HIDE AND SEEK

It was a cold gray day and as his New custom 007 found himself kneeling next to the marble headstone of his former boss. In general it was a rather plain marker which simply read OLIVIA MANSFIELD G.C.M.G. 1933-2012. At lease Mallory didn't lie, she was given full honors which was only fitting considering her years of service to Queen and Country. He was just back from his most recent mission and although he had already been formally debriefed by Mallory , Bond didn't feel complete until he had discussed the mission fully with M, His M, and since breaking into her flat, as had become their customary way of ending a mission, was no longer an option this seemed to be the next logical thing to him.

"M" he said quietly looking at the headstone. "You may be surprised to know that it is possible for me to complete a mission with "minimal collateral damage" according to Mallory, however, I think minimal is a rather relative term. I only managed to blow up 3 vehicles this time around and Poor Q is beside himself due to the fact that although I returned most of the equipment it's not exactly in usable or recognizable form. I know I can hear it now "Do I have any idea how much my escapades cost MI6?" well the truth is I really don't give a damn anymore. As for the mission I suppose it could be considered a success."

He continued to stare at the stone all the while tracing the name etched in its face

"It's just not the same without you. I know I've already been debriefed by Malloy but I needed to tell you about it just the same. I know I look like a fool sitting here talking to a headstone knowing full well you're bloody well not going to answer me but..."

"Then why do you continue to do it time after time..." was what he heard in a voice so familiar it made his hair stand on end

"Because it...wait a minute you're not supposed to answer back. You're a stone and stones don't talk" My god I'm losing my mind he thought to himself.

"Well if stones don't answer then why do you insist on coming here after every mission to talk to me?"

This can't be happening was all he could think, I'm talking to a bloody headstone and it's talking back.

"I come here because I miss you" he said in a quiet almost inaudible tone. "I miss our chats after my missions, I miss the dressing downs I usually deserve, I miss our discussions about my carelessness, my lack of respect for your authority, my misuse of agency funds...Oh hell I miss YOU" he said as he leaned his head against the cold stone.

He suddenly felt a small hand on his shoulder as he continued tracing her name on the marker. When he looked up he saw a small hooded figure standing next to him. As he stared at the person not able to see their face due to the scarf that was covering their head when a gentle breeze sent an all too familiar fragrance past his nose.

"M..." "Is it really you?" he asked in and almost cautious tone

The figure removed her hand and pulled back the scarf just far enough to reveal her beautiful blue eyes.

"It is you..." was all he could manage to say in a rather strained voice

"Well who did you expect?...The ghost of Christmas Past?" she answered with a small smile.

He stood up and looked down at her. She seemed somehow smaller than he remembered but still it was her and she was most definitely alive.

"But How?" was all he could manage to say

"Perhaps we should find a more suitable place for this conversation which, by the way, is most definitely NOT taking place" she said pulling the scarf back down to cover her face.

"Right..." he said still staring at her in utter disbelief. "We could go to your flat except it's been sold or we could go to the pub down the street or..."

"Why don't we go to your flat.. " was her response as she started to walk away. "Are you coming she said over her shoulder."

It only took a few minutes before they arrived at his flat, As he unlocked and opened the door for her he still couldn't wrap his head around the fact that she was alive. He kept blinking his eyes and pinching the back of his hand the be sure it wasn't a dream. Once inside he flipped on the lights and just stared at her as she took off her coat and scarf.

"Would you like to sit down?" he asked as he motioned toward the sofa

"Thank you" she replied as she took a seat. " I believe you said something about a drink if I am not mistaken"

"Of course would you like a single or a double?" he asked as he made his way to the liquor cabinet all the while never breaking eye contact with her.

"A single will be fine for me but I think you could do with a double." she said with a slight laugh.

As he returned to the sofa with the drinks he just couldn't help but stare at her as if she would vanish if he looked away.

They sat for some time before she finally broke the silence.

"You think I'm a ghost don't you? a figment of your imagination"

"Well the thought had crossed my mind" he replied as he finished his drink.

"Go ahead and touch me, see if I'm real" she said in a calm, soft non- threatening tone.

With that he reached out his hand and gently cupped her cheek and as he did she slowly reached up and placed her hand over his and leaned into his touch. He could feel the warmth of both her face and her hand against his and he knew it was really HER and SHE was really alive.

After a long silence he pulled his hand away from her and stood up and paced back and forth about the room for a moment, then came a long string of incomplete sentences that ended with his final statement as loud and clear as the day is long "YOU LIED TO ME. YOU DIED IN MY ARMS IN THE CHAPEL AT SKYFALL...CHRIST... I WATCHED THEM BURY YOU!"

She sat there completely still waiting to see if he was finished or just trying to form his next complete thought.

"James" she said in a soft yet firm tone " Please sit down so I can explain..."

"YOU have one Hell of a lot of explaining to do" he said as he sat on the opposite end of the sofa

"I never meant to hurt you" she said quietly turning to face him

"Well epic failure on your part" . he said in a disgusted tone " I've been sitting here for months blaming myself for getting you killed and all the while you've been off God knows where as if Nothing happened not giving a damn about me."

"That's not true" she said defensively

"Oh Really?" he retorted with a hint of bitterness in his voice

"If I didn't care about you just how do you suppose I knew I would find you at the cemetery?"

"Dumb Luck I suppose" he said flatly looking away from her " but that doesn't change the fact that YOU of all people LIED to me"

"James" she continued " I'm a spy...that's what we do in case you have forgotten" she answered " my "Death" was not meant to hurt you, it was meant to protect you." she started to continue but was quickly interrupted

"Protect me from what? From Who?" he said. the anger clearly showing in his voice. "I am a double 00 in case you've forgotten, since when do I need protecting?"

"When it was discovered that I was actually just barely alive it was decided that it would be safer for everyone if I just sort of disappeared. A kind of early retirement if you will." "James" she continued "I never wanted you to blame yourself" she said as tears began to form in her eyes "You did everything you could possibly do to keep me alive and safe and in the end you succeeded even if it doesn't seem like it."

"But I lost you in the process" he said choking back his own tears as he looked into her eyes.

"You didn't lose me" she said as she wiped her eyes "you said it yourself I'm all played out and it was time to go and this way there shouldn't be any retaliation officially I died at skyfall."

"Then why are you here?" he asked "Why didn't you just stay dead?"

"I needed to see you one last time to tell you goodbye properly, to tell you that, against my better judgment, I love you, I have always loved you and I will always love you."

"You can't just waltz in here tell me you love me and then just leave" he said as he moved closer to her on the sofa, but she put her hand against his chest and looked at him with perhaps the saddest look he had ever seen and said very tenderly" it is what it is James, and this is how it has to be." She choked back tears as she continued in a rather shaky voice. "You will just have to take comfort in the knowledge that for once good has triumphed over evil."

She continue in her all too familiar firm tone "007...just know that I am happy and alive because of you. don't spend one more day living in the past. you have a job to do. go make me proud."

With that M leaned in to James and took his face in her hands and gently placed a kiss on his forehead. She stood up to put on her coat and scarf and turned to him.

"I have to go now, and due to the circumstances we will not be able to see each other again."

"But why" He said as he got up and gently grasped her arm. "As far as anyone else is concerned you're dead, so as long as we were careful and we both know that we're both good enough to fly under the radar who would know?"

"It has to be this way." she said as tears began to form in her eyes

James quickly pulled her into his arms and held her a tightly as he could, burying his head in her hair. She let him hold her for a few moments before she pulled back to look him in the eye.

"I am going where no one will ever find me" she said as a tear slid down her cheek. With that she reached up and pulled his head down to her level and gently placed a soft kiss on his lips

"That's what you think" he said as a grin formed on his lips "You said it yourself. We're spies. Finding people who don't want to be found is what we do"

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