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Texts to a Dead Man

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For every time something small but significant happens, such as the last of the leaves falling from the tree across his flat, or the first time snow fell that winter, Q texts Bond.

He'd say, "Just so you know, Hedy and Alan are sleeping (and probably shedding) on your side of the couch. I think they miss you. - Q" or, "TS is in London. He wants me to, I quote, 'elope with (him) and Bruce so the three of us can be the Unholy Trinity of Science Bros.' The team name needs work, but do you think I should say yes? - Q" or, "Eve is evil. I know, nothing new there; but I think she put something alcoholic/poisonous in my tea. - Q" --anything, to get Bond to reply to him.

To no avail. But then, he knew from the start that it was useless trying to get a reply.

Still, he persists. He texts, and texts, and texts. Early in the morning, late at night, during lunch with Eve, after ensuring Alec returned safely to M16.

Mallory--M, finds out. Or, for the sake of accuracy, M stops turning a blind eye to it.

"Q," M says just when Q finishes his monthly report; and Q just knows what he is going to say, so he switches himself off, turns on the static, and hides himself behind the noise of black and white snow of old television sets. He nods every now and then, trying his best to look ashamed, guilty, contrite. Mallory smiles sympathetically at him when he’s done and places a hand on his shoulder before dismissing him.

"I think M just told me to move on," he texts Bond later, when he’s safely back to Q Branch. "Maybe I should. What do you think? - Q"

 

Five months, two weeks, three days, and nine hours ago, MI6’s recovery team found Bond’s corpse drowned in the waters of Venice. There were no signs of struggle, nor were there drugs or alcohol in his system. It looked from every angle like a suicide, and it didn’t make any sense. Bond, who had cheated death innumerable times before, who single-handedly brought down SPECTRE mere days prior, couldn’t have any reason to simply roll over for Death.

Except that he did, and everyone knew it. Why he chose suicide, drowning, and Venice.

 

James Bond was buried, not beside his parents in Scotland, but in MI6’s mausoleum.

Eve told Q that only a few people managed to attend Bond’s funeral. Some of the double-ohs who were in the country, M, Tanner, Medical, selected people from MI5, and all of Q-Branch except for him. Q didn’t tell her that he went to the mausoleum after the rest of them had left and put a mobile phone that could only be unlocked using Bond’s fingerprint on top of Bond’s sarcophagus.

Q didn’t tell her that he cried as if his soul was torn in two. From the look on her eyes, he could tell that he didn’t have to.

 

“Can you imagine being loved the way Ms. Lynd was loved by 007?” R asked him, one week, four days, and seven hours after Bond’s funeral. “Even after she betrayed him, and even after she’s dead. To have someone devote the rest of their life--”

“That’s quite enough, R,” Q said, as gently as he could. While the rest of his minions took care to tread carefully around him these days, R tried her best to act as if nothing happened--something that Q was thankful for on some days, and hated on others. “Get back to work. We have to assist 003 when she arrives in Incheon.”

“We know you loved him,” R said, after she had placed her report on his desk and was about to walk back to her station. “You don’t have to pretend you didn’t.”

“That’s the problem though, isn’t it?” he said quietly, when she had already left. “You all think that my love for James is in past tense, just because of what he did in the end.”

 

Three days, eight hours, and thirty minutes after his conversation with R, he visits MI6’s mausoleum, and finds that the mobile is gone.

Instead, he finds a zirconium cufflink in its place. It is one of the four that Bond owns, which the man himself admitted was made from the prototype bullets Q had been testing. (Because Bond is a goddamn klepto as well as an unapologetic agent who doesn’t return tech.)

The laughter that bubbles out of him is sudden and inappropriate. He quickly mumbles an apology to the real dead bodies in the mausoleum and walks outside to send a text.

“You utter wanker. - Q”

After a few seconds, he sends another.

“Take care of yourself for me, please. - Q”

 

Now, five months, two weeks, five days, six hours after Venice, and forty-four of Mrs. Hudson’s ‘obligatory Holmes family dinners’ later, Q walks to Baker Street after work--still alone and unaccompanied by a plus-one. He’s gotten used to being alone again. He has learned to ignore Mrs. Hudson’s hopeful look that maybe this time, this time, he would be bringing someone with him. He has also learned to look past John and Greg’s pitying looks and found that he could be happy like this, in the presence of the people who care for him. Not completely happy like before, but happy nonetheless.

Of course, that is exactly when his mobile rings. Not his work mobile or family mobile, but his third one. The one paired with the mobile he left in MI6’s mausoleum. He pulls it out of his pocket and stares at the name on the screen. It continues to ring.

“Aren’t you going to pick that up?”

Q looks towards the sound of the voice, which came from the shadows of a nearby alleyway. “Don’t see why when you’re right here,” he says as he walks over. “Is it really over now?”

“Mmm,” Bond says, and pulls him close. Q shudders once Bond’s arms had locked around him in an embrace. “I missed you.”

“Took you long enough.”

“To miss you?”

“To return, you insufferable git.” Q tries to push Bond away, only to have the other hold him closer. Q gives up and instead buries his nose into the space in between Bond’s neck and shoulder. “Afraid of the amount of paperwork Eve would have to do after six months passed after your most recent death?”

“Yes, well. I really don’t want her to shoot me again,” Bond says. Q could hear the smile in his voice. “Are you going to 221B now?”

“Yes,” Q says, leaning out to look at Bond properly now that his eyes had adjusted to the low lighting. There are some cuts on his face, but otherwise, he doesn’t seem any more injured than that. “The dinners are almost routine now. Mycroft even has to reschedule a few wars to make it.”

Bond snorts. “Do you think Mrs. Hudson would slap me when she sees me?”

Q raises an eyebrow. “Even after Sherlock’s stunt from before? Yes, I suppose. And after all the effort she made to have me meet this bloke who worked at a flower shop, too.” Bond narrows his eyes. “What? She thought you were gone for good.”

“What’s his name?”

“No, James.”

“Q.”

“No,” Q says firmly. “You’re going to stop being a jealous idiot for two hours, and we’re going to have dinner with the family. Now come on. We’re late.”

Bond shakes his head, but he was smiling when he leaned in to press a brief kiss on Q’s lips. “Yes, dear.”

 

“Should I be worrying about Stark as well?” Bond asks later that night, after he got slapped by Mrs. Hudson, punched by John and Greg, and shrugged at and called boring by Sherlock. (Mycroft couldn’t schedule the particular war that kept him away, unfortunately.)

“Really, James?” Q groans from under him. “You’re asking me that now?”

Bond sucked on Q’s nape as he thrusts even more slowly. Q is beginning to see how sex could be used as torture. He keens and clenches the sheets harder when Bond withdraws fully only to slam back in again. “Don’t see why not when you’re right here,” Bond said, mimicking his accent. “Besides, the two-hour time limit you set for me to stop being a jealous idiot is up.”

 

‘Welcome back, 7. I trust all loose ends have been taken care of? - MH’

‘And please don’t treat my previous text as an innuendo. - MH’

‘Everything has been taken care of. - 7’

‘Please treat my previous text as both my serious answer to your question and an innuendo. - 7’