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Incendio

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Q….

I have so much better things to do with my time than sit in a meeting with dinosaurs who think they have a handle “on the pulse of modern espionage” and know just what the “law allows us to do”.  I am sitting across the table from once such idiot. Elbow on the table, my face is propped in my hand which covers my mouth so he can’t see the snarl that curls at my lips. It’s unfortunate also that the conference room table is so large because it hinders me from kicking him under the table.   I’m convinced that Tanner considered that fact when choosing the furniture for this room.  

I tolerate listening to their assumptions for a few more minutes before I pull my mobile from my pocket.  Look at it as if there is has been a text message appear on vibrate mode.  

“Excuse me, gentleman.”  The polite word makes me cringe inwardly.  “Needed. Agent in the field.” As I stand from my chair, gathering my notes and laptop.   M gives me a quirked raised eyebrow look of “wtf Q”. He may be angry now but he would be much angrier if I stayed in this meeting and lost my temper, becoming unruly with these idiots.  

The outer conference room door closes behind me. My head falls back against the door as my face contorts into a silent scream.   Moneypenny smirks at me. “Don’t even start Moneypenny!” I point a finger at her. “I know all your secrets and where you sleep.”   as all good bffs should.  

I finally reach the sanctuary of Q Branch, muttering and cursing the entire way, where the security footage has suddenly... coincidentally... glitched long enough for me to openly, loudly rant at R about the lack of common sense that seemed to consume all the air space in the meeting I was just attended.  

She listens to me rant about the “outcomes” they want, which I can give them. But... oh no... we can’t possibly do what needed to get intel because that would be stepping in toes, invading privacy, people’s rights, blah, blah, blah....  

“How the fuck do they think the known universe does it?!   And the unknown universe for that matter. And why then do we have licensed to kill agents?!” I rant, obviously frightening the newbies that just started in Q Branch the first of the week.  

“I just don’t wave a magic wand like Harry Potter and it happens.” Hand waves awkwardly in the air, minions just waiting for me to shout “Incendio!”  Although I would like to set some of the idiots on fire  

There is a poke at my elbow and out of my peripheral vision the blue haired girl appears with a cuppa.  “Tea? Your office?” My cue that I need a time out to calm down.

“Ta muchly,” I stammer, trying to rein in my lunacy.  

“They are still idiots and I hate them all.”   Muttering as I head to my office, taking the cuppa and my banishment like a big boy.

Alec...

Some would say it was fortunate coincidence that had me hiding out in the Quartermaster’s office avoiding mission reports paperwork, at the moment Q shuffled in, tea in hand, folder under his arm and muttering obscenities.  Some would. I, on the other hand, saw the signs that if not handled correctly I might wish I was on the other side of the planet in ten minutes.

“Which fucking short-sighted bastard do I need to shoot?” I venture as a greeting, heaving myself upright on Q’s lumpy sofa.  I arrived back at Six just over an hour ago from two weeks in Tokyo, and the lure of a proper nap was too much when I saw his office was unoccupied.  

R obviously hadn’t warned him I was there because he startled and tea sloshed from his mug onto his shoes.  “Oh, that is just bloody brilliant,” he snapped. “I hope you brought something for me as a result of all the intel I’ve just been reprimanded for gathering?  Because you’ll be going out next time half briefed and with one hand tied behind your back. And if it gets you killed then that’s ok because we followed the rules and didn’t upset people and...”

I relieve him of his mug and notes while he spews his dissatisfaction before both end in a soggy heap on the carpet, then I pull him to me.  I’m not sure if he runs out of steam or if my touch on the back of his neck distracts him from his rant, but the words dry up and he buries his forehead in my shoulder.  

The fact he’s in his office at this time of day instead of pacing the team room suggests someone - R, or more likely his blue-haired protege - has sent him for a time out.  Protocol dictates the Quartermaster should at least try to disguise his toddler tendencies, and meetings with the uppers do tend to loosen his grip on them.

“They’re idiots,” he mumbles into my jumper.

“They are.”

“They know what I can do.  And that it gets results.”

“Yes.”

“But they continue to pay lip service to the official line.  Tell me I can’t do x, y and z, but I must give them the advantage any way possible.  Within the rules.”

I don’t hold him, other than my hand curled around the back of his neck, my thumb tracing his hairline at the nape.  He is free to step away if he wishes, when he feels he had regained his balance. Usually he needs to find that equilibrium alone, but while I am here, I will offer.

“Every agency breaks the rules,” he mutters.  “We’re spies, for god's sake. We play the game by ignoring the rules.”

“They’re politicians, Q.  Even M has to wear that hat, at least when minutes are being taken.  What’s that phrase? Plausible deniability? He’s protecting the SIS as a whole and keeping the dogs off your back as much as he can.”

Q is silent for a long time.  I wait, listening to him breathe.  I can feel the internal battle quivering inside him.  He will always be that kid inside, hacking into wherever he wants to be in order to learn whatever it is he wants to know.  Those are the skills Six wanted. The very ones they are now trying to hobble. I can understand the injustice and frustration he feels.

“I know,” he whispers eventually.  “Fucking politics ruins everything.  Welcome back, by the way. Queen and Country appreciates your service, bloody hypocrites that they are.  Don’t you dare mention this outside these walls.”

I press a light kiss to his crown.  “As if, Quartermaster. I need you too much to keep me alive.”