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The Culture Channel

Bureau of Mutants, Superhumans, & Costumed Vigilantes

September 7th, 2006

Bondfic @ 06:35 am

Current Location: apartment
Current Mood: pleased pleased
Current Music: Starsky & Hutch theme song (yay bad 70s music)

My birthday present from seanchai got here, and it is glorious and filled with shirtless police detectives (three shirtless scenes in the pilot alone, one of them a wet and shirtless scene). The touching and the flirting and the whiny bickering, and the massive, massive ‘70s ghetto-ness… There’s nothing better than couples who beat people up together, except possibly for couples who get into car chases and shoot-outs together.

And in honor of slashy buddycop vibes, I give y’all:

Book!verse Bond fic, starring James Bond, Felix Leiter, Honey “I’m a Mary Sue” Ryder, and Bond’s massive amount of Issues. Contains minor spoilers for the book version of Live and Let Die, medium ones for the book version of Casino Royale, and major ones for the book and movie versions of Dr. No. And one or two brief references to Diamonds are Forever, but blink and you’ll miss them. If you’re only familiar with the movies, just keep in mind that book!Bond doesn’t have any of his film counterpart’s nifty gadgets, and that book!Felix is from Texas and doesn’t have a right hand (at least, post-Live and Let Die, he doesn’t). And, yes, Felix does canonically drive a manual transmission hotrod with one hand even though that’s probably nearly impossible. He has Bond-character super powers.

Dr. No was published in 1958, and this fic is, accordingly, set vaguely in 1958. I’ve made at least a half-assed attempt to get the characters’ mindsets to match the time period, but I’m sure my own turn-of-the-millennium perspective has snuck in.

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Ian Flemming, and is the product of a year’s worth of on-again/off-again writing and hours spent as a teenager sitting on the floor in the Great Mills High School library, skipping lunch and reading Flemming’s books. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.

Warning: My first attempt at anything approaching pr0n. If anyone has pointers for improving the sex part, I’d welcome them.

Broken, Battered & Bent

Over the past five years, Felix had done a lot of things for James, from loaning him thirty-two million francs, to picking him and his girlfriend up off the side of the road in the middle of the Nevada desert. So when James had called him long distance from Jamaica and asked him to use his connections at Langley to find a good plastic surgeon, it was just one more weird favor in a long string of weird favors.

The CIA had several plastic surgeons on call, and Felix knew most of them personally, thanks to a previous favor for James involving a crazy Caribbean gangster and a shark tank, so the whole thing hadn't been too difficult to arrange. It had been short notice, sure, but Doctor Abrams was always ready to take a break from the Senators' wives and DuPont circle socialites who made up his usual clientele, and since Washington owed MI6 a pretty substantial favor for plugging the intelligence leak that had been sending a steady flow of information about U.S. missile testing to the Soviets, it had taken little more than a couple of words in the right ears.

Less than a week later, Felix found himself standing in the terminal at Washington National, holding a paper sign with "Limey Super-Spook and Friend" written on it and waiting for the four o' clock flight from Miami to start off-loading passengers.

James hadn't told him who this rush-job surgery patient was, and Felix, as he scanned the crowd of new arrivals for his friend's familiar tall, dark-haired form, hoped for some important witness getting fitted for a new identity, rather than the wife of some British official who wanted to fix up a sagging chin. With the way his luck generally ran, he was betting on the middle-aged official's wife.

Still, anything involving James had to be more interesting than his current assignments for the Pinkertons, who were being stubbornly unreasonable about letting him do field work. You put one guy's eye out with a metal hook, Felix grumbled to himself, and suddenly nobody's willing to let you do anything but desk jobs. "I don't care if he did pull a gun on you," his superior had announced icily, glaring at Felix with that special look of disdain the man seemed to reserve just for him. "I don't care if he damn well shoots you. We are the Pinkertons, Leiter, not the Brooklyn mob. If I wanted a goon to do wetwork for me, I would have hired the mob. The next time you feel like trying to kill somebody with your bare hands, go talk to an analyst." Felix had resisted the impulse to reply that he hadn't tried to kill the man with his bare hands--"hands" being the plural term and implying possession of two of them--and politely replied that he'd certainly make sure that the next small time thug he confronted got every opportunity to blow him away unopposed. In hindsight, he might have gotten a better response with the "hands" comment.

There were times when he actually missed working for the Agency. His superiors at Langley had never had a sense of humor either, but they also had never griped about things like "unnecessary force."

Felix hadn't actually meant to half-blind the sonuvabitch. He'd just… punched him in the face with the wrong hand. He'd had a pretty mean right hook once upon a time, and, well, apparently he still did, but damned if the result wasn't a hell of a lot more bloody than he'd intended.

"Flights eight-fourteen from Chicago and twelve-oh-six from Miami, please pick up your bags in the terminal," an emotionless female voice announced over the loudspeaker. There was a pause, a crackle of static, and she repeated the message in Spanish.

Felix glanced automatically at the direction of the sound, and spotted a familiar dark-haired head almost directly under the loudspeaker, half-hidden from view by a pair of middle-aged tourists and a young couple with a screaming child. Felix let out a piercing whistle, and held his sign up high over his head, where it would be clearly visible over the crowd.

The look on James's face when he spun around and saw it was priceless.

Even from half-way across the terminal, Felix could see the pale eyes widening, see the dark brows drawing together in a frown and the thin lips compressing into an irritated line, then twitching in unwilling amusement. James took himself much, much too seriously. The first words out of his mouth were going to be a warning about not blowing his cover; Felix would give double-to-one odds on it.

"Felix!" James cried with the slightly manic glee of a man who had just spent far too much time cooped up inside an airplane, and was now slightly giddy with the heady rush of freedom and unpressurized air. He shoved his way past the pair of tourists with magnificent contempt and caught Felix's hand in both of his (simultaneously managing to relieve him of the sign). "It's wonderful to see you!" He leaned in close, and, on the pretext of giving Felix a friendly slap on the back, hissed, "What the devil were you thinking? You and your damned Yank sense of humor. What if someone had noticed that thing and not taken it for a joke?"

"My ancestors would all roll in their graves at the very notion of one of their descendants being called a Yankee," Felix told him, dodging the question. He found that he was grinning foolishly and couldn't seem to stop. "God, James, what have you been doing to yourself? You look horrible."

"I'm afraid my vacation was a bit more strenuous than expected." He shrugged, dismissing the subject as unimportant, but Felix could see the marks of half-healed cuts and bruises on his face, and could tell by the slight stiffness in his movements that there were more of the same hidden under his clothes. James's lean face was thinner than usual, and when he had frowned at Felix about the sign, a faint line had appeared between his eyebrows that had never been there before. He had been poisoned by a Soviet spy on his last assignment—the one before this one—and judging by his appearance, it had been worse than the Agency's informants had suspected. God knew where the bruises had come from; this nuclear testing job, presumably, but knowing James, he could very well have been attacked by random gangsters in the streets of Kingston. People of all nationalities and levels of criminal activity seemed to go out of their way to find an excuse to slug James in the face.

And in the ribs, and in the kidneys, and pretty much everywhere else on the human body vulnerable to hard blows. At least this time his nose hadn't been broken. Of course, James would probably contrive to be disgustingly good-looking even with a swollen nose. Women would fall over themselves to 'kiss it better.'

Felix shook his head, feigning disgust. "Don't complain. You actually get vacations. My boss doesn't believe in them."

Whatever comment James might have made in return was lost as a slim, blonde girl stepped around him and held her hand out for Felix to shake, saying brightly, "Hello. I'm Honey Ryder. Shame on you," she added, teasingly, to James, "not introducing me to your friend." She looked back to Felix, as if wondering why he hadn't taken her hand yet, then said, "Oh, I'm dreadfully sorry," and held out her left hand instead.

He should have known James's companion would be a woman; he collected them wherever he went. Felix dutifully shook her extended hand. She had a strong grip, for a girl, and her nails were short and ragged. She wore no rings or polish, he noted automatically—no jewelry of any kind, unless the polished sea shell that decorated the buckle of her broad, black belt counted. "Felix Leiter, ex-spook and Pinkerton agent extraordinaire. I guess you're the one getting the new face?"

He asked purely out of politeness. There was no doubt that this girl was Doctor Abrams' new patient, and no doubt why she wanted surgery, either. Her nose had pretty obviously been broken—badly—at some time in the past, and now leaned crookedly to one side, with a bump in the middle, spoiling what might otherwise have been a beautiful face. It was a damn shame, Felix thought, feeling vaguely guilty for his joking thoughts about broken noses; with that long, golden-blonde hair and slim waist, she could have been a real looker.

"Not a new face," Miss—of course she would be a Miss; James's girls always were—Ryder corrected him. "Just a new nose. I've wanted one for years, and James," and here she directed a beaming smile at James, "arranged for me to come up here and have the surgery. He knows all sorts of desperately important people. But you probably know that," she added, looking slightly embarrassed for a moment, "unless that sign was just a sort of a joke."

Felix blinked, not sure how he was supposed to take this flood of cheerful naiveté. "Mostly a joke," he said. "I wouldn't exactly call James 'super.'" He grinned at Miss Ryder and tugged her—surprisingly heavy—carpetbag out of her hand, slinging it over his shoulder. If by some slim chance KGB assassins attacked them on the way to the car, James could take care of them; a gentleman always carried a lady's bags for her. "Super-spooks don't get themselves poisoned by little Russian gals pretending to defect."

"Poisoned?" Miss Ryder's big blue eyes widened.

"Yep. With some kind of weird blow fish oil nobody's ever heard of."

"You mean a puffer fish?" She frowned, and looked disapprovingly at James. "But everybody knows those are poison. You didn't eat it, did you?"

"No," James said. He crumpled Felix's sign up and tossed it in the nearest trashcan—a good six yards away—using that as an excuse to not meet anyone else's eyes. His aim was dead on. "I don't suppose your side of things has a hotel lined up for us? Or a consultation with Miss Ryder's surgeon?"

"James was really poisoned by some woman?" Miss Ryder asked Felix, completely ignoring James's attempt to change the subject.

"Poisoned and then some. It had everybody at the Agency in an uproar," he told James, "scrambling hell for leather to get antidotes and things lined up in case the Reds decided to use any of it on our boys."

"I suppose the Pinkertons can talk about business in the airport lobby all they like, then?"

Felix shrugged, offering a rueful smile and hitching the carpetbag higher onto his shoulder. James was right, of course; this was no place to discuss business. And Miss Ryder wasn't the sort of person to discuss it with.

"We never have to search out rooms for bugs, either," Felix said. "The private sector is the way to go, my friend."

"You can keep your private sector." James smiled ever so slightly, the cold-looking, ironic smile he usually only wore when he was on a job. "I've had my fill of your American mobsters."

"You and me both." Felix turned to Miss Ryder, and nodded toward the terminal's exit. "My car's outside. Come on, and I'll take y'all back to your hotel."

James made the predictable disparaging comments about Felix's hot rod—"When are you going to stop playing with this toy and get a real car?"—but eyed the big Studibaker/Cadillac hybrid's front hood, and the out-sized engine that lurked underneath, with an equally predictable envy. Miss Ryder was gratifyingly impressed. Once they got out of the parking lot and into D.C. traffic, she switched from impressed to openly nervous. She had never, she explained, seen so many cars in one place before.

Felix took the long way to the hotel, swinging past the Mall and the Washington Monument on the way, and was gratified to see the girl's eyes light up as they drove past the capital building and the stone castle that housed the Smithsonian museum. She made James promise to take her there later, issuing the command in an imperious tone that was oddly endearing—a child demanding a treat.

'Where did James find this kid?' he wondered. She was certainly no official's wife.

Later, after James and Miss Ryder had dropped their luggage off in their hotel room—they were sharing a room, of course, and Felix was betting only one of the twin beds was going to end up slept in—and Miss Ryder had been in to Doctor Abram's office to schedule her first consultation, he took them both out to dinner in Alexandria and got the whole story. Or, at least, as much of the whole story as James was willing to tell over dinner.

Felix got to tail mob flunkies, listen to cassette after cassette of taped phone conversations, and investigate people's credit records. James got to travel to exotic Caribbean islands where crazy scientists used the profits from bird guano to build their own miniature empires and women walked around naked on the beach, collecting shells.

Of course, the one time Felix had gotten to tag along to the tropics with him, it had turned out to be the worst trip of his entire life. Paperwork had its good points. Not many good points, but some.

"Damn," he whistled, when James got to the part about the all-terrain vehicle done up to look like a dragon. "This guy went and built himself a mechanical dragon so he could burn researchers from the Audubon Society alive?" Somehow, saying it himself made the whole idea sound even stupider.

"Not the bird watchers." Miss Ryder looked up from her dessert and tossed her two bits into the conversation. "He wanted to drive off the spoon bills. They don't like loud noises or intruders in their nesting grounds."

"There are easier ways to kill birds," Felix pointed out.

"Dr. No needed something big and dramatic to suit his delusions of omnipotence." James said it lightly, contemptuously, but his smile was just a little too strained, and that line between his eyebrows was back. "For that type of megalomania, a simple solution is never satisfying. There have to be machine guns and flame throwers and private armies one can order about like Napoleon." He smirked derisively, but his fingers toyed absently with his steak knife, and his eyes were hard and cold.

"He was an utterly horrid man," Miss Ryder put in. "He threatened to do, oh, the most awful things to James, and he tried to have me killed by staking me out on the beach for the crabs."

"Crabs only eat dead things." Felix had seen giant land crabs in the Pacific during the war, and he'd gotten pretty familiar with the smaller, blue-gray variety that lived in the Chesapeake Bay during the tour of duty he'd spent in D.C. The longer something had been dead and rotting, the more crabs liked it; they weren't too keen on prey that could still move.

"Well, of course, everybody who bothers to pay attention to them knows that," this time it was Miss Ryder who sounded contemptuous, making an airy gesture with her dessert spoon and dripping chocolate sauce on the tablecloth, "but luckily, he didn't."

"Well, I think I can speak for James and me both when I say I'm darn glad you didn't get eaten." Felix grinned at her, and felt a glow of accomplishment when she grinned back before diving back into her sundae. The kid had apparently never had an ice cream sundae before, and was enjoying her introduction to the concept with gusto, licking chocolate and whipped cream off her spoon with a sensual attention to detail that made it impossible for Felix to rip his eyes away from her. She was not just eating her dessert. She was damn near making love to her dessert.

James cleared his throat, and Felix jerked his attention away from Miss Ryder's mouth to find his friend watching him with a raised eyebrow. He shrugged ever-so-slightly, and offered James the same shit-eating good-old-boy grin he'd used on Miss Ryder. The smile he got in return was a good deal less innocent and more wary than the girl's had been. For some reason, being cheerful and friendly at James never failed to make him suspicious. It had managed to take the ice out of his gaze for a moment or two, though, which was worth three of any woman's smiles, no matter how beautiful.

"So," Felix said, changing the subject before they could get back to the Caribbean and whatever it was that had put that haunted look in James's eyes, "are there any fine sights in our nation's capitol you want to go see, Miss Ryder? Aside from the Smithsonian, I mean. We've got a zoo, the White House, the Capitol Building, all sorts of things, and I've got three days before I need to be back in New York."

The mention of a zoo instantly caught Miss Ryder's attention, and she asked question after question about it until Felix was forced to admit that he'd never actually been there, but had heard they had elephants. It was a tactical error. Within moments, both he and James were committed to escorting Miss Ryder to the National Zoo to see the elephants. Bright and early tomorrow morning, so that she'd have time to watch them and maybe even talk to the elephant keeper before she had to go in and see Dr. Abrams again to pick out a new nose.

The check came while Miss Ryder was still savoring the last dregs of melted ice cream in her bowl—her lips, Felix noted, while trying not to watch her suck the spoon clean, were very pink—and Felix managed to snag little leather folder off the table before James could get to it. Felix's uncle owned an oil well, well, more like a dozen oil wells and an off-shore drilling rig, while James had nothing but a service paycheck that he spent as fast as he earned it. "My treat," he insisted. "Let Uncle Sam buy dinner. You two kids deserve it after getting us off the hook with Dr. No."

Miss Ryder blushed and looked down at the table, the first time Felix had seen her look embarrassed, and James arched an eyebrow at him, but nobody argued. Until they were back in the car, that is. James suggested, ever so diffidently, that maybe he ought to be the one to drive them back to the hotel, pointing out the now dark sky, the well-known craziness of American drivers, and the fact that steering with your knees while you changed gears was probably illegal. As snow jobs went, it was pretty decent, but seeing as he'd been staring at Felix's Studillac with pure lust in his eyes ever since he'd first seen it back in '56, his true intentions were blatantly obvious.

"No," Felix said flatly. "You are not driving my hotrod." Even friendship had its limits, and he'd seen the kind of things James did to cars. "A limey like you would just get lost. Half the streets in D.C. are one way." He slid behind the wheel quickly enough that even James's reflexes couldn't stop him and fired up the engine. He stayed exactly at the speed limit the entire way back to the hotel; it took some of the fun out of things, since the car's big Caddy engine didn't start to really get going until she hit forty mph, but D.C. had a hell of a lot more traffic cops than New York, and James still had that tense, wired look he got near the end of a job, the one that said that anybody who messed with him or even thought about messing with him wasn't going to get a chance to regret it. Getting pulled over, Felix judged, eyeing rearview mirror and James's too-still reflection in the back seat, wouldn't be a good experience.

The colored hotel clerk waved them past the front desk with barely a glance in their direction, his attention never wavering from his unfolded copy of the Post. The G-Man reputation for never tipping translated into lousy service more often than not, and since the Agency was footing the hotel bill, everybody on staff had them pegged as Feds.

You'd think being a stalwart representative of the American government would guarantee smiles and helpful clerks and bellhops, but it never had in Felix's experience.

When the three of them climbed out of the elevator and reached their two adjoining rooms, Felix hesitated before producing the keys. With some of James's girls, he'd have had no qualms about tossing off something like "You kids have fun," before ushering them into their shared bedroom and closing the door, but Miss Ryder's innocent blue eyes stopped him. When she wasn't doing erotic pantomimes with restaurant silverware, she looked about sixteen.

"Go and talk with your friend," Miss Ryder ordered James, before Felix could settle on what to say. "I want to take a bath." Then she grinned, an impish grin that her crooked nose rendered even more roguish, and added, "But you better not talk too long, James. You still owe me slave time." She bumped James with one hip in a way that left absolutely no room for doubt and bounced cheerfully into the bedroom, shutting the door firmly behind her.

"Christ, James," Felix managed after a moment. "Where in Hell do you find them?"

"I found this one on a beach collecting shells," James said dryly. He shrugged. "She's just a kid, really, Felix. All that sex kitten stuff is just a shield to hide behind. She's never been in a city before. Or a hotel, either, I suppose."

"Yeah, well, you'd never know it to look at her." Felix shook his head, unlocking his own door and waving James inside. "If it were my face going under the knife day after tomorrow, I'd be as jumpy as anything. And I'm old hat at that sort of thing."

It was the wrong thing to say, he realized, as he saw James's eyes drop almost involuntarily to Felix's right wrist, and the steel hook he wore instead of a hand. Felix nudged the door closed with an elbow, pretending not to notice, and strode over to the bedside table to flick on the lamp, doing his level best not to limp. 'Don't you dare give me that look, James,' he wanted to say. 'Not you, on top of everybody else.'

He didn't, of course. That would have made things awkward. Instead, he pulled vodka, Gordons, and vermouth out of the hotel room's lavishly appointed mini-bar and made drinks. It wasn't until he had shaken the mixture and poured it into two glasses that he realized he'd made them both Vespers.

James had ordered one in the Casino Royale's bar the night they'd met, making the cocktail up on the spot and naming it after his pretty little female partner, and Felix had associated the drink with James ever since. He was pretty sure it held difference associations for James, given that he’d never ordered one again after the whole mess at Royale ended.

When he handed one of the cocktails to James, James smirked that sardonic smirk of his and said quietly that he "hadn't had one of these since Royale-les-Eaux, and Felix, you really shouldn't try making them unless you can get Lillet vermouth. The taste isn't the same otherwise."

Neither of them mentioned the cocktail's long-dead namesake, but then, James hadn't referred to Vesper Lynd even obliquely in five years. He'd turned up with one beautiful girl after another on his arm, but never, ever one who was a fellow MI6 agent, and he never mentioned Vesper.

When one's lover kills herself and leaves a suicide note confessing that she was a double agent, there's really not much a man can say.

So, for a long moment, they said nothing. Felix tugged off his suit coat and shoulder holster and hung them in the closet, kicked off his shoes, and let himself collapse into the room's only armchair with a tired sigh. Just getting off his feet made his leg feel better--all that standing around at the airport that morning had not been the best idea, it turned out. The dull ache in his calf and knee was familiar enough to be ignorable, though, and he wanted to get the rest of the story on this Dr. No guy out of James before Miss Ryder showed up to drag him off for an evening of carnal delights.

"Something tells me taking this No down wasn't the cakewalk you're trying to pass it off as," Felix said, dragging the topic away from the unmentioned but very present one of Vesper.

"It was… rather more complicated than London expected it to be." James shrugged ever-so-slightly. "The old man thought he was sending me out on a cakewalk, sort of a 'give Bond the easy jobs because he screwed up with the Russian girl' kind of thing."

More like a 'give Bond an easy job because he's still not 100% from the last one,' Felix thought silently. Too bad everything had gone south. James could have used a cakewalk. Nerve poison was a nasty thing, whether it came from a chemistry lab or a tropical fish. In the dim light, James's cheekbones had sharp edges Felix had never seen before, and his eyes never stayed fixed on one thing for more than a few moments. They were the only part of him that moved, though. The rest of his body was slumped against the headboard in a good approximation of a boneless sprawl, relaxed as anything. It might actually have fooled somebody who didn't know him. Felix, however, had memorized that lean, muscular frame from feet to eyebrows minutes after they'd first met.

There was something all too familiar about that twitchy alertness, and Felix, remembering a very young and very scared Marine second lieutenant who had quickly become a very old lieutenant, finally recognized it. During the war, they had called it battle fatigue. God knew what the doctors were calling it now.

When Felix had come back from Guadalcanal, jumpy and underweight and unable to sleep without starting awake at the littlest noise, his uncle had gotten him drunk and made him talk about it. Then he'd sent him out every day to repair fences and round up stock—Hans Leiter's spread had produced cattle as well as oil—until he was worn-out enough to sleep without dreams. There were no fences here, but the first half of the treatment would still work just fine. Miss Ryder, he decided, could wait.

He fixed James another Vesper—and a much smaller Bourbon and branch water for himself, because he'd long ago learned the futility of trying to out-drink James—and set about digging the rest of what had happened on Dr. No's island out of him.

It took longer than he expected, and a truly impressive amount of vodka and Gordons, before James finally offered more than the bare details about exactly what being Dr. Julius No's guest had entailed. The long chase through the cypress swamp before he was caught, the sadistic string of torture chambers he'd had to drag himself through in order to escape, thinking the whole time that Honey would be eaten alive before he could rescue her, the cage full of tarantulas... James had always had a thing about creepy-crawly critters, though it wasn't a patch on his thing about women who went and died on him.

His voice stayed even and calm the entire time, that rough, British voice that made everything James said sound either disdainful, seductive, or both. After a while, Felix found himself having to concentrate to actually listen to the words, instead of just letting that accent roll over him. Everyone in New York sounded sharp and nasal and grating as a steel file. James sounded a sensual as Miss Ryder eating a sundae, until you took into account what he was saying.

"The whole bloody affaire was one twisted joke from start to finish." James stared moodily into his nearly empty glass, eyes half-lidded. "Quarrel died, did I mention that?"

He hadn't. Suddenly, a lot of things made more sense. James had done the torture thing before—God, too many times before—but he'd never quite gotten the hang of the term "acceptable losses."

"I'm sorry,” Felix said, remembering the big, black Cayman islander vaguely from the haze of morphine and bloodloss his one trip to the Caribbean had turned into. Strange, that Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima had given him nightmares, while Miami and Mr. Big never had—he dreamed about having two hands, not about losing one. "I know you liked him. He was a good man, for a-" he cut himself off just in time, though it was doubtful if James would even have caught the slur in the state he was in. Calling a spade a spade was well and good, but Mama Leiter had taught her son manners, too. "He was a good man," he repeated.

"To good to end up burning to death," James agreed. He closed his eyes, rubbed at his face. "I should have expected that Dr. No would have more than just men with machine guns to come after us. Anyone who uses flame-throwers on birds' nests will have one handy for trespassers, too. I'm so bloody tired of watching other people pay for my mistakes." He waved a hand vaguely in Felix's direction, taking in the leg Felix had stretched out in front of him, foot propped on the bed, and the metal hook gleaming in the dim light of the bedside lamp. His eyes held a world of “You'd never have gotten mixed up with Mr. Big and his pet sharks if it weren't for me,” and an entire solar system of "I should have pulled you out faster."

"Some of us can make our own damn mistakes," Felix said. "I wanted to retire young anyway. Nobody lives to be old in our line of work." He set his own empty drink down, wishing that his cigarettes weren't still in his coat pocket, all the way on the other side of the room. Guilt didn't look natural on James. An agent experienced enough to have a 00 rating ought to be better acquainted with losing men in the line of duty.

"You're so damn good in a fight," Felix mused aloud, "that sometimes I forget how little combat experience you have."

"Huh?" James blinked at him, looking confused. Like guilt, it was an unfamiliar expression, and, when taken with his rumpled shirtsleeves and that one piece of hair that always fell into his eyes, it made him look deceptively young.

"James, have you ever actually, y'know, commanded men under enemy fire? Stormed a beach? Ordered your men to storm a beach, charge a dug-out, take a hill? No, 'course you didn't. You spent the war playing spy, or this wouldn't be fucking you up so much." He leaned forward, and set his good hand on James's shoulder, staring straight into those dazed blue eyes. "People die in a war, James. And our business—your business—it's just a war without the troop movements. 'Cold' doesn't mean safe. Don't make their deeds less by making them all about you."

"You didn't see him, Felix," James whispered. "You didn't see what it did to him."

He hadn't seen, but Felix's brain had no trouble filling in the lurid details, especially after all that bourbon. Blackened, charred skin, hair and clothing burned away, limbs contorted where the heat had made tendons contract… "I've seen what flame throwers do to people. I saw it often enough in the Pacific that it took me a year to stop seeing it."

And, shit, had he said that last bit out loud? James's shoulder was warm under his hand, body heat seeping through the fabric of his shirt, and having James only inches away from him made it ridiculously hard to think. Or maybe that was the alcohol.

Felix virtuously removed his hand from his friend's shoulder and dropped his eyes to the white-and-blue patterned bedspread. God, they were both of them fucked up. "So it was bad," he went on. "It wasn't your fault. I wasn't your fault. And whatever almost happened to Honey wasn't your fault, and Vesper wasn't your goddamn fault either. You think the world revolves around you?"

"No." James sounded grudging, and Felix couldn't help smiling a bit. "I just… It's over and done with, anyway. I shouldn't still be expecting something to jump out at me."

"You know how long it took me to stop reaching for stuff with the wrong hand? Christ, I still do it. I put a guy's eye out in a fist-fight last month."

"You did?" James's head came up, and he stared at Felix with an interested sort of speculation. "What did it feel like?"

Felix shrugged. "Like nothing. I only meant to knock him out, but…" He shrugged, and held up his excuse for a right hand. "As far as the rest of the Eyes are concerned, my name ain't Leiter anymore, it's 'Hook.'"

"Ain't?" James raised an eyebrow. His usual superior smirk came out slightly lopsided, but the intent was clear. "Never heard you say that. You sound like a Cockney, or a gangster."

"I did not," Felix denied automatically. What he sounded like was a hick from West Texas, and he'd mostly trained himself out of that years ago. Talking about the war, even the little bit they'd been doing, brought things back.

"You did. Terribly low class."

"I blame New York."

"What does New York have to do with anything?" James slid a little further down the headboard, his eyes closing. His voice was a mumble, the words more than a little slurred, as he added, "The Spangs've been dealt with."

Felix frowned, puzzled. Oh, right, the Spangled Mob. He and James had shut their diamond smuggling pipeline down last year. The Pinkertons had actually been happy about that one; they didn't beat the FBI to the punch over mob stuff that often, and when they did, it made them more inclined to forgive things like ducking out of an assignment in New York to give James back-up in Vegas.

Some of that drawn-tight tension had seeped out of James's shoulders, though that could be the alcohol as easily as the company. Felix decided to credit it to his brilliant therapy efforts.

He leaned forward and rescued the mostly empty martini glass from James's lax hand, finishing the rest of the cocktail off himself and setting the now all-the-way-empty glass down on the bedside table next to his own. "Go to sleep," he told James. "If any Russian spies or giant octopuses jump out at you, I've got your back."

James cracked an eye open and mumbled, "I'd have stopped three glasses ago if you didn't." He smiled crookedly—a much softer smile than the cold, sarcastic one he generally wore—and closed his eyes again, body going completely limp.

Now that James was asleep, there was no need to stay formal. Felix tugged off his tie and struggled out of his shirt—his fingers felt twice the size they usually did, and the buttons defeated him, so he ended up just pulling it off over his head—and settled back against the back of the armchair, finally something approaching comfortable. Normally he'd have felt naked in just an undershirt, without sleeves to cover his right arm, but there was nobody here but James, and he wasn't watching.

He ought to have taken his metal eye-gouger off, too, but he didn't feel up to it. Instead, he studied James's face, trying to see past sunburn and bruises and that one scrape along his right cheekbone to the vitality underneath. James would be fine. James was always fine. He just needed a little time outside of a combat zone to unwind.

James really was too damn thin, though it didn't make that lean, angular face any less handsome, just as the scratches and burn marks that covered those strong, clever hands didn't detract one ounce from their appeal.

The things James could do to a deck of cards made Honey Ryder's performance with her dessert look boring. Felix had fantasized extensively about what those hands could do during their first case, and had silently envied the lovely Miss Lynd for being able to find out. Not that she was supposed to be finding out in the middle of a job, but at least she'd been able to try her luck at seducing James without risking a court-martial.

At the time, he'd thought that this Limey agent and his rough, "come and fuck me" voice weren't worth risking his career over, no matter how much he liked the man, or how much he wanted to slide his hands into that thick, black hair (and into other places, and never mind what regulations said about that). Since then, he'd lost his intelligence career, his position with the CIA, and assorted major body parts, all in the process of working with James. The sex would likely have been less trouble.

It might not have been as much fun in the long run, though. James was the only agent he'd ever worked with who could spot Felix when he was tailing somebody, as well as the only one who thought his jokes were funny, and every time he turned up, things got interesting in a hurry.

On the other hand, Felix wouldn't have leaked information to the Russians and gotten James captured and tortured, or offed himself and left James with some kind of complex. Throwing himself into 007's bed before Vesper Lynd could get there might have been a huge favor to everyone involved. Or James might've blown Felix's brains out with his little Beretta for coming on to him. You never could tell with men like him.

After reading the medical reports from that business with Le Chiffre, though, Felix could make a few guesses. James hadn't woken up when he'd visited him in the hospital after the whole mess was over, but Felix, looking at him lying all pale and bloodless in that hospital bed with a white sheet failing to hide the damage Felix had known was there, had very firmly placed James in the off-limits column. Vesper overdosing on sleeping pills a couple of weeks later—stupid, when she'd had to have been able to get her hands on a cyanide capsule—had been the last straw. You left somebody who'd been that thoroughly screwed over alone.

"Why in hell didn't London send you any back-up?" Felix mused, watching James sleep. "Next time you hit this hemisphere, hire the Eye That Never Sleeps to watch your back, damnit." He slouched down in the armchair and contemplated shifting over to the bed himself, finally deciding that he was comfortable enough where he was and would only knock something over or trip over something if he tried to get up. Ten-to-one his knee would seize up as soon as he got back on his feet. The same went for fetching the pack of Chesterfields out of his coat pocket.

Maybe if he thought about his cigarettes hard enough, they would teleport over here.

He made a half-hearted stab at it. They didn't, of course.

"When my neck's all stiff tomorrow, I'm blaming you," he informed James, leaning his head back against the chair and letting himself relax muscle by muscle. No, there was no need to move right now. He should keep an eye on the door, though, since he'd promised James he would…

The sound of the door opening jolted him awake. Felix sat up with a start, heart pounding, and his hand automatically reached for his gun. His fingers found nothing but empty air. Sloppy, he raged at himself, as he tried to blink the figure in the half-open doorway into focus. You've gotten sloppy, Leiter, and now you're going to pay for it. Where was his gun?

The figure in the doorway resolved into Honey Ryder, wrapped in an over-sized hotel bathrobe with her blonde hair fanning out over her shoulders.

Felix collapsed back against the armchair in relief, belatedly remembering that he'd hung his holster up in the closet next to his coat, where it would be safely out of the way—and no damn use if he really needed it. "Christ, kid," he told Miss Ryder. "You scared a year off a' my life."

Miss Ryder pulled the robe tighter around her shoulders, staring at Felix with wide eyes. One hand came up to cover her face; it had the look of a habitual gesture. "I was looking for James--" she started.

"Yeah, I bet." How long had he been asleep? Felix snuck a glance at the bedside clock and realized with surprise that it was past midnight. "Sorry about that." He'd completely forgotten about James's new girl, who must have been waiting up for him for hours now. "I don't think he's gonna be going anywhere for a while." He dragged his bad leg off the bed and stood up, only to sway and sag back down into the armchair as alcohol combined with interrupted sleep to produce a wave of dizziness.

"Remind me again why I keep drinking with James," he groaned, rubbing at his forehead with his left hand. "I swear he's got more vodka in his veins than blood."

"What do you mean, he's not going anywhere?" Miss Ryder frowned, looking from James's sprawled form to the empty cocktail glasses and half-empty bottles of vodka, gin, and bourbon. "Are you two drunk? Why didn't you invite me? I've been sitting alone in my room for hours, listening to the radio and trying not to jump every time one of those horrid cars goes by outside. I never knew a city could have so many cars."

Invite her? Felix stared at Miss Ryder for a moment. He’d dragged her date off and gotten him drunk, and her only complaint was that she hadn’t been included in the debauchery? “It… um, it was kind of a two-person conversation, kid,” he told her. “Classified stuff, you know?” He waved his hook in a vague gesture meant to indicate the hush-hush nature of the classified stuff.

Miss Ryder was staring at him again, one hand still holding her robe closed. It took Felix longer than it should have to realize that those blue eyes were fixed, not on his face, but on the shiny piece of hardware strapped to his wrist, and the scarred mess of his right forearm. Which was completely and humiliatingly visible, because he had taken his shirt and tie off and was sitting there half-undressed in his undershirt.

Felix froze, half of his mind insisting that he put his shirt on nownownow, anything to hide the ruin of his arm from this pretty little girl’s eyes, and the other half paralyzed by an ingrained force of habit that insisted on never, never acting ashamed of his hand in front James.

“I should put a shirt on, or something,” he said, still not moving. “People could get ideas, if they walked in and saw you in your robe and me half naked.”

Miss Ryder’s hand had started to drift upwards toward her face again. She halted the gesture, snatched the hand back down, and blurted out, "You must think I'm a silly, vain little girl, worrying so over my nose."

“What?” Felix stared at her, knowing his face looked stupidly blank. What the hell did her nose have to do with anything?

“Your hand,” and her eyes flicked downward to Felix’s wrist again, “it doesn’t bother you at all. You don’t hide it, you don’t-“ she broke off, shaking her head. “James is so brave about everything, and I can see you must be, too, but I… Every time I look in the mirror, every time I touch my face, I remember that man, the one who hurt me, and what he did to me. If I get it fixed, I’ll finally be free of him.”

This was Felix’s cue to pry deeper, to ask her about this unnamed man and whatever it was he had done, but right then, he just flat out didn’t want to know. He saw enough of people’s painful, sordid secrets on the job. He didn’t want to know who had tried to smash this innocent-eyed kid’s face in, or why. It would only be the same old familiar story, anyway. Some ex-lover who liked to use his women as punching bags, or a father who’d beat the hell out of her, or some other spin on an old cliché.

Beautiful and wounded. And, of course, James hadn’t been able to resist the lure of trying to heal her.

“Get it fixed, then,” he told her, shrugging. “It’s your nose.”

She shook her head. “Not yet,” she said. “But it will be.” She glanced away for a second, looking almost embarrassed, and nodded at the empty glasses nestled together on the bedside table. “What was in those? Can I have one?”

“Go ahead.” Felix waved his hand at the little bar across the room. “Gordons, vodka, and vermouth, shaken, not stirred. And what the hell, I’m not a G-Man anymore. I won’t even ask if you’re legal.”

“What kind of shark?” Honey asked some time later. She sounded honestly interested. In fact, she sounded more interested in the shark than in hearing about how he and James had thwarted Mr. Big, which was either cute or vaguely insulting. Felix wasn’t sure which. They were on their second drink, not counting the ones with James earlier, and things had started to go sort of fuzzy around the edges.

What kind of sharks? Hungry sharks. Hungry sharks with big teeth. “I can’t remember,” Felix said. “Ask James. Or, no,” he corrected himself, “don’t ask him; he thinks it was his fault. Which it isn’t, of course, not hardly. If I hadn’t been there, it’d be James in that shark tank, with no one to pull him out, and I’ve got two hands and only one James. Had two hands. You know what I mean.”

Honey nodded, and he grinned at her. Clearly she did know.

“How do you stand it?” the words burst out of her, bizarrely intense considering that they’d been having such a friendly discussion. “All that time on the beach, I just kept thinking about what that Dr. No must have been doing to him, and it was just ghastly.”

Ghastly pretty much hit the nail on the head. Felix found himself glancing over at James’s sleeping form, worryingly thin and drawn-looking, and remembering everything James had said about torture, flamethrowers, and spiders. He’d been angry at himself for letting it bother him, like he ought to just be able to shrug the whole thing off like a hero from the comics. The invulnerable SecretAgent-Man.

“Christ, you don’t know the half of it!” Felix told her. And she didn’t. The kid had no idea what she was letting herself in for, taking up with James. “He ends up running face first into somebody’s fist every time I take him somewhere. Mobsters, Russian agents, Caribbean gangsters; I swear he’s got some kind of death wish. Which actually makes sense, considering Vesper and Le Chiffre. Damn, I really should have tried to beat Vesper to the punch. Do not pass go, do not get tortured half to death, go directly to sex.”

Honey choked on her drink and gaped at him, pale eyebrows arching. “You and James… Was that what you were doing in here without me?”

“No!” Felix protested, feeling his entire face flush with heat. “James isn’t, I’m not—look, forget I said that, okay?” He groaned, and raised his left hand to cover his face. “Drinking was a stupid idea,” he muttered to himself. “Damn stupid, and I’m supposed to be watching for octopuses anyway.”

“Octopi,” Honey corrected. “They’re called octopi.” She grinned a decidedly disconcerting grin and set her glass down on the bedside table. “You and James,” she repeated. “I didn’t know men did that with other men. The Kingston Gazette never mentioned anything like that. Could you show me?”

Felix stared at her, waiting for her words to change into something that made sense. They didn’t. Helplessly, he started to laugh. “I’m not drunk enough for this conversation. I’m never gonna be drunk enough for this conversation.”

“I suppose it makes sense, though,” Honey went on, oblivious to his confusion. “Male dolphins have sex with each other; I’ve seen them.”

The idea of dolphin fairies was so utterly ludicrous that it sent Felix off into gales of laughter again. He wondered, with lightheaded whimsy, if queer dolphins met up with each other in the red-light district of the coral reef, and if they gave each other “flipper jobs” instead of hand-jobs.

“I have seen them!” Honey sounded weirdly indignant, considering the topic of conversation. “You don’t believe me? I’ll bet I know more about dolphins than you do. You don’t even know what the plural for octopus is.”

“Sure do,” Felix gasped out, still laughing. “Octopuses.”

“Honestly.” Honey rolled her eyes and twitched the collar of her robe back up, hiding a tanned shoulder from view. Felix was starting to wonder if she was wearing anything under there. Maybe not, if she’d come to fetch James.

“If that’s the way you’re going to be, I’m leaving to go to bed.” She rose from her perch on the edge of the bed, revealing a flash of bronzed leg before her robe swung down again, and Felix struggled to his feet after her, swaying against the side of the armchair as the floor tilted.

Whoa. No more booze for Agent Leiter.

Honey grabbed him by the arm and steadied him—the right arm, her fingers closing over the leather straps that held his hook in place. “You don’t have to see me out,” she said. “But since you kept my James away all night,” another impish grin, pure sex kitten stuff if there ever was any, “you owe me a forfeit.”

And she bounced up on tiptoe and kissed him.

It wasn’t the most experienced kiss he’d ever gotten, but it was sure as hell enthusiastic. Her mouth tasted of gin and vermouth, just like his did, just like James’s would have.

Felix was sure there was some reason that this wasn’t a good idea, but he couldn’t think of it at the moment, his head full of the floating buzz of all those Vespers and his mouth full of Honey’s tongue, warm, wet, and friendly. She’d had way less to drink than Felix, so whatever her reasons were, they were probably good ones, and he ought to go along with them.

One hell of a way to say goodnight, he thought, and moaned deep in his throat as he felt himself hardening, his entire body flushed with heat that one kiss was not going to be enough to burn away.

Belatedly, the memory that this was James’s girl intruded, and he tried to pull away, to take a step backwards. He bad knee gave out with a pop—and hey, alcohol and sex were great, because it didn’t even hurt!—and he overbalanced, falling backwards onto the bed and taking Honey with him.

She let out a squeak that could have been indignation or could have been plain old surprise, and Felix started to apologize. “Sorry. Sorry, my knee-“

“What the bloody hell?”

James’s look of sleepy irritation was hilariously funny, even better than the look on his face after seeing Felix’s welcome sign had been.

“Sorry, James, we didn’ mean to wake you up.”

“Oh, good,” Honey purred, in a tone of voice that set off alarm signals somewhere deep in Felix’s brain. “You’re awake. That means it’s my turn to have you in my bed.”

“What are you two doing?” James squinted at the two of them, shoving himself up on one elbow and rubbing at his face. He might have gone on to ask more questions, if Honey hadn’t silenced him by the simple expedient of leaning over and kissing him, too.

Felix was content to simply lie across James’s legs where he had fallen and watch the show. It was easily the most erotic thing he’d ever seen.

James might have had no clue what was going on, but he didn’t let that slow him down. He arched up into the kiss, sliding one hand around Honey’s bare waist—the robe had fallen open, and yes, she was naked underneath, bronzed all over and completely free of tan lines—and pulling her closer. His bruised and scabbed-over knuckles stood out vividly against her smooth, honey-colored skin, and her hair slid forward to half hide their faces. Dark and golden, Felix thought hazily. Dark and golden and oh, so, hot.

Honey pulled away, licked her lips with that pink, pink tongue, and ordered, “Now you two kiss. I want to see what it looks like.”

If the look on James’s face when they’d fallen on him had been hilarious, this one was even better. “You-“ he stammered, blue eyes widening and then narrowing down again, heavy black brows drawing together in suspicion. “This is one of your jokes, isn’t it, you bloody twisted yankee?”

“Nope. All the little lady’s idea, but I’m game if you are,” Felix said, grinning up at James with pure delight in his heart and want burning in his body. James never could resist a challenge.

James quirked one eyebrow, and just like that, he went from sullen to almost diabolically sensual. Was it any wonder women threw themselves at him? “What is this? Get Bond drunk and take advantage of him night?”

“Advantage…” Felix stammered, the heat in his blood cooling just a little. “I wouldn’t,” he assured James hastily. “Not after Le Chiffre, and Vesp-“

“Leave her out of this,” James growled in that ‘come and fuck me’ voice. “I don’t sleep with other agents. I never sleep with other agents.” He grabbed Felix’s good wrist and pulled him forward, adding, “It’s a good job you’re not an agent anymore.”

Felix Leiter, currently employed by the Pinkerton Detective Agency but still on reserve with the Central Intelligence Agency and, technically, still a government agent any time his government chose to recall him, didn’t argue semantics.

James tasted like vodka and Gordons, and kissed like it was a contest. Like he was qualifying with a handgun and half of MI-6 was there writing reports on his score. Felix had never kissed another man, not those handful of times in the Army, not that boy in the bar in SanFran when he’d gotten back to the States, and hell, he hadn’t so much as touched that sort of thing once the CIA had picked him up. You couldn’t have blackmail fodder like that hanging over your shoulder in the intelligence world.

He’d never kissed another man, because kissing made things real, was something you just didn’t do with a one-night hook up, much less with somebody you wanted to look in the eye in the morning, but this was James, and it was exactly the way he’d known it would be, almost bruisingly hard, those thin lips promising no gentleness and delivering none.

Felix wanted to shove his hands into James’s hair and hold him there, feel those thick, black waves between his fingers and the shape of James’s skull underneath them. He was halfway to doing it when a split-second vision of Mickey Zatani’s face flashed in his head, blood and some kind of clear fluid oozing from the mess where left eye had been.

He let his right arm drop and reached for James with his left hand only, and yes, his hair was as soft as Felix had always figured.

Soft hair, and his mouth was all hard teeth and demanding tongue. Felix moaned for the second time that evening, achingly hard, wanting to throw himself on James and pin him to the bed, to get as much contact between their bodies as possible.

James bit at Felix’s lower lip, hard enough to hurt, and then pulled back, breaking the kiss and leaving Felix staring at him, panting and dazed with lust and alcohol.

“Damn,” Felix gasped.

James laughed a short, rough laugh and quirked that eyebrow again. “What, you thought I’d be too straight-laced to take your little schoolboy dare?”

“Oh hell no, you’ll take anybody’s schoolboy dare. I dare you to do it again.”

“Ooh, yes, do,” Honey said, and Felix belatedly remembered that they had an audience.

Honey’s fingers, he saw, had been busy unfastening the buttons on James’s shirt—smart of her, since there was no way Felix would have been able to get it off one-handed in the state he was in—and as she undid the last button, it fell open to reveal a row of livid purple hickeys that stretched all the way across James’s chest.

“Damn, kid,” Felix whistled. “You’ve got hidden depths.”

“They’re from the octopus,” Honey said, with another roll of her eyes.

“I guess James is the one with hidden depths, then. Even the octopuses can’t keep their hands off him.”

“Octopi,” Honey corrected absently, as she pulled the shirt down off James’s shoulders. “The octopi can’t keep their hands off him.”

“It was trying to eat me,” James snarled, looking adorably offended, “and it bloody hurt, too.”

“Shall I kiss it better?” Honey asked archly. She proceeded to do just that, applying those full, Marilyn Monroe lips to each round bruise in turn. Then she lifted her head, golden hair hanging in her face, and leaned over to kiss Felix on the forehead, just above his right eye, where even Doc Abram’s best work hadn’t been able to keep the scarring from showing. “The two of you are a mess,” she murmured, with a little half-laugh. “Are all dangerous men so prone to getting knocked about?”

“That’s a fine thing for you to say, Miss Ryder,” James drawled, looking considerably mollified. He pulled her back down towards him and kissed the bump on the bridge of her nose. “I’ll miss your funny broken nose,” he added, and Felix couldn’t help but grin, because a sober James would never have let such a soppy remark pass his lips.

“Makes us a matched set,” Felix said. He shoved himself to his knees, disentangled himself from James’s legs, and crawled a foot or so up the bed so that he was level with James, facing Honey across his friend’s lean, muscular chest. “Broken and battered and bent and missing bits.”

“Not the important bits, obviously,” James said, and Felix kissed him again, because they’d already started this little three ring circus, and he might as well take what he could get while he could. James opened his mouth and kissed back, and Felix felt a throb of heat go through him as he realized that this might be more than just a dare. James, he could tell, was just as turned on by the whole thing as he was. “We’re not done kissing you better,” he mumbled into the side of James’s mouth. “James,” he informed Honey, “has scars everywhere, and I do mean everywhere.” He attempted a leer, but got only a snicker in return from her, and so must not have pulled it off.

“Somebody get this metal thing off my wrist,” Felix said, holding his arm out in the general direction of the other two. One of them set to work on the leather straps that held the hook in place, but Felix, who was concentrating all his attention on getting James’s trousers unfastened with one hand and his teeth, didn’t see which. Oh yeah, he thought, James definitely had no objections to the current state of affairs.

Felix set his lips to the first of the scars Le Chiffre had left, so faint it was nearly invisible, but there if you’d read James’s medical reports and knew where to look. James made a strangled groan and shuddered, and Honey said, brightly, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

“Because,” James gasped, “you’re a sweet, innocent girl and Leiter is,” he drew in a harsh breath as Felix moved on to the second scar, but gamely went on, “and Leiter is—oh God, how did you learn how to do tha-that?”

Because he’d paid attention the first time a girl had done it to him, obviously. “Shore leave in Sidney,” Felix offered, around a mouthful of James.

He wasn’t sure which of them reached for him then—probably Honey, since James’s fingers would have been larger—but a few moments of who-ever-it-was’s hand on him was all it took. It had been a long time, way too damn long, since men were too risky and women tended to take one look at his missing hand and freeze up.

Felix managed not to bite James when he came, but it was a near thing. James, of course, had superhuman stamina in bed as well as everywhere else. Honey made breathy little moans when they turned their attention to her, but James made hardly any noise at all.

He didn’t make a sound later, either, when he jerked awake in the dark with every muscle gone stiff with the shock of waking from whatever dream had laid hold of him. Felix and Honey, lying on either side of him in the close tangle of limbs that was all the bed had space for, pretended not to notice.

The three of them made it to Honey’s appointment with Dr. Abrams on time, but they never did get around to seeing the elephants. James, Felix and Honey had agreed when they woke the next morning, need those couple extra hours of sleep.

As favors for James went, Felix decided, while the three of them sat around in the clinic’s waiting room and leafed through old issues of National Geographic, this one was even weirder and more fun than usual.

And there were still two days left before he had to go back to New York.
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[User Picture Icon]
Date:September 7th, 2006 07:51 am (UTC)
For a Mary Sue, Honey is really damn cute. Actually, so are Felix and James. I'd try to pick out my favorite bit, but I think that would be an exercise in futility.

There are two little things that stand out to me - there's an extra 's' on millions, and this: She bumped James with one hip in a way that left absolutely know room for doubt and bounced cheerfully into the bedroom, shutting the door firmly behind her.

I'm the last person in the world to be able to comment on sex, but this read nicely to me. Plus, you managed to get nice characterization and angst into the sex, which is impressive.

And the subtle angst running throughout is just absolutely lovely. As is the pun in the title.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:September 7th, 2006 02:00 pm (UTC)
This is Bond. He can get angst in everything.

And I'm glad Felix came across as cute ^_^. I think he's precious, but my tastes are notoriously weird (after all, I think Bond is precious, too, and most people don't find James Bond cute). I'm especially glad that Honey's personality came across here, since she's about 1/3 plot device and 1/3 wish fulfilment(and, um, 1/3 something else?) and was worried about the perkiness being annoying.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:September 8th, 2006 01:38 am (UTC)
Fixed the "millions" (and the one place I'd transposed the i and e in "Leiter"). Whay exactly strikes you as off about that one sentence? "Bumped" and "bounced" in close proximity? How godawful perky Honey-Sue is being?

The "slave-time" in-joke isn't my fault, though. It's a schmoopy relationship-joke from the book, because Bond and Honey are both secretly huge dorks. also, Bond secretly gets off on being dominated, you know he does
[User Picture Icon]
Date:September 8th, 2006 02:49 am (UTC)
'Know' instead of 'no' - one of those things that even spellcheck'll miss.

As for the title - possibly I was reading a pun into 'bent' that wasn't meant to be there. I've been reading far too much about Victorian sexuality these past few weeks ><. And yes, I'm sure Bond secretly gets off on being dominated he's like Batman in that way.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:September 8th, 2006 02:55 am (UTC)
Oh, no, the pun is totally suposed to be there. The question, of course, is who's broken, who's battered, and who's bent?

Batman secretly wants Catwoman to tie him up and do kinky things to him with her whip. It is known
[User Picture Icon]
Date:September 8th, 2006 03:11 am (UTC)
Oh, good. I thought it was. I rather thought that all three of them were a bit of each.

Yes, yes it is. That's why Batman/Catwoman is one of the eternal DC OTPs. Also, have you seen the new 52 scans yet? DC continues to defy all logic, and manages to get stupider.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:September 8th, 2006 03:22 am (UTC)
I refuse to look at 52 scans. They do not exist. I deny DC's reality and substitute my own
[User Picture Icon]
Date:September 8th, 2006 03:27 am (UTC)
Probably a good policy.
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
[User Picture Icon]
Date:September 8th, 2006 02:48 am (UTC)

I had to practically beat the sex scene out of them. For some reason, despite Bond's canonical massive easiness, they just did not want to have sex. Thet just wanted to brood about their Problems. That, and trying to keep Felix sounding vaguely like he does in the books, but also like somebody from Texas might conceivably sound was a challenge, since 50s slang is not my strong point.

I think it may be the only Bond/Leiter fic on the internet, which is a terrible crime against subtext (how many characters have literally given up their right hand for another character? Not many).
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
[User Picture Icon]
Date:September 9th, 2006 04:32 am (UTC)

Re: you might think it's the only one but....

holyshit I am *NOT* the only person writing Bond!fic in the world.

Yay! More Bond/Leiter! I am not alone! (and get to read James/Felix slash that's not written by me ^_^)

STUDILLAC!!! for chrissakes, you got the STUDDILLAC. I MARRY YOU NOW.

The Studillac is so essentially Felix. "Hi, James! My car is cooler than your car. Also, I can drive it one-handed and therefore pwn you." *beat* "So, what top secret mission are you on now and how can I ditch my real job and help?"
[User Picture Icon]
Date:September 9th, 2006 03:19 am (UTC)
Whoo, coolness. I have to admit, I haven't seen any movie with Felix Leiter's character and I've only read one Bond book, but it was In Her Majesty's Service and I understand that's about the most angsty one, so it worked out well. I really could see where you were getting Bond's characterization from, even if I didn't get all the references, and I liked Felix and Honey as (to me) essentially original characters. It was a lovely job of characterizing how people deal with trauma and self-preservation years after the fact, which is really difficult to get right.
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Date:September 9th, 2006 04:42 am (UTC)
Yay! Feedback!

Felix is never properly done justice to in the movies (imagine that Jinx from Die Another Day was white, male, and actually had a purpose for being there, and you've sort of got Felix--all the American CIA operatives that pop up in the films are usually some kind of nod to him).

Weirdly, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the only Bond book I haven't read, since neither my high school library nor the county library had it.

As for the trauma/angst, it wasn't originally supposed to be quite as dark as it turned out (the original plotbunny was mostly a set-up for the octopus joke), but once I re-read Casino Royale (all the better to writhe in pain if the upcoming movie doesn't do it right), the PTSD just started creeping in. Several bad, bad things happen to Bond in that book. And then I remembered that Felix was canonically a Marine in WWII, and that combined with the flame-thrower villains in Dr. No gave me an excuse to slip one of my great-uncle's nastier war stories in there.
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Date:September 9th, 2006 07:47 am (UTC)
Felix really DOES get short shrift in the movies.
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Date:September 9th, 2006 04:16 pm (UTC)
I know. You'd think American scriptwriters/directors would play up his role, out of pointless jingoism if nothing else ("Look! It's an American! Because obviously U.S. audiences could never identify with a British guy!"), but they rarely do.

I've heard he's going to be in the movie version of Casino Royale, but they've already cast a blond guy as Bond, so I have no faith in their ability to get Felix right.

WTF, how can Bond be blond? He's supposed to be tall, dark, and handsome. That's part of the point.
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Date:September 9th, 2006 07:43 am (UTC)
ZOMG this is wonderful, and so very IC. On all three sides. I love it so, so much. (I am 42 and stole my daddy's paperbacks in secret when I was 10 and 11 and 12 because my mamma didn't want me reading those books. You are slashing my childhood. Thank you.)
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Date:September 9th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC)
Iconlove! It's the fluffy white cat of Evil from Diamonds are Forever!

You are slashing my childhood. Thank you

You're welcome *grins* There's nothing quite like having your childhood heroes slashed (well, from a slasher's perspective. I'm sure someone out there would think the whole idea was sacrilage).
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Date:September 9th, 2006 11:43 am (UTC)
(here via guede_mazaka*s rec)

Damn... this is one wonderful piece. It has been ages since I read any of the Bond novels but this brought them back in great vividness - the sound of whirring? Ian Fleming spinning in his grave with sheer envy at how well you wrote this. or something.

Your characterizxation is superb, Honey is incredibly cute, and the sex? *fans self* wow.

I think this si the part where I stop being incoherent and re-read.
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Date:September 9th, 2006 04:26 pm (UTC)
and the sex? *fans self* wow.

Yay! Someone liked that part. It was the first time I really tried my hand at a sex scene, let alone one with more than two people, and I was worried that I'd be too vague/too fluffy/leave someone out/forget how many hands were involved.

As for Ian Flemming spinning in his grave... I'm betting the mere concept of Bondslash would be enough to do it.
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Date:March 16th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC)

I dropped by to say...

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Date:March 16th, 2009 04:30 am (UTC)
You know I've read piles of your stuff, but I somehow managed to miss this until I saw the rec. Book!Bond slash! Nice.

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