Disclaimer: All characters belong to the Bond franchise. Alfred Hutchinson belongs to Raymond Benson (Bond Novel: The Facts Of Death).
Summary: When Tanner calls Bond informing him that M had initiated code sixty, he wondered what had happened in the short amount of time since the party for a security classification to be initiated. It was only upon arriving at the house seeing Hutchinson’s dead body in the bedroom and M distraught he understood why she wanted the utmost discretion on the matter. If the press caught wind of the head of SIS at Hutchinson’s house at the same time he was murdered they would have a field day.
Authors Note: A little idea for a missing scene the muse came up with when re-reading Benson's Bond Novel: The Facts Of Death.
The Hutchinson Affair
Bond looked over to M in the passenger seat from the corner of his eye never taking his eyes off the road. Her face wasn't giving anything away, but he could tell she was still trying to come to terms with everything that happened in the last six hours. She was re-dressed in her black evening gown and jacket that she wore earlier to Sir Merssevy's party. He couldn't remember ever seeing her look as radiant as she did when she walked into the room, or seeing her reveal as much as she did thanks to the low cut V in the front of her dress. He remembered the surge of jealously he felt when she was accompanied by Alfred Hutchinson the 'Goodwill Ambassador to the world' as he is dubbed by the press or should he say was.
When Tanner called him an hour prior informing him of that M had initiated code sixty, he had wondered what had happened in the short amount of time since the party for a security classification to be initiated. It was only upon arriving at the house seeing Hutchinson’s dead body in the bedroom and M distraught he understood why she wanted the utmost discretion on the matter. If the press caught wind of the head of SIS at Hutchinson’s house at the same time he was murdered they would have a field day.
“I would have thought you would know the direction to my house having been there uninvited on one or more occasion. So, where exactly is it we're going?”
He looked towards her briefly noticing her eyes narrowed in suspicion, wondering what he was up too.
“I'm taking you to my flat; I'm not leaving you alone. Not after what happened tonight.”
He focused his attention back on the road, waiting for her protests that he knew would follow.
“I'm fine James; I'm more than capable of looking after myself. God knows I've been doing it long enough.”
She turned to look out the car window, not wanting him to see the pain in her eyes at the thought. Just when she was moving on with her life after her divorce this had to happen. It seemed fate was against her, maybe she was destined to be alone.
“I'm well aware of that Ma'am, but I’m also aware that you have just lost someone who you were close to, you can deny it all you want that it isn't affecting you when it clearly it is.”
She whipped her head back round to face him, her once soft blue eyes, had now turned icy in frustration and anger.
“Since when did you start to give a damn about how I’m feeling Bond?! I'm surprised you aren't gloating at my expense seeing me the way you did. I've never been that exposed or humiliated in my life!”
“Was I gloating when I was trying to offer you comfort? No, I didn't because I've been there myself M! On more than one occasion! So, it would be hypocritical of me to judge you! As for giving a damn about how you feel! I've always cared! I may not voice or show it, but I do care M! More than you'll ever know!”
M sat there speechless, not knowing what to say. She could see his jaw clenching and hands tighten around the wheel, knuckles turning white. The guilt was starting to overwhelm her; she shouldn't have let her emotions get the better of her. It was unprofessional in her opinion. They interfered with the job; it was a distraction they couldn't afford.
“I'm sorry James, I didn't mean to snap. I can't thank you enough for being there for me tonight. I guess in a way I'm more embarrassed that you and Tanner saw me break down the way I did.”
She looked down at her hands and started to twist the silver ring on her ring finger, only to have one of James' hands covering hers causing her to stop. She looked back towards him, his face had softened and she felt his fingers entwine with hers.
“We won't think any less of you M. You're human like the rest of us and sometimes we forget that, myself mostly. I've always seen you as the strict no nonsense boss that like to put the fear of god in people. But, tonight was the first time that I actually got to see what the woman behind the boss persona was like.”
She let out a grunt, “And what was your verdict? Weak and pitiful?”
Looking over at her, he had heard enough. Pulling the car over, he stopped at the side of the road.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“I would rather not get us killed while I try to make you see sense.” He told her killing the car engine.
“And what sense would that be?” She could feel herself start to become irritated.
“That you aren't weak and pitiful! Christ sake M, just because you broke down in front of one of your agents and chief of staff doesn't show a sign of weakness. So, basically what you're trying to say is any woman who has a position like yours, who breaks down, is weak and pitiful as well?”
“What? Of course not! How many women have a position like mine? I have the lives of agents in my hands day in and day out! I can have them killed with a simple order to ensure the mission is a success to protect this country! Any sign of weakness would just prove that a woman isn't cut out for the Head of SIS! The government already thinks I let my emotions over rule my decisions! If they found out about tonight, well that would only prove they were right in their assumption!”
He was starting to lose his own patience at her melancholy attitude.
“The M I know wouldn't care what anyone else thought! What you've basically told me isn't that you’re weak or pitiful as you like to call it. If you were weak, do you think you would still be doing this job at this given moment in time?” You wouldn't even have made it a day if you were!”
He looked away from her and stared at the empty road in front of him. “You do this job as well as any man could, perhaps even more so.”
She felt him give her hand a small squeeze; the simple act caused her heart to beat faster in her chest.
“This wasn't work related M, it was personal. You lost someone who you were close too.” He turned back towards her and gave a sad smile.
“You loved him didn't you?”
She closed her eyes, trying to prevent the tears she could feel building in her eyes from falling.
“I did. I thought perhaps that this time it would work out for me James.” Her voice caught in her throat.
James reached up his free hand and wiped the tear he saw fall from the corner of her eye.
“I'm sorry for your loss M; I'll find whoever did this. You have my word.”
She opened her eyes, and he felt his heart clench at the sadness and heartbreak he saw in her blue eyes when they found his.
“I know you will James.” She gave him a watery smile.
“Let's go, the quicker we get back the quicker you can get a decent night's rest.”
He kept a hold of her hand, as he re-started the car and continued their way to his flat. Ten minutes later, Bond parked his Bentley and regretfully let go of M's hand as he made his way out from the car.
Opening the door for M he helped her out, and then once making sure his car was locked, he placed his hand on the base of her back as the two of them made their way towards the front entrance. M looked up at the pottered building. She suddenly felt herself become nervous. She had never been to his flat; it had always been the opposite, now here she was as he let her into the lobby and towards the lift.
When the doors opened, she watched as he pushed the fifth floor. The lift was moderate size, yet she felt closed in. It was only when she could faintly smell his cologne that she realised how close they were. The lift finally came to a stop and she let out a sigh of relief when they were in the corridor. She stood back watching as he opened his apartment door, motioning for her to enter.
Taking tentative steps forward, she stood in the main hall, her eyes widening when she took in everything she was seeing. Whatever she was expecting it certainly wasn't this. She heard the door close and lock as he was once again standing next to her.
“Not what you were expecting I take it?” He looked at her surprised face in amusement.
“For once- no.” She told him in disbelief.
“I thought as much. It helps when you have a housekeeper to keep everything in order.”
He was right about that, there wasn't a single item out of place. Upon entering the living room, he switched on the lamp illuminating the room in a soft glow. She took in the white and gold Cole wallpaper that was slightly out of date and the cream sofa. But what stood out the most was the ornate Empire desk, and leather seat next to the window. She walked over and picked up the photo frame that she saw situated there.
The ageing photograph showed a sandy beach and a woman who looked to be in her mid forties. She was sitting on a rock, clad in a red bathing suit the sun reflecting off her giving her a small glow. Her medium brown hair was curled and slightly wind swept as it covered a small part of her heart shaped face, but it didn't hide her carefree smile or the warmth and humour visible in her clear blue eyes. It was the same humour that she had seen reflected more than once in James. Despite the scratches and creases, the photo no doubt had obtained through the years, she could tell it meant a great deal to him.
She felt James' presence next to her and turned to look at him, noting the sad smile as he stared at the photo in her hands.
“It was taken a month before she died. We were on a family holiday in Devon, my mother’s idea. She wanted to have a holiday with the three of us before they went on their mountain climbing trip in Aiguilles Rouges.”
“She was very beautiful.” M handed the photo over to him.
“She was. My mother wasn't one for nonsense, god knows she told me often enough when I got on her bad side. Despite that, she was caring, smart, strong willed and was always there when I needed her.” He placed the photo back on the desk.
“I'm sorry you lost them James.” She placed a hand on his arm for comfort.
“You know- you remind me of her sometimes. I see similar traits in you.”
M gave him a sceptical look, “So, I'm what? A mother figure to you?”
Bond gave a laugh, “No, far from it M. You're someone I can trust, even though we don't always see eye to eye. I know you have my back.”
“I wouldn't be a good boss if I didn't would I?” She gave him a wry smile.
“No, I guess not, but it means more to me than you know.” He told her with conviction never breaking eye contact with her.
She felt his warm hand gently caressing the side of her face, causing her pulse to quicken.
“You mean more to me than you know.” He said softly tracing her bottom lip with his thumb.
It had to be a dream. He couldn't mean what she was thinking, the idea was absurd. Their faces were inches apart and M felt all train of thought leave her as he leaned down and she felt his lips on hers in a lingering kiss. She tensed at the unexpected move; the kiss was light as if he was testing her. His had left her face as she felt his arms wrap around her waist, pulling her in closer to him. Feeling his tongue trace her bottom lip, she felt a shiver of pleasure go through her. She got lost in the sensation, her body relaxing under his touch. Letting her eyes close, she felt herself responding.
M knew she should end it, but hard as it was to admit, she found both the embrace and kiss comforting. She couldn't stop the moan escaping as his tongue explored her mouth. Her hand found the back of his head, holding him in place. She couldn't remember the last time she felt such passion. Although Alfred was tender, gentle and energetic in their lovemaking, she felt no passion when she was with him. She loved him, but now she came to realise that she wasn't in love with him. It was a love based on friendship rather than that of lovers.
Her thoughts of Alfred made her realise what she was doing. She opened her eyes and pulled away from him breathing heavily as she tried to get air back into her lungs. Alfred wasn't even dead a day and here she was kissing one of her agents.
James looked at M seeing the turmoil written over her face at having realised what she had done.
He took a step towards her, only to stop when she took a step back trying to put as much distance between them as she could.
“This shouldn't have happened James. I'm your boss for starters, not to mention I'm nearing sixty! Then there's Alfred- he hasn't even been dead a day and here I am making out with one of my agents.! What does that say about me?”
She wrapped her arms around herself, as if to protect herself from him.
“It says nothing M. You may be my boss, but over the last few months I've come to realise you mean more to me than that. When I looked through my mail when I came back from my mission in Cyprus to see Merssevy's invitation, the first thing that entered my mind was if you would be in attendance. I wasn't going to go, but the thought of you being there made it seem less harrowing.”
James let out a sigh, “Because I would finally get to spend some time with you away from the office. I was going to ask you if you wanted to go with me, but then you told me there was someone you wanted me to meet. I knew I had no chance. The way you said it, I saw the excitement in your eyes. You had found someone that made you happy. I wasn't going to come between that.”
M could remember the excitement she felt when she and Alfred were going to announce their relationship at the party. Now thinking back, she got so lost in her excitement she failed to notice the disappointed and defeated look in his eyes before he had left her office.
“When you entered that room earlier, you took my breath away. You looked radiant; I had never seen you that relaxed or happy. Part of me was envious that it wasn't me who could make you feel like that. It hit me then that I knew I had lost the only woman I could ever really care about and love, but then you were never mine to begin with. I had to let you go- as much as my heart didn't want to.”
She didn't know what to say; better yet what could she say. The thought of anyone in their late thirties having feelings for her was laughable, but the seriousness and hurt she could feel radiating off him was real.
“I don't know what to make of all of this. You can have any woman you want, yet you would settle for someone like me?”
“Maybe in the past- yes, but now- there is only one woman I want to spend my life with and she's standing right in front of me. When I received Tanner's call, I thought something had happened to you. It was the first time I felt true fear, knowing you could be hurt or dead. The thought of you not in my life- my world would be a much darker place.”
M felt a lump in the back of her throat; she had never seen this side of James. This was the James that was kept under that armour of his. Yet, here he was telling her everything he felt. She knew deep down she had felt an attraction to James over the time they worked together, but she pushed it aside. Then she met Alfred, and hadn't thought about her feelings for James since, until now. The kiss they shared had re-awakened every thought and feeling she had buried. Starting a relationship with one of her agents was unprofessional, she could lose her job or he could lose his should word ever got out. She was caught between following her heart and what her professionalism was telling her. There was also the slight doubt he would leave her after a few weeks or months, realising he had made a mistake. She knew it was unlikely, considering everything he had just told her, but the fear was still there.
“I think, we should take this one day at a time James. I'm not saying we can't have a relationship, but these things take time. We only know each other from work and what we've read from each others files. And don't try and deny it, I know you've hacked into my file.”
He faked a cough to hide his smile.
“If you're serious about your feelings James, perhaps it would be best if we start off as friends first and foremost then go from there. However, this can't cause a change in our working relationship, I'm still your boss and you're my agent that can't change. I won't show you favouritism; you will be treated as you have always been.”
“I wouldn't expect anything less M. I'll be happy with your friendship, even if you decide you don't want to be in an actual relationship.” He told her sincerely.
She gave him a nod, “Just promise me- if we do start a relationship you won't change your mind about us. I won't say don't hurt me because that's inevitable. At some point in our relationship as lovers or in friendship, there will be hurt involved, it comes with the package. But we leave any work related arguments or issues at the office.”
“That will never happen M, I'm afraid you're stuck with me.”
She felt relief at hearing the truthfulness behind his statement; maybe it won't be as bad as she originally thought. She raised a hand to her mouth to stifle the yawn that wanted to break free.
James looked at her fondly, “Come on, let's get you to bed.”
He saw her raise an eyebrow, and shook his head in amusement, “I do have a spare bedroom M.”
She gave a nod and followed after him, and entered the room to the right in the hallway she had passed earlier. Once he had switched on the main light, she looked around the room, noting the double bed in the centre, a few paintings on the wall, a wardrobe and chest of drawers. There was also a bedside cabinet, and a lamp placed on top.
“I'll get you something to wear, I won't be a moment.”
She watched him go and moved over to the bed and switched on the lamp on the bedside table. Removing her jacket, she placed it on the bed. She could feel the goosebumps appear on her arms as the cool air hit her skin.
James returned a few moments later with a shirt and pyjama bottoms. He watched her from the doorway, taking in her appearance once again in that dress, imprinting the image into his mind. Switching off the main light, M turned and gave him a smile.
“These are the best I can do, I'm afraid. I'll drop you off at your apartment tomorrow and you can change, No doubt you will be heading into the office, even though you should take some time off.”
He handed her the clothes he had brought for her.
“They're fine, thank you James. I can't thank you enough for everything; you didn't need to go to all this trouble.”
“Wouldn't be a good friend if I didn't would I? He gave her a wink, causing M to let out a small laugh. The sound was like music to his ears.
“No, I suppose not.”
“I'll leave you to get changed. My room is across the hall should you need me.”
She watched him go, before making her decision. “James-”
He stopped and turned to look back at her.
“Could you- could you perhaps stay with me tonight. I don't want to be alone.”
“Just let me get changed and I'll be back.” He reassured her.
M gave a nod, watching as he left her line of vision. Stepping out of her heels, she kicked them to the side, and reached for the zip at the side of her dress. Once undone, she removed the straps from her shoulders, letting it fall to the floor. Grabbing the shirt she put it on, it was massive on her smaller frame but she didn't care. The pyjama bottoms were no better; she had to roll the waistline a few times to ensure they wouldn't fall down.
Picking up her jacket from the bed, she placed it on the floor next to her dress and shoes before getting under the covers just as James was walking in. He was out of his dress shirt and trousers and in similar clothes as her. She shimmied over so he could get in with her.
He couldn't deny seeing M in his clothes was something he had always envisioned. She looked smaller than she normally did under the garments. If anything, it was nice to see her in casual clothes even if they were too large for her, rather than her three piece suits. Climbing in next to her, he felt her lay down on the pillows, turning on her side. He switched off the lamp, and did the same, keeping his distance not wanting to make her feel uncomfortable.
M lay on her side away from him, it felt strange sharing a bed with her agent, but not uncomfortable. She knew he was keeping his distance from her, if the draft she felt going down her back was anything to go by.
“You can come in closer James, I don't bite.”
He turned onto his side, so he was facing her back and moved closer towards her, as she moved back into him. Placing his arm around her body, he felt M link her fingers with his, locking their embrace. He could still smell faint traces of her perfume, at how close they were.
“James, when we find any more evidence on these killings. Promise me you'll be careful and don't take any unnecessary risks. I can't lose you too.”
He tightened his hold around her, hearing the sadness in her voice.
“I promise M.”
“What?” He asked her confused.
“My name, since we're friends you have permission to use it, but only outside of work.”
“In that case, I promise Barbara.”
She gave a faint smile and let her eyes close, “Goodnight James.”
He listened as her breathing evened out signalling she was asleep and gave a fond smile.
“Goodnight Barbara.” He whispered, his own eyes closing keeping her in his embrace.
He had no idea what the future would bring for the both of them in the coming months or years, but he did know he was lucky to have her in his life one way or another and he would treasure every moment he had with her, until the very end.