"Genuine question," she paused for a moment before she looked up the stairs and to the National Gallery in front of her. "I come to spend one day in London, for you, and you decide that it would be best to take me to a museum full of paintings?"
The man she was walking besides arched his brow, a moment of amusement coming through in his eyes before he turned to look down at her. She said nothing, shrugging as she moved by his side and he stood in the queue for the Gallery.
"Not that I'm disappointed," she told him quickly to stop him from feeling disappointed. "I mean, it's great that you've actually cleared time in your hectic schedule to see me."
"You know that I would see you a lot more if I could, Alison," he replied to her. "Work in the Ministry has been busy. You know what it's like."
She scoffed as she heard him and folded her arms over her chest, shaking her head as she tried to think of what her father was saying to her. Her mother had warned her that this would happen five years ago. She'd warned her that work would always be put before her.
And she hadn't been wrong. She wondered if her mother resented her father at all.
"I guess I don't know what it's like," she replied. "What with being a university student. I could swear that our summers go on for ages! Not that I'm complaining, but I'd like to be back studying."
"You can study whilst you are off, do you know that?" her father asked her, looking down at her with an arched brow.
She rolled her eyes as she heard him, daring to nudge him in the arm. He winced once, almost as if she had actually caused him pain. She doubted she had done.
"I guess I could," she said. "I suppose I didn't really want to."
"And what has your mother said to that?"
"Mum...she...well...she's busy at the moment," Alison admitted to him. "She's seeing someone new. He's called Carl and he works in the accountant's firm that she works in."
"And what do you think to him?" he asked her and she shook her head, biting down on her bottom lip.
He watched as she ran a hand down her blonde hair and moved it over one shoulder. He'd begun to notice that it was something she did when she was nervous. Not that it took him long to find out. His daughter always had been easy to read, ever since he'd met her.
"He's a bit pompous," she admitted to her father. "I guess he's not that bad. They went on a date to some fancy Italian restaurant the other night and he bought home leftover lasagne. Honestly, you have never tasted anything like it."
The queue slowly began to move down and the two of them took a step forwards to follow it. He looked back to his daughter as she peered her head around the couple in front, trying to determine how much longer there was.
"So it is true what they say," he drawled, "the way to impress a woman is through her stomach."
"Hey," she replied hastily, "you'd have mellowed a bit if you had tasted it."
"Good job that I didn't."
Alison kept quiet as her father pushed his hands into the pockets of his suit trousers and she said nothing, sighing loudly as she looked at the line forming behind them. She supposed she should find it difficult to make conversation with a man she didn't see often. James Bond had always been a mystery to her.
She supposed he always would be.
"So, why are we here?" she suddenly asked again.
"I'm trying to educate you, Alison," James replied to her. "Your mother thought that it would be a good idea."
"My mother thinks that I spend every weekend going out and getting drunk," Alison replied. "She doesn't have much time for me ever since Carl came along. Besides, she thinks what she wants to think."
"And don't I know it."
James had first been told of Alison when the girl was fifteen. That was five whole years ago now. Her mother had told him that she didn't want her anywhere near him or his danger. James had agreed to begin with, stating that it would be best for him not to know her.
But then his instincts had gotten the best of him. He'd tracked down her address and had done his best to build up a relationship with his daughter. Of course she had no idea what he did. Alison and her mother assumed that he had some desk job in the Ministry of Defence.
That was the way it would be for as long as he could keep it.
He'd thought about telling her the truth. He'd thought about coming clean. She was a young adult now, but her mother still controlled as much of her life as she could. He doubted Alison would even believe him.
"So can we go out for lunch after this?" Alison checked and James nodded bluntly.
"If you would like to," he agreed with her. "I am sure that I can take you somewhere that can beat even Carl's lasagne."
"Sacré bleu," the girl exclaimed and James felt his lips lift up a little at hearing her. "Carl would positively have a fit at hearing that."
She moved into the satchel which sat on her shoulder and pulled out her bleeping phone. James looked at the latest technology in her hand and she began to quickly text back on the iPhone, her fingers working overtime. He caught a look at the name on the top of the screen.
"Who is Daniel?" he suddenly asked her.
"Some boy who I met on the student newspaper," she replied, her voice full of nonchalance. James shook his head, doing his best not to look too bothered by what he was hearing from his daughter.
"Shouldn't you be concentrating on your degree? You only just managed to scrape sixty one percent this year." He reminded her and she groaned at hearing him.
"Do you have any idea how difficult maths is?" she asked him. "It's near impossible. I'm amazed that I got an A at A level now."
"Do you need a tutor?" he wondered as they finally entered the Gallery and Alison shook her head.
"No, I'll cope. I'll come out with a good grade by Christmas," she said and James recalled her saying the same thing last year. Of course her education was something that concerned him more than he thought it would.
Alison and James fell into silence as they began to look around the rooms filled with paintings. Alison did her best to look at the artistic nature of everything in front of her. She found it more difficult than the others who stood around her.
Her father walked by her side, squinting as he glanced at the paintings and she shook her head, leaning to whisper in his ear;
"I don't get it," she told him, glancing at the bowl of fruit on the wall. "It's a bowl of fruit. What is so symbolic about it?"
James coughed once, shaking his head back and forth as he pretended to be intrigued by the painting.
"It is quite simple," a new voice spoke.
James looked over his daughter's shoulder as he saw a man speak to them. His eyes were set firmly on the painting in front of him, his glasses falling down his nose as he quietly spoke to the pair of them.
"It all to do with semiotics," he told them, moving his hands to rest in front of him as the two to the side of him stared, one with wide eyes and the other with narrowed eyes. "Semiotics of photography is when you read the picture, for example, when you read the bowl of fruit then you think of something like a market stall. Or perhaps you think of how the fruit cannot move. That would be known as a coded iconic."
"Yeah, but," Alison paused as his dark head turned to look her in the eye, "I just see a bowl of fruit."
The man opposite her felt his lips quirk and James watched her blonde hair with wonder as she looked back to the fruit.
"That's all it is, isn't it? It is a bowl of fruit. It's not telling us anything."
"That is all to do with Barthe's theory of noncoded iconic," he told the girl. "Clearly you do not see a deeper meaning."
"I'm finding it difficult to see how you can find a deeper meaning," she replied and James caught the man's eye. He said nothing for a second before wondering if he could be the man he had been told to meet. Surely not, the boy looked as though he was fresh out of university.
"Ali," James said; his voice deep as she looked at him with her green orbs. "Go and see if there is anywhere that sells coffee in here. We're going to need some to keep up with the rest of the journey."
The girl nodded and pulled her satchel further onto her shoulder, stalking through the painted walls in an attempt to find coffee. She finally came to small stall by the entrance and asked for one coffee and a bottle of water. She almost scoffed when she saw how much she had to pay. She dug her purse out of her satchel and handed the money over, dropping the water back into her bag and holding the coffee to her chest.
She moved back inside, looking for her father and wondering where he had gotten to. Finally, she found him settled on a bench, the dark haired man in the raincoat next to him.
"Here," she spoke, handing him the coffee. "Are we going to keep moving?"
"We should," James agreed.
"Alison Holmes, isn't it?" the man in the raincoat suddenly spoke and James quickly jumped in to stop him from revealing who he was.
Clearly he had no idea that his daughter did not know who he was or who he worked for.
"Alison," James drawled, "this is Martin. He works in the Ministry of Transport. I thought I'd seen his face before."
James looked over to 'Martin', his gaze deadly serious and the black haired quartermaster had no option but to play along. He held his hand out to the girl opposite him and nodded at her.
"Martin Jacobs," he said to her.
"Oh, hey," she said with a small smile. "Nice to meet you."
"And you too," he replied to her.
She released his slightly sweaty hand and looked to her dad, her brow arched as he nodded at her.
"You go ahead. I just need to talk with Martin for a moment."
She nodded in agreement and walked back down the wooden floor.
"Martin?" the black haired man asked. "I think I prefer Q."
"And what type of a name is Q?" James wondered back to him.
Q's head shook back and forth as he watched Bond's daughter move down the rows of paintings, clearly confused by the message each one was trying to convey.
"A better one than Martin," he replied to him. "I should go. Have fun searching your soul for the meaning of the paintings."
"Have fun sitting in your pyjamas and playing on your computer games."
Q frowned as Bond left him alone in the gallery to go and catch up with his daughter. He said nothing for a moment before he mumbled to himself;
"I could ruin your entire life and do it in my pyjamas."
A/N: I hope you'll let me know what you think and I hope that it wasn't too bad!