After M's funeral Q didn't leave the office for two weeks. He sat there from the moment he got up from the uncomfortable couch he slept in, to the moment he fell asleep on the couch again. He didn't eat enough and after a week he started to look rather miserable. That was when James started paying more visits for him. His missions changed all the time. He finished them faster than any other agent ever could. He needed new equipment all the time. He never seemed to get enough. After some time he started to bring food for Q. He wasn't like most of people, asking Q to stop from making the system absolutely 100% foolproof on the cost of his health. Q's cock up last time had cost too many lives of too many decent agents and office rats.
James didn't try to reason with him. He just sat beside him on the couch, ate soup and watched how Quentin absorbed the hot tomato soup and the occasional bagel he brought. It was fascinating to follow how the young man's fingers flew on the keyboard, writing little white letters and numbers on the black screen. It made no sense to Bond, but it was good. Bond had always had a sharp math head, and he spoke various languages, but he knew nothing about computer programming. Quentin seemed to get satisfaction from doing that.
Quentin was different from everyone else at the office. He wasn't afraid of James. Before M was the only one who had had the courage to tell him to piss off if she felt like it, but his new starving Quartermaster had no difficulties in telling him how he was on the way, and how he hated people who read from behind his shoulder.
James stopped trying to understand the almost spiritual connection between Quentin and the machine, and he just sat there. Looked at Quentin. He had spent two of his days off at the office giving an impression of having something important to do, when in reality he just sat in Q's room studying him and feeding him. James was confident that Quentin would be too busy with his work to check his records, to know that he was there outside duty. From a man that smart it was rather daft. Quentin knew. He was just the kind of person Q liked. He didn't interrupt. Quentin had even begun to feel comfortable around him.
It was in the end of November before last Christmas. Quentin had fallen asleep on the couch again. James had been present and carried the laptop back to Quentin's desk, so that Q wouldn't accidentally fall it on the floor. James sat in the other corner of the room, filing the paper work Mallory had been asking from him for weeks now. Suddenly Q started to loudly mutter something incomprehensible. It had most likely somethign to do with Mr. Fluffy, but by that time James had no idea what or who Mr. Fluffy was. James left his papers on the desk and stepped calmly closer to find out if everything was okay. Q was covered with cold sweat. He was skinnier than usual and he had deep dark circles under his eyes. Carefully James laid his hand on Q's face to find out if he had fever. He almost burnt his fingers with Quentin's forehead that was hot enough to be used for heating a small flat. As his fingers brushed Quentin's hairline Quentin slowly opened his eyes.
”Hello. You're hot. And by that I mean sick. You need to rest. Eat. Sleep. Human things.” James reported briefly.
Slowly Quentin tried to get up on the leather couch. The shirt he was wearing was glued to his wet back. He tried to get up, but he fell. Bond caught him.
”I'll take you home. Where do you live? Grab your things.”
Quentin took a computer from the lowest desk drawer and his keyes and phone from the highest one.
Bond walked right behind him like a shadow, ensuring that he wouldn't collapse in the corridor. He gently pushed Quentin to the back of a car.
It was so late on a week night that the city was almost empty as they drove trough it. After James turned off the car, he realised that Q had fallen asleep again. James exited the car, took the car key's, digged Q's keys from his palm, sighed, took Q and all his stuff and carried him out.
”That one” Q on the edge of consciousness pointed at a wavy brick building with a lot of windows. James had to carry Q and his things almost for half a mile from the car.
”Which apartment?” James inquired breathing heavily.
James was in killer shape, killer shape he grinned to himself, but to be honest he hadn't trained for carrying people and their earthly possessions for long distances. As soon as he hit the lobby and located the apartment 86 from the map, and stepped inside the elevator, he took a deep breath. Q had passed out. Again. It was probably the third time. James wondered if he needed ice, because he was hotter in his arms than a radiator on full steam. He reached his hand at the door with the keyes, and tried to open it as smoothly as possible.
It was dark in the vestibule and James tried to fumble a light switch in the obscurity, still Q and his computer in his hands. After a short moment James gave up and walked trought the pit dark apartment trying to find the bedroom to finally lay the young sack of sand down. In reality Q was light. Now he was even lighter after his two week hunger strike. James gently laid him on the bed and took the computer away, placing it on a side table. He took Q's shoes off, and returned to the vestibule. He took off his own coat and found the light switch. When he walked trough the living room to the bedroom, he couldn't say anything but that Q had:
a) Money, not many people could afford this kind of place, not even with a mortage greater than the life itself.
b) Style. The rooms were light and modern, full of high tech, and then there were these lonely pieces of antique that fit in the decoration like a bullet in the head. It was smooth. In the livingroom Q had a bookshelf full of books that seemed like sci-fi, scientifical studies, and comics.
James sneaked back to the bedroom, where Q laid on the bed still unconscious. James opened the window, to make the room cooler. He took off the damn expensive Tom Ford's jacket and laid it on the computer on the sidetable. He rolled up his sleeves, ruffled his own hair, rested his hands on his hips and studied the young shivering man on the bed. It had been quite some time since James had been sick. He was in good shape, he took all the vaccinations he was ordered to and he ate a lot of garlic.
He walked to the other side of the bed, and opened it. Quentin was again bordering on the line of consciousness. He emptily stared at what James did, but he wasn't really there. Next up James took off Q's glasses, cardigan, shirt and trousers. He explained with a stable voice what he was doing trough out the whole process. After that he rolled the smoking hot Q on the other side of the bed and wrapped him inside the duvet. Q mumbled something in response to the cold fabric against his burning skin. James sat next to him for a while, stroking his forehead with his big thumb in comforting silence.
James grabbed the laptop he had put aside on the table. He had no idea how to treat a sick guy. Or to be more exact; he didn't know how to treat the common flu. He was an expert in shotting himself with antidotes and cleaning and emptying gunshot wounds, but he had no idea what to do with a guy so sick that he barely stayed awake. He opened the computer, but he didn't know the password.
”Hey?” James asked. Quentin made a little sound to make known that he was hearing.
”What's the password to this thing?”
Quentin opened his eyes. He feverieshly stared straight into the ice blue eyes with his own shade of green. He blinked once or twice until he finally articulated clearly.
”tomat0s0up1968” carefully James tapped the word in and the computer let him in.
”1968 as in..?” James smiled a little.
”Stop it.” Quentin groaned and closed his eyes pretending to have fallen asleep. He didn't really care what Bond thought of him. Though, he did seem pleased rather than uncomfortable when hearing the last part of the password.
James tapped the keypad for a while, until he found what he was looking for.
”You need liquids, cool air, rest and paracetamol.”
Quentin didn't anwer. James got up and walked to the kitchen, where he found some juice and paracetamol. He put the kettle on. On his way back to the bedroom he grabbed a light blanket form the sofa and opened the window a little.
James sat back on the bedside again.
Quentin crawled to a half sitting position.
”Drink this, and swallow that.” James ordered as he offered him a glass and a tablet. Quentin obediently did what he was told.
”I need to wrap you inside a lighter blanket to get the fever down” James explained. Q was already shivering from being too cold. James took away the thick and warm duvet and gave Quentin a grey knitted blanked instead.
Q couldn't help but to look suffering; he had deep dark circles under his eyes, he was pale as death himself and his face was covered in cold sweat. James looked at the sad and gentle poor little creature and felt sorry for him.
James felt like he couldn't go home and just leave the young man all alone. He needed to take care of him. He walked to the other side of the bed and turned off the bright lamp hanging from the ceiling. James reached for a book from the night stand. A thriller. Swedish. The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler. He stretched himself out on the bed and opened the book and started to read. Q was almost asleep as he snuggled himself right to James's warm side and passed out.
James didn't mind the snuffling Quartermaster warming his side. It was actually quite sweet, he thought to himself. He had thought that his affection for Q had been one sided. He had sat in his office for hours in silence, and he had never gotten anything in response for the kindness he tried to show. Only basic politeness that didn't say really anything. A little cup of warmth inside him spilled over. Q had used his year of birth as a part of the password to his private computer.
James continued reading the book and he felt good about life. Slowly his eyes started to feel heavier and heavier and it didn't take long until he had fallen asleep. Sick Q by his side. James slept for hours, until he woke up not too long before dawn. He felt how the cool air had devoured the apartment from the window left open. He was cold and uncomfortable. Difficultly he got up and closed the window, took his pants and shirt of and dived back in to the bed under the duvet. He tried not to wake Q up, but Q opened his eyes.
”Sleep.” James tried to tell him. Quentin did as he was told. Q fell asleep quickly because of the fever. James felt drowsy as Q wrapped his right arm around him. Q was warm, soft and the scent of his hair reminded James of green tea, as he gently floated back to sleep with Quentin by his side.