a very lighthearted sort-of-a-james bond/skyfall!au. now, that’s what he calls an exploding pen.
i honestly only started this because i liked the idea of donghyuk as q because of the running joke that donghyuk is a whizkid. blame the badjokebobby tumblr account. this is also partly for sasireun because #dongbobprotectionsquad and late birthday fic wishes! i'm sorry for the bad humour. and the no-banging. one day. one day.
this was seriously one huge excuse to be able to write 1) donghyuk as q 2) junhwe supreme overlord of the universe 3) completely out-of-place dialogue for a universe that fits them horribly. also happy birthday bobbert. hope you get the d tonight.
“Then make your bloody equipment last longer,” Bobby tells the Quartermaster, just before he leaves for Morocco with nothing but a single radio built into the heel of his shoe, and a reissue of the palm print-activated Walther PPK/S that he’d let get blown up back in Shanghai.
Which, by the way, had been a total accident. Completely. He had absolutely no intention of leaving it in the backseat of a burning car. Well. At first.
“My dear boy,” says Q, patting him on the shoulder, “the intricacies of the department’s financial status expand far beyond my ability to explain to you just why I cannot do so.”
Code for, just shut up and take the damn gun, 007.
He’s never really been close to the old man. Too many missions gone wrong, too many guns gone missing. Tracking devices, kaput. Cars, blown up. Q probably had something against him, by the time the department’s budget had cut down in February of this year. But, still. The early retirement had left Bobby just the slightest bit sorry that he’d never really been on his best behaviour around Q.
Surprise, surprise, though.
“Pick-up spot,” says Junhwe, M’s minion—secretary?—assistant?—Christ, who knows what his job really is, anyway, just that it entails a shit-ton of paperwork and access to every single piece of information in the building—smacking him across the front with a thin envelope. It’s only been three weeks since Morocco, and Bobby’s missed the feeling of gravel scraping his palms. “0900 hours. And be nice.”
“Why?” asks Bobby, slitting a nail along the sealant, untucking the envelope to find the location coordinates detailed in neat print on paper. “Evaluation keeping check, or something?”
“You’ll see,” says Junhwe, glancing at his watch, and sighing. “God, I hate paperwork.”
“Come to the field,” says Bobby, memorising the numbers, before handing the envelope back to Junhwe. He watches Junhwe flick a lighter open, and set the corner on fire, before adding, “You’ll be missing paperwork by the second week.”
“No, thank you,” declares Junhwe, “have had enough fieldwork to last me a lifetime.”
“And what had that been? Fetching M’s newspaper from down the street?”
“Hilarious, 007,” says Junhwe, dryly, dropping the crackling piece of paper into a metal bin beside him, “absolutely hilarious.”
“I do try.” Bobby loosely salutes him, and heads for the door. “Tell Yunhyung he needs to lay off the coffee, yeah? The Help Desk interns get heart attacks every time he paces down their corridor.”
“It’s still M, even to you!” calls Junhwe, but Bobby just waves him off. The promotion had been surprising, but it hadn’t changed much. Still, it’s ridiculous referring to him as M even though there isn’t a single mention of the letter in his name.
The museum is one that he’s been to before, on his own time. The National Gallery holds a spectacular display of paintings, some of which Bobby holds particular fondness for. You’d never peg him to be one for art, but he has his moments. He settles onto a bench in Room 4 and takes a moment to admire the Hans Holbein in front of him.
A young man occupies the seat beside him, despite the numerous empty benches surrounding. Possibly an attendant. They’ve always been those sort of lack-of-personal-space types. “Striking, isn’t it?” he says appreciatively, and Bobby only remembers to nod, even as he’s sneaking a look towards his watch, wondering if he’d gotten the right coordinates. “The use of memento mori in the piece, especially.”
“Earthy pursuits are indeed transient,” says Bobby politely, nodding again, “though a very strange application of anamorphic perspective here, I’d say. But of course, that is a debate for another day. Excuse me.”
He makes to get up, but is stopped short by the simple words, “Hello, 007.”
“Jesus,” mutters Bobby, settling back down onto the bench. He finally looks over, to see who he’s addressing, and dear god—did they send him one of the Help Desk interns? Is that all he’s worth, these days? At least Hanbin and Jinhwan still receive their briefings in-house. “Conversation was unnecessary.”
The kid just looks at him. “I’m your new Quartermaster,” he chooses to say instead, and Bobby blinks a couple of times before managing to process the information.
“Jesus,” says Bobby again, this time disbelieving. The new head of Q-Branch? He looks like he’s fresh out of college. Hair ruffled, jacket thrown on precariously, shoulders slouched. Hell, he’s even got a couple of piercings. Not that—well, not like that’s a completely terrible thing. But he digresses. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Did Junhwe set me up?”
“My successor went by the initial Q,” says the kid, decidedly ignoring Bobby’s comment, pulling a thin folder out of his jacket, “but I like my name as it is. You can call me Donghyuk.”
“Donghyuk,” repeats Bobby, “alright.”
Donghyuk beams, and he looks even younger than before.
“Has the budget finally run out, or something?” Bobby’s brow furrows. “Really. How old are you, eighteen? Of legal age, at least?”
“Classified, actually.” The folder is followed by a box of medium-size, set neatly onto his lap. “But rest assured, I am very much legal, for your ulterior knowledge.”
“Hey, hey,” says Bobby, “let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.” The hint of a promise accidentally lingers on the tip of his tongue, and Donghyuk merely considers him with a quiet look. Huh. Okay. Two can play this game. “Information?”
The folder exchanges hands. “Your flight leaves at 1500 hours,” says Donghyuk, adjusting his spectacles with the back of a knuckle. Paris. How wonderful. Bobby’s missed the city. “You’ll come into contact with one of our agents upon touchdown. Take it upon yourself to study the file carefully over the course of the trip—you’ll need it.”
“Of course,” says Bobby, tucking the file into the seam of his suit-jacket. “Now, the fun stuff?”
Donghyuk lets out a tiny snort, reaching to click open the box on his lap. “Of course, you’d be that agent,” he says, more to himself, and Bobby almost says indignantly, what do you mean, ‘that agent,’ 004 is just as bad, but he saves it for later when he sees what Donghyuk hands him. “Now,” starts Donghyuk, but Bobby cuts over him.
“You’re giving me two guns,” says Bobby, “is this a Christmas bonus? Did the department finally get better financing?”
“I managed to channel the funds into more useful matters,” says Donghyuk, and god, Bobby could probably kiss him for it, because as much as he relies on his own abilities during missions, it does come in handy when he needs it. “You know the Walther PPK/S, of course. Same issue as your last couple of missions. The other one is a modified SIG Sauer P226 Elite.”
“Gorgeous,” says Bobby, absently admiring the extended beavertail, running a finger across the forward cocking serrations, “what are the modifications?”
“Improved SRT design for faster trigger return during high speed shooting,” says Donghyuk, and he motions, “same palm-print recognition. Oh, and it explodes.”
Bobby pauses. “I don’t think I heard that right.”
“If you press this button, right here, it’ll blow up within eight seconds. Fifty-metre radius. I hope you run fast,” says Donghyuk, smiling, “I designed it myself just last week. Prototype.” He sighs, a little longingly. “No blades, though. What a shame.”
Suddenly, Bobby might be the slightest bit terrified of his new Quartermaster.
“So, I’m guessing you aren’t exactly expecting these back in pristine condition?”
“Oh, I am!” Donghyuk nods excitedly, “but it doesn’t matter. You won’t be getting the same thing on your next mission, anyway.” And that’s a surprise to hear in itself. Not the old reminder of bring everything back, or so help us God. “Then, the standard issue radio. And, here.”
A pen is handed over. Just a simple blue plastic, office-stationery pen.
“Will I be signing autographs with this?”
“Laser-cutter,” says Donghyuk mildly, “you’re going to Paris, agent. Catch up, will you? The rumours of you being the best at your job are quickly fading. But it does double as a functional pen, if you do feel so inclined to give out your contact to a wanting passer-by or two.”
Damn. Bobby pockets the pen, and tucks away a reminder to inquire about the new Quartermaster. Maybe over a little bribe or two of bagels and tea from the cafe on their safe-list. Junhwe always becomes much more pliant when there is tea on hand.
“Q-Branch returning to its roots, I see,” says Bobby, “should I be expecting an exploding pen instead, in the future?”
“Perhaps.” Donghyuk claps him on the shoulder lightly, and nods. “All the best, 007.”
“Thank you.” Bobby pauses. “Quartermaster.”
Donghyuk tips his chin, before making to get up, hands casually moving to rest in the pockets of his jacket as he walks towards the exit. He’s young. God, he’s young.
And, thinks Bobby disapprovingly, terribly attractive.
He glances back towards The Ambassadors, hanging innocently on the wall before him. Maybe it’s a sign. The death of an era, now come. But well, he figures, as he makes his way for the exit as well, it only means the beginning of a new dawn. And Paris awaits, as well as whomever he’s been sent out to pursue.
Autres temps, autres mœurs.
He doesn’t blow up the gun this time, to everyone’s surprise.
Didn’t even get a chance to. Bobby had managed to outshoot everyone before he was even in need of it. He arrives at headquarters looking like death, but smiling like God’s just blessed him with the greatest sight of his life. Well. That could be plausible, since the first person Bobby catches sight of is Donghyuk, looking just as terrible as he does.
“Good god,” says Junhwe, standing by the door to the infirmary, tea in hand. He doesn’t sound the slightest bit worried. “And here I thought no one could get banged up as badly as 007 here.”
“Blame the robots,” says Donghyuk, nursing a long gash along the side of his arm. “And the interns.”
“Wasn’t aware we had robots roaming the area,” quips Bobby, seating himself onto the cot opposite where Donghyuk is sitting, waiting to get stitched up. “Should we call an exterminator?”
“No need,” says Donghyuk, smiling at him, and Christ, he’s cute. Bobby resists the urge to physically shake himself out of the thought, and settles for watching the nurse slip a needle through the skin of his wound, too used to it to make a sound. “Just steer clear of the basement level for a day or two. Also, good to see you survived, agent.”
“Don’t get too used to it,” says Bobby.
“I won’t,” answers Donghyuk.
Their eyes meet, for just a second.
Junhwe coughs delicately into his teacup. “I’ll just be leaving, then.”
“No, you are most definitely not. Not yet, I mean,” pronounces Donghyuk, holding his hand out, palm flat up. “Give me the tea.”
“But—” starts Junhwe, and gods, this is the first time Bobby has ever seen anyone manage to make Junhwe give up his precious cup of saving grace liquid.
“No,” says Donghyuk firmly, “I am getting twelve stitches today, and you are going to my department to fetch the Hine 1976 Millesime in the bottom of my desk, and you are going to do it now.”
Junhwe narrows his eyes, but relents, and leaves his tea in Donghyuk’s hand, grumbling over the loss of his first choice fine china, and how far a walk it is to Q-Branch.
“Wasn’t aware they’d begun allowing drinking on the job,” comments Bobby easily, watching Donghyuk with a much more interested gaze now.
“Technically, I’m not on the job right now, am I?” Donghyuk looks over at him, adjusting his spectacles, and goddamn if it’s not the most attractive thing he’s seen all day. “And a nice cognac is always appropriate for twelve stitches. Don’t you agree, 007?”
“Well, if you were any other person, I would definitely say that you’re talking out of your ass, and that this is your first time getting stitched up, and believe me, your choice of drink does nothing to relieve the pain.” Bobby pauses. “But since you are, who you are, I’d be hard pressed to say any of that.”
“Pray tell.” Donghyuk leans forward slightly, a flash of brilliant white teeth visible as he bares his teeth in a small smile. “And why not?”
“First of all, you’re not screaming your face off. You’re obviously in pain, yet you’re holding it back enough to have a perfectly amiable conversation with someone whom you obviously believe is below your scope of interest.” Bobby motions with his chin towards the way Donghyuk’s left hand is tapping across the top of his thigh, almost absently, but not quite. “Too unspecific to be an old habit. You’ve obviously only picked it up recently. I’ve had enough bullets go through me to know what a gunshot wound itch looks like. So you’re obviously either an ex-field agent, or you’ve just been running around wild enough to catch the attention of unsavoury folk around here.”
“Impressive,” says Donghyuk, “and are you going to start telling me about my semi-alcoholism and the seven Siamese cats I own who all sleep in a giant wicker basket by the bottom of my bed and my deadbeat uncle twice-removed whom I only meet at Christmases, next?”
“Flattery gets you nowhere, my Quartermaster,” says Bobby, and he does not mistake the look in Donghyuk’s eyes once that sentence slips out of his mouth. My Quartermaster, he’d said, on a whim, on a lark, and Bobby knows he’d like to make that more than truth. “Though, I do suspect the part about the uncle and the alcoholism. Not too sure about the cats, though.”
Donghyuk laughs, and it’s way too sunny for someone who works inside all day, shut up in a fancy, high technology basement. It’s the kind of laugh that belongs outside, to be heard when one walks down Shaftesbury Avenue with one’s hands in their pockets, passing groups of youthful students still in their prime, making their way to the nearby theatre for a good evening show.
Not belonging to an MI6 agent who seems to have been shot before his eighteenth birthday.
“By the way,” says Donghyuk, a mind-reader on top of a supremely over-intelligent whizkid, “I’m not eighteen. I’m not a child, 007. Neither are you the glorified adult you seem to hold yourself to be.”
“I am totally an adult!” says Bobby, forgetting his formality in his indignance, and Donghyuk snorts, forgetting his formality for a moment too. “You might be aware that I am indeed ahead of you in some years, by virtue of observation.”
“Oh, sure, old man.” Donghyuk completely skips over the offended look on Bobby’s face. “Twenty-six is such a terribly grown-up age, isn’t it?”
“Grown-up enough to appreciate a good thing when I see it,” mutters Bobby under his breath, but Donghyuk seems to have caught the words, and a sly grin makes its way onto his face.
“Good things come to those who wait,” says Donghyuk, and oh, two are definitely playing at this game, now.
Junhwe comes back into the room with a half-full bottle of spirits in one hand and a new teacup in the other, just as the nurse finishes patching Bobby up, and moves onto Donghyuk. “You have no idea as to just how extremely thankful I am to not come back to the both of you macking on each other.”
“Blasphemy!” says Bobby, “Call my lawyer.”
“You don’t have a lawyer, 007.” Junhwe tilts the bottle against the rim of his cup, and then Donghyuk’s, who accepts with a gracious nod. “I am the law.”
“It’s true,” says Donghyuk, “just ask the nurse.”
“It’s true,” says the nurse, attending to Donghyuk’s arm, “he’s the law.”
“Is everyone in this building secretly one of your cult followers? Wait. Don’t answer that question, for my sake.” Bobby hops off the cot, and brushes off his shirt. Still a little blood-stained. He’ll have to visit his favourite dry-cleaners again. “Been nice catching up, Q.”
“Donghyuk. In case you’ve forgotten over a concussion, perhaps.”
Bobby winks. “I never forget a name.”
Junhwe glances out the door as Bobby makes his way down the corridor, and calls, “You forgot mine the first day we met, you bastard!”
It's not an entirely uncommon sight. But it is a strange one. More out of place than anything else, really. The sheen of the glass walls and the gleaming metallic interior of Q-Branch only serve to make Donghyuk look even odder in his scruffy checkered pyjamas, as he stands at his laptop facing the rest of the room, typing away with a gracefully constant speed. The fact that his minions are all in work-regulated outfits just makes things seem even more of an oddity.
"Hadn't realised Casual Tuesdays were still a thing here," comments Bobby, making his way to the front of the division. Donghyuk pays him no mind. "Busy day?"
"You mean week," says Donghyuk, only taking a moment to adjust his glasses, not even sparing a single glance for Bobby. Bobby would feel affronted for the lack of contact, if not for the fact that Donghyuk looked horribly attractive like this. Hair sticking up in weird places. A piercing or two misplaced. A little bit of collarbone showing. Donghyuk scratches under his chin absently and says, "Stop staring, 007. It's very unbecoming of you."
Unbecoming? Unbecoming would be the way Bobby has trailed around the compound like a lost pet for the past three days, bored out of his mind.
“Go home,” Yunhyung had told him on the second day, “Christ, you’re scaring the interns.”
“Do you want me to blow up my apartment again?” Bobby had latched onto Yunhyung, most definitely unbecoming of an agent and his superior. But then again, they’d been alone in the office, and Bobby has never been above begging to get his way. Especially when it’s with Yunhyung, his soft-hearted friend of the same age, who is utterly fallible to falling for his puppy-eyed expression. “I swear to god, I won’t scare the interns.”
“Fine! Jesus. Get out of my office.” Yunhyung couldn’t bite back the grin on his face anyway, and Bobby had thwapped him in the shoulder, grinning in return. “You’re horrible. Go and bully the other 00s. Or Q-Branch.”
“What about Q-Branch?” Bobby had replied, cheeky.
“As if no one is aware about your thing for our new Quartermaster.” Yunhyung had coughed. “Don’t you dare make him quit, though. He’s the best recruit we’ve had since the siblings.”
“They still in the field?”
“Taking a flight back tomorrow from Tokyo. Go say hello to them, will you? Soohyun’s been lonely ever since Hayi transferred out from HQ Circulation.”
“Nice of you to care for your subordinates,” Bobby had commented, grinning.
Yunhyung had just laughed. “You’re the entire cause of that. I can’t go a single day without wondering whether you’ve behaved. Hanbin still hasn’t forgiven me for pairing you guys up without Jinhwan on that Moscow mission. Honestly, is he the only one who can competently handle the both of you?”
Bobby had been in the middle of recalling the multiple unplanned explosions, as well as Hanbin’s terrifyingly angered voice crackling through his earpiece, you fucking set what on fire? just as Yunhyung shoved him out the door.
“Goodbye,” Yunhyung had told him, “I don’t want to see you in my office for a week. Breakfast tomorrow downstairs, though. At that cafe down the road. They have great blueberry scones. And stop antagonising Junhwe!”
“Your little grunt will not get me!” Bobby had called through the door, before heading off on a little romp through the building.
Those blueberry scones the next morning had been amazing, though. But he digresses.
Bobby leans against one of the desks, ignoring the absolutely terrified look the underling next to him at his computer has on his face. Really, his reputation has gotten out of hand. He’s nowhere as scary as everyone believes him to be. Just because he’s a 00 doesn’t mean that he’s about to murder everyone in the room with one look.
“Really,” says Donghyuk, and Bobby really wants to know how the hell he keeps figuring Bobby’s thoughts out like this, “you all can stop looking at 007 like he’s about to eat you.”
“Well, there’s only one person I’d like to do that to in this room,” murmurs Bobby, and that catches Donghyuk’s attention for the most minuscule of seconds, glancing up to shoot him a glance that could mean anything between get out of my office before I stab you with my coffee mug or perhaps get out of my office before I kiss you in front of all my lackeys.
“Five bucks they get together by the end of the month,” whispers one of the workers in the back.
“Ten bucks says this week,” replies the girl next to her.
Donghyuk’s voice rings out over hers. “Fifteen says you can’t untangle this string by tonight, or you’re clocking in overtime.” Everyone immediately scrambles back to work, saving the fisherwives’ gossip about their boss’ romantic entanglements for later.
Bobby smiles, smug and satisfied. “See you around, Donghyuk.”
“That better not be anytime within this month,” says Donghyuk, but his tone is light, and obviously playful, and Bobby cannot fucking wait to see him around.
Of course, the world works against every wanting bone in Bobby’s body, and throws him into a mission that takes him three months to complete, two weeks to clean up, and another three days in the infirmary to get patched up, after chasing an insanely well-connected terrorist across half of Russia until he’d finally caught the damn man trying to get onto a ferry heading across the sea from Vladivostok to Sokcho.
By the time he gets back, Bobby craves a good drink more than anything else.
And by drink, he means coffee.
“Whiskey? God, please,” says Bobby, pressing his face into the pillow of his cot, as someone sees to the bullet wound in the back of his shoulder, “I was in Russia for three months. If there’s anything they’re not lacking in, it’s whiskey.”
“Don’t tell me you were drunk for most of the mission.” Jinhwan seats himself next to Hanbin on the opposite bed, and sighs. “And speaking of whiskey, I need a drink. I’ve been up to my knees in paperwork. Where’s Hayi when you need her? She was a paperwork godsend, I swear. Circulation’s dead without her.”
“Only for the last week,” says Bobby, wincing as the doctor carefully removes a shard of the fragmented bullet from his wound, “got shot sometime before that. You just try to tell me you can survive without a drink after running around for a week with a bullet in your shoulder.”
“Yeah, nope.” Hanbin leans against Jinhwan. “Not doing that again.”
Jinhwan glances at Hanbin questioningly.
“Chengdu,” says Hanbin, as if that explains everything.
“Ah,” Jinhwan just says. It probably does.
Bobby takes in the exchange the way he usually does. He’s more than used to their cryptic little messages between each other. Less than a word and a mere glance is enough to communicate entire escape plans. “You heading out soon?”
“Probably,” says Jinhwan, stretching. “You won’t be, I heard. Junhwe let slip that you’re on rest till further notice.”
Bobby grimaces. He hates not being on call, even despite the occupational hazards.
Hanbin pats his head, much like the prim owner of a particularly insolent terrier would pat their pet after it’s been scolded for chewing up a shoe. “You’ll be fine,” he declares, face as devoid of emotion as ever, “you’ll have time to chase after that kid you’ve been eyeing for the past half a year.”
“Is this all anyone can talk about, these days?” exclaims Bobby. “Christ.”
“Maybe if you weren’t so goddamn obvious,” says Hanbin.
Jinhwan just nods.
“Speaking of the devil,” says Hanbin, making a distracted motion with his chin, “look who’s here?”
“No, Junhwe,” says Hanbin, “who else would anyone refer to as the devil, around here?”
“I prefer Satan,” says Junhwe pleasantly, closing the door behind him as he enters, “gives me more specific power.”
“You would,” says Bobby. “Is Yunhyung—pardon me, M, still fretting his face off in his office?”
“Got it in one,” says Junhwe, remarkably chipper for someone whose immediate superior is on the verge of a mental breakdown due to multiple hacking attempts and system breakdowns. Q-Branch has been working themselves to the bone for the past two weeks, warding and coding and securing every single bit of information in the system. “He’ll be fine. Quartermaster’s got things under control. He says base systems will be completely back under control within the next two hours, most likely.”
“A Q who knows how to do his job,” says Hanbin, inordinately pleased, “finally.”
“Great, isn’t it?” Bobby smiles. “Expanded weapons budget. The stuff of fantasies.”
“I cannot wait for the exploding pens,” quips Jinhwan.
They leave him to suffer alone fifteen minutes later, returning to the mountain of paperwork that awaits them in some other part of the building. The poor men. Paperwork is such a bitch.
“Paperwork is such a bitch,” says Junhwe, as if reading his mind, “a cruel, hard mistress.”
“Don’t forget the paper-cuts,” says Bobby, stretching slightly when his injuries are all sewn up and patted off to go. He’ll have to take the next couple of days easy, though. No good getting out of the infirmary just to get thrown back in for a torn stitch or six. “No greater suffering in this world than paper-cuts you can’t see.”
“I know that pain too well,” says Junhwe, a long-suffering sigh leaving his mouth. “Here.” He holds out a cup of what seems to be coffee. Bobby accepts it cautiously, sniffing it for arsenic. “It’s not poisoned. Scout’s honour.”
“You were never a scout,” says Bobby, poking a finger into the coffee. “What is this?”
“Coffee,” says Junhwe, “your observational skills seem to have deteriorated terribly quickly over the past three months.” When Bobby gives him a look, Junhwe adds, “It’s from Donghyuk. He’s much too nice to you, I can’t imagine what for at all.”
Bobby’s heart swells. Well. Anyone who sends him a cup of coffee that smells this good (and without any poison in it) deserves all the love he can give them in the world. Or, well, the greatest blowjob they’ll ever receive in their life. Perhaps Donghyuk will appreciate the latter. “Maybe it’s because I’m just so likeable.”
Junhwe snorts. “That’s the best joke I’ve heard all day. And I’ll have you know that Yunhyung tried to tell me a bar joke today. A bar joke. About an SQL query. He looked so expectant after he’d finished. I had no choice but to laugh. It was terrible. I should get a raise for this.”
“You should tell that one to Q-Branch,” suggest Bobby, “they’ll love it. They’ll probably frame it up on one of their glass walls. Or you could engrave it on a coffee mug and gift it to Donghyuk for Christmas.”
“Well, there goes one less Christmas present I have to worry about, now.”
“Do I get a present, my dear old friend?”
Junhwe eyes him warily. “Consider your continued survival the greatest gift of all.”
“You’re too kind.”
“I do try.”
Forever the anomaly, Bobby is. He’s never been too big on cars, though he does drive for missions, and for work that needs to be done. Cars seem to be a thing with secret service agents, though. Hanbin owns a Jaguar XJ that he takes ridiculously meticulous care of. Mino, one of the other 00s, has a penchant for Lamborghinis. Even Jinhwan, the simplest of all of them, owns a little Volkswagen Golf that he loves to bits.
It’s not that Bobby doesn’t enjoy being flashy. He does. Just, in other ways.
There are works of art, and then there is his Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom. Sleek, a classically-styled Italian, with three levels of power control and traction delivery. Bobby has always longed for the wind in his face, the feeling of adrenaline on two wheels, and it delivers all of that and more.
Who needs a car, when you have a bike that could take you straight to the ends of the world?
He probably shouldn’t be surprised that he’s not the only one who thinks so.
They run into each other in the basement. It’s nearly six o’clock, and the rain is pounding against the sides of the building even as the Piaget on Bobby’s right wrist ticks away. “It’s been a while,” says Bobby, hands in his pockets as he walks alongside Donghyuk, who’s wearing the same leather jacket he always wears, shivering just a little. “Heading home?”
“Yes,” says Donghyuk, smiling back at him. Bobby has grown fond of this smile over the months. It suits Donghyuk, how sweet it is, despite the outward appearance he has. “Probably going to settle in with dinner and a drink.”
“Room for two?” asks Bobby, too easily. He’s probably pushing his luck here, asking for entry to his home. But Donghyuk just motions ahead, and nods. “Great.”
Bobby stops right in front of his parking space, but so does Donghyuk. “Where are you parked?”
There’s only one other motorcycle in the lots today. Bobby glances back at him, then glances back at it. “You’re joking.”
“Have you really never seen me come to work before?” asks Donghyuk, sliding the helmet off the Ducati Diavel, an amused expression on his face. If Bobby wasn’t in love before, he definitely is now. “Nice ride.”
“I could say the same to you,” says Bobby, almost on the verge of laughing. “You’re perfect, you know that?”
Donghyuk raises an eyebrow, buckling his helmet on. “You don’t even know me.”
“I don’t need to,” says Bobby, settling onto his bike. “Lead the way, kid.”
“Not a kid,” Donghyuk reminds him, for probably the seven-hundredth time since they’ve met, but it’s jesting. Playful. A far cry from the conversation they’d shared on their first meeting, technicalities and business marring the banter that had been too calculated to be proper.
The roads are slippery-wet, danger-induced by the still-pouring rain, but Bobby’s always been a good enough rider to be able to bike without much caution. Donghyuk seems to be just as familiar on his own bike as Bobby is, zipping off in front of him without much ado. Bobby trails him through the city until they hit a small road, settling into the parking lot of a block of flats that Bobby’s seen before.
“It’s a little run-down, but it’s home,” calls Donghyuk as he pulls off his helmet, voice raised over the storm, “I’m a slave to small comforts.”
Water streaks down Donghyuk’s face, droplets catching on the tip of his nose, his chin, the piercings in the lobes of his ears, even as he smiles at Bobby through his large-rimmed glasses. Bobby nearly pauses for just a little too long, looking at Donghyuk. God, he’s attractive. He wonders what Donghyuk is thinking in that moment too, looking right back at him with a contemplative look in his eyes.
Donghyuk leads him up, and by then, they’re both freezing cold, soaked through and shivering like a pair of pups fallen into a stream. There’s a moment where the key won’t go in, and Donghyuk curses under his breath, before the door opens proper. Bobby is ushered in, and asked to leave his boots outside.
“Nice place,” says Bobby, hanging his jacket up beside Donghyuk’s. “Homey.”
“Thanks,” says Donghyuk, shrugging. “It’s not much. I’ve been here since college.”
“Which was, what, two years ago?” teases Bobby, and Donghyuk presses his fingers to his temples, sighing loudly. “Just kidding.”
“Of course,” says Donghyuk, padding off to the kitchen, just a little adjoined space to the living area. It is always interesting to see other people’s living habits. “You can use the shower,” adds Donghyuk, rummaging around in the cupboard for what seems to be tea (everyone and their obsession with tea, it’s insane). Bobby glances around for a moment, taking in the colour, the strange offset of old and new. The grandfather clock that sits next to a set of computers. The parquet flooring and the Ikea couch. All the Ikea furniture. It looks like half of a catalogue in here.
He quite appreciates the liquor cabinet, however. Bobby leans closer and inspects the vodka.
“I probably have some older things that could fit you,” says Donghyuk, shutting the cupboard, and looking over his shoulder to see Bobby reading labels on wine bottles. “Snooping, 007?”
“Really,” says Bobby, not taking his eyes off the Merlot on the far left, “you would still refer to me by title and not by name?”
Donghyuk snorts, and runs a hand through his wet hair. Bobby can see the motion reflected in the glass of the cabinet. “I’d think that names are for friends.”
“What are we, then, if not friends?” Bobby turns around, and steps over, picking up the tea-bag that Donghyuk’s laid out on the table for a cursory look. “You invite me for a drink, I bother you about your private life, you in turn save my life in multiple combat situations with nothing but a keyboard and an ear-piece, we talk about inane things on a week-to-week basis.” He curls a finger along the knot of Donghyuk’s tie, disheveled from the ride. Donghyuk’s breath hitches, just a little. “So,” murmurs Bobby, repeating the question, “what are we then, if not friends?”
“Well,” says Donghyuk, voice commendably steady, eyes flickering back and forth, between Bobby’s gaze, and Bobby’s mouth, “we could probably figure that out tonight, if you would be so inclined.” There’s a pause, and Donghyuk’s lips brush against Bobby’s ear when he leans in. “007.”
The little sneak. Bobby hums, and undoes Donghyuk’s tie, slow motions that accompany the silence in the room, the silence that hangs itself around the sounds of their breathing, and Bobby’s fingers brushing along fabric. “How large is your shower?”
Donghyuk’s smile is less of something sweet this time, and more something along the lines of mischievous. Bobby approves greatly. They can forgo the tea for now. “Enough for two.”
The tie falls to the floor. “Perfect.”
“Avoid the left street,” comes Donghyuk’s voice in his ear, as Bobby makes a quick jump around a curb, and narrowly skids past a sedan that brakes inches before him, honking wildly. “Go into the tunnel. Pick-up will be waiting for you.”
“Lifesaver as usual,” breathes Bobby, hollering an apology when he accidentally knocks someone over in his haste. Chase scenes seem to also be another 00 thing. Bobby seems to get into too many of them. Jinhwan never gets chase scenes, goddamn him, that lucky motherfucker. His missions are always so clear and easy. Bobby has a bone to pick with Yunhyung when he returns from Kerala.
“Of course,” says Donghyuk, but Bobby can hear the satisfied smile behind his words. Another successful mission. Well, almost. “Four o’clock.”
Bobby turns and dodges a bullet that nicks the wall. “Fuck. They’re onto me.”
“The pen,” stresses Donghyuk. Bobby can distantly make out the sounds of furious typing. “Throw it at them when I give you the signal.”
“The pen?” Bobby tugs it out of his jacket, and grasps it in his hand, ducking into the tunnel before they can catch up to him. “They’re closing in, Q.”
“Keep on your toes,” says Donghyuk. “You’re almost clear.”
He breaks into a quicker sprint, the result of all those months of running working out. His shoulder twinges like crazy, the remnants of old wounds hitting him hard as he runs through all the breath in his lungs. “Now?”
“Wait for it.”
He’s got to be insane. Bobby’s going to run out of tunnel soon, if not energy. “Now?”
Bobby’s going to murder him. “Now?”
“Slide into the open drainage on your right. Now!”
He hurtles to the side, throws the pen over his shoulder in a flash, and disappears into the little sewage hole that’s just large enough to contain him. He slides three feet down before there’s a huge blast, the sound rocking through the tunnel, and he covers his head with a swear on his lips as the heat of the fire just barely grazes his skin.
“Jesus,” he breathes, when it’s over. Now, that’s what he calls an exploding pen. Bobby’s going to kiss Donghyuk so hard for that. “Again, lifesaver.”
“It’s what I’m paid for.” Donghyuk’s voice in his ear is a presence Bobby will never want to give up as long as he’s working missions. “Head out in five.”
“Right.” Bobby lets out a breath. “So, are you free tonight?”
“You do realise everyone in the room is listening to this conversation, don’t you?”
“I am utterly shameless,” announces Bobby, beginning the crawl back out, “and you have just saved my hide once more. You deserve dinner and a movie. What say you?”
“Seven,” comes Donghyuk’s reply, “you’re paying.”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The transmission ends.
Junhwe stands at the door. “Completely shameless. Why do I still work here?”
“The tea?” reminds Donghyuk. “And the indispensable friendships.”
“Yes,” says Junhwe, “of course. Friendship. And tea. I’m handing in my resignation slip at the end of the week.”
“Yunhyung would die without you around,” says Donghyuk. “Please do not cause the death of our immediate superior.”
Junhwe sighs. “Yes, I suppose he would. There is no escape, is there?”
“No,” says Donghyuk cheerfully, typing in a command on his laptop. “Just tea.”
“Just tea,” says Junhwe, heading off to do god knows what (fetch the newspaper) (brief agents on missions) (take over the world one department at a time) (not cause the death of his boss). “Of course.”