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Bond woke with a bruising pain in the cavity of his chest, white light washing over his vision like a blinding haze, and the searing of a phantom kiss pressed along the curve of his lips.

It hurt to breathe, and he was already losing air even before he had fully regained consciousness, limbs shaking and the back of his neck chafing from an unknown heat that had been quickly spreading all over his back.

Distantly, he could hear the familiar, rapid beeping of a heart monitor, and in the singularity of that one moment, the only thing he could think of was this:

He really had grown old.

And it wasn’t like he had been operating under some sort delusions that he wasn’t, but well.

“Sir.”

The loud ringing in his ear dragged out like a shrieking siren, and Bond squeezed his eyes shut, turning his head instinctively to the side as though that was going to help with anything at all, a muscle shuddering somewhere in the base of his throat to disorient him that much further.

“Please lie back down.”

Bond swallowed, grappling for air into his lungs, head spinning still from when he had forced himself to sit up just now. He slumped forward like a cordless doll, not understanding what was going on.

His stagnated mind hadn’t quite caught up to all the visual and audio information that was flooding it in tidal waves right then.

“—somebody found you—”

“—We’re still waiting for the tests—”

“—heart problem.”

Ah.

“I don’t have a heart problem.” Bond heard himself say, not really feeling it when the words crawled out of his throat one by one, pebbles falling into a lake.

No.

He didn’t have a heart problem.

 

 


 

 

The pain had started a few years ago, just pins and needles at first, a tiny pressure building right behind his sternum.

It hadn’t hurt, not really.

And even when it had, Bond had hissed in a breath and known that he’d deserved it.

 

 


 

 

Bond walked back to where he last remembered he had parked his car before the memory blanked out, and tried to stop himself from limping too much, muscles and joints not coordinating as he wanted them to.

The grey light of a distant dusk had already started to descend upon them, and by the time Bond managed to get back to his little cabin by the water, the light had snuffed out entirely with the darkness outside thickening into a deep well of black ink, woodland life drenched in a subdued quietness.

He leered at the minor tremors that had continued to remain in his hand and ignored it in favor of opening the fridge and grabbing whatever tupperware of food he could reach first, snagging along a bottle of beer in the process.

The mutton tasted old in his mouth, but beyond that, Bond couldn’t actually tell much of anything else as he leant back into the one chair at the dining table, stared absently at that spot opposite his own, and let his mind drift. 

He pretended it didn’t hurt when he chewed on his cold dinner, the swelling that he’d gotten from his fall pulsing a deep-seated throb that he could feel in his bone.

 

(If only they hadn’t found him.)

(But then again, Bond knew his luck.

He knew that he’d probably just wake up on his own, even if no one had tried to save him.)

 

James.

His ears were ringing again.

“James.”

Bond looks up, and all he can see is a soft smile that he has no right to holding so close at all. And just the thought alone is enough to burn a hole in the middle of his chest, an odd sense of jealousy coiling in his veins: it isn’t his to keep, but Bond can’t help but feel so selfish. Petty.

“I love you.”

The transparent sincerity in Q’s eyes is overwhelming, and Bond doesn’t remember to breathe. Doesn’t know how anyone can ever doubt it or look away. Or forget.

 

 

(But he did.)

 

 

When he looks down again, his hands are full of blood, and Bond gasps at the rattling pain in his ribcage.

 

 


 

 

Bond didn’t have a heart problem. He knew this. 

He knew because it only hurt when he thought about him.

 

 


 

 

Mist rolled in over the mountains next morning, cold and silent and consuming.

It wasn’t a bad place to wait for death.