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Love is Holding the Bucket

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"Third, no fourth door... No, sorry, third door on your left."

"Which bloody door Q, make your mind up," Bond hissed over the comm, dodging a bullet that hammered into the wall a foot to the right of his ear.

Q shoved his fingers into the hair at the nape of his neck, sweat prickling at his hairline making the curls twine tighter around his fingertips. He tugged at it in agitation, trying to focus on the CCTV screen that flickered and wavered as he followed the agent's progress through the laboratory. He blinked firmly attempting to clear the fog from his eyes, and roughly rubbed away a trickle of perspiration from his brow.

"Third door, definitely. Then up the staircase. It should be clear."

"Well is it or isn't it?" Bond snapped as yet another bullet pinged off a metal overhead light. He darted through the third door, taking the stairs two at a time, diving for cover when shooting began above him. "Q, what the hell? Direct me for god's sake!"

"Um, wrong door, you'll have to go back. Only one behind you."

At least he thought so. He had lost track of the blond crew cut and the redhead. The skinny Norwegian was the one firing though and Q had eyes on him. He reached behind him, swinging his cardigan back over his quivering shoulders and wrapped it tightly around his body. He'd only removed it minutes beforehand but the room was like ice again.

"Will someone turn the bloody air-con off?" He snapped at a passing Q-branch kid with a tablet who blinked at him in confusion. Q's glasses were sliding down his nose and his teeth had begun to chatter. Bond meanwhile had taken care of the Norwegian and was creeping towards the fourth door. He had a hand on it when it was wrenched from his grasp and things deteriorated at both ends of the comm.

The barrage of gunfire from the lab in Harstad coincided perfectly with the thud of Q's body as his trembling legs finally gave out and R was convinced for one crazy moment that somehow her leader had been shot. Bond's cursing over the comm brought her back to reality and she quickly switched control to herself while other bodies dealt with the comatose young man sprawled on the floor.

"Q, what the fuck...?"

"This is R, 007; the Quartermaster is offline for the moment. If you'd be so good as to give me a second...? Ok, let's get you out of there..."

Q came round to find he was in motion, ceiling lamps whipping past as the trolley was hurried along the corridor. He tried to sit which had the immediate effect of both halting the stretcher's progress and making his world spin. He just had time to register Tanner's vaguely concerned face before his stomach surged and he vomited violently over the other man's shoes. Tanner to his credit simply looked mildly put out.

"I suggest you lie down Quartermaster and allow us to proceed to Medical. We don't know what we're dealing with here."

Q obliged, but only because he felt too weak to hold himself upright, slumping back onto the trolley with a groan. His entire body quaked beneath the blanket as feverish chills gripped him and a wave of agony spread from his stomach, over his groin to tremble in the taut muscles of his thighs.

He was transferred to a bed whining at every medical intervention. Temperature and blood pressure were both elevated, but nausea and griping pains in his abdomen were the chief symptoms. He squeaked ferociously at the nurse who insisted on taking an armful of blood wishing he could command a Bond-like growl to scare off their incessant interference. Finally he was left alone propped on pillows gripping a compressed cardboard vomit bowl while they awaited results of toxicology testing.

Moneypenny bounced into the room with concerned words and a smug expression. "Well, well, well. Who'd have thought it?"

"Well, well, what the hell...?" He groaned.

"You've caused quite some consternation to a certain double-oh agent I hear. R is having a hell of a job getting him to calm down enough to concentrate on what he should be doing."

"He's supposed to be getting his backside out of there. I need to get back downstairs before he-"

He started to get up but the room had other ideas. It lurched to the left and Q slithered face first across the bed, clinging to it like a life raft in a storm.

"Easy, sweetie, I think you need to stay right where you are. 007 will just have to look after himself for a while. Your dream boy will be home soon and you can fight about it then."

"He's not my- Never mind."

Denying anything to Eve was pointless. He'd been trying for months to maintain a professional almost dismissive attitude towards the man when she was around, only to fall victim to loose lips after one too many cocktails. Eve had an impressively filthy imagination after a half dozen strawberry daiquiris particularly where Bond was concerned.

Some hours later a grinning doctor was pleased to inform him he was suffering from nothing worse than food poisoning, not fatal, although he would feel dreadful for a week or so. Eve drove him home to recuperate, and it was a testament to how ill he felt that he only weakly protested.

"Get into bed immediately and text if you need anything. Drink plenty of water and stuff, whatever the usual advice is when puking," she ordered unhelpfully. "I'll check in a few days to make sure you're still with us."

"You're all heart, Eve."

She kissed his cheek. "Get well soon sweetheart. Call me if you don't die."


Hours later he rolled over in bed and was immediately gripped by crippling waves of agony, coursing through every muscle. The pain made his stomach roil, bile rising in an unstoppable tide that spilled over the edge of the mattress into the waiting bucket. He spat and lay with his head dangling over the side pitifully. A moment later he was upright, snagging the bucket in his arms and lurching to the toilet. He remained there for an hour, naked and trembling, arms hugging the cold plastic while his body purged itself of the poison from both ends, miserable tears forcing their way from his tired eyes. Amelie sat in the doorway regarding him curiously with yellow-green eyes.

"I'm ill," he muttered watching her groom her tuxedo fur. She meowed, and stalked back to the bed, looking once over her shoulder to see if he was going to follow. "Good idea, baby girl. Bed it is."

Sometime later he woke to dim yellow lamp-light and the smell of toast. He was dying, certain of it. People who had near death experiences reported the smell of toast. Or was that stroke survivors? He didn't know and cared less. They didn't normally report spicy cologne but he didn't care for that either. The light disappeared as a body moved in front of it and he recognized the silhouette. "I'm in hell," he croaked. "Why does hell look like my bedroom?" The angel - fallen angel surely if this was hell - snorted and moved away, and Q slipped back into sleep.

He twisted in the cold clammy sheets, hair a knotted mass of tangled curls that clung to his forehead. The pain was in his back and legs every time he moved, and he vomited twice more into the bucket. It smelled of disinfectant, bitter and chemical, seeping into his senses and triggering further retching. He struggled to open his eyes any further than a cat-like slit even when a calloused hand stroked the hair from his brow. The shadow leaning over him was wrong in some way that his mind struggled to grasp properly. There was a light brush of fabric against his cheek instead of the warm hand he expected and he squinted enough to see a sling cradling the angel's arm.

"No wings. Should've known you'd break them too." He muttered, eyes sliding shut. "Should've known my fucking angel would look like you."

Somewhere a phone was ringing and then it wasn't. Gruff tones dismissed the caller and clattered the handset back into its cradle. Amelie padded around his head on the pillow, turning around, snuffling at his hair and tickling his face with her whiskers until suddenly she was gently airborne.

"Down, you daft moggy. He needs to sleep." Q squinted into the light and winced as electric blue irises moved into his blurred vision half a foot from his face. "How are you feeling?"

"Like shit. Am I dead yet?"

"Stupid boy. At least your fever broke finally."

"You smell disgusting."

"Says the man covered in his own sweat and puke?"

There was a rattling on the table near Q's head and his glasses were gently placed on his face. It was a Herculean effort to keep his eyes open and look at the other man who was now perched on his bed but he managed. Bond looked as bad as Q felt. Bruised, bloody and filthy, the only pristine item on his person being the sling. His breath was sour with old alcohol which made Q gag. "Bucket!" He gasped. Bond held it for him as he retched and groaned at the indignity of the situation.

"Ok?" Bond asked when Q scrubbed his hand across his mouth.

"Felt better."

"You and me both."

"What happened?"

"My Quartermaster wasn't fit enough to direct my mission and almost got me killed. Good job you have a competent second in command."

"Of course I do." Q murmured. He should probably apologize. "What's the damage?" He asked instead.

"Cuts and bruises and a badly sprained wrist. I was lucky."

"Must have a guardian angel."

"Thought that was in your job description Q?"

"Fuck off, I'm no angel." Bond raised an intrigued eyebrow and smirked. Inappropriate and delightful, if only Q could look at the man without the danger of vomiting.

Bond proffered a glass of something violently orange that smelled like salt, and Q pulled a face at the vile taste. "For rehydration," the agent explained. "Drink up and don't be such a baby." He grinned at Q's scowl, laughed out loud when the awful liquid made a rapid reappearance into the bucket.

"I hate you. How did you get in?"

"You didn't lock your door properly."

"Bollocks, it locks itself."

Bond shrugged and refused to say any more, instead disposing of the bucket's contents and returning the container smelling freshly of bleach to the side of the bed. Q could hear the welcome sound of a bath running beyond the door.

"Need help bathing?" Bond smirked. Q shot him a black look and shakily swung his legs over the side of the bed. He was forced to pause as another wave of pain assaulted his abdomen but he waved Bond's arm away impatiently. He should have cared that he was naked but quite frankly he knew he looked like shit. If Bond could have lewd thoughts about him in this state then the man really would fuck anything and nothing was sacred.

He made it three steps from the bathroom door before his jelly legs stumbled and Bond's good arm slid around his skinny waist to hold him up. "Christ Q, there's nothing on you. You can't afford to lose any more weight." The agent said sternly.

"Wasn't exactly intentional Bond. Getting naked is normally a sixth date thing by the way."

"Sixth? Bloody hell, most would lose interest if they weren't in your pants before then."

"Good to know I'm worth the effort."

"Did I say you weren't? Now shut up and get in the bath."

The water was the perfect temperature and depth to seep divinely into his aching body. Q slid under the surface to his shoulders and closed his eyes completely ignoring the other man in the hope he would take the hint and go away. Once Bond was certain the young man wasn't likely to faint and slip under the water to drown he went in search of fresh bedding.

Ten minutes and much cursing from the bedroom later Bond returned looking decidedly more ruffled than his usual collected exterior. He'd lost his rumpled and torn jacket and the sling, but the wrist was still bandaged.

"Changing sheets one handed is difficult enough, but fighting with a wild animal is beyond the call of duty." He grumbled. "I hope you appreciate I wouldn't do this for anyone else? It's clean but probably not hugely comfortable, though the cat seems happy enough now."

"Thanks."

Bond reached for the shower head, adjusting the flow and allowing the stream to reach a pleasant temperature.

"Um, what are you doing Bond?"

"Helping you wash your hair? It has crusty bits in it that I assume you're not overly attached to?"

"Oh."

Q tilted his head back welcoming the soft patter of water over the crown of his head. He pushed his fringe away from his forehead letting the soft waves of dark hair pass through his fingers to fall sleek against his scalp while the water streamed over it. He looked vulnerable and incredibly young. Bond swallowed hard and looked away, moving the water to play over the thin man's shoulders while Q massaged shampoo into his hair. When he nodded Bond rinsed all traces of the suds away. Q sighed contentedly, feeling better for being clean although his stomach still gurgled threateningly when he moved.

"Do you need help to get out?"

Q wanted to decline but he didn't trust his muscles to reliably co-operate. "You'll get wet."

Bond shrugged. "Better than trying to pick you off the floor when you collapse. With your permission I'll take a shower once you're safely installed back in bed. I have a bag in the car."

"Presumptuous."

"I don't see people beating down your door to care for you."

"I don't need a nurse Bond."

"I'll leave the uniform in the car then shall I?" Bond twinkled at him and Q blushed.

"Just get me into bed."

"God Q, sixth date remember? Your rule."

"Is sex constantly on your mind? Because I thought vomit breath and a shitty arse would dampen even your enthusiasm."

"You're lovely when you're ill. Are you going to let me help you or are you going to shrivel in the bath?"

Q groaned and got himself mostly to standing before giving in and draping his arm around Bond's shoulders. Water soaked the white dress shirt turning it wonderfully translucent as the blond man gripped him tightly around the waist and lifted him out of the tub. Once Q's feet were firmly on the floor he hid his skinny frame in a towel and shuffled back to the bedroom leaving Bond to mop up the puddles.

By the time he'd dried off and dressed in pajama pants Q was sweating again and his head was spinning. He bunched the pillows behind his back and buried into them praying for some relief from the pain and nausea. Bond had left a glass of water and half dozen assorted pills by the bed but the nightstand felt a million miles away.

"Bond?" He whispered hoarsely, not expecting the other man to hear him but he felt the mattress dip behind him and a warm body at his back.

"Need something?"

"Mm, the pills-?"

Bond reached across him to retrieve the medication, pressing the tablets into the younger man's hand. He eased Q off the pillows until he could settle him against his now bare chest, skin warm against his back, the circle of his arms reassuring. Nice. Too bloody nice. Q had spent many a quiet hour fantasizing about being exactly where he now found himself. He tensed, suddenly nervous of his body doing something mortifying to ruin the moment.

"Ok?"

Q nodded cautiously, closing his eyes against the dizziness that threatened to overwhelm him. It was only Bond's sharp intake of breath that alerted Q to his fingers tightening on Bond's injured wrist as he tried to steady himself. "Sorry."

"It's fine. Take the medication Q. It'll help."

Bond's mouth was close to his ear, hot breath tickling his wash-damp curls, and Q cursed the gods of illness that he was in no fit state to truly appreciate the swell of the agent's superbly muscled torso even if he did still smell a little rank. "You still need that shower," he teased weakly.

"Agreed. Now you smell so delicious it makes me rather too aware of my own stench. Chocolate-lime shower gel? Really Q?" His body vibrated with his chuckle.

"It was a gift from Eve."

"Of course it was."

Q decided he wanted to keep Bond close for as long as possible, regardless of the teasing so he ignored him turning his attention to the tablets in his palm. He took each pill singly, allowing Bond to hold the glass to his lips. "Lost the use of your hands?"

"Too shaky."

"Pathetic boy."

"Justified."

Bond snorted but didn't extract himself from the bed until Q started to sag against his shoulder, his breath evening out into a relaxed state. Carefully the agent shifted from beneath him, gently guiding Q onto his side so he was facing the bucket just in case. Bond pulled the covers over the boy's too skinny body, smiling with something akin to genuine fondness and frowning when the haughty cat curled up in the warm spot he'd vacated. He lingered far too long at the bathroom door watching him sleep before ducking into the shower and scrubbing away inappropriate thoughts.


Bond was in the kitchen shoveling the entire contents of Q's fridge into a black plastic rubbish sack when he heard the sound of vomiting again. Time between bouts was getting longer, which was a good thing, but the severity didn't seem to be lessening. He knelt by the bed holding the bucket until Q pushed it away, tears streaming down his cheeks and perspiration glistening on his brow.

"I think I might actually be dying."

"You're not, but it would be your own damn fault if you did! Food has dates on it for a reason Q and most of them in your fridge are long since passed."

"Guidelines," he waved dismissively.

"Obviously not! I've thrown everything away and scrubbed your kitchen from top to bottom with anti-bac. I've even fed your damned cat. It hates me by the way."

Bond didn't clean as a general rule. He had a woman who came in once a week, regardless of where he was in the world, who dealt with the mundane things that most people had to do for themselves, like scrubbing the toilet or washing the kitchen floor. He was tidy by nature, and not particularly sentimental so his apartment was clutter free and most of the time barely looked lived in. Q's flat on the other hand was a home that perfectly reflected the personality of the man who lived there. There were various pieces of tech blinking and beeping in the corner of the living room and an impressive entertainment center gracing the wall. Books, DVDs and CDs were stacked on narrow shelves around the walls, and the furniture was comfortable and functional rather than stylish. Bond felt more at home there in the couple of days he'd lurked in the flat than he did after a month in his own place.

The kitchen was a death trap however. Most of the food was inedible, most of the equipment broken or 'technologically-enhanced' to the point of being too intimidating for a lowly double-oh to attempt to use.

"If you were that bored there's a TV."

"Not boredom, self-preservation. I'd like to make it to next week without some kind of biohazard incident while I'm staying here."

"Who said you could stay?"

"Going to forcibly evict me are you? A good draft from the window could have you on your arse right now. You need looking after until you're on your feet again."

"Bond the care giver. Who knew?"

"If you're going to be snarky I can leave you to struggle on. There's a bottle of single malt and a hot blonde with my name on it..."

He didn't know why he said that. The look Q shot him was somewhere between pity and disdain, and coming from a sick Quartermaster who could barely lift his head it said so much more. Q reached for the cat and began to stroke her, until loud purrs rattled around the room. The cat looked at Bond like he was lower than an insect and definitely not worthy of her human. Christ, even the bloody animal thought him shallow! He should just make it clear he was interested in the man and stop being such an arse. "I'll finish the kitchen," he muttered instead.

Bond returned to the bedroom a couple of hours later with dry toast made under the grill – the toaster glowed purple, no way he was touching it - and a cup of Earl Grey that had barely seen the tea bag. Q's stomach had nothing but bile to expel and the resulting pangs were adding to his discomfort. "Are you sure this is a good idea Q? I expect we'll see this again shortly."

"Probably not, but I'm sure you'll enjoy being right."

"I don't enjoy seeing you sick, although the tragic neediness is rather charming."

"Caveman instincts."

"What?"

"The desire to protect and possess. I'm waiting for you to bash me over the head and drag me off by the hair to your cave so you can ravish me."

Bond's eyebrows were torn between shooting up his brow in amused surprise and dipping into a confused frown. Either way he dragged his startled blue eyes up over the pale skinny chest and delicate face and admitted to himself that yes, he would very much like to do just that if the offer was on the table, thank you very much. Q's face was inscrutable, however, not offering any clue as to whether he was joking or not. He opted for levity. "Maybe in a few days. Regurgitated toast is a mood-killer."

The toast stayed put, but the tea was a step too far, even weak as it was. The moment the slight perfume invaded Q's nose he turned a little green and had to take a few deep breaths to hold on to his meagre meal. "Perhaps not," he grimaced.

Bond whisked it away and reappeared with a bottle of sports drink. "Here, this is designed to rehydrate you after exercise and tastes far better than the medical stuff. If I could figure out how to drag the TV in here we could watch a movie."

"Just bring the laptop, it's easier."

Bond returned with the computer and fiddled around trying to work out how to turn it on. Q watched him grow more frustrated and hid his grin beneath the duvet whispering to Amelie.

"Ok genius, I'm beaten."

Q took the laptop from him and without seeming to do anything at all the machine sprang to life. He smiled sweetly at the blond man's grumpy rearrangement of the pillows behind them both and refused to move too far across the bed to make room for him so Bond had to shuffle close to see the screen balanced on Q's knees. It was an inch or two short of cuddling and absolutely lovely until Amelie inserted herself between them. Q scratched her ears and Bond studiously ignored her.

"So, is this where you admit to a secret love of Disney princesses?" Bond smirked, their heads close together as he scanned the list of movies looking for anything embarrassing.

"Surely pretty girls are more your area? I prefer something a little more masculine."

Q leaned back putting a small distance between them, dark green eyes seeking Bond's blue for a reaction. He was pretty sure Bond knew he was gay, but they'd never acknowledged it openly, and Q was wary of misunderstandings. Bond was a flirt, and Q enjoyed the banter, but he wasn't one hundred percent sure that it went any further than teasing entertainment for the agent.

Bond grinned cheekily and winked. "Pretty isn't limited by gender Q. Now about that film - how about horror? I promise to hold your hand if you get scared."

Q rolled his eyes but agreed to suspense rather than gore and selected 'the Woman in Black'. Good though the movie was, Q found his eyes growing heavy and his head nodding. Instinctively he sought the warmth of the body lying alongside him and before too long Bond's arm slipped around his narrow shoulders offering his chest to lean on. Q moved the computer to Bond's lap and curled closer, draping his arm over the older man's stomach, eyes still on the screen. At one point they both jumped, startling the cat so badly she raced off to hide. They giggled with embarrassment at being caught out by a dramatic turn in the film, and Bond's hand crept into Q's hair, petting the soft curls until the younger man's eyes slid shut and tiny snores issued forth.

The film ended and Bond shut down the computer, managing to slide it onto the chair near the bed without disturbing Q too much. The dark haired man huffed sleepily against his chest and snuggled closer, arm tightening reflexively around Bond's middle to keep him close, although he had no intention of moving at all. It was too good; too perfect a moment to break, and such a rare feeling to hold someone just to offer comfort with no expectation of anything more. He was attracted to the man, no question, and had been aware of that growing attachment for months, but determined not to pursue it. He was only camping out here in Q's flat and offering care because of his own enforced break due to his sprained wrist. Why drink himself into a stupor at home alone, when he could get to know his Quartermaster better? Q couldn't exactly run away like he normally did when he tired of Bond's attention if he was captive in his own home.

Q rolled away from him onto his other side and Bond felt disappointed at the loss of contact. He wasn't arrogant enough to undress and slip under the covers, but he kicked off his jeans and pulled a spare blanket over himself, remaining respectfully on top of the duvet. He moved as close to Q as he dared and let his hand rest lightly on the rise of his hip beneath the heavy blanket, pressing the faintest kiss to the back of Q's head and whispering goodnight.

As soon as Q moved, Bond was awake, alert, reaching for the other man when it seemed he would topple out of the bed. Q's upper chest and head dangled over the edge as his stomach emptied itself once more into the bloody bucket. Bond soothed circles into his back, humming soft words of comfort until the heaving stopped, and then he silently fetched a glass of water and helped him sip.

"Sorry. I thought it had passed."

Bond's fingers caressed the tightly bunched muscles at the base of Q's neck, gently working on the tension that lodged there. "I've dealt with a lot worse in the field."

"I'm glad you're here," he murmured in a small voice, and Bond smiled into the darkness.

"Wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now. Let me deal with that and then see if we can get some more sleep."

Bond was efficient, cleaning and returning the bucket, topping up Q's water and making him take another dose of medication. When he finished he was about to return to his former position when Q stopped him.

"It's chilly. Come under the duvet."

Bond stilled. "Are you sure?"

"I think I can trust you not to seduce me in the next couple of hours, and I'm cold. Rumor has it you're hot stuff, so you can be my hot water bottle."

Bond curled at Q's back, spooning the smaller man and allowing Q to draw his good arm over his waist. Q held it there, slim fingers wrapped lightly around Bond's wrist, the tip of his thumb caressing absently over the pulse point below his thumb. He was all bones and corners, far too thin, but it felt comfortable to have him there.

"Thanks for taking care of me," Q said sleepily.

"My absolute pleasure, Quartermaster. Fainting episodes aside, you look after me quite well too." This time he made sure Q felt the light brush of his lips buried in his hair.


Q next woke alone in the dense quiet that came of being the only living thing in a space. Rolling over, his cheek crinkled on paper. He stared at the note for a long time, reading it repeatedly, analyzing every possible meaning. The first four words were fine, informative, reassuring.

Gone shopping, back soon.

The signature was... Sweet? Alarming? Or possibly without any significance whatsoever and just Q's hopeful imagination reading something that wasn't there.

James x

Bond was Bond or 007. Never James. James crossed the boundary between colleagues into friends and possibly something more. James was a relaxation of the rules of engagement. James was the name whispered, moaned and screamed over the comm by dozens of victims of seduction...

No, James was unsettling. And that was without even dwelling on the kiss. Kisses. The one on paper and the tender touch of lips to his hair and yes, Q was pretty damn near freaking out now because things were changing and he wasn't at peak strength to cope with it. Back off, his head screamed. Don't you fucking dare, countered his heart. And his body...? Well that could be counted on to betray him even when sick apparently. He didn't need his hand to stray beneath the duvet to prove that, but he did it anyway. Christ, he was in over his head here!

James returned and cowardly Q pretended to be asleep, listening to him whistling and pottering around the kitchen. Soon the smell of something delicious filled the flat and Q's stomach made a hungry rumble.

"Hey sleepyhead, think you can eat some light soup?"

"Think you can stand wearing it if I can't?" Q snapped and instantly felt guilty at the flash of hurt on James' face. "Sorry, headache," he lied.

Bond placed the steaming bowl on the nightstand, his face carefully betraying nothing.

"I'll leave it here and bring you some more pills and then I suppose I should go check in. They'll be wondering which hole I fell into this time."

"They don't know you're here?"

"According to all of the available data I'm still making my way back from Norway. M is probably expecting me home in a week or so when I've stopped being pissed off with my Quartermaster for jeopardizing my life while trying to work while patently unfit." James said sharply.

"I didn't have a choice. You refuse to run for anyone but me these days!"

"I trust you and believe you to be the best Q , but I need you alert, not compromised in any way. It's my life on the line out there. You have the quickest reactions and most ingenious ways of getting me out of any fix unscathed and you can anticipate my next move without me wasting valuable breath explaining it to you, but you're no good to me unconscious on the fucking floor. Luckily for me you train your staff well. R was good, but she isn't you! I need-"

"What?"

"Nothing. Eat your soup." Bond turned on his heel and walked away. A few minutes later the front door slammed behind him.

When Bond returned he went straight to the bedroom, suppressing momentary panic when he didn't find Q immediately, until he heard the groaning from the bathroom. Q was slumped on the tiled floor, head resting on the toilet seat, face white and limbs shaking. "Soup was lovely," he said with a wan smile.

"I'm sorry. Too much too soon."

"Not your fault."

"It was the chicken sandwich. When they thought you'd been poisoned they raided your bin and tested everything in it. The sandwich was the culprit. Nearly two weeks out of date Q, that's irresponsible. I was going out of my fucking mind with worry, trapped in some stupid lab and overhearing mutterings about someone poisoning you, when in fact you'd sabotaged your own health through laziness or carelessness or god only knows what!"

"Is this you scolding me? You'll be grounding me next."

"I think hugging the loo is punishment enough, don't you?" Bond's icy glare finally thawed. "Come on. Let's get you cleaned up."

His arm was strong around Q's waist, helping him to stand on legs that had become wobbly all over again. He propped the young man against the bathroom wall and wet a clean face cloth, using it to gently wipe Q's face, chest and hands. Q slumped there, passive as a child, letting Bond attend to him with caring hands. When Bond was content he was as clean as he could be he led him out of the bathroom to the sofa and wrapped the duvet around them both, snuggling Q against his side.

"I wasn't sure you would come back." Q wriggled his head into the crook of Bond's neck, and pulled the blond man's arm tightly around him, wrapping his own arms around Bond's waist effectively trapping him on the sofa. "I'm not a great patient."

Bond hummed in agreement. "You don't like being dependent do you? You'd rather suffer in silence than let someone take care of you."

"Been on my own too long. And you're not exactly renowned for sticking around long enough to rely on. Why are you still here?"

"I'm curious to know what happens on the seventh date," Bond chuckled, kissing the top of his head. "Is that ok?"

Take a risk Q, take a chance. What's the worst that could happen? No definitely don't answer that…

"Yes, that's ok. But I insist on dates one to six before you get to see me naked again."

"You're a hard man."

"I can't even be bothered to create a double-entendre."

"Poor baby, you really are unwell, aren't you?"

Bond tugged the slim man closer, somehow managing to maneuver him onto his lap and tuck Q's head under his chin. It was becoming hot under the duvet but Q was still shivering.

"James."

"Hm?"

"Nothing. Just trying it out. Feels good on my tongue and lips."

"Better. Almost a double-entendre in fact. Try it with a leer perhaps?"

"If you weren't so warm I'd tell you to piss off and mean it."

"Of course you would darling; it's what makes you utterly irresistible. Nothing in the world is sexier than you ordering me out of your office. I'm only here to make sure you return to full bossy fitness as soon as possible. R just doesn't have the same impact and I don't think she's as eager to keep me alive as you are either."

"I'll be back to work tomorrow." Q said drowsily.

"Monday. M requested I keep you away until then. I'm under orders to keep you flat on your back in bed for the rest of the week."

"M did not say that."

"Moneypenny interpreted. She also threatened me if I didn't comply. I think she's match-making."

"Meddling," Q murmured. "I'll have to thank her. Send flowers." He kissed Bond's cheek, snuggling back under his jaw.

"And chocolates," agreed James, kissing his brow. "Perfect meddling."