A/N: Wow. I never imagined I would get such an amazing response to this little story. You guys are all wonderful. I know it took a while but I got struck by another plot bunny and finally got it written for all of you lovely people. Thank you so much to everyone who read, followed, favourited, and especially to those who reviewed. You inspired me to continue this. Hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: James Bond and related characters/situations do not belong to me. Just Amelia Blake and the plot.

Confused and alarmed, Q rushes into the sitting room at the sound of his front door, which he had locked when he returned home that evening, opening. His mind racing, he glances around the flat for something that might be useful as a weapon. Then the door swings fully open and his alarm fades, though the confusion remains.

Standing in his doorway, her shoulder length auburn hair soaking wet from the rain, is Amelia Blake.

"Did you just pick the lock on my door?" Q asks.

Blake nods wordlessly, her long coat dripping water onto the floor; it is then that Q notices that her normally fair face is even paler than usual and her green eyes look haunted.

"Are you alright?"

She shakes her head, and when she speaks her voice is rough. "No. Can I come in?"

Q would have pointed out that asking permission to come inside after picking the lock was a little ridiculous, but he doesn't think Blake would be receptive to his teasing in her current state. So instead he just nods and indicates that she should take a seat on the couch.

The kettle whistles in the kitchen and Q excuses himself. He returns a few minutes later with two steaming cups of tea; he hands one to Blake and then sits on the other end of the couch, feeling slightly awkward. The silence stretches on as they drink their tea.

After what seems like ages, Blake drains the last of her drink and sets the cup on the coffee table with a quiet thunk. She turns to Q.

"You have anything stronger?"

He nods, putting down his own cup and going back to the kitchen. When he comes back he's carrying a bottle of scotch and two glasses, which he sets on the table in front of them. Blake opens the bottle and pours herself a generous portion, which she knocks back in one go; she then pours herself another glass which she drinks a little slower.

Q has been trying to wait for her to tell him what's wrong, but she doesn't appear to be in any rush and he can't hold his curiosity at bay any longer.

"What's the matter?"

Blake sighs shakily and covers her face with her hands. "The mission in Portugal," she answers miserably.

Q nods in understanding even though she can't see him; just a few hours ago Blake returned from what was supposed to be a simple recon mission, but things had gone disastrously wrong. It turned into a bloodbath, and Blake had barely escaped with her life.

Feeling somewhat uncomfortable, Q slides closer and puts his arm around her shoulders. She buries her face in his chest and clings to him.

"It wasn't your fault," Q says softly.

"I know that," Blake replies, her voice slightly muffled by his sweater. "That doesn't make it any less awful."

Unable to think of a response to that, Q rubs her arm in what he hopes is a comforting way. In the several months that he's known her, he's never seen 009 crumble like this; she's usually so collected and sophisticated, her nerves of steel holding up even during the most stressful situations. Seeing her so vulnerable is a startling change.

When she pulls back at last, Q is a bit surprised to see that her eyes are dry; he'd sort of been expecting tears. Blake picks up her glass of scotch from the coffee table and drains it, then pours a third. After a moment of consideration she fills the second glass and hands it to Q, then gently clinks her glass against his.

"To those we lost," she says sadly, shooting back her drink as Q does the same; he tries to minimize his cringe as the liquor burns his throat.

Over the next couple of hours they talk through what happened on the mission as the bottle of scotch empties, with Blake doing most of the drinking. Eventually she falls silent and Q looks over to find her slumped back into the couch cushions, passed out cold, which is unsurprising given the amount she drank.

Q very gently tugs off her high heeled shoes, doing his best not to wake her, and covers her with a blanket. He then switches off the light and heads into his bedroom.

...

Amelia wakes up with her head pounding painfully. She cracks open her eyes and realizes she's not in her flat; it takes a few moments for the events of last night to come back to her. She lets out a pitiful groan.

She forces herself into a sitting position when she hears footsteps, and looks over to where Q has just entered the room; he looks to be in much better shape than she is, already dressed and holding two cups of tea. Handing her one of the mugs he sits down next to her.

"Oh God," she mutters. "I didn't do anything too embarrassing last night, did I?"

Q smiles lopsidedly, taking a sip of his tea. "Don't worry, you behaved yourself. How are you this morning?"

"I feel as if my brain is trying to escape from my skull," Amelia mumbles, placing a hand on her forehead.

"I thought you might have that problem," Q says, pulling a small bottle of painkillers from his pocket and handing it to her. "But that's not what I meant."

There is a pause while Amelia opens the bottle and swallows a couple of pills. Then she meets Q's concerned gaze.

"I'm doing better," she replies. "Oh Q, I'm so sorry I barged in on you like that. When something like that happened I used to go talk to Bond, but now that he's -" She stops short, still having difficulty speaking of her mentor's death. Clearing her throat, she continues. "I just couldn't think where else to go."

"There's no need to apologize," he assures her. After a moment of hesitation he reaches over and covers her hand with his.

"But I just -"

Q squeezes her hand, silencing her. "Don't. Honestly, Amelia, I'm glad you trusted me enough to come to me."

She feels her heart flutter at the sound of him calling her by her first name; he's never done that before. It's always 009 or Blake. The vague thought that she doesn't know him as anything other than his code designation floats through her brain for a second before she dismisses it and smiles softly at the man beside her.

"Of course I trust you," she whispers, the realization coming to her in a rush as she says the words. "More than I trust most people."

Q looks slightly surprised at her admission, but also quite pleased. Amelia is a little surprised herself; she's usually not so upfront with things like that. Years of MI6 training, and a hard life before that, have taught her to play things close to the vest and to keep her real feelings to herself. But something about Q puts her at ease.

A long moment passes during which their gazes remain locked; then Amelia gently pulls her hand from underneath Q's and gets to her feet.

"I should get going," she says, slipping on her shoes. "I suppose I'll see you at work later."

Q nods and rises from the couch as well, then walks her to the door. Amelia reaches for the door handle but then pauses and turns back to Q.

"Thank you," she says softly, giving him a quick hug. Before she pulls away she leans up and impulsively kisses his cheek, then releases him and opens the front door, looking back over her shoulder with a small smile. "Really, thanks for everything."

She exits the flat before Q can form a response and he stares after her as the door swings closed; feeling a little dazed, he reaches up and brushes his fingers over the spot where she kissed him before giving his head a little shake and going to get ready for work.