry, sir, but I'm going to need you to calm down," she said. She sounded almost bored. Q hated her. If he could 'calm down' then he would have done that already!

The look Bond gave her could have killed if it was possible. His voice was quiet and cold as he spoke, "I'll take care of it."

The flight attendant jerked back, "I-I'm sorry, but he needs to calm down for the plane to take off."

Bond continued to glare but said nothing. His hand tightened over Q's and Q focused on that. Bond's hand was large and warm, slightly callused from years in the field. But, more importantly, Q wasn't alone.

He wasn't aware of the flight attendant leaving, but he was aware of Bond shifting in his seat and becoming the sole object of his attention. That wasn't usually a good thing. His heart rate ratcheted up and his breathing was taking on a high noise of panic. If the other passengers hadn't been staring before, they were now.

Bond's free hand came up, surprisingly gentle as it cupped the back of Q's head. He leaned forward, pulling Q towards him and pressing his forehead to Q's. Against his skin, Bond's felt like a fire. This close... he couldn't look away from Bond's eyes.

There was something that Q couldn't identify in those cold blue eyes. It might have been concern, but it was gone in an instant. But those eyes gave him something to focus on, to ground him in the same way that Bond's hands were. Everything else he tried to block out.

"I'm here." The words were soft, but filled with a strength and conviction that only James Bond could manage. "I'm here with you."

Against his lips, Q could fee Bond's steady, even breathing. He focused on that, trying to match his ow to its rhythm. He was still afraid, but the chill of his fear was gradually fading away to be replaced by the warmth that Bind offered. It was almost funny.

"That's it," Bond was still talking to him and Q had never heard his voice sound like that. "Just breathe."

He gulped in air, trying to get his breathing to match Bond's. His heart was still racing wildly and fluttering in his chest. The panic that was building in his chest was slowly dulling, becoming less frantic and overwhelming.

As the minutes ticked by, his breathing slowly evened out. That feeling of light-headedness receded, leaving Q feeling a little more clear-headed than he'd felt before he'd boarded the plane. Slowly, the sound of his blood rushing in his ears began to quiet as his heart began to calm itself.

Q felt the blood rush to his cheeks when he realized just how close he and Bond were. If either of them moved just a little, their lips would be touching.

He wasn't sentimental... maybe a little attached ,but – oh, yes he was attracted to Bond. It was just his luck. But so long as he could keep that carefully locked away and hidden, then no one would ever know – especiallyBond.

With the waves of panic receding, Q could feel the exhaustion slowly spreading through him. His eyes drooped even as he tried to keep himself awake, though he knew it was useless. It was just his luck that he was going to pass out; Bond was never going to let him live this down.

Even as his consciousness left him, Q was certain that he heard Bond say, "It's alright. Rest."

He passed out.

– – –

Q shot awake, heart hammering in his chest and breathing coming a little too quickly. He didn't recognize where he was, but it certainly wasn't a plane. Probably a hotel room.

His glasses were on the table by the bed, which he picked up with slightly trembling hands. The room came into better focus, though Q couldn't make out much detail in the dark. It was definitely a hotel room, though, and a rather nice one at that.

When he stood, Q was pleased to note that although his legs wobbled a little at first, he was able to stand on his own. His legs felt a little weak and there was a rush of blood which left him feeling more than a little light-headed, but he could put one foot in front of the other without falling over. Q counted that as a victory.

Leaning against the door, he took several deep breaths. That helped and he felt a little more steady. Opening the door, he looked around the room, spotting Bond easily.

"You're awake," Bond said.

He was lounging on the couch, still fully dressed, though there was a glass of scotch sitting on the table in front of him. He looked Q over, blue eyes unreadable.

Feeling more than a little off-balanced – something which Q hated with a passion – Q nodded. He closed the bedroom door behind him, walking over to the couch and sitting as far from Bond as was possible. An uncomfortable silence stretched between them.

Eventually, Q said, "Sorry."

He didn't really mean it and Bond knew it. It just seemed like the only thing he could say.

Bond just shrugged, looking away and back to the television even if he wasn't paying attention what was on. He gave no real indicator about how his opinion of Q had been affected by Q's unprofessional fear of flying.

The two of them sat in an awkward silence, the only sounds being the sounds of the television playing. Q was still too off-balance to set up his laptops and security and Bond didn't look as though he was going to be moving any time soon.

"You're awfully light for someone your size," Bond said at last, startling Q out of his daze.

Q looked at him, brow raised, "You've seen my file before."

An abridged one and Q was well aware that Bond had found his full file; the man was nothing but thorough. Q had read through Bond's just before they had first met, he didn't like going into anything blind.

Bond didn't acknowledge that, though that was an acknowledgement in and of itself. "You're certainly the lightest person I've had to carry through an airport and hotel check-in."

Well, that was embarrassing. He would have to delete the footage as soon as possible, though there was nothing he could do about potential witnesses. A weakness like that was unacceptable; he'd drawn a giant target on his back – not that there hadn't been one before, but Q liked the security of being behind his computer and away from the field.

"I'll take care of that."

"You were aware enough when we arrived," Bond continued, and Q wondered where this was all coming from, "But you fainted once we were off the plane; I can see why you don't travel much."

Q's fingers twitched, "M was adamant that my skills would be needed and that it was best for me to be present."

"We didn't have to fly."

"Flying is the quickest and safest method of travel, regardless of my fears and liabilities."

Now Bond was looking at him and Q found it rather difficult if not impossible to look away. There was just something about those eyes that kept him still.

"We'll take the train back," Bond said. "Even though I did enjoy carrying you, I didn't enjoy what made that necessary."

Oh, well, he hadn't expected that. "While I appreciate the sentiment, I will notjeopardize this mission any further."

There was a flash of what Q might have thought anger if Bond was anyone else. It vanished as quickly as it had appeared, but there was the slightest twitch of Bond's mouth that betrayed him. Somehow, the distance between them seemed much smaller than it had before.

His breath caught in his throat because Bond was leaning towards him, eyes fixed and cool and too blue and impossible to look away from. Bond was close enough for Q to smell the faint scent of his cologne and he inhaled sharply. Bond was too close and that was most definitely not good.

"Nothing has been jeopardized." Yet."You've done remarkably well despite not being a field agent."

"I fainted on an aeroplane," Q replied dryly, fighting the urge to swallow though his voice sounded rough and just a tad shaky. "I would hardly call that professional nor worthy of remark – unless it's to say how it's made me a liability."

"Well," Bond said, sounding almost amused. There was a tilt to his lips that was almost a smile. "Nobody's perfect."

He leaned in closer and Q suddenly found it quite difficult to breathe with Bond's lips covering his. It took a second for that to register before he inhaled sharply through his nose and kissed back, hard. He was certainly not about to look a gift horse in the mouth and, if this went where he thought and hoped it might, than it was going to be a good night indeed.