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Twenty six seconds into heart massage comes a spasm, water spurting from lungs mixed with vomit and the all-pervading stench of medical alcohol: Bond’s alive, gasping air and looking around in terror. Ronni falls back, shoulders hitting solid stone, staring as he readjusts; another one of nine lives summarily consumed. There’ll be an insistence Felix travels back to Como with him because that remains a safe haven, and this time James can get better without falling in love with anyone. Only now does it register: he’s staring, fully conscious and wide-eyed, yet completely incapable of speech. Bond’s expecting a comeback from the dead, and all Ronni can be grateful for is survival.

‘You’re welcome.’

007’s trying to move; shifting body, staring with what Ronni’s fairly confident is amazement. His tears are a surprise before there’s retching again: blood with the vomit prompts the immediate need to move him to the Recovery position. If this wasn’t SPECTRE there’d be another acronym to deal with, different bunch of random nutters with no discernible agenda except chaos. You never eliminated bad guys, they just evolved into something more insidious and the only conclusive manner of eradicating evil was with the good in the hearts of people like 007, because that’s what he was, a fucking hero.

Ronni might often disagree with methods, but the heart’s purity she just restarted was without question. James cared about what was right, stopping bad from becoming the norm, and that alone was worth saving. A shaking hand reaches out, slipping around hers: pulling them together yet conscious of crowding as a pulse is taken. He’s built like an ox, resting heart rate almost stupidly unaffected by the fact he just died. Only now does the Spectre chopper register, climbing above the water, that Christian’s escape is only being allowed because that way MI6 has time to destroy everything he stands for in front of the world.

There’s movement behind her eyeline: Leiter’s arrived, dropping down the set of stairs that lead back up to the main quayside. Because they’ve forced Swann into retreat, it is absolutely the moment to press an advantage.

‘Q has the data, everything’s set, leave Jim with me.’

Bond is clearly capable of understanding Leiter’s presence but not intent, and as 007 remains her partner, Ronni knows this plan needs explanation. Leaning into a shaking body, her own shudders in response, amazement that instinct pushes to lay down and protect until he recovers. Yet again, time has run out. All that is left now is the mission, compulsion to complete this game-changing objective.

‘You’re never going to believe this, but I was the one just passing. I need to be somewhere else so that we can wipe these guys off the map for good. I’ll leave you with Felix: I promise to find you when I’m done.’

Bond understands, despite being incapable of response, nodding assent. Felix stares with what only now registers is awe: truly understanding she means business, very much in charge of the fight back. Spectre had been given notice, already condemned to destruction in the most damning way possible, and if anyone got in the way? She would destroy them, because now was summarily grasped the true value of revenge. It was no use to you on the back foot: the only way forward was to own the concept from first breath until your last.

‘You said you wanted to get Swann…’

‘I must be prepared to go all the way. Because they’re not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead.’

She can’t help herself, knowing how they both loved quoting classics. Leiter stares at the mess her body undoubtedly resembles with smile already forming, nodding at the use of the classic movie scene with approval.

‘They pull a knife… ‘

‘- you pull a gun.’

‘He sends one of yours to the hospital… ‘

‘- you send one of his to the morgue.’

Their hug is instant and solid, allowing opportunity to pass him the smartwatch, ensuring both will remain in the loop. As Felix pulls away his smile is the widest she’s ever seen: 004 really hopes in future to watch movies and drink beer with this guy whilst concluding that real life is not nearly as dramatic as the big screen would have you believe. In many ways, this will be the more solid relationship than with Charlie, because Ronni has so much more in common with Leiter than first realised.

‘You got this, Ron. Go make Spectre bleed.’

Leaving Bond is almost impossible, however; there has to be closure of sorts. Planting a kiss to his forehead with all the emotion within, willing into an addled brain to stay safe until the medical team arrived, they are both again forced to work alone. Above come shrill sirens, emergency services arriving in response to their actions and if Ronni didn’t know already it is the cue to complete this mission. The taste of blood in won’t vanish as she sprints up the canal wall stairs, two at a time, trying to erase memory of James as a wreck, literally dead in the water.

Now she understands how 007 must have felt when Vesper died.

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Everything related to James Bond (007) belongs to Eon Productions and Danjaq LLC, except the bits in here that are mine and I made up. I get how this works.

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