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Dining Experience

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Q branch was as close to empty as it ever got by the time Bond trailed through with his delivery; it was mainly the night shift, a few overachieving boffins, and—if he could be counted apart from the latter—Q.

Most of the technicians and handlers paid Bond no mind, by now used to seeing him waltz through the department as if he belonged there. One or two glanced up, still a little starstruck by the idea of double-oh agents, but Q insisted they would learn to be just as irritated by them as everyone else in due time. It was Q Bond had come for, however, so he passed the sea of desks and screens and let himself into Q’s office.

“Time for a break,” Bond announced, closing the door behind himself and locking it for good measure; better they weren’t interrupted by a problem that probably didn’t really need Q’s attention anyway.

Q threw a sharp look at the door but didn’t comment. “Is it?” he asked instead. “By whose estimation?”

“Any reasonable person’s,” Bond said, placing the bag he’d been carrying on Q’s desk.

“And you’re a reasonable person now, are you?”

“I’ve been known to successfully imitate one when the occasion calls for it.”

Again, Q pointedly didn’t comment, but looked at the bag. “And what’s this?”

“Dinner,” Bond replied. “You did promise.”

For a moment, Q was brought up short by the reminder that he had, indeed, promised to go to dinner with Bond. It was to be a date and everything; life had gotten a bit in the way, however, and one mission and a few small international crises later, the date still hadn’t taken place. Now, Bond had decided to take matters into his own hands.

Besides that, he had it on good authority that Q hadn’t eaten in too long.

“Well, I– I rather thought we would be going out somewhere,” Q said after a moment.

“I’ll still take you out, if you’d like, but I thought bringing dinner to you might do in the meantime. It did seem like things were conspiring against us,” Bond said, pulling two styrofoam containers from the bag, along with a slew of plastic cutlery and packets of condiments.

“You don’t believe in that sort of thing,” Q pointed out. “Fate, the universe conspiring against you.”

“I do when it suits me.” Bond smirked, placing one of the containers in front of Q. “Now would you like to have dinner with me, or not?”

“Well, I can hardly argue with having my very own double-oh delivery service. And I do wonder what you’ve decided to bring me,” Q admitted, pulling the container in front of him a bit closer. “I’m curious to see what you think I’d enjoy eating,”

Bond didn’t deny the little smug thrill that went through him when Q’s face lit up at the sight of what Bond had ordered for him (he may have bribed Tanner into telling him some of Q’s usual orders from takeaway places, but that was neither here nor there).

“You brought me pesto!” Q grinned, turning to look up at Bond.

“It’s from a little Italian place near my flat. They put new twists on classics that I thought you might appreciate,” Bond said. “That’s the walnut pesto.”

Q, who had already torn open a set of plastic cutlery and was poised to dig in, swore and dropped his fork.

“Q?” Bond watched, brows raised, as Q pushed himself back from his desk, the back of his office chair nearly meeting with the wall behind him. “Everything alright?”

“Ah– no, not exactly. Not your fault, of course,” Q hastened to add. “I’m just very, very allergic to nuts.”

“Ah. Well, shit,” Bond commented succinctly, leaning across Q’s desk to quickly remove the container.

“Quite,” Q replied, standing from his desk. “I need to go wash my hands, now. Would you mind getting that container out of my office?”

“Of course.” Bond was already shoving the container back into the plastic bag. “I’ll dispose of it elsewhere. You can have what I ordered, in the meantime. It’s just alfredo, no nuts.”

Q’s mouth drew to the side in a show of sheepish disappointment. “Thank you, I appreciate the thought, but I’d rather not take the chance. Not every restaurant takes steps to avoid cross contamination where allergies are concerned.”

“Right.” Bond nodded, sweeping the second container back into the bag and making to follow Q out of his office.

“Don’t– Bond, you can still eat it, it’s fine,” Q sighed.

“Hardly seems polite. I’ll just get rid of both,” Bond replied evenly.

“Look, it’s not your fault, you really didn’t know. You were trying to do something nice for me, and I do appreciate it,” Q said as they headed into Q branch’s tiny break room. “I just also appreciate not going into anaphylactic shock. At least you told me what it was before I actually ate any.”

“Right. So I nearly killed you, but didn’t quite finish the job,” Bond said, dumping the food into the breakroom trashcan and tying the bag off.

“Some assassin you are.” Q smirked, moving to the sink and turning on the faucet.

Bond said nothing, only taking his turn at the sink while Q dried his hands on a handful of paper towels.

“I have a day off coming up,” Q said lightly, as though Bond weren’t standing before him working himself into a good brood. “It’s owed to me after all the extra time I’ve pulled in the past few weeks.”

Bond smiled, a slight, sharp thing, and leaned up against the counter to regard Q. “Sounds as though it will coincide with my down time.”

“That’s very handy, isn’t it? We’ll just have to try dinner again.”

“I suppose we will. Though perhaps you should choose the venue this time.”

“Putting your dining experience in my hands, Mr. Bond?” Q asked, cocking an amused eyebrow.

“Safer than placing yours in my hands, it seems,” Bond reminded him.

Q sighed, giving Bond a sharp little half smile. “Don’t sulk, it’s unbecoming.” He cast a glance at the breakroom door—still empty—before leaning in and pecking Bond quickly on the cheek. “There was no harm done, and it was a nice gesture.”

Slowly, Bond turned his head to look at Q, wondering if he might stay put long enough to steal a real kiss, but Q only met his eyes and was gone from his space in the next instant.

“I think I know just the place,” Q said, nodding to himself. “I’ll text you the details, shall I?”

Bond smirked. “I look forward to it.”

-/-/-

“Don’t start,” Q warned Bond with a pointy elbow to the ribs as they approached his restaurant of choice.

“It’s just… not quite what I expected,” Bond settled on after a moment.

When Q had texted Bond with an address and date and instructions to “dress down,” a number of ideas had marched through Bond’s mind, but somehow none of them had involved a tiny coffee shop near Q’s flat.

Of course, he also hadn’t been expecting Q to meet him wearing jeans and a plain, blue jumper that looked incredibly soft and only increased Bond’s desire to get his hands on Q, but that had been a much better sort of unexpected.

“Surely you didn’t expect the same level of pomp and pretension as those restaurants you go to on mission?”

“I wouldn’t say pomp–”

“I have been wearing office clothes for nearly two weeks straight, because I have been at the office for nearly two weeks straight,” Q cut in. “I want to wear something comfortable and be somewhere comfortable so I can just enjoy our time together.”

“Why, Q, I had no idea you were a romantic,” Bond teased.

“It shows now and then, despite my best efforts.” Q gave Bond a little, unconcerned smile. “Besides, I like this place a lot. Their soups are excellent and the owner and her wife are both allergic to nuts, so none of the pastries are off-limits for me.”

“Well, then, I suppose I can’t complain. Excellent soup and nut-free pastries; what more could you want?” Bond asked, opening the door for Q.

“I’m glad we’re on the same page,” Q said primly, stepping through and preceding Bond to the counter.

The soup was quite good, Bond ended up admitting, and the sandwiches were more than decent, as well. The atmosphere was warm and intimate, and from their little corner table it almost seemed like they were the only two there.

It wasn’t quite the sensual mood Bond had intended to craft with candles and fine food and wine, heavy and expectant with the knowledge that “dessert” didn’t just mean pudding, but as Q slid his hand over Bond’s where it rested on the table, laughing brightly at something he’d said, Bond wondered if this wasn’t better.

The little shop was a piece of Q’s life, and he was sharing it with Bond.

Overall, the night seemed to be going quite well; the food was delicious, the company was exceptional, and, despite the initial lack of sexual charge to the evening, Q had been practically caressing Bond’s ankle with the toe of his shoe for the last 10 minutes.

“Why don’t you pick something for dessert?” Q suggested, nodding towards the glass case at the front counter that held all the pastries.

“Shall I ask for it to go?” Bond offered with a smile that he felt sat perfectly astride the line between hopeful and self-assured.

“If you do that, I doubt if we’ll ever actually eat it.” Q shook his head, not without amusement.

“We could have it for breakfast,” Bond reasoned.

“Presumptuous,” Q replied, unable to entirely quell the smirk that was attempting to spread. “Who says I’ll let you stay for breakfast?”

Bond leaned across the table, close enough to lower his voice to a more suggestive murmur. “I feel as though the odds are in my favor.”

Q lost the fight with his expression entirely and Bond was rewarded with an almost full, amused smile. He opened his mouth to reply, only to be interrupted by the buzz of a mobile phone. Q’s smile dropped.

“I’m sorry,” Q sighed, already reaching into his pocket. “That’s my work mobile, I can’t ignore it. They know better than to call on my day off unless it’s dire.”

“It’s fine, Q,” Bond said; he wouldn’t say he wasn’t disappointed, but if anyone understood the importance of Q taking the call, it was Bond.

Q gave Bond a thin, grateful smile and answered the phone with a clipped “Yes?”.

The ensuing conversation was short, consisting mostly of Q asking vague questions and listening to the answers, but by his posture and expression alone, Bond knew the outcome before Q had even rung off.

“I need to go in,” Q announced, pocketing his mobile and reaching for his jacket.

Bond nodded, rising from the table as Q did. “One of these days, they’ll need to give you a real day off,” he said.

“Oh, trust me, I’ll demand adequate compensation for having today disrupted,” Q muttered as they headed out the door. “Much as I like to pretend otherwise, I do need more than four hours of sleep a night.”

“You mean to tell me you’re not an android?” Bond teased.

“Not yet,” Q replied airily, smiling again when Bond chuckled.

The walk from Q’s building to the coffee shop had been casual and meandering, Bond and Q going along side by side, talking about very little of consequence and simply enjoying the walk together. The return trip was shorter, both men marching at a quick pace with the knowledge that they had no time to linger.

“I really am sorry about this,” Q said as they approached his building.

“It’s not your fault you got called in,” Bond reasoned. “Unless you’d like me to blame you for being too good at your job.”

“Oh, you flatterer,” Q intoned, though Bond could see his mouth working against a smile.

“In any case, I suppose this means we’ll just have to try again,” Bond said when they’d come to a halt at the building entrance.

“Until we get it right?” Q asked.

“Well, I should hope there would be more meals even after we’ve managed a full and proper one.” Bond moved just a bit closer as he spoke, drifting easily into Q’s personal space.

“Would a full and proper meal end with a good night kiss, I wonder?” Q mirrored Bond’s posture, tilting closer.

“I think we could manage a kiss without the meal.”

“Could we?”

Q tilted his head invitingly, a playful spark in his eyes, and there was no response for that, Bond felt, but to lean in and kiss him.

It was brief; time wasn’t on their side, but the quick, soft press of lips was enough to set both men to plotting on how they could make it happen again.

“There’ll be a car here for me soon,” Q murmured when they’d parted.

“Better go in and get ready, then,” Bond replied, making absolutely no move to leave Q’s vicinity.

Huffing with amusement, Q stepped away, pulling his keys from his pocket. “Well, tonight was lovely, right up to the interruption.”

“It was.” Bond nodded.

Pragmatically efficient as ever, Q nodded in turn, threw out a final, “Good night, Bond,” and disappeared inside.

The night had been quite nice, Bond thought, even taking the interruption into account. He was pleased as he made his way home, already making plans for their next meal together.

-/-/-

The opportunity for another dinner arose sooner than expected.

Bond was called up for a mission the next morning, different than the one Q had been dragged in to untangle, and decidedly unchallenging to boot. He spent two days following an arms dealer on a business trip in Belgium of all places before the order came down the wire to eliminate him. Bond was back on home soil less than a day later, no worse for wear and carrying all of his equipment.

God help him, he was actually a little – excited, almost, to check in with Q. He could show off a little—see? He could be careful, he could bring things back in good condition—and then invite Q for dinner. He hadn’t anticipated that Q would still be busy with the situation from days ago.

“005’s mission went tits-up,” R explained quietly as she checked in Bond’s kit. “Had to call 002 away from another assignment nearby to help pull his fat out of the fryer. Then we were busy finding the leak, putting out fires… other metaphors.” She waved one hand tiredly, pushing over a tablet with a form pulled up for Bond to sign with her other. “I haven’t even been here as long as Q has, and I’m still knackered.”

“He hasn’t been here the whole time?” Bond checked, signing quickly with the offered stylus and handing it back.

R shook her head. “Stayed almost the first day straight through, but he’s been home at least once since then. Probably as much to feed the cats as to get some real sleep.” She had no qualms discussing Q’s current state of overwork with Bond, having identified him as an ally in ensuring the quartermaster wasn’t run into the ground.

(“I don’t want to be Q yet,” she’d once confided, “and if that man works himself to death, I’m going to get a promotion I don’t need just now.”)

Bond hummed, taking in the atmosphere of Q Branch now; it was tense, but the familiar background hum of techs getting on with things was present. If it wasn’t all hands on deck, it was likely the bulk of the crisis had passed. “Seems quiet now,” he commented.

“We’ve gotten past the worst of it, I think. I was going to start nudging Q towards the door in a couple of hours, so I can go home, too,” R said. “I shouldn’t have to shove him too hard, I don’t think.”

“Likely not,” Bond agreed; Q’s posture was as tight as ever, but Bond could see the dark circles beneath his eyes when he turned away from the screen, even from halfway across the room. “A couple of hours, you said?”

“Thereabouts. Should give us enough time to tie up the important loose ends.” R paused, tilting a suspicious look at Bond. “Why?”

“No reason. Thank you, R.” Bond smiled his best unassuming smile at her.

One brow cocked in disbelief, R shook her head. “It’s creepy when you do that, you know that? Go be unnerving somewhere else now, we’ve got shit to clear up.”

Another day, Bond might have stuck around just to bother R a bit more, but something told him she wouldn’t tolerate him for long – besides that, he had a rapidly-forming plan to carry out. Instead of teasing, Bond simply nodded and bid R goodnight.

Suspicions now raised by Bond’s easy acquiescence, R waved him off with a narrow-eyed goodnight of her own, but had too much work to finish to linger on the exchange for long.

It seemed as though a dinner out was off the table for the time being, but Bond had always been good at working with whatever variables were thrown at him; if Q had been working hard for nearly four days with only brief breaks for sleep, Bond doubted he’d eaten much of anything substantial.

All Bond really needed for his new plan was a quick trip to the grocery store and a way into Q’s flat.

The former was easy enough, a quick sweep of the aisles gaining Bond everything he needed; the latter took some doing, but Bond managed it without setting off Q’s security or damaging it irreparably. He doubted if Q would really applaud him, but he would also likely be interested to hear about the weak spot Bond had managed to exploit.

For a few minutes, Bond allowed his curiosity free reign, poking around the flat and looking into the rooms leading off the hallway. The place was invitingly cluttered, books and papers stacked around tools and odd bits of electronics that seemed to have strayed from a corner of the living room that appeared to serve as a small workshop, but it was kept mostly tidy. There was a litterbox in another corner, the main sign of the two cats Bond had heard about, and food and water dishes in the kitchen when Bond finally made his way there.

He worked around the cat’s dishes and the few dirty cups and utensils that had piled up in Q’s sink over the last few days of a hard work-sleep-work schedule, and Bond made a note to wash them along with whatever else he used in preparing their meal. The kitchen was well-stocked in utensils and gadgets (unsurprising) and in spices and base necessaries for simple meals (a little more surprising, though maybe it shouldn’t have been), and Bond easily found what he needed to get to work.

Bond’s cooking skills laid mainly in simple and robust foods, and he stuck to what he knew with the fixings for a hearty beef stew. He’d have to fudge the cooking time a little, considering his deadline, but he figured he could have it ready by the time Q was home and decompressed enough to eat.

Sure enough, Bond had the stew bubbling away on the stove, nearly ready to serve, when he heard the locks on the front door slide open sometime later. Busy tending the pot as he was, the only clue Bond had that Q had already made it into the kitchen was the unmistakable click of the safety on a gun being removed.

“Don’t move,” Q ordered, stone-hard and sharp-edged.

Though he’d immediately tensed, subconsciously preparing himself to act as soon as he heard the gun, Bond stayed still. This was simply a misunderstanding.

“Hands where I can see them,” Q said, and Bond obeyed; no sense in startling Q any further. “Turn around slowly.”

Slowly, Bond turned.

Q was in the kitchen doorway, still in his jacket, face set in firm blankness, and aiming a gun at Bond with what Bond couldn’t help but notice was an excellent stance. It only held for a moment longer before confusion broke into Q’s expression. “What…” He glanced from Bond, to the pot bubbling on the stove, to the clean dishes drying on the sideboard, and back to Bond. “What the fuck.”

Q dropped his stance, pointing the gun at the floor and reengaging the safety before all but tossing it onto the counter as he stalked into the room. “What the absolute fuck? Did you break into my flat?”

No point in denying, Bond knew. “To make you dinner,” he offered instead.

“That doesn’t make it alright!” Q barked. “You can’t just break into my home whenever you feel like it, James! You can’t – you can’t do that.”

This was going rather more poorly than Bond had thought it would. He’d expected Q to be irritated, perhaps offended that Bond had managed to bypass his security, but not this – not shaking and pale and grasping for words.

“Q…”

“I have had. A very bad – a – a very bad week and I am very. I am – fuck.” Q shook his head harshly. “And now you! Just showing up! Scaring the shit out of me!”

“Q,” Bond tried again, taking a few steps towards him, unsure of what to say; he wasn’t much of a soothing person, and he doubted an apology would go over well at the moment.

Q opened his mouth, looked ready to continue yelling, but then shook his head again and took in a shallow, reedy breath. “I can’t breathe,” he announced succinctly, voice shaking and raspy.

Bond closed the distance between them quickly, withstood Q’s panicked attempts to push Bond’s hands away before realizing he was trying to help, and removed Q’s tie before efficiently unfastening the top few buttons of Q’s shirt. He took one of Q’s trembling hands and placed it on his own chest, resting over his heartbeat.

“Breathe with me,” Bond instructed, establishing a calm pattern for Q to mimic. “Nice and slow.”

Q’s hand tensed against Bond’s chest, his fingertips pressing in hard, his other hand clenched in the front of his own shirt and pulling aimlessly at the fabric. “Nice and slow,” Bond repeated.

After a few long moments, Q began to match Bond’s rhythm with shaky inhales and exhales, shallow at first, but slowly beginning to deepen.

Eventually, Q calmed enough to sit down at the kitchen table, slumping in the chair like his strings had been cut.

“I’m not – like that, normally,” he said, staring down at the table.

“I know,” Bond said – and he did know; he knew it as well as he knew that no one could carry on at the pace Q had been running for as long as he had without consequence.

“It’s been a shit-awful week. We lost some people. I haven’t had more than a few hours sleep at a time in days. I don’t remember the last time I ate, much less what it was. And then you,” Q waved his hand irritably in Bond’s direction, “made me think I had some sort of mad intruder using my kitchen.”

“Poor timing on my part,” Bond acknowledged.

Q made a vague noise, possibly of agreement, or maybe of contempt. “I understand this job has somewhat warped your idea of personal boundaries, but I need you to… not do this to me again.” Q huffed. “It may come as a shock to you, but I don’t react well to surprises.”

Bond was reminded for a moment that Q was an agent of MI6 as much as Bond himself was. Perhaps he wasn’t in the field, but he’d had some training, and existed in a high-risk position. He had every right to be wary of intruders and the surprises they brought.

“I’ll remember,” Bond promised.

“If you do insist on coming over to do this, you can just… ask. In the future. I can grant you access remotely,” Q offered quietly, finally looking over at Bond.

Bond gave Q a small smile. “I’ll remember,” he said again.

“Good.” Q sighed. “Anyway, now that you’ve given me a panic attack, you might as well feed me. Whatever that stuff is, it smells fantastic.”

“Stew,” Bond told him, standing from the table. “Should just about be ready. I’ll get some bowls.”

“I suppose I don’t have to tell you where they are.” Q turned his head up to address Bond.

Quickly, Bond leaned down and pressed a soft kiss to Q’s cheek. “I’ll manage,” he murmured.

-/-/-

Though Bond had appreciated and enjoyed the café Q had taken them to, there was certainly something to be said for his idea of a nice dinner.

“I didn’t know you owned a tailored suit,” Bond commented.

Across the table, Q smirked at Bond around the rim of his wine glass. He was resplendent in a suit Bond had certainly never seen him wear to work, tailored to perfectly accent his lean figure, and it was giving Bond all sorts of ideas for what they might be able to get up to after dinner.

“I tend to save it for special occasions,” Q said after a sip of wine. “Like when I know handsome men are trying to impress me.”

Bond cocked an eyebrow at Q. “Have a lot of those, do you?”

“Only one that I’ve been paying attention to,” Q said softly, like he was telling Bond a secret.

“A relief to hear,” Bond replied dryly, though his voice hinted at genuine humor.

“I’m sure.” Q smiled, returning to his meal.

It really had been a lovely evening so far. The restaurant was dressed in warm, rich colors, with small candles flickering in the center of the table; they cast Q into a honey-sweet light and gave him an inviting sort of glow – although that may just have been the way he kept smiling at Bond.

The dinner would have been perfect if they hadn’t been there to keep an eye on an international human trafficker.

Jordan Radić was sitting two tables away with a young woman (far too young, with a fearful tension around her beautifully made-up eyes, and Bond sneered to think how long Radić would keep her before throwing her back to the wolves), and Bond and Q were perfectly placed to see what was going on at his table.

They had been after Radić and his cohort for some time, and they’d finally caught the bastard on holiday, away from his secure compound. Bond had been sent to take care of the problem; Q had been sent to get into the network and find buyers and safehouse locations, something he’d unfortunately been unable to accomplish remotely.

If the evening went smoothly, the man would finish dinner and return to his hotel room and keep to the schedule he’d set that would allow Bond to eliminate him when he went for a secluded swim in the early morning.

If the evening went smoothly, Bond and Q would be able to return to their own hotel room after dinner and have hours of free time before their work began.

Of course, nothing in their world ever seemed to go smoothly.

Two thirds of the way through the meal, when Bond was thinking of suggesting dessert, Radić received a phone call. His demeanor changed almost immediately, tensing up and snapping at the server for the check.

“I think there’s been a change in plans,” Bond murmured, reaching across the table to take Q’s hand. “How do you feel about taking a bit of a drive after dinner?”

Q squeezed Bond’s hand, acknowledging his understanding. “Well, I do try to stay flexible,” he said quietly. “Regarding plans, that is.”

Smirking, Bond signaled for the check.

-/-/-

It took Q a few extra moments to disarm his (new and improved, after Bond cracked the last one) security system so he could stumble through the door and Bond could slump in after him, bags of takeaway in hand.

“A bit of a drive after dinner” had turned into a chase across three countries. There had been shooting, a car crash, a boat chase, more explosions than had probably been necessary, and a particularly unpleasant episode with a snake that Bond would have preferred to forget. Still, their mission had been accomplished and then some, with Radić dead and the trafficking ring all but taken to pieces.

They had been whisked into a debriefing as soon as they hit English soil, and the only reason Bond had gone along willingly was because Q had still been terribly groggy from whatever he’d dosed himself with to get through the plane ride. Despite the alarming amount of coffee Q had drunk to combat the grogginess and make it through the meeting, Bond had the feeling it was only the occasional nudge from him that had kept Q awake and walking in a straight line.

Now, Q made a beeline for the sofa and flopped down on it with a groan. “I am tired,” he mumbled. “I am exhausted. I am sore in ways I did not think it was possible to be. I am… hungry. James.”

Bond, headed towards the kitchen, made a vague, inquisitive noise.

“I am hungry. I’m over here,” Q said, almost plaintive. “Why are you walking away with the food?”

“I’m getting plates,” Bond assured Q, voice warm with tired fondness.

“Ah.” Q paused. “Carry on, then.”

Chuckling, Bond returned to the living room with plates and food and laid everything out within easy reach on Q’s coffee table.

“Bill’s been feeding the cats, but they’re going to be very upset with me. I’m never gone. Certainly not as long as I was. I’m not a bloody globe-trotting secret agent,” Q babbled as he dished himself out a little of everything. “They’re going to give me the cold shoulder for days, I know it.”

“The cats will come around,” Bond said, serving himself healthy portions of whatever was left after Q had gone through. They’d probably ordered too much food, but he found it hard to care. “And you did very well out there, for not being a globe-trotting agent.”

“Yes, well.” Q cleared his throat. “You were. Very helpful, as well.”

Bond smirked, adding, “And you looked very good doing it.”

Q made a sound that might have been a laugh around the bite of food he’d just taken, then chewed and swallowed quickly. “Lies,” he croaked. “I was rumpled and sweaty for most of it.”

“A man might think that was a good look for you, if he had reason to want to see you rumpled and sweaty,” Bond replied.

Q nearly choked on his next bite. “Do you know what?” he asked, once the danger of food going down his windpipe had been removed. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but James Bond, you are all talk.”

Bond blinked over at Q. “That is a unique accusation,” he said at last.

“I’ve read your mission files. I’ve been in your ear for some of them. And then I travelled hither and yon with you and not once was I propositioned with a terrible line at an inopportune moment,” Q ranted, barely keeping the grin off his face as he did so. “You might make a man feel unwanted, you know.”

“Oh, never unwanted,” Bond assured him. “But we also haven’t had a meal together.”

Q threw Bond a look that might have been dry, but for how drowsy it was. “Really?”

“Really,” Bond confirmed.

In truth, they’d mostly eaten in shifts, or else settled for periodic snacks while taking down the trafficking network. There had barely been enough time to sleep, never mind have sex, though that wasn’t to say there hadn’t been times of temptation—Q with a towel hanging dangerously low on his hips in a shared hotel room came to Bond’s mind, as did the clean headshot Q had pulled on one of the traffickers, easy as breathing—but something had always interrupted.

“Well, let’s finish this meal together. Then we can go back to my room and fuck,” Q said decisively.

Bond bit the inside of his cheek to keep from– laughing or groaning, he wasn’t sure. There was no way either of them were in any kind of shape to fuck, and he was beginning to wonder whether Q would even remember being quite so blunt once the drugs had worn off entirely.

Rather than point any of this out, however, Bond nodded. “If you say so, Q.”

“I do say so.” Q nodded to himself, yawned, and took another bite of his food.

By the time Q had cleared half his plate, he was practically snoring into Bond’s shoulder, and Bond barely managed to get him up and prod him in the direction of the bed before passing out on the unoccupied side of it himself.

-/-/-

Morning found both Bond and Q still sleeping soundly, weighed down by cats and missing various pieces of more uncomfortable clothing that had been dragged off in the night.

Afternoon found them sitting up against the pillows at the head of Q’s bed, a plate of marmalade toast—the easiest thing in Q’s kitchen that hadn’t gone off in his absence—sitting between them. Q had changed into a pair of pajama bottoms (“It’s not as though I plan on going anywhere today,” he’d reasoned) and Bond had opted to sit around in his pants (“To even things out,” he’d told Q); it wasn’t any worse than they’d seen while traveling together, but it didn’t stop gazes from wandering in the soft afternoon light now that they had the time and energy to look.

“So what is this?” Q asked into the gentle silence, gesturing to the dwindling plate of toast between them.

“White bread, I think,” Bond answered. “You heathen.”

“Not everyone likes sourdough, James,” Q replied easily. “And that’s not what I meant.”

“Do feel free to elaborate, then,” Bond said, reaching over to take one of the last slices.

“It’s too late for breakfast, but I’m not sure toast counts as lunch,” Q mused.

Bond said nothing, munching on his toast in as judgmental a fashion as possible in hopes Q would get to his point.

“I mean, would you consider it a meal?” Q asked finally.

Ah. Now there was a question; they didn’t seem to have much luck with dinner, after all. They didn’t seem to have much luck with formal meals or appointments of any kind, actually. But that didn’t mean they couldn’t make the most of moments stolen in between.

“Would you like to consider it a meal?” Bond returned.

“I suppose that depends,” Q said slowly, picking up the last triangle of toast and regarding it carefully. “Will we have sex when we’ve finished eating if I say yes?”

Bond didn’t bother to bite down on the amused little smile he’d come to associate with no one but Q. “If you’d like.”

“Then yes.” Q nodded, shooting Bond his own small quicksilver grin before biting into the toast.

It was a strange sort of feeling, but Bond didn’t think he’d ever been so eager to finish eating a slice of toast in his life.