Before you begin: this fiction assumes you’ve seen Spectre, that you know who Madeline Swann is, and that Blofeld was taken into custody at the end of the movie, before 007 drove off into the sunset in his DB5. This then begins about three months after the events in the 24th Bond movie, and involves the ‘cast’ of my first story, Duet. I’d suggest you read that first, before you start here.


DEFAULT

It slipped my mind
And for a time
I felt completely free…



The Pre-Credits Sequence

004 and 007 exit the Barracks at a run, guns still drawn.

James Bond is not a great fan of pressure, despite the fact he thrives within its embrace, and at this moment is grateful that the keys in jacket pocket belong to 009’s vehicle and not his. His impromptu partner for the morning pressed them into his hands as he lay on the Barracks floor with an emergency triage team, and were it not for the woman keeping pace with him, that man would be dead. In fact, had Ronni Flemmings not returned the previous day from her assignment in Turkey, far more fatalities would be left in the wake of the attack that just hit MI6’s Central London Training HQ.

Even one death wasn’t acceptable under any circumstances, especially not now.

Ronni’s Walther is holstered, jacket off as she almost throws herself into the Mercedes AMG-GT, sticking phone into a special slot provided in the central console as Bond swings the car out into Westminster traffic. The blue lights inside the front grille activate automatically, sirens deployed as early morning London rush hour parts to the alert with surprising speed. This city’s still jittery, memory of the helicopter crash and impromptu demolition of the now defunct MI6 HQ still far too fresh in the memory. It’s a good minute before the car’s dedicated comms system springs into life, and Bond knows why. This attack had one aim, to blind them all. The fact that the only man capable of resisting such efforts to disable the Intelligence Service remained from where they’d escaped unharmed was something everyone should be grateful for in hindsight. As face appears on the phone’s screen, even his normal unflappable resolve is strained.

‘Q, talk to me.’

‘Patience please, 007, let me place us to audio only on the scrambler first. As the coffee machine remains on fire I may be working slightly below capacity.’

If the Quartermaster can joke then there’s a chance they’ll still catch their quarry, Bond decides, knowing all too well how effortlessly this young man performs in the field. This is as close to combat as he’s ever been, picking up a gun to support his tech team without a thought. Ronni’s scores won’t be beaten any time soon, yet at least two targets were hit with confidence.

‘On reflection, maybe you shouldn’t have done the noble thing and just killed Blofeld when you had the chance.’

Bond then wants to chide the agent beside him on the sanctity of process, but even he’s beginning to think Flemmings has a point. Two hours ago, in bed with a woman who wouldn’t be alive unless the Spectre leader had been thwarted, there’d been no thought of lives in danger because of this same threat. His newly-caged nemesis was presumed safe in a specially-built Hertfordshire installation, but even that’s now somewhat doubtful.

‘Is Blofeld’s facility still secure, Q?’

‘I honestly can’t tell you, 007, our systems are a mess, no reliable comms outside of Central London. Moneypenny’s mobile signal is more dependable and we’re using that to try and phone HSC1 for confirmation. I would suggest you assume that containment has been breached and act accordingly. I’d anticipate an airbound exit would be the most sensible form of extraction by Spectre’s people.’

‘East London Heliport’s five minutes away with our lights on, is there anything there we can use?’

‘That’s a very good question 004, that I might be able to answer shortly. Catch up with each other while you wait.’

Flemmings stares at Bond, before turning away to focus anywhere but at him. Her silence is awkward, and James isn’t sure what to do as correction. She was in Ankara yesterday morning, returning from a long period of solo undercover work, and this is the first time since arriving in the Barracks that they’ve even managed to speak. It could just be she’d gotten used to being silent, but Bond knows better. He’s in trouble, probably with good reason. Maybe if he tries just being polite…

‘Q tells me you managed to shut down both supply lines for the rebels. That’s pretty good going.’

‘I can’t discuss active assignments 007 and don’t think I’ve finished being angry at you.’

‘This is not the place to restart this argument.’

‘Your utterly inappropriate behaviour is why this whole fucking mess exists to begin with. You want me to be happy you trashed the best job I’ve ever had because you insist on thinking with your prick?’

The anger had been noticeably apparent since she’d ran back into his life, but now it’s personal and inescapable. His arrogance wasn’t the issue, and neither was professionalism. She’s right, its the need to be wanted that screwed them both, in the end. Bond had not spared a thought for anything except himself or Madeline, and that was his biggest regret of all. The silence is painful, uncomfortable regret he’s not sure will ever be totally repaired. She’d refused his calls since Blofeld’s arrest, previous warmth notably absent. Maybe he’d misjudged her too, it wouldn’t be the first time that had happened.

With an audible sigh, shake of the head more in resignation that judgement, Ronni smiles at him for the first time that morning.

‘Amazingly, you’re right and I’m sorry, that was uncalled for. I have no idea what this must be like.’

‘Which ‘this’ are you referring to?’

‘All of them. Finding out you’re the victim of the most obsessive of stalkers. Discovering life’s been engineered for decades. Falling in love for the first time since you lost someone who meant everything and more. You’ve pretty much exceeded most people’s limits for ridiculous circumstance in the last three months. Lesser mortals would be dead by now, yet here you are, planning a wedding. I’m not sure if I should be jealous or staggered.’

Bond is taken aback: she knows more than anyone else in the Department, even Tanner isn’t aware of his intent, and yet here she is, holding all the cards. He shouldn’t but steals a glance back, satisfaction at this woman who by rights would now be the most qualified agent on the books after him, but who remains very much the undisclosed quantity. There’s nothing but disappointment that Whitehall’s not done more with Ronni’s potential, despite what transpired with Nine Eyes. However, considering the scene they’re now leaving? Perhaps it’s not as much of a surprise as first appears.

Maybe when all this was concluded, her legacy could be established unhindered.

‘Assuming we both survive the day, I’d like you to finally meet Maddy, if you’re willing?’

‘After we survive the day, there’s a good chance I’ll be back to fledgling insurgency before the dust can settle. Time and revolution wait for no woman.’

Bond knows what this is, quiet and deliberate rebuttal. If he’s stepping down, their extra-curricular relationship is likely at an end anyway, because the last thing she’ll want is emotional baggage for the rest of her life as one of MI6’s new order of professional free agents. He’s staggered that their minds can do the future, when this present is suddenly hugely more dangerous than it began when waking with Maddy at 6am. If there were anyone to ensure their hastily-concocted mission were to succeed, it would be Ronni. This would be the first time since becoming 004 that they’d officially worked together. Bond would make damn sure that they both escaped to tell the tale.

For the first time since ensuring Blofeld was captured and not killed, 007 feels a pang of regret for the choice. Should they get close enough, it was a decision that would be corrected with customary thoroughness.


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OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER:

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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Shonky Writer/Content Creation :: #WarcraftFaffing :: Provocatrix :: Non Binary :: Chaotic Good :: HUMAN SPORK :: TEA, less CAKE http://www.patreon.com/InternetofWords

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