3 am London time, Bond’s plane had landed in New York where his was to meet up with his counterpart, Felix Leiter for a joint MI6 and CIA operation. With his agent finally setting into his hotel room, Q could take a few moments for himself to get a cat nap on the sofa in his office before he was needed once more to run 004’s current mission to Zimbabwe.
However he was confronted by box upon box of who knew what stacked in his office. He vaguely remembered Tanner saying something about them earlier in the day... or was that yesterday.
Box upon box...
All labeled in her neat harsh script “Quartermaster’s Eyes Only”.
Fingers pushed his glasses back up his nose.
Fingers tugged at the hem of his cardigan.
Fingers tangled in him mess of dark curls causing them to float ridiculously in all directions.
Box upon box left to him and him alone from M… old M… herself.
Now remembering a conversation at one point with Tanner about clearing out a closet in M’s office...
Mallory’s office... of his predecessors things.
Boxes that had been obviously labeled for the Quartermaster. Having the building service workers deliver them to his office for his perusal. Fuck... this was just what he needed. The only good thing that could come of all of this would be that he might stumble upon the paper trail file that he knew M had kept on him. Give him the opportunity to dispose of it, lest anyone else find it.
Q flopped down on the his sofa after maneuvering his way around box mountain. Tomorrow... boxes from M hell would have to wait until a later time. Sleep was the priority now.
As usual, even exhaustion couldn’t drag Q into a lengthy sleep. He fell deeply soon after dragging a quilt over his weary body but in less than two hours he found himself restless and wakeful. A verbal command illuminated the reading lamp by his sofa, and he sloshed the remainder of the tar black coffee from his pot into a stained mug. He would have to start another pot if he was to get through the day.
Clicking his tongue in annoyance he reached for the nearest box. As expected it was full of files. Reams of paper that should have been condensed into electronic files years ago. It wasn’t as if M had never embraced technology. But when Q opened the first Manila folder he was surprised to find it meticulously cross referenced with mission record numbers and every sheet inside was covered with M’s own handwritten notes, observations, lessons learned and pointers to other files.
Q was engrossed in M’s dissection of a 007 mission report from almost a decade earlier when there was a knock and his door opened. R’s face loomed over box mountain. “004 in fifteen, Quartermaster.”
“Sure, be there in a tad.”
He quickly flicked to the front sheet and noted the red block script of the file status.
Odd. The mission had concluded with the death of a former MI6 agent. A second death, in fact, as the agent had been believed killed in action some years before. What was it about double o agents and their talent for resurrection?
NO REMAINS RECOVERED. DEATH NOT CONFIRMED.
Reluctantly Q put the file to one side to return to later. 004 and Zimbabwe needed his full attention.
8 hours later after Zimbabwe and the mission of dynamic duo of Bond and Leiter was already becoming a complete fiasco... he really should have seen that one coming... Q finally managed to make his way back to his office in hopes of food and a well deserved/earned catnap. Except he was greeted by box upon box again. Ones that seemed to have an uncanny ability to poke at his curiosity.
“What the fuck is all of this?” Moneypenny leaned against his outer office door, paper bag in hand, that he prayed contained something sweet and goopy that was just begging for him to devour.
“Files I need to sort through. Seems that some are left over from the Cold War age. Courtesy of M… my M,” he added.
“Sounded like tedious fun. Please don’t ask me to join in. I believe my calendar is full.”
“You are so helpful, Moneypenny.” He snatched the bag from her hands and began to gleefully dig through it. “Omg you brought the chocolate pudding filled ones! That right there exempts you from box clearing duty.”
“Well help yourself, love. Those are all for you
and I am to remind you from Tanner and M that you do have a flat if your own that need an occasional visit.” However, he didn’t hear much of anything she was saying to him. Distract by pastries and file folders that held curiosities from the past.
The slither and thump of an avalanche of files woke Q from a doze. “Fuck” he muttered as he slid off the sofa after them and started gathering them up. When he had a disorderly pile he sat back on his heels. “I don’t have the time or the waking hours to deal with this lot right now. Storage. That’s what I need.”
There were cupboards in his office but they were full of... well... who the heck knew what? Bits of old kit. Half finished projects. Things he saved for a rainy day or for when inspiration struck. He looked from box mountain to technology junk jungle and cursed.
“Problem?” He hadn’t even heard Moneypenny’s return, this time bearing a large take out tub of soup. “Do you even know what is living in there?”
“Not a bloody clue. But it needs to be home to this lot before I read myself into a permanent coma.”
Moneypenny startled when the first shelf was swept clear by Q’s cardigan clad arm, computer components, old tape drives and assorted wires crashing to the floor.
“What?” He grinned at her deep scowl. Pointing at the boxes “those are for my eyes only...” then at the debris on the floor, “this lot can be donated to R&D, the spares bins, or a bloody skip for all I care right now. So... pass me a box and stop bitching, you cow...”
The ambiguity of the file of an agent killed in action not once but twice intrigued him... and the fact that there had been no body recovered. MI6 always did there best to bring their dead home. And, why was this particular file buried in M’s ‘for your eyes only’ storage.
The more he read through other files shoved in the boxes, he found himself eventually coming back to read that one particular file again and again. In an further extensive examination of the boxes, he found numerous files that contained elements of missions that probably should never see the light of day. Detailed events and notations that he understood now why M had hidden these particular files away from prying eyes. But, he pondered why she left them all to him, and that in itself, was another question to be answered. However in his search, he disappointedly had yet to come across any files she had hidden that pertained to his own entrance into MI6.
“Arjun,” Q approached his third in command. “Could you do some research for me? Pull some files from storage if needed?”
“Of course Q. Which mission are we looking at.” Arjun put down the project he was working on, grabbing up a notepad to make notions as Q spoke.
“Nothing current. This is a closed mission. I just need some details for something else I’m working on. A personal inquiry that I need to stay for my eyes only for now.” Q gave him the details, sent him on his way, and headed back to his office to the file that was called to him.
Q flopped on the sofa in his office staring at the file. One of the things that puzzled him was why no one ever mentioned anything about this mission? Wasn’t one of the rumours that 007 and 006 had been inseparable at one time? And yet no one ever mentioned 006, not even Bond. What had happened that 006 was hidden away in M’s personal files.
If Q wanted to know anything in MI6 his first port of call was the extensive file system. Now, with Arjun working on that task, Q moved on to his second most reliable source, particularly for anything that was more murmured in the shadows than documented in the vast records.
“Moneypenny!” He greeted when she picked up her phone.
“You sound like you’re smiling. What do you want? You want something.”
“Don’t be so suspicious. I simply want the benefit of your nose for gossip.”
“I’m listening...” Q heard the rattle oh her keyboard cease and the tapping of acrylic fingernails against china. “I have fresh coffee, M is in a conference call for at least another half hour, so shoot...”
“What do you know about 007’s past connections? Relationships, or...”
“No.” She said firmly. “I told you before, no matter how good his arse looks in Tom Ford, you Do. Not. Go. There!”
“Shut up! I’m not talking about me. There was another agent he might have been involved with. Some years ago. The guy went MIA, presumed deceased. Sound familiar at all?”
Moneypenny’s sharp intake of breath caused Q to sit up in his chair.
“006. Not here. Tonight, over drinks. Pick me up at 8 and wear something expensive.”
The phone went dead.
Moneypenny already had her mind up where they were going for the evening giving the cab driver an address.
“What can you tell me about...” Q tried to start a conversation with her about the Information he was seeking but was immediately cut off by Moneypenny.
“Not now anxious boy. First you wine and dine me and then maybe we will chat. Just enjoy the ride outside of the basement for once. See there is a huge city out there to enjoy.”
It wasn’t long before they pulled up in front of Roka Charlotte, Q holding the cab door for her. “You are buying I hope you know. “ Q rolled his eyes at her knowing she had plotted this evening out from the moment he started asking her for a favour earlier in the day.
“Oh don’t give me that childish look. It’s been long time since we’ve been out. Enjoy the evening and I promise we’ll chat.”
“We can’t talk here,” Q hissed as Moneypenny led him to the large central seating area close to the chefs. One of them grinned at the ‘couple’ and took a place in front of them.
“Food first, darling. You need to eat, you’re thin as a rake.” She pinched his cheek, then patted it.
Eventually, with amazing food and entertainment courtesy of the cooking showmanship, and their second bottle of wine drained, Q felt almost relaxed. He almost forgot the reason for their outing. Almost. But not quite.
“Coffee and dessert at your flat,” he insisted sweetly.
Moneypenny deigned to allow Q to escort her to a taxi. They alighted at her flat some twenty minutes later, and the door had barely closed behind them before Q demanded “Tell me everything. I’ve earned it.”
Q stared at Moneypenny in utter disbelief. But in his mind he began the analytical progress of piecing together everything thing he had read into a bigger picture and then he could begin to see the underlying truths in what she was telling him. The evidence was there if one knew just where to look.
“Womanising honey pot mission Bond…” Q muttered devouring another bite of a chocolate eclair they had purchased at a late night bakery in the way to his flat. Actually, They had purchased a dozen of them and intended on eating all of them before the night was over. “I would have never thought that he and Trevelyan…”
“Well believe it. One of MI6’s best kept secrets.” Moneypenny shoved her cup at him for a refill, “M was not at all pleased that there was a connection between them. Threatened her complete control.”
“Why the secrecy though? Acting as if Trevelyan never existed?” Q shoved the remainder of his second eclair into his mouth.
“Well for one, imagine what it would do to Bond reputation?” Moneypenny reached across the table wiping the chocolate off his face that he had smeared across his cheek.
"And we both know he makes the most of that reputation. It makes doors open and knickers fall off," Q griped, scowling at Moneypenny's grin. "Ok, I'll say it before you have a chance... No, I had no idea he was bi. I thought he was just... you know... fucking with me."
"Knowing Bond, he probably was," she smirked at him, "but I keep warning you off for good reason. You don't need a man who flirts with anything and everything alive, just to keep his reputation as a ladies' man intact. He has no loyalty, and no interest in a long term relationship."
"It seems to me that he had that and lost it. He and Trevelyan were friends from before MI6, weren't they? Recruited at the same time, going through training together, working the same joint missions for a while until Trevelyan's first 'death'."
"M kept them apart after that. 006 was a deep-cover specialist, whereas Bond was more suited to the short term missions. With Tanner's talent for organisation, it wasn't difficult to put them on opposite sides of the globe."
When Q finally left Moneypenny’s flat later that night, he was puzzled with more questions than answers as he had hoped. He soon found himself on the night tube heading back towards MI6 instead of to his own flat for sleep.
Not only was the intel about Bond and Trevelyan churning around in his head but it poked even more at his curiosity as to why M… old M, had left all her “For her eyes only” files to him. And this was why he was in his office, sitting on the floor with boxes of files scattered around him at 3 am instead of snuggled in his own bed curled up with his feline furry children.
Why the need to store away everything related to 006 mission and subsequent death? It seemed to be a topic that was either an unknown entity or one that was one of “we don’t discuss that, do you understand!” and that pushed him even more to delve deeper into the files.
And what he found as he read through M’s personal hand written notes just complicated the mystery even more for him.
The more he read, the more he discovered that M herself had been 006’s sole contact for his last undercover mission. He reported to her alone and even her Chief of Staff had little idea as to his mission purpose or status. Embedded deep in the Ukraine, 006 had no contact or backup from MI6. He was virtually on his own.
Q rose from the floor, stretching his strained muscles and back, before heading to make himself a fresh cuppa. What had been so elusive about 006’s mission to begin with and why when he was lost in action did MI6 act as if he had never existed.
Events in his department took a chaotic turn so it was almost 36 hours before Q, returned to pack up and finally go to his flat for two days of enforced leave. Spotting a green sticky note, it informed him that the records Arjun had pulled were now in Q’s secure folder. Actually relieved for once to have some time to pursue his own research, Q stuffed a fresh notebook into his bag along with the notes on 006 he had made already.
Over a takeaway and bottle of red wine, tv playing at low volume, Q began to search for patterns in the reports, mission logs and records of one Alec Trevelyan.
006 had been missing, presumed dead for years, so why had M continued to maintain files on him? His salary had been paid for the six months following the decision to declare him dead. With double oh agents, that wasn’t unreasonable. A few weeks being patched up in some foreign hideout and the deceased tended to somehow return to London larger than life.
Q scanned the list of dates he had complied then took up a highlighter and swiped bright yellow across several.
“Agonium... some kind of substance? A metal?” He wondered aloud. The name appeared in the column of several reports, and was mentioned twice in the transcript of a call made by Trevelyan two months before his death. “Could be a person” he said doubtfully. His furry companions flicked their ears but ignored his solo chat.
Q logged into MI6 under secure protocols so his presence would not be noticed by the staff on duty at the moment. Setting search parameters with carefully chosen key words he sat back and watched as the data began to accumulate from various files across the agencies files.
Bits and pieces. Here and there. None outwardly seeming to have any pertinent connected but somewhere within them there had to be a pattern.
He gathered the printed out pieces of his search before wandering back to the lounge to lie them all out of the floor before. Cuppa in hand, he stood staring at it all. He couldn’t help but feel like these files were meant for him from M for a reason.
As he read, rearranged the pieces, suddenly the patterns began to coalece in his head. The dates in M’s notes to the files of 006’s mission. Pieces in other records moved to form a flow chart of data that began to resemble a complicated interwoven pattern. A pattern that all linked to the Agonium… an ancient Roman Festival. The Agonium… the festival of Janus… all referencing 006’s mission that M herself single handedly ran without anyone else’s knowledge.
Now on his hands and knees, Q flipped through his notes once more. The cross references didn’t stop with Trevelyan’s death! The date of the 9th January... the Roman festival... it cropped up time and again. On a hunch, Q returned to his laptop and accessed M’s online operations diaries.
“Oh you sly old witch!”
Every year on that date M was absent from MI6. Nothing obvious about it - security conferences, delegations, low profile operations, even family illness and holidays - but all valid excuses for M to be out of the country.
But what did that imply? It was obvious! Well... more or less...
“I don’t think he’s dead,” he told his cats. “Or the operation wasn’t, and she replaced him, but there’s no change. It doesn’t FEEL different. What if I’m right?”
He was on his feet now, pacing, mind racing and voicing his thoughts out loud to his unimpressed audience who meowed in protest.
“Oh my god, what if I’m RIGHT?? Who would know? Moneypenny? Bond, surely?”
And then suddenly it occurred to him, Moneypenny didn’t know. She would have hinted to him that there was more to 006’s situation than appeared on the surface or he would have been able to read it in her words. But there had been nothing there.
And if Moneypenny didn’t know,Bond didn’t know either. Moneypenny knew everything that happened within MI6. Nothing escaped her view.... Except M’s personal notes.
Q shooed a furry cat arse away that was occupying a needed stack of notes and rearranged than once again few into a different order mapping M’s movements and notations into a more precise direction.
“Fuck... Buggering fuck...” he muttered sitting back on his heels staring at the signs that were screaming at him from the floor of his flat. “He’s alive... he has to be.” The more he studied it all, the more he convinced himself he was. Everything that was there spelled out in bits and pieces of the old bitch’s files screamed at him that he had an agent still out in the cold with no one left as a contact within MI6, and ... she knew. She knew Q would see it. Find the clues.
And damn it all, the day of The Agonium, what seemed to be their traditional meetup check in appointment was only a day away.
But where in the world...? And what would Trevelyan do if M didn’t show? Did he have orders to contact MI6? Or drop off the radar forever?
Q’s cats were demanding attention and he realised it was long past midnight, but the vexing number of questions would not let him rest just yet. But he needed to walk away. Feed the furry pests, grab himself a snack, and... what the hell! He opened a second bottle of wine.
Half an hour later the cats curled contentedly on Q’s bed sound asleep and Q had moved some of the paperwork to his dining table. Laptop to the left, bottle to the right. A stack of M’s papers neatly aligned in the centre.
“What am I not seeing?”
He returned to January 9th, seeking a pattern in the locations or durations of M’s absences. All seemed reasonable until a one-day visit to China... another to Italy. The latter he could believe, but the former could not be true.
“Moneypenny… Answer me a quick question.” Q was in discovery mode, looking for answers that would finalise for him in his head that would pull the big picture together for him with the factual data that he needed.
“Do you have any idea what time it is? This better be an emergency and it is going to cost you” an extremely unhappy voice chided him. Q glanced at the time on his phone realising then that it was 2:35 am and he most definitely would owe Moneypenny for waking her at this god awful hour of the morn on a work day.
“I do so apologise Evie. You know how I get when I am working on something. But please, if I say to you a sequence of words, give me your first impression. Greenwich. France. Italy. Turkey. Greece. Argentina. Spain. India. Japan.Thailand.” Q wandered his kitchen, phone tucked under his ear, whilst he started the kettle again.
“Food.” was the simple reply from Moneypenny.
“Food… as in restaurants. Types of cuisine. Can I go back to sleep now. Too tired to play your games right now Q.”
Q’s quiet ‘oh, of course...’ was met with a dead line, Moneypenny having rudely disconnected, no doubt now trying to claw back her sleep. Q scanned his list with anew perspective.
London, for he was now almost sure M had never left the city, was not short of international restaurants. Every possible taste was catered for somewhere. The task of narrowing it down seemed even more of a mountain than when he knew nothing at all. But one thing Q most definitely was when on a trail, was tenacious. And if M meant him to find 006, then the code was there for breaking.
He started in the obvious place, with dates and times, but as every date was In the fortnight around January 9th and most times, where mentioned, were evening, he soon dismissed that possibility. M would make him work for his satisfaction.
The names of her appointment destinations brought several possibilities, but on checking out the third Roma restaurant and half a dozen Taj Mahals, Q sat back with a frustrated sigh.
“Give me a clue, you bloody frustrating woman! I have half a pattern... maybe... but no consistency!”
He picked up M’s personal log and flipped the pages again, returning to an apparent visit to India. The margins were annotated and Q turned to this to look for some kind of key.
It took him an embarrassingly long time to recognise one of the entries as a possible London postcode.
“No, surely it’s not that obvious?”
Wherever he found an appointment, he transcribed the postcode from the page - SW2, W4, E14 - then compared it to restaurants in the postcode. He got a match 70% of the time. It was enough to convince him to apply his rules to the next meeting.
He had two hits - Buenos Aires Cafe or Gaucho at the O2.
Oh of course he had two hits. Just like any other mission, a series of complicated diversions in an attempt to steer you away from the actual facts. The day to day life in the world of espionage.
Buenos Aires Café was his first look into which after researching seemed too casual of a setting for a rendezvous for M. Good food but the setting was too open, not conducive to the conversation she was set to have with an agent out in the field. The typical patronage, well let’s just say that M would have stood out. And, even though an experienced agent would have been able to blend in the crowd, it still didn’t jump out as what would have been at first choice for meeting.
So that left him Gaucho at the O2.
A restaurant that touts itself as “…Its food. Its wine. Its culture and most importantly, the passion of the people.” Yes, this was the place that a double oh agent would choose for a meet.
Q was running on coffee and adrenaline now. He couldn’t let it go. M was due to meet 006 tomorrow - later today! - and Q needed to be there in her place. This agent needed to be brought back under Six’s control. Or his, at least. Though lord knew what he was expected to do with him.
Twenty minutes later Q was scrolling through Gaucho’s reservations system searching for a likely rendezvous between M and the agent.
9pm. Table for 2, name of Leamas.
Q rolled his eyes. Well, it wasn’t subtle. Any fan of spy fiction could make the connection if they were familiar with Le Carre’s work, but the average maitre d’ wouldn’t question it. It had to be it!
Q discarded his glasses on the table and knuckled his sore eyes. 5.32am. He ought to get some sleep.
And then he needed to read everything there was to know about Agent 006 Alec Trevelyan prior to meeting the man himself.
There were too many unknowns in the M’s scheduled meet with 006, that is if he was still considered 006 or was now just a freelance agent. Q cursed the fact that he did not have enough time to thoroughly comb through all the bits and pieces on M’s hidden boxes.
His bed and bedroom floor were scattered with items out of his wardrobe as he fussed about what to wear, trying to not look too conspicuous. He was so overthinking this.
For instance, what was their standard procedure for for arrival? Did Trevelyan arrive first? Did M arrive first? If M was to arrive first, would it arise suspicion in Trevelyan if she wasn’t waiting at the table for him.
Oh he definitely was so utterly overthinking this. But, there were too many unknowns But, he would never send one of his agents out into the field with so little tangible data. This was so going to be a cock up.
Finally settling on dark trousers, matching waistcoat, grey button down with black tie, he attempted too not look so conspicuous or as if he just wandering out of a lab in R&D. He needed to not scare Trevelyan away before he even had an opportunity to speak with him. And so, he also decided on a leather portfolio to carry with him instead of his messenger bag, a more business like appearance.
Glancing at his phone, he noted that he had a tad over an hour before the dinner reservation and he needed to be there ahead of time to wait for Trevelyan’s arrival.
Q took a cab as far as he was able then walked the rest of the way to the restaurant. The complex was busy, a wide assortment of customers queuing for tables in the restaurants, or crowding into the bars. Q walked briskly, looking with apparent interest at his surroundings, but all the while searching for a face familiar from a photograph.
“Good evening, sir. Do you have a reservation?”
The girl smiled at him and rested her red taloned fingers on the book on her desk. Q gave her the details and waited impatiently while she took her time checking for it.
“I’m rather early,” Q said helpfully. “Why don’t you point out the table and I’ll wait in the bar until my friend arrives?” He almost stumbled over the word ‘friend’. Perhaps ‘associate’ would have been more appropriate. Was that what M would have said?
But the girl was already nodding and indicating a table that was currently being cleared of the detritus from the previous diners. Satisfied that it would have met with M’s requirements for privacy without being noticeably secretive, he thanked her and took a table in the bar that allowed him to see both the table and the restaurant door.
Sipping a huge gin and tonic Q kept watch. Customers came and went, and the business of the restaurant went on around him, while the hands of his watch crawled slowly towards the assigned time. Would he be on time? Late?
He was distracted by a server taking his order for a second drink and almost missed Trevelyan’s arrival, but something about the presence of the man captured his attention immediately. Tall, broad-shouldered, he moved with that unmistakable grace of a double oh, like a prowling big cat.
His attire was smart casual - dark coloured jeans, a pale blue shirt and a navy checked jacket. No tie. Q was relieved his own choice of clothing was pitched correctly.
“Please bring my drink to the table. My friend has just arrived.”
Q watched as Trevelyan arrived at the reserved table ordering a drink from the waitstaff before taking the seat at the table where he could observe the entire room around him. Q sighed inwardly. This made it much more difficult to approach him without setting him on edge to begin with.
Q rose, gathered his phone and portfolio containing documents he hoped would convince Trevelyan that he was legitimate. It was now or never. Risk the possibility of loosing the agent completely out in the cold.
He slid into the seat across from Trevelyan as a server also slid his second drink in front of him.
“I think you have the wrong table although I must say you are prettier than my expected dinner date.” Trevelyan smirked at him but there was a cold calculating set to his eyes.
“Oh I am quite sure I have the correct table. I watched you arrive from the bar and waited for you to be seated, just to make sure, but honestly, I would have recognised you from your photograph.”
Q took a sip of his drink. Inwardly, butterflies hurled themselves at his stomach walls, but he had mastered his Quartermaster mask.
Trevelyan leaned forward, forearms resting on the table edge, large hands clasped together. He leered at Q. “Like I said, pretty boy, I’m certain you are not who I am waiting for, so whatever dating site brought you here, your partner-to-be is seated elsewhere.” He waved a hand at the expanse of restaurant. “More’s the pity.”
Q sighed impatiently. This was already veering from his expected course, but he should have known flirting would be the first obstacle. Trevelyan was a double oh agent after all. It was the default defense mechanism when faced with a surprising situation. The waiter arrived with menus, at the same time another brought Trevelyan’s drink, giving Q a moment to collect his thoughts.
“Still here?” The agent said as the staff moved away. There was just a trace of annoyance in his tone.
“I am your date for the evening. Here in place of your regular companion. She - your regular liaison - entrusted this meeting to me.” Not a complete lie, Q had been given the files after all.
Trevelyan’s eyes narrowed suspiciously and his entire demeanour changed from relaxed watchfulness to menacing wariness. He reached across the table almost casually and grabbed Q’s wrist painfully, smiling all the while. To the casual observer it was a gesture of affection. “I only meet with her. Those were her instructions. She can’t go sending her boytoy lackey in her place. I don’t know you, and I will not talk to you.”
Q could not afford to show any sign of distrust or fear at the moment if he wanted to maintain control of the situation. Looking the the man straight in the eyes without even a flinch, a small smile crossed his face as if he was pleased with what appeared to be an intimate gesture of affection.
“I am your new Quartermaster, 006, not her boytoy lackey. She was your regular liaison. Now it is me. Unless you have some miraculous way of communication and meeting with her from beyond the grave, and that situation applies to the Major also.” Trevelyan hesitated for a moment and Q could see a multitude of thoughts running through Trevelyan as he assessed this new intel. Slowly his fingers unwrapped from around Q’s wrist but he still remained leaning into his personal space.
“I am who you am waiting for. No dating site brought you here. And I have no partner-to-be is seated elsewhere.” Q continued. “Although we can discuss that aspect after our dinner and topics that need to be discussed if you still believe that I am prettier than your regular dinner companion.” Q sassed right back at him confronting the agent on his own terms of banter.
Trevelyan appraised his new Quartermaster - skinny, determined and barely out of university- and his expression turned calculating. “I’ll humour you for the duration of this meal, but only because I have travelled almost 24 hours to make this meet, and I’m intrigued to know what you really want...” He leaned back in his chair and gestured to a waiter. Turning back to Q, “... but you better make it a good tale. It would piss me off to find you are dull when the outer packaging is so promising.”
“Did your charm impress M?” Q asked drily, accepting a menu from the waiter. “Or is it reserved for people who make you nervous?”
Trevelyan gaped at him then let out a huge guffaw causing heads at nearby tables to turn. “Nervous...” he grinned broadly, “... I like you... Q?” Shaking his head in disbelief, “not nervous, no, but I have instincts of self-preservation that have kept me alive many a year longer than I should have been. Any unexplained deviation from the plan makes my teeth itch, and you are an unknown.”
Q shrugged. “I’ve introduced myself and explained my presence here. If you need further evidence then you’ll find it in here.” Q placed the folder he took from his bag on the table between them.
Trevelyan toyed with the edge of the file but didn’t open it. Eventually he frowned slapping his large hand over it. “I’m hungry,” he growled. “Let’s order, then you can convince me.”
When their waiter returned Trevelyan ordered for both of them without giving Q an opportunity to order for himself. They started with Beef empanadas and tuna/palmito ceviche for starters. Adding Bide de ancho (ribeye served with chimichurri) for both of them as a main.
“A tad presumptuous,” Q commented.
“Only the best for M’s boytoy,” Trevelyan shrugged, cold mocking smile ever present.
They sat in tense silence until their starters arrived. As the waiter walked away, Trevelyan reaches across the table once more grabbing Q’s wrist in a mocking gentle gesture that was in truth like a vice in his arm. “So tell me why I should trust you. You could be anyone. I want to hear it from you. Not some paper nonsense.” He tapped the file that still laid on the table with his other hand.
“I assure you, I am your Quartermaster. What would convince you of that fact?”
Trevelyan shrugged. “Just talk. I’ll know it when I hear it.”
Q gave an impatient little sigh and racked his brain for something unique to Trevelyan that only the Quartermaster would know, but the few facts he reeled off were either simple to find for any MI6 researcher or were lower-level clearance that most people would have access to.
The agent rolled his eyes for the third time (or was it 4th?) and it was apparent he was losing patience. Thankfully their starters arrived giving Q time to reorganise his thoughts while he watched Trevelyan demolish his empanadas with careless efficiency.
An idea sprang into Q’s mind and he wondered if he dared...
“M made her feelings very clear on one particular issue. In fact, she notes in her private journal that she was forced to step in between you and Bond. In one memorable occasion in the early hours of the morning, you were both summoned to her office to explain how two completely separate missions in the opposite sides of a continent managed to collide noisily and sweatily in a hotel bedroom in Milan.”
Trevelyan wiped his fingers and then his mouth on his napkin. A smirk tugged at the corners of his mouth and Q sighed inwardly, relieved that the occasion had been memorable enough to the agent.
“She didn’t know the half of it, sly old cow.”
“I believe you significantly underestimated her.” Q nodded at the folder once more. “I think that should convince you that she was onto you both far earlier than when she finally chose to act. The data in there was marked for the Quartermaster’s eyes only in the event of her death. It’s my belief that she wanted me to find you and bring you back into the fold.”
Q continued, noticing a slight glance from Trevelyan in the direction of the file. Maybe he was catching his attention, even briefly. And at this point, all he could do was push a tad more and hopes that Trevelyan would be receptive… or not.
“In her private notes, she also commented on the fact that you and Bond were too close for comfort in more ways than anyone expected and you were foolish enough to think she didn’t know. For example, you both thought she has no idea that you had a safe house in Bermondsey where the two of you met frequently. She also said that she couldn’t afford for the two of you to go rogue and lose her best agents. MI6 and quite possibly the entire intelligence community would never survive with you two on the loose. So she decided to try to separate you two, hoping that what she called your “infantile infatuation” for each other would run its course if there were continents between the two of you.” He had definitely poked at something, there was a slight twitch of an eye. He had become skilled at reading the ever so slight tells in the double ohs after working in such close proximity on missions with them. Small things that the regular person would never pick up on normally.
“In the time since his takeover, M has made it a point to bring every agent back into MI6 to meet with him. I think it's time for you to come back in, just as I believe the old M had intended.” Q paused momentarily before adding.
“You number has never been filled. She never appointed anyone to it. There are rumours as to why she never did. One’s that I believe are all unfounded in reality with what I know now. But didn’t that thought ever cross your mind? Why?” Q pushed the file slightly back towards Trevelyan.
Trevelyan covered the file with his huge hand, thumb beginning to idly flick the corner. To the untrained eye it was a casual gesture as he listened intently to the young man opposite, but Q noted the stiffening of the agent's shoulders. During the course of their meal Trevelyan had relaxed into his chair, but now he leaned in, eyes flashing with sudden anger. He spoke harshly, through the disguise of his smile.
"Whatever was between Bond and I was finished the day he sold me out. He made the decision easy in the end. I couldn't have been happier to make the move when M laid it in front of me."
"And yet, several years on, you're clearly still pissed off." Q smiled and laid his hand on the file next to Trevelyan's. "Read the file. Learn what she did to you both. She had her reasons, I'm sure... operational or personal, who knows?"
"Sure. Whatever. I don't generally read fiction but it will keep me busy on the flight home."
And just like that, Q realised he had lost the agent. The flash of anger was replaced by a frosty barrier. Trevelyan motioned for the waiter to bring the bill.
Think, Q! Get his attention. Bring him back on board. Take a bloody risk. He covered Trevelyan's hand with his own slim fingers, speaking in a low urgent tone.
"He thinks you're dead. Bond. That's what she told him to persuade him to pass the information on. I believe he did so, thinking you were beyond harm. You know he would never have done it otherwise."
Q held his breath and tried not to count the seconds of shocked silence as they stretched on.