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"I can't keep kissing strangers and pretending they're you..."

The words were out in the open before he could take them back. Whipping Q's head up from where it had been bent over a circuit board. Doing presumably whatever he did in his lab during the day. Completely unprepared for the words to pop out unbidden, just shy of three minutes after they'd exchanged hellos.

Well, not quite out of the blue.

had asked him how he was.

Still, he hadn't been prepared for those exact words to come out in response.

And he wasn't the only one.

His tongue was thick in his mouth. Nervous system vibrating with every possible truth he held dear. Even the ones he kept knotted up in chains and sunk deep in the ocean of his mind. Especially those. Each one protected by crushing currents and monsters that lurked- ready to swallow and tear.

In fact, he was excited to spill each and every one, if only Q would ask.

He'd tell him.

He'd tell him everything.

Whatever he wanted.

And he'd love every second of it.

He smiled, open and sloppy as Q blinked, then blinked again. Legs spread - wide and lax like a lazy predator - as Q stuttered something and cleared his throat. Body language inviting as he used every trick in the book to tell Q exactly what he wanted.

But that only deepened the frown on the man's face.

Such a pretty face.

He'd wondered more than once what it would feel like against his.

Stubble against stubble.

Stubble against scars.

Stubble against-

He knew Q preferred to keep himself clean shaven. But he'd seen him get like that a few times. Usually when the stakes were high and they were out of country, on a mission. When Q had been up for almost forty-eight hours straight and his cheeks and chin shaded dark in a way that never failed to make his fingers itch. Wanting to rub his thumb down the rough of it. Lips tingling like he could feel the phantom rasp whenever they shared the same air.

"Bond?"

How had they gotten here?

Ah. The syringe.

No.

No.

He was getting ahead of himself.

Q had asked how he was doing. His tone had been even-keeled, but clearly relieved when he'd wandered into the lab post mission. Settling himself in a chair, content to watch as Q puttered around in his element. Feeling loose and pleasantly ripped open as he'd hummed tunelessly to himself.

He'd told Q the truth not long after.

He hadn't meant to.

But it'd happened anyway.

He cocked his head, idly wondering if that was something he should be more concerned about. He eyes hazed closed. Tired. Head heavy. Thoughts heavy. Tongue heavy.

A little voice in the back of his head pinged concern.

Telling him something was wrong.

That he needed to remember.

But it was so hard to focus and-

Suddenly he was back there.

He winced as the glint of low-hanging lights rebounded off medical-metal. Highlighting the clear, silver fluid in the needle as the man with the scar on his right earlobe held it up. He couldn't move. They'd done something. Turned off his limbs. He couldn't find them. He remembered fighting. Struggling. He said something that made blood leak from his mouth after a fist connected, then another. But then it didn't matter. They put something in him that turned off everything he hadn't known had been hurting. Making everything better. Lighter.

He blinked slowly.

Something wasn't right.

But he couldn't put his finger on why.

"Bond," Q said clearly - carefully. Glasses slipping down his nose before he pushed them up again. "Did something happen on the mission?"

He nodded.

"Can you tell me?" Q asked, putting down the project he was working on with a muted click. Giving him his undivided attention. Finally.

He nodded again, head lolling. Grinning up at him playfully as Q slowly approached from around his desk. Pausing to press something underneath the keyboard before Q was suddenly crouched in front of him. Listening.

This was why he was here.

He knew Q would know what to do.

He was so smart.

So good.

So-

"Ask me," he offered, smirking. Idly thinking about reaching out and rubbing himself into the curve of Q's neck.

But he meant it.

He needed instructions.

Specifics.

He wanted to answer.

God, did he want to.

But his brain and tongue kept getting stuck.

And just like always, Q seemed to know. Placing a light - barely there - hand on his knee as he looked up at him. Giving him something to focus on as the air in the room changed. Like somewhere close by, a door had eased open.

"What happened on the mission, Bond? What happened to make you say that?"

He sighed. So relieved it translated into pleasure. Cock twitching in his slacks as his back melted further into the chair. Practically choking on his tongue as he forced it to work. Pushing the words out eagerly as he kept his eyes on Q's face.

"Injected. Silver sedan. Stolen. Bumper sticker. Cross. RB34 ZRF. Caucasian. There were ten. Nine American accents. One Russian. They wanted me to tell the truth. To tell them everything. But I got away," he slurred, grinning.

He remembered breaking out of the room. Needle snapping. Pulse loud. He remembered getting into the rental he'd stashed three blocks down. Inconspicuous. Dented. He remembered when he'd started to feel it. Really feel it. He-

"Of course you did," Q praised, head cocking. Dark curls soft and practically begging him to sink his fingers in. "Excellent work."

He nearly whimpered. Something about compliment making him shift in his seat. Damn near wanting to squirm - like he could rub the pleasure out that way – as the high peaked and he exhaled shakily. Fingers clenching around the armrests of the chair.

Fuck. That was good.

"What is it...what's wrong?" Q asked, worried. A tense contrast to the way he was slowly leaning to port. Enjoying the lingering tremors as his cock pressed fully against his zipper.

He felt, more than heard, the stutter of breath when Q noticed. Eyes darting down. Lingering. Before snapping back up again. And while he figured it was probably self-explanatory, he answered anyway.

"Nothing..." he answered honestly, the muscles in his cheeks aching from smiling. "I feel great. Better than in a long time."

Which was true.

Obviously.

He just couldn't seem to keep the truth in.

"Do you know what they wanted? What they were after?"

On some level, he was aware M was there. Feeding Q questions. But it didn't matter. Q was here. Close. Eyes darting down to his crotch again before skittering away. Cheeks pink.

So pretty.

"Bond?"

He shivered when Q's cool hands gently cupped his wrist. Counting his pulse. Gut sucking in unconsciously at the intimacy of it. At the way Q's throat worked through a swallow. At the way the boy's neck arched when he turned to look back at M, saying something he couldn't be bothered to hear.

"Why didn't you go to medical?" Q questioned, long fingers dancing over a tablet Moneypenny handed him. Bringing up his most recent charts before the frown was back in full force.

"I did," he drawled. "They didn't ask. So I came here. Like I always do. You worry."

Q cleared his throat, head ducking in embarrassment.

It felt like poetry.

He hated poetry.

But if it came from Q, he'd grow to love it.

Did Q even like poetry?

"Besides," he murmured, low and purring-warm as the air above their heads condensed. Seeping sweetness he could practically taste as he leaned in. Close enough that he could smell the clean scent of him. Tinted with the subtle smell of something that was on the tip of his tongue. Not sandlewood. Not heather. Something- "You can fix it. You always fix things."

Someone cleared their throat awkwardly behind him.

"Can you?" M interjected, watching from the doorframe like he knew better than to get too close. "Medical is scrambling with his blood sample so they'll be useless until they get that sorted. If you have something, now is the time. I need him sober so we can catch these bastards before they leave the country."

Q made to stand, but before he could get far his hand shot out without thinking. Capturing him by his wrist and reeling him back. Pulling him a few jealous inches closer until the line of Q's back was brushing against his leg.

Q sighed, but heeled all the same. Allowing the manhandling as he adjusted his glasses and addressed M.

"I believe so, the compound I have available is experimental, but it should help lessen the effects of whatever they gave him. I need to do a few calculations. I recommend leaving me with him for now. Clear the section as a precaution and lock it down until I give the go ahead."

Time spaced on him after that.

Watching the ceiling ripple and sway as his head thunked back against the headrest.

Q never strayed far.

But he was careful to ask him anything more than simple, direct questions.

When was the last time you ate?

Drank?

Water or Alcohol?

Exactly how much time since you were dosed?

How big was the needle?

It was all rather boring.

Q could be asking him anything.

Anything.

He could tell him so many interesting things.

But Q didn't rise to the bait.

Not even when he told him exactly that.

All it did was make Q go tight lipped and quiet.

He didn't much like that either.


He wasn't aware he'd nodded off until Q was suddenly beside him. Hand light on his arm and eyes far too young to look as troubled as they did as he eased him upright. Mother-henning him into sipping at a bottle of water before he tugged a medical cart beside them. Letting him see the small syringe set on a bit of gauze on the tray.

"How do you feel?" Q asked him, flicking the side of the needle to ensure there were no air bubbles before rolling up his sleeve. "I'm going to inject you with the blocking compound. Is that alright? I need to you tell me."

He nodded. Then followed up with words.

"Aces," he breathed, grinning again when Q's lips twitched in response. Wondering at the disappointment he couldn't help but feel at the thought of losing all this lightness. He hadn't felt this good in…he couldn't remember. "Do it."

He didn't feel the prick of the needle

His nerves were too dead for that.

Too abused after years on the job and far too many near misses to count.

But he did feel the second-hand relief that flooded through every inch of the boy when the job was finally done. Like there was nothing Q wanted better than to set him right. The thought made him feel warm. Like he was on the cusp of truly understanding the feelings that came with it. Maybe.

"Well, enjoy it while it lasts," Q commented, as he set the needle to the side and straightened. "I'm afraid the come down is going to be excessively unpleasant."

He surprised himself by cracking a yawn. Feeling his jaw pop as it stretched his mouth wide. Exhaustion rolling in quick and heavy as he settled down into the cracks and creases of the chair. Trying to get comfortable as Q typed something on his keyboard. Filling the air with an almost soothing sound.

It reminded him of good things.

Of familiar things.

Of Q.

"Oh, for heaven's sake, Bond…you can't stay here. Up you get."

He blinked up at him for a long moment, not understanding.

But Q merely sighed. Pinching the bridge of his nose like he was altogether impossible before leaning down and helping him to his feet. It wasn't exactly the most graceful he'd moved. In fact, he nearly fell right on his arse. Swaying heavily – like he was drunk or his limbs were asleep. Forced to let Q drag him deeper into the labs. One arm slung over his shoulder, the other ghosting the small of his back. Easing him carefully into a back room he'd always assumed as storage, but instead held a small military-style cot and a table strewn with various computer parts.

"You can rest here," Q told him, voice close to strained as he eased him onto the mattress. Long fingers brushing the back of his head as he guided him down to the pillow. Flicking back the covers before starting on the laces of his shoes. "The sheets should be fine. I slept here while you were on mission. I hope you don't mind."

He smiled up at the ceiling panels as one shoe dropped, closely followed by the other. Realizing that for the first time in hours, he wasn't feeling the same, pressing need to answer like he had before. The urgency was gone. The need to bleed truth was gone. Leaving him with a strange sort of emptiness he wasn't sure what to do with and wanted to think about even less.

Instead, he waited until Q was in his line of sight again before he let the truth go for free.

"I don't want to blame what I said it on this," he murmured softly, eyelids heavy. Hyper aware of the wumm-wumm-wumm of the air conditioning in the confined space. "I meant it…I need you to believe that. At least for now."

He could have counted the seconds before Q answered. Catching his gaze and keeping it in the only way he knew how. Fiercely and uncompromising. He'd never learned to do anything softly. Not even now. When he was chalk-full with foreign chemicals. All of them encouraging him to take chances. To say things he probably wouldn't without. Things he wanted to say. But also things he was aware he'd likely regret come morning.

Nothing good had ever come of him opening his heart.

And yet-

His eyes had almost slitted themselves closed when Q sat down beside him. Slowing sinking into the narrow strip of space between his thigh and the bed frame. Watching him scrub his hands over his face until he realized the man was nodding. Expression careful, but far less wounded than it'd been the first time he'd said it.

It was so like Q he couldn't help but smile.

"Then you can tell me again," Q told him finally, voice gentle. "Tomorrow."

"I will," he promised, eyes fluttering closed in spite himself as Q stayed at his side. Hands so close to his they could have touched.

"Go to sleep, Bond."

So he did.