Ronni lies in the Barracks cot, staring at the ceiling, understanding now why 007 never slept off the clock. Even in the relative quiet her mind’s far too noisy, multiple scenarios bouncing in a troubled brain. Mostly the image of Bond’s bloodied face is a concern, that even though she knows where they’ll send her, there needs to be more context than currently exists. There is three weeks of intelligence on Maddy to catch up with for starters, and the understanding that a lot of internal politics had been missed whilst undercover…
‘You’re supposed to be resting, Flemmings, and are not trying hard enough.’
Moneypenny stands in the doorway, dark blue McQueen trouser suit a recent addition to the wardrobe. Ronni doesn’t move because finally, she’s comfortable and it would be sad to lose at least the notion of relaxation.
‘We keep meeting back here, do you think there’s a reason?’
‘Normally at least one of us is on the back foot. Last time it was me. I should thank you for sharing the responsibility.’
Ronni expects to have to move but Eve comes to sit on the cot’s edge, staring down at her.
‘I wanted you to know I’ve made sure Bond’s ring’s in M’s safe until such time as you can hand it back to him. I don’t think you need worry too much about anyone stealing it.’
‘Thank you Eve, I appreciate the thought. I presume you took a look?’
‘Indeed, it’s truly beautiful. Would you wear it?’
There it was, Moneypenny not messing about as was always the case, straight to the point and no deception. Ronni often wondered how she made it through Basic Training being so blunt, and maybe when Gregory came down from Whitehall shortly for his briefing, she could ask.
‘No, I wouldn’t. I don’t want to marry him either. The thought has never crossed my mind.’
Eve knows this is Ronni’s honesty at play, and is taken aback.
‘All the work you did on Maddy-‘
‘- was because I saw her as a genuine threat. Why is your disbelief not surprising?’
‘I’d assumed because James cancelled the wedding -‘
‘ – I suspect as a result of what he knew was coming and not because of me. Of course, I can’t find out and I’d bet it wouldn’t be on the agenda the next time we meet, but really, truthfully-‘
‘I’m sorry. On top of everything else, I just assumed you were the reason.’
It’s obvious the entire conversation isn’t going as Moneypenny had hoped: expecting the woman to get up and leave, when she stands there is clear indecision and Ronni’s immediately curious. Eve could have waited for the briefing to talk to her, and didn’t. That means the real reason she is here will be personal. For the first time since they’ve known each other there is confusion and uncertainty in the woman’s features. Eve’s mask has slipped, perhaps even removed for a reason.
‘I know you told Q you thought I was being wasted at the desk, and Tanner’s told me what happened after Blofeld’s arrest, when the previous 009 suggested I wasn’t capable of taking responsibility. You didn’t need to defend me but you did, and when Bond called and urged me to accept the promotion at the weekend it was a surprise. Between the two of you, this is a second chance at a designation I’d pretty much accepted was lost. I still can’t entirely believe I’ve made it here.’
Now Ronni moves to sitting, because this is important. It’s the longest she’s ever heard Eve talk, and it deserves nothing less than her full attention.
‘I know what Q’s done, that Charlie’s been picked as a partner for me because we’re a good fit, but I’m not sure how this works. How do I do this job when I can’t be sure I’m capable?’
‘That’s just not true, and you know it. The organisation can be done in your sleep, that’s never going to be an issue. I found really quickly that if you trust the training, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve. Mostly, it is about faith in yourself. Everything else will come eventually.’
Once upon a time they’d been wary of each other, uncertain, but this isn’t the same Eve from Ronni’s training days. The attack on the Barracks had changed her, added a level of determination to the demeanour that had previously been missing, blown away the myth of an inability to shoot under pressure. When the circumstances had called for her to just step up and be a 00? She’d not even stopped to think. The journey to make it here, via Istanbul and regret had finally been forgotten. Confidence was established, she just wanted reassurance. Ronni knows that feeling only too well.
‘I’m sorry I assumed things about you and Bond. I just thought that if he’d given you the ring-‘
‘I don’t know what to think, Eve. I wish I did. All I know is that I have to save him. I can’t trust anybody else. When I’ve done that?’
Suddenly Ronni wants to be somewhere, anywhere else, and without another word is up and heading for the small bathroom opposite the cots. Being sure that if she cried Moneypenny would be both supportive and understanding, the reassurance isn’t needed. If all this emotion spills out now, she won’t cope for the rest of the day, and this is the time for the training that Gregory gave her concerning stressful situations and dealing with consequence. Standing moments later, back against the hastily-shut bathroom door, 004 sinks to the floor and tries to clear a troubled mind.
Being unable to save Bond had ripped open her heart.