Characters: Q, Father, M
Warnings/Triggers: none, except for some slightly black humour
Spoilers: The Reichenbach Fall
Word Count 1, 701
Summary: The new Quartermaster gets pulled out of Q-branch for a coffee break (and pep talk) with his father.
Author's notes: Second part in the 'What If?' series. This is Q's entry, Sherlock's entry is here
There are several mentions to the Quartermaster previous to Q (Trevelyan) and after confusing myself while writing, I made the decision to call Skyfall's Q 'Trevelyan' and the previous Q 'Q'. With one exception, which should be clear. M's first name comes from widely accepted canon/fanon.
Set in the Trio 'verse.
I've shamelessly stole some of joonscribble's headcanon, because she has smart thoughts.
There were two generally accepted facts about the Quartermaster. The first was that he was training Trevelyan to take over when he retired. The second was that he was never going to retire. He was ancient, even by MI6 standards, but everyone knew he would be there until he drew his last breath, whereupon the little upstart who formerly ran the Cyber Warfare division would take his place.
Thus, it should not have come as that much of a shock when Trevelyan was called into M's office one morning as soon as he entered the building and was matter-of-factly informed that the Quartermaster had had a fatal heart attack in his sleep and that Trevelyan would be taking over in the interim.
“It's a formality to consider all possible candidates for any position,” she explained. “But the Quartermaster's recommendation will stand you in good stead. That is, if you wish to put yourself forward as a permanent replacement?”
“Yes, ma'am,” Trevelyan said, a bit stupidly.
“Very well. You will be Acting Quartermaster until the final decision is made,” M said.
That was three days ago now, and what had transpired since could only be described as trial by fire. A sudden, violent regime change had put five operatives in extreme danger, and he'd fought to extract them for seventy-eight hours.
When the old Q-branch and Cyber Warfare divisions had been downsized and combined, there was animosity on both sides. Q-branch thought Cyber Warfare were bratty little twats who played with computers all day, and Cyber Warfare thought Q-branch were fusty old twats who sat around trying to find new ways of putting gadgets into pens. Q knew that Trevelyan's brand of genius would be the future, however, and he worked hard in training Trevelyan to lead the branch.
Trevelyan did not fully understand what that entailed until it was thrust upon him. It was decision after decision, and multitasking, and delegating, and coordinating. There was no time to stand still, no ability to actually sit down and finish what you'd started. He hadn't even had time to contemplate mourning his mentor. He'd slept in a corner for about four hours total during the entire three days. It was a completely different experience to the all-nighters he normally pulled. This was exhausting.
But he had done it. All five operatives were out, safe, and mostly unharmed.
His phone rang, and he jolted awake at the sound of it, feeling around blindly on his new desk and then putting it to his ear.
“Mmmra?” he answered. “Er, I mean.” Oh God, what was the right word? “Hello?”
“Hello,” came a deep male voice, sounding amused.
Sherlock? No, Sherlock was still dead. “Father,” Trevelyan said. He sat up as though his father could somehow see him face first in the paperwork. The crisis was over. Now it was just reports. “Yes. Hello.”
“I'm in London. Do you want to get a coffee?” Father said.
Trevelyan glanced at the time. “It's half three."
“Yes, and?” Father said. “Has your brother passed some sort of coffee curfew law?”
“No,” Trevelyan said. “Not yet. Erm...I'm a bit...well, I suppose I could... I may have to leave suddenly and return...”
“Then you would be best to leave now and give us as much time as possible,” Father said. “I'll meet you at Happenstance.”
The phone call was ended before Trevelyan could agree—not that he had any objections. He exited into the main part of Q branch and asked Hadley to cover for him for a bit and to ring if he needed to come back in.
“Right-o,” she said. “You look knackered, sir. Bout time you went home.”
Trevelyan elected not to tell her that he was, in fact, going to ingest a substance to keep him awake for longer. He made his way out of SIS and down the road to Happenstance, which was a little cafe frequented by MI6 drones, due to its very good coffee, twenty-four-hour services, and two-minute walking distance. Father already had a table when he came in.
“You look awful,” Father said.
Trevelyan shook his offered hand in greeting. “I think I feel awful,” he said. “But my brain hasn't quite caught up to the rest of me, yet.”
“You're in the dead zone,” Father said. “You'll get your second wind in about half-an-hour. 0300 to 0400 is the worst. I've ordered already.”
Trevelyan opened his eyes wide in an attempt to keep himself from nodding off into the pot plant next to their table. It looked quite comfy.
“What...er...why?” he said. Good lord, where had all his words gone? “You're in London. Why are you doing that?”
Father's eyes twinkled in amusement. “I was asked to lecture at GCHQ, and I'm stopping over on my way home,” he said. “Your mother has graciously allowed me twenty-four hours to be of service again. I'm leaving on the first train, as per orders. Of course, should I miss the train, by accident, I may have to stay longer.”
Trevelyan grinned. Mummy had dragged Father kicking and screaming into retirement when he turned sixty-eight, otherwise, he probably would have been the same as the old Quartermaster—working until he was dead. She insisted he have a chance to relax and lower his blood pressure. Father wasn't very good at relaxing and, thankfully, even though his body was starting to fail a little, his brain was still a much sought after item at GCHQ, which gave him a bit of work here and there. Sometimes a brain was still better than a computer, especially when that brain belonged to Siger Holmes.
The waitress arrived with two cups of coffee, and Trevelyan dumped some sugar and milk into his. Father drunk his black—not even any sugar.
“I heard about your promotion from Mycroft,” Father said. “Liv made a sensible choice.”
Trevelyan still found it baffling that Father knew M well enough to call her by not only her first name but a nickname of it. They had apparently crossed paths often in their youths. Father didn't really have friends, but he had a lot of acquaintances.
“It's not official yet,” Trevelyan said. “It's a provisory appointment.”
“That's just bureaucracy,” Father said, dismissively. “If you do your job, there's no reason not to choose you.”
“I am a bit young,” Trevelyan pointed out.
“Age is irrelevant if you have talent,” Father said.
Trevelyan felt childishly pleased at Father saying he had talent, even if it was slightly indirect. “I suppose so,” he said. He took a sip of his coffee and played with his spoon for a few moments. “You don't suppose Mycroft—”
“No,” Father said, firmly. “You have earned your place by being very good at your job.”
“I'm glad you think so,” Trevelyan said. “Half the branch just gaped when they heard the news. I gaped when I heard the news. I mean, I thought...I knew my boss was training me, but...he's ancient. He was ancient. I never thought of him as...mortal, I suppose. He was fine, and then...”
“That would be the ideal way to go, I think,” Father said. “I wouldn't want a lot of fuss and bother about it.”
Trevelyan smiled. “Neither would he. He was never going to retire, so I suppose I should have expected it. I'm just...” he made a vague gesture with his hands. “I can't fathom...I'm not entirely sure f I can do it.”
“Don't be stupid,” Father said. “Of course you can. Liv wouldn't have promoted you if she didn't think you could do it. Don't undermine yourself.”
Trevelyan nodded. “It's a bit fun,” he admitted.
Father grinned. “Work is always fun,” he said. “I've never understood why people complain about it so much.”
“Me either,” Trevelyan said. “Do you enjoy lecturing?”
Father considered this carefully. “Maybe,” he said, in the end. “I obviously enjoy the subject, and I enjoy getting in there again and still being relevant. Some of them are good students, some of them are contumelious brats, and they only see me as an artifact. I would quite happily kill the lot of them. But the ones who want to learn are tolerable.”
Trevelyan thought that was pretty much exactly the conflict between Cyber Warfare and Q-branch. He supposed it was a universal problem when one generation bumped up against another. Neither one had much respect for their counterparts.
“You were always quite a good teacher,” Trevelyan said.
“Was I?” Father said, raising his eyebrows in surprise. “Good Lord, it took everything I had to keep my patience when you didn't understand something.”
“Well, the threat of impending death did make me do my best to understand,” Trevelyan joked.
“I would have never killed you,” Father said. “I always removed myself from the situation before I became fillicidal.”
“That was very kind of you,” Trevelyan said.
“Your mother would have been very displeased,” Father added.
“I think 'displeased' might be an understatement,” Trevelyan said, with a laugh.
“Speaking of your mother's displeasure—which is a slightly odd segue, I confess,” Father said. “How is your other work coming along?”
Trevelyan took a moment to catch on. “Oh, the Swiss affair?” he said. Father nodded. “It's a bit quiet on their end, but as far as I know, things are proceeding acceptably well.”
“Your mother is worried,” Father said.
Trevelyan hazarded that she might not be the only one. “She can rest easy for the moment."
They sipped away at their coffees, the personal conversations over now, and moved on to more generic subjects. They chatted a bit about the latest technological advances. Trevelyan's technophilia came from Father, and he was always ready to hear what was new in the world.
Trevelyan's mobile rang just before he was done his second cup. “I'm sorry, I have to go."
“Don't apologize,” Father said. “I don't care.”
Trevelyan smiled, and shook his hand in goodbye, fumbling for some money in his wallet.
“My shout,” Father said. “Consider it congratulatory.”
“Thank you,” Trevelyan said. “Good to see you.”
Father nodded. “Stop being stupid.”
“Yes, sir,” Trevelyan said.
He returned back to SIS, and Hadley waved him over when he arrived.
“006 needs an extraction. He has an injured asset with him,” she explained. “I haven't been able to establish a link to the security system, it just keeps kicking me out as soon as I'm in.”
Trevelyan put his earpiece in. “006, tell me what you're looking at."
“Who's this?” 006 asked.
“This is the Quartermaster,” Q said, confidently. “And I'm going to get you out.”