I ignore the exclamations of surprise as I make my way through Q-branch. I know it's unheard of for me to arrive back at Six on the day my plane lands, but this won't wait. Two pints of black coffee are acid in the back of my throat. I regret now avoiding the free alcohol, but a clear head is also necessary.
Q is in his office. He doesn't even acknowledge my arrival, continues pecking at the keyboard and absently sipping from his Scrabble mug. I lean against the doorframe and wait, checking out the battered sofa in the corner where normally I would sprawl and watch Q work until I doze. Today I can't bring myself to cross the threshold. Our world is suddenly wrong.
"I know who you are."
It's not exactly the grand declaration I rehearsed, but faced with an avalanche of feelings for the man at the desk it's all I can manage as an introduction to a conversation we need to have, but I want to run far from.
Q doesn't pause in what he's doing but his eyes flick to me and then back to the screen. "Well done, 007. Sterling work. If you happen to need a reminder, my name is right there on the door." He snorts and continues to smirk goofily at his own joke as he types.
"No. I mean I *know*. Kostya... Grishenko."
This time Q freezes momentarily. "Grishenko? Grishenko... sounds familiar. There might be something in the records..."
I can't stand this playacting. "You know there fucking is!"
Everything I thought I knew about my Quartermaster and the man in my bed, is shattered. I saw Q's reaction, though he was quick to smother it. It appears to confirm what I was told in Ivanteyevka, and it is a knife to the gut. "This! This is you, isn't it?" I slap the photo onto Q's desk and the noise of my palm hitting wood seems to echo in the sudden quiet.
Q glances at the image of the young man and frowns. I think he's going to deny it but instead he waves an imperious hand and says, "Close the door, Bond. We need a conversation."
I do so, and Q activates the privacy mode. When I turn back he is lounging in his chair and he is... different... Gone are the precise movements, the geeky, lanky arrangement of limbs, carefully controlled in a neat space. Instead he sprawls like a feral cat watching its prey, and worryingly I am the mouse.
"Just who the hell's side are you on, Q?" I have the disturbing feeling its not, and never has been, mine. Perhaps not even SIS.
He appears to think about it for a long moment. He shrugs and smiles. "I'm on the same side I've always been, since I walked through the doors of this organisation."
Even the posh British accent slips away into the one I knew so long ago… what seems like an eternity in the past. “I haven’t been Kostya Grishenko for a very long time.”
I’m not quite sure how to judge what is running through Bond’s head at the moment. If I should be more worried than he will feel the need to shoot me right here in my office or bother to hear me out. “And yes, your assumption is correct. I am related to Boris Grishenko who was involved in the Goldeneye debacle.” Bond bristles. I want to reach for the taser than is in my right hand drawer but Bond is in mission mode and would not take kindly to any movement.
“Cousin as a matter of fact to that crazy bastard. You see after things were in clean up mode, M… old M finally decided to do her recon a tad more thoroughly than before she sent you on the cocked up fiasco. And surprise surprise, discovered me. More intelligent. A much better hacker. A natural ability to tinker. Young and trying to find his place. She offered me a job. One I couldn’t refuse. Constantly looking over your shoulder on the streets is no way to grow up.”
I stand from my desk. Hands held outwards, palms up so Bond can see I’m not armed. “A way out of Mother Russian who for a young gay man even with amazing talents would not have tolerated my propensity to liking the company of men.”
I come around to sit on the edge of my desk directly in front of Bond. “I jumped at the chance to leave. M places me under the care of the Major. Gave me a new identity and a new start. Kostya Grishenko dies a long time ago.”
“So in answer to your question Bond, I am just as loyal to the side that I was the day M took me in.” Standing I move back to my computer because I honestly do have a huge amount to accomplish today and this has been an annoying interruption.
“Take it up with M if you must Bond. He knows about my past. You, Tanner, and he are the only ones now. Or I suppose you’ll just need to decide on your own who you think I am, Bond.” I flick off the privacy mode, unlock the door securities. Hands back on the keyboard, I am back at my coding ignoring the seething double 00 standing almost in my personal space.
A few moments later the door of my office slams and I am left alone.
I know this is far from settled.