13 Dec 2012
If Your Memory Serves You Well
Bond had never been sure which view he like more; the one from the night time, or the one from the morning after. The nights lent themselves to shadows slanting across stretches of smooth skin, hands tangling in sheets and half admitted names taken on broken breaths. The nights are sin, and glamour, and that singular beauty that connects every human being on this filthy, dirty planet.
No, Bond prefers the view from the morning after. When everything becomes clean again, and the make up and masks are washed away. When lies stay in dreams, and reality comes with waking up. Bond suspects that people are not unlike an etch-a-sketch. The lines build up over the day, and sleep shakes them free. Some people, of course, are more memorable than others. The ones that stand out are those who shed the lies like a old coat, too big, too hot.
The first he can remember is the dark haired girl, who had sat opposite him in the kitchen full of hungover students, glancing at him in a way he supposed she thought was coy. She’d pull it off in a few years, but not quite yet. He had watched her carefully, as she’d plaited her hair down over one shoulder, re-applied the cheap mascara, and even cheaper lipstick. She had tugged her tiny skirt down, pressing her bare thighs together, and said her goodbyes. He saw her twice more, then never again.
Some time later there had been the boy from the navy. He had slipped out from between the sheets at some ungodly hour of the morning, and watched Bond the entire time as he got dressed, something deliberately filthy in his eyes. He had picked up his jacket, kissed Bond, and left to go and get married to his teenage sweetheart. James had learnt that some lies are a lot bigger than others.
A long time after that, there was the blond woman in Russia. She had laughed, and sat on the kitchen counter with her legs crossed, while he attempted (and failed) to make pancakes. He still doesn’t know why he’s so bad at cooking, and neither does he know how she managed to hold up that much hair with one chopstick. He has a theory that women are just better at coping with gravity than he is. The blond woman had confirmed this by juggling the eggs he hadn’t broken, before insisting he join her in the shower.
Then there was the Parisian girl, a little younger than those which he had become accustomed to, and the sort of thing he would have gone mad for when he was in his twenties. Her flatmate had washed the floor some time before they had woken, and he had watched her hop between the damp patches like some fragile, flightless bird. She had wrapped a sheet around her tiny body, and tied it behind her neck so that now it fluttered around her, like wings. Her jagged, black hair, once rigid with gel, was now pushed back off her face with an alice band, which made her look far more innocent than he knew she was. He held her hands as they waltzed across the kitchen (it was always kitchens), in a cheap imitation of the night before, and watched as her wings became a ball gown.
Now, he stood in the door of his own kitchen (a rarity - a morning after on home turf), watching the skinny, scrap of a man sitting at (his) table, wearing (his) shirt, reading what he assumed to be the worlds most knackered paperback. The man looked up, and stared back at him. “Are you going to stand there gawking, or are you going to make breakfast?”
“You know I can’t cook.” Bond smirked, and wandered over to the kettle, digging around for mugs, tea bags, milk.
“You can make bloody toast, surly you aren’t that incompetent?”
“Cheeky sod. No tea for you, then.”
“We’ll see. I thought it was polite to feed your guests?”
“You’re hardly a guest, Q. When was the last time you were anywhere other than here, or work?”
“I did go to Tescos on Tuesday.”
Bond chuckled under his breath, as Q came up behind him, and kissed his naked shoulder. “Your clothes look good on me.”
“Well, you steal them often enough.”
Bond turned, and scooped Q up so that he was sat on the counter in fount of him, making the smaller man squeal. He aimed a revenge kick at Bond, who dodged it easily, laughing as he went. He handed Q his tea,and the two sat in the sort of silence which is necessary every now and then. Bond brushed Q’s fringe away from his face, and kissed him, and he tasted of tea, and toothpaste. Q had never worn lies well, always uncomfortable in the big, hot coat, stripping it as fast as possible, along with the contact lenses, and stubble and the suits which Bond loved so much. In Q’s world, there was no room for lies, instead the simple endless hunt for the correct code, the correct word that would save the world, and bring the agents home.
There is only one lie that Q holds on to, and that is what his real name is. He grasps onto this like a drowning man grips to a piece of floating wood. Bond does not ask, and he does not tell. Bond knows that Q will tell him when he feels the time is right, and he’s really, honest to God, just fine with that. He doesn’t need it. He has Q. He has the way he prefers to hold mugs with his left hand, because he types better with his right. He has the tiny, squirrelly noises he makes when he wakes up, as he tries to burrow deeper into the duvet. He has the sarcastic “Damn, missed again,” every time Bond doesn’t get shot, which is always ruined the shaky release of a breath held too long. And, just maybe, best of all, he has his quartermaster, the truest thing he ever found, who knows everyone else's lies at the touch of a button, and feels no need to craft his own. So Bond spends nights and mornings free of everything that isn’t there, and it is so very, extraordinarily beautiful.
Maybe sometime in the future, Bond will wake up at four in the morning, and find Q awake next to him. Maybe Q will whisper his real name in Bonds ear, light as a feather, and stare at him with his owl-like eyes.
Maybe Bond will take a small, silver ring from his bedside cabinet, and offer it to this wonderful, wonderful man, in the half light of the early morning.
And maybe, if he’s been a very good boy, Q will let him slip the ring onto the fourth finger, of his left hand. Maybe he’ll whisper, “Go to sleep, James.”