WIP. Inspired by this post of a 00Q Mermaid!AU because why the fuck not. Naturally, all credit goes to the respective prompt maker~. I realize that maybe I shouldn’t be posting this while there’s apparently some fandom war going on, but I like to live on the wild side.
Just under 2,300 words at the moment. Without any title, official description, and only a vague idea of future events. Will eventually be shifted to my A03 account.
Bond is stuck in Russia and he’s going mermaid hunting. You could say he’s trying to catch a bit of tail. Oh ho ho.
No that’s not the actual summary oh god.
He remembers drowning.
The velvet-soft sinking of a body into water dark as pitch. How easy it is, if you don’t struggle.
He doesn’t struggle. That had been 30 seconds ago, before a scrap of obliterated boat had struck him in the head and forced him beneath the surface.
You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.
Someone had said that once. A brief, pointless flicker of annoyance flaers at the forefront of his throat at the fact that he can’t remember who.
There’s flares of orange and white above him, a receding, flickering light that could be a candle flame or a volcano eruption or a star exploding. There’s no sense of heat from it, but his lungs burn with instinct. Every impulse to flail and swim and reach for life being pushed back by a darkness settling around the corners of his vision, leaving him weak and helpless.
He can’t ignore the frail bubbles sneaking out of his nose and mouth, nor can he pretend that he doesn’t notice the thick, oily streaks of blood he leaves behind, leaking out of his body as fast as his adrenaline, energy, and will to live. Small droplets of his life, spilling out of his body like stuffing from a toy. It would have been a blessing to be numb, but instead, the freeze of ocean water is felt ever so acutely, its fangs sinking past his suit, skin, muscle, into he’s caught in the jaws of a force that can tear him apart.
He’s tired and sore. It sinks into his very limbs until he’s heavier than stone, than steel, than the world on Atlas’s shoulders. There’s salt on his tongue and his eyes sting from being kept open, exposed.
James Bond is dying. Light as an anchor, suspended in the gloomy murk of nightmares to an audience of emptiness.
Not with a bang, but with a gurgle. Hah.
If it wasn’t all so very repetitive, it would be sad, but Bond’s been here before and he tires of the dramatics. Quick and painful deaths are never in the cards.
It’s silent, except in his brain. Trapped in water, caged in darkness, caught up in his own head, the 00 agent does not spare energy to think on his past, his future, or the present. He doesn’t consider saving himself. No thought drifts towards M or Moneypenny, who would probably be better off. On his country, that he served, that he lived for, that he ultimately will die for. On Vesper, dead, gone, and nothing but bitterness in the back of his throat. On-… well, the list’s run a bit short.
Instead, his mind begins to play. If he had breath, he would have laughed at his own stupidity.
A soft piano piece, perhaps something he had heard before.
Beethoven. Sonata 25 in G. Op.79. II, Andante. Calm for the water. Cheery staccato for the irony.
His fingers shift idly, perfectly in time. His eyes close, whatever air remaining in him being released in a pathetic rush that escapes to heaven.
Drowning isn’t like going to sleep. It is ugly agony. A cheap death, but no worse than any other. Bond can’t admit that he would prefer to be lying with bullets for buttons in a hotel room right now, or falling from 100 floors up, body whipped about like a puppet for a horrified public. Or being pinned to the floor as a panting, shaking man presses his fingers into your jugular until you see stars.
Bond’s gracefully shifted to Presto Alla Tedesca, choking with strangled grunts now as the lack of oxygen finally stabs into his brain, when a pale hand reaches out from the darkness to grab his lapels like a ghost, to aggressively tug upwards. Beethoven stutters to a halt. 007 only stares. Realistic hallucinations; his nightmares come to the physical realm. Must be. What else could explain this sudden burst of color, the brief glimpse of shark-like teeth, the flare of seaweed green eyes that are so close to his, impossibly huge, something emerged from the deep depths of ocean dreams.
It was altogether, Bond’s water-logged brain notes, very reminiscent of a woman he had seduced in Mumbai. She had possessed fantastic bottle-green irises, ones he gladly lost himself. A kissable mouth. Smooth thighs. She had giggled when he struggled to undo the buttons on her blouse. Bond only just begins to recall the knife that had split her beautiful pale throat when he feels himself gain speed, when the hands become arms tucked around his waist and the memory woman from Mumbai is replaced with a strong body, a rush of water against his ears as he’s dragged back to the surface from the bottom of wet, soggy Hell.
Helpless and limp, Bond can only hold on to this unreal force for moments before his brain shuts down to a stuttering black halt, unhappy with the world and generally blasé about the whole thing.
He’s had better deaths.
It was classified as a minor explosion. A tourist yacht, blown to pieces, unexplained and written off as the typical follies of men who could afford frivolity and luxurious sailing off the coast of Turkey. The official report had said ‘Fatal, 10 casualties. No survivors.’
They didn’t mention that most of the victims had died from precise bullet wounds. Two had their necks broken.
Or that the tell-tale remainders of a bomb had been found floating amongst the wreckage.
Surprising, really, how many incidents could fit under the umbrella term of ‘explosion.’
His own injuries were bothersome, at best, barring the close shave with sinking to the bottom of Black Sea
“I want a full report, 007.”
Despite 007’s complete success in his mission, M hadn’t sounded pleased, which as just as well, because Bond didn’t like the idea of actually ever pleasing the man. Despite his automatic tendency for rebellion, the agent found himself staring up at the hospital room ceiling and admitting to three cracked ribs, two broken fingers, a few surface wounds that he neglected to identify as lacerations and refused to admit that there were stitches, and something oddly peculiar with his right leg that allowed him to pick up the gentlemanly habit of walking around with a cane.
He was assigned to a month of recuperation for his trouble with no plane ticket home until then. MI6’s version of a slap to the wrist and a stern scolding, along with a threat to keep his broken body in Gelendzhik if he knew what was good for him.
The problem was that the agent hadn’t known what was good for him since he had learned how to shoot a gun, and it was frightfully difficult to learn now, trapped in a small resort town off the coast of Russia with winter on his heels and nothing but his wounded ego to keep him warm at night.
The hospital had declared him a miracle from God. A fisherman had found him washed up on the beach, near death and barely breathing. In quick and hurried Russian, Bond had managed to chalk up an identity and an explanation as to why he had been out in the damn ocean in the middle of November in the first place. It was easier, then, to tolerate the sympathetic looks that Mr. Dima Ovechkin, on a pleasure trip from St. Petersburg, received for being the poor idiot who had lost his friends and family in a yacht explosion, rather than suspicious glances of why he had been the only survivor.
Two days later, discharged from the hospital and disgruntled, Bond found himself with a month of his life stretched out before him with little to do but grumble, hobble about on a cane, and recover.
When he called Moneypenny to complain, she had only laughed.
"How about you do what the rest of society does on a vacation?"
"What? Relax? Enjoy myself?" Bond groused, pacing in the small apartment he had rented for himself, walking stick thudding every other step. Fingers clutch at the phone that MI6 had bothered to send as a precaution, clumsy with bandages. "Read a book, perhaps."
"War and Peace would be appropriate." Of course. "Or perhaps Crime and Punishment would suit your mood a little better. ‘Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and-‘"
”’-a deep heart.’ I didn’t realize you thought so highly of me, Moneypenny.” 007 settles on the windowsill to glower at the ocean view.
Eve’s smile melts through the phone, as if she knows exactly what the man is up to. She probably does.
"Don’t assume, James."
They share a quiet silence for a moment, enjoying each others’ wit. Bond imagines she’s at home; her humble apartment with home-knit bed covers and bookshelf full of fairytale novels that she didn’t want anyone to know about. Strangely sentimental, Moneypenny. But perhaps that’s why he likes her; she complements his complete lack of love and attachment for the past.
Her sigh sounds like ocean waves on sand. “I meant pick up a hobby, dear.”
For anyone else, this would surely be an poor attempt at humor, but there’s distinct tone of sincerity that only makes the agent’s frown deepen. Bond’s brow hurts from being furrowed permanently in frustration, “I don’t have hobbies, Moneypenny.” He hardly needs to explain himself. Moneypenny knows this just as well as he does.
"Then find some. Surely, a man like you is capable of more than drinking, killing, and sex. You might even find something about yourself you never knew."
"Yes. Maybe I’ll take up knitting."
"Or flower arranging!"
Bond knows there’s more than his lifestyle choices to indulge in. He could take up sport. Adopt a pet. Learn to cook properly. Any other man would have taken advantage of a month to do nothing. But James Bond was not any other man and his fingers constantly itch for a gun and an assignment. He had tried before. Had lain out on a beach with a beautiful woman, a drink, and a sunset, and he still went back to England, loyal fool that he was, searching for more ways to throw himself into danger.
M had given him a sleepy resort town and a copious amount of time to lick his wounds and think on his sins. He had gone from sprinting headlong over a cliff to sitting in the mud with his only excitement coming from checking the temperature every morning to decide how many layers to wear that day.
It would have been simple enough to hire a car and head to the nearest airport and go home. Escape this potential cage. To hide away from M’s thin-lipped scowl until his month was up. Until he could return to the normality of a life that only a fierce patriot of Queen and Country could have. Which was sad, because he never considered his style of living to qualify under the standard definition of ‘normal’ up to now.
The only problem was that London didn’t have answers he needed. Being home wouldn’t bring him any closer to finding out why he was still alive at all.
Why he dreamt every night of hands clutching at his torso and pulling him towards a surface he can never break.
The 00 agent hadn’t been inclined to inform anyone of his mysterious rescue. Most had logically assumed that somehow, the tide had carried him in. MI6 certainly hadn’t bothered asking any questions; Bond had always demonstrated a knack for surviving things he shouldn’t, and why ask questions now when answers were cheap and flimsy?
But the idea sat with him like a bad cold. The curiosity. The slow, solidifying certainty that those green eyes had not been imagined. The realization that his fingers had brushed against something that wasn’t skin, but harder. Like scales.
Someone had pulled him from the water, of that Bond was sure.
Bond wasn’t fond of myths and monsters and creatures like Moneypenny was. But he was hard-pressed to find an explanation, and he would not be at peace until he discovered one that made sense.
Resigned, but now with a self-appointed goal, Bond settled in to the small city of Gelendzhik like a dog being given over to a new master. He hangs up his suit and his 00 status to collect dust and opens the package that had been sent from London along with the phone. The agent is certain that Moneypenny packed it. Not only is it full of appropriate winter clothes, but a Russian For Dummies guidebook, as well as a pamphlet on how to knit. Cheeky girl.
Dressed up on sweaters and knitted hats, James Bond decides to try civilian life. Again.
Moping, of course, isn’t a long-term option. But neither is the lack of a routine. Running every morning, for one, painful as it is with an injured leg, is essential. Simple but hearty Russian meals with tea and the optional vodka for colder days. Small slots in an otherwise dishearteningly free schedule. No phone calls or post. Just a view of the ocean and a question. Within a week, Bond breathes easier simply from organization and repetition, but is no closer to finding an answer to set his mind at ease.
Lacking options, Bond resorts to the only method of investigation he has left:
He skips rocks on the beach in hopes of drawing out a mermaid.
And tells himself that this is not the first sign that he’s losing his mind.