Title: Dead Heart
Series: Reigniting Love
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Fandom(s): James Bond
Category: F/M, M/M
Relationships: James Bond/Vesper Lynd, Pre-James Bond/Q
Characters: James Bond, Vesper Lynd, M, Q
Tags: Canon Divergence, Canon-Typical Violence, Pre-Slash, Angst, Drama
Summary: James stared at the message delivered by the concierge of the hotel before he looked up at Vesper with a smile on his face while the heart inside of him started to wither and die after only a short time alive.
Year: Skyfall (2006)
Spoilers: Up Through Quantum of Solace
James Bond looked around the room as he won the game. It was subtle, but he needed to make sure that Le Chiffre didn’t have a plan in place to make sure that he left with the money. It wasn’t hard to tell that people were not paying attention to him at all. The losers were figuring out where to play next, and Le Chiffre was going to lick his wounds. James looked at Vesper, and he gave her a smile. The walk to where she was standing had James’s head swirling a little with the victory. He had won and showed that he could do it. It was one of his first full missions since he had become a Double-Oh and this was a good way to end it. It was one of the most perfect ways to finish it in his mind. There was just a single thing missing. Food. He was hungry.
“Congratulations,” Vesper said as she settled in beside him at the bar after James talked to Felix.
“You know, I think a celebration is in order.” James didn’t want to stop feeling like he was feeling. His typical ending to a mission was to find a married woman and go back to a hotel to while away the hours tangled around her. Buried inside of her. The rush of it helped to settle him and worry about the husband coming home. James was victorious, and he wanted to keep on feeling that way. The restaurant was open with a light staff to deal with those who got hungry while watching the poker game playing.
“You were almost dead an hour ago.”
“Come on, I’m famished.” James held out his arm to Vesper, and she took it. James escorted her to the dining room where they settled in.
James ordered the drink that he had made up and wondered again on what he should call it. They had part of their food, and the rest would come when they were done with what they were eating.
“Thank you,” James said as their waitress dropped off his drink. She was gone in seconds as the staff were trained to do. They did not wait around to see if you needed anything. They knew to keep an eye on the table from a distance and only come when called over. James liked that sort of place. A lot of restaurants pushed their servers to check in a good deal of the tie, but then those places had more tables were waitress, so they had a lot to keep track.
Vespers’s phone chimed, and she picked it up, reading over the text. “Mathis says the Americans have made contact with Le Chiffre. They’re going to extract him before dawn.”
“You know, I think I’ll call that a Vesper,” James said after he swished the drink around in his mouth to taste it fully. It was a different drink than most were probably used to, but he liked it.
“Because of the bitter aftertaste?” Vesper asked while laughing.
“No. Because once you’ve tasted it, that’s all you want to drink.” James poked at his food to get the caviar onto the blini while Vesper laughed at his line. “I thought that was quite a good line.” James felt a little hurt at it but not enough for him to do anything about it. Small things didn’t bother him like that.
“It was a very good line,” Vesper said.
“But you’re laughing at it.”
“Not so much it as you.” Vesper looked smitten, which did not go with what James had learned about the necklace that she wore.
“Well, that’s fine then.” James laughed, trying to figure out what the small danger sign that was flashing in his brain meant. He had learned to trust his instincts a very long time ago, but usually, there was more to go on for him to understand what exactly was happening. Either Vesper was playing a game, or she was smitten with him. The necklace around her neck said that she was in love with someone else. If she weren’t, she wouldn’t be wearing it even if they had given it to her as she wasn’t around them. The love part on her end was also shown by the way that she constantly touched the necklace. Reassuring herself that it was there. “I figured out what that is. Its an Algerian Love Knot.”
“Really? I thought it was just something pretty.” Vesper’s hand dropped from the necklace, and her face went from warm and opening to cold and closed very quickly.
“No, you didn’t. Someone gave that to you. He’s a very lucky man.” James watched Vesper’s face closely as a few emotions came over it with little time to fully settle into one before another came over. It was love, pain, and then determination. It was an interesting combination and something that James needed to figure out a little more before he did anything else.
“You can switch off so easily, can’t you? It doesn’t bother you, killing those people?” Vesper’s face was still mostly blank, but there was anger there now. Like she was angry at James for bringing up the man who had given her the necklace. She looked like she wanted him off kilter the same that she was with James bringing up the jewellery. She had just chosen the exact wrong idea to dig in on.
“Well, I wouldn’t be very good at my job if it did.” James sipped his martini and set it back down. He had learned to turn off emotions, but some were creeping back into him, and it was just the pickle that love was coming back. Love for a woman who was in love with someone else. Who was with someone else according to the Algerian Love Knot around her neck. James would have to work on shoving that emotion deep inside when he got back to London. He would have the time as there would be psych evaluations and other things he hated before he was given downtime to decompress from the mission before being sent out again.
“I don’t believe you.” Vesper looked like she was telling the truth too. Or at least the truth that she was making herself see. She wanted to believe that James had no issue with killing, but she was further from the truth. “You’ve got a choice, you know? Just because you’ve done something doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it.
“Why is it people who can’t take advice always insist on giving it?” James had come across it a lot in the years that he was in the Navy and then after when he had joined MI6. He was told that he would never be able to be a Double-Oh because of the killing. The requirements were so that the upper levels knew you could kill and do it again before they gave you the full license to kill. The first two kills were ordered. After that, it was whoever needed to be killed was killed.
“You think I can’t take my own advice?” Vesper sat back in the chair, a look of challenge on her face.
“I think something is driving you. And I think I’ll never find out what that is.”
Vesper’s phone chimed again with a text, she glanced at James before picking up the phone to read the message. The look on her face a little bit of fear and apprehension.
“Mathis needs me. Good night. Congratulations again.” Vesper stood up, and James followed suit like a proper gentleman even if he wasn’t one. There was something wrong, and she wasn’t sharing it with him. Either it was something that she thought James didn’t need to know about or it was something else.
James sat back down with a feeling of resignation coming over him. He picked up the martini and took a sip as he let the day’s activities wash over his brain, trying to figure out what was up. The concierge walked toward him and handed him a note. James saw the code that was written on the front that let him know it was directly from M. He opened it and read the words before looking at Vesper’s form that had just left the room before he reread the words.
Vesper Lynd is a traitor. She’s been working for Le Chiffre the entire time. Call in the morning to confirm. The words were short and succinct, and James crumpled them up before he stood up and tossed the words into the fire that was burning at the side of the room. He watched the paper burn, his heart inside of him dying. That love that was for her was gone, and he didn’t think that he would ever love again. He especially wouldn’t trust anyone but M.
James walked sedately out to follow behind Vesper. It seemed that she had tripped something somewhere that allowed them to figure out what she had done. MI6 was going to come for her soon. When he made it outside, James saw the woman as she was surrounded by three MI6 cars and two agents got out of each with guns drawn. Tanner, a newer member of the M-Division, got out of the front of the middle car and opened the back passenger side door. He waved for Vesper to get inside.
Just on the other side, three men were looking at Vesper too closely to be anything but someone watching her. They were not gawking like the others who were around and seeing a woman being taken into police custody.
“She is the one that told Le Chiffre about you knowing his tell?” Mathis asked as he stepped up beside James.
“Yes, I do believe so.” James looked at Mathis the man looked wounded. James knew how he felt. She had played them both. James had thought it was Mathis because James didn’t believe that Vesper, a female, could do what she had obviously done. James didn’t like that he had been biased like that. It was supposed to have been worked out of him in agent training, but it seemed that between her working for the British Government and the way that she had acted toward him, James had been snowed. He wasn’t shocked that Mathis was snowed either. The man had a different view of women, a softer view. James had worked with enough in his tenure at MI6 that he knew how they could be. He just saw Vesper as different because of the work that she did, and he had allowed that to colour everything that he saw.
“I got word not too long ago that she had been found out to be a traitor.” Mathis just shook his head and started to walk away.
“Mathis,” James said. Mathis stopped and turned toward him.
“Those three on the other side of the MI6 cars. They were watching her too closely. I bet they are friends.” James saw that the three were getting ready to get away. He memorised the plate on the car that they were standing by and recited it to Mathis.
“I’ll find them and make sure they are taken in.”
James nodded his head and waited to watch as the cars drove away. Tanner never even looked up at James, but then Tanner was an efficient man. James looked over to where the other car was to see it driving off but not going the way that the MI6 vehicles were going. They had given up. Mathis would find them and just in case it was a double-blind, he would make sure that Mathis was looked into as well.
Sleep would not come for him, James knew that so he started to walk. Montenegro was a city that never really slept so he would walk around until he got tired or the sun came up, and he could call M.
“She had a boyfriend, Yusef Kabira. He was a French Algerian. He was taken hostage by the organisation behind Le Chiffre.”
“So she was blackmailed,” James said as he down the glass of scotch.
“Yes, and his life threatened unless she did as they wanted. We have tried to track him down by it’s turning out to be a little harder than we would like.”
“How did you come across all of this?”
“A young man who is a recent hire is a data miner for all missions. He looked into all players in this mission. Sometimes we are so focused on our enemies, that we don’t look at our friends.”
“And how much do we trust what information this man found?”
“I trust him more than I trust you at this moment.” M sounded like she meant it, so James trusted what she had found by way of the tech.
“Good. I’ll be home as soon as possible.”
“Use that laptop and submit your report. You are coming home by train, the same way you got there.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” James said. He hung up the phone. He looked at the laptop sitting at the side of the desk and frowned. He would have to get back in under M’s login information and hoped she hadn’t changed it. He had a long ride ahead of him and plenty of time to do his own digging into everything.
It was refreshing to step into the London air from the train. It was daytime, and everyone was bustling about for work or other things. He looked around for his ride but didn’t see someone that he knew. James stepped out of the train station and in the short term parking, he saw that there was a new Aston Martin parked.
“Sir?” a young man said as he stepped up. He was an attendant for the parking area and to help those with a good deal of luggage get around. “You are exactly like the picture the young man showed me when he dropped this off for you. He was unable to stay because of work.”
The young man handed over the keys to the car and James nodded his head in thanks before he pressed the button to unlock it. It chirped, and he opened the door when he got close. The car was set up for him already and in the glove box was a new gun as well as his ID to get him into MI6. That was a call that he was to head into work already, but James had already settled his report into the email of M, so he had no reason to head into MI6. He had something that he wanted to do.
James parked the Aston Martin into one of the higher end clubs that was almost harder to get into than MI6. James flashed the ID that he needed to get inside. He was sure that MI6 was tracking the car, but he had no cares on that. He would be implanted with a tracker when he finally went back into work, but until then they could come and take the car if they wanted, but he wasn’t going to let them force him inside of the halls of MI6 before he was ready. That was asking for something terrible to happen. He wasn’t ready for it, he wasn’t prepared for any of the interpersonal talking. The looks in the eyes at having been duped like he was.
There was nothing good for him to go into the office until he wasn’t going to bathe in someone’s blood for pissing him off with questions. That would really cock up his job.
James looked at himself in the mirror and then looked back at the woman who was asleep in the bed. She had paid for the room, wanting her husband to find out that she was finding lovers in other places. It wasn’t hard for James to find someone to distract him for a night, but Salome was wonderful, and she was always up for anything that James wanted. That also included a threesome with the pool-boy that she usually fucked unless one of her other lovers was in town.
The pool-boy had left to go to classes for the day, but James figured that he would be there at her house when he was done with classes and have another round. James would not be a part of that. His Aston Martin had been gone when they had left the restaurant where James and Salome had dinner. That meant that someone would be waiting here for him when he exited.
Tanner won the lucky draw on being the one there. He looked at Bond with a look that told him that M was going to have his balls for garters.
“She’s in a mood,” Tanner said as he opened the passenger side of the car and ushered James into it. James settled and waited for Tanner to come around the car and start to drive.
“I’m not shocked she’s in a mood, but for the first time in a while, that mood has nothing to do with a cock-up of mine. It’s all on the Treasury Department and their inability to make sure that people in their employees can’t be blackmailed like that. It’s a bloody horrible job they did on that.”
“Yes, well, our new tech, M’s promoted him up the chain a little to where he’s going to be checking a lot of things, is working on finding the fake boyfriend.”
“And she trusts that he didn’t give her up because she was going to be found anyway, does she?”
“I’ve not met him, but yes, she’s cleared him. He’s been given free rein to work on making sure that we don’t have a leak inside of us.”
“Young bright thing is he?” James asked.
“Young and bright is one way to describe him. He was recruited when his parents died when he was a teenager. Signed a contract with his through a legal intermediary that promised he would work for us if we paid for his schooling. M’s talked about him for years.” Tanner pulled them out into traffic and was silent the drive from the train station to MI6.
“Interesting,” James said when Tanner pulled into MI6’s parking garage. James knew enough about technology to get done what needed to be done, but he had an appreciation for those that were able to learn it all. James just read through every single file that came out of Q-Branch and would drop and steal books from students when they left them on tables to read about other things that have to do with learning technology. There were also a few sites he visited when he was in and around London.
Tanner opened his mouth to say something when James moved to open the car door. He shut his mouth when James slammed the door. James made his way to M’s office, and no one stopped him until he was walking into M’s office. She had a glass of scotch ready on the edge of her desk beside the chair that she wanted James to sit at. James picked up the glass, but he did not sit down.
“I got your report, and I waited as long as I could. Given what Miss Lynd is going to jail for, they want to debrief you with a lawyer and her lawyer present.”
“Her lawyer?” James was shocked at that.
“Yes, well. The call was placed before I knew it. I’m dealing with that at the moment you just need to work on making sure that your anger for playing you doesn’t come out. You and Gale will be talking to them as he has to go through every single step of his that he went through to find the information. The trial will be closed, and it will not be seen over by a standard judge, and there is no jury. She’ll be sentenced to a lifetime in jail and while normally we would not go through with it. We want to see who comes out and tries to kill her. She’ll be interrogated in a few days. We want her to be full of fear before that happens.”
“And you want me to protect the bitch?” James asked.
“No. I want you to make sure that anyone who tries will be taken in an interrogated. Someone else is pulling Le Chiffre’s strings, and we want to know who. The CIA is breaking him down and have him in custody.”
“I’m shocked he didn’t get away.”
“When I had someone move on Lynd I made sure that the CIA moved on him. I don’t like the deal made between the two of you, but it worked in the long run, and I can stand by it. They are giving us what they know. By the time you got off the train here, they had him in GTMO and were working on breaking him. I sent Ronson to help. He’s enjoying himself.”
“Ronson always does when torture is on the table. What about the rest of Le Chiffre’s people.”
“Those we split up. We have half, and the rest are with Le Chiffre. We are making sure that we get what we need from all of them before we sell them to whoever wants them next in return for things.”
“At least something useful will come of this.”
“Yes, at least.” James downed the scotch and walked over to find the bottle it had come from. He poured himself three fingers and then finally moved over to sit in the chair that M wanted him to sit in. He spread his legs and leaned back, the picture of relaxation. “So what about me?”
“You are on stand down until the trial is over and you pass a psych exam. You fell in love with her, but at least it wasn’t after you knew what she was. At least you have learned who to trust.”
“Clearly,” James said before taking a sip of the scotch. The first had been drunk too quick to appreciate the taste of it.
“The Quartermaster will outfit you with a weapon to wear while you are on duty to make sure you can defend Miss Lynd when she is being transported from location to location during the interrogation phase.”
“Then I’ll just head down there won’t I?” James asked.
“Yes. I’ll be watching the debrief, but they want someone from MI5 running it since she is a British citizen.”
“Are we sure about that?”
“Yes. We can trace her and her brother back to being born.”
James nodded but didn’t get up. He savoured his scotch before he stood up. He buttoned his jacket up before he nodded in parting to M. “Ma’am.”
“Don’t cock this up, 007,” M said as James made it to the door to her office.
James found that a man was sitting outside of the building. He looked lost but had an ID badge clipped to the bottom of his jumper that proclaimed him an MI6 office staff member with a picture that matched. He was looking at a cell phone and texting or at least typing something.
“You look like you need a good stiff drink,” James said. He had no clue what prompted him to even talk to the young man, but he had already spoken so he couldn’t take it back.
“I need more than a stiff drink.” The young man looked up at James, and a look of surprise came over it. “007.”
James’s eyes narrowed as he looked at the younger man. The newer ID badges didn’t have last names just in case bad things happened, but James was able to see what the man’s name was. Gale.
“Ah, you are the man who figured out that Vesper was a traitor. I have you to thank for saving me from a near career-ending bit of luck.”
“I doubt it would have ended your career as no one else figured it out at all. It’s not like they can yell at you for not catching what the Treasury should have caught or even the techs who were running your mission. Everyone is supposed to be looked at, especially when the Treasury sends a minion onto a mission. If you don’t know the weak points of the person, how are you supposed to react like you should.”
“And how did you figure out that the boyfriend was a weak point?” James asked.
Gale looked around the area and sighed before rubbing his hands over his face in frustration, or was trying not to cry. James wasn’t sure which. James wasn’t sure why he would have the latter reaction, but then he didn’t understand computer geeks like he would other people. Their world was binary, and it was a language that while James knew a little of, he did not understand all of it. “There is a pub two streets over that I go to a good bit. Mostly secure as a lot of staffers visit, so M has the place scanned for bugs every hour. How about we talk over a pint?”
“Sounds good to me.” James waved for the man to lead the way. Gale stood up and dusted off the back of his pants. James finally noticed that the pants were stripped but not huge strips or anything like that but thin strips of every single colour which clashed against the mustard yellow shirt that was under the jumper, which also clashed now that he was in the last of the light ad James realized that it wasn’t black but eggplant coloured. “Were you rushed to get dressed this morning?”
Gale looked down at his clothes and frowned before looking up at James. “No?”
“Dress in the dark?” James asked.
“No. I like to wear clashing things. It started as a bit of a rebellion against my parents and then just became my style. Just like I never wear matching socks.”
“Life’s too short to care about matching socks. I have three drawers of them. Thick and long ones for winter, thick and short for spring and fall, and then thin for summer. That way at least that part matches. I do detest to have one at my ankle and the other half up my calf.”
“There is at least that.” James didn’t smile though he wanted to. He had seen a lot of Q-Branch techs who didn’t dress in a matching way, usually because they were late to work or had dressed in a rush after a night out and an even later morning in the bed of another person.
Gale slipped his phone into a pocket before picking up a messenger bag that James hadn’t noticed was tucked at the far end of the bench that Gale had been sitting on. It wasn’t a shock but the fact that James hadn’t noticed it because it was slate grey, nearly a match for the pavement below was. It seemed that when it came to clothes, Gale wanted things that stood out, but his laptop bag was something else entirely. James caught the sight of a patch on the bag; it was for a rugby team. That did not match what he knew of Gale just be reading him. Then James saw the wear and tear points and that the bag was very old given how faded it was. The rest of Gale’s clothing was new, barely worn. It did not make sense at all that Gale had not replaced his bag, so that meant something had happened to his other bag and he had this one on hand for an emergency. James wondered what that emergency was and why his other had not been usable.
“I plan on getting smashed, so I will take a taxi home,” Gale said.
“We will take my car, and I’ll drive you home. There is no need to have M want my balls for garters over getting her new favourite tech sloshed and him not coming into work on time or getting his head taken off by a killer in the night.”
“There are no killers taking heads at the moment. You can see me in a taxi and if you like, I’ll give you a text when I make it home.” Gale’s face fell a little, and then he looked down at his hand. “Make it to my hotel.”
“Hotel?” James asked.
“Issue with my flat. Needs to be sorted out. I’ve been at the hotel for a few days now, and it doesn’t seem real. I’ve lived at the flat since I turned seventeen. Had a pipe burst once and had to stay out while it was being worked on but nothing else has kept me from there before.”
James looked at him and realised that Gale was in a bit of shock. He wrapped his arm around him and directed him in the direction of the pub. James knew of it, even if he didn’t actually go and visit there with the rest of the MI6 staffers. James didn’t really do anything with anyone who wasn’t a Double-Oh. Everyone else got too scared when things turned a little violent.
The pub was only about a quarter of the way full, and it was full of just MI6 staff that had just gotten off of shift. James took Gale to the back area of the pub and settled him into the booth before he walked back to the bar to get them both something to drink. James ordered himself water and Gale a brandy. He hoped that it would help to calm him down while also making sure that he got started on getting pissed.
“You want to know something horrible?” Gale asked after he had drunk half of his brandy.
“I was just doing…” Gale closed his mouth and sighed before he leaned back into the booth. “I was trying to be good and just looking into things, but then I started to find things that didn’t make any sense. There were a lot of things that didn’t make sense to me. She and Yusef were close from what I could tell. She loved him a lot and wore the Love Knot that he gave her all the time. She hated taking it off to shower. I just can’t understand why she had not gone to anyone. She worked for the government.”
James couldn’t make sense of what Gale was saying. It was still jumbled up and not coherent enough.
“Start at the beginning, tell me everything.”
“What beginning?” Gale asked.
“Where you were tasked to the mission.”
“Oh. Yes. Okay.” Gale looked at his glass of brandy and down all of it. “Back in a mo.” Gale stood up and walked to the bar. He came back with another glass of water for James and a tall glass with a drink in it for himself. James picked that up and smelled it. He was pretty sure it was a Long Island Iced Tea, which wasn’t precisely the drink he would have thought that Gale would consume.
“Better?” James asked.
“Much. The brandy was good, though. It did help calm my nerves. I was recruited in university where I started when I was fourteen because I had already passed my A level with top marks. When I was fifteen, my parents died, and I signed a contract with MI6 through my family lawyer. They paid for university for me and a good school for my sister. They happily agreed. I’ve wanted to work at MI6 since I was a child. I wanted to serve my country, but I knew that I would never be able to serve in the military. Between my eyes and my inability to run at all, it was never a possibility. So MI6 was it. My parents died in a plane crash coming home from a vacation over their anniversary. Private plane that had an issue. I don’t fly because of it. So I went to university, graduated and started here. While M wants me higher at the start, I refused. I want to work my up. So I was on the IT service desk and have made my way to mission operations information. I am one of the ones that double checks everything that any agent finds out on a mission. I can’t always prove it, but I can usually prove that the opposite is not true. So when you started to look at friends and landed on Dimitrios, it didn’t take long to come to the Le Chiffre connection and to prove it. Including images of him and Dimitrios meeting. So it wasn’t hard to follow what you were doing. Then the game and the HM Treasury’s Financial Action Task Force assigned her to the mission to make sure the money was well in hand.”
“Her? You mean Vesper?”
“Yes.” Gale wasn’t looking at James, which James found funny. The man had not avoided eye contact at all with James after looking at him the first time. He didn’t seek it out, but he glanced at James’s face, meeting his eyes while talking. It was strange to see him dodging it. Gale drank half of his Long Island before he grabbed James’s first glass of water and downed it as well. “Why haven’t you asked?”
“Why haven’t I asked what?” James asked.
James wasn’t sure what the look was on Gale’s face as he asked the question. He had no clue what he was supposed to ask. Gale had found the information that had shown that Vesper was a traitor. What more was there to ask? James tried to figure it out. He had a lot of questions, but it had nothing to do with Gale and Vesper. Well, nothing to do with Vesper directly.
“How did you come to follow from the boyfriend to her being a traitor?” James asked.
“Because she was flirting with you. Mathis gave regular reports.”
“And there is something wrong with that?” James was sure he was missing something.
“She loved Yusef!” Gale yelled.
James leaned back and looked around, but no one was looking at them. It seemed as if everyone was patently, not looking at them. James felt as if there was something that he needed to know that Gale and the rest of the staffers knew, but he had not been made aware.
“I think I am missing something. You have said twice now that she loved the man who gave her the necklace but yet how would you know that?”
“How would I?” Gale cut himself off as he asked. “Dear Lord. 007, did M not tell you?”
“Tell me what?”
“What’s my name?”
“What’s my last name?”
“I don’t know.” James wondered why that matter, and then Gale’s face moved to show an emotion. It was shock, disbelief, and then fear. He had seen Vesper’s face make the same move.
“My name is Gale Lynd. I am Vesper’s twin brother.”
Before that moment, James had never thought that anything would be more shocking to him than when he had been told that Vesper was a traitor. He had never thought that he would have to live through a moment like that again. Instead, he was sitting here having a drink with Vesper’s twin brother. The twin that had exposed her for what she was, who had condemned her to be tried for treason. Her own twin had turned her in.
Gale looked down at his drink and didn’t look away. James wasn’t going to push the name to talk to him. He wasn’t sure what he would even have to say about that. James didn’t have a sibling. He had Alec, and that was about it. They were close, some called them brothers but James had never put much into that. He had no clue what it was to love a sibling. He had no clue of what the bond was between twins. He had no real and practical knowledge of it. He had studied a little bit of psychology, all Double-Ohs did as part of their education leading up to become full-blown Double-Ohs. He knew the psychology behind it. He knew the phenomenon that happened between twins who were long distances away. The ones that knew their twin had died the instant it happened.
“M had not told me that. I don’t know if she thought I wouldn’t find out or didn’t even think that I hadn’t been told already. That’s why you started to look into the boyfriend. You saw her flirting with me, you heard about the relationship part that Mathis had found relevant enough to tell. So you knew that for her to do that there had to be a reason. So what happened next?”
“I found his image in a lot of places. He’s a honeytrap that does this time and again. I found nearly a dozen aliases. He was born in 1970 and has been part of an organisation for a while. I haven’t tracked that part down yet, but I will be when I’m allowed back to work. I have to pass through more checks and while M trusts me and what I have done, the others who are above her do not. I have to show them that I am loyal.”
“Loyal?” James asked. He knew about proving loyalty, he knew about being loyal.
“There are a few that think that I turned her in to pull suspicion from me. Just like you think that Mathis could be a second agent as well. I understand why they are doing what they are doing, but I don’t like it. I never liked Yusef. I hated him. He didn’t like me because she was there for me when I needed her to be and sometimes that meant that she wasn’t there for him when he thought that she should be. Over the past few days, I’ve worked it all through my head. He thought that I would be a deterrent from getting what he wanted from her. It’s pure horse shit in my eyes. She did it anyway, and he’s still alive. He’s probably moving onto his next target.”
James stood up from the table and walked over to the bar. He ordered himself a glass of water as well as a scotch and Gale the same. The bartender got them up quick, and James carried the four glasses over very carefully. He settled them onto the table and sat back to look at Gale. He scooted over the water and the scotch. Gale picked up the water and drank about half of it before he set it down again.
Looking at Gale, James felt all of that anger that had been simmering inside of him, burning away. He was left with that void. That bit of nothing that had started to seep into his heart the moment that he found out that Vesper had betrayed him was growing. Vesper had made her brother choose between her and their country. Between him and his job. It was horrible and despicable. It was the opposite of what she should have done. Vesper should have cared for her brother. She could have gone to him. Vesper had a lot of people she could have gone to. She could have also let Kabira die to make sure that she didn’t betray her country.
Two minutes later, three more glasses of scotch appeared on the table. Gale scooted into the inner section of his seat and Tanner was there. James had not even seen him come up or enter. He had been so focused on Gale.
“M talked to Mathis and found out that he never did tell you about the fact that Gale is Vesper’s brother.” Tanner’s tone was a little off, and James looked at him. He seemed very uncomfortable.
“He was supposed to tell me?” James asked.
“Yes. He was told that when he was made aware of what was going on. M did not want it going through the other channels, so she did it through verbal direct to Mathis, and he was supposed to tell you. He told her that he was afraid that you would kill her and possibly Gale.”
“Yes, well he’s stupid and made me more vulnerable as I wasn’t aware he didn’t know who I was and thought he sought me out because of that.” Gale picked up the scotch that James had got him and downed it followed by the one that Tanner had got him. Tanner scooted another over to James and then the third over to Gale.
“I’m the designated driver for you tonight, Gale.”
“What do you go by?”
“Normally my last name but I’m having issues with it and saying my sister’s name as you can see. I hate my first name, but I’ll live with Gale over that at the moment. I’m sure that by the time this is done, I’ll gladly keep using Gale.”
“Who knows?” James asked.
“About Vesper and I being twins?” Gale asked. James nodded, and Gale looked at Tanner.
“So far it’s contained to M, Mathis, and us three but once the trial starts, it’s going to go a lot different. It’s going to be closed, but we all know that they are all gossipers. The people who are going to be there are in a world of their own. They do it all their own way and don’t care what anyone else says. M’s already preparing protocols for what to do if those at MI6 start to harass Gale for his sister’s actions. It’s a hope we never need it type of thing, but we want to make sure that he is safe.”
“M doesn’t want her prodigy to be injured?” James asked.
Gale snorted and downed the last scotch that was in front of him. James looked down at his and handed it over. Tanner made a cutting off motion, and James nearly took the scotch back, but Tanner told him to hold. James let Gale down the scotch and then he handed over the water that Gale had gotten for him.
“Let’s get you back to your hotel,” Tanner said with a grim look on his face.
“I don’t want to be alone.” Gale looked like he would rather do anything but go home alone.
“Then come back to mine,” Tanner offered.
James looked at him and frowned. Tanner was very solitary, and what James had learned of him was that he wasn’t one that liked people from work around him. It was interesting to see him inviting Gale back, and he wondered if it was an M order for Tanner to take Gale with him.
Gale waved his hand and then closed his eyes, slumping into the wall of the bar. It was interesting to see him nearly fall asleep in seconds.
“He does that when he gets pissed. He will be fine, and when I wake him up, I’ll get him back to my flat just fine.”
“I have a good security system. Gale does too, but the flat is just a reminder of who he’s lost and the hotel will be the same. At least at my place, he’s safe, and when it’s time for him to come into work, I can take him to and from.”
“He said he’s not allowed to work.”
“M has him working on a new system and right now it’s closed and now being work on outside of him. She’s paying him to keep on working on it. It was part of his hiring packet to be ready within ten years of him starting. He started at twenty-two, and he thinks that he is within two years of having it to where Q-Branch can start to use it for tech and tracking it as well as their system. It’s not going to be the best, but something like that will be best as that means he can keep on working on it while his people help him.”
“So working on the system coding and what not while his life is crumbling around him.” James knew that it was busy work, M knew it, Gale knew it. Hell, Tanner knew it, but James knew that it was probably what he needed. Tanner would take care of Gale.
It was an hour later that Tanner escorted Gale out of the pub and into the back of a taxi with Tanner sliding in beside him. James hailed one after and followed them all the way to Tanner’s place before he went on to his own place.
James laughed as he rolled Alec to his back in their wrestling match. Alec was getting ready to head out on a mission to the US to be slightly secret but working with the FBI. It ran on the back of the Le Chiffre mission and was a good time to help the friendship that they started between Felix and James.
“So how are you doing?” Alec asked as he slumped down onto the mat.
“I could be worse, could be better.” James looked up at the ceiling and saw the rope rigging for the nets when they did some of the higher up things and didn’t want to be killed as they fell to the ground. James hadn’t done anything like that in a while, so he knew that he would need to. He had a lot of things that he would need to do while he was stuck in London until it was all done. Though of course, James was going to have to find someone else to train with. The other Double-Ohs were already gone out on missions. Alec had been on recovery, and James was now on stand down.
The weight and exercise room was empty which James made happy because he had a few things still to work out and hitting the heavy bag was the best way for him to work through them all. He was still very upset about everything with Vesper. He kept on going through every single little thing that had happened between the two of them after meeting Vesper.
James had hijacked a computer to read the entire file that had been compiled and from M’s files at that. There was nothing in the data that had been collected on Vesper and her brother Gale Lynd over the years from the moment that Gale Lynd had popped up on the radar of MI5 and of M. There was nothing on either background that said that she would do something like this or that Gale would at all.
Usually, James wouldn’t care, but he didn’t want M to lose the main person that she wanted inside of MI6 by the unfortunate finding of Gale on the wrong side of it all. Gale couldn’t lie to save his own ass. He had failed horribly at the evasion tactics training and torture training that MI6 put new hires through. It was why he wasn’t on anything that was that sensitive until recently when he had taken them again. He still did horrible, but he got himself to the point of passing out before giving up anything. He was utterly incapable of lying to save his own arse. There were videos. Horrible videos that James hated that Gale had done it, but it wasn’t like James could go back and stop him.
James’ entire body hurt from working out, so he moved to the pool to cool off and finish calming down. He found that the pool was not empty, but instead, there was someone doing laps in the pool. It wasn’t until the swimmer stopped to catch their breath that James saw it was Gale. The pool and all exercise equipment were usable by anyone within MI6, but usually, if there was a Double-Oh around, none of the rest of the staffers actually came down to use it.
Gale pulled himself out of the pool, walked to the far side, and dived down back into the deeper end of the pool. James watched as he swam to the far side and then back. Turning just a bit each time to where he was a lane over by the time he made it to the other side. James faded back into the shadows when Gale started to pull himself out of the water. He didn’t want to disturb the younger man while he was doing a calming routine.
There were two more sets of laps like like, and Gale got out of the pool and started to towel off. James watched him as he dressed in a set of clothes that were not what he had been in during the day. He didn’t head toward the showers at all. Instead, he went for the elevators at the side of the room he was on that would take him up to the office levels and then allow him out. James didn’t follow. The man would be going home with Tanner. He was set to keep on doing that until this was all said and done. James was glad of that. He knew that there were those in MI5 who did not like that they were not keeping a good eye on things. No one wanted Gale to become a victim of assholes with chips on their shoulders who wanted to make someone hurt for their losing their pride. There were a lot of MI5 and even MI6 agents that had the same kind of egos that the Russians did. Russians were full of pride, and it was why James hated to go there to do missions. Alec handled, though, his accent was better anyway.
“All right there?” a voice asked.
James turned to see it was another agent. James couldn’t remember her name, but he did remember that she was next in line for a Double-Oh spot when it came up. James knew that she was up for it. She was damned good at what she did, and the honeypot missions she did were better than most others, even the male Double-Ohs.
“Yes. Got lost in thought is all.” James looked at the water and then at her. He had wanted to be alone, so it wasn’t the best time. “Have a good dip.”
“Not going for a swim?”
“Changed my mind is all. I think I’m just going to shower and then go and drink myself into oblivion at home.” James turned to head into the showers. He didn’t care if she followed him, but he knew that she wouldn’t.
The showers were empty, and James was able to stand under the water for as long as he wanted. Someone in Q-Branch had made it so that they never ran out of hot water. James had not wanted to ask about that as he was sure that he would not like how the water was always hot, no matter how long the pipes ran. James and Alec had tried it by turning on the water in all of the showers in the swimming and exercise bathrooms with just the hot on and let them run. Three hours they ran and never ran out. They got bored then and started to shut them off. It had ended, and they had never tried again. James vowed to go and look one day. Just not today.
Today he planned on going home and getting drunk before tomorrow. Tomorrow was Vesper’s interrogation before the trial started.
James was sitting in a car outside of the secure location that Vesper was being held at. No one but MI6 and a few members of MI5 knew precisely where she was being held. Even inside of MI6, there were not a lot of people who knew where she was. It was the way that M wanted it, and James couldn’t agree more. Treason was not taken kindly by members of MI6, and many would rather gut her than to allow her to live and tarnish the name of England. This was a black mark on MI6 more than anything, and it was not taken kindly to those who worked with them from other intelligence agencies across the globe.
Checking his watch, James saw that it was another two hours until she was going to be transported to where she was going to be interrogated. There had been no cars on the street when James had arrived, other than those who lived there. Those cars were all gone. There was one single one left, but James had seen the woman who drove it with a very extensive leg cast kiss her partner goodbye. She was either still off of work for the injury or working from home. James wasn’t sure. He had put in the call to Q-Branch’s service that looked into that. They were looking into it and confirmed that the woman that was in the house did live there and she was recovering from having seven breaks in the bones in her leg after a car accident. Whether she was supposed to be home or not, they were still trying to figure out. James wasn’t that upset at all. With a broken leg, she wasn’t going to be much a hindrance if she was there to watch Vesper being moved from one location to another.
James looked down at the tablet that Q-Branch had given him to help him keep track of the cameras that were placed around the area. He did a visual sweep of them, looking at each one with a glance around the neighbourhood in between. It wasn’t hard work, but it was busy work, and at least it was keeping James’ attention where it needed to be.
Another hour passed, and two cars pulled up to the end of the street. James tapped a few buttons on the tablet and then flashed his headlights when he confirmed that the cars were MI6 with the beacon locators that were on a frequency that was a range that ordinary people didn’t use. A few guards stepped out of the house, standard MI6 agents without licenses to kill but were allowed to defend themselves if fired upon. The car started to move again, and a new set of guards stepped out. They changed out in an orderly fashion with the new ones going to the inside first and then finally replacing the outside guards. James focused on the faces of the guards as they got out of the cars. They all matched the list he was given before he had gone to watch duty. If a new face had shown up, James had the okay to shoot first and ask questions later. It was all going according to plan, and James was bored with it. He liked the rush and the chase, the hunting of information that was needed to make sure that he did a good job. He wasn’t so bored yet that he wanted to create all of that drama for just entertainment. Though he might in the days to come, he had no clue how long the trial was going to take. Hell, he had no clue how long he was going to be on stand down even after the trial ended.
James was fucking happy when he saw the guards coming out with Vesper. She was dressed in regular clothes with a coat on even though it was somewhat warm out. The coat hid her cuffs. James even caught a bit of metal chains at her ankles that her skirt didn’t quite fully cover when she was going stairs. It wasn’t like there were a lot of people to see it. The woman who was home with a broken leg wasn’t visible to James and the curtain on her house were thick and blackout ones that didn’t allow anything to get in or out. There was no tell-tale sliver of light, and the curtains were very noticeable when they were moved, even if the house was dark.
Vesper was loaded into the back seat of the middle vehicle. It was the only SUV in the bunch. The other two were armoured cars that the rest of the guards loaded themselves into. James was going to tail from a more significant distance. The first car and the SUV were going to stay tight with each other while the third was going to trail a few car lengths and James further back than that. That would allow him to keep an eye on everything that was happening around them. Q-Branch was monitoring the traffic lights and made sure that they didn’t get caught in too many. If those who wanted her dead because she had been found out were hunting her, they would have this as the time to kill her. After her interrogation, she was going to the holding cell in the facility she was going to be tried in. It was best. The guards would stay the same, the same rotation and everything, they were the most trusted of the guards, after all.
James found that someone was following them so when he got caught at a light with the rest of the transport squad, he messaged Tanner about it. James was able to give a plate number, which was good as it meant that things would be taken care of. It also meant that Q-Branch could make sure the car was cut off from them. If they rushed through a light, it meant that they were following them and that was not a good thing at all.
The trip was silent, James peeled off a half a block away from where they were going. It was a nondescript building in the middle of London that no one knew held interrogation rooms and other such rooms like it for the British Secret Service to use. MI5 used it more than MI6, but on occasion, work followed them home. It was needed.
Vesper was taken into the building and only then did James start to pull out but the car that had been following them came around the corner. James gunned it, screeching his tyres. That was a signal for them to rush. The doors were pulled shut just as the car stopped in front of the building. Three men got out.
“HALT!” a voice called out.
James looked around to see a squad of MI5 SWAT agents coming out of various spots around the area. The one who had spoken was on the second floor of the building and had a gun pointed right at the car. The three men moved to get back into the car, but the main SWAT guy fired his gun. The men ducked for cover behind the car doors, and the crunch of a bullet hitting metal sounded, only it was a little different. James was greeted with the sight of electricity arcing off the hood of the car. He smiled as that had to come from Q-Branch. The car started to smoke, the entire electrical system had to be fried. James kind of wanted to try that gun sometime.
The three men were taken into custody and only then did James pull up to get into the spot that had been saved for him.
“007,” one of the SWAT members said.
James just nodded his head and waited until the wrecker was there to get out of the car. It hadn’t taken that long so it must have been waiting. “Prepared were you?”
“We analysed the tactics that we have linked them to for various things and figured once the car was sighted following you all that they would arrive here. There is still a leak somewhere. The Director-General is not happy as the final location was only known by you and M from MI6 and we know it’s not you, and that means that it came from us.”
“Desperate times and such,” James said. He waited until the door was opened again before he stepped inside. M was waiting on him.
“Everything go okay?” M asked.
“Yes.” James let her know with a look that they would talk where there were fewer ears.
M nodded her head and led James back to a set of stairs that were in the kitchen area of the office building. The stairs were well lit, and James saw cameras all over them. There were no chances being taken at all.
The interrogation room was impressive looking. It was a room with five different walls with five different doors in the far left of each wall. James stepped up to their mirror and frowned as Vesper was not in there yet. The other windows in the other rooms were all dark. Only one wall didn’t have an observation window in it. He assumed that was what led to the area where the prisoners were held before being brought here or up to the courtroom area.
“So what else has been found?” James asked.
“The men who were getting ready to take her were Le Chiffre’s men, and according to them, Mathis is on their side, but there is nothing proving that. Gale was even allowed to track that with R watching him.” M sounded pleased on that but also upset at the same time.
James knew that R wasn’t pleased that he was put on babysitting duty to someone who knew how to do their job and was doing their job when something had come up that had nothing to do with them put a black mark on them. James had listened to R bitching for an hour while they went over the tech that he had been given for today and what he would use until such a time as this whole affair was over. While it was easy to replace what Gale was doing across the board it was never fun to replace someone who didn’t need it and especially since they couldn’t just hire a new person because M fully intended to put him back into his job as soon as she could.
Vesper was brought into the room, but she wasn’t chained like James thought she would be. Until he saw her settled into a chair that had chains already attached to it. The chair was bolted to the floor. Vesper was dressed in a yellow and green boiler suit with the words ‘HM PRISON’ written on the back of it. It wasn’t flattering at all, but James knew why she was in it. It would be what she wore for the rest of her life in prison. It made sure that the prisoners were seen if they did manage to escape. Just like the orange boiler suits that the Americans used. She looked no worse for the wear, but then James had seen her at her worst when she had been crying in the shower. When she couldn’t get the invisible blood off of her fingers even though she had done none of the killing.
The guards secured her into the chair and stepped back behind Vesper. James watched as a trio of two men and a woman entered the room. M opened up the door and stepped inside as well. Tanner stepped up to stand beside James.
“Who are they?”
“People who piss M off from what I am to understand.”
“You’ve been around a good bit,” James said. He could understand escorting James around and watching Gale but other than that he knew that Tanner had other duties. “Where is Villiers?”
“He was relieved from duty. He was the one that did the simple background check on Miss Lynd before she was sent to you. It seems that his ability to do checks into things has been called into question. He’s on lockdown in the building.”
“M didn’t say that.”
“M’s pissed. He’s been her aide for a long while. We have no clue what is going on there, but he’s finally cracked and told M that it was Craig Mitchell that had been the one to do the background check as he was still cleaning up after you in Nassau.”
“Mitchell has been with her for a long time,” James said.
“Yes. She’s rather pissed as his security checks are all perfect and yet there are a few things that were never flagged that R has been having Gale look into while he’s been double checking them all.”
“Sounds like the whole place is up in chaos.” James was kind of upset that he was missing it. It was the kind of thing that he could watch for hours and not get bored. He had been staying away from the upper officers of MI6 so that he wasn’t bored out of his skull or given tasks that were stupid. It seemed though that it was the place to be. James would have to fix that over the next few days. When he wasn’t on guard duty like this, he was remanded to the MI6 building just in case he needed to be sent out, which meant that there was no drinking that was going to happen.
“It’s insane, so I was put up to be her aide in the time being as well as her personal bodyguard after Gale cleared me. The man’s ability to connect small things is kind of scary, and I see now why M wanted him for MI6. She’ll be in a snit if she loses him.”
James wasn’t sure that anyone connected to this was going to be happy if M lost Gale to this.
“How long has he been with MI6 exactly?”
“He did a few small internships with various departments during the summers at school after he turned 17 and officially signed a full contract when he turned twenty-one for starting that summer when he got out of school.”
“What is your name?” one of the people at the table in the middle of the room asked.
“Vesper Lynd, may I have a drink?”
“No,” the other female that was not M asked.
“When were you born?”
“March first nineteen eighty-one.”
The questions were about her past for the next hour. Recounting her entire life, including things with Gale, the death of her parents, them living together even though she shouldn’t have been living in the flat that was rented for him by MI6 but that MI6 didn’t care about her living at given that she had been attacked once at the group home that she had been at. James was learning shit about Vesper that he didn’t need to know. He knew that this was all a basis for what they were getting ready to lead into.
“When did you meet Yusef Kabira?”
“On my birthday two years ago. I was out at dinner with Gale, and I wanted to go dancing, but he didn’t want to. He had an early department meeting as his department does them before the work day starts as to not disrupt their jobs. Yusef offered to take me dancing and then bring me home.”
“Which home was an apartment that you share with Gale?” the other woman asked. She had few notes on the paper in front of her while the others made a lot of them. James wondered if she had a good memory or there was little that Vesper was saying that pertained to what she was there for. James had no clue who any of them were. He didn’t keep track of local members of the government. He didn’t need to know any of that unless it was in direct line of his job, which was rare.
Every single interaction was gone over from the moment that they met until the first time that they had sex. James frowned as that was gone over more than James thought necessary.
“M is looking at the others like they are perverts,” Tanner said with a bit of a laugh in his voice.
James looked at M because he had been ignoring her over the past two hours. She asked questions when she got the chance but was more than willing to let the rest of them ask the majority of them. It was interesting that she was letting them but then the majority of what they had already gone over, Gale would have gone over with her.
“And what did you do when Gale first told you that he didn’t like him?”
“Gale never said that.”
There was a small siren that sounded in the room, and James wondered what it was as no one reacted, not even the guards.
“Lie,” M said.
“No, it’s not!” Vesper demanded. The alarm sounded again. “What is that?”
“We have lie detection software running, and it’s taking in your entire body. Your pulse from the implant as well as brain activity and everything else.” M stood up and walked over to a window. It brightened up to where even James could see the three techs inside with computers in front of them. James recognised them from Q-Branch but had never understood what they were doing. It was very interesting that they were making a better lie detector.
Vesper started to wiggle in the chair, but there was nowhere for her to go and not enough slack for her to actually get her hands up to get the implant out. There was going to be no way for her to get it out. James wondered what kind of implant it was. He knew that Q-Branch had a few different ones, but he assumed that it would at least track where she was as well heart rate.
“If you keep on doing that you will be injected with a sedative that will make you calm down,” one of the men said.
“GO FUCK YOURSELF!” Vesper yelled.
M sighed and waved a hand toward the window behind her. One of the techs pressed something, and a few seconds later, Vesper looked like she was already calming down.
“Now. About how long before everything happened did Kabira get taken?” the other man asked.
“He…” Vesper looked like she was fighting the sedative but also not. “You…”
“Yes, Miss Lynd, we knew exactly which sedative to give you. Your medical file has a very good listing of what each of them does to you, though your brother’s file lists the exact same, so it wasn’t that hard to make sure that we were not going to send you into cardiac arrest or put you to sleep.” The other woman looked like a demon in that instant. James found that he liked her a great deal.
“Now how long before you were given the job to follow Agent Bond did your boyfriend get taken?”
“I was told to report to my boss when I came in the next day when I left one evening. That evening Yusef was taken.”
“So they must have had something else planned for you before this came up. I wonder if someone made sure from inside that you were given this mission. We will have to look at that more. We have to make sure that it’s all figured out. Did you try and refuse?”
“They held a gun to his head. They took him from right in front of me. He was bleeding and begging before he was shoved into an SUV and one of the kidnappers gave me a phone and told me that I would be contacted on it. My main contact was in person at first and then over the phone during the trip. When we reached Montenegro, I met again with someone else. They were my main contact while I was there.”
“What’s his name?”
“Adolph Gettler. He has only one eye. He was very mean to me.”
“I bet that he was.”
There wasn’t a lot more to be learned, James figured out as they kept on going on everything that she did from when she and James arrived to when she was taken in my MI6 operatives that M had on the ready for if things went pear-shaped. Since their people were mostly cleared, at least the ones that were there, James knew that there was no other besides personal security that were in the building. That was why this had taken so long to get set up as everyone had been put through stringent checks before being allowed into the building.
“You don’t know what to know why I did it?”
“We know why you did it, Miss Lynd,” M said.
“You could never understand!” Vesper near screamed.
“We have all made the choice that the person we love could be used against us. We all would never give up the life of one for giving into a terrorist,” the other woman said.
“You entered into public service, and while your branch usually isn’t the target of things like this, you knew that working in the task force that you were working for meant that you could be.”
“I love him, and he’s dead because of you.”
James was flabbergasted about that, but no one spoke to correct her. James was intrigued by that. She had not been told about what he did, who he was. He wondered how long M was going to hold onto that ace in the hole.
“Your own brother said that he would never have given up anything even if you were being tortured in front of him.”
“You liar!” Vesper screamed.
James waited for the damn alarm to go off, but it didn’t. She really thought that Gale wasn’t that cold-hearted.
“He loves me, and he would do anything for me!” Vesper started to sob.
“We will get nothing else from her. Four days and we can start the trial,” the first man said.
Everyone else nodded their agreement and M waved her hand and the guards unchained Vesper to start to carry her out. She tried to jerk out of the hands of the guards, but they had too good of a hold on her. James wondered why she even thought she could escape them.
“Where is Gale?” James asked.
“In one of the other rooms with the person he’s been debriefing with,” Tanner said.
“How is he doing?”
“Why do you care?” Tanner asked.
“I don’t know.”
“At least that’s an honest answer. He’s holding up as good as he can given everything.”
The door opened, and M looked at the two of them. “Bond, let’s go back to headquarters and get squared away. I want to discuss tactics with you for the security for the day of the trial then I want you to go and see how breaking the three men who tried to kidnap or kill Vesper is going.”
“Gladly. What about my car?”
“You are taking Tanner and I back in it. It seems that my car has a tracker on it. It was put on at a stoplight or something like that. Q-Branch has it and will be going over it.”
“Then let’s go, Ma’am.”
James slipped away from it all by going to one of the open air parking garages and lighting up a cigarette. If he smoked a lot of them in a short time, no one needed to know. He hadn’t been able to get away to smoke as much as he usually did, mainly because the people watching inside of MI6 was at an all-time high. James was enjoying himself greatly. There should have been no one around as it was the middle of the afternoon and most people were still at least two to three hours away from leaving for the day while the others had been back from lunch for over an hour, even if they were the ones that took lunch late. It had been two days since Vesper’s interrogation and still three from her trial.
The sound of keys falling to the ground had James’s interest piqued. He lit up another cigarette, his favourite blend that was only made at a single place. He missed them when he was far from home, but he didn’t take them with him for a reason. He didn’t need to be made to be a British agent because of his cigarette brand that did not ship outside of London. James wasn’t sure what he was going to find, so he made sure that he moved the cigarette to and from his lips with his hand that wasn’t on the side where he was carrying his holstered gun.
Coming around the corner, James stopped because he recognised the body that was there in front of him, leaning against the purple Mini Cooper that was parked in a spot. The car was not a shock at all to James given the personality that James had learned was perfect of Gale. There was something wrong, though. Gale had dropped the keys and hadn’t picked them up. He seemed to be just staring at them on the ground while he leaned against the car.
For a few seconds, James debated between making noise and not making noise at all as he approached the younger man. He was halfway across the distance between them when he figured out that making a noise of some kind would be good. Gale was shaking slightly. James scuffed his foot on the ground, and Gale reacted in a split second.
Gale turned around, his hand going into the pocket of his dress shirt and pulling out what looked like a cigarette case. James stopped as he had seen some of the things that Q-Branch had weaponised, but with a further look, James saw that this was a taser, a normal every day but small taser. That didn’t mean that it wasn’t going to hurt James if Gale pressed the button to shoot out the barbs.
“007, sorry.” Gale moved to push the taser back into his pocket, but his hand seemed to stop working. The taser fell down to the ground, and that just seemed to make Gale give up. He slid down the side of the car and landed on his arse before he reached out for the keys and the taser. He grabbed the taser on the first try and just dropped it down into his lap while the keys proved to be harder for him to do.
James walked over to him slowly and picked up the keys before dropping them into his lap with the taser. It was only then that James saw that a few of the joints on his fingers were swollen and red. There were also other marks on him. Marks that James knew well from the form of interrogation that happened when it wasn’t a large group of people talking to someone. James dropped down, not caring if his suit got something on it. The garage was kept reasonably clean, and anything that would get on it his dry cleaner could take care of quickly. He had a damned good one that did well at repairing a lot of horrible things that happened to his suits during work and out of it.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“M’s already made me see Psych,” Gale said.
“And Psych is a bunch of idiots. If they can’t handle us Double-Ohs on a regular enough basis to actually help us, there is no way that they are going to be able to handle geniuses.” James looked at Gale’s face. There were a few bruises around his neck that spoke of being pinned against something but not trying to choke him. James reached out to make Gale tip his chin up, and he saw that while Gale wasn’t too injured, it looked like it was hard to swallow for him. “Have you eaten lunch?”
“Haven’t felt like eating anything at all.”
James slowly reached into his pocket, but he stopped when he saw Gale eye the cigarette. James took a last puff of it before handing it over to Gale. Gale took it, and it was pressed to his lips in seconds. James finished pulling his cell phone from his pocket and texted Tanner to tell him that he was going to take Gale out to lunch to get him to eat something that wasn’t the tea he was probably surviving on. The response came in seconds, and James figured out that Tanner was well pleased by this revelation. James rankled a little at making someone from the upper offices happy, but it was Tanner and James liked Tanner.
“I know a great place that has some filling soups and meals you can technically swallow without chewing that much. How does that sound?” James asked.
Gale just shrugged.
“What were you getting from your car?”
“How do you know that I wasn’t going to drive off?” Gale asked.
“Because if you can’t hold your keys, you can’t exactly drive and you don’t strike me as the type of person to do something so stupid.”
“You are,” Gale said with a smile, trying to break the dour look on his lips.
“I am trained to drive with broken things,” James said. He stood up and tried to figure out the best way to help Gale stand up. First, though, James took the keys from him and slipped the taser back into Gale’s pocket. The younger man was easy to get up by grabbing him under the armpits and just lifting. It didn’t seem to hurt him, but James could tell that he was thinner than he should be just by that. The clothes were doing well at hiding that he wasn’t eating the greatest. It wasn’t a shock given everything, but still, it made James just hate Vesper more. She was uncaring about what happened to her brother. If they were at war, or it had been even just a decade before, Gale would have been thrown into a cell and severely tortured to show his loyalty to MI6 and England. It wasn’t hard to see that something close to torture had happened to him, but James wasn’t going to storm Tanner and yell at him until he found out exactly what happened. Gale was just stupid enough to want to prove that he was trustworthy and do something as stupid as submitting to something as asinine as rough interrogation. James knew that he couldn’t say a thing, though, as it was Gale’s life.
“I think I could eat, and I was getting my spare bottle of painkillers from my car. I bought them and left them in the car the day I came in for the start of the Montenegro mission. I went for the bottle at my desk and found it empty. I remembered that I had left the bottle down here.”
James wondered why Gale didn’t have something that would help more with swelling, but he was going to keep that to himself. He would ask around to Tanner during lunch. The man would know if Gale had gone to medical or not after his near torture. James opened up Gale’s car to allow him to get inside of it and get what he wanted. There was a bag right there on the passenger side seat that held a bag from the local chemist. Which meant that he had stopped on his way to work.
“So what are you doing about the flat?”
“M’s had some people pack up my things and Vesper’s things. Things have been up in the air and weird, but I don’t want to go back there. It will never feel like home again to me. So I’m looking for a new place. I have no clue what I want or where I want it to be. Tanner found me a list of places that are vetted for the higher up staff of MI6.”
“Two birds with one stone?” James asked.
Gale shrugged and turned to shut the car door, but as he did, he whimpered a little and James saw his shoulder rotate like he was healing from getting his arm pulled out of its socket. James kept his emotions to himself before he did something stupid. Next, he pulled out his phone and asked Tanner to look into whether Gale saw anyone medically for what he went through.
James followed Gale to the lift door, and he used his credentials to get them back inside. Gale dropped the butt of the cigarette into the ashtray that was by the doors. He looked at James as he got into the lift after him. Gale was eyeing him like he was trying to figure out where the cigarette case was. James did not figure Gale for someone who liked to smoke at all. Though everyone had vices, James just figured that Gale would have safer vices. James smoking and drinking to excess wasn’t that big of a deal as his life expectancy wasn’t the biggest, and he was probably going to die before the smoking, or the drinking killed him.
The ride down to the level that Gale worked on, James watched as Gale packed up a messenger bag with a few things. There were a tablet and a few notebooks and other things that James couldn’t tell what they were. Tanner came into the room and handed James a slip of paper. James took it and put it into his dress shirt pocket. He didn’t need to read it until he had a good time without Gale watching him reading it. He figured that it had to with Gale’s medical exam or what James assumed as a lack thereof. James nodded at Tanner, who gave him a bit of a smile in return. It wasn’t a happy smile at all and James figured that good things were not afoot.
Tanner walked away before Gale even noticed that he was there. Gale finished shoving the things he wanted into his bag. James took the messenger bag from him and waited to see if Gale was going to protest. Gale didn’t. James flipped open the flap to start to pull out everything except for the tablet and what looked like an array of various over the counter vitamins. At least James hoped that was what they were. He saw that a few looked like ones from medical when he was given when he was healing up from injuries. There were a few things he didn’t know either, but given that Gale spent a lot of time sitting different pills were needed to maintain his body. James found that he was worried about Gale more than just what he would another victim that he would come across during a mission.
James tried to stand there and understand why he was feeling different about Gale when he never became friendly with anyone inside of MI6, outside of other Double-Ohs. Their bond though wasn’t friendship, it was brothers and sisters in arms. This was different. James was worried about him, he was worried about a friend.
“Ready?” James asked.
“Sure.” Gale looked a little upset at James, having taken his things from him. James slung the bag over his shoulder and waved for Gale to walk first. James followed behind him back to the lift and then down they went to the level where Gale’s car was. James jangled the keys, and Gale nodded. James had not driven one of the newer Mini Coopers yet. He laughed and pushed the seat to recline a little less, but the leg work was pretty much spot on given that someone else drove it. He settled into the seat a little more and checked the mirrors before he started the car.
The drive to the restaurant was short, but then James liked it because it was close to MI6, he didn’t like to have to drive far to get his lunch. He had a good many places scoped out to go to and eat. Sometimes that took two hours if the place was really good. James wondered how long he could keep Gale out and M not bitch at James. She wouldn’t have too many issues with it, James assumed. She had been rather careful with trying to keep Gale’s spirits up. She was a cold and heartless bitch but only when she needed to be. Only when doing so would get the best out of her people, but even she understood that being mean didn’t always get the best results.
“I’ve never been here before,” Gale said as he looked at the front of the restaurant. He reached over to unbuckle his seatbelt but hissed in pain. James reached over to pop it open instead. Gale shot him a smile in thanks before opening up the door. Gale got out safely onto the kerb while James had to hustle around. He liked that the place nearly always had a spot open right in front of it, at least at the times he came to eat there during the off hours.
“They have a lot of good food that I will gladly bring you back for some more of at a much later time. Your throat is sore, and that means resting your mouth and the muscles used for chewing as they do connect to your throat.”
Gale gave James a look that said that he wasn’t entirely on board with that, but James figured that he would win on it. He wasn’t above flirting with the waitress or waiter to make sure that they listened to him and not to Gale. James figured that if things kept on going the way that they were, he would end up having to confess to someone that he liked Gale as a friend and not someone that he wanted to tumble into bed with. Which was a strange feeling for James. He didn’t have someone like that and James thought that maybe it was high time that he did. James wondered if it would fill that void inside of himself, at least a little bit. He looked around the restaurant as he opened the door and waved Gale inside. Gale walked passed him, his eyes going around the room, looking at everything. James figured that he was looking at different things than James. He was probably just looking around at everything and seeing it with the feel of a tourist while James was making sure that everything was still in the same. That the staff was the same and that nothing was blocking any of the exits that he had already mapped out.
“This way, Mister Bond,” Sue said as she gave James a big smile. They were escorted over to James’ preferred table with James being stuffed into the corner and the third chair was taken away so that Gale could only sit at the one that didn’t block James’ sight at all. Gale was only looking at the table which had a pair of metal chopsticks on it that rested on a pristine white cloth napkin. There was a second napkin for their lap to be placed after they sat down.
“This is…posh,” Gale said as he looked at the placement of everything on the table. A busboy brought out two glasses that were full of ice and a pitcher of water that was settled in front of James to settle on the other side of the table. There was a small pad there that was just for it. James found that Gale was watching everything that he did very carefully. James didn’t feel upset by the watching. He could see Gale taking in everything that was around him. It wasn’t bad to be under the eye of a person as beautiful as Gale. James knew that Gale was good looking, he knew well what others would think of Gale as well for how he seemed. He was strong, though, just a little weak at the moment. He would get over it, with the help of those around him, and James found that he wanted to be one of them. He would be quite happy with Gale leaning on him. The feeling was a very strange one, and James had thought of running away from it. They were told to never get attached to anyone or anything in the job, but that didn’t really work because that meant that you had no one to come back to. James knew that M liked orphans because there was no family that would hold anyone back from doing what was needed for the job but that also made people who went off the rails. James hadn’t known any that had gone off like that since he had joined MI6, but there were stories that had enough weight that James didn’t think they were bogey stories.
“It’s very posh, but they don’t care what you dress in for here which is part of why I like it.”
“Like you dress down for anything but missions. I see you when you come into MI6, Bond.”
“I do prefer suits because I see them as my uniform.”
“Ah, the Navy coming out in you.”
“It did train me well in that regard.” James saw that the waiter was coming out with a seaweed salad. Which James wasn’t sure that Gale would want to eat at all or would be able to. He started to wave his hand, nixing it, but Gale looked around to see what he was doing and saw the food. Gale’s eyes lit up. James settled down. The plate was set down in between them on the table with no secondary plates set down as well. James had never brought anyone with him, so he didn’t think that it was odd that they thought he was a date. Gale picked up his chopsticks and started to gather up a little of the seaweed salad. He looked like he was pleased before he started to eat it. James was glad that at least this portion of the meal was enjoyable. The place was a strange mixture of Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and a few other authentic dishes from the East. James had found it while wandering one evening when he had been waiting to be given the go-ahead for an intelligence-gathering mission to the Middle East. He went back there as much as possible.
The meal was mostly silent outside of James ordering each course. As to not make Gale feel upset about things, James got himself the same things that he ordered for the other man. The soups were filling mostly able to be sipped from the bowl with little issue, but with some of the heartier ones, there was the need of picking up dumplings and the like with chopsticks and eating them. Gale seemed to be enjoying himself. He was quite content to sit there in silence while they drank soup, munched on seaweed salad, and James even splurged a little and ordered his favourite roll. It was the house creation, and James had never seen it anywhere else. It was the last course of the main meal, and dessert was going to be matcha ice cream. The cool would be soothing on Gale’s face.
Just before the roll came out, James watched Gale stand up and head toward the bathroom. There was no exit from that small hallway as it only held the three bathrooms, all unisex, and the closet for the cleaning supplies for the bathrooms and the main dining room. James smiled as the roll was set down, and there was a small cup of eel sauce set in front of where Gale was sitting and not in front of James. James frowned. It had never come with that before. He saw that the sauces were not on top of half of the roll.
“We have a new chef,” Sue said as she walked up to the table with a smile on her lips. “And he knows your young companion from the last place that he worked. I guess he doesn’t like the spicy mayo unless he’s putting it on and loves the eel sauce so I figured that it would be best to just send out the one, given the poor dear’s throat.”
James remembered the paper from Tanner and pulled it out of his pocket. He read it over and stuffed it back down to where Gale wouldn’t see it if he came out of the bathroom. Tanner wanted Jame to drop Gale off at medical when they came back from lunch so that scans could be made. It seemed that Gale had played off the injuries and the report had not been filed on what exactly had been done to him. Pain was a good motivator, and M had gone for it because anything else would have damaged him mentally and did not want to be seen as being soft on him.
Gale came back out just as Sue was walking away. He walked toward the table, slowing down as he reached it. He was frowning. Gale looked at James and the look on his face was one of him trying to figure out if he should be upset at James seemingly knowing something that he shouldn’t given how short of a time that James had been aware of him.
“That was not me. It seems that the new chef is from someplace that you visit a lot as this was the way that it came out. The hostess, Sue, came over to tell me about it.”
“I would have eaten it the other way, and I guess I didn’t hear you order this.”
“You were indulging in the seaweed salad again when I did.”
“Ah,” Gale said as he sat down. He was still moving very stiffly. Gale sighed. “Bond?”
“When we go back. Do you mind escorting me to medical?”
“I don’t mind at all.”
James was one of the last into the makeshift courtroom that was being used. It looked like an older courtroom that might have been used in the twenties or forties. It was clean and packed with people that looked like they thought they were important. James had been the one to do the last sweep before turning it over to the veritable small army that was guarding the outside. He looked around, checking that everyone that he cared anything about was where they should be. He scanned them again when he noticed that Gale wasn’t in the room. There was no way that he was going to miss the trial and M had already guaranteed that he would be there.
Vesper noticed him and called out. James ignored her, looking anywhere but where she was.
“Miss Lynd, if you don’t cease, we will gag you,” one of the court officers said.
There were none of the fancy getups with the powdered wigs. It was men and women in suits spread around an upper section that looked down into where Vesper was being held in chains. James figured that while it was called a trial, it was going to be nothing of the sort. There was no proof that needed to be dug out that would help to convince anyone that she was not guilty of what she had been charged with. There was a trail that was more than enough. This was a mockery of the justice system to hopefully get more out of her and to make sure that there was evidence of a trial just in case some bleeding heart actually got it into their head to see if Vesper Lynd had been framed.
M nodded her head, and the man in the middle of the raised section nodded back at her.
“Vesper Lynd you are charged with treason against England and aiding with a terrorist organisation. How do you plead?”
“Not guilty,” Vesper said. Her voice was small, and she was shaking a little bit. She tried to shake it off it seemed, but the man raised his hand, and one of the doors opened up.
James had to force himself to hold in the gasp that wanted to break free as Gale was escorted in, handcuffs around each wrist and ankle with heavy chains connecting all four of his limbs. His face was a mottle of bruises, but there was something slightly off about them that James couldn’t figure out. M turned around and looked at James before waving him forward.
“M, you said you had an agent who would be good at watching Mister Lynd during this trial while we wait for his testimony and then when we try him.”
“He never did anything!” Vesper yelled as she jerked on the chains that were keeping her stuck to the table. Her head whipped around to look at Gale and James could see the worry on her face. She was finally worried about what this had all done to him.
“You will shut your mouth, or we will get that gag,” the man said.
Vesper sat down again, but she didn’t look cowed.
“007,” M said.
James nodded his head and walked down to where the entrances to the middle were guarded. The guard let him through, and James walked over to where Gale was placed in a chair at the back of the area where Vesper was. James got a good look at the bruises on his face to see that they were not actual bruises but a very thin sheet of fake skin. James knew what to look for, and it was the only reason he saw it. The chains on him were also just big looking. James could see that one was bent already. It was all a spectacle to get what they wanted out of Vesper without having to lay a hand on her. James knew that Gale had stepped up to do the rough interrogation on his own. He had wanted it to make sure that no one could ever question him and it had proven that he was loyal to MI6 and England, even over his sibling. Though, after what Vesper had done, James wasn’t shocked that he had chosen England over her. She had chosen a lover over him. James laid a hand on Gale’s shoulder to give him reassurance, and he squeezed just a little. To most of the people looking at them, it would seem like a scare tactic or intimidation. Then none of them knew that James had been taking Gale out for lunch for the last few days and had sat with him through medical and getting his shoulder looked at.
Gale hadn’t been worried about the dislocated shoulder and had popped it back into the socket himself in the room with the three men who had interrogated him. That had shocked then. James had been shocked when Gale told him that it was easy to pop that one out as he had been bullied in school until he had made it to uni. Though he was given a sling, he didn’t seem to be using it at the moment but then that wouldn’t fit with what they were trying to show here.
“You are accused of giving aid to a terrorist organisation in the commission of a crime against London. To aiding and abetting a terrorist in two different attempts to kill a British intelligence agent.”
“I saved him!” Vesper said.
The man glared at her and nodded at one of the guards. The man walked over with what amounted to a face guard that would stop her from being able to open her mouth at all. It was laid down in front of her.
“You will be able to give testimony when it’s your turn. You will be asked questions and be allowed to answer. All that talking out of turn is going to do, Miss Lynd is get that put on your face, and then you will have to write out every single answer and have a court officer read them out loud. Do something for yourself and don’t do that.”
Vesper settled into the chair and seemed cowed by the words the man said.
“You gave over the information that Agent James Bond, code named 007, had figured out the man known as Le Chiffre’s tell to him. Do you deny this?”
“Then, after Le Chiffre wiped him out based on your treachery, you denied him the second buy-in so that he could keep playing.”
“This led to a confrontation between you, 007, and two men from an organisation that we have yet to fully identify and had Agent Mathis have to get rid of two bodies after 007 killed them.”
Vesper stayed silent.
“Then before the end of the game, Le Chiffre had his counterpart-” the man stopped to look at a sheet of paper. “Valenka poison 007. If it weren’t for Q-Branch’s quick thinking and your timely arrival to ‘save’ him, 007 would be dead.”
Vesper still said nothing. She looked like a petulant child sitting there in front of her parents being scolded for being a bad girl. Gale was stiff, sitting there in the chair, his eyes locked on the back of Vesper’s head. James figured that if asked, Gale would gladly be the one interrogating her. James looked at the faces that were in the crowd. No one was that shocked about anything. James would love to know who every single one of them was but knew that it wasn’t going to happen until it was all over, and James looked into it himself.
“Were you supposed to save him?” The man asked.
“I wasn’t told not to,” Vesper said.
“Then you were given directions to what?”
“When do you mean?”
“Sorry. When you were doing a very late dinner with 007, you received two texts. One that could be traced to Mathis about the Americans taking possession of Le Chiffre and then the second we were unable to trace, and it was gone. 007’s own report stated that it was worrying that you were going to meet Mathis when 007 thought he was the traitor. He was about to get up when the message reached him about you being the traitor. So then he was left to see you taken into custody at MI6 hands while Le Chiffre’s men were waiting on you to take you captive. What was the purpose?”
“007 has the password for the account, and without it, I would not be able to get the money to Le Chiffre so that he could replace it with the stock that 007 had caused to not crash.”
“And he would have been tortured, using the fact that you were being tortured in another room as a reason to give up the password and therefore directly fund terrorism. Did you know that 007 has a good recall of words spoken to him? There is a report here that he has a much greater memory of things like that than any other person tested in the British Secret Service? That he gave us every single word that you spoke to him from the train ride up to Montenegro and then after? You are good, Miss Lynd but next time leave the profiling to someone else because you are just not that good at it.” The man looked at the woman to his left and nodded at her.
“Miss Lynd, when your boyfriend Yusef Kabira was taken, why did you not go to your bosses?”
“They were going to kill him!” Vesper said. She was looking at the people up on the raised section like they were idiots for not understanding that. “He was an innocent man, and you have killed him with this. He’s probably floating dead in the ocean somewhere.”
“Actually, Miss Lynd, Kabira is fine and dandy, well as fine as he could be after being interrogated by the CIA.”
Vesper jerked, and it seemed like she tried to lunge over the table, but the chains stopped her. She was still dressed in the boiler suit that she had been in the last time James had seen her. James looked down at Gale’s clothes and noticed that he was in regular clothing. James smirked when he saw that Gale had a paperclip in his fingers and he had worked the cuffs on his wrists off with it. He was very clever.
“Your boyfriend was a plant, Miss Lynd. He was settled into your path for this reason. It seems that the organisation that he works for, the same that Le Chiffre does, do this with a lot of agents across the globe with various men and women. You were a honeypot mission. You were targeted on the off chance that they might need you one day and then you were soundly tromped on when the time came. You were exactly what they thought you would be. More loyal to your own cunt than the country that you live in.”
There were a few whispers at the wording that was used by the woman, but it was a good word that really drove home the whole point of it all.
“You lie!” Vesper said.
“No, I don’t. I don’t lie and manipulate people to get what I want. I use honesty to make people see that my way is the best. You’d do well to remember that. Now you said that he was taken from in front of you and beaten before you were left with a man who told you what you would be doing for them, for the most part. Were you given proof of life after the fact? Proof that they had him and that he was alive?”
“Why did you not go up the chain of command to report this and do what is laid out in the contract that you signed when you were hired?”
“I couldn’t trust that they would actually make sure that Yusef made it. I had to protect him.”
“At the cost of your life and liberty and the life and liberty of your brother.”
“He’s innocent. He didn’t know.” Vesper started to cry, but James couldn’t tell if the tears were real or just a show put on to make them feel for her.
“You know, that’s the first time I think you have ever thought about anyone but yourself in this.” The woman gave a smile toward Gale and nodded her head.
The sound of the chains hitting the floor was loud, and it made Vesper turn around to where James stepped back from Gale. He hadn’t been told to, but it showed that Gale was free. Gale lifted his unbound hands and started to peel off the fake skin that was showing the bruise that made up half of his face. Vesper gasped and looked at Gale in utter shock.
“Did you know that your brother had been assigned to your mission by MI6? That the flirting that you were doing with 007 on the train had been reported back by another agent that was travelling as a passenger as back-up had turned on Mister Lynd to the fact that something was wrong?”
“Gale?” Vesper asked.
“I found Kabira before you even got to Montenegro, but it took me until the night that 007 won the game to figure out what was going on and have enough proof. Still, M believed me with just the little bit that I had sent to her after that first night that she started to get teams into the area for more backup in case things went horribly wrong. I knew what he was before you even got to Montenegro, and from there, it was just making sure that I had an ironclad case against him and against you.”
“You betrayed me?” Vesper asked.
“You betrayed me first. You didn’t even think about how that would look, did you? I made sure to enter MI6 the best way and work my way up into the higher ranks so that no one would tell me that I had done something to gain favours from someone to become what I became in MI6. How it would look my sister, my fucking twin sister, betrayed her country because her boyfriend turned out to be terrorist and played her?”
“You betrayed me.” This time Vesper said it like it was the truth and that she was broken by it. James wondered if she had ever truly loved him.
Gale made a disgusted noise, and he rolled his shoulders. A second later, James felt something land on his shoulder. He looked at it to see that it was Gale’s sling. James turned to nod at Tanner who was standing there in the crowd section. He also handed over a glass of water and one of the containers of pills that James was used to seeing. James kept the sling on his shoulder and walked up to hand the container over. Gale looked at it and then at his watch before he nodded. He took the water, sipped at it, threw back the pills straight from the container and then finished off the water. James handed the empty container and the glass back to Tanner before he handed over the sling to Gale.
It didn’t take long for Gale to get his arm into the sling. There was a look of concern on Vesper’s face as she saw that he flinched when moving his shoulder. He rolled his shoulders again and sighed.
“I had to prove myself, and that meant letting their worst get information out of me. By the way, thank you because I had to admit what my first sexual encounter was like. I’ve never talked about that with anyone but you.”
“You didn’t have to do that, you could have just left.”
“And been branded a traitor like you? I have to wear this shame for the rest of my life. There is no way that I won’t have to get the pity looks because of my sister.” Gale inhaled and exhaled, calming himself down. “My twin sister, who should have had my back above every other person in this world, betrayed me and didn’t trust me. I found him in minutes. I then found out how many other women he’s done it to. He was working on a new woman by the way. He was using his bruises from the beat up that he got as a way to ingratiate himself with her. She was caring for him like a mother does a child.”
“And yet you stand here with him.”
“He who you betrayed? He didn’t even know who I was when he first met me. The person who was supposed to tell him didn’t because he knew that James had started to care for you, and he didn’t want to add to the pain that he was already feeling. He should have wanted to kill me when he found out who I was but instead he worried about how this was all affecting me, especially since I had to do it to save my own ass. If I had buried that and not point out that you were in a steady relationship and that shit on the train was you flirting, then I would be on the other side of this and in the same spot that you are. They are not trying me, but they wanted to see if that would make you confess more and do anything to save me, but we all see that it’s not going to happen. I love you, Vesper and I will until the day that I die. I’ll make sure that your part of the trust fund gets to you every single month and that nothing happens to what is left so that you never run out of money but do not ever call me again. I don’t care if you are being beaten blind in prison, you wouldn’t be there if you had put someone in front of you and the man that you loved.”
“You never liked him anyway.”
“Because he was trying to come between us. You swore when mum and dad died that you would always protect me, and I would always protect you. It was supposed to be us against the world.Yet the first time a man breathes pretty words in your ears and plays your orgasms just right I’m thrown away to the wind. I nearly lost everything that I wanted in the world because of you.”
Vesper turned around to face the people on the raised section, and she didn’t turn around.
“Over here, Gale,” Tanner said, and the man held out an arm. Gale looked around the room to find M who nodded her head and only then did Gale stand up and walk to where Tanner was.
“Thank you,” Gale said, but he didn’t meet James’s eyes. James patted his shoulder, and when Gale was gone from the room, James stepped over to where he could look at the side profile of Vesper. She didn’t react at all when questions were asked. She answered yes or no and gave very little otherwise. It was horrible but nothing that James didn’t figure that she deserved. Family was someone that you didn’t betray, and James knew that Gale’s own part in it all would haunt him forever. He had betrayed his sister, but James figured that it was no less then she deserved because she had done it first, and after the first betrayal, there was no going back. It was like children on the playground who were taught that getting back at the person who hurt you just wasn’t done. This was life and death. Gale might not have lost his life because of it all, but he would have lost what he considered his life because of it.
The rest of the trial was a joke as Vesper didn’t take part in any of it other than one-word answers. She was the cold-hearted bitch like she had been portraying on the train, composure in place. James did wonder though if before Gale had been brought inside in chains if she thought he was going to make sure that she got out of this to save his sister. Gale wasn’t that kind of person, and if Vesper thought that he was, then she had never understood her brother at all.
The death of parents, no matter the age of the person, changed that person. It was strange and weird to lose a parent, especially when they were mostly grown when it happened. There was still damage done. James knew what it was like to lose his parents. He had lost them and then the man who had taken him in to care for in a very short amount of time.
Each of the security details for the people present came to the room to get them after Vesper had been taken out again. James was pretty damned sure that she was going to be going straight to whatever prison she was being remanded to. There had been no hope of her getting sympathy from any of the people who had been her jury. The sentence had been handed down as well, which was precisely what James thought it would be. Life in prison.
Tanner’s car was still outside, the one that he used when he was doing official business. However, James noticed that Tanner wasn’t in it. He was talking to M who was waiting on something. Tanner nodded his head over toward the other car, and James saw the bent head in the back seat through the tint just because there was enough sun coming through that it was not as dark as it usually was. James walked over toward the car and opened up the passenger side door and crouched there. Gale wasn’t in tears, but he was looking at something on his phone. James caught a glimpse of a picture of the two of them. It looked like a selfie of some kind with the two of them smiling at the camera. There was a beach visible behind them. Gale looked happy in the image, and while Vesper was smiling, there was something there that was a challenge.
“This was her vacation trip that she took after getting onto the task force. She wanted to bring her new boyfriend, but when we had planned this years before when she got the job that she wanted, we hadn’t planned on anyone but us going. She was put out before we went about me holding her to that. She wasn’t that upset after we got there and at night she texted with Yusef and called him every single morning.”
“What was the trip planned for when you got the job you wanted?” James knew that where Gale was inside of MI6 was not where he wanted to be as part of his grand reaching life.
“Paris. A day around the city and then to wherever we wanted to go for a week.”
“Why don’t you go? You are cleared, and M is giving you a week vacation.”
“I don’t…I want to do something else. Something for me. But I agree that I need to go out and about. I need to get away.”
“You do and do something for you.”
Gale nodded his head and started to swipe through his phone until he found a picture that looked like a digitised circuit board made of the colours of the rainbow. He tapped a few things and then his phone had that as the background picture. James stood up and waited to see what Gale was going to do. Gale grabbed the seat belt and wrapped it around his body to get ready for Tanner to drive him somewhere.
James turned to nod at Tanner who closed out his conversation with M and strode over to his car. James traded places with him as he was going to go with M back to MI6.
“Ready for your next mission, 007?” M asked as James opened the car door for her.
James shut the door and walked around the car before he looked to see Tanner talking to Gale as they drove past them. He would find the people that did this to Vesper for Gale. He wasn’t going to stop hunting them until they were all dead.
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 were, 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 was 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 for. 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 I 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 his. 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 time 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 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 food. 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.
I write fanfiction for fun. It’s a hobby and a stress relief. I refuse to stress over my writing. What you see is what you get. Errors, plot holes, and all. Thank you for reading my story!
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