What was the best way to kill a swan?
From long distance, a shotgun would most certainly do. If you could aim and fire well enough for it. Bond had grown up hunting geese with Kincade. Swans might be a tad prettier birds, but they'd fall in the same mix of feathers and blood, regardless.
Up close and personal? Swans had such long fragile necks. Breaking them was likely fast and efficient. It worked quite well with chickens. Swans, despite their beauty and grace, had no more inherent value than the birds so favored fried to a crisp.
Poison would probably work in a pinch. Every living thing could be successfully poisoned by something, if you just knew the right mixture. But poison was for cowards afraid to get pecked by their quarry. Bond was no coward. And no matter how sharp its beak, a swan was still just a bird.
Just another target, capable of being killed so many ways. So, so many ways. And Bond knew them all. Had done most of them before. Had done many, so many times that it often became boring.
But how best to kill this Swann? Bond wasn't certain. He deserved to enjoy it, he thought. Might be nice to make it a bit poetic, perhaps.
She wouldn't care. Either of them.
She was dead. Long cold dead.
She would be dead soon.
The dead no longer cared about revenge, or the manner of their death, he thought.
But he did. About both; the manner of death, and revenge. Especially about revenge.
You'd have to be a damn cold bastard to not care about revenge for someone you loved. M had said something like that to him once. And despite her best efforts, Bond had never become that cold.
Despite all the deaths, Bond still cared. Maybe that was his fatal flaw. His most major weakness. It'd come close to getting him killed before. But he did learn. He rarely made the same mistake twice.
He was damn good at faking it, though.
He was damn good at faking a great many things, in fact. Faking enjoying fucking someone was one he'd taken to a particularly convincing level.
It wasn't even hard anymore, and they never noticed. He chuckled to himself thinking that. He did enjoy a good pun.
He'd have to remember that one and tell Q. It would make the man giggle adorably.
But Bond didn't want to think about making Q laugh right now. Q laughing always made Bond happy and warm. Right now, Bond wanted his revenge, served cold. He wanted to think about killing.
So back to his initial question. How best to kill a Swann?
Bond looked around at their high class hotel room, looking for inspiration.
Using a gun he'd already dismissed as boring.
Her gun, he'd safely deprived of bullets already. She wouldn't notice in time, if she even made it to her gun. Few were skilled enough in handling guns to notice the difference in weight when the bullets had been removed. Even if she was that good, which Bond doubted, she wouldn't have time to find bullets to reload. Her line about not liking guns might even be true. But she'd never claimed to not like killing, despite the implication.
Breaking her neck would be far too quick. And again, boring.
If she tried to break his neck, it would be almost amusing. He was no long necked bird. He didn't break easily.
Poison, he'd never liked. No reason to use it here.
The poisoned drink she'd given him earlier that evening he'd poured into the pot of the plant decorating the room. He wasn't sure if it would kill the fern as surely as she expected it to kill him in his sleep. But if it did, the plant's death was more worth mourning than this woman's death would be, in Bond's opinion.
Pushing her off the balcony was tempting. This Swann couldn't fly. But the clean up would be troublesome for MI6. Bond rather suspected that he was well over the preferred quota of messy killings this month already.
Strangling her in the bed was tempting. The thought of digging his fingers in that fragile white neck had a certain appeal. Seeing her expression as she woke up unable to breathe was quite appealing. But still, rather boring.
A knife slashed across that long neck was tempting. She was wearing a slinky white slip of a nightgown. She seemed to prefer wearing whites and pastels. Probably thought it made her look feminine and innocent. Soaking it in blood would make a fashion statement that better reflected her true nature. But again, too boring for this occasion.
Bond did another circuit of their hotel room, considering. He kept watch on her from the corner of his eye, wary of her waking. But she seemed to be soundly asleep; secure in the knowledge her poison would have him dead in the bed with her by morning.
He wondered briefly why she hadn't tried to poison him earlier. He supposed she didn't have access to her preferred vintage of death, or knew he didn't trust her enough to lose sight of his glass. She apparently believed she’d earned that trust by now.
It didn't much matter. She'd missed her opportunity. Now Bond would take his. He just needed to decide the method.
His gaze wandered around the room again, and then it came to him. Oh. Oh yes! That would suit. That would be practically perfect, in fact. It was a wonder he hadn't thought of it sooner, it was so appropriate.
Bond grinned, cold and hard and delightedly. Anyone seeing it would have known death was sure to follow. But no one did. The only other person in the room slept on a bed for the last time. She'd sleep deep in the dirt soon enough.
When she woke up, he almost laughed at how obvious her surprise was at seeing him still alive. But he merely smiled instead. A few very late seconds later, she smiled back.
"I've drawn us a bath, darling. Come enjoy it before the water gets cold."
His voice was all charm. Her smile came more quickly in response. He held out his hand to her and she took it.
She struggled. Of course she did. She thumped her hands against his arms. She kicked him. She splashed water everywhere. But it was easy to keep her in place. She was like a bird flapping futilely. Her strength was nothing compared to his.
He kept her under until she stopped moving. He kept her under a full minute after she stilled, to be sure.
Her expression in death was similar, he thought. Her hair as it floated underwater wasn't as pretty, though. He had always preferred brunettes.
He left her there. Let the water get cold along with her body.
He had the room rented for a week. He'd tipped extra to make sure they weren't disturbed. By the time anyone found her, he'd be long gone, and she wouldn't be a pretty picture any longer.
He put on a nice suit. He straightened his cuffs. He checked himself in the mirror. Still as handsome and put together as ever.
He checked her in the tub. Still as dead as five minutes ago.
And so the job was done. A bitch that had betrayed him had drowned. She wasn't the first and she probably wouldn't be the last.
"Bond? I thought you'd gone."
"I have. I needed her to think that. You didn't think I'd actually leave you for her, did you?"
"Of course not! But you went through a great deal of effort to save her life. And then you even let Blofeld live while she watched. There was no reason for you to spare him unless it was a show for her benefit. I assumed you weren't certain about her yet."
"I'm not. That's why I need you to do something else for me."
"Of course. What do you need?"
"The cleanup team at L’Americain will find some video tape recordings of interrogations. I need you to watch them. If they show what I suspect, I need you to send me a copy of one."
"Very well. And whose torture will I be digitizing for your viewing?"
Q inhaled sharply at the name, but showed no other sign the information surprised him. He agreed without protest. Q knew Bond better than anyone else alive, after all.
Q sent the recording to Bond's phone a few days later.
It was difficult to watch. More difficult than he'd expected. But what he saw didn't surprise him. The longer he spent with Swann, the more certain he became of her.
A sociopath hiding as a psychologist? That wasn't even original!
Bond did wonder how young she'd been when she first started helping her father question people. He wondered if she'd ever cringed from it. He laughed at himself for trying to spare her the sight of the recording of her father's death, back at Blofeld's base.
In this recording she looked to be in her early twenties. Her expression remained blank for the most part. She did give a small smile when she pressed the button connected to the wires on Vesper's chest. The smile widened as Vesper screamed and thrashed in the chair she was bound to, as the electricity shocked her again and again.
Bond made himself watch the entire video. Then he began deciding what manner of death he wanted to deal to Swann.
"Hello Q, I've missed you!"
"You were gone less than a week!"
Q's laugh warmed him, as it always did. He smiled a genuine smile at the man he loved. The man he trusted. The only person he felt he could be wholly himself with.
"But I missed you too, James. Welcome home! And job well done!"
James entered their flat, pausing only to lock the door behind him, and then basked in the warmth of Q’s welcome.
Q knew what he'd done. All of it. The sex and the killing. Q knew 007. He knew Bond.
But he also knew James. Knew him as very few ever did.
And Q accepted every aspect of his personality wholeheartedly. Q loved James Bond; 007; the entire package. And James loved every aspect of Q in return.
James kissed Q. He pushed him further inside their flat, and Q went willingly with a laugh.
They didn't stop moving, kissing and groping each other, until they fell into bed together. James never needed to fake anything with Q.
And when they were alone together, no one else mattered. Certainly not the dead.