Q stands at the kitchen counter in front of his laptop. He has angled the television around again so he can see the screen and a 24-hour news channel is broadcasting the same stories on a cycle. It’s a slow news day, and the latest row in Parliament is half-hearted. Q keeps glancing at the news ticker on the bottom of the screen. He points to something and mutters to himself, making a note in a document he has open.
To his left, Q’s tablet is propped up on the recipe book stand. It displays a map of London, with moving dots indicating the relative positions of a fleet of vehicles. Q watches the progress of two in particular and makes notations on a pad with his left hand.
His right hand is curled around a mug of tea, emblazoned with the initial Q. A gift from Alec from his last trip. Q grinned for hours and offered Alec a promotion to senior agent.
Q tuts impatiently when I jostle his tablet setting down the tray beside him. “007, you’re back I see. Mission went smoothly?”
“Of course, Q.”
He glances at the tray and nods. Counts the items on it out loud. “Three? Lost your bloody radio again! They’re expensive, you know?”
I rummage in the Tesco carrier bag on the bench and make a small rectangular addition. Q beams and praises me. “All present and correct. Thank you, 007. Make your report to M and then be on your way. I have work to do!”
Luckily he’s turned away from me and doesn’t see the emotion that must be clear in my expression. I pause as I pass and place a tender kiss on his cheek. Today there is no outrage. No flirting. No snark. He ignores it entirely, and my heart aches a little more.
“Eat your lunch, Q.” I push the tray of ‘equipment’ a little closer to him and retreat to the far side of the room until the sound of the front door alerts me to Alec’s arrival.
I’m waiting in the hall as he comes through the door. He puts his briefcase on the floor and hangs up his jacket before asking. I think it’s his way of steeling himself for the role he has to play in this new, weird life we now share since Q’s accident.
“Who is he?”
‘Who’, not ‘how’. As his body mended, the hows faded, and the whos took over. We lost our Zaquary and gained a Q, and we’re never quite sure which is in charge from day to day. I just shake my head and Alec knows…
“Evening, Q. 006, reporting for duty.”
Q and I discuss the ‘assets’ he has been following all day. Their current location. Their movements during the day and said significant of that. The detailed ‘intel’ he has notated always amazes me. I can’t help but think he would be a true genius at this… if only.
We talk about my upcoming ‘mission’ which is going to send me ‘out into the field’ for a couple of weeks. I can’t help but worry what James is going to do while I am gone. And of course, I am chatized for ignoring my mission reports and failing to repeatedly turn them in on time. He is such a little shite.
Suddenly something catches his eye on the latest news fed scrolling across the bottom of the television and 003’s ‘mission’ and gone south. I am shooed out of the room with a wave of his hand because he is needed elsewhere and I am being a nuisance getting in the way.
Retreating to the lounge, I hear him babbling at R and Nadia, his ‘minions’ until suddenly there is a crashing sound from the kitchen followed by a high pitched sorrowful whine.
And Zaquary is back...
for how long…
I have no bloody clue.
I rush back into the kitchen. Zaquary is standing there, hand over his mouth, frozen in terror. Pulling the shaking form in tight, arm around his waist, hand in his hair, I try to tuck his trembling form into me a close as possible.
“Alec…. Where am…”
“Shush malyutka.. You’re safe. I have you.”
But for how long…