Fandom: James Bond
Characters: James Bond, Olivia Mansfield
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their respective owners.
Summary: James presents M with a gift that could ultimately change the nature of their relationship.
Notes: Takes place four months after Quantum of Solace.
James paced the suite of his and M’s hotel room waiting for her to emerge from her bedroom. They were in Vienna for a state dinner that had taken place the night before on behalf of the Austrian Chancellor. He had insisted that she take him with her as her bodyguard, which resulted in her protests before she finally agreed.
They were only supposed to be in Vienna for the event then head back to London the next day. That was the plan until the Chancellor insisted that she stay for one more night to attend the opening of Turandot. M, not wanting to turn down his invitation agreed and James was secretly glad that she did.
She could do with a few days off to get away from the office and the committee. He couldn’t recall the last time that she had taken an actual holiday. Perhaps tonight would do her the world of good.
“You are going to wear a hole in the carpet, James.”
He stopped and turned to look over at her, feeling his words die in his throat. Christ, she looked radiant. The black gown was simple but elegant as the black floor length dress pooled to the ground and clung to her body like a second skin. The front of the dress, plunged into a deep low cut V, revealing more than what he was used to seeing. He always thought she had a gorgeous figure, under all those power suits that she liked to wear. Now seeing her in such a dress, his thoughts were indeed right.
“What do you think? Is it too much?” She smoothed down the front of the dress, waiting for his opinion.
“You look beautiful, M,” He told her sincerely.
She looked over at him highly doubtful she was, “I’ll take your word for it. I feel ridiculous, I can’t remember the last time I wore a dress like this.”
“It suits you.”
M tried to hide her smile at the sincerity in his voice. He really was a charmer.
“But, I think it would go better with something else.”
She gave him a look of curiosity as he made his way into his own bedroom, only to return a few seconds later carrying a black rectangular box.
“I bought this for you before we left, London.” He held out the box for her to take.
She looked from the box to James, wondering why on earth he was giving her something. He was her agent, nothing more, yet here he was buying her a gift as if they were dating or in a relationship.
“Take it, M.”
Giving a sigh, she reached out and took the box from him. Opening it, she tried to stop the gasp that wanted to escape her throat. Encased in the box was a silver bracelet adorned with twenty-four oval shaped diamonds.
“James… I can’t accept this.” She expected to see the hurt look on his face at her admission, but he just smiled.
“Think of it as an early birthday present.”
“Early… you’ve being going through my file again, haven’t you?” She wanted to be angry that he had disobeyed her orders yet again, but she found it amusing more than anything.
“No, it was Tanner that told me. The date on your file isn’t your real date of birth. Your real birthday is in three days.” He smirked as her eyes narrowed.
“That man. I’m going to kill him.”
James gave a chuckle, finding it amusing that it was someone else she wanted to have killed rather than him for a change.
“And you aren’t getting off the hook either. What the hell possessed you to buy me something like this, James? You should be spending your money on someone you care about, not me. I’m your boss and hardly important.”
His smirk vanished at her words, “Don’t ever say that again, M.”
“Why? It’s the truth.”
“No… it isn’t. Forget I even gave it to you, M if you don’t want to wear it.”
M knew that tone, he was becoming defensive, hiding behind that armour of his and not letting anyone get close. She thought they were passed all of this, but it seemed she had been wrong.
“I’ll wear it, if you give me one good reason, why you bought me this, James! One reason. That’s all I ask!”
“I told you it was a birthday gift!”
She gave a scoff; “You have never bought me anything in the past, James! Why now?”
M kept his attention on him. He wasn’t getting out of this until he gave her an answer. If it took all night, then so be it.
“Forget it, M. We are going to be late.”
“You’re avoiding the topic, James! I’m not leaving here until you give me a Goddamn answer!”
“Leave it, M! You won’t like it!” He warned her.
“For Christ sake James, just tell me!”
“Fine! The reason I bought you that bracelet was in part for your birthday, but it was also a token to show how much I care about you, which is obviously a hard concept to grasp considering you think you’re unimportant to me!”
“Aren’t I?” She raised an eyebrow. “Face it, James we have never exactly seen eye to eye on many things in the past. We are at each other’s throats half the time…”
“Your point, M? Do you think because we have work-related disagreements you think I don’t care about you! You couldn’t be further from the truth!”
M felt her temper rise at hearing his words, “All right, then! Enlighten me, because I’m pretty sure people who care about their boss, do not go out and buy them a Cartier diamond bracelet for their birthday! So, I’ll ask you again, and I want the truth this time! Why did you buy me such an expensive gift?”
“M, we could do this for hours, but I know what you will say before I even give you my reasons for buying it.”
“Try me, James.”
He wondered where to begin; he was never one for openly speaking about his feelings of the heart, well not since Vesper and looked how that situation turned out. But M was different. She had never judged him; she even offered for him to speak to her about the aftermath of that day, but he had turned her down not wanting her pity. Now he regretted not taking her up on that offer.
“You had best take a seat, M,” He told her defeated.
M kept a hold of the box in her hand and took a seat on the sofa feeling it dip next to her as James joined her.
“Everything I’ve told you so far is true, M, but it’s also a thank you for everything you have done for me in the past. No one has shown as much trust and faith in my abilities other than you. You risk your career for all your agents, and I’ve lost count of the amount of times you’ve done it for me.”
“It’s part of my job, James. No one else will look after the welfare of my agents, and the minister has wanted to close down the double-0 section for quite some time.”
“Yet he hasn’t, because of you,” James told her softly. “Anyone else would have just stepped aside and let him and the committee carry on, but you don’t. You stand up for what you believe in, M knowing you could lose your job at any given time.”
“Someone has to. I’m not letting seventeen years of my career and legacy be stripped away and destroyed just because one man’s ego takes a hit when a woman puts him in his place. But we aren’t discussing the minister, we are discussing your reasons for purchasing that bracelet.”
“If I told you… that I see you more than just my boss, what would you say?”
“I would say that you need your head examined.”
He turned to look at her trying to hide his disappointment at her answer. It was the response he had expected, but he didn’t think it would hurt hearing it from her own mouth.
“And that’s exactly why, I didn’t say anything. You wouldn’t believe my feelings for you, even if I was dying.”
“That isn’t even remotely funny, James.” She looked at him unamused, “I’m not going to sugar coat this, but even if I wasn’t your boss, and you gave me this gift and told me what you just have… I probably still wouldn’t believe you. Your relationship with women isn’t exactly committed. How long would it take you to get over your fantasy and the thrill of sleeping with me, before you get bored and move onto the next available woman?”
“The only women I’ve slept with recently are those on missions to get a lead. I haven’t been in an actual relationship since, Vesper. Even then you couldn’t exactly say our relationship was healthy.”
It had been two years since the whole Vesper, White and Greene incident; surely he had been in some sort of relationship with a woman other than when on missions.
“I tried to move on and try to suppress my feelings for you, but it only made me want you even more. No woman has ever or will come close to you; M, and I sincerely mean that.”
“You put me too high on a pedestal. I’m just like every other woman out there, except much older, James. I’m far too old for you, and you’re my agent it would be inappropriate. The minister thinks I already favour you, if he found out about this, it would be the end of my career as well as yours.”
“He wouldn’t have to know, M. What you do outside of office hours, he has no say in it. I would willingly give up my career if it meant I could be with you.”
“No. I’m not risking your career or mine for that matter. I have nothing to offer you, James. You could retire; marry and have a family with a woman your own age…”
“What if I want to retire and be with you?” He challenged her, “what would you say then?”
“My answer would still be the same. It would never work between us. We’re two different sides of the same coin. It’s best you try and forget about this conversation, James.”
“As if I could, M. Do you know what it’s like to have these feelings for someone when you know yourself that they won’t ever feel the same no matter what you do or say? It slowly suffocates you.”
M looked back down at the bracelet, not wanting to see the hurt look on his face or the pleading in his eyes, in the hopes that she would change her mind. She did know what he was feeling. She had been feeling the same way these past few months, but she knew it couldn’t come of anything. It would interfere with her job and orders whenever he was on missions, if their enemies caught onto any relationship they had, it would be used against them. She couldn’t allow that to happen, but a part of her wanted to say yes, even if a relationship between them didn’t work, it would allow them to move on rather than think about what could have been.
“But despite what I’m feeling, M. I’ll respect your wishes, but that won’t stop me caring for you. You will always be important to me, and you’ll always have my heart.”
She heard him stand up and walk away from her. Keeping her eyes on him, she saw him pick up her shawl that she had left out to compliment her dress.
“Shall we go, Ma’am?”
She tried to hide her hurt as he called her by her title. It was what she had wanted, for them to go back to being boss and agent, but why did it hurt as much?
Looking once more at the bracelet, she had made her decision.
James watched as she closed the box and placed it on the table. The rational side of him knew she would never reciprocate his feelings, but he, at least, hoped she would wear the gift he had gotten for her.
He watched as she stood up, and started to walk over to him, her hips swaying with each step she took.
“We will in a moment, but first there is something that I need you to do for me, James.”
“I need your help to put this on.” She held up the diamond bracelet with a small smile.
Putting down her shawl, he took the bracelet from her, as she held out her wrist, watching as he placed the bracelet around her wrist, and fastened the clasp.
Taking her hand, he brought it to his lips and placed a soft kiss on her knuckles.
“You’re welcome, M,” he told her lovingly as he let go of her hand and reached once again for her shawl.
“I’m more than capable of wrapping a shawl around myself.” She shook her head, as he held it out for her.
“Indulge me. Besides, I want to.”
M turned around, letting him wrap the shawl around her, his hands lingering on her shoulders. The simple gesture caused her to tense before she finally stepped away and turned around to look up at him.
“We had best go.” James turned away from her, knowing if he stayed close to her, then he wouldn’t be able to hold back.
She picked up her black and silver clutch bag from the table and followed James towards the door.
“James…” She called out hesitantly.
He stopped in his tracks and turned to look at her, “yes?”
“While we can’t have a relationship, that doesn’t mean… I hope I’m not going to regret saying this.”
“I thought you were hard in your believe that regret was unprofessional?” He raised an eyebrow in amusement.
“Less of the sarcasm, James. It doesn’t suit you.” She gave him a disapproving look, “as I was saying, while we can’t have an intimate relationship, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a relationship of sorts.”
“I’m not following here, M.” James knitted his brow in confusion.
“You always did have a one track mind. What I’m trying to say is, I won’t object to having dinner, or a drink with you on occasion when we both aren’t working.”
James was trying to process her words, trying not to get his hopes up.
“So, it would be companionship?”
M gave a subtle nod, “If you want to call it that. We can start from there. It may evolve, and it may not. But it’s a start, and it’s the only offer I’m willing to give you for the time being.”
“Then companionship it is, M.” He agreed.
“Good. Since that matter is now cleared up, we have an opera to attend.” She walked past him towards the door, when he reached out to grab her arm stopping her in her tracks causing her to look up at him in curiosity.
“Thank you, M.” He leaned down and pressed a soft kiss to her cheek.
“For what?” She stared into his eyes, wondering what he was thinking.
“For giving us a chance.”
M didn’t say anything knowing that they both had said all there was to be said on the matter. She just hoped that she wouldn’t later regret her decision.