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One For Sorrow, Two For Joy

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The seemingly straightforward snatch-and-retrieve mission within the bowels of South-Eastern country Krakozhia hadn't quite been a bust, although Bond couldn't say the same of his left leg. The OO-agent had judiciously assassinated the head of the fledgling country's political party, a man whose campaign thrived on physically incapacitating those who dared speak out and permanently silencing those who managed to do more.

Bond had been tasked to retrieve the man's hard drive, but an opportunity arose, and he took it with both hands (quite literally, as he strangled the putrid human being without a second's hesitation.)

However, the escape plan wasn't entirely pulled off as smoothly as anticipated as Bond was never tasked to take out the country's leader, nor did he expect the man's second-in-command to return after taking the world's fastest piss.

Bond's wounded leg faltered, but a hiss of laughter escaped his bloodied nose. The man ought to have a record in Guinness for how fast that piss was.

The Second, ironically named Ljubov, needed no more than a glance within his boss' opulent office before he had torn his handgun from his holster and started unleashing a hail of bullets at Bond's general person. The shots, mostly, thudded within the President's dead body as Bond pushed him forward as in impromptu meat-shield before he bodily threw himself out of the office's window. At least two of the shots managed to strike Bond's left leg, however, and Christ were they beginning to present themselves as the adrenaline wore off.

Bond had stumbled down stone steps, catching one in particular with the broad expanse of his face before he managed to stop the uncontrolled fall with bloodied hands. His nose had throbbed, pain lancing through his skull before subsiding into a manageable ache, so Bond hadn't believed it to be broken. A few fingers of his right hand, however, may not have been so lucky.

When foreign shouts increased in volume behind him, Bond had pushed himself up with a stern shake of his head and barreled forward. The ostentatious mansion was surrounded by lush underbrush that threatened to ensnare the agent with every agonizing step further into the ever-thickening forest. Though barely able to pierce the canopy, the sun offered no respite as it cleaved through the openings like a singular-focused beam of hellfire.

With every arduous step deeper into the humid thicket, the fervor slowly quieted until Bond heard nothing more than his harsh, labored breathing and the hard thumping of his heart against his battered rib cage. He limped stridently ahead, jaw seized painfully tight against every agonized yelp that threatened to escape his bloodless lips.

Bond couldn't be sure how long he trudged along for. Minutes? Hours? Surely, not days? It had certainly felt like it, as he choked on the cloying heat that coated his otherwise raw throat. Sweat soaked through his undershirt and a short-sleeved button-down. He sluggishly pushed and pulled at the bunched-up fabric at his broad shoulders, thankfully not having to fight the buttons as they were already undone. The agent pulled at the material once he succeeded in pulling it off, cursing his broken fingers as he failed to purchase a firm enough grip before he managed to tear a ragged strip with a pained grunt.

He positioned himself so that he could press his back against the bark of a wide trunk, keeping an ear in the direction he had come from for sounds of approaching enemies. When he could hear nothing that spoke of imminent danger, he wrapped the strip around the bullet wound in his upper thigh. Fortunately, that one mainly struck meat and seemed to pass through like a hot knife through butter. He straightened, took a steadying breath, and tore another piece from the shirt. That strip was cinched around his calf, and the cry of agony from that motion could not be helped.

It allowed himself a moment to push his aching head against the rough bark at his back. He let the pieces of wood that dug into his scalp distract and ground him away from the pain in his leg. His thick neck felt as if it could radiate heat from how ruddy the complexion colored his skin. The exertion coupled with the unbearable heat resulted in the sting of short, sweat-clumped strands brushing against open scrapes. Sweat beaded at his temple before coalescing into a single drop that streaked down his muddied face, leaving a white trail down his jaw before dripping from his chin. He swiped the broad palm of his left hand down the side of his face, missing his throbbing nose and effectively wicking the crud and moisture slathering his skin.

Bond wrapped the remnants of his destroyed shirt around his fair-haired head to ward off any potential sunburn, because wouldn't that be a bloody laugh and a half on top of everything else before he grit his teeth and took off running again. He had a vague idea of where his extraction point was, a shouted string of words as the earwig fell from his canal, his only answer when he had activated his radio. Still, with each passing second, Bond didn't believe he would make it before he dropped dead from fatigue or blood loss.

Eventually, after some time, Bond stumbled into what he had assumed was just a clearing before almost fatally realizing that said clearing came to a sheer drop down a mountainside. An office window was one thing; he drew the line at mountain tops.

He drew short at the scenery, taking in the blue sky that rivaled the color of his eyes when a flash of movement burst at the corner of his eye. He sharply turned right, stumbling, before taking in the perceived danger: a solitary black and white Magpie.

Bond blinked owlishly as it pecked at a mound, unbothered by the agent's presence before Bond slowly lifted his injured right hand to his forehead. He offered a two-fingered salute, fingers puffy and swollen.

“Good morning, Mr. Magpie. How's your lady wife today?” he rasped through cracked lips.

The bird hopped for a few seconds more before bursting airborne. Bond, ready to collapse under the strain of maintaining himself upright, fell to his knees with a moan. Bond planted a bloodied hand into the plush earth, aching fingers relishing the cool clods of dirt before he slowly realized the supposed flapping he had thought he heard were actually the propellers of a helicopter.

The heaven-sent vehicle hovered before him like a mirage before the side door was wrenched open by a familiar face: Alec. The helicopter edged closer to the clearing, the velocity of the air flattening his hair, the grass around him, and kicking up dust before nearly pushing him to the ground.

With enough space to jump, Alec hopped out just as Bond barked out a solitary laugh.

Alec grinned at what he thought was an appreciated welcome until Bond rasped, “Thank you, Mr. Magpie.”

The Cossack tilted his head to the side as he lifted his colleague by his armpit into a standing position. “Alright, Jamesey?”

The blond grinned and reached out to dig out Alec's earwig without consent.

“Hey!”

“One for sorrow, two for mirth – Q? Q, you there?”

“I'm here OO7, glad to see that you are as well. What's happened to OO6?”

“I stole his earwig, listen, I thought one was for sorrow and two for mirth?”

“P-pardon?”

“He's out of his head, this one is,” Alec grunted as he bodily pushed James into the awaiting chopper. “Gimme that back, mate.”

“No, listen. Two for joy, but there was only one, though I did properly salute him-”

“What bee seems to be in your bonnet, Bond?”

“Not a bee, Q. A Magpie. A bloody Magpie.”

Bond chuckled, clearly out of it, as Alec wrestled his earwig back from the rapidly slumping form.

“Another quirk of his, I assume?”

“No idea. I'll send an update once we get up in the air. Ta.”

Thousands of miles away, safely tucked into an MI6 office, Q smiled.