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He’s on his back, feet in the air and shaking as Bond thrusts into him like a freight engine, like some powerful and unstoppable force of nature.  It’s good.  It’s so good.  Q lets his eyes fall closed as the pleasure crests, threatening to overwhelm him, taking thought and sense of self and everything important with it and leaving him in the drowsy melted feeling of having had a warm bath.  Above him, Bond stills and Q cracks an eye to regard him carefully, taking in the shaking line of his shoulders and the taut grimace as he comes inside Q’s body.  There’s semen everywhere, it feels like, so diametrically different from Q’s normal tidiness and cleanliness. 

Bond slumps into him, wriggling his hips back until he’s out and wet on Q’s inner thigh.  Q pets his hair.  “You’re quite good at that, you know,” Q tells him quietly.  Bond shakes with laughter.

“Thank you, I suppose.”

“Not half bad at all.”  Q continues damning him with faint praise and petting him.

“I’m flattered by your assessment,” Bond tells his collarbone.  “Now be quiet.  I’m trying to sleep.”

“I understand.  That was a lot of effort for an old man, even if the Viagra did half of it,” Q says generously.  Bond snorts into his skin and Q keeps stroking.

::

It’s a little bit mortifying, listening in.  The suspect’s wife—it’s always the suspect’s wife; Q’s amazed he didn’t see this coming—is squealing, pornstar nonsense about the size of Bond’s cock and how deep it’s going, filling her all the way up so good, as he manfully grunts it into her.  She’s like a banshee, like an octopus—though Q can’t see her, he imagines her tentacled and grasping, drawing Bond in toward a huge, cracking mouth slathered in lipstick.  She’s full-on screaming now, as if she’s being murdered, and the other techs are beginning to look distinctly uncomfortable.  He can’t tell if it’s her pitch, her volume, or the way his knuckles have gone white.

Bond’s orgasm is a soft exhalation that is familiar enough even when it’s not pressed to his ear.  The woman caterwauls for a few seconds more and Q imagines puffed, glossed lips pouting behind a sheer slick of oil.  He realizes with a start that his mental image isn’t particularly gracious, but it’s hard to show grace.  He’ll settle for resentful silence.

“Oh, James,” she coos, and Q snorts, but he doesn’t turn off the surveillance.  They can’t afford for him to.

::

“I thought that bloody flight would never end,” Bond says in lieu of a greeting.  His leather satchel hits the floor in a welcome thump.

“Hello to you, too,” Q greets for the both of them.  “How was your day at work?”

“Godawful,” Bond says cheerfully.  “I was mauled by a sentient sucker-beast and then shoved into a tin can and flung across the ocean.  Yours, darling?”

“Not terribly bad, though I had to listen to a rather uninspired round of ‘please, yes, harder’.”  It’s not quite resentment under the thin veneer of boredom, but Q still flinches to hear himself sound so petty.  “—and I’ve been working on a new kind of timer for our bombs to keep them from going off early when the early release button is accidentally jostled.  I’m beat—dinner at mine?”

Bond hesitates.  “Not tonight, I think.  Forms to fill out—” as if he’s ever done a form directly after returning from a mission, Q thinks, “—and these old bones need a rest in familiar soil, I should think,” Bond finishes with a wry joke about his own age.

Fine.  They’re not—what this is isn’t anything so straightforward as a relationship.  How could it be?  Bond’s job is literally to jet across the world and sleep with as many women as possible, and Q’s job is to listen in voyeuristically in the hopes that those women might reveal something in the slurry of sex-words being fucked—literally— from their mouths.  He smiles and prides himself that it’s only a little bit strained.  If Bond’s not interested—and he’s just had a woman, at that, so why would he be?—it’s not a personal insult.  “I do hate when you joke about your age.  You steal all my thunder.”

“Shall I comment on your spots, then?” Bond asks.  Q freezes, uncomfortable with the reminder: he’s not lovely or glamorous; he’s pale and thin and mawkish.  Bond is silently apologetic, but this thing between them doesn’t allow for sorries. 

“Get some sleep, Double-oh-seven,” Q says instead, turning back to his work.

::

The condom is thick, sticking and rubbery between them.  They haven’t used them in weeks, familiar with each other’s medical charts and somehow fallen out of the habit.  Bond’s got him on his belly, thighs spread as he kneels behind, and they’ve been going long enough that Q’s starting to get a little bit bored.  It’s—there’s interest, he can’t deny.  His cock is hard enough to hammer nails, and when Bond presses in the burn is delicious and smooth.  He’s not exactly sure what it is; he hates the condom, of that he’s sure, but there’s something else bothering him.  Bond jerks over his back and comes, guiding a hand between Q’s legs to finish him off.  Q comes quietly, a sleepy little sigh, and sinks into the wet spot on the bed.  It’s not quite bad sex, not really.  Just uninspired.  Bond shows up in his office a few days later brandishing another skin and Q surprises himself with vague excuses about projects.  Bond looks just as surprised as Q feels, but smiles and leaves him to it.

::

He’s under Bond’s shoulder after another round of boring sex.  On the nightstand by his head, the lube and Bond’s come are turning into clotted jelly in the condom and he wants to throw it in the bin.  “Up,” he commands.  Bond makes a sleepy sound of discontent.  “I mean it.  Up.”

Bond rolls over, a look of disbelief on his face.  “How are you not exhausted?” he asks.  “You’ve been up for three days and we’ve just finished round two.  Normally you’d be out.”

And normally he would; when he stands, not all of the wobble in his legs is from sex.  Q frowns at the condom and pinches it like a dead thing.  “And I’m covered in your business and would like a shower before I sleep, if it’s all the same to you.”  He realizes reluctantly that he’s not, though—it’s only his own come smeared along his belly in drying flakes.  He looks up from the bin and Bond’s silent, already asleep.

::

“It’s bed death,” Q confirms in hushed tones to Moneypenny as they sit together, picking at croissants and coffee in his office.  “I don’t suppose anyone’s ever reached bed death with James Bond—usually it’s rather a more literal kind.”

“Have you told him you’re not satisfied?” Eve asks, humming as she stirs her coffee to cool it.

“Of course not!” he squawks.  “Imagine telling Double-oh-seven you’re not happy with his sexual performance!”

“A bit looking the gift horse in the mouth, yeah,” she agrees, “but if you’re not getting what you want—”

And there’s the problem; it dawns on him with all the subtlety of being hit in the head: he’s getting what he’s asked for, but somewhere along the line the goalposts have shifted.  What he wants and what he’s willing to ask for are suddenly two different things.  His mouth pulls down before he can stop it and Eve gives a sympathetic murmur.  He can’t even deny—what?  That he misses the closeness?  The jokes and the affection and even the disgusting smears of body fluids?

What about the trust?  The knowledge that he and Bond fit together well because they can believe in the other’s caution, his discretion?  It’s not—he’s not going to say that word, even in the safety of his own head.  “It’s just—we’ve only had sex a couple of times.  It’s not like it matters.”

Eve sighs.

::                                                                                                    

“Did you want to come over, then?” Q asks, deceptively casual.  There’s whisky in the cupboard “accidentally” and a full meal of “leftovers” in the fridge—this is as prepared for a date as he’s likely to be.  Bond looks at him, and he tries not to let his fingers’ shaking show.

“I don’t think so, no,” Bond says.  And Q’s known this was coming, even if the lump that forms in his stomach didn’t. 

“Oh.”  It’s a breathless sort of stinging that hits him, and he bites his lip to keep it in.  Every inch of his skin tingles with embarrassment.  “Perhaps some other time.”

And, “No,” Bond says, carefully placing his pistol on the desk.  It’s got all its parts, still in working order, almost some sort of sad parting gift.  “I don’t think so.”

“Oh.”  His chest is tight, and really, what’s the point of it?  What is the point of avoiding the word if you still feel every bit of it when you don’t want to?  “That’s,” Q says, smiling weakly.  “Oh.”

“I don’t—” Bond starts, but Q cuts him off with a smile. 

“No worries.  It was just a bit of fun, yeah?” he asks.  Bond’s jaw flexes, and for a horrible moment Q wonders if he’s going to say something worse.

“Yeah,” Bond says finally.

::

It’s not awkward at all, which is what makes it awful.  Bond’s banter is light, professional, and tears tracts of Q’s heart when he leaves.  Eve is unsympathetic.

“You never said a thing,” she scolds.  “You can’t mourn a thing that never happened because you didn’t let it.”

“Didn’t want it,” Q corrects morosely.

“But it happened anyway, didn’t it?  At least for you.”

“But not for him, Moneypenny, and that’s the whole problem.”  The water condensing on the side of his glass drips.

“No, I don’t think it is.”

::

Bond requests condoms in his next field kit.  Q makes a show of collecting them from his desk, the stash they’d used for clandestine fumblings in his office after hours.  Bond doesn’t say a word.

::

“But I hate them,” Evangeline coos, and Q nearly rolls his eyes so hard his head goes with them.  What kind of slag would sleep with a stranger without protection?  It had been a mark of how far Q had fallen—and yes, while he won’t say the word, he can admit he was gone well before he knew better—when Bond had taken them off the table before, but a complete stranger?  He snorts, then remembers the microphone when Bond goes quiet.

“I don’t without them,” Bond says firmly, and Q can’t help muttering bullshit sotto.

“Well, I don’t with them,” Evangeline retorts, and Q’s jaw drops as he hears the distinct sound of Bond backing up, the sheets rustling, the slide of a zip. 

“Then we don’t.”

::

Q’s wrath is blistering.  It’s a mix of disappointment, disbelief, and something darker squirming in his gut.  “I cannot believe you nearly threw a mission over a condom.  Of all the wasteful, reckless things—!”

“I think we’ve established your feelings about the matter, Quartermaster,” Bond replies drolly, and no, Bond doesn’t get to shut down the conversation like that.  Q can feel his professional detachment slipping, fading into the background as he all but snarls back.

“My own preferences are neither here nor there, Double-oh-seven!”

“Oh, they were there, alright, making snide remarks in my ear while I was fucking for Queen and Country!” Bond accuses.

“If it hadn’t been such patent bullshit—”

“Are you saying you wanted me to fuck her raw, then?”

“Oh, don’t pretend you care about precaution now!”  And in just a few sentences the argument has gotten personal, ugly and bruising and entirely horrific.  They’re going to be dragged into Tanner’s office for fraternization, and who can blame him for it?  The Q-Branch techs are visibly uncomfortable; this is why you don’t fuck coworkers, Q realizes suddenly—not for the relationship while it’s going, but because of the fallout once it’s gone.  “You have never cared about condoms before,” Q says because he’s lost all control of his mouth.  Bond reels back as though struck.

“And look where that’s got me,” Bond tells him, short, sharp, bleak.

It’s gotten him saddled with an idiot who mistook lack of care for emotion, and Q sways where he stands.  Struck true.  Good form.

::

In the end, he’s lucky it’s just a week suspension and a reminder to keep his dirty laundry in the launderette where it belongs.  It’s fine.  It’s okay.  Q doesn’t want to be at work anyway, facing everyone who knows now how he’d gone gaga over Bond’s cock and ended up screeching in the workroom about it like some sort of harridan.

He’s on the fire escape railroading cigarettes like they’re going out of style, and he’s utterly given up on his efforts not to moon.  The metal steps groan and creak.

“I didn’t mean to embarrass you,” Q confesses.  Bond makes a soft humming sound as he sits, close enough that Q can feel the heat of his thigh.  He wants to turn in and rest his head on Bond’s shoulder—he’s quite suddenly exhausted—but he’s sure he’s not welcome.  He taps out another cigarette and offers Bond the one he’s been smoking.  “It’s none of my business whether you use a condom or not.”

Bond’s mouth makes a wet, sucking sound as he smokes.  They’re quiet, peaceful.  It’s always been moments like these that have fooled Q into thinking there might be more, even if he hadn’t known he was thinking it.  Bond finishes the cigarette and reaches for the one in Q’s mouth.

“I should have been more professional,” Q offers while Bond takes his turn; when Bond hands it back, he waits.

“I have an infection.”  The words land like bombs, each one knocking Q’s foundation until he’s dizzy with it, staring.

“Are you—”

“One of the treatable ones; another round of antibiotics and I’ll be good to go again.  Ready to fuck for England again.”

“Bond.”

“I didn’t want—I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, Q.”

“Getting sick doesn’t make you stupid,” Q says, but hadn’t he been thinking of Evangeline as a slag for wanting it without protection?

“Putting you at risk makes me stupid,” Bond says, and oh.  Warmth boils up from Q’s chest to fill his cheeks.

“You wouldn’t—”

“You’re right: I wouldn’t,” Bond agrees, pausing to take a long drag from the cigarette dangling limp from Q’s fingers.  “But you didn’t seem interested when we couldn’t—”

“I thought you weren’t interested anymore,” Q blurts, and even half-thought the words ring true.  “That you didn’t want me, just the sex.”

“You couldn’t be more wrong about that, Q,” Bond tells him, eyes dark.  “Not at all.”

“I’m an idiot.”

“No, you’re not,” Bond says.  His posture sinks, deflating.  “This sort of thing—”

“—is not your fault,” Q finishes firmly.

“I shouldn’t have without one.”

“Even with me?” Q asks.  “Because I have to say I missed being close to you.”

“Only with you, then,” Bond agrees, slowly breathing out until they’re ringed in cigarette smoke.