Title: Leading Edge
Fandom: James Bond (Daniel Craig films)
Pairings: James Bond/Q
Warnings: Alternate Universe, fantasy elements, canon typical violence, kidnapping
Summary: All fae-born were raised on stories of how cruel dragon-borns were, how they had no care for anyone outside themselves and their greed, that they would sell their own mother's soul to the devil before allowing themselves to be hurt. They were told that all dragon-borns were to be killed on sight, and taught spells that would do just that, if ever given the chance.
It would be just Q's luck that one of his agents was dragon-born.
Disclaim Her: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Ian Fleming, varied other writers, MGM, and related companies. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
A/N: I told myself, when I got on this James Bond kick, that I wouldn't write any fanfic, because I don't need any more projects right now, especially in a new fandom. Doubly especially in a genre I'm not comfortable with.
This fic takes place in an alternate world that matches up quite closely with canon, save for the fact that this world has magic, and not everyone is 100% human.
It hasn't been beta'd, and I'm not sure how I feel about Q's character, but I sort of need to get this fic out so I can focus on the FrostIron Bang. XP
"They just don't make security like they used to," James Bond said as soon as the call connected.
Q felt the exhaustion that had forced him to his cot a few hours before chased away by a wash of relief. "Where's my radio?" he demanded, fighting to hide both relief and exhaustion. "If you dropped it into another glass of champagne–"
A chair creaked on Bond's end and Q could hear the smirk in his voice when he asked, "Where was I supposed to find champagne here? You think security guards just leave–"
"007," Q interrupted, because he was not in the right frame of mind for his agent's humour. "Where. Is. My. Radio."
"You told me it would take out anyone who tried destroying it," Bond pointed out, some of the teasing leaving his voice. "If you didn't want me using it as a weapon, Q, you shouldn't have weaponised it."
Q let out a quiet sigh. "That was supposed to keep you from stepping on it."
'It was supposed to keep you from cutting contact with me,' Q didn't say, but they both knew that was the real reason. Same as why Bond had been made to memorise the number of Q's personal mobile, so he could call on any phone once it was safe for him to get back in contact.
"Well, it worked like a charm," Bond returned cheerfully. "Bit of a nasty shock to the bastard who spotted it."
"Who you let spot it," Q corrected drily, because he knew Bond well enough by now to know his methods. "If you come back without my gun, I'll put you on forced leave for a month."
"I couldn't find a champagne glass big enough for it," he replied in the same tone that Q had used on him.
Q snorted and took that to mean that he wouldn't have to build the agent yet another Walther; James Bond went through equipment faster than any other MI6 agent, and Q wished he knew how the man managed it. Also, how to keep him from managing it.
The chair creaked on the other end of the line again. "I've got access to the internal computer system," Bond said, voice going serious.
Q let out a grunt and pushed himself from his cot. "Of course you do. Give me a minute," he replied, grabbing for his glasses and sliding them on his face as he walked over to his huddle of computer monitors. He should probably go out into the main office, where the skeleton night staff of Q Branch could help him get through whatever information Bond gave him, but he'd told everyone he was going home to rest before someone could put him on forced medical leave again; apparently, he needed sleep more than he needed to be on hand for when Bond finally saw fit to get back in contact with them. (Never mind that Q had seen to it that he was the person Bond would contact first.)
"I woke you?" Bond asked, something like concern in his voice.
Q rolled his eyes and flicked a finger towards the empty mug on his desk to fill it with his favourite tea, a helpful little spell he'd mastered back in university. "Well spotted, 007," he returned in a tone that he hoped broadcast his unwillingness to discuss his sleeping habits. He and the agent had an unspoken agreement to never ask after the other's health – Bond got more than enough of that from Medical, and they both faced enough disapproval from Moneypenny, who seemed determined to be the concerned older sister of everyone in MI6.
Bond was, thankfully, silent on the other end while Q finished waking his computers from the low power state he'd left them in when he'd finally let himself collapse onto his cot. Q took an extra minute to ensure his staff wouldn't realise someone was in his office, then set about directing the agent on the other end to let him into the system.
Q could have hacked the computer system without a physical agent on the other end, but M – or M's superiors (Q had learned not to question where the orders came from) – had wanted to leave that avenue open for later use, if they needed it, so Bond had been sent to set up a physical connection.
Sometimes, Q forgot that being underestimated was half the point of their line of work.
One of Q's monitors popped up with the security camera feed from the building Bond was in. A quick glance through the images ensured they wouldn't be interrupted any time soon, then Q pulled up the image of the control room Bond was sitting in. The man tensed as Q zoomed in on the Walther set next to his elbow. "What have you done to my gun?" Q snarled, staring at the long gouges cut across the palm scanner on the grip.
Bond's tense shoulders relaxed and he turned to grin at the camera. "Hello, my little voyeur. Shall I put on a show for you?"
"I'll have you put on leave for two months," Q snapped.
Bond laughed, warm and familiar over the faint static of the connection, and Q knew he wouldn't be able to stay angry at the man. Especially when he noticed the cloth wrapped tight around his dominant hand.
Still. "I don't give you equipment just so you can–"
Bond tensed and turned towards the door. "We can have this conversation when I get back," he said, voice perfectly even.
Q hurriedly looked between cameras, but there was nothing in the hallway. "007, there's nothi–"
And then, with a hiss of static, there was; even with the magical interference making the outline of their forms fuzzy, Q would know a fae when he saw one. But what was a fae doing showing itself to Bond? The man was human.
Bond stood, an easy movement that showed no hint of surprise at the appearance of fae, and dropped the mobile he'd been using to the floor, then crushed it under his boot. He was smiling at the fae, but in such a way that Q knew they weren't friends.
Q cursed both the lack of sound and the magical interference that kept him from figuring out what the fae was saying. He wasn't particularly talented at reading lips, but he could have at least had an idea of what was happening. Why a fae was going against every single last one of their laws to show itself to a human.
And then a glow flared around the fae's hand before jumping at Bond. "No!" Q heard someone shouting.
Wings, pale in the greyscale of the camera and shaped like a bat's, flared into existence around Bond, blocking the glow. He was still smiling, but there was an edge of violence in it that Q rarely saw from the man. His lips moved with words, and Q's mind helpfully translated, 'Don't think me so easy to kill as others of my ken.'
The fae glowed again, brighter and more dangerous, and the camera cut out, likely having failed from being unprotected against a magical overload.
Q dropped back against his chair, eyes wide and breathing hard.
James Bond was dragon-born?
When humans managed to create technology that could actually be used against the magical beings of their world – levelling the playing field a bit, as it were, since it had always been the magical beings who'd done the murdering before – most non-human species fled across dimensions to safety. Many fae and most of the dragons, however, had chosen to stay and take their chances with humanity, given that there was no certainty of safety in the other dimension.
Fae and dragons had lived together in peace for almost two centuries before the fae began to realise that they were no longer capable of breeding with their own kind, though they could breed with humans. They'd blamed the dragons and started a war that would last more than a hundred years, ending only when the last of the dragons were dead.
Some time during the war, dragons had begun copying the fae and having offspring with humans. The children were always obvious, unable to hide the wings that curled against their tiny backs, and the fae and their children – fae-born, they were called, as those children of a dragon and human were called dragon-born – had little trouble hunting them down.
Or, well, they thought they'd had little trouble hunting those children down. But some humans were clever, and some dragons kept alive long enough to ensure the safety of their dragon-born. It was almost four centuries after the last dragon-born murder before the fae became aware that some had survived, however, giving them more than enough time to confuse bloodlines and get lost in the chaos of humanity's expansion.
All fae-born were raised on stories of how cruel dragon-borns were, how they had no care for anyone outside themselves and their greed, that they would sell their own mother's soul to the devil before allowing themselves to be hurt. They were told that all dragon-borns were to be killed on sight, and taught spells that would do just that, if ever given the chance.
Q had never been more torn over what to do next in his life.
Bond was off the grid for another week, leaving Q with more than enough time to figure out what to do if his agent made it back, but he was still no more decided when he found the man in a heap on the floor of his flat, bleeding from at least half a dozen wounds, wings torn near to shreds.
"If you're going to kill me, at least do me the favour of making it quick," Bond slurred, sliding something heavy across the floor.
Q looked down to find the battered Walther at his feet, still useable even after Bond had fought against a fae. "I'm not going to kill you," he found himself saying, stepping over the weapon to approach the defenceless dragon-born. "Why would you–?"
"I know a fae-born when I see one, Q," Bond said tiredly, eyes closing.
Q swallowed the panic that tried to swamp him at that confession, because the idea of being discovered–
He took a deep breath and held his hands over Bond, glowing with the pale light of healing magic. "I'm not a healer," he warned, because his healing magic had always been rather hit-and-miss. It was half the reason he'd gone into computers, where his magic, unusually offensive as it was, could slide through the technology of the modern world to hack into any system anywhere.
"I don't need a healer," Bond ground out, pushing himself up into a sitting position and not even flinching at the pain he must have been in. "I need a safe place to stay."
Q blinked. "And you came here?" The home of a fae-born was the last place Bond should have gone.
Bond smiled, tired and a little too sharp. "At least you wouldn't draw it out."
Q glanced back at the Walther laying in the middle of his floor and felt a chill, because that hadn't been a test. That hadn't been Bond trying to figure out if he needed to kill Q.
The realisation was as calming as it was upsetting. "You're an idiot," he informed the agent, looking back at him. "You couldn't have gone to another dragon-born?"
Bond snorted. "It's far safer for my kind if we pretend we don't know who each other are."
That...was actually an extremely painful thought. Q couldn't imagine living without someone to talk spells with, without the knowledge that he could walk down to Medical and talk to one of the three fae-born who worked down there, or ring up one of his friends from his childhood classes to complain about one of their elderly fae teachers, or...anything. "How do you survive?" he breathed.
"I don't have a choice," Bond returned, something hard and biting in his voice.
'It's the fault of your people,' Bond didn't say. He didn't have to.
Q pressed his lips together hard as he could and stood again. He took a moment to compose himself, then held down a hand. "The panic room is warded."
Bond stared up at his hand for a long moment, expression blank, before he finally reached up and took it. Q held steady as the agent pulled himself to his feet, noting the minute hint of pain that Bond couldn't quite hide when his wings shifted. But Bond made no mention of them, just let them drag behind as Q led him down the hall to the hidden entrance to the panic room MI6 had built when Q took over his new position. Q had added the wards against fae magic later, since fae were just as mercurial as humans when it came to picking sides.
The panic room had a cot that was more comfortable than his one at Q Branch – though not by much – and enough provisions to last him a week, should it come to that. There wasn't much else, because it wasn't supposed to be comfortable, just safe.
Bond made no comment on how sparse it was, only walked over to the cot and dropped onto it, back to Q. He curled slightly, wings twitching like they were trying to curl around him, but couldn't.
Q felt his heart crack and immediately stepped forward, hands glowing with healing magic again. "Don't move," he ordered.
Bond tensed and looked over his shoulder. "I said–" he started, something cold in his voice.
Q grabbed a hold of the dragon-born's wing where it met with the skin of his back, smiling a bit grimly when Bond froze, words dying in his throat. "I know what you said, 007, but I'm not so easily brushed off as Medical. Hold. Still."
Bond turned his head away, a silent concession that Q guessed he'd never have seen if the agent wasn't such a mess. Which was...telling. And not in a good way.
Q took a deep breath and gently ran his hands along the top edge of Bond's wings, finding at least half a dozen breaks in the bone, explaining why they'd been dragging along behind him, rather than off the ground. He shuddered to think how Bond had made it back to London and to Q's flat with them in such a shape.
The spell for broken bones had always come to him easier than any other healing spell, likely due to having a childhood friend who liked to climb trees, so mending the bones of Bond's wings was actually quite simple. The man tensed every time a bone moved back into place, but he made no noise.
Once the last bone had slid back into place, Bond's wings – they looked to be light brown under all the blood – curled against him, the one on top draping carefully over the man's shoulder to hide him from view. "Thank you," he offered, voice so quiet he could have easily not have spoken at all.
Q resisted the urge to touch Bond's back in comfort, like he might have one of his underlings, or a friend, and wondered at what had made him feel the urge, given that he'd never felt it around Bond before. But, then, he'd never seen the agent this much of a mess before.
"Get some sleep, 007," he said, using the man's code name as an attempt at distance. Then he slipped from the room, closing the door behind him so it blended back in with the horrid wallpaper he kept meaning to tear down.
He was covered in blood, and red trails followed from the panic room to the puddle in the middle of his living room. Q sighed and went to find some rags and a bucket to clean up, determined that there not be a single sign that he was harbouring a wanted man before he slept.
Q returned to trying to hunt Bond down when he got in to the office the next morning, as if the agent wasn't still curled up in his panic room. He didn't snap at quite as many people as he had been, as many of his previous worries had been soothed by Bond's visit, but he made a point to keep his temper up, just to keep people from wondering.
He didn't need people looking into his personal life, more so now than ever before.
He paid a visit to his friends down in Medical during lunch, and left with a bag of bandaging and other supplies for dealing with the wounds Bond had appeared with; he somehow doubted the box of plasters he had was quite going to be up to snuff in this regard, and he was determined to let Bond take care of him once he returned home. He should have forced the man to let him do more the night before, but there was only so much anyone could make a wounded agent do in one night, especially when that agent was James Bond.
He didn't leave the building until Moneypenny came down to drag him away from his computers and drive him home, as she'd started doing after he was caught sleeping in his office two days after he found out Bond was dragon-born. She'd been furious, at the time, but now took the drive as a chance to check in with his findings of the day, meaning she didn't have to come down in the middle of the day to ask, interrupting both their work.
Bond was still curled up on the cot when Q pushed the door to the panic room open, and the Quartermaster frowned a bit before pointedly knocking on the open door. "Are you still alive?" he asked, because it seemed like a reasonable question.
Bond's wings shifted carefully and he slowly sat up, blinking up at Q like he was adjusting to the light. "Clearly," he rasped.
"Have you moved even once since I left you last night?"
Bond jerked his head towards where the tiny toilet was hidden behind a trick wall in the far corner. "I ate some of your tuna," he added, turning his gaze towards where a couple empty tins sat apart from the rest of the provisions.
Q nodded. "You need a shower, and to wrap your wounds. I'll have something for you to eat once you're done." He held out the bag with medical equipment.
Bond was still for a long moment, watching Q with careful eyes. Finally, though, he rose and took the offered bag to look through. "Stealing from Medical, Quartermaster?" he asked, and there was a hint of teasing in his voice, which was entirely too reassuring.
"It's the least of my crimes," Q replied drily, stepping out into the hall and motioning towards his bedroom. "Bathroom's in there. Extra towels and flannels are in the closest cupboard. Try and get as much of the blood as you can down the drain, please."
Bond's eyes darted down to look at the floor, taking in how the dried trail of blood didn't exist beyond the panic room doorway. "I'll do my best," he agreed.
Q nodded and left him to it, wondering what he had in his kitchen that could be made to feed both of them.
They ended up with spaghetti and some meat sauce of questionable age, though it still tasted fine when Q gave it a test. He heated up a serving of frozen broccoli for each of them, then brought the plates back to the panic room.
Bond was back on the cot, bandages stark against his skin, pale as it was from blood loss, and wings vanished from sight. He was wearing nothing but a towel around his waist, and Q almost dropped their plates at the sight because, fuck, yeah, James Bond was unfairly gorgeous even when covered in bandages.
"I'll have to find a way to get you clothing," Q decided, talking to keep himself from staring. "I might have some trousers that fit you, but none of my shirts will."
Bond accepted the offered plate and shrugged. "I can give you my locker code. I keep extra clothing in there."
"Hm." Q settled on the floor, taking care not to sit on the dried blood. He'd have to scrub it later. And probably get a new cot. Unless there was some dragon magic for cleaning blood off of things.
"You can ask," Bond commented, voice quiet, but eyes sharp.
Ask what? Q wondered, even as his mouth let slip, "Can you get the blood out of the cot?"
Bond stared at him in disbelief for a long moment before he burst out laughing, a week of stress leaving him with the sound. At last, still smiling, he answered, "No. I'm afraid we don't have a spell for cleaning." Then he tilted his head to one side. "There isn't fae magic for that?"
Q shrugged. "I was never taught any."
Bond hummed a sound of understanding and swallowed one of the small heads of broccoli.
Q considered him for a moment, then asked, "Where are your wings?"
Bond flicked a glance at him before carefully twirling his fork in the spaghetti. "Hidden. They take up less space this way." He leaned back against the wall all the way, showing that there was nothing in the way.
Q stared at him in disbelief, his mind attempting to sort out the science – magical as it was – behind that ability. He had to hide parts of himself from sight to appear human – the angles of his face were a little too different from a human's, and fae-born always looked dangerously anorexic – but if you touched the image, you would find it was really nothing more than a glamour to fool physical sight.
Bond's lips curled with a cold sort of amusement. "How did you expect we survived so long without notice? Hiding our wings from any sort of notice was one of the first things my kind figured out."
"But can you fly like that?" Q wondered, because it seemed like a logical question.
Bond shook his head. "We have a spell we repurposed from the one you fae-born use to keep them hidden while flying."
Q blinked. "You can use fae magic."
Bond grimaced. "Not the way you're thinking, no. Dragons could use fae magic, to an extent, and they managed to manipulate some spells so dragon-borns could use them. But when the last dragon died, we lost the chance to add more spells." He sighed and looked back down at his spaghetti. "I can no more use your spells, than you can mine."
Q nodded in understanding; that was essentially what he'd been taught as a child, though he hadn't known the dragons were capable of changing a spell for dragon-born use. Honestly, he didn't know much of anything about dragon magic, though he had a feeling that Bond knew a bit about fae magic. "Wait, can you see through my glamours? The fae can, and there's sometimes a fae-born with that ability..."
"No." Bond shook his head. "I can tell you're hiding something, and I can see where the spell is resting, but I can't see beneath it."
"What about other dragon-borns?"
Bond's expression tightened. "I'm not telling you that, Q."
Q blinked in surprise and set his plate to the side. "We're taught, as children, that dragon-borns are callous and plenty content to sell anyone else out if it'll save their skin."
Bond tilted his head down so Q couldn't read it behind the shadows. "I'm aware of what your kind think of mine."
"It's not true, then," Q said, not making it a question; he knew Bond was nothing like those stories.
"As true as saying that every fae-born is a healer, I would think." Bond tilted his head just enough that Q could see the tired smile he wore. "We're all part human."
Q swallowed; that was something his kind often seemed to forget. "Are you–" He stopped and reached down to pick at the dried blood for a distraction. "How did that fae find you?"
"I didn't ask," Bond informed him drily, then sighed. "It's happened before. If I'm lucky, there's someone nearby willing to lend a hand. If not. Well." He motioned to himself, indicating his current wounded state. "The reasons range from another dragon-born giving me away, to me not being careful enough. It's been almost a decade since the last time; I was due."
Q shuddered at the dry certainty of that statement. He couldn't imagine having to watch his back on the field as agents did, let alone spending every moment of every day, waiting for an enemy to come knocking. "It's not fair," he said quietly.
Bond considered him for a moment, expression blank. "Very little is." He leaned forward with his plate to place it on top of Q's. "If you'll excuse me, Quartermaster, I should rest further."
"Of course." Q scrambled to his feet, collecting the dishes on the way. Just before he stepped through the door and back into the main flat, he called, "007?"
"Do you have any idea how long it will take you to heal?"
"Tired of me already?" Bond enquired, and Q couldn't tell if he was teasing or not.
"Tired of pretending to search for you," Q returned.
Bond was silent for long enough that Q thought he might have dozed off. He sighed and pulled open the door before Bond offered, "I should be sufficiently healed to report back in two days."
"Fair enough," Q decided and left him to his rest.
Over the next two days, Q discovered a handful of facts about his guest:
Bond was about two decades older than his official files had recorded – Q was, himself, almost a decade older than recorded – and a glamour made him look a bit older than he actually did. He didn't remove the glamour for Q, but the fae-born was familiar enough with the difficulties of aging slower than humans, that he could make a good guess.
Bond's mother had been dragon-born. She and his father's 'accident' when Bond had been a child had, in fact, been murder. Bond's father's sister had brought in an urchin she'd found for the fae to murder in Bond's place, saving his life. She and the groundskeeper were the only people who knew Bond had ever been a target, or even what he was.
The only non-dragon-born Bond had ever considered telling what he was, had been Vesper. He'd planned to tell her the night he discovered her betrayal. The event had rather put him off ever telling another soul; Q wouldn't have found out if it weren't for him having been watching the camera when Bond had revealed himself.
Dragon-borns didn't have healing magic, as such, but they had a quicker natural healing rate than humans or fae-born. Bond had, more than once, had to reinjure himself to keep a doctor from getting suspicious.
Bond's favourite missions were the ones where he wasn't in a large city. He loved getting away from people and just flying around for a while, without fear of anyone seeing him.
His wings were about twice as tough as his skin, so the fact that they'd been shredded when Q had found him was really quite telling about what sort of danger he'd been in. They couldn't stand up to bullets any better than fae shields, but they could deflect a knife slash (stabs were a bit hit-or-miss) or stand against thrown furniture.
One of Bond's wings had been broken as a child and healed a little crooked. It didn't impede him in any noticeable way, and he refused to let Q fix it, insisting he was quite fond of the odd curve.
No, his ridiculously high tolerance for pain wasn't common in dragon-borns. It was something he'd shared with his mother, and he had no idea what side of her family it had come from, assuming it hadn't just been something all her.
Bond didn't care for raw meat, though he knew a couple dragon-borns who did.
A high tolerance for alcohol was absolutely a dragon-born trait, and his limit was actually quite a bit higher than he pretended it was, on those rare occasions when he appeared to get ridiculously drunk. (So if Q would bloody well stop snapping at him for drinking too much while on a mission, that would be appreciated.)
Bond was gone when Q got up that morning, and he had no idea where he'd gone off to until he arrived at MI6 to hear that the mad man had been napping in M's office chair when he'd come in that morning.
"You have a death wish," Q snapped when Bond came down to officially turn in his Walther.
"I can't decide if you're talking about the gun, or how I let M know I wasn't dead," Bond mused.
Honestly, Q wasn't certain which one it was, either; even though he knew the Walther was in bad shape, it still hurt to look at the damage. "Have you been to Medical?"
Bond went very, very still for a moment, then let out a sharp laugh. "Oh, God. What, I leave for a couple weeks and Moneypenny manages to shove her personality into you?"
Q shook his head and absently replied, "There's talk of a mission outside Edfou, and if Medical clears you in time..."
Bond's smile was a touch crooked. "Nice save. Will you give me a ridiculously fast car?"
"Are you going to bring it back in pieces?" Q shot back, narrowing his eyes.
"If I say no, and then I do, what will my punishment be?"
"City missions for the rest of the year."
"There are levels to your cruelty that I never even knew existed," Bond mused, tapping his chin and turning to leave Q's office.
Q rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to the wrecked Walther. He supposed Bond deserved some sort of reward for bringing the gun back at all.
"So, is it just aeroplanes that you dislike, or flying in general?"
"007, it's two in the morning."
"Did someone replace all your tea?"
Q sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. "There's too much to chance on an aeroplane."
"So it's about personal control. You're a nightmare in an automobile, aren't you?"
"I don't care for them," Q admitted. But he much rather an automobile than a bus, which were distraction-rich environments. Trains were fine; they had to stay on their tracks.
"What if I took you flying?"
"I'm not sure–" Q's brain caught up with the conversation and he blinked wordlessly for a moment.
"007, did you need something?" Q asked stiffly, because he was way too tired to deal with the man.
Bond was silent for a breath, then allowed, "No. Good night, Quartermaster."
Bond didn't ring him again while on mission, and they were both painfully professional over the comms. Bond returned with no damage to himself or his equipment after four days, and was immediately sent back out to Singapore. On his third day there, he went off the grid during a fire fight, and Q nearly had to be physically dragged up to Moneypenny's car to get him away from his computers.
"I'd do a lot more good sleeping in my office," he insisted, staring out at the passing streetlamps and trying not to count how far away he was getting from his work.
"Bond will get back when he feels like it, and no amount of searching through cameras is going to spot him," Moneypenny pointed out, perfectly logical. "Get some sleep, Q, so you'll actually be useful to him when he comes back up for air."
Q didn't get any sleep that night, too busy typing angrily at his personal computer, searching through the images they'd found of the fire fight, trying to spot a hint of the agent in all the mess.
He never managed to find him.
"I don't think Singapore agrees with me," Bond said as Q stepped into his flat.
Q froze for a moment, taking in the healing cut on the agent's face and the old blood stains marking his dress shirt. "Where's my radio?" he demanded, because it seemed the most important question at the moment.
Bond looked uncertain for a moment, then opened his left hand to show a mostly healed electrical burn. "There wasn't a glass of–"
"I swear, 007, if you start talking about champagne right now, I will shoot you," Q ground out, closing his eyes against the warring flares of anger and concern setting his stomach rolling. "Where's my gun?"
"In one piece," Bond promised, and Q opened his eyes to find the agent holding the Walther out to him.
Q took it and gave it a quick check, letting the familiar motions calm him. "You couldn't have called?"
Bond was watching him, expression unreadable. "I didn't want to chance waking you again."
Q took a deep breath and set the Walther down on the table before he turned it on the stubborn idiot sitting on his couch. "In future, if you've lost contact with MI6, call me. That's why I gave you my number."
Bond stared at him for another long moment, eyes tracking over the bruises under Q's eyes that he hadn't been bothering to hide, and the way his hair was an absolute mess after how many times he'd run his fingers through it. "Do you mind if I sleep on your couch tonight?"
"By all means," Q agreed and turned to head into his bedroom.
He sighed and looked back towards the agent. "Yes?"
'For worrying about me. For giving me a place I can feel safe. For refusing to give up.'
"Go to sleep, 007."
Next time Bond goes off the grid, he calls Q while Moneypenny is driving him home, "I swear it wasn't my fault this time."
Q relaxed back into the seat, rubbing at his forehead and ignoring the curious glances Moneypenny shot him. "I find that difficult to believe."
"You don't trust me?"
"I trust you exactly as far as I can throw you."
"If I promise to glide part of the way, will you trust me a bit more?"
"Absolutely not." Q nodded to Moneypenny as she stopped outside his flat. "Thank you, Eve."
"Is that Bond?" she asked.
"You're still letting her drive you home?"
"Only when you decide to pull a Houdini," Q informed his agent, waving Moneypenny on without either confirming or denying the identity of his caller. "Where's my radio?"
"Ah. Well, see, there was this lovely woman with the most impressive stilettos–"
"Are you bleeding?" Q demanded, because that was as much as he needed to hear about Bond's most recent conquest.
"Not any more," Bond admitted. "And I didn't blow my cover, which is actually kind of impressive."
"Are you done yet, then?" Q asked as he opened his post box.
"I'll be done in a couple hours. Can you book me a flight back tomorrow, or do I need to do that myself?"
"Did you lose my gun?"
"No. And it survived the stilettos without a scratch."
"I suppose I can– Excuse me," Q said, pausing to frown at the two women who were blocking his way to the stairs.
"Andrew Hackett?" one of the women replied.
Q tensed at his real name. "Wrong bloke. If you'll excuse me–"
"Q?" Bond said in his ear.
The woman who hadn't spoken had a stun gun in Q's side before he could think to respond.
"Greetings, Mr Hackett," a pleasant, male voice offered as Q blinked his eyes open. Everything was fuzzy without his glasses, but he could make out the shape of an obese human form sitting across from him.
A moment's observation allowed that he was tied rather tightly to a chair, and he'd been gagged. His mind was still a bit fuzzy from whatever drug they'd pumped him with to keep him asleep. (At least he assumed he'd been drugged; he'd been shocked enough times to know what it felt like to wake up from that sort of electric charge.)
"Mr Hackett, I am Santo Harbin, an associate of Mr Jacob Penrod."
Q recognised the name, unusual as that was for him; Penrod had been poking around in a couple military servers around the time that Bond had been in Egypt, and Q had been directed to keep him from doing so again. A virus on his computer and a couple of agents to his home had taken care of the problem, and Penrod was currently serving time. Q only remembered his name because he'd offered up more of a challenge than most of the other hackers Q had gone up against in the past year.
Q raised an eyebrow, hoping it communicated how unimpressed he was with the proceedings; the thing about being fae-born, was that he wasn't quite as helpless as most people thought him when they saw the scrawny computer nerd. He was happy to sit and listen to this man monologue for a little bit while Q's mind settled from the drugs. If nothing else, perhaps he could discover how Penrod got in contact with an acquaintance long enough to communicate that he wanted Q kidnapped, and how to find him.
"Mr Penrod sends his greetings and looks forward to meeting with you soon," Harbin offered.
Ah. Well, that's a touch worrying, Q considered.
The form Q was pretty certain was Harbin moved as though standing. "Give him a bit more. We don't need him escaping before Mr Penrod arrives."
Something jabbed Q in the arm, cold liquid spreading through his veins.
"Fae-born scum," Harbin growled as he stepped past Q.
This could be a problem, Q allowed before the drug they'd injected him with dragged him back to a cloud of nothing.
"James, you're entirely unexpected," a too-cheerful voice called, breaking through the haze of the drug in Q's system like a hammer.
"Jacob," Bond replied, voice icy. "You have something of mine."
What is Bond doing here? Q wondered for a brief moment before he allowed himself to admit that he already knew. But, he knows Penrod?
"Ah. I know I promised to return that motor–"
"I'm not talking about my bike."
"Then I'm afraid I don't quite understand what you're looking for."
"He's about this tall, mop of dark hair, disgustingly thin. Has a habit of ruining your day with his computer skills if you get on his bad side."
"The fae-born boy," Harbin interrupted. "What the fuck do you want with that sort of rubbi–" He cut himself off with a shout of pain, followed by whimpers.
"He's under my protection," Bond said over the whimpering.
The voice that must have been Penrod's carefully said, "He's fae-born, James. He'd sooner break your neck than thank you."
"Jacob, I will kill you if you don't move out of my way."
Footsteps approached Q, purposefully loud against the floor. Q wanted to snap at the man, demand what had taken him so long, but the gag rather prevented that. Though, with the drug draining impossibly fast from his system, he felt like he could manage a few spells at last. Like one to remove the gag, and another to return his glasses to him.
Bond came into focus a few steps out of reach, amusement glinting in his pale eyes. "Quartermaster."
"Double-oh–" Q's voice caught as he spotted the manned sniper rifle above them. "Above you!"
Bright blue light sprung up around them at the same time as two rifles fired. The shield rippled with the impacts, then twisted and formed two long spears of bright blue, which went after the both shooters.
"That wasn't wise, Jacob," Bond said, voice completely devoid of inflection. His wings appeared behind him, strong and majestic, as he turned to look at the overweight man Q recognised as Penrod.
"I won't let you kill both of us because of some misplaced sense of loyalty to humans and a fae-born!" Penrod shouted, pulling out a Glock.
A shot rang in the air, and Q couldn't stop himself from shouting, "Bond!" as he vanished the ropes holding him to the chair.
Across the room, Penrod collapsed, wings the colour of dried blood appearing behind him.
Bond turned to smirk at Q, holding out his Walther. "I didn't lose my gun," he offered.
"Small miracles," Q snarled, shoving himself up out of the chair.
Bond was there to catch him when the dizzy spell rushed over him. "Slowly, Q. Whatever they gave you still isn't completely out of your system."
Q leaned his head forward against the agent's chest, comforted to feel arms and wings curling protectively around him. "I could have managed," he muttered.
"Why bother when it's my job to keep you safe?" Bond asked.
"You're on a mission, and it's not as my bloody bodyguard." Q huffed and attempted to push out of Bond's embrace, but neither arms nor wings would budge. "007." He tilted his head up just enough to meet the familiar blue eyes, only to lose all track of what he was going to say at the unhidden emotions.
One of Bond's hands brushed through Q's hair, comforting for both of them, judging by the way tenseness drained from Bond's shoulders. "Looks like I don't need that plane ticket, after all," he said quietly.
Q swallowed. "Good. I'm not your travel agent."
Bond's mouth quirked up on one side with a grin. "Andrew?"
When Q shoved at his chest to get free, arms and wings let him go. "I prefer Drew, if you must use it. And you won't be."
Bond chuckled. "I will if you agree to dinner tomorrow night."
"Din–" Q stared at the man, completely thrown. Dinner? James Bond is asking me to...dinner? "007, are you asking me out on a...date?"
Bond sighed. "007 is asking for absolutely nothing. James, on the other hand, is asking for a date, yes."
Q swallowed, still not completely certain he believed what was happening. "I– Yes, very well."
Bond grinned, sharp and just edging on too dangerous. "Good. I'll come find you at 1800 hours. I'll drag you away from your computer if I have to."
Q made a mental note to leave early tomorrow, because he had no interest in causing that sort of scene at their place of employment.
Which reminded him, "What time is it?"
"You're about two hours late for work," Bond offered, his wings vanishing from sight.
Q sighed. "You don't have a mobile."
Bond smirked. "I love making an entrance."
"One of these days, you're going to get shot," Q pointed out, motioning that they should leave.
"You mean, one of these days I'm going to get shot somewhere fatal."
"With your luck, I doubt anything is truly fatal."
"You may be right," Bond allowed.
Q rather hoped he was.