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The view across the foothills of the Alps is truly glorious: it seems the right moment to break from their progress, and so Ronni and Q pick a vista over which to enjoy the last of their leftovers from the night before. There’s an optimism in them both since she woke naked, morning wash in freezing stream water distinctly less stressful than previous days, and it’s all because his voice still whispers in her mind, calm confidence that makes the day brighter and concerns lessen. Ronni closes her eyes and imagines James, sitting as they eat, quiet acceptance she’d not want Q to be somewhere else when this happened. It isn’t 007’s intimacy lost in her equation, far from it. Moneypenny should be here, Charlie too.

She misses her friends far more than at first grasped. As the remains of the stew becomes an early lunch, it isn’t just her with the problem either. Q’s desire to to be anywhere but in the field has become abundantly apparent.

‘I yearn for the hum of servers, random conversations as one passes from place to place. I’d kill for a decent cup of coffee. Lying in bed on a Sunday morning with Sherlock and Adler competing for attention… and talking to Alex, I miss him most of all. This keeps me tied to the hope that I’ll get the word sooner rather than later. With the last of Beam’s files I can understand both translated and uploaded yesterday? My work here is effectively done. I think I’d like to go home too.’

Q’s face is thinner, tanned and reassuringly calm as he meets her gaze, and Ronni leans back against the tree that stops her from slipping down the mountain. Given the choice, she’d fail medicals and stay behind a desk for months, but knows enough about herself to grasp that desire would also be short-lived. Variety and constant movement are always craved, yet one place remains inescapable as her home.

‘I really miss London. I never knew how much the noise and grime soothed me. I’m not sure I’ll ever be truly comfortable in the great outdoors.’

‘You couldn’t get used to Scotland?’

There’s a hint of a smile on Andrew’s lips: Ronni laughs, understanding after the night before that he had decided at least one relationship was no longer just field work or relaxation.

‘Carnagie pretty much destroyed any affinity I had with the Highlands for good. If James wants me to visit, he’s going to have to rebuild Skyfall with far better central heating.’

‘I wonder if he’d want to go back there himself. Remind me when I see him next to ask.’

Then there is vibration on Ronni’s left leg followed by a moment of disbelief as it’s apparent that someone other than her handler is attempting communication. Pulling out the phone, simple message that awaits has Bond’s fingerprints all over it:

White Queen: Game Over, await Transport.

She hands the phone to Q who stares at the words before laughing himself, and Ronni grasps it’s been weeks since that happened. Even at her ‘party’ last night he’d been quiet, more reserved than normal, and it will be the manner of their recall that’s entertained, more than expected. She has to ask why, just so he’ll be forced to explain.

‘Since when did this become your call sign, Andrew?’

‘I found it amusing when suggesting I be allowed in the field. It thumbs one’s nose at the establishment in quite the rebellious fashion. I’m becoming a fan of the small gesture to make a point. You know, if we push we can be inside French airspace by sunset. Once there, extraction becomes considerably simpler for everybody.’

Q is up, suddenly the one ready to move forward and home, fuelled by the need to return to a life he understandably misses. For a second however, Ronni isn’t sure: she might hate being here, but returning home isn’t a given, because a great many things will need to be dealt with and right now, that’s not exactly reassurance. Then there is Andrew, squatting in her eyeline, concern all too obvious.

‘I know how tired you are, how much there is in your mind to reconcile, and once we return to the Real World there are decisions to make I suspect you have no wish to consider. But until Christian Swann is eliminated, many lives remain in danger. We will take this one step at a time, like we did when you trained. Don’t worry about the next day’s tasks, let us finish this one first, together and strong.’

His hand pulls her to standing, arms wrap around tense shoulders, and the hug is welcomed, accepted without a word. Then he is standing, waiting for rucksack to be placed before they walk side by side up to the rough mountain path to continue the journey west. Ronni lets everything fall from her mind, focusing simply on the journey, one foot in front of the other. Everything else, as Q quite rightly points out, can wait for tomorrow.

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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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