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Qualifications - Deceptive Practices

Chapter Text

Q's Flat

Q had insisted, after weeks of fancy dinners and hotel suites and drinking in clubs he wanted to eat something simple in his flat and have a quiet evening. Bond offered to pick up takeaway.

“I’ll make a pot of coffee, and we can do the work bit of the evening” said Bond after they'd finished supper and lounged in bed for a bit. He looked through Q’s cupboards. “Do you have anything to eat beside stale bread and canned beans?”

“I think there may be some eggs but not much else. Haven’t had much opportunity for shopping and rent-boys can’t afford delivery service.” He looked at his mobile. “Bugger.”

“Hmm?”

“It appears Reynolds is lonely; he’s back in the country and wants to know if Jack is free.”

“Pity you can’t have him come here and make him sit down with me.”

Q nodded. “You need to have a private conversation with him at some point. This could be your chance.”

“But he won’t talk to me with you in the room,” said Bond.

“No, I think we can do this.” Q said thoughtfully. “I took something, you’re not sure what, just after you arrived. We had a wonderful time, but at some point, you excused yourself for a bit. That would be when Reynolds’ text arrived. Jack’s high as a kite, decided the more the merrier and invited Reynolds over.

“Then I passed out on the couch. You’ve paid for the night, so you were planning on waking me—or not—once you could get it up again.”

Bond nodded thoughtfully, “I can work with that.”

Q sent Reynolds an enthusiastic invitation. Reynolds promised to arrive shortly.

Q removed his pajama pants, tossed them into the bedroom, and walked naked into the living room. He stood next to the sofa for a moment and then let himself collapse onto his stomach, one arm dangling, letting his head droop and mouth fall open slightly. He looked like a puppet with its strings cut. After a moment, he opened an eye to look at Bond. “I’m hoping you’re enough of a gentleman to throw a blanket over me,” he hinted.

Bond reached over to pull the blanket from the back of the couch. “May I spank you first?”

“What?” asked Q, startled.

“I bet he’s the type who, if he sees you naked and unconscious, will pull the blanket off to get a peek. It’s…ah… obvious I’ve fucked you, but I need you to look used. It will fit my cover.”

Q gave Bond a sidelong look. “I don’t do pain,” he said. 

“Don’t worry,” said Bond with an encouraging smile, “You were so high you didn’t feel a thing.”

“Bollocks,” muttered Q, but he didn’t object. He yelped as Bond slapped his arse. He squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth through a few more slaps, tears beginning to form, then yelped again when Bond bit his shoulder, hard.

“Just leaving a few marks,” he murmured, messing up Q’s hair a bit more. “You did so well just now. You look perfectly debauched.”

“Stop that,” Q gasped as Bond sucked marks onto his shoulders, “If I’m out of breath he won’t believe I’m unconscious.”

Bond crouched next to Q. “You’re beautiful when you cry,” he whispered, wiping Q’s eyes with his handkerchief. Then he stood and draped the blanket, careful to leave the livid bite mark on Q’s shoulder exposed.

Q went limp and let his breathing grow slow and even. Bond went back into the kitchen, where the coffee was nearly ready. He’d had a minute or so to take his first sips when there was a knock at the door.

Bond pretended to be surprised to see Reynolds, who seemed genuinely surprised to see Bond. “Ah. I didn’t realize he was already occupied tonight. I’ll see him another time.”

“You might as well come in, we should talk, and he’s—unavailable—for the moment.” Bond drawled and gestured with his cup to where Q had collapsed.

“I suppose we have some things to discuss, don’t we?” Reynolds entered the flat and walked toward Q. “You exhausted him this early? Or did he pass out?”

“Not quite,” Bond laughed. “I gave him some pills he likes. We had some fun, but he’ll be out for another hour or so.”

“And if you want him again before that?” asked Reynolds neutrally, pulling the blanket away just as Bond had predicted.

“He knows I might—It’s part of what I’ve paid for. And, well, I’d assumed I’d arranged for the entire night,” said Bond pointedly.

“I’m sure you did, don’t blame the boy,” said Reynolds continuing to watch Q, “I just got back into town and thought I’d surprise him.”

Bond tilted his head. “Surprising a whore is a good way to get yourself stabbed,” he observed. “I just made some coffee; would you like a cup?”

“Thank you.”

When Bond returned from the tiny kitchen with a second cup of coffee, Reynolds was still holding the blanket and staring at Q. “If you’ve seen one cheap piece of arse you’ve seen them all, what’s so fascinating Reynolds?”

“I understood he didn’t like pain…” said Reynolds, unconsciously moving closer to Q.

“Ah, ah,” said Bond, a hint of warning in his voice, and Reynolds stepped back. “I’ll thank you to remember that he’s mine for the night.” He handed Reynolds a cup and took the blanket from him. “And he was feeling no pain earlier. I assure you.” He set his coffee down on a side table and spread the blanket back over Q.

“Is he really—out?” asked Reynolds, “What we have to discuss shouldn’t be overheard.”

“He’s out. Watch.” Bond grabbed a handful of Q’s hair and lifted his head a fraction of an inch off the couch, then dropped him. Q didn’t twitch.

Reynolds stared.

“Reynolds, focus,” said Bond. “If he’s going to distract you this badly, I’ll toss him in the bedroom and we can talk without the scenery.”

“No, it’s fine,” said Reynolds, he lifted the mug to take a sip of coffee, then realized he hadn’t seen Bond prepare it. They locked eyes for a moment.

“It’s just coffee,” Bond reassured him. “I have plans for the rest of my evening, which don’t involve drugging you.”

Reynolds nodded and took a sip. “Fair enough. But you are going to have to move him you know,” he gestured around the small flat. “There’s nowhere else to sit.”

“Hmm,” agreed Bond, and looked at Q for a moment. “Up you come pretty boy,” he said, moving Q so Bond could sit on one end of the couch and then pulling him into his lap. Q made a small, drowsy sound of protest, but didn’t move or react further. Once Q was settled, leaning back against Bond’s chest, limbs sprawled like a doll, Bond re-draped the blanket around them, not bothering to hide from Reynolds that he had one hand between Q’s legs.

“So, Mr. Bond, I understand you are looking for some—difficult to acquire items.”

“Yes, and I understand, Mr. Reynolds, that you have some contacts that can assist me with this dilemma.”

They spoke for nearly an hour, plotting and planning. Reynolds revealed bits and pieces of intel as Bond skillfully drew him out, building trust and the hope of an impressive profit if Reynolds played the game as Bond needed him to. At the same time, Bond sipped his coffee with one hand, and fondled Q with the other. Reynolds watched intently.

As the conversation was winding down, Q moaned softly and stirred in Bond’s arms. “Time to wrap this up,” said Bond looking down. “Contact me the day after tomorrow once you’ve arranged things with your people?”

“I’ll do that,” said Reynolds. “Thank you for the coffee.”

“No problem,” said Bond. “Do you mind letting yourself out? My hands are rather full at the moment.” He looked down at Q. “Time to wake up pretty boy.”

“Certainly. I hope you have a pleasant evening, Mr. Bond.”

Q moaned again and nuzzled closer to Bond. “I have no doubt it will be, Mr. Reynolds,” Bond said with a smile.

“So it would seem,” said Reynolds and he let himself out.

When he’d pulled Q into his lap after Reynolds had arrived, Bond had felt the tension in Q’s body as he feigned unconsciousness. It had taken long minutes for Q to slowly relax. Bond wasn’t surprised. Q became tense and agitated just talking about Reynolds.

As Bond had touched him, Q had occasionally used a small motion, hidden by the blanket, to get Bond to slow down or back off. Bond had ignored the signal when he was ready for Reynolds to leave, allowing genuine cracks in Q’s self-control to appear to be ‘Jack’ slowly regaining consciousness.

Q opened his eyes. Bond held a finger to his lips then pulled out his phone to check the app that was tracking Reynolds. Q nodded. They waited until Reynolds was several blocks away.

“And now,” said Q, “you either need to move your hand, or move your hand.”

“Preference quartermaster?” asked Bond with a smile, leaving his hand where it was.

“If you can’t tell, I’ll see to it myself…” began Q tartly, then the words cutoff and his body tensed helplessly as Bond shifted his grip and he came.

“That was quick,” chuckled Bond as Q shuddered against him panting.

“You’ve been toying with me for nearly an hour. That was not quick.”

“Your self-control is impressive. And I know you enjoyed it.”

Q groaned, “It felt like you had drugged me, I could barely think.”

Bond looked smug. “I do relish having that effect on you when I can manage it. Next time I’ll hide a bottle of lube in the couch cushions first, so I can get my fingers in you.”

“Oh fuck, please.” Q shifted to straddle Bond’s lap and began unbuttoning his shirt. “You’re overdressed and I want your cock in me. My mouth or my arse, I don’t care which.”

“Then let me take you to bed and I’ll decide while you undress me.”

“Deal.”

 

Once they got to the bedroom. Q didn’t give Bond a chance to decide. As soon as Bond’s trousers were undone, Q knelt by the bed and took his cock into his mouth. Bond sat down, closed his eyes, and simply appreciated the gift. “Fuck, you’re good at that.”

Eventually, Bond groaned and put a hand in Q’s hair, pulling him back. “Want you up here,” he said. Q allowed Bond to guide him onto the bed and onto his back.

Bond intended to finish breaking Q’s self-control and discovered there was no need. Q was desperate and needy and responsive. He kept his eyes closed and spoke only once, an emphatic “Yes.” when Bond slid inside him.

Sometime later, Bond asked, “What would you have done if he wanted to see you while you were alone? Or just showed up?”

Q shrugged, “First of all, it is rather more difficult than you might think to surprise the quartermaster of MI6 in a space he lives in.”

“I’m aware. I’ve attempted it a time or two. And second?”

“And second, he just wants to fuck me, he doesn’t want to hurt me.”

“He was fascinated by the sight of you unconscious. Now that we’ve put the idea in his head, he may try to drug you.”

“Then let’s hope he doesn’t get the opportunity. With the information you got from him tonight, and the additional contacts and intel you’ll have in two days, we could have this wrapped up in a fortnight.”

“Q. You realize you have just guaranteed that sometime in the next fortnight, he’s almost certainly going to drug you. I’ll find you unconscious in the back of that nightclub he likes so much, in a seedy motel somewhere, or, quite possibly, in the boot of Reynolds’ Mercedes.”

“And when you do, I will allow one ‘I told you so’,” quipped Q.

“Thank you for taking this so seriously Q,” said Bond dryly.

“Bond. I’m not a fool. Between us, we may have just given him some terrible ideas.” He rolled his eyes. “Yes. I’m going to take all of that seriously.”

“What would you have done if he surprised you while you were alone?”

Q looked Bond in the eye. “I would have let him in,” he said. “I would have quoted him a price. I would have done what he asked.”

“I want you to stay at the hotel tomorrow night.”

“Of course you do.”

Chapter Text

Mission Day 20

Q had had an incredible evening with Reynolds, welcoming him back to London, and now Bond was trying to get him drunk. Again.

A few drinks in, Bond admitted that a good deal of his curiosity about what Q and Reynolds did was because he’d found his glimpses of ‘Jack’ unexpectedly fascinating.

Q raised his eyebrows and carefully kept the edge out of his voice. “You want to fuck the manic little goth boy. Is that it? Get me to bring him out to play like you imagine I do for Reynolds?”

“I admit, the idea holds some appeal,” said Bond with a lecherous smile.

“Will it get this out of your system if I say yes?” Q asked dryly.

“Perhaps.”

“If that’s what it takes,” said Q.

Bond stood up, walked to the door of the suite, and held out a hand. “Come over here?”

Q joined him, nodding understanding at how Bond was setting the scene for what he clearly thought of as an amusing bit of roleplay.

Bond gestured for Q to stand with his back to the wall just inside the door and stepped close.

“It’s good to see you, Jack.” Bond kissed him roughly. He put a hand in Q’s hair and tilted his head back, leaving a trail of bites down his neck. Q stared straight ahead willing his body pliant, yielding the way his client would expect. He fought down the urge to swipe a hand across his mouth, then pulled himself together and dropped into character.

“God James, I’ve missed you,” breathed ‘Jack’, grabbing Bond’s tie. “It’s nice of you to introduce me to your friends and all…” he pulled back and pretended to pout, looking up at Bond through his eyelashes coyly, “…But I didn’t think it meant you’d neglect me.”

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder?” Bond flirted.

“Hookers have no hearts, you know that,” Q responded cheekily. He grabbed Bond’s arse and pulled their bodies closer together. “Were you going to let me see this posh suite of yours or are we going to do this right here?”

 

Sometime later, Bond lay in bed with Q draped over him. “That was just what I needed,” he murmured, petting absently. “I hope you had a good time pretty boy.”

Q wriggled. “Thought I made that clear,” he said, in Jack’s cheerfully ribald tone, “Is your hearing going? Do I need to be louder next round old man?”

“Only if you plan to shatter my eardrums,” laughed Bond, poking his ribs.

“Oi! Stop it! You know I charge extra for that.”

“Fine, I’ll behave,” said Bond. He rolled them over so they lay on their sides.

Q let his face go bland and raised his eyebrows at Bond.

“That was…” Bond shook his head and closed his eyes, a satisfied smile playing across his lips, “What the hell Q. I have no idea how you do that.”

“You’re the one who called me a chameleon,” said Q listlessly. He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling, feigning post-orgasm lethargy as he attempted to get his voice back under control. “I’m curious to hear how you think we compare.” Perfect. Drowsy, slightly indulgent.

Bond took a moment before answering, glancing at Q only briefly before closing his eyes once more. “Jack is—professional—he is skilled and obviously enjoys what he does, but it is ultimately his job. There’s something impersonal about it. With significant effort, I might be able to crack that and get a genuine emotion from him, but I imagine it would be difficult.”

Q shrugged. “That’s the manic little goth boy in a nutshell. Does this help you understand?”

Bond nodded. “You’re a professional. And you’re doing a job.”

“Thank you,” said Q. A few minutes later he got up and locked himself in the bathroom. He scrubbed his hand over his mouth repeatedly as he turned on the fan, started the shower, and quietly vomited into the toilet. He brushed his teeth, climbed into the shower and sat, arms around his knees, under the hot water until he stopped shaking. Then he dried off and returned to bed.

“Everything all right?” asked Bond, half-asleep.

“Of course,” said Q. “Just fine.”

 

Mission Day 21

Bond’s Hotel

Q woke the following morning to the soft hissing pop of Bond opening a bottle of champagne. He rolled over and blinked at Bond who set a wine glass filled with pale orange liquid on the nightstand next to his glasses.

“Mimosa?” asked Q.

“Bellini,” said Bond smugly.

“Thank you,” Q said, stretching. “I outrank you. Why am I the one in my rancid little flat with the suspicious mold in the corners while you get room service and a tub big enough to swim laps in?”

Bond shrugged. “Tell you what, next time we’re undercover together, I’ll take the flat.”

Q made a rude noise. “Agreed. What’s for breakfast?”

Bond brought over a tray with pastry, fruit, and quiche.

They ate, had leisurely sex, and Bond brought Q back to his flat.

Q settled in to analyze the latest data he’d gleaned from tracking Reynolds. An hour later, Bond, having complained about Q’s bare cupboards again, returned to the flat with bags of groceries.

“I have news,” said Q. “I think I’ve found one of the warehouses he’s using. The security system is self-contained, but if you can break in, I can tell you how to connect it to something that I can access. We’ll need a couple days to prep, but this could be what we’ve been waiting for.”

“That’s good. Reynolds’ people asked for more time to prepare what I needed. They’re delaying the next meeting for a few days.”

Chapter Text

Mission Day 22

“A pleasure to see you lovely,” Reynolds gave Q a friendly smile and a kiss on the cheek. “Something to get you started?” he handed over a shot glass filled with Q’s favorite tequila.

Q savored the first sip, then knocked back the remainder. “You’re so good to me,” he said, returning Reynolds’ smile.

“I do my best. I want you to enjoy my company as much as I enjoy yours,” said Reynolds, completing their first ritual. He led the way to the room at the back that they always shared. “I have a special treat for you tonight, I hope you’ll love it.”

“I adore treats,” said Q coquettishly, “But you’ll need to watch the time. We have two hours, then I have something scheduled with Mr. Bond.”

“That will be plenty of time,” said Reynolds with a smile, and opened the door for Q.

Q froze when he saw the pill on the table next to a pair of champagne flutes and a bottle on ice.

“Cuffs,” reminded Reynolds as he closed the door.

Q, flustered but professional, put his wrists behind his back and allowed Reynolds to lock them together.

“Tell me your safeword.”

“Silver.”

Reynolds murmured the praise and compliments that were as much part a of the next ritual as the cuffs. Q knelt in his usual spot next to the couch and, pill out of sight, felt himself relax into the familiar routine. Reynolds caressed Q’s face with one hand while unfastening his own trousers. He spread his legs, murmuring encouragement and his delight in Q’s presence. Q leaned forward and began to suck his cock.

“How are we doing lovely?” asked Reynolds after a couple minutes. Q looked up without stopping. “A little more relaxed?” Another minute passed and Q felt his eyelids begin to droop, and he had a pleasant sensation of floating. “Pupils dilated. There you are.” Reynolds placed his hand in Q’s hair and pulled him back gently.

Q swayed, murmuring something.

“Hmm?” asked Reynolds.

“Bait and switch,” repeated Q, twitching his head toward the pill on the table. “The shot was drugged.”

Reynolds gave him a fond smile, and Q found himself mirroring it. “The shot is always drugged sweetheart. You just don’t remember it.”

Q blinked, certain he should be alarmed, but feeling only a sleepy euphoria. “Oh.”

Reynolds petted him affectionately. “I cherish our little talks. Tell me, where is Agent Bond tonight while you distract me?”

“Warehouse in Park Royal,” sighed Q, closing his eyes and swaying in response to Reynold’s touch.

“And what’s he doing in Park Royal?”

“Accessing the security system for me.”

Reynolds picked up his mobile and turned on the voice recorder. “Give me a quick description of how he’ll access the security system.”

As Q answered his face was dreamy, his eyes half closed, but his voice was sure and his description precise.

“Once you can access security at the Park Royal warehouse, what will you do with it?”

Q gave another slightly more technical answer.

“Perfect, you’re so good at what you do. Clever and efficient.” Reynolds petted him absently with one hand while sending the audio to his security team with the other. Then he deleted the sent message and recording.

Q gave him a sleepy smile and leaned into his hand.

“Does no one else praise you?” asked Reynolds softly, shaking his head. “You light up whenever I pay you the slightest compliment.”

Q mumbled, “Fireflies and fireworks.”

“Hmm?” asked Reynolds.

“You light me up like fireflies and fireworks,” said Q dreamily.

“Pretty poet,” said Reynolds affectionately. “Do you think MI6 had any idea how much I would want to make you mine?” he mused, running gentle fingers over Q’s face and neck.

“Yours,” murmured Q with a soft smile.

“Or perhaps they did and that’s the true distraction, putting you in my sights, brilliant and attention-starved. And it wasn’t even my birthday.”

He turned on the voice recorder again. “But we should talk about something else tonight, would that be all right love?”

“Whatever you like,” said Q, basking in Reynolds’ attention.

“This may be difficult to talk about I’m afraid. When I saw you at your flat a few days ago, Bond had hit you; you still have bruises.” He touched Q’s shoulder where Bond’s bite mark still lingered.

Q frowned. “He said it was for his cover,” he said.

“He told me you didn’t feel it, because he’d drugged you, but you did, didn’t you?”

“It hurt,” Q nodded. “I don’t like pain.”

“Yes. You told me that,” said Reynolds.

“He said I’m beautiful when I cry.”

“Mr. Bond made you cry?”

“Yes.”

“Oh sweetheart,” said Reynolds. “When someone says that, it’s because they like hurting people, and they should only do that if the other person consents. Did he give you a choice?”

“No.” Q frowned again. “But he said he needed to.”

“Abusers often say that.”

Q shook his head, “He didn’t mean to hurt me.”

“He intentionally left marks that I would see, didn’t he? The bruises were obvious.”

“Yes.”

“Then he meant to hurt you. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been marks. You realize that, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“You were naked, I could see he’d had sex with you. Did he—rape you?”

“No?”

“Didn’t he say that he’d drugged you?”

“He said that…”

“And if he’d drugged you, he could’ve raped you and you wouldn’t know.”

“But he didn’t…”

“But you wouldn’t know,” said Reynolds more firmly.

“Yes,” Q tried to concentrate, something was wrong, but nothing had been a lie. It didn’t make sense.

Reynolds touched Q’s cheek gently. “I’m so sorry that happened to you sweetheart.”

Q looked up at Reynolds sadly. “He called me a whore,” he said, quiet but pained.

“How did that make you feel?”

“Awful,” said Q, barely above a whisper. “That’s all I am, just another cheap piece of arse. He was supposed to protect me.”

“I’m so sorry love,” said Reynolds holding Q’s chin and looking into his eyes, “You deserve to be treated so much better than that.” Q leaned into his touch.

Reynolds turned off the recorder and gave Q a radiant smile that, after a moment, Q mirrored back, the previous conversation already forgotten. “That was even more than I hoped for. What a gift you’ve just given me. Was it your idea or Bond’s to pretend you were drugged that night?”

“Mine,” Q whispered, eyelids fluttering.

“So very clever,” Reynolds praised him, leaning forward to kiss Q’s forehead. “We’re almost out of time, so just one more question. Were you sleeping with Bond before the mission?”

“We had, but I broke it off.”

“You’re telling me your partner on this mission—is your ex?”

Q nodded distractedly. “I asked for him. Thought he’d protect me,” his voice faded to a mumble. “Overprotective bollocks.”

“Fascinating,” said Reynolds. “We’ll discuss that another time I think.” He stroked himself a few times, then touched Q’s cheek. “That drug will be out of your system in a couple minutes, and we both know what you should be doing when that happens.”

Q obligingly wrapped his lips around Reynolds’ cock once more.

“So lovely, so clever, and so very good at that,” said Reynolds. He continued murmuring similar encouragement for several minutes, then he put his hand against Q’s cheek. “That’s enough for now sweetheart.”

Q drew back, hiding his concern that Reynolds was unsatisfied. “If you want something else, you know you only have to ask,” he said winsomely.

“I know that lovely,” said Reynolds, with an affectionate smile, as he ran his fingers through Q’s hair. “I promise, I got everything I wanted out of that. You’ve still earned your treat.”

Q had forgotten about that. He tried to smile but looked cautiously over his shoulder to where the pill sat.

“Nothing to worry about sweetheart. I would never hurt you. You’ll feel wonderful for a while, then just fall asleep here with me, and wake up with Mr. Bond. Same as you did a few nights ago with him. Did he tell you? That I was there?”

Q shook his head. “He didn’t mention it,” he lied. “But I saw the texts we exchanged the next morning,” he forced a blush. “I’m afraid I don’t remember sending those. I’m sorry for… I’m sure that was rather awkward.”

“It’s fine sweetheart,” said Reynolds. “He clearly didn’t know you’d invited me, so I told him I’d wanted to surprise you.”

“Thank you, that was thoughtful,” said Q. “I do remember, when I was waking up, he asked you to get the door because he was touching me and you said have a pleasant evening?”

“That’s right. I was there for about an hour while you were unconscious. Mr. Bond enjoyed having you like that very much, I could tell. And yet, I know,” he said, caressing Q’s face gently and gazing into his eyes, “He can’t possibly cherish you like I do.”

“What about the cuffs?” asked Q, attempting to delay. “He won’t like to see them.”

“I can keep the cuffs for the night and return them to you tomorrow if you’d like.”

Q swallowed nervously and looked over his shoulder again.

Reynolds watched Q closely for a moment. “I’ve made a mistake, haven’t I?” he asked, picking up the pill and putting it in a pocket. “This isn’t something you like. I’m so sorry sweetheart, I didn’t mean to frighten you. Come up here.” He patted the sofa and helped Q up. When Q sat, Reynolds unlocked the cuffs and watched him intently. “Did you take the pills Mr. Bond gave you willingly? Or—did he drug you—so you couldn’t stop him hitting you?”

Q couldn’t keep the horrified expression off his face. “No. You don’t… That’s… it wasn’t like that,”

“You’re lying to me sweetheart,” said Reynolds. “I don’t know why, but I can see you’re lying about this.”

Q closed his eyes, trying to pull himself together, to think of something to explain what Reynolds had seen. “It’s not what you’re thinking,” he said at last, trying to sound calm and reassuring. “Certain things can be negotiated, remember? For substantial reward. That was one of those things. It was a choice I made. I was well compensated. I just don’t intend to discuss it with you.”

“In your home, not at his hotel.”

“That was part of the arrangement, yes,” said Q firmly.

Reynolds looked at Q for a long moment as if trying to judge his sincerity. “If you say so, I will accept that. But please, remember my offer. Ask.”

“I’m in no danger,” insisted Q, knowing somehow that Reynolds wouldn’t find his words convincing.

“But you do feel trapped, don’t you? I can see it.”

Q was surprised into a nod, then shook his head and opened his mouth to protest.

“Saving up to leave the life?” asked Reynolds gently. “Do you have much further to go?”

“It may be some time,” whispered Q.

Chapter Text

Mission Day 22 continued

“How did it go at the warehouse?” asked Q as he settled on the couch in Bond’s suite.

“Relatively well, I think. Top notch security team, but I managed. We’ll know more tomorrow once you can verify my work.”

“Excellent,” said Q, sipping his martini. “And it appears we can stop worrying about Reynolds drugging me.”

“Oh?” asked Bond.

“He offered me a dose of whatever he thinks you gave me the other night at my flat. When I hesitated, he retracted the offer immediately and asked if I’d consented to taking it from you.” He looked over his glasses at Bond. “He seems half convinced you’re abusing me,” he said neutrally.

“What. Why?” asked Bond.

“Why do you think? He knows I don’t like pain and you showed off that you’d hit me,” said Q crossly. “I had to come up with a story about how much you paid for the privilege.”

“Which means that now he’ll think that that can be bought,” said Bond, a dangerous edge creeping into his voice.

“He already knew and he wasn’t interested.”

“What do you mean ‘he already knew’?”

Q rolled his eyes and forced himself to lighten his tone. “It’s just a line. Don’t like pain but certain things can be negotiated for substantial reward. Then deflect if it ever comes up; never say no, but never say yes either.” He drained his drink.

“Ah. Sounds like unsuccessful dates I’ve had,” joked Bond.

Q pretended to laugh, “I suppose it would.” He put his empty glass down on the coffee table and resolved to change the subject.

“Another?” asked Bond.

“Thank you, yes,” he said. “I’m going to do another sweep for bugs here and at my flat. We shouldn’t be running into so much difficulty. It doesn’t make sense.”

Bond nodded. He handed Q another martini and they discussed additional security measures for a while. As Q finished his drink, Bond moved closer. “It occurs to me I’ve never fucked you on this couch,” he said.

Q set aside his glass. “Is that what you want tonight, Mr. Bond?” he asked with a practiced, suggestive smile.

“That is what I want tonight.”

“Then of course that’s what we’ll do,” Q agreed as Bond moved closer.

 

Mission Day 25

Date with Reynolds

It was close to the end of their time together for the evening, and Q drowsed in Reynolds’ arms while Reynolds gently traced patterns along his collarbone and shoulders. This would usually have been accompanied by a quiet flow of praise and endearments, but Reynolds had unexpectedly fallen silent. When Q noticed and opened his eyes, Reynolds looked troubled. “Is something wrong?” Q asked.

“You haven’t asked me for a night off in weeks and I got the impression you saw Mr. Bond every night I was in Berlin. You should take some time tomorrow,” said Reynolds. “Take care of yourself for a day. I’ll pay the usual. Just get some rest.”

“Getting tired of me?” asked Q lightly, opting for the predictable response to the unexpected answer.

“Never, but—” Reynolds stopped and frowned, choosing his words carefully, “—I don’t want to be intrusive, or overly familiar. I know it isn’t my place. But you’ve noticeably lost weight in the past month,” he traced the ribs just visible below Q’s collarbone, “and you’re often tired. I can’t pretend I haven’t noticed.”

“I’m clean…” Q began.

“I don’t think you’re going to infect me with something and I think you already knew that,” said Reynolds, a touch impatiently. “I think something is wrong and that you aren’t eating or sleeping properly.”

“Oh,” said Q. “I…” he stopped, uncertain what to say.

“So take tomorrow off, please? Sleep in, eat some proper meals?” asked Reynolds. “And I’ll take you to dinner the night after and will expect nothing else. If there’s something you want to tell me about or—assistance you wish to request—tell me at dinner.”

Q nodded, still off balance and off guard. Why did Reynolds insist on having these conversations with him while Q was naked and still dazed from coming?

“Are you still seeing Mr. Bond most evenings? Can you arrange it with him too?”

Q shrugged. “I can try,” he said noncommittally.

“I could have a word with him,” said Reynolds. “He still wants something from me.”

“Please do not make me a bargaining chip in your business with him,” said Q flatly. He instantly regretted the words, spoken before he thought them through. That had been a personal instinct, not a professional reaction. Or, at least, the wrong profession. It could have been a perfect opportunity to try to get Reynolds to meet with and reveal something to Bond.

Reynolds nodded, looking chagrined. “Of course not, sweetheart,” said Reynolds. “I’m sorry.”

“No harm done,” said Q, closing his eyes as Reynolds began to caress him again.

 

Bond’s Hotel

Q slumped on the couch and ignored the drink Bond handed him.

“Is something wrong?” asked Bond, voice carefully neutral. He didn’t want to spook Q, who became guarded and tense every time Bond asked about his evenings with Reynolds.

“Almost said the wrong thing to Reynolds tonight,” lied Q. “Wouldn’t have blown my cover, but would’ve been difficult to explain. I haven’t had a proper day off in a month and I’m going to screw up if I’m not careful. Even at its busiest, at headquarters I have staff I can delegate to and get a night’s sleep once every week or two. I’m exhausted.”

Bond narrowed his eyes at Q. “What kind of hours have you been keeping?”

Q shrugged. “I spend most of the day chipping away at Reynolds’ network security, then get ready to meet him for dinner or at the nightclub. Spend a couple hours with him, have a few drinks with you…”

“No wonder,” muttered Bond.

“Hmm?”

“Q, you can’t sustain that long term. Even in the field, I have downtime and I take advantage of it,” said Bond frowning. “Take a break before you do. Tell Reynolds you’re taking tomorrow off. I’ll confiscate your laptop if it will help.”

Q raised an eyebrow. “That isn’t necessary,” he said, setting aside his drink untasted. “I assure you.”

“Sleep here or at the flat?”

“My flat I think,” said Q, trying to hide his relief. “Ah. Alone.”

Bond nodded. “I’ll drive you.”

 

Mission Day 27

Date with Reynolds

“Before you go, I’d like to ask you something,” said Reynolds as they finished dinner.

“Of course,” said Q warily.

“I’m traveling again in a few days. I hated to leave you last time. Would you like to come with me?”

“That could be fun,” said Q coyly, carefully not saying no, but also not saying yes. “Where are you going?

“Warsaw. If you join me, we would be there for four nights, Wednesday through Sunday.”

“I’ve never been,” said Q, seeing no reason to lie.

“I would love to show you the city,” said Reynolds. “And you’d have some time to explore for yourself while I’m in meetings on Thursday and Friday if you’d like.” He gave Q a few more details of his intended itinerary.

Q smiled at him, “Is this a ploy to make sure I eat and sleep properly while you’re traveling?”

Reynolds smiled back. “Absolutely.”

“We would need to discuss…” Q let his voice trail off and made a fleeting ‘counting money’ gesture with one hand.

“Obviously. Give me a new number. I’m asking for rather more of your time, and your—undivided—attention for multiple days.”

“Can you give me time to think it over and let you know tomorrow?”

“Certainly.”

 

Bond’s hotel

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” asked Bond when Q told him about the Warsaw trip Reynolds had planned. “I thought you couldn’t fly.”

Q scowled, “I discussed it with M before the we started. If I judge it necessary to the mission, I’m allowed to travel, with Reynolds, wherever he wishes to take me, as long as I have a tracker on and inform you of my movements. I’m getting nowhere with his network, and you keep hitting dead ends trying to get intel or connections. This may finally get us the break we’ve been looking for. We’ll be in close proximity for days; I may get access to tech or even facilities I haven’t yet.”

“I want to stay close, but I obviously can’t take the same flight. He would see me.”

“I did some checking; we can travel in parallel. There’s another flight departing shortly after the one he booked. You should be no more than twenty minutes behind me and you can watch me on my tracker the whole time. I’ll try to find a way to delay once we arrive in Warsaw and you should be able to shadow us as close as you like.”

“I still don’t like it. He’s trying to get you away from me.”

“I’ve done my job and he wants me around,” said Q irritably.

“I’m not criticizing,” said Bond. “It’s my job to protect you and I don’t trust him.”

Q shrugged.

“Come to bed,” said Bond, nodding toward the bedroom.

“Of course,” said Q, with a dutiful smile.

 

Mission Day 31

Q’s flat

Q had packed his suitcase the evening before. This afternoon would be the first time in several years that he would leave the country. He’d considered very carefully what he was taking and what he was leaving behind.

And if all the cash Reynolds had paid him over the last several weeks, along with a tool he could use to remove his tracker without setting off an alert, had made it into a hidden compartment in his suitcase?

Well.

He caught a cab and headed to Heathrow.                   

Chapter Text

This is where the story originally ended but then I discovered there was more to tell.

There are three options for where the story goes from here and perhaps the best way to describe them is by how closely they match (at least initially) what each character expects to happen next.

Branch A1 – The events of Q and Reynolds’ trip is closest to what Bond expected.

This branch is located at Attention to Detail

 

Branch A2 – The events of Q and Reynold’s trip is closest to what Q expected.

This branch is located at Willing to Travel

 

Branch A3 – The events of Q and Reynold’s trip is closest to what Reynolds intended.

This branch is located at Work Well with Others