Sorrento, Italy was one of the safest cities for Q.
He was sitting at a street-side café with his dinner on the table next to his ever-present laptop; he’d just been picking at the food really, he wasn’t that hungry. He knew what he looked like to the tourists: a British university student either on holiday or studying at a nearby university. He didn’t dispel their notions, knowing that while he was older than an usual student, he could easily dress the part; the earbuds were there to discourage anyone from approaching while he listened to the myriad of languages around him in an attempt to continue adjusting to his new life, one he’d entered just a year and a half ago.
Humming a soft tune to himself, he smiled and leaned back in his chair when the last bit of code fell into place, completing the new security measures he’d started working on after Raul Silva made a move against MI6 a couple days ago, stripping down their technological defenses and remotely blowing up part of their headquarters. James hadn’t wanted to run the risk of falling into a similar trap, so it fell to Q to protect their networks from any kind of cyber attack.
Then, in the interest of keeping their Italian allies content, Q had bolstered their cyber security as well.
A flicker of movement from the corner of his eye startled him, but instead of being the MI6 agent he feared, he realized it was just a guard mingling with the tourists; they all did that. One of James’s even; the phoenix armband was barely visible underneath the T-shirt. The two men made brief eye contact before the guard disappearing into the evening crowd again.
Even months after the fact, it was hard not to instinctually bolt whenever he saw the guards, no matter whose group they belonged to. Q could still vividly recall a time when those same guards had been tasked with keeping him corralled in one part of the city.
Sighing, he stood up and put his laptop away. It was getting dark, and while the two mafia bosses who controlled the entire Bay of Naples were getting along, it didn’t necessarily mean that Q was obligated to stay out longer. Leaving a few Euro on the table, he gathered his things and began walking to one of the private seaside villas.
Two years ago, he wouldn’t have imagined living this life.
Back when he still had a name, a flat, and a well-paying job as a low-level MI6 tech, he’d been decrypting codes, sending the keys and patterns up to Q-Branch once done. It was monotonous work, but it paid the bills and kept him out of prison (apparently MI6 didn’t like it when bored IT workers hacked into their systems). A 00 agent came sniffing around one day, looking for an unlucky boffin to drag to India in the middle of summer. Being the newest apparently meant he was automatically chosen, despite the fact that he made it quite clear he hated flying.
As with all 00 missions though, this one took a turn for the worse.
Walking up the stone steps that led to the front door of the villa, Q paused when he recognized the familiar Aston Martin in the driveway. He smiled softly, recalling the lonely week he’d spent here in Sorrento while James took care of ‘business’ in Rome. Then, clutching his computer bag tighter, he hurried up the rest of the way, nudging the door open with a foot and hoping to see James waiting there.
He was taking his shoes off and hanging up his coat when he realized that there were two men standing in the front hall.
For a moment, the three of them stared at each other. Turf wars weren’t unusual, and home invasions were rarer but not unheard of (especially if one happened to know a certain Alec Trevelyan, whose hobby was to harass those outside of the group), but a blatant attack on the capofamiglia’s home was something akin to suicide.
“Grazie James, voglio parlare con tigo in la mattina,” came a familiar voice—Ottavio Arnoni, Q realized; Arnoni was the other mafia leader based in Capri, and had easily settled into some sort of symbiotic relationship with James after the latter’s arrival several years before Q came. Footsteps echoed down the hall as Q finally spotted the falcon armbands on the two guards; Arnoni’s men. The footsteps paused as both Arnoni and James appeared around the corner. Arnoni paused when he spotted Q, and, after smirking, added, “Buona notte, James.”
“Buona notte,” James replied, casually pausing by Q and draping an arm around his shoulder after Arnoni signaled his guards to follow him. “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” he muttered under his breath, keeping Q close to his side as the trio left.
“Trouble with the Sicilians again?” Q whispered even as the door closed with a soft snap.
“No, MI6 has been spotted near our borders again. I was hoping Silva could keep them busy for a few days,” James said before ducking down and capturing a kiss. Q hummed happily as he reached up and rested a hand on the back of James’s neck to loosely hold him in place. When they pulled apart for air, James rested his forehead on Q’s and said, “I missed you. Although you probably already knew that.”
“I don’t mind hearing it from you,” Q said, smirking before bumping noses with James. He allowed the other man to step back, and then, noting the shadow on James’s face, asked, “What did Arnoni say?”
James elected to ignore him; he always did when avoiding a question. “Alec says you didn’t eat dinner,” he said, nudging Q into the home while taking the computer bag.
“Alec wasn’t bothering the MI6 agents? What a shock,” Q said, allowing for the diverted topic for once. For all intents and purposes, MI6 believed him to be dead; James had assured him of it.
“He’s waiting for that double-oh to return, the one that shot me off the train in Istanbul. He seems to be under the mistaken impression that I’m going to let him take first shots at her,” James said, herding Q into the kitchen as opposed to the living room where the two usually ate. Pulling a bowl down and preparing soup, he said, “Eat. I’m going to take a shower.”
“Did you eat?” Q asked as James washed his hands.
“On the way over. Didn’t waste time once I found out that MI6 was on a witch-hunt for the person who blew their headquarters up. I know that we told Silva we didn’t give a damn about what he did with the funding he asked for, but the only stipulation was that it didn’t bring trouble to our door,” James said grimly as he put a towel back. Kissing Q briefly on the head, he said, “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
Judging from the way his hand lingered on Q’s shoulder before he left, Q knew that neither of them was going to get much sleep tonight.
Not that he was complaining.
Although he couldn’t read people as well as James did, Q wasn’t an idiot and could tell when something was agitating the other man. He knew the signs, having been forced to learn quickly in order to survive during those first six months of capture. The restlessness was the biggest hint here, James’ inability to stay still came from years of paranoia and keeping an eye and ear out for trouble.
He still remembered their first meeting, hard not to given that he was scared shitless at the time. James Bond was a man who ruled with an iron fist, using fear to keep his men in line. He’d scared Q so badly at the first meeting that Q had stared him in the face and blatantly lied about his identity, claiming to be the MI6 Quartermaster in hopes that James would spare him instead of killing him right away, giving him time to plot an escape.
Even after living with him for so long now, Q admittedly still didn’t know much about James from before he started living on this side of the law. He’d certainly heard of James while still working at MI6; the man apparently ran MI6 in circles when he was bored enough, but was never caught. Few MI6 had come close to catching him, none had succeeded. Same went for James’s second-in-command, Alec Trevelyan. Combined, the two of them angered M enough for her to start cursing the two and their ancestors out whenever they resurfaced (according to rumor mill, anyway).
A shadow fell over him, and he looked up in curiosity, smiling when James sat down next to him, wearing nothing but sweatpants. Leaning forward to gently bump noses, James said, “Next time, I might have you accompany me.”
“I did offer to go this time, it was in-country,” Q reminded him petulantly before accepting the offered kiss.
“I know, but I felt better, knowing that you were here in Sorrento, where my men and Arnoni’s could keep an eye on you,” James replied quietly, gently brushing hair away from Q’s face with a callused hand. “I don’t know what I’d do if you were hurt.”
Or killed. Q still caught the unspoken words, and reached up to catch James’s hand that was still against his face. “I assume the trip home was at least uneventful?”
James nodded, moving his hand so that his fingers brushed against Q’s lips. Before Q could capture the finger in his mouth, James pulled away. His face would be unreadable to anyone else watching them, but Q could read the carefully-concealed worry within his eyes.
Finishing the last of the soup, he took James’s hand and allowed the older man to pull him to a standing position, walking forward as James pulled him gently toward the bedroom. James was silent as he undid the buttons on Q’s shirt, and, after pushing the bothersome fabric from Q’s shoulders, wrapped a hand around Q’s neck. Instead of reacting instinctively to pull away, Q tugged James closer, letting out a sharp gasp when James took advantage and ducked down to bite gently at the soft skin over his pulse point.
Then, without warning, he scooped Q up.
Q yelped, clutching to James as the other began to carry him the rest of the way. “James, warn me next time!” he protested half-heartedly, smiling when he caught James’s faint grin.
“Perhaps, if I feel like it,” James said before shouldering open the door to their room.
Their room opened up to a balcony that overlooked the Bay of Naples, and it was truly a sight in the summer evening; Q could see the lights from across the bay, creating a series of pinpricks across the horizon. The balcony was right above a sheer drop into the bay below, and it was this fact alone that made James feel safe enough to keep the doors open while they slept. Being this close to the water kept the house cool during the summer, and Q loved being able to see it all from the bed.
James gently placed Q on the bed, his face curiously unreadable again. Q, sensing his lover’s dark mood just underneath the surface, kept his hands around James’s neck and brought James down with him. James propped himself up as he rearranged himself to sprawl over both the bed and Q, and then for a moment, neither man said anything. Then Q whispered, “James, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” James replied stubbornly before leaning down and mouthing Q’s collarbone.
Q gently pulled James back up so they could make eye contact. “James… is it about me and MI6? You know I wouldn’t go if they asked, and if I truly wanted to leave, I’d be long gone by now.”
James didn’t say anything as he cupped Q’s face, kissing him gently. Q closed his eyes, trapping James’s hand with his own as he felt the unspoken desperation in the other’s kiss. “James, I swear I’m not going anywhere, I’m here,” he whispered when James pulled away long enough to take off his glasses. “James, I’m still here,” he repeated before the other man kissed him again, using his body to effectively cage Q in.
Q felt heated skin underneath his fingertips as he skimmed his hands down James’s side, earning a groan. He parted his lips at James’s silent demand, the silent request to get closer and kiss deeper. James’s hands gripped his hips before tugging insistently at Q’s waistband. Q had to stifle a laugh as James growled and pulled away to deal with the offending clothing. “I’ll wear something you can handle better next time,” he teased as he lifted his hips to allow James to pull off the jeans, taking his pants with it.
“Shut up.” James paused long enough to study Q again, who had to resist the urge to squirm under the scrutiny. He leaned forward a few seconds later, and then whispered, “Are you sure?”
Q looked him straight in the eye; James was close enough to be clear in his vision. “Yes, I am,” he whispered back.
James nodded and then reached for Q’s hands, pinning them above his head. “Don’t fight it,” he whispered before leaning forward for a harsher kiss, to which Q reciprocated by arching his body to meld with James as best he could; James’s weight was pinning him mostly to the bed. James was still wearing the sweatpants, but Q took advantage of the loose fabric to press their hips together, something James added to when his hand wrapped around Q’s lower back to keep them together.
Something gave out, and the two landed on the bed again, James careful to not completely crush Q. He was relentless, distracting Q with his mouth underneath Q’s jaw, neck and then lips again. Q found himself unable to do anything except rub and increase the friction to the point where he started gently bucking against James, who was already gently thrusting against him despite still wearing sweats.
“I’m never letting you out of my sight again, understand?” James whispered, his voice harsh and warm against Q’s ear before gently sucking at the skin behind the ear.
“I’m still here,” he repeated before kissing James, distracting him from his plan. Squirming pleasantly, he nearly flinched when he felt cold fingers against heated skin, but before he could react, James pressed his forehead against Q’s. Instead of speaking, like Q fully expected him to, James merely kissed him again, nuzzling him as he steadied Q’s hips with his hands.
“Are you ready?” he whispered, leaning in close so that Q could see him without the aid of glasses.
Q nearly groaned, feeling the tension throughout his body; James’s hands were keeping his hips still against the bedspread. “Yes… yes-”
James swallowed the last word in a harsh kiss, fumbling slightly as he pulled his pants off. Swallowing Q’s groan when James finally, gently, penetrated him, James held still for a few minutes to allow his lover a moment to adjust. Then he went all the way, Q reflexively letting his head hit the pillow again in a silent moan as he was filled. Reaching blindly for James, Q stuttered as James slowly pulled out again, and he didn’t need his glasses to see the grin on his lover’s face. “Ja-ames…”
“Shh, shh, I’m sorry,” James murmured, a soft whisper in Q’s ear as he slowly increased his rhythm. Q tried to bat James’s hands away from his hips so that he could bloody well move, but the infuriating man tightened his grip instead, attacking Q’s pulse points with his mouth, gently nibbling, and sucking as Q felt himself get slowly overwhelmed with sensations. He found himself clutching James’s shoulders, nails digging into scarred and sweaty skin.
It wasn’t until he finally managed to summon enough energy to curl forward enough to bite the junction of James’s neck and shoulder that James responded instinctively with a hard thrust, and Q let out a soft cry as he was momentarily blinded, overwhelmed and drowning in pleasure and relief. He faintly heard a deeper growl before James released his hips to hold his head for a dominating kiss, one that forcefully pushed Q’s head back onto the pillow and stole the rest of his breath away as James gave one last hard thrust, holding still as best he could for a few moments. Then he relaxed, carefully pulling out and rolling over to lie next down to Q.
They lay there for a few minutes, Q doing his best to bring his breathing back under control. His eyes were still closed, so he felt rather than saw James get up and walk away, returning a few minutes later with a damp warm cloth. “Lemme help,” he mumbled, but didn’t know if James had heard him or not.
“I want you to sleep, I can see you nodding off right now,” James replied quietly, leaning down for a slow, light kiss before straightening again. His fingers squeezed Q’s lightly before disentangling so he could toss the cloth. Q felt the bed dip slightly as James leaned over to brush some sweaty hair out of his face, and then frowned to himself when the bed straightened again. “Let me go make sure that the doors are locked, and then I’ll come back. Stay there,” James said quietly before leaving, his footsteps almost inaudible on the carpet.
“I’m still here, James,” Q mumbled brokenly, his heart twisting as he tried to wake up, turn back the clock and rewrite the story. “James… James…”
Q flinched at the loud sound, harsh reality flooding his senses as he woke from the dream of his last night as a free man. Struggling to bring both his panic and grief back under control—show no weakness, that’s what they use against you—he swallowed before cautiously opening his eyes, silently taking in the gray walls of the holding cell that had become his new home in the last few weeks.
Five minutes. That was how long James had his back turned to Q that night; the fears of MI6 presence in Italy were grounded after all. Five fucking minutes was all it took. They wanted the brains, not the brawn of the operation; the codes used to destroy their headquarters had been traced from Silva to the original creator, a man they once believed dead and thought was lashing out in vengeance as a result. They believed Q to be the real power behind the organization, not James.
Q turned his head, not moving from where he was lying on the cot. Glaring balefully at the masked MI6 guard, he tensed, fully prepared to be a complete dead weight again. It wouldn’t be difficult, his muscles and body ached already from previous days, and the hunters could smell the blood; it wouldn’t be long now.
Twenty days of interrogation had brought them nothing, and they were starting to get frustrated. They’d tried to negotiate, threatened execution for treason, offered bribes; Q knew what they wanted, knew how to fix it, and knew how much they wanted it. Yet he said everything except for what they wanted.
It was the only thing keeping him alive nowadays.
He knew soon they would turn their attention to breaking his resolve. Up until this point, all they’d wanted was information. When was the next attack? Why attack? What was James planning? Why defend a man who has left you to die in enemy hands?
But it was hard to break something that was already fractured.
“Ready for another round?” the guard asked, tilting his head.
“Go to hell,” Q muttered before turning his head and remaining stubbornly still on the cot.
A sigh. “I was afraid you were going to say that,” the guard said before snapping his fingers. Q mentally braced himself for the two men that would haul him out of there again, and sent another silent prayer for help.
James, I’m still here. Help me, please.