Q pulled back the hood of his anorak in spite of the chill in the air and blinked hard against the surprisingly bright sun. It was the first time in four days he’d seen the sun, and stepping through the door from the stairwell, the Quartermaster rather felt like a mole creeping from its burrow, hesitant and uncertain of its surroundings. He wasn’t a fan of heights in general, and rooftops, in particular, weren’t high on his list of favourite places to be, but this is where he was, and so too, then, Q would be.
The soles of his shoes scraped noticeably against the pitch and tile of the flat roof. Not that it mattered. What boffin could ever hope to sneak up on one so long practiced in the art of clandestine silence? He would have been foolish to even try.
“Quartermaster,” Bond said by way of greeting once Q was close enough that the agent’s low voice wouldn’t be lost, caught up by the stiff, brisk wind that blew in from the east. He did not turn from the sight of the city laid out before him in the fading light of the late October afternoon. Bond stood stalwart against the chill in a navy woollen coat, a scarf of blue and green linked about his neck. Q’s appreciative gaze drifted from the breadth of Bond’s shoulders down the length of his wool-clad form to his strong hands, each finger wrapped carefully in supple black leather. Q caught the slight smirk that tugged at the corner of the agent’s lips as he turned his head slightly as if considering the Quartermaster’s presence more closely, and Q knew in that instant that Bond was aware that Q fancied him.
“What brings you to the top of the world?” Bond asked with an aborted gesture at the city beyond.
“I thought you might like some lunch,” Q answered. He slung the carry all from his shoulder and set it on the ground between them. Kneeling, Q unzipped the pack and dug about for what he had brought with him. Bond looked critically at the two empty containers Q passed him and raised an eyebrow in query. “Lunch?” His voice was heavy with curiosity … and skepticism.
“Don’t get your knickers in a twist, 007,” Q grumbled before liberating what he sought from the carryall. He stood and showed off his bounty to Bond who again raised an eyebrow, this time in genuine appreciation.
“Lunch. Soup of the day?” Bond asked with a smile.
“Just so.” Q nodded at the pack as he stood. “I’ve … croutons, too, if you’d like,” he offered.
“No, I’ll be okay without. Ta.”
Q cracked open the soup container and poured a measure and then a second into each vessel. He tucked it back into the bag, nodding his thanks when Bond handed him his portion.
“Care to do the honours, 007?”
“Past time you called me ‘James’ don’t you think, Q?” He took a step closer to the boffin and hooked a finger into the right cuff of Q’s hideous coat. The tug was gentle yet telling.
“Ethan.” Q corrected with a smile that lit only his eyes. The surreptitious nature of the Quartermaster’s tone was all Bond needed in order to understand the importance of keeping that bit of intelligence forever to himself.
“To M?” Ethan asked.
“To M,” James confirmed.
He raised the glass of cut crystal that looked suspiciously like one of a pair that had once sat on a cart in M’s office. The other was held in his Quartermaster’s quite capable hand. Cleary, Jack the Bulldog wasn’t the only deceptively sturdy thing to survive the destruction of Babylon on Thames.
James and Q each drank deeply of the amber-filled glasses. The whisky was a pleasant and familiar burn down James’ throat.
Q pulled the glass from his mouth. His green eyes daring … challenging behind his spectacles. James leaned in, curled his free hand around the curve of Q’s skull, and pulled the boffin close to lick the lingering whisky from Ethan’s lips.
“Brave New World,” Q murmured against James’ lips before deepening the kiss, pulling the rich flavour of the drink from James’ mouth with his own.
Brave New World indeed.