“M wants you, James.” The call came from Moneypenny as Bond was finishing his bath. He answered it on the prototype iPhone 007 he was testing for Q Branch.
He grunted non-commitally and wondered if his loyal secretary ever took a day off. And if so, what sort of fun she got up to.
He raised a cultured eyebrow as he stepped from the steaming waters, lightly scented with Givenchy Eau Eau Sept, and buffed his honed torso dry with a towel.
It never changed, he thought. That number, that label, engrained in every moment of his waking life.
You were always needed, always on call. You could never let your guard down, not even for a moment. One mission led to another, the distinctions started to blur.
How many years was it now? Fifty? It felt more like a hundred. But you only live the living daylights twice, he brooded. And even if diamonds are forever, the world is not enough.
He shook himself from the encroaching lassitude and brusquely, almost peremptorily, scanned his craggy but still aquiline features in the mirror.
Easier said than done, he thought.
His reflection gazed back at him sardonically. Tomorrow never dies, it seemed to be telling him. And now isn’t the time to be going soft.
A grey, greasy, foreboding dawn stretched its fingers across the bleak October sky, and the empty London streets echoed to the pulsing twin exhausts of Bond’s supercharged Bentley.
Nestled snugly in its soft leather shoulder holster between the silk lining of his Gieves & Hawkes jacket and the cool, crisp cotton of his Turnbull & Asser shirt, the Walther PPK automatic normally gave Bond a sense of security.
Today, though, it only added to his tension.
Meetings with M were never easy: she didn’t hold with all the gratuitous product placement. Damn her, he thought: he had to pay the bills somehow.
He gritted his teeth grittily as he walked into M’s office. She glared at him through steel-blue eyes over the steel-blue rims of her steel-blue tinted spectacles.
She's yesterday’s woman, thought Bond. She’s running out of adjectives.
How wrong he was.
“We need you to get down to Bath,” she barked. “Agent H is in trouble – there’s going to be a defection.”
“Agent H?” asked Bond, his mind running through old contacts, trying to put a face to a codename. “Middle aged? Short of hair? Poses as a writer?”
“That’s him. And his wife’s the defector. She’s booked on a plane to Eastern Europe.”
“Ah, the exotic Mrs D,” mused Bond. “Tall, blonde, tantalising, deadly...”
“Stow it, 007!” snapped M. “You’re letting your fantasies run away with you. This is a just a quick in and out job. Pick up what you need from Q and get moving.”
Bond turned on his heel and headed to the armourer’s workshop.
The avuncular boffin smiled as he handed Bond a pamphlet. “I need you to take this to Agent H,” he said.
No gadgets, thought Bond. These days I’m just a glorified delivery boy.
“What is it?” he asked resignedly.
“It’s the manual for the tumble drier,” said Q. “It sounds like Agent H is going to need it.”