- Death-Minor Character
- Explicit Sex
- Established Relationship
James watched the team from Q-Branch heading towards him to grab the things that he had brought back with him for decontamination. It wasn’t anything that was horrible, but there was a coating of something that had given James a few burns on his hands. He was going to follow them to the room to clean up. James had bought Ziploc bags to stick everything in and then had sealed them in his luggage for the trip home, afraid of sending the hard drive and what came with it in any other manner. It was interesting to watch as the technicians moved around to get things ready for each of the devices. James had a few phones as well as the hard drive and a few new portable small disc drives.
“007,” the Quartermaster said as he walked up to James. The man held out his hand for a shake, but then he saw the burns on James’ hands and stopped. The man gave a sheepish look. “Sorry. Sometimes manners are hard to displace. After we get you cleaned up to make sure no more of the acid is on your skin anywhere, you are to head to medical to get the wounds looked at and then to report to Tanner.”
“Of course,” James said. He would go to medical, but after that, he wasn’t going directly to Tanner. James had been gone a month, and his check-ins with Q-Branch and even M or Tanner were short and hadn’t given him a lot of time to ask about Gale. So he was going to find him to check on him. It was going to be late enough in the day that he hoped to talk the man into dinner. James wanted to know how the vacation that Gale had gone on had went.
The decontamination shower in Q-Branch was strange as the people who were scrubbing him with brushes on poles were geared up for something a lot worse than an acid that James had got washed off his hands easily with soap and water from a public bathroom. He couldn’t fault them for not wanting to get burned at all.
Medical was short and sweet as the only injury he had sustained was the burns. It was thankfully not enough to need any type of high medical held, just some cream and some gauze wrapped around his hands to keep them clean until the skin had healed enough to where he could forgo the gauze. He might have to have skin grafts if the scarring was too much. While MI6 didn’t care about the random scars on James’s body, a scar on his hands would make him easy to recognise. James did take care of things on his hands for that reason. He would rather not have a skin graft if at all possible. That would put him out of work for longer. He wasn’t stupid; he just didn’t need to be babied by medical or be on display. He hated not being able to limit who did come into his room. When he had been a regular agent, things were fine, but there were those that were very strange around Double-Ohs and then there were those that thought that the Double-Ohs only ran honeypot missions and therefore were open for sex all of the time.
James changed out of the medical scrubs that he had been given and into a pair of soft jeans that he had worn down to where they were butter soft and a jumper. There was a chill in the air and James didn’t care for it at the moment after coming back from hot regions. It was strange to be back in London as quick as he had been, instead of flying back commercial he had hopped onto a troop transport for the American Navy. From there he had been driven back by an MI6 staffer as his hands were stopping him from driving. He hated that but wasn’t going to push and do stupid things when he could lose control of the car at any given point in time.
“Oh, Bond,” Tanner said as the doors of the elevator opened up, and there was Tanner either coming down or going up from a lower level. “I have Marla set to take your verbal report on your mission and type it up for you. Loelia is dealing with two other Double-Ohs at the moment and would like to not deal with you as well.”
James smiled as he could understand that. Lil was always busy and refused to deal with more than two of them at a time.
“Well then, I would gladly do that tomorrow. Not to have Lil do it, I’ll gladly do it with Marla, but I am hungry and tired, and no one wants to deal with me when I am like that.”
Tanner nodded his head because there were a few who refused to deal with Bond regularly much less when he was guaranteed to be a bear.
“Then I’ll text you the time to come in tomorrow so you can do that. Medical has you off for a week before you can come in and help with mission stuff in Q-Branch while on recovery with your hands.”
“At least having something to do will be nice.” James waited for Tanner to get out on the upper level and followed behind him. If Tanner thought it strange he didn’t react. He just walked to where his desk was outside of M’s office. Tanner did look up at him when James settled himself in front of Tanner’s desk.
“Where is he?” James knew that he wouldn’t have to mention who he was at all.
“Ah, I see. Well, he was heading out to get some dinner and go home. He came in early today. M has him on a floating schedule. He’s quite content with it at the moment.”
“Did he say where?”
“He did not, but he was talking about a really good seaweed salad.”
James nodded and turned to leave. He would have to hoof it fast to get there in enough time to share a meal with Gale.
The walk was quick to the restaurant with foot traffic light given it was just before most got off of work, and those who were around were trying to get home before rush hour traffic started. It was no Sue who greeted him at the door but a new lady that James didn’t know. He wasn’t sure that he liked the look of her. She was watching him too closely as she talked to someone on the phone who was making a reservation for a later time in the week.
“Table for two?” one of the waitresses that James knew well by her face said as she came up to stand beside the hostess.
“Oh, I’m-” James stopped when he saw the grin on her face. None of the staff wore name badges and few introduced themselves to the customers. It wasn’t a place that was meant to be full of friendly staff that catered to your every whim. It was a place to get good food with little fanfare. James followed behind her and saw that Gale was sitting at the same table that was James’ regular one. There were two glasses of water already filled and the pitcher in James’s preferred spot. There was also the seaweed salad sitting there. There was, however, forks for them and not chopsticks. James knew that he wouldn’t be able to use chopsticks, not with the way the acid burns were on his hands.
“Have a good meal.”
“Hello,” Gale said before he took a sip of his water. “Tanner texted me that you were on your way. I have been back here three times and all three they have seated me here so it’s wasn’t hard to move around to where you are where you want to be.”
“I knew I should have told him to keep his mouth shut,” James said. He didn’t care that Tanner told him, not really.
“I had just ordered the salad when I got the text, so I just waited for you.”
“You didn’t have to. It’s not like we had already planned to eat together.”
“I don’t like eating alone if I don’t have to and usually eat a pub where I can make myself think that person next to me is there with me. It’s weird, I know.”
“You are adjusting to a new way of living, and it’s going to take time.”
Gale looked at James with a raised eyebrow.
“I had a lot of downtime on this mission when my target was at home, and he spent a lot of time there. So I did some research on things.”
“Really?” Gale propped his head on his hand and gave James a grin. James laughed. It seemed to be what Gale wanted as he stopped the movement and picked up his fork again to get more of the seaweed salad.
“I have a tendency to get really bored, and when I get bored, I do stupid stuff. Tanner kept on sending me links to things so I read them on my tablet when I could.”
“In an effort to what?” Gale asked.
James didn’t answer at first. He just kept on eating on the seaweed salad while he thought about what he wanted to tell Gale. He wanted, to be honest, he just wasn’t sure how honest he wanted to be. He was happy with his life at the moment. There were still issues that came from Vesper and the rest of his first mission, but those were being handled by those above him. He didn’t need to worry about anything except for his next mission. Though he did still wonder about those who had done what they did to Vesper and by extension, Gale.
“I have no clue,” James said, going for full honesty. He wasn’t that worried about Gale taking it wrong. The man seemed to understand James in a way that few ever did.
“Well, can’t get more honest than that. So the first thing that you wanted to do when you got back was see me?”
“No, I want to find one of my women that I have here in London that I have dalliances with but-” James held up his hands to show the gauze. “They like the way that my hands feel on them. Their husbands don’t touch them like that anymore. It’s why they have me and probably a few other men. With my hands like this, I can’t do much for them.”
“Outside of what your cock can do.”
“Eh, if they just wanted cock, they would get it from their husbands. They want attention and a load of other things that their husbands don’t give them. If all they wanted were a cock, they would have a dildo and use it.”
“I thought that was a rumour,” Gale said.
“What?” James asked.
“The whole married women that you have a Rolodex of. I just assumed it was the other Double-Oh’s being jealous of the relations you have with women and trying to make you seem like something of a horrible man.”
“The husbands are well aware that their wives go around and have sex with other men. As long as they are discreet, most don’t care. I use a condom, and they do their own birth control so that no kids come of it. I’ve been thinking of getting myself sterilised so that I don’t have to worry about it. Especially with honeypot missions and the like. I had thought…” James stopped talking and picked up his water to take a drink of it. He sighed.
“You thought what?” Gale asked.
“I thought that I would have someone that I would want a kid with. Someone worth giving this life up. Then, well, you know how it ends.” James leaned back as more food was brought out. James didn’t recognise what Gale got, but the plate sat down in front of James was one of his favourites. It wasn’t that hard to understand that it wasn’t Gale who had put that order in for him. James dug into it.
“Did you love her?” Gale asked.
“I thought that I could. I thought that with some more time together, we would get to that point.”
“The shower. Your notes said that you found her in the shower with the water on and she couldn’t get clean in her eyes. What happened? What really happened?” Gale started to just push his food around on the plate, but then he scooped up a good bit of noodle and shoved it into his mouth. It wasn’t anywhere near something that was meant to be done outside of the house, but James really didn’t care. It was horribly uncouth, but it fit Gale who was more worried about other things than to know what to do in every single given situation. It endeared James to him just a little bit more.
“She was drenched, still in the gown and looked pitiful. I don’t know if she was doing it to make me more willing to follow along behind her. I would have thought that she was different than that, but while Kabira might have been a honeypot, I can’t discount that she did it to lure me in. She was distraught, and I tried to comfort her. I thought that I did good at it, but I think in the long run it did more to make me fall in love with her than it did for her warming up to me.”
“She turned cold after our parents died. I knew that she loved me, I thought that she did. I guess I was just someone that was holding a place until she got someone else to care for her in a way that didn’t.”
“Care for her?”
“Mum and Da doted on her. She was smart and beautiful and much better around people. I’m an introvert. I don’t do people well at all. So she was the one that was showed off at things. My accomplishments were taken care of in private while she was lauded for what she did. I knew that they loved me and I was fine with the private things because I didn’t want to be made over. After they died though, she craved that. She wanted to be seen and to be clapped at. It’s why she wanted the job that she had. She got the attention she wanted through work. Then Kabira came along, and things turned terrible. She wanted more attention from me than I was willing to give. I didn’t want to take off work to spend time with her, go on weekend trips if Kabira was gone. She wanted all of my attention if she didn’t have it. Things were strained. I figured that she would maybe finally start to calm down after getting with Kabira, she had someone who seemed devoted to her.”
“You still love her, and you always will. Don’t forget that.”
“Believe me, I won’t. She’s going to be on my mind for the rest of my life. It’s going to take a long while for me to stop thinking of her every time that something big happens to me. She’s my family, the only that I have left and she did this. I hate her for it, you know.” Gale stopped poking at his food again and then sighed. “I really shouldn’t talk to you about this. She hurt you too.”
“I don’t care about her. I have the training to turn that off. I care about you.”
“Why?” Gale looked up at James’ face. “Why do you care about me?”
“I have no clue. You got under my skin that first night before I found out who you were. Alec thinks that it’s why I do this. I need someone to attach myself to. In the commission of other missions, I’ve killed to save myself, but it’s assassinations that turn you into a Double-Oh. You have to kill someone that is not actively trying to kill you. Not innocents either. Not someone who just gets in the way. It’s stone cold assassinations that you have to carry out. It’s the last of the training to make sure that when the time comes, we can do the job. It started back before the first World War, and we made our height during it. Back then, we were more in the shadows. Had to be with the wars and such. Never got to settle. Our jobs have changed with the time but still in the shadows just sometimes we need to be seen. We are taught to stick things in boxes when we can’t focus on them and do our mission. Sometimes we stick too many things into the boxes and don’t take them out again. She’s in that box, and I’m not going to revisit it but you. You aren’t in the box. I hope nothing ever happens that makes me have to stick you into that box.”
“I hope not, as well. She was my only friend. She was the only person who ever stuck by me.”
“I’m going to stick by you. I know that I can’t be here that much, but when I’m here, I’ll be your friend.”
“I know you will, and I’m glad about that. I’ve never had a friend before.”
“Neither have I.”
“Well at least if we fuck it up, we won’t know what we are missing.” Gale raised up his glass of water and James clinked his off of it. “You know I think that friendship is what I need.”
“No kidding that both of us need it.”
“Love is messy, and I don’t think that I need it.”
“No one needs love if they have friends.”
Gale nodded his head. He set his glass back down and started to eat. He was eating a lot more than he had been while they had been discussing everything. One of the waiters came over with two huge glasses that looked like they had margaritas in them. James wondered where those were got from because he knew that this place had neither the glasses nor margaritas. Gale’s looked to be an orange, red colour that told James it was probably peach while James’ was the usual green of lime. He took a sip and found that it was more alcohol than anything else, but that wasn’t a bad thing.
“There is a Mexican restaurant that does these very close. Sue told me that she would get the things needed for the drink and then add the alcohol to them here, so they aren’t violating laws of carrying them around in public. She knew by then that I was getting you to join me. Tanner made me away in enough time that is that she said she was getting two. I hope you like the standard one.”
The meal took ages with them sipping at their drinks and eating whatever came out to the table. Dessert was ice cream again, and James enjoyed watching Gale eat it. He enjoyed food and liked to eat, even if he got distracted with work and forgot. He liked good. James was looking forward to building their friendship through shared meals when James was in town. To have a good night that didn’t end in drink and sex. He wasn’t going to never do that again, but it wasn’t going to be the only thing in his life anymore. Gale wouldn’t be alone either. Two friends who were holding each other up.
“Love is…” Gale drained the last of margarita and set the glass down on the table. “Love is dangerous for people like us.”
“Who do you mean?” James asked. He knew what some thought, but he wanted to see what Gale thought about it all.
“Love is the death of loyalty. She was smart and still look at what it did to her. She gave up everything for him. For a fucking idiot who does that shit for a living. He’s out of the way, so that is good and we’ve taken out the rest that did the same for them, but still, her life is destroyed because she put love before honour, loyalty, and all manner of other things. She gave that all up, her entire life, for a man who said the right things, who fucked her the way that she wanted and called her pretty. I don’t want that. I refuse to do anything as stupid as to fall in love.”
James swallowed down the retort that he had inside of his mouth. He knew that now wasn’t the time. Now was nowhere near the right time to try and convince Gale that love was not the enemy because at the moment love had nearly got him screwed and it wasn’t even his love but someone else’s love. Though Gale was right but finding the right person meant that it was worth it, trusting in love and doing what was right. That finding the right person meant that you knew that they wouldn’t do something like that. Men like James had been trained to be the best at that kind of stuff and while there were no Double-Ohs who did that. MI6’s missions were never helped by long term undercover like that and ruining someone’s life.
“I think it’s time to get you to bed,” James said. He waved his hand with his credit card in it. The waitress came up with a smile and took it to run the bill. It was as if all of the steam that had been holding Gale up had gone out of him and he slumped down into the seat. “Did you drive?”
“No. Tanner brought me to work as I stayed at his last night.”
“I thought you were into your own place?”
“Card night. We played poker and gin at his with a few others. I stayed late to help clean up and crash in his guest room. Though that was always the plan as my car is at MI6. I just didn’t want to be alone last night. I have been there for two weeks, and I love the flat. It’s perfect and has a good view. I’m just…alone. And I don’t like it.”
“Well, how about we take a taxi and I can crash at your place?”
“I do have a guest room. Tanner made sure that I did so that he could crash at mine after I start to host games, so they are not always at his. We don’t trust the agents to not have their place rigged with stupid shit after we did one at Trevelyan’s and he caught the place on fire.”
“Oh, that was what happened then. He told me about having friends over, and I wanted to know why and he clammed up.”
“No wonder, you are the best at poker in the whole of Six. It’s insane, and he told us to never play with you. Though I wouldn’t mind a game at some point. When we have the first one at my place, I’ll invite you.”
“That sounds like a plan.” James wasn’t sure that Gale would remember that when he woke up, but James would remind him if he heard about anything the poker games. He did like to play, and he could play for fun. When he played with Alec and other agents though it became who was the best bluffer. It was fun in a very different way.
“And I also had to promise Tanner that I would never play strip poker with anyone inside of MI6 as that was asking for trouble. He did not tell me what was up with that, though.”
“That’s because an idiot tech thought she could out bluff three Double-Ohs and ended up going through Six naked to get more clothes after they won them and didn’t give them back. Strip poker has been banned from ever being played by any MI6 staffer with anyone ever.”
Gale laughed a little at that and shook his head. The waitress came back with the bill and James signed it after adding a hefty tip. Gale was standing up and dropped his napkin to the floor. James was there to grab it before Gale could lean down and crack his head off of the table. There was not a lot to do to hang around. There was thankfully enough taxis around that they were able to get into one rather quickly. James eyed Gale for a few seconds before focusing more on the driver. Gale didn’t seem like he was going to throw up, so that was a good thing. Gale muttered his address, 1 Stanley Gardens, Notting Hill, and the driver took off. While James didn’t like taxis when he was at home, he was stupid enough to drive when he had consumed as much tequila as he had. He rather liked living. James glanced at Gale a few times during the trip, seeing him become more and more one with the seat and door. He was near all the way asleep by the time that the taxi stopped in front of the building. It was grand and gorgeous.
James helped support Gale as they made their way to the lift that would take them to the top floor. The view was beautiful, James thought as he looked at the interior of the flat after taking the keys from Gale. Gale was aware enough to start to put in the code as soon as the door was shut and then he turned the system back on. Gale stepped away from James and began to walk toward the back of the flat. Some magnificent windows showed a dreary and half awake London on the outside. It was a lovely flat, but it was very…spartan. James didn’t even try and hide the fact that he was looking around. He found the third room full of boxes. There were a few broke down, and the rest had things written on them. Locations of where someone had packed it up from. Not so much Spartan as it seemed Gale was taking his time going through his and Vesper’s things. James could understand that.
Not hearing anything, James turned around to leave the room. He found Gale’s clothes scattered around the flat in a direct line to the master bedroom. There he found Gale passed out on the bed on his side. James the door open before he went to the guest room. The bed was made up, and the room looked a lot more alive than the rest of the flat. James made a promise to himself as he fell asleep that he was going to make the whole of the flat come alive. He would help Gale get happy again and hopefully find a little peace himself along the way.