The office was small but cozy. Q preferred it that way. When they relocated to their new bunker headquarters, he was offered his choice of office space. While M and the head of Medical both took large, spacious offices, Q's was practically a closet with just enough room for his desk, a large arm chair, and a small coffee table. He recognized that there were times when he would need private office space but generally liked working out on the main floor with his technicians and interns. The office only got used during lunch, when he remembered to take it, and for private meetings .

The people who visited the office always commented on how dark it was, cave-like even. The walls were a dark chocolate brown and being underground there were no windows, but Q had lamps spread throughout the space and he felt that it was comfortable and just about perfect for what he needed. The large leather chair was plush, oversized and just the thing for short naps after forty hour missions.

While unpacking at his flat he had found an old Scrabble board and brought it in to work, thinking it would look nice on his coffee table which just sat there taking up space. The board lay there, unused, with all the letters spread around. He liked the look of it, and occasionally played games against himself when things were quiet.

One day, however, he walked into his office to see that the letters had been cleaned up and placed in the small velvet bag. On the board, starting at the star, was the word G-A-T-E. Perplexed, he looked around to see if anyone was in the office, but he was alone. Not many people ventured into his space and he knew of no one who would come in uninvited. Well, there was one, but Scrabble probably wasn't his game of choice.

Having nothing better to do, Q grabbed a handful of letters and sat down. GATE was only worth five points, so he shrugged and spelled out G-A-M-E off the G. Seven points was better than five, and most likely whoever did the first word wouldn't be back. Probably someone who thought Q was in and wanted to be funny before leaving when they realized he wasn't.

Forgetting about the game, he went off to work and not coming back to his office until late that night. A new word had appeared on the board, P-E-N, and he chuckled as he made note of the points. Picking up another handful of letters, he thought about what to play next. There was not a lot of extra letters on the board, but when he saw the S in his hand, he knew. Pen became P-E-N-S as he added S-W-O-O-N to the game. He smiled, mentally noting he was doing very well, adding his points to the tally.

The next morning, the word E-X-_-L-O-D-E had appeared and any doubt he had about who he was playing against vanished. Who else would use the words "pen" and "explode"? Cursing that the man had received 28 points for that word, Q realized he was probably cheating. Stooping to his level, he dug through the bag to pull out the letters he needed to spell D-R-E-A-M, as in "dream on", and left the room in search of tea and an insufferable double-oh.

"Bond!" he called as he stepped from his office to see the agent striding across Q-Branch towards the door. 007 turned on his heels and walked back to Q's desk in the middle of the room, the epitome of self confidence.

"Q."

Sighing, Q leaned against his desk, "Really Bond? 'Explode' and 'pen'? You couldn't be a bit more creative?"

Bond smirked, and leaned closer. He reminded Q of a jungle cat toying with its prey, "I don't know what you are talking about. But, 'Swoon', Q? I would think you were trying to tell me something."

Q cursed the blush he could feel spreading across his cheeks. Yes, he had thought about 007 that way. Who hadn't? The man was sex on legs. But the thought that he was flirting with Bond via a board game was somewhat insulting. "I would think that if I was hitting on you, 007, I would be able to come up with something a bit more creative and direct than 'swoon'. Anyway, you responded with 'explode' which tells me once and for all where your priorities are." He turned to get to work at his desk when Bond's hand wrapped gently around his wrist, fingers pressed to his pulse.

"Creative or direct? Which should it be?" Q was not entirely sure what Bond was asking, but generally at MI6 the easier things are, the better.

"Direct, Bond. Always direct."

With that, 007 dropped his hand and walked from the room. Several technicians were staring at him, and Q gave them a look of confused disbelief before diving into his code, promptly forgetting the strange encounter with the rather unstable agent.

The day passed quickly and he was unsurprised to see no new words on the board. He briefly considered throwing all the letters back in the bag and putting the game away, but he was curious if anything new would show up overnight. Tossing his bag over his shoulder, he left the room as it was, looking forward to a rare quiet night at home.

In the morning, the first thing he did was look at the board. His breath caught in his throat as he read the word a few times. L-O-V-E. Well, he had said direct. Collapsing into the chair, he sat with his head in his hands, staring at the board. Was Bond confessing his love? Was Bond mocking him? Mocking seemed more likely. But, maybe…. Did he have a right to hope?

Deciding there was nothing to lose and possibly a lot to gain, he asked for the answer he wanted before going back to his computer and gadgets. R-E-A-L-L-Y sat on the board, awaiting a response.

At lunch, another word had appeared, W-E. Now he felt even more confused. Sighing, he flipped through the letters, looking for the ones he needed. _-I-N-E. See what Bond makes of that.

The incandescent smile that graced his face when he saw Bond's next play lit up the small office. Y-O-U-R-S. Bond was his? He could hardly believe it to be true. But after the last three plays, 'love', 'we', and 'yours', he had to admit that it was looking likely. There was still one question that needed to be answered.

W-H-Y

Over the past few months it had become almost normal to see James Bond in Q-Branch when he was not on a mission. No one knew why he did it but if he couldn't be found in the building most likely he was downstairs terrorizing technicians and harassing his Quartermaster. However, no one had seen the man in a few days. Q knew he was coming and going from his office but apparently the technicians were not as observant as he had hoped and he himself easily lost hours when deep in code. He wished the man would just come talk to him. As fun as it was to court via Scrabble, they really could use some time together to discuss what was happening. But knowing Bond, he was avoiding the department for precisely that reason.

A late afternoon conference call with M and the head of the FBI found Q in his office once more and he thought about the fact that he was spending more time in the small space this week than he had in the many months prior. Sitting in the large chair, he smiled at the new word on the board as his phone connected. H-O-P-E. Whether Bond meant that Q gave him hope or that he just had hope that Q returned his feelings, Q found he didn't care. All he knew was that his heart beat a bit harder when he thought of the agent and every part of him felt a little bit warmer.

But now what? What should they do about this? He needed time to think. He needed to stall. Looking at the words that he could make, he settled on something innocuous while continuing his conversation with M. T-E-A. Nothing flirtatious about that. It should be enough to give him time to figure things out.

The conversation ended and he went back to coding, thoughts of Bond always in the back of his mind. On the way home for the night, much later than anyone else in the department , he couldn't resist checking the board one last time. T-R-U-S-T. His knees nearly buckled. Coming from Bond, that sentiment was rarer than love. The fact that Bond was willing to give it to him was heart stopping. Q wanted to give him something in return.

F-A-I-T-H

He would have faith that this would work. That a relationship between a licensed killer and legal hacker could be something more than a disaster. That Bond would always return to him and he would always be there for Bond. He had faith. He had faith in Bond.

That night he dreamed of Bond and the possibility of a life together. A relationship between them would never be considered normal but he imagined it would be spectacular.

C-O-F-F-E-E greeted him early in the morning and he grinned as he repeated his word from earlier, T-E-A, this time suggesting his own preference as well as the name of the café across the street. The chance of an actual date with James Bond had him grinning through a 7AM meeting with Moneypenny. He practically skipped to his office, laughing at the word N-O-O-N. No. Noon was too long. They had waited too long already. He placed T-E-N on the board and hoped Bond would see it in time.

At 9:45, he swung past his office to pick up his coat, smiling happily at the one letter in the top corner that had appeared since his last word. Q. Triple word score. Rolling his eyes, he quickly made his way to the café after leaving one more word in the opposite top corner. B-O-N-D.

His eyes met the ice blue ones of that man standing in front of the cafe and he was nearly hit by a cab scampering across the street to meet him. Stopping in front of the agent, he grinned, "That last one doesn't count. It's not attached to anything else."

"I'd like to believe that it is," was Bond's reply.

Q snorted, "I bet you say that to all the lovers you seduce with Scrabble."

"You're the first, the last, and the only. And even if you discount that last word, I believe I win."

"Actually, I think we both did," Q whispered just before their lips met, for the first of many times.