Istanbul, End of Joint MI6/U.N.C.L.E. Mission
At the knock on his hotel room door, Bond ceased his carpet-wearing pace and strode in quick long steps. He peeped through the hole expectantly and immediately exhaled a sigh of relief. Opening the door without hesitation, he ended his exhale on one syllable, “Q.”
Q stood flanked by Solo and Kuryakin, looking somewhat worse for wear, minus his glasses, but all limbs seemed intact.
“James…” he murmured, a pained look of relief flitting across his face before practically falling into his arms.
“As promised, Commander,” Napoleon said briskly, “safe and—“ the end of the sentence trailing off at the sight of the hot and unyielding kiss Q was returning to Bond.
“….sound…” Napoleon stared. Ilya’s cough snapped his mouth shut.
“Time to leave perhaps, Cowboy,” Illya mumbled, finding the corridor’s wallpaper design suddenly very interesting. Bond pushed the door shut never breaking the kiss.
“Well,” Napoleon sighed, “that was unexpected.”
“Don’t see why,” Illya replied, turning to leave, “boy is very attractive,” he continued with a casual shrug. “I would.”
Napoleon could only stare at the broad, retreating back, before kicking his brain into gear.
But Illya’s long stride has already carried him around the corner on the way to the elevator.
Napoleon quickened his step and managed to catch the elevator door a second before it closed the gap. All six-foot massive of Ilya stood there next to him, his usual calm, centred self. Well, at least calm when he felt he had the upper hand on his partner, a rare but enjoyable moment to be savoured.
Napoleon huffed a brief sigh through his nostrils, while giving Illya a side glance. “I don’t suppose you’d care to elaborate on that comment?”
Ilya kept his gaze on the door. “To your credit, though a terrible spy, Solo, you are good at telling lies and sleight of hand.” Napoleon allowed his ego a brief moment of inflation. “While I,” he continued, “am excellent at keeping secrets and winning strategies.”
Napoleon frowned, the elevator pinging to grant them access to their floor. “And how does that answer my question?”
“It doesn’t,” Illya replied, extracting his room keycard from the inside of his jacket. He turned to Napoleon from the other side of the door. “What it does tell you is to mind your own business,” he finished with a tight lipped, politely feigned smile before swinging the door shut in his face.
Ilya smiled, listening to the frustration in Solo’s stride carry him down the corridor to his room. “Still so much to learn,” he muttered to himself.
Four Days Previously, Morocco, U.N.C.L.E. Safehouse.
Gaby poured herself a coffee, reaching for the cream. Napoleon materialised beside her.
“Are you sure you need that?” Napoleon asked, reaching for the coffeepot himself. “The pleased feline look on your face when you came into the room suggests you had your fill last night already.”
Gaby put down the jug and turned to him. She said nothing, but looked over her shoulder towards the tall windows and the early morning Moroccan sun streaming through, bathing her Russian compatriot, Illya Kuryakin in its warm glow. Napoleon followed her gaze. Gaby smiled on feeling the slight bristle emanating from Solo, both of them watching for a few moments more at the rapt attentions bestowed upon whatever bustle was occurring on the streets below. There were times when Kuryakin looked so innocent, like a boy forever discovering new things. As though aware of being watched, Illya glanced in their direction, casting Gaby a small nod and accompanying smile by way of a good morning greeting and a brief almost dismissive look at Solo before returning to his study of the Moroccan streets.
“Jealous?” she asked, an innocent lilt to her tone, turning back to top her coffee with the creamy liquid. “I don’t know what you mean, Miss Teller,” Napoleon replied. Of course, he knew exactly what she meant because right now, it appeared that he, American espionage’s finest (arguably) Lothario was the only one in the room who didn’t get laid last night. Well, except Kuryakin, but he didn’t count…
“I can’t believe we’re stuck with each other for another mission,” sighed Solo, faux dramatic, pouring himself a coffee.
“Well maybe if you refrain from poking the Russian Bear with your big stick of sassy sarcasm, this mission may go a little more smoothly?”
“You would deny me my one joy in this life?” he asked, raising the strong, heady brew to his lips with a grin.
Gaby was about to dress him down on his attitude when the door opened and Alexander Waverly and a stunning looking dark-skinned woman in a sharp-lined red suit entered the room.
“Good morning, everyone. Good of you to join us,” said Waverly, planting his case onto a side table and placing his hands behind his back.
Napoleon watched Gaby from the corner of his eye – scrutinising, assessing and contemplating the new addition to the room. The woman in question, for her part, gave little away, aside from a congenial smile to convey a sense of ally rather than adversary. Waverley half-turned to his associate, for want of a better word, to make the introductions.
“I’d like to introduce Eve Moneypenny. She has come to us with a proposition from the top of MI6…”
Meanwhile, hours earlier at MI6, Q Branch…
“Still much to learn, lad!” Boothroyd said, placing a hand gently on his shoulder. His protege was standing at his station, mouth slightly agape at the events that had unfolded on the screen before his eyes. It was the first time Arthur had co-coordinated a field mission. This development of closer alignment of Q Branch and Double O operations was a relatively new endeavour, initially resisted by Boothroyd but championed by M.
The Major was finally coming round to the idea, particularly since agent survival rates – and the return of Q Branch equipment – had skyrocketed in the last two years.
Arthur turned from the screen, looking slightly dazed. “I have no idea how she made that jump… she – Moneypenny – could have died, Sir, and it would have been because…”
“Now now, lad, none of that! Such thoughts are a slippery slope in this line of work and it does no one any good – either here or in the field – to harbour doubts.” He placed his hand on his opposite shoulder to steer him out of the bullpen. “You are here because you are top of your peers in intelligence and innovation.”
Arthur could only blush. Boothroyd chuckled. “But if you tell anyone else I said that, I’ll deny it vehemently,” he said with a wink. So Arthur did just that and ignored the compliment.
“What’s next on the agenda, Major?”
Boothroyd huffed a breath. “Well I think a spot of lunch is in order and after that, we have another agent to kit out. M’s sending another agent in support of the current operation in Istanbul. You’ll be handling him for me. I’ve to prepare our plan of action with M for undercover operative extraction, should it come to that.”
“Who’s the agent?” Arthur enquired.
“Oh you’ll find out soon enough. But I can assure you he’s a bloody menace…”
Bond felt good, genuinely good. Revenge was sweet and he was nursing the satisfied feeling of a man who had gone some way to exorcising the demons that had plagued him since Venice. It wasn’t a perfect way to lay them to rest, but it helped to realign his value system. Twisted though it was at times, it did serve his country well if in a somewhat unorthodox manner.
Throughout these idle musings, Bond had taken to resting a thigh on the corner of Villiers desk while he waited for M to summon him forth.
Villiers was eyeing the offending part of his anatomy invading his workspace for a good 90 seconds before finally mustering up the courage to say, “must you, 007?”
Bond looked down from his perch. “Must I what?”
Villiers gestured to the corner of the anteroom. “There is a perfectly comfortable spot over there, one that is actually designed for sitting on.”
Bond liked Villiers quite a lot. Frankly, any man who could work at the beck-and-call of M and still maintain their sanity deserved a Medal of Honour as far as he was concerned. Sometimes Bond just couldn’t help helping himself though. He rose with a quirk to his lips just as the intercom buzzed.
“That’s your cue, 007. Good luck,” he said with curl of the corner of his mouth.
“Luck and I are long-standing bedfellows, and believe me, there’s nothing good about her,” he replied heading for the padded door.
Where Bond was concerned, Villiers had little doubt that statement was true.
Later that same evening
The room was in chaos. Clothes scattered everywhere from pillar to post. His cats hiding under the living room couch. The bed was a wreck. And amidst this chaos the eye of the storm, lying tangled in his bed linen dozing in a post-coital haze, was one James Bond.
“A bit young to be playing in the big boy’s pen, aren’t you?” Bond observed.
Arthur tilted his chin but maintained his cool in the face of the insult. No doubt Bond thought it would be fun to test him.
“I doubt my youth will be as wasted on me as yours was on you, 007,” he levelled back, handing him his gun and the locator for the hard drive of which Ronson, Moneypenny and Turner were currently in pursuit.
Bond studied him for a few moments. Arthur noted the shift in demeanour and the point at which a decision was made.
“I have a few hours to kill before my flight. How would you feel about helping me put your equipment through its paces?”
And so here they were.
Of course, he’d seen James occasionally around Six, occasionally in passing noted him terrorising Boothroyd in Q Branch but had never had a reason to engage him. That was until his recent promotion. Bond had never noticed him before. But now, now he had fallen into Bond’s crosshairs.
He continued to watch the slumbering form – golden and scarred – from the bedroom door, while sipping a glass of water. Arthur checked his watch and made a call. After hanging up, he sat down on the edge of the bed to rouse the agent.
Bond groaned and buried his face in the pillow and inhaled, the aroma of the Q Branch staffer bringing him back to where he was. He tilted his head to the side with a slow smile to meet his gaze.
“I’ve called you a Heathrow taxi. Should be here in about 45 minutes.”
Bond rumbled some affirmative and swung an arm around a naked waist, taking what he wanted once more and with the fervour of a man taking it for the last time.
Maybe he was. But Arthur’s day had been rough and he was in no mood to deny himself what was on offer so he submitted willingly to the singular attentions bestowed upon him. It might be the one and only time he’d have this but Arthur was a man who knew how to make the best of the little wins life saw fit to put in his path. It was, after all, one of the qualities that had secured a life in service of Queen and Country, a service that would be tested very soon.