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In Cold Blood

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If it weren’t for MI6, London would be the perfect place to live. 

It rains eight months out of the year, and on the rare occasion that it doesn’t, the countless, soulless buildings cast the streets into shadow by 4:30 sharp. The alleys and sewers are always full of riffraff, most of them harmless but some of them violent, and not a night passes by without a handful of police sirens heading this way or that to cart off some poor drug-addled lunatic, making a full night’s sleep nearly impossible. There’s always someone awake; no one bats an eye at the gaggles of drunkards swerving their cars down the street— or the occasional lone, quiet pedestrian.

But as it happens, the city and its country lie under the careful watch of the British Secret Intelligence Service, tasked with hunting down and eliminating any threats to national security— which makes living in London nigh-on impossible for a vampire.

He manages anyway.

M raises her eyebrows. “Nineteen?”

He nods. “Yes, ma'am.”

She sifts through his application, skimming over his falsified past employment and education. “Under normal circumstances I’d have thrown this out in a second. You didn’t list any references.” 

He shuffles his feet. “I’m not very good at networking.” 

“Evidently,” M says coolly. “However, I’m making an exception. Seeing as you breached our security a grand total of—” She checks her notepad. “— seven times.”

He bites the inside of his cheek to keep his face neutral.

“Why do you want to work for MI6?” M asks, taking her glasses off and folding them carefully. 

He shrugs. “Figured the pay’d be decent.”

From the corner, M’s assistant snorts, but quickly turns the noise into an awkward cough when M shoots a glare. 

“Let me be frank with you,” she says to him, setting her glasses on the desk. “Most people who apply here fall into two camps: the ones who fantasize about dying in a blaze of glory, and the ones who think they’re cunning enough to single-handedly take over the country. Most of them end up dead within the year.”

“Well, that wasn’t exactly my plan.” 

M folds her arms. “What is, then? With your skills, you could sell every byte of information MI6 has on file. Fly to Vienna. Buy a cottage in Sussex. Why are you here?” 

He swallows. 

The real answer would wind him up behind the barrel of a silver-plated gun, and he has no doubt she keeps one within arm’s reach at all times. It’s tempting to call her paranoid, but after finding yourself targeted by international terrorists and the occasional supernatural creature for decades on end, he supposes it must be difficult to let your guard down.

“I want to protect people,” he says instead, choosing his words carefully. “I can’t fire a perfect shot from the top of a moving train, but I can make sure the people who do have somewhere safe to come home to. And if I have the power to make that happen and I don’t use it, then I don’t think I can live with myself.” 

It’s the perfect blend of naive optimism and adolescent determination, garnished with just enough truth to shine sincere. And M eats it right up.

“Adequate, if a bit poetic,” she says, nodding thoughtfully. “Right, then, follow Tanner.” 

He was good at slipping into the shadows long before he turned, and MI6 is no different. 

They assign him to the I-branch, down in the basement. He spends his first week remodeling the security systems, cumulating in the expulsion of a handful of moles who evidently thought of their passwords in sixth year and never bothered to update them. After about a month of busywork, he also helps out the Q-branch with a few of their gadgets— he’s not one for disassembling and reassembling tech, thanks to the frustrating abundance of silver wiring, but they’re grateful for his programming assistance.

Most of the I-branch is like him: quiet, reclusive, and more than happy to stick to their own projects and leave the socializing to the quite literal higher-ups. A few of them give him a passing nod each morning, but they don’t bother asking after him when he calls in and works from home.

M thins her lips when he calls in sick for the fifth time in a month, but she can’t argue with his work— not having to sleep means he gets twice as much done, and ratting out that handful of double agents had cemented both her trust and respect. So she signs off his paperwork every time the sun peeks through the clouds, hopefully conflating his excessive sick days with the sallow tinge his skin takes on when it’s been a bit too long between feedings.

After a solid two months, he deems it safe enough to start snooping, and so he spends one rainy night in his pajamas bent over his laptop, sifting through case files until he finds what he’s looking for. 

Werewolves tend to stick to the country, and there haven’t been ghouls sighted in Great Britain in at least three decades, so almost all the targets listed in the folder are vampires. Once he’s done checking for his own profile— and coming up empty, as expected— he skims through the list.

Every single target has been labeled as eliminated. Most of them wound up on MI6’s radar in the first place by causing some sort of uncontrolled ruckus, so he doesn’t feel too bad about seeing the evidence of their deaths— the same way he imagines most of the people working at MI6 feel little empathy seeing their fellow humans listed as deceased after they’ve tried to pull off some devious scheme or another. 

Still, there are a few exceptions. Some of them had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time, either caught by a security camera or by the MI6 agent they’d been unlucky enough to run across. He chews his lip as he reads through their case files, reads how the agents in question hadn’t hesitated to identify them as threats, and handle the situation accordingly.

Humans. So paranoid. They’ll vouch for their fellow men, preach about grey areas and moral neutrality, but the second something other walks through their crosshairs they shoot. It’s probably a good thing that only a select few are even allowed to know of vampires’ existence. Specifically, the 00 branch and their— 

“Quartermaster?” He blinks, dumbfounded. “You want me to be a Quartermaster?” 

M nods. “One of our agents has a history of being… reckless. Unfortunately he’s also our best. I need you to make sure he doesn’t get himself killed.”

He stops in his tracks, his silent heart sinking to the pit of his empty stomach, his ice-cold fingers clutched around his laptop almost tight enough to snap it in half.

She looks back when she realizes he hasn’t followed her.

“You’re giving me to Bond,” he says faintly. 

He’s heard stories about Bond. Most of them involve some sort of grievous injury, and none of them paint him in a particularly friendly light. From the sounds of it, Bond’s the most precipitous agent in the whole of MI6. He’s also infuriatingly good at his job.

She grimaces. “You’ll survive.” 

He laughs; it comes out hysterical and he sinks an inch on the doorframe. “No, I— I can’t,” he stammers. There’s a reason he never sets foot in the higher floors, and it’s not from lack of an invitation— as MI6, he technically has permission to enter almost any building he wants, which was an unexpected perk to the job. But the 00’s work up there, and he’s not keen on staring down a silver-laced bullet. “I’m not trained—” 

“You will be.” 

“I’m— I’m not good with people, that’s why I’m with the I-branch,” he tries desperately. “There are plenty of good Q-agents who can help him.” 

“Oh, pull yourself together,” M snaps. “I need my best on him and that’s you.” Something of his true panic must show in his face, because her scowl softens just the tiniest bit. “I assure you,” she says a bit more kindly, “the hero-worship will vanish the second you meet him.”

For a moment, he’s almost certain Bond’s one of his own. 

He’s tall, proud, and dramatic, everything the worst vampires aspire to be. Not to mention the safest place for a vampire would be behind the trigger rather than staring down the barrel.

But the second he— Q, now, he supposes— sits beside Bond, he wrinkles his nose. Bond’s human, egregiously so, his blood running so hot and close to the surface that it practically permeates the air. Q can almost taste the adrenaline and bravado that runs through Bond's veins, and he has to take a second to compose himself. 

Some people have a tendency to just bleed, and he can tell already that Bond is one of them. 

Even if he couldn’t, a quick skim through Bond’s records told Q as much this morning. It’s honestly a wonder Bond still has his job at this point. But Q supposes it’s not like they could just fire him and send him on his way. 

Bond shoots him a glance, his eyes flickering from Q’s hair down to his shoes. 


Q tries not to sigh in relief, instead nodding to the painting on the wall. He’s never been an enormous patron of the arts, but after living in the same place for nearly a century, there’s hardly a stone in this city he hasn’t unturned.

“Always makes me a little melancholy,” he says. “The grand old warship being ignominiously hauled away for scrap. The inevitability of time.”

Humans fear the fading of time. Vampires long for it. Either way, it’s a bit depressing.

But Bond doesn’t say anything. Perhaps the meaning is lost on him. When he continues not saying anything, Q tries again. 

“What do you see?” 

“A ship,” Bond says flatly. “Excuse me.” He makes to stand. 

He thinks Q’s a civilian. 

All the panic seeps out of Q in an instant. So much for observant; Bond probably wouldn’t know a vampire if it bit him on the neck.

“007,” Q says carefully, trying not to attract any more attention to them both. “I’m your new Quartermaster.” 

Bond freezes, then sits back down slowly, staring at him. Q stares right back. 

“You must be joking.”

Q raises an eyebrow. “Because I’m not wearing a labcoat?” 

“Because you still have spots.” 

Q has to fight hard to keep from laughing, and fight harder still not to just blurt out the truth. Bond’s not upset that MI6 gave him a babysitter, he’s upset because he thinks Q’s younger than him. The irony is nearly enough to force a smile, but Q keeps his face as blank as he can. Bond probably wouldn’t believe him if he told the truth, anyway, and Q wouldn’t be walking out of here alive if he did.

Still. Bond has a funny way of turning the conversation itself into a contest of storts, and knowing that he holds the trump card but not the ability to play it is absolutely infuriating. 

“My complexion is hardly relevant,” he says instead.

“Your competence is,” Bond fires back.

His words slide their way under Q’s skin, and Q sucks a breath in through his nose. “If you’d rather not have my help…” He trails off meaningfully.

Bond doesn’t say anything. He also doesn’t move, so Q counts the point to himself and hands over the briefcase. 

Bond opens it without hesitation, like they’re not in the middle of an extremely public place surrounded by dozens of men, women, and children. But either everyone milling around them is an idiot or Bond’s just very good at acting casual, because no one appears to notice the contents.

“A ticket, a gun, and a stamp,” Bond says flatly. 

“Distress signal,” Q corrects. 

Bond stares at him in disbelief. “This is it?” 

Q reaches for the case. “Like I said, if you don’t want them—”

Bond snaps it shut, scowling.

True to his word, he keeps Bond safe. But despite their best efforts it’s not enough. 

If he’d followed them to the house, she might have survived— but it’s not worth dwelling on. What’s done is done. Besides, it would probably have raised a few questions if Q turned up out of nowhere and started taking bullets like a tank.

Mallory takes her place. He’s a fine replacement; a bit more attuned to the government’s relationship to MI6 rather than to the agency itself, but a suitable agent nonetheless. And while Q had hopes that the change in staff might be a big enough upset to let him sneak back to the I-branch without notice— 

“He asked for you specifically.” Mallory shrugs. “I don’t know what to tell you.” 

“Can’t I just say no?” Q begs, already knowing the answer. 

“He’ll seek you out anyway. You showed your hand, there’s no going back now.” Mallory frowns. “Anyway, you’re a good Quartermaster. Why would you want to step down?” 

“Wasn’t stepping down your big idea?” Q says shrewdly.

Mallory visibly bristles. “This is different. You’re young.”

There’s no need for a fight, anyway. Q sighs. 

“Listen,” Mallory adds, a bit softer. “I know he’s… difficult, sometimes. But he’s a good man. He saved my life— probably more than once, but hell if I’ll ever know. Who knows, you might make a good team if you can get past the—” 

“The what, exactly?” Bond says, prodding Mallory in the side. 

Q startles, but to his credit he doesn’t actually flinch, just freezes in place for a few seconds before slowly letting out his breath. 

“You got my message,” Bond says, looking between the two of them. “Perfect. I’m heading for Bolivia in the morning.” 

“Finally giving me some warning, are you?” Mallory says, and Bond smirks. 

“You’re not allowed to complain, you’ve only dealt with me for a week.” 

“I suppose that gives me seniority?” Q pipes up. 

He shouldn’t have said anything. Despite being slightly less observant than Q initially assumed, Bond’s still a 00 . It’s in Q’s best interest to keep Bond’s attention pointed literally anywhere else but himself. And yet the thought had come and he’d spoken it without thinking. 

Maybe, he thinks weakly, maybe if he can just annoy Bond enough, he’ll leave Q alone.

But to his surprise, Bond’s lips turn up ever so slightly at the corners. He turns, stalks toward the exit. “I’ll be back to pick up my equipment,” he calls over his shoulder. “Another biometric Walther would be terrific, thanks.” 

It doesn’t go horribly.

As it turns out, being Bond’s Quartermaster means working mainly from a distance, which suits Q just fine. And though he’ll never admit as much, Mallory had been right. After he breaks through the first couple layers of egotistical snark and transparent emotional walls, Bond is actually quite fun to work with. 

He’s leagues less professional than anyone else at MI6, which is a bit daunting at the start. Instead of sticking to the usual script of delivering information, he has to actually talk to Bond— but once he does, he finds it’s rather enjoyable to catch one of Bond’s age-related barbs, think of something witty to top it, and toss it right back at his face. Half the time Bond has the last word— usually given a second before he destroys his comm line— but half the time Q catches him off guard instead. Every time he does, the tiny moment of stunned silence from Bond’s end sends a little burst of elation down his spine, nearly as good as fresh blood. 

And that’s been… manageable. Like usual. 

He sticks to the London alleyways. Even if the prey there is usually drug-infused and stale, they’re the safest option he has. When their blood is bitter with substances, they never remember him. If they’re incredibly far-gone, he’ll sport a headache for a few days, but that’s far from his biggest problem. 

MI6’s new tower is solid glass, which means he has to stay home about twice as often. And this time people start to notice. 

When he finally comes in after seven straight days in June without cloud cover, Eve stops him on his way down. 

“You all right?” She looks him up and down where he’s leaning casually over her desk.

“I’m fine,” he insists, keeping his gaze trained on the rain outside. “Allergies, you know.”

“I hope they’re not contagious,” Bond hums, striding past Eve’s desk.

Q can smell it before he sees: Bond’s cut up in a dozen places, half of them visible on his face and his hands. They’ve started to heal over, but his heart beats so strongly that every pump of blood in his veins threatens to burst the wounds open anew. 

It’s a rare occasion that he turns up at HQ, usually only just before or after a mission, and the cuts on his skin very strongly suggest the latter. He hadn’t needed Q this time, just flounced off to Egypt without so much as a memo’s worth of notice, and now he’s back after an apparent mission well done.

As he passes behind Q, their shoulders brush. He smells like sand, sweat, and blood, and by the time Q lets out his breath he’s already at the end of the hallway, rounding the corner.

Undead heart thudding, Q wonders, not for the first time, what the hell’s the matter with him. He’s been around bleeding people before— regularly, in fact— but there’s just something about Bond that’s… more than everyone else. Maybe it’s just the vivacity pumping in his veins. Or the sheer, brazen audacity that he exudes with every step or breath he takes. 

Eve clears her throat, and he realizes he’s grabbing the corner of her desk hard enough to dent the mahogany under his thumb.

“Sorry,” he says quickly, leaping back and brushing imaginary dust off his sweater. “Er— I think I’m still a bit ill. You might want to keep your distance.” 

Eve looks slowly from the dent up to his pale, ashen face.

“Don’t like the sight of blood?”

Q’s tongue sticks to the roof of his mouth. He can’t move; his feet are clad in irons to the floor and he can’t move a muscle. 

All this time he thought, if anyone here caught him it would be a 00— specifically Bond, though that’s a door he doesn’t feel like opening just yet. But no, it’s Mallory’s secretary who sees through him in the end. Though, she was a field agent first, wasn’t she, so that’s rather close-minded of him— 

“Do you want to have dinner with me?” Eve says.

He doesn’t think she’s going to kill him. If she wanted him dead she’d have gone straight to Mallory, or straight to Bond for that matter. Still, the threat that someone within MI6 knows is more than enough to get him pacing the kitchen that night.

Luckily, their dinner is postponed. Bond’s newest mission goes haywire, snagging him from one corner of the world to the next, and Q’s up day and night keeping him informed, hacking into countless building schematics, rewriting security codes. 

He even makes some last-minute edits to the Q-branch’s tech before they send it off— though they’re the ones who deliver it. Q’s not stepping foot in a bloody plane if he can help it; dissecting a phone on a table and watching his fingers around the silver wiring is one thing, but being surrounded by the damn stuff tens of thousands of feet in the air is quite another.

He’s not completely off the hook, though. All week, it seems like he can’t shake Eve off his tail. He’s not entirely sure if it’s intentional, or if it’s like thinking of a red car one morning and then seeing one on every street. He sees her every time he enters the building, or heads out of Mallory’s office, or even when he’s crossing the hallways to get coffee. And every time their paths cross she gives him a bland, neutral smile, perhaps a nod if it’s their first time seeing each other that day. She either doesn’t really know anything, or she’s acting as if she doesn’t, and in either case Q can’t help but feel grateful. 

It would be nice to have a friend. It’s been so long, after all.

Bond sort of counts— but of course he doesn’t know the truth. And he can’t know the truth. So there’s little chance they’ll ever really be friends. 

Bizarrely, the thought makes him sad. 

It’s odd, he thinks as he fumbles with his keys at the door. He’s never been good with people— being a vampire certainly doesn’t help, but even if he weren’t a bloodsucker he’d still be absolutely abysmal at parties— but he’s also never minded being alone. He’s spent most of his life keeping his distance, never letting anyone get too close. 

But knowing that he can’t be close with Bond is disappointing for a reason he can’t quite pin down. 

He finally slides the key into the handle and turns it, and as the door cracks open he freezes. 

He knows the scent by heart now, and before he’s throwing the door open he knows what he’s about to find. 

Bond is lying on his couch, out cold, his white shirt stained a deep, deep red. Q can taste it in the air— his heart is still beating, pumping blood steadily out of the gaping holes in his body. And then he can taste it in the air, his mouth falling open, lips parting— 

He’s by the side of the couch before he realizes he’d moved, and he jerks back, knocking off half a dozen books from the kitchen counter. Bond stirs at the noise, but doesn’t wake.

Q snaps his jaw shut, breathing hard, his teeth sharp against his lips. His eyes must be blown wide because he can see everything in his apartment despite the fact that it’s pitch black out and there’s not a single light on in the room. Not only that, but he can hear everything from Bond’s shallow, fragile breaths to the cats upstairs kicking litter from their box. And he can smell—

He hasn’t fed in far too long— he’d put it off to work the mission, he’d planned on checking the alleys tonight after sending Mallory his paperwork. Mallory had even commented that he looked a bit pale, especially after taking nearly a whole week off, and he’d made some feeble excuse about skipping breakfast before scampering off. And now he’s standing less than two feet away from Bond, who’s oozing blood by the pint, and he can taste it in the air, sweet, thick, still warm— 

He pushes himself off the couch again with shaking hands, and runs.

The barrier that keeps his feet from crossing her doorway also keeps his fist from breaking through her door as he pounds as hard as he can, not caring what the rest of the complex must be thinking. It’s the middle of the goddamn night, he doesn’t know if she’ll even answer, and he doesn’t know what she’ll do if she does. She might help him. She might stab him through the heart with a wooden stake. But right now she’s his best bet.

Eve opens the door at last, donned in a baby-blue bathrobe, her hair tied up in a damp scarf. Her annoyance vanishes the second she sees him, replaced immediately with concern. “Q? What’s going on? What’s the matter?” 

“Blood,” he blurts out. “I—”

He has to grab the doorway for support, his legs shaking beneath him, and she grabs him around the middle before he can sink more than an inch. 

“Okay,” she says quickly. “Okay, just calm down. Tell me what’s going on.” 

“He—” He clenches his jaw tight enough to crack his back molars, which repair themselves instantly. “He’s in my apartment, bleeding all over my couch and I— I can’t hurt him but I need—” 

“Bond?” Eve blinks in alarm.

“He’s alive,” Q assures her quickly, “but I can’t— he’s bleeding and I— I can’t—” 

Eve whistles lowly, letting him go, and he forces himself to stand upright. “All right,” she says calmly, and turns inside, then stops when she’s halfway to the living room. “Are you coming?” 

Q shuffles his feet awkwardly. “You, er, you have to—” 

“Oh, right. Come on in.” 

He takes a seat at her dining table and waits in uncomfortable silence as she fishes around in her fridge. Her apartment is cozier than Q’s, decorated wall to wall with artwork. He counts half a dozen charcoal figure drawings, two tapestries, and one of those hand-woven little decorations, beads tied in the bottom fringe. 

“Here we are,” she says at last, pulling a red-looking bag from the depths of the fridge. “Catch.” 

He catches it, and turns it over in his hands. It’s a bag of blood, taken from what looks like the MI6 medical center. Without hesitating he tears the corner off and brings it to his lips. It’s cold, sterile, and flavorless, but it fills him with energy and strength all the same. It’s empty within seconds, and when he’s done he takes a minute to just breathe, let his hands finally stop shaking, feel the control seeping back into his veins.

After a while, Eve takes the empty bag from his hands. 

“It wasn’t me,” he says. 

She tosses the bag into the trash. “If I thought it was, do you think I’d have let you in?” 

Q flushes, looking at his lap. “No, I suppose not.” 

The question he’s dying to ask sits on the tip of his tongue, but he stops himself from asking. It seems tactless, especially after that, but still, he can’t help from wondering. 

“My great-grandmother married a vampire,” Eve says, like she’s read his mind. She pulls out a chair opposite him and sits down, folding her arms on the table. 

Q gives her a wry look. “How’d that work out for her?” 

“Well, she’s in the Maldives on her seventieth wedding anniversary.” Eve quirks an eyebrow up. “So, pretty well.” 


It actually explains a great deal. If that’s all the experience with vampires Eve’s ever had, no wonder she’s being so nice to him. 

Vampires and humans don’t tend to mix, even with the best of intentions. Humans grow old, vampires don’t. Even if they convince their partners to turn them, or convince their partner to be turned, relationships turn sour eventually— and a vengeful ex is much more lethal with a brand-new set of fangs attached. 

Still. Eve’s case is reluctant proof that things can, sometimes, turn out all right. 

She takes care to wipe his chin before he leaves. 

“I’m sorry to put off dinner again,” he says, standing on his tiptoes to look in her mirror. It’s aluminum, like most mirrors these days, so he has no trouble checking his reflection. To anyone who hadn’t just seen him veritably shotgun a bag of blood, he’d look like any other human.

“Hazard of the job.” Eve shrugs behind him. “But next time you have a night off, give me a ring.”

Bond’s gone by the time he gets home, and the couch is spotless. If Q didn’t have the security footage to prove it— and the phantom smell of Bond’s blood lingering in his nostrils— he could have convinced himself he’d imagined the entire thing. 

“Idiot,” he mutters to himself, slamming the door shut behind him. “Idiot.”

Bond had come here seeking shelter and Q had run. And now he doubts Bond will ever grace his doorstep again, let alone trust him. 

For good reason, he tells himself darkly, stalking to the kitchen and setting Eve’s bag on the counter. The further Bond stays from him, the better. He’d almost lost control of himself tonight. If anything had happened to Bond… If Q had happened to Bond… 

No, he thinks, taking out the half dozen bags of blood from Eve’s bag. It’s better this way.

To distract himself, he tries to remember where he’d put the manual for his fridge. He doesn’t use it for anything, but now that Eve’s giving him a regular— and clean— supply of blood bags, he’ll have to figure out how to turn it on so he can store them. He sifts through the kitchen drawers for a few minutes, before realizing there’s a faint, low, hum coming from the appliance. 

He opens the refrigerator door. 

It’s fully stocked. There’s a jug of orange juice on the bottom counter, three packs of butter stuffed into the tray, a carton of eggs and a jar of marmalade on the top shelf, and the drawers are full to bursting with vegetables. 

Did Bond do this?

Q’s first instinct is an indignant sputtering— why had Bond been snooping in his fridge in the first place? For a jug of milk? Perhaps a hard-boiled egg? And, what, he’d just assumed that Q was too poor to feed himself? Is that why he’s being nice? Because he pities Q? 

But then, why would he have asked for Q personally, back before they’d started to know each other? Had he just assumed all this from their first meeting? 

Or, a voice in the back of Q’s head says traitorously, maybe he just cares about you. 

And why does that thought make his undead heart skip a beat? Since when has Q cared about anyone’s opinion of him? Since when has he cared about Bond’s opinion of him? 

Oh god, he thinks, from the moment we met. 

Q’s seen a picture, once, of a bed of weeds growing from the concrete floor of a train station. Every day the train would drip water from its exhaust pipe when it stopped to deposit its passengers. And so, over time, the plantlife had grown, unbeknownst to the engineers, the drivers, and even to the hundreds of passengers passing it by day after day. 

This is a bit like that; he’s been watering this spot without knowing it, every time he smiles despite himself at one of Bond’s overdramatic quips, every time he thinks fast enough to catch him off guard with a quip of his own, every time he hears Bond hiss in pain over the comm line and winces like he’s taken the blow himself.

For the first time in decades, he feels the same age he looks: young, inexperienced, and foolhardy. It’s been far too long since he’s felt this way about anyone, long enough that he doesn’t quite remember what to do. 

Nothing, says a stern voice in the back of his head. And after a few minutes of pacing the kitchen, he realizes he’s right.

So he takes another week off, earning himself a sternly-worded email from Mallory and a text from Eve. 

u ok? 🩸? 

It confirms his theory that she really must know next to nothing about vampires if she thinks he’s gone through six bags in less than a week. Still, it’s nice to have an accomplice for once. And he hadn’t even had to break any laws, since she’d already known.

He’s on her doorstep at 7:30 sharp, and she answers before the third knock.

“Do I have to invite you in every time?”

He steps through the doorway. “It’s called being polite.” 

He’s fed for the next couple weeks, but takes the bag anyway— half to be polite, and half because he knows it’ll give him a good buzz. He doesn’t usually indulge.

“Drinking too much too often can change your appetite,” he explains between sips, kicking his feet up on her coffee table. “If you build up too much of a tolerance you’ll need more just to survive.” 

Eve grabs at the bag. He swings it out of her reach. 

Through a bag of blood and a bottle of wine, he learns the whole sordid tale of her great-grandmother, tempted out of her wedding the night before by the mysterious stranger new to town and swept away on horseback to spend a magical three nights in a foreign country. 

“It was all very romantic,” Eve says wistfully. “And then she came back after the third day to find out that they all took her for dead. Already had the funeral.” 

“You’re kidding.” 

She shakes her head, taking a long drag from her wine glass. “Buried an empty coffin and everything.” 

“So, what, she just ran off into the sunset with him?” 

“Pretty much.” Eve shrugs. “I think they still have the horse.” 

Q chokes, spraying blood through his nose. “Now, that I know is a lie,” he mutters, wiping it off with his sleeve. “You can’t turn animals.” 

“Oh, like you’d know.” 

It’s bait and he knows it, but he takes it anyway. “I tried, once. Back when I was just turned, I had an old cat— when you’re new, you really have to stay away from people,” he explains quickly, “otherwise you can get into trouble. Anyway, she was good company for a while, but then she just got old. I tried, but…” He clicks his tongue. 

Eve frowns, taking another drag of wine. He waits, sipping the last few dregs from the bag, and then, sure enough: 

“Have you ever…” 

“Turned a human?” he shakes his head. “No. You’re really not supposed to, even if it’s in the name of ‘true love’, or whatever.” He makes air quotations around the words, wrinkling his nose. The blood bag is empty in his hands; his mind is pleasantly fuzzy. He won’t have to feed for at least an extra week, if not two. 

“Please don’t tell me you’re asking.” 

“No!” Eve coughs, setting her wine glass down. “No, no, I’m not quite that…” 

“Tactless?” he offers. 

Bond’s face swims to mind. 

Well, I hardly think you’d pull off an evening gown.

He sniggers into the side of the bag. 

“What?” Eve demands. “I said I wasn’t asking.” 

“No, no,” he says quickly. “I was just, er— thinking about Bond.” 

Eve quirks an eyebrow up.

“He— he said the stupidest thing a few weeks ago,” Q says, and launches into the story. 

Bond had been trying and rather spectacularly failing to seduce a poor woman last week who’d been so painfully gay that even Q could tell— his interests line up similarly, but he’s always been spectacularly bad at reading people. Eventually he’d piped up in Bond’s ear and said, “For God’s sake, Bond, she’s wearing a suit. Take a hint.” Bond had spluttered something indignant and incomprehensible and found a different mark, but not before making Q envision a similar, if opposite, situation.

“I just,” he finishes, slightly out of breath. “He’s insufferable, but somehow I don’t care. He’s reckless, and he’s stupid, and he never listens to anyone, and—” 

“You’re in love with him.” 

Q’s mouth snaps shut. The blood bag drops into his lap and he doesn’t make a move to pick it up. 

“Oh my god,” Eve says. “Oh my god, you are.” 

“If you’ve quite finished rubbing it in,” Q mutters. 

“I’m not,” Eve insists. “But—” 

“Look,” Q interrupts, then pauses to keep himself from hiccuping. “There are a thousand reasons why it wouldn’t work, least of all because I’m a vampire. I mean, my job, and his job, and—” He shakes his head. “Anyway, vampires and romance don’t mix.” 

Eve gives him a look.

“Usually,” Q amends. “But seriously, I’ll be fine. I’m not some… some swooning teenage love-interest. I can handle myself.” 

“All right, all right,” Eve says, backing off. “But if you ever can’t…” 

Q smiles. “Thanks,” he says, and means it.

Eve won’t be forever either. That’s the thing about being a vampire; no matter how much good company he finds, how many times he falls in love, how many pets he keeps, sooner or later they all leave. Either because they die, or they move on, or they realize he can barely pass as twenty five even if he slicks his hair back and starts wearing khakis. And then he’s alone again. After about a century’s worth of practice— the years start to fly by after forty or so— he’s gotten used to it.

It’ll still hurt all the same when it comes. 

From then on, they’re friends— really friends.

Eve has him over for dinner every couple weeks; he learns she likes Zinfandel and she learns he likes AB+. For the first time in decades he tells the story of his own turning— it’s not particularly dramatic or exciting, but anything involving vampires counts as interesting to humans. She provides a good audience, gasping in all the right places and even remembering a few names when they pop up again near the end. 

When London turns to autumn the sun begins to retreat a little more. But now, when he calls in to work from home, his phone lights up with a text or two. Eve sends him pictures from her desk, usually unflattering shots of Mallory struggling at the water cooler or yelling over the phone. Occasionally she’ll just take a photo of her view from the window. And Q could check the security footage himself, but there’s something nice about seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. 

One particular morning she snaps a well-timed photo of Bond’s arse a split second before it disappears around the corner, with the accompanying caption: look what ur missing, and Q laughs so hard that the cats hide under his bed upstairs for an hour. 

The streets turn snowy a week later and there’s hardly a sunny day in sight, and suddenly things are perfect.

And then they stick him on a goddamn plane to Reykjavík.

He’s lucky he hasn’t eaten in a couple weeks. 

He’d been planning on cracking open that nice bag of cold O- tonight, maybe pop on a little Wagner, but luckily the call came in before he’d even gotten home. He knows the second they touch ground he’s going to vomit, and he really, really doesn’t want to explain to the poor janitorial staff why there’s blood strewn over every tangible surface in the tiny plane bathroom. And thanks to his empty veins, he doesn’t have to.

Bond meets him in the field when they touch down, and pats his back blithely as he heaves the nothing out of his stomach.

“I still don’t see why I had to come,” he groans, when he can take two steps without gagging. 

“It’s closed-circuit,” Bond says, leading the way. “No remote access, and everything’s encrypted. Not to mention the computer itself is ancient.” 

“Should be right up your alley, no?” 

Bond swats the back of his head. “Don’t throw up in my car.”

The bunker is in the dead center of absolutely nowhere, surrounded by dense foliage and the occasional red deer. Snow covers the treetops and the forest floor, and the car cuts a clean, two-tire trail behind them.

Bond shuts the car door with a thud. “Kristatos is off in Milan,” he says, when Q looks behind their bumper, clutching his laptop bag. “Along with his underlings. If we’re lucky they won’t know we were here until the server’s wiped clean.” 

“And if we’re not?” 

Bond tosses him a Ruger LCP.

The snow on the ground is protected by a thin layer of ice, and it crunches beneath their feet as they hike through the denser brush together, snowflakes peppering their hair. Q’s head is soaked in minutes, but Bond manages to look like he’s just gelled his hair back.

“How do you do that?” Q mutters. 


“That,” Q says, gesturing at Bond’s hair. “I look like a wet rag and you look like you’ve just come from the Met Gala.” 

Bond keeps his eyes on the trees, but Q sees him fight a smile. “Style isn’t something one can teach.”

“And what exactly are you implying?” Q demands, jogging a little to keep up with him, his laptop bag slapping against his leg. “Is my Van Noten sweater not good enough for—” 

He stops short. They’re reached the building— short, white cement walls as bright as the snow surrounding it— but that’s not why he’s frozen in place, ice digging into his socks. 

“Bond,” he says very quietly. “I don’t mean to alarm you, but I think we might be surrounded.” 

One field agent and two guns is no match for the thirty— thirty— grunts that burst out of the trees. They’re chained in seconds, and Kristatos’s men drag them down to the bottom of the bunker— which is empty, of course. 

It’s only because they’re in the middle of Iceland in the middle of winter that he feels anything at all, but the iron is ice-cold both on his wrists and where it digs into the back of his neck when they fasten the chains to the wall. He could probably break through them if he really tried, but they’re still outnumbered thirty to two. Without weapons— and without blood in his veins— those are not fantastic odds.

“So,” Kristatos says, once they’re secured on either wall, facing one another. “You have something we want.” 

His accent is thick but his words are clear. He takes his time as he speaks, clearly not frightened of them in the slightest. He’s also not talking to Bond.

Idiot, Q thinks dully. They’d set up a trap, an impossible puzzle that only he could solve, and he’d fallen for the bait hook, line, and goddamn sinker. 

“Go to hell.” 

Kristatos backhands him without warning, slamming Q’s face to the wall. From across the room, Q can feel Bond’s blood begin to pound.

“Bytiye,” Kristatos spits. He holds up Q’s laptop by the top of the screen; Q winces. “You have access. Give us the codes and we let you live.” 

It’s not a convincing argument, for a few reasons. 

First of all, like hell is Q going to hand off a terrorist ring’s cyber-weapon at the drop of a hat. If the Bytiye program gets into the wrong hands, every name in the CIA will go live. It’s not a particularly original plan, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Q supposes Kristatos probably doesn’t want Bytiye for its information, but rather the money he could make holding it ransom.

Second of all, threatening a vampire with death is rather pointless.

Kristatos has no way of knowing this, though, so Q keeps his mouth shut. 

He heals every time they hit him, but it hardly matters. The pain is enough to make his shouts ring true when they beat his legs, then his arms, then his face, and after they break his nose— twice, though he doesn’t think they notice— Kristatos finally sighs. 

“So noble,” he muses. “But alas.” 

And then he snaps his fingers. 

They drop Q and he lands on the concrete, his wrists still chained above his head, forced to watch helplessly as they make their way to Bond and rip his shirt from his chest. But to Q’s surprise, Bond’s heartbeat slows. He takes a deep breath, tensing his muscles.

They’re going to torture him, Q realizes. And he’s going to bleed.

It starts slow: solid, blunt punches that slowly bruise him up and down. His skin doesn’t break yet, but his blood begins to bloom in big, purple patches over his chest. Even now, Q can smell it, can sense it, pulsing and churning, desperate to break free— 

The iron shackles rattle against the concrete; his hands are shaking.

“No?” Kristatos frowns. “Fine.”

Another snap of his fingers, and the grunt hits Bond in the chest with all the force he can muster, skin splitting down the center of his bruise. Blood oozes down the center of his chest, mingling with cold sweat, gathering speed until it drips to the floor.

Q’s tongue is between his parted lips before he knows what he’s doing. He snaps his jaw shut, sinking against the wall, breathing hard through his nose, and he can only hope that Kristatos and his men hadn’t seen his teeth— they must not have, because they hit Bond again in the same spot, pushing another burst of blood from the open wound. 

Iron rattles in his ears, drowning out every sound in the room except Bond’s labored breath. 

They strike him on the neck and he doubles over, the first sign of his slipping resolve.

“Stop,” Q grunts, his fingers flexing beyond his control, grabbing hopelessly at the air. “Stop it—” 

“The codes,” Kristatos says coldly. 

Q glares at him, and for once he doesn’t worry that his pupils must be wide enough to eclipse what little color his eyes ever held; Kristatos doesn’t seem to notice anyway, because the second he realizes Q’s not talking he motions to Bond with his hand. 

Q’s heard Bond grunt his way through armed combat before. He’s heard Bond shout the adrenaline from his body as he leaps from one rooftop to the next. He’s even heard Bond moan into a mark’s mouth as he undresses her. 

But he’s never heard the sound that comes out of Bond’s mouth now, an anguished, unmistakable cry of pain. 

It trails off pathetically when they finish, supplemented by a weak whimper when they grab him by the hair, turning his neck up and raising the red-stained blade— 

He jerks as he smells it, sharp and tangy and bright— they’ve cut him, they’ve cut him on the cheek and he bleeds— it pools up until the weight is too great and then it slides down his jaw, drips onto his chest, and Q— 

With an unrestrained hiss— he hates the word but that’s what it is, truly— the chains break from his wrists, landing in pieces on the concrete below. Kristatos’s face goes wide with shock for a split second before Q’s foot lands in his chest with supernatural force, and he falls in a prone heap on the ground, Q’s laptop skittering three feet away. 

In an instant— literally— he’s at Bond’s side, and he slices his palm through the metal that binds Bond’s wrists to the wall. And then Bond’s up, pulling a gun from absolutely nowhere and firing off a line of quick, careful shots. 

Q presses his back to Bond’s, watching his back, but he really doesn’t need to. Kristatos’s men fall one after the other; Bond doesn’t waste a shot. They’re down within seconds, and when at last the bunker falls quiet he and Bond just stand there together, shoulders touching. Bond’s blood soaks into his sweater, they’re so close, he’s so close— 

Bond grabs one of the dead grunts and pulls off his shirt, taking it for his own. Of course it’s a turtleneck, and though it’s a bit baggy it suits him well. “Are you going to explain how you did that?” he pants, stuffing the gun under his pants and getting back to his feet.

“Oh, you know,” Q says weakly. “Diet and exercise.” 

It’s only because every one of his senses is dialed up to eleven that he sees it, then. 

Kristatos is standing, cloaked in shadow, at the very end of the room, Q’s laptop in one hand and a gun in the other. And Q knows, even if he shouts a warning, Bond won’t see him in time, it’ll be too late. 

So he moves, grabbing Bond around the middle, twisting them just in time to hear the gun fire. He grunts as the bullet slices into his insides, lodging itself in his back. It doesn’t come out the other side— and that’ll be a bitch to deal with tomorrow, won’t it— 

Another shot fires, this time an inch from his ear. He feels the eardrum blow out, then repair itself instantaneously. And then Bond’s turning him over, grabbing his face— his thumbs are wet with his own blood and it smears, hot and slick, over Q’s cheeks. 

“Q,” he says, his hands shaking. “Q, come on, stay with me.” 

His voice is wet. Q’s throat is dry.

“I’m fine,” he says, voice quivering almost as much as Bond’s hands. “Bond, listen to me, you have to—” 

“You’ve been shot,” Bond says sharply, and to Q’s horror his hands find Q’s back, find the hole in his sweater. And then, slowly, they find his skin underneath.

Even though he’s in the basement of a cement bunker in Reykjavík, Bond’s hands are warm. 

He goes very still, his eyes meeting Q’s, and Q watches him put the pieces together behind a carefully unreadable expression: Q’s back is solid, unharmed. Q’s face is unmarred, unblemished, despite the crunching of bone mere minutes ago. 

“You need to leave,” he says, wincing as his fingernails cut bloodless slivers into his palms; he’s holding his fists tight to keep them from reaching, from taking what they want. “Bond, you need to find the car and get out of here, I— I can find my own way home, but right now—” 

His hands tense, flexing uncontrollably, twitching— he’s breathing heavy, his mouth slack, and he can taste it in the air, he can taste the warm, rich blood on his face. 

And then he can’t help it, he smacks a hand to his cheek and scrapes as much as he can onto his thumb, closes his eyes as he licks it off. Bond’s blood is already stale and sticky but Q’s starving, desperate brain doesn’t care; the second it surges into his veins he shudders, biting his thumb hard enough to split his own skin.

When he opens his eyes Bond’s still looking at him, his face impassive. It’s humiliating but Q can’t stop himself from licking his fingers clean, a low, embarrassing sound crawling from his throat at the taste. His eyes flicker to Bond’s cheek, to the long, red cut still oozing down his chin— 

“Are you going to kill me?” 

Q blinks, the question unexpected enough to knock him out of the bloodlust— if only for a few seconds. “I’m trying my best not to,” he says through gritted teeth, “now go—” 

Bond kisses him. 

His lips are bleeding, and when the blood bursts hot and sweet on Q’s tongue, slides down his throat, Q’s hands tremble and he can’t stop himself. He grabs Bond’s shirt, sucking the blood from his lips as hard as he can. When at last the wound runs dry he pulls off, swaying slightly. Bond holds him steady.

“Please,” Q breathes, knowing his eyes must be as dark as the sky above them, hidden through layers of concrete and rebar, “please.” 

Bond raises an eyebrow. And then he hooks his thumb on the collar of his turtleneck and tugs it down. 

Q’s mouth is on him in an instant, his teeth sinking into Bond’s neck, piercing the skin, and then he sucks. 

It’s exactly how he’d imagined it: heady, sweet, and rich. It tingles with Bond’s thirst for excitement, the way he craves danger like nicotine. And when they’re connected like this Q can feel his heartbeat thudding under his chest, strong and powerful, the most consistent part of him— besides perhaps the sarcasm. He can even feel Bond’s muscles tense and release with every pump of his heart, feel them start to relax as the blood drains from his veins. 

He’s going to faint if Q takes much more. And Bond’s blood tastes so fucking good, but— 

Q can feel it, through the heady mist of gluttonous pleasure: he can let go, if he wants to. 

He just doesn’t want to. 

His fingertips dig into Bond’s chest, nails curling around the stolen fabric as he sucks just one more swill, and then he feels it: Bond’s head spins, and easy as anything, Q pulls off of him, falling limp in Bond’s arms. Bond holds him effortlessly; it’s a testament to just how strong he is that his arms don’t even shake, even after losing that much blood.

Q has to fight to keep his eyes open, his brain going soft around the edges. It’s a bit like being blood drunk, except this time his body is alight with an energy and life that fills him in a way bagged blood from the fridge could never. 

Bond pulls them both to their feet, keeping a hand on Q’s back even when he finds his balance. His other hand finds Q’s jaw, his thumb brushing Q’s cheek to wipe it clean. 

“You’re all right?” he asks quietly.

Q nods wordlessly, and the room begins to spin. 

Bond helps him out of the bunker, across the snow, and into the seat of the car, despite Q’s best efforts to push him off, and then they’re driving through the forest, snow-dusted trees brushing the windows.

“I don’t suppose,” Bond says after a quarter of a mile, touching his arm and wincing, “you happen to have magical healing powers, do you?” 

Q snorts, turning on his side. “You watch too much television.” 

Mallory’s certainly surprised, though thankfully not disgusted. 

“I’ve worked with a few vampires in my time as Chairman,” he says when they’re done. “I have to say, you don’t look at all the type.” 

“Really?” Bond folds his arms. “The pale skin didn’t tip you off?” 

“It didn’t tip you off,” Eve mutters. 

Q bites back a smile. “So, I can keep my job?” 

“Well, I shudder to think what you’d do if I fired you,” Mallory says, raising his eyebrows. When Q raises his right back, he waves his arms vaguely. “You know, your kind tends to get… vengeful.” 

“You really let him get away with that?” 

Q huffs. “Listen, as long as your orders aren’t to shoot on sight anymore, he can call me whatever he likes.” 

“Vengeful,” Bond mocks, in an uncanny impersonation of Mallory’s haughty tone. He snorts. “Honestly.”

“Well,” Q says, shifting to give Bond a little more room beside him, “he does have a point.” 

Bond fights a yawn. “Oh?” 

Q flicks him on the forehead. “What do you think I’d have done if they’d killed you back there?” 

“Mm,” Bond says, the closest thing he’ll get to admitting that Q’s right. It’s more than enough, and Q flicks the light off. He can’t and doesn’t sleep, of course, but resting his mind is the closest thing to it, and the weight of Bond’s head on his chest is enough to make even his blood-addled mind lie still for a little while.

He’s here, now, in this little pocket of happiness. Eve’s name lights up on his phone, Bond’s cheek brushes his skin. Even Mallory is part of it, his begrudging acceptance tying the whole thing together. It’s temporary, of course. But then again, so is everything. And who knows— maybe one day it won’t be.

Bond pushes his nose against Q’s chest, and then again, impatiently, when he gets no response. 

“What?” Q says, looking up from his phone in exasperation. “If you want something, you’re going to have to ask.” 

Bond smiles slyly. “You mean you can’t read my mind?”

Q honestly can’t tell if he’s teasing or asking seriously. It doesn’t really matter, anyway. 

Because if James Bond has read Twilight, he thinks, pulling him into a kiss, then really, anything is possible.