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Fidelity

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When Q was eight, he had a pet dog, who he named Biscuit. The dog was a shelter mutt—scruffy, ill-trained and ill-tempered—and Q adored it. He took the dog everywhere, had lengthy (one-sided) conversations about physics and ice cream flavors with it, and worked on the dog’s training with infinite patience. After four months, the dog ran away.

When Q was twelve, his father was the center of his world. His father was a busy man, always away at work in sales and acquisitions, but when he came home, he would talk to Q over dinner. He taught Q about economic policy and corporate acquisitions as a way of working through his own thoughts, and Q listened in complete fascination. In Q’s free time, he studied economics and statistics, in order to better understand his father’s conversation. When his father left them, he didn’t even say goodbye to Q.

When Q was sixteen, seventeen, twenty-one (twice), twenty-three, and twenty-eight, he fell in love. Each time, he fell head-over-heels. His entire universe shifted to a focus point on his boyfriends, and for one to four months, everything was perfect and blissful. There were in-depth conversations of quantum physics over ice cream, stolen kisses in the library stacks, and long nights of incredible, mind-blowing sex. Until the day that they left him, or he caught them cheating; and every single time it knocked the breath out of him with hurt and surprise.

From this, Q learned that he loved with absolute, blind devotion, and that his loyalty went bone-deep. Whether he gave his loyalty to a partner, a cause or an employer, he gave it completely and unshakably. And, more importantly, he learned that his loyalty would never, ever be reciprocated.

Q accepted this as the way of the world.

The next time a boyfriend cheated on him, he shrugged, reminded him of the upcoming rent payment, destroyed the bastard’s credit rating, and moved on with his life. The boyfriend after that, Q infected all his devices and accounts with a self-perpetuating virus that would administer mild electric shocks at random once or twice a day (per device), and after a week had forgotten the prick’s name.

When (after being head of the Q division for about a week) he learned that a former star agent of MI6 had been betrayed and abandoned to pain and madness for the greater good, he accepted that as normal and inevitable, and assumed that his fate would be the same. He didn’t blame them for it. Occasionally, he wondered what kind of supervillain networks and viruses he would design when he was (inevitably) mad and betrayed, and did his best to build his beloved MI6 a system that was immune to every single one of them.

~

His contact in the Met’s Ballistics department was just Q’s type. Tall and solid, with a hello grin that made Q go weak in the knees and dropped his IQ by at least thirty points, not to mention a reputation a mile long and confidence to spare.

(Q did have an awareness that he was attracted to arseholes. Once, he’d tried dating a decent bloke. For a month, he’d been bored out of his mind and the sex was mediocre, until he walked in on his boyfriend in the middle of a pair of busty brunette twins. After that, he figured he was cursed either way and might as well go ahead and date the smarmy pricks who got his blood racing.)

When his new favorite bobby flirted with him, Q blushed and grinned and tried not to forget his own name, but when he finally got to business and asked Q out, no one was more surprised than Q when he said ‘no.’

He went home alone, and watched the London skyline from his balcony with a mug of tea to warm his hands while he tried to figure out what had gone wrong. The guy was hot, and smart (compared to normal people), and Q’s type. He’d kept himself company more than once to thoughts of his contact in Ballistics. But when it came down to it, the thought of dating him made something clench in Q’s stomach, and he had no idea why.

When he got cold enough that the tea wasn’t enough to keep him warm, he went back inside and started up his laptop, checking on 007’s status as a matter of habit.

And it was then, as he refilled his tea and watched through traffic cams as James Bond (inexplicably shirtless) battled terrorists on top of moving trucks halfway across the world, he realized what had happened: He didn’t check on any of the other agents as a matter of habit. Nor did he zoom in and watch appreciatively, chin in hand, when any of the other agents was engaged in topless combat. Although he had been aware for months of his crush on 007, it wasn’t until now that he realized that his self-destructive sense of loyalty had kicked in.

Q was infatuated with Bond, and his damaged sense of loyalty killed any desire he had to date anyone else.

It was the best thing that happened to him in years.

Watching Bond fight from halfway across the world, Q began to grin as he realized what this meant. Because Bond would never date him, Bond would never betray him, and Q would never be able to get over him. It meant he was safe. His weird, brilliant brain had devoted him to an unattainable relationship, which kept him from going out and getting his heart broken by attainable love.

“Cheers,” he said, raising his mug in toast in the direction of his laptop screen.

On the far side of the world, James Bond punched out a villainous foreigner, retrieved the valuable documents from his pocket, and obtained a taxi to the local embassy.

~

Three months into their acquaintance, Bond had begun showing up at Q’s flat between missions.

It didn’t mean anything. Q was aware that Bond had shown up at M’s flat once or twice on similar circumstances, and been in no way tolerated. Because Q tolerated him, he returned.

The first time Q had walked in and found Bond fast asleep on his couch, he’d assumed that there was some kind of threat wherein Bond didn’t dare go to his own flat. But Bond hadn’t said a word about it, and when it happened again, Q served him tea in the morning and informed him that there was a second bedroom available in the flat. The third time Bond showed up at Q’s flat (Q didn’t know how he got in, but asking questions like that seemed like a waste of time with a double-oh agent), he landed in the spare bed, and Q started making an effort to keep clean sheets in case of unexpected (occasionally bleeding) visitors.

He supposed it was just an aspect of Bond’s nature. Having no personal boundaries of his own, 007 tended to overlook the personal boundaries of others, and Q assumed that Bond came to his flat as a sort of safe haven. Even though 007 had a perfectly serviceable flat of his own, he showed up at Q’s because no one thought to look for him there (friend or foe). It was just a bonus that if he showed up bleeding, Q would patch him up without scolding.

As far as Q could tell, it was the nearest thing either of them had to a friend. Or, in Bond’s case, family. Q still had parents in Bristol and a sister in Brighton who called him once a month. Their job wasn’t very conducive to an active social life outside of work, and in Bond’s case the work-related social life was constantly trying to kill him. Q could sympathise with the need for human company with someone who wouldn’t try to kill him and wouldn’t ask anything of him.

On the third visit, Bond surprised him by demonstrating a knowledge of the operation of an electric kettle and the ability to put teabags in mugs. Q accepted this as a reasonable part of their unspoken arrangement: Q provided a no-questions-asked place to sleep and a well-stocked first-aid cabinet, and Bond occasionally reciprocated by making tea.

It didn’t do anything to help Q’s crush, especially on the occasions when Bond tossed his clothes in the wash and walked around the flat partly or completely nude. The first time this happened, Q choked on his tea and had a coughing fit, which was deeply embarrassing but at least served to cover up his otherwise red face. After that, Q just accepted it and appreciated the view.

Occasionally he sat alone in his flat, nursing a cup of cold tea and contemplating the troubles of being infatuated with a double-oh agent who sometimes walked around nude, and who in six months had never given Q a second glance. Usually, he just did his work, and let his sense of devotion to his country and his job help keep the field agents alive, Bond among them.

What he had was as much as he was ever going to get. Q had come to terms with that.

~

Q knew exactly how bad the mission had gone before Bond showed up at his place.

In truth, he hadn’t expected Bond to show up at all. Failing the mission was one thing. It happened, sometimes. But in this case, Bond had been badly embarrassed, and most of MI6 knew it. He’d been tricked and betrayed. She’d gotten away without a scratch and then dropped off the map, with billions of dollars of information in her hands. And Bond had been left empty-handed and humiliated.

Q expected that Bond would go to his own flat, and spend a few days licking his wounds while Q Branch did their jobs trying to pick up some wisp of a trail. He didn’t expect Bond to turn up in his kitchen, rummaging through the cupboard for a glass and a bottle of scotch. When he did, Q politely ignored him, giving 007 as much space as he wanted or needed.

For the first drink, Q stayed in the kitchen, typing away at the laptop sitting on his kitchen counter. Bond had moved into the living room, sitting in the dark and drinking, and Q didn’t dare intrude on that. He personally drank more tea than scotch, but he understood the need to sit in the dark and stew.

When Bond returned, having left the bottle in the kitchen, he got out a second glass and set it down on the counter, pouring scotch for the both of them.

Q took the glass, turning away from his laptop and leaning back against the counter, opening himself up for conversation.

They drank in silence. Bond refilled their glasses again. On the third refill, he started to talk.

“I can’t count how many times I’ve done that to someone,” he said.

Q stayed quiet, not sure of the context and not wanting to intrude on Bond’s confession.

After a minute, Bond sorted out enough of his thoughts to continue. “Part of the job, isn’t it? People get hurt. People die. Governments crumble. Someone always has to lose. Usually I’m the one who walks away with the goods, with someone on the other side who has to report back to HQ that they’ve failed. Usually it’s someone else left looking like a fool and a failure.”

Q knew the feeling. He remembered the image of a grinning, stylized hispanic skull, and the words think on your sins. He knew what it was like to look like an idiot while the bad guy walked free with a bounce in his step.

“Did you have feelings for her?” he asked, because he knew that, too. All too well, he knew that kind of betrayal.

“No,” Bond said, with a wry smirk, but he was too thoughtful and sad for that to be an easy answer. “Not really. I admired her.”

He still did, by the sound of it.

“Do you know what it’s like?” Bond asked. He sounded genuinely curious, as though he wasn’t sure.

It made Q wonder how Bond saw him, to ask a question like that. As an awkward, bespectacled computer nerd who couldn’t get a date? As a prim, antisocial and elitist genius who couldn’t emotionally connect to other people? Both thoughts were partially accurate, in their own way.

“I’ve had eight boyfriends,” Q answered, flatly. If Bond was shocked by his sexuality, Q didn’t care. “Six of them cheated on me. The other two simply dumped me.”

Yes. I know what that’s like.

There wasn’t any bitterness left in him toward those boyfriends. He felt sad, sometimes, and lonely. But he’d accepted that this was his fate. He was always going to be loyal, and he was always going to be betrayed. That was fine. Knowing that, he could deal with it.

“You don’t deserve that,” Bond said, voice as casual as though he was observing a basic fact of the universe. Sky blue, clouds white, Q does not deserve betrayal and desertion.

Deserve it? Q wondered, baffled. What does that even mean? Life isn’t fair. God isn’t real. How can anyone deserve or not deserve anything?

“What?” he blurted.

“Have you ever been on the other side?” Bond asked, eyebrows raised like a challenge.

Oh. Now Q got why the conversation had taken this turn. Bond had opened the discussion with a remark of how many times he’d broken hearts and damaged reputations in order to get a win for the British Government. They’d never really left that topic.

That was what he meant. Bond deserved to be hurt and betrayed, for all the damage he’d done.

“No,” Q admitted. He wasn’t sure if he should be proud of that.

No. I’ve never won. I’ve never walked away the victor, with a broken heart in my pocket. I couldn’t if I tried.

The damage Q did was on an international level. He didn’t know the people who were on the losing side of the strings he pulled from his laptop. He didn’t have to look them in the eye and lie in order to win. Bond did.

Q’s glass was empty again. He felt tired, dizzy, and unsure of himself.

Bond moved, reaching past Q for the bottle of scotch. When Q looked up, they both paused, and Q felt his heart give a thud. Bond was right there, a breath away from him, still mid-reach. They were almost of a height. For once, Q thought that they were almost alike: committed to a doomed loyalty to a job that was killing them. Hurt. Lost.

The bottle clinked softly as Bond set it back on the counter.

Q hadn’t moved. His eyes had locked with 007’s when he’d looked up, and he couldn’t remember the physical and emotional coordination required to pull away and make some kind of polite comment to pretend that he wasn’t infatuated and hadn’t been staring.

And then Bond reached for him, fingertips still cool from touching the glass. His hand brushed past Q’s jaw, clasping around the back of his neck and pulling him in for a kiss.

Q’s heart already knew how it felt about this. It had already chosen Bond, no question. He was already devoted, stupid though it was. As far as Q’s heart was concerned, Bond was only taking what had been his for months.

Q’s brain wasn’t available to weigh in on the matter.

He’d considered this possibility before. He’d considered it many, many times, in great detail, with every conceivable scenario. Bond was a man of cosmopolitan tastes, and a tendency to help himself to anything that was available. Q knew it wasn’t out of the question that Bond might decide that Floppy-Haired Quartermaster was the flavor of the day.

That was fine. Q knew his reputation, and knew he wouldn’t stay. And that was okay. That was good. Bond wouldn’t ever betray him, because Bond wouldn’t ever offer him a relationship. Couldn’t offer him loyalty, even if by some mad quirk of fate he wanted to. Promiscuity was in the job description.

So, all well and good. Nothing would change. It was what Q wanted, to be stuck eternally in a one-sided relationship with a man he couldn’t have, so that he wouldn’t have to be hurt again. He’d long since accepted that.

Grabbing his fate in both hands, Q pulled him in by the lapels on his suit jacket, kissing back without restraint.

Bond was firm and steady, kissing him with bold confidence and exquisite technique. Each brush of his lips and tongue seemed carefully planned to drive Q out of his mind with lust. It was unfair how good he was at this.

Both of them needy and impatient, Q attacked the buttons of Bond’s shirt, breaking the kiss to curse in frustration that they had to be so small and slippery while he was in no mind to be meticulous.

Grinning lopsidedly at him, Bond slipped his hands up the t-shirt top that Q wore by way of pyjamas. His broad, warm hands clasped Q’s hips, holding him steady as Q triumphed one by one against the buttons.

“You have altogether too many buttons, 007,” Q complained, finally getting the last one open.

“I’ll have a word with my tailor,” Bond promised, probably lying. His voice was warm and relaxed, lightly teasing. “I thought you were good with your hands.”

“Yes, well, two glasses of scotch ago, I was.”

Bond’s laugh was a deep, warm rumble that shot straight down through Q’s belly to his cock, stabbing through his heart along the way. And then he was being kissed again, with Bond’s tongue flicking against his own. He tasted of good scotch, clear water, and a deeper, spicy musk that was uniquely Bond.

Losing all the remaining coordination necessary to strip off Bond’s clothes, Q abandoned the effort, focusing his attention instead on unfastening Bond’s trousers and wiggling his hand inside. Bond’s length was thick and heavy, and Q closed his hand around it appreciatively, mapping it with his fingertips.

Bond was much more composed, his alcohol tolerance much higher. He pulled Q’s shirt briskly over his head, tugging the drawstring on Q’s pyjama pants open left-handed. And then he was gone, leaving Q’s arms empty.

Half-drunk and surprised, it took Q a moment to re-focus, finding Bond on his knees. Strong, deft hands curled around Q’s waistband, holding it for a second as Bond waited for Q’s gaze to catch and for comprehension to dawn. Whatever Bond saw, he took it as permission to continue. Smoothly, he pulled Q’s waistband down over his hips and down to his ankles.

Q watched him, lips parted with surprise, as Bond lifted his cock with one hand and took it into his mouth. There was no pause, no warning. In a single moment, he had taken Q’s length into his mouth, swallowing him to the hilt.

Before now, Q would have said that he’d had plenty of experience receiving oral sex, and that he had a perfectly adequate understanding of them. This was something entirely different. Bond sucked cock with smooth, intent movements, the muscles of his mouth going about their business with sleek coordination. Q made an incoherent sound, hands clutching at the edge of the counter to keep himself upright.

In all his fantasies of this, Bond had always been rough and possessive, taking what he wanted. This focused, generous Bond was unexpected. He knew Bond had a reputation for being good in bed, but he’d always just attributed it to physical form and fitness.

And then Bond did something with his tongue that made all Q’s thoughts of Bond’s reputation evaporate in a white blaze of pleasure. His eyes rolled up, lashes fluttering, and his elbows hit the counter as his knees gave out for a second.

On his feet again in a movement that Q didn’t see him make, Bond kissed him once, bold and grounding, and held him there with his hips as he stripped off the jacket and shirt that Q had left on him, unbuttoned.

Dazed and still very, very aroused, Q stared at his bare chest. He’d never been this close to Bond while unclothed, never touched before.

Meeting his eyes for a moment, he found Bond grinning, and couldn’t help but grin back. Q pounced, initiating the kiss this time and letting his hands roam freely. If he never got to have this again, he planned to take everything he could get tonight.

Biting playfully, Bond let him lead this kiss this time. The two of them clumsily got Bond out of his shoes and trousers without breaking the kiss, stumbling from counter to counter around the kitchen in the general direction of Q’s bedroom.

They dropped onto the bed in a tangle, Bond on top (which was good because Q wasn’t sure he could hold himself up without knocking their heads together), sharing wet, messy kisses. Bracing himself on one arm, Bond wrapped a hand around both their dicks (Q’s longer, Bond’s thicker) and squeezed.

Q groaned, hips thrusting up into the warm press of Bond’s fingers, relishing the firm, hot feeling of Bond’s cock sliding against his own. His eyes closed, reducing his world to pleasure, heat and sensation as Bond rutted their hips together, thrusting both of their dicks into his hand. Lips trailed down his neck, teeth leaving light marks against his collarbone and over his shoulder. The moment caught and hung, suspended there for an eternity of perfect pleasure, and Q came hard, all over Bond’s hand and his own belly.

Drunk, exhausted and sated, Q blinked his eyes, not quite focusing. When he closed them this time, they didn’t open again.